Project Runway S11: Episode 10, The Art of Fashion

Ah, the Guggenheim. An icon of modern art. What better place for a set of talented, eager designers to find inspiration to create works of wearable art to rival the Cezannes, the Gaugins, the Degas.

Or, they could just complain about each other for an hour and a half. Heidi’ll find a way to rake in product placement fees, either way.

The judges create the teams again, and finally – FINALLY – decide to match the six remaining designers in pairs according to approximate standing: Michelle and Stanley, the stars. Layana and Daniel, who can produce good stuff but are inconsistent. And Patricia and Richard, the left-handed red-haired stepchildren. Funny thing is, Michelle used to hate Patricia, but since Richard hoarded the gold tape in the prom challenge (and perhaps since Patricia became her roomie), she’s changed allegiances. Richard’s now the Bad Guy. Remember the girls putting the boys on their list at the beginning of last week? Funny how we just so happened to end up with boy-girl pairs now.

The Challenge:

Each team must create one grand, over-the-top wearable art look (I guess they’ve given up on anyone understanding what “avant-garde” actually means) and one ready-to-wear companion piece. Oh, and because this season isn’t enough of a mess, let’s throw the design-your-own-textile thing in here, too, and incorporate that fabric into both pieces. Tim: “You have all this material to help you with your wearable art”: Elmer’s glue. Bubble wrap. Oh. You want that kind of wearable art. So a little Unconventional Material challenge as well. There’s also a trip to Mood. I give up; I think we’re getting a glimpse into Heidi’s mind, and it’s pretty jumbled in there.

The winner gets $10,000 and a computer (which CNET describes as “slower performance at a high price. You’re paying for style,” making it the perfect PR computer). Rachel Roy again fills in for Zac. Guest judge is Tracy Reese, to prove that even though a black woman can’t win Project Runway, if she makes it anyway, she can appear as a guest judge. Yes, I’m still bitter. Even though I suspect I know which decoy collection was Samantha’s, and it’s nowhere near my favorite.

Stanley and Michelle:

From the moment Tim paired them, I knew they’d be the winning team. Or, maybe I should say, I hoped, because if they’d found a way to cut one of them, I might have run amok. They’re both happy with the pairing, probably recognizing each other as the best option. “We’re both in the same head space,” chirps Michelle. They’ll both work on the art piece, she’ll design the fabric, and he’ll do the ready-to-wear.

Michelle creates a fabric of her face. I swear, it reminds me of Munch’s The Scream. To be honest, I have very poor facial recognition skills, so it might be obvious to everyone it’s not her face, making it considerably less narcissistic. But it’s a face, and it’s creeping me out. Yes, Seth Aaron did a face on his fabric, and it worked great, but it was much less recognizable as a face. And it was clearly not his face. Michelle says her kitchen is painted the same color as her face. Maybe she means the camouflage background, which she finally got to use. She draws The Scream on fabric, she makes kilt vests and rain vests, I can imagine Michelle painting her kitchen in camouflage.

For the Wearable Art portion of our program, Michelle makes a coat-thing out of olive drab waterproof canvas; the faces only make a brief appearance around the shoulders. She draws more on the train of the coat. She’s taking this Wearable Art thing seriously, isn’t she. Tim gets chills looking at it. Stanley gets inspired by bubble wrap and makes a petticoat for the coat thing. There’s some concern when it takes longer than expected for the paint to dry, but it’s all good. Stanley: “A museum piece should not fit in a cab; by that criteria we nailed it.” Michelle makes a spiral headpiece that evokes the Guggenheim (and if it had been better-sewn, might’ve worked), but overall, this look screams Pregnant Post-Apocalyptic Wedding Gown. Still, it has its appeal, in a vaguely steampunk way.

For ready-to-wear, Stanley makes a Pregnant Bridesmaid’s Dress out of Michelle’s fabric. He refuses to use the hat she’s made: “She made this hat with faces coming out of it. We have faces all over the dress, why do we need faces coming out of the hat?” I think I just fell in love with Stanley. Where have they been keeping him all this time? He’s got some of the best lines in PR history this episode. Michelle wears the hat to Runway. And she wears a pin with the little face in all her interviews as well. I’m betting she wore the hat, too, but it screwed up the lighting so they made her take it off.

They’re the Winning Team, Michelle with her “Dark woman on the brink of insanity” and Stanley’s dual inspiration of sculpture and bubble wrap. Perfection. Out of control fun. Yin and Yang. Shape. Inspiring. Editorial. Taste. Yeah, they all love both looks. Heidi asks who should win, and Michelle suggests each of them say the other, which surprises me since I figured she was in charge here. They explain the division of labor: he did the dress and bubble wrap, she did the print, the painting, and the coat.

To my surprise, Stanley wins. No comment from Michelle. Wanna bet we get an earful next week? I wouldn’t blame her; the showpiece dress was pretty much hers, and the fabric was all hers. But Nina liked Stanley’s dress better, and that’s what counts.

Layana and Daniel:

I’m not sure how much they’re paying Layana to play the conniving, devious whiner, but whatever it is, they should pay her more, because she plays it to the hilt. I can’t wait to hear her complain about her edit when this is over; somehow, I can’t believe anyone can really be this evil and still live. Right off the bat, she’s disturbed that she now has to carry Daniel, who, by the way, won the first challenge, and when he and Layana were in the running for the second win, graciously indicated she should have it since he had immunity – ok, the comment made no sense, but it was a nice move. And now she’s out to destroy him. They both want to do the art piece, of course; doesn’t everyone? Daniel lets her take it, then she complains that he’s doing the companion piece, following which she decides she’s nervous because it’s all on her shoulders. She won’t give him any of the fabric she’s designed, though it was made clear both looks have to use it. And in the end, when his look gets a better reception than hers, she cries because he didn’t give her enough credit. Forget Jeffrey, forget Gretchen and Ivy; they were amateurs. This, this is how assholery is done.

Which makes it doubly delicious when she’s the one who can’t produce. Her first attempt dies a painful death for reasons unknown. Her second brings her to tears because the fabric doesn’t look ironed. Daniel leads her some distance away and shows her it looks fine; she sees it’s true, the tears stop, she gets back on track, just in time to start complaining she’s all alone. Damn, girl is good. A lotta stuff thrown at tv screens last night. They should start giving Best Actor awards for reality shows.

On the runway, her look doesn’t work; it’s like she made the dress, then threw some netting over it and glued on some napkin rings. I like the overall idea of the print covered by something sheer and diagonal, and I love the headpiece, but it’s off.

Daniel, finally able to wrest one yard of the fabric he’s required to use away from the clutches of Layana, makes a bubble skirt and sleek, narrow-lapel blazer. Both pieces are pretty nice, but think the contrast between them is too extreme; they don’t seem to work together.

The judges, however, are ecstatic about Daniel’s look. I suspect a lot of that ecstasy is more tied to knowing the viewers at this point have been given a view of Layana that makes them all want to flush her head in the Port Authority men’s room toilet for a few hours, rather than the aesthetic merits of the clothing. Heidi pronounces the jacket “hot,” Nina credits Layana with providing a good influence and Daniel’s head doesn’t explode. Layana, on the other hand, not so much. Struggled. Hodgepodge. Kitchen Sink. Period Piece. Yesteryear. Barbie. Barbie? I don’t think so. Anyway, they ask who should win, and Daniel says he thinks his look won. Layana argues, it was 50/50. Yes, it was, Layana was 50 for Layana, 50 for Layana. I think Daniel’s just so happy to not be in the bottom, he agrees with everything Layana says. She cries backstage anyway: “It’s not your garment, it’s our garment. I feel so betrayed.” Oh, can it, sweetie, nobody’s buying it. You did everything you could to leave Daniel out in the cold. It didn’t work.

Richard and Patricia:

Both of them recognize this is Patricia’s challenge, so Richard stands back and lets her work. That’s to his credit. However, standing back for a day and a half, making only a bracelet, is not to his credit. It seems he thinks he needs to see her look before he can make the ready-to-wear, since nothing Patricia says ever makes sense to anyone and it wouldn’t matter if it did since she usually ends up doing something else anyway. As in this case when she starts out with “a corrugated skirt” and ends up with Taliban chic (™Michael Costell0). I…actually like it quite a bit (ducks head in shame). It’s weird as hell, but there’s some strange appeal to it, similar to the appeal of Michelle’s coat. I hate the print of the lower skirt, the one Patricia designed based on an eagle feather – it’s too sharp – but the print she used for the top (the arm restraints), the print she seems to have painted on organza, is great. It’s kind of a statement. My first note was “hostage wear” but the patterns, particularly the top, are so free and joyous, it’s kind of interesting. Yeah, I’m serious. I actually like it.

Richard, on the other hand, makes bloomers. He’s got the restraint idea in the skirt, and it’s a good idea, but the proportions are completely off (the skirt falls too low on the hips for starters, the hem comes in then goes out just like, well, bloomers), and the top is much too sporty and doesn’t fit. Visually, it’s in a different universe from Patricia’s, even though I can see a shared idea. It’s clearly the failure of the night. But that was forecast when he looked blank when Patricia asked him what shape he was using, if he was doing something mod or a-line, like he’d never thought about clothing in that way. I think Richard realized early on he was in over his head, and he’s been struggling to not show it. But now he’s just given up.

It’s really interesting that Tim turns into a shit-stirrer this episode. Remember when they took our sweet Mondo from S8 and turned him into a cranky old man in AS1? They’re doing that to Tim now. He wonders if Richard’s using a strategy of blaming it all on Patricia, since everything is her idea. Richard is shocked, I tell you, shocked to his foundation. So is Patricia. So was I, not at the thought of someone being so devious (considering the graduate seminar in treachery Layana’s been giving) but that Tim would suggest it to Richard and Patricia, both of whom have their problems but neither of whom seems particularly cutthroat to me. I miss Tim. The real Tim. Maybe he’ll return some day.

They’re the losing team, as the judges are Not Impressed. Heidi, oddly enough, loves Patricia’s look. I agree with Heidi on a controversial look; that scares me. They don’t ask who should be the loser; they ask, who is the stronger designer. Oh, yeah, so now you start worrying about that. Richard talks about different aesthetics. Patricia interviews: “I’ve been doing textiles for 20 years, if I go home over a challenge dedicated to textiles, I’m going to lose my mind.” Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Patricia.

But it’s Richard who’s out. I don’t think he’s a bad guy; I don’t even think he’s a bad designer. I do think the team aspect of all this was particularly hard for him. But it’s particularly hard for Patricia as well, though for different reasons.

What does it mean when you’re fine with the win/lose, you found most of the clothes interesting, and you still feel pissed off? I think it means you’re over Project Runway.

Next Week:

It’s Nina’s turn: The “Celebrity Editorial” for Marie Claire. And they finally pull the plug on this teams nonsense.

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18 responses to “Project Runway S11: Episode 10, The Art of Fashion

  1. Thanks for recapping the parts that I fast forwarded through. I literally cannot stand to hear any of their voices anymore. Not even Stanley (who I like). They are all so whiny and freak-outy and just awful.

    The team challenges have proved to be useless now that the teams are two people and I hate that Tim is a shill. Gee, who brought us those laptops? Raelly? You couldn’t design all day if you used some random freeware program? Or, you know, a pencil? Gahhhhh.

    I liked the hostage wear (although not for real clothes obviously). I hated the silhouette of Stanley;s dress (but what do I know) and I hated Michelle’s fabric (and she”l be less buoyant and excitable next episode when she realizes how Stanley betrayed her).

    And I hate Layana, even if I’m supposed to. I hate the people who cry. Yes, I hate the criers! I am a bully.

    Look, the laptop comes apart, giving you a touch pad…which if you wanted a touch pad you would have bought one.

    Gahhhh

  2. I must confess: I’m a crier. I cry when I’m nervous, angry, happy, anxious, moved. I cry when I read, when I listen to music, when I watch tv. I recently cried over a goldfish video for pete’s sake. Every time I try to read a story to someone, out loud, I cry (after all, why bother reading a story that doesn’t make you cry?). I’ve given up apologizing for it; I just announce, “I cry. It’s just water. It doesn’t hurt, you don’t have to do anything to fix it. It’s ok that I cry; we can all ignore it.”

    That isn’t what I get when I see Layana cry. I see, “Oh, no, I’m crying, you must do what I want so I won’t cry!” I see spoiled brat. I see what every woman on earth has to prove she isn’t before any man will take her seriously. And that enrages me.

    • I agree with your entire awesome blog & this comment. I, too, am a crier (especially if I don’t take my antidepressants), & it’s just a release. I don’t need people to “fix” it, I’m not being manipulative, just ignore it.
      Your last paragraph is gold. I think yours was the only blog that truly captured how disgusting Layana is. No one could ever pay me enough money to act like that; I think she IS like that : a self-absorbed, self-important, inconsiderate narcissist. An attractive package with nothing inside, like Laura Kathleen & Ivy during her season. Spoiled & coddled their whole lives. I can tell Layana has never had a true reason to actually cry-my hope is that someone/something gives her one.

      • Hi Elsa: I’m so glad to meet another crier. I have a feeling it’s all complicated by producers goading the contestants to provide the “drama” so I’m not sure I can draw any conclusions about anyone on reality tv. Most of the time I’m not sure I can draw any conclusions about anyone, really, including, scarily enough, myself. 😉 For some reason, the Lifetime audience thinks it’s pleasant to watch. I don’t. I’d rather see more about how they come up with their designs, especially for a challenge like this one.

      • She didn’t do anything special, I think she just looked especially nice. (Yes, I really can be that shallow) I also like how willing she is to openly contradict Nina.

        As far as the team pairings went, I think it would have worked better as a 3 vs. 3 competition this week. The teams make more sense in larger groups.

        And there is NO WAY Layana is worse than villains of seasons past! This late in the filming with so many long days and short sleeps, someone always breaks down. She’s just tired and not thinking straight.

      • Now there I have to disagree with you (not about Rachel, she’s fine – I fell in love with her last week when she made that comment about “girls who dress like me and look like me” and I think she should get a promotion to whatever Zac Posen’s title is – about villains):

        With Jeffrey, Gretchen, Ivy, Joshua, you knew what you were getting. With Layana, it’s like battling a cloud – you don’t know what hit you – or a tiny baby kitten – if you oppose her, you look like a bully. Stanley’s the only one who’s pulled it off so far, with his pink bow. Stanley’s got a real future dealing with insane egos without losing himself, he’s very good at it. And with Layana it’s a little too perfectly evil, her interviews a little too targeted. Smells like a script: the Lifetime version of the helpless ingénue bitch. Now that is evil.

      • Ah… Tbone,Tbone…Tbone. You are too nice. Stop that. Layana has not been all that nice, or straight and true, since she was 5 or 6 and realized that getting her way was tied to incessant whining. It was almost personally shaming to watch a grown woman doing the baby babble when trying to explain herself to the judges (the stripper challenge, concerning Richard).
        She is often barely intelligible as she tries to balance her wheedle with her whine and convenient tears.
        You are correct that the show drives everyone to those frayed and frazzled moments, to the delight of the camera… but Layana seems to be Layana, the same as Irina, or Ivy, or Gretchen, or Jeffery… keeping in mind that it’s just a show and of course there’s more to everyone that appears there.

      • Layana talks over people, she has since the first episode. That wall all and it’s over for me, you can’t be part of a team if you refuse to listen.

      • Isn’t Lyanna in her 20’s? This is not an excuse for her behavior but it could mean she may grow into more self-confidence and awareness as she has life experiences. I am sure she will be surprised about how she comes off on the show. I think the editing has been kind to her. When she is paired with a gentleman such as Daniel she kooks particularly bad. I am impressed with his gentleness and generosity, especially when he calmed her by asking her to view her dress from a distance. She is too fragile to tell her she made another “Ms. Kitty” saloon dress, but that is what it looked like to me. No one progresses to their full potential if they cannot take in constructive criticism. She has talent but is young and immature.

        What I like about Patricia is that she does listen but then chooses to follow her own vision whether anyone understands her or not. This week she made an amazing live sculpture that would be phenomenal walking silently around the Guggenheim Museusm. It was meant to be an inspirational piece of art that evoked emotion. She chose colors and shapes from the painting and then encorporated her view with stylized Eagle feathers. Richard could have done so much more with his color blocking esthetic by arranging and rearranging the print. He had the right idea with his skirt, which mimicked Patricia’s cylinder but restricted its’ flow with the goofy band on the bottom and the pedestrian belt. Patricia was right to ask him what shape he wanted to design in the beginning. If he would have had a clue the two of them could have collaborated.

  3. So many liked Patricia’s ‘gown’ and I just didn’t see it. I do think the upper tier was a near duplicate of the art hanging on the wall – which was appealing to begin with. But to me it looked like she literally took it off the wall and hung it there on the model’s neck, leaving the picture frame behind. It wasn’t manipulated to be anything other than a rectangle of canvas stolen from the exhibition and pinned around the torso of her model. The rest looked like miles of happy parade bunting. I liked the print she made; it looked alive and upbeat. Which made the use of the stuffy and depressing head covering look like a bad attempt at something mysterious and enigmatic. I don’t know why Richard had so much trouble with the material, when he finally started working with it he almost had something.
    I find that I have two – not one – reasons to be disappointed with PR this season. The most obvious being the designs all suffer from the lack of time to create really worthwhile, interesting things. But this season the team format has made the give and take drama between the designers more important than the results. I get the impression that there has been a lot more chatter being broadcast than previous seasons. Or it just seems like it – since they have to constantly be thinking about another person and interacting more with each other. I see less of the work and more of the interviews. Something else that diminishes the designers efforts. More than ever, this season has felt less like design and more like a somewhat boring soap. I find it off-putting when the designers personal styles are diluted or ‘mashed’ at the start, so we don’t get to see their best, or feel like rooting for one or the other’s design aesthetics to win.
    And yet – the most engaging and grown-up types have appeared this season and perhaps saved it with their commentary; Michelle, Amanda and even Kate.

    • I’ve already credited you with pegging Layana well in advance of my recognition of her style, right? 😉

      I think you’re right that the chatter and the team setup is related, but I think you’ve got it backwards: I think the reason for the teams is to create more chatter, more opportunity for conflict. Especially when the judges start scheming who to match up with whom.

      The extra half hour is somehow at the root of all this. They’ve got to fill it with something, and on Lifetime, that’s not going to be a closer examination of what Patricia is doing with fabric or why she’s using a particular pattern, or a look at exactly how Daniel planned his jacket that made it more modern than his prior stodgy ones, or even why a designer chose a pair of shoes or a piece of jewelry to go with an outfit. It’s going to be screaming.

      My nomination for adult in the room would go to Stanley. And Samantha, may she design in peace. Michelle seems to do fine when actually working with others; it’s only her interviews and what she says in the overnights that’s more ego-laden, so she’d get an honorable mention.

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