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.
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 challenge...it 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, though...it 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.