Y’know, I’m kind of relieved Project Runway is over for this season. I’m not sure how many more Lea Michelle L’Oreal commercials I can handle. (Also, I feel unfairly targeted by those ads for Riders by Lee Jeans. Sure, I could benefit from a tummy control panel, but I don’t want to be reminded of it while I’m enjoying my stories!).
Going into this week's big finale episode, I had a lot of questions: Would Michelle jettison her silly compass that everyone hates? Can Patricia get it together and send a cohesive collection down the runway? Would Stanley actually crack a smile if he won?
And would anyone be upstaged by Mondo's Shriner hat?
Lesson 1: Procrastination leads to puckered hems.
Years ago in university, I came up with my own favorite maxim: If you leave it until the last minute, it only takes a minute. I often treat my own work this way, telling myself I work best when the pressure is on. That means I often wake up early to write articles the very day they are due. (As a parent I’ve become even more accepting of procrastination. For example, you can start potty training your kid at age 2 and be done with it by the time she’s 3, many exhausting months later, or you can start when she’s 3 and be done in a day).
But when it comes to sewing, I never leave things until the last minute. After all, you might try on the skirt you just hemmed and discover that it's uneven or that the technique you used was the wrong one for that particular type of fabric.
I don't think Stanley's procrastination did him in, but it certainly didn't help. Throughout the finale we heard countless times how much work he still had left, and indeed the day of the runway show he had sewers setting in sleeves backstage! The dude had more than four months to sew his 12 looks, and somehow he still needed a team of stitchers to get him runway-ready in less than two hours. Tim Gunn was seriously distressed.
|I need to set in your sleeves? You're kidding right?!|
|Nope. He wasn't kidding!|
I don't actually think his show suffered all that much for his harried, last-minute hemming and such. Nearly all of the clothes looked reasonably well-finished and expensive. But they definitely didn't hold up to the high standard set by Michelle. See the dress below, which was barely assembled just an hour before the runway show:
The shoulder seams are off, the hem is uneven, and it could stand to be better pressed. But it still wasn't the worst look in my estimation:
Lesson 2: When in doubt, DIY!
Continuing my anti-Stanley tirade, I thought it should be noted that he paid (in his words) "two little Russian ladies" to do $800 worth of beading and embroidery for him:
Patricia, meanwhile, pounded out hundreds of sequins from mica (the mineral is traditionally used by her people to make pottery), and created numerous textiles for her collection.
And though Stanley's pieces were arguably more sophisticated than Patricia's, the judges appreciated her handiwork. They felt that just because Stanley had the budget to farm out the most painstaking details, he shouldn't have. Patricia's love for her craft shows, even if some of her garments looked like something you would see in the hippie store at the mall (Amanda's words, but I agree!).
Lesson 3: Sometimes the fabric shouldn't come first.
For those of us who sew, the question is often "what comes first: the fabric or the design?" I find that sometimes I'm inspired by a print or textile I just really want to use, and sometimes I begin with a pattern, trend, or overall look that I'm trying to create (and then search for the right fabric to achieve that end). And, in my experience, the most successful projects are not those that come from choosing a fabric first — and then trying to find some good way to use it. In those cases, I sometimes end up using the fabric in a less-than-ideal way.
To that end, I think Patricia's allegiance to the fabric first is her downfall, and the reason why guest judge Michael Kors said her collection looked like "an art teacher on an acid trip."
Each of those prints she created is lovely. But it's what she did with them that looks like a dog's breakfast. (That said, I would love to see a collection in which Patricia contributes the textiles and another designer creates garments from them. I bet it would be amazing).
Lesson 4: Quilting and sweaters? Sounds frumpy. Except, of course, in the hands of Michelle — who totally deserved to win! Witness her cool printed sweaters and quilted pants and jackets. I love the colors she used, the layering, the pleating in the skirts, the studs on the burgundy dress and yellow top, and the consistent use of the shoulder patch detail. I'm super inspired by Michelle's tendency to mix textiles:
|Not my faves, but still a lot to like.|
(My apologies for the fact I distorted some of the pics above when laying them out; I'm trying to finish this post so I can go with my family to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden for the day. It's Cherry Blossom time in NYC and miraculously my seasonal allergies are under control this year, so I can actually enjoy it!).
What did you think of the designers' respective collections? Will you be watching next week’s Project Runway Reunion Special? From the previews, it looks NASTY!