Boys Just Wanna Fashion

Designers freak out during this week's challenge.

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Wow, the producers certainly like to throw the designers of Season 4 a curve ball, don't they? I think it's pretty well-known that womens wear designers aren't always the best menswear designers, and vice-versa, but kudos to them for giving it their all! When watching this episode with my roommate, she said to me "Wouldn't it be easier to do men's clothing anyway, it's all boxy shapes?" Well, that AND a whole lot of geometry, details, fit, and technique. For centuries men's clothing has gone relatively unchanged, and because of that, delineating too far from the standard is like waving a big ole awkward red flag. Before we talk about the designs, I wanted to note that Tiki is a good looking man, very successful, and seemingly, a very all-around pleasant guy. Unfortunately, his job description does not immediately scream "fashion forward man" to me ... in fact, it's the Today Show. Let's not kid ourselves by thinking anything other than the traditional uniform of dark colors and a traditional button-down (a faint colored stripe if feeling REALLY risqué) is ever wanted, or accepted.

I guess I have issues with this challenge because I don't feel the challenge and the subject match very well. This is a show about design and creativity. How about choosing a man whose job description is a bit more colorful -- an actor, a photographer, or maybe a young professor perhaps? I feel that this would allow the designers to really show their talent, and instead of seeing, for the most part, a mass of badly sewn ho-hum clothing, we could've really experienced something fun and exciting.

Let me also say that I by no means think that this was an easy challenge, in fact, technically, it was one of the hardest to date, but I do think that most everyone's designs fell short of "good," and I feel that most of them wouldn't even be worn by the male designers on the show. rate_runway_01_403.jpg

Jillian I was surprised that Jillian wasn't in the top tier, as from the photo I think it looks great! Why she chose to style the collar like he's a 70s porn star is beyond me, but the proportions and finishing look very well done. There is even the proper amount of cuff showing on the shirt sleeve, all of the buttons are actually sewn on the vest, and I adore the contrast white collar and cuffs against the liberty print shirt. Great job in my book! Carmen Well ... Carmen admitted that this is by no means representative of her work as a designer, and I'm glad she admitted that instead of trying to pass of this look as something other than what it was (though I do find the model to be awkwardly adorable ... like Oliver-Twist-beggar-boy-meets-PGA-pro-golfer). Again, I can't imagine how tough the task must've seemed for those who have never done menswear, but she gave it her best. Good luck, Carmen!

Christian I feel that there are some decent elements to this look but I feel it's completely off for the client. The jacket seems a bit long and feminine, the pants a bit too bell-bottom, and the color choices are just ... off; I don't know who could successfully pull off oatmeal colored pants with a beige knit top. Again, a few good ideas, but I feel that the editing portion of his designing is missing -- by doing less I think he would end up with much more.

Kit I actually really liked this and thought it for the win (though I don't like the pic). I thought that using the an unconventional material for the blazer gave this look a bit more of a relaxed feel, but still very masculine and pulled together. The leg of the trouser is just right and the shirt looks like it was bought off the rack ... and since this challenge seemed to be about that, I felt that this look was the most creative but still stayed within the tight boundaries. rate_runway_05_403.jpg

Rami This look also looked great to me. A bit sportier than most, but I thought that this would work perfectly for Tiki when doing some field reporting. (I HATE watching men and women newscasters trying to jump through mud puddles in suits and ties.) I love the proportion of the jacket and trousers, though I feel that Tiki didn't go for it because of the length. Though it does give off a "weekend" vibe, I don't think that's a bad thing, they DO still have the news on the weekend ....

Sweet P Though the shirt was obviously a big ole mess, the pants are still killing me -- the waist seems to fit and then jumps out at the hips, which gives them a slightly feminine quality. Men's clothing should skim the body, not hug it or jump away from it. I also remember going home last Christmas, remembering I had forgotten my ties and went into my dad's closet to see what he had ... that exact tie was there ... and had been there since the 70s. Steven Smart choice with going for a more forgiving knit third piece, but the styling is killing me! For all the men on this show, they certainly sent out a lot of looks that I'm sure MOST of them would never wear. Who wears silk scarves with a button-down shirt/sweater combo? WHO!? TIKI!?!

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Victorya Although this photo makes me think of The Fonz ("Aaay!") I really liked this look going down the runway. I think the white jacket looks phenomenal and would look equally fantastic on Tiki, and props for Victorya for pairing the look with a caramel dress shoe. Too many times men think that black is the only answer, but here is a great example of how black and brown work beautifully together. Kevin I really didn't understand why this look was getting so much praise, I felt it was way too young, too tight (look at the shoulders), and too out of proportion for Tiki. The shirt is actually too short to even be tucked in properly, the arms too snug and the cuffs remind me of something on a women's blouse. However, I do think the overall color palette reads very well, and the trousers have just enough looseness that it gives them a bit more street cred.

Chris I really do love Chris but I just hate this outfit. No well-dressed man I know wears, has worn, or ever will wear a blazer with a zipper. It's 2007, and it just doesn't happen. I feel he played it safe with the dark color (considering he was the one to ask Tiki about color), the lack of details, and the drab styling because he feared standing out for the wrong reasons. On the plus side, it does seem to fit well; hopefully we'll see our usual colorful Chris next week. Jack I just don't get this look. I was wearing something similar eight years ago when I was in college and working at the mall .... I feel that even Banana Republic has moved on from this. I think I'm just jaded because all I see on Friday and Saturday nights here in NYC are straight guys in striped button-downs, usually in blue or pink, with baggy jeans and dress shoes. I feel it is so tired and done, and though it looks like it's sewn very well, there's nothing new and exciting about it. When you can get the same thing at Old Navy (which I have actually done) it just makes me bored is all ... sorry. rate_runway_12_403.jpg

Ricky Editing and time management was obviously a slippery slope on this challenge, but this looks just seems like a lack of particular know-how. I think that he should stick to what he knows to a certain extent, and broaden if/when he can. A button-down shirt and vest, or sweater, or t-shirt, or polo would have all been better choices than attempting to take on a full-on tailored suit.

Eliza Though it looks to be well-made, I definitely don't see Tiki, or anyone for that matter, wearing this on the Today Show. The shirt is way too casual, and though the vest and trouser look nice, I wish she would've used that creativity to bring casualness to a traditionally business-y garment: an update on a button-down, or a new take on a rugby perhaps?

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All in all, I praise many of the designers for trying to take on a new challenge with gusto, but who are we kidding ... THIS IS PROJECT RUNWAY! If you haven't done a tailored jacket then DO. NOT. DO. IT. HERE. I felt that many of them freaked at the idea and went to their first instincts of menswear -- suiting.

With a little more thought, I think that more creative solutions may have emerged for this challenge, because regardless of what Project Runway showcases, true menswear is a time-honored tradition that prides itself on well-designed cut, fit, details and fabrication. Everything else is just clothing.