One of my favorite recurring challenges in the PR empire is the ready-to-wear challenge, where the designers have to work within the real-world limitations of creating garments that can be made cheaply enough and sold at a price high enough for everyone to make a profit.
We’re used to seeing our designers sweat as they push the limits of their creativity, but it’s always interesting to see which designers thrive under conditions which seem a lot more realistic for designers who do it for a living. These episodes also make me feel a bit bad, because I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve spent more than $50 on an article of clothing. (Shoes don’t count.)
ANH sends the five remaining contestants to 5th Avenue to see the hub of Elie Tahari’s fashion empire. They’re given their choice of fabrics, and each designer worked with a consultant who told them if their designs were feasible at the $500-$700 price point. Then they were off to the workroom, where everyone put his or her head down and worked more than they snarked.
To the Looks
Let’s start with the two on the bottom, Joshua and Ivy. Ivy made an almost ankle-length maxi dress that I swear I owned in 1996. I got a lot of compliments on that dress, but it didn’t cost $500. She was working with a great, if enormous, print, but it ended up working against her. The length is wonky, the slits are wonky, the seams are wonky, and it looks like it came from a big box store, between the bulk paper towels and the bag salad. I did like the neckline/bodice, but it all went south (ha!) when it went south.
Joshua, bless his heart and very hairy thighs, took a risk. Half of it worked, half of it tanked. All Star Joshua, unlike Original Flavor Joshua, totally rolled with it. He was spot on with the color, like last week he picked a luscious and camera-friendly raspberry. Then he put in lace panels. Then he made a bodice that made his model look like she had three drooping breasts. (Coincidentally, I watched the Total Recall reboot shortly after watching this episode; maybe Joshua is centuries ahead of the rest of us.) Then he added an exposed zipper up the back, which promptly bunched into a roller coaster of madness down his model’s ass. There was crassness, which I shan’t repeat, as I am a lady.
Emilio landed in the middle again, this time with a cute mustard day dress trimmed with lovely merlot banding. Who among us couldn’t use a little trimming with merlot? It’s liked well enough by the judges, except Georgina “Design a New Dress Already, Geez” Chapman, who says it’s a hard color to wear. Well, yeah, Georgie (can I call you Georgie?), for skim-milk hued white girls like ourselves, but Future President Emilio’s Model and other Women of Color can rock the hell out of it. This is one of those moments, much like that moment when you decide to create yet another collection of gowns for wannabe post-modern princesses with Feelings down the runway, Georgie, where it’s really okay to take a pause. Says the shlub in Indiana, wearing yoga pants and a Doctor Who t-shirt, without a hint of irony.
In what’s becoming a theme, Anthony Ryan and Uli were in the top spots. I didn’t personally like Anthony Ryan’s dress, but I respect it. He did some really cool things with the prints he chose, and the dress he made is really fresh. I would want to be friends with the lady who wears this dress.
Uli made another white dress, which I would find obnoxious from any other designer who’s ever been on Project Runway, but not her. I flipped back through the previous recaps to get a closer look at each of the white dresses she’s made so far this season, and to my non-expert eye, it looks like she’s been accidentally making a collection. The looks can all stand on their own, but seeing them next to each other (I put them in a slideshow at the bottom for easy viewing) makes each of the dresses look better. The dress she designed for this challenge, to pull us back into the moment, is adorable. It’s vintage-ish, but it feels very contemporary.
Anthony Ryan wins, and his dress is going to be manufactured and sold by Elie Tahari. That makes Uli and Emilio safe. The judges decide it’s better to keep Joshua around and tell him to tone things down than keep Ivy and continue to be bored by her efforts, so she’s sent on her way. I hope she went out and did karaoke with Cassanova, and I’m sure it’s not the last we’re going to see of her. I like that Ivy always took big risks, and always tried to push herself beyond her comfort zone, week after week. The final results may not have lived up to what she wanted them to be, but she was tenacious in her attempts to get them there. As best I can tell, the real world is 10 parts tenacity for every 1 part talent, I think Ivy is going to be fine.
See you on Monday to recap tonight’s episode!
Uli’s Magical White Dresses of Awesome and Red Wine Avoidance
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