I grew up in the Augusta area, living in Waynesboro for as long as I can remember. I went to college in Indianapolis, interned at the Chronicle over summer and Christmas breaks, and landed a job as sports clerk the summer after I graduated. Eventually, the sports job turned into writing for the business section and now I report on local business happenings as well as writing for the Shopgirl column/blog.
Posted August 5, 2011 05:53 pm

ShopGirl blogs Project Runway: season nine, episode two

With eight seasons already in the can, Project Runway-osity has its own language, mores and traditions. One of those is the unconventional materials challenge, or as I like to call it - the "what the heck? you're kidding" challenge.

Because even though those designers know it's coming, they still make these stupid Home Alone faces and are all like, "you've gooot to be kidding meee..."

If you haven't caught up, watch episode two here.

Well, the 15 contestants were marched off to a pet store this week...make a look out of $300 worth of pet-shop items. They had muslin for infrastructure, of course, and were disclaimered by Tim that judges (guest judge was Stacey Bendet of alice+olivia) don't respond well to making clothing out of fabric you find at pet shops, they respond well to making clothing out of crazy junk you find at pet shops.

These challenges really test the designer's ability to mentally assess how raw materials are going to look and respond to their manipulation. Will it flow, is it going to hold up, is that color something I can even work with, et c. Because of this, the bad tends to be horrid and the good can be out of this world.

In these early episodes, there are so many designers that I think it works best to just pick them apart roll-call style. So here we go....


1. Anthony Ryan Auld. Sorry Nina, Mike and Olivier - I'm with Heidi and Stacey on this one. Although it was hard to pick between my two favorites (you heard me last week, I called this up and down), Anthony Ryan's blew me away. It had so much impact, packed such a visual punch and (to borrow Nina's fave phrase) I thought it was extremely editorial. The man seems to have excellent taste levels, he gets styling, and he understood that with such a textural garment he had to keep the silhouette streamlined. Those three - balance, styling and taste - are things the judges can't critique into you. That's the mark of whether you've got it or not. Anthony Ryan's got it, ya'll.

2. Joshua McKinley. Oh honey, he's crazy. Crazy fun. I was so pleasantly surprised at the completeness of his look, though - beadwork, even if he's just slapping it down on some hot glue - takes time, but his look was so finished and neat. He seems to have legitimate tailoring skills and I can't wait to see what he does later on. But really, guys. What a fun look...who besides a fake-tanned queen with overly plucked eyebrows could do a neon beaded cropped swing top and fierce heels (albeit, those yellow additions were a worse idea than...I don't even know. bad.) this well? He werqed that look like mad.

 3. Olivier Green. I loved, loved loved this idea. The only things that made me shake my head were the fit of the bodice, the line of the skirt in the hip area and the gradient of the ombre. The dress didn't fit the model, and that's just a fact. The judges didn't deny that, and that is what annoyed me about Ollie winning. I loved the look, it just wasn't better than Anthony Ryan's. And why was the skirt so stiff and clunky around the hips? He glued bits of straw and paper to muslin, not styrofoam. I don't know why he didn't tailor the lines in a cleaner way. The ombre? That was no ombre, sweetheart. That was a bad stripe job. I will forgive that in light of him throwing together this stunning outfit in less than 48 hours, though. Good job, citizen of the world.

4. Viktor Luna. Excellent example of how immature styling can compromise a quality design. Those shoes were a very bad choice, too heavy for such a pleated and gathered dress. It was simple, very simple, which would make it an excellent ready-to-wear piece but it didn't stand out at all against the other more dangerous looks.

5. Anya Ayoung-Chee. Well, lookee here...Miss Trinidad knows what she's doing. Either she stopped being so attention hungry, or the producers edited her very unfairly last episode. She knew what the judges were looking for, and while her look didn't make it to the top three, I think she'll hang around in that safe upper middle for a while.

6. Laura Kathleen. It goes to show how horrific this next set of ugliness is that this seatbelt-over-a-reworked-cardboard-box ranks number six. She was wise to let go of the plastic un-skirt, but it's only because she can sew darn well that she didn't get called out on her lack of point of view. I didn't hate it, I just felt overhwhelmed by its seatbelt-ness. But on a personal note, what a tacky statement about "upper class" and shopping at Niemans since you "were in single digits"...if it was unfair editing, I feel so bad for the girl and if she's really like that, I feel so bad for anyone who has to be around her.

7. Julie Tierney. When she bought a bunch of dog food, I was expecting it to actually be a lot worse than what she sent down the runway. This look, combined with her portfolio rack we saw and how she describes her aesthetic, makes me think she's more of a textile artist than a fashion designer. And if she designs clothes, she needs to do museum-y pieces that actual, living people won't have to wear. It was very fair that she was safe, however. I predict it won't be for long.

8. Danielle Everine. Her face makes me think she would have something interesting to convey with her clothing...but what she produced made me think of a low-budget 1994 sitcom about graffiti-loving teenagers. No thank you.

9. Kimberly Goldson. From her comments, you can tell she knows what looks good and what customers (or judges) will respond to. Why can't she listen to herself, then? You can't make an off-the-shoulder look with aquarium tubing, honey. Too stiff. You would be telling the camera that if it were someone else using it.

10. Cecilia Motwani. What did you do, C? I disagree with keeping that shade of blue. So much. I can't get past it, even though she styled it well (considering it looks like regurgitated contents of a paper shredder glued to an Ann Taylor shift) and sized the muslin underdress well.

11. Fallene Wells. It's boring, unflattering and you admitted you hated it? Sweetie, they're going to chew you up and spit you out in a second. The dress was very mall-ish and your styling was beyond bad. I'm sad, because I thought she would do better than she is. It's not likely she can rebound for long off of a dress with a puking clown and a plastic bridesmaid dress. I didn't think she deserved to be in the bottom three, though.

12. Becky Ross. What is this, Twelfth Night on LSD? You must have heard "low-budget woodland fairy ballet" when Tim said "pet shop challenge." No ma'am. That will not do. There was very little originality about this look, and you can be sure the judges did not miss that.

13.  Bryce Black. He's so silly. It's a competition, and the judges are people. They have opinions that aren't changing easily, and you have eight years' worth of material to go look back at and see what they have repeatedly hated. And honey, they hate that napkin dress look. They hate it. I'm glad they kept him, though, because his portfolio and his work last week showed he has a definite point of view and he just lost his way this week. Sell the dress to AquaMan's girlfriend and we won't mention it again.

14. Bert Keeter. You better check yourself before you wreck yourself, man. Heidi called you out and they will not forget your teenagery quickly. What was that? Why anything? But especially, why the fluffy bedskirt thing on top? I would have liked the tube better. Thumbs down, sir, thumbs down.

15. Joshua Christenson. I'm sure that was a unanimous vote. Boy ain't got no soul. Like Nina said, you had an entire shop full of textures and dimension and you bring home an umbrella and just rip the bones out? I don't think so. Run along home.

Favorite quotes:

"Fabric out of dog food bags? If this is out-of-the-box, then put me back in." Josh McKinley. Do you think he would be my new gay best friend?

"Can this really be executed in the time frame we have available?" Tim Gunn. He could just say "do you have time", but why?

"I am hugely enthusiastic about what is happening in here." Tim Gunn. I am hugely enthusiastic about you, Tim.