As promised I have two episodes to catch up to this week for my semi-weekly review of Project Runway Canada. I watched episode 7 with Adrienne and episode 8 with Anita, much thanks as always to my gracious hostesses. My thoughts on the shows may be seen after the break…
Episode 7 was a high stakes challenge to design a gown to be auctioned for charity.
Megan‘s sensibilities seem okay but she simply is not well suited to a competition that requires an ability to execute as well as conceptualize. Her removal from the competition will take the show to a higher level.
Her designs on the show were very limited, restricted to a novice level of sewing. While there are some notable and even incredible exceptions, the best designers are the best because they understand their craft. Knowledge of materials, tools, and construction opens up a vast array of possibilities that designers like Megan do not understand, and therefore seem to devalue.
For a fashion designer, the only thing that is of greater value than technical skills is being able to anticipate what people want. This ability is the only thing that can overcome even a lack of technical skill. Whether Megan has it or not remains to be seen – while she has gained some attention, her line Matsu does not yet appear to have stockists.
Episode 7 also marked the first time that I was impressed by Evan Biddell‘s offering. It appeared that he finally put in some effort and he clearly deserved the win. He has a lot of innate talent but it is rarely evident. Most of his designs up to this point have been derivative (Avril Lavigne 5 years ago), unremarkable and unsophisticated. Imagine if he did put his heart into every challenge – he would be one of the best, and might justify his healthy ego. Instead, there is only this single impressive moment, and the rest of the time, well, see episode 8.
Episode 8 was the greatest technical challenge yet – designing in four way stretch lycra is easier if you have experience, and designing for plus sized women requires, lets say, a certain open-mindedness that most people in fashion struggle with.
Brian‘s mentorship this episode was right on the money. His genuine respect for the needs and desires of all women, regardless of size, is indicative of Bailey’s own success. The few big names in Canadian fashion who have demonstrated real longevity – including Wayne Clarke and Peter Nygard, have achieved what they have by recognizing and flattering the significant plus-sized market.
The review of episode 8 would not be complete without mentioning Evan Biddell. Poor Evan. He will look back at this show and and regret it. Thinking everything is all about him (the Biddell show), ostentatiously needling his opponents, arrogantly napping, and designing something ugly. I feel ashamed for him. It reminded me of my own more self-absorbed moments as a fashion student. Later on you realize how ridiculous you were. It hurts to remember and it hurts to watch Evan Biddell. We are all young and ignorant sometimes. Most of us will not have to watch ourselves at our worst on national television. That must be awful.
The stand-out design this episode was definitely Stephen‘s. He chose the right theme, and he was in his element as an experienced swimwear designer. His piece was simple, true to the theme, and very indicative of his abilities as a designer, which we have not had the chance to see yet. PRC challenges designers to demonstrate a wider range of specialty than anyone is called to do in the real world. For Stephen, the ability to use lycra with inventiveness and simplicity is enough to build a career, and I am glad that he had the chance with one challenge to really show his strength.
It was a shame that Stephen did not win; but backstage he had the opportunity to tell Evan Biddell what we were all thinking. Stephen is older and wiser, and perceptive. Of course Biddell was not ready to hear it.
I thought Shernett‘s designs did not measure up this episode. She is certainly very savvy and technically confident. Somehow, the past three or four shows her designs have suffered from a lack of empathy, if that makes sense. Out of all the designers it was apparent that she was the least sensitive to bigger women, and that is what did her in this challenge.
Kendra‘s swimsuits were not that great either, and she is the one who was cut. I know a lot of fans of Kendra, and she is obviously a confident seamstress with a sharp eye for her market; yet on the show none of her designs really stood out to me. Also, she referred to her inspiration this episode as Edwardian, which was a good 110 years and one English Channel far from the mark. It drives me crazy when designers are so culturally illiterate, but that is because I am a nerd.
This show was the best one so far – the final six designers are without exception all incredibly talented and have great characters. For a while there it looked like PRC might be a disappointment but this episode made me like it better than the American version.