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Who’s In and Who’s Out: Project Runway 3, Episode 7by Kevin Otten -- 08/30/2006
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Unlike any of the other challenges Project Runway designers have had, this design task forced them to surmount some particularly difficult obstacles. First, they were not dealing with tiny models – they were designing for actual women, some of whom were far larger than the designers were used to. Second, these were women who had never been on runways before, who did not necessarily know how to model the garments. Finally and perhaps most difficult, the women had their own opinions and perspectives on their clothing, and who could have been (and in some cases were!) very difficult to work with. The highly sensitive nature of working with women who were a little bit older and a little bit bigger made all of the design decisions require a great deal of tact.
Surprisingly, Vincent did very well with this challenge and earned his first victory. Robert and Jeffrey both did absolutely horribly, and I’m not going to take a position one way or the other on whether or not the right choice was made there until we review the important fashion tips for Project Runway designers to follow. With Vincent, it is a little bit more clear cut, so let’s start there.
Who’s IN: Vincent
Some fans have likened Vincent to this season’s Wendy Pepper; the underdog who is a little off somehow, who usually manages to really blow it, but occasionally pulls off some designs that the judges love. This assessment isn’t entirely inaccurate, but there is more to the story. Let’s look at the guidelines to see what Vincent did that made him pull so far ahead of the rest.
1. Stand out! Be original, creative, and show a unique, strong point of view in your designs.
Vincent has definitely shown he has a strong point of view, which has saved him from elimination more than once. Last week, when the judges ravaged his blank-canvas-with-paper-trash dress, Heidi Klum was the only one to defend him saying “I really respect that you were very creative, and you were not afraid.” Her assessment likely played a key role in keeping him around. This week Vincent again showed a strong point of view, with some zany and unconventional elements in his design, such as the over-sized collar for his dress for Uli’s mom. But he also was able to tone down his style a bit to really do what the challenge required (as we will see with tip #6). Overall this was not Vincent’s most creative work, but he has definitely shown he is creative and has a strong point of view, so let’s press on.
2. Demonstrate flexibility and versatility with each challenge.
This week was definitely a turn around for Vincent, and perhaps that is one of the things the judges really liked. In prior weeks Vincent seems to have been off in his own world, designing like a madman with his unstructured, unpredictable, and generally disorganized approach. Much like Santino of Season 2, Vincent seemed to have his own way of doing things regardless of whom he had to work with and what the design challenge was. But with this week, he listened carefully to Uli’s mother and truly designed something that fit her well. Granted, she was one of the slimmer, taller women to design for (so a certain amount of luck accounts for his win), but he still did a great job. One difficultly which he had which the other designers did not have was overcoming the language barrier that existed between him and Uli’s mom. He was able to be patient and understanding, a feat which I can imagine some of the other designers may have had difficulty with. Though Vincent has not really been very flexible at all in most of the other challenges, this time around he did a great job, when it really counted.
3. Be resourceful and utilize every opportunity at your disposal to make your designs successful.
Vincent’s modest and chic dress was made from materials which were flattering and appealing to his model for many reasons. The colors were a perfect fit for her complexion and coloring, the fabrics were fashion-forward while still appearing age-appropriate for a modern woman, and the look was very tasteful without being matronly. Vincent also made excellent use of accessories to add a little bit of essential spice to his design, while still being subtle with the bracelet, belt, and necklace he chose.
4. Actively sell yourself, your vision, and your designs.
This rule is one which Vincent has not done particularly well with before either, and this week he didn’t really stand out in this arena either. As it did not play a significant role in his win, we can skip on to the next one.
5. Take your role as a designer seriously, and be professional both on and off the runway.
For this challenge I’m combining these two rules because they definitely became conflated this week. Vincent was very professional and tactful in dealing with his model, doing his absolute best to truly please her while still maintaining his own point of view. He also approached this challenge with a very professional attitude, recognizing that dealing with “real” women meant that the designers really had to adapt. Although that degree of adaptation was minimal on his part given the luck of the draw and who his model was, he was still aware of this critical fact and its necessity in performing well with this challenge.
Vincent recognized that part of designing for a real woman and not a model was employing a certain degree of humility. These were real women who may not feel completely confident about every aspect of their appearance, and who were definitely a departure from the dress forms most of the designers were used to. Furthermore, most all of them were much older and more opinionated than the typical models the designers were used to working with. Employing a professional attitude and treating the women appropriately was critical to succeeding, not just in forming a rapport with the women, but in truly designing something that they would be satisfied with.1 2 3 Next-->
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