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Project Runway 3, Episode 1: Who’s In and Who’s Outby Kevin Otten -- 07/18/2006
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For the fourth time since Project Runway first began, the designers were challenged to make something using unconventional materials and to “innovate.” (Hopefully as the season progresses we will see more innovative and original design tasks from the producers.) In the meantime, we saw here again that some of the same mistakes made by previous designers were repeated. But some of the same successes also occurred; looking at the important fashion tips that Project Runway designers should follow will show us why Keith was IN and Stacey was OUT.
Who’s IN: Keith
This victory seemed a little bit surprising to many viewers, and even Tim Gunn, who felt that Keith’s use of materials was not as innovative as some of his fellow designers. So why did he win? Let’s take a look at the guidelines, most all of which Keith followed pretty closely.
1. Stand out! Be original, creative, and show a unique, strong point of view in your designs.
Keith did a good job following this first rule; his dress had unique elements and meticulous details that made it stand out. The fishtail back, his use of the small red buttons, and the simplicity of the design were subtle but still elegant. In contrast with many of his competitors, Keith made significant edits to his design by actually taking things away on the second day of the challenge. He even commented that he felt the other designers’ outfits looked like costumes, whereas his looked like a real dress. But of all the rules, this is the one that seemed to contribute least to his success, so let’s move on…
2. Demonstrate flexibility and versatility with each challenge.
We have little to go on since this is the first challenge, but we did see Keith being flexible by taking away some of the accoutrements he originally incorporated into his design. Unlike some of the other designers, who continued to add (like Vincent’s horrific hat!), he chose to subtract. It was a somewhat risky decision (see #7 below) but it paid off.
3. Be resourceful and utilize every opportunity at your disposal to make your designs successful.
Another aspect of Keith’s design that made it stand out from the rest was the fact that he made very good use of the accessories available to him; most of the other designers simply used the materials from the apartment. With Keith, the beads and bracelets he used complimented his dress so perfectly that more than one of the judges commented about this successful aspect of his creation. While he did not use very much from the apartment in his final version of the dress, in some ways the judges seemed to appreciate the simplicity of his look. It actually appears that this rule was not one that Keith followed as well as some of the other designers, but he did not really make any glaring mistakes (in the eyes of the judges) with it either, so we can move on to the next tip.
4. Actively sell yourself, your vision, and your designs.
We finally come to one of the criteria where Keith really pulled far ahead of the rest. He explained his design and his goals, which he accomplished quite well. He made a special point to note that what made his design unique and special was that it looked like a real dress. It was not an exaggeration, a costume, or something that looked like a bizarre student-design arts & crafts project. Keeping in mind that we as viewers only see a tiny portion of all that occurs on the runway judging, there is likely far more which Keith said to showcase and explain his work. This was yet another success that the judges noted – he did an outstanding job selling his vision and point of view with the design.
5. Take your role as a designer seriously, and be professional both on and off the runway.
This guideline seemed to have a minimal impact on Keith’s win, so we can move right along…
6. Think carefully about each challenge and do what it requires.
Unlike many of the designers’ approach to this design task, Keith seemed to be very careful in critiquing and analyzing his work, and keeping it simple and clean. With so many options for materials, some may say that Keith kept it too simple. (I tend to agree with this conclusion, as did Tim Gunn!) However, in the prior seasons when the “innovation” challenges took place, designers were criticized for adding too many unnecessary components (Starr’s party dress) or failing to blend all of their materials in a solid and consistent way (Kirsten’s “Clothes Off Your Back”). Keith succeeded in both ways. Additionally, with the similar challenges the designers have faced previously, the execution was a critical factor as well – those who were praised focused a great deal of effort on their craftsmanship (Nora’s blue lawn chair dress, Chloe’s leaves in the garden-party challenge). In the current challenge, Keith’s craftsmanship and execution were impeccable, matched only by the other two designers who made it to the top three with him.
7. Take risks – push yourself and your designs to new levels.
There is a great deal of room for debate about whether or not Keith followed this guideline with his design. Some may argue that he failed to really challenge himself with unconventional materials – his primary items from the apartment were bed sheets! However, as a menswear designer, Keith was able to pull off a truly outstanding dress, which is even more impressive because it was the first dress he had ever constructed. Though this fact is something that he really had no control over, the judges were likely impressed by how successful he was with his very first attempt at women’s clothing (much like Chloe’s makeover for Nick in season 2).1 2 Next-->
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