Category Archives: Fashion-Modeling

Project Runway 11: Triumph of the Lone Wolf

Last week, on Project Runway, the designers all headed home to make 12-piece collections for Fashion Week.  Upon returning, they had to show the judges three of their best pieces in order to secure their spot in Fashion Week.  Daniel bored the judges with an all-black collection and was duly sent home.  Michelle, Patricia, and Stanley will all be showing at Fashion Week.

Back at the apartment, the three finalists discuss their critiques.  Stanley has to make his collection sexier and more youthful, while Patricia has to make hers more cohesive.  Michelle just has to edit and fix her styling.

Next morning, the designers get back to work, assisted by their helpers.  These are the same helpers they had last week:  Amanda for Michelle, Layana for Patricia, and Richard for Stanley.

Tim comes in to make some announcements.  First off, the designers will have hair and make-up consultations.  Second, Tim will take everybody to Mood, so they can buy whatever they need to improve their collections.  Each designer will have a budget of $500.00.  They will also have 30 minutes to plan their purchases and another 30 minutes at Mood.

The designers then examine their collections to decide what they need.  The judges told Michelle they wanted to see more color in her work, so she will get some colorful fabrics.  The judges told Patricia that her collection needed more cohesiveness, so she will buy things with that in mind.  Some of her current pieces have leather in them, so she will get more leather.  Similarly, she asks Layana to make a blue tank top, so she will have something that matches her dress.  Then it’s off to Mood to put their plans in action.

After the designers return from Mood, it’s time for the make-up consultations.  As the judges had hated Michelle’s styling last week, she asks for help in changing it.  Stanley wants a sexier look for his models, so he’ll be getting the usual “smoky eye.”  Patricia asks for a clean, simple look that will make it seem as if the models aren’t wearing make-up.  She also asks for lip gloss to add some color.  The idea seems to be to not have anything that might distract people from her clothes.

The following morning, the designers get back to work.  Stanley decides to shorten some of his dresses, in an attempt to make them look sexier and more youthful.  Patricia is dismayed to discover that the leather she’d bought has holes in it; she decides to use it anyway.  Then  it’s time for the hair consultations.  Michelle still wants her models to have tousled do’s, but in deference to the judges’ critique, gets a more sophisticated look.  Stanley asks for a more youthful look.  Patricia presents the stylist with headdresses she wants to have incorporated into her looks.  The stylist decides to give her models braids.

Tim comes in to make his rounds and he starts with Michelle.  He likes most of her clothes, except for a sweater with a bleeding heart on it.  He also advises her to not use a compass as a decoration on one piece, pointing out that Michelle’s woman would prefer high technology over anything as old-fashioned as a compass.

Stanley talks about his efforts to jazz up his collection.  Tim apparently doesn’t think that Stanley’s been successful, for he comments that Stanley’s clothes look like they came from a vintage clothing shop.  Ouch.  He also notes that Stanley has a lot of work to do.

Tim is not pleased that Patricia is sending out leather pants that have holes in them.  He reminds her what a big deal Fashion Week is.  He also doesn’t see much cohesiveness in her collection, and he’s shocked and amused by how disorganized she is.  At one point, Patricia offers to show him some white material– and then she and Layana spend several minutes looking for it.  Like Stanley, Patricia has a lot of work left to do.

After Tim leaves, the models come in for their fittings.  Michelle notes that Patricia is all over the place, while Stanley is horribly behind.  Speaking of Stanley, he wants to make a ballgown, but discovers he doesn’t have enough material for that.

On the last day before the show, the designers get back to work.  Michelle struggles while trying to put a zipper in a dress; it takes her several tries.

Tim comes in to send the helpers home– and then he sends in a nice surprise:  the finalists’ loved ones.  Michelle sees her husband and brother.  Stanley is visited by his mother and partner.  Patricia dances with her kids.  Everybody has fun, and the relatives talk about how proud they are of the finalists.  Then it’s time for them to leave.

Tim then returns to explain logistics.  The designers will have until 5 p.m. to finish working on their looks and get everything packed and organized to be moved to the Lincoln Center, where Fashion Week will be held.  He also tells them that Michael Kors will be the guest judge.

Patricia then has a brainwave:  She will fix her leather pants by adding more holes to them, thus making the holes part of a fashion statement.  Michelle, who has finished her work, helps Stanley with his.

On the day of the show, the designers get up at 2 a.m.  They then go to Lincoln Center, where they check out the impressively large stage and runway.  Then they go back stage to start preparing themselves for the show.  Two hours before the show starts, they’re still working on their looks.  Michelle simply needs to have things pressed, while Stanley is actually still sewing dresses.  He’s also recruited four assistants to help him sew.  I don’t get what happened, since he had five months.  Did he have to wait a long time for something he’d ordered?  Is he simply really, really bad at time management?  Did he get cold feet at some point?  Did he bite off far more than he could chew and try to make really elaborate clothing?  What happened?  Stanley never seemed to be flaky or disorganized before.  Even Tim’s stunned by the chaos surrounding Stanley’s area.

On stage, Heidi welcomes everybody to Fashion Week.  She then introduces the judges, including the guest judge, Michael Kors.

Michelle is up first, and her collection is definitely cohesive.  The first, second, and fifth looks all involve a breastplate.  She uses a lot of leather and quilted material, and there’s a steampunk vibe to many of the pieces.  She also uses many fall colors, with a lot of neutrals.  The reds and yellows she uses are reminiscent of autumn leaves.  The sixth, seventh, and ninth looks are the ones she showed last week, while the tenth look is the orange bleeding heart sweater that Tim had disliked so much.  Her final piece is a red gown decorated with silver studs.  It has the same neckline as her tenth look, a yellow top paired with khaki pants.

Patricia’s collection shows her mastery of textiles.  Her first piece is a pink dress with flowers embroidered on it.  The second, third, fourth, and sixth looks all include pieces she’d dyed.  The second and fourth looks have pieces with a geometric pattern against a green background, while the third and sixth pieces have two-toned black and green fabric.  She used horsehair in the skirt of the second look and the black poncho in the eleventh look.  She used the holey leather pants in the third look, which also has a green and black top and a tan scarf with large polka dots.  The ninth, eleventh, and twelfth looks are designs she’d shown the judges last week, with the twelfth look being the blue dress decorated with pieces of mica.

Stanley calls his collection “Urban Opulence,” which is a bit confusing as the word “urban” tends to suggest clothes with a hip-hop or ethnic vibe.  It also suggests clothes aimed at young people, and many of Stanley’s clothes look as if they were made for affluent middle-aged women.  As for the clothes themselves, Stanley obviously likes metallics:  His second, fourth, sixth, and ninth looks all have metallic elements.  Similarly, he used sequins in his fifth, seventh, and eleventh looks.  His second, fourth, and fifth looks are the ones he’d showed last week.  His first look is a nice black pant suit.  (Well, I liked it– but I’ll be 50 in September.)  His sixth look is the weakest.  Not only is it a gaudily bright gold, but it looks like something from the 1950’s– and adds about 20 pounds to the model.  His final look is a gown with a red skirt and a translucent, sleeveless black bodice with an intricate ivy pattern.

There’s the backstage chatter where Project Runway alumnae and other audience members talk about which finalist they liked best.  The judges briefly chat among themselves, with Michael saying that it’s easier to be objective when he doesn’t know the designers.  Heidi thinks everybody put on a good show, and Michael agrees, commenting that everybody had a distinct point of view.

The judges start with Michelle, who talks about how she’d seen herself as a female lone wolf struggling for survival.  She also points out the wolf design on a clutch she’d made.  Nina calls the first look a “phenomenal opening.”  She also praises Michelle for her consistent silhouette.  Nina also loved the black coat originally seen last week and the bleeding heart sweater.  In fact, she calls the latter her favorite piece in the collection.  Michael liked the fabric combinations, but he thinks the ties were a bit costumey.  Zac argues they weren’t.  Heidi deems Michelle’s looks a cohesive collection.

Patricia tells the judges that she was inspired by trees and that she’d made her own textiles.  Michael calls the collection “fabulous,” and adds that the first outfit looks as if it were made by an “art teacher on an acid trip.”  Heidi admired Patricia’s skill in making her own textiles.  Zac also liked the collection.  Nina liked the twelfth look, but adds that Patricia needs to work on her styling.

Stanley talks about how he drew inspiration from the 1950’s and the 1960’s.  Michael says he liked some of the dresses, because of their “youthful sophistication,” but says the gown looks like “Betty White on Dancing with the Stars.”  Zac  liked the beading, but the materials seemed dated.  Heidi noticed the construction issues, such as the wavy hemlines.  She also agreed with Michael that the last look was too “old lady.”  Nina agreed that the last look was the weakest and adds that the black pants should have been paired with the beaded top.

The judges then ask each designer why they should be the winner.  Stanley cites his clear message.  Michelle believes she’d creative  and has “a voice towards the future.”  Patricia wants to keep creating and adds that she has a voice that’s never been heard before.

The judges then have their chat.  They quickly toss Stanley  out of contention, saying he’s both old-fashioned and rigid.  That leaves the two women.  Patricia is cool, new, and makes her own materials, but her looks may not be the most marketable.  Michelle’s collection was more cohesive and marketable, but some pieces were over-designed.

The judges then announce their decision.  Stanley was polished, but not modern, while Patricia’s “one of a kind collection” wasn’t cohesive.  Michelle’s the winner.

Project Runway 11: On the Way to Fashion Week

Last week on Project Runway, the designers faced the challenge that would determine which of them would go on to Fashion Week.  All of them had to make a look inspired by a world fashion capital:  Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, London, or New York.  Layana lost and was sent home, while the other four moved on.

At the runway, Heidi congratulates the finalists, and then explains the rules.  Each of them will make a collection of twelve looks.  They need to make a fall collection that includes outerwear.  The designers should at least attempt fashion forecasting– which probably means Daniel will be toast if he inflicts his old fart sensibilities on the judges again.  Seriously, the 80’s were three decades ago.

The designers will each have a budget of ten grand, which translates to over $800.00 per outfit.  That means they can probably get some very high-end fabrics.  Upon returning to New York, the designers will show their three favorite pieces to the judges, who will then decide which three designers will go on to Fashion Week.  (Actually, the fourth designer will also show, but their collection won’t be televised.  It will be one of the five decoy collections at Fashion Week.)

Back at Atlas Apartments, the designers get packed to go home.  Michelle’s excited by the prospect of making fall clothes, since fall is her favorite season.  Patricia confesses that she’s nervous and sees herself as being at a disadvantage since she’d never won a challenge.  Michelle confides that she sees Stanley as her main competition.  That’s understandable, since those two have been dominating the competition for the last few weeks.

It looks as if Heidi’s fondness for Patricia may have had one very beneficial consequence for the designers:  a reasonable amount of time to craft their looks.  No more nonsense about cranking out ten or twelve outfits in five weeks, as in the past couple of seasons.  That kind of deadline would have killed Patricia, mistress of textiles, or at least denied her the chance to make a bunch of new fabrics and patterns.  This time, the designers get five months to make their collections.

Four months later, Tim makes the first of his visits.  He starts with Patricia, who lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family.  It turns out that their house is Patricia’s childhood home.  Over dinner, Patricia tells Tim that many of her relatives are singer and dancers.  Patricia started her career as a designer by designing and making their costumes.

After dinner, Patricia shows off her large studio.  One piece she’s working on is a cape decorated with actual horsehair.  Tim likes it.  She tells him that her inspiration is “trees.”  Tim likes most of what he sees, except for a multi-colored fabric that looks a bunch of kids scribbled on it with crayons.  It’s got smiley faces on it.  Tim doesn’t like it and tells her not to use it.  He explains that he likes the more abstract aspects of her work, but thinks her more literal pieces become too “crafty” or “in-your-face.”

Tim then visits Michelle in Portland, Oregon.  He finds her in a bar with her husband and brother.  There Michelle tells him that she’d worked in the wine industry for ten years and that her family had helped her when she decided to switch gears and become a fashion designer.  Tim tells Michelle and her family that her work had impressed him from the beginning.

Afterwards, Michelle takes Tim to her studio.  Her theme is wolves.  Specifically, she’d inspired by the idea of a female lone wolf fighting for survival.  She then shows of an elaborate black coat and a set of chaps.  Tim likes them and asks her if she has any concerns.  She responds by asking him if he thinks the collection is cohesive.  He assures her it is and adds that it’s very “you.”  He does advise her not to overdesign, though.

In Austin, Texas, Tim finds Daniel and his sister at a friend’s house.  It turns out that Daniel used to make clothes for his sister.  Daniel has a new wild hairdo that Tim says looks like a Chia pet.

Daniel then takes Tim to his studio, where he talks about his various inspirations:  Salvador Dali, astronomy, and the architecture he saw in Berlin.  His color palette, which includes red, white, and dark blue, was inspired by astronomical phenomena like nebulae.  Tim admires a coat, but is far less impressed with a pale blue item that looks like “Grandma’s robe.”  He strongly urges Daniel to get rid of it, saying that it brings the whole collection down.

In Los Angeles, Tim visits Stanley, who says his collection is inspired by the 60’s and Renaissance Spain.  He then shows off his collection.  Tim likes most of it, except for an orange dress that he says doesn’t go with the rest of the clothes.

Afterwards, Tim has lunch with Stanley and his partner, who is white.  Stanley had auditioned three times to be on Project Runway.  What?  We had to put up with the likes of Joshua or Ven when we could have had Stanley instead?  Bad decision, Lifetime.  Very bad.  Stanley had a sister, Belinda, to whom he was very close.  Her sudden death devastated him to the point that he nearly abandoned the idea of being on Project Runway.

Four weeks later, the designers return to New York.  This time, they’re staying in a penthouse.  Michelle and Daniel have a few awkward moments because he’s still smarting over some of the things Michelle had said to him during the Lord & Taylor challenge– several months ago.  They do finally bury that particular hatchet.

Michelle then finds a note from Heidi and Tim welcoming the designers back to New York and encouraging them to spend the night relaxing– since it’s back to work the next day.  They all need to have three looks ready to show the judges. The designers then drink the traditional champagne toast.

The next morning, the designers go to their new workroom.  Tim points out where everything is, and he tells them they have two days until the preview, when the judges decide which three designers will be televised showing their collections at Fashion Week.  They then get to work, and naturally check each other out.  Stanley thinks Michelle is still his main competition.

Tim comes in to see them.  He reminds the designers they need to have three looks ready to show the judges.  He does have a nice surprise in the form of helpers; several eliminated designers will be helping them prepare.  Stanley gets the useless Richard, while  Daniel is reunited with Samantha.  Patricia gets Layana, who is now pregnant, and Michelle gets Amanda.  They all start working on the collections.  Despite having had five months to work on their collections, everybody seems to have a lot left to do.

Tim then comes in again, this time to make his rounds.  He starts with Michelle, who plans to show a coat dress, a sweater, and some chaps, amongst other items.    Michelle has made several bags to go with the coat dress and is wondering if she should show them all.  Tim says yes.  At this stage, it is probably better to show too much rather than too little.  She can always edit her looks if the judges say so.  Right now, she needs to convince the judges she has designs worth showing.

Stanley shows off a bolero dress.  Tim thinks it looks too mature, and advises Stanley to think about proportions and sex appeal.  He thinks Stanley needs a look that shows some skin.

Patricia has several looks ready for Tim’s consideration.  He admires a blue headdress, but thinks a blue and white plaid shirt looks “lumberjacky” and too masculine.  He also thinks the accompanying black shorts are unflattering.  Layana, reading the writing on the wall, suggests showing another outfit.

Last up is Daniel, and Tim thinks his looks need a “wow,” as none of them are particularly exciting.  That proves to be just the beginning of Daniel’s problems, for after Tim sends in the models for their fitting, Daniel finds that his pants don’t fit the model.  He either has to alter them or pick something else.  Likewise, Michelle finds that her pants are also too small.  Patricia, on the other hand, has no problems, and her things fit perfectly.

On the day of the runway show, the designers get back to work.  Tim sends in the models, and they get dressed and then go to hair and make-up.  On the runway, Heidi welcomes the finalists, and introduces the judges.  There’s no guest judge, just the usual suspects:  Zac, Nina, and Heidi herself.

Stanley is up first.  His first look is a black pantsuit with a dark gold shirt.  His second look is a sleeveless gold dress with black sequins down the front.  His last look is a black jacket and a grey dress decorated with large rhinestones, which would make the dress utterly horrible if one head to sit down while wearing it.

Patricia’s first look is a sleeveless dress with a black tank-top bodice and a black and gray skirt with a piano-key pattern.  Her second look consists of black pants and a black cape festooned with horsehair.  Her last look is a pale blue, sleeveless dress decorated with over-sized sequins.  The model is also wearing a blue headdress.

Has Daniel lost his mind?  All of his looks are black!  I’m sorry, but most people don’t want to see a 12-piece collection that consists of black outfit after black outfit after black outfit.  The first look consists of leather knickers and a sleeveless top with a plunging neckline.  The second look consists of pants and a short-sleeved knit top.  The last look is a sleeveless gown, with an exposed zipper down the back.

Michelle’s first look consists of a brown shirt and a sweater with a wolf pattern on it.  She also made tan pants and black leather chaps.  Her second look includes a black skirt, a brown shirt, and a quilted breastplate.  Her third look is a high-necked black coat with three black leather bags clipped to it in different places.

The judges then start with Michelle, who talks about her female lone wolf inspiration.  She also chose looks that would showcase her skill with knits and leather.  She also credits Joseph, the cat-loving sweater specialist, with helping her make the wolf sweater.  The judges praise her for her “good use of resources.”  As for the mini-collection itself,  Heidi comments, “There’s a lot going on,” but she likes the results.  Zac likes the range from casual to dressy looks.  Nina thinks the styling needs work, especially the models’ hair, which looks disheveled.

Daniel wanted to show a range of looks.  (Really?  Why is everything black, then?)  He used stingray in all three looks.  Zac doesn’t like the dress, saying it’s a type they’ve seen before.  Nina points out an all-black show needs a lot of drama to be successful.  There needs to be a lot of texture and/or volume to compensate for the lack of color.  Heidi simply calls the mini-collection underwhelming.  The looks are tame and not unusual or interesting.

Patricia wanted to show off some new materials, like the horsehair.  Heidi likes the horsehair poncho and the blue dress, but not the gray patterned dress.  Nina says the mini-collection lacks cohesion and seems to be all over the place.  Zac likes the collection, but says the styling needs work.

Stanley wanted to make “opulent sportswear” and show his range.  Heidi doesn’t see a “wow” in the mini-collection.  Zac thinks the beading on the final look is beautiful, but the dress is too long.  Nina thinks the looks are sophisticated, but not modern or sexy.

The judges then have their chat.  Michelle “brought her A-game.”  She made good clothes, but does need to work on her hair and make-up.  Patricia has a lot of ideas and is very original.  Daniel’s mini-collection was disappointing, even though the first piece was dramatic.  Stanley’s clothes were impeccably made, but the proportions and styling aren’t sexy or cool.

Heidi then announces the judges’ decisions.  Michelle is in.  So are Patricia and Stanley, which means the erratic Daniel is out.

Next week:  Fashion Week!

Project Runway 11: Off to Europe

Last week, on Project Runway, the teams were dissolved.  Each designer had to create an editorial look for Marie Claire magazine.  To aid them in this endeavor– and to try to maintain the “team” concept, each designer also got an assistant in the form of an eliminated contestant.  Stanley won, and Michelle lost, but was told she was going to get a second chance, which the judges ominously called a “do-or-die moment.”

As the designers wait anxiously backstage to learn Michelle’s fate, Tim comes in to tell them that nobody is going home.  Instead, all of them are to meet the judges in ten minutes.

Ten minutes later, everybody goes to the runway.  There, Heidi tells them that their next challenge will be the one that determines who among them will go on to Fashion Week.  Said challenge is to make a high-end look inspired by one of the fashion capitals of the world.  Heidi then asks if anybody has been to Europe before, and it turns out that everybody has, except for Daniel.

The designers will be going to Europe for a day to get inspired, sketch, and buy fabric.  They will be accompanied by a previously eliminated designer, who will be acting as their assistant.  Heidi then passes out plane tickets and announces the team-ups.  Layana and Samantha will be going to Barcelona; Patricia and Kate will be going to Paris; Daniel and Amanda will be going to Berlin; and Stanley and Richard will be going to London.  As for Michelle and Tu, they will be staying in New York.

On the one hand, it does seem mean to pass out plane tickets in front of Michelle– and then tell her there isn’t one for her, because she didn’t follow Nina’s directions.  On the other hand, spending only a day in a fascinating city must be extremely frustrating.  Plus, a trip to Europe involves hours-long plane rides both ways– and Michelle can use at least part of that time to get caught up on sorely-needed sleep.

Each designer will get a budget of $1,000, and a whole day to sketch and buy fabric.  The Europe-bound designers then get packed and board planes for Europe.  There, they admire the various landmarks and buildings.  Patricia checks out the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.  Daniel waxes emotional upon seeing Checkpoint Charlie at the Berlin Wall, noting how it was used to keep people apart.  Back in New York, Michelle feels homesick and lonely

In Paris, Patricia takes pictures of graffiti, noting how some of it involves paper cut-outs glued to the walls.  Graffiti artists would then paint on or around the cut-outs.  Patricia decides to make something inspired by Paris’ gritty side, rather than take the more expected route and make something romantic.  In Barcelona, Layana admires a cathedral and other old buildings.  She notes the details of the tiles.

In London, Stanley checks out Westminster Abbey, the Parliament Building, and Big Ben.  He decides to make a look for a ghostly woman.  He also confides that he used to want to be a vampire when he was a boy.  Insert your Anne Rice or Stephenie Meyer joke here.  In Berlin, Daniel is fascinated by the geometric buildings.

Back in New York, Michelle has rallied from her earlier funk, and she and Tu are taking a bus tour of the city.  There she notes how the older buildings are sandwiched between the newer ones.

In Berlin, Daniel sketches a jacket and a dress.  His first idea is to make a jacket and skirt, but Amanda advises against that, warning him the combo could easily skew “old.”  (She’s got a point, as the typical woman’s business suit involves a jacket and skirt combo.)  Daniel also decides to make a draped dress, rather than his usual fitted dress.

In Barcelona, Layana talks about how she and her siblings were raised by a single mother.  She decides to make a leather jacket with a tile pattern.  In New York, Michelle decides to make something out of cashmere.

In London, Stanley and Richard go shopping.  They find a glittering black fabric that Stanley loves and wants very much–only to discover that fabrics cost a lot more in London than they do in the U.S.  Stanley ends up buying some of the glittering fabric, plus a plainer and cheaper black fabric.  In Barcelona, Layana wants leather and silk–only to discover the fabric store there doesn’t have either material.  She eventually finds some lace that will help her capture a feeling of “old beauty.”  Language barriers prove a problem for Patricia in Paris:  She doesn’t know French and the store clerk doesn’t speak English.  She’s still able to get the fabrics she wants in the end.  In Berlin, Daniel discovers that the local fabric store doesn’t have silk or leather– so he settles for white pleather.

By contrast, Michelle gets to go to Mood, and has no trouble finding all the cashmere and leather she wants.  She gets five yards of gray cashmere.

The next day, Michelle and Tu start to work on their design.  They haven’t gotten very far, when the other designers walk in, all chattering about their whirlwind European trips.  This upsets Michelle, who, of course, didn’t get to go to Europe, but she rallies again and continues working.  Everybody has a lot to do and they work busily until it’s time to go home.

The next morning, everybody gets back to work.  Patricia is making fabric out of layers of material.  Michelle is making a top out of leather.  Daniel is making long black boots as part of his look.

Tim comes in to make his rounds, and he starts with Daniel, who loved his mini-trip to Berlin.  He shows Tim both some pictures he took there and the white pleather jacket he’s making.  Next up is Stanley, who describes his look as “modest, but with a kick.”  Tim thinks the capelet and dress combo look “monastic,” until Stanley removes the capelet.  That should be his cue to have the model do the same thing when walking down the runway.

Tim is impressed by Patricia’s jacket, but thinks it would work even better as a top.  Michelle is making a brown leather breast plate and Tim likes it.  He also likes Michelle’s idea of painting an ombre effect on her gray cashmere.  Layana tells Tim about how she was impressed by the details on the buildings she saw in Barcelona.  She also shows off the elaborate patterned coat she’s making, and Tim wonders aloud if she can finish.  Layana assures him she can, since Samantha will be on hand to take care of everything else.  Layana later talks about how she’s been wanting to Fashion Week for the past 20 years.  Really?  Ever since she was eight years old?  Did she even know about Fashion Week at that age?

Then the models come in to try everything on, and Layana has trouble with her elaborate coat.  At 11 o’clock, it’s time for everybody to go back to the apartment.

The next day is the day of the runway show, so the designers get back to work.  The models come in to get dressed, and then they go to hair and make-up.

On the runway, Heidi introduces the guest judge, John Legend.  He’s a singer, songwriter, and actor, and has won nine Grammys.

Layana is up first.  She made black pants and a salmon top with ridiculously long cuffs that obscured the model’s hands.  Most of the coat was made out of a patterned black and white lace.  The lace had been cut into pieces and then reassembled, with black borders marking the points of attachments.  The coat has a black turtleneck collar and long black sleeves.

Michelle made a sleeveless breastplate out of woven strips of glossy brown leather.  She also made a long gray skirt out of cashmere.  She used an ombre effect on the bottom portion of the skirt with what looks like black charcoal.

Stanley made a long, sleeveless black gown and matching capelet.  The gown has a slit in the back, revealing the glittering fabric Stanley had used to line his dress.

Patricia made black pants and a top with odd, puffy three-quarter length sleeves.  Her top apparently consists of layers of different-colored fabrics sewn together, with a translucent white material on top of everything else.  She also made a short black shawl.

Daniel is last.  He made long black boots and a draped black dress.  He also made a white pleather jacket.

The judges start with Daniel, who says he was inspired by Berlin’s architecture.  He also admits that he’d used pleather.  Nina likes the jacket and the boots.  John loves the dress and the boots, but not the jacket.  Zac tells Daniel that he was “brave” for using white pleather.  Heidi thinks the look is hip, young, and modern.

Stanley had wanted to make a dark look, in contrast to some of his more colorful designs.  Nina loves the “glimpse of luxury” provided by the glittering lining.  Heidi thinks it’s a strong and simple look.  Zac calls it elegant and surprising, while John admires the sleek shape.

Layana talks about how she’d been inspired by all the tiles she saw in Barcelona.  Zac compliments her on her fabric choice.  Nina thinks the coat looks old-fashioned and she hates the overly-long sleeves on the top.  Heidi and John both think the coat has no sex appeal.  When the judges ask the model to take the coat off, they agree that the shirt is more attractive than the coat.  Layana becomes defensive during all this and says she loves her coat.

Patricia talks about how she’d been inspired by the art-installation graffiti she saw in Paris.  Zac calls the look “trash couture” and says it looks messy and lumpy.  Nina is simply underwhelmed and doesn’t get a Paris vibe from it.  John says the look is shapeless.  Heidi, alone among the judges, likes it.

Michelle talks about her fascination with New York’s old buildings.  Nina likes the look and says it’s a good comeback from last week’s mishap.  She loves the patent leather used in the breastplate.  John likes the combination of leather and cashmere.  Heidi doesn’t like the skirt, saying it looks dirty.  Zac notes the quilting of the breastplate, which is hard work.

Heidi then asks each designer why they should go to Fashion Week and who should accompany them.  Everybody says they would take Stanley and/or Michelle to Fashion Week with them.  Stanley would take Daniel and Michelle, while Michelle would take Stanley and Layana.

Afterwards, the judges have their chat.  They all loved Stanley’s look, and agree that he is the most experienced, polished, and focused of the designers.  Michelle’s look is striking.  She’s tough, scrappy, and would work very hard to put on a good show at Fashion Week.  These two are almost certainly shoo-ins.

Daniel is erratic.  He can do good work, but he can also be “old farty.”  Layana has the most commercial taste, but has struggled with high fashion pieces.  She also has trouble editing.  Patricia is intriguing and original.  She’s a great textile designer, but her clothes can be too “artsy-craftsy.”  During this discussion, Nina and Heidi practically come to blows.  Heidi really wants to keep Patricia, while Nina does not.  Nina also makes the most asinine statement ever:  “Fashion is not art!”  Oh, really?  Then why have there been haute couture challenges?  Why the recent trip to the Guggenheim Museum?  Fashion does involve art.  It’s basically a hybrid of art and business.

Heidi then announces the judges’ decision.  Stanley is in.  So are Daniel and Michelle.  The last designer going to Fashion Week is Patricia, which means Layana is out.  Nobody’s said anything, but this is the oldest group of finalists in Project Runway history.  Michelle is the “baby” at 34, while the other three are in their 40’s.  The last time a 20-something didn’t make the Final Four was back in Season 7.

Next week:  Tim visits the designers at their homes, as everybody prepares for Fashion Week.

Project Runway 11: Don’t Disappoint Nina!

Last week on Project Runway, the designers faced the textile challenge in which they had to design their own print.  Each team also had to make an avant-garde piece inspired by something in the Guggenheim Museum plus a ready-to-wear companion piece.  Stanley won and Richard was sent home.

Immediately after the judging, Tim summons the designers back to the runway.  Heidi then makes an announcement that the designers have probably been waiting to hear:  No more teams.  From now on, each designer will work on his or her own– sort of.  They’ll be getting assistants to help them with their next challenge, which will test their leadership and communication skills.  Heidi also tells the designers they will be going on a field trip the next day.

That day, the designers meet Tim and Nina at the Hearst Corporation, which is the home of Marie Claire magazine.  Nina then issues the challenge:  Make a fashion-forward editorial look for the spring season.  The winner will have their look photographed for Marie Claire and worn by the actress Jordana Brewster.  Nina also gives instructions detailing what she does and does not want.  She wants bold colors and silhouettes; she does not want gowns, red carpet looks, or pants and t-shirt combos.  In other words, she doesn’t want the designers to make any of their usuals.

The designers get their traditional thirty minutes to sketch.  Layana is inspired by the exterior of the Hearst Building itself and decides to make something incorporating leather and a cobalt blue material.  Patricia decides on an organic look.

Then it’s off to Mood, where each designer gets $250.00 to spend.  Daniel has decided to make a jacket and shorts and is drawn to some yellow linen.  Michelle decides to make pants and a shirt, despite Nina’s instructions to the contrary.  That outfit is going to have to be spectacular in order for Nina to forgive Michelle’s disregarding her instructions.

Back at Parson’s, Tim introduces the design assistants, who, unsurprisingly, are the most recently eliminated designers.  That includes Richard, who nobody wants for a partner.  This is especially true of Patricia, who had been saddled with him in the last challenge.  Stanley, as the winner, is given the traditional first pick, and chooses Tu, citing his sewing prowess.  Michelle picks Amanda, Daniel selects Samantha, Layana chooses Kate, leaving Patricia with Richard.  To say neither one is happy to be working together again would be an understatement.

After Tim explains that the designers are in charge of design, time management, etc, while the eliminated contestants really are just assistants, the designers get to work.  Tu starts work on a jacket, noting how exacting and demanding Stanley is.  Layana starts making an outfit out of pieces of cobalt blue leather.  Patricia tells us that she doesn’t trust Richard or his abilities.  Richard, for his part, decides to just wait in the lounge until Patricia summons him.

Tim comes in to make his rounds and starts with Michelle, who shows off a pair of green pants.   Tim questions the wisdom of making a top out of a translucent material– and then pairing it with a black bra.  Michelle essentially ignores him.  Daniel is working on a jacket and shorts combo, and both are bright yellow.  Tim points out that linen wrinkles very easily.  Stanley is making a three-piece look consisting of culottes, a sleeveless blouse, and a jacket.  Stanley’s look would have the advantage of allowing some mixing and matching.  Next up is Layana, who has been making a bodice out of piece of blue leather.  Tim likes the proportions.  Patricia has been working on a dress and is considering adding a cape.  Tim advises against this and recommends concentrating on the dress.

After Tim leaves, Patricia shows Richard how to do a French seam.  Stanley scolds Tu for not pinning fabric before sewing.  The models come in for their fitting, and Stanley finds that his look fits perfectly, much to his delight and relief.

On the day of the runway show, some of the designers speculate who will be sent home.  Both Patricia and Daniel are mentioned as likely candidates.  Then it’s off to the workroom, where Patricia tries to embellish her dress.

The models come in to get dressed and go to hair and make-up.  Samantha, having finished Daniel’s look, goes to help Patricia with hers.

On the runway, Heidi introduces the judges.  Zac is back from his vacation.  The guest judge is Jordana Brewster, the actress who will be wearing the winning look.

Michelle made loose, olive green pants and a black bandeau.  She then made a white, sleeveless top out of a translucent material, and added wide bands of black and tan leather to the bottom.

Daniel made a sleeveless jacket with exaggerated, wing-like shoulders and a V-shaped neckline.  He also made a pair of short shorts.  Both pieces are canary yellow.

Stanley made a pair of creamy culottes that look like a mid-length skirt.  He also made a brown jacket with mid-length sleeves and a blouse with a black and white print.

Patricia made a one-shoulder turquoise dress with an asymmetrical hem  She tried to liven it up with strips of fringed leather, but the results look crude and amateurish.

Layana made a bodice out of cobalt blue leather pieces.  She had painstakingly attached the leather pieces to each other with silver chain links.  She also made a knee-length white skirt that looked as if it took about five minutes to make.

The judges decide to talk to everybody, starting with Patricia.  Nina considers the shape to be unflattering, and Zac says there’s not much movement.  Jordana thinks it looks unfinished, but Heidi likes the color palette

Stanley took advantage of having a helper by making three pieces.  Nina loves the culottes, and Heidi thinks the outfit looks fresh and expensive.  Jordana likes the pockets in the culottes.  Nina thinks the look is very editorial.

Daniel says that he tried to take Nina’s instructions to heart, especially her requests for “fantasy, bold, and color.”  He then demonstrates how the shoulder pieces can be manipulated.  Heidi thinks the outfit is too gimmicky and looks like something from Victoria’s Secret.  Zac agrees, but Jordana likes the color.  She thinks the look would have worked better with a skirt, though.  Nina concedes the look is memorable, but too “Eastery.”

Layana talks about having been inspired by the Hearst Building.  Zac likes the top and Jordana agrees, saying she likes its color.  Heidi thinks it would photograph well, which is what one wants for an editorial look.

Michelle simply wanted to make a casual look.  Heidi praises Michelle’s sewing skills.  Nina doesn’t think there’s enough fantasy in the look, and reminds Michelle that she had specifically told the designers not to make a pants and t-shirt combo.  Jordana says the look would be great for everyday wear, but not for an editorial photoshoot.

The judges then have their chat.  Layana had made a beautiful top.  Stanley’s culottes were well-made, but hard for women to wear.  He also made several pieces.  Daniel’s look was well-made but costumey.  Michelle’s look was also well-made, but too simple.  Patricia had been hampered by Richard’s lack of help.  While she has an original point of view, her dress was basically a “fringed tent.”

Heidi then announces the judges’ decision.  Stanley is the winner.  Layana and Daniel are both in, leaving Patricia and Michelle in the bottom two.  Patricia is in, but Michelle isn’t out.  She’s getting a second chance, a “do or die” moment.  The judges will explain it more fully.

Next week:  Michelle’s second chance.  Plus, the challenge that will determine who goes on to Fashion Week.  Europe is somehow involved.


Project Runway 11: The Art of Fashion

Last week on Project Runway, the teams were shuffled again.  The designers also confronted the Lord & Taylor challenge in which they had to make a spring look inspired by the Lord & Taylor rose.  (Yes, there were a lot of pink and coral dresses…)  Michelle won and Samantha was sent home.  Not only did Michelle win the right to stay and design, but she won the right to have Lord & Taylor sell her dress.

The next morning, both Layana and Michelle talk about how unhappy they are that Samantha was eliminated over Richard.  They then discuss the idea of mixing the teams so that it would be men versus women.  (They actually say “boys versus girls,” but since everybody left is over twenty-five, I won’t.)  Naturally, they assume that the women would have the advantage, but I tend to think it would depend on the type of challenge and Stanley’s ability to corral the other two men.  He is easily the strongest and most consistent male designer standing.

At the runway, Heidi sends everybody to meet Tim at the Guggenheim Art Museum.  He explains that the Guggenheim was built to house the most cutting-edge and innovative modern art in the world.  He also announces the judges have reshuffled the teams again.  Stanley and Michelle  will work together, which gives them an immediate advantage, as neither one is prone to time-wasting histronics.  Richard and Patricia are a team, as are Layana and Daniel, which means that Patricia and Daniel have both been saddled with an immature, unreliable teammate.

The challenge is the ever-popular HP Intel textile challenge in which the designers will have to make their own print.  Each team will have to make a conceptual “wearable art” piece along with a ready-to-wear companion piece.  Tim urges the designers to make the conceptual piece as “big” and “over-the-top” as possible.

The designers are given thirty minutes to explore the museum and sketch.  Layana is soon drawn to a wire sculpture.  She and Daniel agree that she will do the conceptual piece, while Daniel will do the ready-to-wear.

Stanley is intrigued by a crescent-shaped sculpture.  He and Michelle decide to work on the conceptual piece together, and then do the ready-to-wear.  Om the last team, Patricia will do the conceptual look, while Richard will do the ready-to-wear.

Back at Parson’s, the designers find HP graphics computers and a lot of art supplies waiting for them.  They will have an hour to design their textile.  Michelle sketches a woman’s face, saying it’s supposed to be of a woman on the brink of insanity.  Stanley likes the sketch, they decide to make the faces yellow against a black background.  Patricia and Richard decide upon a design with long triangles in it, while Daniel and Layana choose a geometric pattern.

Afterwards, the designers head out to Mood, where they will each spend $200.00.  Patricia picks out silk organza and leather.  Richard realizes that the judges are getting sick of his jersey knit and looks for something else.

Back at Parson’s, Tim makes an announcement:  The winning designer will get 10 grand and a new graphics computer from HP Intel.  After he leaves the designers get to work.  Michelle paints a design on some fabric.  It strikes me as a good idea to start with that, so the paint will be dry by the time of the runway show.  (This is a two-day challenge, by the way.)  Patricia is working on her conceptual dress, while Richard is fiddling with a black bracelet.  He tells us that he can’t start until he knows what her look is.  Um, couldn’t he ask to see her sketches, or is she one of those designers who doesn’t sketch?

The following morning, the designers find their textiles waiting for them, and everybody is pleased by how their fabrics came out.  Daniel, however, is not amused when Layana tries to hog all of the fabric for her flared, draped dress.  He’d like some for his skirt, thank you very much.  Layana isn’t happy with how her look is turning out.

Tim comes in to make his rounds, and he starts with Stanley and Michelle.  He’s pleased with their looks and is especially impressed by the train  on the “wearable art” look.  He can see at once that Patricia and Richard are having major problems.  He comments that Patricia’s look has a lot going on and adds that she should let it go and let it flow.  Seeing how little Richard has accomplished, he wonders aloud if Richard is trying to sabotage Patricia by having her be responsible for everything.  Richard denies this and Tim tells them that they need a “make it work” moment.

Tim likes the geometric print that Daniel and Layana made.  He’s less impressed with Layana’s dress, which he calls “flat and lifeless.”  Layana bursts into tears and talks about how it’s hard for her and how she’s been second-guessing herself.  Tim gives her a hug.  She’s still upset and so goes off to cry some more, which worries Daniel.  She eventually collects herself and decides to make an evening gown with an eccentric edge.  Michelle amuses herself and Stanley with an impression of Nina critiquing her look.

The models come in for their fitting.  After that it’s time to go and get some rest back at the apartment.

The following morning, it’s the day of the runway show.  The designers get back to work, and Stanley and Michelle discover a problem.  They had decided to use plastic bubble wrap in their conceptual look and painted it black.  The paint isn’t completely dry yet, so they have to wipe some of it off and hope the remainder will dry in time for the show.  Then the models come in to get dressed and go to hair and make-up.

On the runway, Heidi introduces the judges.  Rachel Roy is filling in for Zac Posen again.  The fashion designer Tracy Reese is the guest judge.  She’s known for her ready-to-wear looks and use of patterns.

Layana is up first.  She made the “wearable art” look, which is a gown made out of the textile that she and Daniel had designed.  Said textile has a black, gray, and green geometric pattern against a white background.  She then wound a lot of black tulle around the gown.  She also made a matching headpiece out of the tulle.

Daniel made the ready-to-wear look, a black blazer with a plunging neckline.  He also made a miniskirt out of the textile he and Layana had designed.

Patricia made the “wearable art” look, a long multi-colored skirt made out of their textile paired with a tunic that has a similar color scheme.  She added a white veil to the look.

Richard made a sleeveless top out of the multi-colored textile Patricia had designed and a very short pleated white skirt that curved inward to the point it seemed to constrict the model’s legs.

Michelle and Stanley’s “wearable art” piece consists of a long skirt made of bubble wrap painted black.  They made a sleeveless shirt out of the black and yellow face print that Michelle had designed.  Over that, they put a sleeveless dark green coat with a train.  The train had a white, branch-like pattern painted on it.  The model also wore a spiraling headdress made out of the same green material as the coat.

Stanley and Michelle’s ready-to-wear look is a high-waisted dress made out of Michelle’s black and yellow face print.  The sleeveless bodice is black.

Afterwards, Heidi tells the designers that she’s pleased with their efforts.  The judges then start with Michelle and Stanley, who describe the “wearable art” dress as one worn by “a torrid, dark woman on the brink of insanity.”  Heidi and Rachel both love the print.  Nina can definitely see that the woman wearing the “wearable art” look is “spiraling out of control.”  The judges deem the looks to be a well-matched pair.  When Nina asks who did what, Michelle answers that she had designed the print and hand-painted the train.  Stanley had made and painted the bubble wrap skirt and the ready-to-wear look.

The judges then talk to Patricia and Richard.  They say they can see that Richard had had trouble.  Rachel doesn’t think the two looks go together.  Heidi likes Patricia’s look, but not Richard’s.  The judges think Richard’s weird pleats look as if they are fighting each other.

Layana had wanted to do a very modern print, while Daniel was inspired by the Guggenheim’s architecture.  Heidi says that Daniel’s look was her favorite.  Nina calls it sleek and modern, and Rachel likes the blazer.  Nina thinks Layana’s look was a hodge-podge, and she can see that Layana had struggled with it.  Tracey thinks Layana’s look seemed like something from the 19th century.

Afterwards, the judges have their chat.  They didn’t like Patricia’s veil and the print looked circusy.  Richard had made a very bad skirt, and done so poorly overall that the judges wonder if Patricia had let him hang himself.

Michelle and Stanley made a very good team, and had combined his sophistication with her whimsy to good effect.  The coat was beautiful.  Layana made something fir for a Southern belle, but Daniel had done a good job with his ready-to-wear look.

Heidi then announces the judges’ decision.  Stanley is the winner and Michelle is in.  Daniel and Layana are both safe, leaving Patricia and Richard in the bottom.  Patricia is in, while Richard is out.

With Richard gone, Michelle becomes the last non-minority standing.  She is also the sole survivor of the hapless Dream Team.  At this point, she and Stanley all but have a lock on the finals, leaving the other three to duke it out for the remaining spot.

Next week:  The designers have to make a celebrity editorial look.  There won’t be any more teams, but the designers will have helpers.







Project Runway 11: Everything’s Coming Up Roses

Last week on Project Runway, the designers were divided into teams of four.  Their challenge was to make performance outfits for a troupe of male dancers.  Thanks to a combination of ridiculous time constraints and inexperience in making men’s wear, everybody did poorly, so nobody won.  Amanda was sent home.

The next morning, Richard is upset because Amanda and Layana “threw him under the bus” during judging at the last challenge.  Over in the women’s room, Layana opines that Richard should have been sent home rather than Amanda.

On the runway, Heidi talks about the designers having a “spring in their step.”  She then sends them off to meet Tim at Lord & Taylor.  There, Tim tells them that the judges have further tweaked the teams.  The judges have split Team Shades of Gray in half, with Patricia and Stanley as one pair and Daniel and Michelle as the other.  Richard, Samantha, and Layana are still together, much to their dismay.  Richard and Layana aren’t on speaking terms.

Tim then introduces the designers to Suzanne Timmins, the senior vice president and fashion director of Lord & Taylor.  Together, Tim and Suzanne describe the challenge:  Make a ready-to-wear look inspired by the Lord & Taylor rose.  The look has to be a spring outfit.  The winner of the challenge will have their look sold by Lord & Taylor, both in stores and on-line.  The winner’s look will also be displayed in the window of Lord & Taylor’s NYC building.

The outfit must have a retail price of under $250.  The duos are responsible for two looks apiece, while the trio has to make three looks.  In other words, each designer will be making an outfit.  The duos will each get a budget of $150 to spend at Mood, while the trio gets $220.

The designers get the usual thirty minutes to sketch and talk things over.  Michelle comes from someplace with rainy springs, so she’s thinking rainwear.  Daniel wants to make a jacket and shorts combo.  Stanley wants to reign in what he considers to be Patricia’s kookiness, and she does not appreciate that.  As for the trio, Richard ignores Layana and talks only to Samantha.  Have I mentioned that Richard, at 39, is the oldest member of the trio?  Have I mentioned that he needs to act his age, and not his shoe size?

At Mood, Daniel gets the brightest shade of hot pink that he can get his hands on.  Some of the other designers, going with the rose theme, follow suit.  Richard gets pink and black fabrics.  Layana opts for a floral print.

Back at the workshop, Stanley DR’s that he is too controlling– but he really wants to win.  He’s never been on a losing team yet and wants to keep it that way.  He also thinks Patricia is being too defensive.  She, for her part, decides to just smile and nod and let him speak his piece, since getting into a fight with him would just waste time.

Richard and Layana continue to ignore each other, speaking only to Samantha, who is apparently the only adult and professional in the trio.  Michelle dislikes the pink fabric Daniel got and tells him so.  (I don’t blame her, as it’s about the same color as Pepto-Bismol.)

Tim comes in to make his rounds and he starts with the trio.  Samantha is making a junior look with a heart cut-out in the back.  Tim likes it, but recommends making it as separates, rather than a dress.  Samantha agrees this is a good idea.  Tim then foolishly asks Richard what he thinks of Layana’s dress and Richard he responds that he dislikes the leather accents.  Layana retorts that she doesn’t like the pink in his dress.  She adds that his dress is also uncreative.

On to Patricia and Stanley.  Patricia is working on capri pants and a draped top, and Tim thinks the outfit will retail for more than $250.  Patricia ends up deciding to make a simpler shirt.  As for Stanley and his dress, Tim just asks, “What’s new about it?”

Tim doesn’t like Michelle’s vest, which he thinks looks “apocalyptic.”  He’s right; the vest looks more Mad Max than springtime fashion.  He does like the green dress she’s sketched, and he urges Michelle to scrap the vest and concentrate on the dress.  Tim also notices that Michelle dislikes Daniel’s pink jacket– and he agrees with her, saying the color is unsophisticated.  Michelle thinks it looks too old.  After Tim leaves, they have a ridiculous spat about how Michelle had worded her critique.  Basically, Daniel accuses Michelle of telling him that he needed to design for twenty-one-year-olds and she denies saying that.  Daniel also angrily declares that he doesn’t sell to twenty-one-year-olds.  In the end, Daniel reluctantly cuts up his jacket to make a dress.  He tells us the he makes happy clothes for happy people or something to that effect.

The models come in try on their frocks.  Stanley and Patricia are both happy with the results, and they make up.  Stanley even compliments Patrica, saying he likes the new top.  Layana is also pleased.  Michelle doesn’t have much for her model to try on, other than the vest she won’t be using anyway, as she’s just started working on the dress.

The next morning, the designers get back to work.  Michelle and Daniel decide to bury the hatchet.  Tim sends in the models, who get dressed and go to hair and make-up.  During this Samantha notices that her skirt is too short.  She tries to quickly fix it.

On the runway, Heidi introduces Rachel Roy, who is subbing for the absent Zac.  The guest judge is Bonnie Brooks, the president of Lord & Taylor.

Patricia is up first.  She made a draped, sleeveless orange top and a pair of coral capri pants.  Stanley made a very basic, sleeveless orange dress.   Richard made a long, sleeveless dress.  It has color-blocked black and pink fabric.

Samantha made a sleeveless, very short dress.  The skirt consists of tan, orange, and black in pleated layers.  It is apparently supposed to be reminiscent of a flower.  The top is tan and orange with royal blue panels down the side.  There’s also a heart-shaped cut-out in the back, which means nobody over thirteen is likely to buy the dress.  Do kids that age even shop at Lord & Taylor?  Layana made a long dress with a halter-top and an exposed back.  She made the dress out of a mostly coral print.  She used black leather for a wide belt and as trim for the halter-top.

Daniel made a knee-length, short-sleeved hot pink dress.  It has a V-neck collar and a slit up one leg.  It also has exaggerated shoulders, just like dresses or shirts from the 1980’s.  Michelle made a sleeveless gray and chartreuse mini-dress.  It has a plunging back.

After the show, Heidi tells Patricia and Stanley that they are safe.  Michelle and Daniel are the winning team, while the trio are the losing team.

The judges start with Michelle, who told the judges she’d been thinking of rosebuds, which explains the shade of green she chose.  She’d used silk and leather in her look.  Heidi loves it, at least partly because it’s not as literal as many of the others.  Nina thinks it’s a great-looking dress that will work well with many sizes and body types.  Bonnie adds that Michelle made the best use of Lord & Taylor’s accessories.

Daniel wanted to make something a confident woman would wear.  Bonnie calls it a fantastic dress and says she loves the color.  Nina notes that the dress has a conservative shape, despite the bold color.  She does like the shoulders.  Heidi says it’s a dress that they’ve seen before.

Samantha wanted to make a younger look.  Heidi thinks the skirt looks like a “wilted rose.”  Rachel thinks it’s youthful and adorable.  Nina praises Samantha’s “attempt” to take a risk.  Bonnie thinks the dress is cute and fun.

As for Richard’s dress, Heidi likes it, but Nina dismisses it as “generic.”  Bonnie isn’t sure when somebody would wear it, since it looks like a beach dress, but is too dressy for the beach.  Rachel dislikes the styling.

Layana is last.  Nina likes the details of the dress, but really wishes Layana had picked another fabric.  She calls the print an “old lady fabric.”  Bonnie and Rachel both like the dress, while Heidi agrees with Nina.  She describes Layana’s look as “a hot dress with a horrible print.”

Heidi then asks the trio which of them should go home.  The women nominate Richard, who names Samantha as the weakest link.

The judges then have their chat.  Michelle’s dress is the clear winner, as it was simple but had details including a beautiful neckline.  Layana made a good dress that was marred by a hideous print.  Samantha’s look showed creativity, but was too junior.  Richard’s look was well-constructed, but uncreative.

The judges then announce their decision.  Michelle is the winner and Daniel is safe.  Layana is also safe, leaving Richard and Samantha in the bottom.  Richard is in– and I suspect producer meddling.  I’m sure the producers love the idea of Layana and Richard going at each other next week.  In any case, Samantha is out.

Four months later, Michelle is delighted to see her dress in the window of Lord & Taylor.

Next week:  The designers go to the Guggenheim Museum.  They also face the textile challenge.

Project Runway 11: Blunders from Down Under

Last week on Project Runway, the designers faced the second “unconventional challenge” of the season and had to make prom dresses out of duct tape.  Michelle won, while Kate and Tu were sent home in a surprise double elimination.

Immediately after the judging, Heidi and the other judges announce that they are changing the teams.  The judges have decided to create two new teams of four.  Each team will consist of designers the judges would like to see working together.  They decide to put Daniel and Patricia together, saying they would like to see her textiles matched with his aesthetic.  Michelle and Stanley are also assigned to this team.  The other team will consist of Richard, Layana, Samantha, and Amanda.  As for the challenge, Heidi simply tells them it will be a lot of fun, and Tim will take them on a field trip.

The next morning, the designers meet Tim at a dance hall, where they will meet their clients and models.  Said clients and models prove to be a group of very fit, attractive young men.  An awe-struck Richard describes them as looking like the cast from The Avengers, with their chiseled, well-muscled bodies.  They are the Thunder from Down Under, a troupe of Australian performers who combine dancing with stripping.  They cheerfully perform for the designers.

After the performance, Tim explains the challenge.  It is, of course a men’s wear challenge, which immediately scares some of the designers, such as Michelle, since she’s never made men’s clothing before.  Each team will make three performance outfits, and one of them must be a suit.  The looks have to be cohesive and have to include tearaways, so the stripper can yank off the garment easily.

The teams will have a single day to complete the challenge and a budget of $750 to spend at Mood.  One day!?  To make a suit and two other cohesive looks, all of them tearaways?!  Are they serious?!  I’m calling it right now:  We’re going to see at least one poorly-made outfit.  The fact that at least half the designers seem intimidated by their clients’ buff bodies bodes very ill.  It’s obvious most of them are used to making clothes only for very skinny, undernourished women.

The teams get the usual thirty minutes to caucus.  The teams quickly pick their names.  Daniel, Patricia, Michelle, and Stanley are on Team Shades of Gray, while the other four designers are on Team Slick and Hip.  Michelle suggests making bike messenger looks.  (The suit would belong to their boss?)  Team Shades of Gray also start divvying up the labor.  Stanley has actually made costumes with tearaways before, so he’ll tackle the suit.  Over on Team Slick and Hip, Richard is throwing out suggestions that his peers keep shooting down.  Given that they involve stuff like crystal buttons, who can blame them?  Yes, they’re performers, but that doesn’t mean they want to dress like Liberace.

The teams then go to Mood, and Amanda tells us that Richard’s sensibilities are “too Las Vegas” for her.  She’s also intimidated by the clients’ large muscular bodies.  Back at the workroom, Team Slick and Hip start dividing up the labor, while Team Shades of Gray continues dividing up their chores.  Stanley gets to work on coat patterns, while Patricia  starts making one of her textiles.

Richard, frustrated that his teammates won’t even consider his ideas, takes a break and calls a friend, Maneca.  He breaks down crying while talking to her.  Patrica is weaving white strips of cloth for a shirt.

Tim comes in to make his rounds, and he starts with Team Slick and Hip.  He can see that they’re having problems.  Layana is making what’s supposed to be a men’s jacket– and it’s much too feminine.  Richard is working on the shirts– and he has never made menswear before.

Team Shades of Gray seems to be doing somewhat better.  Michelle is working on a vest and she has decorated it with buttons.  Tim advises her to get rid of them, as they make the vest look very old-fashioned.  As in, from the 19th century.  Patricia is way behind on her shirt, and Tim scolds her for her time management.  Tim thinks Daniel’s look is also old-fashioned.

Afterwards, Layana, who isn’t satisfied with the answers she got from Richard, goes to Stanley, who is on the opposing team, for advice on how to make a man’s jacket.  The clients come in to try on their clothes.

On the day of the runway show, everybody gets back to work.  Amanda is working on men’s pants.  Stanley is trying very hard to finish his suit, while Patricia is similarly trying to finish her woven shirt.  Tim sends in the models, and Layana finds her jacket is too tight.  Part of the problem is that the designers were given dressmakers’ dummies with the proportions of average-sized men– and the Thunder from Down Under are all big guys.  Somebody with men’s wear experience might have known how to compensate for that, but Layana does not have such experience.

As the guys go to hair and make-up, Michelle tries to help Stanley by hotgluing the velcro on his shirt.  As soon as she’s done this, she realizes that she’s made a horrible mistake, for the tearaway is no longer a tearaway.  Samantha notices that the pants for her team’s clients are too short.  Unfortunately, it’s too late to do anything about it.

On the runway, Heidi introduces the guest judge, Emmy Rossum, an actress and singer.

Team Slick and Hip are up first.  Richard and Samantha made the first look.  Richard’s shirt is too long, has an odd-looking collar, and is sleeveless.  Button-down shirts for guys usually have sleeves.  The black vest looks a bit small and the black pants are baggy.

Richard and Amanda made the second look, and both the time crunch and their inexperience with menswear are showing big time.  The black pants are too long and ill-fitting.  The white long-sleeved shirt has a Peter Pan collar– which is never used for a man’s look.  The black tie is simply too short.

Amanda, Layana, and Richard all worked together on the third look, an all-black suit.  Layana’s jacket is much too feminine, as it hugs the contours of the man’s body the way a  woman’s jacket does.  The collar also looks off.  Amanda’s pants are too short.

On the upside, when the guys do a brief dance, they demonstrate that the tearaways work perfectly.

Team Shades of Gray is up next.  Daniel and Patricia made the first look, which consists of black pants, a long-sleeved white shirt, and a black coat.  The shirt and pants are okay, but the coat is boxy and shapeless.

Stanley made the second look.  It consists of a black jacket and matching pants, plus a white button down shirt.

Last up is Michelle, who made charcoal gray pants, a plaid vest of the same color, and a sleeveless pale gray shirt.  The vest has a little tie-on designed to hold a handkerchief.  It basically tells everybody, “I didn’t have time to make a proper pocket!”  The vest is also too short.  Still, Michelle does get points for being the only designer to use a pattern in her look.

The models do a little dance– and not all the tearaways work.  Michelle realizes just how badly she messed up by using a glue gun, since the shirt she’d glued velcro to is one of the pieces that doesn’t work.

Afterwards, Heidi tells the designers that she’s disappointed in them.  She noticed lots of construction problems and an overall lack of creativity.  “Bad designers!”  she scolds at one point.

Oh, please.  Get real.  It’s the producers who are to blame for this mess, not the designers.  Most or all of the designers specialize in women’s clothing, and this was a menswear challenge.  It was also a costume design challenge, and the contestants all specialize in either fashion or ready-to-wear.  Finally, the clients were all large, muscular men with body types the designers typically don’t work with.  The challenge, in short, called for the designers to work far outside their comfort zone.  The clients themselves made matters worse by asking for suits.  For all these reasons, the designers needed at least two days to compensate for the difficulties.  Two days would have allowed them to correct the more severe fit issues.  Two days might have allowed the designers to experiment more with colors and patterns.

Team Slick and Hip is the losing team, while Team Shades of Gray wins by a nose.  The judges start with Team Shades of Gray, who wanted to make office looks– probably because they’d been told to include a suit.  Heidi wishes they’d made things to show off the dancers’ bodies.  Nina thinks the trench coat looks more like a beautician’s smock.  (It does.)  Emmy liked the office theme, but notes that Michelle’s outfit didn’t go with it; the vest and sleeveless shirt look more appropriate for a gas station.  The dancers did like the pants, which allowed them freedom of movement.  Zac liked Patricia’s shirt and said Michelle’s vest was the most inventive piece in the collection.  The judges give Michelle points for using a zipper rather than the usual velcro for her tearaway.

Then it’s Team Slick and Hip’s turn to face the judges.  Nina gets a horrible fit of the giggles when one set of pants inches open, as they’re much too small.  After collecting herself, she says the shirts are too long, the collars are a problem, and the jacket is much too feminine.  Richard protests at one point that he’s never made men’s clothing before.  Zac responds that he should have learned at least the basics in design school– including how to make man’s shirts.  (That might be true, but some of these designers are self-taught.)  He also scolds Richard for his collars.   Heidi then asks everybody who they think the weakest designer is.  Everybody names Amanda, who, when asked, names Richard.

The judges then have their chat.  They acknowledge that performance clothes are hard to make, but then comment that nobody seems to know how to tailor.  You try making a suit in eight hours, guys. Slick and Hip turned out some awful clothes, like Layana’s ill-fitting, too feminine jacket, Richard’s shirts with their horrible collars, and Amanda’s overly tight pants.  Samantha, by contrast, made a comparatively good pair of pants.  Team Shades of Gray was somewhat better, but Patricia’s shirt was too “arts and crafts and Daniel’s coat looked creepy, like a flasher’s coat.

Heidi then announces the judges’ decision.  For the first time in Project Runway history there is no winner.  Team Shades of Gray are all in.  Samantha and Layana are also in, while Richard and Amanda are in the bottom.  Richard is in, so Amanda is out.

Next week:  The designers have to make ready-to-wear looks for Lord & Taylor.



Project Runway 11: Of Proms and Ducks

Last week on Project Runway, the designers confronted a “real woman” challenge in  which they had to make fashionable outfits for retirees.  Stanley won and Benjamin was sent home.

The next morning, Richard moves in with the remaining guys, as his roommates are all gone.  Several people are surprised that Benjamin was sent home rather than Amanda.

The designers are startled when Heidi comes out on the runway– leading a duck on a leash.  Daniel is delighted, since he’d had a pet duck as a child, while Tu, who does not like ducks, is not.  Of course, everybody is wondering what the duck has to do with fashion, and at least one designer guesses that they’ll be making clothes for farmers.  Heidi, after introducing everybody to Fred the Duck, sends them to the work room, where Tim will explain everything.

In the workroom, they find their desks covered with stacks of duct tape of every color imaginable.  Tim introduces everybody to Bill Kahl, the Executive VP of Marketing at ShurTech Brands, the company that makes Duck Tape.  Bill shows off his yellow tie, which is made from Duck Tape, and he and Tim explain the challenge.  It’s an “unconventional materials” challenge in which the designers have to make prom dresses out of Duck Tape.  They will have only a few hours to make said dress, as they will have to take the results to a high school and let the students of said school vote on their favorite.  Those votes will count for 20% of a team’s score.

Speaking of the teams, each team will be responsible for one dress.  It is also time to mix up the pairs again.  As Stanley won the last challenge, he gets to pick his new partner.  He chooses Layana, saying he ” could learn things from her.”  That probably translates to:  “I’m 44, and she’s in her 20’s, so she probably knows better than I do what today’s teenage girls want to wear to the prom.”

Stanley’s decision puts his former partner Richard’s nose out of joint, and Richard informs us that Stanley will regret not picking him since making prom dresses is his specialty.  Kate decides to stick with Tu, because she knows he’ll let her boss him around. The other teams are Michelle and Amanda, Richard and Daniel, and Samantha and Patricia.

Richard and Daniel decide to make a gold dress inspired by Beyoncé. Richard, apparently still smarting from Stanley’s picking Layana over him, takes all the gold tape in the room, saying he wants to make certain that his team’s gold dress is the only one.  May I point out this guy is 39?

Stanley and Layana seem to be getting off to a rocky start, as they have trouble agreeing on a color scheme.  He wants pink and black, and she’s not sure if today’s teenagers would go for that.  In the end, he lets her pick the color scheme and she chooses a black and white print.

Kate and Tu draw different designs and eventually pick one of Kate’s designs.  Michelle and Amanda can’t agree on which color scheme to use:  Michelle wants a camouflage pattern, while Amanda likes a tie-dye pattern.  Since neither can persuade the other to her point of view, they decide to make their own pattern, using blacking and red tape.

Patricia is also making a print, and Samantha admits to being confused by her new partner.  Daniel isn’t happy with the way the gold dress is turning out.  In fact, he thinks it looks like a baked potato.  He takes that as his cue to scrap it and start over.

Tim comes in to make his rounds, and he starts with Stanley and Layana.  He admires the sleekness of the black and silver top they’ve finished.  He notices that Samantha and Patricia don’t seem to be working together all that well, and that they’ve made two silver tops for some reason.  He reminds them that it is a team challenge and warns them to mind their time.  Tim likes the gold dress Richard and Daniel are making.  He stops by Amanda and Michelle, who are making a black and red patterned dress.  He also warns them to watch their time.  Tim then checks in on Kate and Tu, who have decided to make a long gown.  They explain that they also wanted to make the dress look as if it were made of actual fabric.  Tim explains that that is not the point of this particular challenge– and that their dress looks “forgettable.”

The models then come in try on their frocks.  Daniel and Richard are delighted to find that their dress fits, while Michelle and Amanda have to make some quick alterations.  Then Tim arrives to take everybody to the high school.

The designers and the models go to a high school gym.  The students, who are wearing ordinary clothing and not formal wear, cheer Tim enthusiastically.  He then explains the challenge and encourages the teens to examine the dresses.  They do– and Amanda and Michelle notice that they and their dress seem to be getting little attention.  The students not only look at the dresses, they ask questions about techniques.

The following morning, the designers get back to work, putting the finishing touches on their dresses.  In some cases, the high school kids had told them that they’d disliked something, and the designers are making changes as a result.  Tim sends in the models, who get dressed and go to hair and make-up.

On the runway, Heidi tells the designers that Patricia and Samantha’s dress had gotten the most votes from the students.  Unless the judges totally hate their dress, they should be at least safe this round.  Heidi then introduces the guest judge, a pink-haired fashion designer named Chris Benz.

Michelle and Amanda made a strapless, patterned black, red and silver dress with an asymmetrical bodice.  It’s trimmed with black and white houndstooth.  Amanda and Michelle also made matching bracelets out of Duck Tape as accessories.

Stanley and Layana made a sleeveless black and white dress.  The skirt consists of rectangular black panels bordered by a black and white pattern, with the results being sewn together.  The bodice is black and trimmed with a black and white pattern.  The model also wore a hot pink sash with a gigantic bow.  Stanley and Layana also made a wide black and white bracelet out of Duck Tape.

Richard and Daniel made a knee-length strapless gold dress.  It has lattice work down the sides and ruffles forming the skirt.  In my not so humble opinion, it would have worked better as a long sleek gown.  They also made a red and gold corsage.

Kate and Tu  made a strapless dark teal gown.  They altered the texture of the tape to make it seem as if the gown had been made of some denim-like fabric.  They also attached a stylized “flower” to the gown.  The gown itself is okay– but it would have worked better in a different color, as the dark teal seems too old for something intended for a teenager.

Patricia and Samantha made a black, blue, and silver dress that is fairly long in back, but quite short in the front, thus exposing the silver lining.  The bodice is silver and has straps.  The bottom of the skirt is black, while the upper portion is royal blue, and there are flecks of black and silver throughout the blue portion.

After the show, the judges start with Samantha and Patricia, who describe the techniques they used to make their dress.  Heidi loves the dress and Nina appreciates the details.  Chris thinks it should by tighter.  Zac likes the silver.  The judges ask which of them should get the win, and Samantha names Patricia, who had come up with the techniques used.

Kate and Tu simply wanted to make a gown.  Heidi doesn’t think it looks fun, and Chris agrees, calling the gown “old-fashioned” and “square.”  Nina doesn’t like the color and thinks it’s too long for a prom dress.  Zac disagrees:  He’s made prom dresses and many girls want long dresses.  That doesn’t change the fact that Kate and Tu’s gown “lacks fantasy.”

Stanley and Layana simply wanted to have fun with the challenge, and they show off the bracelet they’d made out of Duck Tape.  Nina loves the styling and the bow.  Heidi thinks the dress is modern and cool.  Zac notes it has lots of movement.  Chris calls it fresh and modern.  As for who did what, Layana had designed the top, while Stanley had made the skirt.

Amanda and Michelle wanted to make a dress that a punk rocker would wear.  Chris loves the print.  Zac calls it “fantastic,” but he doesn’t like the cutouts.  Nina could see a “cool girl” like Gwen Stefani wearing it.    Heidi also likes it.   Amanda says she would give the win to Michelle.

Daniel and Richard show off the lattice work in their gold dress, which they say was inspired by Sixteen Candles— which came out in 1984.  Ooops.  Heidi praises the tailoring, but thinks the dress looks old-fashioned.  Chris agrees, while Nina thinks the dress is one-dimensional and looks as if it were made of tin.

The judges then have their chat, starting with the teams they’d liked.  Stanley and Layana had worked well together and made a cool dress with nice accessories.  Michelle and Amanda had turned out a “show-stopper” and did a good job working with patterns.  Samantha and Patricia had made the students’ favorite look.

As for the designers they didn’t like, Kate and Tu had made a boring, old-fashioned dress.  The judges also note that the dress was mostly Kate’s idea, and that Tu doesn’t stand up for himself.  This leads to the age-old debate:  Which is worse, the designer who imposes their bad ideas on others, or the designer who lets himself get steamrollered?  As for Richard and Daniel, their dress was technically good, but it was a 1980’s dress, and the year is 2013.

The judges then announce their decision.  Stanley and Layana are in, while Michelle and Ananda are the winning team.  Michelle is the challenge winner, and five grand in her name will be donated to Autism Speaks by Duck Tape.  Patricia and Samantha are also in.  Richard and Daniel are in, leaving Kate and Tu in the bottom.  In a surprise double elimination, both are sent home.

So, eight designers are left.  Patricia and Amanda are the only ones who have not yet won something, which means they need to step up their game in order to stay competitive.  Nobody seems to be running away with the season, though.  Practically everybody has a reasonable chance of getting to the finals.

Another interesting aspect to this season is that the remaining contenders are mostly minorities.  Samantha and Stanley are black.  Patricia has Native American ancestry.  Layana hails from Brazil, and Daniel, whose last name is Esquivel, is Hispanic.  The regular seasons and All-Star seasons have so far produced only three winners belonging to minorities:  Chloe Dao (born in Laos), Anya Ayoung-Chee (born in Trinidad and has Chinese ancestry), and Mondo Guerra (Mexican ancestry).  This season could easily produce another minority winner to join them.

Next week:  The designers work with male models.

Project Runway 11: Senior Fling

Last week on Project Runway, the reams were dismantled, and the designers told to work in pairs.  As for the challenge, each pair had to make a stage look and a red carpet look for the country singer, Miranda Lambert.  Richard won and Matt was sent home.

The following morning, Matt’s roommates all notice that it’s a lot quieter with him gone.  Daniel, who had been in the bottom, vows to do better.  Benjamin, by contrast, is feeling more confident as he’d had a good showing.  Michelle wonders what will happen now that her teammate, Matthew, is gone.  She guesses she’ll be put on a team– which is fine, provided she doesn’t have to work with Patricia.

On the runway, Heidi quickly answers Michelle’s unspoken question.  She will draw a name from the black velvet button bag, and that will be the name of one Michelle’s new teammates.  She calls Patricia’s name.  Patricia’s delighted, but Michelle isn’t.

Heidi then sends the designers off to meet Tim, who is at a dance hall filled with older people.  They invite the designers to join them in a dance, and the designers do so, albeit self-consciously.  Tim then explains the challenge:  Design a fashionable look for a “mature” woman.  The female dancers will be their clients and models.

The designers are then given the traditional thirty minutes to caucus and sketch.  Amanda’s client turns out to be a painter.  Stanley’s client asks for a jump suit.  Daniel’s client is going on a cruise and wants something special to wear.  Kate’s client advises her to be a “slut” while she’s still young; Kate later DR’s that she’s already engaged, thank you very much.  Then it’s off to Mood, where the designers will have thirty minutes and $200.00 to spend.  Benjamin gets a turquoise fabric since that’s his client’s favorite color.

Back at the workroom, Amanda is already suffering buyer’s remorse.  She fell in love with a red and blue print and didn’t stop to think about how well it would work for the structured garment she’d originally planned.  It’s very light and floaty, so it probably won’t work particularly well.  Ooops.  Daniel, who is apparently nervous about making something too matronly and thus ending up in the bottom again, peppers Samantha with questions.

Tim comes in to make her rounds, and starts with Richard and Stanley.  Richard is making a green dress with wide black trim, and Tim warns him about “overwhelming” his client.  Stanley hasn’t even begun sewing his garment and Tim warns him about the time.  Kate is making a dark top and bright print skirt, and Tim thinks she seems to be combining a winter look (the top) with a spring look (the skirt.)  Tu shows off his green dress, and Tim comments on the “ambitious” tailoring.

Daniel’s client asked for a “sexy suit,” and Daniel means to deliver.  Samantha’s client loves leopard print, as does Samantha herself.  Tim seems pleased with Michelle and Layana, but warns Patricia that her poncho and skirt combo could make her client look heavy, as voluminous looks do.  He then warns Benjamin that his look could look “matronly,” and agrees with Amanda that her look is a “vintage housecoat.”

The clients come in to try on their new looks, much to Amanda’s distress, as she doesn’t feel ready.  Benjamin’s client, a comedienne named Holly, passes Stanley in an aisle– and pinches his butt.  She DR’s “I had to!  It was tempting!”  Amusing– but not if the sexes had been reversed….

Patricia and her client both agree that the poncho is a loser, so Patricia scraps it and starts over.  Tu is also having problems with his look, as it doesn’t quite fit right.

The following morning is the day of the runway show, so the designers get back to work.  Tim sends in the clients.  Amanda finds she’s running low on fabric– and she still has to finish her sleeves.  Patricia is working on a cape.  While many of the clients go to hair and make-up, Tu’s client comments that his dress makes her look fat.  Benjamin’s dress is very tight, but Holly likes it anyway.

On the runway, Heidi introduces the judges.  The fashion designer Rachel Roy is subbing for Zac Posen.  The guest judges are the comedienne Joan Rivers and her daughter, Melissa.

Michelle made a red, green and white print dress.  It’s sleeveless and has a fairly low-cut neckline.  Michelle also provided black stockings or leggings.  Layana made a purple and gray  dress with short sleeves.  Patricia made a dark blue skirt, a gold top, and a dark turquoise capelet.  The top and the capelet both have ragged hems, and together they make the client look heavier than she is.

Stanley made a dark blue-purple jumpsuit with mid-length sleeves.  He added a sequined belt to the look.  Richard made a dress that has a black back, but a green front.  He used wide black strips as trim for the green part.  The dress also has bat-wing sleeves.

Tu made a dark green dress with mid-length sleeves and a voluminous skirt.  He also gave the client a wide brown belt.  Kate made a long-sleeved black top and a red, white, and blue floral print skirt.

Samantha made a leopard print skirt.  So far, so good.  Then she made a shiny chartreuse shirt with poofy, princess sleeves.  The client’s a little old for the Snow White look, in my opinion.  Then Samantha lost her mind and made a black sash… which she then tied in a big bow.  Daniel made a black jump suit.  The jacket has mid-length sleeves.  Daniel added a blue shirt to the ensemble.

Amanda made a red and blue dress with short sleeves and a keyhole collar.  It doesn’t look too bad from the front, but the back reveals serious fit and construction problems.  It even looks as if the skirt might not have been hemmed properly.  Benjamin made a shiny turquoise dress with mid-length sleeves and an odd seam running across the bottom of the skirt.  The bodice and the sleeves are much too tight.

Afterwards,  Heidi tells Layana, Michelle, and Patricia that they are safe.  Then she adds that Layana and Michelle had high scores, while Patricia had a low score.  The most benign interpretation of this is a reminder that the teams need to work together even in challenges that don’t call for cohesive collections.  A less benign interpretation is that it’s an attempt to stir up drama, by handing Layana and Michelle an excuse to try and bully Patricia.

The other teams have to face the judges.  Richard, Stanley, Daniel, and Samantha all got high scores, while Kate, Tu, Benjamin, and Amanda got low scores.

The judges start with Daniel, who told them that his client wanted something for a cruise.  His client, Susan, likes her suit.  The judges like it, too, but Joan believes it “needs more pop” and looks like a “first wife” outfit.

Samantha tells the judges that her client had just lost 30 pounds and adored leopard print.  Joan thinks the client’s outfit makes her look like “a menopausal kitten.”  The judges like the skirt, but dislike the big bow and the princess sleeves on the shirt, which are way too young for even the most young-at-heart senior citizen.

Stanley wanted to make something elegant for his client.  Heidi points out that the pants need to be longer and that the crotch area of said pants needs work.  Joan calls the look “age appropriate sexy.”

Richard says that his client wanted a comfortable and versatile look.  Joan likes how the dress shows the client’s legs.  Nina believes it would work for many body types.  Heidi declares she would wear it.

Amanda tells the judges that her client was a painter, which had inspired her to make a print dress.  The judges agree that the abstract print was a clever idea, but the dress itself is poorly made.  Nina also thinks it’s too girly and undignified.

Benjamin’s client, Holly, asked for a turquoise party dress, so that’s what he made.  Holly loves it.  Heidi thinks it looks extremely and uncomfortably tight.  Nina points out the skirt is lop-sided.

Tu’s client asked for a green dress.  Nina praises the color choice, which is flattering, but says there is too much fabric.  Joan dismisses the look as an “old lady dress,” and the client thinks it makes her look fat.  The judges are also not impressed when Tu admits that the belt is the only thing holding the dress together.

Kate’s client is an interior decorator, so Kate wanted to make something reflecting her artistic sensibility.  Nina loves the fabric used in the look.  Heidi also likes the outfit.

The judges then have their chat.  Stanley’s design is both elegant and comfortable.  Richard’s is youthful and versatile.  Samantha’s look is also youthful.  Daniel’s look boasts beautiful tailoring and interesting details.

As for the designers they didn’t like…  Benjamin’s dress was tight and looked heavy.  Amanda’s look was more appropriate for a young girl than a mature woman.  Kate made a good dress, but her partner Tu made an unflattering look.

Heidi then announces the winner:  Stanley.  Richard, Daniel, and Samantha are all in.  Kate and Tu are also safe, leaving Amanda and Benjamin in the bottom.  Benjamin is out, so Amanda is in.

Next week:  The designers have to use Duck Tape to make prom dresses.  High school students will vote on their designs.

Project Runway 11: A Little Bit Country and a Lot of Fringe

Last week on Project Runway, the designers faced what Heidi called the “ultimate hard and soft challenge.”  It was an “unconventional materials” challenge in which they had to use both flowers and hardware.  The two teams were also mixed up a bit, with Stanley and Layana going to the Dream Team and Michelle going to Team Keeping It Real.  The Dream Team won their first challenge, thanks partly to Stanley’s organizational skills and idea of patterning the collection after 1950’s Dior, thus ensuring a cohesive collection.  Samantha of the Dream Team won immunity, while Joseph from Team Keeping it Real was sent home.  Then Tim announced that there was some “unfinished business” to attend to…

The designers go back to the runway to find Heidi holding the Ominous Velvet Bag of Unnecessary Drama, which immediately makes everybody nervous.  Heidi explains that the teams are history.  From now on, the designers will work in pairs.  Heidi advises the designers to consider things like complementary skills when choosing a partner.  Samantha, as the winner, gets first pick, and she chooses Daniel.  The other pairs are Richard and Stanley, Patricia and Layana, Matthew and Michelle, Kate and Tu, and Amanda and Benjamin.  Afterwards, everybody goes back to Atlas Apartments for some much-needed sleep.

The following morning, the designers meet Tim at a country-and-western bar called Johnny Utah’s.  Tim tells them he wants to get them in the appropriate frame of mind, since their next challenge is a client challenge– and said client is a country-and-western singer named Miranda Lambert.  Each team will make two looks, a stage look and a red carpet look.  The looks don’t have to be cohesive or complementary, but they do have to fit Miranda’s tastes.  For instance, she “likes her curves.”

The teams then have the traditional thirty minutes to caucus.  During this, they divvy up the design duties.  Patricia plans to use her Native American heritage to advantage and make the performance look, while teammate Layana will work on the red carpet look.  Similarly, Amanda hopes to use her Nashville roots to advantage while making the performance look.  Partner Benjamin will do the red carpet look.  Kate will tackle the red carpet look while Tu makes the stage look.  Michelle will make the red carpet look, while Matthew makes the stage look.  Samantha will make the performance look and Daniel will make the red carpet look.  Noticing that all of the other red carpet designers are talking about making gowns, Daniel decides to make separates, which he believes would travel better and be more versatile.  As for the last team, Stanley will make the red carpet look, while Richard will make the stage look.

Then it’s off to Mood, where each team has $400.00 and thirty minutes to spend.  For some reason, quite a few people get something navy or dark blue.  That could work for a red carpet gown, but probably not for a stage outfit.  Benjamin and Amanda discover they have spent only around $270.00 of their money– and they wonder if they have bought enough supplies or overlooked something essential.  Back at the workroom, the designers watch a tape of Miranda performing, which likely reminds some of them that stage outfits have to accommodate movement.

Matthew talks about feeling the need to prove himself.  He was on the Dream Team, which had lost three out of four challenges, and consequently fears being sent home.  It’s an understandable concern– so long as he doesn’t let it paralyze him.  Richard is using a black netted material for his look.

Kate and Tu talk about their different aesthetics.  She likes feminine looks, while he prefers edgier styles.  Tu’s thinking about making something inspired by Lady Gaga for the stage look.  That’s probably a bad idea, since Lady Gaga isn’t a country singer.  Samantha is planning a motorcycle jacket for part of her look.  Daniel is using a soutache technique with some leather.  Wikipedia defines soutache as “a narrow flat decorative braid…, used in the trimming of drapery or clothing. ”  It can be used to conceal a hem.  Michelle is working on a vest, while Benjamin has decided to try to solve his time management problems by making a schedule.  So far, he’s been able to stick to it.

Tim comes in to make his rounds, and he starts with Samantha and Daniel.  He likes Samantha’s fitted jacket and draped skirt and is impressed by Daniel’s soutache.  He also likes the keyhole in Layana’s red carpet gown.  He is initially nonplussed by Patricia’s garment, but warms to it after she’s explained the thinking behind it.

Tim okays Kate’s red dress, but isn’t so impressed by Tu’s attempt to “Gaga-ize” Miranda Lambert by exaggerating her curves.  He notes, “If the construction elements are fitted, then they’ll work, but if they are filled, she will look like a cartoon.”  He also has concerns about Richard’s look, since Richard is using mesh– without a lining.  Consequently, a lot of skin will be showing.  Tim seems satisfied with Amanda and Benjamin’s progress, but spots problems at Michelle and Matthew’s table.  Matthew is using leather and lace in his piece– and has no idea what sort of skirt to make.  Sensing that the real problem is a lack of confidence, Tim gives Matthew a pep talk.

After Tim leaves, the designers get back to work.  Well, most of them get back to work; Michelle decides to entertain everybody with her impersonations of Nina.  The models come in for their fitting and Michelle finds her dress fits.  Stanley frets about the fact that Richard still hasn’t come up with a lining for his dress.  As Amanda works with some fringe, she tells us about how her family produces more than its fair share of achievers and she feels the need to live up to that standard.  Specifically, her older brother James is the lead singer in the band Maroon 5.

On the morning of the runway show, Michelle is worried about Matthew, who still hasn’t made a skirt for his look.  He finally starts work  on a pleated skirt.  Richard still hasn’t come up with a lining for his dress, and it’s not until the models arrive that he gets a brainwave and cuts up a Mood t-shirt he’d bought.  He’ll make a tube-top out of it, which should cover enough skin to satisfy modesty.  While the models go to hair and make-up, Michelle helps Matthew finish his skirt.

On the runway, Heidi introduces Miranda Lambert, who is both the client and the guest judge.  Amanda is up first, and she made a sleeveless dark blue mini-dress for a stage outfit.  It is decorated with lots and lots of fringe.  Benjamin made the red carpet look, a strapless navy gown.

Tu made a sleeveless black mini-dress for a stage outfit.  It has pleats down the front.  Kate made the red carpet look, a long red gown.  It has a sleeveless bodice made of red leather that has a cut-out in the back.

Samantha made a short black skirt and a black leather vest for the stage look.  Daniel made the red carpet look, and opted to make separates.  He made a long navy blue skirt with a slit and a short fringe decorating the hem.  He also made a black leather halter with lots and lots of soutache.

Matthew made a stage outfit with a simple, short black skirt.  He also made a one-shouldered black bodice.  For a stage outfit?    Wouldn’t lighter, brighter colors be better for that?  Michelle made a red carpet look consisting of a long, tight, black skirt, and a black vest.  She then made an item that seems like a cross between a necklace and a bib.  It consists of several strips of off-white leather hanging down the model’s front.

Patricia made what looks like a simple brown dress for a stage look.  She then decorated it with lots and lots of long, off-white fringe.  Layana made a red carpet look, a sleeveless blue gown with a goodly portion of the front cut away, revealing the model’s legs.

Richard made a sleeveless, black and silver mini-dress.  It’s decorated with lot and lots of fringe.  Stanley made the red carpet look, which is a long, black sleeveless gown with a voluminous skirt.

After the show, Heidi calls Patricia, Layana, Kate and Tu.  She tells them that they are safe.  The other pairs all have to face the judges.  Richard, Stanley, Amanda, and Benjamin got the high scores, while Matthew, Michelle, Samantha, and Daniel got the low scores.

The judges decide to talk to the high scorers first, and start with Stanley and Richard.  Richard explained that he’d made the stage outfit, so one of his priorities had been making something Miranda could easily move in.  Zac said that he’d been successful, while Heidi thought the dress looked expensive.  Nina said it would flatter Miranda’s curves.  Miranda herself liked the length and said she could see herself wearing it.

Stanley had designed his red carpet dress to be photogenic.  Miranda said it was “great,” and that she loved the plunging neckline, but also that there was too much skirt.  Nina said it was beautiful, but also agreed Miranda would be “swallowed up” by the skirt.  Heidi loved the plunging neckline.

Benjamin simply wanted to make a dress fit for the red carpet.  Nina thinks the dress is gorgeous and elegant from “every angle.”  Zac liked the styling.  Miranda was uncertain about how “forgiving” the fabric would be, but Heidi thought the dress would look good on her.  Nina also thinks the dress would provide sufficient support.

Amanda tells the judges that she was inspired by Nashville “classic dive.”  Miranda thinks the dress is really cool and adds that she would buy it.  Zac praises Amanda for using a fabric like jersey, which is more commonly used in casual attire, and making a nice dress out of it.  Nina likes the “easiness” of the dress.

Then it’s time for the low scoring designers to face the judges, and they start with Michelle.  She tells them she’d designed her look with the MTV awards in mind.  Heidi scathingly comments that dress would put Miranda on the “worst-dressed list.”  All of the judges hate the bib, with Zac going so far as to say it looks like linguini.  Nina thinks the outfit looks “very rock of ages” and “dated.”

Matthew simply shows his look.  Heidi says she can tell he had put in a lot of details, but she can’t really see them– and a stage outfit’s details should be visible from a distance.  Heidi and Zac both agree that a stage outfit should be bolder.  Nina adds that the garment has neither shine nor movement.  Miranda believes he could do better and needs to have more confidence in himself and his work.

Daniel describes his soutache technique, which, unfortunately doesn’t impress the judges.  Miranda hadn’t been able to tell the top was made of leather, and Heidi thinks it looks like tinfoil.  Nina thinks the outfit looks cheap and that the fringed skirt looks a cross between a tablecloth and a napkin.  Zac says the outfit looks old, and Heidi thinks it makes the model look heavier.

Samantha had used leather and suede in her stage look.  Zac thinks it lacks “wow.”  Miranda comments that she would wear the outfit Samantha was wearing before she would wear the one she’d designed.  The consensus seems to be that Samantha is lucky to have immunity this week.

Afterwards, the judges have their chat, starting with the designers they’d liked.  Amanda’s look was versatile, while Benjamin’s was elegant and timeless.  Richard’s look was more rock and roll than country, but still a good dress.  Stanley’s was nice, but had some fit issues.

As for the designers they didn’t like, Michelle has questionable taste.  She also has a strong point of view and an 80’s vibe.  Matthew does have good taste, but no confidence.  Daniel’s dress looked cheap, and Samantha is lucky to have immunity.

Heidi then asks Miranda to announce the winner and it’s Richard.  She tells him that she’ll wear his dress in a performance.  Stanley is safe, as are Amanda and Benjamin.  Samantha is in, and this time, there are three candidates for ouster:  Matthew, Daniel, and Michelle are all in the bottom.  Matthew is out, so the other two are in.

Next week:  Joan Rivers is the guest judge, and the designers have to design for retirees.