Thursday, January 12, 2006

Dear Banana Republic,

Dear Banana Republic,

Thank you for sponsoring Project Runway. This is my favorite television show. I love the way it shows the designers actually sewing garments. So many young people love fashion and dream of becoming fashion designers but they don't want to learn to sew!

I also enjoy the personalities of these creative individuals. Something about the field of fashion design just seems to bring out very charming and interesting individuals. They are very entertaining.

I writing to say that in my opinion, last year's Banana Republic challenge was far more engaging than this year's episode. First of all, combining the team element, the Banana Republic production element AND the window dressing element into the same episode was just too much. I think you would have gotten more (obviously) and better design options if you would have let the individual designers tackle this challenge. We just had a team challenge in the lingerie episode. We don't need another one. That one was quite enough...

I think a team window dressing challenge would be fine - just not coupled with the Banana Republic challenge.

Don't you want MORE designs to choose from? Last year you had ten designs to choose from. This year you only had five. Also a team challenge prevents you from truly understanding what EACH designer would have done as an individual. Since you are looking for an individual designer to join your company for a year, wouldn't you like to know what each one sees as your aesthetic? By teaming the designers we only see, at best, a diluted view of a combination of two designers. One of them might be perfect for Banana Republic, but you will never know.

I believe that the Banana Republic challenge is the fulcrum of the series. This is the really important one. The previous episodes build up to this one and a really strong showing (even if it isn't a winner) can really make us sit up and take notice. Would Jay's Chrysler Building dress have ever been made in a TEAM challenge? Having a dress actually put into production and sold in the Banana Republic stores automatically gives validation to a designer. This should be the challenge that brings out each designer's very best work.

So, in conclusion, I hope that you will continue to sponsor this fabulous show. Next year, I hope you will consider allowing each individual designer to present you with his or her very best option for this important challenge.

Laura Kluvo


misterminm said...

Laura--I completely agree with a lot of what you said but do you think that this is a letter that should be addressed to the producers of the show rather than one of the sponsors? I just think that it would be odd that Banana Republic would want this to be a team challenge.

Anonymous said...

Do you think they did a team challenge because of the fabric limitations this year?

I could be wrong, but I think last year the designers went fabric shopping on their own, but this time they picked up the material at BR. We saw similar looks (ie: the sleeveless tops on Chloe/Emmett's, Nick/Santino's, and Marla/Diana's) and a lot of designers used the navy blue fabric.

Can you imagine what would have happened if all ten of them made something with the fabric limitation?

I agree that last year's was much more interesting and diverse and that they should have kept the same method, but my first thought was surrounding the fabric limitations...

misterminm said...

last year they picked banana fabrics as well. The only reason that i remember this is because Starr selected the two worst fabrics from the lot (pink and black) when the rest of the line had more frosted and less severe colors.

The reasons I think they made this a team episode:

1. They had to get in more eliminations than they had episodes

2. They wanted to shake things up by potentially having a stronger member and weak member pair up. This would have been a huge controversy had Stantino and Emmett been partners and both eliminated.

3. They are incorporating some level of marketing into every episode: pandering to a socialite, retail merchandizing, and next custom piece for a specific need. The Banana Challenge was the perfect episode to do something about display and how important it is (as Tim says in his blog) to selling a piece. I think that the only way to get everything done in time was to have partners do it.

Anonymous said...

Good points!

I got into it late last season, and only saw the last half of the Banana episode.

I think your spot on about the marketing aspects of it this season. It was much harder to do in Season 1 because it was a new show. Now that it has become such a success, it makes sense to have the designers understand marketing as part of the challenges.

Hence Santino's win with Hilton. His design wasn't neccessarily better then certain others, but the way he sold himself won the challenge for him.

Anonymous said...

I actually think the challenge was a bit unfair to the designers. So much being asked of them in such a short period of time. The teamwork element really didn't need to be added.

Or why not do a window display challenge separate from BR? I liked how Emmett was allowed to shine in that element. The designers were great troopers and made it work, but I think the producers overthought the challenge.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that the group challenges are detrimental to the design process. I think that the sum of two designers were greater that its parts in terms of the Andrae/Daniel and Chloe/Emmet pairing. Both teams showed synergy which yielded beautiful high-quality garments.

If you look at the garments from last year, some are pretty bad (and not just Star's mess!) and most are not at all BR. Wendy's and Nora's are the only one's I could see there. No, not even Nora's, just Pepper's. :/

And I loved that they had to do a window. I thought that was one of the coolest parts of the show. :D

So yeah, I basically disagree with the letter but cheers for such a fab blog!

Anonymous said...

We do have to keep in mind that the fashion industry is SO fast-paced. Things are constantly changing and going wrong and actions have to be taken to counteract that.

In two days (less actually), to design a garment, make said garment along w/ hair and makeup, and execute a window display is A LOT, but it's not something that hasn't been done before.

Fashion is hard work. If it was easy, everyone would do it. I had plenty of breakdowns a la Kara, Santino and Andrae when I was in design school, but your vision and drive keeps you moving toward the right direction. This week that direction consisted of a lot of work on elements other then just fashion.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to ask the experts here, has anyone seen the Alice & Trixie dress at that looks like the same fabric as Daniel's Social Scene dress? It looks like the same fabric to me, but the design is different.

Sorry I don't know how to post the link.

ABC said...

I agree with you about the lack of fabric choices. They couldn't have chosen more boring fabric to supply the designers.

But I understand their reason for doing so. Since they are going to produce the outfit and sell it in their store, they want to make sure they have access to the exact fabric the designer used - so they can be absolutely true to the design.

But all the outfits were remarkably boring - and the window dressing challenge that was used to choose the winner was beyond ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

Just don't agree with many of your points, Pursedeals. I thought that the window display challenged their creativity in a whole new way--and Emmett's work was wonderful (I think that Tim called it "stupendous", by which, I assume, he meant a combination of eyecatching and highly professional). Maybe he's designed windows in the past, a very very specialized art indeed.

Additionally, I don't think that the designs were boring at all. Conservative, perhaps--but that's the BR signature look. Putting the fear of insulting anyone here aside (not my intention), isn't the line designed for yuppies, who are by definition fixated on "making it" through a kind of styllistic anonymity, or never straying a single inch either side of what happens to be the current trend or look. (Of course, I'm thinking corporate here.)

Concerning the materials: didn't BR's head designer say something like, these are the materials we'll be using this season. Period. In other words, if they were going to mass-produce it(?), it had to use ONLY THOSE materials.It's not surprising that the palette is ultratraditional /ultraconservative with the possible exception of Zuleema's somewhat flashy (final) fabric. Her race to the finish line under unbelievable pressure and the product itself were absolutely stupendous. I think that she is now a REAL contender.

Great episode IMHO.

Ps: from the photograph that's been circulating we now know that it's Kara back row left and Chloe front row right. That means that either Emmett or Andrae (please, NO!!!!!!!!!!) are eliminated in the skating outfit episode next week.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen the post of the kimono dress from the BR holiday collection - seems odd they would have a kimono dress when in July they tell Santino they don't see a kimono dress as being BR - so did BR copy - adapt Santino's idea? -

Arty said...

I have to say more than 2 people in the team challenge bores me...but I liked the team challenge with just a pair. Each with their own individual styles being brought to the table. Obviously, some teams worked better together than others, which sheds light on certain personalities. And I like that on top of all that, they then had to design the window. There were so many things that added to the pressure this week, which may have been exactly the point. Some handled the pressure...while others did not. While I don't really care for Zulema, I have to give the woman props for taking her emotional partner & getting her on track. When she told her she could cry, but that she had to work while doing it, I cracked up. Not exactly putting the screws to her, but letting her know that she had had just about enough of her ****! Have we not all been there? Anyway, The Great Santini can go anytime, but please not my wacky little Andrae!

Marsha said...

SOOOO many interesting points raised here! My 1st thought was that the drama of teamwork makes for better TV -- more like "Survivor." My 2nd thought is that teamwork IS a very important part of professional success. Altho Jay was/is a brilliant designer, I'm not so sure how great of a team player he is/was. I kinda picked up on this issue from Michael Kors's comments this week.

As a sewer myself, I don't mind so much the fabric limitations. Personally, I think that requires a LOT more creativity than having a huge range of fabrics to pick from.

JMO. Yeah, FABU blog!!!

Kim in Oregon said...

I so agree with you on the 'too much' aspect. The window 'contest' was interesting but should not have influenced the choice of the best dress.

Anonymous said...

Re: PS from Don/fashionasart

Since I love the speculation surrounding the "Final 7" photograph, I need to throw my two cents in. What we know for sure is that the back left and front right spots are filled by Chloe and Kara, but we still don't know who is in which seat. I still hang my hat on Chloe back left and Kara front right.

Of more speculative interest concerning the photo however is how the models Cara and Lesley (if that's who they are) are still on the runway after next weeks episode. Remember that they were Diana and Marla's models and by all logic should be out after the beginning of "On Thin Ice". Either we have mis-identified the models, or some weird shake-up is going to happen next week.

Also, consensus is that Andrae is sitting in the front left seat. There is a very strong likelihood that Emmett will be the next recepient of Heidi's good-bye kiss.

Anonymous said...

Pretty much agree with Tbone and have posted the same thought elsewhere.