Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fit to Print

Sorry about missing last week folks. If you'd like to read my thoughts, they're posted here. And if you want to make sure you don't miss anything even when I don't post on time, there's an RSS feed over to the right and there's also a syndication of the feed on Livejournal, thanks to the lovely Domynoe.

On with the real show!

I'm so happy about this week's challenge. It's so nice to seem them really returning to the wackiness and actually challenging aspects of previous years. I hope this trend continues.

What I wasn't happy to see was all the backbiting and middle-school aged immaturity on display. But I'll get to that.


My favorite dresses of this episode were the ones that used the photos in the paper to create a pattern, and this is one of the best examples of that. I know not a lot of people have seen the effect that's made by seeing a couple hundred copies of a newspaper stacked together, or on display, but the repetition can have it's own kind of beauty and Althea took advantage of that in a brilliant way.

The dress itself was also very nice, well fitted and flattering.

Carol Hannah

If I saw this dress and only knew that it was part of a challenge to make a dress out of newspaper, I would think "well, that's a pretty fair job."

But I've seen some of Carol Hannah's other dresses this season and while I like her quite a bit at the same time, her work can get just a little sloppy. So for some reason that's all I can think about with this dress, was that it fits with everything else she's done, which means everything else looks a bit like rumpled paper.

Also, I think her goal of making a dress that doesn't look like it's made out of paper was a bit against the spirit of the challenge, but perhaps that's just me. I didn't like that she dyed the entire thing, and I didn't like the color that came out of the effort.

It's just not impressing me, overall.


Is it just me, or did Christopher never really answer the judges question about how he made the bodice so armor-like? He said something about pattern paper, but I'm used to pattern paper being that flimsy stuff that tears if you look at it the wrong way. When I've needed to make patterns on my own I've actually just used newspaper, so I'm not sure what he was talking about. Maybe that's my lack of experience sewing that's on display.

I admit, part of the reason I'm so curious is that I know a dozen costumers that would love to find a way to cheaply make light armor for their costumes.

Anyway, I do really enjoy this dress. I like that he thought to put something matching in her hair, because I think that's part of what sells it for me. It's well done, and the judges touched on everything that was great about it.

I actually wasn't entirely sold on Irina's trenchcoat, so I would have given this the win.


This is what I was saying when I recapped last week's show. Epperson is just so steadfast and fantastic at what he does. He let the newspaper be it's own pattern, which most of the designers weren't able or willing to do. He made a really good garment, and Matar looks great in it.

But I can't say that it really stuck out in my mind or anything either. It seemed a little typical, not as creative as it could have been.


Sometimes, I think that when the judge's see the tabulations for the top and bottom scores, they say, "Oh, really? Well...I don't know what to do with that." Because in the end, there's no real explanation for Gordana being in the bottom three.

Saying that she was too safe and too wearable could be a fair critique, but I see several other things that went down the runway that I would say were more so. I think Carol Hannah's is the obvious choice for that.

Gordana's dress is well constructed, well thought out, and doesn't rely on the use of dye to change the paper to something else, she just used the same section over and over to create a pattern.

I'm not exactly sure why they had a problem with it, because I think that it walks perfectly down that line between "wacky challenge response" and "darn good clothes."

And isn't that what Project Runway is supposed to be about?


Let me just say that I am so happy to see Irina finally getting her due. I wish it had been for a garment that I was more in love with, but such is life. It's just that I don't like big fur collars, so her approximation wasn't up my alley either.

At the same time though, Irina did put a lot of work and thought into this. The marker "stitches" were a great idea. Side note: somebody said something about not knowing how to sew newspaper. Um, you don't. I can't figure out a way where sewing it would actually be the proper answer to the construction issue, so I'm not sure why they bothered. /side note.

I'm going to take a second to comment about how a particular designer who I won't address until later stated that Irina didn't belong in the competition. I have no idea what competition HE'S been in, but from where I sit, Irina is one of the strongest contenders for either winning the show or having a fabulous and successful career after the show.

Think about it. Episode one she makes a fan favorite gown that is creamy and gorgeous. It shows off the model, it's classy, and most people agree should have been in the top.

Episode two she makes a completely beautiful light blue maternity dress that I would want to own in every color. The worst critique I've seen of it was that it was a little boring, but I can't say I agree. I think the sheer craftsmanship and fit of it saves it from boring.

Episode three she's paired with Johnny, so it's a misstep, sure. But the surf look is cute and casual, and the avant guarde look...well. The less I say about it the better. But they're still a top team, don't forget.

Episode four again saw Irina not make it to the top for a well designed, well made, really good looking dress. One that didn't look a bit like what other people were making, and flattered her model beautifully.

Saying that she doesn't belong in the competition is just ludicrous and I can't imagine where it came from other than either bad taste or insecurity.


*sigh* It's time to talk about Johnny isn't it? Hasn't all of it already been said? This is a poor showing, it's a poor effort, and he should be ashamed.

His ridiculous story about the steamer was summed up best on Models of the Runway when one of the models incredulously asked, "he was steaming newspaper?" Johnny, if you're going to make things up, make up something plausible. You accidentally tore it straight up the side, and you didn't want to tape it all shut because that would show. You spilled dye on it. You knocked it over and your cranes were crushed. Heck, even, "I did a spit take when Epperson started imitating Shirin and it ruined the dress, oops."

I'm amazed, all the time, about the way the designers behave on the runway. Sometimes I think that the best thing about this show is that it might make people start thinking about how to think and speak to superiors. Doesn't anybody teach professionalism anymore? Listen, I'm in a creative field, and I'm in grad school. Defending your work without being argumentative, accepting criticism graciously while still standing behind your art, and generally not telling everything are all things you have to master.

There was no reason for Johnny to even bring up the first dress, because he should have known that the judge's wouldn't care. For him to say it was ruined wouldn't win him any brownie points, really. For him to say he scrapped it and started over, they still would have said, "you should have known better and made it work."

Johnny deserved to go home, and he deserves to be called out for his lie. He couldn't take a criticism and he couldn't defend his original design so he trashed it in a fit of childish tantrum. Absolutely. And his original design was pretty bad too, and it certainly wasn't "Dior."

However, I'm about to attack a sacred cow here. Tim's behavior after Johnny's exit was just as unprofessional and I'm just as annoyed by it. Tim has made a name for himself as a gentleman and a mentor. Speaking kindly to somebody's face and only waiting for the second the door shuts to badmouth them is not gentlemanly and it certainly doesn't make people want to open themselves up to your mentoring either. This isn't the first time that Tim's comments about contestants have sat wrongly with me, because I think of anybody on the show he should be living by the phrase, "if you don't have anything nice to say..."

A professor shouldn't speak ill of their students in front of other students. Tim, in his role as mentor, qualifies for that rule in my mind.

Listen, if Tim had couched it as a cautionary statement to the effect of, "I hope that you remaining designers can see that making up a story on the runway will not do you any favors, and I hope to never see that again" I wouldn't be so upset. And that was very likely his intention. But that's not what he said, what he said took on a gossipy tone and the timing of it bothered me because it made Tim seem two-faced, and that's the last thing I want to think about a man I admire.

I will point out that it's possible that an editing trick caused the timing thing (seconds after Johnny had left the room). I would have to watch it again to be sure, but I don't remember a cut at that point, it seemed to be a continuous shot. I'll check when Lifetime posts the episode.* Please see edit at bottom of post

I'm moving on to better things now.


For some reason (likely that they hate me) my cable company decided that the second after Heidi said "let's start the show" was the perfect time for a mandatory weekly test of the emergency broadcast system.

So while this design walked the runway, I was yelling at a green screen and annoying tone.

I really hate that I missed it. I absolutely love the way he played with the color, and I love the color itself. The dress fits fabulously, and if it was made of cloth I think that a lot of women would love it. It's not as ambitious as some of the others this week, but I like it quite a bit.

But having not seen it walk the runway, I haven't had a lot of time to form more opinion about it than that.

Does Louise just not like Fatma's neck? Also, there are a finite number of women above the age of 15 who can pull off the "mouse ears" hairdo, and Fatma isn't one of them.

I just don't even know what the curlers on the front of the dress are supposed to be. What are they supposed to be doing? Because as it is, they just look wrong and like they were put in the wrong place. With the color of them, they remind me of little bits of hot dog or something.

I do like the skirt, but I think overall it's just not a very creative effort, and I'm actually glad to hear that Louise didn't feel so either. The fact that she recognized it means that she'll go further.


Oh. Now we're here. Nicolas. I know the recapper from Television Without Pity really loves Nicolas, but I haven't really liked him from the beginning. I don't think he's really shown a great garment yet (with the exception of the surfer one where Gordana made the top) and he's done nothing to earn his ego. As much as I disliked Christian, and didn't like half of what he made, at the same time he at least had some skills and talent, and I could admit sometimes that he just wasn't my style since I think skinny jeans need to drop off the face of the planet.

But Nicolas? He rips on Irina when she's outclassed his offerings in every challenge, and then he acts like a five year old tattletale on the runway. It wasn't just that he rolled his eyes, it wasn't that he made a comment. It was that he was practically bouncing up and down with glee as he got to report to Heidi that the first dress was a "red mess" and that Tim said the birds were attacking the dress. Which, for the record, was NOT exactly what Tim said, but whatever. Nicolas behaved badly, and he looked like a spoiled bratling. Also, isn't he supposed to be the feather prince? Why has he given us two boring black dresses, loose pants, a space prostitute uniform, a white shell, and then this? What kind of poorly thought out nickname was that?

As much as I might have wanted Nicolas to go home last night so I wouldn't have to hear him sound so smug as he insults others (really, his tone of voice drives me up the wall, he's so condescending), I have to admit that Johnny's dress was much much worse. This at least showed some attempt at imagination.

It's a mess though, sorry Nicolas. It's not very well made, and it doesn't really say or do anything. It's blah. It's less punk than Avril Lavigne.

I'm rooting for Nicolas to be kicked off next week. As he said, they're starting to weed out the weaker designers so it's his turn, because of the remaining pack, he's certainly the weakest contender based on his history on the show.


I actually really love this dress. I think Ra'Mon did some fascinating things with the colors, and the pattern. I actually could see it on a traditional runway as part of a larger show. If it was made of real fabric, I might think about getting it.

As for Ra'Mon's model...I was interested in the comment he made under his breath at Models of the Runway, that he didn't want to keep Vanessa. I wonder why that is. I know she's been the source of tension in the house, but I think in her original argument with Fatma she was in the right. I also don't think Fatma was really remorseful when she apologized, but I think Vanessa's insistence in not accepting the apology was kind of dumb. Just say "okay, fine" and move on, and don't be her friend.

As for their dream team, well, that's just clique-y and stupid, and so very reality TV. Yay Models, for dragging PR down to the level of the rest of the shows in it's genre.

Anyway, for the most part I thought Vanessa did a good job modeling for Ra'Mon, but this week I didn't really like her efforts. This picture is just kind of awkward and strange. I know, she wasn't posing for a photo. But runway shows are heavily photographed, so shouldn't they look poised and good whenever they pause?

I'm glad they're forcing the designers to all change models next week, so that Ra'Mon is free to chose as he wants to. I don't think anybody would have thought less of him for switching this week, but it's nice that he's concerned with being a good person.


I can't say that I like Shirin's dress, really. But I can say that I think she really took a chance, and that I'd rather designers take risks than be boring. She decided to do something that she couldn't necessarily do with fabric (unless she's Leanne Marshall, but anywho). It had a great movement to it too, that some of the other dresses lacked.

As for the montage of Shirin being too talkative and all the designers hating her for it, I can't say it annoyed me because I really identified with that moment. I won't get into it more than that, but I'll just say that Shirin probably isn't trying to be anything other than herself, and if the other designers are irritated or want her to be quiet, there's a polite way to say so.

That episode as just too much after the blah that has been this season so far. I can't believe it took this long for it to get more fun again!

*Edited to add: I have watched the scene over again on Lifetime and I will have to admit that I was wrong. There is a slight cut point at that moment in time where a time compression easily could have occurred. While all the designers and Tim seem to be placed in the same positions that they were when Johnny left the room, the fact is we will never know how much time passed between his exit and Tim's comment.

This does not fully change my opinion of the situation, however. I still feel that Tim's comment was delivered in an inappropriate way, especially when coupled with my knowledge of some of the things he has said about previous designers in interviews in the past. Because of those statements and this one, I would have a lot of trouble trusting him as a mentor and teacher. While his taste is impeccable, there is a certain vulnerability involved in opening up your creative works for critique and the purpose of a good mentor is to give you a safe place to explore that work and create something better. The feeling that your mentor might talk about you or insult your work behind your back to your colleagues and peers is not a good one to have, and I have experienced it personally. There are few times I've felt as betrayed as that moment, or as disheartened and discouraged about my own work.

I still love Tim, and I am not saying that suddenly he is a bad person. Everyone does things that they regret and says things they maybe shouldn't have said. I'm just disappointed really. I had thought he was more classy than that.

Playing Catch Up

So, I missed writing up last week's Project Runway. I'm sorry, I had some class commitments that took up too much of my time, and I admit I wasn't looking forward to this one in particular, since it was amazingly boring.


Well, gladly I think my pictures ended up alphabetically so this is first and I can get it out of the way.

I absolutely hate this outfit. I fully believe it should have been one of the bottom two on the runway at the end, and that it's execution problems were on par with Johnny's rumpled mess, and Althea deserved to be called out for a shoddily made, poorly fitted, disastrous garment. As many people have pointed out, the jacket is really nice. Okay, sure.

But who can see the jacket over the bunched up wrinkled skirt? Over the tank top that doesn't even fit the model as well as my pajama shirt that I wear when I'm not feeling well and want to wear something frumpy and comfortable?

I've pointed out problems with the craftmanship on Althea's garments before that goes unnoticed and it just serves to remind me how ridiculously biased the PR judges can be, and that doesn't make me happy. It makes me grumpy with one of my favorite shows and who wants that?

Even if you don't believe this was a bottom tier outfit, at the least it should have been on the level of "safe." Who cares how good the jacket or the model were, it just wasn't as good as half of the other things that walked that runway, no matter what the guest judges had to say.

Some people have taken umbrage at Irina's catty comments about it in the episode that ran this week, but I can't help but agree with everything Irina said, so I can't hold her accountable for it.

Carol Hannah

This dress reminds me of Rami, in the best of ways. I love the purple fabric of the top, and how it works with the black. Actually, I would absolutely love to see these fabrics and this idea spread out across an entire collection.

I can't say I'm crazy about the model's styling, her hair really bothers me. But in the end, it's a great dress. The bit on the back is a little much, but I digress.


On the one hand, I actually like this idea and the execution of it is pretty cute. On the other hand, it does look an awful lot like a sushi wrapper.

The fabric is also suffering from some of the same rumpling and messiness that Johnny's did, so not the best fabric choice for color or style.

But the shape itself is rather nice, maybe if he had done it with a more subtle green, or a blue, it would have been lovely. Not winner lovely, or anything. Safe, middle of the road, "you can leave the Runway" lovely.

Side note: I love his model, I think she's one of the most beautiful ones this season.


This dress is not even a little bit within my style of clothing, but I like it. I think it fits Matar very well, and it flatters her coloring in an amazing way. This is a great dress for her to wear to an industry event where she'd like to impress people and be hired.

I think that Epperson is becoming one of my favorite designers, though I don't know if I picture him going to the end of the competition. But he's juts got this steadfast GOOD quality about him. He works, he does what he's meant to do, and he just gets it done. There's not much fuss or muss, no drama aside from his interactions with Qrystal. He just makes really good clothes.

There's a lot of room for that in the world.


While I agree with some comments that the color of this dress when matched with the model's hair and skin tone makes her wash out a lot, at the same time I think it's just a really fabulous little dress. It somehow manages to feel mod and hippy at the same time. The detail on the front is really well done, especially considering how much time and effort it must have taken.

I wish this dress had been in the top three, because I think Gordana deserves a bit of respect and she doesn't seem to be getting it just yet.

All I'm going to say in conclusion is that if I wore skirts this short, I'd wear this dress. I really like things that use something other than lace, ruffles, sequins, feathers, or whatever to accent the garment in a non-traditional way.


Irina has been the dark horse of this competition, because nobody seems to be noticing the fabulous looks she's sending down the runway week after week. Well, at least they weren't noticing at this point. But look at this! That pattern could have been a complete disaster, and yet it works so perfectly on the model. The shrug tames the pattern just a smidge more, and makes it all much more elegant and classic.

I have a tiny problem with the giant lapel going on here, but in the end it's a really solid effort and I think it absolutely should have taken Althea's place in the top. It's a great piece.



I think the judges did a good job describing this on the runway, so I won't really add to it except to say I'm pretty sure I knew girls who owned that dress and wore it to homecoming, or a spring wedding as a bridesmaid. There isn't a single interesting or innovative thing about it.

Also, the purse and the shoes don't really match each other, let alone the dress.


WHY did all the designers pick up that type of fabric? Christopher, Johnny, and Logan all had this stiff satin-y stuff (I'm not good with fabric names, personally, I know what I'm talking about but not what it's called). That stuff is terrible for wrinkling up and looking like this, and they all did it.

I can't put my finger on what doesn't work about this. Is it the styling of the model? Well, yes, but that still fits Koji very well. Is it the thick lace? Well, it doesn't do the dress any favors, but it's not a disaster. The shape? No, the shape is really fine, in the end.

Maybe it's just putting it all together that leaves something to be desired. I don't know, but it just doesn't work and I don't know why. I don't like it, but I don't hate it either. Maybe it's the fact that this particular shade of blue doesn't look good with Koji's skin tone, in my opinion.

Whatever the reason, it's good that Logan didn't go home for this because I don't think it's an intentional disaster, it just feels like one of those projects where you get started and you have no idea what's wrong or how to fix it, just that in the end it might be better to scrap the whole thing. I think almost all creative people know what that's like.


Well, it's nice. Okay, it's a personal opinion but I hate big collars like that. I've rarely seen women who can actually pull them off and make them look even the least bit comfortable or wearable. And it's not just that, because something can look unwearable but still fabulous, but it just doesn't work right with the shape or something. It makes women look like their heads aren't attached or something, I don't know. Can you imagine trying to talk to Fatma at an industry party while she's wearing this? Her head all cozied down in the middle of this ruffle? How do you have a conversation with somebody in this type of thing?

That said, I think if you took the collar off of this dress, it would be a fabulous little black dress, and it would be something most women would want to have a version of in their closet.

Listen, I don't understand Nicolas. I just don't, I don't know why so many bloggers love him, I don't know why everybody thinks he's fabulous. He's yet to make anything that I thought looked well fitted or desirable, and he seems to have about half the imagination of some of the former contestants of the show. Could you imagine him in a showdown with Daniel Vosovic? Daniel V. would wipe the floor with him without even trying too hard.

This is one of those garments that looks good on a runway, but not anywhere else. Think about it, imagine you're at an event looking for someone to work for you and represent you. You see someone wearing this. Does she stick in your head? Do you remember her at all?

Not to mention these were supposed to be tailored specifically for these models as a client, and I see no real match going on here. When you saw Matar in her dress, you saw MATAR in her dress. You don't see the model here. If this was in a runway show for a collection, I would think they picked the wrong model to wear the garment because somebody dropped out.

As for Nicolas' comment that the dress fit his model wonderfully, was he watching the same garment I was? From the bottom of her bust down, yes it fit great. Around her neck? Sure, it's fabulous.

But her bust wasn't even a little fitted, and it poofed out and folded with her every movement. Which is an innate problem with halter tops, actually. It's pretty darn difficult for it NOT to do that, especially with a fabric like this instead of say, a thin cotton. So normally I wouldn't really call attention to it, since it's an inherent issue with the style, but he's the one that said it fit her perfectly.


Valarie looks really unhappy in this picture, and I start to wonder a little if the judge's reaction to this garment isn't a little more influenced by her expression and performance.

Yes, it's safe. Yes, it's boring. But it's still pretty stylish, and maybe it's for an older crowd but I think there's a huge market for this particular dress. I bet she could make a dozen of them and sell out of them over a weekend.

In other words, Johnny made something that looked like something a high school girl would sew as an early project as she learned to make clothes (a talented high schooler, sure, but one without much attention to detail) and Qrystal made something that was at least put together well and didn't look like her model had just gotten out of bed.


I think this angle and this photo highlight the absurdity of this dress quite perfectly.

Listen, I'm not against it. I think it actually could have been a great answer to the surfer avant guarde challenge. But it's not a cocktail dress for a model to wear to a party where she's trying to get a job. Again, we go back to the "how do you talk to her" scenario. When they showed her at the event itself, she looked completely strange and out of place.

The color is beautiful, and it's well made and all. But it doesn't fit the challenge, really. So middle of the pack safe makes sense.


I love Shirin, I really do. And I think she did well with talking her model away from a jumpsuit and such. But there's isn't the first thing about this dress that stands out in any way.

It's boring. I can't even remember seeing it on the runway, I keep seeing the pictures of it again and going " that from the same week?" It's a good dress, she could sell it in a store. It would be a great dress for going to a party where you want to look good enough to impress. But it's nothing to write home about either. Executives at the end of the party might turn to their friends and say, "You remember the girl in the blue dress?" and their friends would say, "What blue dress?"

Unless they responded, "The one that was being eaten by the ruffle-flower?"