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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Project Runway All Stars: Episode 4 Recap

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Down to ten designers. This season is going by so quickly!

The challenge is to create a tasteful outfit inspired by a flavor of gelato. Oh yum! I’m partial to Frutti di Bosco, or Fruits of the Forest (basically mixed berry.) When I studied abroad in Rome during college, I lived above a gelato shop. Actually, this gelateria. You’d think living above a gelato shop would result in eating a metric ton of gelato, but for me that wasn’t really the case. Anyway, each designer gets to choose the flavor that will be their inspiration.

Michael: grapefruit

Mondo: Cantaloupe

Mila: Milk and Sour Cherries

April: Blueberry

Jerell: Fruits of the forest

Kenley: Passion Fruit

Austin: Vanilla Madagascar

Anthony: Green Tea

Rami: Kiwi

Kara: Chocolate with Cayenne Pepper

The guest judge this week is the amazing Diane Von Furstenberg. That is a pretty dang big name to get on the show! On the downside, the designers only have six hours to create their looks. Uggggh. Some of my tiny little Barbie-sized outfits have taken six hours! I have no clue how the contestants are supposed to create anything decent at all in such a miniscule amount of time. This is producer mandated, no doubt about it, and that’s sad. I have been appreciating the caliber of the work and the minimization of the drama on this show; I hate these pressure-cooker situations created just for the sake of getting the contestants frustrated. It’s just crappy for such a high-quality design competition. I know that in theory these things make “good tv,” but you know what I think makes for good tv? Good designs and good output. And in order to achieve those good things, designers need adequate time. I’m not suggesting that the show give the designers weeks to make their work, but asking them to create full outfits in six hours is actually kind of insulting–these are the all-stars, and giving them so little time doesn’t make me excited to watch, it makes me feel exasperated. I just wish they would stop with these manipulative shenanigans and let the designers do what they do–design!

The Runway

The judges this week are the usuals, Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi, and they are joined by guest judges Diane Von Furstenberg and model Miranda Kerr. Miranda will be wearing the winning design to and incredibly and probably purposefully vague “industry event.”

All images from The website has a lot more pictures, and even has a neat zoom option if you want to see more of these looks.

Mondo (cantaloupe): I think he did a good job translating the cantaloupe to the garment. The colors he chose are very refreshing, like the fruit. I think it is really smart that he went with a caftan, it really captures a sort of “brunch on the beach” feel. I would never, ever pick that pale orange and light lime green to go together, but they look surprisingly lovely in this outfit. This is a cool, breezy resortwear look, and I really like it. It also moves beautifully on the runway.

Anthony (green tea): Not a bad look. I actually really like the flippy little skirt, it adds a lot of movement to the look, which it sorely needed, as the top is so stiff. At first I didn’t quite “get” the top, but I think he was trying to represent the idea of the tea leaf in the shape of the bodice. I don’t think it was entirely successful, as it just looks a bit overworked. The color of the top is maybe a bit too bright for me. When I think of green tea, I think very calming and serene, and this color is a bit too lime green to reflect that feeling for me.

Kenley (passionfruit): The print is nice, but beyond that I’m not really sure how this dress represents passionfruit. There is very little passion to this dress; aside from the print, it is actually quite structured and maybe a little too straight-laced. Don’t get me wrong, minus the pussy bow, this is something I would totally pick up at the store, I just don’t feel like it reflects the challenge all that well–it seems like a dress Kenley knows how to make, so she picked a bright fabric and called it a day.

Rami (kiwi): Oh no. This is not good to me. I’ve liked so much of what Rami has done this season that this is really a disappointment to me. I really do not like the combination of green tones that he picked, from chartreuse to lime to pistachio. The colors do not work at all for me. And the variety of fabrics, the shiny satin for the skirt, the slightly sheer fabric he draped on the bodice, and the polka dot, they just don’t fit together at all for me. I suppose the silhouette is nice, but otherwise, this is not a good look, and not very kiwi beyond the (poor) color choices. That’s a bad miss.

Mila (milk and sour cherries): Pretty darn cool. I know I so often slam Mila for her predictable designs, but this is actually a very nice look. It is still very much in her aesthetic with the color blocking, but I love that she went out of her comfort zone with the color palette. I’m also not sure how many things we’ve seen her make utilizing more drape-y fabrics or sheers, so this is a fairly big departure. I think the fabric choice was very smart, as the fabrics have almost a creamy feel to them, which makes a lot of sense for a gelato-based challenge. I wish the sleeves were finessed a bit more, but overall a nice look.

Jerell (fruits of the forest): Urgh. I don’t think I’ve liked a single thing Jerell has made, and tonight is no exception. Even Joe felt outraged at this look. In complete truth, he got up from behind the computer, stood by the tv, pointing and shrugging with a confused/disgusted/outraged look on his face that he described as half “no me gusta” and half “no entiendo.” and “I’ve seen much better work at cosplay conventions.” Yes, Project Runway night is fun at our house. So, to get to the nitty-gritty, this is not a good look. Jerell seems obsessed with cutting up the body into weird shapes with his odd seaming choices. The fabrics he picked look ugly and cheap. The neckline is overworked and not well executed, and the skirt is way too short in the front. I’m really ready for him to go home.

Kara (chocolate with cayenne pepper): Well…the model does look kind of ice cream-like. As Kara herself said, the proportions of this look aren’t quite right. There’s something about where the bodice and the skirt come together that is not flattering or attractive. I think Kara had the start of a good idea in her garment, but failed to achieve it. I think she spent most of her time working on the skirt (which is admittedly kind of cute and moves nicely on the runway) and no time working on the ugly bodice. The other problem is that the dress doesn’t really reflect the inspiration all that well.

Michael (grapefruit): Nightgown. Didn’t Gordana go home last week for a nightgown dress? This is a soap opera “come to my boudoir” nightgown dress. Once again, as with Gordana’s last week, it’s all in the color. I just don’t think one can make a floaty or flowy dress out of that pale pink and not have it read sleepwear. Had Michael used a brighter pink, or a pale orange, this could have been a lovely, albeit humongous dress. But as it is, it feels like a robe. Furthermore, I don’t see all that much of the idea of grapefruit in here. Grapefruit is a bit tart and sour, with a surprising sweetness, and I don’t see very much of those aspects in this garment.

April (blueberry): Well, I guess it’s blue. I’m just not responding very much to the dress one way or another. It’s just kind of there to me. It’s very short, so I guess there’s that. And I don’t really like the bodice, the shape reminds me of Batman’s little ear thingies on his cowl. Is it blueberry? Well, it’s blue, but beyond that, I’m not really sure how else it relates to the flavor (although I’m not sure I could do much better conceptualizing a blueberry.) Basically, I find this dress terribly boring, and that’s about all I can say about it. Oh, and when the model turns, she seems to be mere centimeters away from showing her booty. So boring AND short. Hoo-ee.

Austin (Madagascar vanilla): Pretty. It has a creamy feel to it, which is nice. I think working with the idea of vanilla is quite hard. I mean, vanilla has a lot of connotations of blandness, so I think he did a fairly good job of avoiding that. It also is quite limiting when it comes to palette; he pretty much had to stick to white. It’s a nice enough look, maybe a bit boring and a bit “wedding on the beach” bridal, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t love the rouching on the bodice, it feels a bit clichéd to me, but I do think the way he incorporated the strap and the texture he created into the rest of the dress is fairly interesting. It’s a fine enough dress, and it matches his vanilla “flavor” pretty well.

My Top 3 Looks:




My Bottom 3 Looks:




The Judges’ Top 3 Looks:




The Judges’ Bottom 3 Looks:




The Results

Mila is safe.

Michael and Mondo are the top two.

And the winner is…Michael. Yep, he is definitely “the chosen one” this season.

So Mondo is safe. In my opinion, he should have won. But then again, I want him to win the whole season, so your mileage may vary.

Anthony is safe.

April and Kara are the bottom two.

Kara is…safe!?

That means April is out. Whaaaa? I mean, I really like Kara, but I’m really shocked by this elimination. I didn’t love April’s look, but I do not think it was the worst by a longshot. But as she herself said in her exit interview, she’s only 22; she still has many good years ahead of her to do well in the business. Best of luck to her in her future endeavors.


Project Project Runway 2012: Challenge 3 Runway

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Does anyone else feel like this week has flown by? It has certainly felt like a “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of week for me.

This week’s Project Project Runway is entitled “Patterning for Piggy.” We were to design a flamboyant cocktail dress for Miss Piggy to wear during promotion of the new(ish) Muppet Movie. We had 12 hours to complete our designs, and a budget of $15.

May heads down the runway in a bright orange cocktail dress featuring orange and hot pink marabou at the hemline.

In designing this garment, I departed a bit from the kinds of dresses most of the Project Runway designers created. In thinking about how to dress Miss Piggy, I thought of her less as a real woman (as how many of the designers discussed and created for her) and more as a drag queen. And when you get right down to it, that is exactly what Miss Piggy is. She is a female character as acted and voiced by a male performer. She simultaneously embodies a stereotypical femininity, but also takes that caricature and turns it up to 11, exaggerating it for entertainment or comedic purposes. So I came from that standpoint in making this dress. This dress is basically stagewear; as Miss Piggy is a constructed character, she is basically on-stage whenever she is being performed.  So take that as you will.

Beyond the drag aspects of the dress, I knew I wanted to do something in a fun, bright color, something kind of fiery to match Miss Piggy’s over-the-top personality. We saw a lot of pink on the runway, and I knew I wanted to incorporate a bit of hot pink, so orange seemed like the logical choice to compliment the pink well. When it came to materials, I knew immediately that I wanted to work with some sort of feathery trim, and I wanted to use it on the skirt. So I sat down and did my usual weekly sketch.



(Click to enlarge: Croquis from DesignersNexis)

Once again, several details changed between my initial sketch and the finished product. Initially I had thought I was going to do the whole skirt in marabou trim, but clearly that did not end up happening. First off, marabou is the biggest pain to work with ever. I was seriously covered in little bits of fluff. I’m pretty sure I breathed in a fair amount, too. (Plus it was kind of stinky. What’s up with that?) So I was actually pretty darn tired of working with it by the time I called it done. Also, I think I was underestimated how much of the trim I needed to purchase in order to do the whole skirt. I suppose I could have bought more, but I didn’t feel like heading to Joann’s again, and I was actually kind of close with my budget this week. The trim was not cheap. I also decided to nix the rhinestones at the neckline. I liked the idea in theory, but once the dress was otherwise done, I just couldn’t do it. It just seemed to take the garment too far out of my more clean and sleek aesthetic. And I’m not sure it would have added much to the overall look. Another change was the addition of the belt–once I decided the marabou would be only at the hemline, the dress needed some shaping and something to break up the long orange expanse from bust to mid-thigh. Oh, and I did ribbon straps rather than the more tank-like straps in my sketch. Not only was it easier, it also felt somehow more sleek an option.

Then I had to think about styling. In theory, this dress would be worn with hot pink gloves, as Miss Piggy always wears gloves, but as the Neiman Marcus wall didn’t have any for us Project Project Runway-ers (on the plus side, we didn’t have to fight for them like on the show) they didn’t make it to the style board. I actually considered going back out the fabric store and picking up some hot pink stretchy material, but the thought of trying to sew the little thumb at this scale made my head hurt. So imagine them up there, if you’d like. For the shoes, I picked the ridiculously over-the-top Giuseppe Zanotti Bow-Detail Platform Sandals. Yep, these bad boys have a 7-1/2″ heel on them, but Miss Piggy isn’t walking anywhere, so why not? I also added the Jose & Maria Barrera Pave-Crystal Bracelet in Fuchsia (I tried spelling that word two times and got it wrong both times before resorting to spell-check. What a weirdly spelled word!) Hair and makeup don’t really come into play all that much this week, as Miss Piggy rarely departs from her wavy blonde locks and pink eye shadow.

This week was actually pretty fun for me, I liked the inherent silliness of the challenge. Don’t forget to head over to the Project Project Runway Flickr group and see what fabulous looks everyone made this week!

Project Runway All-Stars: Episode 3 Recap

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I can’t believe it’s Thursday already. I don’t know about you, but this week flew by for me. Let’s get settled and watch some fashion entertainment. I have to say, I haven’t really watched the intro all that intently before, and wow, is it ever silly. There is some seriously awkward voguing going on up there. Good thing these folks are all reality tv veterans, because some of that footage is “drunk uncle dancing at a wedding” levels of embarrassing.

So, this episode the challenge is to create a flamboyant cocktail dress for Miss Piggy. They have $150 and one day to make the dress. Now, of course they won’t be designing for a whole platoon of Miss Piggy-esque models. Instead they will be designing for regular models, and the winning design will be modified to fit the Muppet. This challenge  has some great potential for over-the-top ideas and has a bit of cheeky fun to it. I’m actually kind of looking forward to this.


The Runway

So apparently Isaac Mizrahi was unavailable this week, so Eric Daman, the costume designer for Gossip Girl is sitting in on the judging panel this week along with the client and guest judge, Miss Piggy.

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Project Project Runway 2012: Challenge 2 Runway

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It’s Thursday, and that means it’s Runway day–perhaps my favorite day of the week!

This week’s Project Project Runway challenge was called “A Night at the Opera.” We were challenged to create an event gown for one of the most high-society events possible–the opera. We had a budget of $35 this week and had 24 hours to complete our looks.

May takes to the runway in a teal blue crepe mermaid-style dress featuring gold beading at the neckline.

This week was hard! I totally identified with Kara from this past week’s show. I do not consider myself a gown designer at all (which is kind of funny, considering I decided to create a gown for last week.) But it was really hard for me to go outside of my usual more sportswear aesthetic. But I think I was able to translate my design style into this gown fairly well. I stayed true to my inclination toward solid textiles in interesting colors and I also stayed with my more structured, sleek silhouettes.

My starting point for this outfit was trying to avoid repeating last week’s silhouette. I decided to make my dress strapless this week, and decided to make the dress with more of a mermaid-style skirt rather than the more sleek skirt I created last week. Another big consideration for me was the color. I knew I wanted to do something in an interesting color. I didn’t want to do black, white, or red; and I did not want to use aubergine, because I used it quite a lot last season. So I decided I wanted to use blue or green.   Finally, I knew that if I were to use a solid in a bright color, I would have to avoid the dress looking too much like a bridesmaid’s dress. So I decided that I would have to “couture it up” somehow. I decided to do this by adding some beading at the neckline. As with last week, I did a sketch to focus my ideas a bit.

As you can see, several details from my sketch changed for my final design. Most obviously, I went with a blue with more of a teal undertone as compared to the clear blue in my sketch. I also decided to use gold beading rather than silver, a choice I am very glad I made. Finally, which sketching I considered using chiffon on the panels which give the skirt it’s shape. I am so glad I decided against going that direction. I think this project would have included a lot more tears if I had done so. As it was, the crepe fabric was a total pain to deal with. I knew I needed to use something a bit more “high end” and figured the crepe would be less slippery and annoying than satin. What I didn’t count on was the fact that crepe frays like crazy. If I had been smart, I would have fray-checked all of my cuts, but that didn’t happen. So let’s just say the inside of the dress really isn’t pretty. What I am most proud of in this design is the hand-beading that I did. I think it definitely succeeds in taking the gown to the next level. And hand beading it was really not as hard as I initially thought it would be. It only took (at most) two hours, and that was two hours where I could watch Judge Judy at the same time.

As for styling, I chose to go simple (surprise, surprise) from the Neiman Marcus Accessories Wall. For shoes, I chose the pair of Jimmy Choo Senora Ankle-Strap D’Orsay Sandals. I figure they wouldn’t show much anyway, so it would be fine to be more silvery than my preferred gold (and there aren’t many gold options on the wall.) I’m far more excited about the fabulous pair of earrings I found, Jose and Maria Barrera Pave Drop Earrings in Clear. I think these earrings would really take this gown to the next level, adding so much sparkle and glamour. I decided not to add a necklace, as I feel it would compete with the beading on the dress. As for hair, I think it would really depend on the person wearing the dress. I think loose, wavy hair would be beautiful with this look, but so would a very simple, sleek chignon. For makeup, I would think a smoky eye would be very pretty, especially since this is more of a late-evening look. Who would wear this look? Well, I must say I’m not very knowledgeable about all the New York socialites who head to the opera, so I’m going to have to pick from celebrities. I think someone with dark hair would probably look best in this look, so maybe someone like Frida Pinto or Rachel Weisz.

Don’t forget to head over to the Project Project Runway Flickr Group to see what fabulous opera gowns the other participants have created this week.

Project Runway All-Stars: Episode 2 Recap

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Well, let’s dive into this episode.

The designers are to make ballgowns for high-society events. The guest judges this week are introduced right away with the challenge. They are Mark Badgley and James Mischka of, well, Badgley Mischka! Wow, some big names already this season. The challenge is “A Night at the Opera,” designing a glamorous evening gown. Classic, elegant, and fantastical. Romantic and couture. This is going to be a tough challenge. $350 budget, one day. This is going to be tough!


The Runway

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Project Project Runway 2012: Challenge 1 Runway

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Even though it has only been a couple of months since the last Project Project Runway wrapped up, I’ve really missed it. I missed the excitement of getting the new challenge, the creativity, the thrill of Runway Day and seeing what amazing looks the other participants have come up with.

This week’s challenge was called “Fashion Cents.” We were to create outfits using unconventional materials from a $0.99 or $1 store. We had a budget of $10 and 12 hours to complete our looks.

May walks the runway in a red-carpet-ready gold gown with high-neck structured top, body-skimming skirt, and an aubergine velvet belt.

As I blogged about earlier this week, my primary material was a gold Mylar balloon. And was it ever a pain to work with! When cut, the Mylar rolled up on itself into a roll about the diameter of a pencil. Thus, to make my garment I had to attach the Mylar to other materials in order to keep any semblance of shape. The bodice is affixed to regular copy paper and the skirt was double-stick taped to tissue paper which I had on-hand, but did actually come from the dollar store.

For this look, my starting point was the material itself. I knew I really wanted to avoid using a textile to embrace the “unconventional materials” part of the challenge. For some reason my brain immediately jumped to the shiny Mylar balloons. I originally thought I would use the more mirror-like silver Mylar that is more common, but when I saw the gold balloons, I knew I had to use them instead. The material I chose was so shiny and luxurious (even though it is so banal in reality) I knew I wanted to make a gown, something more red-carpet than sportswear. I also decided that I needed to make the garment classy. My rule of thumb is: “Short, tight, shiny…pick two.” As I knew that the material would not drape particularly well, I had to use structure in the garment. I was at a bit of an impasse as to how to make it look classy, so I did a sketch to get a feel for what I wanted to make.

Click to enlarge.  (Croquis from DesignersNexis)

I came up with a simple silhouette, as I knew any attempt at sleeves or complexity would end in tears.

I’m actually quite pleased with how the garment turned out. I think of it as my “Oscar dress” because my model looks a bit like an Oscar statuette in the gown.

I did make a bit of an error with my styling this week. Somehow I missed the “Project Runway Wall” and just chose accessories from the overall Neiman Marcus site instead. I’ll fix this error for next week.

To go with my luxe look, I decided to keep most of the accessories in the gold family. I chose an understated Marco Bicego diamond-cap gold bangle to add a bit of interest at the wrist without taking too much attention away from the already eye-catching dress. For shoes I chose Jimmy Choo mirrored leather crisscross sandals. For the most part the shoes would not show under the dress, but if they peeked out, I wanted them to be in the same color family as the dress. I finished off the look with a Prada satin frame clutch in purple which matches the “pop of color” of the velvet belt.

When it comes to hair, I actually find May’s long, straight cut to be quite lovely, it gives the overall look an almost Egyptian feel to it. In terms of makeup, I think a natural lip would be beautiful with a pale gold eye shadow and long black lashes. As to who would wear this look, I think a red-carpet fixture like Cate Blanchett could work this look, or someone like Viola Davis, whose skin tone would make the gold color just sing.

See what the other participants have come up with on the Project Project Runway Flickr group!

Project Project Runway 2012: Challenge 1 Workroom

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Although all of the posts thus far on the new iteration of the blog (this one) have been about the actual Project Runway, the other reason for this blog’s existence is Project Project Runway. If you are new to the concept, Project Project Runway is a group of people who “play along” with the real show, doing the challenges; although we make doll-sized clothes rather than the show’s human-sized clothes. On the Friday after Project Runway All-Stars airs, the (sometimes modified) challenge is posted at Just Crafty Enough. The participants than have a little less than a week to fulfill the challenge. Throughout the week, we are allowed to post “work room” work-in-progress pictures, but we aren’t to show our completed looks until Thursday. Then on “Runway Day” we share our projects on our blogs, as well as submitting to the Project Project Runway Flickr pool.

So, this week’s challenge, as on the show, was to make a garment out of unconventional materials from a $0.99 store. So to the Dollar Tree I headed and picked up just a couple of things.

Can you tell what that is? Because it looks awful, doesn’t it? It’s a deflated metallic gold Mylar balloon and some white tissue paper. Let’s just say these materials have been a bit of a struggle to work with. I’ll get into it a bit more on Thursday’s Runway Day, I’m sure.