In case you forgot, last time on Project Runway, we got to observe the very first challenge involving menswear, and the results were, in a word, underwhelming. We’ll chalk it all up to experimentation and call it a day. Let us all hope that the Project Runway challenge thinker-uppers think twice the next time they consider dealing with men’s clothes… unless it’s swimwear. That I could totally deal with. More after the jump!
Revisiting the drama from the previous episode is particularly painful because the bottom three designs probably rate as some of the nastiest crap that has ever trotted down Heidi’s runway. Kit Pistol does her best to convince Sweet P that she deserved to stay over Carmen based solely on the fact that her garment could be considered an attempt at a shirt (at least), while Carmen sent her model down the runway in a piece of fabric draped around his neck in lieu of a shirt. Apparently, the lesson here is that Project Runway is much like Kindergarten: the important thing is just to try, try, and try some more. Do your best and you’ll get a sticker and a cookie. Isn’t that cute? Thankfully, Sweet P is too mature to be proud of her efforts. She knows that her stay of Aufing was more luck than anything, and it easily could have been her ass with Heidi’s footprint embedded in it had Nina missed her morning coffee or Michael Kors’ pants been just a tad bit tighter. Ricky is also lucky to still be around, but I’m not sure he knows it. I think the veil of tears around his eyes is impairing his judgment as well as his taste.
After the models are picked, Heidi sends the designers back to the workroom to meet Tim and “an old friend” and get their next challenge. Who is there to greet them besides Tim but Nina Garcia (Hey Nina, Heidi called you OLD… Slap fight, please!), looking fabulous. In this week’s challenge, the designers will have to choose an old fashion trend (as opposed to an old-fashioned trend, which implies hoop skirts and bonnets), all of which are thankfully OUT. Luckily for Show, Elle Magazine has captured these massive lapses of taste in its pages for posterity, and thus, Project Runway challenges. A part of me can’t believe some of these trends were ever popular, much less worn in public, and they make me grateful I was a baby in the 80’s – I was too innocent and wittle to be traumatized by the sartorial horrors that plagued the nation. But wait, there’s a twist. The designers will be working in groups of three, and as a team, they will put together a cohesive collection incorporating all three heinous elements from fashion’s dirty, dirty past that they’ve individually chosen. That’s a little overkill, in my humble opinion. This could have been a fascinating challenge, one that could have shown us who among these designers are truly inspired and creative. Instead we’re going to get another one of those episodes that delivers nothing but inter-team politics and drama… not to mention truly fugly clothes. If you think about it, updating these fashion trends would be difficult even if they were done one by one. Combining three of them into each look in a collection just seems… impossible. Methinks show is trying a little too hard to best itself.
We wind up with four teams of three and the resulting fallout goes something like this…
Kevin, Rami, Jillian
The three winning designs seen above were presented by Team Jillian, Kevin and Rami. Their outdated trends were Overalls (Jillian, who at that very moment was wearing overalls, how humiliating for her!), 70’s flare (Kevin), and the poodleskirt (Rami). During the working phase, Jillian was picked as the leader of the group, so we’re led to believe the finished clothes are her vision.
The first look, constructed by Rami, is the Ode to the Poodleskirt, fashioned out of denim and floral piping. The second, by Kevin, consists of denim shorts and a floral top with a crazy collar. Finally, Jillian’s look is an updated overall get-up with giant bell bottoms and a sheer blue top with embellishments at the sleeves and collar. I don’t think there was any question of the winner in this challenge. All the outdated trends are there, but only in small (non-abrasive) doses, and the collection is definitely cohesive. Personally, I think this team got lucky. Overalls are still worn today, and if one looks hard enough, one can find plenty of examples that don’t make one look like a farmer. 70’s flare shows up at least once a season somewhere, and poodleskirts are really just skirts with large bells. By using denim in each look and manipulating the details of the tops, each look effortlessly combines all the trends. So although the collection is successful, I think they had an easier time of it considering their fashion trends. I honestly don’t like any of the looks, but they completed the challenge with style, which is more than can be said for the other teams.
Christian, Kit, Jack
Coming in a close second was Team Christian, comprised of Christian (obviously), Kit and Jack. Their challenge involved combining such travesties of fashion as Pleather (Jack), Zoot Suits (Christian), and fringe (Kit). Christian volunteered to lead the team, resulting in a collection that is incredibly well-tailored and chic. All the looks have defined striped patterns to bring the Zoot Suit to mind, and I assume some of the components are made of pleather, even if you can’t really tell from the runway. While I personally like these three the most, I can understand why the judges didn’t pick them to win. First of all, I don’t really see fringe. I’m sure it’s there, but it isn’t emphatic enough for this challenge. Also, Jack’s baby doll dress is a mystery to me. I don’t see how it fits into the collection, other than the fact that it’s striped. Again, I think this team lucked out in that their three out-dated fashion trends were some of the least offensive options, so only some serious breaches in taste would have put them at the bottom.
Ricky, Victorya, Elisa
Ricky’s team found themselves in the bottom two, and with good reason. His cohorts were Victorya and Elisa, and their trends were Neon (Ricky), cut-outs (Elisa), and Underwear as Outerwear (Victorya). From the beginning, this team was doomed, not only because Ricky and Victorya turned out to be two of the most aggravating personalities ever, but also because their trends were beyond difficult. Ricky’s look, on the left, has clear intentions: the block of yellow at the bust to imply a bra (underwear as outerwear), and a short shift in a deep grape color. The sheer block above the bust is sort of weird, though, and I’m not sure the look is wearable under any real circumstances. I’m assuming that the blocks of color are supposed to invoke cut-outs, but… I’m not sure I get it. And these colors aren’t exactly neon, either. Victorya’s look in the middle is way too reminiscent of an ice-skating outfit, and once again, pretty unwearable. Elisa’s shift on the left is probably the most accessible of the three, but the cut-outs along the bust look amateur, like an art project. It was clear that the collection lacked unity, but the trends weren’t represented well, either. In the immortal words of Karen Walker, this collection was a Fiesta Del Failure.
Something must be said about the dynamic between Ricky and Victorya, because, in retrospect, they both exhibited some of the worst social skills I’ve ever seen on this show, with the possible exception of Wendy Pepper and Angela. Victorya is a self-proclaimed control freak. She convinced Ricky to be the team leader, but made herself an obstacle to his success at every step. Clearly, she's one of those people, you know... the ones that are too cool and too busy to actually take charge of a creative process, but somehow find the time and energy to criticize, manipulate, and back-stab. I HATE those people! Ultimately, Victorya's passive-aggression and uncooperativeness sunk the entire team, and I’m so glad the judges saw through it. It’s a hard lesson to learn in life, but in a team, the individuals are obligated to submit to the rule of a leader, even if they don’t agree. If you are so bent on having your way with things, then you also have to have the balls to lead, and later, be strong enough as a person to accept the consequences, and clearly, Victorya isn’t mature enough to know that. To be fair, Ricky made some truly awful decisions (fabric, overall aesthetic, etc.), AND he failed to assert himself when it came to major decisions with the collection. Since it probably would have been his butt on the line anyway, all Victorya did was show the judges a bad side of herself. And these judges don’t forget that kind of stuff.
Sweet P, Steven, Chris
The other team in the bottom two was Team Chris. Chris was joined by Sweet P and Steven, and their three out-dated trends were truly challenging. Chris managed to get stuck with shoulder pads, Sweet P got baggy sweaters, and Steven ended up with dancewear. At first, I thought they might have an easy time of it; just think of that chick from Flashdance, with her leg warmers, baggy sweatshirt, and prominent shoulders, and bippity-bobbity-POOF! and you’re done. Unfortunately, these three aren’t anywhere near as smart as I.
Early in the working phase, Chris somehow found himself named as the leader, and it’s obvious he wasn’t thrilled about the idea, but hey, what is he gonna do? He’s working with Sweet P and Steven, who’ve proven to be two of the weakest links in the work room chain. As the looks started to materialize, Steven expressed concern over the shrug Chris was constructing, but (of course) he doesn’t actually express that concern to Chris, but rather snarks about it in the confessionals, which is not only rude, but also unhelpful.
The sad part about all of this is that the three looks in this collection are all pretty strong individually, in my opinion. Sweet P’s dress is gorgeous, and not just because Donna Karan said so, but because it actually is. Steven’s wrap dress with tights is eye-catching and pretty (although, not really all that wearable in real life), and Chris’s look isn’t nearly as awful to me as it seems to be with everyone else in the world. Admittedly, the shrug is a little Pro-Football-esque and the fabric is a tad dreary and elderly, but the dress underneath is absolutely adequate, and the challenge was to incorporate shoulder pads, after all, right? What made this collection a failure is simply that it isn’t a collection at all. Michael Kors said it best when he said that all three looks belong in different collections, which is a big strike against you in this particular challenge. It was also pretty obvious that the looks didn’t incorporate all three out-dated elements, and that Chris and the team had decided to address each trend individually rather than combine them. That would be another strike.
So the judges were forced to choose between a collection that was downright fugly and a collection that didn’t satisfy the requirements of the challenge. Based on those principles, I thought the judges were correct to Auf Chris, even though it totally broke my heart. I won’t get on the bandwagon that’s screaming SHENANIGANS on the judges on this one, mostly because I’m saving my complaints for the next episode, recap coming very soon.