Project Runway is back and I’m excited! I wasn’t sure what to think when they re-did the same challenge from the first season, but considering that the grocery store challenge was one of my favorites, I think I’m okay with it.
I’m also really excited that they have gone back to a larger mix of contestants (and their abilities). It was a little disappointing in the last few seasons when PR didn’t want to cast any younger or more inexperienced designers. Sure, the designs where probably better executed and consistently good, but that lost the fun of seeing what some of the crazy designers or bright-eyed, just-out-of-school designers would create.
That said, I was a little disappointed in the lack of “innovation” for this episode. I think there were some amazing ideas and designs (more on that below), but it was also disappointing to see so many people resort to fabric like materials. Oh well… I’ll give them a break since the first challenge is always hard and you’re so shell shocked that it’s real you don’t know what to do (It probably took me the first hour of our first episode to remember how to sew… seriously).(ps… once again here’s my little “disclaimer”… I don’t know anything about the new show, or any “behind the scenes” details and I’ve never met any of the new designers. I know as much about this season as you guys do, so my opinions are based purely on what I see on Wednesday nights. Please feel free to disagree with me, but as the season goes along, know that I’m not trying to pick on your favorite designer or dislike their designs based on the designers’ personalities.)
Here we go for another round! (Thanks BPR for the photo montage! Click for larger image.):
Kenley: The more I look at Kenley’s design; the more I realize how much I like it. When I first saw the runway, I didn’t think much about it, but it’s definitely made it into my top 5 now. I really like how she used the lawn chairs for a graphic element and for a unique (but totally wearable) skirt shape. The dodge ball bodice is also pretty cool and I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that must have been to sew or work with. Overall Kenley’s dress had a retro feeling, but looked modern and although there were other designs I liked more, I think she did the best job in representing her style and point of view in this dress.
Terri: I thought Terri did a really impressive job turning mop heads into a cable knit halter. I really thought they were giving her the “loser edit” in the beginning when they showed her picking mop heads and so therefore I was pleasantly surprised in the end. The braided detailing on the top was cool and I loved the design in the back (speaking of which… I really wished Bravo would provide back views of all the designs!). The skirt wasn’t very impressive, but the top totally made up for that.
Suede: I’m not really sure what to say about Suede’s dress… I hate to be mean, but this was a close contender for the bottom in my mind (although I don’t know who I would pick for him to replace down there). Even with the detailing he added on later, it still just looks like a tablecloth wrapped around his model.
Emily: I like Emily’s use of materials and colors in her collar, but I wish she had held back just a bit on the design. I think the collar would have been more successful if it had stopped just above the super balls. I know this challenge isn’t about being wearable, but I think a little more toned done and the collar would have been really cool and might have worked better with the dress (which is a little boring, but it makes sense with the dramatic collar to have a simple dress).
Leanne: Leanne’s design was a little too busy for my taste. I liked her idea of using bon bons, but they almost looked more like an afterthought and just stuck on there instead of really worked into the design. I like how she made the coffee filters cascade out of the pleats, but I’m not sure if the placement was the most flattering (it really seemed to add a lot of weight to the hips).
Jennifer: Jennifer’s dress was very cute and looked almost perfectly made! I would have been nervous to make something out of paper towels since they tear so easily, but she did a good job. The only thing I didn’t like at all were the stuck on lipstick pieces. The concept was kind of cute, but I wish she had put them on the real garment instead of tacking them on.
Jerell: Overall I thought Jerell did a pretty good job. I like the bold, graphic feel of the bodice and it looks really well fitted (especially for lawn chairs). The koosh ball sleeve is also pretty cool (my mom owned some toy stores while I was growing up and those were my favorites!) and I really want to know how he did that without it falling apart? Along with Korto, I thought Jerell was one of the more successful tablecloth designers and I liked how he layered and used the lace effect. I think the umbrellas clutter the design a bit, but maybe the edge of the lawn chairs was really hard to finish well so he needed something to cover it up?
Keith: Keith’s dress had a nice shape and looked well constructed, but the problem is that it’s nearly impossible to hide the tablecloth factor. I liked how he used the netting to create more texture and depth to the “fabric” and the belt is a nice touch.
Wesley: I thought Wesley did a nice job creating a sleek little cocktail dress. The color is really cute and I’m impressed that he was able to find so many materials that matched perfectly! The strap detailing with the layered plastic pieces (fly swatters?) is really cool and the glossy sheen almost gives it a bejeweled feeling. I also think Wesley did one of the best jobs with overall styling of his model and the little gloves were really cute! I agree with the top 3, but I would probably put Wesley in the #4 spot.
Joe: Joe’s design turned out better than I expected. I really love the top made out of oven mitts (although I’m not a huge fan of belly baring tops) and it’s cool that he tried to make a patterned skirt out of the pasta. Although I liked the pasta pattern, it’s a little disappointing when designers resort to gluing innovative materials to muslin (and Joe’s not the only one) instead of figuring out how to work with them in a more creative way.
Korto: Korto’s was my favorite design for this challenge. I totally understand why they gave Kelli the win since she beat everyone on being innovative, but for overall design I absolutely loved Korto’s kimono gown. Although she used a tablecloth, I think she was one of the only designers who was successful in transforming it to look high-end and elegant. If I looked at the photo and didn’t know the context of the challenge there’s no way I would guess that it was a tablecloth. I also really loved that she took Tim’s advice to heart and figured out a way to make it more innovative by adding the produce. At this point in the season (although that isn’t saying much), I think Korto is my favorite.
Daniel: I think Daniel definitely deserved to be in the top 3… while the overall shape of the dress wasn’t very innovative or interesting, I give him full credit for working with a really hard material. I’m not sure I would have ever thought about ironing plastic cups to make them moldable and I love that he actually had a pattern and a plan for laying out the cups on the dress (instead of just slapping them on in no particular order). I also really liked that he used the white edge as piping to give the bodice a graphic detail.
Blayne: This is where it gets hard for me… I really don’t know what to say about Blayne’s design. Sometimes there are bad designs and I try to find a nice way to say mean things. Sometimes there are good designs and I can’t think of anything to say other than “I love it!” This time… I just don’t know. I definitely don’t think it was the worst design and it least it showed that Blayne is creative and takes risks (definitely a plus in the Project Runway world). The weird white thing on the front doesn’t make any sense to me, but if that wasn’t there, then it could have been a unique swimsuit design (I do like the sculptural element at the top).
Jerry (OUT): I go back and forth on who should have been eliminated for this challenge. I agree with the bottom 2 designers, but I can’t decide who should have gone home… I’ll give Jerry credit that his design was probably more complicated to construct and had more thought into it, but on the other hand, there really wasn’t anything that looked good in the outfit. Most of the people I watched the show with were saying it looked like something a serial killer would wear and then they all cracked up when one of the judges said the same thing (MK maybe?). I usually try to find the positive things about each design, but this one is proving difficult (and I’m sorry to say that).
Kelli (WINNER): Like I said above, I completely understand why the judges gave Kelli the win. She was by far the most innovative of the designers (hook and eyes from a notebook!) and I loved the textile treatment she created on the vacuum bags. Once again, just by looking at the photo, I wouldn’t be able to tell that her dress wasn’t out of fabric (and a gorgeous fabric at that!). I also really liked the studded detail around the waist and thought it was a nice touch to bring in some of Kelli’s design personality. The only part I wasn’t terrible fond of was the bodice on her dress. Although I really appreciate how she tried to make the coffee filters into lace, it almost looks like they were an afterthought or just stuck on there. Overall though, the rest of the dress was so pretty and innovative that it’s easy to overlook the bodice.
Stella: Back to the Stella or Jerry debate… I still can’t decide who I think should have gone home! While I think Jerry put more thought and work into his design, I think Stella did a better job showing us her point of view as a designer. Looking at both designs, I can tell what type of clothing Stella likes to create, but I can’t with Jerry’s. And although Stella’s dress definitely looks like a trash bag, I think the actual shape/design of the dress could have worked in another fabrication. Still though, I liked that Jerry put more effort into the challenge, where Stella seemed to almost give up right away… and with that, I think I’m giving up on trying to decide!