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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ep11: The (Sour) Grapes of Brats

The banter is kinda witty this morning at Atlas.

Gretchen: Hear that? April: ?? Gretchen: Exactly.
 In another stunning instance of lack of self-knowledge, Gretchen mentions that she's happy not to hear Valerie and Ivy chatter since she needs to focus on herself "sometimes."

Mondo: There's a lot at stake - and I don't even like steak. Christopher: That's deep.
There is so much about this episode that is just wrong, starting with the forced model switch.

One thing that's right - Heidi's look is perfect for the challenge - first time in a while.
If this is truly a competition for the models, is it fair to require that designers change so close to Lincoln Center? This should be done early in the competition, to encourage the designers to think about the models as resources and get used to switching things up. Near the end, they should be able to use whoever they think is best.

Eyen's unusually strong features and straight brows were a perfect fit for Mondo's designs. Bye, Eyen.
The Client: Heidi. First time I noticed that there was more to Heidi than meets the eye (literally) was during S2's Team Lingerie challenge. She served as the client then, and it was the first time on the show when her knowledge of garment design and construction, and her dry wit and playfulness,became apparent.

The Challenge: Create a look to be sold as part of the Heidi Klum New Balance line of "activewear." This is a category of fashion I don't really understand. It's not actually clothing for exercise, and it isn't for lounging around the house. Hasn't Tim told us often enough that sweats aren't appropriate for errands and whatnot? Maybe I'm too old. I'll wear sweats to the supermarket if I have them on already, or to and fro the gym. Other than that, jeans for casual.

HKNB - stunningly ordinary
Anyway, the designers will have fabric from the line at their disposal, as well as supplemental fabric they can buy from Mood. It's amusing to see all the designers clumped in the Jersey/Knitwear aisle, trying to beat each other to bolts in the right colors. No Swatch sighting this week.

After the designers spend some time in the workroom, Tim brings Heidi through for a Walkabout.

Another great look on Heidi. Either they're brought in a new stylist, or she's dressing herself this week.

Gretchen thinks having the auf lady in the workroom is nerve-wracking.

Heidi quickly shows herself to be interested in the details, not just the overall effect, of the designs.

She asks Christopher how his top will stay on the shoulders given the deep armholes and drapey back.
 She is skeptical that Mondo's designs can be gotten into and out of, and tries them on.

She can get into the first design, but not this one.
Mondo does not appreciate the feedback.
Heidi does not appreciate the attitude.
I have a feeling that the Klum-Seal household is a tight ship, and the Samuel children are not spoiled or overindulged.

Heidi tells April to simplify, and doesn't understand Gretchen insistence on bringing in different fabrics instead of using those already in the HKNB line.

"You don't like it? It's gone!"
"Wachsen die Hölle up."
Meanwhile, Mondo indulges in a little tantrum.

Christopher talks him down.

Tim tells Heidi that Michael C can put together garments very quickly. 
Heidi thinks that's incredible, considering he can't sew.

"Oops, I forgot, the person who said that isn't here anymore."

Smile while you can, Michael.
On her way out, Heidi introduces The Twist - each designer needs to create two additional looks for a total of three, and by the way...

"...make it work!"
She also says she'll be sending in help.

"I have a bad feeling about this."
They get $200 to buy more fabric. Back at Mood, Gretchen keeps asking Tim about introducing different fabrics.
"Textured white snakeskin leggings?" "No."
Michael C recognizes that his color story isn't in line with Heidi's collection, but he's moving forward with it.

Back at the workroom, Tim introduces the help that Heidi promised. No surprise, it's the last six eliminated designers.

Mondo chooses Valerie.
Gretchen chooses Casanova.
Christopher chooses Ivy.
Michael C chooses AJ.
April chooses "the hot blonde" Peach.
Andy ends up with Michael D.

Lots of work in the workroom. Mondo and Gretchen complain. AJ tells Michael C that he was nervous about working with him, but it's been nice. Andy feels he has to simplify some for Michael D. April is irritated that Peach fixates on details and doesn't see the big picture.

And the mocking of Michael C begins with Casanova calling his orange-and-brown color scheme Thanksgiving and gobbling. Then Ivy pulls out her usual venom and accuses Michael C of cheating. And that's s far as I'm going to dignify her behavior - no detailed recap, no screen captures. She's not worth my time or yours, and neither are the others who pile on. The whole thing was annoying enough to watch once - I found myself suddenly over-indulging in ice cream to get through it.

There was one reward for sitting through it. Miss Self-righteous talks about how she believes in karma. And then...

Instant karma gotcha
Thank you, editors.
I will say that Mondo and - shockingly - Gretchen note that the judges see a lot of value in Michael C's work, and Gretchen even speaks encouragingly to him at some point.

Anyway, Tim comes in to address the issue.

"It's a non-case. Put it behind you and move on."
OK, so all those previews implying that someone was asked to leave the show were nonsense. I'm getting very tired of Lifetime and their bullshit promotions.

Next day, models come in for runway prep. Usual hair-and-makeup flurry. One moment stands out:

Casanova to Gretchen: I beg you, get rid of those hideous biker shorts. Gretchen heeds him not. 
Runway time!

Three in a row! Give the new stylist a long-term contract.
The judges are Michael, Nina, and Norma Kamali, queen of high style sweatshirts. Back in the 80s, her shoulder pads were epic.

Looks from OMO Norma Kamali.
On one on the right is basically really expensive sweats.
The one is the left is part of her chiffon line. I included it because Norma could give Mondo and even S3's Uli a run for their money in mixing prints.

On with the show...

Yow. I'm flashing back to a nightmare I had in the 80s. Unflattering and ridiculous. And what's with the Norma Desmond turbans?

My rating: Bottom 3

Besides being a little Jack Skellington, these are well done. The hoodie is cute and figure-flattering.
My rating: Top, possible winner

Two-thirds excellent. The third look may be considered active wear, but it's not the type of activity New Balance is known for. Maybe April was temporarily under the impression that this was the lingerie challenge from S2.

My rating: Safe

Christopher is so out of his element here. If he's not making pretty, tasteful clothing for ladies to work or party in, he's uncomfortable and ill-equipped. The dress would work as a nightgown. In fact, I wish there were more nightgowns/ sleepshirts like this - comfy but cute, with sleeves and a low neck.    

My rating: Bottom 3, and finally auf

Michael C
If the colors were better, I think this would have been in the top. The jacket/cape reverse zip is a cool detail. My one problem is the shape of the orange pants. Is there anyone who actually wears these droopy, drapey things?

My rating: Bottom 3

Two-thirds excellent, one third merely OK. The tunic and the circle jacket are both meticulously made, flattering, and wearable in many situations, including a casual office. Love the whimsical headbands.

My rating: Top, and he should win, but he won't because 4 in a row would be ridiculous

Judges: Christopher, Michael C, Gretchen, you have the lower scores. We're talking to the three with higher scores first.

Backstage, Gretchen naturally gretches that she can't believe she's not in the top group.

On the runway, Heidi teases Mondo about getting rid of "her favorite looks." He takes it well. Michael says he likes the kooky headbands.
And a model actually speaks. She likes them too.
 Michael thinks that Mondo's looks are great on top, but mundane on the bottom. Norma thinks they have hanger appeal.

"That's rare. It's what makes something a go-to piece."
Norma likes April's work, but thinks she should have incorporated color. Heidi likes the dress and the tunic/leggings, but feels the shorts are too short.

Yes, something is too short for Heidi.
Heidi and Michael both love Andy's garments and the way he worked the chiffon in.

There's no mention of the hoodie's resemblance to the lulumon logo.
I think it's very possible that Andy came up with that on his own - it's a shape that's commonly used to flatter a woman's body.

Norma makes a point of saying that all three of them did very well.
Now it's the bottom three's turn. Michael tells Michael C that loose doesn't equal easy, and Nina finds the styling inappropriate. Norma agrees, but sees several good pieces in his looks.

Christopher: Michael calls it cheap-looking. Kiss of death- he's out.

Christopher acknowledges all the criticism but doesn't seem upset by it.
Gretchen tells Heidi that she felt the line was missing "transitional pieces more sophisticated than a hoodie."

No comment needed.
The judges especially hate the skirt over the bike shorts.

Heidi: They hurt my eyes a little bit.
Gretchen calls this "a difference of opinion" and says the looks are easy. Nina calls them forced, and Michael says the styling is terrible.

Backstage. "Heidi hates me."
Meanwhile, the judges admire April's ability to keep her edge even when designing activewear. Andy's are "special, luxurious and light." Heidi mentions Mondo's workroom attitude, but they all agree that his work is beautifully finished and expensive-looking. Christopher's offerings are dismissed as "slumber party at the retirement home." They fear that Michael C has talent but not taste. Gretchen's stuff is out of an 80s dance video. Heidi calls her out on being totally closed to critique.

Heidi has Gretchen's number.
The verdict:

April is in.
The Winner

Mondo is in. Gretchen is in. It's either Christopher or Michael C for the auf.

Michael is in.

Bon chance, Christopher! There are millions of women who would like to wear your designs - pretty, flattering, commercial and classy. You should talk to Tim about working for one of the high-end lines that Liz Claiborne owns as you build your own brand.

Coda 1:
Here are the winners, translated to the Heidi Klum New Balance line available on Amazon.

Note that the lines on the hoodie have been changed to something different from the lulumon signature. That hoodie costs $158, which seems insanely expensive to me. It's a sweatshirt, people.
Coda 2:
Christopher's decoy collection (available on Blogging Project Runway) was nicely done but kind of all over the place, IMO. Mostly pretty, wearable clothes, but not really a collection. Here's a sample:
Here's a hoodie I'd pay good money for.


  1. I thought this was a terrible challenge, especially for one towards the end. The designers were told they could use other fabric, but they really couldn't. Plus 'active wear' is soooo suburban. When I lived in SF you never saw anyone in this stuff.

    Much as I like Chris, I agree he's not a wow designer and that's what PR is going for. However, I think this will help him a lot, because I almost always thought his looks were flattering.

  2. Hi Lori,

    I agree - "activewear' is such a strange concept. I live outside DC, technically a suburb but a very urban one. Tight, pastel tracksuits etc. used to be worn by high school girls a few years ago, but people here are too ethnic or crunchy to wear that stuff.