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Project Runway’s Sixth Season Starts

Christopher Staub's winning design was buried in texture that can cover a hornet’s nest of problems

Lifetime’s Project Runway’s sixth, long anticipated season premiere aired Thursday night and introduced an exciting cast of 16 unique personalities. It was all there, the nutcase, crybaby, mother figure, uninformed, know-it-all, strong silent type, and I haven’t spotted the egotist yet, but I think the personality is mandatory for every season.

As you know, this season’s episodes have been in the can for awhile. This season was shot in Los Angeles, and the bulk of the designing was done at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM). If you missed the show, you can find frequent reruns during the season. The previous week’s show is usually rerun before the new show every Thursday night. You can also get a full introduction to the designers and see their garments at Project Runway’s official link.

Let’s look at the show from a different angle, by walking in the designer’s moccasins: Imagine being in an unknown world sleeping with people you don’t know, about to undertake a challenge that could set the pace of the rest of your life…or career at least. You can’t use any reference materials. You’re asked to create a red carpet look that demonstrates true innovations and represents your point of view as a designer. You’re given a list of measurements for your model, 30 minutes to sketch, 30 minutes to shop for fabric, a $200 budget, and two days to complete the project. Then imagine making your own wedding dress under these conditions. Some well meaning viewers insist these tasks are accomplished because the shows are scripted. Do you think so?

I don’t, but I do think the camera crew and editors are looking for the story, and the environment for a story is created by putting the participants under such stress. Here, in the sixth season, we’ve learned the program’s pattern. There’s going to be at least one red carpet opportunity; I expect a trip to the grocery store before it’s over for the make-do-material challenge; and at some point the models will turn into somebody’s slightly oversized mother or maiden auntie. How can a designer keep this pace and continue to produce the quality styles necessary to stay in the competition?

The best advice I can give is to follow the Girl and Boy Scout’s moto: Be prepared. From the minute you send in your resume to audition, start planning your designs. Work them out ahead of time. Do the pattern research, explore the kinks, and learn how much fabric you’ll need to make anything…get prepared. Then, all you have to do is reach into your mind bag and pull out the design that best fits the assignment. How would you get prepared?

See my honorable mentions for this week’s challenge below.

Louise Black’s pewter on silver gown. I liked the two tone color combination and strong lines.
Ra’mon Laurence’s dress had stunning detail and rich color.

Irina Shabayera’s champagne lace over a stunningly draped skirt was gorgeous.
Johnny Sakalis spent half his time in a panic attack and still pulled off a perfectly presentable (what looks to be) red bias cut, silk charmeuse gown….no small feat.

This week’s winner, Christopher Staub, is going to be fun to watch as the season develops. He doesn’t know what’s good, but he knows what he likes. When words like godet, smocking, and georgette come up in conversation, he freely admits he doesn’t know what they are.  I can’t wait to see how he fairs next week.

His winning design was buried in texture that can cover a hornet’s nest of problems—were there darts and a zipper underneath?

Until the next time…


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