It’s the sixth episode of Project Runway, and mid-competition fatigue is starting to set in, causing some of the designers to simply lose their way and become over-whelmed by the challenges to the point of losing sight of their own aesthetic. Oh, and some of these jokers, like the ones who see themselves as “judges pets” are starting to let those egos out (here’s looking at you, Viktor!)
The episode begins with a sad shot of the girls’ apartment and there are only four girls remaining in the competition. Is it me or does it always seems to be the case that the girls sputter out earlier and then in the middle the boys fall down like dominoes? Of the four women remaining, Laura lets us know she doesn’t really care for Becky. Does anyone like this poor lady? It’s looking like no, despite the fact that she seems fairly inoffensive. Over in the boys’ apartment, Anthony Ryan informs us that he and the dreaded Bert have formed a tepid understanding and now get along.
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After forcing the designers to deal with stilts, then Nina, then athletics (and Heidi!), they are now being forced to deal with evil monkeys that have cooties (or at least, that’s what Viktor appears to think) – children! Oh no! The challenge for this week is to actually work with one of these children – who are actually, really teenagers – from the Harlem School of the Arts and collaborate with on a painting that will serve as inspiration for an avant- garde look the designers will be creating. The designers will have 2-days to create their looks. The students are randomly matched to the designers. Let me state: some of these designers have never seen a child and some of them have no clue what avant-garde even is as evidenced by the resulting work! Yikes!! I actually loved this challenge – what a great idea since fashion is often inspired by art!
Viktor, because he hates children and explicitly told Lifetime that he cannot work with anyone under 22, gets a precocious, chatty, spunky girl named Sky who really just wants a bustier despite not knowing what it is (someone has been watching Bratz apparently!). Josh C. is connecting well to his student, who has produced an amazing and detailed painting of a wolf (think she is a Twilight fan? Team Jacob!), which has him dreaming of a faux fur cat suit! And Laura, well her 11-year-old partner is serving as her therapist. The students will also be joining the designers on the runway to watch the runway show and tattle to the judges about who ignored all their partner’s suggestions and that one designer who just glued the bodice of their dress to the model’s bust, Olivier!
After working with the students the designers are given 30 minutes to sketch and then it’s off to Mood where Joshua C. starts taking the steps to enact his faux fur / Twilight vampire costume dreams. Sadly, since he’s never been to Mood, he is over-whelmed and spends only half his money – most of it on the aforementioned fur (which looks like a cheap seat cover circa 1978).
Back in the work room, Olivier is descending into hot messitude because he doesn’t use color and he has chosen chiffon to work with and he has never used it before – so he is considering these fetes to be the “avant-garde” element of his look. Um, nooo Olivier – avant-garde means “to lead.” Oh, and he can only work within very narrow parameters called his own boring, monocolored aesthetic. Yeah – I find his work consistently dowdy and boring and very far from chic or fashion-forward, but that could just be me!
Tim educates the designers that avant-garde should not be confused with a gown, ala red carpet and should not be something La Klum would choose to squeeze into that features a slit up to her lady jewels. I think that comment left several designers stumped – like Laura, who is essentially making a Barbie dress because, Barbie clothes are like, over the top, right? Becky decides to interpret Tim’s message as: “Go weird or go home.”
Becky and Vikor, our Project Runway moderators, intone their opinions of everyone’s progress and style while ignoring that their own looks may be a skosh… awful?! Tim returns to the workroom to give some feedback and is rather un-wowed by a few pieces.
The Guest Judges for this challenge are Senior Fashion Editor for Marie Claire, Zana Rossi, who is sitting in for Nina Garcia (who couldn’t bear to see the schlock these “designers” would come up with for an avant garde challenge and called in sick) and Designer, Kenneth Cole.
Ok, let’s trash discuss some looks!
Viktor: Welll… I will say Viktor worked hard to incorporate his student partner’s ideas into the garment, but it seemed clunky and over-worked. Was that that Chantilly lace? Lord, say it ain’t so? This dress reminded me of figure skating costume (not helped by the fact that color scheme from Blades of Glory was mimicked). Something about it was just…off, despite the construction being intricate and precise. My guess is that he thought the one-sleeve gave it the avant-garde edge, sadly that was not the case.
Bryce: Interesting interpretation. I liked that Bryce sought to capture the mood of the portrait, instead of referencing the visuals. I liked the proportions with the skirt and the top – I love the volume on the skirt. I found the colors to be an interesting combination. I could see Tilda Swinton rocking this.
Anya: Um…. Hmmmm… I liked it. A lot. Anya really does have a vision. She is the opposite of Josh C. in that she knows her look emphatically and knows exactly what her point of view is. This was vibrant, had a great color and textile story that served as an homage to the painting without replicating elements of it exactly, and had a lot of vision and visual elements. I feel it was it about as avant-garde as you can get with this current crop of PR designers, second only to Joshua M’s. I really liked the feathers, but I’m a sucker for feathers. I’m surprised the judges weren’t more excited by this.
Kimberly: Well, it’s a bit peacock. And boring. It was cheesy and kind of dated. Although she definitely put in the time with construction, the end result was sort of what an 80’s Brat Packer might consider avant-garde. This was not Kimberly’s challenge – this is not her aesthetic and it shows. She is clearly a ready-to-wear designer. I’m glad she escaped the judge’s glare, since I think she is talented.
Becky: 80’s, again. Seriously, these designers confused avant-garde with just plain over-the-top ridiculous. This dress did mirror the picture in an interesting way, but was a little too silly – and literal. I liked the idea of the cubes, but I don’t think she used them well, and I agree with her assessment of the skirt– it should have been either much bigger on the bottom to balance out the top or she should have left it short. I did really appreciate the square cut outs on the skirt of the dress. I think Becky was in over her head with this challenge.
Joshua: Ok, Sequins McEyebrows, I kind of love this! It is so theatrical and spunky! Flattering despite the volume, outrageous, but not cheesily so and I think he understood the point of the challenge. It was a touch Galliano, but I’m a fan. And I dug the styling, even though MK did not. This definitely would have been my choice for the win! The judges loved the interpretation and the way he manipulated the fabric with paint, and loved the texture (me too!). They also appreciated that he used unconventional fabrics, like neoprene. The judges were also impressed that with some changes it could actually transition into wearable clothes – which is sort of the point of avant-garde. Good job, Joshua!
Laura: Fairy indeed. Tinkerbell goes to prom. And that is not a compliment. Laura can sew, but her taste level is a mess, IMO. On the runway this seemed clunky, dowdy, and all over the place; however after looking at the still picture of this dress, the ruffles are beautiful and the sheer with the boning was elegant, but the hem was so heavy and stiff – and it is certainly more red carpet than avant-garde. I was surprised the judges praised this so much. I didn’t think it was different and it was certainly not innovative. The judges were attracted to her message about why she constructed the dress that way and they were impressed with the craftsmanship and the sheer overlay. I see their point, but yeah still not worthy of a top 3 in my mind.
Congratulations Anthony Ryan! Interesting. Kind of Pucci-esque. He referenced the painting well without copying it directly. The technique to weave the strips of fabric was really intricate. A HUGE comeback from last week! If Nina would have been there she would have called him out on his Pucci-reference. Heidi loved this and appreciated the illusion of the brush strokes with the fabric weaving, and liked that it was sexy, modern, and powerful. Michael liked that the attitude of the painting was there. Kenneth thought it looked a little unfinished because of the sheet skirt, but Zana loved the different textures. They also thought it was wearable and very well thought out.
Auf Wiedersehen (again!) Josh C.: Oh lord – he had all that to work with and he got mired in a faux fur literal interpretation and ended up with slutty vampire. Awful. This was a cheep Halloween costume. And it looked cheap through the TV. The fact that he considered this “avant-garde” says volumes about his aesthetic… as in, he doesn’t understand his point of view or fashion. The judges found this to be the very antithesis of avant-garde. Michael Kors summed it up as: “Victorian cocktail waitress in Las Vegas,” Zana tried to explain how McQueen made dark pieces look sophisticated and beautiful, but this was “trashy” (agreed!), and Heidi found her Halloween costume! Josh C. attempted to explain his perspective, but no one was impressed. The painting was amazing and this was just a poor (awful!) rendition. It really was “generic,” as Kenneth said. And the styling for this look… yuck!
After last week’s challenge, my take is Josh C. is not an innovator and works better under someone else’s direction. Which is fine, thousands of designers make a great living working on a design team with clear parameters and vision.
Olivier: Ugh – This was rumpled sheets folded like origami napkins. And it really did look straight-up glued together! To me, this did NOT look high fashion. It was one step up from college toga party and looked literally like [fashion] student work! Also, very referential to several other designer’s – albeit a poor reference. Oh, and did I mention it did not flatter the model at all… it made her look very wide. At best, I’d call this disappointing and half-a$$ed. Heidi thought this looked sad, even though the painting was vibrant. Although Zana praised the construction (not sure why?!), she thought the fabric looked cheap and found it boring. Michael summed it up as “It looked like Mood exploded on her!” and “Valium clothes.” Kenneth thought it was too many random layers, with poor execution. Olivier is pretty much on the perma-chopping block now after Heidi declared his design sensibilities: boring, gray, and sad.
Oh, Olivier once The Heidster has it out for you – your days are (very) numbered! Olivier’s refusal to explore another perspective and his inability to move past his very limited point of view landed him in the bottom two.
Bert: Let me just say this is not flattering, but it makes you stop and think. I was intrigued, and Heidi, bless her opinionated heart (and I do) – liked it too, for being: loud, exciting, and coo-coo. I agree – it wasn’t boring and Bert did try something new. The pants, were a fete of daring all their own, especially since he said he hadn’t sewn a pair of pants in 25-years! Ok, while this looks ridiculous and drag queeny; it’s definitely theatrical and fun, and captured the whimsy of the painting. I don’t know why, but I’m attracted to this look and I loved that it made his model look 10-feet-tall, yet 5-months pregnant. It was so engaging. Am I nuts?
Zana didn’t feel like the art and the fashion were in harmony. Michael thought it was misshapen and old. Kenneth didn’t get it and found it “too outside the box.” Although, Heidi didn’t think anyone would be wearing this, she praised the spirit of the design and liked the way it literally reference the painting. Michael thought it was “Teletubby cocktail party” clothes. Poor Bert, he tried! Good thing he had Heidi on his side or he might have been the auf-fee.
After the deliberation, the judges decided Josh C. should return to the workroom and clean up the stuff he just recently unpacked again. Poor Josh C! Anthony Ryan was declared the winner and will have immunity for next week.
Next Week: Team WORK! Two Queens fight for the death and it results in a double emotional meltdown! Tim is repulsed and has to mediate. Nina Garcia and Michael Kors lay the smack down!
What did you think of the winner and the auf-fer? Were you surprised Anya’s look wasn’t in the Top Three? Were you surprised Laura’s look was? Thoughts on the challenge?