E: I have been looking forward to this all week! A giggling gaggle of little girls descends on Parsons School of Design – to borrow a phrase from a favorite author, a veritable girl grenade. The very idea warms the cockles of my little heart. O.M.G. I could not love it more.
The designers have to create outfits for young girls, (ages 5 to 9, I think). They get a day and something like fifty dollars. Then – SURPRISE! – they get an extra day and 100 dollars to make a corresponding looking (but definitely not just a larger version) for their models. The looks should be, shall, in the same family. Getting the grown up assignment after the child challenge knocked many of the designers for a loop; how do you translate childish whimsy into grown up sophistication? It’s a great twist, and made for a great runway show, though. Not only was it adorable to see the models sashay down the runway holding those little hands, it took care of the whole nervous flowergirl trap. (Which is to say, this way everyone made it down the runway.) This really lived up to my expectations. Winner and losers after the cut:
The Top Three:
Seth Aaron wins – because he’s a cool dad! I have a daughter, and I know what girls like, he says, and he’s right. He does. He make an adorable houndstooth hoodie with pink side pockets, a pink top and a black skirt with grommets. AND he makes a shiny pink and black purse, which his tiny 5 year old model just loves. Very smart. Nina goes nuts for the purse, and the adorable rocker cool styling. I don’t know how I feel about the big SA on the back of the hoodie, though; I’m not about branded clothing for kids, mostly because so much kids stuff is horribly overbranded. Valeria has sleek bouffant hair, skinny black pants with a studded detail down the left leg, and an amazing fitted jacket with black and white ribbons making up several patterns. The inset in the back is particularly awe inspiring. Michael says it’s the best constructed garment they’ve seen all season.
Jay Nicholas, who hadn’t been shown for more than a second up to this point, is our first runner up. His girl is a little older (9) and so, he deduces, looking for something more sophisticated than bumble gum pink (though Seth Aaron won using hints of it), so he gives her a tunic in plum with black trim, in a modern Mod style with a keyhole back and a striking ruffled pattern at the hem. Faux mom Monique gets a tank using a similar ruffle technique in the same fabrics, and skinny black pants. That’s too matchy matchy for me, but the judges eat it up.
For his first time in the top tier, Jesse created a Parisian inspired, marvelous red wool coat and a little grey dress with red trim and a round red collar. It’s a bit Madeline at the fun house: the empire seam is titled, as is the piping detail on the front. The tilted piping bothered me (and guest judge Thora Burch) a lot, but everyone was wowed by his cinch waisted grey, red and black cocktail length dress for Alexis. It’s a bit reminiscent of Ben’s Madame Butterfly dress, and the judges say it makes them notice Alexis for the first time.
The little girls lurve Anthony; he is cutely baffled by this, and them and the wacky things they say. He makes a v-neck empire waist dress for his little girl (floral print on the top to the waist, then a fuller skirt in a deeper pink), and a red sexy v-neck fitted cocktail dress for Kristina with a similar waist height. Both pieces are nice enough on their own, but the colors don’t meld for me.
Mila produces – what else – Mod color blocking on a cute swing dress in pink and green with black and white trim, and black and white polka dot legging for her little girl. (The other designers seem to be warming to her, finally – now when they make fun of her color blocking, it’s companionable and too her face. She’s pleased.) Cerri has a long fake ponytail, black pants and a white jacket with a sort of cowl-like collar and black blocked detail on the cuffs, collar and hem. I wouldn’t rush out to buy either, but the little girl look is something I’d enjoy seeing one of my girls wear.
Yellow is the risk Maya‘s taking today, yellow jackets (not matching, and not even the same yellow) with black leggings for the little girl and black skinny pants for Megan. I particularly liked the orange tank with black ruffly details on Maya’s mini-model. This is a tough challenge; I think the jackets are very different (I loved the little one especially) but it flirts with the mini-me concept they were supposed to avoid.
I loved Ben‘s lavender child’s dress on the dress form, but less on his little girl; her coloring was wrong for it. Or it may be that the dress was just to stiff, and didn’t move well. (The little girl was very stiff, too, which didn’t help.) Lorena looks lovely in a purple top and short slim pale gray skirt with a curved hemline. If I had a serious criticism, I’d say that the grown up outfit was more work, and the little girl more church on Sundays.
I wouldn’t have guessed it, but Emilio is a traditionalist when it comes to children’s clothing. He makes a seriously old school high waisted dress in pale pink with tiny embroidered flowers and puffy sleeves and a round collar. It goes almost to her shoes. It’s very 80s. Or 5os, for that matter. He puts Holly in a darker pink, beautifully tailored boatneck with a hem below the knee and slightly puffy sleeves. I don’t think the pinks went well enough together, and both items were supremely preppy and conservative, but they were well-made. Heidi loved the grown up dress, which surprised me.
The Bottom Three:
Swallowing distain for the challenge, Jonathan made a yellow dress with some cute organdy details. He also makes a puzzling white beribboned bolero – which, the little girl tells Heidi, cuts into her skin – and a sexy grey dress for Brandise which he then puzzlingly covers with white organza. As Michael says, it looks like he’s bunched toilet paper all over her. It has a sort of nice shape – it’s not a snowball, it’s an exaggerated female form – but he got so carried away in making it match the child’s dress, he forgot it needed to be wearable.
The penultimate loser spot goes to Amy for her whimsical color sense and risk-taking. She created what I thought was a completely adorable skirt made of layered petals in graduated shades of coral with leggings, a white top and a short turquoise sweater. The judges thought the colors were ungodly; guess they don’t shop in a lot of children’s stores, because I don’t think it was crazy at all. Allison, on the other hand, was forced to wear a turquoise tank top with spaghetti straps and tapered harem capri pants covered with orange, black and turquoise petals. Oh, honey, what were you thinking? You’re lucky that it’s always best to be bold.
Michael Kors sneered that Janeane‘s grown up look wasn’t just badly tailored, it looked like you could just buy it at the mall. The horror! You know, there’s a Michael Kors store at a mall near me. Just saying. Anyway, I know I’m not his ideal customer, but I’d buy her orange jumper with patterned leggings for one of my daughters. Well, not for fifty dollars, anyway. Janeane forgot the sage advice, “don’t bore Nina Garcia”, and so goes home to her much missed husband.
Models of the Runway: I recorded these shows while watching the Olympics. Through a dvr quirk (thanks, Grey’s Anatomy, for mucking up my Thursdays by going over that one minute every week) I happened to see perhaps thirty seconds of this show before I saw anything else, because the dvr had to change channels for that one minute, and of course, it was the moment where Heidi asked Brittany how she felt about her designer Janeane being eliminated. Boo, hiss for spoilers! Greys, that’s really uncalled for.
In addition to the normal hugging and weeping with the winning and losing designers, and that unfortunate chat with Heidi, we get to see the models tutoring their charges in the tricks of walking the runway. It’s super cute. The models have a picnic (on red checkered table clothes, no less) with their little girls. There doesn’t actually seem to be food. I know they’re models, but can you really call it a picnic without food? Otherwise that’s just sitting together on the ground. Holly and her little girl have a love fest. Do models have to be as tall as you, the pixie wants to know, because you’re much taller than me! Aw. Cerri is surprised that it isn’t nightmarish, since she doesn’t like kids and doesn’t plan on reproducing. During the picnic, Megan (who has a cute kitten face) finds out that she and her child model have a lot in common. They both like Hannah Montana and pink. I know you’re only 18, Megan, but Hannah Montana? Really?
After the picnic, some of the models go out. While waiting for outside the restaurant/club, they critique each others walks. Holly is amazing (she’s got such posture and confidence!), and Megan (who, we’re reminded, has only been a model for three months) is not. The more experienced girls show her how to hold her shoulders back and use her hips better. She interviews about how lucky she is. Sadly for her, she and Brittany are the last girls on the runway, and Jay Nicolas picks Brittany. Megan’s pleased enough with what she’s learned not to be too broken up, and really enjoyed her time in the model house.
Next week, shopping at a hardware store. Sweet!