Lighten Up, It’s Just Fashion (My "All Stars" Episode 9 Recap)
I’m all for incorporating technology into fabric and clothing design. We already see garments that have entertainment features built in, like speakers inside of hoods. Fabrics that regulate body temperature or athletic garments that monitor heart rate and other vital signs are undoubtedly the wave of the future. But “glow” is not technology, it’s decoration, and decoration for decorations sake makes for superfluous design. Superfluous design is gimmicky and by definition bad.
When I heard the challenge for this episode I was scared. Design a garment using light—LEDs, fiber optics, neon tape—it seemed like a fast path to tacky. And to make the final product even more frightening, we learn that the final runway show lighting will be black light. Bring on the fluorescent. This was bound to be a fashion disaster the likes of which Project Runway has never seen before.
I was wrong.
The fashion show for this episode was fantastic. It was crazy and fun and it reminded me of a quote from the great orange one many seasons ago, “lighten up, it’s only fashion.” Literally, I guess. Sure the craftsmanship was questionable in most cases—thank god the show was in the dark—but the designs were wacky and entertaining and just what I needed on a bleak, rainy, Thursday night.
Even Jerell’s overuse of tacky trim was a success because, as it turns out, restraint in design intent, fringe, and fiber optics just don’t go tog ether. I am not a huge fan in general of Jerell’s trim based design, but I thinks it’s a shame that he had to be sent home for a successful design that perfectly met the parameters of the challenge. I guess the judges had to send some one home, andon a runway full of great results, and his long skirt/short skirt snafu was just enough of an excuse for the judges.
Austin ’s winning garment was a delight. It really did c apture his idea of a midnight starry sky. I lov ed the way he physically joined the headpiece to the dress using a band of lights. I was worried about how his garment would appear under the black lights, the soft glo w of the tiny lights would become brasher and he didn’t design in the neon look the way the other designers did. The black light did introduce a soupcon of tacky, but it surprisingly only added to the overall look.
Kenley’s rule breaking volume over volume was also a success. Th e nipped in waistwas enough to give the model some shape and save her from looking like a wired up neon ball. The thoughtfully created plaid was a great use of the neon tape, and her upholstery gridded fabric acted as a perfect framework for the fairy lights. All the distracting volume and lighting hid the fact that the dress underneath is a shape she has already done this season.
Mondo did a colorful version of something Gautier would have done for Madonna back in the day. His silhouette was by far the simplest on the runway, but no less fun. I actually found Michael Costello’s design to be in the same vein as Mondo’s. Both were form-fitting dresses with a stripped technique that incorporated the lighting for the design. The difference was Mondo used fabric to create his stripped affect and Michael Costello used tape. I saw the craftsmanship issues with the tape in Michael’s design that the judges mentioned, but I actually preferred his neon ninja styling.
Every design on the runway worked together and made a great show. These were clearly costumes, not fashion or technology, but what a treat for the eye. I may just have to take a shopping trip to Barbizon lighting.
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