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PPR Season 12 – Challenge 1

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After I dropped out of Project Project Runway Season 10, I wasn’t sure I would ever do PPR again. I just felt so bad abandoning the project last year, never resuming it after the move was completed. I felt like I had given up and couldn’t do it again. So imagine my surprise when I saw the announcement for PPR Season 12 and instead of dread I felt – excitement?! With PPR not following Season 11, it’s been a full calendar year since the beginning of the last PPR season, so I’ve had time to “recharge my batteries” as it were.

The tl:dr version: I’m back for more PPR.

This week’s challenge is called “Sky’s the Limit.” We were to create a look that represents our points of view as designers using parachute fabric (or the closest stand-in we could find.) We had 19 hours to complete the look (which I will say now, I didn’t use anywhere close to the allotted time.) As far as I know, we didn’t have a budget for this challenge, as the designers were provided with their materials. (Speaking of budgets, I think the season’s giving the designers a lump sum budget to use as they desire is brilliant. Is PPR going to follow this style of budgeting as well?)

As we were not provided materials (what do you mean a parachutist didn’t drop in so that I could accurately recreate the show’s challenge?!) I knew I needed to find a reasonable facsimile of parachute fabric. The closest thing I could think of was rip stop nylon, so I began designing my garment with that fabric’s feel in mind. I wanted to design something that would utilize the fabric’s intrinsic body and drape (or lack thereof.) So I started thinking about how I could use the stiff “plastic-ness” of the fabric to create interesting shapes. I then had a connection in my head: parachutes are in the sky, balloons are in the sky. A balloon dress. For me, the most iconic balloon dress (partially because it was the first time I saw such a thing) is the original 1959 Barbie outfit Gay Parisienne. And how perfect since a Barbie doll is my PPR “model”? So I decided to make an modern homage to that dress.

Full 2

Zhanna heads down the runway in a bright blue balloon dress.

This dress had a couple of iterations before this one. I struggled in getting the proportions right and the skirt to sit just the way I wanted. My initial design had a way more complicated bodice, for which I spent a lot of time drafting the pattern. Once I had the pattern drafted, though, I knew it was way beyond my abilities to actually create. So that was scrapped. My second iteration had to go into the trash because it was too short-waisted and the proportion was all wrong. And furthermore I discovered that pins created unsightly holes in the fabric, so aside from anything that would be hidden inside the dress, I couldn’t use them. So this is the third iteration of this dress. It features a simple, slightly dropped-waist bodice with a full gathered balloon skirt. The skirt terminates just above the knee, and would be very difficult to maneuver in if it were for a real person and not a static mannequin. The look is completed with a woven “parachute ripcord” belt with a buckle. (Fun fact, the buckle is a bra strap adjuster. They are the perfect size for faux buckles. Just FIY.)

In styling the look, I wanted fairly neutral items so the exaggerated skirt wouldn’t be competing for attention. The balloon skirt is clownish enough, over-the-top accessories would make the look a disaster!


From the Belk wall I chose, from top right, the “Hobo Deanna Clutch” in black. I like the simple lines of this clutch. I then picked the “Vince Camuto Summer Metals Silver Multi Strand Necklace” because the strands felt similar to the woven straps of a parachute. Finally, I chose the “Jessica Simpson Waleo Pump” in black leather. Who says blue and black can’t look nice together? I’m not sure how much of this season I will use the Belk wall, as I don’t think most of the items fit my style very well. Or I will just end up reusing the same items over and over. Oh well.

In terms of hair, I think a sleek, slightly bouffant ponytail would accent the look nicely. For makeup, a bluish-gray smoky eye with a defined black lash line would be pretty and would highlight the way the dress compliments Zhanna’s eyes. Fresh pinky cheeks and medium pink lips would help complete the look.

Full Side

Overall, I think the look is okay. There are a lot of construction errors on the dress that are driving me crazy, but I just have to deal. I think the dress does speak to its vintage inspiration while updating it to modern times. I’m happy that the rip stop nylon did hold its shape the way I wanted. It was pretty hard to work with, so I’m glad that at least that aspect of my idea came to fruition. Does it represent me as a designer? I think it does in the way I like to play with shapes and my love of color. I think I would be safe this week. Not at the top, for sure, but I think I may have managed to stay out of the bottom (at least this dress keeps her lady parts covered, unlike some of the real contestants’ garments.)

And remember, the other designers’ looks can be seen on the PPR Flickr page. Check it out, there are always wonderfully talented people there!


2 responses »

  1. Oh, I’m glad you are back for another season! I think this looks fabulous & makes great use of the fabric. I really struggled with it too & couldn’t get the design I pictured in my head. I think you would totally be in this week.

  2. Your dress is great! I love the color. And I ‘get’ the inspiration. Your darts are amazing, so I don’t know what you are talking about with your “construction issues” Well done! Welcome back!


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