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Project Runway Canada: The final challenge

April 3, 2009
Episode 10 of Project Runway Canada: the last challenge

Episode 10 of Project Runway Canada: the last challenge

Is it really the last challenge of this season of Project Runway Canada? I’m a little surprised that it’s already the end- although I really shouldn’t be since it was only two weeks ago that I watched the final three collections go down the runway at LG Fashion Week. What I knew then has been aired to the world- the final three designers are probably the most deserving out of the group that laboured week after week to produce what was asked of them by show host Iman and mentor Brian Bailey.

The 10th challenge proved to be a tricky one for the final four (Genevieve, Sunny, Jessica, and Jason) and it was a test of their sewing skills that would differentiate them. You’d expect this last challenge to get done in peace; after all, the designers were given two days to complete their looks and two of the four designers are back from previous elimination. I was disappointed to see Jason so discontented with his lot; despite being back on the show and now a top 4 finalist, he’s still bitter about not being a strong front-runner. Well then show us what you can do already!

The Boardroom Challenge: create a tailored suit

Iman informs the designers that they are creating business wear.

Iman: “Tailored suiting is a very tough challenge and we do want to be very impressed.”

Suiting really is hard. As a beginner sewer I once attempted to make a blouse under the watchful guidance of a sewing instructor. The result: the blouse is still sitting half-done at the bottom of my sewing stash, pricked full of pins, too small in the back and with accidentally puffed shoulder seams.

Quelle surprise: I am not alone in struggling with structured fit. Sunny’s never made a suit before, neither has Genevieve who generously admits that it’s going to be a tough one for her, Jessica’s going for sexy and Jason is being coy about having an idea that no one else is doing.

Jason is making.. a pink suit?

Jason is making.. a pink suit?

Jason definitely has a chip on his shoulder in this challenge, or, as Jessica calls it, he’s spraying some ‘hater-ade’ on Sunny’s design.

Jessica to Sunny: “That’s pretty.”

Jason: “It’s alright.”

Having some 'hater-ade'

Having some 'hater-ade'

Sunny behind the scenes: “Jason is taking a gimmicky approach to his design. For me this is fashion: the gimmick should be in the craftsmanship, not a spectacle.”

So what if Sunny’s the favourite one to win? Is it really a surprise at this point? Sunny has been doing very well in the competition because he delivered what the challenge asked for and kept it in check with what’s fashionable. Jason, on the other hand, took more risks in terms of presenting work that is sometimes questionable in taste. We applaud risk-taking but really, the problem seems to be more with Jason’s sense of beauty and fashion, which is not always on the mark (as Iman has told him.)

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Jason’s secret design for this challenge turns out to be a suit bustier with long sleeves, skinny shorts, and a pink blouse. Brian arrives to check up on the designers and he’s basically worried about all of their work, but definitely Jason’s takes the cake. After much discussion, Brian cautions Jason about being too unconventional and that the challenge asks for specific things that his design is not delivering. Jason reconsiders, re-reads the challenge details, and finally axes the whole top pseudo-jacket and begins working on a new jacket design.

Sunny to Jessica: “I wish Jason just kept his original design! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!”

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Jessica: “You’re mean now, Sunny.”

Sunny: “Like we weren’t all thinking that?”

On the second day, in comes Brian to announce that he is throwing in a second design challenge: lingerie to go with the suit. And it gets better; the designers’ models are the ones going to do the shopping for the fabrics.

The models learn new words: silk charmeuse

The models learn new words: silk charmeuse

Genevieve, Jessica, and Jason haven’t made lingerie before. I really wonder what they will create and I hope it’s fun. After a quick consultation with their models and somewhat vage instructions as to which fabrics and colours to purchase, the gals are off. Nearly all the designers send their models to buy silk charmeuse and at the fabric store, the models are all confused as to what it is and how to pronounce it; “It sounds like a dessert.” (Uh, no comment necessary.)

The Runway Show

Guest Judge: Canadian fashion designer David Dixon who recently produced the Barbie fashion line in celebration of Barbie’s 50th birthday anniversary.

The Designs

Sunny’s designs: I like the suit; the colour is lovely and I could see myself wearing the pieces together or separately. The underwear is cute but basic. Fits her like a glove, that’s for sure.

Sunny's designs

Sunny's designs

Genevieve’s designs: The suit feels bulky and it looks over-done. I don’t like the colour or the black piping, and I think it looks very dull and uninspired. The lingerie slip is lovely- totally Genevieve without a doubt and absolutely fun and charming. Of course it’s her signature silhouette that we’ve seen a million times but here it’s very well done and refreshingly appropriate.

Genevieve's designs

Genevieve's designs

Jessica’s designs: I really like the broad collar on Jessica’s suit but I think that there are too many pleats and tucked-away colours. I’m just not loving the overall effect, especially at the back of the jacket. The lingerie is fun but it’s not terribly original looking. I’ve seen this lingerie set everywhere from Calvin Klein’s boutique to Walmart. Not impressive.

jessica-1

Jessica's designs

Jason’s designs: I like it overall and I especially like the tuxedo-inspired ruched tail on the back of the jacket. That’s fun! The soft grey is lovely and it’s a cute combo with the pink, although a little expected. As for the lingerie, here again I wasn’t surprised by what I saw. Fine as a set of basics. Not anything I would run out and buy unless it was on sale during Bay Days.

Jason's designs

Jason's designs

The Judging

Sunny’s work gets judged first.

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The judges all agree that they like the suit and Rita and guest judge David Dixon love it but they’re disappointed by the simplicity of the lingerie. Iman contradicts them on this point: “Who does bras? Only Sunny does a bra!”

Too true.

Genevieve is next. She explains her Art Deco inspiration and how she tried to achieve this inspiration with the piping and the overall shape.

Rita to Genevieve: “Tailoring does not seem to be your strongest thing.”

Genevieve concedes: “It’s the first suit that I’ve ever drafted.”

Rita: “Uh, yeah.”

David Dixon: “I find it more of an 80s throw-back as opposed to the Art Deco period… and I think it’s over-designed.”

As for Genevieve’s lingerie, Shawn is practically drooling.

Shawn, to Genevieve: “I want to talk about your lingerie because it was my favourite. It’s really really good. It’s sexy, it’s fashion, and best of all, it’s Genevieve. I loved it.”

Iman moves on to Jason’s design; she loves the pink and the grey of Jason’s design. Shawn finds that the jacket is great but the pink blouse with the large bow isn’t quite “appropriate for the boardrooms that he’s been in. I’m not sure how seriously she necessarily would be taken.”

Rita says that she would have “preferred to see a narrow skirt” but she loves his colour choice of the grey and the fabric is nice.

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David Dixon: “Seeing such a whimsical suit I was expecting to see a whimsical lingerie piece, not something so run-of-the-mill.”

Moving on to Jessica’s designs, Shawn calls her work well-fitted, particularly the pants, but “maybe a little too tricked-out,” and Rita finds the pants more successful than the jacket.

Rita: “Overall I would just say ‘okay’.”

David Dixon finds the neckline “a bit too revealing in terms of ‘no wonder she’s the best sales agent in her group because she’s not wearing anything under her suit…”

Jessica: “A little cleave never hurt anyone…”

As for the lingerie, Shawn calls it “a little boring, maybe not tricky enough.”

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David Dixon doesn’t think that Jessica’s lingerie is fun enough: “It just looked like ‘a day after work and I’m just going to go and sit in front of the TV’ as opposed to ‘I’m gonna go have fun!”

Final Thoughts

Shawn: “Jason has the potential to do a really nice show on the runway.”

Rita, about Sunny: “The fabric choice was inspired.”

Rita, about Jessica: “Throughout the course of the competition Jessica has shown a great variety, a great range of style.. That’s interesting that she can offer that range.”

Iman: “How do we feel about Genevieve?”

Shawn: “I know how I felt about her lingerie. It was the most thought-provoking. The rest of them were, you know, uh…”

Iman: “There was nothing thought-provoking about it.”

Shawn: “Ah, did you see the back?”

Iman: “Yes I did.”

Shawn: “It was provoking for me!”

Iman is not impressed: “Men are so easy to provoke.”

‘Nuff said. Shawn, by now you should know that Iman is the one who wears the pants and the skirts on this show.

The Final Three

Iman, to Sunny: “And now for the winner of this challenge. Congratulations.. Sunny. In this competition you have shown us gorgeous design and now in this challenge, perfect lingerie and a suit that rocks the runway. We can’t wait to see your collection at Fashion Week. Congratulations, you may leave the runway.”

Jason: “You said your mom was the inspiration for your suit. You can go and tell her that you made it to the top 3.”

Iman, to Jessica and Genevieve: “We have seen great growth in both of you, but sadly only one of you can take the last part in the top 3.”

It seems that the final decision between Genevieve and Jessica for the third spot in the runway showing at LG Fashion Week came down to Genevieve’s continued performance of the same silhouette. The judges were wary of seeing her put on a collection of the same thing many times over, however well executed. To top it off, the judges were considering Genevieve’s 6 or 7 years of experience compared to Jessica’s relatively little experience as a fashion designer. As a newer designer, the judges seemed to think that Jessica would do better with the opportunity to show her diversified range and her perspective. Was it really a tough call? I don’t think so.

In the next few days I will be posting videos of the designers’ introduction of their collections for LG Fashion Week as well as a backstage look at the non-finalists and an interview with 5th-place finalist Kim Cathers. Stay tuned!

Images courtesy of Global TV’s Project Runway Canada website.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 4, 2009 10:01 am

    What I noticed more than anything was the palpable sense of relief that Kim was gone felt by all the designers, it came across the strongest when Brian slowly opened the door to the models, you could almost feel the dread that Kim would come walking through the door. One thing bothered me, The ink is barely dry on Jessica’s fashion school diploma…yet she’s never done sleeve? Suits? Lingerie? And pants scare her? What are they teaching? How to draw a pretty picture and mail it to a sweatshop in China? There’s something fundamentally wrong if recent grads don’t know what should be the foundations of fashion. As I was told long ago, it’s not enough to draw pretty pictures of dresses and suits, a true designer knows how to turn these ideas into wearable clothes. Otherwise all those pretty pictures are merely illustrations.

    I’ve made suits, coats, bras, sportswear, evening dresses, anything and everything. I’ve had my moments similar to some of the designers on all these shows; where my bright ideas fall flat on their faces and betray me. I understand why some designs fail so utterly and they don’t have the time to start over or correct the problems. My pride and joy is a suit I made for my husband using Bespoke hand tailoring techniques. It’s now his “go to” suit for important events. Took over a week of eight hour days to make it. If anything worked against the designers in this challenge it was time; even a modern engineered suit takes an experienced tailor two days of work from cutting the pattern to final press.

    If Sunny does take home the big prize this will be the second time a self educated designer wins. I’m not sure what this is saying about the state of fashion design education in Canada. I too am self educated beyond a college level fine dressmaking course (I got in the last year it was offered back in the late seventies) and even in the long ago dressmaking course we learned the principles of fine pattern design and drafting, and how to execute all our ideas to perfection. I’m not sure what’s going on, but it’s troublesome.

    So I’m looking forward to the final collections, they had six months according to the previews I’ve seen. They better bring on the good stuff!

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