Project Runway Recap: Hats Off to the Top 13

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No, really, hats off, please, because most of their outfits didn't do the hats justice!

This week was a pretty fantabulous opportunity for the designers to show off their most conceptual, high-fashion proclivities, as they were each paired up with a model wearing a big, bold Philip Treacy hat. These hats made statements. Being a SF Bay Area native, I kept wondering when that gal with the city of San Francisco on her head (from Beach Blanket Babylon) was going to show up.

The challenge was to make an outfit inspired by (and that could stand up to) their chosen hat.

Most of them made perfectly nice dresses.

Do you see the disconnect?

So, with 15 minutes to sketch and $150 to spend at Mood, the designers were off to execute on a creative vision t match Treacy's.

What did we learn in this week's episode?

-Well, I think we may have learned that Lifetime likes to sprinkle in more references to homosexuality, as long as they're somewhat snarky. There were a number of comments, from Ivy's "You expect that from a queen" to other cracks, that felt a little schoolyard to me.

-We learned that Kristin needs a little spanky to get her creative juices flowing. Especially if working on being inspired by an orchid hat which looks like "a big vagina" to her.

-We learned that Michael C. is this season's straight guy, complete with child at home. And thus leading to a couple of the gay cracks that stuck out to me.

-We also learned that the new 90-minute format means we get more of Tim's visits, and that's all good!

Project Runway Tim Gunn
Image courtesy Lifetime

So because of that, we learned that:

-Short shorts continue to not be appropriate for the Project Runway runway, particularly when they actually look like a diaper.

-Peach is not comfortable enough to say "vagina," so she refers to "down there" as "the good china." Which was a new one on me.

Mad Men is definitely influencing these designers; at least that's my impression.

Apparently, cats only have seven lives, not the usual nine, in Puerto Rico -- or maybe in Astoria, NY, where Casanova now lives. I also lived in Astoria, NY for a time. In fact it was the Greek and Italian butcher shops of that neighborhood that help turn me vegetarian back in 1989, since they have the tradition of hanging the carcass of the whole animal in their shop windows, and that grossed me out. A lot. Now, I can't say for certain I ever saw cats hanging in those windows. But you gotta wonder. maybe Casanova knows something I id not.

-And finally, we learned: Sometimes you just gotta start over. It can spell disaster, but if the inspiration strikes, it can be the only route out of designer hell.

Heidi comes out to the strains of my boyfriend's biggest hit, "Kiss from a Rose." Because she is wearing a big rose on her head. Well, it's really a big rose hat by Philip Treacy, but it was pretty outre. It was all a bit cheesy, to be honest. Now, if my boyfriend had been there, singing the song live, maybe it would have been good. But since he was here with me, cooking me a scrumptious vegan dinner before rubbing my feet while serenading me, he really wasn't available.

Heidi is joined by MK, ninagarcia and the hat-man himself, Philip Treacy, on the judging panel, so let's get on with the show. As always, click on the designers' names to see their creations:

1. Michael C.

(aka "the straight one")

Michael created an ochre and gold handkerchief dress. Or "dance at the gym" dress. Or maybe Saturday Night Fever dress. I agreed with Casanova that this dress didn't seem very original. It did seem very well put-together, particularly given Michael started over only a few hours before the challenge was to end. But just as in week one, with Gretchen's boring black dress, it didn't seem worthy of singling out.

2. Gretchen

(aka "yesterday's news")

Oh, this was an outfit to loathe. She took the worst elements of the hat and emphasized them, creating a drab, overly matchy-matchy, snakeskin-patterned Robin Hoodette outfit. And yes, that's as bizarre as it sounds. And I don't even really understand what was going on with those boots/leggings. The model looked like she was in Alien Nation, but with those patterns on her legs, not her head,

3. Kristin

(aka "Spanky")

Kristin, who was so concerned about the literal nature of her orchid hat, ended up thinking that incorporating some hot pink satin to match the pink stripes in the orchid was sufficient homage. But she was wrong. This black and hot pink dress was a hot mess of randomness. And sloppy/messy/poorly done on top of that.

4. Michael D.

(aka "the other white Michael")

Michael combined a corrugated cardboard top with a plunging neckline and shoulder wings with a pumpkin-colored shiny skirt with puckers from the waistline to the fine china. While I liked this and thought it was a reasonable top three option, I did not think it should win. The top was a bit too self-conscious, and a little too matchy-matchy to the hat.

5. Valerie

(aka "Zippers")

Despite Tim's admonitions, Valerie left in a few random unnecessary zippers on this red dress with a white bolero. The dress was just nothing special...looking like a red version of the dress Jennifer Grey wore at the end of Dirty Dancing. And the unnecessary zipper on the back made it look like this was a robot girl, and that's how you access her inner workings. A nice dress, but not one that seem inspired.

6. AJ

(aka "I still can't get over scary Barbie with a beaded fringe curtain hiding the fine china")

AJ concocted a relatively elegant navy with white polka dot dress, and I did think that the shape and curves of the dress, particularly the neckline, did align well with the hat. I also thought I'd seen this dress before. That it belonged, perhaps in the movie Funny Face, circa 1957, in case you were wondering. Lovely, but not original.

7. Andy

(aka "the only Man with the Kate Gosselin haircut?")

Andy made a hot pink satin cocktail suit, which seemed a bit oversized and out of proportion. In fact, the first thing I wrote down was "Where's David Byrne when you need him?" The best thing about the outfit is the adorable shoes, but the suit itself is a bit of a Monet: Once you start looking at it closely, you'll notice uneven hems, and lots of puckered seams, and an asymmetricality to the bottom of the suit jacket that almost looks like a mistake, rather than intentional. Andy had immunity, and 'm not saying he would have been in the Bottom with this outfit, but it certainly wasn't up to last week's standard.

8. Ivy

(aka "Where are mah smellin' salts?")

Ivy took a bright, BRIGHT pink hat and paired it with a nearly colorless ensemble. I'm sure the white skirt was fine, but the beige jacket actually did not fit at all, leaving a big gap in front. And the clunky heavy gray boots? Made no sense. Lucky she wasn't in the bottom three.

9. April

(aka Let's Huggie it out")

Oh, April. Every season there's one outfit that has us all shaking our heads and wondering what was the designer thinking. Last season it was Emilio's atrocious bathing suit. This season it's your booty shorts masquerading as diapers. The top actually had some merit. but when combined with the white quilted shorts with hot pink and black trim, the overall effect was that this model was on her way to be one of the stripper ensemble members in the musical "Miss Saigon".

10. Christopher

(aka "the Cute One")

I admit to being surprised that the judges savaged Christopher's look. Perhaps it's because I like all manner of black, gray, silver garb, but I didn't find his outfit sad or depressing or gloomy in the least. I do think the tiny silver skirt was unnecessary, and the that the silver leggings were perhaps not the most flattering thing in the world, highlighting the model's skinny knock-kneed legs. But I really liked the sleeveless print tunic jacket and could imagine myself wearing it. Controversy! What did you think?

11. Peach

(aka "Lover of fine china")

I'm a little shocked Peach wasn't bottom three with this perfectly nice, perfectly staid print dress with slight peplum at the waist. There was basically no correlation or alignment between the hat and the dress. It was a nice little dress, but who cares?

12. Casanova

(aka "the stuffed-puppycidal maniac")"

Having been burned for trying things a little too random and out there, Casanova compensated this week by making a dress appropriate for a widow to wear to a funeral. All somber black fabric and demure draping. OK, maybe the backlessness indicated that this widow was up for "moving on with her life" pretty quickly. Of course the hat sort of looked like a sprouting lima bean, so I think I'll forgive Casanova for playing it safe.

13. Mondo

(aka "You can't-a have-a da Mondo")

In the end there was a lot more potential to Mondo's concept and execution than actual awesome-sauce. The polka dot pants were unflattering. The yellow pocket and waistband fabric seemed unrelated. The purple vest top wasn't that well-fitted, and the plaid collar, again, unrelated. The Dali-esque effect of painting on a little mustache, and bring some bright colors and prints together was appreciated, in theory. But in practice, it was a pretty ugly outfit.

In the end, it broke down like this:

The judges likee:

  • Michael D
  • Michael C
  • Valerie

In a trio of OK, but not stunning or inspirational outfits, Michael C. was named the winner (and has immunity).

And no likee:

  • April
  • Kristin
  • Christopher (to all the other designers' shock and dismay)
  • Kristin's hot mess was worse than April's diaper, so she was aufed. I can't argue with that, although it possibly should have been another week when two went home!

    But what did you think?

     

    Elisa Camahort Page
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