We’ll say it. It’s a fanboy cliche and we don’t haul this one out often, but…
At first we were all “Oooooh, another design-based challenge!” Last year, we made the point that PR, somewhere along the way, shifted the focus from design-based challenges (imagine clothes in 2055, make a postal uniform, make a dress out of x) to fashion-based challenges (make something for Heidi, make something for the red carpet, make something for a magazine cover) and the show had suffered for it, rewarding designers for trendiness and styling rather than for thoughtful or interesting designs.
This season we had three design-based challenges in a row; clothes-from pajamas, clothes from pet supplies, and now clothes for stiltwalkers. On paper, this sounded like a great idea. The point to design-based challenges is to answer a question. How can I make clothes out of corn? What do ice skaters need in a costume? What will people be wearing in 50 years?
Well, what was the question being answered here? What if women were ten feet tall? What if people walked around on stilts? These aren’t tantalizing questions. They’re what-ifs posed by a stoned freshman in a dorm at 4 am. Even if you just go with the “whimsy” explanation; as in, “It’s fun! Who cares why?” we’re stuck looking at these Frankenstein models lurch and jerk their way down the runway and there’s nothing pretty or fun or whimsical about it. The attempts to do high fashion grafted onto stiltwalkers resulted in an incongruous, and weirdly disturbing runway show.
Worse, the designers once again seemed to get no information as to what the judges were looking for. You would think a stilt-walker challenge meant that the whimsical and fantastical were not only on the table, but encouraged. Instead, the judges – and we think they should be a bit embarrassed by this – mostly praised the outfits that looked like regular clothes, except really, really elongated.
We were, again, asking “Why?” when it got under way. Aside from giving the models the room to walk, what was the point in an outdoor show (aside from generating press, that is)? The public had no input into selecting the winner. They were just there to provide a couple sound bites of screaming fans. We wouldn’t normally be so cranky about that, but in an episode that was one big “WHY?” from beginning to end, this was just one more.
Possibly one of the worst guest judges? It would be hard to say since there have been so very many bad guest judges, but she was particularly useless.
TOTALLY original and unique!
To be honest, the judges should be embarrassed. They not only picked one of the most conventional looks of the lot; they picked the one that was most clearly and obviously a ripoff. What was the point to this entire challenge? Why put them on stilts if you’re going to give the win to a Gucci knockoff?
The… “leaves” we guess we’d call them, were only sort of haphazardly applied. You’d think, since they were so obviously referencing a certain set of dresses, that they’d get the most identifiable aspect done impeccably.
Aside from the length, what about this design really took into consideration that the wearer was on stilts? Was there any playing with proportions? Anything that took into consideration that her legs were twice as long as her torso? No. It was just a really, really long gown.
Oh, and what was with the styling this episode? They replaced the models with stilt walkers. Did they also replace the hair and makeup people with jugglers and guys on unicycles? Because it sure as hell looks like it.
And sure, it moved well, but a ten foot long skirt on a raised platform in Battery Park on a windy day is going to move dramatically no matter what. The judges’ gushing to that effect was a bit silly. Do dresses become great designs when you put them in front of wind machines? How like a fashion editor to think so, Nina.
We’ll pay them both the compliment of saying that they worked together well and actually charmed us a little this episode. It was very gracious of Anthony to defer to Blenley on the runway and she seemed quite touched by it. We think they’re both talented and we can’t get all that worked up over the win because none of the entries this week were impressive. So congrats, kids. Your knockoff dress was the least objectionable of the week.