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.
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!
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.
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.
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.