Category Archives: Fashion-Modeling

Project Runway: All-Stars, Jan.19 – Pigs in Fashion

Last week on Project Runway, the designers had to make ballgowns fit for a night at the opera– in 24 hours.  The ballgowns had to be couture, which several designers pointed out was impossible, since real couture takes months.  As Anthony put it, the ballgowns were thus actually “pumped-up prom dresses.”  Austin won and Sweet P was sent home.

On the runway, Angela tells them what their next challenge is:  Make a flamboyant cocktail dress for “one of the most famous fashionistas in the world.”  The designers guess Angela is talking about someone like Madonna or Lady Gaga, but they’re wrong; she’s actually talking about Miss Piggy, who needs something to wear while she helps promote the Muppets’ latest movie.

It’s a blatant bit of stunt-casting, but it works better than a lot of such stunt-casting does.  The first part of The Muppets reunites the gang and tells the audience what everybody had been doing since they went their separate ways.  Miss Piggy became a fashion editor at Vogue, making her the only swine with ties to the fashion industry.

Most of the designers are excited.  It seems they either all grew up watching The Muppet Show (I plead guilty to this myself) or have kids who are fans of the Muppets.  (Go to Youtube and you’ll find recordings of their old shows.)

Angela goes on to tell the designers that they are to make a dress for their usual models, and Miss Piggy will wear a modified version of the winning look.  That puts an interesting twist on things, for the designers have to come up with something that looks good on both an underfed model and a full-figured client.  Miss Piggy will also be a guest judge.  The designers will have $150.00 and the rest of the day to complete the challenge.

As the designers sketch in the workroom, Mila says she wants to make a mod 60’s look and Kenley tells us that she’s a fan of the Muppets and has been since she was a child.  At Mood, Gordana and Austin buy a lot of pink material.  Austin tells us that he thinks the challenge will be fun.

Back in the workroom, Gordana wants to make something flowing and feminine.  Mondo tells us that Gordana’s dress is pretty, but too understated.  Later, he and Kara get into an argument over a pair of pink gloves both had thought they’d claimed.  Mondo reluctantly lets Kara keep the gloves.

Austin tells us that he’s excited by the prospect of meeting Miss Piggy.  Mila has mixed emotions, as she’s uncertain how she can stay true to her own point of view and make something Miss Piggy would want to wear.  Um, color blocking with actual colors?  A black and white version of Piggy’s favorite print?

Kara thinks Miss Piggy is stylish and sexy and wonders if it would be okay to make something that shows some skin.  Rami is using a polka-dot fabric to make a “happy dress.”  Anthony comments that Miss Piggy is a lady and that never goes out of style.

Joanna comes in to make her rounds, and she’s excited, calling this challenge one of the best ever.  Mondo DR’s that he really appreciates her insights.  She’s knowledgeable, sophisticated, and gives good advice.

Joanna starts with Gordana, who wanted to make a short dress to show off Miss Piggy’s pretty legs.  Joanna says it looks like a nightgown.  (She’s right.)  Gordana responds that it will be comfortable.  Joanna retorts that’s not important.  Celebrities like Miss Piggy are used to packing themselves in Saran wrap in order to make the dress fit.

Joanna likes the detail in the hem of Mila’s dress.  Mila, pleased, tells Joanna that she plans to make a headdress to go with the outfit.  Joanna cautions her to remember Miss Piggy has two large ears.  Austin thinks Mila’s aesthetic is too severe for Miss Piggy.

Joanna tells Kenley, “You’re a girly girl and Miss Piggy is a girly girl, so this should be a perfect challenge for you.”  Kenley, pleased, agrees.  Then Joanna asks Kenley how she supposes a pig would feel about wearing giraffe print.  Kenley answers that Miss Piggy wears a lot of leopard print, so she would probably be okay with giraffe print, too.

Project Runway All-Stars, Jan. 12 – Having a Ball

Last week on Project Runway, the first All-Stars season began with the designers returning to New York for a shot at a prize package worth roughly a half-million dollars.  They also encountered a new host (Angela Lindval), new judges (Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi), and a new mentor (Joanna Cole, who has some very big shoes to fill).

As the designers began sizing each other up, they quickly had to prove their mettle in the ever-popular “unconventional materials” challenge.  This time, they had to use items found in a dollar store.  Rami won and Elisa was sent home.

Unlike previous seasons, we aren’t shown the designers getting up, having breakfast, or brushing their teeth.  Instead, we go straight to the runway, where Angela greets them.  She also tells them what their next challenge will be:  make a ball gown.  She then introduces the guest judges, designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka, who elaborate on the challenge.  They want a couture ball gown fit for a night at the opera.  The designers will have a budget of $350.00 and a single day to make their ball gown.  Mondo and Kara are both very nervous, as this type of challenge is not their strong point.  Austin, on the other hand, thinks he could have this challenge in the bag.

As the designers sketch, both April and Michael decide to make red dresses.  Sweet P tells us that she doesn’t want to be in the bottom again, which makes me suspect she will be.  Besides, Sweet P isn’t exactly the ball gown type.  Mondo tells us that he doesn’t really plan his outfits until after he’s seen what’s available at Mood.

At Mood, Kenley falls in love with some pink fabric that has black polka dots on it.  She also chooses some plain pink fabric to go with it.  April has found some red fabric she likes.  Upon seeing that April has red fabric and feathers, Michael decides to shift gears and get black fabric instead.  He ruefully comments about how he and April are gravitating to the same things:  last week it was mopheads, this week it’s red cloth.

Back at the workshop, the designers organize their purchases.  April begins dying her red fabric black, telling us she’s going for a “Corpse Bride” look.  One, I’m not sure that’s a good look for the opera, and two, I’m not sure any of the judges are Tim Burton fans.  Austin thinks dying fabric any color is a poor idea given the time constraints.  (I agree; you do have to wait for it to dry, after all.)  Mila considers it self-sabotage, and Mondo believes it could be a big enough mistake to get her sent home.

Sweet P tells us that she thinks Austin has an edge in this challenge.  Michael tells us that he considers couture “special.”  He has completed looks quickly, but not couture.  He stitches together a complicated piece involving crystals and feathers that looks really pretty.  Mila notes that he sews fasts and had the wit to do the most complicated item first.

Joanna comes in to make her rounds and starts with Rami.  He shows her his design, which includes a bodice made with triangular pieces of fabric.  He tells her that he considers Austin his chief competition.  Austin over hears this and coyly asks, “Did somebody mention my name?”

Joanna then checks in with Austin and asks him how he plans to surprise the judges.  Austin admits the high expectations are making him nervous.  He then explains that he plans to make a sheath dress with dramatic volume over the sheath.  Joanna likes the black and gold color scheme.

Next up is April.  Joanna is astonished that April hand-dyed her look, and April explains that ombre dying is a technique she’s used many times and feels comfortable with.  Later, April admits that her design is ambitious– and that she doesn’t have a “Plan B.”

Michael shows Joanna his feathery beaded garment.  She asks if he’s going to put cups in his dress.  When he answers “no,” Joanna comments that when she looks at clothing she wonders how her body would look in it– and adds that designers don’t seem to give that much thought.  Michael admits this is probably true.  “Shock, horror,” Joanna responds sarcastically.

Kara shows Joanna a print taffeta fabric and Joanna thinks it’s a little pastel.  April agrees, saying it looks like picnic wear.  Kara looks devastated by these criticisms.

Sweet P shows off a very colorful dress, and Jerrell comments it has the same silhouette as last week’s dress– which had landed her in the bottom.  Whoops.  Another trip to the bottom will almost certainly finish Sweet P.

Anthony tells Joanna that he loves his cream-colored dress, and Joanna worries that it might look too bridal.  Anthony assures Joanna that the plunging back and neckline of the dress will help prevent that.

As Sweet P works on her bodice, she says the dress is a lot of work, but that she’s happy with the way it’s coming together.  Mondo tells us that he thinks Kara is the weakest contender and spends too much time doubting herself.  Austin thinks Michael’s dress is beautiful, but “a little too celebrity, and not enough socialite.”

On that note, the designers head home for the night.  There, Austin tells them that real couture involves months of preparation.  Anthony agrees, calling their looks “really, really pumped-up prom dresses.”

Project Runway, Jan. 5 – All-Stars and Cheap Thrills

Welcome to Project Runway’s first All-Stars season.  I say that because there was a Project Runway All-Stars Challenge back in 2009, which reunited people like Santino and Chris March for all of one episode.  Daniel Vosovic of Season 2 won.  This All-Stars show will be an actual season.

Naturally, we get the usual shots of New York City and we see the designers arriving.  The first arrival is Mondo Guerra, who had finished second in Season 8.  He quickly meets Michael Costello, also from Season 8.  He’d placed fourth.

We then see Mila Hermanovski, the third place finisher from Season 7.  She has ditched the severe black hair she had back then and now has brown hair in a softer style.  She is soon joined by Anthony Williams, the fifth place finisher from Season 7.  We then meet up with Jerrell Scott, the fourth place finisher from Season 5.  Elisa Jiminez, the tenth place finisher from Season 4 is next.  Um, what?  So far, everybody else had made the finals or just missed them.  I’m guessing that the producers cast her after being turned down by someone like Chris March.  On the other hand, Season 4 took place in 2007– which wasn’t exactly yesterday.  Elisa could have picked up some new techniques since then.

Austin Scarlett, the fourth place finisher from Season 1 is the next to arrive.  Kenley Collins, the second place finisher from Season 5 quickly locates Jerrell, her fellow Season 5 alum and begins talking to him.  By now, the designers have gathered in a group outside what looks like a chapel.  Other All-Stars include Kara Janx, the fourth place finisher from Season 2, Rami Kashou, the runner-up of Season 4, Sweet P Vaughn, the fifth place finisher from Season 4, Gordana Gelhausen, the fourth place finisher from Season 6, and April Johnston, the fifth place finisher from Season 8.  Someone should tell her that silver hair only works on a young person if they’re an anime character.  Of course, as each designer arrives, they DR about their determination to win this time.

The All-Stars are then greeted by their host, Angela Lindval, a supermodel.  Many of them seem impressed.  The first thing she tells them is that there will be no immunity– ever.  Winning a challenge will only keep them safe for that round– not that round plus the next one.  This means they have to deliver the goods every time and not coast on past victories.  She then describes the massive prize package that will go to the victor.  It will include a designer’s boutique in Nieman Marcus stores, a feature spread and one-year stint as a guest editor at Marie Claire magazine, $100,000 from L’Oreal Paris, $100,000 worth of technology and office equipment from HP and Intel, and fully equipped workrooms provided by Brother International.  This prize package is worth at least a half-million dollars.

After that, Angela then introduces the judges, Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi, who are fashion designers in their own right.  Isaac also hosted Bravo’s The Fashion Show.  (Here’s hoping Isaac isn’t as annoying as he was on The Fashion Show.)  She then tells the designers that everybody is curious to see how they’ve developed since their last appearance on Project Runway.  It’s a good question, particularly for somebody like Austin, who was on the first season, way back in 2004.  She therefore tells the designers that they have a half hour to choose an outfit from a recent collection and dress their model in it.

As the designers pick out their looks, they size each other up.  Sweet P, for instance, considers Kara a threat, but also admires her skill.  Then they show off their wares to the judges.  Most people showed off dresses, but Kara made a black suit, while  Elisa made a top with winged sleeves.  Rami, who had a made a name for himself as a master draper on Season 4, made a structured black and white print dress.  Good move, showing the judges right off the bat, that he wasn’t go to rely on the same old tricks that he’d used in Season 4.  Angela and the judges are all pleased by what they see and look forward to seeing what else the designers will make this season.

Angela then sends the designers to their penthouse at the Flatotel, where they will be staying throughout the competition.  Elisa claims one of the beds by marking it with lipstick, which I guess is the custom on her homeworld.  The designers then find a videotape on which two other designers, Giancarlo Giametti and his partner Valentino, have sent their best wishes.  Then it’s time for the traditional champagne toast.

The following morning, the designers meet up with Angela, who gives them their very first challenge:  the unconventional materials challenge, which has been a staple of the show since the beginning.  In fact, the first episode of the first season involved an unconventional materials challenge, and Austin had been the winner.  Today, the designers will have to use items from a 99-cent store to make a look inspired by last night’s outfits.  They will have a budget of $100 and 20 minutes to shop.

Kenley regrets showing her royal blue dress last night, as she’s not sure if she can make something comparable out of stuff from a 99-cent store.  Michael is distressed to see that he and April have both bought mop heads, while Mondo vows not to use expected items like wash cloths or tablecloths.  Sweet P, on the other hand, does pick wash cloths.

Then Angela escorts the designers to their workroom, which boasts HP tablets on every worktable and a Nieman Marcus accessory wall.  She also tells them that Joanna Coles, the editor-in-chief of Marie Claire, will be their mentor.  Joanna has some big shoes to fill, as I can’t think of any Project Runway fan who doesn’t also like Tim Gunn, while plenty have often disagreed with or been annoyed by Heidi, Michael, and Nina.  (I’m wondering if any of the newbies will become permanent replacements.  Heidi, Michael, Nina, and Tim have all been with Project Runway since the first season.  Some of them may want to move on to other things.)  Elisa decides to work on the floor, while everybody else sits at their tables.  The designers have until 10:00 that night to complete their outfits.

Joanna comes in to make her rounds, and she starts with Sweet P, who is making a color-blocked dress.  Joanna advises her to surprise the judges.  Gordana tells Joanna she wants to make a dress with a lot of movement.  Joanna finds Mondo’s look fascinating.  Joanna then advises Elisa to surprise the judges and Elisa responds that she intends to surprise herself.  After Joanna’s gone, Austin suffers the first crisis of the season:  he has carelessly left a hot glue gun on his plastic dress– which now has a hole in the front.  As it’s almost 10:00, he can’t do anything about it now.  He’ll have to try to fix it the next morning.

Q&A with Michael Flutie, Beri Smither, and Dani Stahl of Scouted on E!

Scouted premiered on the E! Network on November 28 and brings together the most talented fashion icons in history as they search for potential models. Some may call the show a bit harsh, but in an industry that is so highly regarded, it is only fitting that Scouted is a reality series with the fashion world’s biggest players.
The show does not just discover models, but shows how they are developed and their road to stardom is captured. It may be heartbreaking, funny, compelling or inspiring but that is Scouted at its best. Local model scouts are sent out to just about everywhere from Houston, Salt Lake City, Richmond and San Francisco, and find themselves at country fairs, restaurants, high schools, beaches, sorority houses, and even a rodeo.

It is not just the future models that make Scouted, but the international and renowned fashion industry icons that help make all of this happen. A legend with over twenty-five years of Model agency experience, Michael Flutie serves as Creative Director. Legendary model Beri Smither serves as the Model Mentor, trendsetter and fashion expert Dani Stahl serves as the Image and Style Consultant,, and top industry casting director Julia Samersova is the Director of Scouting. Together they are a runway force to be reckoned with, creating, developing and nurturing the future careers of these fashionistas. Will the show discover the next Cindy Crawford, Noami Campbell, Milla Jovovich, Stephanie Seymour or Heidi Klum or will these girls crack under the Prada pressure?

This highly esteemed team took the time to discuss what makes a model and how you could be Scouted. Here is what Michael Flutie, Beri Smither and Dani Stahl had to say whenn contacted for an interview.

Janel: No holds barred, what does it take to be a model and make it on SCOUTED?

Michael: In Scouted, we are looking for beautiful girls with strong, modern features and very interesting personal stories.  We focus on their individual journeys starting with how and where they got scouted.  We also concentrate on the willingness of them and their families to share their stories with our audience and actually listen to and adapt to our direction at The Scouting Company.

Beri: 1) Look like a model!

2) Truly be 5’9″ or taller. Size 2 – 8.

3) Be beautiful on the inside and out equally!

Janel:  There are so many legends in the Fashion industry, what does it take to have a long, vital career in the industry?

Michael: First and most importantly, a model must have a well-managed career. She must have a manager who believes in her and who will champion her career, regardless of any obstacles or challenges she might face.  A model must be willing to work hard to achieve her goals. Beauty is subjective, and a model and her agent have to convince people to “believe” in that model’s look.

Beri: 1) Classic looks

2) Good relationships in the industry

3) Professionalism

4) Great management

Janel:  Is it more difficult working in New York or Los Angeles?

Michael: New York is the most competitive market place in the world. It is the hub of the fashion industry. Paris is equivalent to that level of competition as both cities are editorial advertising centers of the world. Los Angeles is more commercial in nature and more focused on television and film.

Beri: New York is more of a fashion capital then LA, so the two cities don’t really compare in the realm of fashion modeling.

Dani: New York vs. LA: If you want to be a high fashion model it’s all about New York. Obviously there’s a lot of work to do in LA, but NYC is the hub of fashion. It’s where it all really happens.

Janel: The industry constantly changes and old trends come back and new trends fade and then come back again. Is there a constant trend you will teach the future models about and why, despite the fabulousness of the fashion industry, it is frowned upon at times?

Michael:  I don’t think that people outside of our industry understand how complex the fashion and advertising fields are. You are dealing with so many creative individuals, all of whom have an opinion. Designers, Creative Directors, Photographers, Stylists, Hair and Makeup Artists and ultimately the CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) of brands (Advertising) and or the editors of Magazines (editorial) all have a say in the development and evolution of trends.

Fashion is constantly changing and adapting to the global consumer; therefore every season, fashion houses bring on a new idea and a new thought inspired by the changes in pop culture, fabric designers and manufacturers, retailer’s needs and consumers and new technology. Designers are often referencing the past (film, music, television, current events) and creating new trends for the future. I am not teaching models about constant trends; I am assuring that they are educated and able to reference the historical evolution of the fashion industry, great works of art and literature. It is imperative models have the tools to think forward and create images that will be referenced in the future.

Beri: The constant trend is a “good attitude.”

Dani: My fashion mantra is “Fashion is Fun,” so I’m always up for trying something new and switching it up. I used to obsess about “defining” my style – now I just go with the mood of the day!

Janel: All of you were able to see these girls living their normal lives; did their ambition play a part in why they were chosen?

Michael: Every scout, model, mother, father and friend had to be open and willing to let us experience their specific journeys. A model’s ambition, or lack thereof, is truly representative of the potential triumphs or defeats that a model can have.

Beri: Of course, their ambition played a part.  It was apparent that some girls wanted this more than others.  Those with more drive to become a part of the business, who listened to what we had to say and took our criticisms as learning tools rather than insults, proved more successful in the long run.  A huge part of being a successful model is the ambition and passion for modeling – no one wants to work with someone ambivalent.  It’s not as effective in photos or videos.

Dani: It is great to learn the girls’ stories and have that insight into their lives, and it’s our jobs at The Scouting Office to do our best to make their dreams come true. But at the end of the day the girl either has what it takes to be a model or not.

Janel:  Is there something you would like everyone to know about each one of you that no one knows?

Michael: One of the things that people don’t know is that although girls are scouted and signed (which is a survival of the fittest process) ultimately, only a small percentage of them actually succeed in the most competitive markets in the world and become stars. (85% of girls who get signed don’t make it and end up back home pursuing other careers).

Dani: Something about me – well it’s no secret, but I’m petrified of elevators.

Scouted – “Last Week She Was Bagging Groceries in Fresno!”

Have you ever watched a show where you see a mousey-looking woman with glasses and her hair back in a ponytail wearing a boring frock and just know that at a certain point in the storyline she’s going to whip off the glasses and take down the hair and come out wearing some stunning gown? 
 
That’s all I can think of hearing the concept of the new series Scouted. The series premieres tonight on E! at 10/9C, and aims to give everyday people a chance at seeing what a day in the life of a high-fashion model is like. It’s hard to imagine just a day before this woman was just the girl next door. Was she one of those people with glasses, ponytail, and no makeup?
 
Tune in to the season premiere of Scouted tonight and see people plucked from the grocery store and other non-glorified places and thrown in front of the cameras.
 

Project Runway 9 – Thoughts on the Season

Season 9 of Project Runway is over, and if the various blogs and fora are anything to go by, the general consensus is that it was one of the weaker seasons.

Here are some ways Lifetime can improve it:

1) Fix the scheduling. Going on to Fashion Week should be an honor reserved for the best designers of a given season. Every season has a few decoys along with the finalists– but the key word is “few.” Fashion Week shouldn’t happen so early in the season that everybody but the bottom four or bottom six designers gets to show. If Fashion Week is early, schedule the show accordingly to keep the decoys to a minimum.

2) Cut the show back to an hour. The extra half hour simply isn’t worth it. The original idea was probably to give extra insight into the design process or the judging. Unfortunately, that’s generally not the way it’s worked. Instead, too many challenges now have twists that involve having the designers make additional garments, and too much time is spent on the fact that Designer A thinks Designer B stinks.

3) Cast fewer jerks. They simply aren’t that interesting and they hog time that could be going to quieter designers who might actually have something worthwhile to say. Besides, if I wanted to watch shows with human train wrecks, I’d be watching something like Charm School or The Tool Academy. The preponderance of jerks was especially pronounced during the last two seasons– and it didn’t help that both seasons used a jerk as a narrator figure, which meant viewers heard a lot from them, even if they had nothing interesting to say. This past season was especially egregious in that regard as Joshua M. spent a lot of his camera time bad-mouthing his fellow designers and/or whining about his problems. That got very old very fast.

4) Cast more clowns. Nice, funny designers like Chris from Season 4 or Anthony from Season 7 can help make the show. They can lighten the mood with genuinely funny comments or silly actions.

5) Keep the team challenges to a minimum. As in, no more than two or three. The point of the challenges should be to test a designer’s creativity, versatility, and ability to work under difficult conditions. Admittedly, having to work with somebody you can’t stand probably fits the third category, but having a bunch of team challenges quickly feels like blatant fishing for drama. Not only that, but having a slew of team challenges limits the designers’ ability to express their creative viewpoint. Since team challenges are, by definition, collaborations, the designers have to compromise with each other, which means their personal styles tend to end up muted.

6) Give the designers more time. Michael Kors has said, “It’s Project Runway, not Project Seamstress. Unfortunately, short construction times are turning the show into Project Seamstress, as they generally favor the contestants who can sew fast. The short construction times also force many designers to stay within their comfort zones and make things they know they can make within the time allowed. If the producers and judges really want to see creative designs, as opposed to stuff the contestants know they can crank out, they need to give the designers more time. This is especially true for Fashion Week.

7) In a client challenge, get the client’s opinion during judging– even if the client isn’t somebody who knows a lot about fashion. Fashion is as much a business as it is an art, which is why it’s called “the fashion industry.” As such, a designer should be judged on their ability to please their client, as well as their ability to make pretty clothes. A designer who makes something that their client loves should be rewarded for doing so– even if Nina and/or Michael don’t like the look. In other words, Bert should not have been in the bottom during the “real women” challenge, as his client had liked the dress he’d made for her. He should have been safe that week. Conversely, if a client truly hates a look, that should also be considered, even if the judges themselves like it.

Project Runway used to be one of the best reality shows of its kind, and it can be again. It just needs some tweaking.

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Project Runway 9, Season Finale – Triumph from Trinidad

Last week, on Project Runway, the four finalists went to their respective homes to prepare for Fashion Week. When Tim visited them, he found that Kimberly and Viktor appeared to be making good progress, but that Anya and Josh both had serious problems. The four designers then returned to New York City to complete their preparations for Fashion Week. They also had to display a mini-collection to the judges, who were considering sending someone else home. After examining the mini-collections, the judges changed their minds and sent everybody on to Fashion Week, instead.

Back at the Hudson Hotel penthouse, Anya and Kimberly talk about the upcoming show. Anya admits she didn’t show her best work. Josh is upset that there are still three other designers left, as that reduces his chances of winning. Viktor tells us that all of his pieces are complete, he just needs to edit his collection to get the desired results.

The designers then head to their spacious workshop. It’s just two days before the big show. Anya tells us that she’d had an “identity crisis” with her collection, as in should she stick with her Caribbean roots or try for a more mainstream look? Or should she meet somewhere in the middle? She agrees with the judges that her mini-collection was a disaster and decides to rework and restyle her clothes to enhance her Caribbean vibe.

Tim arrives and tells the designers that he’d disagreed with a lot of what the judges said, but advises the designers to heed their instructions anyway. On a happier note, he has come to give everybody $500.00 for a shopping trip at Mood. The designers also have the traditional 30 minutes to sketch some designs. Kimberly wants to make a black version of her magenta bubble skirt. (Seriously? The judges hated it!) Josh wants to rework his jumper, as the front was fine, but the back was horrible. Anya has a few vague ideas, but nothing definite. Viktor would like to make another gown.

At Mood, Anya simply picks out whichever patterned fabrics strike her fancy. Josh picks out some neon green fabric and is happy to have his calmest shopping experience yet. Viktor chooses some sheer black fabric.

Back at the workroom, Tim gives everybody until midnight. Anya has chosen several prints and wants to make three new looks, as she’s already decided to ditch the black swimsuit and its cover-up. Kimberly makes a skirt. When the designers go for their hair consultation, they all describe the judges’ critiques. Anya, for instance, had been told that her styling had made the models look old, and so asks the stylist for more youthful ‘dos. Back in the workroom, Josh asserts that he can make shorts and a tank-top in under an hour. He’s also using the neon green fabric for the shorts. Viktor thinks Josh is getting too scattered.

Speaking of Josh, he has a breakdown and starts crying. He says he’s come so far that failure doesn’t feel like an option. He’s frustrated that he still has so much work to do and that there are only two days left before the show. Anya tries to comfort him, telling him that she’s feeling the pressure, too. Josh tells her that he doesn’t have any back-up: he’s unemployed. He notes that crying isn’t going to accomplish anything and that he needs to get back to work.

The next day, the designers get back to work. Viktor is making a tank-top. The designers and models then have make-up consultations with Collier Strong. Afterwards, Tim comes in to make his rounds and he starts with Kimberly. She plans to revise one of her skirts, but isn’t sure how. Tim tells her that she needs to figure it out, pronto. Anya admits to feeling nervous and to simply buying prints she liked, without any real game plan. Tim advises her to spice up her collection. Viktor shows off his new black gown, and tells Tim that he’s going to focus more on silhouettes. Finally, Tim stops by Josh, and thinks the green shorts look peculiar. He tells Josh that his mini-collection had looked it had belonged to a sophisticated woman, while the shorts and some other pieces look far less sophisticated.

Josh later tells us that he was “confused” by Tim’s critique. and simply plans to “go with his gut.” Four hours to go, and Kimberly tells us she still has a lot of work to do. Anya is making some new pieces; she has more than ten looks already, but isn’t happy with some of them. She wants ten looks she can confidently show at Fashion Week. She’s sticking with her Caribbean theme, since the judges see her that way. Viktor talks about how he’s learned to edit and not get too emotionally attached to his designs.

The models come in for their fittings. These seem to go well for Josh and Anya, both of whom feel much more confident after the fittings. Viktor is similarly confident and can’t wait to show off his work. On that note, the designers go home.

On the “day” of the show, the designers get up at 3 in the morning and get ready for the big day. Anya tells Kimberly that she began designing after her brother died. Viktor tells Josh that he’s nervous about addressing the crowd. Even so, he’s still happy and excited to be going to Fashion Week. Josh is proud of his collection and thinks he’s grown over the season.

It’s still dark out when the designers walk to Lincoln Center. They check out the runway and note the large number of seats. They then begin putting on the finishing touches to their looks. An hour before the show is about to start, disaster strikes. Kimberly has lost her kit, and she needs it to complete her looks. Anya gives her some of her own things so she can finish.

Josh voices his usual complaint about Anya sewing people into dresses. The camera pans over the audience showing some of the eliminated designers, including Olivier, and celebrities like Jennifer Love Hewitt. (Because of the timing of Fashion Week this year, there were six or seven decoy collections. Some, like Bert’s, were so good, people assumed they were the work of finalists.)

Heidi welcomes everybody to Fashion Week, and introduces the judges including the fashion designer, L’Wren Scott. Then the show begins. Kimberly is up first, and talks about how she was inspired by both her mother and her hometown, Brooklyn.

Her first look is one of the ones from the mini-collection: a pair of royal blue pants and a striped top. She took the judges’ advice and tossed the oversized handbag and replaced the blue shoes with strappy black sandals. Her second look is a short-sleeved turquoise long shirt over a snug green miniskirt. Both items are made of metallic fabrics, and the shirt’s right shoulder has been cut out. Her third look is black pants paired with a sleeveless royal blue shirt. Her fourth is a shoulderless blue mini-dress with a draped skirt.

The fifth look is a magenta dress with a small black jacket with half-sleeves. Her sixth look is a draped patterned garment that is cut very high up. Modesty is preserved by the addition of a magenta mini-skirt. The seventh look is a pair of cream pants with a matching short-sleeved shirt. The magenta bubble-skirt reappears as the eighth look and it has been paired with a cream jacket with a broad and plunging neckline. The ninth look is a pair of magenta pants and an asymmetrical top made of glittering black fabric. The final look is the glittering black gown from the mini-collection. Kimberly used all three looks from last week.

Josh is up next and he dedicates his collection to his late mother. His first look is a simple, draped, asymmetrical purple dress. His second look is a black vest over a sleeveless mini-dress made of some garish, multi-colored print. The third look consists of black pants, a black jacket, and a purple and gray tank top. The fourth look is a neon green skirt and a short-sleeved shirt made of the same gaudy print as the mini-dress from the second look. The fifth look consists of a black and white print tank top and neon green shorts that look as if they’re supposed to be somehow laced shut… but weren’t.

The sixth look is magenta pants, a dark print tank-top and a black jacket that looks as if it’s about to slide off the model’s shoulders. The seventh look is a sleeveless black dress with a plunging neckline. The eighth look is a two-toned black and gray skirt paired with a red and green shirt made of what looks like plastic. The ninth look is his black jumper from the mini-collection. His final look is a long sleeveless black dress with a plunging neckline. Its shoulders are decorated with dark red plastic pieces.

Viktor is visibly nervous, but gamely talks about his collection, which was inspired by his trips to Mexico. His first look is a knee-length black skirt paired with a purple and white print blouse with a V-neck. His second look is a black leather skirt with a long-sleeved sheer black shirt. The third look consists of black leather shorts and a sheer black tank top decorated with mirrors. His fourth look is a blue mini-dress with a print on the bodice and the upper portion of the skirt. His fifth look is a pair of striped black and white shorts overlaid with a long-sleeved sheer black tunic. His sixth look is a long, slinky black dress with long sleeves.

The seventh look is a black dress with a yoke and panels made of his beloved sheer black fabric. His eighth look is a long dress with a yoke similar to the seventh look, but made of blue and white fabric decorated with a print that looks like Rorschach inkblots. His ninth look consists of purple and white print pants, a black jacket, and a black shirt decorated with mirrors. His last look consists of the white jacket from last week’s mini-collection, skinny black pants, and a black shirt.

Anya is last and talks about her Caribbean roots and how they inspired her collection. The first look is a shoulderless dress with a plunging neckline. Its bodice appears to be dark blue or green, while the flowing skirt is white, yellow, blue, and green. The second look is the brown print dress from last week’s mini-collection. The third look is a black and white swimsuit with a gauzy black and white print cover-up. Her fourth look is a long, sleeveless, turquoise and brown jumpsuit. The fifth look is a beige mini-dress.

The sixth look is a black and white print dress with a plunging v-neck and a long slit. The seventh look is a beige dress with the front skirt cut away. The model is also wearing yellow briefs, to preserve her modesty. A wide black and yellow belt helps that endeavor. Her eighth look consists of green shorts paired with a navy shirt with yet another plunging neckline. The model is also wearing a wide rope belt. The ninth look is a brown print mini-dress with a floppy gold collar. The final look is a black and white print jumpsuit with a yoke collar.

After the show, there’s the usual backstage chatter with people like Betsey Johnson, Joanna Coles, and Season 2’s Nick. Then it’s time to face the judges. Heidi starts by telling the designers that she’s proud of all of them, as they all put on good shows.

The judges start with Kimberly, who tells them she wanted to take an urban look and glam it up. Michael tells her that he appreciates the fact she’d obviously listened to their critiques. He didn’t like the striped dress, though. L’Wren liked the second look and the pink dress. Heidi liked the ivory pants and matching top. She didn’t like the bubble skirt’s being paired with a puffy shirt, as the combination made the model look bigger than she was. Nina thought the collection looked contemporary, and she liked the rich-looking fabrics.

Josh talks about learning to edit himself, and how he wanted to show off his tailoring and draping skills. Heidi liked his collection, especially the green shorts and various prints. (What is she smoking?!) Michael thinks the craziness of the collection serves Josh well and he compliments Josh on his editing. L’Wren thinks Josh showed a “complete vision,” and Nina calls him the “most improved.” She also likes how he experimented with new materials, like the plastic. (What is Nina smoking? I’d imagine a bodice or shirt made of plastic would be very uncomfortable, especially in very cold or hot weather.) She also thinks many of his looks would photograph well.

Viktor talks about wanting to “marry” New York City and Mexico. Michael loved the printed pieces, but thought there were too many sheer garments. They felt like a joke to him. Viktor’s tailoring was polished. L’Wren liked most of the pieces, but not the sheer dress. She also thinks he put out a cohesive collection. Heidi disagrees, saying that Viktor had seemed to put out two collections, with one consisting of the sheer garments and the other consisting mainly of prints. She thought the sheer garments looked cheap. Nina also preferred the printed pieces to the sheer black garments. He did make looks that would photograph well.

Anya tells the judges she wanted to create looks with an easy, sexy vibe. Heidi liked the fabrics used, but points out that the collection lacked diversity. Eight had the same neckline, for instance. Michael loved the first dress, but agrees that she needs more variety in her looks L’Wren points out that not everybody can wear plunging necklines. Nina says the bathing suit was her favorite.

Heidi then asks the designers why they should win. Anya answers that she’s shown both tenacity and a distinct point of view. Josh points out how he’s learned to edit. Viktor says he has passion and wants to follow in Christian Siriano’s footsteps. Kimberly also has a strong point of view, and it’s one that’s not often represented in fashion.

The judges then dismiss everybody to have their chat. Kimberly had some great individual pieces, including a gorgeous black gown. Nina and Heidi don’t think she’s on the same level as the other designers. Viktor also had a strong collection– except for those sheer garments nobody apparently liked. Anya performs well under pressure and has a great eye for patterns, but her collection looked a little one-note, especially with all those v-necks. Josh has had trouble with over-designing in the past, but tonight he had the best styling. The purple striped shirt was a misstep, though.

Nina comments that Anya has a unique point of view, and Michael can imagine what her other pieces could look like, including items like shoes and jewelry. She could potentially have a huge business. (I can see that being the case. Not only would her stuff appeal to people living in places like Florida or the Caribbean, but it would also appeal to vacationers traveling to those places.) On the other hand, Josh put more thought into his pieces. It looks as if it’s going to be between Josh and Anya. Viktor apparently took himself out of contention with those sheer black garments.

The judges then call everybody back in. Heidi tells them there are no real losers today. Viktor’s tailoring was impeccable, and Anya had returned to her strengths over the past few days. Josh showed a dramatic evolution during his tenure, and Kimberly had a strong point of view.

But as good a job Kimberly did, she’s not the winner. She graciously thanks the judges for the experience and says she feels like a winner since she got to show on Fashion Week. With that, she goes backstage to her waiting family.

Viktor is also out. He calls being on Project Runway the experience of a lifetime. He adds that winning would have been the cherry on top, but he got the whole ice cream. He also goes backstage to see his family.

It’s then down to Josh and Anya– and she’s the winner. Josh goes backstage to his family– and Anya’s in shock. She can’t believe she won. Her family comes onstage to help her celebrate.

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Project Runway 9, Episode 11 – Who Will Go to Fashion Week

Last week on Project Runway, the designers faced the final challenge to see who would go on to Fashion Week. They visited Governor’s Island for inspiration. Laura was sent home while the other four were told to make collections and bring them back to New York.

On the runway, Heidi begins by congratulating the four finalists. She then spells out the rules: Everybody will make a collection, but only three will go on to Fashion Week. They will have a budget of $9,000.00 towards a ten-piece collection. They will have five weeks to make said collection.

WHAT?!?!

Five measly weeks?! In earlier seasons, the designers used to get several months to put their collections together. Those months gave the designers time to process everything they’d learned during the earlier competitions, polish existing techniques, learn new ones, and experiment. The experiments weren’t always successful, as witness Season 4’s Chris March and his use of human hair, but they were often interesting.

A five-week prep time just about kills all of that. Five weeks means that the designers will have to crank out two outfits a week. They won’t have time to play around or experiment. In the interest of getting everything done on time, at least some of them will retreat to their comfort zones, so they can make things they know they can make quickly. A short prep time like this also greatly increases the chances of rush jobs.

The designers go back to Atlas to pack up. Anya confides to Kimberly that she didn’t unpack everything because she didn’t expect to stay very long. She’d assumed her inexperience would make her an early casualty. Both she and Kimberly are amazed that they’ve made it this far. All of the designers are excited to be going home and working on their collections.

Three weeks later, Tim starts visiting the designers at their homes. He starts with Kimberly, who lives in White Plains, Maryland. He admires her home and studio. Kimberly tells Tim that she’d grown up in Brooklyn and is thus using Brooklyn– both the Brooklyn of her childhood and the current one– as her inspiration. She’s urban and wants her collection to reflect that. Said collection includes a leather jackets and a lot of brightly-colored clothes. Tim calls the collection “very Kimberly.” He encourages her to take risks and “wow” the judges.

Kimberly then introduces Tim to her sister, her sister’s family, and two close friends. Kimberly’s niece, a toddler, has been going around the house saying, “Tim Gunn. Work.” Kimberly tells us that her sister and friends have been very supportive. She also talks about her late mother, who she believes is the source of her fashion sense. She wants to make her mother proud. Kimberly also notes that if she won, she would be the first Africa-American winner in Project Runway history. (She’s right. The only other minority winner was Season 2’s Chloe Dao, who is of Vietnamese ancestry. Blacks like Mychael Knight of Season 3 and Korto Momolu of Season 5 have made the finals, but have yet to win.)

Then it’s off to Trinidad to see Anya. She takes Tim on a boat ride, and tells how excited she is to show him where she comes from. She then takes him home to meet her two brothers, who are her biggest fans. The brothers tell Tim that when Anya was in pageants, people used to talk about how beautiful she was. Now they talk about how talented she is. Anya had a third brother, who had died at 18. She feels the need to live life fully, since he didn’t get to. She’s named her clothing line after him, Pilar.

Anya then takes Tim to her studio, where she’s hung up pictures of Tobago, which she visited shortly after getting back home. She will use it as her inspiration. Unfortunately, she hasn’t done anything beyond pick out some lovely fabrics as she’s apparently been afflicted with the designer’s equivalent of writer’s block. Oh, not good. Anya’s muse picked a rotten time to desert her. Tim reminds her that she can’t have anybody help her construct the clothes. He advises her to use muslin to play around with shapes and jump-start her creativity.

Tim then heads back to New York to look in on Viktor, who had gone to Guadalajara to honor the anniversary of his brother’s death. This makes it unanimous: all four of the finalists have buried at least one close relative. Viktor’s collection is inspired by Guadalajara. Tim is impressed by the fact that Viktor has a clear vision — but less impressed with some of the pieces, which he doesn’t get. Tim admires a jacket, but dislikes a dress. He warns Viktor not to overthink.

Viktor then introduces Tim to his lover, David. They had met at a bar and were immediately attracted to each other. Tim asks David his opinion of the collection, since he’d also gone to Guadalajara. Viktor tells us that he’s the youngest of seven children, and that his parents had come from Mexico. They’d moved to New York when they were in their 30’s. Viktor feels like he’s getting a chance to fulfill the American Dream.

Finally, Tim visits Josh in Queens, and meets his sister… McKenzie. Oh, the poor woman. She’s spent her life being known as McKenzie McKinley. She talks about how Josh had been into track and field when he was younger– and he’d been good. He had been offered running scholarships, but chose to come to New York to pursue a career as a fashion designer instead.

Then Josh shows Tim his collection, confessing that it’s not as complete as he’d have liked it to be. Tim… hates it. Josh has chosen lots and lots of gaudy fabrics, including candy-colored solids and hideous prints. Tim thinks everything is on the edge of looking cheap and that Josh is depending on gimmickry. One textile make Tim want to cry– and Josh declares he’d planned to use it as a major focus. By the time Tim’s done, Josh is left with only two usable pieces.

So far, Viktor and Kimberly are doing fine, but Josh and Anya have major problems. Anya’s muse took a powder and Josh’s muse has been giving him horrible advice.

As Fashion Week draws near, the designers check into the Hudson Hotel, where they will be staying in a penthouse. Tim stops by to offer a champagne toast. Tonight the designers get to relax, but Tim will take them to their new workroom the next day.

The following morning, Tim does just that, and the designers organize their collections. As usual, they snipe about each other’s work. Anya doesn’t like Kimberly’s colors. Viktor doesn’t think Anya did anything different. Kimberly thinks Viktor’s pieces are too showy. And so forth.

Tim then tells the designers they need to pick out three pieces to show the judges. The models won’t be able to come in for their fitting until the next day. Tim then makes his rounds and starts with Viktor, who shows off a jacket. Viktor is completely confident in his work.

Josh has indeed altered his collection and mercifully ditched the day-glo colors. (I like color, but I’d rather not look like a human popsicle, and I suspect most adults would agree with me.) Tim doesn’t see cohesion in the three pieces Josh has chosen for the judges, which worries Josh.

Anya’s looks disappoint Tim, as he thinks she’s retreated to her comfort zone of maxi-dresses. He warns her the judges might not want to see the rest of her collection. Anya, devastated, confides that she knew what Tim was going to say. She feels like she let herself down, but there’s no time to do anything else. Josh notes that this is the first time that she’s not confident. Anya tells us, that during the first part of the competition, she didn’t worry about other people’s opinions. After going home, though, she’s seen how excited her friends and family are for her, and she fears letting them down. For the first time, she’s feeling the weight of other people’s expectations.

The next day, everybody gets dressed up for their final show before Fashion Week. Josh puts on one of his mother’s pins. Anya decides not to waste time on looks that won’t work. Viktor’s basically finished, but the other three are not. Tim stops by to tell the designers they’re right to be nervous. He then makes them feel worse by telling them only three will go on. He then sends in the models. After the usual hair and make-up montage, it’s off to the runway.

At the runway, the designers learn there’s no guest judge. It’s just Heidi, Nina, and Michael. Viktor is up first. His first look is a strapless leather purple and black mini-dress. His second look consists of separates: white pants with pink and purple print, a black top decorated with glass pieces, and a black jacket. His third look is a gray dress with a long train topped by a dazzling white jacket.

Anya’s up next. Her first look is a sleeveless brown print mini-dress. Her second look appears to be an attempt to show the judges something new: her first swimsuit. It’s a basic black one-piece, and it’s accompanied by a flowing, sleeveless, beige cover-up. Her final piece is a sleeveless, one-shouldered gold gown that suggests (strongly) her draping needs work.

Next up is Kimberly. Her first look is a pair of royal blue pants and a one-shouldered striped top. Her second look is a sleeveless royal blue top paired with a magenta skirt. Her last look is a glittery sleeveless black gown.

Josh is last. His first look consists of pink pants, a two-toned black and gray jacket with a belt, and a multi-colored print shirt. His second look is a sleeveless little black dress with a funny tab under the breasts. His final look… is strange. It starts with a red plastic yoke connecting to draped black fabric. Said fabric combines a gown with leggings.

The judges start with Anya, who wanted to represent herself as a Caribbean designer. There’s something to that, as she would appeal to both natives of the region and vacationers. Nina loves Anya’s first dress, which combines her Caribbean roots with elements from her last black dress. Heidi dislikes both the swimsuit, which she deems unflattering, and its cover-up, which is “drab” and “sad.” She and Michael also dislike the gown, and Michael goes so far as to say that it looks tortured. Michael does like Anya’s tropical vibe, but thinks her styling needs work. Nina tells Anya that her point of view makes her stand out and that she needs to embrace what makes her different.

The judges move on to Kimberly, who wanted to show her Brooklyn roots. She also wanted to make clothes that could be worn at different times of the day. The outfit with the royal blue pants would work as a daytime outfit, for instance, while the black dress would be evening wear. Michael can see Kimberly’s point of view in her clothes, and he appreciates the fact that she’s able to make sexy clothes without showing a lot of skin. Unfortunately, neither he nor Nina like the styling or the accessories used. He especially dislikes the fact that she paired royal blue shoes with the royal blue pants. (Agreed. I’d have picked a shoes of a neutral color.) Heidi hates the “bubble-butt” magenta skirt. Kimberly claims she made an ivory jacket, but it was too big for any of the models. Heidi’s afraid Kimberly could be eliminated simply for selecting the wrong clothes.

Viktor talks about the dead brother who’d inspired his work. He wanted to use prints. Michael likes his tailoring and use of prints, but again docks points for his accessories. Michael prefers the gray dress without the jacket, as he thinks the white jacket overwhelms it. He does like the jacket, but he thinks it would go better with black pants and a black shirt. Nina likes the top of the first dress, and discovers that the black leather bands decorating the skirt are detachable. The judges think the leather zipper skirt is too tricky. Viktor’s collection needs some editing.

Josh wanted to play with cuts and show off his draping skills. Heidi likes a lot of the pieces, but thinks the belt on the first dress looks like it belongs on a car seat. The buckle also looks cheap. Michael likes the jacket, even with the belt, and he also likes the second look. The third outfit looks fine from the front, but is way too low in the back. Nina thinks Josh did the best job of styling — and he has had problems in the past with that.

The judges then dismiss the designers to have their chat. Viktor’s pieces showed his usual impeccable tailoring, but his styling left something to be desired. Josh’s third look was hideous. Anya made only one good outfit, and Kimberly made a horrible skirt. All four designers are good, but all four have issues. Michael thinks the women choked this time around.

When the judges call everybody back in, Heidi tells them that they will have to “bring themselves to the next level.” Right, Heidi. You try making ten outfits in five weeks. In any case, all four designers are going to Fashion Week.

Next week: Fashion Week!

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Project Runway 9, Episode 11 – Showing One’s Range

Last week on Project Runway, the designers faced the L’Oreal Paris challenge. Since L’Oreal was coming out with a make-up line inspired by birds, the designers had to make a runway look that was also inspired by birds. The winner, Anya, got both $20,000.00 and the opportunity to have her look used in a Marie Claire advertisement. Bert was sent home.

The next morning, Josh and Viktor talk about how they miss Bert. Josh assures us his sewing skills are superior to Anya’s. That may be true, but his artistic sense seems to be inferior to Anya’s. She’s not the one getting scolded by the judges for failing to edit her designs. Meanwhile, Anya tells us she’s feeling the pressure– which is probably about as close to an emotional outburst as we’ll get from her. Not that I’m complaining. I prefer calm, cool, and collected types over drama kings and queens.

At the runway, Heidi congratulates the designers for making the Top Five and tells them that this is the challenge that will determine who goes on to Fashion Week. Make that the challenge that determines whose Fashion Week collections will be shown on national television, as there are always some decoy collections there. According to the folks on the Fans of Reality TV site, Bert had made such a nice collection that people assumed he’d made the finals.

Heidi then sends the designers on a ferry trip to Governor’s Island. Tim meets them there and explains the challenge. They are to make a miniature collection consisting of three looks inspired by Governor’s Island. They will have two days and a budget of $500.00. The designers have to make a range of looks, which means they can’t make three dresses or three jumpsuits or the like.

The designers then get into some golf carts and drive around the island. Kimberly finds a sculpture called “New Beginning,” and seems to find the title more inspiring than the actual piece, as she feels she’s making a new beginning. Josh finds a chapel and a military exhibit and decides to make a look that combines strength and fragility. Laura notes a preponderance of circles and decides to incorporate that in her looks. Viktor decides to make pants and a jacket for one of his designs. He finds the sculptures with the city in the background inspiring. Anya notes the sculptures and decides to make sculpted pieces, partly to prove last week’s look wasn’t a fluke.

Then it’s off to Mood. Kimberly wants cantaloupe-colored wool, while Anya chooses white, black, and russet fabrics. She’s not working with prints. Laura has gone over budget, as usual, and Tim jokes she thought he’d given them a budget of $5,000.00. She ends up putting a few things back.

At the workshop, Laura is working with some black fabric that already has circles cut into it. She notes that by buying it, she has saved herself ten hours of work.

Tim comes in carrying the Ominous Velvet Bag of Unnecessary Drama, and the designers tense up, fearing that he’s going to throw a lame and unwanted twist their way. Instead, he tells them that he’s realized they are going to need help getting their garments done. As he’s speaking, the five most recently eliminated designers troop into the room.

Tim then reaches into the bag and calls Kimberly’s name. She picks Becky, presumably because of the latter’s sewing skills. Becky is pleased and DR’s that Kimberly is the only one of the remaining designers she’d wanted to work with. Viktor chooses Olivier, while Laura picks her old buddy Anthony. Anya selects Bert, who is happy to be working with her, leaving Josh with Bryce.

Josh immediately tells Bryce that he wants to make something inspired by the stained-glass window at the chapel. Bryce, who is probably cringing at this idea, DR’s that he is going to have to help Josh edit his looks. He also notes the tension in the workroom, saying the designers don’t seems as friendly or as relaxed as they had when he was part of the competition. Given that everybody can imagine himself or herself at Fashion Week, but knows they can’t all go, that’s probably to be expected. Josh then starts talking about how he’d lost the last challenge to Anya, whom he contemptuously calls a “beauty queen.” In his mind, that 20 grand was his. Hate to break it to you, Joshie boy, but the judges disagree. Nor does Anya owe you 20 grand. Then it’s time to go home.

On the second day of the challenge, the designers get straight to work. Viktor has already completed a jacket for one of his looks. Kimberly tells us she wants to show the judges her strengths– and show them something new. Becky notes that she keeps changing her mind. Anya draws things Bert thinks are too complicated, and Laura dyes some fabric.

Tim comes in to make his rounds and he comments on how quiet the workroom is. With ten designers present, he’d expected a bit more noise. He stops by Laura first, who shows him three dresses covered with circles. He doesn’t think she should use the circle lattice in all three of her pieces. He suggests scaling it back.

He then stops by Kimberly, who shows him a photograph of the “New Beginning” sculpture. He’s uncertain about her asymmetrical coat and leather pants and comments that another garment reminds him of the Statue of Liberty. I have to note here that Kimberly is very tall. When the designers line up on the runway, she appears to be at least as tall as Josh. Here she looks as if she’s about the same height as Tim– who, according to some websites, is around 6’2″.

Viktor explains his inspiration to Tim and shows off his jacket, which Tim call organic and sophisticated. Josh tells Tim that he’s playing with soft and hard looks and shows off a mesh-covered shirt that Tim likes. Tim encourages him to take risks. Anya tells us that she doesn’t like Josh’s fabric choices– and I’m not going to recap every single comment one designer makes about another designer’s garments or fashion sense. It’s practically a given, particularly at this point, that they’d talk trash about each other.

Speaking of Anya, she’s also been inspired by the sculptures on Governor’s Island. She’s working on a dress, a gown, and some pants. Josh sneers to us that she’s not showing enough of a range and should make a jacket. He wonders if she even knows how. Shut up and focus on your own work, please.

The models come in for their fitting and Kimberly discover that her pants need more material. A lot more material, since the model is basically giving everybody a free show. Becky worries that Kimberly doesn’t seem to have a clear vision, as she keeps changing her mind about things. She’s afraid Kimberly won’t win. Bert, on the other hand, has faith in Anya, but notes her designs leave no room for error. Viktor wonders if she can make sleeves or tailored pants.

Laura, waxing emotional, tells us she’s wanted to show on Fashion Week ever since she was 13 years old. In what might be another dig at Anya, she tells us that she learned to sew when she was eight. Yes, yes, it’s important that a designer know how to sew, but they need other skills, too, like the ability to choose good fabrics or determine what looks flattering on a given body type.

On the day of the runway show, Kimberly decides to scrap her pants. Tim sends in the models. Viktor tells us that he thinks that he’s definitely going to Fashion Week, and that he and Josh are the most worthy of doing so. We get the usual hair and make-up montage, after which Josh assures us that he and Viktor have a lock on Fashion Week, while “the girls” will have to duke it out for the third spot. First off, he’s wrong: Viktor and Anya are the ones who have a lock on Fashion Week. Second, the women are all older than he is, so he has no business calling them “girls.”

Tim gives his ten-minute warning. Laura notices that one of her dresses doesn’t quite fit, and Anya realizes that one of hers is inside-out. Tim comments that said dress will have to come with instructions if it’s ever sold.

On the runway, Heidi introduces the guest judge, Zoe Saldana of Star Trek and Avatar fame. She’s also a founding partner of MyFDB.com or “My Fashion DataBase.”

Josh is up first. His first look is a cream mini-dress with a sleeveless black mesh top. His second look is a silver skirt with a red and black tank top and a black vest. His final look is a black tank top with a large, translucent, silver piece of fabric draped over it. It screams, “I ran out of time!”

Kimberly is next. Her first look is a bulky, screamingly bright orange coat with a black scarf. I’m glad she decided to tackle a coat, but she really should have picked another color. Any other color. Her second look is a silver skirt and a sleeveless orange top with a boob window. Her last look is a silver mini-dress.

It’s Laura’s turn and her first look is a cream blazer decorated with the black circle fabric. There’s also a plain white skirt. Her second look is a messy-looking pinkish-cream dress with black trim. Her third look is a short-sleeved cream grown with the black circle fabric over it.

Next up is Anya. Her first look is an asymmetrical sleeveless black dress with a plunging back. Her second look is a pair of rust pants and a snug one-shouldered tunic of the same color. Her final look is a sleeveless white gown with a long slit going up one leg.

Finally, it’s Viktor’s turn. His first look is a black and grey leather jacket over a patterned black and white top. Skinny black pants complete the look. His second look is another patterned black and white top with a black mini-skirt and a bright red belt to liven things up. His final piece is a strapless little black dress.

The judges start with Joshua, who tells them about the military chapel he’d visited and how he wanted to play with fragility and strength. Michael thinks the collection shows too much diversity and that he had the usual problem with editing. Zoe likes the first dress, but says the third look reminds her of the Statue of Liberty. Heidi thinks the silver fabric used in the third design looks cheap. She wonders out loud if he was attracted to it because of its shininess. Josh asks if she’s assuming that. Michael calls Josh a magpie and warns him that glitter and shininess can look cheap very easily.

Kimberly wanted to show she could do a coat. She also seems nervous and unsure of herself. Zoe likes the coat and the silver dress. Michael doesn’t like the coat and Heidi doesn’t think the collection is cohesive. It looks like garments made for three different women. Kimberly tells the judges that she’d learned a lot, and Heidi asks if that’s a good-bye speech. It could be, as Kimberly has been overshadowed by many of the others for much of the season– which is what tends to happen to the nice, quiet designers who don’t stir up drama.

Laura tells the judges that she saw circles all over the place at Governor’s Island. Heidi notes her nerves and asks about them. Laura tells her about wanting to be a designer ever since her teen years. Heidi likes the circle gown, but thinks the second piece looks like a last-minute job. Nor does it go with the other two looks. Nina dislikes the silhouette of the blazer. Michael likes the gown, but not the other two pieces. He adds that Laura picked a lousy time to choke– which is what he thinks happened when she made her second piece.

Anya tells the judges that she saw sculptures all over the place. Nina has the models turn around so the judges can take in all of the angles of Anya’s designs. She thinks the collection is cohesive. Heidi like the black dress, but thinks the white one looks like a sheet. Michael thinks the looks are sophisticated and that Anya’s pushing herself. He also thinks Anya understands women’s bodies and how to dress people. For instance, she had the wit to put the tallest model in the white dress. Zoe gets a sci-fi feel, which she loves. She doesn’t like the white gown, either, though.

Viktor talks about his love of structure. Heidi’s amazed by his skills, as he’s one of the best when it comes to construction. On the other hand, she’s not impressed by his ideas, and there’s no “wow” piece in the collection. Nina likes most of his designs, but thinks the skirt and shirt combo look a bit secretarial. Zoe likes it, but is less fond of the black dress. Michael thinks Viktor’s collection is the most commercial, as many women could and would wear his designs. He’d like Viktor to turn up the volume and make more runway pieces.

Then Heidi asks the designers why they should go to Fashion Week and who should accompany them. Josh assures the judges he’d do the work and bring something great. He’d take Viktor and Anya. Kimberly wants to change people’s perceptions of what a fashion designer should be. She’d take Laura and Anya because the three of them have very different sensibilities. Anya assures the judges that her point of view is solid and unique. She’d take Viktor and Josh. Laura thinks she has strong skill and passion. She would take Viktor and Anya. Viktor used to be indifferent to fashion and now can’t live without it. He would take Josh and Anya.

The judges then dismiss everybody to have what they admit will be a long conversation. They start with Anya, who had made a gorgeous black dress and is blessed with good taste. She’s also a quick learner, and has gradually been moving away from the tropical look of her audition collection and early works. Viktor has impressive sewing skills and makes the most commercial pieces. He can be a little too conservative, though.

Josh had made an elegant white dress, but his taste is often questionable. His silver piece needed a different, less gaudy fabric. The judges wonder what would happen if left to his own devices for weeks on end during the Fashion Week preparations. Laura knows how to make clothes, but has no range. She’s passionate about fashion, but is that enough? Kimberly was plainly trying to challenge herself during this last challenge. She has lots of potential, but the judges wonder why she didn’t make pants when that’s one of her strengths.

Eventually, the judges call everyone back in to announce their decisions. Anya and Viktor are both shoo-ins, but Heidi does advise Viktor to turn up the volume. Josh and Kimberly are in, too, but Laura is out.

After the Runway is shown, all of the Final Five are there, plus Becky and Olivier.

Next week: The designers go home to prepare for Fashion Week. Tim visits them at their homes.

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Project Runway 9, Episode 11 – A Challenge That’s for the Birds

Last week on Project Runway, the designers had to make two outfits that 1) were inspired by the 1970’s and 2) could be sold on Piperlime.com. Anya lost her money envelope and thus had to borrow money and fabric from her fellows. She won the challenge anyway. The guest judge, Olivia Palermos, fell in love with Bert’s white dress and decided to sell it along with Anya’s winning jumpsuit. Anthony was sent home.

Next morning, Laura talks about how she misses Anthony. Viktor tells us that he see Josh as his chief competition, but adds that Josh has trouble editing. Then it’s off to the runway, where Heidi tells them they will have to “spread their wings” and “elevate their looks.” The designers guess they will be making something for skydivers. Um, we’ve already had “the ridiculously small niche challenge,” back when they had to make outfits for stilt-walkers.

The designers go back to the workroom, where Tim will “fill them in on the details.” He’s there, all right, but so is Collier Strong, the make-up artist from L’Oreal Paris, plus four birds: an owl, a raven, a cockatoo, and an Amazon parrot. It turns out that L’Oreal is putting out a make-up line inspired by the aforementioned birds, which means there really is some eye-shadow called “Raven,” which I predict will be a hit in Baltimore, at least during the football season.

Tim and Collier then explain the challenge: Make a runway look inspired by one of the birds. The look will also incorporate the relevant make-up. The winner will get both an editorial in Marie Claire magazine and 20 grand from L’Oreal Paris. The designers will have two days to work on the challenge.

To the designers’ dismay, Tim then tells them that this will be a team challenge. He then announces the teams: Anya and Laura, Josh and Bert, Viktor and Kimberly. He then assigns each team a bird: Anya and Laura get the raven, Josh and Bert are assigned the parrot, and Viktor and Kimberly get the cockatoo. Tim then informs the teams that they will not be working together after all. Instead they will be competing against each other head to head. One teammate will be given the high score, while the other will get the low score.

While the designers sketch, Bert tells us that he’s not happy having to use the parrot. He doesn’t find the bird particularly inspiring, and he thinks green and yellow look cheap. Uh-oh, now’s not the time to decide to blow off a challenge! Kimberly points out that she had used a bird-inspired look in an earlier challenge, so she will have to come up with something that won’t strike the judges as repetitive.

At Mood, Kimberly picks out nude chiffon, which isn’t something she normally uses. Anya realizes she will have to work outside her comfort zone. As a raven is solid black, her usual prints won’t fly. (Sorry.) She tells us she’s not used to working with just solids. Josh decides to buy some feathers. Viktor is also buying feathers, since he wants to make a gown with an airy look. Laura decides to make pants and a tailored jacket.

No sooner have the designers begun work on their designs then Tim comes in to announce a twist: They have to design a second look. As they begin to sketch, Anya decides she’s make something more structured than her usual. At Mood, Josh asks Tim if it’s okay if he uses fabric that’s a different color from the parrot. Tim answers that it doesn’t matter. Laura picks out some velvet ribbons.

Back at the workroom, everybody’s worried about time. Laura vows to show off her tailoring skills, which she believes to be superior to Anya’s. Kimberly knows that Viktor has the advantage when it comes to construction– and she’s intimidated by that fact. Bert thinks the differences between himself and Josh will work to advantage, since they aren’t likely to copy each other.

The next day, Kimberly jokes about calling in sick. At the workroom, Laura is almost finished her first look. Josh studies his first look, a striped green and yellow monstrosity, and decides he hates it. Kimberly is struggling with her look, as she’s using fabrics she’s not accustomed to. (Why will designers do that to themselves? I understand the desire to not look like a one-trick pony, but completely new techniques and materials should be saved for Fashion Week.) She then spots a cockroach and vaults onto a table, freaking out. (I thought women only did that in cartoons, not real life.) Anya grabs a shoe from the accessory wall and bashes the offending insect.

Collier comes by for the make-up consultations. Naturally, everybody is using the eye-shadow associated with their assigned bird. Bert, who’s 57, comments that he thinks the others have adjusted to him by now. Roach-phobic Kimberly is the next oldest at 35, so there’s definitely a generation gap here. Viktor and Laura also comment that it’s easier to get along with Bert these days.

Kimberly, who is already feeling the time crunch, then discovers stains on her dress and has to stop to scrub them out. Josh decides to make an orange dress for his second look. Kimberly’s bad day continues, as she’s working in the sewing room– and sews her finger. Ouch! She flees to the lady’s room to cry. Laura and Anya follow her there, to try and comfort her. She later DR’s about how her mother died when she was 17. She later lost her stepfather and her brother and has been on her own a lot. She’s had to fight to get where she is today.

Josh decides to scrap his first dress. He asks Anya if he can borrow material for her, and she refuses. He’d thought about making something structured, but without the right fabric, that’s not an option. He decides to make a circle skirt.

Tim comes in to make his rounds, commenting about how quiet it is. He advises Laura to ditch one of her looks and tells Anya that one of her arm holes is bigger than the other. He likes Josh’s orange dress, but not the circle skirt, which he dismisses as “static and crafty.” He then checks in with Bert, whose looks don’t strike him as high fashion. Viktor’s dresses are well-made but colorless, and Tim thinks they look bridal.

Then Tim stops by Kimberly. He warns her that her second look is costumey, but he also senses her lack of confidence. She tells him about her bad day and fears she won’t be able to pull herself out of it. He advises her to stop thinking and consider how the look feels to her. He hugs her and tells her he has confidence in her abilities. As he leaves, he says he sees potential in everybody.

Then the models come in for their fitting. During this, Kimberly discovers she has burnt a hole in one dress with a hot glue gun. She has to make a whole new dress in three hours. She comments that she’ll have to “pull an Anya.”

The following morning is the day of the runway show, so the designers get back to work. Kimberly’s newest dress is a one-shouldered gown and Viktor thinks he copied her. I doubt that. Kimberly had to whip up something within three hours, and she certainly wasn’t going to be able to make separates or a jacket in that time. Plus, the cockatoo that’s supposed to be their inspiration is white. That sort of limits Kimberly’s color options.

Tim comes in to give his usual spiel about hair, make-up, and using the accessory wall thoughtfully. He also announces yet another twist: Only one outfit will be shown. The designers are relieved to hear this, since it means they can now concentrate on the outfit they think is better. Laura quickly picks the outfit she’ll use, while Josh, Anya and Bert wax indecisive. Anya is particularly torn, as she likes her first look, but believes her second one would impress the judges more since it’s different from anything else she’s made. After hair and make-up, Anya finds her black dress is too tight for the model to get on, so she rips some seams, and then sew them back up after the model has put the dress on. Josh declares that something needs to be said if someone’s making clothes that people have to be cut out of.

Then it’s off to the runway, where the guest judge is Francisco Costa of Calvin Klein. The head-to-head competition works like this: The rivals’ models will first walk the runway separately, like usual, and then walk it together. First up is Team Cockatoo. Viktor made a draped one-shouldered Grecian dress decorated with yellow and white organza feathers. Kimberly also made a one-shouldered white gown, but hers has a big slit up the side and a diagonal slit down the front. She added a jeweled trim on the front.

Next up is Team Amazon Parrot. Bert made a gown with a silver-grey, snakeskin bodice, a matching belt with a large grey buckle, and a long grey slit skirt. As the model strides down the runway, she reveals an underskirt made of gauzy yellow and green material. Josh made a draped, one-shouldered orange mini-dress decorated with a pink and yellow corsage.

Last up is Team Raven. Anya made a structured sleeveless black mini-dress with small “wings” flaring out over the shoulders. The skirt is short in front, but longer in the back, possibly evoking the raven’s tail. Laura made skinny, wrinkled black leggings and a snug black jacket with a plunging neckline. The collar around the neckline is decorated with dark purple feathers, making the outfit perfect for a Baltimore Ravens game.

As there are only six designers left, nobody is immediately safe and they all have to face the judges, who start with Anya. She tells them she wanted to do something solid inspired by the raven. Heidi loves Anya’s dress; she sees the inspiration, but doesn’t think it’s costumey or over the top. Michael also likes the fact that Anya didn’t go too literal. The dress is flattering. Nina calls the dress her favorite of all of Anya’s looks. She praises Anya for moving away from her comfort zone. Francisco likes the cut of the dress and considers it urban and goth.

Nina’s also impressed by Laura’s outfit, as it’s very dramatic. But the feathers and leggings are too literal. Heidi finds it too familiar and literal. The leggings are wrinkled. Michael likes the fact that Laura tried to make something edgier than her usual, but he thinks the look verges on costume. He does like Laura’s styling. Francisco likes the jacket. Anya got the high score, while Laura got the low score.

Bert tells the judges that he found more inspiration in the parrot’s talons than in any other aspect of the bird. He admits that it’s not his best look. Michael says it’s well-made, but lacks the exuberance a parrot should have. Francisco dislikes the shape, as it’s not new or interesting. Nina goes so far as to call the silhouette “generic.” She’s disappointed in Bert, although she knows color isn’t his strong suit. Heidi likes the idea behind the pop of color, but thinks the execution was lacking.

Josh wanted to show his skill at draping. Michael loves the draping and the cut of the dress, but hates the corsage. He considers it yet another example of Josh’s difficulties with editing or restraining himself. Nina also likes the draping and praises Josh for his embrace of minimalism. The dress looks modern. Francisco likes the fact that Josh made a suitably exuberant garment without becoming too literal. Michael thinks Bert hated the challenge, and Bert responds that he hated the bird. Heidi asks Josh if he thinks editing helped him, and he says it did. Josh got the high score, while Bert got the low score.

Kimberly wanted to do something soft and romantic for a change. Michael thinks the cut is fabulous, but he dislikes the trim. Francisco would have preferred something younger but he’s impressed that she’d made it in three hours. He also likes the mix of materials Kimberly used. Nina thinks it’s too reminiscent of a beauty pageant gown, but is still very seductive.

Viktor admits that he took a literal approach, but he wanted to have fun with the challenge. Francisco loves the colors and how Viktor did the feathers. Michael also appreciates the work Viktor did, but thinks the feathers make it too literal. Nina thinks there are too many feathers and that, ironically, they weigh the dress down. Kimberly got the high score, while Viktor got the low score.

The judges then have their chat. Anya made a cool outfit and chose great fabric. Josh’s garment boasted a great cut and color. It’s also easy to wear. Kimberly’s dress was also beautifully cut. Viktor’s dress was beautifully made, but too literal with all those feathers. Bert obviously struggled with the challenge and produced a somber dress. Laura, like Viktor, took too literal an approach.

Then the judges announce their decision. Anya is the winner. Josh, Kimberly, and Viktor are all in, leaving Laura and Bert in the bottom two. Laura is in, which means Bert is out. He’d just made one trip too many to the bottom. He DR’s that he will go back to Los Angeles and get back into design. I think Bert saw Project Runway as a test for himself. It had taken him years to recover from the depression and alcoholism that had derailed him for most of the 90’s. He likely felt the need to see if he still had the “right stuff” to be a designer.

Afterwards, Anya takes part in the editorial shoot she’d won. After that, is a half-hour aftershow wittily called After the Runway that’s hosted by Zanna Roberts Rassi in which she talks to the designers. Laura, for some reason, is absent, but Laura Bennet from Season 3 is on hand during the second half. She and Josh get into it over his behavior. Josh denies bullying people– even after being shown clips of him doing just that. He also complains about being broke.

Only after that do we see the previews for next week. It’s the last challenge before Fashion Week.

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