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Project Runway 3: What’s In and What’s Outby Kevin Otten -- 07/10/2006
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It has been only months since Chloe Dao was crowned the winner of Project Runway 2, and now Heidi Klum, Michael Kors, and Nina Garcia are back for more runway-ravaging, catwalk-catfighting, frenzied fashion designing. 14 contestants will compete to be among the final three to show their collections at Fall Fashion Week.
How should they get there? By following the ever important Project Runway Fashion Tips! In both seasons 1 and 2, many of the designers made the same mistakes and were eventually eliminated. Conversely, some unsuspecting superstars emerged by staying attuned to some unspoken rules. Now that season 2 has finished, it is time for an update – some rules have changed, others have stayed the same, and there is a new one as well.
1. Stand out! Be original, creative, and show a unique, strong point of view in your designs.
Following last season, this rule has become more clearly and narrowly defined. Numerous times in both seasons, several designers who came up with otherwise creative and original designs were eliminated because cumulatively, their work lacked a sense of vision or point of view. The designers need to make sure that they are not recycling or reusing old ideas or concepts. Project Runway contestants should be innovative and use ingenuity to create novel and unconventional garments which will be impressive in the eyes of the judges. But more than that, they need to show that this creativity comes from somewhere – a philosophy or style that will be lasting and memorable, a distinct point of view that is fresh and cutting-edge.
Who was IN…
Though she was eliminated early in season 1 for other reasons, this is an area in which Vanessa seemed to do well. Her shredded-garbage bag/laundry net evening dress was one of the top picks by the judges in the grocery store challenge. Also, in the envy challenge, she came up with the very original idea of pregnancy envy. Though she said she had a difficult time trying to sell the garment in the silent auction, the originality of her idea probably sat very well with the judges.
Both the judges and the other designers noted that this was one of Jay’s greatest strengths, which weighed heavily on him being the final winner in season 1. Although Jay did not win any of the individual challenges, the judges consistently noted his unique ideas and remembered this record when evaluating him at the end. Unlike Wendy, who also made it to Fashion Week but placed third, Jay had a strong point of view which was nuanced and unconventional.
In season 2, Chloe did an outstanding job with this criterion, consistently producing designs which wowed the judges all the way to Fashion Week. She also had a strong point of view that wove a steady consistency throughout each of her designs both leading up to and including her final collection.
Santino also had a strong point of view, which the judges respected. While he did get defensive and cross the line professionally a few times (see #5 below!) he had a clear vision, which the judges appreciated. A less-than-ideal final product that Santino had created was saved by the power of his unique perspective when he was in the bottom two against Daniel Franco in the lingerie challenge, and in the makeover challenge when he was against Nick.
Who was OUT…
One of the most blatant violations of this critical guideline occurred in season 1 when Alexandra recycled old ideas from other designers in the swimsuit challenge, which sealed her fate for elimination. She was explicitly (and harshly) criticized by the judges for her lack of originality and cut immediately.
In season 2 when Heidi Klum heard that Marla had plagiarized a dress in the Nicky Hilton challenge, she pounced on this error right away and was ready to give Marla her auf wiedersehen. Although another designer (Guadalupe) was eliminated instead for even more egregious errors, Marla will be forever remembered as the copycat designer of the season. Definitely not a favorable reputation to live down!
Kara Janx made it to the final four in the most recent season of the show, but the judges felt she lacked a strong point of view and did not grant her a spot in the finale. Though she claimed she had a distinct perspective buried within her that would be unleashed at Fashion Week, she failed to demonstrate that perspective throughout the entire season. Her uninspiring street-sign dress in the inspiration challenge, her bland dress in the Iman red carpet challenge, the list goes on and on… The judges were not really dazzled by anything she did, so eventually her number was up.
2. Demonstrate flexibility and versatility with each challenge.
Klum and co. are looking for someone who definitely has a unique style and vision, but they also want someone who can adapt to many different design challenges. The fashion world is dynamic and often unpredictable, and a cutting-edge designer must evolve constantly to meet the needs of a rapidly changing customer/audience. Project Runway contestants must show that they can employ a variety of design skills to create many different results depending on what is asked of them. Additionally, they should listen to the feedback from the judges and Tim Gunn, and make sure to alter and refine their actions and concepts if they are hearing the same criticisms repeatedly.
Who was IN…
Kara Saun frequently changed the look and style of her designs, even though her own personal touch was evident in each. Successful at adapting to many different types of challenges, Kara Saun won more than any other designer in the first season. Whether working for a specific client, working on a team, designing a collection, etc., Kara Saun was able to switch gears quickly and pull off some true masterpieces.
Though she often narrowly escaped elimination, Wendy of season 1 did listen very carefully to feedback given to her throughout the show. She was attentive to criticism from the judges in the first two challenges regarding her clothing seeming unfinished, so for the third challenge, she made a very simple yet sophisticated Banana Republic dress which was the winning garment. When Tim Gunn warned her that the judges felt her clothes were “dowdy,” she took his advice and used a trendier shoe for her postal service redesign. While she came in third, had Wendy failed to adapt her style at critical points in the show, she most likely would have been eliminated far sooner.
Season 2’s Daniel Vosovic was clearly the king of versatility, winning a whopping five challenges throughout his season. Like Kara Saun, he was able to shift gears no matter what the design task required of him, and do quite well. He was able to do a good job even when he faced limitations or setbacks, as he did on the Nicky Hilton challenge when he had to use far less fabric because of a careless error he made when purchasing supplies.1 2 3 4 5 Next-->
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