UTG Designers Take on Steampunk & Avante-Garde

russ-turner-steampunk-portraits1                                     steampunk_outfit_by_livingdreaddoll-d3edpaqThis week’s challenge was all about creating an avant-garde look that was also a look of the “steampunk” genre. From my little understanding of steampunk, it seems to be about juxtapositions — the Victorian era meets the Industrial Revolution, Retro-Futurism, etc. After being given the challenge, the designers were left to sketch and be inspired while on their visit to Travel Town in LA’s fun-filled Griffith Park — the trains, the elements, inventions, & more! They were given 30 minutes to sketch and could also collect some useful articles to incorporate into their looks — washers, wires, old clocks, piping, gears, funnels, & more.

Travel Town - Los Angeles       locomotive-1024x682The designers then received a little bit of good news to start of the challenge — a $300 budget for a 2-day challenge! But with any good news, the designers should also expect the stakes are going to be raised. Longer amounts of time also means higher expectations, more pressure, and we could see this as the episode progressed. The mentors also received some good news — they got a trial trip to Mood with their designers! I think they may get repeat trips, no major issues to report. Of course, since this was a 2-day challenge, the mentors didn’t even see their designers until Day 2 so was the Mood trip a trade-off?

There were a few sideline topics to report during this episode — Tim took note of how much better Nick was doing, little designer spats here & there, nothing out of the ordinary. And yes, we know this episode was about steampunk, but just like with some past heavy-focus to Nick, this week it was Anya’s turn! Anya had 2 designers in the bottom last week so she knew the spotlight would be on her team this week. We saw some early signs of hesitancy & uncertainty with Shan for this challenge, but it was Nicholas who faced the most difficulties.


Blake mentioned that kind & sweet Anya was gone this week and this was mostly true, although I’m not sure that was a bad thing! In previous weeks all I’ve seen Anya do is say vague and generic comments to her designers combined with a gigantic smile. I questioned her mentoring abilities and I’m still not fully convinced of them, but at least this week she gave some actual direction. Although I find it quite hysterical and ironic that she would question anyone’s sewing skills. (Yes, Anya outright asked Nicholas if he made the looks in his portfolio, DRAMA!!) She couldn’t have forgotten her season and lack of sewing abilities that quickly!


As much as I have my doubts with Anya, I too am not a fan of Nicholas. I never thought he should have stayed over Brady and that will always have me scratching my head as to why Anya made that choice. I also don’t think he deserved a chance to stay last week. He should have been eliminated because even with another chance, he didn’t utilize it to the fullest. I’m not saying he is a horrible person or designer, but I think his vision is not fully developed yet. It seems a bit lack-luster and just not a good fit for this type of show. He lacks the WOW factor. He also doesn’t seem to be as excited as other designers are about this opportunity. Thankfully when Anya was given another chance to choose, she made the right decision!


This week’s guest judge was Marchesa designer & PRAS judge Georgina Chapman. I’m not sure of the match to steampunk, but since she was so absent on PRAS, I guess it’s nice she made a visit to UTG! Now I have to be honest, I’m only aware of steampunk because of this episode and being able to connect past images I’ve seen with this episode, kind of like Shan. I can only judge based off what I liked and what I thought best met the challenge so you will have to forgive me if I’m lacking of any true steampunk knowledge! Let’s take a look at the “safe” zone this week!


I was so surprised that Michelle’s look was safe this week. I bet it was a close-call for her being a top contender. The show effect was certainly there, the avant-garde vibe with the structured collar, glass vase up-do, & flowing train. This blazer/jacket was also pretty sweet, especially the stained glass effect. I would love to know the negatives here so I say re-count or let’s implement a top 4 next week! Shout-out to Benefit Cosmetics for the hot pink smoky eye & Blow profor the amazing glass encapsulated up-do.


With most of the weak links now eliminated this competition is only going to get tougher. There are a lot of talented designers left and Sam is certainly one of them. What I love most about Sam is that I always can see him, his aesthetic, no matter what the challenge is. Each week I’m so eager to see what he creates! Shout-out to Francesca’s for the combat-style boots & old-school pilot goggles if they provided them, but also BlowPro for this naturally messy ponytail, perfect for someone who just took flight!


Asha’s look was not quite there for me this week. I only saw avant-garde because it looked as if a bunch of elements were just thrown together — structured bodice, flowing train, & mix of prints. I also didn’t quite get the steampunk elements when I compared this look to the other top looks. I don’t think the plaid, while very Victorian era-like, mixed well with the lace. It definitely found its home in the right place, SAFE! But I’m sure Asha will push for more next week. Shout-out to BlowPro for the flowing & chic up-do with the purple netting & Benefit Cosmetics for the modest smoky eye & nude lip.


Let’s stick with bad news train and since I already discussed Nicholas we will continue with his bottom 3 look. It was hard to hide with my earlier commentary that Nicholas went home this week, but comparing it to the other looks this week, it certainly was no surprise! Just as Isabelle’s past look of thrown-about netting didn’t make a look avant-garde, neither does thrown-about tubes or wires. Just like most of his other looks, this shirt-dress was just not up to the challenge; it was boring, lackluster. It also didn’t seem as if it would really take 2 days to complete, especially if you look at all of the work done with the other looks. At least there was some drama and something special to this look & that was with the Shout-out for Benefit Cosmetics, the smoky eye & partially applied lip, BlowPro with the messy side bun.


I was not surprised Stephanie’s look was in the bottom. I know she came off a team win last week, but up until that point, she had mainly been in the bottom. I think if she doesn’t step it up next week, she is out! This look was a bit like Nicholas’, it was very safe, very boring. And that’s been her problem all along. She just needs to crank it up, not a bit, but a lot! Shout out to Benefit Cosmetics loving all of the smoky eyes this week!


So clearly I didn’t think Blake should have been a contender for the bottom 2 and I’m not even sure this was a bottom 3 look. I do agree with the judges though and I know Blake even admitted a lack of clear vision for this look. Blake has had some great moments during UTG so I hope he remembers that & stops doubting himself! Shout-out to Benefit Cosmetics for the half in half make-up look & to BlowPro for messy side bun up-do!


Ahhhh I was so rooting for Natalia this week and I’m so happy for her that she made top 3 and was a contender for the win. I fully thought this look encompassed both avant-garde & the steampunk vibe the best; she definitely had my vote! I was just so impressed by this mechanism gadget, the incorporation of an invention I think screams STEAMPUNK! A lot of looks also used lace this week and it just didn’t work, but for Natalia’s incorporation I think it did. Great job!! And also Shout-out to BlowPro, love this full-on look of gorgeous flowing curls!


So this week’s winning look came from Shan, who was certainly a surprise since last week he was in the bottom & he was showing some doubts early on. I wrote warrior down as I was watching & so I’m glad the judges picked up on that as well. The separates-look worked well for Shan and I’m not doubting its top-3 placement, but I think it was a bit lacking for the avant-garde vibe, although there were some great elements. The cut-outs on the sleeves and around the knee were definitely one such example. Shout-out to Francesca’s for matching brown booties, BlowPro for the messy curly up-do, & Benefit Cosmetics for the chic nude lip & cat eyeliner look.


And finally, rounding out the top 3 this week was Oscar. I thought this look worked perfectly for both avant-garde & steampunk. In fact, as soon as I saw it, I thought about Back to the Future, part 3, you know, when they went back to the western era, all of the trains, steam, clocks, and invention work going on. But this was clearly a modern take on all of that and yes, it rode the line of costume & avant-garde, but to me, that is the point. Avant-garde is subjective and I’m a fan! This look has it all — drama, flare, and heck, even a clock as the belt buckle, how cool! I also loved the colors of this golden embossed plum purple. Shout-out for some more great boots from Francesca’s & Benefit Cosmetics for the matching purple-infused beauty look.


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