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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Lighten up, it's just fashion

Project Runway is the reason I wake up on Wednesdays. My friend Nick was surprised by my obsession, since it's not obvious that I care very much about fashion. Well, I guess that's a difference between my real and fantasy lives. I've collected several vintage 1950s party dresses from thrift stores, but I rarely have anywhere to wear them. My friend Musa once said that all fashion is aspirational: she has some of the coolest pieces I've ever seen, including a yellow leather suit and a blue velveteen coat with rabbit fur cuffs. Michael Kors said something similar about aspirational fashion on Project Runway this year during the Barbie challenge, when Kara made a boring denim skirt outfit for Barbie. All Barbie clothes, he said, should have some element of fantasy in them.

My fellow Project Runway obsessives at Blogging Project Runway have posted images from the NYC Fashion Week Project Runway shows. Speculation is rampant about which of the four designers left on the show as of last Wednesday--Daniel V., Chloe, Santino, and Kara--is the decoy, the designer who didn't make it to the top three finalists but who showed a collection at Fashion Week anyway. The decoy didn't receive money from the show to put together a collection and won't be in the running for the grand prize. My thoughts on the collections:

Daniel V.'s collection is simple and understated, but the details are nice. I love the coat dress, the brown corset and tan ruffled shirt with plaid pants, and the navy vest/vanilla pleated skirt outfit. It's a little boring--not very aspirational--but his vision would work well at Banana Republic, where the winner of Project Runway will work as a design intern. Daniel V. and Andrae won the Banana Republic challenge and deserved to have won the Nicky Hilton dress challenge--probably my favorite piece from the show this season. I'm concerned that Daniel V.'s may be the decoy collection because it's so simple.

Chloe's collection has a several nice pieces, but I didn't like the fabrics very much. I'm also not a big fan of puffed sleeves, a feature of many of the dresses. Maybe I'd like to see how these dresses move, because they look really stiff in the pictures. The gold sleeveless dress has an odd fit.

I'm surprised to say that Santino's collection is excellent. Almost all of the pieces are remarkably restrained (except the leather corset with big puffy sleeves) and elegant. Santino has shown a talent for picking great fabrics (the pinks and purples on the Barbie challenge, the stormy blue for Nicky Hilton's party dress, even the same fabric that Austin Scarlett chose the previous season) and sometimes executing the designs well (the Barbie dress, the Nicky Hilton dress) and sometimes making a disaster (the inspiration dress, which was so obviously inferior to Austin Scarlett's). I was upset last Wednesday when Santino lied about the poor construction of the jumpsuit he made for Kara: she looked so uncomfortable in such a hideous, unflattering outfit, and then he said she was the one who ripped it? It looks like Daniel V. will bring his RA skills to the competition this week when he confronts Santino about his behavior.

The real surprise for me was Kara's collection. I spent the whole season underwhelmed by her work until the makeover challenge, when she did a great job on Santino's sportswear. Even then, I figured she was probably better at urban sportswear than anything else. I loved the evening gowns in the collection, especially that teal and copper halter gown and the rainbow tiered dress. I also don't think she's the decoy, as she clearly tried to tie the whole collection together with those hats (season 1's winner, Jay McCarroll did the same thing, and it seemed more original)--a gesture that would require the money that Project Runway finalists are given. I don't like everything in the collection, but I see a clear vision there.

And here's Cathy Horyn for some non-amateur remarks about how to assess collections at Fashion Week.

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Blogger spg on Wed Feb 15, 09:34:00 AM:
I didn't want to ruin the surprise of seeing the outfits next week, so I've (with much effort) refrained from looking at images from the shows.

I think Santino's outfit for Kara last week was the most hideous, unflattering, godawful piece I have ever seen on the show. She looked terrible in it. It's obvious that the producers wanted Santino in at least the final four, right? Because Nick's wasn't THAT bad. And he's been better than Santino throughout (his Barbie outfit was PERFECT; the garden party dress really wasn't as bas as the judges made it out to be). Maybe I'm still in love with that rainbow skirt, but come ON....that jumpsuit! Ugh!

Can't wait to see who's out tonight.