Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Project Runway: The Highs and Lows of Fashion

Do you ever think about how many things are in the world? Think about what you're wearing right now...probably pants, a shirt, maybe a dress or a skirt, some kind of underwear. These are all things we can easily identify, but just think of how many billions of permutations of "pants" there are and have been in the world. Jeans, slacks, trousers, sweatpants...boot cut, skinny, boyfriend, pleated...denim, cotton, wool, linen...beaded, tuxedo, pinstriped, plaid. It could go on forever, and that's just pants. I thought about this a lot during episode three, because my God were the selections from The Met's Costume Institute spectacular...
I want to start this post with some discussion of the pieces that were meant to inspire the designers because even though there's a tendency to dismiss fashion as frivolous, and I think many of these provide evidence to the contrary. Fashion is about making you feel something in your gut, either by looking at it or wearing it, and the way we choose to utilize those feelings can help us proclaim to the world who we are.
This is a Pauline Trigiere dress from 1966, worked in silk, wool and feathers. I'll be honest...I would not wear this, but I can appreciate the workmanship in it and the attention to detail. It's a beautiful piece of art. Wouldn't you get a distinct feeling about the person wearing this?
This is a 1938 Madeleine Vionnet evening gown and what a show stopper it is. The Costume Institute website has some interesting info on the scallopy decorations: "Though there are separate specialists for applied braid and fringe, known as the crépinières, Vionnet chose in this instance to employ an embroidery of individual graduated lengths of silk thread passed and looped through the fabric, with each thread forming two drops of fringe. The scallop arcs constitute the sole decoration of the dress." Think about embroidering every single one of those...to the proper length.
It's too bad that Rami didn't make this trip, because this gown from Madame Gres (Alix Barton) is a masterclass in his chosen medium of draped garments. It's a 1969 piece and even more beautiful up close. The designers got to look at the wine colored one shown, which I think is the most interesting because the rouching and details are so subtle.
I love Dior, as we know - I plan on doing my annual couture show review, but have been sidetracked - and this embodies so much of that love. This is called "Diorama" and was designed in 1951 by Christian Dior himself. The ribbons and beautiful fabrics are just stunning. It looks like magic.
This is another one from the House of Dior but was designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1958. He called it "L'elephant Blanc." I love the unconventional shape and the lightness lent to it by the fabrics and embellishments.
This dress is by Claire McCardell for Townley Frocks, made somewhere between 1945 and 1955. I love the strong colors and the dramatic bodice. It's quite modern for its period, and even though it lacks a big blowzy skirt or the slithery fabrics used in cocktail dresses today, you just know that the woman walking through the door in this dress would turn heads.
Cristobal Balenciaga has always had this genius for fabric and innovative shapes, and this silk wrap from 1951 is no exception. It takes a certain kind of woman to wear it, but it says so much about the person who takes it on. It's dramatic and simple, and I love it.

In any case, you should all go to the Costume Institute AND their website, and from here it's on with the runway! The challenge this time was to create a signature look, then a pret-a-porter outfit on the cheap inspired by one of the other team's creations.
Mila's win really gave my burgeoning hope for this season a boost, because this is not what I think of as Lifetime Viewer Friendly, but it is a true piece of fashion. I thought it was very Balenciaga in its cut (though I appreciate the lack of PVC-adjacent materials...sorry, Balenciaga) and I liked the sporty styling. The jacket-cape was really gorgeous and I loved the unusual cut. Some of the first styling I've really gotten behind, too. Brava, Mila!
Ping was going to go in the next episode or two and even though I thought this was interesting, it was more of the same drapey, cluttered looking stuff we've seen from her. I truly believe that Ping is capable of making some beautiful stuff, but I do NOT think this is the competition for her, and the judges were recognizing that. I liked the lacy under-bodice and the draping, but no one is going to walk around with their dress looped around and held over their arm. There's a reason I stash my phone and wallet in my bra on a frequent basis, and that reason is a violent desire to avoid holding crap for extended periods of time. Bye bye, Ping...I liked your funky glasses and know you'll do well.
Amy produced this little piece of fabulousity, and I was really diggin' on it. The body of the dress was well made, with a nice overlay, but the real wow factor is in the shoulder treatments. I love that they hint at the idea of a ruff but don't feel antiquated. Cool, solid piece.
Anthony got called out for being kind of deb-y, and I think that's probably fair. I actually liked this and thought the bodice in particular was very nice, but the skirt was problematically lifeless. The funny thing was that it looked very energetic and fluffy when it was standing still, but when it was moving down the runway, it looked like a freaking Cylon motoring towards you! Close, but no cigar - came off too prommy.
Ben made a dress that fit really well and a kind of Members-Only-adjacent jacket that I sort of hate. Schlumpy and weird. Dress is nice, but it's a simple black dress. Not good enough for this competition.
Emilio's dress was gorgeous! I would buy this in an instant and wear the hell out of it. I love the stripe and the accents, and the cut is beautiful. What a knockout! More of this, please. (Less scary model, though. Yikes.)
Janeane Marie didn't take too much crap for this, but I mean...this is your signature look? This is Macy's, is what this is. I honestly kind of tuned it out because it was so boring. I expected her to get booted, or at least last-threed for a total lack of getting it, but apparently it was not a problem for the judges. I mean, it's fine, I don't hate it, but it's totally basic.
Jay Nicolas basically made the same dress. I have nothing else to say.
Jesse almost made the same dress as the previous two. It was pretty and I liked the quasi-keyhole neckline, but it's A BLACK DRESS. I COULD BUY THIS RIGHT NOW.
Jesus made something that would be really wearable for someone who is not me. I don't like this particular style (and the color is a total snooze) but I get it. That's kind of all I have to say about it, which isn't really good enough if Jesus wants to go further in this competition.
Jonathan should have left the feather off of this. It just clutters up the bodice, and I THINK there's some really nice detailing edging the bodice. The babydoll silhouette doesn't usually do much for me, but the movement on this was awesome. Not terrible, but it could have been much better and didn't capitalize on the opportunity. Better luck next time!
Maya's dress was cool as hell...I loved the crazy ridge things and thought they looked like mushrooms or some kind of coral. The texture was fabulous and I think the choice to make the rest of the dress a column of well-cut black made the most of the beautiful detail.
Seth Aaron maintained the lacy feel of the inspiration, but still managed to make an independent, pretty dress that I would totally wear. It's not revolutionary or anything, but it fit the challenge and came out really well.

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