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.
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 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.
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.
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
October 17, 2011 § 1 Comment
Who doesn’t love a little Flinstone’s flair in their wardrobe?
I never thought of myself as a jewelry guy, but this bone ring I found at Sangsangmadang has proven to be my gateway into all things shiny: rings, bracelets, etc. It’s the prefect cross between Antoni Gaudí’s bone-shaped columns and Claes Oldenburg’s loopy sculptures of everyday items.
Stay posted for more of my latest adventures (and experiments) and men’s accessories. Yabadabadoo!
October 14, 2011 § 1 Comment
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?
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.”
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.
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.”
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?
October 14, 2011 § Leave a comment
Comme des Garcons
Strip away the costume boning and you’re left with a delicate white dress fit for a lady. I love the roundedness of the lace top and the way the underlayer fades away like a distant memory. The tiered skirt recalls an upside down wedding cake and the irreverence of the wellies comes across as refreshingly unfeminine. This look’s commentary on the perils of marriage takes it beyond the mere pleasantries of luxury fashion toward thought-provoking art.
Kenzo’s new Creative Directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim revamped the fading French label with a youthful essence and accessibility. For this look, they took classic couture shapes and technique (like the pleated peplum) and infused it with a sportive edge, adding a club collar at the neck and styling the model with a kiddish baseball cap. They also got on board the bird-print trend we’ve seen since last season with a sand skirt covered in images of sparrows. The disparate elements of the look would clash in most collections, but somehow, they all came together in Leon and Lim’s eclectic, totally fun universe.
The Lanvin woman took on a new attitude this season, one that’s darker and a bit more mysterious than usual. This newfound attitude was apparent in a head-to-toe look covered in images of coiled snakes. The silhouette was soft and feminine, but the print had an aggression that imbued the look with an unmistakable power. I also loved the beading at the shoulders that recalled an intricate plate of armor.
Maison Martin Margiela
What makes Maison Martin Margiela’s collections so alluring is their ability to make big design impact with just simple shapes and modest fabrics. Here, the MMM design team made a shapely hourglass silhouette from just a black ribbed cardigan and floor-length skirt. The hem at the waist of the sweater creates a feminine proportion and transforms the portion of the sweater underneath it into shadows of a peplum. The sheen of the skirt adds a nice contrast to the matte quality of the top.
I love the whimsy in this look – textured lace, ruffled shoulders, a cascading stream of bird feathers. It’s Junya at his best. The swirls worked into the lace of the dress have a dynamism that brings to mind Roy Lichenstein’s “Drowning Girl” (1963), and this sense of movement is echoed in the soft waves in the jacket. I also love the simple plane of leather at the bodice; it’s like the calm in the middle of a storm.
October 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
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?
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.
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.
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
October 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
The ruffles trend continued into Paris this week; although designers ditched the fiesta flair from the Milan shows and replaced it with a quieter elegance. Alexander McQueen ruffled the hems of a floral jacket and paired it with wavy peplums, while Dries Van Noten and Givenchy took a more minimal approach, adding sinuous flaps of fabric to monochrome looks in black and creme.
A number of heavy hitters stripped away the excess of previous collections and presented pared-down looks that dazzled in their simplicity and innovation in form and proportion. Givenchy and Giambattista Valli showed a number of looks in silk and stretch cotton whose layering and subtle color contrast recalled the minimal, deconstructionist paintings of Kazimir Malevich. Lanvin’s take on the trend was 80s-inspired and reintroduced the 80s power silhouette through protuding shoulder pads and nipped waists.
Lace is a perennial spring/summer trend, but this time designers refreshed it with new shapes and color palettes. Junya Watanabe showed us an entire collection of dresses done in floral-shaped lace and worn over little black dresses; At Louis Vuitton we saw club collars and pencil skirts with magnified lace made from 60s-inspired daisies; and at Miu Miu, would-be cheery lace dresses took on a slightly sinister quality in their dark color palette of magenta and slate.
The textured floral trend carried over from the Milan shows, imbuing the Paris collections with a girlish levity. For its bride-as-prisoner collection, Commes des Garcons accented its restrictive white coats and dresses with soft white roses. Chanel showed us a floral top in shades of seashell pink, while Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen imagined a poppy trapeze dress covered in what looked like fiery carnations.
The sleeveless blazer emerged as this season’s must have item, showing up everywhere from Lanvin, to Givenchy, to Chloé. A number of them were styled over shirts buttoned to the top, and they varied in length, lapel style (club collars were a popular option), and number of buttons (often zero or just one).
October 4, 2011 § Leave a comment
The surprising must-have item from the Paris shows was the body bag, or some wearable form of it. More than a few appeared at Rick Owens as high neck, floor length dresses made from single cuts of leather, and a handful spiced up the runway at Martin Margiela in clear plastic.
It seemed appropriate that all the body-bag looks preceded Sunday, as if they were preparing us for the dead-end debut collection by rapper-turned-designer Kanye West. It’s a bit unclear how his collection came together, exactly, considering he probably doesn’t know how to sew a button on a shirt. But during the show, the mystery of his ghost design team became irrelevant as ill-fitting, hoochie club wear came down the runway and we realized that the show was his singular vision. Necklines plunged below the belly button, pants bunched at the ankles like scrunchies, and dresses made of 2-inch strips of fabric wrapped around the models like bandage tape. They looked like post-clubbing hospital victims.
Despite the consensual critical panning, though, I think Kanye’s collection might have some commercial life come springtime. There’s always a market for short, tight dresses as well as the general Kanye West brand. You might not find the clothes at Barneys or Bloomies, but you’re bound to bump into them somewhere, even if it’s on Gilt.
Like the criticism following West’s show, Rei Kawakubo’s latest collection for Commes des Garcons spoke volumes about limitations. She showed a macabre parade of white-out brides with sleeves either tied together with a bow or magnified to the point of resembling pant legs. Kawakubo was commenting on the burdens and restrictions brought upon by marriage, and how this process is veiled in pretty dresses and fanciful ceremony. Her message was clear and artfully conveyed, and the clothes were really lovely too. Hems were lined with lush flowers, skirts billowed like expanding cumulous clouds, and dainty white lace peeked out from under creme silk jackets. Some of the most awe-inspiring looks came toward the end of the show as diaphanous skirts constructed from tumor-like panels with cage-inspired ribbing.
Kawakubo’s underling Junya Watanabe put out an equally stand-out collection, with numerous looks done in colorful floral lace. They had a nice transparency, which worked well over simple black dresses and under ruffled leather jackets. It was simply a joy to look at. I also enjoyed the headpieces in the collection, which called to mind mangled chickens contorted in every which way.
The big story from Givenchy wasn’t about the clothes, although they were still a boon; rather, it was about the runway-shy Gisele closing the show, as well as appearances from modeling veterans Frankie Rayder and Natalia Vodianova. Perhaps Tisci’s model casting indicated that the Givenchy woman has grown up and moved beyond the girlish waif. You could feel this in the overall sinister attitude of the show, as conveyed by ebony tops covered in black scale-like paillettes and jackets accented with leopard sea wolf skin. Gigantic shark teeth swung from necks like weighty pendulums and metal chains replaced cloth straps. The show had a dually soft side, though, as seen in the gentle ruffles on skirts and the calming shapes of peplums on tailored tops.
Like Givenchy, Lanvin had a darker tone than usual this season. Designer Alber Elbaz bathed the runway in dark blue and soft lighting, making it seem as if the models were walking on the bottom of an aquarium. The clothes – pared-down black and navy dresses and suits – echoed this effect and gave the show a sharp, clean aesthetic. It looked like what a moody Raf Simons might design. The prints of coiled and slithering snakes were alluringly menacing and some aggressively beaded looks added nice visual texture.
There was definitely some angst in Paris this season, in the bleachers as well as in the clothes. But maybe it’s the angst that drove designers to put out a round of interesting, emotive collections.