Project Runway S9 E2: The Craftiest Pet Shop

This week, Heidi told the designers they would be "unleashing" their design talents. Joshua M. launched into a word association game that went "Unleash. Leash. Fetish. S&M?" Not quite. The designers met Tim at a pet store where they were given $300 (really? That's a lot!) to create an unconventional materials look. He warned them against using too much real fabric and they launched into a dog-eat-dog (sorry) materials-finding frenzy.

The pet store isn't a bad idea, but it isn't my favorite challenge either. The hardware store was a great challenge. The party store was kind of interesting last year. However, almost all the designers got the same idea for this challenge--glue things to muslin and send it down the runway. Yes, some of them glued things in interesting ways, but I got bored watching all the glue guns. I like it better when everyone has a few different and wacky ideas.

Safe Designers
Bert didn't glue anything to anything, but he barely sewed anything to anything either. He grabbed some dog beds and other "real" materials and created the worlds more boring black dress with boob ruffles. Having immunity made him lazy. The dress was out-of-touch and didn't prove to the judges that he has taste or style that fit the world we currently live in (not the one he used to work in decades ago). He even got scolded. Fail.
Laura started out with what I thought was a cool idea (even though I don't like Laura, and she says things like "I was raised in an upper class family" and "I've been shopping at Neiman's since I was in single digits." Bleck). She was trying to create a skirt out of dog collar cones. It was looking kind of cool but way too short. Laura is one of the few designers with the ability to step back and say "this isn't working, let's change it." She ended up with a cardboard scratching post skirt, which was OK and a decent top made of woven leashes. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything to get excited about.
Cecilia, like many designers, glued stuff to muslin. Outside of the bottom three, I thought hers was the least successful. It's not bad, and the belt is nice, but the dress isn't all that interesting of a shape or style. Its rather forgettable. At least she stopped playing with dog food.
Anya's bodice was quite cool. When other designers saw it on the runway they seemed to think that the time she spent on it was worth it. I agree, I do like it. I don't think this was worthy of a top three look, but I think it was a good idea. She did barely make it down the runway though so I am worried about her time management and limited sewing skills moving forward. As a side note, this is a good skirt length. These models are elevated and I'm sure the judges could see up several of the other models' skirts.
Kimberly also rocked a cool top on an otherwise simple garment. Her's was very rock n' roll. I liked the blue on the black and didn't think anything looked too crafty or pet store like. However, it still wasn't that interesting. Had she turned up the volume and maybe switched out the shoulder loop for epaulettes or something it would have been much cooler. Also, this skirt was too short.
Becky was worried about her vivid colors again, but I think she worked them into a pretty good place. She used fake aquarium folliage and feathers. It's a fun dress that ended up looking mostly like feathers and not plastic, which is good. A solid "safe" look, but nothing I'll be thinking about after next week's show.
My Favorite Safe Designers
Danielle has an aesthetic and it's a strong one. They barely showed her at all this week, but I still knew her look on the runway before her name popped up with it. The cage top is cool, and the whole thing looks like real clothing. She made the skirt from carefully dyed "wee wee pads." She was one of three designers to do this, causing Tim to say "wee wee pads" a lot--Funny! I think she had extremely clever uses of the materials. With everyone else using glue, I love how she made fabrics from her non-fabric materials.
Viktor also used "wee wee pads" to create a cool tie dye material which he then carefully layered for a light, airy feel. It's hard to go from doggie potty training tool to a bandage dress that looks like it's made of purple clouds, but he did it. Also, Tim loved it in the workroom. He also said it was like a giant depends dress and you would never have to leave your bar stool. Ha! Viktor tried to smile, but didn't seem to appreciate this image. However, it might be a good thing that she can maintain a careful perch all evening because I see no way to descend gracefully from a bar stool in a skirt this short.
Julie wove her dress out of pet food packages. I think she did a crazy cool job. It almost reminds me of Korto's seat belt dress. It's very strong, and I love how she created the material. She also did a cool harness thing on top. I don't know why she was so unsure of her design while she was making it. She seemed so confident in her casting videos. I want that confidence to come back. This was an amazing come back from last week.
The Top Three
I'm not sure I agree with this top three. Yes all the garments look cool, but these designers didn't create interesting materials. They really just glued beading, rocks and birdseed to muslin. Yes, they made cool patters and interesting shapes, but I'm not sure that lived up to the creativity that my three favorite "safe" designers used.

Once the top three were announced I expected Joshua M to be in the top two even though his skirt was see-through. His aquarium rock design was really cool on the bodice. He also pulled off a crop top that flared and a skirt that flared. The judges commented that this was unexpected and hard to do. However, he way over accessorized and over did the makeup so he had to settle for third among the top three.
Anthony Ryan nearly took home the prize. In fact the judges had quite an argument over it. Heidi wanted him. Michael and Nina overruled her. They finally decided his skirt was too short. (It was). I do love that this looks so lux like a hand beaded gown when it is just birdseed hot glued to muslin. (Speaking of hot glue, he owes his model for letting him hot glue on thin muslin while she was wearing the dress and rolling around in bird seed to make things stick). I also love what he did with the larger bird seed at the top.
Olivier won, which I'm not really on board with. He used a dog bed material on top when they complained about other straight up materials. Yes, he did use the fuzzy part which is unexpected, but it didn't fit correctly. Michael and Nina kept call the shape very "now," but to me that just means its a shape everyone else is doing. (I thought they wanted unexpected. I thought doing what everyone else is dong was "referential." They're starting to not make sense again. I'm worried.) I did like his ombre rodent bedding skirt, and I thought he really pulled together a look that fit his understated, tailored style, which was a challenge from a pet store.
The Bottom Three
Bryce found himself in the bottom three for the age-old offense of a napkin skirt. The skirt was bad and it was made of wee wee pads that still looked like wee wee pads, which is never good. We've seen it a hundred times. I actually expected him to be in the bottom two, and he probably would have had Fallene kept quiet. Also, the fuzzy crop top was not cool. Be better than this Bryce.
Fallene tried to shoot herself in the foot. Yes, her dress was not great. Yes, it deserved a bottom three spot. Yes, she can do better. However, she didn't defend one thing or share her vision with the judges. She just agreed to their ridicule. Maybe she didn't want to look argumentative, but she ended up looking like she made something bad and didn't bother to do anything to help it. I'm glad she didn't get kicked off. I hope she don't end up in the bottom again because her survival tactics are horrible, and I'd like to see her stay for a while.
Joshua C, who narrowly escaped elimination last week, didn't escape it this week. Any designer who begins a challenge with the "I'm not trying to win, just survive" attitude is going home. His portfolio looked really cool, but it was mostly menswear. I guess he can't translate that into women's clothing. This look would have been boring even if he made it from interesting materials. The shape wasn't original or even well-tailored. The umbrella and cage lining fabrics didn't cut it. I agree that this look deserved to go home.
What did you think of the top and bottom designers? Do you think the right person won? Lost? What did you think of the challenge? I want them to eliminate muslin in the future. How else are we going to get a dress made from twine and washers again?
Photo Credit: Barbara Nitke,


Cait Throop said…
I enjoyed this episode but thought that Olivier's top (and skirt) made the model look frumpy and heavy--added to the fact that he used "real" material I just can't figure out Nina and Michael...but I like Olivier and do want to see more of his work--very understated. I'm with the designers--Let's go to Mood!!
Sarah O. said…
I would have chosen Anthony Ryan's bird seed dress for the win despite its shortness, and I thought Bryce's blue "pee pad" napkin dress was unforgivable and would have sent him packing.
kaye said…
I definitely thought Bryce was going to go home. His dress was atrocious, how was that not even bottom two? I also thought Anthony should have won, I loved that dress. I like Oliver in general but wasn't a huge fan of that silhouette.

I was actually shocked Josh M was in the top, I hated his shirt. I guess the look as a whole isn't really bad, and I like the silhouette, but man, do I hate that top. I was also shocked that Fallene was in the bottom. Sure, it was a little boring, but I like that skirt!

I want to see more from Danielle too. I think she's one of my favorites so far.
Fanya said…
I like the purple cloud dress! It's not the most innovative, but I'd totally steal it and wear it out with a super ruffle-y knee length slip.

Glad you are writing these. I used to watch the episode and skip your post, but now I don't have time for that so I just skim your post.
Elizabeth said…
I really liked Fallene's skirt. I liked the fall color scheme and orange tones in it. I did not agree with her being in the bottom 3, other than her attitude about it.

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