Project Runway Review: Sheeps in Men's Clothing
Project Runway had a night of Season Nine firsts: a live rock concert in lieu of a walk down the runway, also a first for the series as a whole, and the challenge of designing menswear. The designers met Tim Gunn at Rockwood Studios where they learned they’d be working in two teams of four – Olivier, Viktor, Kimberly, and Joshua on one team and Anthony, Bert, Laura, and Anya on the other – to create looks for the up-and-coming Canadian rock band The Sheepdogs that would be featured in an advertorial in Rolling Stone magazine. Each designer was responsible for the head-to-toe look for one band member. The designers finally got the challenge everyone dreaded and for which hardly any of them were experienced or prepared: to design for men. In “Team Harmony,” Anya designed for Sam. Laura designed for Leot. Anthony designed for Ryan. Bert designed for Ewan. In “Team Untitled,” Kimberly designed for Sam. Viktor designed for Leot. Olivier designed for Ewan. Josh designed for Ryan.
Olivier ran into his classic challenge of fitting non-mannequins. Of course, this time they added testosterone to the mannequin. Ironically, Olivier has designed for men. Maybe they were male mannequins. Either way, he was out of his comfort zone, and nothing seemed to go his way. Viktor has also created men’s garments for himself and his friends…as evidenced when he was trying on a leg of a denim pant when Tim arrived in the design room to announce that the band members were coming in for consultations. Bert ran into the colossal problem of designing a garment that looked too feminine. He definitely couldn’t sell the look when he called the shirt a “blouse.” During Kimberly’s consultation, Sam liked the orange pattern better than the plaid pattern that Kimberly had originally planned to use. The only hitch in the gitty-up was that Kimberly borrowed the pattern from Anya, who was on the opposing team. Anya’s bad.
If most, if not all, the clothes created are designed for women, and if a man, albeit gay, can’t design for a man, who’s left to design for men? Certainly not Olivier. He complained every stitch of the way. He called Ewan a “plus-size model” as if he were a woman. Men don’t come in plus sizes. His pant fell too low on Ewan’s hips. When they received this challenge, he said he’s designed for men before. Like Anthony’s clients, were these gay men? If the client isn’t a drag queen, how much differently do gay men dress from straight men? Other than the flair and color, are not most of the cuts still the same? All the parts are still in the same place. Men’s clothes still have to cover the same areas. Get to snippin’, Olivier. On the second day during their second fitting, less than 30 minutes before runway, Ewan sat patiently waiting for Olivier to finish just that.
Musician Adam Lambert joined Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, and Heidi Klum on the judging panel as The Sheepdogs performed two songs while wearing the garments from each team. Anthony and Viktor designed a fringe jacket for their musicians although it seems Viktor audibly had the idea first. The judges evaluated Team Harmony first. Anya said the concept was “a modernized Jimi Hendrix.” Pause. Thinking…Jimi never looked corny. Press Play. Most of the judges’ favorite was Laura’s dyed red jeans with a tie-dyed blazer and tank. However, Nina Garcia finally stated the elephant in the room that the jacket looked feminine, and it looked like Laura paired it with a silk scarf from the mall. Anya’s design finally demonstrated her neophyte sewing skills when Sam turned around, showing the unfinished pant and the strip on the pocket of the jean. Feminine.
For the Team Untitled critique, the judges started with Olivier and it was immediately apparent that he didn’t collaborate with Ewan and he ran out of time. Kimberly owned up to the flaws in her garment, although to her defense this was her very first time designing menswear. Viktor got the best praise for the great-fitting jean and pleather-fringe jacket. Interestingly, Heidi did not like fringe in the vest on Anthony’s design although she did like the zipper in the crotch of the pant. Viktor won the challenge, which left Kimberly and Olivier in the bottom two although it wasn’t clear why when – although both Anya and Kimberly’s garments weren’t great – Kimberly’s garment at least was finished. Thankfully, Kimberly isn’t finished, and for Olivier who always ran out of time, it switched sides.
Season 9, Episode 9: “Image is Everything” (originally aired September 22, 2011)
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