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Project Runway Episode 13 – Feel the Burn

And then there were three. One of these ladies will win Project Runway.

Several questions come to mind: Are the designers paid during the time they’re on the show? Are they paid during the design/development time they build the clothes for their Bryant Park debut? We’re told they get $9000 to put their show together. That works out to $750 a garment, an amount of money that enables some very nice special details, and gives the designers considerable creative freedom—unless they’re expected to live off it too.

Let’s look at the pressure they’re under. They’ve just come through a stress filled 13 weeks of ridiculous deadlines, limited funds, living with strangers away from home, and fighting for their life’s dream. This is serious business. I wonder if the limited time frame keeps their designs from getting overworked or tired. Still, I can’t help but also wonder if more time would improve the designs. I also question the last minute 13th design. However, as I recall over the seasons, those last minute extra projects are often the best in the line. I imagine they have to work night and day to make the deadlines. I know from personal experience how staggering a project of this proportion can be at the onset. Even if they could physically sew each ensemble in a week, there should be considerable development time. Just think of the draping, fabric buying, and experimenting that needs to occur before they are ready for the runway. This is like the design Olympics for these three people.

Watching the designers brings known realities to mind; perhaps the most important is the need for sewers to compete. There are challenges going all the time, some local and some national. If, for some reason, you don’t have the option to compete, at least get your work on display—for several reasons. One, when you know people are looking inside your clothes, you’ll pay more attention to the details you put into them. Even if you’re using a commercial pattern, you will aim to take it further and add your own touch when you know your work will be inspected. I guarantee you’ll make a better garment. Two, when you compete on a regular basis, over time you’ll develop a collection of your own. This can be used to market yourself, teach others, or team with others for a fund raising fashion show in your community. Threads has online challenges all the time. The American Sewing Guild has local and national challenges. Check out Make It With Wool, and what’s going on at your local fabric or sewing machine dealer. State and county fairs also have some challenging competitions. Look for opportunities to stretch your skill. It is a win-win venture: You get beautiful new clothes, your sewing improves, and you give to someone else too.

Meanwhile, Carol Hannah is really taking a beating. I hope she doesn’t just collapse before this is over.  For the life of me I can’t decide who I want to win. You’ve given so many good thoughts about this season, any last minute thoughts? Only one week to go!  Until then….


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  1. sews4fun | | #1

    Wow! Poor Carol Hannah! The poor thing is soooooo sick, I don't know how she is hanging in there! I noticed that while Althea and Irina were both saying the appropriate things, they couldnt keep the smiles off their faces! I guess it IS a competition like they said and the fashion industry is clearly ruthless.
    I never thought I would see myself writing this but, if the peeks we have had are indicative of what comes next week, Irina looks like the clear winner. Choke, cough, sputter....
    It's not that C.H. and Althea's things arent good, they are, but again, they look to be more of the same. The few things I have seen of Irina's are fahion forward and chic. She appears to have more talent than what she was able to present on the show. I still don't like the snake but as I said, if the few peeks we got are representative of what is to come, snakes rule. >-(

  2. stsimon | | #2

    I was surprised at how unfinished their collections were when they arrived in New York, and second, how unfocused they were. In previous years, most of the designers had some sort of theme that gave their collections consistency, but did you see it in the brief glimpses we had of their work?

    As for the cattiness that has been remarked on here before, it seems that me that it's a staple of reality tv contestants. I think they know, or if not, are told, that they have to produce some sort of conflict to keep the viewers' interest. It generally is expressed in those face-to-the camera interviews where they obviously have to come up with something that the directors can use.

  3. User avater
    KarenLea | | #3

    I wonder the same things about the background info, funding, etc. and I agree with stsimon about the work being unfinished. They weren't given a focus either, this seemed to be the first season that they weren't given a theme or idea for their collections. It didn't even seem as though they were instructed to have their pieces coordinate either.
    Am not a fan of Irina even though she is talented, dislike her attitude and smugness esp toward Nina's comments. Oh well. I hope they all put on a great show.

  4. Cherlyn | | #4

    I was surprised how unfinished the garments were when each was visited. I don't care for Irena's designs, but I can't say I really cared for any of them. I like black but I want a splah of color somewhere. I thought the most creativity was in Althea's. I plan on watching the show over just to look closer at each of the three again. I did feel sorry for Carol Hannah. I thought it was nice that the three designers came in to assist these three with the 13th garment.

  5. User avater
    Soli | | #5

    I think it's a little unfair to pass judgment on garments that aren't finished, although my initial reaction to that frothy lavender creation by CH made of tulle and satin was that it reminded me of an old-fashioned lampshade. Having written that, I will wait until next Thursday before getting too deeply into any of it.

    KarenLea notes Irina wanting to disregard Nina Garcia's advice. This is one of the problems that I see with a proportion of the younger contestants over the course of several seasons - nothing like the arrogance of youth! Honestly, haven't we all been at that (ignorant) place when we thought we knew it all, only to reach a certain point in life when we realized how much we *don't* know? Ignoring Nina's advice or Tim's advice comes with the peril of being eliminated. They're professionals - think of all the sample submissions that a magazine editor gets on a daily basis, not just from the known lines, but also from advertisers and hopefuls. Someone gets to her position by developing an eye for what looks good, for what's next, for what will sell. The best bit of advice that I got when I was young, and ended up disregarding to my regret, was to spend as much time as possible with your concentration major's instructors/professors, and to soak up every bit of advice possible from them. So there is Tim Gunn with years of teaching experience behind him, as well as any number of the PR judges, and it's almost painful to watch any of the contestants not want to take advantage of the resource of experience!

    About the only thing I can think of in Irina's defense is that if her collection is a tribute to NY, then the color choices certainly reflect the NY professional fashionista wardrobe - black, black, and more black.

    I don't think that I recall any guidelines given to the finalists for their Bryant Park collections, other than make it reflective of your point of view and skills as a designer. It was interesting hearing Michael Kors give advice about runway order, and emphasizing telling a story. Just as it was instructive hearing Tim comment about keeping one's target customer in mind and making sure that all the pieces in the collection were not only cohesive in color/feeling, but also aimed at the same customer. Apart from being interested in seeing how everyone harnesses their talents, inspirations, and skills for the various challenges, I love this show for the little bits of wisdom that one can pick up here and there.

    If you get a chance, check out Chris March's blog on the official Project Runway website. He has some interesting things to say about the very real pressures that the contestants are facing once they're down to the final three.

  6. sews4fun | | #6

    I did find Nina's comments on not using black interesting because if anyone remembers, Christian Siriano's collection was nearly 100 percent black with a smidge of off white and one piece with some brown in it and he won.
    I understand he is doing quite well for himself and is being pegged as the next Marc Jacobs.
    That said, Nina will be judging the final three and I don't think she will appreciate that Irina didn't take her advice. The frou frou dress C.H. made was fashionable I think but I think another color would have suited it better. Funny about the black remark by Nina, Coco Channel made her mark in the industry using black and white and its been a hallmark of good taste since that time. Bottom line, Nina is one of the judges and I would have taken her advice.

  7. Cherlyn | | #7

    After watching the show again, I have to say that I really don't like any of the designer's collections. Irena has too much black on black. It does have a unified theme, but I think she may have made a mistake going against a judge's recommendation. I don't like the tulle outfit by CH either. I think it looks like a bottle brush. Althea has some good pieces, but they are knitted. No one looks strong at this point.

  8. User avater
    Mrs4Him | | #8

    I have to say I have enjoyed reading this blog and the comments. I will actually miss it! Project Runway is so very entertaining on different levels. I agree that the attitude the designers have and sometimes over-confidence about their designs in relation to good advice given mostly by Tim G. and then later by the judges really is priceless info. they should take to heart. I would be like a sponge--and hopefully not arrogant.

    Starting with Carol Hannah--I did not like the gray tulle-skirted dress. But, maybe that's just my personal taste. I didn't think it was attractive at all and cannot see anyone wearing it who would look attractive in it. Felt bad for her that she was so sick. I really expected Althea, at least, to run over when she did show up to the workroom to say something to the affect that she was missed and hoped she felt better......

    Disappointed and surprised with learning of Irina's all-black and maybe some gray, collection. To me, that shouts BIG MISTAKE. How can she NOT see that??!! Where's the COLOR? WHY would you show your so-called 'greatest' collection, thus far (hopefully) in your career and have just black?? Makes no sense! And yes, to blow off Nina's advice just shows arrogance. There is something to be said for confidence, but it can stretch out to arrogance, if not careful.

    Of all of the brief glances of everyone's collections, I was impressed with Althea's the most. There was diversity and color. But, hopefully continuity throughout the collection to tie it all together, as well. There were no instructions in past shows where the designers were given a 'theme' to use in order to design their collection. It's left to their own free ideas which should be a good reason why these designers should be showcasing their absolute best skills in their collections---which brings me back to Irina's black collection..........'nuff said.

    Looking forward to the finale and to Carol H. or Althea winning. Hope Carol H. can pull through being sick.

  9. User avater
    Kate_W | | #9

    As a home-sewer,(“… no, it’s not homemade, it’s custom …”), I am gunning for Carol Hanna. Gunn-pun completely intended. I loved the lampshade, bottle-brush dress and though it would look great on Barbie who turned 50 recently. I thought the dress was whimsical, a beautiful color, and totally unwearable. How, or where would you sit down? Anyway, CH is still my sweet surprise win. I hope she feels better by runway.

    Based on the sneaky-peekies, I believe Althea will win. At least Irina seems less one-dimensional after seeing her with family, friends, and dog but, please, all black?

    Soli, thank you. I did not know Chris March had a blog and so I had to read all of his commentary for this season. For me, he confirmed that Gordana is more talented than she ever was given credit for, the show is skewed young (none of the final three are over 30), and thin. When Lisa picked “Willow” for the 13th look, I wanted to reach out and feed her.

  10. User avater
    sewlore | | #10

    Have you seen this last show? I know I would not wear the clothes that Irina created. However, I knew she had won when the British fashion editor gushed about the hats. Michael Kors who usually complains when things are the same, adored the little hats,exclaiming how they were all slightly different, but still the same. Bleeh! The last two who have won Project Runway have made clothes unwearable for any woman of normal size. It seems that women in the daily milieu are not the stuff for Project Runway

  11. User avater
    Soli | | #11

    sewlore, I was thinking the same thing. They choose "artistry" over commercial viability. Check out Christian Siriano's website sometime. His diffusion line looks nothing like the couture garments he produced for the competition, and frankly, aren't terribly interesting or inspiring. I can't think of the name of the quiet young woman who won the last season (the one who did her collection in cream and aqua), but her offerings were very conceptual and sculptural as well. I can't say that I saw many things that thrilled me. Althea's separates would look good on someone built like her - tall and thin. Carol Hannah's dresses were sort of hit and miss; I did love the one she did with the fitted black bodice and cartridge pleated full skirt. That was slightly different, and I loved her goddess dress. But Irina? Meh. Michael Kors was right - the warrior woman/tough chick in NY has been done before. But her color story was consistent, her p.o.v. was cohesive, her accessories carried the theme throughout the collection, and she repeated elements of the details in many of her pieces, so compared to Althea and Carol Hannah, the judges probably didn't have much choice. That's what they got for offing Gordana and Epperson earlier. I would have loved to have seen 13-piece collections from either of them.

  12. Lovngwomn1 | | #12

    We don't have long to wait. Season 7 starts in January. I look forward to watching PR every week. I record the shows and watch them over and over again and each time I watch it, I see something I didn't see in my previous viewing. I love doing the challenges myself. I try to give myself the same number of working hours to complete the challenge (my hours are spread out over days because I have a full-time job). I also make the clothes to fit me or my daughter. Heidi said this was the best season ever, I didn't agree with that statement. I think season 4 and 5 had better designers.

  13. jenfromzen | | #13

    I just wanted to say that I love watching Project Runway, but I do also wish for once there could be a focus on stuff you can actually wear, I guess in the fashion industry in general, I just think this runway stuff is often more about stuff that makes a great photo, but nobody is actually going to where that stuff unless maybe you are some big time celebrity, hence getting your photo taken. Most women don't look like models either so cannot pull off some type of extreme collar going up the neck and giant shoulder things and like the giant sleeves on some giant chunky sweater. Once in a while I see something and think wow, not only is it beautiful, but I could actually wear it and I'm just 104lbs, boyish figure not tall, not in shape, not like a model and I think finally someone has made something actually wearable on someone besides a perfect looking tall woman. I guess it is just a gripe with the whole industry of always modeling clothes on people that could wear a paper bag for clothing and look good simply because they are beautiful and there's almost nothing you can do to make them look bad, but most of us have flaws and clever designs in clothing construction, fabrics and colors are what makes us look good. So once in a while they do an episode with real women and then it shows how devastated the designers get at trying to make not so hot looking women look good in something, which to me is the true challenge of making clothing, making the not so perfect look better than they really are, than taking someone already beautiful and just keeping them that way. So when they get stuck with the real women competition they seem lost because they can't just make something artistic and avante garde because then they would make these ladies look ridiculous and I think the designers tend to do very poorly in those competitions and then are relieved the next week to dress their beautiful models again. And they never do women like me, the real women tend to be heavy women, they never do someone too skinny and petite/boyish in figure to find clothes, most clothes overwhelm a small figure so I'd love to see what they could come up with to make me look good. Then I think there should be away to buy the designs we did like, keep dreaming I know. But also they are always saying that some design is too old, they want the designers to only design for youth, which makes no sense to me since I think most of us are not youth and we probably make up most of the fashion dollars spent. I mean when you are young, do you have any money? I'm not getting the whole youth thing. Young girls wear crap from Forever 21 and old navy and alloy.com, unless they're like Paris Hilton or something. So I'm not sure when they say young, do they just mean like under 60 or under 50, what is young for them? Heidi herself has got to be near 40 so she wants them to make stuff even she's too old to wear? To what point would she wear something super duper short? I guess if you look as great as her you can stretch that out into your 40s I guess or if you look like Courtney Cox in Cougar Town, but I find it so insulting that like older woman are treated as not counting, as not having a place in fashion, when they finally have reached a point in their careers to maybe now have the time and money to spend on themselves, now they are too old to be important? I actually was impressed by the runway shows this time, I think there were a lot of garments that were not super short, that you wouldn't have to be that young to wear, but then again also a lot that were, like all the super shiney stuff from Althea, if you're not attractive and in your 20s what shiney leggins are you going to wear?? I agree like if Logan wants to make a mega zippers thing, he should be looking for a teen rebel market like Hot Topic to sell his clothes, not high fashion. So while I was not in love with Gordana's suit in construction, I think the idea of a suit was fine and nobody else attempted that, some people make dress after dress which is an easier route to take than making a suit jacket or trousers. At least she tried and I think something classic is great too, why do they always look for something to be over the top? So anyway ,they are just people with opinions I guess. I do often agree with them too on stuff they really liked. So I just think I'd like to see them forced to make more every day clothes, not just so much evening wear that most of us wear once or twice a year. How about what we wear every day as casual, business casual or more dressy work clothes? Too boring for them to film that? I would love to see cute work clothes to get more ideas. So honestly I partly watch to see what the designers themselves are actually WEARING, almost as much or more than what they're making. I often like their personal style and I even bought one of those leather obi type belts that I saw Carol Hannah wear a lot. I found it on ebay for cheap and it's gorgeous and looks exactly like what CH wears on the show all the time around t shirts, silk tunics, etc, great belt and was like $30 or so. Since they are usually dressed fairly casually, but with a lot of fashion flair, I just like to get ideas from their outfits. Even how they pair jewelry and boots and whatnot bec it is often more practical then the clothes they make for the competition. And I was sad about Louise Black, but she was the only one I actually heard of before the show and I was so excited for her. She was making sorta high end classy clothes for goth clubbing people, clothes that like an older woman still night clubbing could wear instead of the teen looking lip service designs so I was sorry that she got flustered in a competition where she got film noir, which should have been a field day for her and not disaster as it turned out to be. She should have knocked that out of the park having experience with dark and moody victorian-esque and retro 20s/40s clothes as her background. And she had never been in the bottom before she got tossed out, while then other designers (Chris) would squeak by week after week making as someone else said on here, one hot mess after another! And I was also tickled pink to see three WOMEN (YAY!) in the final 3. Women designing clothes for women, was hoping them to be more practical in realistic since it is women that know what it is like to actually wear women's clothes. I was glad it wasn't all a bunch of guys making wierd artsy stuff that is too impractical for women to really wear anywhere. There were still some out there things ,but still most stuff seemed actually wearable, even if mostly somewhere dressed up. I was just really proud of them too, they were also the youngest designers as well and so I could not believe how great they were at like 23 and 26.

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