Apr 19, 2013

Project Runway — What Did We Learn This Week? Episode 13, Season 11

If you don't much feel like partaking in pop culture today, I understand. I feel pretty distracted by what's going on in Boston too. It's harrowing, and I hope it ends soon without any more deaths so the people there can get back to living without fear (if that's even possible now; cowardly sociopaths seem to be all too common these days in America). Come back and read this another day if you need some time to enjoy jokes again.  —Suzanne

Let me just say how sad I am that this season of Project Runway, and thus these recaps, are nearly done. I actually thought this week's episode would be the finale (it was two hours long after all!), so I am happy to have one more occasion on which to hash out who's deserving of the title "America's next big fashion designer" or whatever the false promises are that Heidi makes.

After the field was narrowed to four designers (and, apparently, Layana drowned her sorrows in babymaking!), they were each given $10,000 to create a 12-look Fall collection. It's at that point they all go home to their respective cities to spend four months sketching, sewing, and planning an appropriate gathering with Tim Gunn. (This is also the point when the designers changes their hairstyles, I'm guessing because the show has begin airing and they've now seen themselves on TV. I loved Amanda's new fringe, but Stanley looked like a shorn sheep. Don't even get me started on Daniel's afro...).

I was really hoping that Tim Gunn's trip to see Michelle would be like a Portlandia sketch. (It wouldn't be much of a stretch for Carrie Brownstein to play Michelle, after all, and wouldn't Fred Armison be hysterical as Tim Gunn?). Then Michelle appeared wearing a version of the "fettucine bib" that got her slammed early on in this season, and talked about her inspiration being a woman/wolf/hunter. Woefully, her collection appeared to be quite normal, save a few steampunk details. She did not, it seems, "put a bird on it."

Meanwhile in Taos Pueblo, New Mexico, Tim was truly touched by his time with Patricia at her childhood home. Though he had the unfortunate job of telling Patricia that her work thus far looks "literal" and like “student work” — the worst possible diss in Project Runway terminology! — he seemed to be on the verge of some raw emotion:  “You’ve given me an epiphany about you,” he said. I think I saw a lip quiver. (Seriously, how much would you love to host Tim Gunn? He is the most gracious guest of all time).

Stanley, of course, barely cracks a smile when Tim comes to his West Hollywood home for lunch, while Daniel (the antithesis of Stanley in almost every way) is practically beside himself with excitement. Looking at Daniel's collection, Tim Gunn invokes his monkeyhouse analogy with regards to one coat: when you first go in the monkeyhouse, he says, it stinks to high heaven. But after 40 minutes, you don't even notice the stench. What does that mean? That Daniel's coat is a shitty mess? That's what I got.

Lesson 1: Teamwork!! 

It seemed Michelle actually learned something from the experience of working with others throughout this season of Project Runway, because one of the most successful garments in her three-piece mini-collection was a wolf-print sweater (seriously, how Portlandia is a wolf-print sweater?) that she collaborated on with Joe, the quirky cat sweater guy, who was eliminated many full moons ago! Was she inspired by amazon.com's Mountain Three Wolf Moon Short Sleeve Tee? (If you have never read the reviews for this shirt, please do. It's a short fiction genre unto itself). No matter, I love the ombre effect on Michelle's sweater, and the half-sleeve, and the fact that the wolves are so subtle. Yay for teamwork! 

I thought the other two looks in her preview mini-collection were cohesive, and featured numerous interesting pieces. The judges mostly ragged on her hair and makeup choices, which was a good sign they found little to fault in the clothing. Except for Nina, who hated the compass on this look:

They also had some quibbles with the number of add-ons buckled to this jacket below: a messenger bag and two "saddlebags" (I would have called them panniers!). But it's easier to edit than it is to come up with new ideas, so Michelle is in a good place to win this thing (argue with me in the comments section if you disagree!): 

Lesson 2: Don't blame the body! 

How much time do we spend blaming our own bodies for the fact that ready-to-wear clothes don't fit or flatter our figures? (I know it's the reason many of us started sewing in the first place). But in many cases, it's not our fault: it's the designer, who creates proportions that can either slim or widen us. And sad, staid Stanley should have known better than to blame his model, whose body he claimed was not right for this silhouette:

It's a lovely bodice (which, I should note, he has made before!), but the pleating and the length of the skirt make her look bottom-heavy (and she's a model for goodness' sake, so she clearly is not!). Who then would this possibly look good on? The judges called him out on it: Zak Posen said it should be at least a foot to a foot-and-a-half shorter. 

Before I saw his mini-collection in full, I was actually thinking Stanley might be the ultimate winner, mostly because there were a few interview clips in which he actually smiled:

But the other looks in his collection looked like the sort of expensive, buttoned-up, boring clothing you can always buy at Bergdorf's or Lord & Taylor or whatever:

I would love to know more about Stanley. What has him so repressed that he feels it's his job to cover up all of womankind in turtleneck shirts and calf-length skirts?

Lesson 3: Less is not more. More is more. And it's always better to have more than less.

Last night, Patricia had a lot more than Daniel:
Patricia's mini-collection 

More color. More visual interest. More cray-zay:
Daniel's mini-collection
On Daniel: Heidi was underwhelmed; Nina said his collection lacked shape; Zack said he’s seen it all before (not only from Daniel, but from others too). Daniel tried to sell the fact that he used stingray in all three pieces. Zak conceded it's not easy to work with, but that wasn't enough to save Daniel Dali from elimination.

Patricia's criticism was much more colorful, of course: "Tina Turner Smurf.” Dr. Seuss. Nina was unimpressed, but Heidi (a producer of the show as one commenter pointed out) said she would rather see Patricia's runway show than "one of the snooze boys,” referring, of course, to Daniel and Stanley. Zing! 

So who are you rooting for after last night's preview of their final collections? Is Stanley smiling for a reason? Do you think Patricia will ever learn that a single "out there" element is enough for one outfit? 


  1. I was laughing behind my computer reading this!
    I just watched the episode and find it still superprising how some designers make really boring stuff, once they no longer have a brief to follow. Maybe it's because they are no longer pushed by weird directions ("make a dress out of toilet paper without glue!") Weird!

    1. I will never understand why someone so sunny as Daniel would choose to make an all-black collection. I think he makes his decisions based on his idea of "what do they want?" which is a terrible way to be creative

  2. Excellent write-up. I thought the line of the night was Tim's comment on Daniel's hair was that he looked like a chia pet!

    1. He did look like a chia pet! Or a crazy person.

  3. Okay first of all, love Portlandia myself if only because I sometimes catch myself practically being those sketches. Also I love Michelle, I was so glad to see her collection turning out well, but to be honest I agree with whoever called her a little Steam Punk esque. The silhouette of the skirt wan't for me personally, a little too much like a bustle, but I understand what she was going for.

    I dislike Nina's attitude toward Patricia, I think she is the most commercial of the 3 judges, and looks less for the art of design and more for what she can sell. As much as I recognize fashion is a merging of art and business, I think Project Runway is so uniquely positioned to help catalyze the careers of real artist with real craftsmanship.

    I AM SO EXCITED FOR MICHAEL KORS NEXT EPISODE. Don't get me wrong, I really like Zac Posen, and I think he offers great in sites, but he doesn't have the same chemistry with Nina and Heidi as Michael Kors did

    1. PS LOVE your reviews too!!! Such a funny/fun midday pick me up!

    2. I LOVE Michael Kors. I cannot wait either!

  4. I don't think that Tim said that Patricia's work was too literal or like student work. He said that about one garment that she had in mind and described to him but had not yet made. Everything else that he saw he seemed to love. Just wanted to point that out. I really like Patricia's textile work and the way she works the Native American references into the garments without getting too costume-y. But I don't think she's necessarily the best when it comes to garment design, especially when you look at shapes and proportions. I got really upset with Nina last night, since she has a disdain for Patricia's work that is palpable and can't wait to call it 'arts and crafts'. The cattiness of the Dr. Seuss comment was unwarranted. Just because Marie-Claire magazine wouldn't want to feature it doesn't mean it's not fashion. It's not as if Marie-Claire is the arbiter of fashion to begin with. Kudos to Zac for stepping up and giving an excellent critique of Patricia's work that was far more valuable than pretty much anything Nina had to say.

    I like Michelle's pieces because I could see them on a variety of people - even myself, if I could afford them. I loved the coat and the bags - mostly because as a mom of 3 (+ 1 on the way) I hate lugging around bags that slide off my shoulders or occupy my hands when I need to be holding onto a child. Having the little panniers at the waist makes things more accessible, imho. And the fact that these can be removed is just that much better. I think having the hardware gives the coat that edge of toughness that is attractive to many women who don't want a full-on biker or punk look.

    What I don't get is Daniel - why did he decide to show all black, especially after he showed the red pants to Tim during the visit? They would have made a much bigger impression, especially if he'd made the tuxedo stripe down the sides as Tim suggested. Hopefully they'll show his decoy collection online so people can see the whole thing. Not that I think he should have stayed - he clearly didn't bring his A game to show the judges - but because I want to see if he stayed with the vision he showed Tim.

    1. Couldn't have said it better Jen! That is what Tim said to Patricia, and I totally agree about Nina. She just couldn't wait to be super mean. Yay Zac! He has such good taste, that I would not even listen to Nina and focus on what he said. While Patricia may not win this, it will still be fun to see what else she has.
      No comment on Michelle, other than it looks a bit too Steam Punk to me. Right as Zac was saying it looked Steam Punk, I had just said it to my daughter two seconds before he did!!
      It seems like it is anyones game....

    2. Zac is not my fave judge ever, but I like that he defends the designers against Nina and Heidi, saying (and this is a rough paraphrase) that "just because that is not the choice you would have made does not make it wrong." He's so much more open to crazy ideas. I think it's because he is an actual designer, and not a model/producer or fashion editor. He has a respect for the artistry and is not just looking at "would I wear that"?

  5. steampunk is totally in and hitting the mainstream in a big way.
    Stanley and Daniel's showings were a snoozefest. I thought Stanley had more of an edge...guess that was only when working with other people.
    I am a modest dresser, but Stanley's clothes we too covered for a show.
    As for Patricia, i may not like her style, but a show is supposed to capture your interest and make a statement...then you make commercial versions, right?
    I does look like Michelle is the front runner, but you just never know with the judges...remember Gretchen? oy!

    1. I think Stanley could take the same pieces and turn out something they would love: pair the turtleneck with a mini, and something strapless with the calf-length skirt. You don't need to go hootchie...he just needs to balance it out a bit. Sexy on top, Stanley on the bottom, and vice versa.

  6. pretty sure michelle had the most well thought out collection though i'm not sure i'm sold on the 90's grunge meets steampunk look. if she injects some modern bold colors (instead of that drab olive) i think i would be way more in love.

    it was patricia's time to go home. she has talent and a lot of interesting stuff, but her mini collection was so unrelated to itself i was sure she'd finally get the ax. i kinda liked the blue dress (minus the odd hair tuft hat). if she went in that direction (cohesively) it would at least be fun and interesting!

    stanley definitely deserved the slap on the wrist though for such old granny garments. he may be the sort of person who only gets creative when forced to.

    and daniel? zzzzzzz.... chia hair or not, his mini was so forgettable.

  7. I really liked that jacket with the clip on bags, I really like the concept, but i agree she probably shouldn't have sent it down the runway with all three bags on it! I'm hoping that Michelle wins, as I found her preview collection the best by far. Can't wait to see the final!

  8. I loved all four collections better when they were showing them to Tim than when they went down the runway. I have been a Michelle fan the whole time, but EDIT for goodness sake. Her collection looks like it was made for Catniss and no one else. That said, remove 50% of each outfit and they are wearable and adorable. She is using color (if you can call white moto-cross leggings color) but then hiding it under three more layers or black and brown.

    It's funny that in the interviews Michelle keeps talking about how unfinished Stanley's garments are, but he somehow has no problem getting looks onto the runway. What is she doing with all the time that he is using to construct garments from uncut patterns? Also Stanley's comment of "who dresses sexy in the fall" shows that he is 100% a commercial designer. I mean, come on stanley, the show will be inside a heated tent, you can show some skin and still use fall colors.

    The visit to Patricia's home was really amazing. I was so-so-so hoping that with an extra month to work on each garment she would actually have some shape and good construction to her garments, and I was so glad this was the case. Yes, she still presented a cape, but it was the most flattering that a cape can be. I loved the length and thought the horse hair really showed movement, and unlike Nina I don't care if anyone would actually want to purchase it (though I'm sure Heidi said she would). I'm really glad Heidi pulled her through the mucky muck past 10 or so episodes so that we can see what she can actually do with time and unhindered by Richard's partnership.

    1. I thought that was hilarious when Stanley said " who dresses sexy in the fall." Doesn't he lI've in LA, where women dress sexy 12 months a year? And for those ofus in cold climes....we don't keep our parkas on ALL the time!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...