Blogging “Project Accessory”: Episode 6

In What's New, Industry News by Lauren Parker, Accessories Magazine

The contestants in the Kenneth Cole studio

New York—Now that “Project Accessory” is down to six contestants, viewers are finally able to get a longer look at how accessories are actually produced—and it’s a dirty, messy, noisy, exhilarating business!

Christina working the sheet metal

This challenge has the designers creating for judge Kenneth Cole himself. While KC doesn’t have the swagger or snarkiness of “Project Runway” judge Michael Kors, he does have the talent, not to mention hip apparel and accessories that fashionistas can actually afford to buy without a boyfriend in finance.

Cole brings the contestants into his design studio and shows them mood/inspiration boards for Holiday ’11, telling them to design a clutch and accessory of their choice to accessorize a look from his collection. The winning designs will be sold in Kenneth Cole stores, with 100% of the profits going to Kenneth Cole’s Awareness Fund to support AIDS research. Brian is visibly moved, noting that people close to him are living with HIV.

The trend theme is “Triple Black” and the trend board features a black swan, heavy matte black link resin chains, feathers and the like. Were contestants supposed to make black-on-black accessories for their all-black outfits (triple black, get it?) Or go for pops of color or metallics? Not sure. They probably weren’t either.

Brian's unicorn clutch and updated bolero takes the win

Back in the workroom, the designers meet their assigned outfits. Each is gorgeous and I make a note to battle the holiday crowds today in Rockefeller Center and hit up the Kenneth Cole store.

Aside from handbag designer Diego, who is unjustifiably confident and says inane things like “Kenneth Cole doesn’t make bags like I do–mine are so much better,” the others are working out their inner demons. Rich needs to prove he can make a handbag, Adrian needs to edit himself, Nina needs to find her inner edge, Brian needs to learn to design for a client and Christina needs to find her aesthetic.

After a sprint through Mood to spend $150 on supplies, it was back to the workroom and time for viewers to see what really goes into the accessories they wear.

CLAMPING!!!! SAWING!!!!!!!!!!!

The designers working in metal grab sheets of it and start cutting and sawing out shapes as the clock races. Miraculously, no one loses a finger.

POURING!!!!!!!!! SHAPING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If Rich is Metal Man, then Brian is Resin Man. Say what you want about his Mad Max aesthetic (and I have said plenty), but he tackles every assignment like a conceptual art project and makes his main pieces from scratch. Poured resin soon becomes the makings of a giant unicorn horn.


Nina was runner up with her slinky chain necklace

Brian dons a gas mask and proceeds to fill the entire workroom with post-apocalyptic gray dust as he finishes the horn. (Off camera, an intern runs in and covers all the outfits with plastic bags.) The contestants gripe about the dust and their burning eyes–including Rich, who, for the first time in “Project Accessory” history, is not wearing his goggles.

PAINTING!!!!!! SCRAPING!!!!!!!!!!

Nina takes long pieces of silver and gold chain, paints them black,  strategically scrapes away paint then hangs them on a short necklace. Her look, which fills in the outfit’s plunging neckline, is slinky and sexy. The chains down the back don’t go over as well with the judges, but I think they’re interesting.


Diego starts whipping up yet another impeccably crafted handbag, but the design is too pedestrian for Eva, who instructs him to create a showstopper to surprise the judges. He ignores her, opting instead for showstopper earrings that weigh like 75 pounds. Sadly, they almost do stop the show by tearing through the model’s lobes and crashing through the runway.


Rich's failure to put any metal on his clutch was a missed opportunity

Taking Eva’s advice to “Rich it Up,” Rich develops a cool “shrapnel” concept and creates an edgy and Kenneth Cole-worthy lariat with shards of metal hanging off tangled chain. Somehow, however, the explosion was so big that none of the shards landed on the clutch. The bland all-leather black fold-over clutch with embossed croco was blatantly missing edgy metal (or any metal for that matter) from Metal Man, and seemed to be from another designer. It was also so flat you couldn’t put anything more than a Metro Card and a $1 bill in it.


Christina takes an architectural approach with angular lines echoed in the gold metallic clutch and earring shapes, which are flat pieces of gold with angular crystals. She adds an elastic wrap closure to her soft and “expensive looking” clutch, which impresses guest judge Alexa Chung. Overall, well done.


Adrian, wrestling with his blinged-out inner voice, listens to Eva who tells him to edit, edit, edit, which he interprets as remove, remove, remove. He struggles with his flat clutch and ultimately adorns it with a giant snake chain knot that is promptly covered up completely by the model’s hand as she walks down the runway. The judges aren’t impressed. Molly Sims calls it dated; Alexa Chung says it “isn’t her ‘jam,'” In Style‘s Ariel Foxman says it “feels like a project,” and Kenneth Cole, who lets the clutch slide only to critique the cuff with: “the closer I get, the less I like it.” Ouch.

Adrian is let go after toning down all the bling... on the Holiday challenge

In the end, Adrian is let go and Brian takes the win, narrowly beating out Nina.

A great episode but I still think the clutches didn’t reach their potential. But here are my few remaining questions:

Why didn’t anyone think to run with the actual theme “Triple Black” and use all the amazing shapes of black or hematite crystals to dramatically embellish the clutches for the HOLIDAY challenge?

How does one open Brian’s clutch?

Did the models walk down the runway in Kenneth Cole shoes? (I still don’t get the ebay Fashion wall.)

Will Kenneth Cole still sell Nina’s necklace in his store and if not, where can we get one?

And last but not least: were any unicorns harmed in the making of this episode?

Until next week!

Lauren Parker is the Editor of Accessories Magazine.


Pantone Reveals 2012 Color of the Year: Tangerine Tango
Twenty10 Hot Foots It into Spring with Hello Kitty Shoes