PR Designers Take on Avant-Garde — Time to go Big or Go Home!

This is it! It is the final challenge before we find out who is going to NYFW! And what better way to make that determination than by having the designers take on creating an avant-garde look. The judges would be looking for something extraordinary, going beyond the norm, a fashion first where innovation and originality would be key. And given that nobody went home last week, on this challenge, 2 designers would be getting axed. For this huge task, it really called for a larger than life runway! Instead of the regular catwalk, the designers would show their looks at NYC’s newest, innovative architectural feat, The Vessel.

Since Nancy won last week, she was able to choose her model. She then selected another designer to choose, and it was so on and so forth after that, with Victoria choosing last. This would be a 2-day challenge, with the sketching happening right then and there. The challenge itself wouldn’t start until the next day with the trip to Mood. During sketch-time, Marquise expressed comfort with this type of challenge, Victoria felt just okay, but Brittany was not feeling great at all. Sergio was planning his next big piece, but also his next big political statement, women empowerment.

So for the first full day of work, the designers began at Mood with a budget of $600. The designers were excited, but also happy to have a little extra shopping time. Geoffrey was feeling ready, although found himself working with familiar fabrics. Christian had already warned everyone to mix it up, so Geoffrey decided instead to work with latex. This is not new territory for him, but would be on this show. It was then time for the designers to get to work. We saw at Mood Brittany was thinking butterflies, but also thinking pink! Victoria was aiming to create 100s of small, faux leather pieces, to create her own fabric, looking to be some very tedious work. And Marquise was getting into work with all of his chains!

Christian was around later for Siriano sessions. Christian was okay with Brittany’s butterfly vision. Geoffrey was thrilled to show Christian his abilities to work well with latex. For Nancy, Christian urged her to go ahead and figure out her silhouette. But with Victoria, he wasn’t sure what direction she was going. For the remainder of day 1, Sergio expressed he only saw himself as competition and that everyone is always watching him. Not sure about that one, but everyone looked tired after a full day’s work, but still ready to go the next day for round 2!

The designers began their 2nd day of work with a surprise from Christian. They thought it was bad news, but it was more positive! Christian had it all set up for the designers to see every look they have created this season. It was a lovely walk down memory lane. But of course, it was more than just looking at their past work! Each designer would choose 2 prior looks to show with their avant-garde look. They would also get to work with a seamstress to tailor their looks for the new models. Next up was model fittings. Seeing what Geoffrey was creating with his latex work, I wasn’t sure what was going on. Sergio was working away with his Samurai look. Christian cautioned Marquise to relook at his jacket. And the designers also began work with their assigned seamstress.

Justine Marjan from Tresemme then came by to consult with each designer on their hair look because this avant-garde creation needed to truly sync with the hair & makeup. Toward the end of the day, Geoffrey accidentally cut himself, what a crazy end to a hectic, filled day! Since the designers had to be on location for this runway, their day of runway had to begin much earlier! Geoffrey was still reeling from his finger injury the day before, and looked to be hurting himself all over again! But injuries aside, the looks were getting finishing touches, the designers were off to The Vessel.

The judges were also arriving on location. We saw that Brandon was really afraid of heights, so he would be taking in the show from a lower level. This week’s guest judge was actress Rachel Brosnahan. Seeing this space with the runway show going on, it looks to be a stunning spot for a fashion show! And this runway did not disappoint. I feel most of the designers really stepped up to the plate, and I do imagine the choice to send 2 designers home, so only 4 making it to fashion week, it was a tough call!

My sense from the judges was that there was no question Geoffrey and Victoria were going thru. Nancy maybe more in the safe zone, with the final decision coming down to for that 4th spot between Brittany, Marquise and Sergio. I think the final decisions all made sense to me, and I was okay with, but this is not how I would have broken up this group. I don’t think there should have been any debate over Nancy going thru. She was definitely one of my top picks. Her look was so artistic, so sculptural, such a vision. I can’t say this is something overly unique from her, but it was clear everyone loved it. Nina mentioned something about better color choices, but I thought that was nonsensical. You could tell Brittany was fuming over the good critiques Nancy was receiving, but that is pretty petty that she felt her look was better than Nancys’. Not sure in what world that made sense in her head!

I am not usually a Victoria fan, but on this look, I can see why the judges put her thru over some of the rest. I wasn’t sure about the colors when I first saw it, but looking at it now, it makes sense and I do really like the look. I don’t think the ear attachment was needed. I wish it had been a little longer in the front. But this look read better to me the more I got to look at it, and she really stepped up from work she has created all season. It was nice to finally see something truly different from Victoria.

Geoffrey nabbed that definite fashion week spot as well. The judges were in awe, but I still just don’t get it. Geoffrey has done great work all season, and I am happy he was given the chance to go to fashion week, but this look was not a knockout. I can’t recall which judge said something about him being on such an upwards trajectory toward the last part of the season, but I guess they forgot how poorly he did just the week before this with that tacky short red dress he created! I don’t think this met the level of avant-garde. The latex was cool looking, but it was a long train over a body suit with exaggerations on the top. He said he makes stage looks for singers and this is exactly what this look was. I don’t get the over exaggeration of positives here.

I think the bottom 3 should have been Geoffrey, Marquise and Brittany. And in that instance, I don’t know if I would have put Geoffrey thru based on just this one look. But it was actually Sergio in the bottom pack, which I was confused on. I thought comparing his look to that of the other 2, I don’t see how there was any debate he should go thru. His work always is high quality, technically superior, so regal, so luxe. There is a flare for the drama. Yes, his makeup and hair were not very original in this Asian influence aesthetic. But I don’t think his look itself was referential in the examples they showed of McQueen or John Galiano. His Samurai look is not the same as a geisha look. Yes, they both reference the same culture, but are 2 different things and I feel it was very ignorant of the judges to not get that. To be fair, nothing in this lineup was overly innovative or totally original!

It was the right call for Sergio to go thru. Brittany’s look was not perfect, but was the only one I felt might could have gone thru, but didn’t. However in my book, if Brittany goes, then Geoffrey wouldn’t have. I do like this butterfly aesthetic. The judges weren’t thrilled with the butterfly dress, but I actually love it. It’s not avant-garde though. Obviously it was the oversized, long train jacket that was her avant-garde work, and it wasn’t anything overly spectacular. The execution wasn’t fully there, but as much pink as this look was, I still didn’t hate it. What I do hate is Brittany and her pouty attitude. I think she is such a poor sport. Yes it sucks to not make it, but to be fair, her and Marquise were both given 2nd chances in this competition. I don’t think Brittany has made the most of that 2nd chance. And her body of work compared to Geoffreys, it just isn’t as strong.

But Marquise going out on this look, I can’t say it is surprising. I do think Marquise made good use of his 2nd life in this competition. But I have always found him to be inconsistent in his work over the course of the season, and this look was not strong for him. Yes the chain pants were cool. But I know a few designers personally that work with chain metals all the time. It is not this brand new concept. The top part was just not good at all though. It was basic thoughts on hologram and futuristic vibes, but not in a good way. I think I had seen some comments from fans here and there that he was robbed. That is absolutely untrue in regards to this look. He was only brought back to the competition because another designer had to drop out due to illness. He has to prove himself just like everyone else and I don’t feel he did that. I like Marquise, but I don’t think he was ready to create an entire collection for fashion week. He has potential in the future, but he is not quite there yet!

I am eager to see how everything plays out on this road to the fashion week finale!

Proj. Runway Goes Hybrid

Yes, that’s right, for the first time ever, PR created a hybrid challenge for the designers to tackle. It could also be dubbed as the Lexus challenge, since that was part of the underlying inspiration and concept of the week. Each designer had to create an innovative, avant grade look crafted from conventional fabric and unconventional metal themed materials. The designers met Tim at a warehouse, alongside the GM of Product and Consumer Marketing for Lexus, Brian Bolane, for all of the details.

As Brian described, just as the Lexus cars push with innovation, so too must the looks for the week. The designers had 5 minutes to gather their various pieces of machinery and metal from the warehouse. They were then off to Mood, in style this week, driving in a fancy Lexus, to spend $150 on fabrics. It was then off to the workroom to begin this 2-day challenge.

Erin had some drama creating her embellishments for her look, which Mah-Jing had advised her against doing. (It worked out in the end though) But it was Mah-Jing, Laurence, and Cornelius who Tim seemed most concerned with on this challenge, and they were the ones who landed in the bottom 3. Needless to say, the pressure was on. At the start of the episode Heidi informed the designers there were only 2 challenges left, not 3 as they expected. Tim too reminded the designers on the expectations for this week, and those were for spectacular and show-stopping looks to be created. As Heidi said, they had to go big or go home!

The guest judge for the week was actress & director Shiri Appleby. I already mentioned the bottom 3, but let’s start discussions on the top 3, Erin, Rik, and Roberi. The judges got the bottom and top correct, but my winner would have been Rik or Roberi, slightly for me would be to name Rik as the winner.

His look was shiny and cool, a great merge of the conventional and unconventional materials. I saw avant garde, even if Nina and Zac had doubts. I’m glad Heidi made a point to really accentuate the positives here. This was certainly the most wearable, well integrated, and avant garde look of the bunch!

A close runner-up for me would be Roberi. This look was futuristic, intriguing in the shaping, and I was saying “Beam me up Scotty!” I loved that Roberi created a well-made, mixed media look.

Shoutouts — Mary Kay & Sally Beauty Love the hair and the makeup went in line with the overall theme for the look, perfection!

Rounding out the top 3 was Erin. I liked the unconventional creation, but the pants for me were a little ho-hum. I didn’t think it made the look overly exciting. Whereas Rik’s look really merged his materials together, I didn’t quite get the connecting link here. The pop of color was great though. And hearing here paper doll concept was what made the overall look, all the more interesting.

Mary Kay shout-out — Stunning makeup look

Of the bottom 3, as sad as it is to see a designer go home at this point, I think Mah-Jing being eliminated was the right choice of the 3. Laurence’s look was only in the bottom because it was safe. She put in some great work. It was a wearable look, but I agreed with the judges in that it produced no surprise effect. I didn’t get why the judges though were focused on discussing colors for this look. There wasn’t a wide variety of choices with the unconventional materials.

Mary Kay shout-out — Love this gorgeous, glam beauty look!

With Cornelius’ look, I really liked the concept actually. The amount of tubing use and certainly the placements were a bit odd. But it was different and intriguing. I liked his use of color, as well as the mixed media. The main positive about the look was there wouldn’t be any lack of conversation regarding ut. Whether it be good or bad, it was attention-grabbing.

Mah-Jing, again, was the one to leave this week. Nina had it right in saying that the unconventional material usage seemed more like decoration than integrated materials. It did kind of looked placed on, not really a true part of the overall look.

Until next week….


NYFW — The Art Institute

The Art Institute fashion show is always a delight of my NYFW schedule. It’s great to see such great up and coming talent in the fashion industry. Here was this season’s lineup —

Bahareh Memarian — Art Inst. of Vancouver


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Nhi Nguyen — Art Inst. of Houston

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ai-fall-2016-look-40-Nhi-Nguyen  ai-fall-2016-look-38-Nhi-Nguyen

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Stephanie Castanon — Miami International Univ. of Art & Design


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David Marquise Seward — Art Inst. of Philadelphia


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Alejandra Insunsa — Art Inst. of Phoenix


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Zenia De Sousa — Miami International University of Art & Design


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Sebastian Cubides — Miami International Univ. of Art & Design


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Tatiana Cochagne — Art Inst. of Ft. Lauderdale


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Kimberly Richardson — Art Inst. of NYC


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German Madrigal — Art Institute of Portland


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Altenor Leveille — Art Inst. of NYC — Djoone’s Altenor & Christopher Leveille


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Lavan Chxeidze — Art Inst. of NYC


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Show Credits


PR Goes Avant Garde-ish?!?

The avant garde challenge is always a fave for PR, so did these designers live up to the hype?!? We shall soon find out, but first, let’s break down the details. This season there was a slight addition in that each designer could make use of 3D printing technology to incorporate into their avant garde looks. The designers met Tim to get their instructions.

pr14-ep11-episode1Tim was joined by Annie Shaw, Creative Director of 3D Systems. The designers would be taking NYC landmarks to life thru the use of the 3D printing technology. The NYC landmarks serving as the inspirations for this challenge were the various bridges of the East river — the Queensboro, Manhattan, and Brooklyn bridges. Kelly as the winner selected first and the button bag determined the fate for the other designers.

  • Kelly — Brooklyn
  • Candice — Queensboro
  • Merline — Queensboro
  • Edmond — Manhattan
  • Ashley — Manhattan


The winning designer this week would take home a Cube 3D printer with accessories. During the designers’ sketch time, they worked with a 3d modeling expert to assist in creating a 3D textile. After that, the designers were off to Mood with a budget of $200 to get them going on this 2-day challenge. Day 1 back in the workroom involved a great deal of planning and some watching of the 3D printer doing its work!


As day 2 commenced, the designers were all eager to finally see their 3D textiles. Ashley was quickly in worry mode, wondering if she did enough with pushing her creative bounds with the 3D technology. Later it was Tim-time. Tim was feeling Candice’s passion with her work, also being quite impressed with Edmond. Tim was very concerned though with Merline, wondering what her plan was. And with Kelly, he made sure to tell her let’s not do a Brooklyn bridge costume.


As the day winded down, Ashley was in more worry-mode, thinking of how best to make use of her 3D textiles. All while Merline and Kelly seemed to be having some interesting, amusing convos.


This week’s guest judge was former Spice Girl Mel B.


Shout-out — Love the dark, smoky beauty look, Mary Kay


Kelly was the much-deserved winner this week as her garment was the closest thing to actually being avant-garde. It definitely takes some getting used to, but the more I look at this, I have grown to like it.


I know Mel B. loved Candice’s gown as she offered to wear it. And I too am a fan. It’s definitely sculptural at the bottom, not really all that avant garde, but it is a superbly made, gorgeous gown. Candice too also used her 3d pieces the most creatively and she put the most thought into it. Other designers’ looks were too not avant garde, but they also then let the 3-d aspect fall to the wayside. So I appreciate Candice making an amazing look, but also being so creative with the 3-d printing.


The judges were correct here in noting a disconnect. But I love the polka dot under portion. I think that is very snazzy & chic. I’m again not sure this is at all avant garde and Ashley really didn’t make great use of the 3-D aspect, but I appreciate the work put forth and she put something down the runway that was still fashion forward and trendy.



Edmond’s look was another that was not avant garde. He was clever with the 3-D aspect, but overall, I was underwhelemd here. There was nothing too special here.


Sorry, but I’ve not been a huge Merline fan and after this look, it was definitely her time to go — a little overdue if you ask me. This look was poorly made and there was nothing innovative about it. And then in terms of her 3-D pieces, she created nothing imaginative and then she just placed them to the side of the bodice. There was no thought put forth here.



PR All-Star Designers Take on “Avant Garde”

Well……sort of. I’m not sure any designer truly hit the mark on avant garde. This is not to say I hated all the looks, but I definitely wasn’t seeing avant garde this week. So why Isaac pegged this as the best runway of the season, I’m not sure. This was an okay runway, definitely not the best, and certainly nowhere near the best of previous PR seasons and avant garde challenges.

pras4-ep9-episode16This week, the designers met Alyssa, and some cute little penguins, at the Long Island Aquarium. They were asked to create avant garde looks inspired by the underwater marine life. As I mentioned, the runway was barely avant garde, so I can’t imagine what the designers would have done with only the initially proposed $150 budget. Fortunately for all, Helen stepped up to the plate and accepted Alyssa’s proposal. If one designer sketched in the shark tank, everyone would get $100 more. Heck, I think they all should have had to get in the shark tank to get the extra dough, make them work for it. But really there was no way the budget was going to be so low, so I get it, a little drama for the viewers!

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 11.01.55 PMWith that, the designers were off to Mood and then on to the workroom to begin 2 days of work for this challenge. Not much happened on Day 1, just a lot of planning and pre-work detailing. Day 2 was a bit more hectic. Justin was not feeling his look, mainly his fabric choice. Lucky for him, he had some great friends right by his side, Michelle to give a few encouraging words, and Helen, who actually gave him some leftover fabric — how generous!

pras4-ep9-episode6Then it was Zanna-time. Zanna was afraid Michelle was heading in the maternity direction. She was not sure at all about Justin’s direction though. She told Helen her look was lacking shape. And with Dmitry, she debated with him about his lack of wins. It got a little tense, but I agree with Dmitry. There were challenges he should have won and the judges decided differently. So just as Dmitry said, it really is a matter of opinion! Zanna then brought out Lauren B. of Lauren B. Nails to add a collaborative twist for this week’s challenge.


Each designer would get to collab with Lauren on some fun embellishments to compliment their looks. A huge prize was being offered. The winning designer of the week would receive a year’s worth of Lauren B. products, polishes, and supplies, a $5000 prize package!


Everyone was then ready for their model fittings. Both Helen & Michelle began debating their looks after Zanna-time. And both made some necessary changes, which made their looks a heck of lot better! It was soon time for the runway though. And joining the judges’ panel this week was former singer of the Pussycat Dolls, now a solo pop artist, the lovely Nicole Scherzinger.

pras4-ep9-episode18I was puzzled by the top & bottom 3 this week. Not so much because of who landed where, but more so because there were times I wasn’t sure who actually landed where. I wasn’t sure who in fact was the top & bottom until the judges were making their final deliberations. Okay so really I wasn’t so sure about Jay & Michelle. Their initial critiques seemed mixed. But there was a clear top 2 and bottom 2. It was fairly anti-climactic Dmitry finally getting his long anticipated win, but this was the week he indeed got it. So finally a top 3 placement and a win!

DMITRY — SEA HORSE          th


So yes, we’ve seen this from Dmitry before. But he was not the only designer who made use of some repeat designs this week, *cough* Fabio, *cough* Helen. This wasn’t the most avant garde, but it was still a phenomenal jacket. I would wear it in a heartbeat.


QVC shout-out, really diggin’ these killer studded black heels! I think Dmitry could have pushed the envelope a bit more this week, but he’s consistently done well in the past, lots of top 3’s. In fact, I think him winning the challenge now was no big deal. He should have won well before this week, and has far surpassed the work of several other designers who are left. In my book, Dmitry should and hopefully will be a finalist. He designs looks that women would want to where. Looks that any woman would feel super confident, bold, daring, and sexy in.

HELEN — SAND TIGER SHARK          Beautiful-Sand-Tiger-Shark-Wallpaper


The more I look at Helen’s ruffled ivory dress, the more I like it. I think when I first saw it, I was having a hard time separating this from what she was initially working on. There is beauty in this piece. But again, ruffles, not that avant garde, and we’ve certainly seen them from Helen before. I also agreed with the judges, I’m not sure how this look was inspired by a sand tiger shark.


But there is something intriguing here, lots of class, lots of elegance. Helen does some great work, but I’ve not seen it the past few weeks. If she wants to make the finale, she really is going to have to step it up. And maybe this look is that step in the right direction.

MICHELLE — CUTTLEFISH   A trio of Mourning Cuttlefish (Sepia plangon). Manly Cove, Sydney Harbour, NSW


Michelle was the final designer of the top 3, which I’m still questioning. Isaac and Georgina’s comments at first seemed very mixed. I believe later they became more appreciative, but I believe this was an “on the fence” type of look.


Socks & heels though?? Uhmmmmm NO! Another no for me was the color palette. I’m not sure if this odd pairing was avant garde in Michelle’s mind, but any other color than this neon yellow would have made this structured look 10 times better.


The sculpted aspect was definitely on the avant garde direction. But for me, I felt this aspect just looked so over-worked. And the parts left untouched, just kind of resembled a purple blob covering this gorgeous model. I’m not sure Michelle fully resolved her doubts about this look and I could see that here.



Sonjia was safe this week, the only designer in fact. But I think she deserves some recognition and she would have been in my top 3. I love this asymmetrical dress with sheer pants. It’s not perfect. Probably a bit too literal for a sea-life inspiration, although I’m not sure it reads piranha, more like coral. I do see a bit more avant garde here than others. I also think this look would be super fun to wear. But perhaps what I like the most is that Sonjia didn’t rest on her laurels. She didn’t make use of repeat designs. She showed us something new in her wheelhouse.


QVC shout-out, perfect red strapped heels. Also, Mary Kay shout-out, great bold red lip!

JAY — RUSSELL’S LIONFISH  volitans-lionfish


Jay was another who received some mixed reviews, likely because there was some good details here, but also messy and/or bad ones. The judges were right in that there was a disconnect here with the jacket and the dress. The jacket was okay from the front, but a big ole’ mess from the back. Arts and crafts does not equate to avant garde!


I got the inspiration, but there was just way too much going on here. Jay can work fast, sort of like Speedy Kini. But he has to learn to edit more.

FABIO — RED BUBBLE TIP ANEMONE  bali cherries may 17 2013 049


Plain & simple, this was not a strong look from Fabio. First off, this baby pink, really?? And what exactly was avant garde here — just because Fabio thought it was conceptual?? And wide-legged trousers, not new and definitely not avant garde.


And really, Fabio can cast no stones at Dmitry here. Except for the bit of embellishments on his model’s neckline, they are basically wearing the same top. This top is what Fabio does and we see it all the time.


Fabio has had way more high’s than Justin, if I’m not mistaken, and I think the judges kept that in mind when debating on who to eliminate between he & Justin. But Justin this week didn’t rely on previous designs and his look was way more avant garde, so I’m not sure how the judges really made this decision. Based on just the looks this week, Justin should not have been eliminated.



So sadly it was Justin who was eliminated this week. It was a shame, but hardly not understandable with a look that was all over the place.


Nicole was right on by saying this look had some great elements, but the execution was lacking. These elements didn’t come together right at all.


The top was a great start on an avant garde path, but where this ladylike pencil skirt came in, I’m just not sure. It’s a shame to see him go. He has talent, but week to week, the pressure had really been getting to him.