Sunday, March 23, 2014
In The Mall: Designers and Mentors in front of Francesca's Collections store in the Manhattan Village Mall: Manhattan Beach, CA--Episode 10 "Crossing Teams" Project Runway: Under The Gunn

This week on Lifetime Network's "Project Runway: Under The Gunn", each Mentor has two designers left on our "teams". Therefore the producers decided to do another "Team Challenge" in which each team would consist of two designers, each of the designers from different mentors.

The challenge was to design a three-look group for Francesca's Collections, the retail partner/sponsor of "Project Runway: Under The Gunn". The location for the "Challenge Introduction" was the Manhattan Beach location of Francesca's in the Manhattan Village Mall near Los Angeles.

So, let's get to my weekly "Nick's Take"/Inside Dish on this episode...
 "Nick's Team": Designers Natalia Fedner and Oscar Gracia-Lopez--Episode 10 "Crossing Teams" Project Runway: Under The Gunn

My designers Natalia Fedner and Oscar Garcia-Lopez were paired with a designer from another mentor. When Tim got that dreaded black velvet button bag out, I knew EXACTLY what was happening. In last week's episode, Asha was not very nice to Natalia (along with most of the other designers and two other mentors) unofficially becoming the leader of the "Under The Gunn Mean Girls" group. Therefore, it didn't take a brain surgeon to know that these two were definitely going to be paired up.

Cross Mentoring Caucusing: Mentors Mondo Guerra and Nick Verreos with deisgners Asha Daniels and Natalia Fedner--Episode 10 "Crossing Teams" Project Runway: Under The Gunn

There was never a direct statement that we, as mentors, could "cross-breed" in terms of offering mentoring advice to the designers who were not ours. I guess that was all depending on the mentor. I was very careful with this --remember, I have already been labeled by Tim Gunn as being "too hands-on!" and since Mondo has a very strong personality and we had just come off of his ranting about Natalia the previous evening, I decided to try and stay calm and level-headed. In other words, I was more of a "quiet" mentor here and frankly, just afraid that Mondo might come at me again and blame me if anything bad was going to occur with this pairing of designers.

 Think Young and Cool: Oscar Gracia-Lopez, Shan Keith Oliver and Nick Verreos at Francesca's Collections, Manhattan Village Mall--Episode 10 "Crossing Teams" Project Runway: Under The Gunn
  
Oscar Garcia-Lopez was paired with Shan Keith Oliver and I was much more comfortable with this pairing. I still had hesitancy in how to give my mentoring advice to Shan--not because of him but because, just like with Mondo, I didn't want Anya coming at me as well. My only concern with Oscar was that I had heard "rumblings" from Tim that his looks were possibly "Too Couture" and maybe verging on looking  too sophisticated for the market, so I wanted to make sure to give him direction to THINK YOUNG, cool and hip.

Oscar/Shan Critique: Back in the FIDM Workroom, the Critique went well with Oscar and Shan and I was happy that they were working quite harmoniously, almost finishing each others sentences in a great Ying & Yang sort of way. I let Anya do most of the talking but also added my "Nick Two Cents" while being cautious and "Socratic".

Nervous Smile: The Critique session for Asha and Natalia was a little different; the smile you see on my face in the photo above betrays how cautious and nervous I was. I knew that Natalia was still being smack-talked by the other mentors and designers; I knew she felt horrible, belittled and her self-esteem was at a low point. Frankly, I wasn't feeling too cute myself .

Unhappy Pairing: Mondo immediately took over the critique, pointing out Asha's discomfort with the pairing and you could definitely feel that Mondo thought Natalia was the "Weakest Link" here and the reason for any doom that might occur in the pairing. Mondo's very direct demeanor made Asha more nervous and naturally did not help Natalia.
I do remember asking Asha during this critique, if Natalia's "nervous behavior" was spilling over onto her and making her tense and edgy. This was not in the final edit of the critique session one saw in the episode but trust me, I remember asking her. It was my way of subliminally telling Natalia to try and relax and not get shaky and nervous.
I did not want to step on Mondo's toes and offer any of my advice on Asha's designs other than suggestions on making the three looks be more cohesive. At one point, Mondo (and Tim) just LOVED this rust-red trim Asha was using on the top she was making. But to me, it looked "whickety-wack" and "too-mucheey". I definitely knew that I hadn't seen anything like that at the Francesca's store and it was for a good reason. But since Mondo and Tim adored it, I just kept my mouth shut. I don't remember a "What do you think Nick?" question coming from Asha. So, that was my overt sign to leave her alone...with Mondo. It must be said, however, that Asha was always very cordial with me during all of this.

I Believe In You: Because I could tell that Natalia was struggling with confidence after her recent experiences with her fellow designers, I tried to turn my attention to being a support system for her. I tried to give her the strength to survive this challenge and be mentally and physically strong. I wanted her to know that I was THERE to support her 110%, and as I said in the episode, be her "Biggest Cheerleader". On the same note, I was not coddling her in terms of her design and construction. I liked the pink dress she was making--it was cute, young and very Francesca's, but I pressed her on making the garment look FINISHED and not to overwhelm herself with too much, especially with all the "noise" around her. She was also making a pair of shorts to go with Asha's dashiki-like top, so for her, she already had a lot on her plate.

Day of Runway:
Doing Good: The Oscar/Shan pairing was all good. The day of the runway, they were all but done, and in addition my designer, Oscar, took Shan's jacket and completely self lined it, HAND-SEWING (!) the lining into Shan's jacket. Originally it was lined in muslin and Oscar was like "NO!", and decided to take it upon himself to make Shan's look more finished and better...for the team!

Still Stressed: The day of the runway, Asha and Natalia were still at odds and frazzled. I continued to encourage Natalia to make sure her pink dress was complete (it was, except for a few fit issues) and that she finished the pair of blue shorts she was also making. I remember saying "Just finish those shorts!!"

Runway Time:
Oscar Garcia-Lopez and Shan Keith Oliver's Looks--Episode 10 "Crossing Teams" Project Runway: Under The Gunn

Overall Chic: Shan did these fabulous overall/shorts worn by Meredith (left) as well as the coral crochet shorts on Janica (right); Oscar made the blue cropped mock-neck top on Meredith (under the overalls), as well as the zip-up coral crochet vest on Janica. These looks were young, cute and very Spring.

Going to Capri: Oscar designed and created this gorgeous easy-breezy cotton printed maxi halter dress. Aleksandra worked the runway beautifully. The dress was finished impeccably (of course). Oscar was especially proud to point out to me his "special" baby hem; after he sews this perfect 1/8" baby hem, he then does something with his hands to "flutter" it. Notice on the photo on the right above how the hem has these pretty fluttery waves.

 Oh, and yes, he WON with this dress which was put into production and sold at Francesca's

And yes, I was soooo proud of Oscar that I started crying like a little baby! I was so overcome with emotions (especially after just losing Natalia--see below) that well, I lost it (sorry!)

Asha Daniels and Natalia Fedner's Looks--Episode 10 "Crossing Teams" Project Runway: Under The Gunn

Flirty and Strappy: Natalia made this dress which was in a printed and textured heavier cotton. I thought the design was flirty, young and cute. Originally, Natalia wanted to use her "weaving" technique (similar to what she did in the "Unconventional Beach Party" challenge for the back straps, but I suggested that she should make it simple and not overwhelm herself with more work; I told her "How 'bout just doing self spaghetti bias straps" in the back instead. She did and I think the back turned out beautifully! She did have problems with the torso and bust part of the dress, and every pucker showed.

Dashiki Superhero: Natalia also made the light blue shorts worn with Asha's  top. I thought Asha's top was not good and worse than Natalia's dress. While Asha's dashiki would NEVER be sold at Francesca's (trust me!), at least Natalia's pink dress (and cute shorts) would.

Over It All: Sitting onstage, watching all the looks come down and knowing that both Asha and Natalia were on the bottom, my view was that Asha should have gone home, and was probably going to. But the minute she was asked by Tim why she should still be there, and began sobbing, I immediately looked at the judges and they were all crying as well. I knew that Natalia was done. And Natalia knew it as well. I truly believe she was "over it" and had reached her limit. She was respectful and had grace under pressure. I commend her for it.

So proud of you Natalia! xoxo

17 comments:

Susan McCormick said...

She was way better than that bitch Asha. At least she never engaged in the petty backstabbing and went out with her head held high.

As for Asha her tears did nothing for me. Why is she so special? Her designs are all Hootchie Couture.

Sasha B. Price said...

I love you Nick. Enough with being polite and careful. Stand up for your mentees and do not allow another mentor to be rude or disrespectful to them. Natalia needed that from you. It almost felt like I was watching a father allowing someone else to abuse their child. Stay sweet but let it be known what you will and will not stand for. We have your back Nick! Hugs!

mirta arias said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mirta martinez said...

I hope that will show more back bone for Oscar if he ever needs it. He is an excellent designer and a great human being. You should have fought for Natalia more. You know, very well that her designs are horrendous! Please! You were my favorite designer from the beginning!! Team Nick and Oscar!!!

Red Heart said...

I think I understand where you're coming from when dealing with Mondo and his attitude. I also remember during his season when he gave Heidi the same bad attitude and crying about his past. It looks like he's forgotten where he comes from. Not to mention Anya and her arrogance. It infuriates me to see her acting so demanding when she can't even sew, operate a sewing machine or draft patterns. I'm really hoping we see you standing up to both of them. Oscar is the only great designer left, God willing, wins it all. TeamNickandOscar all the way!
Judging by the hundreds of tweets supporting Natalia, it's obvious Asha should have gone home. TeamNatalia!

Linda Richter said...

I appreciate your honesty and candor in having to walk on eggshells around Mondo and Anya. They have lost so many supporters in the public and created that situation for themselves. Mondo criticizing Natalia was not mentoring. I do not understand why mentoring Asha would mean "anti-mentoring" Natalia? Is that what a mentor is? Someone who takes sides or someone who supports his own designer purely without stomping on a competing designer. This is not the NFL with the mentors as coaches. You are both mentors. Only you acted like one.

I wish someone from the show, Tim perhaps, would explain how 'anti-mentoring' got in the show. Tim himself in this format, is losing his excellent mentoring skills, at least as I have been used to seeing them over the years.

Very sad. Way too many people reacted to what was shown as seeing bullying in action. That is not something that is being made up for so very many people to have the same reaction.

Pulling for you and Oscar. Like Sam too, but after the last show, I prefer Oscar and you to win...you with the good heart!

Char Steen said...

Team Nick and Oscar !!! Stay Strong !!!!!!

TrueGlam said...

Why didn't anyone comment the awful look Asha completed by herself? What was the deal with that curtain top?

Both Natalia and Asha didn't do well this time, but it wasn't fair for Natalia to take all the blame.

I expect Asha to be gone soon.

Yvonne Jocks said...

I know where you're coming from, in that it is hard to stand up to bullies, but I wish you had stood up for Natalia more dramatically--especially against Mondo, since he and you are supposedly equals and Natalia was a subordinate. This is my first Tim Gunn project and, if it fosters this kind of behavior, will likely be my last.

dialyn said...

Tim, Anya, Mondo, and Asha have lost respect of many viewers. Natalie, acting like a class act, gained respect. She needs to learn some technical skills, perhaps, but I hope she realizes not everyone finds the behavior of that group of four to be acceptable. I understand Asha may just be immature, but there is no reason why Tim, Anya and Mondo should act so unprofessionally. It makes me particularly sad to see such a poor model of behavior from Tim, and his defense of Mondo and Anya gained him no points from me. Very disappointing.

LC Greenwood said...

Mondo snapping at Natalia was unacceptable. We didn't see ANY of the other designers have to deal with that kind of tone. So, unless it was an editing situation, then it was glaring and unfair. And the interactive scale showed an overwhelming disapproval rating on Natalia going home. So, I'm hoping we're going to see her return to the show at some point so that she can show what she's really capable of.

Jillianbeck said...

I'll miss Natalya. At the beginning, I really didn't think she should have been picked but she proved me wrong. Her designs (and portfolio) were quite creative. The sewing skills weren't a huge issue with me as many other designers (ie: Anya) also had that issue. I'm sure she won't be given another chance on UTG but hopefully she will on PR. The whole situation was unfair and uncalled for.(Asha's designs have been cheap and unimaginative. She should have been the one to go.) As for you, I can see the struggle to deal with the other mentors and Tim. I'm sorry you have to go through that. I would have chosen you as my mentor right off. Mondo is just too offbeat and Anya doesn't know enough about design/structure. I wish you and Oscar the best. He seems like a genuine article and deserves the win.

PS. LOVED the gray and orange outfit you wore!! You always look so dapper :)

Brenda Reed said...

You need to stop being so "nice," Nick and start speaking out when other people are rude and destructive. Your job as mentor is to protect as well as the encourage. Natalia's knowledge that you believe in her is all very well, but she would have benefitted much more from winning the competition. And now she can't no matter how supportive your words are.

Pamela said...

Nick, I don't know how you survived this show, and I hope that if by some miracle it survives the axe despite so many of us HUGE fans jumping ship, they find someone else to batter. It seems as if from episode one your enthusiasm was mocked, your mentoring style denigrated and other designers were privileged. I've been a fan of yours since your season, and I was a big Mondo fan, too, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that they took a slant to try to drum up drama. Tim's inexplicable comments after-the-fact have also been perplexing, when we see him on screen completely happy with a look, and then bad-mouthing it later. I have no idea who is steering the Under-the-Gunn ship, but I wish you hadn't become the whipping boy. It's changed my entire perspective of TG and the show.

debrarae said...

Nick, I commend you for being there for Natalia. In spite of all the attacks on you by Tim (and his thinking Mondo and Anya could do no wrong) you were a great mentor to Natalia.

I was livid when Tim shouted at Natalia in Mood. IT wasn't even her fault, she was trying to work as a team with Asha ... and Asha was not having it.

In truth I really expected better of the mentors (especially Mondo who shouted at Natalia for daring to try to say who did the design, fabrics etc..), and of Tim.

Tim said when he confronted Ben Vendhu in PR that the editing is kind to everyone.

With that, I can only wonder at how bad the bullying she endured truly was.

debrarae said...

BTW Nick, I do support you and Oscar ... but I hate the show, and what it has become.

Ivee B said...

I'm just catching up on Under the Gunn and finished this episode. Now looking at Asha and Natalia's careers, it seems that Natalia is more successful and has her name out there :) Proud of her! She has such strong character, which will definitely take her places. Unlike Asha who's just bossy and unpleasant..

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