This episode proved definitively that the heyday of Project Runway is behind us. Everything about this week’s episode, from the overly dramatic, scripted soundbites to the illogical and unreasonable judging, reeked of producer influence and behind-the-scenes pressure. Either that, or the judges are hitting their crackpipes harder than Amy Winehouse. But regardless, this was an episode full of disappointments. Let’s start the sad, sad show.
ANDY (Inspiration: Central Park)
Compared to the garbage on the runway, this wasn’t a bad entry from Andy. But it wasn’t what I consider worthy of the penultimate challenge. Andy has done this dominatrix, mixed-black fabric and a single black glove thing repeatedly through out the season but somehow he gets applauded for his strong point of view and interesting use of black-on-black, while April is lauded as a one-note. Really, judges? Why is Andy allowed to recycle his ideas, but not April?
Furthermore, what the hell about this dress evokes Central Park, exactly? I’m not sure how he got to this dress from that inspiration. If I were in the judge’s circle, Andy would have snagged the #3 spot based on his entire body of work this season, and maybe #2 based on this challenge alone. But that’s just proof of the lackluster designs in this episode and this season overall. I think Andy is a decent designer, but not a great one, so he scores a spot in the finals from me only by relative talent.
Oh, and kudos to Michael Kors for his totally spot-on Robert Palmer music video reference!
APRIL (Inspiration: Brooklyn Bridge) – Eliminated
Did this look like some of April’s other work? Yes. But aside from the use of black and a general dark princess vibe, the only look of April’s that this garment really looked like was her resort look for episode 7. The rest of her designs could probably be in the same collection as this, but they don’t actually look significantly similar to this. Even her resort wear is only similar in the use of cutouts, not in the silhouette. I don’t think this is the most wearable or flattering gown, but I respect April for doing her own dark version of a ball gown, and I think she had some beautiful ideas. She’s been my second favorite designer throughout much of the season, and I think she’s an incredibly talented woman. You can see her creativity and unique vision shine through this garment, and that’s much more than I can say for some of the finalists. For this challenge, she’d have taken my #3 spot – and I would have only let three on to Fashion Week, because I’m a bitch like that.
GRETCHEN (Inspiration: Lower East Side)
It was a pleasant surprise to hear the judges finally critique Gretchen instead of blindly praising her, but of course she still made it to the finals in spite of this bullshit outfit. This looks better in photographs than it did on television, but as one of the judges put it, this garment reeks of off-the-rack. It’s just inappropriate for what is allegedly a design competition (though I’d argue that it stopped being one when the show left Bravo for Lifetime) – it’s boring, cheap-looking separates that lack cohesion and vision. To put it simply, it’s clothes, not fashion.
I’ve never hid my hatred for Gretchen and her hippie-disco-granola aesthetic, but this was laughably bad, even for her. And most glaringly, this has literally nothing to do with the Lower East Side. This is further from the LES than Andy was from Central Park. Gretchen ranks #4 out of 5 on my list – no Fashion Week for you in Diva Headquarters, Gretchen.
MICHAEL C (Inspiration: The Statue of Liberty)
I prayed that this would look better in photographs than it did on television. I prayed that it was a mistake, or a prank, or I went temporarily blind while this look went down the runway. But my prayers have gone unanswered, because this is still the textbook definition of a hot disaster.
Let’s begin with the slit. If I can see the curvature of your ass, your slit is too high. I’m sure you could see this model’s fire-crotch from a certain angle. And the back? My friends and I literally gasped with horror when she turned around. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a model’s back look that ugly before. I didn’t even KNOW a dress could make your back look fat until I saw this look. But leave it to Michael to know absolutely nothing about what’s tasteful or what looks good on a woman. Furthermore, you’re doing a high slit, backless, and borderline ass cleavage? How is this a brilliant design when far more modest looks have been deemed “slutty, slutty, slutty” by Princess Kors? And can I add that there is nothing more cliche than a) taking your inspiration from the one New York landmark that IS ALREADY WEARING A DRESS and b) designing a solid-color, plain draped dress “inspired by” (re: copied from) Lady Liberty’s toga. Seriously, this was the best idea in your bag, Michael? Are you kidding?
Is the draping aesthetically pleasing? Sure. But is this dress in any way complex, creative, original, thought-provoking, daring, or high fashion? Not even close. And if this show is going to reward barely skilled copycats over designers with talent, vision and originality, then my days of recapping, and my years of devotion to Project Runway, may be over.
MONDO (Inspiration: Brooklyn Bridge)
Another adorable and chic entry from Mondo, who would have taken my #1 spot. But honestly? This disappointed me a little. If anybody stayed in their comfort zone and stuck to their own aesthetic on this challenge, it was Mondo. He just can’t get in trouble for it because what he does really always does feel fresh and new and exciting. But this resembles more of Mondo’s past work than April’s dress resembled her past work. No doubt that this dress is totally fierce, but I wanted Mondo to surprise me and show us something he’s never done before. I wanted him to show the judges that he wasn’t resting on his laurels and his three consecutive wins and generally favored status to get him through this challenge – I wanted him to pull out all the stops, and he didn’t. But the boy knows how to mix prints and how to style, and he’s got his finger on the pulse of what’s modern and stylish. And for that, he deserves to show at Fashion Week.
So now it’s your turn to decide who’s in and who’s out!
© Democracy Diva, 2010.
Alright, let’s just say it: This episode SUCKED. Remember last week, when the judges finally bitched out the contestants for making clothes instead of fashion? Well, in their omnipotent brilliance, the producers decided to water the design competition down to activewear, which is about as far from last week’s “THIS IS A DESIGN COMPETITION!” as you can get. I don’t know what was sadder – the fact that having your sweatpants sold on amazon.com was supposed to be a reward, or the fact that Heidi Klum has an activewear line on amazon.com. But you know what was sad? Everything in Heidi’s collection, and everything the contestants designed. Because, guess what? No one gives a shit about activewear. Or Heidi as a designer. Or the eliminated designers who returned to make drama, and I guess some clothes.
Yes, Ivy took this challenge as an opportunity to accuse Michael of cheating – in the workroom, of all places, and in front of other people – and then went to each other individual designer to gossip about it. I wouldn’t put cheating past Michael C, but I think if the designers had really caught him cheating, they would have called him out when it happened just to get him thrown off the show. Why wait until weeks later when no one can do anything about it? That’s just not good strategy. He probably did cheat, but I think the ladies are lying about having seen the alleged boob tape first hand. I think the other models saw it and tattled to the other designers, who knew that without firsthand proof, the producers were not going to give a shit. But 90 minutes of bad designs and Ivy’s bitterness? Ugh. Anyway, expect my comments on the individual looks to be brief, because there’s nothing interesting to say about clothes that aren’t interesting. Let’s just start the fucking show.
ANDY – Winner
Andy’s 1st look was a moderately cool sweatshirt and a boring pair of leggings. Cute by soccer mom standards, but not particularly fashionable.
Lord, do I hate those pants. And I know over-sized is a look, but this just looks sad.
This is the look that won Andy the challenge. Comfortable but sexy with a little style to it. I like the skeletal vibe, but I agree that when paired with the other looks, it gets a little Halloween-y.
APRIL – Top 3
This looks better in photos than it did on television, but I still think it looks too much like a robe. I love the piece on her left shoulder, but I hate the way the fabric hangs on the right one.
Awful from the front – in fact, one of my least favorite looks from this episode and one of April’s worst this season. But the back of that jacket is darn cute.
If you took away exposed zippers and giant panties, I think the models for half the garments made this season would be walking down the runway naked. Here’s another case of the granny panty, paired with a shirt that has absolutely no design to it whatsoever. April, don’t let me down, girl. You’re funny and kind of a bitch and you curse like a sailor, and you’re talented beyond your years. Don’t fuck this up!
The judges finally stopped staring at Christopher’s beautiful face long enough to realize that he hasn’t made anything interesting yet this season, and so our favorite cutie has finally been cut. I can’t say he didn’t deserve it – these looks were dreadful and his track record is less than excellent. And this look is ugly, ugly, ugly.
The top half screams tween at a mall, the bottom is just insane. I can’t imagine the woman who’d want to wear this (and that includes women who shop for activewear on amazon.com).
Probably the ugliest dress in the world, but you know what? It’s totally hipster-ugly-cute enough to be my new favorite sleep shirt. And who doesn’t want to take Christopher Collins to bed with them? (Sorry, Nate!)
GRETCHEN – Bottom 3
I didn’t hate this nearly as much as the judges, though I agree that it’s a bit of a hot mess. I actually thought the skirt-over-biker-shorts concept was kind of clever and sexy, if a bit impractical. The rest of the look is garbage, which was surprising. Everything Gretchen makes looks like activewear that should be sold on amazon.com, so I can’t believe she fucked up this challenge so badly.
Maybe this what caused the judges to hate on Gretchen’s so-called 80s dance party collection, but I kind of liked this look. Cropped tops are back, at least in the Spring 2011 collections, and while I don’t think Gretchen was necessarily prophetic in creating this little cutoff tee, I still dig it. I’m not sure why all her pants have to have bibs on the front or back, but these were less offensive than most of her previous creations. And I like the shoes.
Dreadful. A bathrobe over a glorified towel over tacky leggings. As wrong as wrong can get.
MICHAEL C – Bottom 3
The episode aired days ago and I’m still personally offended by how ugly these pants are in fit, cut, and color. Who wants pants that mimic saddlebags? And the slouchy top and sweater are so depressing. But clearly the styling was the cherry on top of this pumpkin pie (forgive the mixed metaphor). The judges were right to point out that all the giant, clunky belts and shoes and the stick-straight hair are, like, totally over.
More ugly pants. More ugly sweaters. I don’t think I can take much more of this.
Michael could have thrown twenty belts on this and it still wouldn’t have hid the fact that it’s a complete piece of shit and fits like a cardboard box. AND DID YOU NOTICE THE EXPOSED ZIPPER? I think Michael’s collection angers me more than Pretty Christopher’s, because Michael is so unlikeable and Christopher is as loveable as a mini Australian shephard puppy (shout out to Chloe, new puppy of Jill, the Diva’s old roommate), but I still think Christopher deserved the auf’ing. But if Michael’s not next to go, I’ll eat my hat.
MONDO – Top 3
Let’s get ready to MONDO! I knew the judges were never going to give Mondo four wins in a row, but his looks far outshone Andy’s. The top is beautiful and trendy, the leggings are super-sexy and a great fit, and the headband says, “Try as you might, you can’t edit down MONDO, BITCHES!”
Another funky shirt, cute leggings (great color and GREAT length – that middle-of-the-knee hit is unique and flattering), and another fabulous, Mondo-riffic headband.
And this blouse really is where activewear meets fashion. You really could wear that to yoga and still look bangin’ walking down the street. The hair is laughably terrible, the headband is my least favorite of the three, and I pity the designers for having such an awful selection of shoes to choose from, but in spite of that, this was a pretty great entry from future Project Runway winner Mondo Guerra (at least, according to this Diva).
Please check out my Red Carpet Predictions from the Spring 2011 Collections! I’m taking all the most fabulous gowns from the latest runway shows and predicting which of your favorite celebs will be wearing them. It’s so good, it got plagiarized!
—© Democracy Diva, 2010.
What an episode! I was prepared for this week’s challenge to be dramatic and feelingsy, but it was truly emotional and even inspirational. You’ve just got to watch it for yourself to understand how moving it was, but Mondo has transformed from a quirky but talented tap-dancing designer to an honest and brave soul who knows how to find inspiration in life’s blessings and curses. The best part? Unlike most Project Runway drama, this didn’t feel scripted or over-produced. It just felt raw and real.
But enough about the feelings – we’re here to talk about the designs. This week, Project Runway brought back a terrific challenge from last season, giving the designers the opportunity to create their own prints. No twists and turns – just prints (and feelings). So let’s start the show!
Andy – Bottom 4
This late in the game, there’s no excuses. I don’t care if you’re distracted by your family or your feelings or your personal life – you can’t just give up on a challenge the way Andy did yesterday. Andy hasn’t always made the best choices in this competition, but until this challenge, he stayed true to himself. You could feel Andy’s spirit in every design. But this outfit lacked the vision that makes Andy unique. And Nina was right – this, like too many other garments on the runway this season, is clothes, not fashion.
Andy is at a disadvantage because of his truly awful model, but that’s also no excuse. That mullet blouse was uninspired and unflattering, that vest is disgusting, and those shorts make her look thick-thighed and not at all fashionable. And the print? Sad, boring, and unoriginal. I wouldn’t have eliminated Andy simply because of the strength of his prior work, but if I were basing my decision solely on this challenge, Andy would have been the sure loser.
April – Top 3
Another dark, sexy and intriguing look from April, who I love more and more every week. I like that she’s rough around the edges, with her gloom-and-doom aesthetic and general badass attitude, but she is clearly a gentle soul with a good heart underneath it all. This print, based on her parents’ divorce when she was 13, was stunning. The tree going up the model’s arm is beautiful and very unique, and her incorporation of the print into the design was rather brilliant. I love the silhouette and the styling, and I respect April for being the only designer besides Mondo to create real fashion for this challenge. She was my choice for the runner-up.
Christopher – Bottom 4
Christopher’s designs get more boring every week, and this garment is living proof. The print looked pretty cheap on the runway, but it’s even worse in close-up. It lacks emotion and personality and just looks incredibly amateurish. It’s my least favorite print of the group. I keep being stunned that Christopher is sneaking through when the judges admitted that there’s nothing memorable in his portfolio from this show. I’m still hoping he’ll turn it around and churn out something awe-inspiring, but if he’s planning on pulling out all the stops, I hope it does it soon.
Gretchen – Top 3
I hate the colors. I hate the print. I hate the cut of the shirt. I hate the ruffly collar. I hate the butt-flap on the pants. I have HAD it with Gretchen’s “disco-earthy” (aka “dated-matronly”) aesthetic, her over-confidence, and the judges’ refusal to critically view anything she designs. Nina gave her a “you can do better” speech, but it was more of a “you’re so amazing that we know you can do better” speech rather than a “step up your lousy fucking game” speech. And which one of the crack-smoking judges said that Gretchen is by far the best stylist of the group? That’s the furthest thing from the truth. Mondo is clearly the best stylist, with April riding close behind him. Gretchen has some strengths, but I really don’t think styling is one of them.
Michael C – Bottom 4
Oh, lord. Is Michael C still in the competition? I wrote him off so many weeks ago, I get frustrated just having to look at his face. This print is almost as bad as Christopher’s, and this design was downright ridiculous. As always, the styling is as dated and tacky as can be. So even though we still don’t actually know who Michael is as a designer, because everything he makes is completely derivative and lacking in any sort of originality, HE’S STILL HERE. Because although he’s never the best and usually pretty terrible, he’s also never the worst.
Mondo – Winner!
Incredibly moving inspiration aside, this look was the clear winner. I’m happy the judges said what they did about this outfit before Mondo told them his story, proving that they loved it as fashion AND as a message. Nina and I made the same moaning noise when the model took off the jacket, revealing that fabulous polka-dotted lining. The blouse is draped perfectly, and those pants are simply fantastic. Yes, they’re crazily high-waisted, but they look incredible and fit like a glove. Mondo truly is a master at the art of mixed prints, and he is deserving of his third win in a row.
Valerie – Eliminated
This was far from the worst of the week, but copying your own design from earlier in the season in such a half-assed way is definitely a dealbreaker. Valerie deserved the auf-ing just for thinking she could get away with such shenanigans. Valerie was sweet and talented, but she let the pressure of the competition get to her too early on, and she lost her way. (This is the direction Andy is headed if he doesn’t get his head together.) I don’t think the print was as bad as the judges thought it was, but it certainly wasn’t my favorite. I feel that this garment is over-worked, over-designed, under-edited, and far too stiff and unforgiving. Other than that, I didn’t mind it, but sweet Val got what was coming to her after several consecutive weeks of unimpressive looks.
Need more fashion? Of course you do! Check out my coverage of New York Fashion Week, plus the best looks from Milan Fashion Week and London Fashion Week! For more updates, follow me on twitter @democracydiva.
Okay, who else is ready for the “Shocking Twist: MAKE MORE STUFF! WITH NO EXTRA TIME!” gimmick to be up? I understand the contestants need to be challenged, but if you expect someone to make a high fashion gown, at least give them more than a day to make it. It’s not about being kinder to the designers – it’s the simple fact that everything on the runway looks like shit when the designers run out of time. Throwing a ready-to-wear look on top of the challenge just decreased the quality of every garment.
And is it just me, or is a total oxymoron to instruct the designers to create a high-fashion couture look… to advertise an $8 eyeshadow? I get that the winner’s $20,000 needs to come from somewhere, but please. Don’t pretend something in a L’Oreal commercial is going to be Parisian couture. It’s an insult to your viewers.
Alright, I’ll shut up. Let’s start the show.
Andy – Top 3
I absolutely loved this when it first went down the runway, but the more I look at it, the less impressed I actually am. I still love the fact that Andy made pants, and more importantly, pants that fit well. Christian Siriano is basically the only other designer in the show’s history who can actually construct a pair of pants. At first I appreciated how over-the-top it was, but viewed in photos instead of on TV, it’s basically a bunch of fan-like objects placed on top of an ordinary black suit. And that feels like a bit of a cop-out to me. But Andy has stood by his point of view week after week, which I respect. And in the hot mess on that runway, his stuck out as one of the few with any creativity whatsoever. He’d still have made the top 3 in my judging, but only because everybody sucked this week.
Ready To Wear (RTW):
Sexy, simple, and relatively well-made, considering the constraints he was under. It feels a little Gaga, which I love.
April – Safe
I feel like I should be sick of April’s goth-chic aesthetic by now, but I’m not. It doesn’t make for great television, because it’s hard to see the details in all her black outfits, but when you review them in photos, each garment is intricate and unique. I’m digging the leather-and-lace train in particular. It’s like Lady Gaga meets Twilight, which sounds like it should be terrible but actually sort of works! It’s not exactly couture, but it’s intriguing and creative, and for that, I’d have put April in the top 3.
Like Andy’s RTW look, April’s dress doesn’t move mountains, but it’s cute enough and isn’t falling apart at the seams. I hate that necklace, though.
Christopher – Safe
I didn’t hate this when I first saw it, but I hate it more every minute I look at it. The white draping around her waist is sloppy and unflattering, and in the immortal words of Michael Kors, it looks like she’s pooping fabric. That dirty rose water pink is awful, as is the “nude” underlay that clashes horribly with the model’s skin tone. The shoulder piece is nice from the back, but a little underwhelming from the front. But the hair and makeup really drag this down into the dumps. Christopher seems like a wonderfully sweet person and a good designer, but he may just be too boring to continue much further on the show.
Oof! That is some sloppy sewing. The dress is only slightly more boring than April’s and Andy’s RTW looks, but the snooze-worthy fabrics and truly shoddy construction make it seem like a much hotter disaster. And I’d have put him in the bottom 3 for two poorly made and drab-colored garments down the runway.
Gretchen – Top 3
Since this season began, I’ve never liked anything Gretchen designs as much as the judges praise it. Sometimes it’s just a matter of personal taste – the 1970s aesthetic that’s all over Gretchen’s mind and the New York Fashion Week runways right now is really not my style – but sometimes, I just want to tell Michael, Nina, and Heidi to put down the crack pipe and open their eyes. This is ugly, dowdy, matronly, and not even remotely couture or high-fashion. I don’t think it feels expensive or chic, and the back, which the judges creamed their pants over, looks beyond tacky to me. I’ll concede that the feather work is nicely done, but this is not a garment that a real woman wants to wear.
Gretchen, I’ll give you $20,000 myself if you just make something that doesn’t feature a slouchy sweater, oversized sleeves, or droopy fabrics of any kind. Gretchen’s strong construction skills would make me judge her as safe, but no way in hell would she be in the top 3 if I were in the judge’s circle.
Ivy – Eliminated
Well, it was about damn time. Ivy’s been churning out ugly after ugly since the beginning. But I must say, even I could not have anticipated just how ugly this was going to be. I knew the colors were tacky, the concept was too literal, and it wouldn’t be remotely high fashion, but I didn’t think it was going to look THIS bad.
And THIS was so bad, it was almost funny. The lack of a hem, the so-called draping, that awful neckline – I’d have sent Ivy home for either one of these looks, and she solidified her fate with two equally horrible garments.
Michael C – Bottom 3
Before I noticed the wire hem, the never-ending train and the way the Bordeaux fabric shimmers, I didn’t hate this. I thought it was so derivative of Christian Siriano and other similar designers that it was practically copyright infringement, but I didn’t think it was ugly. But those three details (hem, train, shininess) killed it for me.
Again, it’s every Alice + Olivia cocktail dress that Barneys sells, proving once again that Michael C has not an original thought in his head, but at least I could see a young woman wearing this. I actually would have made Michael C safe, not thrown him in the bottom, but I swear if I see one more zipper on this fucking runway, I’m going to lose my mind.
Mondo – Winner!
I didn’t love the front, but this was by far the best look on the runway. I hate that the bodice sits so far away from her chest, and the black satiny fabric he used for the front looks cheap and tacky, but the back is simply stunning. I agree with the judges that the length is a problem (too short in front, too long in back), but the back of this dress is the only thing on the runway that I would call high fashion. As always, Mondo mixes prints and colors with impeccable skill, but what amazes me is the geometric, architectural shapes to this skirt. It’s not simply draped in back – it’s practically origami folded in such a complex and beautiful way.
Simple and chic, but supremely body-conscious and much more show-stopping than any of the other RTW looks. If his win wasn’t solidified with the couture dress, this certainly would have given him the win in my book.
Valerie – Bottom 3
Oh, lord. This dress is as basic as basic gets. The only actual design aspect is that sad little shoulder piece; the rest is an endless nightmare of white. Did she really think she could just wrap white fabric around her model and call it a day?
I still get queasy just looking at this hot mess. It certainly gives Ivy a run for her money in terms of suckery. Valerie should thank her lucky stars that Ivy screwed up so badly, and she should watch her back, because if she doesn’t make a 180 soon, the judges are not going to forgive her.
Up next: London Fashion Week! Milan Fashion Week! And so much more. Stay updated on twitter @democracydiva.
The great thing about having the flu is that I have all the time in the world to blog! We’ve got some serious fabulous to get through, so let’s start with New York Fashion Week’s hottest (and nottest) trends.
I first noticed this fabulous trend while flipping through the Project Runway collections. I couldn’t believe how strange and sexy the paint splattered across the models’ thighs seemed. This absolutely gorgeous top is also paint-splattered. It’s hard to make something like that look expensive instead of gimmicky, but April nailed it, through and through. And clothes artfully splattered with paint made their way up and down dozens of other runways during New York Fashion Week.
The American West
The wild wild west was a huge trend last season, and the love of the heartland permeated this season as well. The influences ranged from Native American to prairie girl to old-time saloon whore, and they spanned collections from Ralph Lauren to Anna Sui.
The world’s ugliest sunglasses made appearances on the face of every malnourished woman over 5’10” this season. Inspired by John Lennon, that atrocious remake of Willy Wonka, and those little plastic glasses they make you wear at the tanning salon, an embarrassingly large number of designers showcased some seriously fugly sunglasses. Let’s take a look.
Nothing like a little crocheting to get your through the spring! Knitwear, particularly in black, white and cream, was all over the runway this season. Shirts, coats, dresses and more, designers focused on the beautiful intricacies of knit garments in their collections.
Check back here for more Fashion Week updates! Look out for posts on my red carpet predictions, my favorite collections, and the best and worst looks of New York Fashion Week! Follow me on twitter for all the latest news @democracydiva.