Project Runway Season 10

And then there was one!  After watching 14 weeks of Project Runway with 16 designers competing for the number one spot, the lights have dimmed on season 10 and a winner has emerged.  Highlights of the season as designers came and went were cringe-worthy dramatic moments in the workroom, memorable  runway shows, the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall and notable quotes from Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia.  Within countless trips to Mood on a budget of pennies, the last minute fabric manipulations right before the runway and many sleepless nights while the clock was ticking, we saw a wealth of talent and substantial growth in these designers.  The designers on Project Runway were not just contestants, but artists, who were given a chance to showcase their unique point of views.  However, as Heidi says, “There can only be one Project Runway winner.”

In the finale, Melissa, Christopher, Dmitry and Fabio prepped for Fashion Week to debut their complete collections.  Previously, each of them were tasked to clean up their collections and iron out the kinks that could cost them their shot at winning.  They needed to look more sophisticated with stronger styling; something they were only given two days to update.  However, Tim let them have one more trip to Mood, to alleviate some of the panic after the judges’ critiques. Even with additional fabrics the anxiety in the workroom continued, especially from Melissa and Christopher. Melissa needed to add color to her collection and she quickly made a striking Blood Orange dress.  Christopher was struggling to find the perfect styling mix for his collection and he created two new looks to round out his collection.  With that, and no new twists- but lots of backstage frenzy, the runway show began at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.  The resulting runway shows proved a success –the collections previewed earlier were almost unrecognizable.

Christopher took the judges’ comments to heart by adding the necessary WOW factors to his ‘Deconstruction and Reconstruction’ inspired line.  In fact, Michael noted that when Christopher’s first model rounded the corner, the show started with a “Kaboom”.  His collection was pulled together with a wonderful mix of navy, jade and black in leather, silks and wool – many including his notable “shredding” technique and bleach-distressed leather.  His loosely pleated form fitting evening gown was striking (though the bottom layers had to be ripped off 3 minutes before runway) and his uniquely cut shiny jacket was a contemporary hit, paired appropriately with a contrasting snakeskin clutch.  Guest judge Jennifer Hudson asked him about his wool skirt shielded in leather and said, “Let me know where to buy it.” Most of his looks left the décolleté wide open, providing space to showcase metallic collar necklaces from the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall.  Michael noted that Christopher was the only designer to use prints for this challenge and did it successfully.  Nina left him with, “Always remember what you’re really good at.”

Melissa broke out with perfectly fitted leather on the runway, mixed in with rich silk dresses with unique touches — like a bright colored waist sash against black leather.  She also threw in clutches of color to balance out the predominant sea of white and black in her pieces and wisely chose chunky stackable bracelets from the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall.  Her cleaned up collection that the judges earlier warned didn’t include enough color, revealed a sleek traffic stopping blood orange dress created the day before the finale.  Former Guest Judge Debra Messing commented that she was falling off the edge of her chair for that dress. Melissa stayed true to her self-inspired design aesthetic with unmistakable asymmetrical tailoring on fitted leather pieces, exaggerated collars and ever-bare sleeveless looks.  Her collection answers the question of how can a lady look strong, sexy and feminine at the same time.  Nina echoed this by saying, “Your look is cool.  It’s sexy without being too slutty.”

Fabio worked off of the judges’ advice and tightened up his “overly drapey” cosmic tribalism collection.  What walked the runway was a flow of refashioned silks that were still loose, but clean and sexy.  His collection had the perfect amount of drape and his use of gold and taupe fabric paired with cream and pastel silks created a refreshing and soothing runway show.  His looks are a well traveled, laid back woman’s dream.  Michael surprisingly liked the “Jordan Almond pastel colors”, Heidi said she, “Loved, Loved, Loved it” and closed the deal with saying it was, “Fresh, fluid and super elegant.”  The very feminine looks received some edge from his boxy platform lace up boots, which worked well among the dresses, pants and striped short-shorts.  Jennifer said the collection made her happy and since she’s big on layering, she said, “You nailed it.”

Dmitry was challenged by the judges to make his models look young and sexy through styling – and he did just that by showing a very tight collection that was “modern, cooler and hipper” according to Nina. His ‘organic architecture’ concept yielded strong geometric proportioned skirts and dresses that included cut-outs to reveal some skin, adorned with flapper frills, leather fringe and very sheer tops in hues of black and buttery cream.  With so much going on in the patterns and details, he chose simple metallic wrist cuffs and classic black platform heels from the Lord & Taylor Accessory wall.  Michael felt the collection was impeccably made and beautiful.  Jennifer remarked, “I was learning about you and your story” as the clothes went down the runway. In a word, his collection was rich, right down to his reinvented concept of draped harem pants.

While all the collections were supreme, the judges were tasked with picking one winner, which was Dmitry. It was so evident that his talent has grown and emerged in the last 14 weeks, allowing him to stun the judges and audience at the finale.  His biggest asset is his nearly perfect tailoring; allowing him to create gorgeous form fitting looks that a woman can wear to feel beautiful, sensual and powerful.  There was much elation as Heidi told him he was the winner and let him know, “You have your wings, now go and fly.”  Jennifer said something that everyone should jot down: “It’s not about how good you are…but how good you are to work with.”  Our biggest surprise was Tim’s endearing reaction to Dmitry’s winning.  He came on stage to give Dmitry a hug and began crying.  He was not alone.

We were so proud of Christopher, Fabio and Melissa for making it to the final 4.  All the judges said how hard it was to make this decision – this was not a predictable outcome.  We know all the other 15 designers will go on to make their stamp on the fashion world.

We’re nearing the end of Season 10 of Project Runway and sadly, there’s only one episode left.  In episode 13, the designers were faced with the extreme pressure to produce an entire collection for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York.  Four designers left and only three would make it to the finale.  Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn told the designers they had 5 weeks to produce a collection with a budget of $9,000.  Time to Make It Work.

The designers left the Atlas Apartments to create their collection at home, leaving Tim to travel to each of them for his infamous critiques.  It was a tour de force, taking him to Massepequa, Long Island to see Christopher; Jersey City, New Jersey to see Dmitry; New York City to see Fabio and all the way to San Francisco to visit Melissa.  It was great to see the designers in their own surroundings, which showed who they are outside of the workroom.  Highlights included Tim’s Italian feast with Christopher’s family, which left him remarking, “This looks so caloric.”  He had a spot of tea with Dmitry and asked him where he saw himself in 10 years, to which he responded, “rich and famous.”  Tim got to meet Fabio’s mother from Brazil and Melissa took Tim on a boat cruise around San Francisco with her parents and boyfriend.  In true Tim style, he wore full suit and tie for the marine outing!

As the collections came together it was clear just how far each designer has come, stretching themselves to new sartorial heights.  Christopher created a pattern directly fashioned from his mom’s x-ray after a car accident and cleverly used bleach to distress leather in his collection.  Fabio channeled cosmic tribalism, creating personas of different women on garments done in pastel watercolors.  Dmitry used organic architecture and geometric forms to inspire his looks, which included his signature cutouts and razor sharp tailoring.  Melissa stayed true to her edgy/gothic vibe and mastery of leather work, creating a cow hide jacket that was crackle painted – something Tim felt was really in tune with who she is.

With only a few days until the runway show that determined which three designers would take stage at NY Fashion week, the designers moved back in together at a suite in Yotel.  We enjoyed seeing the bonds that have grown between Christopher, Melissa, Dmitry and Fabio.  The designers are friends in addition to competitors. The new workroom was complete with pictures of them on the walls and the Lord & Taylor Accessory wall was “thoughtfully” showcased right in the middle.  All the confidence each designer gained while they built their collections at home quickly fizzled as they saw the competition. Fabio and Chris kept eyeing each other’s collections, making judgments to determine who had a better chance of winning.  Melissa slipped into a panic, thinking she really didn’t challenge herself enough and wasn’t happy with her work.

The designers were only allowed to send 3 looks down the runway, forcing them to choose between their best statement pieces.  The results produced a stunning runway show and the accessories proved to be a strong current, pulling the looks together.  One thing we noticed was that each of the designers included embellished touches on their ensembles – beading, chains and embroidery adorned jackets and tops.  Even Nina Garcia was wearing a top with crystalized shoulders, which was perfectly eye-catching. This left us curious to see how the designers would thoughtfully incorporate pieces from the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall.  They went for it, building on their embellished pieces with over sized cocktail rings, forearm cuffs, bib necklaces and on trend ankle strap heels.  Clutches were big on the runway—some even created by the designers.  Fabio produced embroidered clutches that really tied back to his tribal theme and Melissa coordinated her leather jacket with a fold over cowhide clutch, which was very casual/cool.  A standout was the broken-glass effect clutch from the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall that Christopher sent down the runway.

As always the designers pulled together some great looks for the runway. But that didn’t mean the judges were completely pleased. Nina was cracking the whip in rare form, drilling the designers to tighten up their collections and styling. Christopher’s collection, with 2 pairs of leather short-shorts and a black leather bustier was deemed boring. Heidi was confused as to why he would even show it, but his print was well received. Michael Kors called Dmitry’s collection “old lady”, despite his use of completely sheer tops.  Nina felt the oversized cuffs on Melissa’s jacket were just too much and urged her to “cut them off”.  Finally, the giant Project Runway scissors can be used! Every week the judges hunt for things on the runway that look expensive-  it’s an important criterion that shows who best combines budget and design. Fabio got called out for his over draped collection looking cheap; Nina said it needs to look more “luxurious and expensive”.  After judging, there was more work to be done for each designer.

Overall, the judges were satisfied and wanted to see more – so much so that a big surprise was revealed: no one was eliminated and all four will show their collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion week.  The designers now have only have two days to get their collections together before the final runway.  Heidi let them know that they need to pay more attention to styling and tailoring in order to produce “something worthy of showing at New York Fashion Week”.  It’s time to make it work and with that Heidi concluded, “It’s your to win or yours to lose”.  With only one episode left of Season 10, we can’t wait to see the designers’ collections!

Episode 12 of Project Runway marked the final challenge, landing select designers a spot at New York Fashion Week.  The remaining five designers were brought to Oheka Castle on Long Island to be inspired by the incredible surroundings of the stately manor.  Tim Gunn was there to deliver the details for the make-up inspired avant-garde challenge.  L’Oreal Paris collaborated with Project Runway to create the Electric Fantasie makeup line based on four “leading lady” personas, which served as muses for the designers.  From those color palettes the designers were challenged to create a couture avant-garde look, inspired by their leading ladies. Fabio and Christopher got “Enchanted Queen”, Sonjia got “Seductive Temptress”, Dmitry got “The Wise Mystic” and Melissa had “The Artsy Muse”.

Back in the Parsons workroom, Tim cautioned the designers that they had two months of work to do in two days.  Creating couture does not happen overnight, unless you’re on Project Runway!  The usual snags popped up that we love to watch: The gold lamé fabric that was the focus of Sonjia’s dress didn’t make it into the Mood bag-causing her to improvise, Melissa was short on time and Tim told Dmitry that his avant-garde design looked like things he’s produced in past episodes. Our favorite moment in the workroom was Fabio’s take on the “Three Stages of Tim’s Silence”.  As Tim stood quietly mulling over Fabio’s look, he went through all the signature Tim motions: 1. Hand on face. 2. Crossed arms. 3. Squint with slight head tilt.  According to Fabio, “If you get all those, nothing good is going to come out of his mouth.”  That’s when Tim told him his look was like a period costume.

Items from the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall pulled the avant-garde looks together in a polished fashion. The designers chose beaded and studded heels and booties to complete their looks. Want to add an avant-garde edge without feather arms and sky high collars? Try bold bracelets, arm warmers, over-the-top heels and larger then life clutches in unexpected colors. Nail color and makeup were also important accessories in this challenge, completing the avant-garde looks.

Despite drama in the workroom, the runway show produced masterpieces that impressed the judges, making it very hard to choose who will go to New York Fashion Week.  The best Make It Work moment was Fabio’s “Enchanted Queen.”  When Tim told him that the jacket he produced was horrible, Fabio flipped it around and refashioned it, creating a versatile piece that could be worn in two ways, which Michael Kors loved. Dmitry was again praised for his construction and architecture skills in creating his “Wise Mystic” suit that Heidi Klum felt was “crazy good” (her highest compliment).  While Christopher’s “Enchanted Queen” look had dramatic proportions with intricate beading in hip and shoulder area, the bust area had extra material that literally caused it to fall flat.  Guest judge Zoe Saldana imparted some womanly wisdom, “Besides our face, that’s the next thing people look at; whether you’re flat chested or not.”  She said it’s the job of a designer to make sure the outfit flatters a woman’s proportions.  Melissa’s creation of “The Artsy Muse” read just that on the runway.  Nina Garcia felt it was a perfect representation of what she was channeling, with fine elements of leather separates in various colors – drawing the judges to conclude that Melissa is highly skilled in working with leather. Heidi put the breaks on Melissa’s look; “I don’t know which outfit is uglier.  Fabio’s or yours.”  Nina and Michael were quick to come to Melissa’s defense and Zoe added, “It’s art.  It’s really beautiful.”  On the other hand, Heidi was the only one who loved Sonjia’s take on “Seductive Temptress.”  Michael summed it up by saying, “It looks like an ice skating costume and Nancy Kerrigan skated through a banquet hall.”

After the runway show, each of the five remaining designers were asked why they should go to New York Fashion Week.  It was their last words before they went off to the waiting room to anticipate final results.  While it was a tough decision, Dmitry, Christopher, Melissa and Fabio made it to New York Fashion Week and unfortunately Sonjia was sent home.  While the judges all agreed that she is truly talented and produces excellent work, they felt they couldn’t get a read of consistency throughout the challenges.  With only two episodes left, we’re anxious to see who will be the Season 10 winner!

Episode 11 of Project Runway had a lot of “little” surprises. The designers met Heidi and Tim to get details on the challenge.  While Heidi wears many hats in her career, she also has 4 children, which inspired her to create a line of baby clothes called Truly Scrumptious for Babies, sold at Babies’R’Us. There were two winners for the challenge– one boy look and one girl look and the winning looks will be produced and sold as part of Heidi’s line.

As a line up of moms surfaced with toddlers in strollers, Dmitry’s first reaction was, “We’re screwed.”  Most of the designers have never designed for little ones and none of them have children of their own, so this was a departure for all of them.  After choosing baby pairings from the Button Bag, Tim Gunn sent them to consult with their new clients.  The mothers gave recommendations and made requests to guide the designers.

We love when a good twist is thrown into the challenge, but we weren’t expecting this-the workroom at Parsons was transformed into “Designer Daycare”. There were little babies crying at each workstation, not real babies, but simulation babies.  This challenge called for multi-tasking, as each of them was responsible for taking care of their baby while creating a winning look.  Tim cautioned the designers that their babies would cry when they needed something, which required designers to feed them, rock them and, yes, change diapers.  The workroom had a frenzied yet comedic air as the babies screamed and cried. While Fabio welcomed his baby into his arms because he used to be a baby sitter when he first moved to New York, Elena remarked, “This is going to be a day of hell”.  The one liner award went to Christopher, whose baby started crying and set off a chain reaction that left all the babies crying: “Now I know why Judy went off the deep-end with Liza.”

The roadblocks in this challenge didn’t end there – Tim came in to let the designers know that they would also be creating a look for the moms to coordinate with the babies.  While they were slightly panicked, they were reassured that the mom’s looks would not be part of the judging and they were given an extra day to complete all looks.  We liked the addition to the challenge, knowing that the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall would be used in a thoughtful way to get the moms ready to go down the runway.

As bouts of crying continued, the creativity began to flow.  Of course there were the usual meltdowns: Melissa was behind and went as far to ask the mom to help sew on a button, and the shorts she created didn’t fit. Christopher’s client was not happy with the look and Elena had to adapt to creating a jacket with no shoulder pads.

The Runway was highly anticipated because when there are little babies involved, hearts are quick to soften. Hilary Duff was the perfect guest judge as she is a successful singer and actress, who also is a new mom. Sonjia got top reviews for her use of sweatshirt material to create a little blazer and pants, resulting in a polished “min-man” vibe that won her the boy’s outfit challenge. Christopher had a tougher lot, creating a dress with flowers and leaves in a flowing fashion that the mother said she didn’t like “under any circumstance”.  In the end, he made it work, winning the girl’s outfit challenge. Fabio’s mom was a big fan of vintage so he made a nautical inspired onesie that had cool “little monster” fabric details.  Some of the judges are moms and were big fans of the no fuss onesie approach and Hilary loved his use of Velcro for instead of buttons.  We also learned that top designers learn new things everyday.  Michael felt Dmitry’s look was too superhero-ish but Nina, Heidi and Hilary came to his defense, saying kids love that and it’s a trend. While all the judges loved Melissa’s vest that she created, her dress was a flop.  It kept riding up, exposing the diaper, which Heidi especially didn’t like. Melissa was one of the bottom two, but she remained safe.  Elena went home this week.  The judges had a hard time eliminating her, but in the end, her look seemed like “a baby sample sale” according to Michael.

Each of their looks had touches that the judges loved, making it really tough to send someone home. What was refreshing about this challenge is that every designer did an outstanding job and really created outside of their comfort zones.  While we adore the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall, the best accessories on the runway this time were the babies!

Episode 10 of Project Runway was a show-stopper!  The designers were brought to the legendary Radio City Music Hall where the famous Rockettes gave a surprise performance.  The line up included…Heidi Klum!  She artfully moved in sequins and her accomplished kicks on stage were noteworthy!  For some of the designers, this was their first time experiencing the glitz and glamour of Radio City; and this was a once-in-a-lifetime private show.

The Challenge: Design a modern costume for the Rockettes that would be fitting for the Christmas Spectacular but versatile enough to be worn all year.  The stakes for this challenge were high because the winning design will be produced and worn by the Rockettes in a future performance.  The designers were reminded of the contemporary audience that the costumes need to speak to and to take into account people who are sitting in the last row.  The dresses needed to pop and for that, they needed sparkle.

It was quickly realized on the Mood run that there’s a fine line between a show spectacular costume and band uniform.  So began the sequin conundrum: a few too many and you’re done. A lot of references were flying as to what the designers didn’t want to achieve: High School Dance Team, Cheerleader and Icecapades were looks they hoped to avoid.  Elena, who was genuinely determined to break out of her usual mold, crossed that line.  In the design room Tim Gunn said her dress was speaking to “Band Uniform” and she should go over to the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall for a baton.  Funny enough, that’s the one thing you won’t find on the wall. A lot of the designers began with geometrics and art deco inspirations, to match the architecture at Radio City.  Dmitry excelled at this, using a perfect mix of sequins and fringe in proportions that created a bandage dress look with a flapper girl edge.  Christopher paid a tribute to New York City.  He transposed the Manhattan skyline onto a dress that was well made, wearable and stunning; even down to the details of using jewels as stars over the horizon.

There was something new we saw in this episode: relaxation.  The designers were given the night off and sent out to dinner, which turned into a bonding experience.  It began with Elena’s apology to Dmitry for being difficult and she admitted “I can’t do it anymore.  It’s too much”.  This led to Ven explaining a little bit more about his childhood, which helped the designers understand his independent nature.  Why all this bonding now? Dmitry had some insight, “I think it’s the wine.  The wine is working”. Whatever it takes to Make It Work! We could tell the dinner impacted the way the designers worked together.  Despite it not being a team challenge, most of the team pitched in when Melissa was having complications.  Christopher offered her $50 from his budget when she was short at Mood, Ven helped her cut out pieces for her dress and Fabio and Sonjia helped her sew on a zipper that flew off.  The workroom turned into a frantic rat-race right before the runway, with last minute gluing, precision cutting, stitching and tucking to get it all done.

With so much shine and sparkle on the dresses, it was exciting to look for where the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall would come into play.  The Rockettes don’t necessarily wear a lot of jewelry when moving on stage; much less carry evening bags- this gave shoes their moment in the spotlight.  The wall was rightfully stocked with enough sparkly shoes to meet their match in dresses.  Jewel encrusted heels in blue, red and silver were favored as well as Mary Jane inspired platforms which work nicely for dancing.   Elena and Dmitry added some sequin cuffs for good measure and Melissa decked her look with a sequin hat with a mini veil.

Emmy Award winning actress Debra Messing joined the judging panel; she was the perfect person to judge on stage looks because her insight into what  would work on stage is instinctive. As always, the runway show  had mixed reviews.  There were some high highs and some low lows.  The variety of textures and materials was vast, down to the fringes and feathers, with colors ranging from slate grey to hues of blue and silver. Dmitry managed to create a look that put on a show on its own.  Michael Kors remarked that if you drop the dress down to the floor, “It’s Oscars”. Heidi liked his clever use of fringe and Debra said it was perfectly styled down to the shoes.  Christopher stunned the judges.  Nina Garcia said it was New York at it’s finest and Michael gave it high praise by saying Christopher was having a Bob Macke moment.  Debra got a rise out of Christopher when she said, “It is celebratory and dignified.  It’s magnificent.” He replied with an adorable, “Thank you, Debra Messing” which left Heidi to conclude that Debra found her #1 fan.  His dress won and will be dancing on stage at Radio City in a future performance, allowing the Rockettes to showcase their New York heritage.

Heidi said Melissa’s number was a “show stopper” but Nina said it gave off a vibe of “Cigarette Girl” — but was commended for accessorizing it with a sequin cap and veil. Sonjia’s use of feathers did not earn her high kicks, but she remained safe.  Michael remarked that it looked like a crazy disco turkey.  Ven and Elena were on the bottom and their looks were theoretically dragged off stage.  Elena’s very sparkly concoction resulted in cheerleader hell.  Debra said it would be perfect in the circus and Heidi shut it down saying it reminded her of a “Cheesy Las Vegas Mall”. Ven’s look was a flash in the pan.  Heidi said a dress has to “sing and dance on it’s own. It needs to tell a story”.  This story, she felt, was boring.  In the end, the judges were concerned that once he was banned from doing his “origami flower festival” signature designs from past challenges, that he may lack creativity.  As a result, he was bid farewell by Heidi and off to clean up his workspace. This challenge  had more competition than the Great White Way.  As they say, that’s showbiz, folks.

Episode 9 of Project Runway took the designers back to their roots while leading them fashion forward.  In a unique challenge, the designers were asked to create a print that would be used to make a modern runway look.  The hook: the print needed to be inspired by their own cultural heritage.  This gave designers a chance to bring part of themselves and their background into their work.  Season 8 finalist, and All Stars winner, Mondo Guerra joined the group to present the challenge and later as a guest judge. Mondo’s print design won this challenge in Season 8 with his groundbreaking print that incorporated plus signs to signify his personal journey as an HIV positive man.  His passion for life and honesty created a look that authentically represented who he is and won over the judges.

Drawing from the past is best with a little help from family and friends.  A surprise twist brought in friends and family of the designers who walked in unannounced during sketch time.  It was the perfect morale booster when parents, siblings and friends worked alongside the designers to dig up memories and ideas from their lives to put into their print.  Emotions ran high- many of the designers shed tears while browsing family photos and videos.

Boundaries came down in the workroom and a sense of honesty was present.  Gunnar explained about being bullied in school, which influenced his print design of hands releasing birds to represent freedom.  The challenge triggered Christopher’s past as well and helped him identify with Gunnar more. Dmitry’s roots from Belarus include memories from his family of creative artists, which he transcribed onto fabric.  Ven’s heritage from Guyana yielded bright hibiscus flowers on white fabric- however, Tim was not very supportive of the design, and it inspired the most memorable line of the night, saying it paid homage to a menstrual cycle.  Each designer had a personal story to tell that would be translated on the runway.

With so many bright patterns and prints, we were excited to see how the Lord & Taylor Accessory wall would be used “thoughtfully”.  One wrong item could interfere with the whole outfit.  Dmitry wondered whether his print, dominated by red, should be complimented with a pair of red or black pumps.  There’s a fine line between coordinating clothing and accessories within the same color family and over doing it, becoming too matchy-matchy.  With a bold print, is it safer to choose a neutral shoe or bag (black, brown or tan) that doesn’t try to compete with color?  It was interesting to see what they came up with.

Sonjia’s dramatic and sleek red, white and blue printed pants with a black fitted top were perfectly complimented by bold blue shoes and a blue clutch.  Dmitry did go with the red pumps, which was a fun twist for him.  His printed top was framed by a cut-out black jacket and skirt, so the red shoes were necessary to bring it to a high fashion look.  It all worked and Heidi remarked that it was “crazy good”.  Melissa drew upon her Polish heritage, focusing on red in her print as a tribute to the Polish flag and her brothers saying “blood is thicker than water.”  Not only was her dress silhouette an appreciated departure from her past consistency (which she was praised for by the judges for giving it a “Park Avenue edge”), she sent her look down the runway with a red clutch that topped it all off.  While Gunnar perfectly accessorized his “equestrian” inspired jacket and skirt with calf-high black boots, his print and design did not resonate with the judges.  While Michael was sensitive to Gunnar’s bullied past, the pattern spoke “bird postage stamps” and struggle rather than freedom.

Dmitry won this challenge for the “design, concept, execution and wearability” of his outfit – and he also stepped out of his comfort zone, designing separates as opposed to a dress!  Sonjia was a close second; with Nina calling her outfit, “young, cool and chic” and noting her ability to design a pair of printed pants that were a perfect fit. Ven was hanging by a “lei” during judging because of his dress, which involved a poorly executed print combined, once again, with his flower draping technique.  Heidi said the model looked like a Hawaiian airline hostess and she was waiting to be welcomed to an island.  When Ven was told he was safe, Heidi cautioned him, “If we see this flower thing one more time….” We know what that means.

Sadly, it was Gunnar who was sent home.  It was a graceful exit and he was all smiles, remarking how grateful he was for the friendships and opportunity to be part of the team.  What was most surprising (and endearing) to us is the forming friendship between Christopher and Gunnar.  After warm words were exchanged before Gunnar went to clean his workspace, he remarked, “Christopher and I just made up, the world’s gonna come to an end.”  We think it’s just beginning.  All is fair in fashion and friendship.  Let’s see what happens next week!

After last week’s episode of Project Runway that completed a 10 piece capsule collection for Lord & Taylor, we were curious to see what they had cooked up for this week.  This week: Arts and Crafts that took the designers to the runway. The designers were led to the workroom after Heidi told them they would need to bring creativity and good negotiation skills for this challenge.  The workroom was turned upside down into a buffet of glue, glitter, paint and other art supplies.

The Challenge (Part A): The good news was the designers didn’t have a budget at Mood this week.  The not so good news is they were tasked with creating merchandise to sell to earn their budgets for Mood.  They were provided with blank T-shirts and bags to spin into creations to promote on the street for cash.  As Tim put it, “You’re going to be creating fun, wonderful things that are irresistible to people so you can raise a lot of money…”  To add to the drama, this was a team challenge; and as usual, the designers were grunting about it.

The teams conveniently had people on them who didn’t like each other, despite random selection from the “Button Bag”.  This brought up a lot of complications throughout the challenge, but also created opportunity for bonding between unlikely designers. Guest judge Anna Sui later pointed out that a key thing about designing is working in teams; “It’s always a team that makes a collection.”  The final results going down the runway proved this – making it apparent which teams did not work well together.

The Results of Challenge (Part A) street sales:

Gunnar, Christopher & Sanji – Earned $684. Dmitry, Elena & Alicia – Earned $500. Ven, Melissa & Fabio – Earned $800

The Challenge (Part B): Staying in their teams, the designers were to create cohesive looks as part of a fall collection and one of them needed to include outerwear.  The money earned from the street selling was to be spent at Mood and each designer had to develop a piece for the team collection.  One designer from the winning team would be chosen to win the challenge and the designer with the weakest look overall would be sent home.  To add to the pressure, there was no longer immunity.

As we are in Fall fashion right now, we loved seeing what the designers came up with for their Fall collections.  The color palette chosen throughout the teams was muted with blacks, grays, camels and hunter green on fabrics like cashmere, wool, leather, mohair and jersey.  The proportions were fresh with calf length skirts, scrunchie skinny pants, pleats, reverse darts and asymmetric lines.  These were appropriately paired with calf high boots, pumps with socks and slim clutches from the L&T Accessory Wall.

Throughout the design process there was a lot of fighting between Dmitry and Elena.  The rift between them was evident in their collection on the runway, which was panned by Heidi, Michael and Nina.  Anna Sui had some sage advice about designing; “When you’re expressing yourself, the joy and love have to come through, not the anger.”  The anger was palpable in a collection that was not cohesive or up to standard.  Sadly, despite Dmitry and Elena’s constant stabs at each other, Alicia got caught in the crossfire and was sent home.

On the other end, Gunnar and Christopher, who normally have choice words to say about each other, actually got along.  Because of their willingness to respect each other’s work and boundaries, they created a collection with Sonjia that was celebrated by the judges unanimously.  This team won this challenge.  We were big fans of Gunnar’s jersey and leather dress in a silhouette that created a slimming hourglass effect, Christopher’s unique camel hair trench coat of mixed proportions and Sonjia’s fitted jacket with fanned detailing.  Sonjia was the winner of this week’s challenge.

Despite having the highest earnings of $800 from street selling, Ven’s team had some of the lowest ratings – and worst looks.  Heidi said their collection looked like “hand-me-downs”, Nina said it looked “poor” and Michael said the mohair coat looked like a grandma coat.  This proves that it’s not the amount of money that you have, but how you use it.  In some small way, accessories saved this collection. Melissa went out on a limb to design two clutches for her team’s collection.  Nina remarked that those clutches were one of the only things that worked.  Perhaps earning them a spot on our Accessory Wall.

There was a lot to be learned by this week’s episode with Anna’s emphasis on working together as a team.  It’s true.  No one can work in a vacuum or expect to not have to work with people they don’t like.  Fashion principles must rise above personalities.  The same is true for the team creating a collection.  Fashion is collaboration.

Project Runway episode 7 was very special to us because the challenge centered on Lord & Taylor and our president, Bonnie Brooks.  She welcomed the designers to our 5th Avenue Flagship in Manhattan, briefed them on the challenge and sat in as a guest judge. This was the most unique and important challenge so far because Season 10 designers were tasked with creating a cocktail dress that will complete a capsule collection of 10 dresses that celebrate the 10th anniversary of Project Runway.  Nine Project Runway alums designed the other dresses in the collection.  The winning look from the challenge would round out the 10-piece collection, being produced and sold exclusively at Lord & Taylor and all 10 pieces will be displayed in the 5th Avenue flagship windows.  The collection debuts on LordandTaylor.com and arrives in store at Lord & Taylor’s 5th Avenue flagship Friday, August 31st.

For most of Season 10 designers, this will be the first time their designs will be produced. To advise the designers Bonnie Brooks outlined the Lord & Taylor customer: “She loves fashion, she’s very sophisticated and stylish; and a woman who has good taste.” Inspired by the existing 9 dresses in the collection, the designers sketched a look they felt would fit in with the collection and maintain their aesthetic.  The existing collection consists of many above the knee cocktail dresses with stylish flairs that include belts, pleats and sheers mixed with solids and rich deep colors that beg to be worn after 6pm.  It was up to the designers to determine what design elements would complete the collection.

This challenge was full of meltdowns and surprises.  Melissa picked a really difficult material–a deep bronze brocade stiff enough to create a strapless dress with a standup boat neck.  Midway through design time she had to completely recreate the dress from new patterns and almost didn’t have it completed for the runway show.  However, she made it into the top 4.  Elena was having a conflict of conscience, feeling like she is losing her personal design edge to create pieces that keep her in the competition.  Always feeling like she is at the bottom and on the verge of getting sent home, she was relieved to hear she had one of the top scores – which led her to a stress-releasing sob.  With 10 minutes before the runway show, Sonjia broke down when she couldn’t get her dress on the model and the hem wasn’t done.  Tim Gunn consoled her by saying, “as long as you fake it on the runway, it’s going to be fine.”  She pulled it together and ended up safe.

After all the drama the runway show looked nearly flawless. The designs were great and well received.  Even Heidi Klum and Michael Kors, who normally have very biting remarks, happily said that there were “no real train wrecks” and no one had a “full implosion”.

The collection of 10 dresses no longer has only 2 gowns.  Christopher had the winning design with a ballet pink shredded bodice and long slimming black skirt.  Bonnie Brooks expressed that the gown is “extremely good taste” and “it would sell really well”. Gunnar and Alicia fell to the bottom, but this week’s episode had a twist with a little bit of heart.  When Gunnar was last on the runway, Heidi told him he’s not going home.  She expressed, “Everyone met the bar of this challenge and therefore we wanted all of you to stay in the competition.”

With this challenge, our exclusive Project Runway Dress Collection is complete!

Who doesn’t love a good fashion makeover?  This week’s episode of Project Runway tasked the designers with making over a group of real women, whose friends brought them there as an act of love.  Each designer was paired with a makeover client to create a new look for them involving an outfit, a new hairstyle and a make-up transformation.  The goal: To make each woman look and feel her best.

This was a great challenge because the diversity of clients in all shapes and sizes, describing their own personal challenges with fashion, was very relatable.  Sonjia’s client Amanda doesn’t like to shop or know how to buy things – so she just doesn’t shop.  Fabio’s client, Ko-Rely, hates dresses and only wears them, “when I’m forced to.”  Ven’s client, Terri, never wants to leave her jeans.  The beauty of this challenge was the personal relationships that developed between the designers and their clients.  We really enjoyed the playful interaction between Gunnar and his client—showing a softer side to him.

The transformation process was not without it’s own sense of drama. Ven seemed to have a hard time grasping Terri’s fashion needs.  His constant references to her size set the other designers off, while he remained defensive about the difficulty he was having in creating a look for her. Terri and her friend were offended, and at times teary-eyed. Elena’s client Jenna wore a lot of color before, so her design was based around a more neutral color palette.  Fabio designed Ko-Rely into a dress that she’d want to wear.  Gunnar put his client Kim in a slimming black silk chiffon LBD, after her friend told him Kim’s fashion sense never matched her larger than life personality.  By the time Kim went down the runway, she had a strut that was unmatched.  Michael Kors noted, “You could teach Giselle how to move.”

Accessories took a front row seat on the runway, right along with the new hairstyles and make-up that completed the makeovers.  It was hand-held fever as clutches completed the looks in various hues and degrees of ornamentation.  Nina called out the studded clutch that Dmitry’s client Angela carried; appropriately paired with booties.  Manrepeller would have been proud because there was no shortage of “arm parties”, as colored bangles were stacked high.    At judging time Nathan’s look wasn’t well received.  Heidi said that Liana looked “cheap” and like a “hoochie mama”.  Nina dismissed it as being a complete disaster while Michael said Nathan’s use of “illusion creating” fabric was best served on someone closer to Betty White’s age.  For this, Nathan was sent home this week.

This week’s winner was Fabio, for his asymmetrical dress in different shades of gray, with various seams and unique proportions.  He paired it with medium heeled Chelsea boots and a graphic necklace.  Along with her really edgy haircut, Ko-Rely’s outfit got a lot of attention from the judges.   The judges decided to keep Ven, despite his misgivings about working with his client and the less than tasteful look he created for her.  It makes us wonder, did they save him for the drama?  We will find out more next week!

The Challenge: Marie Claire magazine recently launched Marie Claire @ Work.  Nina Garcia explained that this branch of the magazine was created “to showcase the strong, powerful and sophisticated women that embody fashion in the workplace.”  To that end, the designers were challenged to create a fashion capsule collection that is editorial but will also work in the real world.  In addition, each team was instructed to direct a photo shoot.

Each team took the challenge to the design room to plan their collection before heading to Mood. Team 5 opted for a “Fall into Color” theme centered around bright hues of fuchsia, purple and turquoise.  Christopher pulled some bags and shoes from the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall to spark their inspiration.  Team 6 was centered on graphic prints and pop color against sleek blacks. Accessories filled the gap when Elena was concerned that her black look was boring.  Melissa cited that they could grab a pair of bright blue shoes or a clutch to balance.  With the right accessories, plain won’t surface.

As the final looks went down the runway, there was a big divide between how Team 5 and Team 6 chose to accessorize their looks.  Team 5, with their bright printed silks, opted for more muted accompaniments like nude pumps and demure black clutch bags.  The simplicity of the accessories didn’t compete with the prints.  Team 6 played up their solid hues with shoes and bags in bright blues and purples. Sonjia paired her look with a long statement necklace and snake-skin clutch, giving off lady-like splendor.

Time to be judged.  Heidi felt that Team 5’s collection had a softer touch for the modern businesswoman and she favored it.  While the printed silk caused Tim concern earlier, Michael Kors felt like they created a collection that could cater to a woman in her 20’s up to her 60’s.  From the consistent construction of the pieces, Nina said it was clear that they worked well as a team.  Nina was an instant fan of Team 6’s collection.  She felt it contained “modern editorial touches that photographed incredibly.”  She admitted that pants are a large part of her wardrobe and felt their ability to craft both skinny and wide leg pants was key.  Melissa’s blue drape dress was a judge favorite and deemed office appropriate for a range of careers.

The Final Decision: Team 6 won and Melissa was named winner of the challenge. This week, Raul was sent home…again. Raul’s leaving was more bitter than sweet as he told Elena that he hates her.  With that, we’ll be waiting by for next week’s episode.

 

This week’s episode started with the drama only Project Runway can deliver. Andrea fled in the middle of the night and quirky Kooan decided to take on the fashion world in his own way. This reopened the door for Raul. In light of the drama, Michael Kors passed along some words of wisdom, notably, “fashion is not for sissies!” Cut to the challenge: Michael Kors’ business caters to the modern woman who is on the go. She wants to look stylish and chic with outfits that are relaxed, versatile and that transition easily from meetings to cocktail parties. The designers were asked to create a single look for a “woman on the go” with the caveat that the look must represent the personal aesthetic of each designer. It needed to be stylish, fashionable, versatile, practical and comfortable.

The designers finally got into work mode–we were quickly taken in by Melissa’s idea for creating multiple flowing layers, Fabio’s use of unique prints, Christopher’s mini leather jacket, and Sonjia’s charcoal formfitting gathered dress. Gunnar’s dress had a triangle cut-out in the back that could be a little too sexy in the office, but it’s nothing a sweater can’t disguise until 5pm. As always, our favorite part is when the models come in for fittings and the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall shifts from the backdrop to the vehicle for bringing the looks together. The designers reached for tall heels, bangles, cuffs and bags that ranged from clutches to practical top handles.

On the runway, many designers favored rich blacks, grays and neutrals. This allowed the accessories to star with bright colors and hints of flash. The high volume of colors the accessories provided allowed for the perfect divide between daytime seriousness and nighttime frivolity. For us, a good shoe or bag is everything to an outfit–especially if it can make it transitional.

The judging panel is always worth waiting for. Guest judges Rachel Roy and Hayden Panettiere joined Michael Kors, Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia. Sonjia’s charcoal gathered dress received much praise; Heidi loved it for the great manipulations in fabric and Michael praised it for its versatility. He noted, “You could load on diamonds and wear silver shoes. You could take it all the way down and wear a pair of riding boots.” Christopher’s sophisticated look, which was paired with a mini leather jacket, bold blue pumps and jeweled clutch, wowed the judges. Heidi found it crazy that he was able to make the entire ensemble for $150 and Rachel agreed that it was “modern and relatable”. Michael said he “nailed it.” That is where the praise ended. Michael did not hold back his distaste for Raul’s design, and Buffi also took a serious hit with her Zebra/pink ensemble. According to the exacting judge, “It look[ed] like a hairdressing smock.”

So where did this all end up? Sonija won the challenge and Buffi was asked to leave. It was a fair decision and it was obvious who was really rising to the occasion. We’re looking forward to next week because we have a sense that Raul is in trouble and there is more drama ahead.

 

 

Episode 3 of Project Runway Season 10 was about discovering how to combine two different design aesthetics into one cohesive piece. After being placed in teams, the designers were to learn that “the hardest person to impress in fashion is a fashion designer.” This week’s challenge was to create a red carpet look to be worn at the Emmy’s by a surprise client. They were each given a key to a Lexus GS, the color of which would inspire their look. After being told that the clients had a great deal of empathy for their efforts on Project Runway, thoughts of Heidi filled the air, but the designers had a larger surprise in store: a previous Project Runway designer awaited each team. They jumped immediately into likes and dislikes, and what they hoped the designers would execute in such a short amount of time.

On the runway, Gunnar and Kooan stood proudly as their white gown received high praise from Heidi. Nina admired the collar the two had chosen to include in their design, and Gunnar noted, “It was a necklace. Thank you Lord & Taylor!” (The necklace is Robert Rose, coming soon!) In the end, Ven was victorious, winning his second challenge in a row! With his team partner Fabio, they created an expensive looking dress for their client Kenley, who completely adored this design and asserted, “This is adorable. Very like modern Grace Kelly. Just what I wanted!” His look was finished with nude pumps.

Ultimately, Raul was kicked off for presenting a dull, frumpy dress that was not red carpet ready, especially with that horse-tail hair extension. ONE DAY YOU’RE IN and THE NEXT YOU’RE OUT!

 

Episode 2 of Project Runway Season 10 was all about the sweets, sweets, sweets, oh yes, and drama! The unconventional materials challenge—a Project Runway favorite—led the designers to Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York City. Met by Dylan Lauren, Ralph Lauren’s daughter, each designer was given $500 to create a look made out of SWEETS. From gumballs to candy legos to dots, the designers were in a modern day Candy Land with over 7,000 choices from around the world.

The designers went back to Parsons where they began designing their candy-chic looks and style them with the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall. Tim Gunn praised Sonjia for her creative use of gummy sharks and jelly beans, which gave her piece a sophisticated look with a sea glass appeal, but was upset with Andrea’s design: “This looks sloppy, unaltered, a craft project, and it looks like a throw away piece. I’m disappointed and concerned for you.” OUCH!

The drama continued on the runway when pieces of licorice fell off Elena’s monochromatic outfit, which led to Michael Kors dubbing it “a rigatoni Mad Max!” Cotton candy melted from Kooan’s bright dress and Buffi’s bird-nest hat did not pull of the Carrie Bradshaw look she as going for. Sonjia, Gunnar and Ven were the top 3, and in the end Ven won for his wearable, stained glass inspired dress that Nina Garcia claimed as “sublime, candy couture and on trend!” See more of the Accessory Wall and how Ven used it to help win the challenge in the video below.

We said goodbye to Lantie, who struggled with “time” during this challenge. Sending down the runway fabric from Dylan’s umbrellas, the judges were unimpressed, disappointed and confessed, “It was a literal meltdown.”

 

 

Project Runway Season 10 premiered with no shortage of drama and “make it work” moments. We are excited to see the eclectic set of new designers and what they will send down the runway this season! The episode kicked off with the traditional champagne toast and message from Heidi, Tim, Nina and Michael. Before getting to the fashion, the workroom was filled the season’s first feuds. We can’t stop talking about the spat between Gunnar and Christopher (“This isn’t Project Obnoxious!”) and we’re eager to see how these tensions play out during the season.

For the first time ever, the runway show was in “the center of the universe”: Times Square, NYC. The designers were challenged to create a complementary look to one they created at home. Thirty-two looks were sent down the runway in front of thousands of screaming fans.

Back at Parsons, the judges, including guests Lauren Graham and Patricia Field, didn’t hold anything back in their critiques. Top marks went to Ven (amazing construction), Melissa (most “sellable”) and Christopher (his gown is for “a major star”). The harshest notes were for Lantie (Patricia Field noted she is “a step below” a designer—ouch,) Koann and Beatrice, who was ultimately sent home.

The winning designer was Christopher. The judges loved how he took an “okay” fabric and gave it fabulous movement on the runway.

 

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