It's always tricky to throw in an Innovation challenge at this point of the game: The caliber of designers has been upped since we began and we as viewers want to see some spectacular fashion, but at the same time, from the designer's perspective, it sucks for their fate to be determined by a challenge consisting of car parts and upholstery fabric.
Nevertheless, in the grand tradition of Project Runway, it's about making the most out of what you're given, and doing it damn well! Overall, I was happy to see a wide variety of designs on the runway last night, no two people seemed to send down versions of one another's, which is refreshing considering the limited materials that they were given and the propensity for some of the designers to compare their designs to other's in the room. So grab your magnifying glass and let's get started dissecting!
Blayne At first it's a bit alarming to think this came from Blayne, isn't it? Completely devoid of neon colors, a butt-skimming hemline, or arbitrary appliques, so for that I congratulate him. I really love this concept (and one that I originally went to myself when watching the show) but as mentioned on the runway, the poor fit and lack of editing left the dress looking heavy and stiff. The way the straps wrap up and around the body is phenomenal and brings a soft sensuality to the look, while working well with the soft color and sheen of the belts. Additionally, the broken glass embellishments also help to elevate the design from a simple "seatbelt dress" into something more polished. I 100% agree that he should've chopped it at the knee or made it into a floor-length gown, something more than just ending it where it is now. What I assume happened was that it did fit Polina in the bust but her hips were wider than the body form, which made it ride up higher, pushing the dress up and out and making it appear out of proportion. By opening up the hip, the dress would've been allowed to fall properly ... then again, maybe he just doesn't know how to fit breasts?
Jerell I was a bit surprised that the judges were fawning so much over Jerell's design. Though I like elements of it, the whole look seems a bit overwrought to me. I love how he brought in graphic and textural elements into the corset, bringing metal into any "wearable" pieces is tricky and I think he did it beautifully. I wish that it fit her chest better though, as it appears to be collapsing onto her (if the model doesn't have a bit enough chest, than he should've either brought it in or stuffed the bust) and the skirt was clean and a nice support piece for the more elaborate corset. I guess my biggest issue is with the styling. I don't get the bronze boot, the re-donkulous hair, the washed-out tar makeup, and especially, those throw-away sunglasses that she has perched on her head (which makes you think she's wearing this out in the daytime ... which would make her a cyber-hooker). I think that the outfit was special enough and with some editing the styling could've worked, but as is, it just makes it appear more costumey. Joe Now this look is adorable: It's sporty, it's clean, and it has interesting elements throughout. I assume Joe felt (and certainly looked) completely at home working with unconventional fabrics, and I applaud him for making a great looking dress with a modern shape and feel. I think this didn't make it into the top tier was because there was no "surprise" element about it: the dress was ultimately made out of fabric, and was made into a silhouette that was nice, but expected. For an innovation challenge, designers have to go beyond making "pretty dresses" especially if choosing to use the most fabric-like materials, and create a shape or silhouette that is more interesting. However, good job Joe, I think this dress pattern would translate beautifully into an easier ready-to-wear fabrication!
Keith Darn these producers! As soon as you're ready to kick a designer to the curb for being ungrateful and catty, they splice in the footage of them actually having a heart and make you end up feeling sorry for them. It appeared that Keith's biggest downfall was his inability to shake criticism, and though it's important to HEAR what the judges are saying, you shouldn't let it wholly dictate your work. The judges had asked for him to take a more edited approach to his designs, not to produce clothing that looked like it's from the GAP - they asked him to polish his designs before sending them out, not to lose all sense of inspiration and creativity. I really feel for Keith as I remember how hard it was to shake the judges' critique after finishing second place during Season 2, asking myself "Am I a bad designer?" and blaming it on their lack of understanding. Bottom line, fashion is a subjective medium and one that is asking for opinions to be made (especially on Project Runway - it's kinda the whole point of the show), so to become defensive over what you ultimately wanted from the show is simply showing a vulnerability that got away from him. As Donna Karen wisely once said "If you believe the good press, you have to be believe the bad." Life isn't just about praise; it's about learning. I honestly and sincerely wish Keith the best of luck, and to really listen to what the judges were telling him, and to use it to educate himself, pick himself up, and continue on with designing. In this week's The NY Times Style section, Michael Kors admits to how devastating it was to work through a near-closure of his company in the '90s, working through Chapter 11. If a man can be so close to failure on such a large scale and then bounce back so successfully, than let it be a guide for us all. Good luck Keith.
Kenley First off, despite the overly dramatic response to the departure of Shannone, her model, it does kinda suck because that girl could work the s**t out of the runway and certainly helped to sell Kenley's looks. Props to Shannone though for hopefully getting a job that pays you girl - go on with your bad self! Similar to Jerell's, I really like parts of this look, I think the overall silhouette is interesting, the color story flattering, and the look is both modern and retro at the same time (something that seems to be a bit of a trademark for Kenley). Conversely, to me, this is a scroll down fug, a design that starts off good from the top and as you work your way down it just gets a little ... well, fugish. I think I get lost on the skirt; it's just way to o long when using such a stiff fabric. Proportionally it works if the garment had been made in a softer, more collapsible fabric, but as is (without a slit for easier movement) it appears horribly boxy and cumbersome. By raising the hem a good six inches (take your finger and lay it over the picture to see for yourself) and pairing it with shoes that were more open and airy, the look would've definitely been in the top three for me.
Korto Love, love, gorge, love, gorge, love, gorgeous ... in that order. I pray that Korto is in the top three because I'm dying to see what this girl would bring to the runway if given the opportunity, I mean, are we LOOKING at this coat - it's fantastic! Korto is an amazing designer for more than just knowing how to work with fabrics. She is innovative, she's stylish, she's confident, and she's original. Amazing job yet again my dear, clearly my No. 1.
Leanne Bravo Leanne! I agreed with the judges last night that Leanne definitely should've taken the win as her design has numerous things going for it: It's flattering despite it's extreme shape, it's visually interesting due to the combination of textures and seaming, and it's styled appropriately thanks to the soft, yet aggressive hairstyle and makeup. I think the style is something that last year's designer, Rami Kashou became known for (uber-short, sexy minidresses) but Leanne's version looks like it's on steroids ... and I'm loving it! Congratulations Leanne on a fabulous win!!!
Stella For me, this is another example of a good idea with bad execution. When this first turned the corner, I thought "Wow, Stella did it. She married her style with that of the challenge yet again, and was still able to bring some pretty to the table!"... and then the close-up flashed onto my big screen, high-definition television and her ugly little secret was a secret no more. I had absolutely no problem with the pairing of the skirt and the top. To me, it was both modern and flattering, but I did have major problems with the obviously shoddy construction. The skirt looks like it's literally falling apart at the seams, which is a real shame because I find that her sense of proportion and shape are excellent. On a separate note, week after week, my boyfriend will turn to me with tears of joy in his eyes when Stella quips one of her numerous nuggets of wisdom. I have to be honest, this girl may look like a character made for TV, but after seven weeks in, I really am starting to believe that she's the real thing ... work it out Stella.
Suede I don't get this. It looks like it was made out of car floor mats and tinsel. Wait ... wasn't it? The whole point of these Innovation challenges is to create garments that lose their history; we shouldn't be able to see where they originally came from. Put Suede's smiley, little model on the floor of any Christmas-loving, snow driving elf's SUV and she'd blend right in. Not only that, but it looks very unfinished, especially the top of the "shirt." I also don't understand why the designers keep pairing these outfits with horribly clunky, cheap looking boots ... it is doing nothing to make the outfit seem lighter and more appealing.
Terri Now Terri on the other hand, did a great job of working her materials into a design that made them relatively unrecognizable. Unfortunately, the end products were kinda boring - basically giving us a mesh halter top and a motorcycle pant. I think the pants are great and hark back to the fabric's origin, but the top seems like such a throwaway piece it brings down any edge that the pants were giving. I also think that with a challenge like this, it's important for the designers to also consider shape, silhouette, and proportion as elements that must be played with, because if not, we're left with a look that has been around for decades.