Category Archives: Fashion-Modeling

Project Runway 11: Two Unconventional Materials for the Price of One

Last week on Project Runway, the designers had to make outfits that Heidi could wear while promoting her new perfume.  She wanted two outfits:  one for a T.V. commercial and one for a P.R. event.  There were therefore two winners, from the seemingly invincible Team Keeping It Real (Team KIR):  Kate (commercial) and Daniel (P.R. event).  Cindy from the Dream Team was sent home.

The following morning, the designers get up and get ready.  Benjamin vows to do better.  Other designers wonder if there will be a team swap, as the Dream Team is down to five contestants, while Team KIR is eight strong.

In the workroom, they find lots of scented candles.  Tim explains that the candles are 2-in-1’s, which means they have two scents mixed into their wax.  Similarly, the designers face a 2-in-1 challenge.  It’s a take on the ever-popular “unconventional materials” challenge, in which the designers will be using two types of unconventional materials:  flowers and hardware.  Each team will make six cohesive looks, and the looks have to incorporate both flowers and hardware.  It’s the ultimate play on hard and soft.

Tim then notes how lopsided the teams have become.  He then invites the Dream Team to pick two designers from the other team.  After consulting in a huddle, they choose Stanley, for his organizational skills, and Layana, for her stylistic sense.  Tim then invites Team KIR to choose a new teammate, but specifies they can’t simply take Stanley or Layana back.  They have to pick somebody new.  They choose Michelle, who is less than thrilled, because she doesn’t like Patricia.  Team KIR now has seven players, while the Dream Team has six.

Each team will have 45 minutes to caucus, a budget of $2500, and two days to complete the challenge.  During the caucusing, Stanley suggests a theme:  1950’s Dior.  Everybody agrees this is a good idea, as it seems like a simple way to ensure a cohesive collection.  Over on Team KIR, the designers simply discuss what they’d like to make.  Upon discovering they have apparently similar ideas, Michelle and Richard decide to work together.  Another designer notes many of their proposed looks would be suitable for somebody like Bjork– who had once worn a dress incorporating a stuffed swan to the Academy Awards.

Tim then takes everybody shopping.  First, the designers spend thirty minutes at a hardware store.  Samantha decides to get most of her materials there.  Then it’s off to the flower shop, where they spend another thirty minutes.  Amanda tells us that she doesn’t like flowers with their rounded, organic shapes, as she prefers clean lines.  Joseph, on the other hand, does like flowers.

Back at the workshop, Amanda discovers that the moss she’d intended to be the base of her dress is falling apart.  Her teammates lend her an adhesive to help it stay together.  Similarly, Michelle and Richard are having problems with their chosen materials.  Ben on the Dream Team decides to make his own textile, worrying his teammates, as he’s had time management problems before.  Michelle and Richard figure out a way to make a bodice out of mini-blinds.

The next morning the designers get back to work.  Samantha is working on a lattice design for her look.  She’s worried because while she knows what to do for the top, she doesn’t have a clue what to do for the bottom.  Joseph has made a net.  His idea is to attach things to it and make a dress that way.  Daniel looks around and realizes that Team KIR’s looks aren’t cohesive.  Everybody is just doing their own thing.

Tim comes in to make his rounds and he starts with Team KIR.  While he likes some individual designs, he does notice the lack of cohesiveness.  Team KIR then belatedly picks a theme:  “history of fashion.”  Each dress will represent a different decade.  That will explain the divergent looks.

Then it’s off to the Dream Team.  Tu shows off a vest and Benjamin displays the loom he has built in order to weave his own textile.  Samantha has cut out shapes she will assemble into a dress.  Tim, not surprisingly, cautions her and Benjamin to watch their time.

Then the models come in for their fitting.  Amanda is having problems with her moss dress and wishes she could start over.  Joe suggests a solution, ” Cut the flower petal panel off the back and put it in the front”.  She does so.

On the day of the runway show, the designers get back to work.  Tim sends in the models.  Layana helps Samantha finish her look.  Michelle looks around and comments that Team KIR’s looks are still not cohesive and look as if they were made by people from different planets.  After the models go to hair and make-up, it’s time for the show.

On the runway, Heidi introduces the guest judges, fashion blogger Leandra Medine and actress Bette Midler.  Team KIR is up first.

Daniel made a pale green sleeveless dress that flares out dramatically at the hips.  Just what every woman wants:  a dress that makes her look bigger.   Joseph used gray mesh to make a long-sleeved, boxy dress.  He then decorated it by draping red, green, and white flowers over it.

Richard and Michelle made a black framework out of mini- blinds with an exposed back.  The “skirt” consisted of the framework, plus a lot of greens and red, orange, and purple flowers.  Patricia started off with a brown mesh and then simply decorated it with greens and red and white flowers.

Amanda made a sleeveless snug mini-dress.  The bottom portion is made of green moss, while the middle is decorated with orange and yellow petals.  The top is a sort of yoke decorated with silver cotter pins.  Kate made a flared, sleeveless dress with a white halter that drapes over the upper portion of the skirt, which is mostly red, but the hem is black.  Most of the garment is covered with flowers.

Next up is the Dream Team.  Matthew is first, and he made a black and white bodice out of ropes and mopheads.  He also made a short skirt out of yellow moss.

Stanley made a sleeveless green dress with a flared skirt.  Tu made a light yellow vest out of rope and made a banded skirt out of greens and bright yellow flowers.  Benjamin made a sleeveless orange and yellow dress with an exposed back.

Samantha made a skirt out of translucent gray mesh and an overskirt out of the same material.  She then stuffed both pieces with green leaves and decorated the overskirt with yellow petals.  She also made a sleeveless top out of tan and white paper.  The white parts have a lattice effect.

Layana made a dress out of what looks like yellow rope or string.  She then decorated it with leaves and pale pink flowers.

Afterwards, Heidi announces that this was a very close contest.  The designs had been so beautiful it was hard for the judges to decide.  But, the Dream Team won by a narrow margin, and Team KIR “came in second.”  The Dream Team won for a not wholly unexpected reason:  Their collection was more cohesive.

The Dream Team face the judges first.  Bette calls their collection “whimsical and beautifully made.”  She also praises the group’s craftsmanship.  Leandra also praises the artistry of the collection.  Nina loved Samantha’s trapped leaves and Zac liked Layana’s cage.

Then it’s Team KIR’s turn to face the judges.  They explain that their collection was inspired by fashion history, with each designer working on a different decade.  Thus, Kate’s look was inspired by the 1950’s, Amanda’s by the 1960’s, Patricia’s by the 1970’s, Joseph’s by the future, Daniel’s by the 1980’s, and Richard and Michelle’s by the 1990’s.  Okay, in my humble opinion, unless somebody completely messed up their chosen decade, Joseph should go home.  The other contestants were working with real fashions and real decades, while Joseph was just making up stuff.

The judges did like their looks overall, but Nina hadn’t spotted the decade theme until after hearing it explained.  Richard and Michelle’s look reminded the judges of Madonna.  When Heidi asks Team KIR, which of them should go home, Richard nominates Amanda– and his teammates agree, citing Amanda’s struggles with the moss.

The judges then have their chat, starting with the Dream Team.  Benjamin had made his strongest piece yet, thus recovering nicely from earlier debacles.  The judges were also suitably impressed that he’d made his own loom.  Samantha and Layana’s pieces were Heidi’s favorites.   As for Team KIR, Amanda’s proportions were off, and she seemed defeated.  In my opinion, that last shouldn’t be a consideration unless there is no other way to make a decision.  The judges do discuss why everybody on Team KIR had nominated Amanda, with the consensus being it was a dog-pack mentality.  For whatever reason, everybody had just gone along with Richard’s suggestion.

Heidi then announces the winner:  Samantha.  The rest of the Dream Team is safe.  Kate, Daniel, Michelle, Richard, and Patricia are also safe, leaving Amanda and Joseph in the bottom.  Joseph is out, which means Amanda is in.

Backstage, everybody says good-bye to Joseph.  Then Tim comes in and announces that he has something else for the designers.  They need to meet him and Heidi on the runway in ten minutes.  To be continued…

Next week:  The cliffhanger is presumably resolved.

Project Runway 11: Time to Surprise Heidi

Last week on Project Runway. the designers had to make new uniforms for Susan Sarandon’s ping-pong club, SPiN.  Layana from Team Keeping It Real (KIR) won, while James of the Dream Team was sent home.

The next day, at Atlas, the designers get ready to face a new day.  Members of the Dream Team fret about their losses, while some of the guys on Team KIR discuss who they think the weaker designers on their team are.  Oddly, somebody mentions Patricia, who was in the top three in the first episode.

Then it’s off to Parson’s, where the designers find a bunch of pink boxes and a glass tray full of rose petals, leaves, and the like waiting for them.  Tim explains that their next challenge will be a client challenge.  Said client is opinionated and demanding– and it’s Heidi.  She is launching a new perfume called “Surprise,” and needs new clothes.  Specifically, she needs two outfits:  one for a T.V. commercial and one for a P.R. event.

Each team will make six outfits:  four for the T.V. ad and two for the P.R. event.  The winning team will produce two winners.  Heidi then shows the designers the contents of the pink boxes, and they turn out to be items associated with the perfume and that should serve as the designers’ inspiration.  Heidi then tells them that the colors associated with “Surprise” are pink, gold, and black.  The designers are to work with that palette.

The designers will have thirty minutes to sketch and caucus.  Each team will have a budget of 1200.00.  Team Keeping It Real discusses who will do what.  They have eight designers working on six looks, so Amanda and Joseph team up, as do Layana and Kate.  Amanda and Joseph will work on a P.R. look as will Patricia.  Over on the Dream Team, everybody will work on a single look, which they desperately hope will work to their advantage.  Cindy and Benjamin both opt to work on T.V. ad looks.  Amanda and Joseph on Team KIR quickly discover a problem:  They have very different aesthetics.  She likes very structured looks, while prefers draping and whimsy.

At Mood, Patricia decides to make a leather mesh textile.  For a one day challenge.  Daniel tells us that his look will be inspired by Bond girls.  Matthew admits to being nervous and tells us he’s not a dressmaker.  Joseph and Amanda still aren’t sure what to do or how to bridge their different tastes.  Kate and Layna find they are over-budget, and Daniel gentlemanly gives them his left-over money.  Some of their other teammates also contribute.  I’m guessing Team KIR will continue to play nice like this until the Dream Team is more or less gone, at which point it will become every designer for himself or herself.  Another possibility is that alliances start forming, as pairs or trios work together to get their look to the top, or at least keep it out of the bottom.

Back at the workroom, everybody gets to work, except for Amanda and Joseph, who are still sketching and discussing what to make.  Cindy has bought several bolts of pink fabric and she asks Benjamin which one he likes best.  He picks an iridescent gold-pink fabric.  I’m not convinced how good that will look on T.V.  Amanda and Joseph likewise go to Richard for advice.  Joseph wants to do something avant-garde, but Amanda suggests otherwise.  She and Joseph eventually decide on a low-cut dress with a lattice design.

Tim comes in to make his rounds and he starts with the Dream Team.  Benjamin shows off his sketch; he isn’t very far along with his actual dress.  Tim advises him that gold fabric should look as if it were all one piece.  Tu talks about how his look was inspired by rose petals.  Matthew is making something out of leather– and is bored by his own design.  Cindy is working on a short sheath dress and had also added a cover-up, which Tim advises her to ditch.  He does like Michelle’s design.

Tim then stops by Team KIR.  Amanda and Joseph explain the problems they’ve had, while Patricia shows off her pink leather mesh.  Richard is making a black dress, and Stanley is making a gold dress.  Daniel is making a gown, and Tim likes what he sees so far.  Kate and Layana are working on a corseted dress, and they’re having disagreements about the color scheme.  Is there too much pink or too much black?

After Tim leaves, Daniel realizes his gown needs something to liven it up, and asks Patricia for some black leather that she’s not using.  She gives it to him.  He decides to use it for a contrasting trim.  The models then come in for their fittings.  Cindy finds this frustrating, and comments, “This is so much harder than it looks on T.V.”  Benjamin is also feeling the pressure, and breaks down, talking about how he’d recently gotten out of an emotionally abusive relationship.  Given that he’s unraveling before our eyes, I think Benjamin came on the show earlier than was good for him.  He’d needed time to recover more fully from his ordeal.  It looks as if he may have made the same mistake as Johnny Sakalis from Season 6.  Johnny was a recently recovered drug addict who found the rigors of a competitive reality too much to cope with– and ended up an early casualty, after crashing and burning on T.V.

On the day of the runway show, the designers get back to work.  Tim sends in the models and reminds everybody to use the accessory wall thoughtfully.  Daniel reminds us that he’s self-taught.  Benjamin, meanwhile, has fallen behind in his look, and Cindy tries to help him.  They end up wrapping leather straps around the model.

On the runway, Heidi introduces the guest judge, Kristin Davis, who had played Charlotte York Goldenblatt in Sex and the City.  Team KIR is up first.

Daniel made a long, draped creamy gown with a slit going up one side.  The plunging neckline is trimmed with black leather, which also serves as a yoke.

Patricia made a rather plain, sleeveless beige dress that has a plunging back.  She livened it up with a pale pink vest made out of leather mesh, which consists of little squares sewn catty-corner to each other, so every four squares enclose a square hole of negative space.  The bottom of the vest is trimmed with a fringe made of larger gold squares.

Josepha and Amanda made a sleeveless black dress with a plunging v-neck collar.  The front is decorated with a black and brown lattice-work design.  Richard made a one-shouldered black and silver mini-dress.  Nice.  Unfortunately, he lost his mind and added a massive black ruffle or bustle to the rear.  Not so nice.

Layana and Kate made a long black shoulderless dress.  It has a long slit up one side.  It also has a pink and black corset.  The back is laced and the front has a bow or flower detail.  Stanley made a one-shouldered gold lamé dress with black trim at the top.  He then ruins it by seriously overdoing the jewelry, most notably with several gold chains around the model’s neck.  That’s overkill, pal.

Next up is the Dream Team.  Michelle is first, and she made a short, sleeveless black dress with an exposed back.  The shoulder portion is made of black leather and decorated with brass studs.  Matthew made a black mini-dress that shows a lot of skin.  It has bare shoulders and a bare back.  He then made a black leather collar with a leash attached to it.  Dude, the dress is for a press event, not a Halloween party.

Cindy made a short, sleeveless dress out of an iridescent, shimmering pink/yellow fabric.  It has a slit down the front of the bodice, and a plunging back.  In back, the dress, seems to be poorly fitted.  Samantha made a long black dress with a slit up the front.  Part of the top is made of illusion.

Benjamin made a long pink dress with a long slit up one side.  It’s shoulderless and he plainly did not finish whatever supports he was making for the bodice.  He ends up using gold leather straps to hold the bodice in place.  Even so, it still looks as if it’s about to slide off the model’s breasts.  Tu made a sleeveless black dress that is short in front but has a train in the back.

After the show, Heidi announces the winning team and it’s Team KIR again.  Okay, it’s official:  They need to mix up the teams.  It’s getting boring seeing the same team win over and over.  Not only that, but the better designers on the Dream Team like Tu shouldn’t go home before the weaker designers on Team KIR just because they have the bad luck to be on the losing team.

The judges decide to start with the Dream Team, so Team KIR goes backstage to wait.  Heidi then announces that Matt, Cindy, and Benjamin are the ones in the bottom.

Matt explains that he was going for a 90’s fetish vibe after hearing Heidi use the word “bondage”
when describing her perfume bottle design.  Zac understands, but thinks the collar and leash look trashy, not sexy.  Heidi says the look makes her think, “Where’s my whip?” and adds that she couldn’t wear it to an event.  Kristin says she would “die” if somebody asked her to wear it.  (Presumably of embarrassment.)  Nina says she doesn’t understand how he could have dropped the ball on such a simple challenge.

Cindy wanted to make something sexier than her usual style.  She also thought the color was elegant.  Heidi explains that it’s fit that makes a dress sexy, not a slit down the front.  Zac hates the fabric and explains it wouldn’t photograph well.  Nina adds that the fabric looks cheap, as iridescent fabric often does.  Kristin says it looks like something she would have worn on Sex and the City— about 10 years ago.

Benjamin says he chose a fabric that was the same color as the perfume.  He also used chiffon because it was light, like a spritz of perfume.  Kristin likes the color, but thinks the bodice looks upsetting and painful.  Heidi had written “droopy boobs” on her card.  Nina says it’s the worst construction she’s ever seen and adds that the model looks as if she’s been shipwrecked.  Zac scolds Benjamin for making excuses for his bad work.

Then it’s Team KIR’s turn to face the judges.  Before starting, Heidi scolds Richard and Stanley for their lackluster efforts in this challenge, pointing out they are safe by virtue of being on the winning team.  The top designers are Daniel, Patricia, and Layana/Kate.

Patricia starts by explaining that she cut the pieces of her mesh by hand in order to create a light look for a traditionally tough fabric.  Nina likes the look and calls it “interesting.”  Zac enjoys the fact that Patricia makes her own fabrics and thereby put her own stamp on her designs.  Heidi adds that Patricia does things they’ve never seen before.  Kristin thinks the look is interesting, but wonders if it could be cut into a more flattering shape.  Zac adds that the dress could be made for a younger woman.  Heidi likes that it’s boxy and unexpected.  The rest of Team KIR praise Patricia for her hard work.

Next up are Kate and Layana.  Kate explains that she wanted a fitted look that would show off Heidi’s body.  Both women claim equal credit for the look, in execution and ideas.  Heidi loves the mix of soft and hard in the dress.  She also likes the boning in the corset, which she says looks good from every angle.  Zac likes the draping, but adds he would have added one more layer over the pink corset.  Nina thought the dress’ movement coming down the runway was beautiful and would work well in a photoshoot.  Kristin loves the color scheme, which reminds her of ballet.  When asked which of them should win, if the dress id the winning look, both women declare that having Heidi wear their dress is a big enough win in itself.

Last up is Daniel, who talks about his Bond girl inspiration.  He admits the leather was an afterthought.  Heidi admires the lines of the dress, which are simple and sophisticated.  Kristin thinks it’s flattering.  Nina loves the construction and the shape, but has reservations about the fabric choice.  Zac thinks it’s well-done, but thinks the color isn’t the best choice for photography.

The judges have their chat, starting with the designers they’d liked.  Patricia’s look was cool and fresh.  Layana and Kate had made a stunning dress.  Daniel’s look was elegant with a sexy silhouette.  As for the losing designers, Matthew had gone overboard with his sexual theme.  Cindy had chosen poorly when it came to fabric, and Benjamin’s construction was horrible.

Heidi then announces the judges’ decision.  Kate is the winner for the ad campaign, so Layana is safe.  Daniel is the winner for the P.R. event, even though he’d actually made his dress for the T.V. ad.  Patricia and Matthew are safe, leaving Cindy and Benjamin in the bottom.  Cindy is out, after three trips to the bottom, so Benjamin is in.

Next week:  It’s the unconventional materials challenge.

Project Runway 11: A new spin on design

Last week on Project Runway, the eleventh regular season began as sixteen new designers descended on New York City.  There they learned that would be competing in teams of eight.  In the real world, after all, designers do have to work together.  The first challenge was to make a design inspired by New York City itself.  Daniel from Team Keeping It Real won, while Emily from the Dream Team was sent home.

Back at Atlas Apartments, the designers discuss the challenge.  “I’m really sad Emily’s going home and it’s kind of sad that we didn’t offer her help until the last minute,” Matthew tells us.  This, of course, is the dilemma of the season:  How far should you carry a lousy designer?  Is it better to try to protect everybody or to “cull the herd,” as Cindy put it?  Doing the latter may enable a team to get rid of dead weight, but it also deprives them of wiggle room, as they will eventually run out of bad designers to toss and start losing good ones.

Speaking of poor designers, Cindy worries that her trip to the bottom will cause her teammates to see her as the weak link.    Similarly, James is also unhappy about being on the bottom– and blames his teammates’ advice.  He vows not to listen to them anymore, thus showing he has missed the point of the season.

At the runway, Heidi informs the designers they will remain in their current teams.  They will not switch teams every week.  This, naturally, begs the question as to what will happen if Team Keeping It Real (KIR) ends up dominating the challenges?  Sooner or later, the Dream Team will not have enough people to be able to compete on equal terms.  It also seems unfair that the stronger designers from the Dream Team get ousted before the weaker ones on Team Keeping It Real, just because the latter have the good luck to be on a winning team.  The obvious solution would be a team switch-up of some kind.

Heidi then sends the designers to meet with Tim, who will fill them in on the details.  Tim meets them at SPiN New York City, a ping-pong social club, which is the latest trend in NYC nightlife.  Tim and the manager, Brandon Hirsch, spell out the challenge:  Make new uniforms for the clubs’ employees.  Each team will make five uniforms, three for women and two for men.  Most of the uniforms will be for servers, but one of the men’s uniforms will be for the “ball boy,” who does things like retrieve stray balls and otherwise takes care of the ping-pong tables and equipment.

To give the designers a feel for his employees’ needs, Hirsch puts them to work serving drinks and retrieving ping-pong balls.  The designers also talk to the employees a little, who tell them things like how they need uniforms that let them bend over without embarrassing themselves.  Hirsch also tells the designers that they need to incorporate the company logo and slogan, “Balls Are Our Business,” in their designs.

Afterwards, the teams caucus.  Stanley from KIR notes that this is a client challenge, so they have to consider the likely tastes of said client, and not do anything too bizarre.  Over on the Dream Team, Matthew volunteers to make pants.  James talks about his background in menswear.

Then the designers go to Mood.  Each team will have a total budget of $500.00, or about $100.00 per outfit.  Team KIR has trouble getting going, as they can’t decide what fabrics they want to get.  Joseph wants to make something whimsical, like the cat sweaters he makes at home, but his teammates would rather he make something sporty.  (I love cats myself, but Joseph’s cat sweater looked way too cutesy for my taste.)

Over on the Dream Team, Cindy is getting irritated because Benjamin is basically shadowing her and questioning her fabric choices.  She especially dislikes this “micro-managing,” since nobody seems to be doing the same thing with James, who did just as badly and is picking out ugly fabrics.

Back at the workroom, the designers start divvying up fabric and assignments.  Kate and Patricia on Team KIR decide to work together.  James on the Dream Team decides to make a shirt with zero input from his partners– and they notice that he’s not even trying to work with the team.  Daniel advises Layana on the best way to drape pants.  He really likes her, and tells us, “If I were straight, I’d marry her.”

Cindy is working on a jacket and is apparently getting a lot of unsolicited advice from Benjamin, who she says is “micro-managing” her.  She acknowledges her lack of experience, but she still finds Benjamin annoying.  Elsewhere, some of the other designers have discovered the screen printer they are to use for making logos.

Tim comes in to make his rounds, and he starts with Team KIR.  Daniel and Layana are working together, while Stanley is making an outfit for a male server.  Amanda is using swimwear material in her look.  Kate and Patricia are working together.  Patricia is making leggings and wants to jazz them up as she fears being sent home if the leggings are too plain.  Tim advises her against this and tells her not to overdesign, as that also gets people sent home.

Over on the Dream Team, Michelle is working on a server’s dress that will have pockets.  Matt and Ben are making jeans for a ball boy, and Tim thinks they look too generic.  Michelle jokingly suggests a kilt– and Matthew thinks it’s a great idea.  Um, no.  Gender bending looks might work at some artistic venues, but probably not at a sports club.

Cindy and Ben are working on an outfit.  Cindy has made a nice jacket, while Ben has made a shirt out of some mesh-like material.  Tim notes that the two pieces don’t really go together.  In fact, a lot of the Dream Team’s looks don’t go together.  Tim then checks James and his shirt, which he calls a “construction disaster.”  It’s poorly made and Tim thinks James should scrap it and start over.  James, of course, thinks he can salvage it.  In fact, he needs to salvage it, since he doesn’t have enough material to make a new shirt.

The models then come in for their fitting.  Cindy’s jacket fits, but the accompanying shorts aren’t finished.  Later, at Atlas, the Dream Team moan about their woes and how much they apparently stink.  Samantha notes that everybody on the Dream Team is friendly with each other; they just can’t make good clothes together.

The following morning, the designers get back to work.  Tim sends in the models, who get dressed and then go to hair and make-up.

Om the runway, Heidi introduces the guest judge, Susan Sarandon.  She is both an actress and the owner of SPiN. The Deam Team is up first, and a lot of them made black and/or white garments.

Michelle is first and she was one of the exceptions, for she made a sleeveless brown dress.  Samantha and Tu  made a sleeveless “jacket,” which is what most people would probably call a “vest.”  the top underneath was also sleeveless.  They also made a skirt.

James made black cropped pants and a messy-looking, color-blocked gray and white tank top.  He then, for some reason, gave his model a skinny turquoise belt to wear.  The outfit looks more appropriate for somebody in the weightroom than waiting tables.  Ben and Cindy made a black outfit consisting of a jacket, a top, and a pair of shorts.

Matthew and Ben made a mesh black tank top with the logo on the front.  Then they lost their minds and made a kilt with the slogan positioned right around crotch level.  NO.  Unless they’re in the sex trade, nobody wants “Balls are my business” emblazoned on an employee’s crotch.

Team KIR also used a lot of black and white in their clothing.  Layana and Daniel made a short black skort with a kind of apron or pocket in the front that would let the server carry things.  They also made a white top with 3/4 length sleeves and a black vest with part of the back cut out, thus revealing the logo on the shirt.

Stanley made a T-shirt and a pair of pants with a dropped crotch.  He put the logo on the front of the shirt and the slogan on the back.  Kate and Patricia made a pair of black leggings and a gray and black tank top with a weird draped back.  Amanda made a sleeveless little black dress.

Joe and Richard made a pair of black pants and a black and white t-shirt.  Both are emblazoned with the slogan.  They also made a sort of holster for the ball boy to wear, that he would use to carry his net, and thus keep his hands free.

After the show, the judges announce that Team KIR is the winning team again, while the Dream Team lost again.  While the Dream Team wait backstage, the judges talk to Team KIR.  They start with Daniel and Layana, who had wanted a sexy but practical look.  Susan says they did a great job.  Zac says the shirt gave the look a certain formality, thus keeping it from looking too sexy.  Heidi agrees that the model looks cute and sexy, but not vulgar.  Nina calls the outfit, “charming, adorable, and practical.”

Since this look is one of the top three looks, its makers are both in contention.  The judges then ask who the winning designer should be.  Daniel gentlemanly nominates Layana, noting that he already has immunity.

Stanley and his male server outfit are up next.  Nina calls it “edgy, fun, and cool.”  Susan notes that her employees would happily wear it.  She goes on to say that “it’s practical, strong, and sexy.”  Heidi likes the pants, except for the drop crotch.  Zac admires the pockets.

Joseph and Richard made a ball boy look.  Heidi calls it “really cool and fashion-forward.”  Zac likes the graphics, while Susan considers the holster clever.

Then it’s time for the three bottom looks.  First up is James, who had made a look for a male server.  Nina calls the length of the pants “disturbing,” and said the model looked more like a pool boy than a server.  Susan says she doesn’t see anything about the outfit that would identify him as a server.  Heidi doesn’t like the “open armpits” in the shirt, and I agree.  I prefer not to see a waiter’s hairy armpits when I’m being served food, thank you very much.  Zac simply thinks the shirt looks messy.

Benjamin and Cindy made a look for a female server.  Heidi thinks it looks more like a hotel receptionist’s outfit.  Susan doesn’t think it would fit in with the environment at SPiN.  Zac agrees and Nina thinks it looks like something from a “dated catalogue.”  She adds that the shorts were terrible.

The final bottom look is the ball boy outfit made by Matthew and Benjamin.  Susan simply says that her guys wouldn’t wear a skirt.  She jokingly calls the look, “ballsy.”  Zac thinks it’s impractical.  Heidi thinks the crotch piece with the slogan is tasteless and vulgar.

The judges then have their chat, starting with the designers they disliked.  Matthew’s crotch piece was tasteless.  James’ look was boring.  Benjamin made two pieces that ended up in bottom outfits and had unsuccessfully tried to lead his team.  Cindy’s jacket was generic and dowdy.

As for the designers they did like.  Layana and Daniel had made a sporty and elegant outfit.  Most of the judges liked Stanley’s outfit, but Zac thought the dropped crotch in the pants looked sloppy.  Joe and Richard’s male server outfit was wearable and, with some tweaking, could work for female servers.

Heidi then announces the judges’ decision.  Layana is the winner and the rest of Team KIR is safe.  Samantha, Tu, Matthew, Benjamin, and Michelle are safe, leaving Cindy and James in the bottom two.  Cindy is safe, which means James is out.

Next week:  the designers have to make something for Heidi.


Project Runway 11: No “I” in Team

The beginning of the eleventh season of Project Runway actually combines two shows:  Road to the Runway, which introduces us to the designers and shows clips of their auditions, and the premiere proper.  Road is hosted by Zanna Roberts Rossi and has Mondo Guerra (Season 8) and Laura Kathleen Planck (Season 9) serving as judges.

Zanna starts off by explaining the “twist” that everybody and their mother has probably heard about by now:  The designers will be working in teams throughout the whole season.  In the real world, fashion design is a collaborative process; nobody really works alone.  Zanna then tells the viewers a little about the audition process, which spanned several cities.  Aspiring contestants had to send videos of themselves and give interviews.  They also had to bring a collection for the judges to examine.

The first group of designers seems to consist of people who have had relationship troubles of some sort.  Emily Pollard, 24, hails from Falls Church, VA and is apparently hyper-competitive.  She charmingly tells us that she views competitors as “enemies,” and that she’s basically destined to win.  This despite the fact that she’s the second-youngest designer and has less experience than most of them.  She also shows off a jacket with two collars at her audition.

Benjamin Mach, 35, was born in Sydney Australia and currently lives in London.  His mother taught him to sew when he was nine.  He bravely talks about having been in an abusive relationship.  He likes period clothing.  Michelle Lesniak Franklin, 34, lives in Portland, OR and had auditioned to be on the show the previous year.  She works at home, which she says isn’t idea, because of the “distractions,” which include her pets and the mailman.  She tells us she’s having affair with him– despite being married.  Charming.  Amanda Valentine, 31, lives in Nashville, TN, considers herself ambitious and competitive.  She also prides herself on being the “black sheep” of the family and had left the Mormon Church when she was 14.  She likes leather.

The next group are the unconventional designers.  Patricia Michaels, 46, lives in Taos, NM– and arrives at her audition with a parasol in hand.  She is inspired by Native American dress and even gave her own wedding dress a Native American flavor.  She also makes her own fabrics.  She’s divorced, as her husband had told her to choose him or her career– and she picked her career.  Joseph Aaron Segal, 30, lives in Providence, RI.  He likes knits and adores cats.  He collects a lot of cat-themed knick-knacks and incorporates a lot of cat imagery in his work.  Cindy Marlatt, 59, lives in Kent, WA.  She grew up near Seattle in a poor family and learned to sew as a child.  She used to be a funeral director and now wants to launch her own clothing line.  Daniel Esquivel, 48, lives in Austin, TX.  He turns up at his audition wearing shorts and patent leather shoes and shows of a voluminous black dress with polka dots.  He had dropped out of school in the 9th grade and has had alcohol and drug problems.  He also loves suits and hats.

Zanna describes the next group as the “pushy” designers.  That probably means “obnoxious camera hogs.”  Here’s hoping they’re either more tolerable than they sound or make quick exits.  Kate Pankoke, 23, is the baby of the group and hails from Chicago, IL.  Despite her youth, she had started her clothing line within the last year.  Her specialty is bridal dresses and she has auditioned three times to be on Project Runway.  She describes herself as a “psychological manipulator.”  Richard Hallmarq, 39, lives in Sacramento, CA.  He loves the sound of his own voice and goes on and on about something.  At his audition, he shows off a garment made of lace that he’d painted gold.  James Martinez, 29, lives in Dallas, TX.  He talks about how he used to get bullied a lot– as did several of the other contestants.  He likes suits and has given his sewing machines names.  We may have found this season’s kook.

Last up are the “quiet” designers, who hopefully won’t lose all their screen time to the “pushy” folks.  Layana Aquilar, 28, lives in New York City, but was born in Brazil.  During her audition, she impressed Mondo by telling him that a piece he’d been admiring was made of the cheapest fabric she could buy.  He responded that it didn’t look cheap at all.  Tu Suthiwat Nakchat, 26, lives in Springfield, VA, but was born in Thailand.  He was briefly a monk, but came to the U.S. and went to Parsons The New School for Design.  Samantha Black, 28, lives in Brooklyn, NY.  She likes menswear and uses it as an inspiration for women’s designs.  She also likes colors, prints, and patterns.  Matthew Arthur, 30, lives in New Orleans.  He describes his clients as people who like to party and he incorporates drug imagery in the jewelry he makes.  He knows a lot of drug users and worries about the possibility of becoming an addict himself.  Last up is Stanley Hudson, 44, who lives in West Hollywood, CA.  He arrives at the audition wearing a suit that he’d made.  He has wanted to be a fashion designer ever since he was a child, when his grandmother gave him a copy of Vogue.

After introducing everybody, Zanna then asks the designers how they feel about working in teams.  Inevitably, some people say they hate the idea.  At least half the designers describe themselves as a leader.  Unless the teams in questions are pairs, that’s not going to work very well.  I can also guarantee that the older designers are not going to cede leadership to the younger ones.  This season, only six designers are in their 20’s; the rest are at least 30.

On that note, it’s time for the actual premiere.  The designers, as usual, arrive in New York City, but then they head straight for the runway.  Layana from Brazil is the first to arrive and she tells us that she’s lived in New York City for the past three years.  Michelle describes her style as “geek chic.”  Daniel talks about how he’s had no formal training, which is often a drawback.  Emily says she’s used to going without sleep and adds that the other designers may as well go home since she’s going to win.  Benjamin talks about how he’d moved to London from Australia with 300 pounds in his pocket.  He also likes “faded glamour.”  Cindy tells us she went to design school– after having been a funeral director for 23 years.

Heidi and Tim come out on the runway and welcome everybody to the show.  They then announce the twist:  All the challenges will be team challenges.  Cue the usual moans and groans, but some designers, like Daniel, are actually okay with team challenges.  There will be two teams of eight.  Daniel, Amanda, Patricia, Stanley, Kate, Layana, Joseph, and Richard form one team, while Benjamin, Cindy, Michelle, Samantha, James, Matthew, Tu, and Emily form the other team.

Heidi then describes the challenge.  Each designer is to make an outfit that represents their own aesthetic– but with input from their teammates.  New York City itself will serve as the designers’ inspiration.  Daniel’s team will get a “far view” of the city from aboard a boat, while Benjamin’s team will get a “near view” of the city from the roof of Atlas Apartments.

Daniel’s team quickly christen themselves Team Keeping It Real.  While they sketch and get to know each other over champagne, Stanley talks about how he’d been a T.V. costume designer.  The team on the roof also get champagne and decide to call themselves the Dream Team.

Om the boat, Patricia talks about how she’s the first Native American to appear on Project Runway, as far as she knows.  (I think she’s right.)  She then startles her peers with a war whoop, prompting Layana to decide she’s “weird.”  Richard admires a bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

Afterwards, the designers go to Atlas Apartments.  Amanda and Michelle bond, despite being on opposing teams.  Amanda describes herself as a “lone ranger,” and isn’t happy about being on a team.

The next morning, the designers head to the workroom, which has been split down the middle to give each group their own work area.  Cindy and some others check out the accessory wall, which has been stocked by Lord & Taylor.  Tim welcomes them, and tells them that each team will have a budget of $1200, which averages to $150 per contestant.  The teams caucus, and then head to Mood, where they spend 45 minutes shopping.

Back at the workroom, the designers start work.  Emily assures us that she will be in the Top 3.  Somebody get this cocky idiot off my T.V. already.  Patricia is dyeing and painting her fabric, which worries some of her teammates, who wonder if she’ll finish in time.  Daniel notes that some of his teammates have poor construction skills and decides to help them.

Tim comes in to make his rounds.  He talks to the teams, rather than individual designers as in previous designs.  He also encourages the designers to critique each other.  He starts with the Dream Team.  Cindy had been planning to make a print dress paired with pants, and Tim and the rest of the Dream Team nix the pants.  The general consensus is that Cindy should concentrate on making a dress out of her print.  Emily, who has accomplished very little and is consequently starting to get nervous, has nonetheless planned to make a jacket and a dress.  She’s told to concentrate on the dress, since she obviously won’t be able to make both piece in the time left.  Over on Team Keeping It Real, nobody likes the sleeves on Kate’s look.  She’s told to get rid of them.

When the models come in for their fitting, Cindy finds her dress is way too long.  Emily has fallen very behind.  Worse, to her teammates’ annoyance, she has tried to make a jacket anyway, despite being told to make a dress.

On the day of the runway show, the members of the Dream Team debate among themselves whether to help Emily or not.  They don’t want to lose because of her, but they don’t want to carry a weak designer either.  Cindy points out, “We do need to cull the herd.”  Ironically, Cindy does help Emily, and makes a short skirt.

Tim comes in to send in the models.  Before doing so, he advises the designers that styling will affect their overall score.  They should therefore use the accessory wall thoughtfully.  The models get dressed and go to hair and make-up.

On the runway, Heidi introduces the judges.  The usual suspect Nina Garcia is back, but Michael Kors has been replaced by fashion designer Zac Posen.  Michael will be back for the finals.  Christian Siriano, the winner from Project Runway’s fourth season, is the guest judge.

Heidi then describes the prize package the winning designer can look forward to.  These include 100 grand from L’Oreal, a 2013 Lexus, 50 grand’s worth of technology from HP and Intel, a fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine, and the chance to design and sell an exclusive collection at Lord and Taylor.

Team Keeping It Real is up first.  Stanley made a sleeveless jumpsuit out a metallic dark blue fabric.  Kate made a sleeveless beige dress with black trim.  Richard made an asymmetrical black and gray dress.  It has one long sleeve and one short sleeve.  The collar and the skirt are also asymmetrical.

Patricia’s dress is deceptively simple-looking.  It just looks like a sleeveless white dress with gray print– but some of the gray parts are actually square flaps.  Amanda made gray pants and an asymmetrical  blue top.  Layana made a Little Black Dress that has lacing in the back.  Joseph made a draped, sleeveless dress apparently made of swatches of yellow, beige, and gray fabric.

Daniel is the last to go, and he made a solid black outfit.  It includes pants cropped at the knee and a top with mid-length sleeves that end a little past the elbow.  The top also has a peplum.

The Dream Team is next.  Matthew made a sleeveless ivory top and a brown print mini-skirt that flares out to the sides.  Samantha made a sleeveless blue mini-dress.  Tu made a mini-skirt with a matching top that has an exposed zipper down the front and a bare midriff.  The ensemble is white on the front and black on the back.

James made a white tank top with a diagonal pleat on the front.  He also made a color-blocked black and orange skirt.  Emily made a messy-looking top out of translucent blue material.  Her model also wore a very short black skirt.

Benjamin made a tan dress with a train.  Cindy made a long print dress.  The top part resembles a tank top.  There’s also an odd, built-in sash with a red and white checkerboard pattern, that simply does not go with the brown and blue color scheme or the rounded shapes of the print.   Michelle made a black dress with brown trim.

Heidi then announces that Team Keeping It Real is the winning team, while the Dream Team is the losing team.  The winning designer will come from Team Keeping It Real, while somebody from the Dream Team will be sent home.  The Dream Team goes backstage, while the judges talk to Team Keeping It Real.

The judges announce that Daniel, Richard, and Patricia are the top designers.  They then start with Daniel, who was inspired by some of the buildings he saw.  Zac likes the draped look of the outfit.  Nina thinks it could work in other colors besides black.

Next up is Richard.  Zac praises him for his use of asymmetry, noting that it is a difficult technique to use correctly.  Asymmetrical garments can be unflattering, but Richard dodged that particular bullet.

Patricia goes on and on about how she was inspired by the windows in New York’s buildings.  After (politely) telling her to shut up, Heidi praises her for her skill in manipulating leather.  Zac likes the tactile effects of the design.  Nina deems it a good idea to use a simple form.  She also likes how the panels create movement.

The judges then turn their attention to the bottom three designers:  James, Cindy, and Emily.  James says he likes color-blocking and adds that his teammates had talked him out color-blocking his top.  The judges all describe his look as “pedestrian,” “uninspired,” and “not special.”  In other words, boring.

Emily admits that she ran out of time, but she doesn’t admit that 1) Cindy made the skirt for her and 2) the other designers all had the same amount of time as she did.  The judges all hate the top, describing it as “shredded looking,” and “unfinished.”

Cindy tells the judges that she saw a checkerboard painting and had incorporated it into her look.  Heidi doesn’t think it’s a good mix of prints.  Nina doesn’t think the dress looks all that urban.  (I agree:  Checkerboard patterns, particularly red and white checkerboard patterns, look more rural to me.)  Zac simply thinks the dress is boring.

The judges then have their chat.  Heidi says she loves team challenges, as they force the designers to trust each other.  Keeping It Real already seems to have gotten the hang of working together.  As for the top designers, Patricia did a good job of manipulating fabric.  Daniel accomplished a lot in one day, and the results were sculpted and detailed.  Richard’s look was both urban and versatile.

As for the bottom designers, James’ look resembled something that could be found at the mall.  Cindy’s dress looked like something from the 90’s.  Emily’s look showed originality, but was still an ugly mess.  As soon as the judges brought up Emily’s “creativity,” I started getting annoyed.  Having a bunch of good ideas doesn’t matter if you don’t have the skills or knowledge to put them into practice.  James and Cindy may have turned out boring looks, but they at least were able to make finished pieces within the time constraints.

The judges then announce their decision.  Daniel is the winner.  Richard, Patricia, and James are all safe, while Cindy and Emily are in the bottom.  Cindy is in, so Emily and her cockiness are out.

Subsequent weeks:  The previews show a European challenge, Heidi holding a goose, and Patricia breaking down.

Project Runway All-Stars 2: A Not-Unexpected Result

Last week on Project Runway  All-Stars 2, the designers flew to Paris to see real haute couture and learn some of the tricks of that trade.  They also had to try to replicate haute couture themselves.  Anthony Ryan won and Joshua was sent home.

On the runway, Carolyn congratulates the three finalists and then spells out their final challenge:  Make a mini-collection in four days.  The designers will be responsible for all aspects of the show.  That means they will choose a theme and the accompanying music.  They can make as many outfits or pieces as they want, and they will have a budget of $3,000 to spend at Mood.

Back at the workshop, the designers begin to plan their shows.  Uli will make “Winter Wonderland” or “Mystical Winter,” which will make heavy use of her favorite color scheme.  She will also use a lot of fur and feathers.

Emilio’s theme will be “Urban Plantation.”  His show will portray the working women of America using classic American fabrics and colors.

Anthony Ryan’s theme will be “A Thin Line.”  He wants to strike a balance between light and darkness.

After sketching, the designers head out to Mood.  There they spend three grand and 90 minutes.

Back at the workroom, the designers start making their collections.  Carolyn comes in, saying that she knows they need help.  The eliminated designers then troop in.  She tells the finalists they can each choose one assistant.  Anthony Ryan picks Joshua, who begs off, pleading fatigue.  Anthony Ryan’s second choice turns out to be Kayne.  Uli chooses Casanova, and Emilio picks Althea, reasoning that somebody who had also made it to the finals of their season would be helpful.  Emilio also tells us that his mother had worked in a factory while he was growing up.

On day two, the designers and their helpers get to work– except for Casanova, who is catching some z’s in the lounge.  Not cool, dude.  You’re supposed to be helping Uli.

Joanna comes in to make her rounds and starts with Uli, who shows off a feathery jacket.  Joanna likes it and says the collection looks coherent (so far), but it needs a showstopper piece, preferably at the end.

Anthony Ryan shows off a black and yellow outfit, and admits he was worried about it looking “too bumblebee.”  He believes he’s solved that problem.  He says he wants to take something innocent and “create some chaos in it.”

Last up is Emilio, who hasn’t finished anything yet.  He tells Joanna that his looks will be a mix of 1840’s Aunt Jemina and 1940’s Rosie the Riveter.  Joanna says his collection sounds very exciting and she can’t wait to see it.

After Joanna leaves, the designers meet Matin from Laura Mercier for hair and make-up consultations.  Then they go back to the apartment for a toast.

On day 3, the designers and their helpers get back to work.  (This time Casanova actually does help Uli; they’re working on a pair of pants.)  Anthony Ryan comments that Kayne is quick.  Unfortunately, all good things and collaborations come to an end.  The assistants have to leave and the designers have to finish their collections on their own.  Uli tells us about growing up behind the Berlin Wall, while Anthony Ryan talks about how badly he needs the prize money.  If he doesn’t win, his career as a designer will be over, for he’s not earning enough to keep himself afloat.  He’ll have to find a more reliable source of income.  Emilio is working on eight looks, while Uli is making seven outfits that have two or three pieces each.

On the day of the runway, the designers head to Gotham Hall, where the show will be held.  They have three hours to finish their looks.  The models come in to get dressed and have their hair and make-up done.

On the runway, Carolyn introduces the guest judges, actress Live Tyler and model Margherita Missoni.  I’m sorry, but in my not so humble opinion the guest judges for the finale– especially in All-Stars— ought to be actual fashion designers.  Actors and models don’t cut it.

Emilio is up first.  He tells the audience that his collection is called “Urban Plantation,” and that Aunt Jemina and Rosie the Riveter were the inspirations for it.  He was the only designer of the bunch to use prints.  His first look was a black and white dress with a chain-link pattern on it.  His third look was a pantsuit made of a multi-colored print fabric.  He used the same fabric to make the dress in his sixth look and the coat in his seventh look.  His solid colors were black, white, and red.  Unlike Anthony Ryan or Uli, he made no gowns; all of his looks involved pants, skirts, or dresses.

Anthony Ryan is next and he tells the audience that his collection is called “The Thin Line.”  His influences were apparently Star Trek and Season 7’s Mila, as practically every piece involved color blocking.  Every single look consisted of two solid colors, and most of them also had cut-outs in the back.  The first and last pieces were gowns, while the other five were dresses of varying lengths.  The first and fourth looks had long sleeves; all the other designs were sleeveless.

Uli is last and she calls her collection the “Mystical Winter.”  As one might guess, she uses a lot of white, gray, and silver– which makes her the only designer in the bunch to use a metallic fabric.  About half her looks involve fur or feathers.  Her last design is a taupe gown with a feathered front and sleeves.  Her second look is a long white skirt, a silver top, and a white capelet. Uli also made pants, skirts, and short dresses.

Afterwards, the judges talk to all three of the designers, starting with Emilio.  Georgina loves his point of view.  Isaac praises the collection’s focus and notes that Emilio’s models are all women of color.  Carolyn loves the coat and Liv likes the colors he’d used.  Isaac says the collection does go a “little junior.”  He especially dislikes the first dress. Margherita says the collection lacks experimentation.  She does know he made said collection in four days, right?  That doesn’t leave a lot of time for playing around with fabrics, colors, or designs.

Georgina calls Anthony Ryan’s first dress “spectacular,” and Liv thinks it was sexy.  Isaac calls the blue and black dress, the “best dress I’ve ever seen on Project Runway.”  He also praises Anthony Ryan’s placement of the pockets.  Carolyn praises his artistic sense.  The only weak spot in the collection that the judges can see is the seventh dress, which was poorly constructed and lacked impact.

The judges also like Uli’s collection.  Isaac calls it a great collection, and Georgina says it’s strong.  Margherita loves it and Liv appreciates the details.  Carolyn does think the jewel on the rear of one design is a bit much, though.  The judges also think the faux furs look inexpensive.

The judges then have their chat.  Emilio is the most cerebral of the designers and his collection has a political angle.  It’s just not very exciting.  Anthony Ryan is very creative and artistic, but his finale dress was weak.  Uli is the most willing to experiment, but her faux furs made some designs look inexpensive.

The judges announce their decision.  Uli is the second runner-up, and Anthony Ryan is the winner.  That means Emilio came in second.

This was not the most suspenseful season of Project Runway.  It was obviously from fairly early on that Anthony Ryan, Emilio, and Uli were going to be the finalists.  The three of them won practically all the competitions.

Next week:  The 11th season of Project Runway starts.

Project Runway All-Stars 2: Off to Paris

Last week on Project Runway, the designers had to create outfits for female veterans who were attending special occasions like weddings and 40th birthday parties.  Joshua had a rare good week and won, while Anthony Ryan had a rare bad week and joined Emilio in the bottom.  Nobody was sent home, though.

On the runway, Carolyn informs the designers that there are only three spots in the final, so somebody will be going home this week.  She then spells out the challenge:  Make a couture gown.  Such gowns are known for their details and lush fabrics.  To get the fabrics, they will jet to Paris and pick them up at Janssens & Janssens at the Rue D’Anjou, which is one of the most respected couture fabric stores in the world.  The designers will also enjoy a private tour of House of Valentino, an exclusive maker of haute couture fashions.  There, they will see how it’s done.

After hurriedly packing, the designers fly to Paris.  They then go to the House of Valentino, which appears to have had the same interior designer as Versailles.  The ceilings appear to be about 15 or 20 feet high and there are chandeliers.  It’s definitely not your typical workplace.  Joanna greets them and then introduces them to Valentino’s head designers, Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri.  They take the contestants on a tour of the premises and they note how the workers do things like select fabrics for their creations.  (I noticed how the people at Valentino worked in teams, with four or five of them working on a single dress.)

After the tour, Piccioli and Chiuri give the designers invitations to one of their couture runway shows.  Afterwards, the designers enjoy an evening dinner aboard a boat drifting down the Seine River.

The next morning, the designers go to the Eiffel Tower to sketch.  Joshua decides to make a dress that will marry black and white to color.  Anthony Ryan decides to make a long, sheer gown.  Emilio decides to make a ball gown, while Uli decides upon a dress with a train.

The designers then go to Janssens & Janssens, where they will have a budget of 3000 Euros, which is roughly equal to 4000 dollars.  Anthony Ryan selects a black fabric, while Emilio chooses a rich red fabric.  Taste-impaired Joshua selects a multi-colored floral print, which is probably the ugliest thing Janssens & Janssens was selling that day.  It also looks like something that could have been bought at Mood.  After that, it was time to go to the Valentino Couture Show.  Joanna reminds the designers of what Chiuri and Piccioli had told them during the tour:  Couture is a dream.

Back at New York, reality sets in and the designers get to work.  Joshua starts work on a black and silver bodice and Uli works on a metallic top.  Anthony Ryan hates his first dress and scraps it.

Joanna comes in to make her rounds.  She starts with Emilio.  She loves the fabric he’s chosen and urges him not to overdo the decorations, as that could detract from that wonderful red fabric.  She’s less thrilled with Joshua’s work and tells him that the gaudy flower print doesn’t look couture.

Then the models come in to try on their frocks.  Uli’s dress turns out to be too big, and Emilio decides to add sleeves to his look.

On the day of the runway show, the designers get back to work.  Emilio regrets his decision to make sleeves, as that’s put him behind.  The models come in, and they visit hair and make-up before getting dressed.

On the runway, Carolyn talks a bit more about Paris, and then she introduces the guest judge, designer Cynthia Rowley.

Joshua is up first.  He made a long-sleeved black and silver shirt with a V-necked collar and a plunging back.  He paired that with a long skirt made of a multi-colored floral print.  Anthony Ryan made a long-sleeved black gown.

Uli made a bronze halter with a yoke collar and paired it with a long black skirt.  Emilio made a long-sleeved red gown.

The designers then have to face the judges, who start with Emilio.  The fabric looks like a heavy brocade, but is actually quite light.  Emilio invites the judges to touch it, which they do.  Isaac loves the dress, particularly the long sleeves and high waist, but wonders how it would look if it was five inches shorter.  Georgina calls it beautiful and elegant.  Cynthia says it’s both strong and simple, while Carolyn thinks it’s beautiful.

The judges also like Anthony Ryan’s dress.  Georgina calls it divine, and Isaac likes the silhouette.  Cynthia says it’s beautiful and Carolyn thinks it’s elegant.

Uli is up next.  Cynthia likes the mix of textures, but doesn’t like the fact that the nude lining was visible.  Georgina agrees and calls the lining “distracting.”  Carolyn thinks the shape in the back looks like a blob.  Isaac thinks the dress looks expensive, but doesn’t think it looks like couture.  He thinks it looks a “very expensive ready-to-wear dress.”

Last up is Joshua.  Isaac appreciates his willingness to experiment– but adds this particular experiment was not successful.  Georgina thinks the dress would have worked better with a larger print.  Cynthia thinks the top is ill-fitting, while Carolyn thinks the skirt’s shape if off.

The judges have their chat.  They applaud Emilio’s choice of fabric and the details in Anthony Ryan’s look.  They didn’t like the visible lining in Uli’s dress, and Joshua’s dress simply did not work.

The judges then announce the winner:  Anthony Ryan.  Emilio is safe and will join him in the finals.  Uli and Joshua are in the bottom.

Carolyn then says that the judges want “to see something more from them.”  They must face one more challenge:  deconstruct their gowns and reinvent their looks– within one hour.  This idiocy must have been planned in advance, since Uli has been a much stronger competitor than Joshua all season long.  It should have been obvious that Uli was the one who deserved to go to the finals.

In any case, Joshua just shortens his skirt so that it’s knee-length and flips the bodice backwards.  Uli makes a look mostly made out of the lining the judges disliked, which Cynthia calls a “hilarious f@ck you” to the judges.

In the end, the judges give Uli her rightful place in the finals, and Joshua is sent home.

Next week:  The Final Three face their last challenge.  They have to make a mini-collection in four days.

Project Runway All-Stars 2: For the Veterans

Last week on Project Runway, the designers had to make ready-to-wear clothing “with a wow factor” for Elie Tahari.  Anthony Ryan won and Ivy was sent home.

The next morning, the final four designers meet Carolyn on the deck of the Intrepid, a national historic landmark.  She then introduces them to some “special guests”:  female veterans.  The designers will be designing outfits for the veterans for a special event.  The designers will have a $150.00 budget.  They will also have thirty minutes to talk with their assigned veteran.

Joshua is assigned to Captain Leslie Smith of the U.S. Army, who has a prosthetic leg and a service dog.  She lost the leg while stationed in Bosnia.  She had suffered a blood clot and the doctors had to amputate in order to save her life.  She’s going to a military event honoring veterans and would like a pretty, short dress.  She likes leopard print, which makes Josh’s day.

Anthony Ryan is working with Captain Donna Barrios of the Air Force, who is celebrating her 40th birthday.  She wants a long strapless dress and describes herself as “a boob hider.”  In other words, she wants something that will de-emphasize her breasts.  Given that she’s got the largest breasts of the group, that could be a problem.

Emilio gets Petty Officer First Class Lisa Dalhouse of the Navy SEALs.  She’s going to a friend’s bachelorette party in Las Vegas.  Her favorite color is yellow, and she wants a short dress.

Uli’s veteran is Corporal Jessica Lord of the Marines.  She’s going to a friend’s wedding and wants a long dress similar to what Uli herself is wearing.  Her favorite color is purple.

Then it’s off to Mood, where Emilio tracks down some yellow fabric.  Joshua finds some leopard print that he deems to be “too graphic,” so he buys some green dye in order to tone it down.  (For a one-day challenge?  Is he nuts?)  Uli can’t find any purple fabric she likes, so she gets some black and white print instead.  Anthony Ryan picks out some ombre fabric.  It’s dark gray at one end and shades down to a lighter gray.

At Parson’s, the designers get to work.  Anthony Ryan comments that his client has the largest chest.  Josh test dyes his print and asks Anthony Ryan for advice.  Huh?  The competition’s almost over, dude.  He shouldn’t be helping you.  Emilio informs us that his client does not want a lot of glitter on her dress.

Joanna comes in to make her rounds and starts with Anthony Ryan.  She advises him to consider a one-shoulder or strap for support.  Joanna notes that Uli is making a dress similar to the one she’s wearing, and Uli tells her that her client had asked her to do so.  Joanna likes Emilio’s short yellow dress, but wonders whether he can pull it off, since he’s used to making red carpet looks.  She comments that Josh seems to “have the wind beneath his wings.”  He tells her that he had a brother who had served in Afghanistan, so this challenge means a lot to him.

Afterwards, Anthony Ryan picks out some royal blue shoes to go with his outfit– and answers Josh’s questions about dying.  The models come in for their fitting and Emilio finds that the top portion of his dress doesn’t fit.  Anthony Ryan discovers that his client is a lot chestier than the mannequin he’s used.  Since Joshua is waiting for his dyed fabric to dye, he only has part of his skirt finished.  Later, at the apartment, Anthony Ryan notes that his competitors had all placed second in their seasons, a fact he finds interesting– and intimidating.  (He’d placed seventh in his.)

On the day of the runway show, the designers get back to work.  Emilio is frantically working on a new bodice for his look.  Anthony Ryan is trying to think up ways to draw in the waist of his dress, which currently looks like a sack.  The veterans come in for their final fitting, and then go to hair and make-up.  Jessica and Leslie tell Uli and Joshua how much they like their dresses.  Joshua has even made a little sweater for Jessica’s dog.  Emilio has whipped up a bandeau top for his look.

On the runway, Carolyn introduces the guest judges, actress Katie Holmes and designer Carmen Marc Valvo.

Uli is up first.  She made a sleeveless, black, white, and gray dress.  The thin stripes form a chevron on the front.  The dress is floor-length in the back, but knee-length in the front.  Black straps double as decorations.

Emilio made a short, lemon yellow dress with a bandeau top that exposes a lot of the back.

Anthony Ryan made a long gray ombre dress that is dark up top, but shades almost to white at the bottom.  It is held in place by a set of wide white straps.  There is a slit up the skirt, which is very loose and billowing, and makes his veteran look heavy.  Worse, the color contrast between the dark gray top and the lighter skirt calls attention to the part of the body that Donna wanted hidden.

Josh is last and he made a little black dress with undyed leopard print at the hem of the skirt.  The dress has short sleeves and a v-neck collar.  Josh also made a black and white leopard print sweater for the service dog.

Afterwards, the judges talk to the designers.  Carolyn tells them that they will be judged on how well they worked with the veterans as well as the dresses themselves.  The judges then start with Josh.  Katie says the dress looks comfortable.  Carmen asks if Leslie had wanted the dress to be short enough to show her prosthesis, and she answers, “Yes, I’m proud of my service and my survival story.”  Isaac, perhaps jokingly, says the dog, which is also named Isaac, needed a more glamorous sweater.

Next up is Emilio.  Katie loves the color, but Georgina dislikes the bodice.  Isaac doesn’t like the bodice, either.  Carolyn loves the overall design.

Then it’s Uli’s turn.  Carolyn loves the back, and Georgina praises the hemline.  Isaac likes the dress, but dings the embellishment just under the collar, saying it looks like a last-minute addition.  Uli admits it is. Carmen loves the fit.

Last up is Anthony Ryan.  Carolyn thinks it’s lovely, but that Donna seemed “hidden.”  Donna says that was what she had wanted.  She had been in an accident and the resultant inactivity had caused her to gain weight.  She therefore wanted a look that would hide the weight.  Georgina would have also liked to see more of Donna’s body.  Isaac says the dress is not particularly flattering, but still feels fresh and young.

The judges then have their chat.  Josh had actually made something elegant.  Uli had also done a good job, marred only by a poor choice of embellishment.  The proportions of Anthony Ryan’s dress were off, and Emilio’s looks “homemade.”

Carolyn then calls the designers back to hear the judges’ decision.  She asks Katie to announce the winner:  Joshua.  Uli is also safe, leaving Emilio and Anthony Ryan in the bottom two.  They turn out to be safe as well.  Nobody’s going home this week.

Next week:  The designers go to Paris and face a couture challenge

Project Runway All-Stars 2: The Business of Fashion

Last week, on Project Runway, the designers had to craft looks inspired by the 1920’s.  They also took part in a fashion face-off, in which each pair of designers had to make a look for a specific social function.  Anthony Ryan won and Laura was sent home.

The following morning finds the remaining five designers walking along Fifth Avenue.  They stop at Elie Tahari, where Carolyn meets them.    Carolyn introduces the designers to Elie Tahari himself.  Together, they explain the challenge:  Make a ready-to-wear look.  It will be sold on retail, which means the materials have to fall within a given budget in order for the store to make any kind of profit.  The designers will have access to everything on the Elie Tahari fabric floor.  The look has to have a wow factor and be similar to garments Elie Tahari would sell.  The winning designer’s look will be sold both at the Elie Tahari stores and on the website.  The profits would go to Save the Garment Center.

The designers then sketch.  Uli decides to make a dress and vest combo, while Ivy decides on a dress.  On the fabric floor, Anthony Ryan decides to make a dress, and Uli decides not to use fringe or feathers in her look.  Ivy chooses a print with a sunset pattern on it.  Emilio picks mustard silk, while Joshua opts for magenta stretch fabric.

As they have to stay within a certain price range, the designers have to consult with one of Elie’s employees in the cutting room.  She okays Emilio and Ivy’s choices, but Uli has to drop her vest in order to stay within the budget.  Joshua has enough money left over to get magenta lace to go with his fabric.

Back at Parson’s, Ivy decides on a maxi-length dress, so she won’t have to cut up her beloved print.  Uli had gotten white fabric.  Looking around, she sees everybody else has gotten colors and promptly suffers  a bout of buyer’s remorse.  She realizes she needs a way to make her dress stand out from all the others.  Emilio is working on a color-blocked mustard and orange dress.

Joanna comes in to make her rounds.  She’s brought Elie with her, and he actually dispenses most of the advice this episode.  Ivy shows off her print, and Elie recommends making the dress shorter.  It looks a bit heavy now, but a shorter version could work as a summer frock.  As for Joshua’s look, Elie thinks the lace and exposed zipper are a bit much.

Joanna thinks Emilio’s color choices are interesting, but Elie doesn’t like the color-blocking.  He also thinks Uli’s dress looks too heavy, and she confesses her nervousness about sending down a plain white dress.  Elie gives her a pep talk, telling her to let go of her fear and to stop second-guessing herself.  Joanna likes Anthony Ryan’s print.  Elie gives Anthony Ryan a little talk about how you appreciate things more when you fight for them.

After Joanna and Eli leave, Emilio decides to dispense with the color-blocking.  Elie is the client, after all, and he said he didn’t like the color-blocking.  So Emilio will make a mustard dress with burgundy trim.

Anthony Ryan takes a few minutes to talk to his lover on a video chat.  Later, Ivy uses video chat to talk with Casanova, who encourages her to keep fighting.  He lost, but she still has a chance.

The models come in for their fitting.  Anthony Ryan is pleased to find that his dress mostly fits; it just needs minor adjustments to be perfect.  Ivy decides to leave her dress long, as she can’t bear to cut her beloved print.  Uli finds her dress is much too big, and she have to take it in, big time.

That night, Emilio tells the other designers what he knows about Elie’s background.  He was born in Israel and had emigrated to the United States about 40 years ago.  He was homeless for a time, but eventually found work as an electrician.  Eventually, he switched to fashion design.

The next morning, the designers get back to work.  The models come in for their final fitting, hair and make-up.  During this, Joshua discovers a major problem:  His exposed zipper is making his fabric buckle, so the dress looks ill-fitting and messy in back.  He doesn’t have time to fix it.

On the runway, Carolyn mentions that the designers’ dresses would retail for somewhere between $500.00 and $700.00.  She then introduces the guest judges, Elie Tahari and Stacy Keibler, an actress.

Anthony Ryan made a sleeveless black, blue, and white mini-dress.  He used a print with vertical stripes.  For a change of pace, he did not do anything to the back.  No exposed zipper, no cut-outs.  Smart move, because he’d sent down a lot of dresses with details in the back, that often exposed a good part of the model’s back.  Sooner or later, he’d have gotten dinged for repeating himself.

Joshua made a sleeveless magenta mini-dress.  The top part sags, so it almost looks as if the model has a third breast.  Even worse is the exposed zipper in the back which is pulling on the fabric, causing it to pucker horribly.

Emilio made a mustard gold dress with burgundy trim.  It’s sleeveless and knee-length.

Ivy made a long dress out of a blue, orange, gray, and black print.  The top part looks like a tank top, and it has slits going up the sides.

Uli made a sleeveless white dress out of a woven fabric.  She decorated the collar and shoulders with a very short fringe.

Afterwards, the designers have to face the judges, who start with Uli.  She tells them she was drawn to the white material.  Georgina likes the detailing on the shoulders, since it drew attention to the model’s face.  Isaac likes the length of the dress.  Carolyn loves it and Stacy calls it classy.  Elie says, “You used the fringe in the right way.”

Ivy says she fell in love with the print.  Carolyn likes the color blocking, but not the slits.  Georgina thinks the length of the dress makes it look frumpy.  Eli thinks the black at the bottom makes the model look heavy.

Emilio says that he liked the luxurious feel of the silk he’d used.  Stacy calls it beautiful and Elis likes the neckline.  Isaac thinks it’s a nice dress, but says he expects more from Emilio.  The judges also note that the mustard gold is a difficult color to wear.  (They’re right; you need dark skin to pull it off.  But Emilio’s model is black, so it makes sense he’d choose colors that look good on her.)

Next up is Anthony Ryan.  Isaac likes the mix of prints, but not the neckline.  Stacy loves the dress and Georgina thinks it looks youthful.  Elie thinks the dress looks easy to wear adds, “I was impressed.”

Joshua tells the judges that he wanted to use lace in his look.  Georgina loves the color, but says the profile of his design looks as if the model’s breasts were sagging to her waist.  “Nobody wants droopy breasts,” she adds.  Isaac also likes the fabric used and the lace, but dislikes the fit, the length, and the zipper.  Elie also likes the fabric, but dislikes the lace.  Carolyn thinks the zipper cheapens the look.

The judges then have their chat.  Uli made a versatile and elegant dress, and Anthony Ryan made a youthful dress that looks easy to wear.  Emilio’s dress was sellable, but not great.  Ivy had a good idea, but relied too heavily on her fabric.  Consequently, she produced a “blah” design.  Joshua had made the horrible mistake of using a zipper with a stretch fabric.

Carolyn then announces the judges’ decision.  Anthony Ryan and Uli had the high scores, and Anthony Ryan is the winner.  Ului and Emilio are safe, leaving Joshua and Ivy in the bottom two.  Ivy is out, so Joshua is in.

Next week:  The designers work with female veterans from the good ship Intrepid.


Project Runway All-Stars 2: The Roaring 20’s

Last week, on Project Runway, the designers confronted the dreaded “unconventional materials” challenge.  This time, in keeping with the season, they had to make clothes out of Christmas decorations.  Uli won and Casanova was sent home.

The following morning, the designers discuss Casanova’s ouster.  More importantly, they realize, that with only six of them left, there is no safety zone any more.  Everybody will either be in the top or the bottom from now on.

At the runway, Carolyn arrives bearing six silver envelopes, which immediately makes the designers apprehensive.  She gives a spiel about how modern fashion began in the 1920’s.  Ergo, the designers are to make a look inspired by the 1920’s.  She then passes out the envelopes and tells the designers to open them.  Each one contains  an invitation to a 1920’s social function:  an afternoon garden party, an afterhours’ speak-easy, and an evening social soirée.  Each designer will have to make a look that is suitable for their given event.  Thus, Emilio and Joshua will be making something for the afternoon garden party, Uli and Laura will be making a look for the evening social soirée, and Anthony Ryan and Ivy will be making looks for the afterhours’ speak-easy.

Carolyn then tells them this particular challenge will also be a fashion face-off.  The designers will have a day to work on their looks and $250.00 to spend at Mood.

Back at Parson’s the designers start sketching their looks.  Uli decides to make something with fringe, while Laura decides to use fur.  Emilio decides to make something from the late 1920’s, rather than the early 1920’s.  Joshua opts for a draped look.  At Mood, Emilio picks out a geometric print, while Ivy selects an expensive beaded black fabric.

Back at the workshop, Ivy tries to hide her work from Anthony Ryan, since he’s her direct competitor in the face-off.  He’s amused and declares he wouldn’t copy her anyway.  Uli is using fringes for her design.  She’s uncertain if this is a good idea, as she’s used fringe in some of her other designs.  She decides that since fringe was used in 1920’s fashion, she can probably get away with it.  Joshua is using a hideous loud print as a stand-in for muslin.  Anthony Ryan is making a black feathered capelet, while Ivy and Laura are both working with their beaded fabrics.

Joanna comes in to make her rounds, and she starts with Joshua, who is making a draped dress.  She tells him it looks “too marsupial,” which means the draping is hanging in such a way that it looks as if the dress has a pouch like a kangaroo’s.  Joanna thinks Emilio’s chosen print looks like something that would been used for a sofa in the 1920’s.  Emilio admits he didn’t consider that, and then adds he plans to evoke nostalgia with his look.  Joanna likes the pants Laura is making for her look, but thinks Uli’s dress looks a bit too similar to other things she’s done.  Joanna then admires Anthony Ryan’s capelet and Ivy’s beaded fabric.

The models then come in for their fitting.  Laura is delighted to find that her pantsuit fits her model perfectly, while Uli is distressed to discover that her dress is see-through.  In order to preserve decency, she is going to have to make an undergarment of some sort.  Joshua plays time-keeper, reminding people that it’s almost time to go home.  For someone who was notorious for stirring up drama during his season, he’s gotten very little screen time.  Either he’s behaving better this time around, or he’s been deemed irrelevant, given that he has very little chance of making the finals.  Or both.

On the day of the runway show, the designers get back to work.  The models come in for their final fitting, plus hair and make-up.  At least one designer asks for a bob for their models.

Then it’s off to the runway, where the designers find a somewhat different set-up.  Instead of the usual double line of chairs, the designers find small tables with a pair of chairs.  It’s an attempt to recreate a 1920’s speak-easy, complete with drinks.  Carolyn explains how the fashion face-off will work.  There will be a winner and a loser from each pair.  The losing designers risk being sent home.  The guest judges are Gretchen Mol, an actress who plays in Boardwalk Empire, a show set during the Prohibition, and Jenny Packham, an English fashion designer.

Joshua made a draped purple and gray dress.  An elaborate brooch appears to be holding the drapes in place in the front.  There’s also a strip of chartreuse fabric lining the purple fabric in the back.

Emilio made a sleeveless white dress with a geometric pattern that is more turquoise at the top, but gradually shades to gray at the bottom.

Uli made a silver and white dress with a long white fringe.  She also made a silver shawl.

Laura made a dark red pantsuit.  The sleeveless top is made of several panels of dark red fabric, some plain, and some decorated with glass beads.  It also has a plunging back.  The pants are wide and billowing.  She also made a shawl out of fur.

Ivy made a black and silver dress out of a beaded fabric.  She created a chevron effect, with the stripes angling downwards.  She used silver-gray leather for the shoulders, and put a fringe made of feathers on the bottom of the dress.

Anthony Ryan made a sleeveless black dress.  Over that, he put a sheer, silver sheath with pinstripes, so it looks as if the model is wearing a pin-striped black and silver dress.  The sheath also has a black fringe at the bottom.  Anthony Ryan also made a capelet out of black feathers.

Since there are only six designers left, nobody is safe.  Everybody has to face the judges, who start with Joshua.  He tells them he wanted to explore the freedom and fluidity of the 1920’s.  Georgina likes the brooch, which she says drew the eye.  She also likes the cut of the dress, which feels modern.  Jenny praises the pleating and says the overall design is “snappy.”  Carolyn praises the cut, but says the dress is too safe.  Isaac finds it uninteresting, but says it could be commercially successful if handled properly.

Emilio tells the judges that he was inspired by the geometric print of his dress.  Carolyn loves the detailing in the back, and Gretchen says the dress is really ladylike.  Jenny calls it elegant but dated.  Georgina says it’s impersonal.

Uli wanted to make a dress with a loose fit and she’d used the white fringe to provide movement.  Isaac loves the dress itself, but thinks the white fringe looks cheap.  Jenny says it’s very modern and Carolyn likes the shawl.

Laura was inspired by Art Deco, an art style that developed in the 1920’s.  Isaac praises the pantsuit, but says the fur was too much and “went cavewoman.”  He also thinks the fur makes the model look heavier than she is.  Jenny thinks the look is sophisticated, but Carolyn doesn’t like how the pants flared out to the sides.  Georgina dislikes the proportions of the look.

Ivy talks about how she’d used leather and a beaded fabric.  She’d wanted to create a geometric silhouette and used feathers to make her look more feminine.  Carolyn thinks the result is too literal, while Isaac says it’s too heavy.  Gretchen says it looks like something she’d seen worn at an art opening.

Anthony Ryan, who had been making a dress for a speak-easy, wanted to design a party dress that a woman could dance in.  Jenny likes the design, but thinks the “underneath could have been closer to the body.”  Gretchen says it’s young, fun, and very striking.  Isaac dislikes the feathered capelet at first, but then changes his mind.  Georgina says Anthony Ryan has a way of taking something and making it his own to create a modern and fresh look.

The judges then announce who had gotten which scores.  Joshua had the low score and Emilio had the high score for the garden party.  Laura had the low score and Uli had the high score for the evening social soirée.  Ivy had the low score and Anthony Ryan had the high score for the speak-easy.

The judges then have their chat, starting with the high-scoring designers.  Emilio is one simply by virtue of doing better than Joshua.  His look isn’t as good as the other two contenders’, though.  Uli’s look was light, free-spirited, but also complex.  Anthony Ryan’s look is exciting.

As for the low-scoring designers, Joshua actually did a good job– just not as good as Emilio.  Laura made a beautiful top, but horrible pants, and her taste level is boring.  Ivy’s look was poorly made– but she has excellent taste in materials.

Carolyn then announces the judges’ decision.  Emilio is safe, and Anthony Ryan is the winner.  Uli and Joshua are both safe, leaving Ivy and Laura in the bottom.  Laura is out, so Ivy is in.

Next episode:  The designers have to make a ready-to-wear look with a “wow factor.”

There is already news about Season 11, which starts on January 24, 2013.  Because of schedule conflicts, Michael Kors is stepping down as judge.  Zac Posen, a fashion designer who has sometimes served as a guest judge, will be stepping in.  Plus, the designers will start off working in teams.  Fashion design is a collaborative industry, so designers do have to be able to work with others, especially when they’re just starting out, like most of Project Runway’s contestants.  This change could result in drama kings and queens being weeded out.  I also suspect that there will be individual challenges towards the end, when there are too few designers left to make team challenges viable.  To learn more, read

Project Runway All-Stars 2: T’is the Season to be Designing…

Last week, on Project Runway, the designers had to make red carpet looks out of environmentally friendly fabrics.  Laura won and Althea was sent home.

The next morning, the designers go to the South Street Seaport to meet Carolyn and a special guest, Fawaz Gruosi, the founder and president of De Grisogono, which makes fine watches and jewelry.  Gruosi is offering one of these watches as a prize to the winner of the challenge, which turns out to be the ever popular “unconventional materials” challenge.  As Carolyn admits, the challenge is popular with the viewers, but not the designers.  Both Emilio and Casanova groan upon hearing what the challenge entails, since both of them had crashed and burned during the “unconventional materials” challenges of their seasons.  Emilio’s washer and pink string bikini is probably one of the more infamous designs in Project Runway history.  Since every season has this type of challenge, every designer has faced it, and some have happier memories of the experience than others.

Carolyn then tells the designers they will have a budget of $350.00 plus thirty minutes to spend in a so-far-unnamed store.  She also tells them the guest judge will be Kylie Minogue, an Australian performer.  Some of the designers practically swoon upon hearing this.

After following Carolyn’s directions on how to get to the mystery store, the designers find themselves at a shop that sells… Christmas ornaments.  Carolyn confirms that they will indeed be making clothes out of Christmas ornaments, and she warns them that the results shouldn’t look “Christmassy.”  They’re to make fashionable clothes, not costumes.  Anthony Ryan admits to being apprehensive about the challenge, since he hadn’t won it during his season, either.  Laura wants to make a 60’s mod dress out of every silver ornament she can find.  Emilio decides to avoid typical Christmas colors like red, green, and gold.  He ends up getting a lot of purple.

Back at Parson’s the designers take the usual thirty minutes to sketch.  Casanova and Ivy do even this together, and Uli comments they seem to be like “one person with two bodies.”  Joshua finds that the pretty royal blue fabric he’d grabbed wasn’t the roll of fabric he’d been hoping for, but a casing for a truly tacky Hanukkah decoration.  Ooops.

Uli decides on an “embellishment only” dress, with lots of silver and gold.  Emilio talks about how he considers the “unconventional materials” challenge to be his Achilles’ heel.  He knew there would be one, and he’d been dreading it.

Joanna comes in to make her rounds and starts with Joshua, who is making a red, blue, and gold “bra-let.”  Casanova tells Joanna that he is “building a dress.”  Emilio is using purple and pink materials to avoid any hint of Christmas in his look.  Anthony Ryan is using a lot of silver and mirrored glass to create a dress with a wintry look.  Uli is making a structured dress and Laura is using a lot of sparkly materials.  Joanna notes that the “girls” seem to be ahead this time.  Ivy is using garland to make a fringe for her look and Joanna wonders if she has enough.

After she leaves, Casanova decides to start over– even though he has only three hours left.  The models come in for their fitting.

The next morning, Emilio, realizing he’s behind, dispenses with any sewing and starts gluing his dress together.  Casanova, who is working on his third dress, begs his peers for materials he can use, and they give him some.  Joshua works on yellow and green shorts made out of ribbon.

The models come in for their final fitting, plus hair and make-up.  Joshua realizes his shorts are hideous– but hopes his top will be enough to save him.  Emilio also isn’t happy with his work and hopes to be safe.

On the runway, Carolyn introduces the guest judges, Kylie Minogue and the actor/producer LaLa Anthony.

Anthony Ryan is up first.  He made a sleeveless, sparkly dress of every silver and gold ornament he could get his hands on.  As usual, his outfit exposes a lot of the model’s back.

Ivy made a yellow dress with a gold fringe decorating the skirt.  The long sleeves and shoulders are made of a sheer yellow fabric, and there’s a keyhole in the front.

Joshua needs to stay away from shorts.  He made a pair out of sparkly, striped gold and light green material.  They are very abbreviated to the point of looking like swim suit bottoms or underpants.  In the back is a sort of tail.  There are large gold buttons across the front.  The model’s top is a multicolored “bra-let,” which looks like a bikini top  It is mostly gold and silver and studded with colorful jewels.

Uli made a sleeveless gold and silver dress decorated with every gold or silver embellishment that Uli could get her hands on.  The sides of the dress are sheer and look a bit like translucent chain mail.  She used a gold garland to decorate the collar.

Emilio made a sleeveless dress apparently made out of woven ribbons.  The dress is metallic and a very bright red-purple.

Casanova made a sleeveless, yellow-orange dress.  The top portion looks as if it were made of braided or woven yarn.  It’s attached to fabric of the same color, while the folded skirt looks a bit more orange.  In both the front and the back, Casanova added a pale yellow, crystal-studded band of fabric going down the middle– which just makes it look as if he’d run out of something else.

Laura made a sleeveless, sparkly white dress.  It’s decorated with what appears to be tinsel and the same brightly colored jewel pieces that Joshua used.  It also has a plunging back.

Carolyn then calls Casanova, Emilio, and Ivy and tells them that one of them is safe.  That fortunate turns out to a very relieved Emilio.  The other two have to face the judges along with their fellows.

The judges start with Anthony Ryan, who says he wanted to make a stage look that could be seen from the cheap seats.  Isaac says it looks expensive and he likes the color.  Georgina likes the embellishments– and the fact that he had “pauses” between the embellishments, that keep the dress looking clean and uncluttered.  Kylie assures Anthony Ryan that his dress would indeed be visible from the back of the theater.  LaLa, however, dings Anthony Ryan for using a giant snowflake in his look, saying that “reads Christmas.”

Laura tells the judges that she loves beading.  Kylie likes the pockets, but says some of the jewel droplets look “thrown on.”  Lala and Carolyn like the dress, but Isaac thinks the cut and proportions make the model look fat.

Casanova tells the judges about his struggles:  He’d gone through three designs and wound up borrowing material from his peers.  Georgina says she likes the dress even more now that she knows the story behind it.  She says he could tell that he’d made the best of a bad situation.  Even so, the dress feels heavy and the bust is a little too high.  Isaac advises Casanova to consider the age of a likely client and says the dress “goes very old lady.”

As for Joshua, Isaac says he wants to both congratulate him and slap him on the wrist.  He considers the top half “divine,” but says he could see inside the shorts as the model walked the runway.  Ooops.  “It doesn’t work to show your privates on the runway,”  Isaac tells him.  Kylie likes the top, but also dislikes the shorts.

Ivy talks about how she’d used garlands in her look.  Georgina likes the 60’s vibe of the dress, but thinks the proportions look boxy.  Carolyn says the look has no wow factor, while Isaac says it looks “junior.”

Last up is Uli, and Isaac calls her look “magic.”  Carolyn likes the “sneak peek” on the sides.  Georgina says it is a smart use of gold and silver, but dings Uli for the visible seam down the see-through sides.

The judges then have their chat, starting with the designers they’d liked best.  Anthony Ryan’s dress looks expensive and cool.  Uli’s dress has excellent proportions.  Laura’s dress seems to weigh the model down and makes the top three simply because it’s not as bad as the looks produced by the bottom designers.

Speaking of the bottom designers, Ivy’s dress is simply too safe and not very creative.  Joshua made a spectacular top– and awful shorts.  Casanova’s look is simply ill-conceived, and his problems were largely self-inflicted.

Carolyn then announces the judges’ decision.  Laura is safe.  Carolyn then asks Kylie to announce the winner, and it’s Uli.  Anthony Ryan is also safe.  Backstage, Fawaz Gruosi presents Uli with the luxury watch she’s just won.  Carolyn tells Joshua that he’s safe, leaving Ivy and Casanova in the bottom two.  Ivy is in and Casanova is out.

I think it’s safe to say that Ivy and Joshua will be the next two designers out.  Anthony Ryan and Uli all but have a lock on two of the spots in the finals, while Laura and Emilio are duking it out for the third spot.  The top four designers have all won at least once, while Joshua and Ivy have not.

Next week:  The designers confront a fashion face-off.