New York–After years of yelling “Why don’t they do an accessories challenge already!?!?” at the TV during every episode of “Project Runway” (except during the Philip Treacy hat challenge, of course), our industry finally has a show to call its own.
If you haven’t already set your DVRs to Thursday nights on Lifetime TV, now’s your chance. They’re showing reruns too, so you can catch up.
There’s no Tim Gunn (sniff) and the snarkiness of Michael Kors and Heidi Klum is tangibly absent, but after two episodes, the show has us hooked.
Supermodel Molly Sims hosts, while Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti, CEO of the upscale Vivre.com, acts as mentor and tastemaker. Judging by her we-want-everything-on-it e-commerce site, the contestants better listen to her. Designer Kenneth Cole and In Style Editor Ariel Foxman also judge, both offering constructive advice instead of mean put-downs. Well, there’s some of that, of course, but overall you get the feeling they’re truly trying to help.
After Sims plugged the industry’s multi-billion dollar market and importance to overall fashion industry, we met the 12 emerging designer contestants with their mix of skills and talents, from a church hat designer to an ex-football player-turned-sculptor-turned-self-taught-jewelry designer. Lots of tattoos, “I’m not here to make friends” attitude, panic attacks and even some flirting should keep things interesting.
Read more bios here.
Episode 1, featuring guest judge Debra Messing, sent the designers to New Jersey to rummage through storage bins and make a three-piece accessories ensemble out of found objects (read: garbage).
Lots of ripping, hammering, blow-torching, soldering, sawing and glueing ensued, and considering the pressurized time constraints and sleep deprivation, we can only hope Lifetime TV has a doctor on hand.
Jewelry designer Nina won for her necklace bib made from wooden parasol strips (with jump rings made from rat traps, a ring made from matchsticks and a belt made from Chinese lantern bamboo with a closure made from a Mason jar. Diego Rocha was a close second, with his gold spray-painted pleather collar. Cotrice was let go, although she really didn’t deserve it.
Episode 2, featuring guest judge Nadja Swarovski, sent the designers to (shocker!) the Swarovski Crystallized store in Soho. There they ran like bulls in a china shop, where their challenge was to find one piece of Swarovski jewelry to use as inspiration, then make a complementary shoe and at least one jewelry item to adorn a simple little black dress.
Shoes! Footwear designer James smiled smugly while the others cringed in fear, and rightfully so. Shoes are no cakewalk and every “Project Accessory” viewer is probably now willing to spend a bit more on a shoe with proper craftsmanship.
Luckily, James acted as mentor, showing the designers how to make shoes that would stand up (literally) to the runway.
More hammering, sawing, buffing and crying, and viola! The designers were ready for their runway shows.
The runway shows are a bit problematic, as accessories don’t have the scale of ready-to-wear and the still life photos flashed to the side of the screen are only visible for a few seconds. This should hopefully sort itself out as the contestants dwindle down.
This challenge was also tricky as viewers didn’t always remember which piece worn was the inspirational piece made by Swarovski and which were made by the designers.
No matter. The designers offered varying degrees of finished product, with the win going to shoe designer James. Molly Sims said she wanted the shoes, and I hope they were made in her size. The pink, purple, blue and crystal-embellished shoes were not my favorites, but no one could argue that they weren’t expertly made. Plus, they coordinated great with the oversized inspiration piece.
We loved the necklace made by actress-turned-jewelry designer Shea. Beautifully draped at the front, it had one long strand of chain down the back with a giant crystal drop adding weight and swing. Very sexy.
Adrian almost got sent home for listening to Eva and reworking his earrings. He didn’t finish them and left them off, thus not completing the challenge. However, the judges gave him a pass for embellishing the black dress with oversized black square crystals.
David also walked a thin line after having an overly conceptual concept and a giant cuff that could “knock over a bottle of wine at a dinner party,” according to Ms. Swarovski. But Kelly was the one ultimately sent home after failing to make shoes her model–or anyone–could walk in.
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Because as we ALL know, accessories are the best attitude!