Friday, August 30, 2013

Project Runway Season 12, Ep. 7: Best Foot Forward

The designers meet Tim Gunn and Marie Claire's Editor-in-Chief Anne Fulenwider in the magazine's amazing fashion closet located in the Heart Building. This is where all the latest accessories they shoot for their fashion pages reside. Kate comments, "It is every girl's dream. There are shoes up the wall.  It looks like a library full of shoes. This is heaven."  Shoes are to be the inspiration this challenge and they're a great one.  Most women love shoes.  It's the one fashion item you can indulge in freely as you age with few limitations.

On the floor in front of the designers are buzzers they will need to use. This week they are going to do a fashion quiz to decide what order the designers get to select their shoes. They are actually limited to just a specific grouping. As the challenge winner last week, Alexandria gets to choose first without participating in the quiz. She selects a super cool pair of thigh-high gladiator sandals with knee pads.  The rest fall in this order:  Ken (black strappy ankle shoes), Jeremy (black suede boots w/ gold metal chain down the side), Karen (yellow/grey dress heel), Helen (black ankle boot with studded toe), Kate (red swirled strap with an unusual modern heel), Alexander (off-white open toe high wedge with red stripe down the back), Justin (cool pair of high wedge with patterned fabric - I NEED these), Bradon (jeweled ecru flats), Dom (funky purple/fuchsia/turquoise creepers - very risky) and Miranda (super shiny, red flats). Funniest moment is when neither Dom or Miranda have any idea what designer made the term the Little Black Dress popular - Coco Chanel of course.

Designers with their shoes and a few buzzer still on the floor.
The designers were given 20 minutes to sketch and had widely differing ideas on how to use their shoes as inspiration. They have 30 minutes to shop at Mood Fabrics with a suggested budget of $250.  Note - Alexander ends up buying plaid even after he sees that Miranda already has almost the identical fabric cut and in her basket. Then they both end up making pants - not good. As Jeremy was 2nd to pick up the plaid, I think he should have moved a different direction right from the fabric choice. There are 2 guest judges this week - Anne Fulenwider and The Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco.

Anne Fulenwider - Kaley Cuoco - Nina Garcia - Zac Posen - Heidi Klum
I just want to note that I appreciate the incredible hand work that went into some of the designs whether the final look worked.  This includes Bradon for the incredibly well done hand-draping. Hopefully he finds a way to use it better in the future. I also was intrigued by Bradon's creation of a cable knit effect out of chiffon. Nice to see something original. It just needed to used be for a different challenge. I was disappointed to see only black looks in the top 3.  It would have been nice to see a bit of variety.  I also felt for the very first time that Justin belongs here and would have love to see him rewarded by a top 3 placement. Tim's response at the end was that he actually responded to Miranda's look. He went on to say that it was such a talented group that designers will go home each week even with a good look. They need to stand by their convictions.

Top 3 -- Helen (Winner) - Alexandria - Ken
Helen wants to play off the embellished metal toe and create a red carpet dress with embellished cape. She has been criticized for shoddy workmanship in the past so decides to do a very simple black dress and then a cape which will be heavily embellished.  Tim sees Kate Middleton. The way he says it makes you think bad, but he means good.  He does tell her that embellishing the cape makes it look like her mother.  Alexandria notes it doesn't look modern and I agree. I also find it too simple. That's good if the shoes were complex, but these shoes were simple except for some toe accents. If nothing else, I wish she would have brought a little silver studding up onto the dress. It is lovely, beautifully made and something I would wear.  My objection is, "Does it meet the challenge?" The judges said a resounding yes. Comments include - when this walked out I was AHH I want that look, minimal and classic, sophisticated, so fantastic I want to wear it tomorrow on a red carpet, sexy and chic, fits immaculately, simplicity is next to godliness, I would wear it in an instant and very young and modern.

Alexandria doesn't realize quite how high the gladiator sandals go until she gets back in the studio. She quickly realizes to show them off she's going to need a fairly short dress. She wants to downplay the S&M vibe and make it more a statement making - chic with a wink. Karen feels that the fairly simple shift dress didn't do the shoes justice. The dress - black with black lace accents - is flow-y which is a nice contrast to the harsher gladiator shoes - softening the look. I also think the simple design is a great counterpoint. I would have given this the win. Comments include - I think you did the perfect thing for these shoes because the dress is whimsical and the shoes are hard, soft and hard, a wowser, super sexy, very cool attitude, very editorial, (Zac) I don't like gladiator sandals but I get it - it's just a little pedestrian, a complimentary look to a stellar pair of shoes, it's bold and shows confidence in yourself and I love the feminine detail at the top.

Ken decides to do a jacket-style coat dress with a ballooned hem in a textured black fabric. Tim feels it's looking dated - the zipper, the volume, the puffy shoulder.  Don't over design.  So Ken decides to take out the volume in the hem and shoulder. Not sure I like the large peplum detail that seems to be attached about 1/2 in above her waist. Although the design is improved, I still didn't think it was top 3 (of course Ken thought it should have taken the top spot). Comments include - I was surprised in a good way, very modern, love the texture of the fabric, nicely done, the fabric looks rich, man-eater I love, a great balance, so cool and kinda cute, top is well made, fabulous, a killer, I would have given it another inch in the hem and she can take over the world in that dress.

Bottom 3 -- Miranda (Sent Home) - Bradon - Jeremy
Miranda is in pretty low spirits after last week, but does like the shoes and goes with a design she personally would like to wear with them (a high-waisted plaid pant, a white with small black polka dots blouse and a white leather jacket). She heads straight for the wool plaid. Of all the fabric she has, Tim feels the polka dot fabric looks really inexpensive. It needs pizazz and sex appeal. Jeremy also expresses concern that the top and jacket are too similar to a previous design that was not well received. To me it didn't look bad on the runway, but I didn't like the combination of white top and white jacket with the red pants and shoes. The judges hated it.  Comments include - she does not look like a cool girl, I don't know what era she's from, (Zac) I sort of like it's not a cool girl it's Nerd Alert but I don't know if it's kooky enough, where is the eggnog, very Xmas, very retro but not in an inspiring way, not digging this either, a little forced, I don't see any rock and roll and it looks like you ran out of time with the top.

Bradon wants to push himself so is uses a French draping technique called Bouillonne, I think, where the surface of the fabric looks like bubbling, boiling water. He tells Tim he would dress the shoes down if he were a young woman - even with jeans - but was scared to put a a dressed-down look on the runway. His first concept was a dress full dress from the draped fabric. Tim's question was - Where is she going in it?  Bradon had no answer which was disturbing. He realizes the dress is not right for the flats, so turns it into a top and then he rushes to complete a circle skirt in time for fittings. He tucked a few glittery bits into the top, but the look overall still doesn't work with the flats. Unfortunate as the hand draping is really done well.  Comments include - thought of swing dancing and happy days, so old school, I didn't love it, needs something simple, so overworked, frumpy dumpy, top texture is well done but not in a flattering shape, least favourite look, someone's grandmother's pillow, fabric looks cheap and looks like a bad bridesmaid dress.

Jeremy decides to let the gold chain down the side be reflected in a cable sweater top, but created from white chiffon. Paired with this are a black tube skirt and a gold camisole worn underneath. He is actually recreated the cable with strips of fabric. Tim encourages him to put most of his energy into the top. I actually kind of like this because it is so out of the box and original. The negative is that it did make the model look a bit thick on top but unless you're super skinny - let's face it - so does a cable knit sweater. Probably not the right look to pair with the boots but I'm not sure I would have put this in the bottom 3. Comments include - it does not look current or modern to me, because the boots are so sexy I think it's all too much, a lot going on, it verges on trampy, subliminally I think you were thinking Julia Roberts, you have these cool rock and roll boots so should have been something edgy and I'm starting to question who you are as a designer.

Alexander - Dom - Justin
Alexander decides to create a power woman's outfit in plaid. He is really glad to see Tim because he is worried about the fact 2 of them doing plaid.  Tim's response? We could have a tartan challenge. What matters is how does the design distinguish itself from the other tartan plaid. I actually kind of like a few things about this look  The top reflects the shoe in color. But although the colour is quiet, the pleated origami accent like folds create a very modern interest and counterpoint. I don't mind the plaid, but also think it does nothing for the look. There had to better fabric choices. Just glad he didn't make black pants. There were too many on the runway already.

Dom loves that the shoes have so much personality and fully embraces colour as a designer.  She decides to do a cute skater girl-type funky quilted dress. Tim is bang on when he says they're either going to love it or hate it and loves that fact that she is willing to walk that line. While I love the colour and think her concept was solid, in the execution it didn't really work.  The colour blocking as it makes the model look flat-chested and wider in the hips. There is also a bit of a thonged bustier look to the purple section.  It also seemed chunky through the middle on the runway. Don't know if that was the quilting or that the cut needed to be changed.

Justin has seriously statement making shoes which are one of my favourites. I would LOVE to own these.  He tells Tim he is doing 3 pieces and shows some coloured fabrics. Tim feels using the colours would be too matchy-matchy, so he moves to all black. I would have personally liked to see a just a wee bit of colour from the shoes somewhere as accents to echo and enhance, but the look turned out great. This is the first outfit from Justin I have seen that has a younger, edgier style and the first I would have put in the top 3.  I would altered the shape of the top of the bust slightly, but the shrug in particular is really interesting. One designer called it - CRAZY HOT.

Karen - Kate

Karen was inspired by the colour (her favourite) and felt the shoes had a real sex appeal.  She chose to mirror the wide straps of the shoes in the dress's bodice. Tim questions whether she is concerned about the matchy-matchy aspect of it. You can't tell here but the jacket was overly big and boxy in the front went closed which I didn't like. It looked fine when propped open with hands on the hips. Several designers around her commented on how much they liked this, so perhaps it looked better in person. Middle of the road is probably quite right. Nothing wrong and very well constructed, just nothing exceptional overall in terms of design.

Kate decides to do a pants and a top that are plain in design and out of black and white, but with a lot of detail. The shoes are the only real accent. Supposedly she wants to play up the surrealism of the shoes. WHAT????  I see understated classy with a truly unique pair of shoes. Don't get this one at all and I think it failed the challenge. Tim's only comment was she had to execute it perfectly. After putting so many great things down the runway this season, I really thought she'd find a way to bring something unique to this challenge. Instead I see absolutely nothing in the design that speaks to being inspired by such a wonderfully unique pair of shoes. They only get shown off as the model walks because of super high leg slits in the front of the pant legs. Obviously the judges didn't agree as I saw Zac nodding yes. Great technical construction, well designed and the outfit on it's own is one I would wear. But again - does it fit the challenge?

To see larger or more images of any of these designs, go to RATE THE RUNWAY.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Project Runway Season 12, Episode 6 - Let's Go Glamping!

Tim Gunn-Seona Skwara
Funny moment at the start.  Heidi Klum comes in wearing a basic shirt/pants set in a beautiful dark blue fabric, but Tim Gunn is still outfitted in a suit, shirt and tie. The twist? It's out of camouflage material. He looks hilarious and gains a few laughs when he comments, "This is about as outdoorsy as I get." I love Heidi's comment that they're dressed for the outdoors. I camped as a kid and I camped with my kids as a parent and neither outfit would have been worn. Just goes to show how far removed the rich are from REAL camping!

Re-source Spring Water is sending them on a camping trip. Some designers love it - some are horrified. Then Tim corrects it to a Glamping trip, "It's how fashion designers camp. An upscale and sophisticated form of camping."  They have 30 minutes to pack and they're on the road. Favourite comment?  Miranda's - "I hope we get to play paintball because I really want to shoot some people." When they arrive, they are introduced to Seona Skwara, Head of Activation at Resource who shares the company values having a sense of discovery and believes nature helps us discover our best.

Allison William - Nina Garcia - Zac Posen - Heidi Klum
Now for the challenge. The designers are to create a look inspired by the environment and their activities. It is to be fashion with a capital F, not something you would wear camping. High-end and editorial, but completely up to them what they choose to design. One day will be spent at the campground, then the next morning back to Mood Fabrics for 30 minutes of shopping with a suggested budget of $300 and until midnight that night to complete the look. Guest Judge this week is Allison Williams - actress (starring on HBO series - Girls), comedian and musician.

The designers laze in a hammock, go river rafting, fly down zip lines, spend some time in the evening to sketch and find a rare chance to bond away from the pressures of the work room. Around the table that night you see them eating a gourmet meal and sipping wine. Now that is glamping! The S'mores at the end are the only thing I remember from camping. I do want to comment on the judges decisions this week.  I would have put Bradon's look in the bottom 3 instead of Karen's because of serious construction issues. Yes the yoke had more work put into it, but the dress was thrown together minutes before it went down the runway and looked like it. BAD! I applaud Justin for finally stepping out of the box and trying something daring.  Because of this I wouldn't have selected him to go home.  I would have sent Ken because I don't like his dress and he is so abrasive, but probably Bradon's look deserved the boot the most.

Alexandria (Winner)
Alexandria decides to do a fitted denim jacket with a funky pair of long johns - camping wear but modernized. Tim likes the jacket, but hates drop crotch pants. When fitting the model, she realized the drop crotch was looking unflattering, so added a front drape that created a much more interesting silhouette. The fact that she won over Tim and Zac who usually hate drop crotch pants with the final runway look is a testament to her talent. Love the surprise back on this one too. Comments include - you took a huge risk and it worked, perfect styling, love that you chose denim for high fashion, love the raw cut on the chambray, the back looks fantastic, modern, cool, you made denim into a very editorial jacket, out there, I really appreciated it, I don't like poopy pants but you sold it to me on the runway, not a safe look, and I'm so impressed.

Jeremy - Alexander (also top 3)
Jeremy is inspired by his place on the planet and the smallest essence of that is his family. He starts by writing a love poem to his husband and his children on the fabric. When he tells Tim his intention to overlay bright primary abstract shapes, the response is that would be a cheap shot - "The challenge is in the execution." Fortunately he listened. Comments include - chic, I'm a sucker for bias cut, beautiful, very personal and authentic, I am crazy about the little row of buttons on the side, breathtaking, very feminine, pretty and elegant. 

Alexander decides to do a very fitted full length gown. Inspired by the trees and sky at midnight - dark blue into black. He was going to create bark with blue leather, but after Tim was hesitant, he put it at the bottom as roots. You can't see it here, but the fabric is hand painted with branches. Comments include - the fit on this dress is ridiculously good, leather on the bottom grounds it, I love the collar and the sleeves, you have the perfect little details at the sleeves and the neck, I am crazy about this dress, (Zac) it fits well and moves well but I disagree with the ladies - I'm not wow'd by it as the seam across the body is in a really hard place, perfect length, the black painting elevates it, something very dramatic, eerie and impeccably made.

Justin (Sent home and then saved by Tim)

Justin was inspired by the river and the way the water interacted with the rock. He decides to take a risk and create the interesting textural lace with hot glue. Tim is impressed with the lace and comments he is glad Justin is finally pushing himself out of the box. I'm not a huge fan of this look, but respect the inspiration and the difficulty of construction. Bottom 3 yes - sent home no. I was surprised, however, that Tim used his one time only save.  I love Justin, but so far he has not show anything of note on the runway. Comments include - I'm not a fan, it's borderline halloween costume, I admire experimentation but it looks like she's frothing from the hips, it looks like she has a foaming vagina, I think the execution was a little off the mark, it's awful, the play of transparency is fine and I do like the colour.  

Karen - Ken
Ken pulls inspiration from the waves and the water during the rapids, so decides to drape the fabric and allow it to speak to him. Tim seems confused when he looks at it, but doesn't have much to say. I don't feel this is great either, and added to his complaints at camping and disrespect for other designers, would have enjoyed seeing him leave. His ego is enormous. Comments include - boring, the bodice is very heavy - it's overpowering this dress, don't love the styling, frog queen, a squished frog and a lot of fabric on her chest. 

Karen's inspiration is the drape of the tent as well as lights hanging in the trees. She describes the look as vintage safari. Tim encourages her to do something with the beige textile as overall it is too simple, so she dips it in an ombre dye. I agree the design is overly simple, but it floated beautifully on the runway and the colour suited her inspiration in my mind. I also like hard and soft and usually the judges do too, but not this time. So not a top look, but better than Bradon's. Comments include - she looks trashy, a bed sheet put on with a belt, a big muumuu, looks like a beach dress but with a rodeo leather harness, 2 conflicting stories, a little bit of runny egg in the colour and a bit of her femininity was lost, 

Bradon - Miranda - Dom
Bradon was inspired by the glow of moss and decides to use a fabric technique he calls thread painting to make the yoke. Tim was surprised that it was thread painting, but noted it was very distracting - "It looks like a kid's drawing." Bradon totally loses focus this challenge and ends up making all but the yoke the morning of the runway show and it looked like it. Poor technique, the model looks very pregnant and just not well designed - just nothing interesting except the technique used to make the yoke. It was unfortunate as I do like his work, but this day I would have sent him home.

Miranda's inspiration is a tree trunk with origami leaves coming out the bottom. Nice fit, but all that detail on the bottom with the very plain top just didn't quite hit the mark for me. 

Dom is inspired by a waterfall. This is one talented designer. I get it. Easily could have been top 3 for me. Well made, simple and elegant - my only comment would be that the model struggled to walk. Just not quite enough room at the bottom for comfort.

Helen - Kate
Helen tells Tim she was inspired by a moth that was dying in the bathroom sink. His response, "This is going to be a work of art.  Go for it." The other designers are very behind this design. It didn't click with me for 2 reasons.  I loved the skirt itself - very intricate and difficult - but the bodice looks like a total afterthought. Distracting and unconnected. Also the colour is not great on this model. Perhaps if the bodice had been a shade darker and a simple accessory at the neck, it would have blended a bit better. Nina smirked as it came down the runway. Not sure why, but her smirks talk volumes. 

Kate's work is impeccable and the cut-out shiny bodice she created is interesting, but I am not a fan. First, the show never covers her inspiration from nature and/or Glamping. In looking at the dress I can't even guess at whether she had any or just made an outfit she likes. Second is the silhouette. I've never been a fan of a high waist with poofy short skirt. One designer noted the model looked like a pregnant fairy strapped into a shiny harness and I totally agree. Nina, however, smiled as it went down the runway so maybe it looked better in person.

More or larger images can be viewed at Rate the Runway.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Exploring Kingston, Ontario!

In August 2013 I had the privilege of flying to Kingston, Ontario for a week to visit with my daughter. I grew up in a small town and do not have fond memories, so was interested to see what this city with a stated population in 2011 of under 124,000, had to offer. Just one note - I only spent a week here, so cannot comment on what it would be like to live here.

1.  Architecture - The first thing that drew my eye was the architecture as the downtown area is filled with historic buildings from the 1800's that are still in use.  Kingston was the original capital of Canada before it moved away from the border to Ottawa. At the time it was felt being so close to the United States would make it open to invasion from our southern neighbors. The streets are lined with a mix of styles in brick, limestone and a chunky grey stone. With no earthquake threat, these more durable building materials took centre stage. There are just a few wooden homes. As you get closer to Queens University, these homes are split into numerous student housing units. I spent a full 2 hours one day roaming by myself totally entranced.

2.  Sir John A.'s Footsteps, A Theatrical Walking Tour - My daughter found this kitschy, fun
walk through the historic downtown area lead by an actor with a guitar who dressed and spoke as an Irish immigrant living in Sir John A. Macdonald's time. The tour covered the background of several of the more interesting building and 3 times our guide broke into song. The most impressive was one he performed while walking backwards down the street  The most hilarious, a rap song sung near the end with Irish accent to folk guitar music. Like I said - kitschy and fun, but also full of facts. Money tight? There are several free walking tours with online information and audio download.

3. Waterfront - At the waterfront across from the former capital building is a small park where vendors set up stands. Most involve food, but there was a caricature artist there working every day - Dino.  What fun!  Danielle and I had one done of the two of us in black/white (preferred it to the colour version which looked more cartoony) and it is one of my cherished souvenirs. Kingston also offers a long pathway for bicyclers, walkers, skaters and more to use that hugs the lake. There are small sections you have to hit the road, but most is separated. There were always people walking it every morning when I arose.

4.  Restaurants - With both Queens University and the Royal Military College in residence, the downtown area has more restaurants than any city I have visited. Patios abound - from rooftop, to sidewalk, to secluded courtyards. Patio hopping is a regular weekend pasttime. Some of the great restaurants we ate at include: Olivea (fresh local bread with specialty olive oil and vinegar, pastas, salads, a Monday night Mojita special and Tuesday night live jazz), Pan Chancho Bakery (provides fresh bread to many restaurants and also has a great patio with appetizing menu onsite), Chez Piggy (higher end, great food, a cool entry way through 2 arched brick walkways and courtyard patio), Kingston Brewing Company (great beer selection, a large single malt scotch list, funky bar atmosphere decorated with tons of old antique items and delicious baked wings), Woodenheads Gourmet Pizza (the most unique selection of fabulous thin crust pizza I have ever encountered), Sleepless Goat Cafe (fair trade coffee, funky atmosphere, unique menu and unusual ice tea blends like strawberry kiwi), Red House (small menu with a modern edge, comfortable atmosphere) and for a light dessert - Mia Gelato. It has over 30 amazing flavours (I think) and even with the small serving size you could try 2 selections.

Top - rooftop and street front patios, bottom entrance and courtyard patio for Chez Piggy.

5Earth to Spirit Fair Trades Arts and Crafts Gallery - My daughter pointed out this store late one day after closing hours and I knew I had to go back. It was full of beautiful ethnic art, pottery and more - much of it from Africa. When I managed to finally visit, I was overwhelmed by the pottery in particular as well as the large animal sculptures. As this was at the end of the trip, finances were limited so I settled for a pair of hand painted earrings created from bottle caps. They assured me that they would have an online store ready soon and that I could purchase anything long distance to be shipped. I took several photos of my favourite items. Time to work out a budget!

Top - Earth to Spirit, Bottom Kingston Olive Oil Company

6. The Kingston Olive Oil company came to my attention as they provided the extra virgin olive oil and aged basalmic vinegar to the Olivea Restaurant. In store they also offer gourmet coarse salts. Their selection is unbelievable and the steampunk like pouring spouts they sell are out of this world. If you are intrigued by an oil or vinegar, they will help you pair it and offer recipe suggestions - Lemongrass Mint White Balsamic with Toasted Sesame Oil on Pasta or Peach White Balsamic with Organic Basil Olive Oil which I used to make an amazing salad dressing. The website also offers pairing and recipes including drinks with olive oil or vinegar (yes you heard me - drinks).

t. Prince Edward County - This day trip took me out into the lush countryside. I originally thought we were heading to an island as we had to take a small ferry over. Turns out there is a very small attachment to the mainland, but you couldn't escape that island feel. There were several small, quaint towns full of old heritage-style homes, unique shops and cafes, tons of green farmland, wineries, music festivals and more. Our first stop was the Huff Estates Winery where tastings are 2 for $1. Our favourites that day were the Pinot Gris and the 2011 Sculpture Series Riesling Reserve. At the same location was the Oena Gallery.  The focus here is modern art and offered is a mix of painting, sculpture and ceramics. After a walk through the gallery, there is an interesting outdoor sculpture garden to peruse. On recommendation, we chose to have lunch at the East and Main Cafe in Wellington and couldn't have been happier - lush patio, great atmosphere, first-rate service and a really fresh, interesting menu. Next came a walk around Picton's downtown core exploring small shops - favourites include Books & Company and the attached Miss Lily's Cafe (coffee bar, menu, baked goods, candies and gift items) where we snagged a couple lattes and an assortment of bite-size flavoured fudge nougats. Our final stop of the day was Lake on the Mountain. Okay - it's just a hill by our West Coast standards, but those who live there supposedly call those in the valley Flatlanders!

8. Wolf Island - Another day trip - this time across the bay to a true island. The ferry leaves from downtown and in summer the line-ups are long, so don't be surprised if you have to wait for the next ferry. It catches your eye from the mainland because of the controversial Wind Farm consisting of 86 wind turbines spread across its landscape. There is a small community of residents , but it looked like pretty limited services (many walk-ons head right over to the Wolf Island Grill to enjoy lunch, hopefully on the outside patio facing the water, then head back). If you want to explore, you will need a car or, for the more adventurous, a bicycle. The island boasts a lot of scenic roads to explore and it certainly was popular with riders the day we went. Our destination was Big Sandy Bay for a walk on the beach and an unobstructed view of ocean-size Lake Ontario. In Kingston there are islands that obscure the horizon and you forget how really large this lake is until you get an unimpeded view with no land in sight.

A few other notes -
- Wind seems to be a regular visitor here, so sailboats, Ski-doo's, kite boarders and more could be seen out on the bay most days.
- The area also offers a huge number of music festivals as well as some local theatre. For the big shows you still have to go to Toronto or Ottawa.
- 3 days a week in the summer there is a farmer's market behind the capital building. My favourite vendor offered kits to make your own cheese - mozzarella, farmers or chevre!
- I truly missed the wonderfully diverse cultural landscape we have here in Vancouver. I think when students return in September, that will change things up a bit.
- When I did venture out through the suburbs a couple of times I was surprised that, despite the warm weather and beautiful sunshine, no one was outside - no kids playing in the streets, no one walking a dog. It felt a bit deserted and lonely.
- The next was shared by my daughter. She enjoys living in Kingston, but noted that many of the young people you meet are here for school. When they graduate, they move away to take jobs in other areas.

Next stop for me will be Maui in the late fall, so be sure and check back.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Project Runway Season 12, Ep. 5 - YOU Can Choose Your Own Materials

Brian Bolain (Lexus) - Tim Gunn
Only episode 5 and the designers face their third unconventional challenge. Very unusual. They meet Tim Gunn at the Gansevoort Plaza in New York City's Meatpacking District where they are introduced to Brian Bolain - Corporate Marketing Manager for Lexus.  Behind him are 4 brand new 2014 Lexus IS Sedans which will be their transportation while they complete their shopping for this unusual challenge.

This week the designers will be working in teams of 3 - huge sigh from everyone - to create a luxurious high end mini collection of 3 looks. It can be inspired by their car if they chose, but it's not a requirement. Each individual is responsible for 1 look. Their cars are pre-programmed for 3 destinations - a vintage wall-paper store (Second Hand Rose), a specialty food store (Garden of Eden) and a combination home goods/party store (Surprise, Surprise) - but they can only purchase supplies from 2. The suggested budget is $1500 per team and they only have until midnight  Right from the start it's clear that Ken is offended with who he has to work with and that affects all their future interactions. Instead of finding a way to work together, he creates a mood that guarantees their failure from the start. The other 2 just end up ignoring him and making decisions or walking away. Guest judge this week is celebrity stylist/designer June Ambrose (love her website name - The Juniverse).

Team Jeremy/Karen/Kate chose to shop at the home/party store where they picked up everything silver and black and then headed to the grocery store where they selected a variety of colored rice, sprinkles and more to use in detailing.  Team Dom/Justin/Helen started at the vintage wallpaper store. They wanted to reflect the red colour of their car, but vintage colours tend to be more muted so it was a struggle. For their second stop they chose the grocery store and looked for items that would provide accents - chili peppers, dried fruit that could be used to resemble beading, etc. Team Alexandria/Ken/Sue started at the home/party store looking for anything in metallic tones in silver, grey and black. Unfortunately they grabbed a lot of fabric-like products which would come back to haunt them. Alexandria tries to bring in some hardware and is totally nixed. They spend $1300 of their budget here. Next they head off to the wallpaper store - something Ken totally does not agree with. He takes a back seat except when he wisely refuses to let them overspend their budget. The only time I respected him this entire show. Team Alexander/Bradon/Miranda also started at the home/party store. Their theme was white and they really did step outside the box with things like an eggshell product (probably for packing) and textured blinds.  Their next stop was the vintage store which didn't provide a lot of inspiration.

June Ambrose - Nina Garcia - Zac Posen - Heidi Klum
Alexander/Bradon/Miranda - I'm going to do something very different this week and put the team I would have loved to see win first. These designers brought it in my opinion. Their white/metallic theme worked well.  They incorporated some really unusual materials and the 3 looks screamed luxury. Alexander and Bradon had the strongest looks and I would have hands down given Bradon the win. That amazing skirt is out of a textured blind material that they hand shaped. Amazing that is looks so effortless, like soft fabric naturally draping. When Tim was in the studio to give them an early critique, he was stunned and speechless. I also appreciated that even though Bradon was safe, he worked as hard as he could with the other 2 designers to make sure they all had great looks on the runway. No judges comments to include as they were only safe - not top or bottom. Heidi did note their score was very close to that of the top team.

Alexander - Bradon - Miranda

Jeremy/Karen/Kate - The original idea was a futuristic Great Gatsby. During critique Tim told them they needed to be inspired by some of their more unique materials. "Look what you have - take it further. You're at a 2, take it to a 10." I think the judges put this on top because of their great construction and use of out-of-the-box materials. I did struggle with this choice partly because I didn't think Karen's dress was flattering - very boxy and odd. More sci-fi than luxury. I also didn't think the collection was as cohesive or luxurious as the one above. The other issue I had was the choice of Jeremy as the winner. While his was definitely the best look, he was the only one who didn't really use the extra materials Tim pushed for. The dress is made out of placemats (the most like fabric) and he decorated with glitter instead of something truly unique. Although I'm not a fan of their garments, Karen and Kate incorporated the more unusual items such as rice, coconut flakes, unique construction materials, etc. Comments include - style by design, I do see this on the red carpet, it's delicious, all these surprises piqued my interest, you captured the car and luxury, the white dress is fierce, I can immediately tell the reference to the car and it looks effortless.

Jeremy (Winner) from placemats - Karen - Kate from trashbags

Dom/Justin/Helen - This team was also in the middle "You're safe, you can leave the runway" position, so no judges comments.  When Tim critiqued their early work, he questioned why they spent only about half their budget. This severely limited them to just a couple wallpapers for construction and some grocery items to decorate. The designers decided to seriously crumple the wallpaper to try and make it look more unconventional. I honestly don't care for Helen or Justin's look.  The only one I think was interesting was Dom's. The 3-D shoulders are at least an unusual detail. The collection also doesn't exude luxury which was part of the challenge. A miss. I am beginning to question Justin's presence. He has yet to put an outstanding look on the runway. The pants and shirt here are dowdy and the crotch on the pants is sad. He gets a nod for constructing them from wallpaper, but you can see Alexander at the top worked with the same material, but managed a wow look and great fit.

Helen - Dom - Justin
Alexandria/Ken/Sue - I would have loved to see Ken go home. Everyone admitted this team was a recipe for disaster, but Ken's attitude took a bad situation and made it unworkable. The first thing Ken does during Tim's critique is diss his 2 partners by saying they were, "Vomiting too much information."  When Tim tells Sue he is disappointed she was using a curtain which is too much like fabric, Ken smirks - not nice and Tim notices - then goes on to denigrate Sue as a designer. Again - not nice. Sue decides to start over. With only a few scraps left, she is really limited. On the runway when asked to talk about their collection, all 3 are zombies and the judges notice. Comments include - materials, sewing and taste level is bad in all 3, a cocoon without a butterfly, not chic, a coffee filter, no surprise, very random, not very thought out, very haphazard, it doesn't look expensive, not luxury, all of it is badly made, (to Ken because of his attitude) we're harping on her but it's all bad, rushed panicked and painful. Alexandria said it all when asked to choose who should go home. Sue lacked good drafting/sewing skills, but working with Ken......................Tim admitted even he was intimidated. Of course Ken doesn't see it and is very put out. The judges didn't like his garment, but I would have sent him home for being an ass to his teammates.

Sue (Sent Home) - Ken - Alexandria
I actually loved some of the unique work Sue brought to the runway and felt bad the last 2 team challenges put her first with Sandros and then with Ken - both really difficult and abusive personalities. While she lacks the traditional training, sometimes that lets a designer bring a different point of view and I think that is true here.  I love the way she takes blocks of fabric and molds them through draping and pleating to create beautiful flowing shapes that are oh so elegant. I'll have my eye on this one.

To see larger images go to Rate The Runway.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Project Runway Season 12, Episode 4 - Ties A Plenty

The show opened on a couple down moments. First was a flash forward to Sandros fighting and creating drama with several other designers backstage and then STORMING out of the building. Perhaps the pressure was getting to him. Unfortunate as there is something interesting to be said for his design aesthetic. We then move to 36 hours earlier and are given another downer. Jeremy's grandmother has died and because of being on the show, he will not be able to attend her funeral. Enough side drama. Let's move to this week's challenge.

When the designers entered the workroom they were surrounded by tons of bowties of all colours and patterns. Several immediately thought menswear. Tim Gunn then introduced a special guest - Jesse Tyler Ferguson of Modern Family who, with fiance Justin Mikita, founded Tie the Knot. This menswear-based charity and advocacy organization advocates for the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans throughout the U.S. - especially the right to marry. Jesse was hilarious commenting, "I vomited bowties on you." Tim then tells them the bowties will serve as the point of departure for whatever they wanted to create. Most were relieved it wasn't a menswear challenge. They had to incorporate at least one, but no limit on how many. The bowtie couldn't just be tied on, it had to be evolved. They had 30 minutes to sketch, 30 minutes at Mood Fabrics with an estimated budget of $200 and one day.  Jesse was to be the guest judge this week.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson - Nina Garcia - Heidi Klum - Zac Posen

I wish the show had time to include as least a brief encounter between Tim and each of the designers during his early critique so I could give you more on those that fell in the middle ground. We always get a lot of info on the top and the bottom, but sometimes those that fall in the middle early on are sleepers that gain momentum as they get more experience. It would be great to hear a little of their inspiration and Tim's feedback each week just in case they suddenly start to click on the show.

Top 3 - Bradon (winner) - Dom - Kate
Bradon shared that this challenge was special for him because he had been with his partner over 18 years and would love to get married legally in the U.S. Tim first commented that he loved the short top made of ties pieced together with a hand stitch. How Bradon pulled off the jacket and shorts to go with it I do not know. The cool, but complicated top took most of his time. The shorts were made last minute and the day of the runway show he still had to make a jacket. The top really was the highlight of this outfit and probably the main reason for his win (well, maybe add in that the challenge inspired him to propose to his partner from the runway). Love the back so included an extra image! Comments included - I think this is fabulous, I love how you created the top just with bowties, I love the texture and am particularly impressed with your mix of fabrics, the colour and melange of textures are so fabulous, so cool, this is brave and it's fantastic.
Dom wanted to create an origami influenced neck detail with the ties. She chose all striped fabrics in reference to the equal sign as the organization was all about equality. Initially she was going to pipe around the ties, but Tim had her take a second look as he felt it made them look too heavy. He was right. The final look was much cleaner and lighter. Comments included - your model looks amazing again, it's a lot of stripes to play with and it all works, a show-stopper, fabulous, this is so adorable, I love the happiness, it's a celebration, I love it so much and great job. This easily could have won as well, so the judges really had to make a hard choice.
Kate created a look with a hunting party/equestrian inspiration. On the runway she changed it to a nod to traditional men's wedding attire. Tim seemed very positive overall with just some notes on the pant detailing. At fittings Kate admitted she was nervous about the pants because she's never really done one. WHAT? Every designer should know how to do a pant. Very few bowties were incorporated so she was lucky to be top 3 based. Comments included - clever cookie, a very sexy and modern look, I especially love the pants, the pants are SICK, I want this and a head-to-toe look.
Sandros (sent home) - Bottom 3 - Jeremy - Miranda - Sue
Sandros commented continually he was going to ask,"What do you want from me?" if he didn't win. When Tim came to check progress, the conversation arose again. Tim finally told him to not make design decisions based on what he thought the judges wanted to see saying, "You need to be who you are!" Sandros requested feedback on the runway anyway, even though he was safe. Zac responded harshly, "It looks like someone went home with a man in an evening gown and came home with a tie attached...It looks like the walk of shame after an awards show. Great construction behind it...the taste and story not very flattering." Backstage Sandros had a fight with Helen that put her in tears and then we pick up the scene of him storming out. Added in are him flipping off and then striking the cameraman. Tim let the judges know what happened and that Sandros was currently missing. Heidi then annouced that Sandros had eliminated himself and due to his outburst, would not be allowed to return to the show - the rest are therefore safe.
Jeremy admitted he was feeling totally off his game because of the death of his grandmother. What he was working on was an updated tuxedo look with only a tie detail around the back of the neck. Tim cautioned him on the use of lace. A sign of what was to come was Jeremy's comment, "I'll at least be safe, hopefully!" The ties were used only as banners over the jacket which was not really incorporating them in the design. Comments included - you have a gorgeous girl and made her look madam, it doesn't look modern or fashion forward, beautifully made, but the overall effect is lacklustre, I have a problem with the fact you highlighted her belly button, looks like a 68 year old actress receiving her honours and she looks wonderful but very old.

Miranda caught Tim's eye with her houndstooth short jacket, but he was concerned about the prim fussiness of the pink blouse worn underneath. While she changed the blouse, it ended up still not working, so in a last ditch effort to make it sexier, she cropped it. That might have worked if she had made it fitted, but the loose silhouette didn't work with the shorter length - something even she recognized when her model was on the runway. The only use of the bowtie was a bit of trim at the neck edge of the blouse. Comments included - I don't think the challenge was to hide the bowtie completely, I want to see it used in a clever way, looks very 80's and I don't think this is a cool 80's moment, the top is the killer here, making a jacket is not easy but I just wished you had focused on something a little more modern and this did not turn out well.
Sue noted the challenge for her was working with small bits of fabric. She also spent double the suggested budget at Moods. Tim was surprised to see she had two garments under construction, probably one of the reasons she spent twice the budget. The idea she ran with was a black dress with an exo-skeleton of ties. As her model went down the runway she commented her look was very avant garde and that probably not everyone would understand it, but she liked it. Comments included - what a mess, it is so crazy, I don't understand it, what was she thinking memorable instead of memorable in a good way, less is more, don't get so esoteric, octopussy, Sigourney Weaver in Alien, it's bizarre, very arts and crafts, coming out of the sea covered in kelp and I think it's a failure.
Alexander - Alexandria - Helen
Alexander was extremely happy with his bowtie outfit and thought it was his best work yet. He felt he worked the bowties better than anyone else. Not my favourite. I said last week I didn't think he had a great critical eye when it comes to his own work and that stands true this week as well. Alexandria wanted to offer a clean, smart look like one would have if wearing a bowtie. I liked the silhouette, but I think the balance of colours falls a bit flat on the runway. More pop in the palette would have made a difference. The back view was definitely more eye-catching. Helen was thrown that Tim wasn't very positive about her initial design. Confidence gone, she left the workroom for a short break fighting back tears. On the runway, I found the blue bowtie strapping didn't blend with the rest of the design and was poorly constructed. Heidi commented that Helen was very lucky she had immunity this week as the dress was a MESS! Nina noted, "This was so bad that I'm wondering if last time you won because you had Kate as your partner. I would love to see something better next time." Helen felt it bullshit that they suggested her win last week was because of Kate.
Justin - Karen - Ken
Justin was happy with his design and how the ties are incorporated, but admitted it just didn't have the impact he was hoping for. This was definitely not one of my favourites and could have easily been in the bottom in my opinion, but I think Justin might be a sleeper. He seems to have a very realistic critical eye when it comes to his work on the runway that, IF (a big IF) he can capitalize on, will help him slowly gain momentum each challenge. Karen was offering, "A chic woman going out on the town with her boyfriend," and I think she fulfilled that mission. The black/white scheme worked well and the pop of red - shoes, bag and lips - were great accents. Ken was content with his edgy, sleek look and felt the ties were incorporated well, but was worried about the exposed zipper not laying flat. It earned him a safe slot in the middle.  

New this week were comments on the website from a few of the other designers about who they felt should have been top and bottom. Most did not agree with the judges.
TOP Bradon "Love the top."
BOTTOM Kate "Boring."
TOP Justin "Dress was very cute, great silouette."
BOTTOM Alexander "Neckline needs editing."
TOP Sandro "Inner construction of the gown is great work for one day."
BOTTOM Miranda "Look has been done too many times."
TOP Alexander "Loved the rainbow ties."
BOTTOM Bradon "Fabric was ugly."
To see larger or more images of these designs, go to Rate The Runway.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Trisha Petrovich - "Keep an Ear to the Street and an Eye on the Runway"

When Trisha Petrovich graduated from the University of the Fraser Valley in April 2011, it was with high hopes. Fashion is a tough business though, especially here in Vancouver, and the difficulty of the journey proved a surprise. But passion cannot be denied.  It has a way of leading us to where we need to be and for Petrovich, that was designing her own label - Tastemakers. Her philosophy is oh so simple, " yourself. If your style shows who you are then it has served its purpose. Fashion might be exclusive, but style is inclusive, everyone can have it."

Two and half years ago, degree in hand, the struggle to find work and internships in the industry began. Freelance contracts initially paid the bills, but when they dried up her longtime partner urged her to "get a real job." That "real job" turned out to be working for a sporting good manufacturer setting up sublimation print files all day. Boring. Torture for the creative spirit. All that could be said initially was that it was a paycheck. The idea of having a real career in fashion seemed a pipe dream.

As with all things life throws at us, in looking back there are often gems to be found. "I didn't realize at the time that I was gaining such valuable knowledge. The company was very good about letting me experiment with fashion fabric on my own time." This exploration of fabric and print design would eventually become the foundation for turning her out-of-the-box ideas into bold, larger-than-life garments.

The next curve ball was unexpected.  A plan was in the works to move back to Winnipeg with her partner so that they could have the "fairy tale" life, but out of the blue the relationship suddenly ended. The shock was tremendous and she found herself alone in the city with little support. As difficult as this period was, it provided the push needed to draw Petrovich back to the world of fashion. "I redirected my focus to the one thing I knew would always be a constant in my life, my passion for design."  She quit her job and with no money or idea how she was going to make it happen, managed to produce her first line of womenswear in only 6 weeks.

It was a triumphant moment when this collection hit the runway at Vancouver Fashion Week F/W '13 and the positive response was validating. Now it was time to get serious. To build on this momentum, she quickly immersed herself in adding menswear to the brand. A small, inexpensive studio was found through a fabric supplier, moving the business out of her apartment into a proper workspace. Then one of her freelance clients came on board as a partner to fund the menswear collection. The excitement is now building as she prepares to launch the new line this week at Men's Fashion Week.

Backstage with models at Vancouver Fashion Week launch.
For both collections, the inspiration is space. When her partner left, it was with the comment he "needed space" so she decided to give that to him literally - Give Me Space for the womenswear line and Give Him Space for the menswear line.  Countless hours were spent viewing space podcasts and reading books on all aspects of of the universe. Her passion was reignited as she started designing the unique digital prints that would define these collections. Petrovich found immersing herself in the creative process was not only satisfying, but helped her heal.  "Sometimes you need an escape from reality and entropy. Sometimes you need to explore life and try new things. I feel clothing is a part of that experience."

With her passion for creating original digital prints as a foundation, Petrovich's collections are truly unique. Who doesn't want to "dance to the beat of their own drum" or "stand out in the crowd"? The Tastemakers' mission statement also speaks volumes about the direction this company will take - "serve and inspire."  This designer brings a new, young voice to the fashion table, one I am sure will be making it's own unique mark on the industry.

For more information, to read Petrovich's blog or shop in the on-line boutique, you can visit Tastemakers website at If you want to be front and centre at the launch of her new menswear line, it will be showing at Mens Fashion Week on August 10, 2013. Tix are available at Eventbrite. For information on the VIP Tastemakers Designs "Give Him Space" invite-only launch party by LuvNGrace Entertainment check out the Facebook Event page at or email

(Student Designer article from April 2011 - Fame'd Magazine can be read at