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PROJECT RUNWAY.....Season 12 Project Runway Recaps, Episode 9

Modern Southern Redo: "Designing Women" cast

On this week's Lifetime Network's "Season 12 Project Runway", the remaining designers had to design a look for Belk, the retail sponsor of this season and is the nation's largest family owned and operated department store company with 301 locations in 16 Southern states.

Speaking of Southern, the Challenge was to Design a Look For a Modern Southern Woman.  Just so you know, these are some photo samples of what Belk and dresses sold at Belk look like:

Dresses at Belk

Keep those images in mind when you keep reading--and seeing what this season's designers tried to come up as for their "Modern Southern Woman"...
The Guest Judges for this Challenge were John Thomas, Executive VP of Private Brands for Belk (far left) and George Clooney's ex main squeeze Stacy Keibler (second from left)--as well as Nina Garcia, Zac Posen and Heidi Klum, of course. The designs came out and I was dumbfounded by the fact that NONE of them looked like a Modern Southern Woman (at least, to me), or at least a dress selleable for a department store...

Let's start with the designers who got bit by the Handkerchief Plaid Virus:

Alexandria Von Bronssem: No. Not happening. Boring, very Tablecloth and too much handkerchief hem happening.

Alexander Pope and Bradon McDonald: Alexander's PLAID and HANDKERCHIEF HEM strapless dress (left) was cute and well made, but not for Belk and not a Modern Southern Woman; too tricky of a hem. Then there was (one of ) the actual Winning designs, from Bradon (right, above): I loved the mitering of the plaid and how well it fit his model Ya, but again, this was not a dress that would be sellable in a department store and the front bias cut/horizontal construction would have to be changed.

Ken Laurence: (alleged) Multiple Personality "Sybil" Ken--who is from the South--Alabama to be exact--did this hi-low dress. It was OK but verging on the "Gown Virus" some other designers caught:

Dom Streater (left) and Helen Castillo (right): When these gowns came out, all I kept thinking was "This is NOT Neiman-Marcus, it's BELK!". Why gowns? So disconnected. John Thomas, the Belk exec must have been like "Ummm, Gowns???"

The Most Modern Southern Woman (to me):
Kate Pankoke: Kate's design was the one (to me) that came closest to being a "Modern Southern Woman"--or at least, something I could see sold at Belk and But nope, she wasn't it. I liked the print; the simple un-tricky/non-handkerchief hem silhouette. It was a bit high-waisted but that can easily be fixed, when it comes to selling it in the stores.

The Not-So-Good:
Jeremy Brandrick: Oh Jeremy. Virgin Atlantic Flight Attendant. The Purser.

There was this "9th Hour" twist where the Bottom Three Designers were given a chance to Re-Do their designs...
Jeremy was Out for this too-blah dress above (which actually probably would have sold well at Belk), and...

Dom's re-do (above) was so well liked that she received a (sort-of) win and was told her dress would also be "Manufactured and Sold at Belk and", along with Bradon's design...

I'm Confused, Where Are the Manufactured Dresses? When I tried to find these "manufactured" dresses that won at, I couldn't find anything. Tim's perplexed face and stance reflects mine...

So, naturally, I think it's time I REALLY vent and let you guys read my "Project Runway Blog" Recap of this week...I have LOTS to say (as usual):

A Modern Southern Redo

A modern Southern woman. Now, this is something I have a little bit of knowledge about: this past Summer, I designed a line, NV Nick Verreos, that was sold to a major department store and I traveled around the South doing a bit of "market research" during my in-store appearances. So, I was looking forward to what the designers would think was their vision for this "modern Southern woman." As it turned out, I was left as confused as most of the judges. And what was up with that ninth hour Bottom Three face-off? And Ken's attitude? And all that plaid and handkerchief hems? Lots to discuss...

Put Down Your Mint Juleps
The episode began with Heidi walking onto the runway, telling the remaining designers that she was giving them a morning off because they needed to "relax, unwind and have some fun" (Yeah right!). The designers head to Juliette Restaurant, a French brasserie in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for a Southern-style brunch. As they were enjoying their croissants, coffee and French toast, Tim Gunn walks in—in a double-breasted suit from Zac Posen's closet—to announce that it's time to finish those mint juleps and pack all the extra beignets in a "to-go chien bag." Tim tells the designers that this "lovely, civilized, relaxed" brunch describes who they will be designing for next.

A Modern Southern Woman...Who Loves Plaid?
It's the Belk challenge: to create a day or evening look for a modern, Southern woman. Gunn describes this M.S.W. as someone who dresses vibrantly, expressively; always fashionably put-together; knows how to accessorize; and loves color and anything with feminine details. Even though the designers were told that they were having a morning off, the designers all somehow brought their HP tablets and were ready to sketch. Afterward, they headed to Mood where a lot of the designers caught the PLAID fabric virus...again!

Southern Woman Expert Ken
Ken, who hails from Birmingham, Alabama, deems himself the go-to guy when it comes to what a modern, Southern woman likes and wears. In his direct-to-camera interviews, he keeps wondering...

CLICK HERE to continue reading my RECAP! 

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