Tim Gunn Saves the Episode

We are now Week 6, and nearing half way through Season 12 of “Project Runway” (!) and to celebrate that the designers are treated to Tim Gunn in camouflage, and a glamping trip! I have never had a glamping excursion, however my cousin, a fashion editor, went and had a great time. My cousin and I are also “Gheny Girls,” growing up spending summers at a camp in WVa, which is decidedly not glamping.

I would like to hope the nature would be more inspiring to the designers then the luxury tents and meals, but there are a lot of divas in this group…cough, Ken. There has been a lot of tension in the workroom, with heated discussions, back stabbing, drama, etc… It seemed like this visit to the woods chilled the designers out, and as Jeremy noted, “Out of the workroom, we all get along well.” It looked like fun, and I’m jealous, I would have loved the break during my season. Although YAW—I have to admit this group is not that entertaining when they are not evil. Where was the good conversation, humor and beginnings of close friendships?

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In typical “Project Runway” fashion, the challenge was vague, the gist came down to this: take inspiration of the woods, and create a high end fashion look. The designers head off to Mood (and Swatch) with a “suggested” (I really think it would have been more exciting to just let the designer’s have the one lump sum for the entire season…) budget of $300!

Back to the workroom, things have definitely quieted down a bit. That is until Ken throws in a zinger aimed at Alexandria, who last week came up with the funniest description of appeasement EVHUH, “I was just trying to pet the kitty,” in explaining her working, and trying not to be sucked in to the drama vortex that is Ken. There are some interesting variations to the theme, Bradon sees moss, Ken seems to go for deep greens and reds to conjure up the water, Karen imagines a safari, Alexander sees the trees, Alexandria goes for the new modern with denim, and long johns, and Jeremy is writing a letter. Screech…huh? I suppose letters from home could be seen as part of the camping experience.

Tim comes in for his look around and we are limited to viewing just a few of his critiques. Karen is just too simple, Kate points out, rightly, that judges reward pushing your design, usually. (More on that later) She better step up her game or start packing. Justin decides to use a glue gun he purchased at Mood. Now those of you who have watched a number of seasons of “PR” know of the glue gun (as does Austin Scarlett and Anthony Ryan), but Justin really is using it in a new way, he is making lace with it. Brilliant! The problem is Justin, the fashion teacher, is following his “Edit, edit, edit,” mantra too closely (Way too closely to be competing on TV). I like Justin, his designs are clean, and unadorned. He is a minimalist, and I tend to follow that aesthetic as well. One of my biggest influences on design was my direct boss at McQueen, he always told me every element of the design had to have a purpose, never put in a stitch, or adornment that had no purpose.

I feel Tim’s critiques actually hurt Justin here with the message to, “Ramp it up a bit.” Bradon is making…child’s costume? It happens, one gets lost sometimes, I don’t really think he’s really in danger. “One day you’re in, the next you’re out,” only goes so far. Judges are loth to cut favored designers that have stumbled. However, this dress is screaming Bottom Three.

Miranda is mimicking Alexander, with a simple long gown, but with some origami petals attached to the train. Maybe all that Army training is kicking in, no freak outs and it is not a pencil skirt. She seems to be improving this week and she’s become a contestant. Ken is having issues with his design. It’s just too heavy looking, and very awkward on the top. It has all the makings of another bottom three entry from Ken.

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Runway time! Helen, though proud of her garment, she was the first of many to declare themselves the winner, produced a big nothing, abet with a slit in the back. Brandon, Bottom Three. This dress hardly seemed constructed. I mean he could have used stitch witchery and the provided Rowenta Steamstation and had the dress hemmed in 5 minutes!

Miranda, you have to give credit where credit is due, and she did a nice job. An interesting gown. It looked stunning on the model. Congrats. Ken, it looked like something from a renaissance fair. Bottom three, definitely, start folding your clothes and getting your suitcase out. Alexandria, great job, it had a modern denim jacket and long john inspired pant. It was as close to the target as anyone else got—odern and fashion forward. I wonder how it will be seen by the judges. They always speak about “fashion forward,” harp on it in fact, yet rarely do they reward it.

Alexander, another surefire winner, if you listen to Mr. Pope. Me? Not so much. In fact I’d place Miranda’s piece above this one. I have to agree with Mr. Posen—it was a beautiful black gown, but if you are going to go so simplistic then there should be interesting seaming and the straight seam mid-thigh is very first year fashion school. (And unflattering! Luckily he has a stunning model!)

Justin, while I liked his original take more (more minimalistic), I thought it was safe. Dom, a bit disappointed I must say—simple, not really much to do with the challenge, and rather blah. Karen, I thought this was safe. If anything, her take on it as a safari piece was closer to the target than a lot of the favored designers. Plus Nina’s criticism that her model’s hair looked sloppy? Have you very seen a tent up close Nina? (Also, Karen got blasted for having such a simplistic piece, but Bradon’s and Dom’s were very similarly constructed, but not as well done).

Kate does a poof piece baby doll dress that looks like a bad Marchesa knockoff, in addition to making the model look 9 months pregnant. Again, what has this design have anything to do with the outdoors? Jeremy, a gown with a note. Ugh.

So, top three are: Alexandria (yeah!), Jeremy and Alexander.

Bottom were Karen, Ken and Justin. Ken rightly earned his spot, while I disagree with Karen, and most strongly disagree with Justin in this position. He stepped out his zone, innovated, and went for it. It wasn’t perfect, but it had adventure and creativity. Those should be touchstones for this show and these judges. What, we now reward simple and bland? Innocuous trumps innovative?

The winner is Alexandria! Yes, a modern designer is finally recognized! The judges got it right this time. Out? Justin!? What? His offenses were so minor to others on that runway, if not some in the waiting room. I think the producers, having the choice of Kate, a loud, annoying (that laugh!) red head, and Ken, an explosive drama queen, win out over a quiet more talented man.

The judges fell on their faces this time. It was an emotional farewell. I have to admit I was tearful as Tim, quite correctly I believe, gave his “Tim Gunn Save.” It was an abominable decision and rightly corrected. I was surprised it came into play so early, but I do think the choice to save was correct. Justin and Alexandria have a story to tell. There’s a few others, but many imposters. I hope Bunim/Murray Productions realize just that and let the professionals do their work.

Althea Harper


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