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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!

Style

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!

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 Runway All-Stars: Episode 1 Recap

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The new season of Project Runway is upon us. As this season is comprised of “All Stars” all sorts of things are being shaken up: new host, new mentor, and new judges. When I first heard that Heidi, Tim, Michael Kors, and Nina Garcia would not be involved in this season, I was quick to dismiss it. “Oh, it won’t be Project Runway without the usual suspects. But as Season 9 progressed, I found myself becoming more and more exasperated with and tired of the judges. I think that having some fresh takes may be the breath of fresh air I needed in order to compel me to stay with the franchise (though there wasn’t much of question there to begin with.) So let’s see what our old favorite contestants and our fresh blood judges bring to the table!

The contestants all meet up at Limelight, which is a former church / former club / current shopping center and meet with the new host Angela Lindvall. She announces that throughout this competition, no immunity will be awarded. Wow, that’s actually pretty tough. No cruising through this season! The grand prize will be enormous–boutiques at some Neiman Marcus stores, a fashion spread in Marie Claire, the opportunity to be a guest editor at the publication, all sorts of Brother brand equipment (sergers, industrial quality machines, etc.) and $100,000 of HP and Intel stuff, and $100,000 cash from L’Oreal.

The contestants meet the new judges: Georgina Chapman, co-founder of Marchesa and Isaac Mizrahi. I think it’s pretty cool that this time around two of the judges are coming from a fashion design approach. In the normal Project Runway iteration the combination of editor-designer-model judges could create fairly unclear standards for the contestants. Should they appeal to Heidi’s red-carpet, sexy dress opinions, Michael Kors’ wearable minimalist sensibilities, or Nina Garcia’s magazine-selling editorial standpoint? By limiting the range of backgrounds for the judges, I hope that there is a more clear standard for design. I hope there is a focus on cutting-edge, well-executed looks; garments for the sake of fashion, rather than the selling of a brand or a magazine.

After introducing the judges, it is revealed that each designer brought a recent work of theirs. They have 30 minutes to dress their models, and then the first fashion show will commence.

I’m not going to recap all the looks that came out rapid-fire. I feel that this is being used as a reminder of the aesthetics of the designers, and I feel like I’ve done this over the past week or so, and frankly I’m not super excited to look at the designer’s past works. Bring on the new stuff!

So the show has decided to force the designers to hit the ground running by putting the unconventional materials challenge first thing–all their materials have to be purchased from the $0.99 store. I think placing it so early in the show is a great idea, in that it really will show how flexible the designers are willing to be. Most, if not all, participated in a version of this challenge before, so it will be interesting to see if they are any better suited to dealing with it this time around. The twist this go-round is that the garment they create must be inspired -in some way- by the garment they presented earlier this episode. It seems there is a lot of room for interpretation here, could be inspired by the color, the texture, the silhouette, or even just the way the garment “feels.” So I guess I’m not really sure how difficult of a twist this really is. We’ll see if this becomes more of an exercise in BS-ing an explanation than it is in actually using the present garment as a point of inspiration. They get to buy $100 worth of goods. Oh, and Marie Claire editor-in-chief Joanna Coles is the mentor this season.

The Runway 

The guest judge is Ken Downing, fashion director of Neiman Marcus

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Project Project Runway Challenge 1: Runway Show

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Gia comes down the runway for Challenge 1 of Project Project Runway wearing a graphic gown. The bodice features a plunging neckline and the geometric skirt has a slit “up to there.”

For this challenge, I wanted to make something striking and experiment a bit with tailoring. The bodice is complete with facings and darts, a first for me. Getting the bodice to fit properly was a huge undertaking. I fussed with it for quite a while, to say the least. I see this dress working a red carpet on the likes of Jennifer Lopez or Blake Lively; ladies who want to be the center of attention and don’t mind showing a little skin.

 

I styled this outfit very simply with a black pump from the Piperlime Accessory Wall. I think this dress would be most striking with loose, wavy hair and fresh-faced make-up. I wouldn’t go too dramatic with the make-up because the dress is already eye-catching sexy, and paired with a darker lip or eye it would just read too over-the-top.

Project Project Runway: Challenge 1 Workroom Part 2

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Tiny little pattern pieces for Project Project Runway’s “Come As You Are” Challenge. I drafted this patterns myself. So proud of myself! Come Thursday, I will reveal the finished outfit.
Tiny little pattern pieces for Project Project Runway’s “Come As You Are” Challenge. I drafted this patterns myself. So proud of myself! Come Thursday, I will reveal the finished outfit.

Project Project Runway: Challenge 1 Workroom

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My fabrics for Project Project Runway Challenge 1. We get to use a 10-inch square of white fabric (the sheet) and a 10-inch square of fabric similar to our pajamas.
I’m really looking forward to getting my scissors into this fabric!
My fabrics for Project Project Runway Challenge 1. We get to use a 10-inch square of white fabric (the sheet) and a 10-inch square of fabric similar to our pajamas.

I’m really looking forward to getting my scissors into this fabric!

Project Project Runway Challenge 1

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The first challenge “Come As You Are” is up for Project Project Runway. Make an original outfit Using a 10-inch square piece of white fabric (the sheet) and a 10-inch square piece of fabric similar to my pajamas.