Friday, October 9, 2009

Blogging Project Runway: And the Bride Wore Hydrocarbon Chains

Here I am for the weekly dice and slice of the latest episode of Project Runway.
This week the challenge was to take the wedding gowns of divorced chicks and turn them into something wearable.
As far as a challenge, yet again in theory, this was pretty 101. It is basically a student project. In almost every fashion school I know of, including the one I attended, they have a "recycle a garment into something different" show/contest entry in the annual Fashion Show. And yet again in theory, this would be pretty easy to do with a wedding gown because wedding gowns commonly use a lot of fabric (aka yardage). But not always.

The first thing I asked myself when watching this episode was: Where on the Baby Jesus Green Earth did they find these chicks? Who the h-e double hockey sticks gets married in polyester and acetate????? I would rather get married in my cotton panties (knickers for my UK readers) and Chantelle minimizer bra than get married in a wedding gown made of synthetic fibers.
Polyester, nylon, acetate... that stuff is a) cheap in a cheap way, b) looks cheap in a cheap way, c) does not breathe, d) holds on to stains and odors , e) feels horrible and clammy and scratchy against your skin, f) has subpar drape and clings to the body and tend to need other synthetic layers underneath to prevent static ...ewwww... and it goes on and on....

If you need to get a wedding dress on a budget, it is much better and smarter to either buy something nice second-hand and alter (there are always a PLETHORA of wedding gowns of all sorts at thrift, eBay and consignment stores) or think out of the box completely. Why a big dress? Why white? Why a dress at all? I mean you can find a nice cream pant suit for less and THAT you can actually wear again. Why not get married in pink, or red or black? Indian brides get married in all the colors of the rainbow. Why not a tux? To me there's no more elegant and edgy choice. I have no idea why so many women cling to the idea of virtuous white (or a shade thereof) when it's their second, third or fifth wedding and these ladies have seen more penises in their lifetimes than the urinals at Aztec Stadium in Mexico City at a final match between the America and Cruz Azul teams (the Mexican versions of Man U and Arsenal).

And you are going to ask yourselves: then what did YOU wear on your wedding? Well that is an interesting story. My wedding has thus far the record for the cheapest wedding in history. The whole thing, including reception, cost under 100 US dollars. I got married, 4 months pregnant with my daughter Saffi, at the justice of the peace in Fort Worth Texas, sadly, not to a Bass ($25 for marriage license). My dress was a $25 ecru summer cotton jersey dress from Express that was completely simple and minimalistic. I had an ivory ribbon in my half-up, half down hairstyle (which I did myself), ivory shoes from chez Payless, and the silk flowers bouquet was borrowed from a recently married friend. Otherwise I would not have bothered with the whole flowers thing. I wore no make up. Just a killer tan (speaking of tans... The Duchess of Orange is looking more and more like an angry Goth Oompah Loompah with a receding hairline). My bridesmaid (my lovely Irish- American, porcelain-skinned, best friend) wore a Kente cloth dress that her mother in law had brought from Nigeria. Everyone wore shorts and Hawaiian shirts and the reception was at our favorite Mexican restaurant (Benito's in Fort Worth) where everyone chipped in for their food. Why so little effort and fantasy? I was done with the wedding (and marriage) before it happened. I married for very good reasons including having a child in wedlock, and none of them were romantic delusions. By the time I married, the wedding was a necessary procedure, much like a pap smear or a root canal. I felt like Ann Boleyn walking to the executioner, not a bride going down the aisle. I would not wish that on my worst enemy. If I had been marrying a man I actually loved, I think I would have been a lot more into the wedding.

Needless to say, the day I received my final decree of divorce was one of the happiest days of my life. The song "Freedom" by George Michael (including cameos by supermodels) played in my head for months. So I understand these ladies wanting to celebrate their freedom and independence.

Another thing that occurred to me while watching the episode was how right I was when I told my apparel construction class how crucial it is for a fashion designer to know organic chemistry. They laughed at me and were mocking me and were asking me why should we? In typical ignorant, popular, non-intelligent girl fashion. Because fabrics like polyesters and acetates ARE made of organic (carbon-based) materials. They are exactly hydrocarbon chains with substituted atoms (aka functional groups) such as esters ( as in the case of POLY- ESTER) that determine the properties of that particular fabric including at which laundering or pressing temperature they take on the texture of pork rinds or chewing gum. Moreover, most successful fashion designers end up making most of their fortunes through licensing, namely in fragrances. If you do not know organic chemistry, then when a perfumer tells you that the dominant accords in your scent are mostly amines or thiols (versus esters or aldehydes), you cannot prevent your signature scent from reeking like a boat full of week old mackerel or rotten eggs. Knowing organic chemistry is a must. And that is why the materials of the dresses the designers had to work with were such a big challenge from the get go. Synthetics are hard to sew, hard to work with, hard to dye. If the dresses had been made from silk moire, charmeuse or shantung, things would have been MUCH easier.

So let's see what they came up with...


This dress was pretty boring, the construction was wonky and it had MAJOR titscrepancy. If you are going to go for the trompe l'oeuil bra-on-the-outside thing, at least have the decency to make her mammaries even. It was styled in a really unimaginative way too, so not her best work.

Carol Hannah:

This was not bad at all... I like the grey color and what she did with the tulle and how she turned the poofy Cinderella gown into a pretty decent cocktail dress. I though the little bolero vest thing was completely extraneous and unnecessary but the rest was really ok.


Two words say it all : Glad Bag. This dress was unflattering, the construction was shoddy and it was unimaginative. Really bad.


Yet another good designer that I hated seeing booted and an unjustly maligned design.
Heidi said "Oktoberfest" and some other judges "serving wench". I tend to disagree. I actually liked the silhouette of this dress and it was flattering to the woman's body, emphasizing her waist. The issue with the judges is they sometimes judge as if they were buying for themselves. Heidi Samuel has a very SLUTTY, trite, trend of-the-nano-second body-con (scious) taste. There was a life before Herve Leger and Azzedine Alaia. There will be a life after. Not all fashion has to look like a 14 year old's idea of sophisticated and sexy. And not all women are Vicky's Secret Angels. Some of us like something other then tight, short, colorful dresses.
I thought Epperson's was actually interesting and well-constructed and presented a different aesthetic with a slight Asian bent.


I did agree that this dress was the winner. It was original, edgy, laborious, intricate and beautifully constructed. Knowing how to sew pays off. Not everything was awesome though. I thought that a strapless dress was not the right choice for that woman (small-breasted women are not shown in the best light in strapless dresses because it calls attention to their LACK of assets) and the styling was a bit kick ass biker babes of South Dakota. Which detracted from the great craftsmanship of the dress. Cliche does not edgy make. To do edgy, you have to BE edgy. It was a bit as if Oscar de la Renta or Carolina Herrera or Alice Temperley tried to do LA rocker chick. As I have said before, the designer's soul can be seen in the clothes. So don't try too hard.


The judges were virtually having orgasms over this one. And I was thinking .. WHAT??? Ok, so she got lucky, the dye job turned out well. But as far as the dress is concerned it was a Robbie Bee or Jessica Howard dress I can find at any mall's Dillard's or Macy's "special occasion" department. It was decently sewn and constructed, but really nothing spectacular.


This was God-awful. I have seen better pants come out of my apparel construction class. The vest and top were tear inducing . The bottom spot was well-earned. It was just bad...


How in the Baby Jesus God's Green Earth did this horrendous fug get a pass and Epperson gets auf'ed? The legendary Project Runway crack pipe makes its rounds once again. At least Nicolas was conscious that this look was hideous. It was unflattering, poorly constructed and just plain ugly. Seriously...I ask myself sometimes if they actually have eyes in those sockets.


It had been weeks ( since the pregnancy challenge) since Shirin had done something memorable. This dress to me along with Gordana's were the strongest contenders for the win. She had the least yardage. In polyester. And with a lot of skill and creativity she re-invented that dress into an adorable cocktail dress classic despite her ill adviced client who wanted to look like a tired drag queen in a Vegas low-end lounge. Great idea to create a pattern with stitching embroidery and that was truly what I think the challenge was about.

This seasons' challenges really show that the show was undergoing turmoil when it was being filmed. I really miss the days of dresses made of grocery store items, the clothes on the designer's backs or the contents of a flower shop. And soon we have to endure Christina Aguilera as a guest judge... Tickety tack coming full speed ahead..


Marisa said...

You always have the best, spot on opinions about each of the looks, I adore reading your blog. Nicolas should have beed auf'd I agree 100%!! His outfit was horrible!

Milla said...

OMG... Thank you Marisa!
You are ever so sweet!
I love when I get comments from new readers! :-)
Nicolas outfit was unforgivably hideous and either him or Logan should have gotten the boot.
Big Hugs,
P.S Thank you so much for reading my blog :-)