Friday, January 17, 2014

UNDER THE GUNN.....Nick's Take: Episode 1/"Who Is Under The Gunn?"

Le Mentors: (left to right) Mondo Guerra, Anya Ayoung-Chee and Nick Verreos "Under The Gunn", Hope Park, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising/FIDM

Thursday night was the Premiere of "Under The Gunn" on Lifetime. I'm honored and proud to be one of the three Mentors along with Season 9 Winner Anya Ayoung-Chee and Project Runway All Stars Season 1 Winner Mondo Guerra. On the show, it will be our job to mentor, guide, manage, coach,
cheerlead and, when necessary, knock down with tough love, a team of designers in order to
lead them to runway success. The premiere episode was a doozy, to say the least. Before I give you my "Nick Take" on a couple of things (yes, I'm talking about being rejected OVER and OVER...and OVER again, by the designers), I want to begin with how AMAZING it was to be standing at my Alma Mater--the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising/FIDM--along with my fellow mentors but more importantly with TIM GUNN:

 Introduction at FIDM: (left to right) "Under Thee Gunn" mentors Nick Verreos, Anya Ayoung-Chee and Mondo Guerra with "Big Daddy" Tim Gunn

Mentor Nick: I never thought that A) I would get a call from Tim to ask me to be on this show and to be a Mentor, and B) I would be in a position to take Tim's mentoring that he gave me back in 2005 on Season 2 Project Runway and "pay it back" to other designers.

The Mentors Lounge:

Lounging: This above, my dear friends, was The Mentors Lounge--or as I like to call it "My Home Away From Home". This is where Anya, Mondo and I "hung out" while the designers were creating their designs and where we the Mentors discussed our thoughts on the designers and well, so much more (I'll leave that little nugget for later!).

Step Away From Our Couch Tim: Big Daddy Mentor Tim Gunn flanking our "Mentors Couch"

 Nick Verreos, Anya Ayoung-Chee and Mondo Guerra--"Under The Gunn" workroom at FIDM

The Workroom: For this first episode, there were 8 (of the total 15) designers who we had workroom visits with to survey what they were creating and also how they were working. Our job was not to give them any "design" direction but just to find out what they were doing. From looking at their portfolios before we made this workroom visit, out of these 8 designers, I really liked what Michelle, Shan, Blake and Brady were doing especially. I also liked Natalia and Oscar. And yes, I ended up with them (Oscar and Natalia) on my team...

Natalia Fedner: I had the privilege of judging the LA Castings of "Project Runway Season 12" (and this show) and Natalia was one of the designers I saw and I remembered her designs and I liked what I saw. What did concern me--and the other mentors--was how frantic and all-over-the-place she was when we visited her in the workroom; she barely stopped to make eye contact with us or even listen to what we were saying. She was too busy trying to work, I guess. But it did put up a red flag.

Is That Her Cha-Cha? Then, when it came time for the runway, she created this WAAAY too short micro mini dress. It was two seconds from being Hoochie Vulgar. But there was something about how passionate she was during the castings and how great those other dresses were that made  me consider Natalia for my "team".

Oscar Garcia-Lopez: Oscar was the other designer that I chose. I was a bit "on the fence" with Oscar to be honest. His portfolio included pics of A LOT of crystals and ruffles...and gowns. Now, I'm a gown designer, yes, which actually was why I was thinking that maybe I shouldn't pick Oscar; I should "challenge myself", I thought. And then he made this:

Golden Girl: OK--on the negative side, this was A LOT; the hat, the fingerless gloves, the been there/done that peplum....but IT WAS DONE! Finished to perfection and well, he thought of an entire look. It was of questionable taste level, but it was DONE. Instead of focusing on the fact that it was two minutes from tacky-licious and over-done, I tried to focus on the fact that A) this guy can CREATE (he made all this in SIX HOURS!), and B) maybe, just maybe I can try to help him edit and recognize a good taste level. This would be my challenge, perhaps.

Well, as you know now, the second half of this Premiere episode focused on the Mentors--choosing the designers we wanted for our team--and the fact that several times, we all wanted the same designers. At this point, the designers then picked which mentor they wanted. No one wanted me. Well, almost no one (Thank You Natalia!).

The Three-Legged Puppy At The Dog Shelter: Going through all the rejection made me feel like I was back in high school and I was the last one picked for the (name a sport). I also felt like the three-legged Rottweiler at the dog shelter that no one wanted. Many people on Social Media (Twitter, etc.) have speculated that the designers (especially the younger "kids") might have been intimidated by my experience, instructor background, being the "not so cool" older Mentor...who knows. And maybe all this had something to do with it. But I have a different take: they couldn't remember WHO I WAS. While Anya was the winner of Project Runway Season 9 (which was not too long ago) and Mondo, well, it's MONDO, after all. Compared to those two, I was "chopped liver". I was heartened to see Tim Gunn's take on all this, and well, he said THE SAME THING. Click HERE to watch it.

We'll see what happens next week during our second round of Mentor/Designer Picking. Wanna guess what happens? Let me know what you think...

The trailer for next week might give you hints!