April 5, 2013

Project Runway: Paris Bound Despite Struggles

Episode 11 of Season 11 of Project Runway kicked off Thursday with another unique challenge. It ended with tears, a twist, and a selection of the final designers who would head off to Europe for the next episode.

Finally, the designers get to show off their own aesthetic as they go solo, but teamwork is still involved when they must rely on 'sewing assistants' to help them create looks worthy to be worn by actress and guest judge Jordana Brewster in the May issue of Marie Claire Magazine.

The final five designers meet with judge Nina Garcia, who lists off 10 things that this look MUST include (ie. no gowns, no pants, must be editorial, must have bold color and shape, yadda yadda Nina voice).

The designers shake their heads yes. The look has to be something that is 'next' - not what is 'now.' This is an exciting concept. They get it, they are pumped to begin designing.

The designers begin sketching - Stanley and Michelle both sketch pants, Layana goes for a tight leather/cobalt triangle number, Danielle decides on an exaggerated jacket/short combo, while Patricia settles on a two-piece off-the shoulder dress with a jacket.

After sketching and shopping, the designers get to 'meet' their sewing assistants who are, of course, the designers who were kicked off the show earlier in the season. Let's get ready for some drama! Patricia channels her inner zen when she gets stuck with dear old Richard again - the man no one wants to work with.

Patricia proceeds to lose her mind since her 'helper' has turned out to be a more of a - student? She remarks, "I have a seamstress who can't sew." She revamps her plan, scraps the jacket for a cape, then scraps the cape entirely, tries to teach Richard how to sew, and then loses her mind a bit more. For the model fittings, she has only the shell of the dress to fit - and it is ill-fitting.

The art and textile manipulation component of her design - the very stuff that she's known for - has to be rethought at this point as well, and it looks like she might not even be able to get to do the artistic component since she spends so much time either trying to communicate her idea to Richard or teaching him how to sew.

Her initial plan was to incorporate organic bulbous shapes that reference a springtime flower before it blooms. Instead, she went with stylized medallions or conchas with fringe to reference the awakening of spring. She sewed the fringe on so that it was positioned upwards to bring an additional kinetic feel to the garment.

Patricia whipped out a dress (and a killer bracelet - see below), but the judges took her down. They stated that the dress looked unfinished and was not a great editorial fit. Heidi's defense of the garment was to call it "borderline Pocahontas."

Maybe I'm splitting hairs, or preaching to the choir, but, here's the deal: we all get why bad stereotypes are bad, but folks don't see 'good' stereotypes (like, for example, all Native women are Pocahontases or strive to be Pocahontas) as bad, heck, they don't even see them as stereotypes at all. It's a compliment after all, right? Every Native woman wants to be called Pocahontas, right? Meh.

In the end, Nina stated that Patricia's vision presented an original and authentic point of view that is clearly coming from within her, she is referencing 'no one' - which is something that you have to champion in a designer whether you personally like their aesthetic or not. Jordana loved that Patricia told a story through her garment; the thoughts were present. Heidi jumped in explaining that Patricia has presented garments throughout the competition that the judges have never seen before. They have come to expect the unusual from her. While Patricia learns her fate on the runway (hint = she's in), the other safe designers sit in the back, convinced she's been axed. Layana touts Patricia's textiles skills, stating she would use her textiles if she had her own company. They are stunned when Patricia walks through the door, still in the competition.

Former Project Runway contestant and blogger Mila Hermanovski stated, "I felt my stomach wrenching for Patricia. And then the entire episode was like watching the Titanic sink. I really felt for her because at this point in the competition, everyone is so tired and stressed out; the last thing you need is the kick in the gut of knowing youʼve got to work with someone you canʼt stand, who is going to bring you down. She couldnʼt do anything to save herself. The only thing that would have possibly helped her would have been if she had said, "Screw this, I donʼt want any help!" when she found out Richard was her assigned helper. She would have gone into survival mode and the adrenaline may have kicked in and maybe...just maybe...she would have produced something better, instead of trying to TEACH her "helper" techniques and thus wasting precious time."

In the end, Patricia is safe, and off to Paris for a special 2 hour episode next week. Whew. What a ride!

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