Dolce & Gabbana, Joan Rivers, and a Touch of Sparkle

January 3, 2012 § 2 Comments

Sequin blazers at Dolce and Gabbana F/W '11

I kind of died over the sequin Dolce and Gabbana blazer Brad Goreski wore on the premiere of his new show, “It’s a Brad, Brad World.” He wore it to an award ceremony hosted by US Weekly, where he accepted an award for his signature personal style.

Brad Goreski in the blazer

Beyonce wore a magenta version of the same blazer for her performance of “Love on Top” at the MTV Video Music Awards last September. It offered some fun (but pretty modest) gender play and harkened back to the days of the Rat Pack.

Beyonce at the MTV VMAs

After doing some research on sequin blazers on the market just now, I learned that one of the best comes from none other than Joan Rivers, who apparently has her own line called “Touch of Sparkle.” The blazer comes in four colors – black, maroon, navy, and steel – and in sizes from XXS to 3X. This means that no matter who you are, Joan Rivers has a sequin blazer that’ll fit your taste AND your body!

Also, she’s her own model. Kind of amazing.

Buy your own Touch of Sparkle blazer from the QVC website here, and feel free to submit pictures of yourself wearing it, posing as Joan in the picture above.

Design Inspiration from the Steven F. Udvar Center

December 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

While on vacation in Washington, D.C., I found unexpected design inspiration at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, a companion facility to the  National Air and Space Museum. The Center houses a collection of aircrafts that were pivotal in American history, such as the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Enola Gay, and the first aircraft to achieve sustained flight with a pilot, the Wright Flyer.

The plane engines on display brought upon some intricate designs that I couldn’t help but reimagine as couture hats or costumes for a remake of Blade Runner.

The exhibition space itself was also beautiful. It’s housed in a giant hangar boasting a vaulted white ceiling and fancy light-effects.

There was also a small collection of cool leather headwear on display, as well as leather accessories and a fierce pair of fur mittens.

And my favorite detail of the museum: astronaut converse!

Episode 13 Recap: “This Isn’t Fuddy Duddy Dress Up”

October 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

This episode was about going back to your roots. Anya took inspiration from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago and chose a sandy color palette. Kimberly wanted to make an homage to Brooklyn, picking bright blues and sparkly blacks. Viktor went back to Mexico for some inspiration. He took pictures of palm trees and sunsets with an eerie, purple glow over them and turned them into prints for his collection. Joshua, of course, went back to loud, bright COLORS.

So with 5 weeks and $9,000 the designers set off to make the 10-piece collection of their lives. Instead of doing the format, here’s our take on the good, bad, and ugly of each designers’ “mini collections” of 3 looks.

Joshua

Joshua's looks

Good thing Tim came in. Tim rightly nixed a lot of the loud colors in “sherbert” and the sad, “vintage” print that he called “one of the homeliest textiles I’ve seen in my life.” He added that the dress itself was “sad” and made him “want to weep.” Don’t cry Tim!

So for his mini-collection Joshua got rid of all the garish color and went with black. Color came in short bursts in magenta pants paired with a black jacket. Otherwise, there was an interesting use of textiles and an activewear element to his clothes. There was a black neoprene dress, his take on an lbd. One look was a gorgeous draped goddess gown with a plastic neck from the front and a surprise catsuit from the back. While we agree with Michael that we “love it from the front, hate it from the back,” we at least appreciate the fashion-forwardness of it.

As for styling, of course clean and simple always wins when it comes to Nina and Michael. Joshua just slicked the models’ hair back and put it in a pony tails and called it a day. Nina cooed, “I am so impressed.” Joshua is called first for the finale.

Viktor

Viktor's looks

Viktor went back to his urban road warrior for this collection. As usual, Viktor put a lot of craftmanship into his clothes: a white leather jacket with what looked like fake pearls studded along the arms, a sheer black top with glass mirrors attached to it, and a leather skirt that had zippers at the pleats. Heidi called the work on the jacket “insane” but said she wished the balls were smaller. While some of the looks were interesting, the combinations were confusing. Michael liked the jacket and the dress separately, but told Viktor, “Together, they freak me out.” Overall the judges like his clothes but hammer him for the styling. We’re not really enthralled by his clothes. The prints are nice, but his “design ideas,” like the baubles on the jacket and the mirrors on the top, seem dated and cheap.

Viktor is in.

Kimberly

Kimberly's looks

Even though she’s living in Maryland, Kimberly goes back to Brooklyn for her collection. She’s dressing her Brooklyn girl who represents “what Brooklyn was and what it is now.” Her first look, a one-shoulder top knotted in the back paired with baggy blue pants was fun and hip.

Her third look was a shimmering floor-length black gown that went up to her neck and dropped down like a rope to reveal the back. Michael loves how they are covered in the front, but still “full of sex appeal.” The day-to-evening secretary look, though, was a little questionable. The color of the skirt looked like a musty pink pillow trapped in the attic.

Of course, the judges don’t like the styling. Too many bangles! What’s with the braid? Why the blue shoes? We agree with the shoes – black strappy sandals would have worked well. But we’re not anti-accessorizing here, and it still captures some of that Brooklyn girl Kim was going for. Kim believes in that Brooklyn girl. We do too.

Anya

Anya's looks

We had high expectations for Anya, but the pressure finally got to her. Tim echoes our sentiments saying he is “disappointed” once he actually sees the collection. When Tim flew out to Trinidad at the 3-week mark, Anya only had fabric to show him. Living in the Project Runway bubble she felt free to be herself and design for herself, but once she went back to reality, she suddenly felt the expectation of a nation on her shoulders. She choked.

Her first look infused her mastery of prints with the new shapes she was experimenting with with her raven-inspired outfit. But that was the only redeeming outfit. Her swimsuit was ill-fitting and pointless. Her evening gown was an even bigger disaster. Heidi says it looks like “something you’ve done in a day” and Michael says the satin looks “tortured.”

But Miss Congeniality seems to have won the judges (or the producers) over and the judges decide to keep her even after Heidi tells Kimberly that she is in. So really this episode was kind of pointless for us to watch to begin with as we end right where we began.

Joshua of course fumes over this because he has worked SO hard and SO long and not just four months to be a designer and it’s just NOT FAIR.

Next week: The real finale.

Our prediction: Joshua

Our heart: Kimberly

Episode 12 Recap: Wear a High-Fashion Condom Costume for Halloween

October 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

A look from Anya's collection

It’s the episode before the finale, which really just means it’s the third to last episode because the finale is always a two-episode affair. So with five designers left, Project Runway leaves it open as to whether there will be one or two designers to make it to the “finale.” Cut the crap Lifetime. We get that this just means you’re only going to eliminate one contestant and force the other to make an entire collection only to have her hopes dashed quite literally on the day before the show. You love those waterworks, don’t you?

Last we left Joshua he was in a foul mood for losing 20 grand to “a beauty queen.” His mood is no better the morning after as he and Viktor pile on Anya for outwitting and outdesigning them in the last two challenges. Joshua brays, “I don’t even know if she can do a jacket.”

So, for this final stint at Parsons, Heidi sends the designers off to Governor’s Island where they meet Tim Gunn flanked by two PR people, who want to tell you just how lovely and historical Governor’s Island is. We were reminded of the other reality tv moment when Alex from the Real Housewives of New York had a sad little birthday party there. Anyway. Tim tells the designers that they can ride around the island in a golf cart and snap inspiration photos. The challenge though, will be to make three looks that showcase range in two days and with 500 dollars.

After the designers return from Mood, Tim comes back in the workroom with the velvet button bag. Of course the designers think this signals some sort of doom, but Tim cheerily tells them that they get to select an auf’ed designer to be their assistant, or as Olivier says, “slave.” Seamstress Becky works for Kimberly, Anthony Ryan and Laura are reunited, Viktor chooses Olivier, and for last pick, Anya selects Bert over Bryce, who has to work with Joshua.

Baby Bryce notices that the mood in the workroom is tense. “When I left everybody was loving each other,” he drools. “It doesn’t look like the final five is talking to each other much.” Joshua continues to snipe behind Anya’s back. Lifetime tries to gin up some drama by showing Anya go over to Laura to ask if she thinks Joshua is “acting weird.” Regarding Anya’s runway collection, Viktor says, “Who’s going to sew all her shit?” Viktor and Joshua think they are shoe-ins for Lincoln Center. Are they right?

The Good

There was only one bright spot on the runway and it was Anya’s first look – a little black dress with a raised neck and assymetrical hem. It was minimalism at its best with a simple, interesting cut speaking volumes. Overall the judges love Anya’s collection for its three-dimensional eye (the model didn’t even know how to get into the white one). Nina loves the “different angles” and thinks it is “concise” and “modern.” Zoe Saldana, actress and fashionista, likes the “futuristic tone” of the collection. Like us, though, she wasn’t too thrilled about the white, columnic dress and called it a “condom.”

Anya's high-fashion condom look

Overall though, the three looks demonstrated a design sensibility that don’t feel as constricted by the same references, lines, and sensibilities as the other designers. Perhaps not being “formally” trained is a good thing because Anya brings a conceptual take on fashion that is less interested in commercial viability as it is in cut, form, and color.

The Bad

Despite all the whining about how winners make jackets, Joshua doesn’t even make one, unless you call his ill-fitting vest an ugly excuse for a jacket. His third look is even more horrendous, a shiny silver piece that makes Zoe think of the Statue of Liberty. But, Nina says, “It’s better to have too many ideas than no ideas or boring ideas.” So Joshua is safe.

Same goes for Viktor who turned in what Michael says was the most “commercial” of the collections. Viktor again demonstrates his speediness and competence at making wearable clothes, but this collection looked like it took a pitstop at the mall. Heidi thinks that while Viktor is the best tailor, he doesn’t have enough design ideas. Nina wants him to add more “oomph” and Michael wants “runway punch.” Heidi tells him he’s in, but reminds him to “pump up the volume.”

The Ugly

Laura is crazy for circles

It’s hard to decide who did worse: Laura or Kimberly. They may have been looking at the same sculptures as Anya, but their approach was heavy-handed and overly literal. Laura gets really into the circular geometry of the sculptures so she decides to use a thick, black lattice of circles overlaid on a long, white dress and in another jacket. The web of circles makes Nina think of “Spiderman” and everyone uniformly hates her third look, a flowy dress in an insipid peachy color. The judges call it everything from a “pillow case” to “laundry.” Her collection looks cheap and not at all like the eleganza she claims she’s obsessed with.

Meanwhile Kimberly only takes inspiration from the color and the title of a piece, “New Beginnings.” She tries to make a coat, but turns a bright orange wool into a lumpy look that Heidi calls “Dutch exchange student.” Her cocktail dress, a silver number with an interesting wave-like effect, saves her. Ultimately, despite Laura’s tears and monologue about how she wanted to show at New York Fashion Week since she was eight, the judges reward Kimberly for taking risks and pushing herself.

A less predictable show would have done its viewers right and eliminated both of them.

Next week: The actual episode before the finale! Maybe we should start calling this episode the semifinals?

Episode 11 Recap: Feathers Fly!

October 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

The judges' favorite looks from Joshua, Anya, and Kimberly (right to left)

With only six designers left, tensions are high and emotions are volatile. Everyone wants to make it to the tents at Lincoln Center (never mind the fact that even the losers showed decoy collections). Obviously, the time is ripe for the producers to really lay on the pressure and get into our designers heads with multiple twists. In return for all the emotional distress that they will experience is a L’Oreal Paris ad in Marie Claire and $20,000 in cold, hard cash.

Twist number one isn’t so much a twist as casual trickery. For their “design a high fashion look inspired by a bird” challenge, Tim brings out the button bag to pair the designers. Naturally, the designers believe that they have to work as a pair, but no, former friends become foes as the pairs go head-to-head with one designer who will be in the top and the other in the bottom. Anya and Laura must design a look inspired by the raven, which is sure to bring out the goth in both of them. Viktor and Kimberly go for soft and romantic based off of the cockatoo and its pale pink and ecru-colored feathers. Bert and Joshua get the Amazonian parrot that has grey and bright green and yellow plumage. True to character, Bert is “inspired” by the grey claws and goes for dull fabrics at mood while Joshua latches on to all the bright fabrics he can find.

After the designers begin working on their first look, Tim comes in to interrupt and tell them that yes, they must make a second high-fashion look to accompany the first. He gives them the same $300 budget and packs them off to Mood. Around this point, Kim begins to break down: she stabs her finger on the Brother, has a cry in the bathroom, and burns a whole in her second look. She is having an all-around bad day. The last incident, though, turns out to be a blessing in disguise. After a pep talk from Tim, Kim rallies and makes a new dress in the polyester fabric she was going to use as lining in about 3 hours.

Tim rolls in the morning of the show and tells the designers – surprise! – that only one look has to walk the runway. This is apparently a challenge in “editing” but obviously many of the designers are relieved to dump one of their looks. Interestingly though, many of the designers choose to go with their second looks, which often represented breaks of character. So who wins the head-to-heads?

The Good

All of the looks that won the head-to-heads shared similar qualities: they weren’t “literal” interpretations or too “birdy” as Heidi explained it, and they also represented a break away from what the designers are used to showing. From the looks of it, both of Anya’s looks were interesting, but her second piece, a highly structured, black dress with strong shoulders was out of her comfort zone. Heidi thought it was “fashion-forward, cool, and edgy” while Nina simply tells her, “This is probably my favorite outfit that you have made so far.” Guest judge Francisco Costa, the head of womenswear at Calvin Klein, rounds out the power panel and tells Anya that the look was “urban” with a “sense of goth.” The lines were interesting as the hemline curved to be longer in the back than the front. But while the dress looked wearable, the model actually had no way of getting in and out of the dress without a pair of scissors. Anya beats Laura in the head-to-head and wins the challenge overall.

Joshua’s second look was also much stronger than his first, an overwrought green jellyfish of a dress. His fluid, orange dress had an interesting silhouette and draped in all the right ways. In the workroom, Tim called it “sublime.” The judges are in love with the cut and minimalism of the gown. Nina thinks it looks “modern” while Francisco Costa calls it “refreshing.” Typical to Joshua though, he adds a bright feather corsage to the model that Michael thinks looks like she was drunk in the Caribbean. He chides, “You’ve got talent! You’ve just got to hold it in.”

The challenge also demonstrated that Kim just needs to go with her instincts more. In three hours, she created a sexy one-shoulder gown out of polyester, no less. While the judges were somewhat mixed on the result, they loved the effortlessness and the soft sleeve that fluttered when the model walked down the runway. But really, Kim (and the viewer) just got a lot of pleasure at seeing her beat Viktor.

The Bad

Viktor, Bert, and Laura (from right to left) find themselves in the bottom 3

Oh my my how times have changed. Remember early on in Project Runway when Bert was the mean old keeter and Viktor was the subdued dark horse? Well, the tables have turned and everybody loves old man Bert, but of course this means that Bert is no longer winning. He turned out a sad grey dress that barely opened at the slits to reveal the color underneath. His look was the weakest out of a fairly strong lineup and he was sent packing, just as we were beginning to like the guy. Damn you Lifetime for playing with our heartstrings!

Meanwhile Viktor is getting to be increasingly shrill and paranoid. He again thinks that someone is copying his style and suggests  Kim copied him by also making a one-shouldered dress. Luckily for him though, this is a design – and not a personality – competition.

The Ugly

We’re getting the feeling that things are about to get real ugly up in here. After being crowned runner-up, Joshua enters the lounge fuming. Anya asks him if he’s mad, and he passive aggressively denies it. He’s pissed that a rookie designer with less than half a year’s worth of sewing experience is not only beating him, but is the “clear winner” of the challenge.

Our prediction for the final three: Anya, Joshua, Viktor

Fashion Mole on Racialicious, Part 4

September 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Another Fashion Mole article, “How Can Fashion Create A Better Relationship with Africa?” was reposted on Racialicious. See it here.

Thank you to Editor Latoya Peterson an the rest of the Racialicious crew for their support.

Episode 9 Recap: It Smells Like Hippies in Here

September 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

Joshua's look

Last episode, Project Runway psyched the designers out by making them think they had to do a menswear challenge. Well – surprise! – it’s this week. Project Runway hasn’t had an all-menswear challenge (designers have had to design for each other, which meant some designers made menswear) since Season 4 when the contestants had to dress Tiki Barber. Menswear strikes fear in the hearts of womenswear designers.  “It’s calling upon a different set of skills and creativity,” says Kim. She and Anya are both worried because neither of them have made men’s clothing before. (But to be real, Anya is always doing something she has “never done before.”)

The contestants get to design looks for the band, Sheepdogs, who will be the first nobodies winners of an online vote to be featured on the cover of Rolling Stone. The winner gets her look featured on the musician in a Garnier ad that will run in both Marie Claire and Rolling Stone. The remaining eight designers are split into two “teams” to dress the four band members. Instead of a runway, the musicians perform two sets, once in each team’s outfits. Tim tells the designers that cohesion isn’t as important as making an individual look. Translation: this is not a team challenge. After learning that the team concept is completely meaningless, it’s every lady for herself.

As for the Sheepdogs, as their name implies, is more folk band than rock star. All four bandmembers are shaggy haired with full-on Yeti beards, and we imagine their aesthetic smells like pot and patchouli on the Haight-Ashbury. The designers get the memo and go for a lot of colors that look like they came from an enema bag – browns, tans, and rusts. The clothes follow suit, which means a lot of fringe, bellbottoms, and tie-dye on the runway.

The Good

Viktor's winning look

At the start of the episode, there were eight contestants – half the number at the start of the season (we’re not talking about that silly “pre-show” cut). The midterm report thus far says that this is shaping up to be a competition between Joshua and Viktor, who are the only two contestants with two wins apiece. For his second win, Viktor, presents the most complete look with three well-made pieces: distressed jeans, a Western shirt, and a pleather jacket with braiding and fringe. Michael thinks the whole look is “Mad Max meets Woodstock” and Heidi thinks the jacket is just “insane.”

Joshua is in the top alongside Viktor, dressing his band mate up in white jeans with an exposed zipper at the crotch, Native American print shirt, and fringed vest. Heidi and guest judge Adam Lambert are both hot for the crotch zipper. Heidi says, “He was the hottest guy in the band.” But, as Joshua is wont to do, he overworks the design of the clothes. Guest judge Adam Lambert thinks there were unnecessary details on the jeans: notably the two large brown pockets on the butt and the cuts along the ankles. Nina agrees, “It’s got to be a little bit more natural. When you get to tricky or too design-y, it’s where you go wrong.”

The Bad

We have to agree with Nina and Michael’s comments this round and say that both Laura’s and Anthony Ryan’s looks were weak. Laura’s color palette of mauve and cranberry felt too matchy-matchy, as Nina likes to say. The cranberry bellbottoms matches the tie-dye shirt that according to Michael, looks like the guy “cut himself shaving.” Nina thinks the look is too feminine saying, “This looks like a lady’s jacket with a silk scarf from the mall.”

Everyone’s a little bored by Anthony Ryan’s sleeveless shirt-white bellbottom combo. Heidi wants the pants to be tighter (of course). Michael thinks, “It’s like a Golden Girl gone rock ‘n roll moment.” And Nina, again, doesn’t like that he looks like a lady. “It looks like a woman’s blouse,” she moans. In short, the judges don’t like men who look like ladies.

The Ugly

Olivier’s attitude was his doom. Again, he had to work with a “real person” (by real person we mean non-model). And again, he finds himself unable to deal with the “challenge.” Despite being a menswear designer, he complains about the relative bigness of the lead singer, “I never really thought of making things for plus-size people.” Olivier returns again to those dull, anemic colors that he seems to favor so much. His pants are the color of drywall and don’t fit the singer. Heidi calls them “dad jeans.” The paisley button-down shirt is too short, and the sleeves, as Heidi investigates, were rolled up to hide the fact that they were simply unfinished.

We think though, that the judges were grading the other contestants in the bottom – Anya and Kimberly – on a curve. Both stressed multiple times that they had never made menswear. In particular, Anya’s caftan-inspired look was a disaster. Heidi and Nina both think he looks like Pocahontas. Michael tells her, “This week we’ve got to see that you’ve only been sewing for 4 months.” Kimberly doesn’t  fare any better with her “bowling shirt.” Nina thinks the whole thing is a “pajama party.” Kimberly’s saving grace is, yet again, the pants: brown corduroys that fit well. Anya’s pants, while they fit, were coming apart at the seam on the runway. The judges definitely gave them a bit of a pass for being rookies to menswear while hammering Olivier for failing to utilize his menswear experience. So long, Eeyore!

Next week: Project Runway finally answers the question, “What happens if you lose your money at Mood?!”

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