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!