Sunday, September 25, 2011

Project Runway, Season 9, Episode 9: Image is everything.

Hey there, Project Runway Fans!  It's time for another recap.  And I don't know about you, but I had this particular earworm in my head after watching this week's episode.




Fast forward 40 years and it's still a thrill....

to make the cover of Rolling Stone.  

Here at Tirare le fila, we still believe in the publishing industry.  Paper stock.  Flipping through physical, paper pages of Elle, or Marie Claire or Rolling Stone.  No Kindle for us.  No sir.  Can't frame a cover on a Kindle.  Can't have the thrill of going through a supermarket and seeing your own face staring back at you from the magazine rack on a Kindle.  

And that's the whole point, isn't it?

So what are The Sheepdogs like?  Well, this week, you can judge a book...or sheepdog...from it's cover.  Look at 'em.  They're like a time machine back to 1976.

Only there are just four of them.  Their sound is Skynyrd-esque with a little Three Dog Night thrown in along with a pinch of The Who, if any of those bands had been Nordic lads from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Check 'em out.

Oliv(i)er is their biggest fan!

This week's challenge was for the eight remaining designers to split up into four teams.  If last week's psych-out was the tease of a men's wear challenge, this week's psych-out was the threat of a team challenge.

Turns out, the purpose of the teams was only to make sure each band member was assigned two designers.  The teams did not have to be cohesive because each band member has a different personality.

And because cohesiveness is only for the cover of the Rolling Stone.  

It was also a Garnier hair care challenge, which meant that about 15 minutes of the show was taken up by a gratuitous demonstration of every hair care product that the sponsor makes.  By the end of each grooming session, each Sheepdog looked ready for Westminster.

This week's celebrity judge was American Idol runner-up, Adam Lambert, which made for some interesting moments in judging.  Rather than go by team, I'm going to go by band member so that we can reflect on the contrasts between designers.

"Caftan Sam" Corbett - Drummer

Sam is into hippie chic.  He loves dashikis, man, and he's not afraid to wear them.  I'm sure he was thinking of rocking a righteous dashiki like this one.

And if I told you that Anya designed this dashiki, you'd totally believe me, right?  She's been queen of prints all season long.  Well, she didn't.  And if I told you that Kim would reach deep into her soul and pull out a funky shirt, you'd believe me there, too.  Right?  Well, she didn't, either.

The problem was THE CURSE OF MENSWEAR!  While most men tend to wear the same things over and over with little variation, the irony is that tailoring those clothes tends to be a bit more complex.  And depending on the man, a little bit of style can go a long way.  It's easy to drift into a costume if you try to push a man too far out of his personality.

This was the week that Anya's lack of sewing experience caught up to her.

Anya could have designed an exquisite dashiki had she (a) not been so intimidated by the pants and (b) had she used prints to shape the design rather than layering fabrics.  I think she tried to strip down the notion of the dashiki because she wanted to make something more modern and less derivative.  But the pants ate up the time she needed to carefully layer those fabric strips.  It looked like a bad Boy Scout native American costume project.

"Hey...It's my own damn fault for saying I liked dashikis."

And the pants....the pants....oh my....

Anya was safe because at least she listened to her hippy dippy client and tried to make him happy.

Kim, also spent a long time on the pants.

Perhaps that time would have been better spent on the top.

"These raglan sleeves will enhance your bustline and soften your shoulders." 
"Welcome to Burger King.  May I take your order?"
The pants were ok.  They looked better walking than standing still.  They looked better from the back than they did from the front.  More importantly, they didn't fall down, split, or make him look like he had a tumor.  So even though the inseam and length were too long, Kim was safe.

Ryan "Sexy Pants" Gullen - Bass

Josh threw everything at Ryan and still couldn't knock him down...or turn him that be a lesson to all you out there who think that gay is, somehow, contagious.  

"How do you feel about these square, metal sequins I picked up at Mood for the last challenge?  Bugle beads?  Puka shells?"
The result looked fine enough from the front. 

"This look has fringed sleeves, fringe detailing on the vest, a colored band on the vest that picks up the colors in the under shirt, straps on the back with more fringe, a wrist band, a retro-bell bottomed silhouette, contrasting pockets and an exposed zipper know..." 
Immediately, Adam Lambert was attracted to the exposed zipper in the front and nodded his head in approval.  Josh nodded back.  I think it was mutually understood between them that exposed zippers look really hot.  They didn't have to say a word.  Ryan looked adorably perplexed.  Again, not an ounce of gay rubbing off.

From the back, it was a messy mash-up of George Michael and Sgt. Pepper, none of it necessary.

Anthony Ryan's was much simpler in contrast.  He removed the sleeves altogether and kept the fringe in the back, to keep it out of the way of the guitar.  How thoughtful!

"Hey Sam, Anthony Ryan made ME a dashiki shirt, too!"

"And dude, dig that fringe on the back, eh?"
Actually, on second look, that back looks really messy.  I don't see a clean trim on the shoulder yoke and the shirt itself is quite rumpled.  

But can I register a complaint?  Why is it that everyone says "70's rocker" and immediately go for the bell bottoms and fringe?"

Oh, that's why.

Ewan "Thor" Currie

Ewan looks like a guy who could chop firewood with a dull axe and carry it back to the cabin without breaking a sweat.  He dwarfs the standard dress form, so according to Oliv(i)er, he's fat.  Plus sized.  Big, big, BIG!

"Listen, I'm a brilliant menswear tailor, only you're simply too big to wear brilliant clothing.  I'm sorry.  I am not being mean, only stating the truth--as I see it, of course."
Back at Mood, Oliv(i)er chose a print fabric with a swan and flower repeat pattern.  It looked like the wallpaper at a bridal store or perhaps the pattern of Grandma's pillowcases.  He was attempting to go for a country and western look--totally misunderstanding the aesthetic sensibilities of your standard southern rocker from the 1970's.

According to the official style guide of 'Molly Hatchet,' "any shirt with swans and flowers should be considered a blouse.  Therefore, it would be unsuitable for concert wear."

He tried.  Lord knows he tried to make a rockabilly shirt.  But the yoke had no whimsical styling...

...the pockets are too high, the shirt is too short and WHO PUTS 3/4 LENGTH SLEEVES ON A MAN'S SHIRT?  Someone who ran out of time/fabric to make a full length sleeve....someone who is so obsessed with a man's girth, that he pays no regard to the man's height!  That's who.  The pants look pretty good, but I suspect that Oliv(i)e could tailor a pair of pants in his sleep.  It was that appalling shirt that not only knocked him out of contention but gave him the Auf Wiedersehen this week.

Bert, on the other hand, stared into Ewan's dreamy eyes and saw the soul of a Viking.  A modern, hippy Viking.  See, Bert is old enough to remember the 70's and having spent most of it in Studio 54, really detested the crew down in Mussel Shoals, Alabama.  So he took the more funky route, finding striped fabric, dying it deep purple and teaming it up with a simple tie dye shirt and tunic jacket.

But that's not what made the look.  What really made the look was Bert's strategic use of the Garnier hair care team because, after all, this was the Garnier hair care challenge.  Was braiding Ewan's hair really Bert's idea or was it planted into his head by the Garnier folks?  We'll never know.  Bert is probably contractually bound to keep that secret.  It was a risk, but it turned out to be brilliant.  Michael, Adam and Nina (!) were thrilled with the hair treatment.

The judges raved at how this was such a modern rocker look.  I'm not quite seeing it.  Those pants are a little long.  The tunic is really sloppy and Ewan could use something a little more structured, I think.  Perhaps if the tunic could have been reinforced at the edges somehow, they wouldn't look so floppy.  I think the shirt underneath could have been longer.  And we'll never know if those sleeves were unfinished or not, will we, Bert?  Good thing Nina thought the braids were so adorable that she forgot to ask if you finished the sleeves!

By the way, was the necklace from's new jewelry line?

Leot "Slash" Hansen - Lead Guitar

Laura Kathleen worked hard this challenge to rethink the standard rocker uniform.

She gave him a properly tailored jacket and a pop of color with a tie-dye undershirt.  Only...

"I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy..."
it came out looking more like splattered blood.  At first, Michael Kors said, "It looks like he cut himself shaving."

"A ha ha ha ha!  I haven't shaved since high school."
Kors quickly recovered and called it a "Sweeney Todd moment."  I think he means it was bloody good.

Nina, however, thought that the jacket looked like a woman's jacket you could buy at the mall.  Really?  Because I've been looking for a jacket like that and I'd like to know which malls Nina shops.  And how many women's jackets feature a little wink and a nod to a proper rockabilly yoke?

OK...maybe the big sin here was the wide collar and how it matched the pants exactly.  Maybe the scarf was a bit too feminine given the wide collar.  But I thought the look held together quite well.  It was one of Adam Lambert's favorite looks, which, in retrospect, might not be the biggest endorsement of masculinity out there.

It was Viktor who pulled the rabbit out of the hat this week.  He took pleather and managed to craft a badass biker jacket.

The fringe, in this case, was braided to create texture, rather than simply hanging down.

He also crafted a beautiful pair of jeans.

The effect was the most visually stunning.

There are nitpicks here and there.  Namely, most rockers these days wear their shirts out, not tucked in.  That belt buckle would leave gashes in the back of the guitar, which is not cool.  But overall, the degree of difficulty was far higher than the other outfits.   The judges favored the look and Viktor was this week's winner!

The outfit will be featured in a future edition of Marie Claire and Rolling Stone as part of Garnier's advertising campaign.

How much you wanna bet that Garnier loses the bandana for the ad?

Well, that wraps up another episode of Project Runway.  Until next week, to quote another Canadian rocker, keep on rockin' in the free world.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Project Runway Season 9, Episode 8: What Women Want

Greetings, Project Runway Fans!

This week's challenge was another "please the client" challenge.

But it wasn't menswear (that's next week!)  No, designers were to create an outfit for their wives and girlfriends by working with the husbands on the idea, fabric and design.  Let's see how they did, shall we?

I'm a Barbie Girl In a Barbie World...

Laura's Client-Husband described his wife as "Barbie."  Since Laura herself is like Barbie, this turned out to be a very compatible client-designer match-up.

And it looked stunning from the front.

But on the runway, it was less than stellar in the back.  But the fit was good and it suited her client nicely enough for Laura to be safe this week.

The Real Housewife of Project Runway

Olivier had been hoping for a menswear challenge until the men came out and he saw how fat they were.  And his heart sank even further when he found out he was designing for his client's wife.

"36-D? I've never tailored a top for someone with a 36-D."
To make matters worse, Olivier's client had ideas.  Lots of ideas.

"Listen, perhaps you could put a belt around it and add a dash of color and possibly some leopard...leopard is really hot right's all over Bergdorf's..."
The producers were clearly trying to match up clients against the personalities of the designers.  Here's where they messed up.  I would have really loved to have seen her with Josh, just to see how craptastic the outfit would have been.  Instead, Olivier plowed through with his vision, as boring as it was.

To her credit, boy could she work a runway!  And from the front, the top was very thoughtfully pleated and fitted.  But from the back...

it looked like Olivier just gave up and attached the two ends together.  There was no flow or transition like there was in the front.  Of course, even if there had been, the outfit was just too typical of what he has designed all season to get the attention of the judges.  

Tight, Short and Shiny - Part 1

I would have reversed these next two looks, sending this one to the bottom scores for further critiques and keeping the next one safe.  

Kim got along with her Client-Husband very well.

They completely collaborated on the fabric and the design.

And his wife was very happy with all the choices....but on the runway...

...the pleating at the top only made her chest look bigger and the skirt only made her bottom look wider.  A skirt in lighter fabric with a bit more length to the skinny part of her knee would have been more flattering.  The tight skirt showed every bulge and the shiny fabric looked cheap.  I'm sure that had Michael Kors and Nina Garcia had a chance to critique this outfit they would have had something to say worth hearing about designing a well-fitting garment for a woman who has some size to her.  Instead, she was safe.  

Tight, Short and Shiny - Part 2

We've already established that Bert is pretty subversive.  After consulting with his Client-Husband...

"She's got big boobs.  Maybe we could do a strapless outfit that could show them off."
he quickly determined that this guy wasn't focused on anything his wife might actually want to wear.  So while he humored him in the design department...

He had a Plan B on hand, in case the wife wasn't pleased.

And that's what eventually got designed.

I mention all this because it was Bert who ended up with one of the lowest scores this week.  He stuck to his vision, like Olivier, but unlike Olivier, he lost track of fit and proportion.  The results on the runway were a little less than stellar.

But between Kim's and Bert's looks, I thought Bert should have been the one who was safe.  I think the element that caught the judges' eye was the way the skirt pooched around her belly.  A little less tapering on the skirt would have helped that.  I also think that because Bert's prior fashion experience has raised the judges expectations, they were rather shocked to see a less-than-perfect fit.  Thing is, Bert probably knew immediately what the shortcomings were in the outfit.  Kim really could have used the critique.


Anya and her Client-Husband also had a good rapport.

Anya: "What do you think of this print?"
Husband: "Didn't you use something like that in the last challenge?"

In fact, the only real drama was how to make the sleeve so that it didn't overpower the dress.

The dress looked nice without sleeves after Tim talked to her, I thought she would consider leaving the sleeve off completely.

But Anya stuck to her guns and delivered a stunning dress.  I like how the long sleeve on the short side provides a contrast with the long skirt on the other side.  And unlike Olivier's top, the long side crossed over the short side for a smooth transition.   Heidi was right to single out that its uniqueness.  You see one-sleeved dresses everywhere today and you see uneven hems everywhere, but you don't see them together.  My only complaint is that I think the sleeve is just a tad too long.   It deserved to be in contention for the win.


When Tim says, "Use the Piperlime Accessory Wall thoughtfully..." do the designers ever understand what he means?  This week Piperlime offered jewelry to the designers as part of a special promotion.  Viktor took the bait.

His outfit was exquisite and suited his client to a tee.

The top was cute without being cutesy.  With the pleated skirt was a brilliant contrast of hard and soft.  Color wise, the teal and yellow, being almost complimentary on the color wheel, provided some visual tension that kept the outfit from being too boring or schoolmarmish.  Becky, take note!

Where Victor went wrong was in adding the large necklace with the sunglasses and making a bag.  It was just too much.

Still, it would have been my winning outfit.

Less is more

The judges chose a simple, black dress for the win this week.  Had anyone but Josh designed this dress, it would have been safe or perhaps runner up.  But Josh is known for his bling.

"Baubles, bangles and bright shiny beads...."

And bless his heart, he tried to sell his client on the concept.

But she wasn't buying it.

And I'm sure that she appreciated all the talk about how her breasts were perky enough that she didn't need a bra.  Then again, look at her.  SHE'S NOT WEARING A BRA WITH HER STREET OUTFIT.  Don't act all shy about your boobs now, young lady.   

So in the end, there was no unsightly bra line to disturb the deep v in the back.  The neckline also had a gorgeous horizontal lace treatment and the sheer fabric at the hem line was very chic.

Josh exceeded everyone's expectations on taste level and threw in some brilliant styling with the turquoise all resulted in another win.

The Dude Abides

Anthony Ryan really had the best client couple.  Didn't you want to know the whole backstory on how they met?

"You see, there was this guy who had my same name.  Well his sister wanted to have a baby to get the family fortune and so, well, I knocked her up, went bowling and the rest is history."
Turns out, The Dude's wife loves vintage.  Most gals who bowl do.  But instead of going for little vintage touches like Becky was known for (now, don't you wish she was still around?) Anthony Ryan belted the outfit with a patterned fabric and created a top with a deep v neckline.

It was looking kind of cheerleader-ish, particularly with the stripe detailing. Tim warned him.  He changed out the belt, which actually made things worse.

It looked so much like a glee club uniform.  I expected to see The Dude by her side, all clean shaven and hair cut, wearing a white turtleneck and a letter sweater.  He narrowly avoided an Auf because of this...


Bryce: "Tell me a little about your..."
Apparently Swatch chewed up all the pink fabric at Mood.  Bad dog!

So Bryce spent his time dying the fabric to be a more vibrant shade of pink.  He tried to do a two-toned mod look.

"The fit and seaming have to be impeccable, otherwise, all we see is a big, walking Pink T!"

This broke Bryce Down.  I order to salvage the outfit, he took it apart and remade the dress.  While he had some interesting elements, the silhouette was rather simple and not as well fitted as it could have been.

Michael Kors focused in on a pocket treatment along the front and sides and delivered a flurry of withering one liners.  But the problem wasn't the pockets.

the problem was a puckered seams and a weird fit.  The belt was too small and got in the way of the back detailing.

Well, it's Auf Wiedersehn to Bryce.