Cast Blog: #PROJECTRUNWAY

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Episode One: We're Off!

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Kenley Blogs Episodes 510-514

On The Road

The Real Winner

The Final Showdown

Leanne Speaks!

Finale, Part 2

What's Next

Tim Responds To Your Comments!

Love Is In The Hair!

History Repeating Itself

Garden Of Locks

Nature Calls

Rock 'n' Runway

Rock Steady

Rock N' Runway

Suede: Rockin' Out

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Take A Bow

Transformation

Joe: Straight Talk

Working Girl

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Best Of The Best?

Written In The Stars

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What's Your Sign?

I Saw The Sign

A Designer's Dream

Fashion Inside Out

Stella: Lovin' The Leatha

Double 0 Fashion

No Leatha, Mo' Problems

Making The Most Of It

The Fashion That Drives You

A Softer Edge

Fasten Your Seat Belts

Show Some Love

It's All An Illusion

Daniel: Oy Gevalt!

Good Queen Fun

Drama, Drama, Drama!

Joe: All Aboard!

RuPaul: A Drag Race

Episode One: We're Off!

One by one, each designers outfit reviewed!

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And we're off! The fifteen season four designers have arrived, settled into their apartments, and are presented with their first challenge. They meet Heidi and me in Bryant Park (home of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week) where Heidi gestures to three tents at the opposite end of the park and declares that they are the source of the designers' materials for this challenge.

The tents are constructed out of $50,000 worth of fabrics donated by our favorite fabric resource, MOOD. The designers have ten minutes to collect as much fabric as they can. Then we will return to the workroom at Parsons where they will have until 1:00AM to design and execute a garment that demonstrates their philosophy and point of view.

So, here goes: 
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Rami WINS! Rami unequivocally showed us who he is as a designer: modern yet classic, romantic yet restrained, and with elegance personified. His silk georgette one-shouldered gown in a rich gray was all about the drape, and his draping is nothing short of magnificent. Lest anyone project that season four will belong to Rami, let me remind loyal viewers that the winner of the first challenge has never won the season - yet. rate_runway_14_401.jpg

Simone is OUT. I do not dispute Simone's talents as a designer: she's excellent. Her undoing was all about inadequate construction. Was I a fan of her garment design? Not entirely, but we can debate its conceptual quality and relevance. We cannot debate the construction; poor workmanship abounded. Furthermore, she didn't have time to set in the dress's zipper(!). Watching her design walk the runway was painful. I merely hoped that her own exit would be quick. It was. rate_runway_09_401.jpg

Carmen was the only designer to use a pant and I applaud her for it, because she gave herself a big challenge and an even bigger risk: fit. Her black pant offered a sleek and minimal counterpoint to the exuberance of the top pieces - a gold shrunken jacket over a floral blouse. It wasn't for everyone, but I found it to be stunning. rate_runway_05_401.jpg

Chris, this season's designer with a costume background, definitely presented fashion. It was a red carpet worthy gown in aubergine silk charmeuse with a large waistband and halter-top in an olive print. His model held the fishtail train on the runway, giving the dress an elegance and distinction that it deserved. Bravo. rate_runway_02_401.jpg

Christian created a bishop sleeve shrunken jacket using a Glen plaid in silk satin. This was paired with a taupe, asymmetrically pleated bubble skirt. I loved certain aspects of the jacket - the silhouette, proportions, and the dynamic chevron created by the matching of the plaid at the back center seam, but I was confounded by the print's mismatch elsewhere. Given the large scale of the plaid, the mismatching was discordant to me and begged the question, "Why match it at all?" since the meeting of the plaid in the back was so precise. Furthermore, the construction of the skirt eluded me. But the judges loved the look, so look out for Christian! rate_runway_13_401.jpg

Elisa is going to be very interesting to watch, but perhaps for reasons other than...we'll see. She designed an azure jersey gown with a gorgeous silhouette, an excellent fit, and superb finishing. That given, why did she believe that a long poorly finished train in a riot of colors and textures would enhance the gown? I didn't understand it. And her model was almost crippled from a series of trips and falls both backstage and on the runway. In spite of Elisa's strong commitment to her work, a dysfunctional design is a dysfunctional design. rate_runway_03_401.jpg

Jack presented a black on white floral print skirt paired with a halter top with an azure waistband and halter-strap accents. It was fresh and youthful and I wish I had more to write about it. Later, Jack. rate_runway_01_401.jpg

Jillian is clearly her own muse: witness the adorable outfit that she designed and wore to her initiation into the New Gotham apartments. For this challenge, she created a halter dress with an exuberant bubble skirt and a sleek fitting top. The slight contrast in the hues of red that she chose for the skirt and the top infused the design with a healthy tension. I surely understand who she is as a designer and am very pleased for her success, but I wonder how her point of view will continue to be demonstrated as the season progresses. That's a roundabout way of saying, "Don't bore Nina!" rate_runway_04_401.jpg

Kevin designed a strapless dress in black chalk-striped wool cut on the bias. He created a visual punch with a band of red satin protruding from under the skirt and above the breast-line. A silver obi was the piece de resistance and an ambitious addition. I'm eager to see what lies ahead. rate_runway_07_401.jpg

Kit is admittedly avant-garde. She is determined to push the metaphorical envelope, and I suspect that it will be a cold day in hell when she sends a classic shift down the runway. Her design for this challenge was anything but, but what was it? A black and white flower print dress (or was it a skirt and a top?) with a red, one-shoulder bustier cum harness. I get it, but I had difficulty with the proportions, not the concept.

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Marion is quick to declare that he's a flower shop owner, which sounds almost self-deprecating given that he's here for fashion. I know that he's educated as a fashion designer (class of season three's Robert Best at Parsons) and worked in the industry. So who is he as a designer? For this challenge, he created a black lace top over an olive skirt. The top was quite elaborate and beautifully constructed. The skirt consisted of large asymmetrical panels and felt very sculptural. I found the amalgam of skirt and top to be discordant, as though they belonged to entirely different customers. Still, I believe in Marion's vision and am eager to see what's next. rate_runway_11_301.jpg

Ricky has an extensive background as a lingerie designer and it shows in his understanding of the importance of workmanship: details and finishing. His design was all about the workmanship. I admired the construction and the flawless manner in which he used a scalloped lace trim to enhance the effect of the black and silver striped dress. The microcosm worked, but from a macro perspective, the dress was very, very basic, and perhaps too basic. Still, his execution won out - for now. rate_runway_08_401.jpg

Steve designed a classic black suit with an edge. The pencil skirt was beautifully proportioned, as was the corresponding jacket with over-scale, fabric covered buttons. The jacket's cut and silhouette brought to mind a modified peplum, which was just enough of a retro nod to give it an element of surprise. Worn with an effortlessly tied red scarf, the look was chic and sophisticated. rate_runway_10_401.jpg

Sweet P is very much about surfaces: textures, patterns, embellishments. That can potentially speak to excess, but she knows how to practice restraint. Her design for this challenge was a dress in a textile consisting of circles of eyelet embroidery over a red underskirt. Wisely, she chose a simple silhouette. I found the wide baby-blue straps of the dress to be an element of surprise. Sweet P will be interesting to watch. rate_runway_12_401.jpg

Victorya was one of the six designers left on the runway for the further deliberation of the judges - "the three best and three worst," as Heidi says. I have to admit to scratching my head about into which category Victorya fell. Her design wasn't bad, but it was so very, very basic, not unlike Ricky's: a black shift with a single and large silver floral embellishment. I'm not opposed to the look, but I'm not swooning, either. So if Ricky is one of the "three worst," then why is Victorya....? Oh, shut up, Tim.

PS Why so many baby doll dresses? (And what happened to the term, "empire waist" for this kind of design? I'm showing my Old-Fogieness.) Why? Because this form of design is a sure thing when it comes to fit. The same is true of halter tops, of which we had a profusion.

History Repeating Itself

Feeling the pressure and sympathizing with the designers.

I feel like last night's episode was the definition of "pressure" -- my stomach is still in knots! Though I have mixed feelings about the designs that the designers sent down the runway, I should mention that I do think the right designers are still here. I know that some think that Kenley should've gone home last week or that Jerell has had more than his chance (remember the Olympic challenge? Eesh...) but I do think that this group all has their own personal points of view and have done a very good job at bringing that to each challenge. I also think that this challenge in particular, though an extremely high-pressure one considering what's at stake, was perfectly positioned on the competition, as designers at this stage of the game really want to be set loose to flex their creativity. That being said, I do think that none of them hit this one out of the park; no doubt they're extremely exhausted having gone through weeks and weeks of emotional, physical, and creative challenges.

Ahhh, does everyone remember past seasons where the "runway deciding challenge" is always the one with the most misses? Season 1 left them all with problems, Season 2 --though I ended up winning the challenge -- I still regret doing so with an admittedly safe dress for Iman. Season 3 and 4 were no different, with no one really sweeping the win with the best work they could produce. I can only speak from personal experience when saying that at this point, you are really scraping your brain for ideas, after weeks and weeks of essentially solitary confinement, continually trying to produce your best work without a friend's encouragement or the comfort of your own studio, knowing that every word or tear that escapes will be judged on national television, and going without needed stimuli such as a colorful magazine, a captivating movie, or even a relaxing walk in the park. I empathize with the designers who no doubt are thinking that every decision they make will determine their future...which it does.

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Jerell
Jerell's work thus far has been relatively consistent, though I noticed about halfway through the competition a bit more of a confident stride in his work. Even when it went wrong, Jerell never shied away from what he loves: unexpected fabric combinations, embellishment, and glitz. For this challenge I think overall that the dress reflects the inspiration with its organic shape and romantic color story; it embodies the physical elements of his picture, but also the feeling of it (which is much harder to do). I agree with the judges that the finishing brings this look down, and with a little more time he could've really finessed the draping and the bodice fit (which he's had issue with before - Saturn challenge). It also bothered me that the model had to hold the fabric back, both on the runway and in the photo, for the dress to stay open ... a few simple stitches would've solved that. That being said, I do think he did a very good job at designing an evening gown that was both modern, yet romantic, as well as one that embraced his personal point of view. Congratulations Jerell!

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Kenley
I feel like Kenley has the mentality of a caged animal that still has a wild, fighting spirit; good intentions but truly a bad method of expressing them. Put her nasty attitude aside, her dress just didn't do it for me. I feel that the "scales" concept was a decent one, albeit completely off the challenge parameters, and if it had completed in a lighter hand with more interesting design details the judges would have probably overlooked that misstep. When Kenley chose that fabric, I too was excited as it really did reflect her inspiration picture - it had a gorgeous ombre color story, an interesting surface texture, and a nice hand. That being said, imagine if Kenley had completely softened the silhouette and design? What a completely different feel the dress would've had! When the fabric is already tough and sexy on its own there's no need to do a design that is so blatantly so (especially when it's strayed so far from her usual style). The dress as is was just too expected and certainly doesn't make me want to see more. Was it a good dress? Not really in my eyes. The model had a great body, which gave the dress life, but the simple design of the top half, and the overly clunky, almost costume-like petals just gave the design a really flat look -- there was just no life to it.

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Korto
In all honesty, I don't know why Korto got the s**t end of the stick last night; I don't think this dress looks that bad. Yes the color has some bad connotations to the '80s, and the fabrication does nothing to young it up, but overall I do think it reflects her inspiration and has some very interesting design elements to it. The seaming does amazing things to the models body, and unlike other designers out there (both those who are professional, and those who are on Project Runway) Korto doesn't force the natural curves of a women's body, she embraces them. I really admire how she continually makes clothing that is flattering, interesting, and yet, still "Korto." I think the biggest flaw of this design was the fabric choices. I think that if she had done the dress in something more slinky and sexy, like silk jersey, it would've been more fluid and youthful -- both things that this design could've used. Overall though, good job.

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Leanne
It's a good thing Leanne switched models when she did, because this lavender color looks AMAZING against Tia's skin -- she's got that JLo glow! Though there were the obvious fit issues and that random piece of fabric hanging like a dead fish on the back of the dress, my biggest concern is how blatantly placed all of the pleating detailing is. I feel that with more time Leanne could've really made the pleating a bit softer and subdued, making it a bit more gradual of a transition between the hard and the soft elements of the dress. As is, they simply appear to be "stuck on" which I think cheapens the look a bit, but with a little more variety in size and shape, I think the pleating could've segued into the rest of the dress more fluidly. However overall, I think the shape is great, the movement was sexy and eye-catching and her attention to detail was unparalleled with the other designer's work on this challenge.