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.