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.