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PROJECT RUNWAY.....Season 11 Project Runway Episode 9: Lord & Taylor Challenge

 Lord & Taylor 5th Avenue Flagship, New York City

This week's Lifetime Network's Season 11 Project Runway episode had the remaining designers creating looks for Lord & Taylor--the official retail sponsor of Project Runway. Suzanne Timmins, senior vice president and fashion director of The Hudson's Bay Company, the parent company of Lord & Taylor and Tim Gunn, announce the "Lord & Taylor Challenge" to the designers.

They had to design a dress/separates or combination of both for Spring 2013, inspired by the iconic Lord & Taylor Rose that would retail for about $250. The winning look would be manufactured and then sold exclusively at Lord & Taylor.

 Not So Happy Threesome--(left to right)Samantha Black, Layana Aquilar, Richard Hallmarq

For some reason, the season is still continuing with this "Teams" schtick, which was a novel idea in the beginning--and made sense when there were so many designers--but now, the producers are just keeping the "Teams" concept for DRAMA and conflict-creating, as opposed to having the designers help each other out and collaborating--or even being judged as teams. Every "team" had conflict, especially the one above. Richard wasn't talking to Layana, Layana wasn't talking to Richard and Samantha, well, she was just there...

Patricia Michaels and Stanley Hudson--Stanley micro-managed Patricia and tried to control her every creatin' move. In the end, she didn't really need it because what she made was cuter than Stanley's look (continue reading below)...

Finally, Michelle Lesniak and Daniel Esquivel--Within this pairing, there was also major conflict. Michelle wasn't fond of the color Daniel was using, which led to Daniel having a crying breakdown and issues about his "older lady" design aesthetic.

The Judges--Bonnie Brooks (LOVE her heels!), President of Hudson's Bay Co., parent company of Lord & Taylor, Nina Garcia, Rachel Roy (substituting for Zac Posen), and Heidi Klum

The Runway designs: 
Patricia Michaels--Patricia created a flowy top with varying hues of orange that had hints of the "Rose" inspiration. It was cute but the Capri pants were a little "older woman on a Princess Cruises"; they were too cropped, as well. The Lord & Taylor customer for the Contemporary Dept. wouldn't wear these, they would wear super skinny jeans and/or leggins instead.

Stanley Hudson--Stanley designed a perfectly fine shift dress...if he were designing for the Escada Resort Collection. It was too long and the silhouette was reminiscent of a sack. This is for an older very stylish lady, but not for her 25 year old daughter (that aforementioned Lord & Taylor customer the store is trying to get).

Layana Aguilar--Layana created a maxi-dress in a mumsy floral print with a leather midriff and halter straps. It was OK, but not necessarily directional enough for the fashionista client Lord & Taylor is going for.

Richard Hallmarq--Richard did a simple color-blocked jersey tank dress. Cute for that easy-breezy Cabo vacation but--the judges argued--it didn't have "punch" and design "kick" to warrant a $250 retail price tag.

Daniel Esquivel--I loved the bright pink color of this dress--and so did the judges but, that was about all I liked. Daniel also caught the "Stanley Hudson" older lady virus when he was designing this dress. The sleeves were too long, the shape was definitely NOT for a 26 year old and more for a 46 year old. And then, there was the construction wonky-ness:

EEEKKK: First of all, why is that slit even there? Was Daniel trying to add some "sexiness" where there was none? And why is the side seam rippling and then, there's this buckling fold above the slit...I'm confused.

The Bottom Vote-Getter:
Samantha Black--The Worst--deemed by the judges-was NOT Daniel's (even though I think it should have been a close bottom) but Samantha's dress. I liked the color blocking and fun-and-flirty aspect of this style, but it was really a little too short and way too Junior's Dept. as opposed to Contemporary Dress Dept. It's a difference of "Is this a $24.99 dress or a $249.99 dress". It looks more like the former than the latter. And when I saw that heart cut-out, it reminded A LOT of this:

Material Girl Juniors sleveeless heart cut-out peplum dress, $27.99 at Macy's.

The Winner was Michelle Lesniak Franklin's dress--She really hit it on the nose, in terms of the market, the customer, the modern chic style, the bright chartreuse color and little details that make it look just a tad luxe. THIS is a dress for that 26 year old customer who's vying for an internship at a Manhattan PR firm. It was the obvious winner.

Michelle Lesniak Franklin and the manufactured dress--as produced and sold. Racked is saying the dress sold out online by 8:45 am yesterday!

And's my Project Runway Blog Recap for this week:

Everything's Coming Up Roses

I almost lost all hope for this season's designers after seeing the "outfits" they made for those sexy Thunder From Down Under Aussie hunka-hunks last week. But, we will try to put that episode in a "Project Runway" time capsule and send it to Mars and hope it is lost in space forever. It’s a fresh new challenge, fresh new designs and fresh new conflict and drama.
Another Switch-a-Roo
This week, the seven remaining designers head over to the Fifth Avenue Flagship of Lord & Taylor to meet Tim and a guest, to get their next challenge. Let me take a big guess what the next challenge might be? Could it be the "Lord & Taylor Challenge"? Before that is announced, Tim tells the designers that once again, the judges have "decided" to re-evaluate their team situation. And when Tim says the judges, he really means, the PRODUCERS have decided to change it up, thank you very much. Stanley is paired with Patricia (just so her kookiness can annoy someone else this time); Daniel is with Michelle (so she can turn his 50-something "Fantasy Muse" into a younger client); and naturally, Richard—CEO of the "I Hate Layana fan club"—has to work with, Layana. Poor Samantha is thrown in with that pairing, I’m assuming to help with the awkward pregnant pauses and actually have some dialogue for the producers to record.

A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose
Back to the challenge: Tim and Suzanne Timmins, Sr. Vice President and Fashion Director of Lord & Taylor, announce that these three teams must design ready-to-wear looks inspired by the iconic Lord & Taylor rose. The designers can create dresses, separates, or a combination of both for Spring 2013 and they must retail for under $250. Each designer will make their own looks. And the winner will have their look(s) manufactured and sold at Lord & Taylor and will be featured in their Fifth Avenue window. Again, I ask: why even keep this "Teams" shtick? Unless...oh yeah, we need the DRAMA. Speaking of...let's get to it, pronto!

First: Stanley and Patricia
These two had barely taken out the fabric and notions they purchased at Mood and Stanley "The Controller" was already bossing Patricia around; he's micro-managing her design and construction. Stanley keeps asking, "Why are you doing this? Why are you making that?"and he doesn't let up. Bless Patricia's heart, she just sits there wide-eyed (yet visibly perturbed). Personally, I would have shut...

Click HERE to read the rest of my Project Runway Blog Recap

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