Runway Recap: "I'm Not Here to Make Friends"

“I’m not here to make friends.”

If you’ve ever watched any competition reality show, you’ve almost certainly heard this line. There’s even a YouTube video montage of dozens of reality show contestants saying the damn thing. More than one. This week, on Project Runway, it was Richard’s turn to utter these timeless words.

And it is one of the dumbest things anyone on these shows can say.

You know what?

You are here to make friends.

If you are on a reality show centering on competition in your professional field — Project Runway, Top Chef, etc. — you are here to make friends.

The chances that you are actually going to win the big prize — the big cash, the equipment, the profile in the major magazine, etc.? They’re very, very slim. There were, to give just one example, 16 contestants at the start of this season of PR: the chances that any one of them would end up as the winner were 6.25%. Not very high. (And that’s assuming the outcome isn’t rigged.)

But the chances that, if you stay on the show for at least a few rounds, you’re going to have an opportunity to make huge advances in your career? The chances that you’ll meet major opinon makers in your field, from editors to celebrities to established names in the industry, and will be able to make an impression on them? The chances that you’ll meet potential employers in your field, and will be able to make an impression on them? The chances that one of your fellow competitors will do well for themselves in the future, and will be able to give you a leg up? And maybe most importantly: The chances that you’ll be making an impression on hundreds of thousands of potential customers who are watching the show, people who might buy your clothes or buy your records or go to your restaurant or whatever?

Those chances are huge. If you make it onto the show, and you don’t get kicked off in the first couple of weeks, the chances that you’ll be able to do any or all of these things are excellent.

But here’s the thing. The opinion makers and potential employers and future customers aren’t just interested in whether you won the contest. In fact, they’re probably not interested at all in whether you won the contest. They’re interested in whether you have talent. They’re interested in how well you handle pressure. And, very importantly, they’re interested in your interpersonal skills. Fashion is a collaborative art form, and even the most high-strung divas have to have some basic ability to function with other people. They have to be able to work with colleagues, with staffers, with bosses, with suppliers, with service providers, with media, with clients, with clients, with clients.

And if you come across on the show as a self-involved, high-strung diva who schemes and throws fits and talks trash about their clients and makes excuses for their shoddy work and stabs their colleagues in the back? If you make everyone who watches the show hate you and never want to have anything to do with you? You’ve wasted that chance. ([cough] Ven Budhu [cough])

You are, in fact, here to make friends.

Okay. Rant over. There was also some fashion on display in this week’s show, so let’s talk about that. This week was the Lord & Taylor challenge, which translates as “make a pretty dress that could sell in a department store.” Which is kind of ironic, since in pretty much every other challenge, “I could buy that in any department store in the country” is a kiss of death from the judges. And which also makes it kind of sad when the designers fall flat: if you can’t just crank out a pretty dress at this point in the competition, WTF are you doing here?

Project Runway Season 11 Episode 9 Michelle 1

Project Runway Season 11 Episode 9 Michelle 2

No argument with the win. Michelle was the clear winner. A very nice dress. The back means you probably can’t wear it with a bra, which seriously limits the number of women who can wear it, which is kind of dumb for a “department store” challenge. Still: very nice.

Project Runway Season 11 Episode 9 Daniel

Daniel is so fucking lucky he got teamed with Michelle this week. This looks like a waitress’s uniform from the 1980s. It somehow manages to be shapelessly boring and garishly hideous, all at the same time. It was embarassing to see the judges try to find something to praise about it: they clearly wanted to give Michelle the win, and had to give Daniel a pass so they could do that. Also, I don’t buy his Mr. Nice Guy act any more. The veneer snapped this week, and what’s underneath is not pretty. I’m done with him.

Project Runway Season 11 Episode 9 Patricia

I liked Patricia’s look more than I expected to. And kudos to her for not just making a dress like everyone else. But she also needs to quit the passive-aggressive number, stat. Stanley saved her bacon this week — he was something of an asshole about it, but his critiques of her work were absolutely on target — and she needed to quit whining about it. Also, if she didn’t agree, she needed to say, “I don’t agree,” instead of just nodding and saying “Yes” and then going ahead with what she was going to do anyway until it was almost too late. Every week she berates herself for screwing up her time management and screwing over her teammates… and every week, she does it again. Go away.

Project Runway Season 11 Episode 9 Stanley

A perfectly nice dress, and very well-made, although the length is a bit awkward. But come on, Stanley — a sheath dress? Without anything at all to liven it up? Boring, boring, boring. There is not a single element in this dress that would make it jump off the rack and scream, “You must have me! You cannot live without me!” This dress screams, “I need something tasteful and dressy and on the conservative side to wear to my sister’s wedding.” Snore.

Project Runway Season 11 Episode 9 Richard

Richard. Richard, Richard, Richard. If you’re going to throw an “I’m not here to make friends” hissy-fit, do it over something more interesting than a beach cover-up. The same damn beach cover-up you’ve now made three times. And a fugly beach cover-up at that. The swoosh doesn’t look elegant or graceful or exhuberant, it looks awkward, like it’s tugging at the hip and tugging at the boob, a half-assed compromise between curves and angles. Go away.

Project Runway Season 11 Episode 9 Samantha 1

Project Runway Season 11 Episode 9 Samantha 2

Okay. This was hideous. This was vile. Ingrid and I have been arguing over it: I think it makes the model look like a waitress in a really cheap theme restaurant; Ingrid thinks it makes her look like a hot dog stand girl at the state fair. Bad ideas, poorly executed: those layers in the skirt are sloppy and flat and sad, and the heart cut-out in the back would have been tacky and laughable even if it hadn’t been poorly-placed and saggy.

But I also think Samantha got the shaft this week. As a rule, when the PR judges are choosing between “hot mess, but at least they were trying something interesting and had some ideas in there” and “sleeping pill in fabric form that isn’t even made well,” they usually get rid of the sleeping pill and give the hot mess another chance. Especially if the hot mess designer has done interesting and beautiful work in the past, and the sleeping pill designer has done jack. Hard to escape the conclusion that Richard was kept on because he creates drama.

And finally:

Project Runway Season 11 Episode 9 Layana 1

Project Runway Season 11 Episode 9 Layana 2

I liked Layana’s dress, and didn’t understand why the judges were hating on it. No — strike that. I loved Layana’s dress. I actually thought it gave Michelle’s dress a run for its money. And I don’t get them hating on the print: it didn’t make me swoon with delight and yearning, but I thought it was fine. Again, though: another dress you can’t wear a bra with, which means most of the women in the store are going to pick it off the rack, go “Oo! Pretty!”, realize you can’t wear a bra with it, and reluctantly put it back.

But I love the way the leather detailing frames the bosom. It’s a clever way to be sexy and body-conscious, without showing a lot of skin. And I really like how gracefully it combines both a flowy resort-wear look and a strong, edgy urban look: you could wear it in the city at a party in the summer when it’s way too freaking hot for anything other than something loose and flowy, or you could wear it on a cruise and look way more stylish and awesome than anyone else there. Thumbs-up from me on this one.

Runway Recap: "I'm Not Here to Make Friends"

20 thoughts on “Runway Recap: "I'm Not Here to Make Friends"

  1. 1

    Should the models be so clear about how they feel about the outfit they’re in? The only happy model I see is the last one. I agree with her. By far the best.

  2. 2

    Really? They hated on that last one? Huh. I like it. Not so much the pattern on the fabric, and those colors aren’t right for me personally, but I like the larger swath of black cutting the louder material. Sits nice at the waste, and I like that it’s a leathery material. It looks well made. It’s flirty without being vulgar.

    Honestly, those larger flower prints remind me of old couches. I’d love to see something blue or green based and more art deco. Play off the nice angles of the waist and strap.

  3. 3

    Again, though: another dress you can’t wear a bra with, which means most of the women in the store are going to pick it off the rack, go “Oo! Pretty!”, realize you can’t wear a bra with it, and reluctantly put it back.

    Yeah, this happens to me a lot, and it would have happened to me with the last dress, which I liked. I especially liked that it broke up the giant flowery print; as besomyka brought up, it’s hard to keep fabrics like that in dresses from looking like couches (I think they work better when they’re just skirts, as they can be offset by a plain top). I also really liked that it was belty, as that’s something that works for my body type.

    Speaking of belty things, I was wondering if anyone had any advice on buying a bra that would push my breasts up higher on my chest. Yes, yes, I know I practically answer myself in the request (pushup bra!), but I can’t seem to find any that work well. You see, I like belty things, but the belts tend to go across my breasts rather than under them. This can’t be fixed for some dresses (the belt goes across my nipples rather than under my breasts) but some of them are so freaking close that if I could just shift my breasts by an inch or so, it’d work.

  4. 4

    That first dress was the winner? And you agreed? Really? To me it looks like a sack you’d find some kind of much or something in: burlap with a bright label. Or maybe a shapeless smock for people who need to stand out on an airport tarmac or road construction site. The last dress was the best (I don’t even mind the tomato salad print so much), followed by the orange capri and flouncy top.

  5. 5

    The thing that bothers me about that last dress is the close to the skin tone of the model fabric. I keep looking at it. And I keep thinking that they intentionally tried to give you the impression that she’s naked but with colorful fringe. I don’t like it.

  6. 7

    I’ve actually been surprised in recent weeks when Patricia has said something that was way more mature/realistic/self-aware than you’d hear from the rest of the gang. Every time I think she’s being crazy she says something that shows she’s actually relatively normal compared to the attention-seekers and drama queens on the show. I suspect that editing has alot to do with how she comes across. I also think she gets a bad rap from her fellow contestants based on her age and possibly her weight. Otherwise I just can’t get why so many of the contestants have animosity to her (and have since day 1.) Her design/talent isn’t crazy impressive, but it’s no less so than the people who are gone (and some who are still there.)

    Hot dog stand! Love it. I was saying Wonder Woman the whole time and was actually surprised that none of the judges said that.

    The irony in Michelle’s win is that she almost went with that awful black swat-team vest. I mean, whose first thought of Spring (not to mention a rose) is a black rain vest. Tim Gunn saved her ass by insisting she ditch the vest. But the dress did look great.

  7. 8

    Okay, yes, the last dress shown in this sequence would’ve been my hands-down favorite. The actual winner would’ve been a second, mostly because yes, it’s very age- and body-specific, while the strap-dress has considerably more leeway. The print is less than ideal, yes, but that’s something that can be fixed with no more than a change in fabric; the flaws of the winner, on the other hand, would require a return to the drawing board to try to adjust. For a “department store” challenge, that would make the choice obvious to me, at least.

  8. 9

    @Eristae If finding push-up bras that work is hard, you might consider buying a separate insert. With a separate, you can more strategically place them so that they fit your body shape better.

    The problem you might have is that the insert/padding is still there, and the belt will just go across that instead, which probably isn’t what you’re going for. I got a backless/strapless bra, silicone and sticky. It’s intended to be stuck and pulled together to clasp, but it doesn’t HAVE to. You might be able to use that to lift without adding much volume? Check the intimate accessories at Target or Macy’s or… whatever is close to you.

  9. 10

    Greta – I don’t watch this show, but I love your recaps.

    Eristae @ #3 – Without getting too personal, are you particularly well-endowed in the bust department? I have this problem too particularly with empire line dresses and tops, because my bust is waaaay larger than average for my waist/dress size. Most standard-sized clothing simply doesn’t fit my top half at all, especially if it’s tailored or fitted in any way. My solution is threefold:
    1) a really good, well-fitting balconette-style bra
    2) clothing specially tailored for women with larger breasts – I get most of mine here
    3) if I buy clothing elsewhere, make sure the under-bust line isn’t defined, and create my own waistline in the right place.

  10. 11

    The whole “I’m not here to make friends” thing always strikes me as odd. It’s true that many of the people on these shows are high-strung, difficult personalities, and that they’re pitted against one another, and there are always going to be some people who don’t mix well. But they’re all living – in bizarre dormitory-style conditions, true – and working together for a while. You’d think friendships would just naturally form as long as people aren’t actively trying to be nasty. I hope they don’t consider making friends such a project or chore in the rest of their lives.

    [Ignoring that the best looks were made partially from animals…sigh…I can’t actually ignore that…] I loved Layana’s fabric. It had a classic elegance. I suspect that if she’d bought it at the Parisian fabric store where they shop for the couture challenges, people would be commenting on its sophistication.

    A friend of mine happened to be in a Victoria’s Secret store when a bra fitter was there. The person was tremendously helpful, and from that day on she’s always had the most flattering bras. I don’t know if you can arrange to meet with a fitter.

    Surprisingly enough, one of the contestants on the tacky-as-all-hell Fashion Star, Silvia Arguello, is better than any of them on PR.

  11. 12

    @besomyka Thanks! I’ll go look and see what kind of accessories they have in the stores in my area.

    That is exactly the problem that I’m having, a problem that is actually being exacerbated by the fact that I lost a lot of weight. People assured me that it would be easier to find clothes when I lost weight, but the opposite seems true. When all of me is about the same size, it’s easier to find clothes than when my breasts and hips are a lot bigger than my waist.

    I’ll look into those three things! I’ve never heard of a balconette-style bra, and I think that sounds interesting and exciting (buying bra is so freaking hard!). A new place to buy clothing would be wonderful, too. And learning to sew would surely be good for me, as it would allow me to buy new clothes and take them in and save some of the clothes that are suddenly tents on me.

    So thanks very much to both of you for the advice!

  12. 13

    @Eristae: Have you ever been for a proper fitting? Not at a VS or any other mall store, but a proper shop ala professional fitters with tape measures? It might not be your bra style so much as it might be that you’re not wearing the right size, especially since you have lost weight. If you’re able to find such a place where you live, go in and get measured and fitted. It might change your life. It will definitely change your clothing options. Or so my larger busted friends have told me.

    (apologies if that is too personal, you certainly do not have to answer! just wanted to make the suggestion.)

  13. 14


    Sadly, I don’t have any idea where to find somewhere with a professional fitter. The only place I know of that does fittings of any kind is VS, and the last time I went there, it was completely Not Helpful; even the woman who did the fitting couldn’t find any bras that fit in the size that she’d measured me as. I had better luck just trying on bras to see which fit me best, and that wasn’t anything that I couldn’t have done by myself at someplace like Target.

  14. 15

    @Eristae: From what I understand, the first best option for a fitting is usually a specialty lingerie shop (although the local one I went to did not have fitters! or very many bras in my size! should have called ahead). Barring that, an established department store might be your next best bet. I hear tell that places like JC Penny’s, Nordstroms and Sears sometimes have fitters but I have not yet been fortunate enough to live near one of the stores which does since I was a tween.

    You can find fitting guides on line, too. I was very surprised to discover that my band size hadn’t changed at all, even though I had gained weight with my kids, it was only my cup size that needed changing, so I’d been wearing a band a size too big for a few years. It wasn’t a totally life changing discovery for me as I’m not particularly large busted but it did affect my comfort levels to not have to adjust my bra constantly. Mine seems to be a common experience if I am going by anecdata– most of the folks I know who’ve gotten fitted come out with smaller band sizes and larger cups than previously expected. (and also a couple hundred in new bras, lol)

  15. 16

    @Eristae – sorry I can’t help you with getting fitted as I’m in the UK and wouldn’t know which US stores offer this. There’s a good video guide here and an explanation of the various bra styles too. As @Onamission5 said, most women tend to wear too large a band size and too small a cup size – probably because the larger cup sizes can be very difficult to get; the high street is very hard on us big boobed ladies. So if in doubt, go for a smaller band. You’ll probably also find you’re a slightly different size in different brands and styles of bra (which is why I tend to stick to one brand and style!) as well as at different times in your menstrual cycle, so if you’re trying on take like a dozen different bras into the fitting room for comparison.

    On the clothing front, can I say a word for crossover or wrapover dresses and tops? The often give the effect of a belt, but give you more adjustment in the fit around your bust.

  16. 17

    @Eristae – seconding Onamission’s advice @15. Your best bet for fitting is a specialty lingerie store. But if there isn’t one near you, instead of VS, try a department store like a Nordstrom’s or Nieman Marcus. And agreeing with axemaiden too, different brands and styles will fit differently. Good luck!

  17. 18

    Greta– I’m a longtime reader here, especially of your fashion posts. I’ve noticed you’ve made a similar comment on different posts on having issues with dresses where you can’t wear a bra. I’ve actually been using a nu bra for years for this issue ( I know, I know– it looks weird but you can find it in a lot of boutiques and it’s great for backless/racer back/deep v neck/thin dresses and tops. I swear I’m not trying to shill a product, I just thought you might be interested from a fashion perspective. 🙂

  18. 19

    So, yay, I went and bought two new bras yesterday (waaah! I don’t like spending money!). It’s really helping both my posture (no more slouching to keep my bra straps from falling off) and the way my clothes fit (yay, that dress that used to cross my lower breasts now goes under my breasts like I wanted it to)! This makes me very excited. And yes, the size that I fit into did indeed depend on the brand.

    I’ll look into crossover or wrapover dresses and tops! Those sound like they might work very nicely.

    Thanks everyone for the help!

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