Project Runway Season 11 - Episode 9

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This week it's the Lord and Taylor challenge - a great opportunity to gain experience designing for a high end brand.  Tim Gunn introduces LT's Senior VP and Fashion Director, Suzanne Timmins, who shares, "Our customer loves fashion and need on-trend pieces to compliment her wardrobe and style."

For this challenge the designers are to create ready-to-wear looks for Spring 2013.  They can be dresses, separates or a combination. The iconic Lord and Taylor rose - a symbol of the store since 1943 - is also to be a part of their inspiration.  It can be interpreted creatively in any way, the designers are to use their imagination. One final note, "Stay true to your individual design aesthetic, but remember we want the garments to retail for under $250 for each item." The winning look will be reproduced and sold in stores and online starting March 21st. It will also be displayed in Lord and Taylor's iconic 5th Avenue store window.

Everyone will create one look, but work in new teams set by the judges - 2 teams of 2 (Michelle/Daniel and Stanley/Patricia) and one team of 3 (Samantha/Layana/Richard - not happy). Layana and Richard together was obviously a TV ratings thing as they are like oil and water with a total lack of respect for each other. Looks did not have to be cohesive. The team budget worked out to $75 per designer. There was 30 minutes to caucus and sketch, a quick shop at Moods and one day to complete the challenge.  Zac Posen was missing this week, so his chair was filed by fashion designer Rachel Roy.  Guest judge was Bonnie Brooks - President/CEO for The Bay.

Michelle (winner) and Daniel - The winner was obvious from about half way through the design process. I love Michelle. She grows each and every week. Her unique point of view and unbounded creativity sets her apart, but at the same time she listens and takes all input to heart. This team's initial designs were rock and roll, but tailored and sophisticated. The final looks ended up going a different direction. During consultation, Tim encouraged Michelle to lose the heavy vest. It was hard for her to let go of this element, but in the end she bowed to his wisdom and won the challenge. I was surprised to learn the dress was in leather and silk. She interpreted the LT rose in terms of the "..the Chartreuse you see in the spring when the buds are just opening and the idea of the rose in the layers." Comments included - effortless, modern with an attitude, fresh and joyous, I would be first in line to buy it, smart and easy, great looking and will fit many shapes and sizes, glad you didn't interpret the rose too literally, young and modern and the LT customer would love to own this.

Michelle (winner) - Daniel
Not much for me to say about Daniel. I like him as a person and think he does great work with excellent construction, but he is not new and innovate and for me, that's what this show should be about. I am glad he changed from a jacket and shorts to a dress. Comments include - a stand out when you walk in the room, colour is fantastic, happy to see you embrace a bold colour with a conservative shape, needs a little more risk, silhouette has been around many years, nothing new, stop thinking so much and start feeling it (best advice).

Stanley and Patricia - This was a very tough partnership at the start as Stanley wanted control and Patricia works intuitively - so they found it a difficult process. That said, I think both looks were very sell-able (I would shorten Stanley's a bit) and I liked the fact they worked together in terms of colour. In the end Stanley was very happy and admitted he had learned a lot about draping from Patricia. Patricia did have to change directions when Tim let her know her original design was too expensive to produce - a good lesson for her which pushed her to create something more ready-to-wear. The judges found Stanley's dress a bit simple (that said simple often sells), but did love the flowing top Patricia put on the runway.

Stanley - Patricia
Samantha, Layana and Richard - What were they thinking other than reality TV drama?  Richard and Layana were not even speaking at this point. Poor Samantha to be thrown into this mix.  Layana received a mix of positive and negative. Overall they like the silhouette and leather detail but not the print. Comments include - love the leather details but the print is a little old lady, love the tough chicness of the leather but perhaps a bit too tough, love the line and cut, very wearable, back is stronger in design than the front, hot dress with a horrible print, and could have been a winner but went south because of the print. Richard also received mixed reviews.  Overall it's very wearable, but something he has put down runway before. Comments include - I would buy it, it's an easy no-brainer dress, I wasn't impressed, I've seen you do this before and do it more successfully, very beachy, a little too dressed up for day but not enough for night, a little confused and push yourself on styling.

Layana - Richard - Samantha
Samantha - I like this designer a lot so was surprised at how much I disliked this dress.  From the fabric to the silhouette to the cutout in back, it just didn't work for me. A cut out in this type of fabric in particular is not a great idea and the colour scheme was too dull for spring. Comments were again mixed - it looks like a wilted rose, too junior, you did something youthful and I appreciate the design elements, an adorable peplum shape that you could wear as a tunic if you're older, it is attempt to show us you can take risks but sadly for this challenge your client might not need this, I didn't hate it (how depressing is this comment?), messy and unsophisticated and a fun dress you might wear on the weekend. In the end she was sent home and as much as I hate to see her go, I fully agree.

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