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Project Runway 9: My Pet Project

Aug 05, 2011
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Heidi loved Anthony Ryan's birdseed dress, but was overruled. Which garment was your favorite?

“To go home over birdseed and hot glue would be devastating,” – Anthony Ryan Auld.

“My Pet Project” was the title of Episode 2, which featured one of Project Runway’s classic unconventional materials challenges. The designers had $300 and 30 minutes to shop for supplies at Petland Discounts. There was a mad rush for fish tank gravel, hamster bedding, cat-scratching posts, leashes, dog food bags, pet toys, birdseed and the like.

Tim Gunn’s direction to the designers was to stay away from fabric or fabric-like materials. The designers could use muslin as an infrastructure for the garment. This episode’s losing designer should have heeded Tim’s advice.

These unconventional materials challenges don’t really produce great garments, typically. It is a tremendous testament to the designers’ creativity and ability to innovate to produce any kind of garment from a pet store’s stock, but the “unconventional” results are usually more good craft projects than beautiful clothes. That said, this particular episode produced some very attractive garments!

“A garment out of dog-food bags! If that’s outside the box, put me back in!” – Joshua McKinley.

Despite the preview footage at the end of Episode 1, this was a remarkabley drama-free episode (all that arguing is still coming up). Everyone was stressed and irritated at working with difficult-to-control materials, but the designers worked with a minimum of bickering or panic. Everyone managed to finish on time – though Anthony Ryan Auld and a few others were gluing and sewing right on the models.

The guest judge was alice + olivia designer, Stacey Bendet. Glad to see another designer able to contribute insight to the judges’ panel. (Next week, I think the celebrity guest is Kim Kardashian.)

Bert went in with immunity, having won the “Come As You Are” Episode 1 challenge.

The bottom three

Joshua Christensen: I can’t say I held high hopes for a brilliant design from Joshua C., but still, what a disappointment! What was the one cardinal rule of this challenge? Stay away from fabric! Nevertheless, Joshua used an umbrella for a halter top and reptile netting for a skirt. The judges declared it boring, dated, ill-fitting, and a very poor answer to the challenge. 

Fallene Wells: The judges chewed out Fallene for a boring, dated, poorly proportioned, badly accessorised and unfortunately hued strapless sheath. Fallene had covered the skirt with plastic aquarium flora and finished off the look with a wide leather belt that visually shortened her model’s torso. Fallene had no defense to offer – she conceded openly to the judges that she was disappointed in the look and could have done better.

Bryce Black: A truly awful two-piece garment. The cropped, sleeveless top was covered with glued-on blue chloroform small-animal bedding. The bottom was a full handkerchief skirt, made of puppy “wee-wee” pads. Bryce didn’t any attempt to disguise what they were, really. “The worst”and “Hideous” were comments from the judges. Ouch.

The top three

Joshua “More is Better” McKinley presented a circle skirt made from reptile netting (with a parrot mirror as a belt accessory) and a gorgeous top that perfectly answered the unconventional materials challenge. Joshua used fish-tank gravel as a glittering embellishment, and created a day-glo flowing zebra- or tiger-type pattern. Nina was particularly impressed by the design. And to think, it was a late decision to use the gravel on the top, too. Joshua’s style sensibility cost him, however, in his choice of overdone accessorizes and makeup.

Anthony Ryan Auld covered a simple muslin sheath, sleeveless and with a high neck, with birdseed. The all-over texture of tiny seeds made the garment look like an elaborately seed-beaded garment. On the shoulders and chest, flowing up around the neck, Anthony had created a gradual transistion from seed beads to darker and larger sunflower seeds. The sunflower seeds looked almost like feathers enclosing the model’s neck. The drawback: The dress’s skirt was too short.

Olivier Green’s creation was refined and minimalist, but also demonstrated his tailoring techniques, and all within a very muted pallet of oatmeal to light brown. The top was faux sheepskin from a dog bed. Olivier created a molded-looking skirt for and glued three different types of small-animal bedding material to create an ombre effect from the waist to the hem. At the waist, he used clear aquarium tubing to create a subtle, modern belt.

Olivier and Anthony were neck-and-neck in the judges’ opinions.There was a stand-off between Heidi Klum (who loved Anthony’s dress), and Nina Garcia, who insisted that Anthony’s dress was too short and that Olivier’s garment was “editorial.” Stacey Bendet and Michael Kors pretty much stayed clear!

The winner

Olivier was declared the winner and immune for Episode 3 (although it was suggested that the best garment would have been Anthony’s top with Olivier’s skirt!).

The loser

Joshua Christensen did not make it past his second challenge – even though the judges had agreed that Bryce’s garment was the absolute worst. I can see their point, however. Joshua Christensen had made another dismal effort AND he’d committed the cardinal sin of the unconventional materials challenge – using almost all fabric. The top of his dress was actually made from an umbrella he found at the pet store. 

Wrap-up thoughts

There have been some very negative fan postings about Olivier’s garment – what did you think of it?

Were you disappointed in Bert (as I was) for taking such advantage of his immunity? It was as if he barely bothered to make a garment. Why not have fun with this challenge?

“Road to the Runway”: I didn’t get to watch it yet, but at MyLifetime.com you can watch an hour-long “Project Runway Road to the Runway Casting Special.” Tim Gunn is the host for the bonus episode, which offers more background about the Season 9 competitors – and a close look at the judges’the selection process. It’s a tie-in, too, to the Lifetime “Road to the Runway” Sweepstakes. Enter online for a chance to attend the Season 9 finale.
This week, the designers were challenged to use unconventional materials found in a pet store to create a look. Birdseed, hamster bedding, umbrellas, leashes, and fish tank accessories are just some of items that are transformed into wearable garments. 

What did you think of the designs this week? Did the judges get it right or do you think a different designer should have won?

Top Three:

Olivier (winner with immunity):

Anthony Ryan:

Joshua M:

 

Bottom Three: 

Fallene:

Joshua C. (out):

Bryce:

 

Season 9 Designers: (*eliminated)
Amanda Perna

Anthony Ryan Auld 
Anya Ayoung-Chee 
Becky Ross 
Bert Keeter 
Bryce Black 
Cecilia Motwani 
Danielle Everine 
David Chum
Fallene Wells 
Gunnar Deatherage
Joshua Christensen
Joshua McKinley 
Julie Tierney 
Kimberly Goldson 
Laura Kathleen
Olivier Green 
Rafael Cox
Serena da Conceicao
Viktor Luna

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  1. lapark August 10th

    i didn't agree with much of the judges picks this week...i thought that julie tierney's outfit should of at least been in the bottom three. i thought it was the worst fit of any of the outfits...and come on how old were we when we learned to weave paper? i also think that the seeded dress was much more flattering on the model than the skirt and dog bed...come on he could have just made the skirt, and just had her carry a pillow in front of her and the outfit would look the same...bert, oh bert! i think he needs to let loose and let his creativity go..i think he's been so used to fashion using the best of fabrics etc that when thrown anything other than that he doesn't know how to go with it..i don't feel like he didn't do his best because he had immunity...i think he was just stuck without having a clue...

  2. User avater auschick August 10th

    I liked the birdseed dress too, but i can see why they didn't pick it after Nina tweeted that it was too similar to some of alexander mcqueen's work.

  3. Cerdanya August 10th

    I was so disappointed that they picked the dog bed top over the birdseed dress. It annoys me when they castigate one contestant for using fabric and reward another for doing the same thing. The faux sheepskin for the winning top was fabric! Yes he tailored it (badly) but it was still just a piece of fabric. Yet the dress made from the umbrella and lizard netting was punished for using fabric. I was also annoyed that the umbrella dress was called out for using the netting, when the skirt for the dress with the brightly colored aquarium gravel top was made from the same exact thing. I just wish the judges would be a little bit more consistant.

  4. Neosha August 10th

    Absolutely, the bird seed dress should have won! It was beautiful, well-constructed. Very elegant. Could be copied in beautiful fabrics.

    I like Olivier's also. Very elegant but a little too big for slender models.

  5. User avater courtdoc August 10th

    The birdseed dress was creative and beautiful. The winning dress was unflatteringly bulky and I could not understand why it would win as no one would buy a dress that added 20 pounds to a slim model's figure.

  6. knittingirl August 10th

    Seriously? The bird seed dress hands down. Olivier's skirt was a winner. But that top? Well, I have pets and the top looked like a pet bed. And didn't I hear Tim say not to make a design from pet bed fabric? The top looked dumpy on the model. I hate to think what it would look like on me!

  7. ustabahippie August 9th

    the birdseed dress...most definitely.

  8. ellen_may August 9th

    Hands down, Anthony Ryan's birdseed dress should have won!!! I didn't think it was too short and the belt and shoes were perfect accents. He is the young man that is color blind! What impeccable taste!!

  9. LeslieD August 9th

    The birdseed dress was definitely more of a winner than the sherpa and bedding dress! I don't agree with the judges half the time, but I am not concerned with ratings either. In this case, I am more concerned with fairness; sherpa is a fabric whether used in a dog bed or in a garment. Shame on the judges, they should play by the rules also.

    BTW,I must admit that the "birdseed" dress was a tad too short, however, the skirt of bedding and blouse of sherpa was just too bulky and cumbersome looking.

  10. SewcietyMaven August 9th

    Is it me, or does it seem as tho this blog is more about Project Runway and less about improving our skills and knowledge?

  11. Tootsanella August 9th

    The judges' decision should have been for the birds. What part of not using a doggie bed didn't they remember?? To make a chic dress out of birdseed and have a collar that looked like a gorgeous necklace was the most innovative design in that group. It was a very disappointing decision.

  12. Ravenwing999 August 9th

    I loved this dress, much more than the winner. Several of the judges cited the winner having "impeccable tailoring". Though it was nicely tailored, I still think the bird seed dress was better tailored, better designed and nicely sewn. It should have won.

  13. User avater CostumeDeeva August 9th

    Poor Fallene, her outfit would have been a winner last season as it seemed totally reminiscent of a 'Wretchen' dress - colors and all. I think she needs a bit of confidence to stand by her designs. And Bert, I was so disappointed to see a dismal showing just because of his immunity.
    That said, my vote would have been for the birdseed dress. I would have LOVED to see it with the hem that was originally planned.
    I'm so glad PR is off to a new season - Let the creativity begin!

  14. lag21479 August 9th

    The seed dress should have won! It met all elements of the challenge, and looked very chic! Yes, it was too short, but the neckline made up for it. Sherpa "chic"? Never! Boring top wasn't outweighed by the interesting skirt. I agree with those who say there was too much texture in the outfit.

  15. User avater Kayle9 August 9th

    CarryMae wrote: "What exactly do they mean by 'editorial'?"
    My take on that is that it would be part of a photo shoot sponsored by the magazine, not as part of an advert, in which the editor would highlight some aspect of a hot new design style.

    BarbaraSki, Oliver's 'accent' does wander in and out. One does not live one's first 16 years in Columbus, Ohio, and then have that come out of one's mouth. The only exception would be if his parents were originally from England.

    As for the worst look of the lot, I'd actually say that Oliver's was just boring, Bert's lack creativity, Bryce's made the model look like a blue emu, Danielle's was a hot mess, and Josh M's was something out the 80s Madonna wardrobe.

    My faves: Viktor's and Anthony's (in that order)

  16. User avater BarbaraSki August 9th

    I thought Olivier's dress made the model look like a Ewok (Star Wars..cute little bear-like). All over texture -- too much. Either piece would have worked better with a sleek other piece - she just looked furry to me. And what's with that accent of his? It must take a lot of concentration to keep it up - raised in Ohio that he was.

    I liked the birdseed dress even though it was executed with a glue gun rather than a sewing machine or hand-stitching. It could easily be translated to seed and other beads.

    I think "editorial" means the dress is really unwearable - sort of like a "concept car" in the auto industry.

  17. littlemsdynamite August 9th

    The bird seed dress was much more creative in the use of the unusual material. Tim's comment at the beginning said judges don't want an outfit made from doggie bed fabric, use your imagination. Somewhere the judges forgot this minor detail. Who would have thought bird seed could be so beautiful? May the show needs to start paying attention to the viewers opinion like America's got talent and combine the overall scores.

  18. User avater Kukana August 9th

    Of the top 3 I liked the aquarium rock outfit the best. Oliver was a snooze-fest! The birdseed was fun and attractive. All I can say is that those guys are lucky WE aren't the judges!

  19. User avater mjfiorini August 9th

    I was so annoyed that the judges raved about the top made from a dog bed (think people ... fabric is used to make a dog bed !) and dissmissed the top made from an umbrella!!!!! What's wrong with these people. I think we need new judges! And yes, the birdseed dress should have won! Heidi must have been cowed by the other bossier judges. Shame on all of them!!!!

  20. jolyntaylor August 9th

    And, I agree. Why didn't that ugly, ugly turquoise dress get axed? The turquoise dress designer should have gone home. Is there some favoritism going on?

  21. jolyntaylor August 9th

    I did not care for Olivier's dress at all. It made the model's hips look wide, and was not attractive at all.

    The seed dress was exactly what the project was supposed to be: innovative, a new use of materials, - NOT using just fabric like the top of Olivier's did. Plus the seed dress looked great on the model. The layout and pattern of the seeds was original.

  22. divaweava August 9th

    Birdseed all the way! He did mention that he had planned on adding something to the bottom, but changed his mind (did anyone else hear that?). I would have loved to see his original plan.
    Olivier did not meet the criteria. If the show is going to set up challenges with specific "no-no's" then a designer must stay within the boundaries. I don't care how wonderful the outfit is - and Olivier's was totally unflattering to the model - the challenge must be met.
    Not a good start, PR!

  23. CarrieMae August 9th

    Ok, I have a dumb questions. What exactly do they mean by "editorial"?

    That being said, I thought the bird seed dress should have won. Yes it was short, but I think a good majority of the dresses on Project Runway are way too short.

  24. MarthaO August 9th

    Although Oliver's dress was not my favorite, I don't think it was awful either. Nina was right in that Oliver's dress reminds me of a lot of editorial fashion that I've seen, as well as a lot of runway fashion. Will the average person wear this or look good in it? No. Was layperson wearability a criteria of the challenge? No.

    So yes, I do think that Anthony Ryan should have won even though the proportions WERE off. He should have won just for the sunflower seed collar/yoke alone. Glorious!

    I hope Bert steps it up; he is such an obvious talent. His dress was an awful mesh of lazy indifference, the 80s, and the 60s. Get real. If he can't get it together, I'm sure Anthony Ryan will comfort me.

  25. shaniqua August 9th

    I'm so glad to see other people wondering about Oliver's use of fabric - that was making me feel crazy. I don't see the difference between an umbrella and a dog bed for use of fabric yet all the judges smiled upon the dog bed as though Oliver had created the fabric himself from magical piles of charm. Heh. Not that it wasn't better than the umbrella garment, but still, it was unfair.

    The bird seed dress got shorted. Um, I mean robbed.

  26. its_whimsy August 8th

    i think the bird seed dress was better than the ensemble that won the challenge...rather sloppy! that bird seed dress was amazing!!

  27. paulag1955 August 8th

    I was shocked that Oliver and Joshua M made the top three. Oliver's look was blah and made the model look huge; I think the proportions were off...it was too wide for the length. Joshua's top was hideously garish; I think he should have replaced Fallene in the bottom three.

    I think Victor and Danielle should have made the top three along with Anthony. I could have been satisfied with any of them as the winner.

  28. Flanerie August 7th

    actually, make that about four inches to add to the birdseed dress. . .two for the runway, but four for commercial sale. . .

  29. Flanerie August 7th

    I didn't agree with the winning choice - I felt it was not flattering to the model at all - and if it made her look frumpy, imagine how it would look on larger sizes.

    Also, just cutting up a dog bed as fabric doesn't seem to meet the challenge - fabric is still fabric. I loved the birdseed dress, but agreed that it was too short. Two more inches and it would have been great. I liked the silhouette of Joshua M's - the swingy top over the swingy skirt looked very fresh to me and comfortable for hot weather.

  30. CherieNightOwl August 6th

    Olivier's design was not only unflattering and, well, ugly, he is pretentious with his fake "I'm not really from Ohio" accent. I thought the birdseed dress was significantly better, even if it was too short. I was disappointed how much they hated Fallene's dress though - I adored it! I loved the colors. I am sad she didn't step up to defend her design though... always defend your own design!!

  31. YoDuh August 6th

    I liked all 3 of the top 3 looks, and think they all 3 did a great job with the materials. I think the bird seed dress would have won if it had not been too short. It wasn't just a little too short, it was hooker length. That is a huge mistake. I think the sherpa dress was a great job also, an hombre effect with bedding is awesome, and I love the classic elegance of Oliver's designs so far. Oliver was my early favorite but its looking like Joshua and Anthony Ryan are going to make this a great competition. I really want to like Burt, but the attitude isn't working for me. I am also curious to see more from Anya. I like her taste so far. It's looking to be another great PR season!

  32. sews4fun August 5th

    I also thought the birdseed dress should have won, it was clearly the best in my opinion.
    The sherpa outfit was incredibly unflattering on the model and added poundage to a clearly skinny girl. It was baggy and shapeless as was the top.
    You know, it seems Nina Garcia always is the one who makes the final decisions on this show and every decision she makes is based on how well the outfit will photograph.
    She is the reason Gretchen Jones won last year.
    when I shop for clothing I am not thinking to myself, hmmmm wonder how well my new dress is going to look in photographs?
    I am thinking, hmmm, does this dress look good on ME? To heck with how well it photographs.
    Personally, I thought Berts little dress was cute, no, it didn't meet the challenge but it was still cute.
    I am blown away by the gil who has only sewn four months, I have sewn for years and I am still not as good as she is, I would like to meet her instructors.

  33. alaskapsych August 5th

    Did anyone see last night's episode? I was stunned the turquoise get up didn't get axed (but I'm totally new to PR). And I just don't see how remaking an umbrella is different from remaking a dog bed (although I do get the hamster bedding thing). I'm still TEAM BERT, but I was a little disappointed in his offerings last night.

  34. User avater runwaygal August 5th

    I am still a little confused over the judging criteria. On one hand they scoffed at the use of material (umbrella nylon)in an unconventional setting yet, they overruled the birdseed dress to give Oliveir the win. Was his top not made of plain sherpa material? I also think the sherpa outfit was a little busy, overly textured, and not really balanced well. Overall I am anxious another season has started and look forward to each episode. I enjoyed the preview to see how they select the contestants. I am also amazed at the variation in skill levels. I wonder if that is to make the show more interesting? I haven't picked a favorite but am cheering for Burt. Until next week-keep sewing.

  35. marg August 5th

    I agree Anthony's bird seed dress was great. The top 3 were really the top garments. Burt! you coped out ! next time give it a try. the judges will remember this. This season I believe the people are all really great. I expect this season to be fun.

  36. User avater thomy August 5th

    I like the birdseed dress as well. It was creative, resourceful, artful, inventive. The sherpa dress was a total snore and honestly not flattering. It was not unflattering just dull and lacking in style or originality. Also, the tissue dress was the worst! Fallene's dress although not that remarkable was not horrible. I agreed with the judges decision not to choose hers as the worst because she recognized it was not her best effort and was aware of her failing which demonstrates she can learn and maybe has more to show us. In short her decision not to defend her piece was a step in the right direction.

  37. User avater SewReel August 5th

    I agree with both of you on the bird seed dress...it really should have won. I was surprised the sherpa dress won! I'm questioning the judges opinions this season that they thought Anya's pants last week were so "well fitting". And I never thought I would hear "sherpa" and "chic" in the same sentence. I thought the winning dress looked too thick and bulky while the bird seed dress was slim and elegant. Have a wonderful weekend everyone:o) Until next Friday Morning Fashion Critique.

  38. Kitrtymom August 5th

    I like the bird seed dress too. It took alot of time and I especially liked the seeds up by the neck. I know the comment was made that it was too short--I didn't think so.The dress looked like it was covered with tiny jewels. Great job !!

  39. User avater kkemper August 5th

    The bird seed dress should have won. The dress was interesting, looked sophisticated and was innovative. Oliviers winning outfit was a snooze. I thought it should have been paired with a red belt to give it some pizazz. His dress would not have been in my top three. I also thought that Josua’s garment shapes were cute but the whole thing looked like an 80’s flashback. Also, not my choice for top three.

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