Project Runway Review: When the Funk Hits the Fabric
If any decade stands out in the minds of popular fashion, it is the ’70s with its tie-dye shirts, wide-legged pants, fly collars, maxi dresses, and contrasting prints that have given way to what is now referred to as the “Bohemian look.” On this week’s Project Runway, the designer Heather Archibald, Piperlime.com Head Apparel Buyer, joined Tim Gunn in the work room to present the designers with the challenge of channeling the euphoric fabrics and elements of the ‘70s to create sophisticated ‘70s fashions for Piperlime.com shoppers. The winning design would be put in production and sold on Piperlime.com. Strapped with $100, the designers scrounged around Mood for materials. The chic Anya wore a dress without pockets, so she slid her manila envelope containing her $100 in the strap of her dress and bra. Somewhere between the silk jerseys and the linens, and without any substantial “girls” to hold that envelope in place, Anya lost her Mood shopping money (and some unknown shopper or Mood employee mysteriously came up on $100). Kimberly commented, “At the beginning they said if we lose our money, that’s it.” Tim Gunn gave Anya two options: ask the other designers if they have any money left over and if they’ll share it with her, or use muslin left in the work room. For those void of fabric terminology, muslin is a plain-woven sheer to coarse cotton fabric. Anthony Ryan had $11.50, which he altruistically donated to Anya. As Tim Gunn said, last week Anya gave away fabric to other designers, and this week she ironically doesn’t have enough for herself. Back in the design room, Anya became the design charity case. Kimberly, Laura, Anthony Ryan, and Josh donated what they could, but Viktor, sticking with the this-is-a-challenge ideology, didn’t share anything.
Apparently hardly any of the designers attended ‘70s parties in school or at least watched Good Times or Maude because they often asked Bert to buoy their idea of what’s ‘70s was and was not. In the sewing room, Anya and Laura conversed about Kimberly’s fabric. They did not think it “popped.” In the presence of Viktor, they discussed telling Kim what they thought since apparently they’d made a pact amongst the girls. Viktor disagreed and again reminded them this was a competition. Apparently Kim’s earlier gesture of generosity to Anya couldn’t tip the scale to Viktor’s none, so Anya agreed that they couldn’t all make it to the end. Therefore, when Kim walked into the sewing room seconds later, neither of the girls opened their mouths to Kim about the potential downward spiral her fabric was taking her design. Once back in the design room Kim whispered a bug in Viktor’s ear that his inverted pleat was “popular” amongst the designs in the room. Just as last week, Joshua replicated an element of Viktor’s design. Imitation is the best form of flattery, but in the design world, imitation is just cheap, as in a cheap shot, a cheap, poor quality garment, and a cheapskate who’s too lazy to come up with an original idea.
The next morning Tim Gunn arrived in the design room and announced that the designers would create a separate look that consists of one piece, not separates. With a budget of $50, they’d be given 15 minutes at Mood after 15 minutes to sketch. This time hopefully Anya either wore an outfit with pockets or tucked that cash deeper in her bosom. After a thankfully uneventful shopping excursion, Tim Gunn dropped by the design room to check-in with the designers. He thought Anthony Ryan’s idea of a mini skirt looked “old,” so they decided Anthony Ryan would change to a maxi since no one else was doing it and since it really hadn’t been done yet. Anya created a garment with a paper-bag waistband. Until it’s finished, Tim said it looked like a “hefty bag.” Wha. Wha. During Kim’s critique, Tim didn’t have a problem with her fabric or pant as much as he did her idea of pairing a bare midriff with a mini skirt because it was too much skin and looked too sexy. Apparently, minis are in again because Joshua designed another narrative with tight mini and a bell-sleeved top in order to “play into the androgyny.” Joshua’s garments need subtitles. Laura learned that Nina Garcia’s radars go up when Laura’s garments walk the runway. After the models came and went, Joshua decided to change his second garment to – wait for it, wait for it – a maxi! Poor Anya couldn’t catch a break. When the models arrived for the final fitting, they had to wait in the design room while she finished sewing. Tim Gunn called 10 minutes when Kimberly was finishing her last stitch. With one minute remaining, Anya ran back into the sewing room just as Tim Gunn was preparing to call time.
Piperlime.com Guest Editor Olivia Palermo joined Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, and Heidi Klum on the judging panel. Kimberly was the only designer whose scores qualified her to the next round. Heidi did not like the two conflicting prints that Laura chose for her designs. Michael said “they don’t look like fashion. They just look like clothes.” Again, the judges thought Viktor had beautiful tailoring ualthough Nina said the outfit was “a bit conservative.” Pause. The point of the challenge was “sophisticated 70s.” Play. Michael Kors said Joshua had “schizophrenia going on between the two outfits.” Heidi deemed Joshua’s outfit, which consisted of a hot pink and black tuxedo shirt, black and white plaid pant, and leopard-print shoed, as the worst she’d seen in a long time. In defense of his “crazy” creation, which he said reflected him, Joshua finally built up to the conflict in his narrative and said his outfit could walk the runway and be sold right off of her. All the judges said they did not like the fabric he chose for his second look. Anya impressed the judges by telling them the sob story behind her $11.50 first creation. Apparently she tugged at their heart strings, and they had nothing but positive critiques of her tailoring and design. In contrast, the judges had very little positive to say about Anthony Ryan whose look was designed for someone like Anya in mind. Olivia said the models looked like two boring girls who are part of a cult, to which Anya – of all people – laughed at the mocking of the creation of the one designer who gave her enough money to purchase fabric for her challenge. Heidi did not mind Bert’s cheek-showing short shorts. Michael also liked his off-the-shoulder top.
Waiting during the judges’ deliberations, Joshua said to his defense he was barely born during the ‘70s, so he had no point of reference. However, as Viktor immediately pointed out, he never lived through the ‘70s but he’s researched and seen movies. Does Joshua expect the judges and wearers of clothes to only expect designs from him in decades in which he actually lived? So we could expect no Victorian elements? No Elizabethan elements? No jazz-era garments? Get real. In a colossal touch of irony, Anya won the competition and her jumpsuit would be sold exclusively on Piperlime.com. Olivia announced that they loved Bert’s Grecian-style dress and they also would like to sell it exclusively on Piperlime.com. Viktor and Laura were also in, which left Josh and Anthony Ryan in the bottom two. Luckily for him, Joshua lives on to write another chapter in his Project Runway narrative, which meant the one person who helped Anya win this weeks’ challenge, Anthony Ryan, was out.
Season 9, Episode 10: “Sew 70′s” (originally aired September 29, 2011)
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