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Who’s In and Who’s Out: Project Runway 2, Episode 8by Kevin Otten -- 02/01/2006
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What an exciting episode! Free cameras, hundreds of exciting pictures, a dramatic model sabotage, and even a guest appearance from Project Runway 1 winner Jay McCarroll! The designers were told this challenge was about inspiration. Armed with a pep talk from Michael Kors, some digital cameras, and their creativity, the designers got to work. It seemed to be a very close call for both the two best and the two worst, so we will take a close look at what happened. The important fashion tips that Project Runway designers should have learned will once again clarify why the winner won and the loser lost.
Who’s IN: Daniel
For the first few episodes, we didn’t see a whole lot of Daniel, but now he is the only designer to have won three challenges! With this challenge, he did everything right and deservedly emerged as the victor yet again.
The first rule that Daniel followed was to be creative and original. Though Tim Gunn’s “tough love” talk admonished him for losing steam with otherwise brilliant ideas, this time Daniel carried a great idea through with outstanding execution, which is exactly what this challenge was about. His use of the delicate orchids in the vase served as the perfect still life to inspire him. His use of texture and shape with his design was unique and unconventional, but still maintained a strong connection with his original image. Though the designers could have fallen astray down a path of being overly conceptual or abstract, his design was definitely wearable and sophisticated. He was innovative and artistic in his design and did a marvelous job with this first and crucial rule.
Being flexible and versatile was not particularly relevant in Daniel’s victory, so the second tip is not extremely important this week. Neither was being professional or following the rules, the third guideline. Though these are not areas where Daniel really made any mistakes, they were also not areas where he did anything particularly remarkable.
But he definitely did a remarkable job with respect to the fourth tip, being resourceful. Daniel has shown consistently that he is very resourceful – probably one of the most iniventive designers left in the competition. He took a variety of pictures, and didn’t even wait to leave Michael Kors’ office before capturing the most important image which led him to his win. He also made very good use of fabrics, employing textures which were in perfect synchronicity with his image. He even showed the hair and make-up artists his photograph as they prepared his model for the runway show to convey his concept.
Selling himself is another area where Daniel is always ahead of the game, following the fifth guideline the designers should adhere to for success. Though Daniel is not necessarily as charismatic as Santino or as outspoken as Zulema, his work speaks volumes of his excellent concepts and design philosophy. With this challenge, he was ready to explain why and how he was inspired, and the ways in which his inspiration translated into his design. His explanation was simple, concise, and straightforward. The judges understood his design and motivation and they loved both.
Understanding the challenge and doing what it requires, the sixth tip, is where there is often the most room for the designers to really blow it, even if they do fairly well on all of the other criteria. But once again, this is another area where Daniel consistently does well. This week’s challenge was far more than just taking a nice picture and using it to make a dress. The designers had to capture a variety of images which could have served to inspire them, which Daniel did. But then they also had to find the best one which could be translated into a truly beautiful garment, with a solid concept that was not too literal. Daniel completed each of these tasks exceptionally.
But wait a minute… didn’t Andrae do a great job in meeting all of these criteria as well?! The simple answer is yes, in fact, he did. However, we are down to the best of the best, and while Andrae did an A job, Daniel did an A+ job. Andrae was resourceful, using dirty gutter water, something that could be easily overlooked, for his inspiration. His concept was very creative and original, though it was the opposite of Daniel’s (using something ugly versus something beautiful). He was professional, and sold his concept well. He also understood the challenge, but did not go the extra step that Daniel did. Andrae’s design was slightly more literal than Daniel’s; though Andrae’s dress did not fall off the edge of being as literal as say, Kara’s, looking at the design it would be obvious it was supposed to be water of some kind. Daniel’s dress was more wearable in that it was a step further beyond the actual inspiration than Andrae’s. In my opinion, determining the winner of this challenge was probably the closest call out of any of the challenges this season. But Daniel was just slightly ahead in that his dress seemed more wearable.
Who’s OUT: Zulema
Pioneering several “firsts,” Zulema really went out with a bang. She was the first person this season to switch models. She was the first designer ever to request a walk-off among the models. And, she was the first designer ever to win a challenge and then be eliminated immediately following in the next week’s challenge. Phew! We can make sense of the whirlwind that is Zulema by looking back at the six tips for the designers.
Looking at the first guideline to follow, being original and creative, we see Zulema has an average record. She came up with some unique ideas, like her cardigan dress in the Clothes Off Your Back challenge, and her swan-lake concept in the recent Sasha Cohen challenge. But she has often failed to execute her ideas well – the cardigan dress was too short, and her Banana Republic dress looked horribly thrown together. For most of the challenges, Zulema was creative enough to avoid elimination by being given the “automatic in,” but rarely was she good enough to be eligible to win – this was true in the Barbie challenge, the Nicky Hilton challenge, Road to the Runway, etc. With the current challenge however, it almost seemed that she just ran out of steam. Her design was not creative in any way at all. She seemed way too focused on following Tim Gunn’s advice of pushing her comfort zone to really come up with any great ideas. And her inspiration this week… another article of clothing? It just didn’t seem from the beginning like she really thought ahead about how creative and original she could be when her inspiration for her dress was, well, another dress.
Which is related in some ways to the second tip, being flexible and versatile. Zulema’s approach in many of the challenges was to dive right in and begin working without a solid concept, and then sort through the pieces later. This is exactly what she did in the Clothes Off Your Back Challenge, and she ran out of fabric to cover her model’s behind! There were also times when she haphazardly changed her mind far into the challenges, as she did in the team Banana Republic challenge. Though her designs did have, for the most part, a consistent feel, that was often tarnished by her lack of organization and time management. The one time she really succeeded was when she had a very strong concept and followed it through to execution – the Sasha Cohen skating costume challenge. This time around, the concept and its execution were the challenge! Zulema’s obsession with Tim’s advice obscured her ability to see that she really did not appear to have any sort of concept whatsoever.1 2 Next-->
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