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PPR Season 12 – Challenge 2

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The challenge this week for Project Project Runway is called “Million Dollar Runway.” We were to choose diamond jewelry from anywhere on the internet and design a look to go with those jewels. Goodness, was that ever tough! There are so many gorgeous jewels online, I didn’t really know where to start! Recommended sites included Tiffany & Co., Blue Nile, and Van Cleef & Arpels. Let’s just say there was much admiration going on. Still, I wasn’t finding what I was looking for, so I started looking elsewhere. My searches took me to Sotheby’s and Christie’s as I love vintage jewelry, and they get the best of the best. Let’s just say, oh, half a day was dedicated to drooling over amazing jewels. I eventually landed at Fred Leighton and just knew I had found just “the thing.”



It’s a circa 1920’s Art Deco diamond necklace. So beautiful.

Once I found “the necklace” I almost immediately had my inspiration – the Zigzag Modern sub-type of Art Deco aesthetics. (Could I be more pretentious?)

I knew I wanted to design a gown, although gowns definitely are not my strong point; I see myself as more of a sportswear designer. But with what else would one wear such an extravagant necklace?  With the gown being a given, I wanted it to feel statuesque, like Art Deco skyscrapers that would show off the jewels rather than overpower them. My inclination was towards a black dress, but that seemed too simple. So I settled on a black and white scheme. I also wanted it to have strong visual, graphic interest. As the Rose Iron Works website describes it, Zigzag Modern, “features repetitive, geometric designs, both figurative and abstract, with zigzags and angular patterns.” So I definitely wanted to include some aspects of that. I’m crazy, but I had a vision of equilateral triangles.



Zhanna walks the runway in a black column dress featuring a black and white triangle treatment at the waist.

Yes, triangles it was. And what a challenge (but in a good way.) The fabric I chose was a thin but crisp taffeta (“party taffeta”?) The triangles are .5″ from apex to base. I used a template for the triangles, drawing them on the fabric with marking pencils. I then Fray-Checked around the triangles and then cut around them with an eyeballed seam allowance. Next, I sat in front of DVRed episodes of Inspector Lewis for a few hours and sewed the triangles together by hand (and I am not a hand sewist!) I then made the upper bodice piece and skirt, and then hand stitched those on as well to ensure decent triangle points. The skirt and upper bodice are very simple to allow the waist treatment and the jewels to do the heavy lifting.

In styling, I wanted to keep things super simple. With an eye-catching diamond necklace and a graphic dress, I didn’t think it needed much else.

Challenge 2 Style


So from the Belk Accessory Wall I added the black Vince Camuto Zella Pumps and the ABS by Allen Schwartz Large Stone Set Pave Ring. I’m not sure about the ring, but I thought it might be a fun “high-low” juxtaposition with the real diamond necklace.

In terms of hair and makeup, I think vintage style would be great for the makeup. I’m thinking a touch of smoky gray eyeshadow, black lashes and dark plum red lipstick in a “Cupid’s Bow” style would hearken to the era of Art Deco without being super literal. For hair, I think a slicked back ponytail would be lovely.

over shoulder

Overall, I am ridiculously proud of this look as it is almost exactly what I had imagined. I was really, really unsure if I could pull off the triangles. I seriously spent two or three days thinking about how I could do it before I even bought my fabric. That’s one luxury the real Project Runway contestants don’t have, that’s for sure. I think this is one of the coolest looks I’ve ever made for Project Project Runway. It’s just so satisfying to see the seed of an idea come to fruition. It’s certainly not perfect (my hand stitching skills need some serious work and the seams ended up bulkier than I had hoped) but it is certainly one of the most ambitious looks I’ve attempted. This week I’d like to think I’d be near the top. Maybe not the challenge winner, but perhaps beginning to be noticed by the judges.

Don’t forget to check out the other designers’ looks at the Project Project Runway Flickr page. See you on the Runway!


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 Challenge 2: Runway Show

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Gia walks down the runway today for Challenge 2 of Project Project Runway: Pet Project. A simple sleeveless aqua top is followed by a slim white skirt, topped with a geometric polyhedron. It is all topped off with a jaunty chapeau.

For this challenge, I wanted to make something more in the realm of fantasy than reality. The skirt is a futuristic reinterpretation of both panniers and dramatic vintage bubble skirts. It is a garment more for the realm of fantasy than practicality. The under-dress is made from two plush dolphin toys, the skirt is a modified rubber ball. The hat is half of a squeaker from inside the dolphin, covered by the plush.


I styled this garment with the handmade matching hat and a simple beige platform from the Piperlime Accessory Wall. A more eye-catching shoe or more accessories would take away from the drama of the skirt. I imagine someone with a quirky, fantastical style like Björk or Lady Gaga could pull off this look. Styling-wise, I think a smooth, tight ponytail would look good, along with minimalist, almost severe makeup.

Project Project Runway: Challenge 2 Workroom

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My materials for Project Project Runway Challenge 2, “Pet Project.” This week we have to use materials purchased from a pet store to create our looks. I picked up 2 stuffed squeaky dolphins and a rubber ball. Both are intended for dogs. As a non pet owner, I had to buy all new items. I think my total cost of materials was $12.27, significantly less than the real designers’ budget of $300. 
My materials for Project Project Runway Challenge 2, “Pet Project.” This week we have to use materials purchased from a pet store to create our looks. I picked up 2 stuffed squeaky dolphins and a rubber ball. Both are intended for dogs. As a non pet owner, I had to buy all new items. I think my total cost of materials was $12.27, significantly less than the real designers’ budget of $300.

Project Runway: Episode 2 Recap

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Alright, I’ve got myself seated on the couch, DVR remote in my hand, laptop at the ready. Let’s do this.


Opening Drama

Not much to say, other than Joshua Ryan Reynold’s off-the-cuff remark about hoping the challenge is for S&M made me chuckle.



Use materials from a pet store to create a fashion look. Just keep in mind that the judges don’t like unconventional challenges that result in outfits made out of fabric materials. Muslin can be the understructure. They have $300 and 30 minutes to shop.

This is a scary-tough challenge. I’m surprised panic hasn’t already set in.

Fallene says she should love this challenge, since she is “whimsical.” This is going to get old soon.

Bert is going for dog beds and dog clothes. Bleh. I know he has immunity and all, but seriously, throwing this one won’t look good to the judges—they may not kick his ass on it this episode, but it might colme back and bite him later.

Folks are actually buying pet food. What the heck are they going to do with that?!


The Work Room

They only get 11 hours? Holy crap, that is ridick. This is definitely going to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Anthony want to use the birdseed as beading. Um, okay. Beading (with holes) on small amounts of fabric takes For. Ev. Er. They’ve barely started and I’m already concerned. Unless he glues it all…

Cecelia is going to glue dog food onto her dress. Ugh, the smell. Pity the model who has to have the smell of dried mechanically separated chicken near her nose.

Laura Kathleen was totally smart on the dog cone. It looks like it could really be the start of an interesting skirt.

Fallene says she feel pressure. Girl, it’s only the second episode. Most of us barely know your name. Get it together!

Olivier says he born in Ohio and moved to London when he was 16. He’s 22 now. So that’s at most 6 years of living in the U.K. considering he says he’s lived in Milan as well. So I wonder what’s up with the accent? It’s lovely. But I wonder if he yells in a nasally Midwestern accent (like mine) when he gets angry?

Joshua Ryan Reynolds says his fashion is quite theatrical. Which can be a bad sign. But he’s such great TV!

Laura Kathleen wonders if her outfit will look classy or assy. I may not love her, but she’s saying what we’re all thinking.

Olivier is using a taupe dog bed. Of course he is. I think he is allergic to color in his creations. Maybe it gives him hives or something. I shouldn’t judge.

Viktor has appeared to dye his “wee wee pads” a purple-y pink color. It looks a bit, um, low-end.

Mormon Josh also appears to be using the violet color. Why? WHY?

It looks like Joshua Ryan Reynolds dyed his muslin and will simply be applying the aquarium stones to it. Hasn’t there been a rule in earlier seasons that in these unconventional challenges the muslin has had to be completely covered by other materials? This rule doesn’t seem to be at play here, and I think it is a cop-out.

Seeing all the models in the room makes me kind of sad that there’s no Models of the Runway this year. I was one of the ten people on the planet that actually enjoyed that show.

Olivier’s skirt is applied pet bedding in two tones. I foresee lots of shedding on the runway.

Bryce says he want his skirt to be fluffy. It is indeed very fluffy. And Disney’s Cinderella blue. Or Downey fabric softener blue. Take your pick.

Anthony’s brdseed bodice is actually looking amazing. I’ve gone from “Oh no!” to “I hope he can pull it off”

Anya looks nowhere close to done. She doesn’t have a skirt yet. Laura Kathleen’s booty revealing (clearly “assy” of the “classy or assy” question) skirt will pale in comparison to the potential for Anya’s model to go bottomless.

Olivier is gluing woodchips to his model’s eyebrows. No comment.

It’s shocking to me how much of the “sewing” this episode is hot glue.


The Runway – All Images from


Danielle: Not loving the dye job on the skirt, it looks a little acid washed. The top is interesting, with the macrame-like weaving. I’m not sure what she used for it, so that’s good.


Fallene: The brown and orange color combination is hideously seventies, but the application on the skirt is interesting. The top looks unfinished across the bust, a bit short-waisted, and I think using the Piperlime belt is a cop-out.


Anthony Ryan: A. Maz. Ing. My initial concerns were totally wrong. This dress is gorgeous. Using the sunflower seeds near the neckline to create a collar was genius. I adore this look. It looks “expensive” to me.


Bert: No. Black bag dress with a little girl’s tutu pulled up over the boobs. With some sort of rhinestones buckle-things underneath. I really have nothing good to say about this dress. Ugh, and the pink on the edges of the netting…No. He even admits it doesn’t really fulfill the requirements of the challenge. It’s only the second episode and he’s already burned out and/or rebellious. Not a good sign. Not a good sign at all. His having immunity is either a very good thing, or a very bad thing, depending on your perspective.


Julie: Props for her trying to make her own textile by weaving the dog food bags. I’m just not sure doing so amounted to anything. I think the strips of bag were too wide which means the textile doesn’t drape. Thus, the garment is kind of shapless (though not a huge departure from her portfolio work.) Another cop-out by using a Pipelime belt. The back is completely disparate from the front.


Anya: Very cute weaving of the dog toys to make the bodice. It certainly fits her aesthetic. Is the skirt just dyed muslin, though? If so, points off for that. Also, I’m not sure the top is the best fit on the model.


Bryce: The skirt is just not good. It’s made of “wee wee pads” which look like dryer sheets. It has no real shape; I know he was going for poofy and exuberant, but it just looks weird. The top doesn’t do him any favors either. It looks like some sort of thick plastic bikini top. It looks like he designed a skirt, then blindly designed a top; both designed with no consideration of the other piece. He also styled it with high-heeled lace-up up-toe khaki color booties, which makes it look even crazier. What was he thinking?! Was every other pair of shoes already claimed from the Piperlime wall?


Kimberly: This dress just kind of “is” to me. It’s neither good nor bad, it just kind of exists. I think the aquarium tubing braid at the top is a sort-of interesting treatment, but I wish it was more of a strap on the shoulder than just an extraneous hanging bit. I like the left side (from our view) of the bodice better than the right. But overall, this is just meh to me.


Mormon Josh: The top is very unflattering on the model. It just isn’t well-shaped. The skirt is kind of a throwaway to me, and I’m entirely sure what’s going on with the belt. I don’t really like the lavander/lime green color combination. I don’t think he “brought it” as much as he talked about coming back from last week’s bottom; though apparently he thinks he did. Hrmph.


Viktor – This actually turned out pretty cute, despite my slight meanness about the color up above. On the runway it looks a bit nicer. It fits in with the current aesthetic of many celebrities who swear by strapless minidresses on the red carpet. He also used a belt to give it shape, which I’m not a huge fan of; but overall I now think my workroom impressions were wrong.


Cecelia: This turned out fairly nice as well. I like how she mixed the tan and blue sleeping material to create something that looks almost patterned. The garment looks fairly well made. She did not use a Piperlime belt to give the garment shape. I wish she had continued the belt-like detailing to the back, though.


Olivier – The fit on the skirt not good. It makes the model look big. I don’t like that he used the dog bed for the top (too fabric-y) though the shape is nice. The skirt just didn’t turn out looking that beautiful. He used a similar application as Cecelia, but I think the effect she achieved was better.


Becky – I like that she went for color, though I think in execution the colors are not so great. I don’t really like the shape of the dress, and honestly, shapewise it is very similar to her creation from last week. It makes me wonder if she is able to do anything else in the time constraints.


Laura Kathleen – The proportions on this are all wrong. I know the skirt was a kind-of last minute replacement, but it is still bad regardless. The top looks poorly made (it seems to be gapping a bit,) it looks too low on the model’s chest and I hate the strap. It would have looked even worse with the initial skirt. Still she didn’t use any muslin in her garment, so I do give her credit for that.


Joshua Ryan Reynolds: I think this is pretty cute. Although I am not the biggest fan of the neon trend, I think the way Joshua used the color was very smart. I like the top. A lot. Not sure about the skirt. I think it is something from the pet store rather than muslin, which is nice. I think the slight sheerness of the skirt is on-trend. I like the styling. I can totally see the type of girl he designed this for. It might be considered a little down-market, though.


My Top 3 (In no particular order):

Joshua Ryan Reynolds


Anthony Ryan


My Bottom 3 (in no particular order):



Mormon Josh


The Judge’s Top 3:

Anthony Ryan


Joshua Ryan Reynolds


The Judge’s Bottom 3:


Mormon Josh



Olivier is the winner. O…kay… He’s got immunity. Prepare yourself for more beige next week. His color allergy will certainly not be cured after this week’s win.


Bryce is in.


Mormon Josh is out. Two bad outfits in two episodes. Yikes.


That means Fallene is in. I totally thought she’d be out for being unable to defend her creation. But she’s in. Will Pukey the Clown will make another appearance? Only time will tell.