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Who’s In and Who’s Out: Project Runway 2, Episode 1by Kevin Otten -- 12/14/2005
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Who’s IN: Santino
Given that we didn’t even see the designers construct their garments, we have little to go on in assessing their performance in this episode. But, like the judges, we were able to see each final product and hear the deliberations, so we can see ways in which Santino followed the fashion tips to stay IN.
The first criteria Santino followed well, by having a unique and original design. Michael Kors, one of the judges, commented on the risk of using a baby-doll style dress, but also expressed that Santino adapted it well so that it looked sexy instead of juvenile. Perhaps the most unique and brilliant aspect of his dress was the elaborate weaving of fabric on the back of the neck, which even his fellow designers found very creative. Unlike Heidi, who was criticized for not even dying the fabric, and Jon, who was criticized for dying the fabric but without any real purpose, Santino explained his design philosophy and how the color, shape, and texture of the dress all express it.
The second criteria of being flexible and versatile doesn’t really apply here; the designers were each given so much free reign on the design, that it would be nearly impossible to be inflexible as so much flexibility was allowed. But the third criterion, about being professional, does matter with this task. The degree of detail and craftsmanship Santino he exhibited far outweighed those of most all other designers, with the intricate back of the dress and the unique shape of the overall garment. It is also evident that he put time and energy into what he would design and how he would design it, demonstrating his professionalism and the fact that he took the task very seriously.
With respect to being resourceful, the fourth guideline, Santino was probably also the designer who best utilized the most valuable resource in this task: time. Designers are usually given mere hours to complete their tasks on Project Runway, but with this preliminary task they were given an entire week. The judges noted his resourcefulness, commenting that he really used the entire week to prepare his dress.
Santino also followed the fifth and sixth guidelines, which ask that designers sell themselves and be sure to understand the challenge. For this task, they go hand in hand. Given that the designers were asked to create a garment which represents them, producing that result would require being able to explain how the garment represented them. Unlike some of the weaker responses provided by the other designers, Santino was ready to explain why and how the design represented him, selling his unique philosophy of using “old world and third world” techniques.
Who’s OUT: John and Heidi
Where Santino went right with this task, both John and Heidi went wrong. Neither of them produced a particularly unique or creative design, missing the mark with the first criteria, as noted by all of the judges and even their fellow designers. Zulema noted that John’s garment was “weak,” because the shape and actual design were both far too simple. The judges reached the same conclusion about Heidi’s garment: Michael Kors commented that if the “trim” was stripped away, the dress was insufficient in its structure and look.
For John, the second tip of being flexible and versatile doesn’t really apply. But maybe it does for Heidi, even if just in a small way. Heidi commented that her design style was simple, and she was a simple girl. If she really wanted to prove that she had what it took to be a part of Project Runway 2, she should have adapted her style enough to really wow and impress the judges. It was her one chance to show them that more than any other designer, she really wanted it. But she didn’t.
Neither Heidi nor John behaved unprofessionally, but neither of them really seemed to take the task too seriously, related to the third fashion tip, which specifies that “success relies heavily on being able to employ professionalism… and a serious approach to the work. Candidates should avoid childish or immature behavior which could jeopardize how seriously their work is taken, and how legitimate they are seen by the judges.” In the little time we saw Heidi, we saw lots of energy and enthusiasm, but maybe a little bit too much to be taken seriously. During her audition she was practically out of control, overflowing with emotion when she tried to hug each one of the judges. Even if she had made it past the first week, it is hard to believe that most of the designers or judges would have taken her seriously for very long unless her attitude and approach changed.
Being resourceful, the fourth criteria, is where John really blew his chance. Unlike Santino, John wasted the most abundant resource in this task, time. Admitting that he only used 8 hours to make his dress, the judges were very critical, if not even offended, at this obvious blunder. Neither John nor Heidi used the $20 well to incorporate accessories or ancillary supplies into their dresses. John employed tie-dye, a very simple idea which was challenged by Michael Kors as being something one could “find on the back of a Rit-Dye bottle.” Heidi used ribbons and lace – again, far too simple and boring.
Neither John nor Heidi really sold themselves to the judges, ignoring the fifth tip. John admitted outright how little time he spent on his dress, a comment which made him look like he did not take the task seriously, or that he spent far too much time coming up with an idea (and not a very good one at that). For John, this may have also been related to him missing the sixth and final guideline, of understanding the task. When describing his inspiration, he commented that it was very hot, and in the middle of summer when he made the dress, and that is why he made a vibrantly colored summery dress. But the task specified that the designers create a garment which represents them – John created a garment which represented his surroundings! So for John, failing to explain how the dress really represented him was a failure in part because there was not enough of him in the dress in the first place.
For Heidi, it was somewhat of a different story. She did in fact understand that she was supposed to represent herself in the dress. But her design philosophy was inadequate. She missed the mark because all she really had to show for herself was the white muslin, some lace, and ribbons. Not enough to be America’s next big fashion designer.
In the end, we didn’t see much of any of the designers before this expeditious elimination. But from what little we saw, Santino made the most of his resources, put a great deal of thought into his design, and dazzled the judges with the final product and his explanation. John didn’t really understand what he was supposed to do (and if we did, he did a poor job anyway), and Heidi just didn’t have enough substance. So Santino is IN, and John and Heidi are both OUT.
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