There isn’t usually a whole heck of a lot to discuss on the penultimate episode of PR. Tim Gunn usually visits the designers in their homes while they work on their final collections to give them some advice, praise, and/or constructive criticism. In the last few seasons, there has been this added “show a preview to the judges” element that is helpful for bloggers like me and probably a little more interesting for the viewer, as well. This episode didn’t have home visits, but we got to meet some of the designers’ families, and we got a great look at some of their sketches and works in progress. Based on the preview runway show alone, I think that Zachary and Maya have the strongest collections, but I worry that the judges are looking for the winner of PRJ to have a particularly “cool” and “youthful” voice that neither Zachary or Maya have. To be blunt, they’ve had a little crush on Samantha all season. Part of me doesn’t blame them. Samantha’s clothes are always edgy and cool. The girl wearing Samantha’s clothes is confident and interesting. I suppose any competition that judges an art form is going to be subjective; I just feel that Samantha is cool is confident beyond her years, and the judges are drawn to that, which perhaps colors their judgement of her clothes to some degree.
I have to admit that I have liked most of the judging this season. Even when I disagree with their praise, I generally understand it, and their criticism has been communicated very clearly and specifically. Last night, though, I felt that the judges and I were not quite on the same page about a number of things. To clarify, let’s take a closer look at each designer’s two-look preview:
I’m not usually a fan of soft pastel colors. They tend to read “girly.” But Zachary has managed to make them powerful and sophisticated. Zachary was inspired by the softer side of nature, like flowers and crystals and trees. I love the vest-inspired pale-pink top over those skinny black pants. I’m not generally a fan of a bubble hem, and Zachary admitted that his dress still required some finishing touches, but it’s clear that this look has the potential to be a show-stopper if he can pull it together. Also, I know a bubble hem is a challenge, so it does show off his ability to construct a challenging silhouette.
I didn’t like that the judges focused so squarely on the maturity of these two pieces, stating that he needs to inject some youthful energy into his collection. I couldn’t disagree more. God bless Aya Kania for being the voice of reason. Just because he is a young designer doesn’t mean he needs to design for the juniors section. His vision as a designer is to create clothes that are sophisticated and glamorous. He shouldn’t have to stifle his voice to be a success as a designer. I’m afraid that two out of the three judges, though, don’t like the maturity of his designs, and there’s not much he can do about that without compromising his vision.
Gorgeous. I’m in love with both of these looks. I know it seems contradictory because last week I criticized Maya for creating a long mesh coat. Her use of mesh just works better here for some reason. Maybe it works better because it’s white mesh with black lining? Not sure. I dig it, though. Maya’s story with this collection is that of a warrior who is walking through a field of yellow flowers. This allows for a nice contrast of dark colors and soft colors, structured lines and flowing fabrics. It’s a cool image.
I agree with Christian Siriano in that the yellow flowers may be too muted. A brighter yellow would really make this pop. This isn’t to say that Maya should scrap that dress and start over. What I take from that note is that she should have at least one bright yellow look to bring the whole collection together. I vehemently disagree with the judges’ statement that she should make sure to have “day” looks in her collection since these two looks are so “evening.” That particular criticism has irked me since Laura Bennett heard it on season 3. I think it’s perfectly acceptable for a designer to have an “evening” collection.
At the beginning of the season, Peytie was my favorite designer. While I still like her point of view and think she’s really talented, her preview looks just didn’t wow me. The story she’s telling here is of a girl with lots of stamps on her passport. Peytie’s story is that of a woman who has traveled all over world, collecting fabric and clothing at her different destinations. It’s a cool idea. The first look is the more successful of the two, in my humble opinion. I like the asymmetrical skirt (that was accidentally asymmetrical, as it turns out). The hand-painted gold designs on the black top are beautiful. However, the orange and coral dress is not as successful. It looks too much like drapes. It’s unflattering and doesn’t move well on the runway. She needs to go back to the drawing board with that one. There’s potential here for greatness. She has a lot of work ahead of her, but this could end up being the collection to beat, despite the relatively poor preview.
Samantha was inspired by tactical military uniforms, with a feminine edge. The thing about these two particular looks is that I feel like we’ve seen them before from her. I think it’s okay that her point of view is narrow as a designer, but it shouldn’t be “one-note.” She tends toward the same shapes and colors in all her looks, and I find that a little disappointing. As Aya Kanai said, there’s more to feminizing menswear styles than putting her models in over-sized jackets, cargo pockets, and Bermuda shorts. However, going back to what I said about the judges’ comments on Maya, I think it’s okay for Maya to have a collection of day looks. I don’t think she needs to worry about what her client would wear to a black tie event. She just needs more variety in her day looks, if that’s what she chooses to focus on as a designer.