Thursday, October 04, 2012

PR: Final Five

Here we are, running through a garden and around a castle.  We get to make an avant garde piece, with $400. 
Oh, yeah, and it's the makeup challenge, and we each get a muse:
Enchanted queen (Fabio, and Christopher)
Seductive temptress (Sonjia)
Wise mystic (Dmitry)
Artsy muse (Melissa)
"Artsy muse"?  Really?  You have these grand archetypes and you can't come up with a more distinctive muse name than that?  If you're following some traditions, the fourth figure should be the faerie anyway.  That being said, I'm also disappointed that these are all sort of typically girly figures.  Where is the warrior?  The huntress?  At least a faerie would have the potential for different interpretations, rather than just "artsy." 
I was therefore annoyed with the challenge on two levels: The fact that this lush scenery was subverted in a challenge that was actually about makeup, and the lack of any balance in the figures presented, figures that are representative of stereoptypical male desires and gaze.  I know--Project Runway is probably not the first place someone should go to look for a balanced view of women, but they (and L'Oreal Paris) had an opportunity here and they missed it. 

Melissa--I'm intrigued by the skirt on Melissa's look.  The vest is kind of ho-hum, and I definitely don't respond to a leather shirt..  Her pieces were kind of flat, dimensionally.  It reminded me of modern furniture, which I'm not that big a fan of generally. 

Fabio--I could see what he was after, and there was some avant garde quality to it.  The big floofy hip, though, on that jacket, was kind of odd; I know it's meant to be reversible vertically, but it didn't thrill me. The way the bodice of the dress came out didn't live up to the original drawing.  It looked more craft than art.

Dmitry--His suit does have structure, it's true.  The slits in the sides were interesting, but the back one was ridiculous.  I was also disappointed that, to him, wise mystic evidently meant all black.  There were some dramatic, deep colors in the makeup palette, a lovely green, a blue, a lavender....why not bring that in somehow?  And the judges didn't say a word about it.

Sonjia--Her color is great, that apple green.  The dress is definitely daring.  I really thought she was onto something with that upper shoulder piece when it was on the mannequin, but then it went awry with that midsection piece, which wasn't integrated as smoothly as I'd hoped.

Chris--Chris's look is very him.  I'm into the feather arm decor, unlike Kors.  Again with the big hip, though, which in contrast to the bust, seemed even more odd.  I agreed with the judges who said the top of the dress was unflattering.

Now, what was interesting about the runway was not so much the clothes (as it should have been), but the judges' responses.  I have never seen them disagree so much, to be so absolutely polarized by the looks.  Zoe Saldana was a harsh judge, and Kors was grating as usual.  I was confused at first, but then I decided I kind of like it when the judges disagree.  It is more realistic, there is less "peer pressure" going on, and it gives the designers themselves more useful feedback.
So, they (just as I did) went to the designers' other looks through the season, and their strengths that would make one want to see a collection, which is really what the whole final challenge is about.
Looking at the five, Dmitry and Melissa are tops on my list to go to Fashion Week.  Then I sort of fall apart.  I reviewed my fashion opinions from past weeks, and I realize that the garments were kind of all over the place.  I liked several of Christopher's pieces, but there were some real clunkers.  Fabio's aesthetic I don't usually like, but I like that he is "thoughtful," as Heidi said, and he surprised me a few times.  Sonjia's colors have often been a blessing, but she sometimes has some really basic looks.
I'm not surprised they cut Sonjia, but I do wish I could see what her full collection would have looked like.
But wait...I can!  And you can, too.  That is what decoy collections are for.  You can check out all of the Project Runway designers at  Watch out, though...there are some awfully ugly looks in there, and some particularly ugly styling.  They aren't divided by designer, either, so go and have some fun guessing whose collection is whose!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

PR: "Those babies are really, really small."

The challenge:
Design an outfit for Heidi's line of children's gear, sold in Babies R Us.  Heidi's line is called Truly Scrumptious--a name I'm not that fond of--and I've been seeing commercials for it for weeks.  Heidi says the line is affordable (I checked.  It is, more or less.), and she is providing the designers with fabric and notions. 
The hilarious part of this one-day challenge is that the designers get babies to take care of, the type of baby they use for school projects.  This is so the designers understand what moms go through on a day to day basis.  Says Tim.  Really, it's so the producers can torture the designers for viewers.  Especially because, when they all squall at the same time, no one can tell which one is crying.
After Heidi's visit, there is another little "twist."  The designers have to make a companion piece for the mums, with an extra day to work.  The quote marks are because it's not really surprising. 
Oh, and by the way, there is one girl winner and one boy winner.  Good hedge there.

The fashion:
Fabio:  His baby and mama both looked super cute.  Cute patterned dress on mom, cute pattern blocking on the baby's collar and back of jacket.  The piping is a little too much, though.  It distracts from the rest of the look because it's two-toned.  I'm glad Nina stood up for the dress on mom.
Melissa:  The baby vest with the monster face is cute.  The dress was too short, or too stiff or something.  A pant would have been smarter. The mom's outfit is really dull.  Not convinced the drapey thing was the best idea, though I like the color.
Dmitry:  The baby's hoodie looked so super cute and elfin.  I had to laugh about Kors thinking the outfit was too costumey because of the cape, and the moms dropping that idea right away.  The pants were a little too tight.  It didn't look comfortable.  I honestly didn't notice the mom's outfit until the panel.  Baby is too sleepy to get a good look at it!
Sonjia:  I like the mom's dress and jacket.  The baby's fleece blazer is cute.  I'm not sure if I would have paired it with that print for the shirt.  Sonjia gets extra points from her baby's complete smiley adorableness.  Good job, Jude!
Christopher:  I really do think he did what the mom asked, but I also really do like the baby's dress and jacket.  Heidi's line does kind of need a formal look, which this is.  Not so much the mom's.  That print was not a solid choice (har har).  Maybe worked into something else, something solid to be less glaring, but not as a whole dress.
Elena:  The baby's jacket is super cute.  I love the detail.  The ruffles are not very practical for an affordable mass-produced item, but the detail is cute. Kids definitely are going to hide Cheerios in there. The pants are kind of meh, though I appreciate they are easy.  When the mom left the stage, I had no memory of what she was wearing, so that's not great.

Who is my favorite?  I have no idea.  I liked elements of many of these looks.  Melissa's looks were the weakest.  Thinking through it, I think Sonjia's looks were the best for the baby boy and for the mother.  Looking between Christopher and Elena...well, I dunno.  I think all together I have to give this one to Christopher.  (I wrote this during the commercial before the final judging.  I wasn't far off, but I was surprised Elena got the boot for this one.  I suspect that the judges were thinking back to the strength of Melissa's past work here.)
What's interesting is that the designers working for boys had the better results.  Anyone who has shopped for kids knows that it's hard to find really dear and interesting boys' clothes, whereas the girls' clothes are completely awesome.  I was surprised that the girls' looks were not as strong.  Come on designers of boys' clothes!  Step it up!

Friday, September 21, 2012

PR: Kick It!

The Rockettes, y'all.  In silver heels. 
The designers' job is to make a costume for these ladies.  This is huge.  Naturally, the director/choreographer is there to give some guidance.  The costume has to be wearable year-round, has to be special, has to be contemporary, and has to read well from the nosebleed section.  And some spandex wouldn't hurt.  the designers get to examine some previous costumes...they get to TOUCH them.  That alone would be enough for me! 
At Mood, we have more than the usual fracas.  Picking danceable fabric is tricky, no question.  We saw that with, for instance, the Sasha Cohen challenge.  It is also, as Elena found out, more expensive than you'd think. Later, we have a little twist:  More money, another trip to Mood.  Some decide to stay behind, some jump on the bus.  I am interested to see whether those decisions have any effect on the final results.
The workroom is kind of funny this week, at least for a while.  I like it when people get a little funny with feathers and sequins.  Also, "wine is working," according to Dmitry.  So, "Put some glitter on it."
Side note: I am jealous of the rotary cutters these people have.  Mine does not work nearly so well.
Another side note: When Tim entered for critiques, the closed captioning said, "Breezy Music" was playing.  That it was!

Christopher created a New York skyline in silver, with a great deal of beading and sparkly mesh top.  The skirt isn't the greatest, but the top is a stunner.
Dmitry created a dark blue cut-out dress with fringed skirt.  The skirt is immaculate, but the top is a little see-through and the whole look is a bit too dark.
More on these two in a minute.
Elena's look is a disaster.  The fabric was not the cause; Elena couldn't get out of seeing it as a majorette's costume, and so the dress became that.  The skirt here draped poorly and the top fitted strangely also, though it had some merit.  The top in the back had a nice Art Deco thing going on that failed to make it through the rest of the garment.  My eye keeps returning to that skirt, which had no appeal at all.  Elena short-circuited herself here.
Fabio's outfit confused me.  I actually really liked his fabric, and that skirt had something going for it, very swingy and almost pleated looking.  The fabric of the shoulder/neck, though, was hideous.  Too thick, wrong color, and the straps were too thick and ropy over it.  I'm not clear on how someone can look at that fabric and think it would be all right for the sparkly Rockettes.
Melissa did that detached bodice thing again.  I really don't think it would work for a dance costume.  With the sweat, and the constant arm movement, it would ultimately get saggy and mashed up.  I like the graphic blocks Melissa was going for and also the fact that she picked a bright color.  There were, however, construction issues and, really, the hat and fascinator were the best part of the outfit.
Sonjia was going in a great direction with the feathers.  I know some will disagree with me on this, especially since feathers are tricky and also subject to sweat problems, but they are also classic dance girl material.  I admit I am a sucker for feathers, and they were purple!  Fun!  It's the bodice that bothered me.  It was slouchy and too modest for Radio City.  The fabric had potential, but the top ended up looking like an embellished pullover blouse or T-shirt, which is definitely not the Rockette way.
Ven's fabric was actually not bad at all, but his desire for simplicity made itself apparent from the start.  He avoided the origami technique, which was wise for would would become a full set of costumes, but the dress he ultimately produced was pretty, and only that.  There wasn't anything original to it that would make it special, onstage or off.  Ven ultimately goes home for this.

Now, the responses to the top fashions have been a little controversial.  Both would have needed some tweaking.  Some of my PR fellow fans feel that Dmitry's look would have been better from a distance, and Christopher's washed out.  I understand that viewpoint, but there are a couple of factors that make me feel that the right decision was made in giving Christopher the win. 
Dmitry's look is too dark, first and foremost.  It actually makes me think more of what should have happened in the aforementioned Sasha Cohen challenge.  A skater would look beautiful in this.  So would a Latin dancer.  If I were watching a kickline of Rockettes on the stage of Radio City Music Hall, or even my home theater, the Wharton Center, though, this wouldn't thrill me.  I would like to have one, just for fun, but if I were a Rockette (and I have actually danced with one in a workshop), this wouldn't give me the feeling of lift that I would want.  It would actually lower my center of gravity a bit.  I do think Dmitry could have sold this look a bit more with some fancier styling, but as is, it's not enough.
Christopher's look, on the other hand, has that feeling of special.  Yes, the body of the skirt is an issue to tweak, but the dress as a whole is much more on point as a Rockette's costume.  From the balcony of Radio City, yes, you would not necessarily see and recognize the skyline, but you would see some graphic shape and certainly sparkle.  In fact, this dress would look different but still pleasing at many distances.  That's pretty key.  It looks comfortable, it's well fitted, and as a dancer it would make me feel happy.  It also will work for yearround wear.  So, in the Rockettes costume challenge, Christopher's look met the conditions just a bit better.
A friend of mine raised a concern about the size of the Chrysler building for a bustier girl; that, however, is a matter for the costumers to size up as they put the dress into production, just like any garment.  It can be done!  This would be a similar situation to putting a more opaque backing in the top of Dmitry's.  Just something that has to happen to go from runway to stage!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

PR: Know Thyseslf

The challenge:
It's the design-your-own-textile challenge!  With Mondo!
I love the textile designing.  I have lamented in the past the boring and uncolorful designs people have come up with.  I always hope they'll do something more vibrant, and bigger, meaning not the tiny, dizzying, or haphazard designs we usually see. 
The designers' friends and families pop in with slide shows, not so much to soothe and inspire as to distract and rattle, from the producers' standpoint.  That cynical view aside, I do enjoy learning more about the designers and seeing how the reminder of their past creeps into their work.
We see some colors this year!  Some of the images are still really tiny on the fabric, and thus kind of dizzying.  I wish Gunnar's print had been bigger. I really like Melissa's and Fabio's, though.  I'm intrigued by what Dmitry is doing.  I have no idea what Tim is thinking with Ven's look, describing it as an homage to a menstrual cycle...that's one of those things where Tim should probably have checked his reaction and said, as he does, "Shut up, Tim." 
It actually reminded me of a dear poet friend of mine whose work in workshop was often described as sexual, much to her bewilderment.  It became almost an expected reaction, even though the poems had little to do with sex.  Unlike Ven, however, she didn't change the poem just based on that reaction.

The results:
Sonjie's pant was reminiscent of Mondo's.  They're a little crispy, but still kind of fun.  I love the top she did, with the draped back.  I want that top.
I was actually kind of intrigued with Elena's top.  I liked the style of it, and the pockets.  The skirt was ho-hum, though.
Christopher dodged a major bullet this week.  His print was too muted by the organza over it, and the dress was kind of ill-fitted, especially in back, where it looked like it was sagging.
Ven also dodged a bullet; yes, the flower is part of his culture, but it's not that interesting a rendering of the flower, and the dress is not up to his usual standard, even though it uses his usual technique.  It was kind of obviously a backup plan.
I wasn't enthusiastic about Fabio's look at all.  The print is way too muted with organza over it, like Christopher's, and so little was used in comparison to the rest of what he made, which was blackblackblack.  It disappointed me.
I wish Melissa had made a sassier dress.  I like her print, and the dress is certainly passable, but she's capable of a much more interesting style.  There was a little too much of the sleeper in the dress this week.
Gunnar.  Oh, Gunnar.  I knew when it came out that he was in trouble.  I like his print, actually, though I do feel it's too small, but the jacket and dress reminded me very much of patterns one could get in a Simplicity catalog.  I was actually more interested in the first jacket he was working on.  The workroom consultation problem strikes again.  Second guessing everywhere!
Dmitry took some risks with the jacket.  Why isn't anyone doing that clear strip thing?  I love the floating bits in there because it's unusual and looks extra-skilled.  It was also a risk because it covered his print (which was too bright for me), though it was at least a little coy about it.

In the end, the judging results were unsurprising.  On to the next!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

PR: On the Streets

Self-fundraising.  Designers are in teams of 3, and are going to raise money to shop at Mood, selling T-shirts and whatever else they want on the streets of New York. 
The teams:
Sonjia, Christopher, and Gunnar
Dmitry, Elena, and Alicia
Ven, Melissa, and Fabio

I have to say that at 7 minutes in, I was already out.  I was not interested in what was going on.  I love arts and crafts, so I was briefly excited at the paints and glitter, but I really did not want to see these personalities clashing and struggling as they attempted to get strangers to give them money.  More importantly, I didn't want to hear them, so I put the show on mute, with the closed captioning on.  I also flipped back to the US Open frequently and didn't care that much about getting back in a timely fashion.  I also spent some time reading a book about Siamese cats who solve myseteries.

I'm not sure what exactly turned me off.  I hate team challenges.  I hate the blatant editing tricks that are so obvious they fall flat (Gunnar complaining about Christopher's voice).  I hate artificial hoops that aren't related to the results.  Yes, a designer has to be good with sales and gladhanding, but having them decorate--not design, but decorate--T-shirts and hawk them was another clunker.  It might have been interesting to see designers giving fashion advice, as Tim suggested, but the whole sequence, even on mute, made me look away.

I did turn the fashion show on, however, and this is what we saw:
Dmitry, Alicia, and Elena:
Shawl with fringe, dress with cross strap and weird darts.
Grey and green jacket with rounded shoulders.  Pants and top. 
Sonjia, Christopher, and Gunnar:
Green jacket and two-tone skirt with scarf.
Long asymmetrical coat and two-fabric dress.
Melissa, Ven, and Fabio:
Pink top and grey skirt with white jacket.
Pink tunic, grey coat, brown pants.

(Please note:  All of this was writtten before the judges spoke--It's a little eerie to hear some of my thoughts so closely repeated on TV...usually I'm not that close to the judges' views.)
Heidi wasted no time in declaring Sonjia, Christopher, and Gunnar's group the winners, and I have to agree.  Their looks were interesting and structural, and stood out on the runway as thoughtful.  I really do like the green jacket and the collar in the camel coat.  I also love that they had the middle-sized budget.
For me, Melissa, Ven and Fabio fall in the middle.  I like that they went with lighter colors--winter white and pink are really beautiful and uplifting on cold days when everything gets so dark.  The first look was the most complete.  The grey coat and brown pants of the second look were a misstep, though.  There wasn't enough innovation there, and that look was kind of flat as a result.  This group definitely didn't look like they had the most money--$800 worth, in fact.
Dmitry, Alicia, and Elena were a disappointment.  Those outside darts looked balloony, and the rounded shoulders in the jacket were an Elena touch I've never been fond of.  On a design side of things, there wasn't much there.  On an execution side of things, there were clear flaws.  I won't even get into the lack of teamwork.

If I'm in charge, Sonjia wins and Elena goes home.  Alicia went home instead, and I guess I kind of expected that.  She wasn't given much designing to do, and her easy aesthetic definitely compounded the problem.

Next week is the design-your-textile challenge, and I'm already looking forward to it because I see more interesting designs and colors than in the past. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

PR: Lord & Taylor

We see at Lord & Taylor mannequins with looks by previous designers, which will become a collection, with one of our new designer's looks.  I like this.  I like the shout out to past designers and the practice in commercial design is important. 
The looks must be reproducible and will be sold for 200-300 dollars, and the fabric is coming from the production company, so no budget.  But still a one-day challenge. 
I appreciated seeing more of the sketches this week.  I wish they'd do this every week.  I like seeing a close-up during the show that I can remember and see how well the final look represents that initial vision.  It gives you a good idea of who can edit, who is doing too much of the same thing, and who has poor time management.
We had an awful lot of meltdowns this week!  On the other hand, dresses!

Fabio:  The dress was too simple, though it was sleek. I'm not a fan of the v back and glaring zipper.  I like the hang of the sheer on the skirt, but I wished for more.  Respect for Fabio wearing a garland, though. 
Melissa: This dress actually worked out pretty well.  It's a little off-kilter for Lord & Taylor but I appreciate that.  It's pretty, though still firm.  The asymmetrical hem is too long or too short...I can't decide. (Michael Kors agrees with me on this.)  I am kind of tired of that style of hem anyway. I also like that it's kind of coppery brown.  While that doesn't look good on everyone, it's a color that I'd like to see more. 
Gunnar loves that short and lace.  I appreciate that there are some sleeves.  The dress, though, didn't feel that special.  It has the shape of any number of black, lacy cocktail dresses.  (I wish to point out at this time that I wrote this comment before the judges' panel took place.  That they said exactly what I said was a little creepy.)
Elena: The fabric is a little strange structurally.  The shape is interesting, but the fabric seemed all wrong for the skirt.  Or perhaps it wasn't cut in a way conducive to its inherent structure.  In a different fabric, I think this dress would have worked better.  The construction also didn't seem strong, with some crazy seams.
Christopher:  You know I love ballet pink.  I would wear this dress, though I might have liked some sort of belt at the waist, something satiny, maybe.  Just something to give it some sheen.  I'm glad the judges liked the dress.  I actually think that they could get more than $300 for it at Lord & Taylor.  It was right for him to get called out for overusing a technique, though.
Alicia: I'm not a fan.  It is different, but it didn't look well crafted.  It actually reminds me of a dance costume I had once.  We were flappers, but our dresses were black with a little glitter, and a slashed skirt.  They looked a bit like garbage bags because they were, indeed, baggy, too much so to see the fabric had some glitter, which it needed more of.  Also, it had a high neck.  As soon as I saw Alicia's look, I went back to that recital.  She is not, however, Amish, Michael Kors.
Sonjie: Peplums.  Oh, peplums.  At the same time, it is a really simple dress, not one that has much to it.  I thought Sonjia might land in the bottom because of that oversimplified look.
Ven:  I might have liked this better if the top was a color.  A real color, like a stunning green.  I still like the pretty folding, and any number of women would love to wear this dress, but this technique is all he does, in much the same way.  I don't see Ven stretching himself.
Dmitry: This is a pretty good dress, sleek with some seaming detail.  The hem looks a little sketchy, though.  Not his best work in construction.

The judges did four up and two down this week...and the fourth up was unexpected.  I was really curious about what dress they would pick.  I think I'm glad they picked Christopher's.  It made the most sense for the challenge parameters: Pretty, marketable, makeable, expensive-looking, good for a window, good fit with the others...a logical choice. 
Then we got a surprise.  Gunnar is in, because "everyone met the bar of this challenge."  So we have solved the problem of having had two people disappear and only one cut designer come back, which sets us up for...
Teams next week.  Again.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

PR: Friend of a Friend

The Challenge:
Some "friends" are getting a fashion makeover for their friends.  Hair cut and color, and an outfit for the madeover client.
Early notes:  Ven got highlighted here, saying he was disappointed because this was nothing like designing for a model-- his client's proportions are all different.  I'll let you fill in your choice of annoyed sound here.  Really an immature attitude, and a disappointing, gaping hole in his skills and mindset.  The regular woman challenge always reveals the closet hater, doesn't it? 
Nathan's client seems a little confused on the meaning of sophisticated.  Sonjia did a good job asking questions and listening to her client.  Gunnar is actually into this challenge, which was a bit of a pleasant surprise.  Not surprising is Dmitry's ballroom dancing career.
"How's her figure?" Tim?  Really?  I don't know about asking that question in quite that way.  Good for Nathan, though, for his positive description.

The Clothes:
Nathan's black and blue dress was, I guess, okay for a music career in R & B, but it was too sexualized.  I know that's what the client wanted, but I also noted he couldn't really stand up to his client to steer her.  Also the sewing is a little questionable.  The side panel?  Not a good idea.  I think his inexperience showed here.  That being said, I don't think that the garment was as bad as the judges felt.
Elena's client looks very bouncy, which is a good sign.  The skirt did look cute.  The top was a good shape, but too short in the front ruffle at the waist.  It was appropriate, though, and gave the client something wearable.
Melissa's dress was kind of safe.  The detail with the asymmetrical bodice was nice, but there wasn't much else to it.  It was, at least, reasonably adult without being over-sexy..
Gunnar's client was exuberant!  I liked the skirt on her, but the bodice was not fitted quite looked crooked.  The sewing didn't look refined to me either, and both of those elements are on Gunnar.  That being said, I like the work he put into the skirt, and of course I'm proud of his attitude this week.
Alicia's dress was too short, and the bodice was too small.  I hate that cutaway thing that they work in sometimes at the waist.  The client seemed happy, but I was a bit surprised Alicia was safe.
Christopher's dress is really pretty, if simple.  I like the movement and I'm glad there is a jacket, though I would have liked a closer look at that, as he also wished for the judges. 
Ven's opinion of his outfit is curious.  He feels it's sophisticated, but there is a zipper unzipped halfway up her thigh.  What the what?  The look doesn't make any sense.  The judges responded to that also.
Dmitry's dress is a great color.  On the other hand, the midriff is too tight, and the dress is a touch short.  The top is very cute, a good shape, but I'd love to have seen it pencil down two inches longer.
Fabio!  I honestly like Fabio's dress the best this week.  Who knew?  It's cute and wearable, and his client is adorable in it.  I love the design in the blocking.  It was so clearly a winner! I would so totally wear this dress.  Really glad he won.  I've been so skeptical about him based on his portfolio, but this week he really impressed me.
Sonjia's dress is indeed a bit too short.  It's interesting that the theme is kind of similar to Christopher's, but his is more sophisticated.  And what is with this knot thing?  Knot dresses have been around for a couple of years now, so I'm a little surprised to see them popping up all over.

So, Fabio won and Nathan was out.  As I said, Nathan's inexperience was a problem here, but his attitude is a strong one.  I wish he could have stayed in longer.  He is positive and I hope that he keeps developing his fashion vision without losing his demeanor.
Ven, on the other hand...I will keep commenting on fashions objectively, but he is no favorite of mine.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

PR: Working Woman Fashion Capsule

Fashion capsule.  Yup, that's a thing now.  Actually, I kind of like the term.  It sounds funny but conceptually it makes sense.  It's a lot better than "module," which is all the rage in education now.

The Challenge: Team challenge to create a "fashion capsule" for fashionable, but editorial, working women.  The teams must direct a photo shoot for their little collection.
Sonjia, Elena, Melissa, Dmitry, Alicia, and Raul will be making six outfits
Nathan, Ven, Christopher, Fabio, and Gunnar will make five outfits.
30 minutes to discuss and sketch (which is absurd) and one day for creation (also absurd). 

The Runway:
Nathan: I'm not a big fan of that one-shoulder top for work.  It makes me cold just looking at it.  The draped front of the pant was kind of interesting.  I actually can't decide how I feel about it.  I always want to see something better with pants, something special.  I don't think this quite hit the mark, but I like that it was different than the norm.
Christopher: Cute skirt; I like the pleated print.  I'd buy that skirt.  The jacket is plain, and didn't look as smooth as it ought.
Gunnar: Print-paneled skirt and white top with print shoulders?  No.  It isn't expressive, really, or vibrant.  The top might have been all right without those shoulders; as is, it looks like a home experiment that didn't work out.
Fabio: The dress is kind of plain, but wearable.  White and black looks clean.  I think I spied some odd fit issues around the bust area.
Ven: Not a fan of the Ven look this week.  The top is too poofy.  The skirt is oddly clingy.  As a combination, it didn't look sleek or fresh, as Ven's garments usually do.

Melissa: Great color and interesting front in the bright blue dress.  The collar is too high for work.  I did notice the puckering in the back, but on the whole this was my favorite look.
Elena/Alicia: The jacket looks fun.  I'd wear that, with the smooth sleeve and a comfortable but sassy shape.  The pants were kind of dull, but I keep coming back to the jacket and enjoying it.
Raul/Sonjia: I thought I would like Raul's blouse but I ended up not liking it so much.  It looked a little misshapen.  I do like the blue skirt; Sonjia's pride is justified in that.
Elena/Alicia:  The floofy shouldered jacket is interesting.  I actually liked it more than the judges, but maybe not for work.  I do like a wide-legged pant, though it wasn't particularly special.
Dmitry: Black and navy colorblock....Maybe in just the skirt, but as a dress the look looked a little sexyish.  It's just not quite work-friendly.
Raul/Sonjia: Like the's interesting and I like it for day to night.  It was pretty and not overly sexy.  The top is kind of dull.

The Judging:  The teams tied.  I'm not sure that has happened before, but I'm surprised that it hasn't.  I do always hate it when they publicly invite the "who should go" comments from the team.  If you want to describe the team dynamic and what went on in the workroom, fine; that makes sense--you'll still get barbs and biases, but not the reductionist "weakest link" opinions.
It infuriates me that the judges loved that picture with Gunnar's dress so prevalent and she's "at work" but has a purse slung "fakely" over her arm?  No way.  That portion of the picture at least was awful.  And at one point Kors says, "So Gunnar goes home?  Ooh..." which demonstrated, I believe, a bias against sending him home based on past efforts, not what was in front of the judges.
To me, Team Six clearly had the better looks as a whole, and better pictures.  The clothes certainly photographed better, and looked more suitable for Marie Claire.  Melissa as winner makes sense, given the eye-catching nature of her dress, which did indeed look lovely in the pictures.
Raul and Gunnar are left on the runway.  Really, either could go and I wouldn't feel bad.  They are both kind of jerks.  This time, Raul is out, leaving Gunnar with a chance to redeem himself.  Good luck with that.

Next week, we're evidently going plus-size, and as usual guests' feelings will be hurt.  Never a good time.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

PR: Day to Night

The challenge is a PR staple--create a day-to-night look for a woman-on-the-go.  The look should be comfortable, versatile, and practical, and, for the judges, glamorous.  Oh, yes, and it should be in the designer's own aesthetic.
The real challenge is with the people.  Andrea is gone.  There are a lot of harsh words for her from the remaining designers, and a lot of forgetting that they themselves have been in meltdown mode and walking away, albeit temporarily.  And then, Kooan announces his departure.  Nathan, et al, try to talk him down, but Tim escorts him out.  And then, Raul comes back. 
And then...there is some sewing.

I was disappointed this week--not in the garments themselves in design, because there were several remarkable garments.  But most of the designers picked such safe, boring colors.  I can only guess that there wasn't enough time at Mood to find both the desired fabric and an interesting color.  With a grey or black jersey, you know what you have. sparkle?  No color?  I am the first to decry a design that is only interesting because of its color (as with the white dress made for Irina last week); yet, the blur of grey, black, and brown this week dulled my interest.
Sure, as I said, there were some engaging designs.  Even so, the world really has a lot of black dresses with unique designs.  It's a staple of the fashion industry.  As a woman-on-the-go, I'm trying to keep color in my wardrobe and find professional clothes in nice colors, like my beloved boucle sweaters.  I really wanted to see something new in that arena.
This brings me to this week's gripe: I really hate the rush at Mood.  I always have.  It's one of my least favorite things, watching designers scramble through that Shangri-La of fabric.  I also think the tiny visits are one of the major reasons we so often get yucky runway results.  I would go even further to say that it's a mockery of the important role fabric (and good fabric stores) play in the fashion industry.  I would much rather the designers get a full hour in there.  I don't necessarily need to see more as a viewer, but I would like to see more carefully considered and interesting decisions rather than see people just pull out black and grey, or prints of the two, all the time.
I do have to admit that a lot of the designers were heading for the greys and blacks even in Kors' studio as they sketched; however, some of the others' plans changed when they got there, as can be seen in their sketches. 

The fashions:
Alicia: Her shirt was too short and the look, while she called it crisp, to me looked sloppy.  She certainly did not have the worst design up there, but it was not a look that could win a challenge.
Buffi: Oh, Buffi.  I will miss your accent and humor.  When you saw the garment come out on the runway, you knew it was going to send her home.  Not because it was pink over zebra print.  But because it really did look like a pink sack over the dress.  When you use such a color, you really need to make it count, and it just didn't here.  A banging zebra dress with, say, a red jacket vest in a nice thick something or other would have been preferable.  Something fierce!  As it was, it was not.
Christopher: It's true; his jacket was pretty rad.  It had some sleek flair to it.  I also appreciated that his black fabric had some sheen to it, which makes it better for the evening portion.  But, like Dmitry and Sonjie, it was a basic color.  Black is suitable for night (and he did throw in a blue shoe), but amdist so many other basic colors, I was less excited.  I also felt that the drape in the skirt was too long, though that is a minor complaint.
Dmitry's dress had one seam?  What the what?  I wish they'd brought that up on the runway, so I could try to figure it out better.  In any case, I liked the weaving in Dmitry's garment, which gave it at least some interest.  That being said, it was a grey jerseyish dress.  I agreed with Kors that this dress in a color--not even a bright color necessarily--would have been better.  A nice cranberry or emerald green.  Or a deep, sapphire blue.  Then I would have wanted that dress in my closet immediately!
Elena: I really am not a fan of the shapeless, or rounded shoulder thing that Elena seems to love.  I don't really want to wear a jacket that doubles my size.  It's her thing, but I can't like it.
Fabio:  As I believe I may have mentioned, I hate it when designers make dresses that are too short.  It's supposed to be practical and comfortable--if I'm constantly worried about giving an impromptu peep shoe, that isn't going to happen.  How could I sit down?  Fabio picked a print, which was in his favor, but I agreed with Kors (twice in one week!) that the look didn't have much of Fabio's personality in it.  I also agreed with Heidi that a long jacket would have been better.
Gunnar had a tiny bit of color in there with the eggplanty shirt.  The skirt was interesting, but it didn't say evening to me, and the two pieces didn't really fit together.  Not that they came from different closets, but as if the wearer hadn't had her coffee and had her eyes half shut when she was pulling things out of the closet.  Or, maybe she pulled something out of the laundry hamper.
Melissa:  The combination of draped garments reminded me of Robin Hood, the way Robin Hood really would have dressed, with the leggings, the layers, and the hooded cloak.  It didn't look very evening to me, though, and so it clearly wasn't going to be a winner.
Nathan:  Well, he is the drape person.  His commentary was correct, though, that this wasn't a wow look.  The draped jacket vest thing was interesting, and I think gold was a good color for him to work with.  But pairing it with another color might have taken it further.  A nice forest green?
Raul: I wrote "the fabric of the top piece is interesting."  That's it.  Raul dodged a major bullet this week.  I know he has better capabilities than this.
Sonjie: Drapey grey dress.  The back of the look was actually quite interesting.  It did remind me of some multi-way-to-wear dresses already out there, but there was some originality.  The middle seemed a little pouchy to me, which wouldn't suit too many ladies.  This and other dresses most likely would require some Spanx.  I wasn't sorry she won, but mainly because I think all three top looks could have won.
Ven: Hey, guess what!  Ven had pleats!  No, I'm not accusing him of being a one-note, and I have nothing against pleats, but I hope he is ready to mix it up in future.  The crossing zipper in Ven's look interested me, though I'm not sure how practical it is.  I also wondered if his fabric would wrinkle.  He also used brown; a lighter brown, true, but still brown.

Next week: A team challenge.  You know.  My favorite.

Friday, August 03, 2012

PR: "Stupid Red Carpet"

The challenge:  In teams of two, create a garment for a former PR designer to wear to the Emmys.  Winner gets to go to the Emmys!
Lexus made a nebulous appearance in the episode, being the car driven to meet the former designers and the designers were meant to use the color of the car in their gown.  If they'd given the designers interesting car colors, this might have gone better.  Instead, they were very standard colors like black, white, and red.  Thrill.
As always with a pair challenge, you can see some trainwrecks coming and others come from more subtle meltdowns.  If you'd like to read an interesting backstage story, see Laura Bennett's blog, which is straightforward about what went on behind the scenes, versus the edited version of the story we saw. 
Personalities aside, here are my unbiased feelings about the fashions.  I'm going sort of in order of quality, with comments on suitability of dress for the client, and so on as appropriate.

The gowns:
Ven and Fabio for Kenley:  Yes, Kenley directed a lot of this look, including the fabric and length suggestions.  That being said, you can still see Ven's design in the look, and certainly the execution.  His dress was one of my favorites because of the blend of Kenley's desires and Ven's (and to some extent Fabio's) mastery.  I actually like to see a tea length gown on a red carpet now and then, and I think with some bigger jewelry (something rhinestony is certainly needed in the hair) it will be perfectly suitable.
Buffi and Elena for Laura: I thought this look was a little too "cute" for Laura, but I also thought it was lovely.  I'm not sure the hair styling was the best choice, because it sort of enhanced the cutesy.  That being said, the pleating ended up working very well, and the gown moved beautifully.  One of my favorites.  For me, that is...not for Laura.
Dmitry and Melissa for April: There were elements I liked about this dress and elements I did not.  That sleeve--the cuffed 3/4 sleeve--really drove me nuts.  The midriff of the front (was that knotted?) also gave me pause.  They did a terrific job with the fabric, and that quicksilver look really did suit April and give her glamour.  The back was lovely.  I enjoyed looking at and thinking about this dress, despite its few flaws.
Nathan and Sonjia for Valerie: I actually have this square in the middle with Dmitry and Melissa.  I love how happy Valerie looked in this, because it had some spunk to it but also the glamour needed.  I liked that they chose to include a gold satin in the shoulders with the sequinned fabric; I did not like that they also included it as a V in the back.  They missed an opportunity for a sleek fit back there.  Yes, the V added a design element, but it ended up looking bunchy.  Valerie, with a short torso, needs something to sleeken the silhouette, not bunch it up.  I felt the same about the sleeves--great length, but they poofed out a little, and that wasn't quite right, either.  All that said, I think Valerie looked banging in this dress from the front.
Christopher and Andrea for Anya: Sewing flaws (like the showing hooks--a problem I've had) notwithstanding, the back of this dress was pretty in design (not surprising, since it was associated with Andrea).  The front...well, the bust was simply too blousy.  The square neck with a fitted layer of chiffon over it would have been lovely.  Perhaps even a gathered collar.  The cowl was the wrong direction utterly.
Gunnar and Kooan for Irina: My shock matched that of the designers when this white number was pegged out as a high note.  The hem was too short.  The sewing was clearly poor even through the TV.  Even without being privy to the workroom mismatch and conflict, one can objectively look at this dress and shake one's head.  I really think it was the white that blinded the judges, and the accessories--and Irina.  Take the accessories off the dress, and what do you have?  A poorly sewn, too short, white dress with a train...nothing very special, in fact.  The judging here was definitely one of those wth moments.
Raul and Alicia for Mila: This dress was a travesty.  It was too simple, yet poorly constructed at the same time.  The halter was peculiar in fit, and the bust was dumpy.  I spied a lack of understanding of the purpose of foundation garments there.  Mila seems to be in good shape, but at a televised show like the Emmys, a lady needs some sort of bust support or an extremely well fit bodice.  This dress allowed neither.  Obviously there were other flaws, but no one really mentioned that one.  Problems in judging other garments notwithstanding, this was clearly the losing dress.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

2012 London Opening Ceremonies!

I always watch Olympic Opening Ceremonies with great interest.  I admit to being a bit of a snob about them--I just don't know how anyone is going to beat the awesomeness that were the Athens ceremonies.  I also love to watch what the athletes are wearing--what the powers-that-be of their countries decided to put them in every four years to represent their nation.
The London ceremonies had some bright moments.  I am all for the pastoral country farms, complete with May pole and sheep.  So much of England still has that classic, green, near-wild appeal.  They still respect their farmers.  I loved that tree-Tor, that later held the flags of all the countries. 
I was less excited by the Industrial segment, though there were elements that stood out.  I liked Kenneth Brannagh's sideburns and the shoutout to the suffragettes.  The red poppies in the WWI tribute were perfect.  I was a little sad, though, that there was so little color in this section.  Sure, the idea of Industry is all black, white, and brown, but colors still existed!  Even a dingy blue or green might have pullled in the pastoral from the opening section, to transition it instead of replacing it.  I did like the idea of them piping in the smell of the ring forge (and I know I'm not alone in having first associated the ring with Tolkien instead of the Olympic rings!)
I almost spit tea everywhere when James Bond and QEII came skydiving in.  That was a good punctuation point for the show.
in the next section, I know people were confused by the connection of the children's literature with the health care; I didn't have that confusion.  I loved the kids in their jammies, first as a signing choir and then as  hospital kids at GOSH.  It's quite true that British children's literature is an indelible part of youth, and I'm so glad they treated it with pride.  And then there were Mary Poppinses falling from the sky.  You can't go wrong with that.
The digital love story was my least favorite section.  There was too much in it.  Too many songs and films and shows, and it was hard to pick out anything iconic because there was just too much.  Sure, that is representative of our age, but it doesn't make the best ceremonial presence.  It just felt too long.  Remember the two lovers in the Athens games?  They were sweet and their story stood out because they were given space.  That didn't happen here.  And some of the music/films weren't even British...most were, but again, we lost that chance to have iconic elements stand out because of attempts to be comprehensive.
Fortunately, we had Speedboat Beckham to laser through all of that.
There were some cool points later, too, like the doves riding bicycles and the honor guard of workers for the flag.  I liked that they had young people carry the torch, and I loved the rising copper leaves for the cauldron.  That's one of my favorite cauldrons ever.  Good job, London!

The Parade of Nations seemed very full of suits this year, didn't it?  That kind of disappoints me.  I wish more countries would do a rendition of native dress--not costumey, but with a sort of national presence.  I know they want to be respectful, and you could make the argument that the athletes blend together harmoniously, but I feel like that's more the Closing Ceremonies emotion.  In the Opening Ceremonies, I want to know what that country is.
Some countries were beautifully attired.  Bhutan had lovely traditional silks.  The Cook Islands totally brought it, as did Fiji's flagbearer.  Gambia looked wonderful in their green robes, as did Mali in white and Nigeria in green and white. India mixed it up with suits and saris.  Uganda also looked lovely.  It's interesting that so many countries who are wartorn or in poverty show so much pride in their national heritage in costume. 
Meanwhile, there is Germany.  Now, I'm not suggesting that they were lederhosen, but pink and blue track jackets, with hats that had a German flag-colored ribbon?  Nothing about it made sense...and yet Time Magazine liked it?  Their opinion was based on festive color, but personally, I think the above countries pulled it off better, and classier.
There is always a lot of fuss about what the USA wears.  Sneakers and skirts made the women look a little touristy, which is perhaps sadly appropriate, but otherwise they definitely looked like Ralph Lauren dressed them.  Which he did.  The uniforms weren't very iconically American...actually, some of the stuff he did for Village Wear (which is pictured in the above Time link) is nattier.  But we were definitely not the worst dressed, so I guess we can take that home.

PR: Sweeties!

Hi, everyone!  Been away for a bit, but have a few things in store here.  First, a report on last week's PR, and also I'll be posting on the Olympics Opening Ceremonies.
I'd also like to invite you to check out, a blog by my friend Emily West Lowry, which I will be contributing to regularly!

The challenge:  Designers in a candy shop (unconventional materials challenge)
Excuse me—A sweets emporium.

I do like it when they do the unconventional materials early.  There are lots of results to see, and people tank or swank by ability more than exhaustion.  I also appreciate the workroom scenes, because people are (usually) doing such different things.
A few bright early moments: 
  • Heidi’s “Braveheart chic” tartan dress
  • Tim getting excited about candy legos
  • My own idea for what I’d do—get some fun dip and a straw; dissolve the fun dip in water and then blow it on whatever garment I was working with.  Add some color pops, like dye!
The fashion:
Alicia:  Her candy created an interesting effect that reminded me of both jungles and dripping.  Very rainforesty.  I liked the sauciness of her garments, which is something her work might sometimes lack.  It was not so rugged, but instead more playful.
Andrea:  I appreciated the Victorian imagery and styling Andrea brought to her garment—it was definitely committed.  I think she escaped a lashing, though.  The apron was stiff and formless while the back (although consistent with her Victorian ideal) was all fabric.  Other designers, like Buffi, got busted for using so much non-candy material.
Buffi:  On the subject of Buffi, I enjoy listening to her.  I bet she is annoying to some people, but so far I enjoy her sense of humor.  Her garment also seemed understated for her, and she put a lot into that weaving.  Her look was not a winner, but I probably would have put Andrea in the bottom before her.
Christopher:  His look was very dark.  And that is all I wrote.  I do remember it (it’s Saturday as I write this), but only an impression of thin stripes with black contrasting with pinkish something or other. 
Dmitry:  Dmitry’s look was also dark, but I remember his more fondly because it was more fun.  The swinging fringe to the skirt was sassy.  Did I enjoy that he used the unembellished, halterized T-shirt in the top?  No.  But I liked the wearability of his look…meaning, I’d wear it!
Elena:  Her look had structure, but as soon as I saw the color she chose and the structure started to take shape, I knew she was in trouble.  You can use that color in a soft look, but not, I think, in a bulky look that’s going to be even more bulky because it’s candy over a fabric infrastructure.  She had a concept—she’s good at concepts.  I think the execution will take more thought and time.
Fabio:  I liked the color in Fabio’s piece.  His garment looked nicely fitted.  I ultimately didn’t find it memorable, though.
Gunnar: Yes, for the checkered print he made.  The peplum, however, was completely unnecessary and too much.  Also, I’m so unbelievably tired of his attitude already.  I suspect he’s suffering from 24/7-camera-itis.  I don’t like to make attitude comments too early in the game, but really.  He epitomizes the concept of “disingenuous.”
Kooan:  I think Kooan might have scared the judge this week; I think they decided it would be too much work to talk to him about his garment.  This explosion was good evidence that he lacks an editing eye.  His piece started well, but as others pointed out, he just kept tacking stuff on there, throwing things at it.  There was no concept, and the chaos wasn’t engaging.
Lantie:  Another designer falls prey to the defeatist attitude.  She gave up.  Her look didn’t have enough candy, and she didn’t care.  As soon as that inertia locks down a designer, it’s best that she go. 
Melissa:  Candy bondage?  I guess that kind of makes senses for Melissa.  The skirt was a yes for me, but not the top, which didn’t really transcend the simple fact that it covered the model. 
Nathan:  Oh, the bulb skirt.  Well, he went for it.  I am glad for that.  He has some good ideas.  Sometimes I wonder if he might be too “young”—not necessarily in age but in his innovation and intuition.  I’m hoping there is something there he just hasn’t shown yet.
Raul:  I was kind of excited seeing Raul’s top on his mannequin.  I liked the color and the shape.  The skirt didn’t quite fit, though, which was disappointing.  I have decided to watch Raul a bit more closely, though.  I don’t always like his expression, but I do perceive something intriguing in his design.
Sonjia:  I liked the pearl effect that Sonjia created, and I also liked the scarflike embellishment with the candy sharks.  I mean, why not?  On the whole, I thought there was too much going on with her outfit, though.  It had nice color, but too many directions.
Ven:  His look was very classy, no question.  His palette was a little muted, to be sure, but the sculpture was thoughtful.  When I saw it, I knew Heidi would like it, and I am sure it’s her vote that put Ven over the top here. 
These judges were feisty this week!  I didn’t disagree with their final choices, but I do think they’re shooting out the barbs pretty fast. 
A final note—the candy lady said that one or two of the looks were things she would put in the store’s window.  Couldn’t that have been part of the prize for the challenge?  To have the garment appear in the store window?  That would have been a sweet prize!

Sorry.  I had to.

Friday, July 20, 2012

PR: Times Square

The Challenge:  The designers had homework--make a garment/look that represents their aesthetic.  The challenge itself is to make a companion piece, and both looks will be shown in Times Square.
Have you been to Times Square?  I have.  It's shiny.  And loud.  And tourists.  And traffic.  And, to be honest, a little stinky.  Everyone's pretty excited about showing there, and that's great for the fans, but all the same, I'm not sure it's where I'd like to have my first PR showing.  Still--it is festive, I have to give them that.  I also respect that they gave all of the designers an experience, before any of them went home.

The People:  If you watched the preview show you probably picked up on some vital statistics:  8 men, 8 women. 6 are from different countries.  Each almost, at this point, seems to fit into a firmly delineated stereotype--the "Bitch, Please," the "Experienced Older Person," the "Kook," the "Avant Garde," and so on.  I'm crossing my fingers that these lines blur rather than blacken over the season. 

The Clothes:
Alicia--Alicia's asymmetrical pants were well produced.  I appreciate the sense of ease in her garments, and I'm not opposed to the menswear/womenswear mixture.  That being said, I wasn't excited by her work this week, as it seemed flat to my eye, although I did like the red.
Andrea--As anticipated, she put more visual interest in the backs of her looks.  People dissed on her short dress, but I thought it was more youthful, though admittedly odd.  Even so, the longer dress's back is really nice, with the folds so carefully placed.
Beatrice--The top she made (the one she struggled with sewing) looked much better in a still photo.  That disappoints me.  It doesn't hold up with a closer, live look. The grey dress she made was certainly wearable, and had some cute details (sheer bits in the shoulders, for example), but that wrap was not a good choice.  The pieces didn't show well on a Times Square runway and didn't look well together.
Buffi--Her looks did really represent the portfolio she presented.  That being said, that shiny hot pink with the trash bag black is never going to do well on the runway.  It looks like garments you might pick up at Deb--remember Deb?  As a matter of interest, Buffi had the second lowest combined scores from the voters on mylifetime's Rate the Runway.
Christopher--"The machine ate it."  Oh, dear.  Already with the self-made accidents?  There were several this episode!  Christopher's short dress was not a winner--too short, and the bust did not succeed; definitely not flattering.  I can't question the fact that his long dress was beautiful; I'm not usually into animal prints, but he concealed it in the beatiful cut and pleating.  It really was liquid on the runway. 
Dmitry--He may be quiet, but he has pointed words in his personal interviews, no?  I like Dmitry's pieces.  He was my favorite this week; the textile for his short dress was kind of boring, but I liked the cut of both, and that sequinned vamp dress...I can't even say why I like it, I just am engaged by it; it's flattering and it has a throwback appeal without being aged.
Elena--Her looks are just not for me.  She has skills, obviously, but I don't see much versatility there yet.  Is she going to be able to evolve?
Fabio--I might have done Fabio a disservice, based on his portfolio.  I didn't find his shirt very appealing, but the skirt was interesting.  That black dress, though...sometimes organic goes too far in the blah direction, and I fear that might be a problem with Fabio.
Gunnar--Hey, remember when I said that he probably takes himself too seriously?  Yeah.  We can now remove the probably.  I already can't stand him, and I didn't like either of the garments he created.  I admit to a bias against halters, but even the color selection he made turned me off.  Very few people can wear that color...or should.  I'm sad, because I had hopes for him.
Kooan--My eyes!  The first look I think does represent Kooan; the second one, though, reminded me of an oven mitt.  Kooan received the lowest scores overall, which isn't that surprising, but I do agree with some of the preview people who believe he has something to say.  It may not be something I want to hear, but it would be foolish to ignore.  One of the other designers commented on the Japanese street fashion aspects, and she is absolutely right.  That's a big market.
Lantie--I was turned off when I found out Lantie is using real snakeskin; I'm not down with that.  the fabric of her lace dress was really pretty, but that chiffon dress looked like the results of a previous season's wasn't bad, and it might have done well in early seasons, but I think the judges are wanting everyone to step it up.  That particular dress got the lowest score of the week on Rate the Runway.
Melissa--I have mixed feelings on Melissa.  She's really confusing for me.  Her new dress had an interesting shape, which I like, and I did like that jacket, though I'm not really into leather.  But I worry that she's going to get boring; not like Stella and her "leatha," but more that she won't be able to transcend, or reach into deeper parts of herself.  I hope I'm wrong.
Nathan--The colors selected by Nathan had great Times Square appeal.  The turquoise one was too much for me--too piecy.  The pinkish one, though--I love that.  It was fun and looked comfortable and elegant at the same time.  I'm not a big Cameron Diaz fan, but I could see her in that dress.
Raul--I really liked the jacket and top he made, the tailored suit with edge.  The lace dress, was really a textile choice problem.  I've been there; I get bulky yarns a lot even though they don't really make good clothes (great for blankets and scarves).  This "lace" textile just had too much bulk and heft, so it couldn't do what he asked it to do.  There were better ways to use it--a whole dress was not the best option.
Sonjia--I have to say, along with Kooan, hers were my least favorite this week.  They were tacky looking, and those pants were awful.  My impressions from her portfolio are alas confirmed. 
Ven--In the preview show, I could see that Ven showed some stronger garments than are in his online portfolio.  The pleating and other elements are really pretty immaculate.  I found the pants too bulbous, but I liked his pleats and respected the fluidity of his work.  Very curious about Ven.  He was my second favorite this week, almost on skill alone.

Sound-off:  I have to cry foul on Heidi's underwear ad, by which I mean PR's main poster.  Seriously, it is basically a Victoria's Secret ad with scissors in it.  Nothing about the image says Project Runway and it's decidedly bad form.  I'd go so far as to call it disrespectful to their designers, who are a mixed bunch and have viewpoints far ranging from the typical male gaze on female sexuality.  We could talk all day about the state of the fashion industry and their views of and influence on the female body.  But in the context of an ad about fresh designers creating clothes for lots of people, this was a tasteless choice.  According to the web, I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

PR: Season 10 Preview

It's time!  Tonight, Project Runway returns, with the usual panel of judges returning, and Tim Gunn.
The profiles and portfolios are up at if you'd like to check them out. 

To make things interesting, some friends and I are doing a sort of PR Derby: picking a designer from the first show based on the introductions of that person, the same way you might pick a horse from its appearance in the paddock or parade ring.  The design portfolios serve as the race program.  As the show moves forward, in subsequent episodes you might pick a designer for the week by how the show is edited.  You also might pick a designer for the whole season, your "favorite to win."

Feeling daring?  You could pick your horse from the design portfolios.  Here are my observations:

Alicia seems to favor androgynous sportswear.  There is a green shirt that I quite like in her portfolio; otherwise, it seems a bit like an American Eagle catalog.  That's not a bad thing as far as marketability goes, but it leaves me without much impression.
Andrea has some very interesting shapes in her pieces.  There is a purple sweater, back-tying, that I really quite like.  I see a lot of emphasis on the backs of her clothes, which makes me curious.  She also seems to makeover clothes, which should stand her in good stead for PR.
Beatrice shows a lot of leggings in her collection, which concerns me.  Another intereresting issue is that her drawn pieces are way different from her completed pieces.  That confuses me as to her aesthetic.  Regardless, I can't get behind the leggings.
Buffi's portfolio turned me off as soon as I got to the drawings with the ladies' nipples showing through the shirts, and the truly hangerlike models she drew.  Given the sort of blah nature of most of the drawn clothes, it's hard for me to feel engaged, despite the bright colors in her completed clothes.
Christopher  has some cute pieces in his drawings, but components of the finished pieces concern me--the absurdly short lace skirt, for instance.  That being said, the pictures also suggest he doesn't have quite the resources that some of the other designers have, so I am at least interested in seeing what he can produce on set.
Dmitry is a front runner for me at this point.  While I usually set styling aside, I was intrigued by the capping feature he did with his model, to put the focus squarely on the clothes.  The ruddy, draped dress is really perfection for me, and I wish I owned it.  I don't like all of his pieces (looking at you, jumpsuit), but there is something about his aesthetic that I like.
Elena's pictures won't load for me.  What I see of the thumbs kind of reminds me of Dune.  Her dream client is Lady Gaga, so I guess that squares with that impression. 
Fabio has the distinction of being my least favorite.  He portfolio is full of diapers and sheets.  I'm going to hope this was a flaw in selection, not a sign of his actual thematic influences.  Asylum Chic is not for me.
Gunnar, I'm afraid, might take himself too seriously--or at least, his pictures have a melodramatic bent.  The clothes are cute--the set with the tan coat and blue blouse with jabot (the binoculars shot) is really quite dreamy.  The settings and more importantly lighting, though...too much, too dark.  It's like there is too much Autotune.  Gunnar is self-taught, according to his info, so some prods from the judges might help.
Kooan has some color, which is a point in his favor, and there is also some unisex modeling happening, which is intriguing.  The aesthetic put forward, though, is not something I can love at this point.  I am filing him under "Whole Lotta Look" until further notice.
Lantie's dresses show promise--mixtures of textiles and patterns, but not in ways that make my eyes cross.  The one with the fishnet sleeves is a total winner.  She lists Star Trek as a design influence, which makes me smile.  She's not a favorite at this point, but I will pull for her for a while anyway.  There is some good potential.
Melissa's accessories are more interesting to me than the clothes in her portfolio.  She has a few different arm bands that I like, especially the one with the ID bracelet.  The clothes seem kind of bleak.
Nathan's a draper.  I quite like that first little dress, with the twists and the flower.  I feel like he could do a lot with thin, stretchy jersey.  In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that Nathan went to BGSU, where I work, so while my design favorites are going to be unaffected, I will likely also root for him because we share a school.
Raul's pieces seem to be all over the place.  The men's pieces look like they belong together, but the women's decidedly do not.  Evidently he is self taught, so that is likely why things are hit or miss.  The menswear at least looks interesting; some of the womenswear not so much.
Sonjia seems to enjoy patterns and mixing them.  The shapes of some of her gaments appeal, but I don't feel drawn to any of her work in the portfolio.  She may surprise me, but right now it's a non-start for me.
Ven likes red.  Even so, I really like the white dress he put in his portfolio, with the off-center seam.  It's clean and svelte, and shows restraint without losing design--something PR often lacks.  I'm interestsed to see what he can produce with PR's nutty time restrictions.

So, there it is.  It's a little scary for me to pick favorites right now, since we haven't been introduced to the personalities.  But there are clearly people who intrigue me and others that leave me shaking my head.

Tonight's the night!  Ladies and Gentlemen, get our your racecards!

Friday, April 20, 2012

PR: All-Star Finals

I know...behind, right?  I am only just now getting a chance to look through the last shows.

My thoughts on the penultimate show results:
Austin--The color of Austin's piece is lovely.  The fabric, though, is going to be incredibly wrinkly.  For a full swing coat, you don't want something that is going to be crushed, do you?  I like an interesting collar, but my eyes just kept going back to the fabric.
Michael--He always seems to pull out a kimono sleeve, low-back maxi.  I'm bored with that.  It's not at all interesting or new.  His "new thing" was print.  These judges were all over this look, but I was irritated that it was the same old/same old, and too long to boot.
Mondo--Mondo's look was fun, I suppose.  It was a little too sacklike for me.  You can tell it's a Mondo, which I appreciate, and it is interesting.  You can tell it's an original. 
Kenley--I liked the sleeve on Kenley's dress, and it's nice and simple.  She's right that many women can wear the dress.  The neckline was a little too modest, though.  Not frumpy, but modest.  I agreed with the judges about the missing keyhole.  It needed something to lift it a bit.

I would have sent Michael home.  I would rather see a full collection from Kenley than from Michael, and that kind of made my decision for me.  However, I did not get my way.

My thoughts on the finals:
Five looks in four days?  And then the sixth look?  Why?  What's the point?  They will get frantic and overwhelmed no matter what.  It's kind of like horror movies.  I prefer suspense films to gore.  This finale challenge is gore.  Not enough subtlety to it.  It's really too bad.  I wish they'd used their all-stars in a more starlike way.
Below, my thoughts, with the rating from the mylifetime website (out of 5) reported in parentheses.

Pink jodhpur jumpsuit and black spangled jacket.  I do like the jacket a lot.  I'd totally wear that.  I like the fabric of the jumpsuit, but jiminy.  Those pants are nuts. (2.17)
Black lace dress.  Loved this, crazy side floof and all.  I'd wear that at a party. (3.71)
Pink top and black skirt.  The little tulle bunch idea was cute, and I thought the idea of the top was a good one, but the set didn't look well made, which is unusual for Austin.  The skirt sort of looked cheap on the runway.  (2.78)
Pink floral gown.  This is pretty Austinish.  I quite like the draping of the top, but the big floof in the middle over the mermaid was not a good idea.  I would have loved to see the floof become longer and just be the skirt.  Like, aid eighteen inches to that, keeping the angle, and cut the rest off.  That would be awesome. (2.44)
Black shiny jumpsuit.  No.  Just no.  Except for the jabot.  (2.84)
Wedding dress. What can you say?  The man is a wedding dress designer.  It's too floofy for me, but I like the magnolia petaling and I like the slight hint of dark he gave it. (4.55)
Thoughts:  I really love the lace dress and really hate the jumpsuit.  They are at literal opposites of my spectrum of love vs. loathing.  The story Austin concocted...well, I'm still thinking about it, but mainly in a wincing way. 

Snake print jumpsuit.  If there is going to be a jumpsuit, it really needs to be fluid, and this one is.  But still.  It's a jumpsuit.  (3)
Black and white zebra dress.  No.  No no no.  Too much hoochie.  (3.55).
Black and gray zebra dress.   It's a decent dress, but I am really not into this aesthetic. I know people who are, and I do prefer this to the above, but it doesn't look interesting.  (3.23)
Romper.  Or is it shirt and shorts?  I can't tell.  This reminds me of things that starlets wear when they want attention but end up looking like they tried too hard to look like they didn't try.  In fact, I often feel that's Michael's actual aesthetic. (3.44)
Zebra long pants and top.  I actually kind of like this.  I like the way it clings and moves at the same time.  I thought it was a dress, but it's separates.  (3.62)
White dress.  Again, Michael puts together a perfectly valid drapey dress.  This is usually the kind of thing I love.  Why do I not love it?  (3.5)
Thoughts:  Not enough range here.  It does have a resort feel, which is what he wanted, but it does not have any energy or excitement. Altogether too languid.  Even the Serengetti has color sometimes. Like when the lions dig into the zebra.  That's the adventure I wanted.

Polka dot blouse, skirt.  Love the skirt, love the blouse, love the ink blot bag.  This is like what happens when you take Mondo and make him into things I would wear.  I would not wear my hair like a big poof with the pieces, and I may not wear them together, but I do like the pieces. (3.78)
Black and white dots dress.  I wasn't into this.  The rounded shoulder that stopped shy of the shoulder, and the scale of the neckline and buttons just were not working for me. (3.37)
Wavy blouse and leggings.  Wasn't into this either.  It went a little too far into the therapy theme, looking like an institution smock. (3.44)
Checkered pants, jacket, T-shirt.  Okay.  I'm not into the different covered sleeves, but I love the ink blot top, I love the pants, and the jacket is cute, in the front.  Not so into the back.  The outfit was kind of wacky in the right way.  I was into it.  (3.53)
Ink blot dress.  Here, I was kind of into the red sleeve, because it wasn't too much.  It was just one jarring element in an otherwise straightforward dress, and eye-catching for fun.  I actually kind of want this dress, even though it's not the sort of thing I ever have call to wear.  (4.32)
Colored dress.  I heard Mondo say shock therapy right when I was looking at this dress online, and it made total sense.  It did say shock therapy.  The shiny dots!  I love it.  This is the type of thing I would wear even if I didn't really have call to do so, like if I were going to the theater and wanted to be eyecatching.  I loved the styling, too, right down to the disco ball bag and shoes.  Some of the judges felt this look didn't fit in, and I couldn't disagree more.  (4.19)
Thoughts: Like a poet, Mondo worked his angst into his work.  It didn't feel tortured (it could have gone a little more in that direction), but it did have a bit of a sting to it.  It was fun without being ridiculous.

Final thoughts:  I'm glad Mondo won.  His collection was the strongest and had the most engaging concept.  I haven't always been a Mondo fan, but it seemed obvious that he has tempered his ideas with maturity without losing his vivacity.  I wish he didn't have meltdowns and self-esteem collapses quite so much, but I hope the opportunities headed his way will help him find ways to deal with those that improve on his work.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Lazy-Busy Girl Tip #3

Picking Monday clothes for work can sometimes be a pain. You're in a rush, you don't really feel like going to the office anyway, and nothing looks right. Save yourself some time and effort by wearing your church clothes from the day before to work.

When you get home from church (or Temple, or Mosque, or whatever) on Sunday (or Friday, or Saturday, or whenever), immediately strip off your clothes and lay them gently on a chair or put them on a hanger. You could even run them through a freshening cycle in the dryer, but I never do. I'm too lazy-busy! Then, for the work day, pull them right back on. You could mix it up a little with a different sweater or accessory, or a different pair of shoes.

This works best, of course, if you don't work with people who attend your church.

(What I wore to church for Easter is pictured, but with a different sweater and a belt added. The skirt and belt are from H & M, the cardi is from NY & Co, the gold shell is from parts nonremembered. Heels from Candie's and bracelet from Black Swamp Arts Fest.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Lazy-Busy Girl's Tip #1 and 2

#1 No time to take off that old, possibly scraggly polish? Brush an irridescent, quick-drying, translucent shade over top. You just invented a new nail polish color and/or effect!

#2 Wearing clothes that don't match your nail polish but don't have time to change or remove it? Select an accessory that matches both.

Pictured: Green sparkly nail polish under milky-pink shade, burgundy pants from Forever 21, and a gold bracelet with purple, turquoise, and opal stones, provenance unknown.

Testament: I had a student compliment my nail polish shade.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Rond, by Cloud

At right: Isabelline, Queen line. Ivory cotton, feathers and lace, smoke quartz pendant.

I am pleased to announce that I am now making and selling custom garters. My garters will soon be available with Emily West Lowry Designs; Emily designs magnificent feathered hair accessories, shoe clips, and jewelry, and creates custom bridal pieces, including birdcage veils.
Rond has several lines of garters: Empress, Queen, Duchess, Marquise, and Dame. At present, each garter is a wholly unique creation, but I am also able to craft sets if desired. Some garters are for very special occasions, but some are suitable for everyday wear. Some garters are the now-traditional elastic, but some come in pairs and tie with long ribbons.
Below are some of my current pieces, with their names and lines.

At left top: The Childlike Empress, Queen line. White satin, with pearl strands and a pearl and gold button.
At left middle: Petticoat Government, Duchess line. Blue pinstripe suiting with lace and white ribbons.
At left bottom: Ariadne, Duchess line. White cotton, pleated ribbon, blue tie ribbons, and Grecian beads.

At right top: Pavlova, Duchess line. Pink dupioni silk, with pink satin ribbon ties.
At right middle: Moon Child, Queen line. White, sparkly cotton, rhinestone moon, dotted with tiny rhinestones.
At right bottom: Bride-Lace, Duchess line. Ivory cotton with satin ribbon band. Lace square, feather, and vintage button embellishment.

At left top: Lady Maud, Marquise line. Paisley cotton, beaded and feathered embellishment.
At left middle: Morning Train to Brighton, Queen line. Paisley cottom, feathered and shell bead embellishment.

At right: Ten-Hut!, Duchess line. Green cotton and Gold lining, decorative stitching, and beaded badge embellishment.

At left top: Rajni. Burdundy satin, rhinestone starburst.
At left middle: Mrs. Wallce, Marquise line. Tartan with red ribbon band, leaves and gem embellishment.
At left bottom: Parvati, Queen line. Raspberry brocade, spray of raspberry feathers, gold coin pendant.

At right top: The Merry Shepherdess, Duchess line. Tapestry toile with cotton lining, grosgrain ribbon ties.
At right middle: Assignations in Vauxhall Gardens, Marquise line. Tapestry toile with cotton lining, locket brooch embellishment.
At right bottom: Wren, Marquise line. Grey satin, feathers and rhinestone button embellishment.