Fashion Inside Out

Diane von Furstenberg presents a challenge with a lot on the line!

Okay, before we get started I have to share some exciting news: I just got an advanced copy of my new book Fashion Inside Out from my publisher and it looks AMAZING!!! So many long hours went into it, almost a year of shooting, and countless moments of frustration, but to see it bound and looking beautiful in my hands made it all worth it! There's a big book tour coinciding with the US and UK launch date (October 28th I believe) that will take me all over the country, but I'll be sure to post more information about that when the time is closer... but I just couldn't resist sharing the exciting news!

Okay, tone it down Daniel, you rarely use so many exclamation points in one paragraph and you're starting to sound like a 10 year old on IM (LOL!) This week's challenge was a fantastic one, wasn't it? The designers were blessed with using high-end fabrics, they got to hear about what the challenge from the designer herself, and then, on top of it all, they had the opportunity to have it reproduced! Diane von Furstenberg is truly a living legend in the fashion community, and someone who has consistently designed beautiful clothing that makes women of all ages and sizes feel beautiful and sexy. Her qualifications make her an excellent judge and mentor. Tie in having Fern Mallis (both of whom are in my book! Wink wink) critique the designer's work, and they're getting a real-life dose of what NY Fashion is all about.

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Blayne
Considering Blayne's penchant for color and extremism, I have to say this look is pretty good. The jacket is fantastic and I simply can't believe that he did that in such a short amount of time; the silhouette works in beautifully with DVF's fall collection with its wide collar and cinched waist. Though I feel the blouson shorts may have worked in a slightly softer, more sophisticated fabric, I just don't see them looking chic enough as is. The exposed ties on the legs also make them look a little home-made, and then pairing them with bare legs and black pumps makes the whole look seem a bit disjointed - summer meets winter meets business casual. Good pieces, but not a knockout.

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Jerell
Fantastic job this week! I thought he did a great job of marrying his style with Diane's, and ended up with a gorgeous look. The color story and silhouette scream DVF, but I really enjoyed the futuristic touches of patent blue inserts he included on the jacket, really elevating it from looking like something she simply pulled from her archive. The only reason I can think of as to why this didn't make the cut was because of the length of the skirt; similar to his last challenge's mini skirt, this one is just a tad too short, and too young. I do think he styled his model appropriately and think the t-strap shoes and box hat help to make her look more period and relatable to the collection's inspiration. Nice job!

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Joe
Though I find this design to be pretty bad, I was on the fence halfway through the show, thinking that it was possible for him to end on the good side of straddling the risk-factor. The color combination was a risk, as was the hooded cape, but add in the poor execution (which I don't understand because he's handled past challenges beautifully?) it really was destined to crash and burn. When Joe was first showing Tim the hooded cape idea in the workroom, he held up (which I now know was just muslin) white fabric that looked much cozier and appropriate for the garment. Granted, the skirt/top was made very badly, but if he had made the cape out of cozy cashmere or wool in winter white, or something more outwear appropriate than the metallic dancewear he chose, I think it could've worked.

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Kenley
Hmmmm. I'm not sure what to really say about this dress. Yes, the fabric is gorgeous, yes, the silhouette is reminiscent of the inspiration, and yes, she's styled beautifully, but I can't get over the fact that it's just a dress. Unlike some of the other designer's looks, and many of Kenley's past challenges, this just doesn't hold its own when compared to the other designs being shown. Regardless of how it would sell in a store, it still needs to stand out the runway amidst everyone else's designs, and I think Kenley just didn't do enough. There are many times where a designer is weary of over-designing a look when they want the beauty of a fabrication to stand out, but I think that there was a way of doing a more interesting dress without losing the focus of the gorgeous fabric. In the end, the best part of the dress IS the fabric, and that's the one thing that Kenley didn't create. I'm sure I'm being so tough on Kenley because I think she's a good designer and I'd like to see her keep pushing herself - come on girl!

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Korto
Another very good, very bold look from Korto! I really think that she creates beautiful clothing and I love when she's confident in her designs - as she really isn't afraid to be daring when she's on. Korto really seems to love volume in her clothing, but she's smart enough to do it strategically. This jacket is flattering, wearable, sexy, and a smart accent to the dress. Though I'm usually not a big fan of colored inserts in evening gowns, I think the way she did it works. I'm also not a fan of ankle-length dresses and feel that it would've been more of an impact had she made it floor-length, though somehow it works on her model. Similar to Leanne's look, Korto designed two strong pieces that work together, an approach that some of the other designers really struggled with.

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Leanne
I'm in lust with this look. From her finger-wave tresses to the sweeping hem, I can find NOTHING that I dislike about this design. I adore navy for evening wear, finding it both sexy and strong (something that I feel is very much DVF's aesthetic) but when accented with a cascade of soft ruffles it just oozes sexiness. I literally "ooohhed" when Leanne's model took off the jacket to showcase the dress's neckline, a subtle take on a classic v-neck. The jacket is both soft, yet structured, and is proportionately perfect for her model - Leanne was smart to heed Tim's advice about chopping the length. Another win for the lovely Leanne! Yay!!!

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Stella
Wow, this was pretty bad. I was surprised how bad the execution was because that really seemed to be one of Stella's strong points - her technique. I have a feeling that she's more accustomed to working with tight woven fabrics (or leather) which don't have a lot of give to them, so you can sew it up and just pour the model into it... everything pretty much stays in place. Though with this spongy wool, it has a tendency to have a much softer hand and though it's a "menswear" fabric, it's still soft and feminine. Not to bring back horrible memories, but do you remember the suit that Nick designed for me for the make-over challenge? It was a good design that needed a crisp, sturdy fabric and not the softer, spongy version that was used. Anyways, I digress. I think that Stella truly was the rocker with a heart of gold and really did a great job of holding her own on this show. Stella will never work for a designer as feminine as DVF, and she shouldn't, because they both have their own distinct point-of-view and that's what makes them both fabulous. Good luck Stella and know that many of us, including my boyfriend and I, will greatly miss your sharp wit and straight-to-the-point comments!

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Suede
This is the (Okay, I've really lost track at this point) week in a row that Suede has sent a disjointed look down the runway. I love the green "camo" print he chose, and the neckline of the dress was both sexy yet demure, but the awkwardness of the heavy skirt (with unnecessary slit) and sporty vest took your eye away from the good points of the look. When Tim commented that there was too much fullness, I thought Suede would take the hint to either lose some (which I think he did) or chop the dress to make it younger and flirtier. If he had gone with option two, I don't think it would've meshed perfectly well with the rest of DVF's collection, but I think it would've been an improvement over what he had, and honestly, more Suede.

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Terri
Though Terri was getting flack from the other designers for repeat designing her signature pant/jacket combo, it doesn't really bother me that much, because she keeps changing it up. I think that this look was very DVF and would fit in very well with her fall collection. Yes, I can see that the crotch of the pants are a bit... ummm... tight, let's hope it's just the way the model is standing that's causing so much...ummm...tension. Overall, I think that this look was good, but there wasn't that "wow" factor that some of the other designers had, leaving her somewhere in the safe zone for another week.

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Garden Of Locks

How to create botanical worthy hair!

As part of this week's challenge, the designers went on a field trip to the New York Botanical Garden to find inspiration for an evening gown. For this elegant episode, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman was the perfect choice for the guest judge, as her line embodies pretty eveningwear that offers delicacy and detail.

As the models started heading down to the salon, I instantly fell in love with Kenley's fuchsia, black, and purple snake print dress for model Topacio! The sleeveless dress had a mock turtleneck and was very form-fitting. My favorite part of the dress was the explosion of petals at the hem. Her silhouette reminded me of a mermaid. To make the dress modern and fashion-forward, Kenley cinched Topacio's waist with a 1" black leather belt. Kenley came to us confident in her design, describing her dress as "really high fashion, very edge-y." To show off the unique neckline, we put Topacio's hair in a glamorous up-do. I had the most fun creating a modernized evening hairstyle for Korto's model Katarina. Since Korto got her inspiration from an orange tropical flower, she created an orange satin and silk floor length halter neck gown. She added beaded lace panels at the side and on the skirt to add additional texture. To take this backless number from the prom to the red carpet, I knew I would have to give her a trendy hairstyle. First, I started by generously misting Katarina's hair with TRESemmé Thermal Creations Curl Activator Spray to create and hold her curl. After, I took a horseshoe section from the ends of her locks to her temples and teased to create volume. I pinned the rest of the hair up into a horizontal French twist and loosely curled the top section of Katarina's hair with a ½″ curling iron. Next, I fingered through the top for an undone look and finally, pinned the ends into a twist. I finished the look by spraying TRESemmé TRES Two Ultra Fine Mist Hair Spray. Jerell designed a sleeveless sweetheart-neck gown that was dark purple, deep pink and bright green.

Jerell's use of color and the voluminous skirt made the dress look like a flower. He added antique buttons and lace patchwork over the center of the empire bust line to accentuate the fitted top. Since the dress was very bottom heavy, we wanted an elegant look for Nicole. We started by working in TRESemmé Thermal Creations Straightening Gel and blow-drying her hair back into a sleek ponytail. Then, we teased the ponytail for maximum volume. Next, we lightly brushed the surface of the pony for a smooth finish and tucked the ends under creating a rounded shape.

Jerell's elegant creation made him the winner of the challenge! The most surprising twist of the episode? No one was eliminated! It was a bit of a relief because each challenge has become an emotional ride for us, as we have seen each of these designers bloom.

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