Category Archives: Fashion-Modeling

Project Runway Season 10: Off to Times Square

Welcome to the tenth regular season of Project Runway.  After the experiments of All-Stars, with a new host, a new mentor, and new judges, the tenth season brings back the old crowd:  Heidi, Tim, Michael, and Nina.  Unfortunately, it also brings back the hour and a half running time, which will doubtless be filled with endless shots of people sewing and/or sniping at each other.  We get enough of that even when the show’s just an hour long.  Trust me.

Before the show proper starts, though, there’s an hour-long Road to the Runway, which introduces us to this season’s crop of contestants and shows how they were cast.  Zanna Roberts Rossi did the hosting duties, and several previous contestants helped judge the auditions.  Among these were Nick Verreos from Season 2, Seth Aaron Henderson from Season 7, and Mondo Guerra, fresh from his victory in All-Stars.

There will be 16 designers this times, which means nobody will be rudely dumped at the last minute via a last-minute auditioning process.  Gunnar Deatherage, 22, had fallen victim to such a process at the start of Season 9, after inflicting a hideous pink dress on the judges and the viewers.  He vows to redeem himself this season.  Andrea Katz, 58, is this year’s senior season and is trying to put her life back together after losing her business and even her home to the bad economy.  Buffi Jashanmal, 32, was born in London, but raised in Dubai.  She likes to use bright colors and metallics in her work.

Dmitry Sholokhov, 33, hails from Belarus and used to be a model.  Kooan Kosuke, 30, is Japanese– and wears an afro.  If he’s not this season’s kook, I’ll be surprised.  Ven Budhu, 28, was born in Guyana and came to the U.S. when he was 4.  As a child, he liked to draw the gowns worn by Belle in Beauty and the Beast.  Lantie Foster, 48, had a father who wanted her to go to law school– and cut her off when she opted to go to art school.  If she sticks around, we’ll probably hear more about this.

We might also hear more about Alicia Hardesty’s gay lover, Beatrice Guapo’s late father, Christopher Palu’s shaky health (he had a heart attack in high school!), and Fabio Costa’s coming out to his mother.  The last may have actually been amusing:  he told her he wanted to go to fashion school.  She agreed to let him do so — so long as he didn’t let it “turn him gay.”  He assured her that wouldn’t happen, as he already was gay.

Then it’s off to Project Runway proper– which opens in Times Square.  The designers are at an outdoor runway, preparing to put on a show in front of hordes of screaming, excited people.  They have two models apiece.  Heidi calls the designers onstage for a champagne toast.

Rewind about 24 hours, and the designers are arriving in New York City.  They all gather at Parsons, which has pictures of the previous winners on the walls.  They also have an assignment waiting for them:  choose an outfit that they feel best represents their aesthetic.  While they’re mulling this over, Melissa Fleiss, 31, tells us that she’d originally studied to be a lawyer– and then shifted gears to go into fashion.

Tim Gunn arrives and welcomes the designers.  He then points out the usual stuff: the sewing machines, the HP tablets, and the accessory wall, which now gets its goodies from Lord and Taylor.  He also issues the season’s first challenge:  make a companion piece for their look.  The designers will have 30 minutes to sketch, a budget of $100.00, and a day to complete the challenge.  This last makes some of the designers nervous.  Beatrice, 29, admits that sewing is not her strength, and another designer moans that it had taken them four days to make their first piece.  Andrea, on the other hand, is calm and confident.  Not only does she have probably the most experience, she’s even taught classes on fashion design.

After the usual sketching time, the designers go off to Mood.  Raul Osorio, 27, hunts for some lace and comes up with some strange-looking pink fabric.  Back at Parson’s, he suffers from a bad case of buyer’s remorse when he discovers that that odd pink fabric– which looks like cotton balls strung together– is really, really hard on his sewing machine.  Fabio, 29, tells his neighbors that he’s a “freegan,”  which means he likes to go dumpster-diving for his food.  I’m not sure we needed to know that.

Christopher, 24, says “hi” to Gunnar, who retorts that he’s not in the mood.  He adds that he can be described as a “moody S.O.B.”  Lifetime, jerks are NOT interesting.  Do you always have to cast them?  Elsewhere, Dmitry tells us that he thinks Buffi is loud and trashy, in both looks and behavior

Tim comes in to make his rounds, and he starts with Melissa, who is using black leather.  He tells her that he’s intrigued by her look.  Next up is Sonja Williams, 27, who is working on a jacket and a dress.  Tim really likes the jacket, but doesn’t have much use for the dress.  He thinks Buffi’s look is “too much,” and is confused by Kooan’s design.

Beatrice tells Tim that she really likes working with knits, and he offers some suggestions on how to proceed.  Tim likes the dress that’s Fabio’s first look, but thinks the skirt is a “throwaway.”  Gunnar tells Tim that he likes designing for older Southern women, but Tim seems to like his work anyway.  Lantie tells Tim that she’s inspired by the 60’s.

Elena Slivnyak, 28, tells Tim that her look is inspired by fencing costumes, which seems to impress him.  Ven shows off the hot pink cocktail dress he’s making.  Tim is suitably impressed by his first look:  a draped white suit with a sculpted hot pink top.  He’s also pleased with Andrea, who is making something he calls “youthful.”  Tim isn’t so pleased with Raul, since his pastel pink cotton-ball skirt is literally see-through.  Tim tells him he needs to fix it.  Christopher complains about how his sewing machine “ate” one of his pieces.  Tim offers encouragement by telling him that his black cocktail dress works very well.

Gunnar and Christopher continue sniping at each other, revealing that they are the two youngest (and least mature) in the room.  Christopher comments that the show is Project Runway, not Toddlers and Tiaras.  The models come in for their fitting, and Christopher finds that his model is taller than advertised– which means his look doesn’t fit her.  On that note, it’s time to go home to the apartment.

The next morning, everybody gets back to work.  Tim sends in the models.  Kooan and Ven are pleased to find their looks fit perfectly, but others aren’t as fortunate.  Some designers send their models off to hair and make-up while others continue frantically sewing.  One of these, Beatrice, punctures a hole in one of her dresses– and she has only 20 minutes left to fix it.

Then it’s off to Times Square, where the designers find an outdoor runway and half of New York City waiting for them.  Heidi welcomes everybody and then introduces the judges, Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, and two guest judges:  the actress and producer Lauren Graham and  fashion designer Patricia Field, who had been a guest judge in the first episode of Project Runway’s first season.

Ven is up first.  His first design is spectacular:  It’s a draped white suit with billowing pants and a hot pink bustier with a front sculpted to look like a stylized rose.  His companion piece is a sleeveless hot pink cocktail dress with a pleated skirt.  Beatrice’s first look is a shapeless grey knit dress accessorized– and — overpowered by a colorful Aztec throw.  Her companion piece consists of a skirt made of the same grey knit as the dress, a sleeveless, off-the-shoulder rust-colored shirt, and a wide belt.

Lantie’s first look is a 60’s inspired white dress and vest.  When the model takes the vest off, the dress is revealed to be sleeveless, with a yoke down the front.  The companion piece is a light dress sheathed in translucent black tulle with a snakeskin bib that looks literally tacked on.  Andrea seems to have been channeling Mila:  Her first look is a long sleeveless dress with black and white blocking.  Her companion piece is a sleeveless mini-dress with a black top and a flared skirt with black and white bands.

Christopher’s companion piece is a sleeveless black cocktail dress.  His original look is a flowing gown slit up the front and with a strapped bodice.  Alicia’s first look is a deep red jumpsuit with a sleeveless top and knickers with a dropped crotch.  The companion look consists of skinny grey pants, also with a dropped crotch, and a sleeveless deep red and off white top.  Elena’s first look is a structured black outfit inspired by a fencing costume, and her second is a black and white mini-dress.

Buffi’s  first look is a sleeveless black mini-dress with a hot pink halter and a big wide belt with an enormous buckle.  Her second piece consists of extremely tight shiny black pants and a billowing hot pink top held in place by a black belt.  Dmitry’s first look is a  glittering black dress with mid-length sleeves, and his second look is a black miniskirt paired with an off-the-shoulder black top.  Kooan the Kook’s first piece is a pair of grey overall shorts decorated with big aqua circles.  He also made a long-sleeved hot pink print shirt.  His companion piece is a shapeless, opalescent, purple-grey mini-dress, that at least looks as if it wasn’t designed by a lunatic, but isn’t all that interesting.

Gunnar’s first look is a black and gold dress with a yoke, and his companion piece consists of separates that have the same color scheme.  Nathan McDonald, 33, is the quietest designer so far.  He made a draped teal cocktail dress and a draped coral gown with short sleeves.  Sonja made a very nice brown leather jacket and a pair of black pints trimmed with yellow.  For her second look, she made a black and yellow cocktail dress and a black vest.

Melissa’s first look is an asymmetrical black cocktail dress with a single sleeve.  Her second look is a long black gown teamed with a black top.  Raul’s first look is a gray pantsuit and his companion piece is the pastel pink cotton-ball dress that had been giving him fits earlier.  Fabio’s first look is a black shirt with a black and white skirt, and his second piece is a one-sleeved black cocktail dress.

After that it’s time for the judging.  Heidi then explains what this season’s prizes will be:  $50,000 worth of high-tech toys from HP, $100,000 from L’Oreal, and a fashion spread in Marie Claire.  She then calls Kooan, Lantie, Ven, Beatrice, Melissa, and Christopher.  These six got the highest and lowest scores between them, while the others are safe.

Kooan explains that his first look represents his early work, while his second piece represents his more recent work.  Showing one’s evolution as a designer is actually a fairly good idea.  The judges note his good technical skills, but deem his aesthetic “cartoonish.”

Melissa simply wanted to make clothes that would flatter her model.  Nina likes it, while Michael hopes she won’t use black all the time.  Beatrice tells the judges she loves working with knits, and the judges aren’t impressed.  Heidi calls her garments “sad.”

The judges praise Christopher’s work, especially his gown, but Michael dings him for his styling.  As for Lantie, the judges dislike her second dress, and Heidi thinks the snakeskin looks tacked on.  (It does.)  Last up is Ven, who talks about structure and fit.  The judges like both his looks, and praise his skill and sophistication.

After that, it’s time for the judges’ chat.  They start with their favorites, during which they quickly eliminate Melissa from contention, making it a two-man race between Christopher and Ven.  As for the bottom three, Kooan’s second piece was actually too restrained, Beatrice’s Aztec cape wasn’t as dramatic as she’d hoped and just obscured a nice dress.  Lantie’s looks were badly done vintage clothing.

The judges then announce their decision:  Christopher is the winner.  Ven, Melissa, and Kooan are all in, leaving Lantie and Beatrice in the bottom two.  Lantie is in, which means Beatrice is out.

Later episodes will involve a Rockettes challenge and an unconventional materials challenge in a candy store.  Plus, somebody apparently quits– which hasn’t happened since the seventh season.

Project Runway All-Stars: Vampires, Safaris, and Therapy, Oh My!

Last week on Project Runway, the three finalists faced their last challenge:  Make a mini-collection of five outfits in four days.  Inevitably, they also faced the inevitable Project Runway “twist”:  Make an extra outfit in the remaining time.  (I put “twist” in quotation marks, because Project Runway does this every season, so it really can’t be considered unexpected.)  The real twist — in the sense of something unexpected — was that the designers had to make the sixth outfit out of leftover fabric from earlier challenges.  Fortunately, they were also given help in the form of eliminated designers Mila, Anthony, and April.  They also got visits and advice from the judges, and Mondo practically had a nervous breakdown.

The four days of prep time are up, and the guys get gussied up for their big show.  All of them are excited and all of them really, really want to win.  Michael feels confident and Mondo believes he deserves to win.

The finalists then go to Gotham Hall in Manhattan, which is the site of the big show.  They are suitably impressed by the gorgeous building, and they check out the auditorium where the runway show will be held.  They also take time out for a group hug.

They then go backstage to finish their preparations.  Each man has his own work space and design area.  Austin quickly gets to work on a metallic red and black dress which isn’t quite finished.

The models come in for their final fitting.  Here, Michael discovers that the sleeves on one shirt don’t fit properly:  One is too tight, while the other is too loose.  Worse, he discovered that another dress was about six inches too wide at the waist.  Whoops.  Mondo is having problems with a pair of leggings.

Joanna stops by to see how everybody is doing.  She seems happy with Mondo’s collection– but gives him a once-over with a lint roller.  Heh.  She isn’t happy to see that Austin’s ball-gown has pins in it.  He plans to cover them up with a sash.

Showtime!  Angela goes out onstage to introduce the judges:  Georgina Chapman, Isaac Mizrahi, plus guest judges Ken Downing of Nieman Marcus and designer Tommy Hilfiger.  The camera pans around the audience, and we see that Nina Garcia is in attendance.

Austin is up first, and he calls his collection “Austin Scarlett.”  His clothes tell the story of a vampire from the 18th century who currently resides in Williamsburg and borrows clothes from Hasadic dandy friends.  No, I’m not kidding.  He actually said that.

His first look is a pair of pink capris with a matching top and a black jacket.  The capris flare out to the sides, making the model’s hips look enormous.  His second look is a short-sleeved dress made of lacquered black lace.  Like the capris, it also exaggerates the hips.  Um, why?  I don’t know too many women who want to look bigger than they really are.  His third look is a knee-length, high-waisted black leather skirt paired with a sleeveless pink top.  His fourth look is the red and black dress that had been giving him fits earlier.  It’s sleeveless and tiered.  The skirt below the knees flares outward.  His fifth is a sleeveless, snug black leather jumpsuit.  It is actually his sixth look and is made from materials used in the “street muse” challenge.  Austin’s final look is a white wedding dress.  The floor-length, flaring skirt looks as if it’s made of tulle or some similar material.  The bodice and asymmetrical overskirt are scalloped.  The model is also wearing a black veil, belt, and long gloves.


Mondo is next.  He explains how his stress and reaction to said stress during the challenge inspired him to create his “Therapy” collection.  His first look consists of a black top with white polka dots and billowing, half-length sleeves teamed with a snug metallic black mini-skirt and  black leggings.  His second look is a patterned, sleeveless black and white mini-dress with oversized pockets ringed with black leather.  His third look is a sleeveless, black and white patterned tunic over a pair of black leggings.  It’s this look that was made from his leftover fabric.  The upper part of the tunic (from the shoulders to just above the breasts) consists of black mesh.  Mondo’s fourth look consists of a patterned jacket of guess what colors, billowing dark pants, and a white top decorated with a Rorschach inkblot.  Mondo’s fifth look is a slinky, knee-length, black and white dress with Rorschach inkblots down the front.  His final look is a metallic black, silver and red sleeveless long dress.

Last up is Michael, who calls his collection “Serengeti.”  The first look is a snake-print off-white one-piece jump suit with billowing pants.  His second look is a long-sleeved, snug mini-dress made of zebra print.  His third look is a long sleeved Little Black Dress with a silhouette similar to the second look’s.  His fourth look is a print jacket with matching shorts.  His fifth look appears to be another jumpsuit– but it’s actually separates.  Both the shirt and the billowing pants are made of the same zebra print as his second look.  His final look is a sleeveless draped white Grecian dress.  It’s also his sixth look and is made from the same material that he’d used in the flag challenge.

After the show is the usual glimpse backstage, where different people talk about their favorites.  Eric Damon liked Mondo’s pantsuit, while Irina from Season 6 enjoyed all three collections.

Then it’s time for the designers to face the judges, who critique them one at a time.  They start with Austin, while Michael and Mondo wait backstage.  Tommy is amazed by what he accomplished in such a short time.  Georgina sees some good ideas, while Isaac says it feels more like a retrospective showing a “best of” over the years, rather than a true collection.  Tommy thinks many of the pieces have a rocker vibe — but the wedding dress doesn’t go with anything else.  Georgina thinks the wedding dress was amazing, but also thinks the red and black ball gown was unflattering.  Ken loves the lace dress, and Isaac says he can imagine the person who would wear Austin’s clothes.  The judges think Austin’s collection feels youthful. Austin later tells us that he feels confident.

Mondo is next.  Georgina likes the graphics, prints, and colors.  Isaac thinks Mondo’s collection was the most cohesive of the bunch.  Tommy was impressed by the first look, but thought the second one was too busy.  Ken loves the Rorschach print.  Isaac loves the metallic dress, while Angela thinks it doesn’t quite go with the rest of the collection.  Mondo later notes that all of the judges had different favorites.  (This is probably good, because it means there was no single look everybody hated.)

Last up is Michael.  Georgina tells him that his collection was exceptional.  Tommy believes it would sell well and goes so far as to say, “it could be in stores tomorrow.”  Ken deems it cohesive.  Georgina cautions Michael to be careful with prints, and Isaac adds that he doesn’t care for the way the prints were mixed.  Tommy loves the draped dress.  Angela appreciates the sex appeal of Michael’s clothes which make them very salable.  Georgina thinks the white dress is both sensual and elegant.  Michael is happy the judges like his clothes.

Afterwards, the judges deliberate.  They think Austin is the most artistic of the group, but his wedding dress doesn’t go with the rest of the collection.  They agree that an Austin Scarlett boutique would work, but he also has too many ideas.

Mondo’s collection showed amazing workmanship.  The judges are impressed by his ability to mix prints.  Ken thinks some of his details can be cartoonish.

The judges agree that Michael’s collection was very cohesive, but Isaac thinks it’s unsophisticated.  He also doesn’t like the prints.  Everybody agrees his clothes would sell, but he may actually be too commercial.  The judges agree that all three men are capable designers.

Finally, the judges are ready to announce their decision.  To soften the blow, Angela announces that the runners-up won’t leave empty-handed:  They’ll each get trips to Paris for two.

Michael is first out.  Angela hands him his tickets and he leaves.  The contest is then between Austin and Mondo– and the winner is Mondo.  Angela gives Austin his tickets to Paris, as the eliminated designers bring champagne onstage to help Mondo celebrate.

Thus endeth All-Stars.  The producers gave it their all, and Angela, Georgina, Isaac, and Joanna did creditable jobs.  Isaac proved to be a happy surprise, as he wasn’t annoying like he’d been on Fashion Show.  He also avoided the sometimes strained attempts at humor that Michael Kors indulged in.

All-Stars‘ chief problem was the casting; not all of the designers chosen struck me as All-Stars material.  Unfortunately, I don’t know if the producers can actually fix this.  Consider:  Aspiring designers go on Project Runway for the exposure.  If they make it at least half-way, it’s probably a case of “mission accomplished.”  They’ve been on T.V. for several weeks, and people have a feel for their style and skill level.  After Project Runway, many designers go on to bigger and better things.

That’s great– for them.  Unfortunately, it means the makers of All-Stars probably had to settle for those designers who didn’t have major projects in their pipelines.  For example, during an episode of After the Runway, Mila mentioned that her latest gig was designing costumes for the latest Star Trek movie.  If she’d been involved in that while All-Stars was being made, she probably would have not been able to participate, and someone else would have been cast.  This could certainly explain why none of the winners took part in All-Stars.  Mondo and Rami were the only runners-up to participate; everybody else had finished third place or lower.

The Project Runway All-Star Challenge of 2009 got around this problem, as it had been a single, two-hour long episode– and therefore much easier for designers to squeeze into their schedules.  Of the eight designers who’d participated, one, Jeffrey Sebelia, had won his season, while three others had been runners-up.  If Lifetime plans another All-Stars season, they are going to have to deal with people’s scheduling conflicts in such a way that they get more top-tier designers and fewer also-rans.


Project Runway All-Stars, Mar. 15 – Funks and Frantic Days

Last week on Project Runway, the designers all got a lesson on the business end of their chosen industry.  They had to design for a client, Nanette Lepore, a fashion designer associated with Nieman Marcus.  Their looks had to fall within a given price range and they had to work within a very small budget.  They also had to accept feedback from their client and make something she would be happy to sell.  Mondo won and Kenley was sent home.  For the first time in the show’s history, the finalists are all guys.

On the runway, Angela greets the finalists– and notices that Austin has shaved off his mustache.  Angela then calls out the judges, Isaac and Georgina, who explain what the final challenge will be.  The finalists will be putting on a runway show– in four days.  Each of them will have to make a mini-collection of five different outfits.  Boo.  Hiss.  These ridiculous time constraints mean the designers will almost certainly cut corners and stick to garments they know they can make within the stated time.

After telling the designers they will have a $3,000.00 budget at Mood, Angela sends them off to the offices of Marie Claire, where they meet with their mentor Joanna.  Michael asks her what she looks for in a runway show.  She answers that she wants to see evidence of a theme and the designer pushing themselves.  Mondo asks for her take on theatricality in a show, noting that all three finalists have sometimes been dinged by the judges for being too over-the-top.  Joanna assures him that theatrics do have their place in runway shows– provided they fit the stated theme.  Joanna also explains what a guest editor at Marie Claire would do, since one of the prizes is a one-year stint as guest editor.  Amongst other things, the guest editor would work with Nina Garcia.

After that, the designers head to a park to sketch for the next hour.  Michael is inspired by the greenery around him, while Austin decides to design a wedding dress for his final look.  Mondo is in one of his funks and doesn’t feel inspired at all.  Then it’s off to Mood, for an hour-long shopping session.  Michael channels his inner Anya and picks out safari prints.  Austin wants to make things fit for both a noblewoman and a “Hasadic gentleman.”  Um, okayyy.  Mondo wanders around feeling lost, as his prints aren’t “speaking” to him.

When the designers get back to Parsons, they find the work area has been overhauled.  Everybody now has a workroom of his own, with doors they can shut.  Mondo takes advantage of this feature, so he can sulk in private.  Austin tells us he wants to make whimsical clothing.  Michael wants his safari looks to be “fun, adventurous, and sexy.”  Mondo paws through his fabrics, but can’t get motivated and thus doesn’t start.

Georgina stops by to see how everybody is doing and give them advice.  Michael and Austin are happy to see her, while Mondo is still in his funk.  She’s sympathetic to Mondo and even admits that she’s had similar days.

A the end of their first day, the designers have dinner together.  Mondo announces, “I’ve had enough,” and leaves.  Come on, Mondo, try acting your age.  You are the oldest designer left, you know.

The following morning, Mondo seems to be feeling better– and he now has a theme, “Therapy,” as in acupuncture, Rorschach tests, and electroshock.  Then it’s time to cast the models.  Each designer will get five.  On a couple of occasions, Austin and Mondo clash over the same girl.  Michael solves the problem by flipping a coin, so Mondo wins one girl and Austin wins the other.  After pouting that “Austin gets everything,”  Mondo returns to his “Therapy” collection and makes something with Rorschach ink blots.

Isaac comes in and the designers are happy to see him.  Mondo tells us that he has a bit of a “man-crush” on Isaac, who gives everybody CD’s and tells them to pick music for their show.  He also gives them some advice.  For line-ups, the newest piece should be first, while the grandest piece should be last.  He adds that they should enjoy the process, because “if you don’t, we’ll be able to tell.”  Mondo and Michael quickly made their music selections, leaving Austin to take what was left.  He’s a good sport about it and decides not to fight about it.

On the third day, the designers get back to work.  Angela comes in and announces there will be a twist.  It turns out to be the same twist Project Runway has every finals:  Make an extra look.  Models come in carrying baskets of discarded fabrics from previous challenges, and Angela tells the designers that they have to make their sixth look out of whatever is in their baskets.  Also, as she’s aware of the time constraints, she’s arranged for them to have help.  As she says this, the eliminated designers troop in.  Angela adds that the finalists can each pick one eliminated designer, who will help them for the next twenty-four hours.  Mondo, as the winner of the previous challenge, gets to pick first and he chooses Mila.  Austin asks for “her Serene Royal Highness Antoinetta,” in other words, Anthony.  Michael picks April of the silver hair.

The finalists and their assistants get to work.  Mondo and Mila sort through Mondo’s basket, looking for fabrics they can use for the sixth look.  Austin is worried that the sixth look might not be cohesive with the rest of his outfits.  For some reason, he decides leggings are a safe thing to make.  Michael asks April to help him with his fifth look, presumably because he hasn’t decided what to do for a sixth look, and doesn’t want to waste April’s time.

The models come in for their fittings.  The finalists have chosen at least some of their fabrics by now for the sixth look.  Austin will be using some of the leather from the “street muse” challenge.  Michael will be using fabric from the flag challenge, sine he has lots of it left.  Mondo will be using bits and pieces from several challenges.

Not only did the assistants help the designers choose fabrics and finish looks, they also gave advice and helped them reign in their worst impulses.  Anthony, for instance, warned Austin that one of his looks was too “dead white lady.”  In other words, it looked as grandmotherly as the outfit Austin had made for the seasonal sportswear challenge– which had nearly gotten him booted.

On the final day before the show, the designers have only a couple hours of help left.  Mondo is worried because he and Mila didn’t accomplish as much as he’d hoped they would.  Joanna comes to see how everybody is doing.  She starts with Austin and asks him how he’ll “convince the judges that he’s pushing the boundaries.”  He immediately displays a very odd-looking pair of pink pants.

Mondo shows off his “Therapy” collection and she assures him that it’s coherent and strong.  She’s especially impressed by the inkblot shirt, which strikes her as both stylish and humorous.

Michael’s “Safari” look is cohesive, in Joanna’s opinion.  She also comments that she would immediately peg the garments as his creations.  (How much do you want to bet that because many of them can’t be worn with a bra?)

After Joanna leaves, the designers have to visit Johnny Lavoy for a consultation on hair styling.  Here, Austin asks for looks suitable for “Hasidic gentlemen.”  Michael tells us that he considers Austin a bigger threat than Mondo and adds that Austin’s garments all look as if they’d been made over seven or eight months, rather than a few days.  Mondo likes some of Austin’s looks, but thinks some of them are “risky.”

Next week:  The show!

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Project Runway All-Stars: Of Fashion and Business Sense

Last week on Project Runway, the designers had to create looks that incorporated lighting technology, be it actual lights or glow-in-the-dark neon strips.  The runway show was the first in Project Runway history to be held under black light.  Austin won and Jerrell was sent home.

The following morning, the designers have breakfast, and Kenley wonders out loud what the challenge will be.  “Probably designing something,” says Mondo.  Thank you, Captain Obvious.  Let’s narrow it down a tad, shall we?  Mondo later comments that this is the last challenge before the finals — which is traditionally the time for designers to fall apart and/or get too cautious.  He also notes that the remaining designers are pairs of friends:  himself and Michael, and Austin and Kenley.

On the runway, Angela tells the designers that they will have a client:   designer Nanette Lepore.  The winning design will be sold at her store.  Not only do the designers have to make something Nanette would sell, their design must also fall within a given price range.

The designers go to Nanette’s design studio and she tells them she wants a ready-to-wear for a retail customer.  As the designers then start sketching,  Nanette tells them that the simpler the design, the more they can spend on fabric.  Kenley tells us that she has designed for mass markets before, so she thinks she knows how to handle the challenge.  Michael plans to make a caftan.  Mondo tells us that he doesn’t sketch, as he can’t draw.  He just doodles stars and the like during sketch time.

Afterwards, Nanette and a woman named Kelly look over the sketches.  They tell the designers what their garments would probably sell for, how much it would cost to make them, and most importantly, how much they can spend on fabric.   They start with Michael and tell him a caftan is expensive to make.  He’ll have a budget of $48.00.  He looks unhappy about this, but sucks it up, calling it a “good lesson.”

Next up is Kenley, who is making a dress with a keyhole.  That will reduce the amount of fabric needed– but increase the labor costs.  Kenley can spend $41.00 on fabric.  Nanette believes that Austin’s coat would need a stiff taffeta fabric.  Kelley tells him, that despite the higher retail cost of the coat, he will have only $65.00 for fabric and trim.  Austin speculates that he’ll have a budget of $15.00 per yard.

Mondo confesses his lack of sketching ability to the women, who look concerned.  He explains his plan, and, based on his description, Kelly gives him a budget of $32.00  Ouch.  Kenley tells Michael he should teach Mondo how to sketch, and Mondo gets offended.

The designers then check out Nanette’s fabric room– after being reminded they have to stay within their budgets.  Kenley falls in love with a peacock feather print.  Michael picks out a jersey fabric.  Austin shows Kelly the taffeta fabric he’s chosen — and is pleased to learn it’s within his budget.  Michael says his new design is a bit less flowy, and is told he’s within his assigned budget.  Kenley is over her budget, but agrees to get a bit less fabric.  Mondo turns out to be under-budget by a few dollars.

The designers go to the workroom.  Mondo has an acute case of nerves:  He feels like he’s lost control and will fail.  Michael discovers that his fabric isn’t 100% print; it has a large white border.  He decides to scrap the sleeves that he’d planned.  Kenley decides to eliminate her keyhole, as she doesn’t think it will work with her print.  Austin thinks that’s wise, but Michael believes she’s making a mistake.

Mondo tells us that he’s scared.  It’s sad that something he loves is defeating him.  Michael feels negative energy emanating from him.  Kenley tells us that she never gets nervous.

Joanna and Nanette stop by to see how everybody is doing.  They start with Kenley and express concern because her dress is looser than they’d expected.  Nanette tells Kenley that a loose dress is harder to sell and that fit will make or break a sale.  Kenley insists that the dress is gorgeous.  Michael comments that Kenley is making her usual silhouette– while he’s making a caftan.  Kenley assures the women that the dress will flatter the model’s body.

Nanette notes that Michael’s dress is close to the original design, but that the neckline is too plunging.  He assures her that he’ll put a hook and eyelet closure at the front to provide a modicum of decency.  Joanna is again annoyed that Michael has made a dress that can’t be worn with a bra.  He promises to put a closure in the back, too.  Austin comments that Michael’s clothes are hard to wear if you’re not a model.

Austin starts describing his coat, and Michael expresses bewilderment as to what the judges see in his work.  Nanette likes the coat so far, while Joanna thinks it could be fabulous or hideous.  Austin believes the finished product will look expensive and luxurious.

Mondo jokes about his terrible sketch and lays out bands of fabric to show Joanna and Nanette how his dress will look.  He explains his dress will be easy to wear.  Nanette thinks the dress will look like “play clothes:”  great for a date or a trip to the flea market, but not for the office.

Austin tells us that being eliminated at this stage would break his heart– especially since that’s what happened to him in Season 1.  Throughout the episode, everybody talks about how they really, really don’t want to be eliminated.  They talk about how upsetting it would be to be sent home just before the finals.  On that note, it’s time for everybody to go back to the apartment.

The next morning, everybody gets back to work. Austin wishes he could have lined his dress.  Kenley is happy with her look, while Mondo is on the fence about his.  The models come in for their fitting, and Michael’s model worries aloud about the dress falling off.  Austin thinks Michael’s dress is very inappropriate– and Michael’s model seems to agree, as she wonders which of her breasts will escape.  Austin thinks that he, Mondo, and Kenley should be the Final Three.

Kenley is confident she’ll be in the finals, while Mondo thinks she needs to match up her patterns.

Then it’s off to the runway.  Angela greets the designers and reintroduces them to Nanette Lepore, who is the guest judge this week.  She then reminds them that the challenge was to make something both timeless and salable.

Austin made a knee-length red coat with long sleeves.  It has a belt made of the same material.  It’s a nice color, but it looks sort of rumpled.

Michael apparently channeled his inner Anya and made a caftan out of green and yellow print.  It has short, flowy sleeves and a deeply plunging neckline.  It’s also deeply plunging in the back.  The caftan is floor-length and then some– it looks as if the model has to kick fabric out of the way while walking.

Mondo made a sleeveless mini-dress out of several different fabrics.  The top is a black fabric decorated with bands of red and lavender.  Below that is a band of black and white print.  Below that is a band of lemon yellow fabric.  Below that is a striped, tan, orange, and magenta skirt.

Kenley made a short-sleeved knee-length dress out of a light aqua fabric with a peacock pattern.  The prints, unfortunately, don’t match up, so it’s very obvious where the seams are.

The judges start with Mondo, who said he’d been in a “dark place” and wanted to make something fun, flirty, and colorful.  Isaac thinks the dress needs a slimmer waist and Nanette wonders out loud how it would look on a curvier woman.  Angela thinks the dress would look better with sandals, which would make it look more casual.  Georgina asks if he went with fabric or design, and Mondo answers that he’d stuck to his original design.  Georgina admires his use of fabrics.

Michael tells the judges that he wanted to use a print.  He also wanted to create something feminine and timeless.  Nanette would love to take it on a trip with her.  Georgina thinks it looks more sensual that sexual; Isaac agrees.  Angela thinks it’s too long.  So does Georgina, while Isaac dislikes the strap across the back.  Nanette agrees that the open back could be a problem, as backless items don’t sell very well.

Kenley says she fell in love with the peacock print and that she wanted to make something flattering.  Georgina and Angela agree that Kenley’s failure to match the print is “problematic.”  Nanette wishes she’d put in the keyhole, as that would make it more commercial.  Isaac says it’s a good dress — but not an inspired one.

Last up is Austin, who has the model show that his coat can be worn in three different ways:  belted, cinched, or in full swing.  Isaac comments that he hadn’t realized it was a coat– which does make a difference.  He’s still bothered by the wrinkles.  Nanette comments that some fabrics look better for retail than the runway.  Angela loves the color and thinks it would sell well.  Isaac says that even a coat should be pressed.

The judges then deliberate.  Austin’s coat had a beautiful design, but Nanette questions his fabric choice.  Georgina is impressed by the many fabrics Mondo used in his design, while Angela thinks the dress is too boxy.  The judges consider Kenley’s dress a disappointment, and Nanette comments that she does not take advice.  Michael can be hit or miss and he lacks confidence.  He made a pretty dress, but relied too heavily on the print.

Angela thinks Kenley’s clothes would appeal to a younger person, while Michael’s would appeal to somebody older and more sophisticated.

The judges announce their decision.  Austin is safe, while Mondo is the winner.  That leaves Michael and Kenley in the bottom.  Michael’s dress can’t be worn by every woman, while Kenley is too stubborn for her own good.  Michael is in, and Kenley is out.

Next week:  The finalists face a four-day challenge and some of the eliminated designers return.

Project Runway All-Stars, Mar.1 – Lights! Camera! Fashion!

Last week on Project Runway, the designers visited the United Nations building.  They also had to make dresses inspired by flags.  Mondo won and Mila was sent home.

No shots of designers waking up or having breakfast or the like.  Instead, it’s off to the runway, where Angela tells the designers that for their next challenge, they will have to “light up the runway.”  The camera crew then turn off the lights and turn on black light, so the designers can see that Angela’s skirt glows in the dark.

Angela then spells out the challenge:  Make an avant-garde look using lighting technology.  She also tells them that this will be the first time in Project Runway history that they’ve used black light on the runway.  This week’s guest judge will be Pharrell Williams, a  Grammy-winning musician and fashion designer.  The designers will have $100.00 to spend at Mood and $300.00 to spend on lights and special effects gear.  They will have a day to complete the challenge.

The designers’ first stop is the light store.  Jerrell picks out fiber optics.  Austin is drawn to fairy lights and tells us that he makes fairy tales come to life.  Kenley picks out a lot of lights– only to find out that her selections cost $700.00.  As she’s grossly over-budget, she needs to rethink her choices.

Then it’s off to Mood, where Mondo uses a little gadget to see which fabrics work with black light.  Jerrell picks out neon and white fabrics.

Back at their work area, the designers find that one section has been converted into a dark room, which will let them see how their creations look under black light.  Not surprisingly, they find that some of the fabrics look quite different under the black light.  Pink fabric might glow orange, for instance.

The designers sketch.  As they work, Mondo notes that it would be all too easy to make something gimmicky.  He wants to avoid that, of course, but isn’t sure how.  Moreover, he can’t use his beloved patterns– and the fabrics he’s got aren’t “speaking” to him.  In short, he doesn’t know what to do.  Michael is also having problems, as he doesn’t like the pink jacket that he’s already made.  Mondo notes that he’s changing his design again.

Joanna stops by to check on everybody — and comments on the “electrifying” challenge.  She starts with Kenley, who is making her own textile.  Specifically, she’s using neon glow tape to make a plaid pattern.  She’s also got white fabric with windows cut into it and will use this for a jacket.

Jerrell shows Joanna his fiber optics and the very short flared skirt he’s made.  Joanna cautions him to watch his silhouette:  he doesn’t want a look that reminds people of a Christmas tree.

Austin tells Joanna that he’s aiming for a look that is both edgy and romantic.  She thinks his look is interesting so far.

Joanna is pleased to see that Michael’s not draping anything this time.  He tells her that he wants to make a structured look.  She warns him to mind his tape, as some of it is puckering.

Mondo tells Joanna about his troubles with the challenge.  She assures him that she has faith in his abilities; he just needs to focus.  Kenley, meanwhile, admires Jerrell’s fiber optic skirt.

The models come in, and it looks like Mondo’s in trouble, as he doesn’t have anything for his model to try on.  Kenley admires Michael’s look, which has a definite sci-fi vibe.

Austin talks to his mother over the Skype.  She has bad news:  her house is being foreclosed on, which means she faces homelessness.  Austin’s mother was a real estate agent and the horrendous economy means she’s out of a job.  On that note, the designers go home and discuss the challenge.

On the following morning, the designers immediately get back to work, sine the show is just hours away.  Kenley weaves “fairy lights” into her coat.  The models come in for their final preparations.  During this, poor Mondo discovers he has a problem:  His dress isn’t lighting up, and he doesn’t know how to fix it.  While the models get their hair and make-up done, Mondo tries to fix his dress– but half an hour before show time, it still won’t light up.

On the runway, Angela introduces Pharrell Williams, this week’s guest judge.  He tells them that one of his artists will wear the winning look.

Mondo is up first, and he apparently channeled his inner Mila.  He made what looks like a little black dress from the front, but it’s actually scarlet in the back.  He decorated the front of the dress with vertical stripes that glow yellow, and he gave his model a headpiece that glows green.  He even decorated the edges of her shoes with glowing green tape.

Jerrell’s look is next– and it really does look a bit like a silver Christmas tree.  He made a short, flared skirt reminiscent of Judy Jetson’s, and covered it with glowing blue-white fiber optics.  In the interests of preserving the model’s modesty, he also made a long black skirt– and did nothing with it.  He also made a snug black turtleneck shirt and decorated it with a collar made of the same fiber optics as the skirt.  The idea seems to be to make the skirt and collar look as if they were made of high-tech feathers.  He also made a feathery headpiece that glowed green, but was white in normal light.

Kenley made a sleeveless black dress decorated with a glowing pink and yellow plaid pattern.  She also made a white garment that looks something like a cross between a jacket and a poncho and has multiple square cutouts.  It glows blue white under black light.

Austin made a flared, knee-length skirt out of black tulle and matched it with a bustier.  He then wove pale blue lights into and through the skirt.  He also made a sort of stiff boa that began at the top of the model’s head and wound around away from her face and down her body.

Michael apparently thinks “avant-garde” means “looks like something from a science fiction movie.”  He made a long-sleeved black dress and matching leggings– and then went bananas with the glowing green neon tape.  He also made stiff bands of fabric to go over the model’s shoulders– and then put blue lights under them.  He also made a glowing green belt, a half-mask that covers the model’s lower face and a headdress with a glowing blue tail.  Michael 1) forgot everything he knew about editing, and 2) is apparently a huge fan of Tron — which was made in the 1980’s.

The designers then have to face the judges, who start with Kenley, who tells them that she wanted to use fairy lights in her look.  Pharrell tells her that her look is one of his favorites.  Isaac praises her for using volume on  both the top and the bottom without making the model look fat.  Angela likes the plaid.  The judges praise her for pushing herself.

Mondo tells the judges that he made the casings for his lights.  The judges think his look resembles something from Tron.  Isaac thinks it’s well-made, but not avant-garde.

Jerrell tells the judges that he wanted to use fiber optics to create movement.  Isaac thinks all the fiber optics look like something from a joke store.  Pharrell says the long black skirt under the Judy Jetson number looks like something his grandmother would wear.  Ooops.

Austin wanted to create a look that resembled starlight.  The judges like his look; Georgina calls it romantic and pretty.

Last up is Michael, who wanted to make something futuristic.  Isaac dismisses the look as “tape on a dress.”  Pharrell says it looks like either something a cos-player would wear to Comic-con or something from Mortal Kombat.  Not only that, but the bulky get-up obscures the waist, making the model look heavier than she is.

The judges then deliberate, starting with the designers they liked.  They praise Mondo for his good use of materials and Kenley for her good proportions.  Austin’s dress is romantic.  As for the designers they didn’t like, Jerrell made only half an outfit, as his long granny skirt had no embellishment whatsoever.  The rest of the outfit was unsophisticated and looked like something from a joke store.  Michael needs to seriously edit his design, which was also unflattering.

The judges then announce their decision.  Mondo is safe.  Kenley and Austin got the highest scores, and Austin is the winner.  Kenley, of course, is safe, leaving  Jerrell and Michael in the bottom.  Jerrell is out, so Michael is safe.

In After the Runway, the designers discuss the challenge.  Austin loved it, and Michael admits he didn’t enjoy it.  The designers also discuss the emotional toll their isolation from friends and family takes, as they’re separated from them for several weeks.

Next week:  The last challenge before the finals.

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Project Runway All-Stars, Feb. 23 – United Nations of Fashion

Last week on Project Runway, the designers visited Broadway.  There they learned they would have to make a costume for a character in a Godspell revival.  Mondo won and Kara was sent home.

The following morning, Mila vows to “wow” the judges– which probably means she is going home.  Too often, when a designer makes such a vow, they end up in the bottom.  Austin, meantime, tells us that he thinks Kara deserved to stay over Mila or Jerrell.  He and Kenley then talk about how much they miss Kara.

The designers then meet Angela at the United Nations building.  Angela then rather condescendingly tells the designers (and any pre-teens in the audience) that the U.N. building is where diplomats from various countries get together to try to solve the world’s problems, like climate change.  Angie, honey, most of these designers are probably at least your age.  (Michael is the “baby” of the group– at around 27.)  I’m sure they know a little something about the U.N.

The camera then pans over to the table Angela is standing next to.  It has six flags on it, and Angela spells out the now-obvious challenge:  Make a dress inspired by one of the flags.  As the previous week’s winner, Mondo gets first pick and he chooses the Jamaica flag, which is green, yellow, and black.  Michael chooses the white and blue Greece flag, and informs us that he is of Greek descent.  (I presume that’s on his mother’s side of the family, as I’m fairly certain that “Costello” is an Italian name.)  Mila chooses the Papau New Guinea flag, which is black, gold, and red.  Jerrell gleefully chooses the green, red, and white India flag, since he loves ethnic clothing and culture.  Austin picks the Seychelles flag, which is striped like a rainbow, leaving Kenley with the Chile flag, which is red, white, and blue.

The designers will have a budget of $200.00.  They start sketching at the U.N. building.  They’ve apparently been given information about their respective countries, as Mila notes that Papau New Guinea has a “tribal” feel to it.  Austin comments that the Seychelles are in the tropics, so he will make something suitable for that climate.

At Mood, Michael decides to head for the trim section first.  Austin and Kenley chat, and Kenley chooses what looks like a polka dot fabric, prompting Michael to wonder what country has a polka dot flag.  He quickly answers his own question:  Kenley-land, of course.  Mondo comments that this is a difficult challenge.  On the one hand, you don’t want to be so literal as to be clichéd or offensive, but on the other hand, you don’t want to “miss the mark,” either.  The trick is going to be to make a dress that has some references to a given country, but isn’t a caricature.

Back at the workshop, Mila starts making an asymmetrical dress, while Austin is questioning his own wisdom in picking the Seychelles.  He’s not sure what to do with all the colors that he’s got.  Jerrell tells us that he thinks of embellishments when he thinks of India.  I can understand that, as the people there  do seem to like their jewelry, but Jerrell does have problems with editing.  If he goes overboard now, he could get sent home.

One or two of the designers joke that Michael is already finished.  He laughs and says that he’s only finished draping his dress; he still needs to sew it.

Joanna comes in to make her rounds.  She starts with Mondo and congratulates him on his win.  He tells her that he is doing Jamaica and will therefore use black, yellow, and green fabric.  She asks him if a woman could wear a bra with the dress, and he answers “No.”  Joanna is plainly unhappy.

She tells Jerrell that she thinks his dress looks like a costume and asks him if he’s being too literal.  He responds that he simply likes an ethnic look.

She is also unhappy with Michael who has made the very expected draped dress and asks him if he’s being ambitious enough.  She also notes that his dress is very low cut in the back and tells him that women want to be able to wear underwear with their clothes.

Austin has been having problems, but has settled on making a layered dress.  Mila tells Joanna all about the stylized gold bird of paradise on her flag and how it represents freedom.

Kenley is using a print with blue hearts.  Joanna asks her if she’s sure that she’ll stand out, since Kenley’s design (so far) looks similar to stuff she’s done before.  Kenley’s sure her dress will stand out.

The models then come in for their fitting.  Mondo finishes sewing a decoration he’s made for his dress and notes that he still has a lot to do.  Kenley also feels the time crunch.  On that note, it’s time to head home for the night.

The next morning, the designers get back to work.  Mila tells us that her sleek black and red dress must be perfect.  Mondo and Austin both bemoan the amount of work they have left to do.  The models come in for hair and make-up, leading to the usual montage of them getting ready for the show.

On the runway, Angela introduces the guest judge, Catherine Malandrino.  She’s a French designer who had made a collection inspired by the U.S. flag.  She sounds like the perfect judge for this challenge.

Project Runway All-Stars, Feb. 16 – Live on Broadway

Last week on Project Runway, the designers had to make sportswear for a high-end vacation during any one of the four seasons (spring, summer, fall, and winter).  They were divided into pairs according to which season they were using.  But rather than being teams, each pair had duke it out in a fashion face-off that produced one winner and one loser per pair.  Jerrell won and Rami was sent home.

The following morning, at the apartment, Kenley and Austin talk about how shocked they are that Rami was sent home.  Jerrell also expresses shock, but then tells us, “Eventually they all have to go so I can get my check.”

The designers then head downtown to meet Angela.  To Austin’s great delight, the gang meet her at a theatre in Broadway.  Angela then introduces everybody to Steven Schwarz, a Broadway composer who has written music for such hits like Wicked.  He wrote the music for Godspell, which is being revived for its 40th anniversary.

Schwartz tells the designers that the prize for this challenge will be their version of a Broadway debut.  The winning designer’s costume will be featured in the performance, and they will be the subject of a write-up in Playbill.  As for the challenge, the designers have to make a costume for a character in Godspell, a rich woman who steals from the poor and flaunts her wealth.  The costume has to be made of separates.  The designers will have a budget of $200.00 and a day to complete the challenge.

The designers begin sketching in the theater.  Austin is delighted to be able to do this, as it lets him soak up the ambience.  Michael draws a skirt and a top.

At Mood, Austin thinks a brocade would be just the thing for the character, while Kara chooses fur for a jacket or stole.  Kenley also chooses a brocade, while Jerrell opts for some lamé.

Back at the workshop, the designers get busy.  Kara starts work on a dress.  Mila explains the Godspell character again.  Several other people will do the same thing during the course of the show, and it’s annoying.  The concept isn’t that complicated:  design a costume for a rich, ostentatious thief.

Joanna comes in to check on people and she starts with Austin.  He explains the character, and adds that he imagines her as being like Marie Antoinette.  Joanna likes the idea, but tells  him that he needs to make “hideous into fabulous,” as his look, so far, is hideous.

Kara is doing a maxi-skirt, and Joanna tells her that her look isn’t ambitious enough.  Kara, who is in her 30’s, gets upset, cries, and protests that she’s doing her best.

Mila is making a gold and white striped shirt and pairing it with a green and yellow striped skirt.  She’s debating with herself about whether to make a pencil skirt, and Joanna suggests she make a pencil skirt as those look “powerful.”  I do know the pencil skirt is a popular style for business attire.

Mondo is working on a coat that he says is the character’s father’s old smoking jacket.  He plans to put her in clothing that has sentimental value.  Each piece will come from some place important to her.

Jerrell tells Joanna that he loves texture.  He is making a jacket that he views as a “statement piece” and a “piece of jewelry.”  Speaking of jewelry, he plans to use a lot of it for his look.

Kenley cheerfully tells Joanna that she isn’t using polka dots this time.  She’s making a jacket and plans to use feathers for glamour.  She describes her look as “signature thrift store pieces.”

After Joanna leaves, Michael and Mondo try to comfort the still-distraught Kara.  The models then come in for their fitting.  Austin is pleased with how his look is shaping up, but Mondo thinks his outfit looks heavy and overwrought.  He’s also still upset about his loss at the last challenge, and Kara tries to comfort him.  On that note, it’s time for everybody to go home.

The following morning is the day of the runway show, so the designers get back to work.  Mila has finished her skirt and top, and is now working on a jacket made of white fur.  Austin get annoyed when he finds somebody using “his” sewing machine– which is silly, since there are probably plenty of sewing machines available, now that roughly half of the designers are gone.

The models come in to get ready for the show.  During this, Michael finds the shoes he’s picked out won’t stay on his model’s feet, so he quickly conjures up some straps to hold them in place.  Mila has gotten a lot of gold accessories for her outfit.

On the runway, Angela introduces this week’s guest judge:  Sutton Foster, a Broadway actress.  Then it’s time for the show.

Project Runway All-Stars, Feb. 9 – It’s the Season…

Last week on Project Runway, the designers went to Central Park to find a “muse” who would inspire them– and give them clothes to serve as raw material for their newest look.  Mondo won and Anthony was sent home.

The next morning, at the Flatotel, Mondo tells us that he finds Kenley loud, obnoxious, and annoying– but also kind of amusing.  He adds that he “loves to push her buttons.”

On the runway, Angela has large totebags for everybody.  Since Mondo won last week, she gives him first pick, and he chooses an orange bag.  After the other designers have chosen their bags, they look inside them and find a card with the name of a season inside.  Mondo and Kenley have summer; Rami and Mila have autumn; Jerell and Michael have winter, while Austin and Kara have spring.

Angela then tells the designers that they are to make sportswear fit for a weekend getaway, and that their sportswear has to go with their chosen season.  Not only that, this will be a “head to head” challenge in which the designers will be directly competing against whoever shares this season.  So each season will produce a top designer and a bottom designer.  Um, what happens if both designers for a given season stink?  Conversely, what happens if both produce fantastic clothing?

The designers have a budget of $200.00 and only one day to complete the challenge.  Angela advises to think about who their “girl” and what she will be doing. Good advice.  Going to the beach and sailing are both popular summertime activities, but you’d wear different clothing for each activity.  The designers don’t have to use the totebags in their looks.

As the designers quickly begin sketching, Mila imagines her subject as a New Yorker going to Texas for an art festival.  Austin’s woman will be spending her weekend gardening at her house in the country.

At Mood, Jerell looks for wool to make a coat, while Mondo picks out a polka dot fabric.  Michael tells us he always has several ideas in mind when he shops.  Rami tells us that his woman will be going to a wine-tasting with her best friend and will want something comfortable.

Back at the workroom, Jerell wisely decides to make his coat first, as that they will be the most involved piece.  He tells us that he thinks Michael is a good designer and hopes that he “will bring it on.”  Michael. for his part, plans to make a “geometric” coat.

Mila plans to make skinny jeans and a cape.  She decides to start with the pants, as they’re the most difficult part.  Rami tells us that it feels odd to be competing directly against Mila as they have such different aesthetics.

Mondo isn’t happy with the pants and top he’s working on.  Kenley tells us she’s making an outfit for somebody to wear to an art festival in Miami and that somebody wants to look sexy and cute.  This match-up could prove interesting, since both these designers tend to make clothes that appeal to the very young.  I don’t know about any of my readers, but I stopped wanting to look “cute” by the time I was 25.

Michael doesn’t like the vest he’s working on and abandons it.  Jerell notes that he and Michael are checking out each other’s work.  Mondo isn’t happy with the pants he’s working on.  He tells us that he doesn’t want to lose to Kenley.  “This is like Wrestlemania…, well, Fashionmania,” he says.  He loves the polka dot fabric he’d bought, but isn’t sure what to do with it.  He is proud of his winning design, but doesn’t want to repeat himself, which is wise.

Kenley tries on Jerell’s coat, and says it’s beautiful, but too hot to wear.  Jerell thinks Michael’s coat looks suspiciously similar to his and calls him on it.  Michael sarcastically responds that he got the inspiration looking at Jerell’s table.  He adds that his coat will have a belt, so the silhouettes will be different.  Mila comments that the challenge is a tough one for Michael, since he doesn’t make sportswear or winter attire.  She adds that he had probably not planned on copying Jerell, but “it happens,” and she’s probably right.  Given that both Jerell and Michael were making winter sportswear, it was probably inevitable that they would both decide to make wool coats.  Unless you live in the tropics, you are going to want a wool coat in the winter.  To make matters worse, they’d both chosen black or dark grey fabrics for their coats.

Project Runway All-Stars, Feb. 2 – Hear Me, O Muse!

Last week on Project Runway All-Stars, the designers had to make an outfit inspired by gelato flavors — in six hours.  Michael became the apparent front-runner by winning his second challenge in a row, while April was sent home.

The next day, the designers meet Angela in Central Park.  There she explains their next challenge:  They have to find a “muse”  during the next half hour.  In Greek mythology, a muse was one of nine goddesses credited with inspiring various artists, especially poets and playwrights.  Oh, and the designers have to convince their muses to part with the clothes off their backs, which will be the raw material of the designers’ newest creations.  The designers do have the option of paying for the clothes — but as they have only a budget of $150.00, that will cut into what they can buy at Mood.  That may or may not matter, since at least 50% of the material they use has to come from their muse.  The designers also have two days to complete the challenge.

Some of the designers are dubious about this challenge.  Mila wonders how she can make something fashionable out of the casual clothing people typically wear to a park, while Kara is stunned by the idea of asking a stranger for their clothes.

To Anthony’s shock, the normally reserved Mila approaches somebody– and manages to be quite charming.  Following her lead, Anthony approaches a woman with a gaudy print top.  Michael hates the challenge, as he’s having zero luck.  Kenley is also having problems, and feels embarrassed by people’s refusal to talk to her.  She eventually finds somebody, as does Austin, who is impressed by his muse’s gold fingernails.

Mondo talks a woman into giving him her striped dress and green jacket.  Kara approaches a man for his “delicious” shirt, and he seems charmed by her accent.  Jerrell finds a woman wearing a voluminous, multi-colored skirt.  Hey, smart.  He got himself a lot of material doing that.  Michael encounters a young woman wearing a white crochet sweater.

Anthony approaches a very well-built man wearing denim cut-offs, and addresses him as “Hot White Guy.”  He talks the man into parting with his shorts– and Austin gets “Hot White Guy’s” phone number.  Or so he claims.

After that, it’s time for the usual half-hour shopping session at Mood.  Jerrell decides not to bother buying anything, as he has a lot of material already.  Kara discovers she’s three dollars short and has to borrow money from three of her fellow designers, who each give her a dollar.

Mondo tells us the challenge reminds him of when he was just starting out.  He would buy clothes from vintage stores, take them apart to see how they were made– and then make new outfits for himself.  Austin tells us that he’s excited by the challenge and considers his “muse” to be the real deal.  Michael isn’t sure what to do with the crochet sweater that he’d gotten from his muse.  He feels less inspired than before.  On that note, everybody goes home.

The following morning, the designers get back to work.  Mondo comments that he thinks the pressure is getting to Michael.  It’s also getting to Anthony, who complains that he’s not used to making clothes out of scraps.  It seems that Anthony had gotten clothes from several different people and now has a bunch of garments that don’t really go with each other.  Way to miss the point, pal.  The challenge was to pick one muse and get clothes from them.  Jerrell wants to make something that shows a lot of skin.

Joanna comes in to make her rounds and starts with Mondo.  She compliments his work and tells him she thinks he has a good chance of winning.

Next up is Jerrell, who has so far made a striped bikini top, covered with a shrug in a print material, and then a skirt.  Joanna tells Jerrell that his look makes her “anxious.”

Joanna stops by Austin next, who asks for her opinion of his jacket.  She advises him to tone down a few of the details, most notably the epaulets.

Anthony admits he picked some of his t-shirts because he was more interested in the boy wearing them than in the actual shirt.  “Inspiration can come from anywhere,” he tells Joanna.  She’s surprised he’s making separates, as she thinks of him as doing gowns.  She is, however, sure his look will come together in the end.

Michael is making a top and is using part of the sweater to decorate it.  Joanna tells him the decorations look like doilies, which isn’t what he wants to hear.  Joanna advises Michael to not play it safe.

The models then come in for their fitting.  Jerrell assures us that he’s going to win, which means he probably won’t.  Anthony is struggling and wondering why his outfit doesn’t look more chic than it does.  Kara notes that she, Mila, and Kenley are the only women left.  She also thinks all three of them will do well this round.  Anthony is now happier with his outfit.

The morning of the runway show, the designers get back to work.  Anthony tells us that Kenley is “loud,” and adds, “If a black person says you are loud, then you are too loud.”  Kenley helps Kara finish her pants, much to the disapproval of Mila.  She tells Michael that she finds such behavior inappropriate in a competition and asks rhetorically, “Don’t you want to win?”  Michael then jokingly offers to finish something for Mondo, who declines the offer.

Project Runway All-Stars, Jan. 26 – The Ultimate in Fast Fashion

Last week on Project Runway:  All-Stars, the designers had to make a cocktail dress for a very demanding client:  Miss Piggy, who needed something flamboyant to wear while promoting her latest movie.  (Yes, The Muppets has come and gone, but All-Stars was inexplicably bumped from its original summer slot to make way for Project Accessory.)  Michael won and Gordana was sent home.

Back at their apartment, the other designers congratulate Michael on his win.  He’s pleased of course, but he tells us that he still feels the pressure.

At the runway, Angela tells the designers she wants a “tasteful” look.  Specifically, she wants something inspired by gelato flavors.  As the winner, Michael gets both first pick of the flavors and the power to choose who comes after him.  He picks grapefruit, and is somewhat disappointed to see it’s pale pink, for he’d been hoping for ruby grapefruit.  He then asks Mondo to make his selection, and he chooses cantaloupe.  Mila chooses milk and sour cherries, while April picks blueberry.    Jerrell picks something called “Fruits of the Forests,” while Kenley selects passionfruit.  Austin picks Vanilla Madagascar, and Anthony picks green tea.  Rami chooses kiwi, leaving Kara with chocolate and cayenne pepper.  The designers get a colored swatch of cloth to go with their gelato.

Angela then introduces this week’s guest judge, Dianne von Furstenberg, who drops the bomb:  The designers have only six hours to complete their look.  That’s from the time they start sketching to the time they actually send a model down the runway.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  I hate this type of challenge.  Ridiculous time crunches like this force the designers to take shortcuts and/or stay within their comfort zone.  They don’t encourage innovation or creativity.

After leaving the runway, the designers hurry to their workroom and begin sketching.  Michael designs a long-sleeved dress, while Kenley, unsurprisingly, decides to play itself and draws a sleeveless dress.  The producers do throw the designers a small bone and set up a “Mini-Mood” in the lounge area, so the designers don’t have to make their usual trek to the real Mood.  There we get the expected shots of people frantically grabbing fabric.  April can’t find any black jersey and realizes she’s going to have to rethink her idea.  Afterwards, Mondo frets aloud that he might not have bought enough fabric.

The designers then get to work.  Michael tells us that he’s had clients who wanted something in forty-five minutes, so he’s used to extreme time crunches.  April is using blue and purple, since she’s making something inspired by blueberry gelato.  Mila tells us she wants to “show a softer side” and is using red and white fabric.  She also tells us that while she’s made leggings in six hours, she’s never made a whole outfit in that time  Michael quickly runs into a problem, as he’s mismeasured his fabric, so one side is much shorter than the other.  Whoops.  Austin gets frustrated and simply runs out of the room.

Joanna comes in, bringing refreshments for the designers.  Not surprisingly, she’s brought them more gelato.  She starts with Kara, who tells her she wants to do a design that both emphasizes the model’s silhouette and “embodies the flavor.”  April plans to stick with what she’s comfortable with, and Joanna asks how she can have a “fashion moment” while doing that.  April points to the color, and Joanna then points out that April is covering the blue with a darker sheer.  Rami notices that April’s hem is uneven.

Mondo and Joanna discuss how to accessorize his dress.  Joanna shows Mondo how different belts can change the design’s look.  Anthony shows Joanna his look and is confident in it.  Austin shows Joanna a white dress and Joanna warns him about it looking too “bridal.”  Joanna notices that Rami is making a wrap skirt and asks if he’s doing so to “kiss up to” von Furstenberg, the “queen of the wrap dress.”  Rami says he’s making one because of the time constraints.  Upon seeing Mila’s red and white dress, Joanna says it’s very literal and urges her to be fabulous.

Joanna notes that Michael is probably the envy of the other designers given his speed-sewing.  She asks him what his secret is, and he answers that he learned to sew when he was ten years old.  (He’s now 28.)  She advises him to make sure his color stands out.  Afterwards, Joanna sends in the models for their fitting.

Austin decides on a shortcut that he considers shameful:  using a gluegun instead of sewing.  April finds that her dress is too short for her model.  Even worse, she doesn’t have enough material left to properly lengthen it.

The models come back for their final fitting, hair and makeup.  April tells us that she usually makes her own accessories.  Today, because of time constraints, she’ll use something from the accessory wall.

On the runway, Angela introduces the guest judges Diane von Furstenberg and model Miranda Kerr.  She then tells the designers that Miranda will wear the winning look to an industry event.

Mondo is up first and he sends down an orange caftan with a plunging back and long billowing, light green sleeves trimmed with ivory.  The caftan’s sides are also green and ivory.  Anthony made a yellow skirt and a sleeveless green top with pleats going every which way.