A Glimpse Into Chaos
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FEBRUARY 12, 2010 6:45AM

Project Runway Week 5: Run for Cover

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This week our designers face THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN PROJECT RUNWAY HISTORY. Oh my goodness. What is it? Design a dress for Michelle Obama to wear? Many a fashion career trajectory has been skyrocketed by Mrs.O, right Jason Wu? No. It is designing a dress for Heidi Klum. Oh. For her to wear on the cover of Marie Claire magazine, which yes, is a sponsor of the show. Oh. 

This is a case of infinite loop shameless plugging, with Project Runway being the subject. The designers create a look for Heidi, who is the host and a producer of the show. This design will then be worn on the cover of the magazine which sponsors the show. Repeat until the show moves to PBS. 

Joanna Coles, the stern English matriarch and editor-in-chief of Marie Claire, gives the designers some details to consider when designing a dress to be used on the cover of a magazine. She cautions against using black or any patterned fabric, because it will detract  from the print that needs to appear there. She advises that they focus on the top half of the dress and make it eye-catching; it needs to stand out in a veritable sea of newsprint. Someone throws out the statistic that a consumer chooses a magazine on a newstand within three seconds. So it has to pack a visual wallop. 

 I am excited by this challenge simply because it is about the fashion. No design gimmicks. No weird materials. But will I be bored silly? Nope, thanks to Mila and the newfound hatred that everyone has for her.

This week Mila is pretty convinced that everyone hates her guts because of how talented she is, and she is quite miffed that no one congratulated her on her second place win last week. She goes on to say that she has absolutely no viable competition based on the pure crap that everyone is working on this week (I am paraphrasing a bit).  Mila then proceeds to run frenetically through Mood fabrics and takes a fall, which I'm sure elicited a few giggles from her fellow designers. 

Cutting and sewing and ombre-ing begin in the workroom.  Seth Aaron is singing and making odd noises for reasons that only he knows. Anthony inquires about the type of cigarettes Seth Aaron may have been smoking. Janeane questions her own judgment and wonders if her dress is too bridal.  If you have to ask....

Anna is going to make shorts and something that is turquoise. This is like watching a horror movie when the hapless heroine decides to check the basement  because she hears a loud noise. Don't go down there! You will be hacked to pieces! Same is true metaphorically on Project Runway, but the hacker is usually Nina Garcia. When Tim comes to visit, he looks at her pieces distastefully (let's be frank) and says, "Do you feel this look is you?" 

Ben is doing something with metallic leather, and Anthony has a big poofy hunk of aqua satiny fabric. Mila is color-blocking three fabrics that are so neutral they almost disappear. Emilio is making a corset out of ribbons. 

The designers return to their apartments for the evening, and Anna, in a moment of clarity, predicts that she and Janeane may have missed the mark this week. Mila is still certain that her design is exquisite.

Here are the runway highlights:

-Amy made a fairly cutting edge dress full of volume and in a funky print. She said, "I think the print would work well on the cover." She clearly knows more than Joanna Coles, who specifically recommended NOT using prints. Uh-oh.

-Anna made short shorts, a shapeless chiffon tank, and a shapeless vest to wear over the whole mess.

anna loses 

-Anthony made a short one-sleeved aqua dress with asymmetric cascading ruffles. I questioned my judgment, but in my gut, I liked this dress.

-Did Mila's model even wear a dress? It, and she, blended right into the background.

-Emilio sent his model in a magenta merry widow-esque short dress. Lingerie styling has been  trendy lately, but this WAS lingerie. 

-Jonathan took Joanna's advice about focusing on the top of the garment very literally, and sent a romper down the runway.  A romper, for those of you unfamiliar with sophisticated fashion terms, is a garment worn by a baby that is one piece and legless. Think Lady Gaga. 

-Janeane made a figure skating costume. With fluffy chiffon sleeves.

The top three designers are Ben (who designed a colorful Star Trek-meets-Madame Butterfly modern dress), Anthony, and Emilio. However, the judges have to first snip off the twee shoulder bows before they are happy with his lingerie dress. The bottom three are Anna, Janeane, and Mila. The schadenfreude in the room is palpable. 

The judges are harsh with the bottom three this week. Anna's outfit is pronounced "nausea inducing"  and dreadful by Joanna. Janeane, whose inspiration is the ocean, is told her dress looks like a polluted sea full of plastic bottles. Mila's is called an ace bandage, is likened to the color of hospital food, and is disparaged for having crotch arrows. 

In the feel good moment of the show, Anthony is told,"The costume drama is over!" He is the winner. He acts like Miss Georgia winning the title.


Not surprisingly, Anna is the designer sent home this week. Janeane proceeds to cry.

This episode was a satisfying one, and the fashion was much more legitimate than in weeks past. Then I saw the preview for next week. The designers will be designing for children. Sigh. I would like to point out that last week I noted that adding small cute children  to a show usually leads to its demise. 


Footnote: Project Runway will be holding its Season 7 finale show at New York Fashion Week today. I've heard through the grapevine that eight decoy shows are going to be shown along with the legitimate finalists just so there are no leaks. I tried desperately to get tickets to this show, to no avail. I'm also kicking myself that I didn't ask Carol Hannah (see yesterday's post) for her predictions on who she thought the winners will be .

In a second footnote, I attended the Heart Truth charity runway show on Thursday, which features celebrities wearing dresses by well-known designers. These dresses are auctioned off  and the proceeds benefit heart disease research for women. Here is an atrocious picture that I took of Heidi Klum wearing a John Galliano gown: 


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You know they do these challenges, and they say it will be like on or in a publication for sale. It makes me wonder do the ones that come up with the winning design ever get any money out of it at all.
All I can say is "Are they out of their minds??"
That...that...THING Janeane did was awful -- dull, awkward and poorly made. She should have taken herself out of the competition!
And I'm sorry, but the "Star Trek meets Madame Butterfly" frock...ugly! Who would put that putrid shade of yellow next to Heidi's face? And the insets looked like plastic.
I guess Anthony's look was OK, (great color!) but from some angles, the front details angled out so much it looked as though you could store little snacks in them!
I really wanted to see more of that off-white, floaty, long-short number...(I can't remember who designed it)...what's wrong with PRETTY, for goodness sake?
When is Heidi going to get the clue that women of a certain age do NOT show their saggy, bumpy knees?

And those clothes are a mess!

Thanks for the recap!
The judges were merciless this week! I am changing my mind about the level of talent in the group - I can't see a single designer who has the chops to show their stuff at Fashion Week. Shades of last season!
How cool to go to a runway show!
Yet another great recap and commenting about the show. I missed it again, but am so happy to have you reviewing and keeping me caught up!
I am enjoying your blog on here. I read it after I read Tom and Lorenzo's at

Only this time they didn't even cover last night and had all about the Bryant Park Fashion Week lines.

I thought Amy's print was pretty, too, and would have looked good on a cover of a mag but happy Anthony's was the win!
Ladies ladies... you are way too hard on yourselves.
Who is that black man doing a superb Nipsey Russell
I must defend Ben's dress, which was much less conventional than Anthony's and made beautifully. It was indeed as lovely in the back as it was in the front, as Nina noted. I am happy for that little Alabama cherub, however.

And Mila clearly takes everything personally--remember how hard she took it when she was dumped by her model? It's making her react badly and trash everyone as a form of self-protection. They should have on-staff counselors for these poor stressed contestants. Her dress was pretty hideous though, and I'm not over the star flag dress from last week either.
i'm looking forward to reading your post, which i put off until i watched the show.

but a quick, major word to OS editors:


i thought this went without saying--an accepted convention of online publications, that they didn't do spoilers on their covers (ie, if you clicked to the story, spoilers there, but not on the cover page. the exception, of course being going to the PR page.)

like much of the population--especially the online population--i tivo these shows and don't get to them all right away. i'd hate to have to refrain from going to OS every Friday if i have not watched PR (or Survivor).

i know not to go to the PR page, obviously, but i was pissed off to see the obvious-winner in a photo on the OS page. did that ruin the week for anyone else?