PR: Welcome to “The Dress is Right!”

Posted on September 03, 2011

We had an initial reaction to Laura’s dress that we’re pretty sure she didn’t intend.

Namely: “Amy Irving made it to the prom after all!”But that was perhaps a bit too bitchy.


Let’s get this out of the way first: this is in no way avant garde.

Actually, can we just all agree to mentally stamp that proviso on all the posts we write this week, so we don’t have to repeat it?

But it’s a pretty dress and even better, it’s a pretty dress that’s unique and well-designed.

We’re not convinced the boning worked as a design element as much as the judges were. It definitely saves the dress from being strictly a slightly updated prom or bridesmaid dress, but let’s face it; there’s no getting around the prom-iness of this one.

Credit must be paid for really making the effort and interpreting the painting rather than replicating it in dress form, which so many of them wound up trying to do.

If this was strictly an “interpret a painting” challenge, we might even go so far as to argue for the win, but since it was an avant garde challenge, we can only commend her for making a pretty, interesting gown. That’s essentially what the judges did as well.

Yikes. To be honest, we were fairly convinced Precious Moments would be sadly packing his display case and leaving at the end of this episode.

Before we start ripping it to shreds (although it already looks like it has been), we’ll pay some compliments to the off-white portions of the dress. He was going in an interesting direction and if this hadn’t been an avant garde challenge, he might have allowed himself some freedom to explore it.

But this was a nightmare challenge for Precious Moments. We’ve been saying from the beginning that no matter how good his work turns out to be (and it’s been so-so at best), the second he comes up against something completely outside his wheelhouse, he’s going to crumble. His “dirty pillowcase” minimalist aesthetic wasn’t likely to translate to avant garde very well; at least as the term is defined on Project Runway. It’s possible he could have translated it into something much more forward-thinking than his usual fare…

… but once you added bright, vibrant colors to the mix, he all but curled up on the floor and cried.

There’s nothing at all wrong with the fact that he doesn’t respond well to bright colors and doesn’t have a facility for using them in his work. A good designer has a point of view and that’s completely acceptable.

But if there’s one theme or through-line to the Project Runway competition process, it’s that the designers have to basically jump through all sorts of hoops and work around all sorts of obstacles in order to produce a look that fulfills the arbitrary rules of the challenge, but is also true to their aesthetic. It’s a fashion game show and the basic winning strategy is to figure out with each challenge how you’re going to, well… “Make it work.”

He had absolutely no idea how to do that. In fact, he’s never demonstrated an understanding of how to do it. He keeps attempting to shoehorn his tea-stained, minimalist aesthetic into every challenge and garment — even stiltwalker costumes.

We don’t mind the colors he chose, although we agree with whoever said they were sad and the painting was anything but. We think there are ways to take a strong, bold color palette and translate into a far more low-key aesthetic. That was, in essence, the entire challenge for him. Unfortunately, he failed to wow the judges with his choices and his design suffered terribly from his delicate little meltdown. We’ll give him credit for one thing: it’s certainly an accurate translation of his mindset during the process. It looks both sad and frantic at the same time.

He could have started from a minimalist perspective and considered how to make minimalism thought-provoking and forward-looking, while remaining true to the basic energetic feel of his painting. We admit it’s a tall order and he might have had it the hardest among all the designers, but he failed pretty spectacularly and we seriously doubt he’s going to last much longer. His confidence is shot and we suspect he’s realizing how handicapped he is in a gameshow setting.

[Photo Credit: Barbara Nitke/ – Screencaps:]

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