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Is Ignorance Bliss?

Fern Mallis offers her opinion on this week's challenge. What were you expecting to see from this challenge? How much inspiration from the fashion legend vs. own designer’s style? 

You always want to see an individual's own "style" or "personality" come through, but with this specific challenge, it was clearly more important to demonstrate that you were channeling the assigned designer and not just creating a copy of one their iconic looks, but truly adapting it and making it modern.

It is not unlike the challenge many of today's top designers have when hired to "resuscitate" or bring back a legendary label. Which looks stood out to you for better or for worse? Do you agree with the audience’s favorites?

I completely agree that Johnny hit this one on the head! He made a young, wearable sexy interpretation of Gianni Versace. Johnny did Gianni.

I think Haven lost because she was in fact thrilled that she got YSL. It was a gift from her buddy ... and she seemed quite confident that she knew what that was all about, and yet she missed the mark by a mile!! Reco started crying — what was your reaction to that?

I believe it was sincere, as he is usually quite cocky and unflappable. He had a real sense that it may be over for him and I think it surprised him. It took the "wind from his sails" ... and he needed to all of a sudden get real and honestly express how much it meant to him to be there, and admit his flaws ... and lack of any fashion knowledge or history. He quickly saw that could be a real issue for him.

I didn’t, however sway my opinion one way or the other, but I genuinely felt bad for him. It was a real human moment (or else I am a sucker and he’s a great actor!) How important is it that designers study fashion history?

It is important to understand the history and background of any job, or craft, or skill. How can you ever succeed without knowing what came before? It may not be necessary for a “history class on fashion," but look at books, at old magazines, movies, and so forth and get a sense of what was what and where the influences came from. It is important, and education should never be underestimated! Peter Som asked whether it was worse to know history and do a poor job or to be ignorant? What do you think?

There can never be any real justification for “ignorance” … however I have always believed in some ways that “ignorance is bliss,"  but only for so long. There are situations where people just have not had the access or opportunity to get the information others have.

I do believe though to know the history, and then not apply it correctly is a real problem. Haven was the embodiment of that problem … she happily responded to her challenge with an attitude of knowing it so well … and yet she really didn’t show that . She knew the subject matter well and did a poor joband she lost. You asked Anna how she chose which designer would be inspired by whom ... Do you think she sabotaged any of the designers at all?

She absolutely did. I once again did not see the Mini Challenge, or see how they each reacted to seeing these iconic dresses the first time … and I only knew what I saw on the runway and the explanations I heard in our elimination session. It was quite clear to me that she played favorites, giving some of her friends the edge, which actually backfired, and she played into Rieo not knowing Halston, and Merlin – Madame Gres ….

I realise it’s a competition, but I would have liked to see her be more magnanamous.

I also think in all fairness, the dresses that were provided by the vintage gallery were not in all instances great representations of those iconic designers' most important or influential looks.


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