Project Runway narrows the field down to a dozen and their personalities and talents become more ascertainable. Or not. The popular Lifetime series is just now going beyond the somewhat silly phase that had the contenders designing frocks made from pet products or fashions for ladies on stilts.
The series is at the point where the would-be designers begin to create fashions for specific people, specifically this past week for Runway judge Nina Garcia. Nina is fashion designer for the magazine Marie Claire and she was joined for this episode by her editor-in-chief. Actress Kerry Washington completed the guest judge lineup, joining the acerbic Michael Kors and super model Heidi Klum.
Designing for an individual is a task an up and coming fashion designer needs to master. Women from movie stars to American First Ladies often request original designs and determining the appropriate material, cut, and style for that individual is key to a designer’s success. I was taken aback by the challenge of creating an outfit for Nina Garcia to wear to work and that would serve double duty in a turnaround for her attendance at an evening function.
It wasn’t that the fashion challenge was odd. Career outfits that turn into stylish evening attire are in great demand in the fashion world. Perhaps with a switch from scarf to simple but elegant necklace, a change from comfortable to stylish shoes, a practical handbag switched for one with a wow factor the base of these easy changes will always be the frock building block beneath the embellishments. It was just...Nina Garcia?
Understand that Nina is a fine lady and does seem to have a solid handle on fashion, what works, what doesn’t, what Marie Claire readers will like. But Nina’s more of a wallflower, outshone not only by fellow judge Heidi Klum, but often by Michael Kors!
Indeed the designers, many of them spoiled drama queens themselves, immediately began to gripe when told of their challenge for this episode. Nina didn’t help with her long list of fashion designs that would not do. By the time she got done expounding on her list there did seem to be little left save perhaps muslin or raw cotton.
Exaggerations aside, the designs as presented were, for the most part, pretty good. Here is contender Danielle’s offering. There was a lot of angst over this design with Nina saying right from the start that she did not like the material or the color chosen by Danielle at Project Runway’s favorite fabric store, Mood.
In a frenzy to try and make it right, Danielle changed her entire original design concept. It was, goodness, a hideous globby green thing with a large pointed collar and long billowing sleeves. It looked like nothing Nina would wear and I don’t know what Danielle was thinking.
The blouse Danielle eventually came up with was, as can be seen, also a horror, the major difference being that Danielle desperately tried to tone down to her original idea to something that would be acceptable to Nina except, ahem, it ended up looking like a rumpled blouse discovered in grandmother’s closet.
Contender Anya created this design, an effort well liked by all the judges. It would appear that Anya is the contender to watch for in this competition. Right from the start she claimed that her sewing skills were limited. Yet from the bedsheet challenge through all she’s created to date, her designs have been well-praised, superbly crafted fashion confections.
This design was declared this episode’s losing look. It was crafted by contender Julie.
Michael Kors thought it looked like a housecoat, an ill-kept one at that. The colors are uncomplimentary, the uneven hem doesn’t look stylish, just, um, uneven. No woman with any sense of design would wear such a thing, maybe not even as a housecoat. Julie was sent home for this ill thought-out creation.
Finally, the winning design. It’s a creation by contender Kimberly. It is well-sewn, with a top that pops but does not overwhelm. It does look like something Nina would wear.
This winning design will be featured, of course, in Marie Claire magazine. In addition it will be part of that magazine’s upcoming ad campaign and will be on display on the ad boards on top of New York’s cabs.
Kimberly was in the top three for her design in the stilt competition. She's definitely a contender to watch on Project Runway, Thursdays, Lifetime, 9p/8c.