sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

October 30, 2011

Fashion and Style Pick-Me-Up: Can We Please Have More Fashion on Project Runway?

Filed under: fashion, society, tv — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:03 am

And less drama.

Summer is barely over, but we had an outbreak of stomach flue.  A preview of the cold season, I suppose.  Anyhow, I was kind of tired of the whole ordeal, lying in bed and watching “Project Runway”.

What I like about shows like “Project Runway” or “Top Chief” is that unlike much of reality TV, I get to watch competent people showcase their trade.  Or at least that’s how Project Runway used to be.

I suppose nothing that happened this season was quite as bad as the last one when they got the very talented Mondo to confess a secret on national TV.

This year several contestants were obviously auditioning for bitch of the season.  Joshua McKinley won the part, and boy, did he deliver!  I have a feeling this wasn’t just an act, though.  Joshua cried in front of the camera about his mother who passed away from cancer a few years ago.  He won the Avant Garde challenge with an outfit resembling a tree with his mother’s initials carved into its trunk.  Using dead relatives to advance personal agenda is morally repugnant.  From a purely stylistic point of view it’s tacky.  Then we find out that Joshua moved to NYC and never went back to visit his parents.

The theme of the 9th season was beauty queen Cinderella.  Former Miss Trinidad and Tobago Anya Ayoung-Chee who learned to sew 4 months prior to entering the competition, won.  All season long Anya kept turning in nearly identical jumpsuits and flowing beachy dresses that didn’t require much construction.  Towards the end she did make a few looks labeled “urban”, once giving the judges a very literal interpretation of a raven.  She didn’t know how to make a pattern that works, so the model had to be sewn in.  For her second attempt to create something different, she got seasoned designer Bert to construct the dresses.  Other designers were noting that sooner or later her inability to sew will catch up (a nice set up).  Or that she’s never done a sleeve (one would think she’d be eliminated for lack of ability).

Project Runway Anya

Anya's raven. The shoulders imitating the wings and hem imitating the tail. The judges talked down other bird-inspired designs for being too literal. This oddly proportioned, poorly hemmed dress echoed an earlier one by Viktor. One suspects Anya resorted to folding the fabric on the bodice because she doesn't know how to do darts. This mother of all hot messes was topped off with gimmicky shoulders pads. The fabric has a nice luster, though.

Anya was the designer who challenged herself the least, not learning how to make patterns or work with different fabrics.  Not coincidentally, she is also the one who had grown the least.  One would think that after being chosen to present a final collection she’d go home, hit the books, and, well, learn how to do a sleeve.  It didn’t occur to Anya who went to the beach, bought fabric and waited for the shapes to “come to [her] while other designers worked.

At first the winner of the 9th season couldn’t produce a single piece.  She eventually turned up the same stuff, just to have something.  Michael Kors acknowledged that her collection was very one-note.  Heidi Klum mused that maybe she should have made a sweater.  Everyone agreed that she was good with prints.  Some of the prints she bought weren’t bad, but Kimberly Goldson executed far more compelling designs with prints and Viktor Luna created his own.  Both of them have a few more tricks up their  sleeves.  Anya won, and the audience loved it, voting her audience favorite.  But come on.

Project Runway Anya

V-necks galore. All season long the judges were talking up Anya's taste. They also said she was good at styling her models. The belt (that she didn't make) on the second model from the left made the look divine -- according to the judges, who evidently didn't think any of the dresses were slutty.

We are supposed to believe that Anya is a kind of idiot savant of fashion.  She doesn’t know how to sew, but she knows how to design and everything just falls in place.  Except that it doesn’t really work like that in dress making where real trendsetters adopt styles by choice, and much innovation comes from tweaking with patterns.  Anya came up with a few ideas that neither experienced designers nor advance amateurs would try — because they know they don’t work.  That doesn’t make her creative, it just means that she she’s doing something that shouldn’t be done in the first place.  The general public might buy into the idea that Anya’s style is good, but styles don’t last very long, usually just 3 years, and Anya is coming on the tail end of the flowing dress trend.  What comes after that is anyone’s guess, but cold Anya who was an instant BFF of Joshua was ready made for reality TV.

I have to admit I wasn’t too impressed with any of the designers this season.  Even then, finalists Victor Luna and Kimberly Goldson had some memorable looks.  Joshua learned to scale down his trashiness (not to say he’s no longer trashy).  Half of other contestants folded halfway through the competition.  Bert had never met a client he couldn’t satisfy, but I got the impression that he’s just happy to be alive.

The judges said, rightly, that Kimberly Goldson’s designs are sexy without being slutty.  She’s very much a woman’s designer.  I didn’t care much for her bubble butt skirt, but her collection had quite a few lovely, wearable pieces with a point of view.

Kimberly Goldson

Cute little cocktail dress. The color is fun, but she should make it in black too. Note the asymmetrical back on the model in the background. I guess Kimberly didn't wait for the shapes to come to her, she created them.

The showstopper of the finale was this exquisite gown by Viktor Luna:

Viktor Luna

Did I mention that the print is his own?

It’s a bit hard to wear, considering that it has leather and tie-dye elements, but the vertical print is flattering, and proportions are just right.  His print is interesting without being busy.  I love how he combined the hard and artificial (leather) with the soft and natural (sunset in Mexico).  Viktor is the real master of his trade and should have been the winner.

I suppose this is not much of a pick-me-up, is it?



  1. The school I teach at offers fashion classes– had to cover the teacher’s classes a few times, and that’s when I first saw Project Runway. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

    Comment by Karen Howes — October 31, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

  2. I guess the Xena Warrior Princess look is in now.

    Comment by Harrison — October 31, 2011 @ 9:05 pm

  3. Karen,
    I liked it when it was a show about talented, hard-working people making clothes. Now it’s just ordinary reality drama. I’ll give it a chance next year, for old times sake.

    Comment by edge of the sandbox — November 1, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

  4. someone give these girls a sandwich…lmbooooooooooo Have a great rest of the week my friend.:)

    Comment by Angel — November 2, 2011 @ 7:07 am

  5. I loved Viktor’s work all season. His work wasn’t perfect but he was the only designer where several times I saw something he had made, both in the competition and with his final collection, and went “OMG I WANT THAT NOW.”

    He, Bert and Kimberly are the only designers all season who seem to have the faintest clue of what real women can and want to wear. For the judges to pass Viktor over so many times, right to the very end, made this season of PR a really unpleasant viewing experience.

    Comment by margaret — November 3, 2011 @ 9:45 am

    • Margaret, thank you for stopping by and reading. I loved Viktor’s work, although these days, given how I’m a mom of two young children, I go for more practical clothes. I thought Kimberly’s designs were practical and elegant, I’d buy half of that (if I could afford it). I thought Bret’s work was very nice too, although he was a bit uneven. I was disappointed with so many designers quitting. I can’t help thinking that they noticed that no matter what they do, Anya is going to win. I’m really disappointed in the show.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — November 3, 2011 @ 10:03 am

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