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Who’s In and Who’s Out: Project Runway 2, Episode 3by Kevin Otten -- 12/21/2005
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Taking a careful look back at the important lessons Project Runway designers should have learned from Season 1 reveals where Raymundo missed the mark, and why Nick was right on target. Evaluating the ideas, decisions, and overall performance of these two designers according to the six criteria specified in SirLinksALot: Project RunwayWhat’s In and What’s Out for Project Runway Designers demonstrates why Nick won and Raymundo lost.
Who’s IN: Nick
With thick, bold, striped fabric, a funky hair accessory, and multiple layers on his dress, Nick definitely met and exceeded the first fashion rule, being creative and original. Departing from traditional Barbie colors of pink, purple, etc., he chose green to be his dominant color, but the vibrant striped pattern on his fabric still made the dress glamorous and feminine in the eyes of the judges. Nick’s choice to use a different color palette cannot be understated; not only does this decision show he took a risk with his design, but that he really tried to approach the challenge from outside the box.
Santino, a close second in this challenge, also had a fabulous design for Barbie, but his choice of colors – pink, baby-blue, and purple – were not extremely original given the classic, feminine Barbie look. Additionally, like some of the other designers who received higher scores, Nick accessorized and created a simple but highly successful hair tie to complement his Barbie garment. Owing to both the simplicity but also the beauty of his design, Nick’s creative dress could easily be replicated in miniature size with an actual Barbie.
The second piece of advice the designers should have followed is to be flexible and versatile. This particular criteria did not play a huge role in Nick’s success, so we can skip to the third tip: following the rules and being professional. Nick clearly took the challenge seriously, even though the finished product would ultimately become a children’s toy. From the very start of the challenge, he was eyeing each Barbie which could potentially serve as his muse, identifying the ones he found most inspiring. He even had a back-up plan, in case his first choice was taken by someone else. He also thought critically about what the Barbie aesthetic was, and how to make his design appealing to young girls and Barbie fans.
Nick’s thought process also plays into the fourth rule of being resourceful. Time and again this recommendation to the designers seems to play a key role in sorting out those who do well and those who do not. When Nick thought about what would make a My Scene Barbie appealing, he thought about his own niece and what type of look she and other target customers would want. While it is possible (and likely) that other designers did something like this as well, we know for sure that Nick did because he told the judges.
Also, Nick’s choice of fabric and color can again be revisited. In the first season, when the contestants were designing for a particular commercial client (Banana Republic), they were given strict restrictions on what materials and fabric they could use. With this challenge, the designers were given complete free reign over what materials they would use, and many took the cautious route by gravitating toward shimmery, shiny, and sinuous shades of baby blue, pink, and purple – traditional colors and textures associated with young girls. Nick capitalized on the freedom he was afforded and chose a completely different color scheme which was still youthful yet stylish.
Nick also sold his design and his decisions to the judges, as is advised in the fifth fashion criteria. He enthusiastically explained how when designing his garment, he thought about his niece, the many Barbies he had purchased for her in the past, and the type of Barbie that would appeal to her. Nick’s eyes lit up when he elaborated further, capturing the excitement he hoped his design would inspire in Barbie fans everywhere. Although Nick didn’t have to work very hard to sell his design to the judges because it was an outstanding work which spoke for itself, his charismatic description likely influenced the judges and removed any doubt about whether or not he should be the winner. Heidi Klum told the designers the challenge was about crafting and selling a vision, and this is an area where Nick truly delivered the goods.
In many respects, it goes without saying that Nick followed the final designer guideline, understanding the challenge and doing what it requires. Part of the difficulty with this design task was creating an outfit which fit within the Barbie look, but which was still unique and innovative. Most of the other designers were able to succeed in achieving one of these goals, but few really pulled off dazzling results in both. For example, Marla and Andrae both created somewhat original and creative designs, but they just didn’t fit enough with the Barbie image. Conversely, Santino and Kara, who received high scores like Nick, did a great job of designing for Barbie, but were not extremely original or creative. Nick excelled in meeting both objectives – his design was trendy and hip, but still fit within the Barbie parameters and appealed to the target demographic.
Who’s OUT: Raymundo
With his friendly personality and prior successful designs, Raymundo did not seem to be anyone’s pick to go home so early in the season. Though he did not win any of the first few challenges, he also did not make any noteworthy mistakes. But the errors he made in this challenge stacked up far too high against his prior (somewhat solid) record.
The first fashion rule Raymundo didn’t follow was the most important: to be creative and original. Arguably, his use of earthy colors, a self-described “beach” theme, and a patchwork of textures and fabrics could all be seen as unique ideas. And they are. Each one, separately, could have been explored as a new twist on the Barbie aesthetic. But together, they were just all over the place. Raymundo didn’t seem to anticipate that taking so many risks at once, in so many different directions, would produce an undesirable result. Novelty alone is not creativity; a new idea that is a departure from the norm will not necessarily be successful simply because it is different. The difference must be an improvement on some level, like Nick’s successful use of a fresh new color scheme.1 2 Next-->
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