I think that Christian must have said many prayers to the Project Runway gods after last week's prom dress challenge pleading for a contest that would allow him to shine. Christian's prayers were answered last night as the designers were asked to create an avant-garde look inspired by a specific hairstyle. No matter how extraordinary the clothing, model or photographer, bad hair can make or break a shoot or runway presentation. Usually the hair is inspired by the clothing, but in this case the tables were turned and the hair was the inspiration for the look. I have been known to be a little bit of a hair fanatic -- with my own that is -- so I was excited to see the designers' innovative interpretations down the runway.
Avant-garde relates to works that are experimental, innovative, and distinct. It pushes the boundaries of the norm, delving into fantasy, drama, and advance concepts. Although most of the challenges test the designer's innovation, this one in particular allowed them to exercise boundless creativity to construct a garment that's first objective was void of wearability. The loophole is that the designers were put in teams of two and had to produce a second look that translated their avant-garde creation into wearable fashion.
I was anxious to see the way that Chris and Christian worked together on this challenge. Their outfit was an enormous production presented without a single flaw! The color was perfect, the execution sound. The girl looked beautiful, comfortable, and elegant in this cloud of fabric. After seeing the episode, it is obvious on my face that I was amazed by their piece! Although I tried to remain facially objective, I could not avoid smiling at their marvelous creation. The combination between Christian and Chris was brilliant! Christian's stubborn definition of his style and dramatic approach, which in other challenges have not been as successful, undoubtedly shined and proved to be successful. Chris also lives and works for drama and making a statement. His costumes are inventive, larger than life, and exuberant. (I am honestly considering commissioning him to make me a costume for my friend Allison Sarofim's infamous Halloween party this year.) Watching their work ethic seemed effortless for both of them, completely contradicting what they presented on the runway. I could see it photographed for any major fashion magazine!
Rami and Sweet P on the other hand were not the ideal match. Rami has a very strong point of view and has difficulty compromising his design aesthetic. We have asked him several times to show us a little versatility, yet he is reluctant to budge from that vision. Sweet P is a great team player -- she listens, brings fresh ideas to the table, and works diligently. It was clear during judging that they both had difficulty working together, but I did not expect that their incompatibility would drive Sweet P to tears.I see that the problem was that Rami would not allow himself to trust her taste or skill and spent most of his time micromanaging her, which clouded his creativity, which I know he possesses. Michael put it perfectly when he said that some of the most successful design teams do not always get along because if it was totally harmonious all the time, the clothing would be boring and predictable -- exactly what Rami and Sweet P ended up doing. Their design was not innovative, experimental, and, more importantly, distinct -- three traits present in Rami's candy dress from two weeks ago. Rami is an incredible designer and a superb draper -- there is no question about that; it is his security blanket. I just wish with such a boundless challenge that he would have wowed the judges instead of being so distracted micromanaging.
It is funny how the episode can lead the viewer to anticipate who will be kicked off. Even though I clearly knew who the winner of the challenge was, when watching I could not help to believe that it would be Rami's turn to go because of the confrontation between him and Sweet P. Ricky and Kit were drinking the Kool Aid, as I like to say, which can happen to all of us. They were caught up in the fantasy of their vision and were unable to see beyond that. The thing with avant-garde fashion is that although it is rooted in fantasy, there is a fine line that can be crossed and the look can end up looking like a Marie Antoinette costume. It looked amateurish in comparison to the rest, and unfortunately missed the sophistication mark which was ultimately their demise.
It was great to have guest judge Alberta Ferretti. She flew in from Milan for just one day to attend the taping and I thought really offered some great advice. Sometimes it is hard to anticipate how the guest judges will react. Will they be passive? Fair? Cutthroat? Off-camera, Alberta mentioned to me how impressed she was with the designers' talent. I could not agree with her more. This challenge will go down as one of my favorite shows of all time.
What did you think about the designers' looks? Which look do you think would make the best magazine cover? Let me know!
See you next week!
Project Runway Judge and Elle magazine Fashion Director