February 8, 2013

Project Runway: Balls are a Snooze, but Klum has a Surprise

Project Runway Episode 2 kicked off last week, and the designers were tasked to produce uniforms for some ping pong restaurant club owned by Susan Surandan. The uniforms had to be functional yet fashion forward. The designer I'm rooting for, Patricia Michaels, linked up with Kate Pancoke, who was excited to work with Michaels since she was in the top 3 last week. The episode gets going, and quickly gets boring.

The Dream Team continues to struggle (they were the losing team last week), and Team Keeping It Real decides to keep in the lead and divvies up the tasks. Patricia battles with her assigned simple garment and wants to bump up the level of creative construction, but, she's stuck with leggings (or, as she calls them, "leggins"). Leggings, I mean, not exactly super exciting.

In all honesty, this episode was a bit weak on the creative design part, and the majority of this episode was dedicated to highlighting group dynamics and egos. The challenge - to design a ping pong uniform - was a boring idea. What's up, producers? There is only so much you can come up with in a challenge like this, and a couple of designers were forced to take a backseat and produce the 'basics' like pants. Well, you lost me.

Yadda Yadda, somebody wins, somebody gets kicked off - I don't know, I fell asleep part of the way through the episode (because it was that boring).

Episode 3 was significantly more exciting. The teams had to design outfits for the super picky Miss Heidi Klum. They had to create options for her to wear for the commercial and press events for Klum's new perfume called Surprise. Patricia was tasked with providing a 'press outfit' option (a dress that Heidi could wear on the Red Carpet when she's out promoting her new perfume).

Patricia decides to make her own creation of leather mesh that is built from individually cut squares that sit on top of a skin tone dress (sketches above). Patricia will connect the separate squares by sewing them from corner to corner. It's a meticulous, time-consuming dress to create, and her teammates worry about whether or not she will finish in time (and Patricia also gives herself a hard time "trying to be different"). But, she explains, "This will read well for press because nobody's seen this type of textile fabrication before."

Her creation process is shown below: the cutting, planning, aligning, and sewing of the squares needed to be done before she could even create the dress.

Though the cutting and sewing are time-consuming tasks, and Patricia and her teammates worry that she might not finish, she pulls it off brilliantly. As one of the designers states, she's like a magician: poof, all of a sudden there's a garment where there wasn't one just an hour before. But Patricia has made this style of blouse before (in white leather) for previous collections that she created in her Taos studio. So this isn't a new technique that she stumbled upon during Project Runway. She is a skilled artist, but she really pushed herself to produce this dress in the limited time frame that was allotted: just one day.

The grid of the soft pink leather looked amazing. It was a stand-out piece; it is unique and unlike anything we've seen on Project Runway before. (click on the images to get a better look)

Again, Patricia lands in the top three. While the material she uses, the leather, is edgy and hard, she explains, the way she has rendered it makes it soft, airy, and allows it to flow.

Nina Garcia is the first to say she likes this look: "It is something very interesting for Heidi to wear on the Red Carpet." Zac Posen applauds how Patricia is making a 'signature' out of her fabric manipulation and technique. Heidi Klum says Patricia's pieces look like something you haven't seen before, and there is a surprise in this creation. Kristin Davis, the guest judge, explains that while she loves the artistry and uniqueness, the loose silhouette of the dress is not Klum's usual tight fit. Klum and Garcia stand against Davis' statement and state that they like the boxy look.

Posen noted that the dress had an abstraction to it - it felt fresh and cool. Even the back of her dress received praises as being strong, simple and effective. It made the back of the model look sexy, without being too obvious. The dress would be great for press, Klum notes, because it is so unusual, it would undoubtedly make for news.

In the end, she didn't take home the win, but it was great to see her maintain her spot at the top. Here's what other folks had to say about Patricia and her work:

"Patricia's was very flapper girl Prada-on-a-budget and I could see Heidi wearing it. She is known to do 'kooky.'" - Nick Verreos (Project Runway contestant, Season 2)

"Patricia worked out a very tedious fabric textile and the potential it would have had with more time would be mind-blowing! However it still looked very much unfinished to me, but I do applaud her out-of-the-box design and I look forward to seeing what else she has in her design technique Rolodex!" - Joshua McKinley (Project Runway All Stars contestant)

"Her craftsmanship and innovation is unparalleled in this competition, fact." - Project Runway Official Blog.

"Meanwhile, Patricia is being a magician with her intricate design. I love how ambitious and big-hearted she is. I miss that on "Project Runway." I must say Patricia is really winning me over. I really like her I am hoping she will yell across the room in that incredible yelling thing she does. She has my vote!" - Michael Costello (Project Runway contestant, Season 8)

Click here to rate Patricia's dress. Click here to watch full episodes!