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Who’s In and Who’s Out: Project Runway 3, Episode 9by Kevin Otten -- 09/12/2006
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Project Runway is really taking on some more ambitious and realistic challenges for the designers this season. After all, what could be more apt than designing a couture dress in Paris? The level of difficultly continues to seem far higher for the designers this season than for any other, but for the most part they are still doing well… except for Vincent, who really hasn’t done well the whole season. Before taking a closer look at how he lasted so long and why he was finally cut this week, we shouldn’t forget about bad boy Jeffrey, who won for the second week in a row.
Who’s IN: Jeffrey
Last week I mentioned that Jeffrey seems to be cleaning up his act, and making great headway toward being one of the final three designers. His work this week firmly reinforces that perspective. It was a very close call this week between him and Uli, also a strong contender for Fashion week, so close in fact that I will trace the work of both designers through each of the important fashion tips for Project Runway designers to follow.
1. Stand out! Be original, creative, and show a unique, strong point of view in your designs.
From the very beginning of the show, Jeffrey has demonstrated creativity and a steadfast point of view. All of his designs have had his own personal touch, which has become more refined throughout the course of the season. With this week’s challenge, Jeffrey continued to speak volumes on the runway to his talent and capabilities. His dress was by far the most outlandish and unique of all the other designers’ garments, and it was a departure from his usual style. Michael Kors commented that it was full of energy and personality, and he was right. Jeffrey’s unique dress was highly creative and definitely unique.
Uli’s dress was not bad, but it was not as outstanding as Jeffrey’s. The braiding she employed in the straps and the back of the dress was interesting and sophisticated, and her choice of textures and colors were wise. Her garment was excellent, but it lacked the dramatic impact that Jeffrey’s did.
2. Demonstrate flexibility and versatility with each challenge.
Both Jeffrey and Uli departed from their usual repertoire of design tricks this week, but Jeffrey’s path was far more significant than Uli’s. Jeffrey has consistently used dark colors, rough textures, and given most of his work an “ugly beautiful aesthetic,” in the words of Michael Kors. Dark, serious, rough, edgy, and introspective are all words which come to mind when we look back at his work. This week, his garment was youthful, playful, exuberant, and light-hearted. He could not have taken a greater 180, and the judges’ jaws dropped to the floor. They were astounded by the versatility which he employed in embodying a completely new and unpredictable perspective. To top it off, this was not even something that was required for the challenge – as we will see, the versatility element of this challenge centered around whether or not the designers could master a couture design with vast amounts of hand-crafted technical details. Jeffrey not only excelled in the couture requirement in showing his ability to adapt, but also in the flexibility of his approach to the challenge. Outstanding, in a word.
Uli also veered away from her traditional preferences for prints and vibrant, complex color combinations. Instead, she was subtle, soft, and sophisticated in her design. She also did a great job with the hand-crafted elements of her design, notably the braiding and the intricate details on the bust line. Again, she did an excellent job showing she was versatile and could adapt, but she did not go as far as Jeffrey in doing so.
3. Be resourceful and utilize every opportunity at your disposal to make your designs successful.
For this criterion, both designers performed very well. They each made good use of their fabric choices, the freedom afforded to them in the design challenge, and their time. With the exception of Laura and Vincent, who made poor decisions with both their fabric and level of complexity their designs aspired to in the time allotted, resourcefulness was not a huge factor in stratifying the designers this week.
4. Actively sell yourself, your vision, and your designs.
So we’ll move on to the next criteria, which definitely played a role in this week’s challenge. Not only were the designers asked to explain their designs to Catherine Malandrino, but they also were able to spend a few hours on the boat with her, mingling and socializing. This allowed them more time to showcase who they were as designers and make a lasting impression. From what we saw, none of them did particularly poorly with this tip. All of the designers were charming and friendly with Catherine, and took time to speak with her about their designs and answer her questions. Once on the runway in New York, it was a bit of a different story, but we will get to that when we look at Vincent…
5. Take your role as a designer seriously, and be professional both on and off the runway.
Jeffrey and Uli were both professional and took their roles seriously, so this rule was a non-factor in why Jeffrey won (and Uli almost won). I will say though that Jeffrey seems to have a very unprofessional attitude (and has for most of the season) toward his fellow designers. I don’t anticipate there will be any more team challenges to rile him up and potentially jeopardize his work. However, this rule also notes that even if a designer does well, if he or she demonstrates poor social skills and an inability to work well with others, it is unlikely the judges will reward this behavior by crowning him/her the winner. Even if s/he makes it to fashion week. We’ll see how this pans out for Jeffrey.
6. Think carefully about each challenge and do what it requires.
Now we return to an area where both Jeffrey and Uli pulled far ahead of the other designers. This challenge was about sewing skills, time management, creativity in the construction of the garment itself, and illustrating the complexity and glamour embodied in a couture dress. Jeffrey and Uli understood these important aspects of the design task, and actively factored them into the design decisions they made. They used meticulous detail work in the construction of their designs, avoided using the sewing machines, and employed a great deal of conscientiousness in engineering the actual garments themselves. To an extent, Michael and Laura seemed limited by their own lack of expertise in these skills, while Vincent was a total mess (see below!). Regardless of whether or not the designers possessed the experience or technical skills, they could have, and should have, done the best job possible given the resources available to them. (Which is exactly what Michael did, likely contributing a great deal to him not being in the bottom two even though he did not do very well with the challenge.)1 2 3 Next-->
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