I have been waiting for when this season would present the designers with a challenge to create a look out of a non-traditional material. So why did tonight’s ‘Project Runway‘ disappoint me?
Part of it might be that this season seems to have more grating over confidence than any other I can remember. Usually there’s one standout and maybe a runner up that moves into the EGO spot. This year, there seems to be a collection of snotty upstarts with the idea that everyone else is beneath them. And they all seem delusional, frankly. Starting with Irina, who believes that Althea didn’t deserve to win because she did. Then there is Nicolas, who doesn’t think Irina or Johnny even deserve to be on the show. But the only thing I know Irina for is her poor attitude, and Nicolas only stands out because his hair always looks greasy.
Anyway, to get to the challenge, the designers had to create a dress using noting but paper from the LA Times. And dye, markets, brushes and muslin if they needed a foundation for their garment. As they all get to work, Irina makes constant noise – mostly the nonsensical chatter you get from any pre-teen girl. It’s annoying enough when they do it. Someone from someone well past that stage of development, it’s downright antagonistic.
While the designers work, it’s difficult to get a sense of what most of them are creating. But most of what we see is just sort of….uninteresting. Or terrible. Irina has something that might one day be a dress done and she tells Tim that she’s thinking of doing a coat but doesn’t think it will hold up well. Tim points out that the first paper garment in 1968 was a rain coat and encourages her to go down that path. Then there is Johnny’s origami crane mess. He explains that he wants it to look like the birds are holding up the dress. I guess like in Cinderella? Tim worries that it will look like the birds are attacking the model. Johnny decides to scrap it and we watch him crumble of the paper and toss it to the trash. Johnny then explains to his model that his dress was destroyed by a steamer mishap – a fact all the other designers laugh about later.
The biggest disappointment was the runway. I had high hopes, as I am sure Tommy Hilfiger and Eva Longoria did. So what did we see?
Lucas’s dress is simple and utterly forgettable. I say this because I just saw it 20 minutes ago and I have completely forgotten it other than it had some pretty blue in it. Nicolas was going for punk, but sir, I listened to the Clash, Bad Brains, Black Flag, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, and Misfits. There is nothing punk about the dress. Stripes do not equal punk anymore than a wallet chain from Hot Topic is punk. There is no statement to the dress and nothing interesting about the form.
Christopher had told Tim he wanted to create a show stopper, and he has done just that. The movement – not just in the paper “feathers”, but in the volume of the skirt itself is remarkable and perfectly juxtaposed against a bodice that could almost be mistaken for a metal breastplate. It’s actually remarkable. Ra’mon’s dress is colorful and slightly reminiscent of the 80’s, but hits no particular note that makes it stand out. Epperson, on the other hand, has created a gown that has a strong asian influence, looking like a cross between a samurai warrior and geisha. It’s just the abruptness of the uneven hem with the haphazard pattern that is jarring.
Johnny’s dress shows promise in the pattern, but is sadly a formless mess. It’s miles better than his original design, but what few unique elements there are just off. From the floating waistline to the peaked paper of the topline of the bodice, it’s all off kilter in a bad way. Gordana, on the other hand is flawless in that it doesn’t look like a paper dress. It’s imperfection is that it looks like something I could walk into any Bebe and buy right now.
Carol Hannah’s long red gown also doesn’t look like paper. It looks like taffeta actually. And it doesn’t look like any dress I have seen. It’s strapless, high waisted, with a floor length a-line skirt that adds volume in the form of carefully structured rumples of paper. Which is actually quite remarkable in itself when you think about it. Shirin’s is the one that looks least like a dress and most like a craft project to me. Likely because I first saw it as a craft project about 2 years ago, as a way to make 3D wall art out of old magazines. I thought it was unattractive on a wall and I think it is more unattractive on a woman.
Irina scrapped the dress and opted just for a trench coat with a crumpled paper collar. As the judges relate, it looks like a cross between Chanel, YSL and Givenchy. Thus, I am baffled when they also say it looks original, because I see nothing original in the cut or style. It also rubs me wrong when she claims that “from the start” she knew she wanted to do a trench coat. Um no. Tim encouraged an passing though you had after looking at the abject failure of a dress you had. Althea’s dress is eye catching in that the pattern she put together with her strips of paper almost makes the garment seem to shimmer, while also highlighting the models form beautifully. It’s a very smart and well thought out design. Louise…well, I am just at a loss. It’s stiff and confusing with a Jetson-like skirt and a collar that appears to be chocking her model.
Chosen from the sea of mid thigh shifts, the top three are Althea, Irina and Christopher – whereas I would have replaced Irina with Carol Hannah. The bottom three are Johnny, Nicolas and Gordana – whereas I would have replaced with Gordana with Louise. The judging gets heated when Johnny tries to ply the judges with his steamer story and Nicolas just can’t sit still. He not only tells them there was no steamer incident, but tells them Tim’s critique of the original dress. Which might have been overkill, but was also the dead truth. Thus, I understand Johnny being eliminated. But I am just baffled by Irina’s win. What are your thoughts?