Brandon didn’t win. My faith in Project Runway is slightly restored. I will tune in this January for the next season of All Stars. (Veterans Vs. Rookies. Oh this could go very wrong.)
I’m not going to say who won (no spoilers here) but I am willing to talk about why Brandon and the others didn’t win. It all comes down to what is a collection and what is a runway “show.”
Now, this is what I said to Becca about the shows when I went looking for preview pictures. “ACK WHERE IS THE TASTE LEVEL someone did not take this seriously!!!, boring, mediocre, very 90s Japanese french fashion that I’ve already seen (very Yojimoto), blah so one note, MY EYES!” So, be aware that I wasn’t very impressed with any of the collections, including the one that won. I know why it won. I just wasn’t impressed by it.
Once the contestants get through all the challenges and are pushed to the limits of their brain power and endurance and the judges have decided what their taste is that season and what the designers styles are and who they want to see more of, the top six get 10,000 dollars each and a few months to go and prepare a collection that they must make by themselves with a strict set of rules about what they can spend their money on in the terms of outside help. And the judges want to see the designers put on a show that takes their styles to the next level.
So, what this means is that what viewers at home think who the winner might be in terms of clothes and what the judges decide on who the winner is in terms of a ‘fashion show’ are two completely different things. Viewers at home are about wearability and “would I buy it.” The judges are about pageantry and pushing boundaries and often the more artistic side of it. This isn’t about what you can take off the runway and put directly into a JCPenny store. (Hahahah, oh god no.) It’s about the higher end, early adopter, top 20% more extreme versions of fashion and putting on a show while doing it.
A fashion show and collection usually has at least 3 groups with different colors or materials. Now, these groups can definitely mix and match especially if they are meant to be sportswear, but they might not be that way. The bigger the show, the more groups. Groups can be up to ten looks in the same fabrications. But then there will anywhere from 30 to 60 looks. (At three pieces a person that can be up to 180 items!) There needs to be a beginning, a middle and an end and some flair. Not all these looks are meant to be worn by the general public. (In fact, Haute Couture shows none of the looks are meant to be worn by the general public.) It should s how range and variety going from day wear to evening to even formal. Different hem lengths and bottom types. Most of all, it needs to invoke some emotion. Excitement, reverence. Something.
And this is where Brandon lost. He had one group. One set of fabrications, one boring flat color scheme. There wasn’t even a bright or a deep tonal color to give us some relief for our eyes. Now, I’ve gone to the Academy of Art, which is where I assume he went, and when I went they didn’t teach how many items to a group, they didn’t even teach groups. They didn’t teach traditional runway colors for seasons. They basically told you, “look at other designer fashion shows and base your collections off the number of items they have in their shows.” And I stared at them completely baffled as to why if they were teaching fashion design they didn’t have these very simple numbers. It was like they were trying to teach calculus without having taught basic math. Just. Just. What? (And then once I left I bought a bookshelf FULL of books that actually have this information! Even if it’s spread out over two or three of them.)
So, Brandon even said on the show that he watched other runway shows and other designers that had 60 looks had 6 groups of looks of ten people each that used the same fabrications and he liked having 10 looks in the same fabrics. And I also know for a fact, because this is what happened when I went there, that for design projects you were told to come up with 3 to 5 colors and 3 to 5 fabrics and design all 7 to 10 looks of your project to those fabrics and colors. And you did three projects a semester over 15 weeks with different briefs (instructions, price points and customers) and different inspirations. All of this was supposed to be leading up to Design Level 6 where if you were one of the lucky ones, you got to prepare a collection for the Academy Runway. (I didn’t make it to Level 6. I got to Level 3. Having read the coursework for 4, 5 and 6, I’m not sure I missed much not taking those classes. Because it was more of the same.) So, he hasn’t been trained to think (as far as I know) in terms of “I need to make a collection of ten people with one major look at the end or middle and three groups of three people each in different fabrics.” He isn’t thinking that “Oh, I have to take what I saw in that 60 people fashion show and condense it to 10 people.” He didn’t make that leap.
So he created what he wanted to created. A ten look collection that used the exact same materials for every look. And it was mind numbing, blah and one note. Therefore, he didn’t win.
Granted, Tim Gunn and the judges didn’t help him that much either. No one went “Um, Brandon, you need more fabrics.” The judges obviously didn’t know, but Tim could have said something and didn’t. You could tell that he thought he was a shoo in to win and was very shocked when he came in third. (For a collection, dedicated to his girlfriend, that his girlfriend thought was too ‘sexy’ and didn’t like. Irony. Also naming collections makes me cringe for some reason. I do it sometimes, but still, cringe.)
The same could be said for some of the other designers. The one I said was mediocre was mediocre because of color palette, it needed something vibrant to pick it up and give it life. (Her inspiration place is very green, I didn’t see any green or even yellow given she had birches. Something please. WAKE ME UP!) Then the groups weren’t well thought out and it felt like there were a lot of pieces that were just there and could be bought anywhere. ACK MY EYES is just me going “that’s a lot of color and print girlfriend. And I applaud your color and print but MY EYES.” More Navy please to tone it down a little. And the one I said was very French Japanese designer from the 90s is well, me knowing a bit too much about Japanese fashion and knowing my fashion history so I wasn’t exactly impressed. (If he’d taken some of his looks from the season and taken the next step, but no, that probably would have bored him. Conceptual designers. Spare me.)
(Yes, one of those three won, which one I’m not saying.)
Being a designer and having been through the Academy’s “Design Courses” I know how challenging it is, especially if you’re an eagle/beaver like me and love lists. I’m surprised at some of the choices Brandon made in his fabrics too by the way. Given the fabric snobbery that existed in the Academy back when I went there, him choosing an upholstery fabric is pretty shocking. (This is what I call fabric shaming: You were in what section? No. Do NOT buy that. EVER. Me: It’s FABRIC. Who cares if you are supposed to “Sit” on it or “wear” it. So many fabrics of the past that were worn would be considered upholstery fabric now and did you miss my “I love medieval times” vibe? Yes. Apparently. MOVING ON.)
So, congratulations to the person who did win for putting out a collection that actually was a collection! They did a great job hitting all the right notes. -wink-
But really, getting to NYFW at all is a major accomplishment. Good luck to all the designers.
On that note, I might be putting up some of my projects into this blog. They’ll be truncated and full of watermarks. But, I should probably put my money where my mouth is, right?