By CJ Bomb
Welcome to the Project Runway finale Part One! Now is the time when the remaining designers return home to complete a collection to be shown at New York Fashion Week. Heidi informs them they have six weeks and a budget of $9000 to design ten looks. Now I know last week I was pretty grumpy about the lack of challenges created to highlight the designers abilities with actual fashion design rather than their skills with a glue gun. This is an opportunity for them to do themselves, so to speak. Laurence is happy she has this freedom. Rik truly believes he deserves it, and Roberi is just doing a happy dance.
Now if you ever want to see how a fashion collection comes together I highly recommend watching the documentary Unzipped about Isaac Mizrahi putting together his Fall 1994 Collection. It shows the absolute chaos and terror that precedes something amazing coming to life. It NEVER fully comes together until the first model walks down that catwalk. Looks you started out loving don’t work and get scrapped. You finally put something out there and then it might get savage reviews. It is a bitch of a business and it takes a thick skin to survive. One has to be tough.
Tim flies into Los Angeles to visit Laurence and Rik. Laurence lives in a very cool loft (but of course) with her adorable son Marley and daughter Victoria. Laurence is the embodiment of tough. Her father disowned her at 16 when he discovered she was pregnant. She had to pretend he was dead to mentally survive. When he did pass away, she was numb and this has greatly affected her ever since. She cries while she tells this story to Tim and Leslie and I cry too. Leslie wants to hug her. The story of her collection is the story of her life. She says, “I always fall, but I don’t ever hit the floor.” The collection has no black (!) and the color palette goes from dark to lighter tones and finally whites. There is a very Marni/Chloe thing going on there. I always think of the designer Phoebe Philo when I look at Laurence’s work. A grown up cool girl is her client. She says she is always trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Tim is wowed. She says she has things to finish and Tim says he isn’t remotely concerned.
Tim heads over to a bowling alley to meet Rik. He is there with his adorable mom Delia and a cousin. Tim bowls like Fred Flintstone. I’m not kidding. He does the twinkle toes and then throws the ball and gets multiple strikes. “Whoever knew at my age, I could be a jock?” Tim wonders, which makes me think Tim hasn’t seen a lot of professional bowling. Delia says she knew when Rik was in high school he was destined to design. Leslie wants to hug his mom. His aunts were in the industry as garment workers and helped teach him techniques. They even helped him with the embroidered denim in his collection. The collection is inspired by Sergeant Pepper and the Sixties. He has made funky glasses for styling and I feel like they are a bit gimmicky. He has A LOT of textiles. The paisley print on denim is bringing me back to a pair of Guess jeans I had in the eighties. Tim is worried as he sees three different collections. Rik tells him that it will be cohesive with the styling. Tim tells him that’s not going to work and something needs to happen to make the garments come together. He tells him that mixing and matching is the best idea at this point. Rik is now officially freaking out because he doesn’t have enough time to rework everything.
Leslie texts me that Rik is majorly behind. I respond by opening a bottle of wine. Cohesive is the drinking word of the night. You will be drunk by the end of this program.
Tim leaves the west coast and heads to Boston where Erin is working. MASS ART, her alma mater, has graciously allowed her space to create her, uh, like, collection. As I am struggling with the corkscrew I receive a flurry of texts that read: Erin????? No Full looks???? Too many ideas!!!! ADHD!!! No yellow- thank Goodness!! I press play and catch up. I text back, BANANAS. She texts, It sure is! I write back, No! Actual bananas. And squirrels. Erin has put together the weirdest collection of textiles I have ever seen on this show. She also has not one garment to show Tim. Not one. Tim says she is breaking a lot of rules and he applauds this. He is a believer. He says it’s a fashion cacophony. I personally think it’s fashion schizophrenia and ask Leslie what color the sky is in Erin’s world. She texts back, YELLOW. Tim meets Erin’s friends and mom at a local restaurant. He asks if she has always been so last minute because she has almost driven him insane this season. We also meet her mentor. She is an elegant older woman who I assume works at MASS ART. Nope, she’s a dentist and Erin used to work for her when her biggest dream was to be a dental hygienist. Dr Porsche told her she was far too creative and to set her sights higher, which just goes to show us that mentors come in many different guises.
Back in New York City, Roberi is Face Timing with his parents and boyfriend in Caracas. He had to leave Venezuela and give everything up because there were no opportunities left for him there. His business was constantly robbed, so he had to close shop and spend a huge amount of time and money to get a working visa to come to the USA to follow his dreams. He tells Tim this with Lady Liberty in the background. It is quite inspiring. His collection represents his journey. I text Leslie that he is using positive inspiration from lots of challenging life experiences. She is worried the narrative is too much like Laurence’s. Tim is worried there are too many ideas. Roberi tells Tim that the collection is taking the viewer to many different places. Tim wonders if that is just an excuse as there is nothing holding the collection together. Roberi argues that he has made his own twist on classic shapes. Tim tells him that the shapes are still basic and that there is no innovation. Tim says the single most harsh thing I have ever heard on this show. “If that’s what you are about, you are a dressmaker, not a designer.” Ouch. Roberi deflates. Leslie and I are worried for Roberi.
Back in NYC
The designers return, and unlike seasons past, everyone is happy to see everyone. They all take the chance to check out each other’s work. Everyone is stunned Laurence has no black in her collection. Laurence is impressed by Roberi’s craftsmanship and details. Rik immediately heads to the workroom. Erin still needs to complete a couple of looks. Or actually MAKE a couple of looks. Leslie texts me that this generation doesn’t realize what it means to plan ahead. I write back that she just made us sound old. Tim walks in and I clutch my wineglass waiting for the hammer to fall. What is it now? Who is being eliminated? What crazy shit is about to go down????? They have to create a logo. That’s it. Oh thank you Lord. Laurence creates something modern. Rik creates something groovy. Erin does her name and Roberi does a typeface. That was a sane request. My heartbeat settles down.
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Rik thinks Laurence’s collection looks old. She thinks his looks too young. Erin loves that her sparkly paillettes sound like oyster shells when they move. Leslie and I now agree her world looks like a Dr. Seuss book. Everyone is choosing their looks and Tim is explaining that this is an “amuse bouche” for their complete collection. The feedback will help them determine what to edit for the final runway show. Roberi is putting his models in loafers and sneakers. WHY ROBERI??? Erin has created the world’s ugliest clutch. Rik has his glasses ready to go.
Ok this is how sad this show has become. We have a virtual Heidi Klum on the runway BECAUSE SHE COULDN’T MAKE IT BACK FROM LA BECAUSE SHE HAD SOMETHING MORE IMPORTANT TO DO. I’m about to throw my glass at the TV, but WAIT. A ray of sunshine walks out onto the runway in the form of Michael Kors! A symbol of when this show was better produced, better judged, and gave the designers the time and wherewithal to shine. I am temporarily placated.
Roberi: Leslie Look 1: Mondrian meets Candyland Me: I love the disconnect here. It works Look two: Leslie loves the casual with the sheen, it’s her personal go-to look so she’s biased. Me: I liked first look more. Look 3: Leslie: This is boring and not Roberi. Me: Casual is fine, but it has to be interesting. This is not interesting and it doesn’t have any connection to the first two looks.
Rik: Leslie: All three looks: So bad. No cohesion (drink) OmG! What happened to his judgement??? Me: This makes Erin’s collection look less wacky. I do like the leather dress.
Erin: Leslie Look 1: So over exposed shoulders. It’s Oscar de la Renta with oyster sounding paillettes and I don’t get it. Me: It’s her signature dress. Miu Miu vibe. Look 2: Leslie: This has no connection with look number one. Me: Pretty, flowy maxi dress that doesn’t seem like Erin at all. Look 3: Leslie: Coolest outfit she has sent down the runway, but again, no cohesion (drink) Me: I like the skirt, but not with that top. Needed something black and sleek.
Laurence: Look 1: Leslie: Love it, but worried the judges won’t. Me: Me too. Look 2: Leslie: WTF? That top doesn’t work and those pants fit horribly. Me: This isn’t Laurence. Look 3: Leslie: Love the top, but again, NO COHESION (drink) Me: That top is awesome. This is what I want to see from Laurence.
Rik: Zak tells Rik he needs to up the octane. Huh? Heidi says she sees no cohesion. Michael says he has a good hand with leather and he likes the glasses. They are “freaky but great”, but he needs to chop the romper and ditch the model’s makeup as “She looked like she stopped in Nashville for that eyeshadow.” Oh Michael, I’ve missed you soooo much. Michael doesn’t know where to direct his focus. Nina also says there are too many messages and less is more. She hates the glasses and thinks the little purse is too junior.
Erin: Michael loves the neoprene paillette dress. He hates the clutch. Nina thinks the flowy dress is out of left field and it doesn’t belong. Zak hates the black and white top and thinks it’s wonky. Heidi thinks the skirt has a weird unflattering length. Nina tells her to play to her strengths. Nina, let’s all just be grateful Erin had three actual looks to show you.
Laurence: Heidi says it lacks cohesion. Michael thinks the pearl top is fabulous, but that the romper reminds him of the biergarten and it doesn’t work with the other looks. He tells her to pick a lane and then muses that might be a good name for his new perfume. Nina says that the tight pants of the second look cheapen the jacket. Heidi and Zak think that the romper is actually the freshest thing on the runway. Laurence assures them she will tie everything together.
Roberi: Zak says it isn’t polished. Heidi wants to know where the “sexiness” is and Roberi cringes. She hates the styling. Nina is confused. Nina says she gets his need to tone things down as she is also from that hemisphere and understands what he wants to avoid, however he needs to make it lux, polished and beautiful. Michael says he needs to “juice it” instead of sexing it. He does see something impeccable happening though.
Heidi tells the designers that they all have the same problem. COHESION. I understand that they want to show everything that they are capable of, but it makes for a disjointed collection. Saint Michael tells them that when he does a show he has only eleven minutes to tell everyone what’s important. Afterwards the designers are completely shell-shocked. Erin says that there is no time to fix everything. Maybe you shouldn’t have spent six weeks making art projects? Even Laurence looks a bit dejected.
I have had the great honor of going to a Michael Kors show a few years back. There were 40 plus looks and each one stood on it’s own and each one worked within the collection as a whole. I got the chance to meet him afterwards and he was kind and patient when I nerded out and asked for a picture. My friend took the pic and he asked, “Do we look cute?” He has forever had a special place in my heart after that moment. Do you have a fashion nerd moment? Please share! Do you agree with the judges? We love reading your comments!
And BTW, I did watch the PR Junior teaser. I am now hooked. Even though it was a bit disturbing to hear a teenage boy talk about bondage fashion. I have already picked out the Erin as well. Leslie and I will sitting on the couch together, ready to go next week!