Project Runway producers are like the CIA when it comes to secrecy. They are extremely confidential when it comes to the contestants and the conflicts that occur off the runway to prevent any tampering with the show before it is aired. The judges are not pardoned from what happens between the contestants, so it was a complete shock when Heidi informed us of Jack's condition and that he would not be able to continue to participate in the show. It was so sad to see him leave under those terms and I felt that we did not have the opportunity to see his full design potential. I am happy to say that recently I had the pleasure of seeing Jack at the Project Runway kickoff party and he looked great, and I'm happy to say that he is doing well.
I am happy that so many have taken the time to post and it was interesting to see how many of you missed Chris and thought it was not his time to be eliminated from the show. It seemed that fate intervened and, although it was an unfortunate circumstance and a PR first, fan favorite Chris was given a second chance! See -- anything can happen!
This week's challenge was an exercise in client relations. Completely side swiping the designers by replacing their models with normal working women who have recently lost a significant amount of weight and challenging the designers to create an outfit out of the women's favorite outfit pre-weight loss that is wearable and addresses their needs, while perpetuating the designers distinct point. This particular challenge was quite significant as these women left a portion of the past behind and entrusted the designers to recreate a look that represented and enhanced a new self -- something not to be taken lightly!
I feel strongly that if you put your mind to anything it can happen (case in point: the Chris fan club and their hope for his return). But so was not the case with Steven. After viewing last night's episode I was surprised to see that Steven felt that he had the greatest task at hand because he had only $10 and his client's wedding dress to reinvent. I think her choice of garment was not only significant and personal but also a fantastic material to work with! An important task at hand, I found that Steven failed to connect with his client and represent the sentimental value of the garment, instead opting to mask the materials and turn a dress that symbolized the greatest day in a girls' life and bought $10 worth of black fabric, and made a dress that was more wake than wedding. Somber, stiff ,and serious, Steven suffocated the lace and intricate beading by opting for black fabric and ultimately adding years to her look.
Kevin took the complete opposite approach to the challenge, and his enthusiastic outlook was very successful. He looked forward to working with his client and took the time to understand her needs and the end result exalted all of her attributes. She walked down the runway exuding confidence, looking thin, sexy, and happy!
When I first heard of last night's challenge, the one designer that I was most concerned would have difficulty was Christian. I was not sure how he would tame his rebellious nature and ego to exercise restraint, sensitivity, and be able to compromise with his client, and achieve a look that satisfied her needs over his. But Christian surprised us all! I expected to see his client come down the runway with an avant-garde jacket Victorian-esque look, but instead managed to create a look that pleased his client while still embracing his point of view. The transformation was fantastic! Christian's design included his signature enhanced shoulders, pleated details, and sharp cut, but was pared down to his client's personal style, and the combination was great. She looked like a young, thin, and cooler version of her own self. Elisa is a very sensitive and emotionally involved designer. She listened intently to her client's style comforts, but Elisa's ultimate struggle in the end was not with her client but with herself. Elisa is undeniably creative with a market appeal (an asset) but her designs ultimately suffer because she is ineffective in making her creations less abstract. Although the construction of her garment for Tracey was incredibly designed and wearable, it was a significant departure from Tracey's personality and was not complementary with her lifestyle. Her hair, composure, and overall attitude in Elisa's dress and jacket were awkward, which is why she was in the bottom two.
Jillian did a great job of understanding where her client was coming from and her comfort levels, and constructed a look that complemented her newfound confidence. Unfortunately she opted to use her $10 allowance to purchase fabric in the spirit of her client's former-self red blouse instead of sticking to the challenge. But in the end, Jillian's design and client's satisfaction was worth the risk because the red halter dress was impeccably executed -- slimming and sexy without being overt, and remaining tasteful. I am thrilled that Chris was able to have a second chance to return to Project Runway. His lovable nature and jolly spirit uplifts the rest of the designers when working under strict time restraints. Unfortunately, coming late into the challenge, he had less time with his client than the other designers and had to stay up all night to finish his garment. And as Tim said, one should be careful the decisions that are made at 3 a.m. because he (Tim) has made some regrettable ones at that late hour! Chris did rely on cliche details -- choker, bows, and slits etc. -- which reeked of his costume background, or as Michael would say a "French hooker." But details aside, he managed to construct a very flattering top for his client and was overall a successful transformation.
I always argue with those who easily dismiss fashion to never underestimate the importance of what a dress can do for you. It amazes me how a dress can completely transform the way one feels and carries themselves. This particular episode was much heavier than the designer cat fights and outrageous, and sometimes, impractical fashions we are used to. The unexpected departure of Jack was difficult on everyone, and the designers had to recover quickly and stay on course for their clients. The women who participated in the challenge suffered their own battles and worked to transform their bodies, loosing a substantial amount of weight. Some of them even lost an entire person (160lbs!). With the first phase of transformation complete, figuratively, it was up to the designers to renovate the remains of their old lives from the comforts of the clothes that they once hid behind, and offer a new garment that fit into theses women's newfound confidence.
We are well into the season and the challenges are only going to get more competitive from here on out. Post a comment! I'd love to hear what you thought of the episode.
See you next week.
Project Runway Judge and Elle magazine Fashion Director