Jul 25, 2014

What Did We Learn From Project Runway This Week? Season 13, Episode 1

We’ve endured two successive seasons of lesser-than Project Runway iterations (Under the Gunn and All-Stars, which undermines the very premise of the show — that the winner of Project Runway will go on to be the next big American designer by bringing back previous winners who have gone on to do....um, nothing special enough enough that they don’t still need more prize money to pay the rent?).

But now Project Runway — the real one — is finally back (albeit without our favorite simile-spewing arbiter of all things mother-of-the-bride, Michael Kors). 

So we sewers can spend the next 13 weeks dissecting fabric choice, drape, style and technique for both inspiration — and some schadenfreude. In the promo, Tim Gunn is shown calling this the “Season of the Vagina.” I can hardly wait to see what that even means. Let’s get started.

Lesson # 1: We like short shorts — unless they look like a diaper...or match your top

With so many designers from Brooklyn, it’s not surprising that short shorts featured prominently in this first round on Project Runway. What is shocking is that the two designers who based ensembles around this popular look were in the bottom (sorry, pun totally intended). 

I know the heat of summer has many of you sewing shorts right now. And I'm aware that the trend is toward cervix-baring hem lengths. In fact, yesterday I saw two young women in short shorts taking selfies on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When they walked past us, my six-year-old looked up and said, “Whoa.”

Whoa indeed:

"Side butt's the new side boob"
To be fair, it wasn't the length of Jefferson's lavender shorts that was the problem; it was the proportion. The crazy high waist paired with the bagginess of the leg made these shorts look like a diaper, according to Nina. (Though I've never seen a diaper that goes that high; if it existed, I probably would have bought it and a lot of infant clothes would have been spared).

Mitchell's shorts, meanwhile, fit nicely and flattered. But the judges no likey the matchy-matchy:

Mitchell actually sewed the hem of his top into the waistband of these shorts, which had me yelling at the TV: "BUT HOW DO YOU PUT THIS GET-UP ON?!" (Seriously people, what would your point of entry be? I don't have the imagination to figure that puzzle out).

So what's the takeaway? Shorts seem like an easy piece, but they're no less tricky when it comes to planning the right proportions. And pairing them with a matching top is a little Lady-Foot-Locker-circa-1984  — all you need is one of those braided headbands with the beads. Am I the only one who remembers those things? I can't find a picture online so let's just look at this photo of Mitchell and use our imaginations:

Lesson 2: Skip the muslin

Raise your hand if you still can't believe Char didn't win with this lovely look:

It's hard to believe that you could pair two voluminous pieces like this circle skirt and blousey-sleeved top and not end up with a poufy disaster. 

Judge Zac Posen credited the fact that Char skipped the muslin stage and went straight to draping with this yellow jersey. "That helps," he said, nodding with a knowing look. 

(Zac Posen has grown on me, because of all the judges on Project Runway, he is the one who speaks most often of technique. Plus, he sees shades of gray where Nina and Heidi just wonder, “Would I wear that?”)

Anyway, don't be scared to work with your actual fabric. Muslin won't behave the same anyway.

Lesson 3: Know your slits from your sluts

Poor nervous Angela. You had to know from her bumbling around the workroom that this girl was in trouble. And then these hip slits...they look like something Sandro would have designed:

Zac and guest judge Julie Bowen were not down with the "easy access" pants. Nina said they were "sluts not slits." Tim questioned whether they should come with a gift certificate for a bikini wax (zing!). Heidi, meanwhile, liked Angela's pants — which is no surprise BECAUSE SHE WAS ACTUALLY WEARING A DRESS WITH A HIP SLIT:

Heidi is no hip-ocrite
To be fair, few women would need a wax to wear these pants. The slits aren't that low. They're still pretty trashy though, which means they would probably sell like slutty hotcakes. Also, aside from the back rise issue Angela had, these pants looked very well done. Hopefully this humbling experience early on will spur her onto great work throughout the rest of the season.

Now, you may be wondering why I have yet to address this dress, by Sandhya:

The other contestants were as stumped as I was that this dress won the week's challenge. It looks like a stained bedsheet sewn into a body-con dress that just barely made it through a natural disaster. But Sandhya has a good story for everything. She knows how to sell her vision. That went a long way with the judges this week. Will she be able to hold their interest? Though I think this dress was fugly, I cannot wait to see what she makes next. I doubt she will ever send something boring down the runway.

So what did you think of the season premiere? Did you learn anything? Who's your early favorite?


  1. I was so upset for Jefferson that he got sent home - he seemed to have more of a vision than some of the others. It seemed very capricious of the judges - though I suspect they were basically trolling the designers by giving Sandhya the win. But I have to say I love her backstory - her husband seems like a great match and it's quite charming and surprising that they were an arranged marriage.

    1. Agreed! That win seemed like a troll....or at least it was edited that.

  2. I think this was a ratings/shake-up/surprise 'em/piss-them-the-fuck-off move. And if the promo (and the heavy handed editing showing everyone criticizing the dress, which was big fat hint that they would love it) is to be believed, it works. They all pick on her because everyone knows that you need that bullshit drama to make good TV.

    And we also know that they never pick on someone who will fight back - see Sandhya crying to Tim Gunn (who I hope rips some new ones on the designers who are taking part in the bullying). I'm sure poor nervous Angela will feel the sting, too. This messiness is why I have such a hard time watching PR.

    1. I think it just shows you never know what the judges will like....above all, they choose interesting (even if badly done) over boring. Tim Gunn does not tolerate bullying. Love that guy.

  3. I can't understand the Sandhya win at all, although Heidi does always like an oddball every season. If you're going to go avant-garde, it needs to look very, very finished, in my opinion, or it looks like a high school art project. But I did like some of the stuff she brought to the first audition, so maybe she'll make some cool stuff down the line.

    Re: Char, I was like "CIRCLE SKIRT AND JERSEY?!?! GIMME A BREAK!" But I had to grudgingly admit that it turned out pretty well. I really liked Amanda's look, though, even though it was simple. The proportions were so good and her construction was impeccable!

    I kid you not, I saw a girl at the Stockholm airport in shorts so small her ass cheeks were actually hanging out of them (they weren't just short, but were insanely tight, as though she'd stolen a pair of shorts from an 8 year-old and willpowered her way into them!). A crowd of five or six guys stopped and were literally elbowing each other and pointing at her. It was... awkward.

    1. Yeah, I'm also like, "OH, you added pockets? AREN'T YOU A GENIUS!" because adding in-seam pockets is the easiest thing ever so nobody deserves to be congratulated for it.

  4. I'm in Australia so don't get to see this. Please keep posting through the season! Love your recap.

  5. I was very happy the word "edgy" only appeared a dozen times in this episode because in the road-to-the-runway episode it was uttered every other syllable.

    Char's look was my favorite. I wasn't feeling the winning look, but I can see that it was original and creative. And ugh. The drama. I've said it before -- if they replaced all the brattiness with more time actually showing the design and construction process, I'd like the show even more.

  6. I'm very surprised that Mitchell stayed over Jefferson. Very. I think his pov, even if they didn't like the garment, is much more suited to what PR is than Mitchell and his teeny-bopper aesthetic.

    The win as annoyingly not shocking. I knew that they'd praise her horrific dress because everyone else hated it. So annoying.

    Karina is aggravating. Ugh. Shhhhh.

    The black jersey (jumpsuit?) was FABULOUS and both pairs of oants were ridiculously well sewn!

    1. Yeah, I would rather see more of Jefferson too. Mitchell was ...pretty annoying!

  7. I love your posts on PR!
    I'm as confused as you are with the winner. It makes me frown a lot (not good)
    However, I loved some of the 'safe' looks, so I hope that we'll get a little more screentime for those designers next round. I'd like to second Michelle on the drama part. I'd love to see more sewing and design and less drama. My mind goes wondering when the drama starts. It feels quite staged every time and it gets worse as the seasons pass...

  8. What is up with Korina? I thought she looked so friendly and warm in the promos, but they really feature her as a shit-talking mean girl. I was so disappointed to watch all those bitch sessions.

    1. Yes! Me too. She might have single handedly caused Sandhya to win just to get the shot of the look on her face!!

  9. I'm way behind, but I finally watched the first episode last night, and the first thing I did was open your blog to make sure you had done a recap hahah. I like the show, but I loves me your recaps more!

    I do have some residual liking of the winning designer based on the fact that I really liked everything I saw from her in the auditions, but I think she should have left off the sleeve ripping detail and it would have been much better. Not winner better, but better.

    I was so hoping that Mitchell was sent home but I fear that what makes extremely irritating to me has the producers (Heidi) smelling drama and so keeping him. I could have sent home at least 3 of the safe people before Jefferson. Maybe they'll bring him back somehow. You never know what nonsense they'll get up to on this show!

  10. hip-ocrite, LOL! I just sat down to catch up with these but was unable to watch this episode. so I enjoyed your recap, per usual!

  11. I don't care what the judges think. I adored the baby-blue diaper shorts and the tailored print top. I would don that outfit all summer given the chance. Sure, proportions might have looked off on the super thin model but had she had an ass ( the way God intended women to have) --it would have been stunning and you would not have been able to see her tw**.



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