Lord & Taylor

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If you don’t believe in miracles, episode 4 of Project Runway Season 10 might shift your perspective.  Some designers ‘dropped like flies’ while another did a reappearing act.  There was a lot of fashion with some swift mood swings woven into the fabric of this episode.  We were impressed with the looks we saw going down the runway, well orchestrated with pieces from the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall.  However, nothing rivaled Michael Kors’ cutting commentary in his classic ‘I’m not holding anything back’ way.  His line “Fashion is not for sissies” doesn’t escape our minds.  It’s time to start an MK quote log.  

Last week we were left hanging with Andrea’s disappearing act in the middle of the night after Christopher (admittedly) “pushed Andrea in front of a bus” in a heated discussion in front of the judges.  The morning after, Christopher lamented about how his actions might have influenced Andrea’s escape, while others used it as an excuse to trash her.  Gunnar was observing Kooan’s increasing silence and withdrawal from the group after their last project together.  The apartment was like an unsettled stomach.   
The troops rallied and made it up to the new Michael Kors Flagship on Madison Avenue, where they were met by Michael and Tim Gunn to get instructions for the next challenge.  Tim made it official that Andrea had left in the middle of the night and that they have not been able to reach her, but they believe that she was safe.  Michael shared some wisdom to ease the group, saying, “I’ve been at this for over 30 years.  It’s still tough.” Followed up by, “Fashion is not for sissies.”   

Cut to the challenge: Michael Kors’ business caters to the modern woman who is on the go.  She wants to look stylish and chic with outfits that are relaxed and versatile that can go from meetings to cocktail parties.  The designers were asked to create a single look for a “woman on the go” with the caveat that the look needed to represent the personal aesthetic of each designer.   It needed to be stylish, fashionable, versatile, practical and comfortable.  Easy, right?  Not so much.  They had one day to design and a budget of $150.   

They got 30 minutes to sketch in the boutique before going off to Mood to select materials.  Most of sketch time was consumed by some of the designers gossiping about Andrea.  Ven felt what Andrea did was “a poor example, especially being a teacher, to give up and walk out”.  The stop at Mood was the usual panicked running around and grabbing at yards of fabric.  We found ourselves impressed, if not amused by Sonjia, who was still making major decisions with a minute and 30 seconds left—and still got out on time with everything she needed.

The design room back at Parsons did a little time travel back to the high school cafeteria as conversations about Andrea continued.  That’s when the retreating Kooan decided to speak up.  “I’m a funky and weird person and I thought about it for 3 days, and I think I should go”.  That’s when everything shifted and the designers bonded together.  Despite them all competing against each other, the walls came down for a little emotional camaraderie.  While Buffi remarked that people were “dropping like flies”, Christopher told Kooan, “You are special.  You have to stay here.”   

Tim came in to interrupt the truth circle, letting the group know that Andrea had officially terminated her participation in the competition.  Tim said, “There are thousands of people who would want your place here.” This was the perfect throw back to the Devil Wears Prada, when Miranda Priestly told Andy Sachs that “a million girls would kill for your job.”  This is what they call fashion.   

Kooan announced to Tim and the group that he was leaving too.  He didn’t think he could handle it and wants to do it in his own way “out there”.  He chose to take a different path and with that, Tim escorted him out the door.  Here is where the door began revolving.  Tim came back in to let everyone know that it gets hard to have a real competition when so many people are leaving.  Which is why they decided to bring back Raul.  That’s right; Raul was brought on to get a second chance.  That was the miracle.  The depression lifted into screams and Raul was mostly warmly welcomed back.  Ven did protest too much about the reappearance of Raul, saying that he’s tired of his complaining.  We wonder what’s really going on.  Is Ven threatened or is there more that we are not seeing?   

The designers finally got into work mode – scissors out and sewing machine pedals pressed down led to looks developing on the forms.  We were quickly taken in by Melissa’s idea for creating multiple flowing layers, Fabio’s use of unique prints, Christopher’s mini leather jacket (reminiscent of a bolero) and our favorite, Sonjia’s charcoal form fitting gather dress.  Some of the designers’ takes on day to night “on the go” dressing were interesting.  Gunnar’s dress has a triangle cut-out in the back, which could be a little too sexy in the office, but nothing a sweater can’t disguise until 5pm.  Buffi’s concoction of a zebra underpinning with pink silk over it was not well received.  Christopher asked her if it was “resort wear” because it looked like a beach cover-up.  He offered her some black material to fix it up but she stayed true to her aesthetic.  She said, “I’d rather go down with something that I know is me than going down because I changed it.”  She stuck to her plan which is something we admire.  With little time left, Raul was struggling; the pants he created didn’t fit the model.  They were 4 inches too short every which way and leather accents needed to be sewn in just to expand to fit the model!   

Our favorite part is always when the designers are clamoring to get everything pulled together and then the models come in for the fittings.  We might be more partial to these moments because it’s when the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall shifts from being a backdrop in the room to being the vehicle that brings the outfits to life. The designers were reaching for tall heels with hidden platforms, cuffs to wake up the wrists and bags that ranged from thin hand held clutches to chunkier top handle bags.  Some designers really stepped out with accessories in bold colors while Sonija kept her look paired down to only heels.   

Watching the final looks go down the runway was somewhat moving.  This episode had so many emotional twists in the beginning that for a lot of the episode we were waiting for the fashion to appear.  Seeing what these designers were able to do in 1 day with $150 dollars was quite impressive.  A trend we saw was that so many designers hung back from bright colors for their fabrics in favor of rich blacks, grays and neutrals.  This allowed some of the accessories to play 1st string with their bright colors and hints of flash.  The high volume of colors the accessories provided allowed for the perfect divide between daytime seriousness bleeding into nighttime frivolity. For us, a good shoe or bag is everything to an outfit-especially if it can make it transitional.   

The judging panel was worth waiting for.  Guest judges Rachel Roy and Hayden Panettiere joined Michael Kors, Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia.  In the final round, Sonjia’s gather dress in dark gray received much praise.  Heidi loved it for the great manipulations in fabric and Michael praised it for its versatility.  He noted, “You could load on diamonds and wear silver shoes.  You could take it all the way down and wear a pair of riding boots.”  While we liked Fabio’s printed dress perfectly paired with a statement necklace that managed to keep the look understated, the judges did not.  It was criticized for being too short, too structured and it was remarked that it looked like it shrunk on the model.  Christopher’s sophisticated look paired with mini leather jacked and jeweled clutch bowled over the judges.  Heidi found it crazy that he was able to make the entire ensemble for $150 and Rachel said it was “modern and relatable”.  Michael said he “nailed it”.   

That is where Michael’s generous compliments ended.  Buffi took a serious hit for the team with her Zebra/pink ensemble.  Michael opened with, “It looks like a hairdressing smock,” but didn’t stop there.  He said, “It looks like she was cutting her hair, there was a fire in the beauty salon, she belted it and she ran out in her zebra dress.”  We have nothing more to add to that.  Raul didn’t fare much better under Michael’s watch.  He didn’t hold back in saying he hated it.  “She has vampira points and it’s too short.  I hated it.”  He also remarked that he felt the jacket was on deathwatch.  Dmitry was given honorable mention for the construction of his dress.  Rachel was a firm believer in his craft.  She said she’d hire him because his “execution is flawless”.   

So where did this all end up?  Sonija won the challenge and Buffi was invited to leave.  It was a fair decision and it was obvious who was really rising to the occasion.   Buffi departed graciously, which we liked.  It’s never fun when someone who gets eliminated starts attacking other people’s work or gets defensive. We’re looking forward to next week because we have a sense that Raul is on deathwatch, just as much as his pointed blazer is.  What did you think of tonight’s episode?

The winning look and accessories: