Name in Lights

The designers use New York City as their inspiration for their looks to get a spot in fashion week.
The designers find out who's in fashion week. Photo: Still capture by Madison Brady.

New York City is where it all happens in my opinion. It’s where somebody can make or break a name, taking the concrete jungle by storm. New York City changes people, lives and legacies. Maybe that’s why writer Thomas Wolfe said, “One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years”

Yes, New York City is a place that needs decent representation.

Why all this talk about New York? Well, that was the challenge for the designers this week.

The challenge seemed easy enough: Pick something in New York City and make an outfit inspired by that landmark and get into fashion week.

Note that I said “inspired”. That was probably the one thing I didn’t feel while watching these designers stretch themselves thin for a spot in fashion week.

Walking around New York, with mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tidings, the designers head to the tourist attractions around the city. Michael Costello went to the Statue of Liberty, Andy South went to Central Park, Gretchen Jones went to the lower east side, April Johnston and Mondo Guerra went to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Maybe it’s just me, but this challenge was pretty easy for deciding who gets into fashion week. I mean, you could pick anything in the entire city. I was really surprised nobody picked the Empire State Building since it’s one of New York’s greatest symbols.

With their inspirations in mind, the designers begin to work on their pieces, but all of them have something in common.

They all used black.

Perhaps I’m crazy, but when I think New York City I think color. For instance, Times Square explodes color all over New York City. Why the designers choose to stay safe with black and boring is beyond me.

In the workroom, there is massive amounts of “huh?” happening. Andy South had central park and decided to make a modern day Matrix Revolution costume. I really don’t think Andy South went to Central Park for his inspiration. He most likely saw a hooker on the street wearing this dress and said, “Hey, I could make that fabulous.” I guess you can’t think about New York without throwing in the prostitutes. Good thinking, Andy.

Gretchen Jones’ inspiration was the bricks of the buildings in the Lower East Side. Let me get this straight, Gretchen. You were standing between the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge and you picked bricks. What happened?

Gretchen’s look is probably what I see at Kohl’s every day. Cheaply made, leather jacket paired with an ill-fitting top. Let’s not forget about the crazy cut skirt that could have belonged to my 90-year-old grandmother. I know she was going for edge and grunge of the city, but when everyone else is going for high glamour she is the odd one out. The look on the dress form was not Gretchen at all.

Mr. Prints and Color, otherwise known as Mondo Guerra, is staying safe with his cute cocktail dress. The safety in his outfit is mainly that it’s all black and he uses the same fabric he has been using for the entire season. We get it. You can pair black and white houndstooth with a black tweed. You’ve done it for the past three challenges so give it a rest.

Michael Costello is a definite win for me and we haven’t even started judging yet. His dress is a sexy draped halter with a “thank-God-I’m-not-wearing-underwear” high slit up the front. That being said, the gown was a total show stopper amidst a room of safety.

April Johnston’s dress is actually pretty fitting for the Halloween season. The black silky fabric with the strange corset top reminds me of that time I was a witch for Trick or Treat. Once again, April is cutting apart the top of her dress like she always does. This is the time to surprise the judges, but she’s doing the same thing. In short we have a predictable witch costume from Miss Johnston. The outfit wasn’t high fashion, but definitely had enough “hocus pocus.”

Now for judgment day. As the designers quiver on the runway, the judges scan through each of them asking why they deserve to go to fashion week. The judges rip apart Gretchen’s downtown girl and April’s pregnant witch costume (ouch), but applaud Michael C for his show stopping garment. Just don’t ask him what fabric he used because he has no idea.

Even though the designers got so close to fashion week, that didn’t stop one of them from going home. This time it was April.

I wanted Gretchen to go home so bad. Not just because she’s a horrible person, but she wasn’t true to her design aesthetic while April was. Is it too bold to say that Gretchen was only in because she’s a mental piece of work? I don’t think so. I think she really is there just to add drama and her unwanted two-cents.

Ready or not finale, here we come.

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