Avant Garde challenges are usually the most exciting on Project Runway, but this episode was EXTRA in that regard as the drama on the twins continued to unfold. End result, both twins are now gone. Claire was found to have a measuring tape in her room, where she measured garments, which is explicitly against the rules. I get the sense of drama around how this all happened, but as a huge PR fan, I was disappointed in seeing the unfolding. This information should have come to light sooner. For some of the designers to know, yet none of the producers, odd? And if this happened in a first instance 2 weeks before, why wait until now??
Ultimately, I am glad it is over with. And to the point Margarita was leading the bandwagon on, discussing designer copycat issues, this was quite annoying. Every designer in PR history, I can pinpoint other designer references. This is not unheard of, and it is very common in fashion. And you do not get to lay claim to techniques or basic garments in fashion! As someone who went to law school, and did a lot of studies within the fashion/IP realm, this is one of the main reasons it is hard for designers to have protection. But there is a huge difference between references/inspirations, and straight up replicas or copycat looks!
On now to some actual design, with this week’s challenge details. The designers met Tim on the runway, where lots of kids were playing! The designers thought this would be designing childrenswear, but alas, no! The kids were playing with Shopkins Shoppies characters. Joining Tim on the runway was Kotomi Nanjo, the US Marketing Director for Shopkins. Shopkins are stylized dolls, who are fun, colorful, and cute, but always with a little quirk. Each child had a different doll, each with it’s own story. The designers would each be assigned to a character, and in learning from the child about the doll, it would serve as the inspiration for an avant garde look.
The winning look would be re-created for a Shoppie character, and the winning designer would receive $5000. As the designers were meeting with the children, it was so cute to see that some of the kids had drew up some thoughts for a new look! This would be a 1-day challenge, with a $300 Mood budget. This week’s guest judge was model/actress Kate Upton.
The judges noted only 2 bottom looks this week, 4 top looks and the rest being safe. This was pretty much a clear distinction. The 2 bottom looks were just not up to par here. Kenya (Jessie Cake) & Kentaro were both safe, but I think Kentaro, with the Rainbow Cake doll, did a way better job than Brandon, for Cocolette. I am not sure how he landed in the top, yet again! I think the judges should have focused on 3 top looks versus 4. I can’t imagine that in this case, Brandon would have made the cut!
The winning look was from Michael, but I really wish it had been Ayana or Margarita. I think given the sponsor of the week, Shopkins, Ayana’s look just really fit the bill more, creating for Bubbleisha. It was fun, so imaginative, loved the dub of “surrealist bo-beep.” And just to point out something here I referenced earlier, talking about seeing references in a designer’s look from other designers, with Ayana’s look. I am not taking away from her design talent at all. But in her look, I saw a bit of Betsey Johnson, or that of Moschino. Did she copy, no! But the references are there! But again, love love love this look!
This is not to say that Margarita or Michael did not do well, because they did. I just saw more Shopkins vibes in Ayana’s look. But in terms of being avant garde, both Margarita & Michael did splendidly. Margarita, for Pineapple Lily, this look was just so pretty. The different textures, amazing. And such a beauty with the sculptured flow that the bottom portion of this garment gave off.
Michael, creating for Popette, he too did a stand-out job with sculpture. This was different and very sci-fi. I didn’t love the bell-bottoms, but I guess given this doll was about disco, the trend fit.
Sadly, compared to the rest of the looks, Batani & Amy did not measure up. Batani would have gone home the week before had Claire not been eliminated, and that would have made 0 sense to me. But 2 not so great looks, 2 weeks in a row, unfortunately, Batani was eliminated with her look for Sara Sushi. This look really did feel as if random bits of fabric were thrown together.
The surprising part of the night was the double elimination. I think it would have been hard to choose between these 2 looks, on which deserved to go home over the other. But it was clear, both did not compare at all to the other stellar avant garde looks of the night. Amy designed for Sara Sushi, and this was just so safe. Amy has had some highs, at least in my book, earlier on in the season. But when she hasn’t done top notch work, I have always found her work to be super safe. You will not win PR if you don’t push yourself!
Until next week….