April 1, 2013

Project Runway: Roses and Art

Native American fashion designer Patricia Michaels continues to move forward on Project Runway, the Lifetime reality show focused on spotlighting the fun and difficult world of fashion design.

The challenge for the 9th episode was the Lord & Taylor challenge. The contestants must design for Lord & Taylor while keeping in mind the concept of the iconic Lord & Taylor style. The winner will have their design reproduced and sold in stores and online through Lord & Taylor, and the loser will be sent home.

Patricia was paired with Stanley, which caused a lot of friction and turmoil. Here are some highlights from the episode:

"If you were to ask me in the beginning of the season who would be one of the first ones to go, I would have said Patricia solely based on the fact that she typically has unconventional ideas, especially when it comes to textiles. But if there is one thing I've learned over the years, when it comes to PR, there is never a clear winner or loser at the beginning of the competition. And I must admit, Patricia has really won me over. It's a shame Stanley didn't feel the same way! Bless her heart. I would have gone total New Jersey on Stanley's @$$ if he badgered me as much as he did to Patricia. I get it Stanley, you don't like to lose, but leave her alone!" - The Official Project Runway Blog

"First: Stanley and Patricia. These two had barely taken out the fabric and notions they purchased at Mood and Stanley "The Controller" was already bossing Patricia around; he's micro-managing her design and construction. Stanley keeps asking, "Why are you doing this? Why are you making that?"and he doesn't let up. Bless Patricia's heart, she just sits there wide-eyed (yet visibly perturbed). Personally, I would have shut that Stanley down, with ONE LOOK huney! Stanley finally chills when he sees that what Patricia is making looks kind of cute. Side note: he should be more worried about what he's making because that below-the-knee shift dress he's creating is not looking young, fresh or modern." - Nick Verreos

"Patricia and Stanley produced a really nice pair of looks that could be from the same collection. Go figure! In a seemingly sudden twist, Stanley said he was actually *learning* from Patricia, and was appreciating what she was making! I thought her look had great mass appeal, looked expensive (yet could be made at the $250 price point), and was on-target with the Lord & Taylor customer who is a bit conservative yet trying to draw customers of many ages. Also, I could see the rose inspiration very clearly, in both the fabrication and color palette." - Mila Hermanovski


For episode 10, The Guggenheim serves as the latest inspiration for the design teams who take in all the art to create their own print textiles for their garments. The designers are paired again, and one designer is tasked with creating the 'avant-garde' piece while the other teammate must translate that to ready-to-wear. The top six designers wander the Guggenheim, taking notes, pictures, and sketching ideas. 

Clearly, Patricia would create the avant-garde piece, while the boring one-trick-pony Jersey Fabric king Mr. Richard would complete the ready-to-wear piece (and by 'complete' I mean procrastinate, spend a day creating a bracelet, and then blame Patricia for his lack of inspiration).

The two come together to make the fabric, clearly inspired by the art in the Guggenheim, yet conveying both the textile artistry of Patricia and the color-blocking of Richard (below). The print is actually a stylized eagle feather construed in bold triangles using colors that are 'tribal' without being tribe-specific.

While Patricia tries to convey her vision to Richard, he seems uncooperative. He plays the "I'm waiting on Patricia" card repeatedly, setting her up to take the fall if they land in the bottom. Tim even calls it.

Patricia is an amazing textile artist. This is her challenge. The only thing that could bring her down is Richard. And that's what he does. She states, "I have been creating textiles for over 20 years, and if I go home on the challenge that is dedicated to textiles, I seriously am going to lose my mind."

Interestingly, Patricia's 'identity' on the show has shifted almost completely to her being 'the artsy one' versus her being 'the Native American one.' This is quite extraordinary, since this type of 'identity' isn't imposed on anyone else (even though we as Native folks are always extremely proud to be the 'Native American one'). To clarify what I'm saying, for example, no one states, "This is our first gay contestant," or "This is our first black designer" or "I know you're Asian, but please don't do Asian prints, that's so overdone."

For her piece, Patricia gets rid of the arms to make an art statement - this garment doesn't have to function. This is an art piece, she doesn't have to have sleeves. Patricia also covers the model's face in a veil to emphasize the idea of androgyny. Overall, her piece gets high marks and positive reviews from the judges and Project Runway bloggers and past contestants.

Nick Verreos writes, "Patricia (the artsy one) is in her zone with this challenge; she’s known for creating her own textiles so this is right up her (design) alley. I actually liked Patricia’s look, especially her presentation. I appreciated the avant-garde-like aspect of her design; it was conceptual, thought-provoking and I got it. And I was happy to see that Heidi did too."

Mila Hermanovski wrote, "Patricia and Richard. Oh dear. I feel so bad for Patricia because she is a true artisan, who probably feels excited and right at home in this challenge, and she has been teamed with someone who has zero creativity. At first youʼd think that it could be good, right? She takes the reigns and makes the super over-the-top piece, while he makes the watered-down, ready-to- wear piece inspired by hers. Well, Richard was a deer in headlights at the museum, finding nothing inspiring in a building full of inspiration. Oh dear. I lovelovelove Patriciaʼs bold, painterly, large scale print. Richard is simply paralyzed again by Patricia's creation, not knowing what to do partially because she canʼt articulate what she is making...and partially because he canʼt use jersey! So, he spends the entire first day making a bracelet. And the quote of the week goes to Patricia: "You scared of my piece? GOOD! If I instill fear in you, at least you FELT something!" Suddenly I really love Patricia."

"Patricia and Richard have low scores, which is again due to one extremely weak designer bringing down a strong look. Patriciaʼs unique design was truly avant-garde and reminded me of a high fashion European runway look. I thought the veil was a great addition, but wish it had been executed a bit better, perhaps out of stiffer fabric. But that is just splitting hairs. It was highly conceptual and as looked as if the model was wearing a hand-painted gown. Itʼs such a drag that Richardʼs sad, inexpensive looking creation brought them so far down. He clearly lacks creativity, which is essential for a successful designer. The skirt was very unflattering, and the added belt cheapened it further. I honestly thought Patricia could win for this look. Her textile design was far superior to Michelle and Danielʼs, but unfortunately itʼs still a "team" challenge." - Mila Hermanovski

Click here to watch Project Runway episodes online, and click here to see Patricia's online portfolio.