Runway Recap: On Giving Up

Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers about last Thursday’s episode of Project Runway: Season 10, Episode 4, “Women on the Go.” If you’re a fan of the show and you haven’t seen it yet — you stand warned.

So if you were on Project Runway, and you realized you were in over your head and couldn’t cope with the pressure… what do you think you’d do?

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this week’s winners and losers. Yes to Sonjia winning. Yes to Buffi going home. Yes to Fabio: at first I was puzzled about why this was on the bottom and not Melissa’s “friar of the Jawa monastery” look, but the judges made a good point that, at this level of the competition, you should be doing more than making a decent dress in a pretty print. And no, I don’t care how well-made it was: Christopher’s thing with the weird dangly asymmetrical handkerchief hem did not look like a “woman on the go.” It looked like Stevie Nicks dressed as a Goth pirate. Gunnar’s brown dress with the petals was way better, I thought: elegant but also sporty, and somehow magically both structured and soft. I’d wear it in a second.

Sonjia Season 10 Episode 4 Project Runway
Buffi Season 10 Episode 4 Project Runway
Fabio Season 10 Episode 4 Project Runway
Melissa Season 10 Episode 4 Project Runway
Christopher Season 10 Episode 4 Project Runway
Gunnar Season 10 Episode 4 Project Runway

But there’s no way I can write about this week and not write about the quitters.

I’m not going to pretend that I have any idea what I’d actually do if I were on Project Runway. I understand that being a contestant on Project Runway is difficult in ways I can’t begin to imagine. (I apparently understand this better than some of the designers do. Tim Gunn was recently on the Daily Show, and he revealed that many contestants literally don’t believe that the show is what it is. They think the whole “making an outfit in one day” thing is faked, and that the designers really have a week for each challenge…. and when it turns out that no, they really do have to make an outfit in just one day, they freak out. Sheesh.)

Anyway. My point is: These are exceptional, highly stressful circumstances, and I can’t really say what I would do if I were there.

But here’s what I’d like to think I would do if I were there, and I were feeling the stress, and had decided that it wasn’t worth it.

I would like to think that I would not quit.

I would like to think that instead, I would have fun.

I would like to think that I’d stop worrying about whether I won or lost — and just play. Experiment. Spend somebody else’s money on expensive fabrics I’ve always wanted to fool around with. Try things I’ve always wanted to try: see what happens when you pair a zebra-striped skirt with a houndstooth bodice, or when you put polyester in the toaster oven, or when you tie-dye leather.

Not for a team challenge, obviously. If someone else’s opportunity of a lifetime were on the line, I wouldn’t throw up my hands and say, “Hey, who cares if we win, let’s just have fun.” ([cough] Fuck you, Andrea [cough]) But if it were just me… why the hell not? What have I got to lose? I’ve got a huge amount to gain: tons of free publicity, thousands of potential adoring fans who could turn into customers, the chance to catch the eye of industry movers and shakers. Sure, if I make something dumb then I look dumb… but if I quit, that looks way worse. Industry movers and shakers have some respect for designers who are throwing a bunch of weird, interesting shit to the wall that just isn’t working this week. They have little respect for people who get handed an opportunity most designers would blow the corpse of Andy Warhol for, and then hand it back politely (or not so politely), saying, “No, I think I’m not interested after all.”

I am not the slightest bit sad that Andrea is gone. She never made a damn thing that I thought was anything other than a boring mess, and her personality somehow managed to be both ditzy and abrasive. As evidenced by the manner of her departure. Good riddance.

But I miss Kooan. Yes, I know. He was in so far over his head, he might as well have been in the Mariana Trench. Everything he tossed up on the runway was like unicorn puke. He was clearly an alien from another planet. But his gentle species had so much to teach our own. I would dearly love to have seen his interpretation of “woman on the go”: maybe turquoise leg warmers and an L.E.D. brassiere? And for all his attention-grabbing “kooky shenanigans” shtick — much of which I suspect was a shtick — he seemed to have a genuinely sweet, kind heart.

I’m sad he’s gone. And I wish he’d stuck it out, and let go of trying to win, and just played.

Kooan in workroom

Kooan Episode 1

Kooan Episode 1

Kooan Episode 2 candy dress front

Kooan Episode 2 candy dress back

Good night, sweet prince.

Runway Recap: On Giving Up

10 thoughts on “Runway Recap: On Giving Up

  1. 1

    If this was the first season of PR, I would understand that the designers would be surprised by the pace and the criticism, but isn’t this season ten?!? Have they never watched the show? They must have a lot of self-confidence to feel their designs should be beyond reproach, but it must not be too ingrained if they can be knocked off their horses so easily.

    Even if I had mad designing and sewing skills, I know I don’t have what it takes to be judged by Nina, etc., much less all humans on the interwebs, so I would never go on a reality show. I guess some people live in a bubble and they don’t enjoy it when it bursts.

    I really loved Sonjia’s dress and I absolutely agree Buffi needed to pack her scissors and GO!

  2. 2

    I am not a sewer in any way, I let hubby sew on buttons if I can get away with it. But I have a daughter who loves dress up. When her friend Catherine comes over, we pull out the big bin of fabulous material I’ve somehow acquired and start making clothes. Remember, I don’t sew, so we chop up material and pin or tape it together, or tie it together with pieces of elastic. Often I just tie it right on the girls and they end up with these great gypsy colorful outfits.

    The Buffi dress reminded me of those dresses.

  3. 3

    I was torn on Buffi until I realized that I was transferring all my Betsy Johnson (the designer, not the line) love to her. The world needs more designers like Betsy Johnson* but it doesn’t need another Betsy Johnson.

    *Kooan, for example. Sigh.

  4. 4

    I’ve always had the same reaction to the quitters and the general drama llamas – sure, the challenges are high-stress… but I don’t care how hard the task is, if there’s no penalty (beyond elimination, which brings you back to the status quo of not being on the show…) for failing, there’s a limit on how much pressure is actually involved. They’re not fighting for life and limb. They just have to make a damn dress (or pantsuit, or wtfever).

    I also wonder how the heck anyone can sign up to be on the show and not have ever done any research or practice to prepare. The patterns of the season are predictable enough (ESPECIALLY these days) that you can practically prep enough concepts ahead of time to cover half the challenges! You go in having practiced some simple staples that are easy to modify and adapt to constraints, and then add embellishment as you have time/materials/inspiration. Going in blind and doing everything completely spur-of-the-moment is just…

    …I’m talking like an engineer, because I am an engineer, but I swear the more successful PR designers have generally been the ones who have more or less done what I’m talking about. The ones who have bags of tricks and use them judiciously throughout the series of challenges. (Still having the occasional grad class to take, I think of everything that’s timed like this as an exam. And you can ALWAYS prep for an exam.)

  5. 5

    Kooan seemed to visibly wilt, bless him. His kind are clearly not able to cope with us Earth dwellers, and our vicious ways.

    I’ll really miss him. He was just cute, and fun. I could not seem to get irritated by him. Most unusual for me! Plus, it was an absolute bloody delight to watch Uncle Tim’s face as he dealt with him.

    Goodbye Sweet Alien Prince!

  6. 6

    Wait, quick question. Is this: “It looked like Stevie Nicks dressed as a Goth pirate” supposed to be a bad thing? Because that sounds awesome :-p

  7. 7

    I need to comment on Gunnar’s outfit. I like the top, and I LOVE the skirt. But I don’t care for them together. Either of them would have been fine with something else, but I just can’t do purple and brown together. Somehow that combination looks sad.

    And Fabio’s was such an “almost”. The fabric was cool, the jacket was OK with it. But I agreed with the judge that said it looked like you put the outfit in the wash and it shrunk, because the proportions were just off. All through the construction phase I kept hoping that Fabio would put a flounce or an extra panel or something on the skirt to lenghthen it a few inches.

    I wanted to like Ven’s, but there was something in the way th fabric bunched up in the front that threw it off. Again this week, I agree with who won and who was out. So far the judges are nailing that part really well.

    I can’t imagine going on this show without testing myself to see if I can make a garment from scratch in a day. Without being able to do that, there is no way I would even consider auditioning.

  8. 8

    My mom sewed, and sewed very well. I can remember dad coming home to tell mom that they had an ‘event’ that evening, and mom had to look GOOD. She would go into her fabric stash and whip up an outfit in no time flat. I know how to sew too, and used to make all of my own clothes, but I am nowhere near her skill level.

    By the way…I hear another contestant will be dropping out soon. They have to remember they are getting national exposure on this show. There are design houses that may see their work on PR and ask them up for a dream interview, but no one will interview a quitter.

  9. KT

    I don’t really have a problem with the people who quit. Everyone is different and has different levels of sensitivity and it can be hard to predict how you will react in an unknown situation. I know I’ve found myself over my head before even when beforehand I thought I was totally prepared. I personally tend to tough it out but knowing how it feels,I don’t really blame someone for taking an out. I just can’t get all angry at the fact that there were other people who could have had the spot, either. It’s a reality show not a position at Prada or something and I feel like there are other and better opportunities out there for people who are pursuing a serious fashion career anyway.

    I liked the winning dress, but was surprised it won, since Ithought it had some serious fit issues that would be even worse on a non-model person. It had strange bunching and gaping in spots and was a bit askew due to those knots. Even though Demetri’s was subdued I thought it was once again the best. I am really impressed by him. He and Melissa are by far my two favorites.

  10. 10

    I loved Dmitri’s dress too, and would have picked it for my winner if it had been a better color. That same dress in a rich royal blue would have been a stunner. The single seam design was ingenious, but takes real skill to pull off as well as he did. I’ve got my eye on him for top three, along with Ven and Sonjia.

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