In & Out

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The other week I posted about how this season of Project Runway was going down as one of the best in recent memory. A good chunk of that in my mind has come from the expanded format of the show that has allowed for getting to know the designers - and their catty mentalities - a little better, much like the earlier seasons allowed for based on the way they were editing. Let's face it, the characters on the show are half the fun - the designs themselves are the other half.

Unfortunately, the last two episodes have been - to borrow a phrase from another fashion-related reality show - dreckitude. Sadly, I don't feel it's the designers to blame here, but the producers of the show that have done TWO Back to Back episodes of 'surprise! design another piece at the 11th hour! cheers!'. As a result we had two of the worst runway shows PR has EVER seen, with the top 3 barely scraping by and liberal critiques being heaped on the top 3 almost as much as the bottom 3 (and god only knows what the middle 'safeties' would hear from the judges were they on stage).

As a result, my favourite designer this season - Valerie - has been in jeopardy. Both times she has had pretty nifty sounding plans / sketches, only to be thwarted by the producers of the show that think it's so shocking and cool to cram as much design as possible into one episode - perhaps the negative side of 90-minute shows where they need to stretch the design room time. I mean, for this week's challenge we had eight designers left...why not bring the eight eliminated designers back to assist them with the second look?

The thing is, I'm not asking for the show to revert to its early season slower pace, where designers frequently had two days to design showstopping garments, I'm simply asking them to be upfront with the designers - at least once - about how much time they have instead of continually springing additional pieces and challenges on them. I'm thinking back to the couture challenge of Season 4, featuring Chris March and Christian Siriano's STUNNING gown (and ready to wear companion piece). The judges were clearly looking for something of that calibre this week and they didn't get it - and it's partially because of the crazy twists and turns the show keeps on piling on. I just want to see the designers have the time to complete something for once, and get a proper sense as to whether or not they are good designers, plain and simple, or if they really do bite off more than they can chew.

Moving on, we have SEVEN designers left and only 'THREE' spots at Fashion Week. Can I point out that in past seasons, PR has been a very unique show in that it airs (primarily) during the ten-week span the winning designers have to go home and work on their collections. This year however, there were so many designers 'left' on the show, that TEN, count em, TEN of them had shows at Fashion Week. That's more than half of the contestants - and although only three (or four) of them are up for the grand prix, it still kind of diminishes the specialness of "only three of you will make it to fashion week". I'm sure the decoys are given much smaller budgets to work with, but they still have the prestige of going to fashion week, and the big PR prize ain't that special, sorry (I mean, Mondo won nearly the equivalent of the model's prize this week!).

Moving on to the final 7 and my predictions:

April - The show can be a bit maddening in its criticisms, sometimes telling designers they seem stuck in one style, other times criticizing designers who try to shake up their aesthetic (as per Ivy getting the axe with her foray into BRIGHT colours this week). However with April, I lean towards the 'one trick pony' designation, as I've found nearly all of her pieces are black, tattered, and snoozy. I'm not interested in seeing a final collection of April's, and I have a hunch she'll be shown the door before fashion week.

Valerie - It feels to me like Valerie (up until recently anyway) was given a bit of a winner's edit - she has easily become the fan favourite with a very likable, witty, endearing edit and her 'always the bridesmaid' designation has won her many fans that think she is the rightful winner on same challenges. I wanted to think that with her breakdowns over the last few weeks - why don't the judges get my work? why am I second guessing myself? why did I create a vest over a jacket (stupid twist)? - they were giving her a 'Phoenix rises from the ashes' storyline, but now I'm not so sure. I think the producers were definitely wise to keep her in over Michael & Ivy the last two weeks, and I think she could pull it out with adequate time a la fashion week, but I'm not sure her confidence is up to it at this point.

Mondo - I'm on the fence about Mondoman. On one hand I feel like he just throws together a bunch of crazy shit, sews it decently well, and the designers credit him for it not being totally fugtastic. On the other hand, I have flashes of S3's Uli and her innate ability to mix patterns - while Uli's was a much more subtle bohemian look, Mondo's is a lot more like a box of crayons got bulimia on his work table, yet I at least find his work *interesting*. I think seeing a final collection from him that requires some cohesion and thought would be interesting, but I don't know that I'm rooting for him to win at this point. I'd be okay with him making it to the final 3, and I wouldn't be surprised if I did.

Gretchen - I feel like Gretchen still has a pretty negative edit, and that her clothes still aren't that imaginative. What they are is modern, well-made, and designed for women who very much share her aesthetic, which is a trendy one. I've noticed the designers this season have really projected their design style into their personal style - Mondo's wacky combos, Valerie's cutesy reconstructed outfits, Ivy's chic little dresses and skirts, April's goth bombshell look, and Gretchen's boho model gear. I think it's a wise choice to represent your point of view as a designer by looking like your work, and Gretchen does that in spades. She does have the strongest track record - falling into the bottom only once on the team challenge - and the show seems to have indicated it's a forgone conclusion we'll see her at fashion week, I'm just skeptical she can pull it out to walk away with the win. I'm smelling Daniel Vosovic of S2.

Andy - I feel like Andy is sort of the forgotten child of this season (along with Chris). He's supposed to be the avant garde one, and has a style similar to last season's fellow lost boy Jay, but Mondo is totally eclipsing him and I think it might lead to his late-season ouster. I credit Andy for being uber bold, but I don't particularly like his clothes - just elements within them. He might be a surprise contender for that third spot though...I just feel like he hasn't received enough praise or airtime to take that winner's spot, but perhaps the producers are blinding me with the drama and the central characters in that mess!

Michael C - The other designers hate him, and although the show has edited Michael C's storyline to have a sympathetic nod in his favour, I suspect the show will throw them a bone by eventually delivering his comeuppance. Here's my conclusive thoughts on MC: he makes quite beautiful clothing that in general, always fits well (this week's mini dress was moulded to that girl's body), looks nice, and seems on par with today's contemporary evening looks. However, I agree with Gretchen that he doesn't have a deeply engrained POV. In fact, I could probably describe each designer in one phrase, and not really come up with something for Michael. April (Shredded Goth), Valerie (Bright & Basic), Mondo (Colour & Pattern Barf), Gretchen (Boho For Hipsters), Andy (Futuristic Industrial), Chris (Classy Dream Gal)...Michael just makes nice clothes, period. That being said, the concept of him putting together a collection kind of tickles my fancy. What would he send out? A Carol Hannah line of evening gowns? Probably, which the judges don't want to see, and won't earn him the win. I guess he's auf'd in the next week or two.

Christopher - I always forget Christopher Collins is on the show, until he butchers something and ends up in the bottom, flailing. He's a cutie, but a bit of a wet blanket when it comes to joining in on the dishiness, or even having a particularly interesting design point of view or specialty. I think he makes *nice* clothes like Michael C and veers towards a ladylike aesthetic, but I couldn't tell you much about Chris beyond that. I feel like he's a throwaway pick to get rid of before the final episode.

So my picks for the final three? I think Gretchen, Mondo, and either Valerie or Andy will be 'officially' at fashion week. Chris Collins is next on the chopping block, and then it's a free for all.

Do me proud PR!

- Britt's On


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