Sep 6, 2014

What Did We Learn From Project Runway This Week? Season 13, Episode 7

Sometimes I love Project Runway so much I would probably let it put a baby in me.

And this week’s episode, with its Met Museum Charles James exhibit visit and Tim Gunn feelings, underlined all the reasons I adore this show: fashion, craft and heart.

The challenge was to create a gala look inspired by Chopard jewels. But before the designers could even get their pencils out to sketch, Tim Gunn made a surprising announcement: he would be using the Tim Gunn Save (TM) on Char —the last eliminated designer.

Tears were shed — at least as many by Tim as by Char. (He's more of a softie every season, isn't he?) I, for one, was very happy to see her return. Char is one awesome lady.

After that emotional moment, Tim took the designers to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they visited this summer's Costume Institute Exhibit on Charles James for inspiration (sorry friends; it has since closed). It's so cute how excited the designers were — like they couldn't just pay the donation/admission and see it themselves any time.

It really was an incredible exhibit though, particularly if you are interested in patternmaking and clothing construction. I took my six-year-old daughter in July. We took some photos of our favorite looks:

Yes, this IS meant to look like a vagina
And though their time was as constrained as it's been in recent weeks, nearly all of the designers created a look worthy of the jewels that inspired it. Even the worst looks of the week weren't terrible for a change, though there was one that caused me some confusion. Sean too:  

And that is Amanda's look, a strappy black jumpsuit topped with Betty Draper's organza bathrobe. The judges loved it, apparently, even though it was shockingly (or boringly?) similar to the Hot-For-Yoga-Teacher look she designed in Episode 3 (see below left):

I just....sigh...don't even. What? Are they all on crazy pills?

Moving on.

Lesson 1: Upholstery fabric — It ain't just for couches 

I don't know if this tie-in was intentional, but Mood NYC has a new upholstery store — which was perfectly highlighted in this challenge by the fact that Korina successfully used couch-weight furnishing fabric to create a beautiful structured coat. I'm not a huge fan of Korina the Person, but this week Korina the Designer did a pretty amazing job:

Quoth Korina’s model: “It’s so’s you.”

Cut to... Korina wearing a very similar coat:

She struggled with pattern-matching — as we all do. Tim Gunn had to ride her a little to take the front apart so that everything lined up properly. It was obviously a pain to do, but worth it in the end. Coincidentally, earlier this week I found a copy of  a "Sewing With Nancy" tips book on my building's free table (one of the big benefits of apartment living — since we've lived here we have taken in numerous books, a dollhouse, and even a wafflemaker from the free table). Skimming it, I found a great tip on pattern-matching: Cut one side at a time, and while you pin the first take a moment to trace the print onto the paper pattern piece. That way you can use it as a guide to perfectly line up the second piece you cut. A large-scale print like Korina's would have been easy to match with that method. (If she was using the flat-pattern method, of course).

Lesson # 2: Be judicious with the neoprene, people

One thing I've been loving this season of project Runway is the designers' use of neoprene as a fashion fabric. Here are two great examples from previous episodes that demonstrate how wetsuit fabric can be used for great effect:

As a structured shoulder detail
As a jacket with cool cutout sleeve bands

But this week Kini, a designer for whom I am totally rooting despite his giggly cattiness, attempted a bustier cut from neoprene, a highly structured fabric meant to insulate. He might have had better luck shaping a bra cup from a couple slices of stale bread:

The judges didn't totally hate it though because his overall design was at least interesting. Meanwhile, my six-year-old described Kini's dress this way: "Half is like a girl who's dressed and half is a girl who's naked." 

Since you're wondering, that wasn't her worst criticism of the week though. She described Fade's dress as "too bootyish":

Also bootyish,  Emily's dress:

And "too clumpy," inexplicable fan-favorite Alexander's molten lava dress:

What was your favorite look this week? Were you as satisfied as I was with this episode? Are Sandhya's smug looks driving you bonkers? Do you Fall sewing plans include upholstery fabric and neoprene?


  1. Seriously, who is Amanda blowing? She is a one trick pony, and that pony is FUGLY.

  2. Too bootyish! HAHAHAHAHA!

    I liked Kinis idea but obviously poorly executed. I thought of the top 3, Korina deserved the win. I do not like anything Sandhya does. I'm not as crazy about Fade as others seem to be.

    I refuse to hop on the neoprene train. I'm sure it'll make me melt.

    1. Yes, me too. I am hot all the time anytime. I could only wear Neoprene on a cold rainy day!

  3. What I learned is I think I finally "get" what that crazy refrigerator is for. It's for home chefs who peruse the ingredients in their fridge (without letting all the cold air out) like seamsters peruse their fabric stashes, right? I only cook out of necessity and never lovingly look at the contents of my refrigerator, but I think I can see the appeal for a home chef who enjoys contemplating the contents of her fridge, dreaming up new recipes and the like.

    What that fridge, or Red Robin, or Lexus, or even Saturn of years past has to do with PR....I still haven't figured that out yet

    1. Ha! Is that one of the ads that plays during project runway? Where the dad and kids make salty pancakes?

    2. Yes! Salty pancakes can be yours too with that fridge!!

  4. well, i learned that there really isn't anything new. we've seen all these designs's fabric and little things that make it a stand out.
    Amanda????? I have no idea why each season the judges just lllooovvveeee them a catsuit. Have they tried to go to the bathroom in a catsuit??? and that sheer "coat".......they reamed her for that same thing. and messy peplums...i don't get it. at. all.

    1. OK, I'm imagining going ot the ladies room at this gala in that jumpsuit and overdress. The entire mess would be mopping the bathroom floor. Yuck!

  5. I was wondering about that neoprene. Wouldn't it make you very sweating without an ocean around you? I prefer the upholstered look. Poor Kini. They have passed him over for a win so long I think he 's losing his cool.

    1. Yeah, I think he might have a meltdown soon if they don't throw him a bone!

  6. Random thoughts in no particular order....

    The funny thing is, this week I felt Sean really deserved this win - his look was elegant, and it highlighted the jewelry. Korina's look was my second favorite (I think she had the more modern looking jewelry, and could therefore be more edgy in her design, and she showcased it well), so I am ok with her winning this one.

    Kini - no, not everything works well in neoprene. I liked the idea for this design, but the execution was not good. I'm glad he stayed though.

    Char - so excited she is back! I really liked some of her earlier designs, so I'm looking forward to seeing what she can do the rest of the season.

    Wish we could have seen more of the exhibit, also, I may have drooled a little bit.

    Amanda - Sean's face says it all. Truly. There is nothing else to say.

    1. Sean's was incredible, but I think it lacked the "something we haven't seen before" factor the judges are looking for.

  7. Hi Suzanne...
    I love your Project Runway episode discussions, so let me put my two cents in on this one. I almost cried when Tim used his save to bring back was a warm, moving moment. Proof that the show's judges get it wrong some time (er, correction.... a lotta the time.)
    I, too, am tired of Amanda's designs and her ability to 'create' the story of her inspiration. The judges are buying it, because they continue to praise her and move her forward in the competition; but, her esthetic is not my cup of tea. She got by this past week because she threw a belt on the sheer coat and was able to gather the excess fabric in the back under the belt. I am continually surprised by the designers lack of knowledge of the textiles they choose. Many eliminations are caused because of the wrong choice of fabric for the design.
    I feel Kini is the star this season, although he struggled this past week with his choice of fabric. Neoprene is a textile that need not be finished in the same way as other textiles, but the designers soon discover there are other drawbacks. Kini discovered the others in this episode.
    I hate that the judges considered Korina the winner. Her model had to hold the coat in the front so it would fall correctly, and the seams on her sleeve cap were incorrectly turned toward the neckline. I do think she could have chosen some sort of closure to bring the coat front together and she could have designed a dress neckline that did not 'crunch' under the necklace it was supposed to highlight.
    I am not impressed with Sandhya....her ethnic influence on her choices do not appeal to me. All of the fiddly treatment for trimming on her dresses is not impressive to me.
    I liked Sean's design for the jewelry he chose, but they could not give him the win for the third week in a row, could they? Besides, it was not a new design, and one we've seen before, right?
    If Alexander continues to hang his mouth open in all scenes except when he is being judged and could be sent home, I will vote him off myself. What....can he consciously breathe through his nose????
    I am impressed with Fade (shouldn't it pronounced Fah-Day?). He has his own aesthetic and can put his ideas into the design. Isn't that the proof of real designer?
    Most of all, this year is the first time I truly appreciate Zac Posen's sharp construction critique. I looked him up, and because he has personal knowledge of sewing, he can see and bring to the front the sewing and construction shortfalls of the designers. I love that he can see the pins left in the garments and the fact that some dresses are sewn on the models. That's a keen eye for fashion the show sorely needed with the exit of my other favorite, Michael Kors.
    I would have given my eye teeth to see the exhibit the designers visited at the Met. A few bloggers have discussed its worth and commented on the videos that revealed the dresses construction. Well worth the admission.
    Love reading all the comments. I'll be watching next week with all of you!

    1. i like Zac's construction critique too but if they are going to really make construction nd issue, they need to give the designers a little bit more time. A Gala outfit in just a few hours???? No way

    2. ALEXANDER. That slack husband alternates between calling him Macklemore and a meth head...

  8. Kini's look... yuck! It's very Kim K to me, which is NEVER a good thing. But I'll cut him some slack because one "meh" project after weeks of stellar construction is still pretty great. I really liked Korina's look, but, like you, I'm not rooting for her because she's so mean. And I'm looking forward to seeing what else Sean comes up with. He seems to really know how to highlight and flatter the female form, unlike Alexander, who... just doesn't.

  9. I am glad Tim brought back Char. I didn't think the last episode was her time to leave. I am fine with Korina's win since it was so dramatic although I felt that Sean should have won but I guess they didn't want to give him a 3rd win in a row. He made a beautiful dress which showcased the jewels beautifully and tastefully.

  10. They at least got the winner right this week and I love Tim more every season. I wish he had been one of my instructors in design school (not to say I didn't have some good ones).

    Still waiting for a win for one of "my boys." I'm a huge fan of both Kini and Fade.

  11. I have to admit, I can't remember any of Fade's designs, and my strongest impressions of him are his terrible t-shirts and the awful clothes he puts on himself. He might be a great designer, but I would have to remember something he's made to determine that.

    I really liked Sean's look, it looked very influenced by the clover dress with the velvet on the bottom, but I think it simply lacked the 'je ne sais quoi" to push it over the edge. The judges constantly say that they want to see something new and exciting, but if someone ever gets really avant garde they reject it. What they really want is a fantastic design, well executed. And that's what Korina had this week.

    Just goes to show, you can buy all the patterns you like, but take a model, throw some very forgiving fabric on her, make it perfectly figure hugging, and you have yourself a great dress. It really does help to start with a model body though. For others, your mileage may vary.

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