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PPR Season 10 – Challenge 2

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Oh goodness. This week absolutely kicked my butt. Probably my worst unconventional materials challenge thus far, if not my worst challenge ever. The challenge this week was called “Candy Couture.” We had a budget of $25 and one day to create a look made out of candy. Thankfully, we were allowed to use fabric as a base.


Zhanna heads down the runway in a red strapless party dress featuring a fringed and layered skirt and a strapless, shiny top.


As you can probably see, I struggled with this challenge quite a bit.  I was just so befuddled. Scale was a real problem. Everything in the candy aisle seemed so enormous compared to my model. I had originally planned to make a dress with miniature M&Ms, kind of a cool mosaic-inspired look. But apparently mini M&Ms have been discontinued. I swore they still moonlighted in the baking aisle, but no dice. Since I couldn’t think of any good replacement for the mini M&Ms for the mosaic look, I decided I liked the idea of doing a fringe-y layered skirt. I decided that Twizzlers Pull and Peels would work okay for this purpose. But then I was at a complete loss when it came to the top. I went to two different stores and nothing in the candy aisle was all that inspiring to me. I ended up purchasing a box of Fruit Roll Ups. That’s pretty much candy, right?

Then came the nightmare of actually trying to create the look. Ugh. Not fun. The Fruit Roll Ups were so much stickier than I remember them being. They stuck to themselves and were impossible to remove from the thin plastic. It was just a mess. I was eventually able to cut out a template with kitchen shears and hot glue it down. And the Twizzlers weren’t much better. They were also a sticky mess, sticking to my fingers, each other, my work surface. It was beyond frustrating. I seriously felt like I was going to cry. Eventually I got everything glued down and then basically ran to get pictures taken because I seriously have no idea how long this will last. So my pictures are terrible this week, too. Terrible pictures to go along with a terrible look. There was just no way to achieve a good, tailored fit with the materials I chose.


To style this look, I wanted to make it feel a bit edgy, yet still red carpet ready. From the Lord and Taylor website I accessorized with:

BCBG Max Azria Snake-Print Ring

Franco Sarto Vanna Platform Sandals

BCBG Max Azria Tribal Beaded Necklace

Am I happy with my look this week? No, not really. It was frustrating to me at every point along the way. I didn’t enjoy my materials, I felt incompetent using them, and I feel like the end result reflects that. I think I would be in the bottom three this week. I hope I can squeak by. I’m just glad this challenge is behind me.


PPR Season 10 – Challenge 1

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Getting back into the groove of Project Project Runway hasn’t been as difficult as I expected. I thought that I would just feel creatively out of juice. Last season was quite difficult and putting together six looks for the finale was quite the undertaking. I honestly have no idea how professional designers can sustain it year in and year out. So I was looking forward to feeling overwhelmed by another season. But I’m pleasantly surprised. Maybe it’s that this week’s challenge is fairly straightforward to help me ease back into things.

This week’s challenge is called “Times Square Anniversary Party.” (Hey where did all the fun, punny episode titles go?) The challenge, as I undertook it was to choose a prior PPR “portfolio look” that represents my aesthetic and create a companion piece to go along with it. (For new participants they were to create two companion looks. Nothing like a trial by fire the first week!)

For my “portfolio look” I chose the dress I made for the tenth challenge from last season.

I chose this dress because I like the way the dress fits, I think the color scheme is interesting (although it is based on a Nanette Lepore textile as per that challenge) and I think it speaks to my inclinations towards simple, graphic design.

In designing the companion look, I knew I wanted it to speak to those aspects: fit, color, and creating something graphic. I wanted to create something that would look like it came from the same collection, as that’s how I interpreted the challenge directive. I also knew that I didn’t really want to do another dress, as that seemed like it could be a bit repetitive. I considered making a gown in honor of having done so for the first challenge in the last two seasons, but I just didn’t feel up to it. But I did know one thing;  I wanted to make a pair of red skinny pants.


Zhanna heads down the runway in that pair of red skinny pants paired with a tank featuring asymmetrical stripes in red, lavender, and orange.

Whereas the original look was graphic, yet sweet, this look was intended to exude a bit of an edge. My main concern with this look was achieving a well-fitting skinny pant. It’s hard to sew pants at this scale, but unlike a real human body, dolls don’t need to move, so pants are nowhere near as difficult to make as in real life. After I had conceptualized the pants, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to pair them with. I wanted something that would incorporate the colors from the original piece, but I didn’t want to reuse the same technique as in the panel on the dress. So I decided to make a simple tank, in part to add to the almost-androgynous silhouette I was creating with the pants. I decided to do the strips of color asymmetrically to keep the eye moving and to avoid highlighting any particular area of the body. I had considered creating a stripe panel as on the dress across the bustline, but I determined that it would add too much bulk and stiffness to the top. I wanted something light, slightly drape-y and summery.

To style the look, I wanted to evoke that summery feel.


First of all, I did not use the items provided from the Lord and Taylor Accessory Wall. I found it way too difficult to navigate and the choices severely limited. Instead I simply chose items from the Lord and Taylor website.

In the bright summer sun, the look definitely needed some sunglasses. I chose Michael Kors Caicos Plastic Aviator Sunglasses in orange. I promise I’m not sucking up the the judge, they really were the best option for the look. For shoes, I chose some breezy sandals that look sophisticated but not too fussy: Pour La Victoire Faine Strappy Leather Sandals. I chose the sandals in a similar red to the pants to avoid a jarring transition between the pants and the shoes. Finally, I added a House of Harlow 1960 Etched Stacked Bangle Cuff to bring in a touch of metallic, for interest.

Overall, I think the look is solid. I think the pants are well-made and pretty much exactly as I had envisioned them. The top doesn’t excite me as much, but I think it’s passable. And I do think that the companion piece works well with portfolio piece. They do look like they could come from the same collection, which was part of my goal.


(Yes, I keep all of my previous designs.)

Don’t forget to check out the other designers on the Project Project Runway Flickr group. I can’t wait to see who is participating and what they’ve designed!

PPR Season 10 – New Model

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I’m kind of at a loss as to what to call this season of Project Project Runway! It could be called Season 10 to match the show, but it hasn’t been in existence from the show’s inception; it’s really on Season 4. But calling it Season 4 is confusing, too, since the show is on Season 10. Adding to the confusion, this will be my third season participating. Ahhh! But I guess I’ll keep it simple and call it Season 10, just for the sake of clarity, even though it isn’t technically correct.

I can’t help myself and have decided to pick a new model for Season 10. For me, there’s something about having a new model that really inspires and excites me. I totally see why real designers get so competitive about models or use them as muses. I can see how a model’s personality could have an effect on the designer’s output. My first year of participating, my model was Gia. Gia had strong features and a quite serious look about her. My second year of PPR, my model was May, who had a more sweet face that looked like she was always on the cusp of smiling. This year, I’ve picked Zhanna as my model.

Zhanna is definitely the edgiest model I’ve worked with. I was drawn to her nearly-white platinum blond hair and her piercing blue eyes. Her bright red lips were a bold choice for her pale skin and hair, but she looks great.

She’s also a bit of a change for me because she’s a bit more flexible than my previous two models.


I’m not sure how much this will effect the way I pose and shoot my garments, but it is something new and different for me and I enjoy a challenge.

I’ve been hard at work on my first challenge. I thought I’d be able to have a photoshoot today but the day is thus far too overcast to get good shots. See you on the runway!

Project Runway Season 10 (I’m Back, Y’all!)

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Hey! I’m back! So here’s the deal. I just don’t think I have the desire to recap Project Runway any more. Unlike every other season of the show, I haven’t really felt all that excited. Maybe it’s Project Runway fatigue or maybe I’m just getting lazy, but it just doesn’t have the same thrill to me any longer. That’s not to say I won’t still be watching the show; I will. I just don’t feel like I can put the mental energy and time into writing recaps any longer.

On the other hand, I’m still incredibly excited for Project Project Runway. So I am still planning on participating this year. I’ve been on the fence about it because in the next month I’m going to be making a fairly long distance move (it’ll be my fourth major move in five years.) I’ve been feeling like I shouldn’t participate because of the stress of preparing for the move, the being in-transit, and the stress of setting up a new apartment. But I’ve come to the conclusion that if I miss a couple of weeks, it won’t be a big deal and I would feel even worse if I didn’t at least try. Because I really enjoy PPR and the creativity it entails. So hopefully I’ll have something great to show on Thursday’s Runway Day!

Project Runway All-Stars: Finale Part 2 Recap

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The final episode. By the end of this hour, someone will have won the whole shebang. I really have no idea which of the three finalists will win this season!

Since the show has to shove three runway collections, judging for all three, and results into only an hour, we get to the runway at a rapid pace. I feel like maybe the show should have done a two-hour finale on a single night rather than splitting it up into two episodes a week apart. Even though I spend a couple of hour every Thursday and Friday recapping this show, I really can’t remember what the designers’ inspirations were or their foibles from last week. Oh well.

One of the guest judges tonight is Tommy Hilfiger. Man, that dude is parading himself on every damn reality tv show, isn’t he? He was on American Idol last night! I’ll borrow (steal) from Joe at The Ruined Auditorium: “He hasn’t been hot since Playstation 1.” His brand got so diluted, he was shilling his gear at K-Mart. I don’t know if I could take seriously the critiques of a guy whose brand was genuinely competing with the brand of ex-Charlie’s Angel Jaclyn Smith. The other guest judge is Ken Downing, the fashion director of Neiman Marcus.

So for this runway show, each of the three designers made six looks. That’s eighteen different garments to critique, and I just don’t feel that I have it in me to write extensively about each and every one. Thus, I’ve decided I’m limiting myself to one single (possibly long and convoluted) sentence for each look, and then an overall impression of the collection. Sound good? Let’s go!

As per usual, all images are from

Full coverage is under the cut; 18 images is a whole lot to render for those with slower computers!

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Project Project Runway 2012: Finale Runway

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The end of another PPR season is upon us, which means its time for the finale runway!

Our finale challenge, from the hosts at Just Crafty Enough was to create a single showstopping look or to create a mini collection of as many looks as we so desired. We were encouraged to use leftover fabric from any of our prior challenges for a look if we so wished. We were given a budget of $300 (it’s always 1/10 of what the designers on the show receive) though it seems unlikely any of us would spend that much. We were also given four days to complete our collection, the same as the contestants on the show.

Unlike last season’s finale, it took me no time at all to figure out my inspiration for my final collection. Spring has come very early this year, and along with seasonal allergies and having to run the air conditioner, all the flowers are out in full. And around here (Washington, D.C.) the focus is on one specific kind of flower–the cherry blossoms. If you aren’t familiar, cherry blossoms are a big deal around here–there’s even a cherry blossom festival. So that’s my inspiration. Although I haven’t been to the Tidal Basin yet this year, the trees around my apartment complex are also blooming and it is just beautiful. I took this picture just this morning:

I was very inspired by the colors of the blossoms–the white, the green, and the palest of pinks. I also liked the idea of the petals. They fall to the ground in the most gorgeous way, fluttering down on the lightest breeze. I wanted to do a collection that felt like spring–light, fresh, and airy.

Let the runway begin!

First out we have Gia, my model from last year. She is wearing a pair of tight white leggings, a pale green shell featuring scalloped hem, topped with a pale pink single-breasted coat with scalloped hem featuring white buttons.

I wanted to start the show with something I’ve never done before, a coat. I really love the look of the coat and think the buttons add such a dainty detail to the look. I also tried a new technique for drafting the leggings, and it worked perfectly. The pants fit Gia like a glove. This is the early spring outfit, when the weather is still cool enough to want to wear a jacket.

Next out we have Lys, who is wearing a strapless white cocktail dress featuring a pale pink belt and pink beaded cherry blossoms on the bodice. This garment was the “twist” look, it is made with fabric from previous challenges, specifically the excess fabric from Challenge 8: The Flag Challenge.

This look is quite simple, but I think the beaded flower details keep it from being too boring. This is the party look, showing some skin, but still a bit sophisticated.

Next down the runway is Astrid, wearing a pink sleeveless shell with the scalloped, petal-like hem and beaded neckline and a pale green pencil skirt.

I think the beading at the neckline gives this look something unique, it is almost like a built-in necklace. This look is meant to be the more professional look, something that could be worn to an office and then out for drinks afterward.

Makeda is next on the runway, wearing a long-sleeved scoop-neck shirt featuring pink “cherry blossom” beading and a pair of pale green shorts featuring the petal-like scalloped hem.

I am so happy with how the shirt turned out. The sleeves are inset perfectly, probably my best sleeves to-date. This look was meant to appeal to a younger consumer. The scallop-hem shorts are a trend item, a departure from the more classic look of the prior garments.

Next is Lina, who is wearing a pink strapless cocktail dress featuring a layered skirt meant to represent the petals of the blossoms and a wide white belt to give the eye a rest in that sea of pink.

I love the look of the layers of the skirt. I developed quite the callous trimming so many strips. This look is the “red carpet” look, a dress that is eye-catching and would photograph well.

Finally, May comes down the runway in my final look–a wedding dress. It is a white strapless gown featuring a multi-layered scallop skirt and a pale pink sash.

I think this dress is a nice culmination of the whole collection. It feels fresh and spring-like and features the techniques that define the collection–so many layers. I am really thrilled with how this look turned out.

Now, some pictures of the whole collection–I like to see all the looks together, as I feel they work nicely as a whole.

Don’t you love my risers? Yep, they’re juice glasses.

This picture amuses me greatly. Not every look is perfectly visible, but it’s so fun! I love playing with perspective.

I’m really happy with how my collection came together. Although it probably doesn’t seem like it, I used up a significant portion of my four-day time limit. With a couple of looks featuring separates, I had to draft a lot of pattern pieces, all of which were from done from scratch, except maybe the sleeves, which were based on a pattern piece I drafted previously. I tried to really conceive of this collection as whole; I wanted every look to work with every other look, have repeated techniques and themes in this collection, and make each look fit a different situation or different customer.

The Project Project Runway experience is just the best; the supportive atmosphere amongst the participants cannot be more wonderful. I love this group and all the gorgeous output we, as a whole, come up with. I appreciate and admire every single one of the other designers. There is just something so exhilarating to me about a group of people who all choose to spend their time on a project like this, sharing their hard work and encouraging others to do the same. I am very sad that another season of PPR is now behind me. My designing “muscles” have been greatly stretched, I have learned and taught myself so much, I have shared the experience with such great people. The PPR Flickr group is sure to be on fire today, so make sure to take a look. And hopefully I’ll see everyone again next season!

Project Project Runway 2012: Me-Ology

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As I did last season, I thought it would be fun to do an “-Ology” post, taking a look back at my output from this season, Tom & Lorenzo style. Plus I need a break from working on my final collection!

Hmm, looking at everything I’ve made side-by-side is kind of weird. I guess I didn’t really stretch myself much when it came to silhouette this season. With a few exceptions, most of my garments are more or less the same shape with slight variations—oh my gosh, I’m a Kenley, aren’t I?! On the more positive side, I used a lot of bright colors this season, which I love. I’ve also been a lot more confident when it comes to trims–beads, marabou feathers, metallic braid. Although my silhouettes have been fairly simple, I see myself trying a variety of techniques within that silhouette, such as beading, painting, and paper piecing. I’ve also been a bit braver when it comes to materials. Last season, I don’t think I ever used anything but cotton wovens or poly knits (except maybe in the finale.) This season I tried both crepe and brocade, both of which were very difficult to handle. Overall, I think it’s been a pretty great season, but I really need to get back to work on my final collection–I have a lot to finish up today before I can get to photographing tomorrow!