Project Runway is Back to Bravo!

Project Runway is back for a brand new season and back to its original home network, Bravo! And while much can be said to it being revamped in certain aspects, is it really that far off from where it has always been? My answer is No. Many fans said having the show moving back to Bravo would make it better, so is that really the case? Hard to tell from the first episode, but I am not seeing a huge difference yet — quality of the work is not much different than what we’ve seen in previous seasons, the format is still the same (i.e. top/bottom 3, eliminations, 1/2 day challenges, etc.).

Do not get me wrong — I love Project Runway! I will continue to blog about it because I am a long-time, avid fan. However, I am not seeing much by way of differences with this network move. Yes, the show has been updated in certain aspects, which was much needed! A new runway to showcase the designer looks, this should have happened ages ago. As well as giving the designers a more open, larger workroom space. And yes, this was a fabulous new addition for this new bunch of designers. But ultimately, I am seeing the same format from before, nothing to get too overly excited for.

But yes, this move back to Bravo of course prompted some other changes to this show, that while yes, are new, I don’t know that it’s changing PR at its core. The underlying fabric is still there, we just now get some new additions and fresh faces to continue the phenomenon that is Project Runway! And so by fresh faces, first we have new mentor Christian Siriano. I will miss Tim Gunn, but hearing a young designer, someone who competed on the show, and who is really so active in the fashion world presently, I think this was a great change for the show and I think Christian will do well in this role.

We also have a new host, replacing Heidi Klum is mega supermodel Karlie Kloss. I liked Heidi, but I am totally fine with a new host and interested to see what Karlie brings to the table. I guess in a sense of replacing Michael Kors/Zac Posen, we have established designer Brandon Maxwell. I am not as familiar with his work, but eager to see how he is on the panel and what his perspectives are. I know we will have some guest judges this season, but still full-time for the panel will be journalist/former Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue Elaine Welteroth. I always will welcome a fresh voice, but wondered if there was really a need for 4 on the panel since we still have one unchanged judge in that of Nina Garcia, as well as guest judges?

So I am eager to see how the fuss of a network move and these other changes will impact the show! We began with 16 brand new designers meeting at a launch party, including editors and influencers. Each designer brought with them a look to showcase their work in order to provide a first impression. I will give some thoughts on this later in my individual challenge critiques.

Learning the prize package for this season’s winner was good. I wondered if it would be more, but really it wasn’t. So the winner will receive $250k provided from Pilot Pen; a feature in Elle magazine; $50k to be put towards a design studio courtesy of Bluprint; & a mentorship with the CFDA. Still an impressive prize package for the winner!

The first impression looks showcased at the launch party were important to see, but really what it would be all about is the first challenge looks created. For this first challenge, each designer was assigned a photo from the past for one of the 4 judges. This photo represented a moment each judge recognized fashion was their passion. The designers would use the photos as inspiration to create a look. Brandon’s image was one of his mom in a fashion show. This made him think of the women in his life and how strong and confident is mom is. Karlie’s photo was her first runway show, such a huge moment for her. Nina showed hers from a time when she was in South America, on a boat, taking part in her first photoshoot from an internship with her first magazine. And finally, Elaine brought her first cover from when she worked with Ebony magazine. This was the first cover shoot ever for a woman of color, celebrating that, making any woman feel truly empowered.

We then saw the new workspace so of course the designers could get to work! They met Christian, and checked out the new Brother sewing room. They also received some new sketching materials, including Pilot Friction pens. The designers had 20 minutes to chat with their assigned judge and then 20 minutes to sketch. This would be a 2-day challenge. They also were given their model comp cards, where we learned the models would still be all shapes and sizes, as seen from the last season of Project Runway. And then to wrap up a busy first day, the designers finally landed at their new designer penthouse home in Brooklyn.

The first day of the challenge officially started with a trip to Mood, given a $250 budget. Some of the designers were getting lost looking for fabrics. Others were complaining about the budget being too little, namely Cavanagh, while others were gracious to receive such a large sum. Hester seemed to have the most trouble at Mood and ended up picking a fabric she had never worked with, which she later regretted. I did like how she handled that stress though, much better than we saw from others later on, namely Frankie.

Day 1 of the challenge was really all about getting things going, figuring out directions for the looks. But day 2 was going to be jam-packed with Siriano sessions and model fittings. Each workday is 12 hours. And boy, that workroom looked like a mess from day 1! We also learned about a new aspect for the show, to take in with the business savvy times, e-commerce mindset. PR would be partnering with Nineteenth Amendment to sell winning pieces right after the show. The judges pick and America’s favorite look would be sold. This will be interesting to see any differences between what the judges think and that of America’s opinion. The looks would be sold on As of right now, I only notice one look on the website and that was the winning look for this week. And then for some of the challenges, the designers would be using Instagram to show their looks thru a creative photo on the IG story.

Christian did a great job during his Siriano sessions. He gave such great insight, really giving such focus and attention to each designer. He made sure to remind a few of fit issues, and then of course, time management! Christian will also stick around for model fittings. Cavanagh had some fit issues with her jacket and decided to scrap it. Kovid was ecstatic to learn his model was transgender, a PR first. And this is where Frankie’s major freakouts began.

This whole episode could have been boiled down to the Frankie & Cavanagh show. Cavanagh with her strong, blunt opinions, and Frankie with her incessant crying and pity me party. Spoiler alert, they were the bottom 2, so no surprise there! I was very much ready for the runway to begin. So for the day of the runway show, the designers were up at 5 am, with 2 hours in the workroom. Frankie seemed to be in better spirits, but was also getting a lending hand from multiple designers. Cavanagh actually asked her model for help, which I thought made more sense versus having a fellow designer take time from their look to help you out.

The “morning of” also had to consist of Tresemme hair & Maybelline makeup work. Additionally, the designers had to take their Instagram photos. The work really continued right up until the runway started. And literally I felt as if 6 people were still helping Frankie out. Christian had to call for “needles down.”

This first runway was great to see, just in what the designers created for this initial runway, but also to compare a bit with their showcase piece from the start of the episode. And I saw a lot of fit and construction issues for several designers, so not sure how this bottom 3 was selected?? For example, with this photo above, how super thrilling was this? Was it too not pretty basic? It was also constructed poorly and not fit well. Bishme had such a super sexy first look and being assigned the Karlie photo, I thought he would have nailed his look. But he didn’t and it was very blah! And Jamall bragging every chance he got, neither of his looks were worthy of such accolades.

But 2 looks that didn’t make the top, and perhaps should have, were Kovid & Sonia. Kovid’s flowing goddess gown was effortlessly stunning, which was great to see he could do from the more streetwear look he showcased at the beginning of the episode. And Sonia really hit both looks out of the park. She can do drama, but can also do chic glam, super luxe looks that so far, I love!!

Given how amazing Kovid & Sonia’s looks were, I was shocked that neither made the top over Venny. The top 3 consisted of Venny, Tessa, and Renee. Tessa and Renee I got, but Venny’s critiques were not very positive, so I wasn’t sure why he made the top?? His first look showcased was modern, chic, a very cool girl. He tried to keep a modern nod with this black dress, but this look didn’t do it for me. The nod towards a business vibe in the jacket, with the embellishments on the skirt, it felt really unresolved. And as the judges pointed out, where is this girl going?

Both Tessa & Renee did great work, so Tessa winning worked for me. I didn’t care for her first look. It seemed like a school project, with a straightjacket feel. It was such a step-up to this next look. The top was super cute, very wearable. The back was so interesting. This was a luxe, well styled look.

Renee designs in a more conservative aesthetic. Her first look was outerwear, definitely leaving me wanting more. But with this next look, I was sold. The model was covered up, but not in a mumsy way. The look was so well-made, great tailoring, really invoking such strength in this garment.

The bottom 3 was not totally incorrect, but there is no way anyone can say that Cavanagh had the worst look, the one being sent home. But before that debacle, let’s look at Lela who was saved first. Her first look was minimalist, but I wondered could she do more? She kept a minimal approach with this next look, but it was not executed well at all. Both the top and the skirt were too long. One part of the look should have been shorter. And I was left still wondering, can she do more?

But the bottom 2 was Cavanagh and Frankie, not a surprise from the focus they received all episode. I am still perplexed by this decision. Yes, Cavanagh had an attitude. Yes she created a very basic look. But at least she did it on her own, well mostly, and it was still well made and actually wearable. Someone who could barely create a bodysuit over someone who at least made 2 quality pieces — I just don’t get it!!

And yes, despite Cavanagh’s tone during the episode, she at least held composure and owned her mistakes. Frankie broke down all episode, so much crying. I didn’t care for those antics. And I guess what really struck me as most annoying was she had so much help to still have a look end up being so bad!! I commend Cavanagh for not throwing that tidbit of information out there! One could commend Frankie for trying something different I guess with this strip motif, but wait, let’s be real, she was making only a bodysuit, how basic! And really, where was this going that it would be considered super inventive or amazingly creative??

This decision still makes no sense. I don’t know that Cavanagh was really fit for this type of competition either, but Frankie is definitely not! Side note, I also liked the setup that now the safe designers can see the critiques with the top and bottom looks! This poor decision aside, I am ready to see this season play out!

The Final Task before the Finale!

Right here at the end of Project Runway on Lifetime, and probably the last All-Stars season for a bit. This is also the world championship, so there is a lot riding on these last 2 challenges. With 4 designers left, the road to winning will not be easy! And this penultimate challenge would not be an easy one either.

This week would be all about families. Each designer would create 3 looks for a modern-day family. The looks were to be cohesive as these looks would be incorporated into a family portrait. The Mood budget would be $400 and the designers would have 2 days. With the task details given, it was first time to sit with their families and gain inspiration for their looks.

While shopping, Biddell wasn’t sure about 1 of his looks. He finally finds his fabric, but Dmitry had already called it. There wasn’t much left on the roll, so this left Biddell with none. Of course, there was another roll that was found so crisis averted! Day 1 was all about laying out groundwork and really getting everything going. Biddell was unsure on cohesion, and Dmitry seemed a bit lost as well. Irina really wanted to add details into her looks, and Michelle was busy creating lots of pants!

Anne came by for her check-ins on Day 1. She reminded the designers to be cohesive. And that while it was important to please their clients, they also had to please the judges! And as Anne critiqued the looks, we also saw some typical designer shade. Michelle and Biddell had some choice words for Dmitry’s looks, which was laughable to me since they clearly had a good bit to worry with in their own looks!

Time for Day 2! Biddell came into the workroom with a new attitude, ready to inject some fun into his work. The family fittings were also a part of day 2. All of the families seemed very excited. Biddell was still at a loss on what to do with one of his looks. With this week being all about family, missing their own families naturally came to the designers’ minds, so they each made calls home.

I am sure 2 days flew by for the designers! The morning of, we saw our typical Michelle/Irina drama. Irina was not having any of the self pity for Michelle. Michelle was probably feeling a bit on edge because she had gone home at this point before, in her last all-stars season, being eliminated right before the finale. But nerves aside, it was time for the runway. Anne had some strong opinions during her critiques and that was rightfully so since she was this week’s guest judge.

I know we’ve seen in regular seasons of PR that right before the finale, no eliminations happen. So all 4 designers being safe was not super surprising. It kind of would have been more interesting if someone had gone home, but I guess with 4 left, we get to see some amazing final looks and it’s going to make naming a winner even tougher!

With 4 left, there was a top 2 and bottom 2. The top 2 were Biddell and Irina, with Biddell winning the final challenge. My choice would have been Irina. I really loved what she created for her family, very RTW, practical, wearable looks, but still with some fashionable touches. I think her cohesiveness was the best of the 4. The judges seemed to want a bit more, but bump them, they are being crazy! My only critique was the pants look, that maybe it would have been a bit better if it was a skirt because the pants led too a great deal of body coverage.

Biddell did a great job as well. I don’t think all 3 looks translated as being cohesive. The look for the daughter, I loved the print, but both the top and the bottom in the print, it was a lot. I think a solid color pant would have been better. And the bows, I mean they were cute and fun, but I don’t know if they were necessary. And if he wanted to do them, put them on the side of the pant, not the front. The look for the young man, this look was the best of the bunch. Loved the jacket and really just such a fun look! The dress he made though, I didn’t love this. Making the top portion akin to a varsity jacket, the dress lost sophistication and appeal. He didn’t know what to do on this look and this being what came to mind, I just didn’t get it.

This left the bottom 2 being Michelle and Dmitry. I don’t know who the judges would have sent home in this instance. It pains me to say, but of these 2 different family creations, I do feel Dmitry missed the mark. The dress he made was sublime. It showcased great touches of Dmitry. But the other 2 looks fell flat. Dmitry is clearly not a menswear designer and these menswear pieces felt dated, unflattering in fit, and very basic. And then with the pants look, it had no direction or resolution.

That all being said, I don’t think Michelle did much better of a job. She had one very youthful dress, striking print, and it was a standout piece. Similar to that of Dmitry’s looks, one amazing dress doesn’t do the trick though. The look for her kid, a jumpsuit, I don’t think this was something he would wear in the real world. Jumpsuits are high fashion, but not on the playground! I’d say a shorts look, cool graphic shirt, that would have been the better route. And then the look for the grandma, this was just way too much of that print. I liked the print, but it was too much. I think the better option here would have been the prints for the pant, and then a top, mainly solid, but maybe incorporating a little bit of the print perhaps along the neckline, or a strip across the bodice.

If all 4 bring their A-game for the finale, this is going to be such a tough call!

Designers Going to the Royal Ball

Well so okay, from my title, no, most of these designer looks would truly not be at any designer ball! I was a little underwhelmed with this overall runway. But really, for such glam, royally fitting looks, more time was needed. However, this is the best of the best, so what has to be done to whittle down the field, it had to be done!

Nina Garcia joined Alyssa on the runway to give the challenge details. Nina just got back from Thailand, so inspired by all of the colorful silks. This would play into the designers’ challenge. They had to create a modern ball gown, off to a royal ball, and use colorful silks. Nina also announced the winning designer would win a trip to Thailand. There would be a $300 Mood budget and this would be a 1-day challenge.

It’s getting down to the wire, but there is still some time it seems for designer shade! Lots of comments on all of Michelle’s choices of colors, but heck, even she seemed stressed on that one! Michelle and Irina banter on each other again. Anthony was discussing Biddell again, and how fast he works. I guess the biggest takeaway I was seeing this week was that Michelle & Anthony are not designers of the more formal type pieces, and this was a struggle for them. However, this is Project Runway, and it is expected there will be some elevated, red carpet challenges. No time really at this point for excuses!

Anne was soon around for check-ins. She reminded the designers to channel their girl, their client, going to a formal ball. She asked that Irina not think of a wedding cake, which given her final look, I don’t see how she thought her look was going bridal? And then with Dmitry, she mentioned his look needed to be more formal. I again question that comment given he was certainly one who had a more formal look than the rest.

It was later time for model fittings and the only ones ready were Irina and Biddell. That was not boding well for the final outcome of this runway. You could kind of tell where the results were going here, but nonetheless, I was interested to hear the judges’ thoughts. Joining the judges’ panel were Nina Garcia and fashion icon Iris Apfel.

From the final results, the judges comments, so obvious Irina was winning this challenge. Her look was a little sexy for a royal ball, but she really went for that modern feel. And her look was so well made, such a knock out!

Biddell was also a “contender” for the win, albeit not really in comparison to Irina’s look. His look could be at a ball, but it wouldn’t stand out. He chose a great color in red, but the boxy construction on the shoulders and waistline was not done well. The model looked so much bigger in this look.

I thought Dmitry was a closer to contender to win than Biddell, but he landed in the middle. The floral applique work on the bodice was stunning. I also like the cutouts on the bodice and neckline. The bottom was where this fell apart. The mix of fabrics, the varied lengths, it took away from the luxurious feel of the look.

The bottom 2 was obviously Michelle and Anthony. We have been left with a question on many bottom 2s this season. Does the stronger body of work designer go home, or the one with the weaker look on this given challenge? Sean Kelly was one saved where his body of work was stronger, but the week he was saved, he had the worst look. That was the case this week. Michelle has had a stronger season than Anthony, but ultimately, I believe she had the weaker look.

I get that more formal looks are not her forte, but that shouldn’t impact crazy color choices and a poorly constructed garment. I don’t get where she was going here with this type of patchwork design. I can’t see even if flawlessly executed, all the time in the world to work on, how amazing this would look and be fit for a royal ball, even in a modern sense.

It was Anthony that went home. I actually liked the idea of using feathers. I also didn’t mind the color choices of ivory and yellow. Where this fell apart was the silhouette, this oversized caftan style. Had he done this look in a more formal type silhouette, it would have been better received.

Next week’s previews have me nervous, I hope my fave doesn’t go home!

Designers See Stormy Weather Ahead!!

Project Runway All-Stars is getting down to the wire, so this runway was going to be a tough one! It was definitely an interesting challenge. Alyssa came on a TV screen like a news anchor, with a special report on climate change. With that in mind, it was the perfect segway for the challenge — to create resortwear that transforms from one climate to another.

Each designer had to do their own special weather forecast, where they would learn of their resort location and 2 different weather conditions. The challenge budget was $200 at Mood, with 1 day to create their transformative look.

While shopping at Mood, Christina was having fabric woes. However, it was Biddell once back to the workroom who was having insecurities. Quick jump to Anne’s critiques. She noted my exact sentiment in that this is the best of the best, so no room for error!

I don’t know if I would don any of these looks as a whole, but there were definitely some amazing separates in the bunch. The notion for the challenge was to create transformation, so in that dual role, I wasn’t surprised to not totally love an entire look. But I nonetheless was excited to still see the runway, see what resorts worked, and which climates were best served. I was also excited to see one of the guest judges, a fashion line I wholeheartedly love, Reem Acra. And also joining her was actress Cynthia Erivo.

I usually do my recaps in a breakdown of the top and bottom. Each look kind of got mixed reviews, but a clear top 2 were Michelle and Irina. I absolutely agreed with this assessment, but I would have given the win to Irina over Michelle.

Irina had the Moroccan desert and this look fit this to a tee. She had to face a violent thunderstorm and high winds. Her look had such drama for the winds, it was, no pun intended, mind-blowing! And her water resistant transitioned outerwear piece was genius. I also loved her color palette. Georgina was spot on to say that this look seemed super luxe.

Michelle’s look hit less marks for me, but overall, I still felt it was a great look. The mixing of prints was kind of tough, and it certainly received mixed reviews. But I did love each piece separately and the green color palette was a bold, striking choice. Her resort was Costa Rica, which I didn’t really see in this piece. She also had to deal with warm tropical winds and then a downpour. Her transition to the downpour, having a rain jacket, did hit the mark. But I didn’t see the original silhouette working with the winds.

Instead of a top 3, I felt we had a top 2, middle 2, and bottom 2. So the middle 2 were Dmitry & Anthony. I loved Dmitry’s look, and didn’t agree with all the mixed reviews. My only issues with him were that his transformation really wasn’t there — holding a coat is not what I feel the challenge called for. And then secondly, this coat wasn’t a standout piece for me. But his under maxi dress was super gorgeous. I loved the print and the lace detailing. His resort was Palm Springs, but I didn’t see that in this look. I did see a look fit for being in the sun and then transitioning to a cold front, even though again, the coat was not a fave for me.

I didn’t agree at all with Christina being eliminated this week. I didn’t care if she was in the bottom 2, but Biddell should have been out on his look. Before all of that, I will say Anthony Ryan didn’t do great work here either. I think he should have been in the bottom. I have never been to Whistler Mountain, but his look read more costume than resort. For his warmth need, his basic underdress was far too basic, nothing overly exciting. And then his outerwear piece for the snowy cold, I didn’t like it. The color choices were not a great pair, especially for this resort need. I agreed with the judges that he needed more here.

As I mentioned above, Biddell should have been out this week. I don’t get this at all and don’t see this being modern in any way, shape or form. I do think his color palette felt very Miami. But this was throwback and not in a good way. It worked with thunderstorms because I felt he made it out of plastic. And I didn’t see anything specific for hot or humid weather. He also said he was tired!! Send him home because at least Christina still had fight in her!

As disappointing as Christina’s exit was, I do wish she had done a bit more with her look. She created a bathing suit and a cover-up. I don’t feel this fit the challenge criteria very well of transformation. I did feel this would fit well in Mykonos. Her bathing suit was great for sunny weather, and the flowing cover up worked well with the wind. But it all read basic and generic as the judges pointed out. Nothing super original was seen here. And it did look like pieces you could go buy now. Not a standout look, but not worthy of sending her home. I would still wear everything she created, especially her cover-up.

Given this was tough seeing Christina exit, I know next week will be even tougher! I don’t see Biddell lasting much longer, so I wish he had left this week and Christina stayed. I think she was the strongest international designer left.

Designers Take it to the Streets

So this week was all about streetwear. And not just streetwear, but creating high fashion, gender neutral streetwear. I was interested to see what the designers would come up with regards to this challenge.

As an added bonus, the designers would be flying blind as to who their model was. The challenge budget was $200 from Mood, 1 day to create. We never see much on the shopping, but Sean was pushing the limits on his allotted time. Anthony Ryan chose some very expensive fabric, wondering if he had enough. This was even more of an issue when learning he had a 6’4″ model.

In getting back to the workroom, we saw Michelle expressing a little sadness that her and Dmitry seemed not as close. And while that was not shade, there was still plenty of that going around. Sean was both on Biddell and Dmitry. Specifically with Dmitry, he noted Dmitry had not been in the bottom, and maybe it was his time. Michelle of course had comments on Irina, clearly a mutual dislike there. I thought it was funny Michelle was commenting on the gender aspect, but then quickly just quipped Irina’s look was ugly.

Shade turned to critiques as it was time for Anne’s check-ins. Ultimately, she felt when the designers met their models, it would give them inspiration to really amp up their looks even more. Christina was one who decided not to heed Anne’s advice. She felt she needed to show more of herself in this piece. Model fittings were soon thereafter, where Anthony Ryan discovered he had a twin in his model, except his model was much taller!

Biddell questioned Sean being done early last week, but he was back on his normal track of being finished up early, along with Irina. Even into the next day, Irina didn’t have much to do, so she decided to make herself a dress. She had leftover fabric, and put it to use rather than waste. Drama quickly arose because Irina decided to work on this side project on Christina’s machine. This left Christina working on Michelle’s machine, both of whom were still working on their actual challenge looks. I understand frustration the morning of. I also don’t know how much time surpassed. I think everyone here could have handled the situation better. And I never understand this issue over machines because there are plenty provided in the Brother sewing room. The time you are wasting standing around waiting, you could start on another machine.

Drama aside, I was ready for the runway! This week’s guest judge was actress Asia Kate Dillon. My excitement faded as this week left me confused! I know things are going to be difficult from here on out. But Sean leaving now, it still doesn’t sit right. On the other hand, he has been in the bottom quite a bit, so one could argue he has not been doing his best work this season. I absolutely don’t think he had the worst look this week. This cliche and expected nonsense the judges gave was nonsensical. Sean will be missed!

The worst look for me was Biddell. How this wasn’t in the bottom was yet another confusing judges’ decision. His fringe vest was like a cheap Native American costume. And the gold sheer top he made, it was more gay guy going clubbing than anything remotely gender neutral. What was probably the worst was his critique of everyone else misunderstanding gender neutrality, when he was probably one of the worst culprits.

Irina and Dmitry comprised the remainder of the bottom 2. I think Irina should have been safe, or in the top. She clearly created streetwear to a tee. And then I think she took risk in not creating something super bulky, but rather still body conscious.

I was so surprised hearing Dmitry had never been in the bottom, not just this season, but both of his prior seasons. I will agree with this look, this was his time. But it was hard seeing him then in the bottom 2. The look was too futuristic. The criss-cross on the bodice was confusing, as the judges noted too. Dmitry has shown so much strength in this season, so it was hard seeing the bottom 2 between such amazing designers.

While I didn’t agree with the top 3, I was fine with Christina’s win. This look was one of the few which met the challenge requirements on both streetwear, but also gender neutrality.

Michelle was my safe look. I liked the details here. There was a lot to take in. However I wasn’t a huge fan of the dye work. Ultimately I am not sure if everything came together in a resolved fashion. But I appreciated her risk and hard work here.

Anthony was also in the top. I would have put him in my bottom group, but not a candidate for elimination. I appreciated Sean had a fan in Alyssa. But her commentary for Anthony was way off. While I didn’t care for his look, I didn’t get the constant need to compare it to the other coat he made for the avant garde challenge. They were not the same coats! Irina makes a lot of outerwear. Sean uses a lot of fringe. A designer should certainly be free to make 2 coats in one season!

This week was tough, but it sucks knowing next week will be even tougher!

Designers Go From Day to Night

We have had a Southwest Airlines challenge; a Butter London challenge; and so in keeping in line with sponsors of the show challenges, it is now time for the JC Penney challenge. The designers met Alyssa at a JC Penney store. Joining the group was Design Director for Contemporary Brands for JC Penney, Monica Dalton.

The challenge details were to turn daytime separates into a sensational nighttime look. Each designer would have 3 different separates, all of which had to be incorporated into their final look. Throughout the store were 8 live model mannequins, each wearing 2 separates. The designers would claim their model, and then shop for their 3rd separate item. The only materials for this challenge would be these items.

There was an additional bonus for the win this week, in that the winning designer would receive a $2000 shopping spree at JC Penney! This would be a 1-day challenge. The designers were off to shop and sketch. Michelle decided to choose based on the model, versus the actual clothing items they were wearing. Didn’t see that as the smartest move, but oh well! As the designers were back to the workroom though, it was Christina who faced the most struggles.

It was soon time for Anne’s check-ins. A few needed to really think about the nighttime element. Others needed a bit more runway impact. It was nice to see that some were getting positives, such as Dmitry and Irina. Throughout the episode we of course saw our traditional “Designer Shade.” Michelle and Dmitry were exchanging shade on each other, Dmitry saying Michelle was not doing much more than she usually does, while Dmitry was making a hideous skirt. Irina also thought Michelle was being far too basic.

Some were finishing up a little early on the first day. Biddell decided to make a turbin. Michelle and Sean seemed to be done, or maybe just taking a little break toward the end of the day, but as we later saw the next morning, they still had lots to do. Regardless, in that little break-time, Christina was over the noise. But it was Dmitry who had no issue asking for a little respect in the workroom as others were still working.

The morning of the runway had one huge surprise in that I guess as Sean was soon finished, he decided to help Christina. Biddell was criticizing that, but also that Sean should focus on his own garment. An odd statement since Biddell has finished early himself, so I don’t get that criticism, but I do agree at this stage in the game, helping out might not be the best strategy?

It was soon time for the runway. This week’s guest judges were actress Vanessa Williams and model Jasmine Tookes. So the safe designers for this runway were Dmitry and Anthony Ryan. Dmitry’s top was great, but his skirt was not his best work! However, I thought Anthony Ryan did a great job on his chic dress. I loved the colors and really wish he had been in the top!

In the top however was Irina, Michelle, and Biddell. This was absolutely not my top group. And I am even more confused how Biddell nabbed this win. I loved the shimmer of his fabric, but I didn’t see this as a fashionable nighttime look. It was elevated street chic. And drop trousers can be hip for some, but it is not in the nighttime life! I would have pegged him as safe.

Michelle making the top was also a surprise for me. This look had very little runway impact. Looking at it upclose, the appeal could grow on you, but this was far too basic and simplistic compared to some of the others. A look doesn’t always need the bells and whistles, but this was not simplistic minimalism at its best.

I was at least happy for one top contender, very well-deserved, Irina. This was such a vibrant look, daring red color.

As much as Biddell’s win struck confusion for me, so did Sean being in the bottom. I could totally see this as a maxidress that anyone would want. The judges basically said this was too commercial without saying those exact words. HELLO! This was a JC Penney challenge. They were using commercial fabrics, to make looks for a commercial sponsor. I loved this and Sean was not deserving of a bottom 3 spot.

The bottom 2 however was spot on. Just as we saw last week, Sean was saved because he has shown more promise than Django, but his look was far worse. This was absolutely the case between Christina & Cynthia. Christina had the worst look, but she has shown far more potential than Cynthia. I can’t feel too badly for Cynthia leaving because she really hasn’t stood out, playing it far too safe. Hopefully Christina will step it up next week!

Early 2019 Best Dressed

Quite a few red carpets for this early party of 2019, but here are a few random red carpets thus far — Golden Globes related parties; National Board of Review; Arts Awards; Art of Elysium; Producers Guild Awards; and amFAR NY.




at the 8th Annual Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts International Awards at SKYBAR at The Mondrian Hotel in L.A.









at the 30th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Film Awards Gala



  • at the Governors Awards





Designers “Try” Avant Garde

Huge Willy Wonka fan, so the start of this week, this challenge, was a super exciting one for me. The designers headed to Broadway in NYC, the Theater District, to meet with Alyssa and get the challenge details. They went to the Broadway venue for the Charlie & the Chocolate Factory show, where joining Alyssa was Tony award winner, star of the Willy Wonka show, Christian Borle.

One underlying message of Willy Wonka is the power of imagination. Fitting for this week, to push the bounds of creativity and let the imagination run wild, an Avant Garde challenge. The designers would use Willy Wonka as an inspiration to create new inventions in fashion. It could be something practical, but a surprising use; inventive way to wear something new; or an unexpected innovation.

Cute segment with the designers not having sketchbooks, and they magically appear. This would be a 1-day challenge, with a $300 budget. However, there was a pile of chocolate bars, and in the spirit of Willy Wonka, one contained a golden ticket. This golden ticket would allot one designer an extra $100, and Biddell won that honor. After sketching at the show venue, the designers were off to Mood. We later learned the designers could source materials from 3 other locations as well because of the innovation component to this challenge — a dollar store, building supply, or an electronic shop.

With that in mind, Anthony got tons of dry erase markers, while Michelle ordered some foam carpet padding. After some new materials arrived, Anne came by for her check-ins. Of course, Django looked miserable! Anne had faith in some, such as Michelle. She thoughts others needed more strength in their looks, such as Cynthia. Django’s look also received some crazy concern, as he was discussing an apron — I was concerned too!

I am not sure why Django then went in full attitude mode, getting mad at Anthony for calling Anne, Ms. Anne, and then Christina for her look. There was definitely some other designer shade throughout the episode — Dmitry on Sean’s zebra prints. And then super funny Irina calling out Michelle for repetitive designers, but Cynthia thought the same of Irina.

The end of the day was crazy, especially seeing Sean decide to start over! Naturally the morning of the runway was going to be crazy, very much so for Sean with a whole look to complete (not a great birthday for him!). It was then time for the runway! The guest judges this week were Broadway star Andrew Rannells & actress Anna Camp. Overall, I was unimpressed with this being an avant garde runway. I am not sure for this type of environment, a 1-day challenge, if anything else was to be expected. The looks were not bad, they just weren’t Avant Garde…. well most of them.

Cynthia is riding the safe wave, and she needs to step up. Her look was so similar to Christina’s vibe, so definitely wasn’t avant garde. At least Cynthia incorporated more. Evan went with a futuristic vibe, but that doesn’t equate Avant Garde. For him getting extra money, I don’t see it was used wisely. I loved Dmitry’s look, not sure how inventive it was, but it did read super chic to me.

For the judges’ top 3, it made sense, and was fairly obvious. Christina created a super chic look, very bad-ass, loved the colors with the pop of the blue. I wish we had seen a bit more with the music aspect, but overall this was solid work.

Michelle had such a purpose with her look. The story worked for this challenge and I did see something different in her look. I don’t quite get the over-the-top praise for the under dress, but the creativity here worked.

Anthony’s gamer look was cool. It was kind of a throwback in a sense of writing, so really how new is that concept? But working that into the garment was interesting. The judges were right to point out the childhood imagination here. His win made the most sense.

Irina being in the bottom was kind of comical. There were 3 similar pant, futuristic bad-ass looks of the bunch, clearly not super inventive, yet Irina was in the bottom? I’m glad at least 2 of the judges had different thoughts, and this was clearly not a unanimous decision. Given that, there was no surprise she would not be in the bottom 2.

Sean’s look was a clear mess, and Django riding the bottom wave as of late, this was the clear bottom 2. Sean survived, barely! I love Sean, but if the judges were sending a look home this week, it would have been Sean. He was saved because he shows more potential. I am fine with that decision, because he does have more potential than Django, but it shouldn’t be held back that his look for this challenge was bad. His styling was cool, but as Anna Camp pointed out, the look was very much unresolved.

It was Django’s time. His look was interesting, but it was not Avant Garde. The top was cool, the hat was a little whacky, and the pants were a bore. The judges were right to point out that this look did read more cinematic and historical than creative and inventive for the future of fashion.

Designers go Red Carpet Glam

I love gorgeous gowns, so with this week being all about red carpet glam, I was super excited! Alyssa met the designers on the runway, joined by President of Butter London, Sarina Godin. Butter London has a new Glazen collection, creating an intense, metallic look, with a gel texture. This would serve as the designers’ inspiration for the challenge.

Each designer would create a red carpet look using metallic fabrics, while also adding a unique texture. The red carpet at hand would be up to the designer. The winning designer would receive a years supply of Butter London products and services for fashion shows and photoshoots, in addition to the $5000 weekly prize. This would be a 1-day challenge with a $250 budget.

The designers were off to the Butter London studio, to check out the Glazen collection firsthand, and to get some inspiration. Right from the get-go, Anya was not super thrilled. Others were much more excited and ready to head off to Mood, getting a little scared on the prices, but others were beginning to see their visions come to life!

As the designers were back to the workroom, we first re-visited the Michelle/Dmitry drama from last week. Dmitry still stood by his copying thoughts, but Michelle did offer an apology for snapping. Anya was still at a loss, which was no surprise, given her lack of actual sewing skills, she wouldn’t be relying on normal bag of easy tricks. In fact, when she was in the sewing room, it kind of looked as though she was checking out the other designers as if she was cheating on a test.

Anne came by for her check-ins, where we know from the past, Django was less than thrilled. Anne noted a cheap curtain look, making others modern, and giving some elevation. She reminded the designers that there was some interesting fabric choices, but the fabric couldn’t do all the work. Model fittings were soon thereafter, where some designers made some changes, such as Sean & Django, and we really got to then see how messy Anya’s process was for her look.

I’m going to add a new segment in my recaps with Designer Shade! Biddell was hating on Sean’s fringe, being super repetitive. But most shade was on Biddell, Anthony Ryan not seeing how he could just finish so early, and not try to do more. So yes, by the morning of the runway, Biddell was still finished, while Anya was barely struggling to get by. She had 2 or 3 other designers actually helping her complete her garment — YIKES!!

Given my excitement for the challenge this week, I was ready for the runway! There were actually 3 guest judges on the panel, not sure why so many, but nonetheless a full slate for the day — talk show host Wendy Williams, racecar driver Danica Patrick, and model Lily Aldridge.

The judges’ top and bottom pretty much made sense. For the rest, here are my quick thoughts — I didn’t love Cynthia’s print, it felt like too much; Christina’s look felt underwhelming; Anthony Ryan needed more punch in his look and it read very heavy; but I loved Dmitry’s look, such glamour!

How Irina was not the winner this week was beyond insane! Her look was the epitome of a red carpet challenge. I might have personally preferred a little less of a slit, but this look was stunning. The ombre effect was spot-on. This would be on anyone’s best dressed list.

The judges’ selected Sean as the winner. His fringe work was of course stunning. And this look would have been much better had the top been less, versus more. It was certainly a great look, but I didn’t get the red carpet story. I don’t imagine this being a look for the Met Gala!

Biddell rounded out the top 3, which was the right choice. Other designers thought his look, specifically his fabric choice, was cheap. But I didn’t see that, I saw chic glam. I didn’t really care for the earrings the way some of the judges did. They were too big!

The bottom 3 was Anya, Django, and Michelle, not too surprising of a group. Django’s look was originally dubbed by Anne as moo-moo like, so he added a midriff cutout I guess to be more sexy, more modern. It was not a good call. I loved his fabric choice, but he has to know better what to with it!

I don’t think Michelle’s look was as bad as the judges thought. Seeing the hem upclose, that was worthwhile to mention. And my major critique was, as Danica pointed out, the fit was off. This look read too boxy. It didn’t have to be skin-tight, but there was too much flow.

I think it was obvious who was going home though however, Anya. I don’t know if there was anything positive to say here. There were so many errors, it was so trashy, the fit was so bad. This is an embarrassment coming from any All-Star designer, especially one this far along in the game. Shame on the judges for keeping her so long!

Best of the Best — 2018

Many red carpets throughout the year of 2018, here are my top picks for the year!

SUI HE — Cannes






2nd look — Baby2Baby Gala

SHANTEL VAN SANTEN — Oscars Elton John Foundation Party

MADELAINE PETSCH — at the Art of Elysium

2nd look — Oscars Elton John Party

3rd Look — Emmy’s

VANESSA HUDGENS — Dog Days Premiere

VU NGOC ANH — Cannes

2nd look — Cannes





OLIVIA HOLT — Avengers Premiere

2nd Look — Network Upfronts