Project Runway 10, Episode 9: The Art of Using Prints

Last week on Project Runway, the designers had to work in groups of three and design fall clothing.  They also had to do their own fund-raising by offering t-shirts and fashion advice to the mostly uninterested citizens of New York.  Elena and Dmitry nearly came to blows, while Alicia stayed out of their way and the other teams remembered to act like professionals.  Sonjia won with a gorgeous dark green jacket and Alicia was sent home.

The next morning, Christopher notes that the competition is half-way over.  Dmitry and Elena wisely decide to avoid each other.  On the runway, Heidi tells the designers that the next challenge will call for an “individual inspiration.”  (Gunnar tells us, that if he wins, he’ll spend some of the money on boots for himself– and a boob job for his mother.  Such a devoted son…)

The designers go to the workroom, where they find Tim with Mondo Guerra,  last seen as the winner of Project Runway All-Stars.  They announce that it’s time for the HP and Intel textile challenge.  The designers will have to create their own patterned fabric and then design a look inspired by their cultural heritage.  Mondo goes on to tell the designers about his own experiences with this challenge in Season 8.  He then warns them not to be too literal.  Anything resembling a national costume will likely get them booted.

Tim adds that the textile must be “prominent” in their look.  In other words, it can’t just be used as trim or an accessory.  The contestants will have an hour to design their textile– and special guests will be bringing them information about their heritage, so they should have plenty of inspiration.  The special guests turn out to be the designers’ loved ones:  Fabio’s partner, Ven’s sister, Dmitry’s best friend (who is female), and the other designers’ mothers all come in for a tearful reunion.  The “information” they bring turns out to be slides and videos of the designers’ families.

Gunnar DR’s about how he was bullied as a child and often turned to his mother for comfort.  Christopher shows his mother how to use the fancy HP gear, while Dmitry decides to make a red pattern based on traditional Belarus designs.  Ven tells us that he was born in Guyana, but that his ancestors come from India.  He will therefore use a pink hibiscus in his print, as that flower is often used in Hindu rituals.  Christopher, by contrast, doesn’t have a clue what to do; he hates prints and thus doesn’t use them.  Gunnar, meanwhile, draws a bird design to symbolize his escape from bullying.

The loved ones leave and it’s time for the designers to go to Mood, where they will have a budget of $100.00  They will pick up supplementary fabric, buttons, zippers and so forth.  After that, it’s back to work.

Christopher designs a black skirt.  He tells us that he’d finally made a lady-bug design, as  lady-bugs were important to his family.  Oh, boy.  A lady-bug print is a tough sell for anybody over ten.  Sonjia has decided to make pants, and Dmitry, remembering the judges’ scolding, has decided to make separates, rather than his usual dress.  Christopher still isn’t sure what to do, as he won’t have the bulk of his fabric until the next day.  Make a cute accessory to go with the dress, maybe?

Tim comes in to send everybody home, as their loved ones are back at the apartment fixing them dinner.  Melissa and Christopher find their fathers have joined the party, and everybody has dinner together.  After the loved ones leave, Christopher worries that he won’t be able to stay motivated.

The next morning, the designers find their fabrics ready and waiting for them.  They’re excited, and so am I.  Dmitry , Christopher, and Melissa all have prints with a lot of red in them.  Huzzah!  Color!  Fabio tells us that his print is a stylized representation of reproductive organs, which are the source of all life.  Not only does that strike me as being in questionable taste, but the thin lines of the drawings don’t show all that well against the dark background.  Christopher, still struggling, is now having problems deciding on a silhouette.  Ven is working on folded decorations for his dress.

Gunnar tells Sonjia about how he’d been bullied as a kid.  He then shows her his print, which depicts a bird flying away from a pair of “wretched hands,” symbolizing his eventual escape.  He later experiences a case of buyers’ remorse, though, when he finds that the print is hard to match up at the seams.

Tim comes in to make his rounds and he starts with Christopher, who has made two lady-bug dresses and can’t decide which one to continue working with.  Tim calls one “expected,” which should be a cue to pick the other one.  Sonjia shows him her pants, which have a black, blue, and red pattern against a white background.  She explains that she’s African-American and chose colors and a tribal-looking pattern that represent that.  Tim seems pleased, but warns her that the fit of the pants will have to be perfect.  Tim then stops by Dmitri and thinks his design looks “prim” so far.

Ven is up next and Tim is not impressed by the white dress with the hot pink flowers and scrunched-up pink and white decorations on it.  The decorations are especially bad, and Tim calls them an “homage to the menstrual cycle.”  The decorations resemble “maxi-pads,” in his opinion.  Tasteless, but I can see it.  The folded decorations are about that size and shape, and while humans don’t have hot pink blood, still…  Back to the drawing board, Ven!

Fabio shows Tim his fabric– but doesn’t mention what the design is supposed to be.  Melissa shows Tim the dress she’s working on and Tim tells her to be more ambitious.  Elena shows Tim her look– and beats him to the punch by admitting that it looks like a hospital scrub.  She already has an idea in mind to fix that:  add a high collar.  Tim likes that idea.  Last up is Gunnar, who explains his bird imagery.  Tim thinks the look might be a bit too literal, as it resembles armor and has a heavy yoke.

After that,  the models come in for their fitting, and Ven revamps his dress, starting by removing the offending decorations.  After that, it’s time to go home.

The next morning the designers get back to work.  Tim stops by to send in the models for their final fitting and to have their hair and make-up done.  He also tells the designers that their loved ones will be watching the runway show.  Gunnar’s mom stops by to assure him that she likes his dress.

Then it’s off to the runway.  Heidi introduces the guest judges, Mondo Guerra and Anya Ayoung-Chee, both of whom are Project Runway alumnae who had won the textile challenge during their respective seasons.

Sonjia is first and had used her patterned print to make a pair of pants.  The print is black, red, white, and blue, and has a tribal design.  Sonjia also made a black shirt with 3/4 length sleeves and a draped back.

Elena also opted to make separates.  She made a pale gray mini-skirt.  She’d made a yellow, violet, and blue print with an abstract design and used that to make a short-sleeved top.  The top has navy blue trim and a zipper down the front.

Christopher made a cocktail dress.  It’s strapless and he used black organza to obscure the red and white lady-bug design.

Ven had made a print which consisted of hot pink hibiscus on a white background.  He used that to make a draped, one-shoulder top.  He also made a plain white skirt with intricate folds that create his beloved abstract rose.

Fabio made a long black sleeveless dress.  He used his print to make a vest.  Melissa made a red and white with a geometric pattern which she used to make a short-sleeved cocktail dress.

Gunnar made a black skirt.  He used his black and white bird print to make a jacket.  He also used thin black trim to try to hide the fact that he couldn’t get the fabric seams to line up just right– and it doesn’t work.

Dmitry is up last and he made a suit.  He used his red geometric print to make a shirt, and he also used it as trim on his black jacket.  He then added geometric cutouts to the back of the jacket, so the print shirt could show through.  He used a black skirt to complete the ensemble.

Heidi then calls Elena and Fabio and tells they are safe.  The other six have to face the judges.  They start with Melissa, who explains that she is of Polish descent and therefore wanted to use the colors of the Polish flag in her look.  Heidi thinks the front part of the sleeves looks like wings, while Michael thinks the dress look upscale.  Mondo likes it, but thinks the styling is too predictable.

Ven explains his Indian heritage and Heidi thinks the dress looks like something a Hawaiian stewardess would wear.  She also points out that the folded flower design in the skirt doesn’t mesh well with the hibiscus print.  Michael is simply getting sick of seeing flowers week after week after week.  When Ven denies having ever been told by Tim to lay off the flowers, the judges call Tim, who explains how poor Ven’s original design was.  He hadn’t mentioned Ven’s overuse of flowers– this time.   Mondo and Anya both think the look is too busy.

Dmitry tells the judges that he was born in Belarus to a family of artists.  Michael applauds Dmitry for stepping out of his comfort zone and not doing another dress.  Mondo calls the jacket a show-stopper– and then adds that this is a print challenge.  Heidi calls it “stunning” and Anya also likes it.  Nina calls the jacket “phenomenal,” and then adds that Dmitry overstyles.

Gunnar tells the judges about his problems with bullying and the symbolism behind his look.  Heidi finds it bizarre and confusing, while Michael thinks the look isn’t compelling, even though the story behind it is.  He adds that the print looks like “bird postage stamps.”  Nina gets “sadness and struggle,” but again doesn’t see the print’s impact.  Mondo says it’s too chaotic, and Anya is simply confused by it.

Sonjia tells the judges that she wanted a print that looked tribal, in a nod to her African ancestry.  Heidi praises the fit of the pants.  Anya likes the overall look, while Nina likes the draped back.  Michael appreciates Sonjia’s attention to detail.

Christopher explains the rationale behind his lady-bug print.  Heidi calls it a “simple” dress and Nina says it’s “expected.”  Mondo thinks Christopher overdesigned his look, and Michael thinks the print looks like upholstery.  Ouch.

The judges chat, starting with the designers they’d liked.  Melissa’s dress is colorful and polished,  Dmitry made beautifully tailored clothes and used the peek-a-boo effect very well.  Sonjia made perfect, expensive-looking pants.

As for the designers they didn’t like, Christopher had made a mediocre dress and tried to hide a bad print with black organza.  Ven’s dress was proportioned well, but he needs to stop doing flowers.  Right now.  Gunnar’s dress is poorly proportioned and in questionable taste.

Heidi announces the judges’ decision.  Melissa is in and Dmitry is the winner.  Sonjia and Christopher are in leaving Ven and Gunnar in the bottom two.  Gunnar is out, while Ven is in — but  Heidi and Michael then warn him that they are sick of folded flowers and want to see something else.

Backstage, Gunnar and Christopher make up and part amicably.

Next week:  The designers have to design a costume for the Rockettes.

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