Hello everyone! We are close to the end of one of the most exciting seasons of Project Runway. With only five designers left, the Metropolitan Museum of Art challenge was a platform for the designers to interpret a classic work of art in an innovative way that represented a point of view, creativity, and showmanship that will ultimately win them a spot to show at New York Fashion Week. With only three wings available to the designers for inspiration -- European Paintings, Egyptian, and Roman/Greek Sculpture -- it was clear that some designers took the safe route and others would not.
This challenge I expected the designers to wow me! I appreciate consistency in design, but when you are one step away from winning a chance of a lifetime, the true character of the designer shows. So when watching the episode you can imagine I was pulling every hair in my head just hoping that Rami would be inspired by something other than the draping of the Roman sculpture of Aphrodite. I have praised Rami's technique week after week. His clothes are beautiful, feminine, and I cannot punish him for having a trademark style but, knowing that, this was his opportunity to take a risk. At this point in the competition you know the strength of each designer, but what this challenge was meant to provoke was to see if the designers could bring something new to New York Fashion Week.
Like Rami, I knew that Christian would naturally gravitate to the baroque style of the European painting wing of the MET. Christian applied his gift of avant-garde and high fashion to the Spanish military portrait and created a look that was inherently Christian but graduated. I was hesitant toward Christian at the beginning because often younger inexperienced designers are attracted to the avant-garde and I was not 100% convinced that he would be able to stay afloat in the challenges that were not necessarily in his favor. But I was proved wrong. Christian showed he understood clothes because he not only presented a well-executed, high fashion look but found a way to make it practical.It was great to have Roberto Cavalli as a guest judge on this particular challenge. One of my favorite designers, Roberto's shows are always full of energy and always have an air of sex appeal to them -- maybe it is because he is Italian. Whether it is his travels, the company he keeps, or the books he is reading, each season Cavalli shows a collection that tell a story of where he has been, what he has seen, or where he wants to go. He has perfected the art of making beautiful clothing that is presented in a theatrical way yet wearable.
All of the designers really did an excellent job, but in the end it was Sweet P's lack of fantasy and drama in her clothing that ultimately made it her time to go. Like Michael said, her designs have great commercial appeal and are no doubt wearable, but when presenting a collection at the tents scheduled in-between some of the greatest American designers, I really felt that she just did not have what it took to compete on that level.
It was difficult for me to get excited by Chris' look because it was something that I have already seen before. I understand just as whatever Rami puts down the runway is going to be sophisticated and beautiful, Chris consistently presents the judges with drama, and would have liked him to remove the exaggerated neck the dress would have been even more beautiful. You know I like to edit! Despite our criticism about the predictability of the two designers' looks, they both are extremely talented and have consistently produced fine work and I just did not feel like it was time for them to go. My hope is for them to return with their three looks prior to Fashion Week and present something that reflects their astute technique, distinct point of view, but in a version that is completely unpredictable. I want to see them challenge themselves and look outside the box. Heidi put it perfectly by saying that some of the most successful and iconic designers of our time are not the ones that always play by the rules but the ones who take risks that in the end prosper.
Next week's reunion show should be interesting as the designers gather and get together for the first time since the show has aired. Play Fashion Director and tell me who you think will come out strong during New York Fashion Week.
Project Runway judge and Elle magazine Fashion Director