Sunday, March 23, 2014

UNDER THE GUNN.....Nick's Take: Episode 10 "Crossing Teams", My Inside Dish!

In The Mall: Designers and Mentors in front of Francesca's Collections store in the Manhattan Village Mall: Manhattan Beach, CA--Episode 10 "Crossing Teams" Project Runway: Under The Gunn

This week on Lifetime Network's "Project Runway: Under The Gunn", each Mentor has two designers left on our "teams". Therefore the producers decided to do another "Team Challenge" in which each team would consist of two designers, each of the designers from different mentors.

The challenge was to design a three-look group for Francesca's Collections,
the retail partner/sponsor of "Project Runway: Under The Gunn". The
location for the "Challenge Introduction" was the Manhattan Beach
location of Francesca's in the Manhattan Village Mall near Los Angeles.

So, let's get to my weekly "Nick's Take"/Inside Dish on this episode...

 "Nick's Team": Designers Natalia Fedner and Oscar Gracia-Lopez--Episode 10 "Crossing Teams" Project Runway: Under The Gunn

My designers Natalia Fedner and Oscar Garcia-Lopez were paired with a designer from another mentor. When Tim got that dreaded black velvet button bag out, I knew EXACTLY what was happening. In last week's episode, Asha was not very nice to Natalia (along with most of the other designers and two other mentors) unofficially becoming the leader of the "Under The Gunn Mean Girls" group. Therefore, it didn't take a brain surgeon to know that these two were definitely going to be paired up.

Cross Mentoring Caucusing: Mentors Mondo Guerra and Nick Verreos with deisgners Asha Daniels and Natalia Fedner--Episode 10 "Crossing Teams" Project Runway: Under The Gunn

There was never a direct statement that we, as mentors, could "cross-breed" in terms of offering mentoring
advice to the designers who were not ours. I guess that was all depending on the mentor. I was very
careful with this --remember, I have already been labeled by Tim Gunn as being "too hands-on!" and since Mondo has a very strong personality and we had just come off of his ranting about Natalia the previous evening, I decided to try and stay calm and level-headed. In other words, I was more of a "quiet" mentor here and
frankly, just afraid that Mondo might come at me again and blame me if
anything bad was going to occur with this pairing of designers.

 Think Young and Cool: Oscar
Gracia-Lopez, Shan Keith Oliver and Nick Verreos at Francesca's
Collections, Manhattan Village Mall--
Episode 10 "Crossing Teams" Project Runway: Under The Gunn


Oscar Garcia-Lopez was paired with Shan Keith Oliver
and I was much more comfortable with this pairing. I still had
hesitancy in how to give my mentoring advice to Shan--not because of him
but because, just like with Mondo, I didn't want Anya coming at me as
well. My only concern with Oscar was that I had heard "rumblings" from
Tim that his looks were possibly "Too Couture" and maybe verging on looking  too sophisticated for the market, so I wanted to
make sure to give him direction to THINK YOUNG, cool and hip.

Oscar/Shan Critique: Back in the FIDM Workroom, the Critique went well with Oscar and Shan and I was happy that they were working quite harmoniously, almost finishing each others sentences in a great Ying & Yang sort of way. I let Anya do most of the talking but also added my "Nick Two Cents" while being cautious and "Socratic".

Nervous Smile: The Critique session for Asha and Natalia was a little different; the smile you see on my face in the photo above betrays how cautious and nervous I was. I knew that Natalia was still being smack-talked by the other mentors and designers; I knew she felt horrible, belittled and her self-esteem was at a low point. Frankly, I wasn't feeling too cute myself .

Unhappy Pairing: Mondo immediately took over the critique, pointing out Asha's discomfort with the pairing and you could definitely feel that Mondo thought Natalia was the "Weakest Link" here and the reason for any doom that might occur in the pairing. Mondo's very direct demeanor made Asha more nervous and naturally did not help Natalia.

I do remember asking Asha during this critique, if
Natalia's "nervous behavior" was spilling over onto her and making her tense and edgy. This was not in the final edit of the critique session one saw in the episode but trust me, I remember asking her. It was my way of subliminally telling Natalia to try and relax and not get shaky and nervous.

I did not want to step on Mondo's toes and offer any of my advice on Asha's designs other than suggestions on making the three looks be more cohesive. At one point, Mondo (and Tim) just LOVED this rust-red trim Asha was using on the top she was making. But to me, it looked "whickety-wack" and "too-mucheey". I definitely knew that I hadn't seen anything like that at the Francesca's store and it was for a good reason. But since Mondo and Tim adored it, I just kept my mouth shut. I don't remember a "What do you think Nick?" question coming from Asha. So, that was my overt sign to leave her alone...with Mondo. It must be said, however, that Asha was always very cordial with me during all of this.

I Believe In You: Because I could tell that Natalia was struggling with confidence after her recent experiences with her fellow designers, I tried to turn my attention to being a support system for her. I tried to give her the strength to survive this challenge and be mentally and physically strong. I wanted her to know that I was THERE to support her 110%, and as I said in the episode, be her "Biggest Cheerleader". On the same note, I was not coddling her in terms of her design and construction. I liked the pink dress she was making--it was cute, young and very Francesca's, but I pressed her on making the garment look FINISHED and not to overwhelm herself with too much, especially with all the "noise" around her. She was also making a pair of shorts to go with Asha's dashiki-like top, so for her, she already had a lot on her plate.

Day of Runway:

Doing Good: The Oscar/Shan pairing was all good. The day of the runway, they were all but done, and in addition my designer, Oscar, took Shan's jacket and completely self lined it, HAND-SEWING (!) the lining into Shan's jacket. Originally it was lined in muslin and Oscar was like "NO!", and decided to take it upon himself to make Shan's look more finished and better...for the team!

Still Stressed: The day of the runway, Asha and Natalia were still at odds and frazzled. I continued to encourage Natalia to make sure her pink dress was complete (it was, except for a few fit issues) and that she finished the pair of blue shorts she was also making. I remember saying "Just finish those shorts!!"

Runway Time:

Oscar Garcia-Lopez and Shan Keith Oliver's Looks--Episode 10 "Crossing Teams" Project Runway: Under The Gunn

Overall Chic: Shan did these fabulous overall/shorts worn by Meredith (left) as well as the coral crochet shorts on Janica (right); Oscar made the blue cropped mock-neck top on Meredith (under the overalls), as well as the zip-up coral crochet vest on Janica. These looks were young, cute and very Spring.

Going to Capri: Oscar designed and created this gorgeous easy-breezy cotton printed maxi halter dress. Aleksandra worked the runway beautifully. The dress was finished impeccably (of course). Oscar was especially proud to point out to me his "special" baby hem; after he sews this perfect 1/8" baby hem, he then does something with his hands to "flutter" it. Notice on the photo on the right above how the hem has these pretty fluttery waves.

 Oh, and yes, he WON with this dress which was put into production and sold at Francesca's

And yes, I was soooo proud of Oscar that I started crying like a little baby! I was so overcome with emotions (especially after just losing Natalia--see below) that well, I lost it (sorry!)

Asha Daniels and Natalia Fedner's Looks--Episode 10 "Crossing Teams" Project Runway: Under The Gunn

Flirty and Strappy: Natalia made this dress which was in a printed and textured heavier cotton. I thought the design was flirty, young and cute. Originally, Natalia wanted to use her "weaving" technique (similar to what she did in the "Unconventional Beach Party" challenge for the back straps, but I suggested that she should make it simple and not overwhelm herself with more work; I told her "How 'bout just doing self spaghetti bias straps" in the back instead. She did and I think the back turned out beautifully! She did have problems with the torso and bust part of the dress, and every pucker showed.

Dashiki Superhero: Natalia also made the light blue shorts worn with Asha's  top. I thought Asha's top was not good and worse than Natalia's dress. While Asha's dashiki would NEVER be sold at Francesca's (trust me!), at least Natalia's pink dress (and cute shorts) would.

Over It All: Sitting onstage, watching all the looks come down and knowing that both Asha and Natalia were on the bottom, my view was that Asha should have gone home, and was probably going to. But the minute she was asked by Tim why she should still be there, and began sobbing, I immediately looked at the judges and they were all crying as well. I knew that Natalia was done. And Natalia knew it as well. I truly believe she was "over it" and had reached her limit. She was respectful and had grace under pressure. I commend her for it.

So proud of you Natalia! xoxo