Mar 22, 2013

Project Runway — What Did We Learn This Week? Season 11, Episode 9


First, can we share a sigh of relief that this week's challenge was an actual fashion challenge? I for one was thrilled for the poor designers, who were clearly rattled by their brush with the male burlesque troupe Thunder From Down Under (FYI: if you're feeling a thunder down under, don't delay seeing your doctor. I hear it spreads faster than an overturned box of pins!).

The challenge this week was to create ready-to-wear looks for Lord & Taylor's Spring 2013 line, inspired by the luxury department store's signature rose emblem. The winning designer had their look reproduced and it's now on sale at Lord & Taylor (An idea they no doubt stole from Fashion Star! Michelle's dress is $259, but it has already sold out, of course).


It was clear from the title of Episode 9, "He Said, She Said," that this one was going to be all about team relations. And indeed, watching it I was struck by how each of the guy-girl pairings was dysfunctional in its own way. In fact, I was so distracted by the histrionics of certain male contestants that I nearly forgot to pay attention to their usual sewing/design-related foibles!

Before we get to the looks and what we can learn, let's conduct a little couples therapy — and think about who we would least like to be in a relationship with based on their conduct in this particular challenge.

Patricia & Stanley — Patricia felt bullied by Stanley's hands-on approach to this team challenge. In her eyes, he was being controlling. But Stanley hasn't lost a team challenge yet, and he wasn't about to start. So rather than taking the passive-aggressive route (like most other designers have in the past with Patricia), he actually forced her to communicate with him, by doing what I always do: calling his partner defensive and then inviting her to answer back to his criticism.

It never works for me. But it seemed to do the trick for them; Stanley smartly reminded Patricia they were on the same team, and that he's looking out for her. Oh, and he reminded her that whatever garment they send down the runway will be judged for its ability to be mass-produced (and sold for under $250). So Patricia avoided undertaking one of her intricate (and time-consuming, so therefore expensive) fabrications and made something simpler for once:



It's not great, but it was enough to keep her around for another week. And as for who would make a better partner out of this pair, I think Stanley is the clear winner. Nothing would fester unsaid with this guy! 

Richard and Layana —  Richard just couldn't let go of his ill feelings toward Layana after she criticized him during judging last week (even though he was the first one to turn on a teammate, let's not forget!). And rather than have it out with her and move on like Stanley might, Richard gave Layana the silent treatment for the duration of this one-day challenge. But the silent treatment only serves to amuse when its target cares little for your opinion. (And later when the judges started laying into Richard for his boring maxi dress, you could just picture him adding all their names to his do-not-speak-to list — written in lipstick on his vanity mirror.) Point for Layana.




Daniel and Michelle — You've got to love Daniel and Michelle for their shared ability to absorb criticism like it's a compliment. When Tim says Daniel's original garment, a cropped jacket, looks like something Joan Collins would wear, he retaliates with a sunny "Who doesn't love Joan Collins!?" (Shades of Michelle, who earlier in this season delighted in a critique that said her country/rock look was hair metallish!)

But when Daniel decided to unpick his cropped jacket, he really started to unravel, which was apparent in the way he shoveled blame pre-emptively on his teammate, saying things like "You can't bring me down, Michelle!"

All that time spent projecting his fears onto Michelle would have been better spent pressing this dress, which I think looks like the new stewardess uniform for Air Barbie:


Michelle neither accepted Daniel's crazytown accusations, nor let them affect her ability to tackle this challenge. Which makes her the winner in more ways than one, and brings us to:

Lesson 1: Mixing fabrics looks luxe, when it's done right.


Michelle's winning look was created from several fabrics: chartreuse silk crepe de chine, sheer chiffon, and leather. It takes skill to sew together two fabrics of different weight and drape — and not have it be puckered or pull at the seams. This lesson is a mental note to experiment a little with layering and adding design elements in another fabric.

Lesson 2: A bad print makes a good design moot:


The judges were divided on Layana's Spring dress except when it came to the print — which they unanimously hated. I think the back is divine, and a second trip to Mood would probably make it a masterpiece. (Perhaps if her teammates had been speaking to her, someone would have suggested this looks a little Mrs.-Roper-muumuu for a full length dress.).

 Lesson 3: Coco Chanel is credited with saying that before you go out the door, you should take one thing off (presumably an extraneous accessory and not your pants!). And when it comes to design, taking one thing off would have helped Samantha salvage what could have been a cute little dress for Lord & Taylor's younger customer:


Color blocking, three-tier ruffled skirt with asymmetrical hemline, AND a heart cutout? I think Samantha could be right, and that a young customer would opt for this design. But this busy look did not pass muster with the judges, who don't really care about what it is that girls like. (It's all about what THEY think girls should want to look like!).

So what did I miss? Who's your current pick for final three?

20 comments:

  1. I'm going to guess Layana, Michelle, and Stanley, but I'm never ever right. Michelle's dress had me thinking of how to mix fabrics, too. I loved it. It had me wishing, as I often do, that they'd show more of the design process and technique and less drama.

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    1. I agree! (I could probably google it and see who it was in the Fashion Week Project Runway show, but I'm resisting!)

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  2. michelle's dress is so pretty! the lesson i learn (from your recap, i'll maybe see season 11 next year on swedish tv) mixing fabric is good! i'm always afraid do to it. such an inspiring dress, especially thinking about colette patterns new pattern!

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    1. Ooooh, good choice with the colette pattern!

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  3. I had the show on, but was too distracted to watch. Will have to sit down and rewatch it. However, I did get a glimpse of Michelle's and Patricia's going down the runway, both of which I love. Ahhh, and I saw Daniel ranted on and on. Poor guy, the stress must have gotten to him big time. And poor Michelle having to listen and defend herself. But she did make the winning outfit, yay!

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    1. Yeah, I like Daniel. I think everyone has their limit and we all react to stress differently. I was so surprised though that he took to blaming and accusing Michelle just because of a poor critique.

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  4. I love Michelles dress - agree it cmwoukd be great inspiration for the laurel dress challenge!! I actually liked Daniels Joan Collins blazer (a lot better then his final dress) and would wear it in a different color. I think the final three will definitely include Stanley and not include Richard. Otherwise I think it's anybody's to win...

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  5. Actually, I liked Patricia's outfit the best. Michelle's wouldn't work for me at all.

    Nice "meow" comment about the judges. Dead right.

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  6. I loved Michelle's dress. I hope she will be in the final three, and maybe Stanley and Layana or Daniel. Anyone but Richard and Patrica, both who bother me but for different reasons.

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    1. Richard and Patricia's days are numbered!

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  7. I love your project runway recap posts. I was definitely inspired by Michelle's dress - it made me want to try out some of that fabric-mixing with the new Laurel pattern!

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  8. The only one I even kind of like is Layana's dress, but I agree that the print is hideous. Fabulous silhouette though!

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  9. Things I learned:

    Patricia was saved again this week by her team. And it is obvious that teams who work together produce the best end results so everyone would benefit from checking their egos at the door.

    Grown men can act worse than ten year old girls. Really Richard? The silent treatment? You are supposed to be a professional.

    I really enjoyed Samantha and her style and was sad to see her go. However her dress totally looked like a bad figure skating costume. Also, did you see how she was sitting at the runway show? Front row and in a dress... national TV....I am not Proper Patti, but maybe Layana could've helped her out.

    I am torn between Michelle, Layana, Stanley, and Daniel for the top. Is it Thursday yet?

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    1. Oh my, I need to rewatch the end, I think. My four-year-old loved her tattered red and white striped dress she was wearing — AND the heart dress. So maybe Samantha skews really young!

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  10. I loved Michelle's dress, and not just because chartreuse and grey are my two favorite colors to wear. But it's sort of hard for me to pick the final three. Stanley is super talented, and I'm pretty sure he'll hang around for a while, but he really seems like a costumer to me and not a designer. I think he does an amazing job of listening to clients and making good decisions based on their needs (and the requirements of the challenge), but it's always hard for me to remember his designs and I'm not sure there's a coherent design aesthetic to his work. The rest of the group have been pretty inconsistent, in my opinion. It's funny-- other seasons have had such clear frontrunners, and this one, not so much.

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  11. Michelle's dress is gorgeous, the heart dress looks like something from Target

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  12. I only found your blog a couple of weeks ago, love the Project Runway commentary!

    No arguments from me on your comments - the only thing I would add is that I would really prefer to NOT see so many nipples poking through! Just sayin...... ;)

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  13. Daniel and Richard's behavior was more 15y.o. girl than grown man. I keep having ro remind myself that I should have some sympathy for these people who have worked until 11pm every night for days and then go home each night with strangers, but still they need to keep a little of that emotion bottled up. Also, Daniel's melt-down wasn't even logical. Whether she said "young" or "21" makes no difference - end of day he's designing a 1950's barbie airliner hostess costume. I don't think turning it into a dress made any difference. It's the same elements he's been showing us all season, and they look more dated each time. I was really scared they would hate his look so bad Michelle would end up in the bottom unfairly again.

    You didn't mention the rain vest! So glad she listened to Tim on that one. I mean sure, it rains in the spring, but a black vinyl vest with Star Trek detailing is not going to help any situation!

    Re: Sam. I mean, the sketch was gorgeous, the color-blocking and palette were perfect, it looked like a winner during construction, and then WTF happened? The construction was so poor! I agree with you on the Chanel advice, there was too much going on and some constructive criticism from her teammates may have salvaged the look.

    What else. Oh. Sam vs. Richard. I cannot believe Richard has presented three meh color-block with black dresses and the judges keep wanting to see more. Sure, people buy jersey dresses. But I got the idea after the first one.

    I would have liked to see a Benjamin-Layana-Stanley final three, but I'll accept a Stanley-Michelle-Layana. Patricia's success boggles my mind.

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    1. Yes, that rain vest doesn't make any sense! I grew up on Vancouver Island where it rains a lot (like Portland, where Michelle is from) and I don't understand why anyeone would want to get their arms wet! No sense whatsoever. So happy she got rid of it.

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