By Nadine Kam
If you go to http://www.mylifetime.com/ and click on the box that reads “Make Your Style Roiworld,” you can play with the designers’ creations in dressing the illustrated figure, above. In this case I used Gretchen Jones’s jacket and skirt. I don’t know whose top that was. The bag is from Piperlime, which is supplying all the accessories this season. It’s one way for the designers to get accustomed to these mash-ups. Few can afford buying collections, so the normal person just throws assorted designers, different seasons’ merchandise, together.
In my print story today, I promised to recap the “Project Runway” episodes for those who miss the progress of Hawaii contenders Ivy Higa and Andy South. It turned out to be pretty intense tonight with both ending up on the losing team. (Read what Andy has to say about the competition on the bottom of this piece.)
It wasn’t supposed to be that way. After they had drawn up sides, their team, Team Luxe, actually had the most first-place winners this season, four in four episodes. Team Military and Lace had no wins.
Also on Team Luxe were Gretchen, A.J., Michael C. and Christopher. On Team Military and Lace were April (not bound to last), Valerie (overrated by judges), Mondo, Casanova, Peach and Michael D. (one of my faves this season).
Tim Gunn showed them boards filled with style and fabric/color options comprising key trends for fall 2010. They were to pick one style and one fabric/color to build a six-piece collection. Team Luxe opted for menswear and camel as their color choice. The other team’s name reflected its choices.
Already, I felt Team Luxe had gone wrong by picking camel; paired with menswear it would be hard to make exciting. I love menswear for women. It can be strong and sexy, classic and beautiful, but it would have to be impeccable and luxe to work. Otherwise, it could easily enter matron pantsuit territory. Judges on the show also tend to favor the dramatic, so I would have gone with bolder choices, like military and leopard or gold, so already, Team Military & Lace had an advantage.
Gretchen, a winner of two episodes, took charge. A lot of the designers on the show don’t care for Gretchen’s bossiness and condescension, but the woman is talented, and hails from one of my favorite creative cities, Portland, Ore. (Let’s not forget Season 5 winner Leanne Marshall is also from Portland.)
I can understand not wanting to be dragged down in a team competition. The business of fashion may take a group effort, but a design vision at their level is individualistic, so the team challenges are dreaded. No one likes to lose due to a weak link, and they had two in A.J. (no taste) and Michael C. (can barely sew).
Ivy, Michael C., Gretchen and Casanova figured prominently in the storyline, which is not necessarily a good sign. It means you’re either going to win or go home, and I didn’t have a good feeling about Team Luxe’s direction. I was scared for Ivy because Michael C. had immunity from last week’s challenge, and with two wins to her credit, I was pretty certain Gretchen wasn’t going home, which left only Ivy and A.J.
Like Jay Sario last season, Andy isn’t getting much air time because he generally ends up in the middle of the pack and works quietly.
Team Luxe did put out a good team effort. Whereas the designers from Team M&L took an individual approach to designing their own garments within the context of their theme, Team Luxe assigned duties based on who was the best at creating pants, jackets, etc.
Although the judges thought Team M&L’s collection was the more cohesive, I didn’t think it was cohesive at all, but some individual pieces were beautiful, striking, wearable and on trend.
Team Luxe’s collection was cohesisve, but in a way that conjured images of “Maude” and “The Golden Girls.” Not good in an industry that peddles the sexy and desirable. Judges criticized them for having no sex appeal, no design and awkward proportions.
The way they worked, too, with everyone working on elements of the design, it was hard for the judges to pinpoint the weakest link. In the end, they each indicated the pieces they made, and A.J. was sent home for making only one piece, an oddly proportioned shirt dress.
In the end, Tim Gunn had some harsh words for Gretchen and Team Luxe, saying they should not have let her boss them around at the expense of their own individuality. Huh? How do you create a cohesive collection with everyone going in their separate direction? I think they could have asserted themselves any time, but did try to work together as a team. They just needed more of a “wow” factor.
Andy is credited on the Lifetime Web site with this design, but he only made the skirt and top, and a jacket worn by Michael C.’s model. It was tough to judge the Team Luxe designers individually, because they contributed their talents where needed, on 21 pieces, not expecting to be on the bottom.