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Who’s In and Who’s Out: Project Runway 3, Episode 11by Kevin Otten -- 10/11/2006
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Well, dear readers, we are down to our finale (part 1) of Project Runway. And since there was no elimination in the last episode, nor in the reunion (obviously!), we have no one new who is OUT. But we do have four people who are IN!
As this season comes to a close, I will review what each designer did well, and could have done better, according to the important fashion tips for Project Runway designers to follow. Given that no one was eliminated in the last challenge, and I will be taking a cumulative perspective when analyzing the final winner, it seems like going through each rule for each designer now would spoil the fun. After all, in two weeks the only thing left to analyze would be their final collections. And as we have seen from prior seasons, while the judges do base their decisions on the final collection, they too take a cumulative look at the entire season.
So I will save the fun for the real finale – looking at each designer’s cumulative performance and his or her final collection.
Instead, this week we have to make sense of what happened in the most recent challenge, though it is now in the distant past. Why were four designers chosen? What made the judges eliminate no one at all? Was it fair? If they had to pick someone, who would have been the likely choice, and how did that factor into their decision?
Let’s take a look at the designers’ performance in this past challenge in the context of their prior work to make some sense of all these questions!
Who’s IN: Uli
For the most recent challenge, Uli was the only designer who did not have problems in executing her concept well. She heeded Nina Garcia’s instructions to make an image that was iconic, new, and fresh, but which still captured her own point of view. Uli also gave the judges exactly what they wanted from her: a preview of the kind of work they could expect from her at Fashion Week. She was creative and original in her design, following the first and most important rule for the designers. However, she also maintained her distinct point of view by using prints and patterns in her design. Her garment was vibrant, colorful, and embodied the three words she wrote to describe her design point of view: fun, life, and adventure.
Uli also demonstrated flexibility and versatility in this challenge by scrapping her original concept and doing something that was a departure from her usual long, flowing, summery dresses. Instead, her dress was more formfitting, shorter, and had a completely different silhouette for her model. She knew she had to do something different to impress the judges, and she excelled admirably. With total creative freedom, Uli relied on what she did best while still taking some risks and pushing her design to a new level.
By keeping her look, new, modern, and fresh, Uli mustered the umph to win because her look was fresh enough to be iconic and featured in Elle magazine, a rightful prize for the winner of this challenge.
Had she not won this challenge, Uli likely would have been a reasonable candidate for elimination. She had not won a challenge in several weeks, and the judges seemed to be growing tired of the repetition and lack of variety in her designs. While Uli was only ever in the bottom two once throughout the season, she easily could have been seen as one of the weakest had she not been the winner with this challenge. But that was not the case. Instead, she improved in the key areas where she previously seemed most vulnerable. In order to win it all, she must continue to demonstrate versatility and surprise the judges with designs that would not be found on a beach in Miami.
Who’s… also IN: Laura
In looking at the remaining candidates, let’s start with Laura, as she was invited second to fashion week for the finale. For the last challenge, Laura succeeded in her execution, as she has in nearly every challenge. She took a great photograph of her model, and the tailoring, fit, and craftsmanship of her design were impeccable. All of the judges agreed that her outfit looked excellent. She also did a good job embodying her point of view in the three words she selected to describe herself and her point of view for her one-sheet: confidence, elegance, glamour.
So where did Laura go wrong? She failed to wow the judges with something iconic, new, and edgy. She did not take enough risks with this challenge and the judges were disappointed. Guest judge Teri Agins noted, “From an editorial standpoint, we have seen this dress before.” Not good words to hear in the 11th hour of a competition based on originality and creativity!
When Uli was announced as the winner of this challenge, the hearts of Laura fans around the country skipped a beat in unison. She, too, was a likely candidate for the Auf this week. But looking back, we saw that Laura won the previous challenge, demonstrating a versatility that the judges had not seen from her. The timing of this victory was crucial, as we had never heard the judges critique her work as harshly as they did in the prior week, when she was in the bottom two. Laura whipped herself into shape immediately and delivered a look that was youthful enough to change the judges’ minds about her and secure her win for the black and white challenge. And aside from her moping collar in the couture challenge, she never failed to escape being in the bottom two or three. The judges have consistently been impressed with her performance. Thus, looking only at this challenge, it is hard to see Laura being eliminated – she did succeed in most ways with what the task required, though her look was not fresh or iconic. Looking cumulatively, it would also be hard for the judges to eliminate her, as she had a very impressive record, though she did not demonstrate the versatility the judges would have liked.
Much like Uli, to win at Fashion Week, Laura must now show that she can do far more than eveningwear; we need to see more everyday clothing with a wider commercial appeal. Laura must show versatility and impress the judges with looks that are unconventional for her.
Were it not for his astounding prior performance and his two wins, Michael would have been eliminated this week without a doubt. That’s right, America’s favorite was by far the worst this week! On virtually levels he seemed to fail miserably in this challenge. First, he did not seem to grasp the challenge well; he chose words to represent him which did not seem to capture his design philosophy at all! His words were redundant and one-dimensional; superficial even. Uli commented that the photo he took of his model looked like a sleazy ad in a magazine for a phone-sex company. Whether or not his dress looked sexy in the photo is debatable, but the judges were unimpressed. His words were off, and so was his concept. How on earth did that particular dress represent his point of view? We have never seen him design an evening gown before, and it didn’t appear to be a risk he was taking – it seemed to be a mistake. Further, the dress was unflattering and did not look appealing. The keyhole was awkward and a little too revealing, and there was nothing new and fresh about his design.1 2 Next-->
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