Apr 12, 2013

Project Runway — What Did We Learn This Week? Episode 12, Season 11

This week's episode of Project Runway raised some big questions for me: Does free will exist? Is everything predetermined?  WOULD HEIDI REALLY LIKE TO WEAR A PILE OF GARBAGE?

Episode 12 "Europe Here We Come" featured the same five designers from last week, because the judges/producers can just change the rules whenever they feel like it. Michelle, who teetered on the brink of elimination in Episode 11, got to stick around, though her punishment for producing a disappointing white T-shirt and '90s pants combo was to stay in sad, rainy New York City while the others jetted off on (very) brief trips to the style capitals of the world: Patricia went to Paris (along with Kate, her seamstress, who clung to her the whole time squealing "Can you believe we're here!"); Daniel went to Berlin with Amanda; Layana and Samantha spent a day exploring Barcelona; and Stanley landed in London with RICHARD (the Project Runway contestant who just wouldn’t die! Can I get a “yeaaayussss!!”).

Their challenge was to create a high-end runway look, with a budget of $1,000 US. The designers have all day in their respective locales to sightsee, sketch and go fabric shopping, before flying back to the workroom for 24 hours of furious sewing. It's an emotional trip for all of the designers (except Stanley, who is a robot), and I can understand why; I get weepy when I'm sleep-deprived too. 

Meanwhile in NYC, Michelle is crazy bitter about her circumstance, though she and Tu seem to have a decent time atop a double-decker in their matching brightly colored fedoras — even when they're nearly decapitated by a red light (I bet Gray Line was not happy about that footage making it onto the show!). 

Lesson 1: Home turf advantage is EVERYTHING.

The idea was to capture the essence of a city, and NYC-bound Michelle — well-rested compared to the others, thanks to the fact she didn't do two red-eyes in a row — spent her $1,000 at Mood, the sprawling, three-floor fabric store she already knows so well. Also, having spent weeks now in New York City, she already had a good sense of what makes this city unique. 

Heidi said the skirt looked like a "dirty horse blankie,” which IS actually very New York.  (I live in NYC and I can attest this place is DIRTY. Last weekend I saw three rats running around on the 1 train platform at the 168th Street stop. One nearly ran onto the car we were in, but the doors closed just in time. My four-year-old watched the whole thing, and then announced loudly: “We are SO lucky! Those rats almost ran on the train!” Some poor tourist's jaw nearly hit the floor, which is also nasty and likely covered in urine and vomit residue).

I think without the quilted breastplate, Michelle’s dress looks like a wool blanket that firefighters would wrap you in before carrying you down the fire escape. But all together this outfit nails it: shiny and new next to old and nasty. How very New York. The judges were very happy they gave her a second chance.

Meanwhile in Berlin, Paris and Barcelona, the designers all struggled to find the right fabrics; apparently the producers didn't do their research because Daniel had to settle for white vinyl over leather (seriously? They took him to a store without leather?) and Patricia couldn't find anyone to speak English (or help her keep a running tally of her fabric). Layana was thrilled with the lace she found, but didn't realize the custom there is to cut it yourself. That would never happen at Mood!

Patricia, of course, created her own fabric. There were a lot of Patricia-defenders commenting last week, and I would love to hear what they have to say about this:

Lesson 2: There is no spoon.

That the outcome of Project Runway is predetermined is now without question in my mind. We are in the producers' matrix; how else to explain why Patricia has never been eliminated, and is in fact heading to Fashion Week, even after this disaster? The model looks like she's peeking out of a pile of white garbage bags stuffed with all the trash found at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. 

Heidi liked it, but the thought of sending Patricia to Fashion Week sent Nina on the most interesting diatribe: “Fashion is not art. Stores are not museums. You go to stores to BUY clothes. You don’t go to stores to just look at clothes!!”

But to Fashion Week she goes, nonetheless, and I am fascinated to see what she produces. 

Lesson 3: There's always All-Stars.

Scroll back up and look at Patricia's shirt. Then look at Layana's jacket, which got her sent home this week:

I don't love it, and those shirt sleeves look like jellyfish dangling where her hands should be, but seriously? This is somehow worse than Patricia's shirt, which makes her model look like she has elephantitis of the upper arm? 

Somebody remind Layana that the prizes are actually better in All-Stars!

I know, I know. None of my lessons this week have anything to do with sewing, etc. So here are a few thoughts: I do not think anyone should paint on $100/yard cashmere, like Michelle did. I do not think anyone should layer fabrics to the point where your shirt looks like an overstuffed garbage bag, like Patricia's.

And I do not think you should attempt making pleather thigh-high boots unless you're making a "Pretty Woman" costume (though somehow it totally worked for Daniel's Berlin-inspired outfit):

Nor do I  think you should use $100/yard sequined fabric to underline a skirt; that is wasteful to a degree I just can't condone!

(Did Richard actually help sew any of Stanley's garments? I can't recall a single scene depicting their working relationship....maybe I'll have to rewatch it tonight.) 

So what did YOU think? I can't wait for next week, when apparently Daniel grows an afro!!


  1. well, this episode does confirm that this is, indeed, entertainment and the producers have a larger say that i would hope

    I don't know how Patricia didn't get ousted long ago when there were much better divas' to keep around for the drama.

    and since this is project runway teams, why aren't they designing for fashion week in teams? what was the point of all that team stuff if they aren't going to have any teams at the end?

    1. Easy answer to the teams question- they still have teams, though now only one designer is creating and the second has already gotten the auf and is reduced to seamstress.

    2. I think they just really, really wanted to see what she would do for a runway show and gave her the benefit of the doubt a half-dozen times. As for the teams aspect, it only makes sense to a point. Yes, designers have to work in a team, but the leader would be clear ... I wonder if they will have their seamstresses for the finale?

    3. I can see letting Patricia skate by in the beginning for interest's sake, but the last challenge, where she just made a shapeless blue bag with fringed stripes sewed on vertically...that was just bad, regardless of her sewing partner issues, and she should have gone home for that one. She's done way better things all by herself before, so blaming that disaster on Richard (who, granted, is a completely incompetent sewist) doesn't make sense to me. This week just confirmed it. There's no way her stuff is good enough for her to go to fashion week. Although Layana has made some mediocre pieces as well, this week she really should have been the one who stayed.

  2. definitely had mixed feelings about this episode. lately i've taken to defending patricia (fyi: i am not her #1 fan, mostly i just enjoy seeing what crazy thing she comes up with, and i hear she has great credentials), but yeah. not a fan of the fluffy TP jacket. with all that money, there was no other interesting "textile design" she could come up with? hmmm... ultimately i am very curious about what she creates for fashion week, i think her talent doesn't translate well with PR time constraints. plus they always keep around an odd-ball and/or artsy designer, so i guess she's the one for this season. if everything weren't fixed (and yes, i totally agree that the whole thing is fixed!) she would have left a long time ago. there was ample opportunity!

    i definitely wasn't sad to see layana go. i don't think she's done anything all that interesting and while her coat was nicely tailored, it just wasn't... anything special. the more i look at it the less i like it. she could have done the lace layered thing and had a much more interesting coat!

    i really wish michelle wouldn't have tried to paint that cashmere. i mean, why? i did love how the hemline swung around so elegantly; that was a nice touch.

    stanley--lining with super expensive sequins? oh that really irked me. that's just not cool. plus, didn't it look like the sequins would be against the model's skin? wouldn't it be extremely uncomfortable?

    daniel--loved his look. how he managed to get that pleather to look so great is a mystery for sure! the piecing was super modern and interesting. and how the hooker boots didn't look like hooker boots is beyond me!

    1. ya know, they didn't look like hooker boots and I was sooooo sure they would. lol

    2. yeah, they looked like leather leggings, which was a much better idea.

  3. Ya I guess there is no free will. We already knew at least not for Stanley since. he. is. a. robot. I also thought it was weird that they didn’t show Richard working with Stanley. After all that drama with patricia -- ?
    The fabric shopping research was pathetic! I liked the piecing on daniel’s jacket but am not sure how the judges didn’t think the pleather thigh-highs were hooker boots??

    I think last week I think I said that I thought patricia could do cool stuff but she had to step it up bc she hadn’t done anything nice in a while. This week also sucked. So, again, not in line with the one day in one day out! Her textile looked neat close up in the work room but terrible on the runway. And the black leather and rest of the outfit made it worse. I have no idea if she can actually design or if she can just make cool fabric.
    They shouldn’t make such a big deal of one day you’re in one day you’re out if that’s not actually the case. If I didn’t like michele’s work I’d be pissed.
    Although it was kind of tragic to put paint on that cashmere, I liked the effect. I think though, like Michele noted, it would have been better if it was stronger. that fabric was so springy and flowy but still thick though!

  4. Well I didn't like Stanley's look, really a plain black dress with sequin lining? Since when is that London? London has such wonderful fashion. I just didn't get that one.
    I don't think Patricia is a designer. She is more like a fabric maker. I so wonder why she will do with a whole runway show! LOL
    Sad to see Layana go, I think she liked her jacket so much because it took her so long to make it!
    Don't even get me started about Daniel and those boots!
    Michelle definitely has the style to go all the way, unless they've already decided on Daniel or Stanley. That is the way they do it now.

    1. you raise a great point: the actual fashions people wear in those cities....did the designers not get any inspiration from street style? They all focused on buildings....it would be interesting to hear what people from those four cities would have to say...

  5. Well... I had decided to give Patricia another chance in my book after reading some posts defending her. And.. the verdict (IMHO) is why on earth she make it to the finals??? I really disliked that shirt.

    Stanley - lining with sequins??? What did I miss to explain that????

    I though Layana's jacket was much better than they gave her credit for... and to oust Layana and keep Patricia?? (me shaking my head right now....)

  6. Patricia's only around because of her one fan: Heidi Klum, who has always defended Patricia's looks and probably flashed a side boob at the producers to get them to agree.

    Michelle better win this whole thing, though I know she won't.

    1. AGREED. Michelle is my numba designer!

      Patricia reminds me that stereotypical artist type who is so hell bent on making , Art, that what they make is just so, well, ugly.

    2. And by that I mean number one.

    3. you are so right, I never thought of her that way before.

  7. Your review totally made me want to see the show and see which fabric shop in Berlin the procucers chose. Need to find it on Youtube, since most of these videos are blocked for ioverseas viewers.

  8. Well, certainly Patricia really disappointed this week for sure. She really didn't have any good excuses for this garment. I am however curious to see what she comes up with for fashion week. My prediction for the win is Stanley. Why won't Richard just go home to Sacramento where he belongs! He did not deserve a trip to London, and you are right, I never saw him do any work at all. I'm sure Stanley just said, step aside and keep your hands to yourself.
    Nina was over the top yucky this time I think. Heidi has always bothered me with some of her mean spirited comments, but this season she has really redeemed herself.
    I still don't like pouty Michelle, and the only thing that saved that outfit was the breast plate. The cashmere wool was blah and she couldn't execute the ombre effect. I don't know why they were so mean to Layanna, that jacket really wasn't that bad :(

  9. When Stanley's dress came out, I was like where the hell is the $800 of leather sequins? I was so disappointed they were the skirt underlining - I think the judges only caught them because they are watching the runway show from under the runway. He could have used it in a much more interesting way.

    Patricia's trash bag shirt was so bad! Not that I expect anything but arts and crafts from her ever since the Pocahontas tent dress, but that shirt was truly appalling. It could have almost been neat if it she had chosen a nicer top-color (what is her obsession with white chiffon? Remember the weird white face-hood?) and stuck to a full, more structured look, but adding the strange black squashed collar made it difficult to look at. And let's not forget her 2 lengths of pant hem.

  10. At the end of the episode when Patricia came in to tell the first three that she made it, it kind of felt like "one of these things is not like the other". She is the wild card but I think that is something PR needs to keep it fresh and forward. Layana - as mentioned in previous recaps - is an absolute spoiled brat and I can never forget how she treated Daniel in that challenge when she gave him like half a yard of fabric for his entire look. She is too green in my opinion - not enough maturity esp. when she is up against the other four.
    Here's my only beef with PR and it hasn't been mentioned here. I feel as though the judges are constantly asking the designers to "push the envelope" and they give them avant guarde challenges and then when Patricia gives them something completely out of the envelope they flip out (as sayeth Nina, "fashion is not art" - HUH??!!) I think Patricia is what they ask for - its just not packaged in a commercial way. I have liked everything Patricia has given us - esp. The avant guarde challenge. I understood her jacket this week - she was going for concept and i wish they had shown the way they had layered all those different fabrics to create that textile. She embodies fashion as art which to me is what sets apart high fashion as opposed to what I wear and what I buy at Target and TJ Maxx. I'm surprised that the judges don't point that out. She may not win PR because her look is not very commercial but she would put on a fantastic show of wearable art.

  11. I love these recaps, and it'll be sad when the season is over and we can't all argue over Patricia anymore. But arguing over Patricia is exactly what the Producers are hoping for.

    You'll notice that Heidi is not just a Judge on the show, but her production company's card comes up at the end of the credits, she is a very powerful Executive Producer on the show, and I'm certain that she's been the one saving Patricia week after week. They even included a bit on the show where she's talking about how it will be nail-biting to see what bits of rolled up toilet paper will come down the catwalk in New York. She's thinking about ratings, and not fashion, when she's looking about Patricia's work.

    I'm not crazy about how bratty and childish Layana has been, but I think she's turned out great clothing. In my (slightly bitchy) opinion, Patricia should go apply for "Textile Design Reality Show" and leave the garment creation to someone else. I'm also not crazy about how Michelle seems to have very inflated opinions about her own talent. I think this years crop of designers are not really that exciting.

    If it was up to me, I'd have Stanley and Samantha going to fashion week, with the last spot going to either Michelle or Layana. I think that Daniel has cheesy ideas, and left to his own devices he's going to make some real clangers.

    (sorry about the super long comment)

  12. I massively squeal-gasped when I saw Daniel's hair in the promo! There was a hint of bitchiness towards Michelle too. Can't wait for the final!!

    Ps. John Legend was soooo out of his depth. Was hilarious.



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