Thursday, November 19, 2009

Project Runway finale

So may I say that I'm not impressed with the season, overall, nor am I happy with the winner, Mean-ah Irina. However, considering that she presented a cohesive collection with a discernable theme/point of view, that was in the New York color story of black, black, and black, I'm not all that surprised.

Some people may have objected to the series relocating to Los Angeles for the season, but the garment industry here is much larger than the industry in New York. The difference is that the editorial/media center is NYC, so most of the name talent gravitates there. The import house I worked for maintained a showroom in NYC as well as another one in London, so it's a necessity for any hope of editorial coverage. I didn't think very much of this season's crop of hopefuls. I get the sense that designers are cast, not necessarily for their experience/talent alone, but also for personality, in the hope of creating onscreen drama. Most of the theatrical personalities left early in the season, so editing was necessary to create emotion this time around, because there weren't many fireworks coming down the runway this year.

In preparation for the finale, I went back to the blogs that Chris March wrote on the official PR website, and appreciated his insider's point of view dished up with a side of snark:
What's been bugging me about this particular crop is the fact that it skewed so young for the most part. Epperson, Gordana, and Krystal were the mature designers, and Gordana in particular was robbed. Her dress for the Getty challenge was ethereal, beautifully executed except for the uneven closure edge in the back, but as the judges said, was the only one of the entries that resembled it's inspiration. Althea should have been eliminated for sloppy execution, because her skirt and top were a hot mess, as Christian would have said. It's as if the producers want to ensure that young, inexperienced kids are the finalists to please their advertisers (who are looking for young trending viewers), and to hopefully keep their demographic audience young and hooked on their offerings. But really, is the Hulu-Twitter crowd going to care about Lifetime's usual array of battered woman of the week movies?

It occurs to me that no one over the age of 35 seems to have won Project Runway. So there's an implied undercurrent that the next thing can't possibly have any experience under his/her impeccable belt. The Laura Bennetts and Gordanas of the world may as well resign themselves to being passed over by someone younger and theoretically, hipper. While the judges seem to be going for artistry, what happens to the contestants who fall into the top six who manage to produce commercial, wearable collections?

In tonight's finale, Althea's knitwear was alright. Her collection did have a definite p.o.v. and look, with her broad-shouldered torso-hugging jackets and knitwear. It was a cohesive collection, if sportswear heavy, and I can see her getting scooped up by Max Mara or another fashion forward house. I admit to liking Carol Hannah's collection best. For someone who is self-taught, she's a master of draping. Her dresses were feminine and beautiful; the only shame is that she didn't stick to a consistent color story or theme. Which leads me back to Mean-ah Irina. The be-otch probably will have problems fitting into any team she finds herself in, however, she did produce designs that told a story (warrior woman in NYC, with her Athena helmets), and a color story (dark), and the use of pleating and woven details throughout the collection. Nina was right about the black - it doesn't photograph well, and the details that she and her assistant, Gordana, slaved over were pretty much obscured in the translation from live runway to camera, but the hints of ribbon, shimmer, and texture made me wished she had included lighter values in her palette. I wasn't crazy about the armor, I wasn't crazy about the helmets, although they added to the presentation, and I've disliked her ego throughout most of the season, but it seemed inevitable that she win.

Here's hoping that the next round of designers in the season that begins in January have more experience and that the drama is on the runway, not in the workroom.