After our 2-episode 3-hour-total premiere, we're now down to one-hour competitions, only in a new format. But, the big question before even watching the episode is "what the hell is the new format going to be? And, is it going to be as crazy as the first 2 episodes?"
I'm excited to say that the new format is just a tweaked version of our traditional Project Runway. There is a competition that comes with a silly time crunch. There are 12 designers who have to do a design is inspired by this week's sponsor, and they get to be mentored during the show. There are still cutaway confessionals. The tweak comes with having 3 mentors instead of just one. Since each mentor is dedicated to only 4 designers, the mentors have the option to spend more time with their designers. This also allows Project Runway to add in cutaways of Tim or the mentors bitching about the other mentors. It folds in somewhat seamlessly.
This week, Project Runway is having the designers make a red carpet look inspired by Hollywood, with the sponsor being one of the double decker bus tours that you see tooling around LA all the time. Some designers are all "OMG, Red Carpet?!" Camila is inspired by art deco. Michelle is inspired by jewels. But, the interesting part is that the mentors are around for the sketching period. In all other iterations of Project Runway, the sketching was done solely by the designers. The one exception used to be if the designers had a commercial project where they had to fit within some manufacturer's price point.
In Under the Gunn, suddenly the designers are given advice by the mentors beginning with the sketch period. So, if the designers can be all panicky, the mentors can try to shake them out of their dead spaces. Later in the show, this may be something like the designer falls into a black hole and the mentor shakes them out of it. Both Anya and Mondo give generic advice like "it isn't necessarily a ball gown." But, Nick V, being a professional educator, gets hands on in an effort to show what he thinks works best. Including sketching, on the bus.
This overprotective behavior extends throughout the episode. He starts out by telling them what he wants to see in his dresses, techniques that work, flourishes that have been used in the past, and an overall sense of following the rules. Later, Nick moves on to resketching for his designers, laying out educational pattern making, tracing and cutting material, draping material, and all but doing the foundations for his designer's dresses. To be fair, for the most part, Nick did get some of the weaker designers, with Isabelle and Natalia being the ones of the premiere episode that I wanted to see more of, but they had construction issues.
Mondo and Anya, however, don't have that educator background. They take more of the Tim Gunn approach, telling their designers something is not working, sloppy, trashy, or otherwise needs to be edited or rethought. Mondo has more of an eye towards sewing perfection, while Anya has more of an eye towards taste level. Their designers, in turn, flourish under the hands-offy advice which allows the designers to speak through their clothing.
The interesting dynamic that happens through the different structure of Under the Gunn is that the designers are actually relatively nice to each other, and they spend their time helping within their smaller group. Even though Under the Gunn is ultimately judged in the same manner as Project Runway (non-teams editions), with every designer being judged on their own, the tying into groups by way of mentor creates tighter bonds between the designers. They aren't enemies to the other groups, but they do help each other in the groups.
Soon enough, it is time for the runway. Under the Gunn has a constant award to the winners of the runway, where each week the winner receives a flat $5000, plus whatever extra rewards may be involved in the sponsorship. The extra reward this week is a promise that the winning design will be in Marie Claire and worn by a as-yet-to-be-named celebrity.
This week's judges are: Zanna Roberts Rossi, Jen Rade (a celebrity stylist), and semi-staple Rachel Roy. I don't know if all three judges are temporary, or if any are permanent. I suspect that there are no permanent judges since we're in L.A.
- Brady - NOT RED CARPET. Sorry, but as much as I like this crazy-ass high fashion look, it is capri pants with a tank and a bare midriff. While I support the idea of comfortable clothing (or at least comfortable looking clothing) at an event like this, I think that this would be better as a sort of beach wear. I guess. Maybe to a cool Miami bar in the middle of summer? I like it, but its not appropriate. Anya says the major problem is finishing.
- Blake - A gorgeous watercolor hard pastel print dress that makes me think the model just took a painting and ripped out the canvas to make a dress. It even has the rough finishes at the sides and the neck to make it look like a found dress. My only dislike are the two seams on the dress that carry the intentional sloppiness down the dress, but also breakup the smoothness of the print. Anya likes.
- Nicholas - a little black dress with fringe. It's cute and edgy, and would fit in a red carpet. It is a bit safe since it is just a simple dress with a bunch of extra long fringe, but it is a fun dress.
- Shan - POWER SUIT. Zomg. If I were a hot skinny woman, I'd want this outfit. Powerful print, great lapel, black panels down the side of the legs. It kind of falls apart in the back when Shen has the jacket split open from the neck down held together by a strap. This may have been a way to accommodate for the model's bigger-than-expected chest, but it looks finished and almost intentional.
- Sassy Sam - A glitter jumpsuit that's like intentionally punky trashy. It might be great on a stage, or at Burning Man, or a high-end street art gallery opening. I'm not a big fan of it on the red carpet though.
- Asha - A great space-age design that is in the most brittle awful fabric ever. The lines are sleek and asymmetrical, but the fabric ruins the whole look by being a huge crinkled mess.
- Michelle - Harlequin. Or, should I say Harley Quinn. Sure the look isn't red and black, but the over use of diamonds and facets with the different materials makes it look like a circus outfit. And then there's the diamond over her hoo-haa. Needed severe editing, and a bit more skill refinement.
- Camila - Two looks sandwiched together. From the front, it's 1960s Italian easy, and from the back it is poorly-constructed hard-edged nightclub. Literally its day outfit from the front, and evening from the back. It's a huge Frankendress, and needed more editing.
- Isabelle - Rough choice of materials to create a strange but already common chest area that hides the woman's boobs. It's like somebody took a punky look and tried to make it red carpet. Stylistically, its a Frankendress.
- Natalia - Yawn. Too simple. Been done. It's not bad. But, it's just so...common.
- Stephanie - It's a head of lettuce. The green fabric is tortured as hell. Folded in all the wrong spots. Tortured. Wrinkled. Tortured. Bad finishing. Tortured. ZOMG. It's terrible. Bad Nick.
- Oscar - Simple Asian inspired green dress that's totally expected.
In the end, the lowest dresses are Stephanie, Michelle and Camila. The highest dresses are Shen, Sassy Sam, and Blake. Weirdly, Sassy Sam's jumpsuit wins, even though it seems the least red carpet of the three top dresses. Also, strangely, Camila is the one who goes home, despite being up against 2 tortured dresses.
- The lighting on the runway still sucks. It's shadowed in weird places, and the dresses aren't featured like they should. Somebody needs to fix this shit.
- The emotional goodbyes are handled by the mentors. Tim Gunn is actually less gentile than Heidi is. It's strange to see Tim so reserved.
- Is this a sign that the judging is going to be strange? The judges were actually on point with their critiques, but the results seemed totally bonkers.
- Did anybody else think Camila went home because she was all drama at Mood?
- Oscar is cute, but he's no Swatch.