Project Runway’s Under the Gunn spin off had a Steampunk Challenge on the February 27, 2014 show. For those unfamiliar with this show, it was spawned from the glittery loins of Lifetime’s Project Runway. In this incarnation, notable mentor Tim Gunn (the fashion world’s silver fox) helps three Project Runway Alums to mentor their own designers… yes, it is just like that.
This week they open the episode at Travel Town in Griffith Park. If you are a Steampunk and in Los Angeles “GO THERE!” It’s just a hop, skip, & jump to the Autry Western Heritage Museum.. go NOW.
Standing beside one of the steam trains at Travel Town, the designers are told they have an ‘avant garde’ challenge with the genre of fashion ‘Steampunk.’ Avant garde is the challenge that has stumped many a designer on the show, mainly because what is ‘fashion forefront’ to one person is not for another. Throw in the added concept of Victorian Retro-futurism and holy steampipes, Tim Gunn… you have some confused designers.
They’re given $300 dollars for fabric at Mood and TWO WHOLE DAYS to finish an outfit. (So far in the earlier six episodes they have not had such a luxury).
They’re set free on a table full of parts and clocks… to pull pieces to use in their designs.
But you can tell that earlier on, this may be a tough challenge for some of the designers. Some of them are excited about the challenge as they like the Steampunk ‘look’ and some have no idea.
One of the designers said they’d seen it before but just hadn’t known there was a name. Hey, that sounds like some of us… huh?
Early on, Natalia talks about ‘functional’ fashion and components and I’m happy. I know she’s going in a good direction.
During the middle of the show when they’re showing the construction and mentor critiques is confusing at times and sometimes my teeth are grinding together. I’m not sure that two days is enough. What I feared happening was the idea that oh look shiny stuff, throw this on! When I’ve talked to Steampunks about their outfits there has been a considerable amount of thought that has gone into their looks. And being part of the culture, they’ve had the chance to look around, research, play, experiment… stuff you just can’t do in two days, especially if you aren’t familiar with the source material.
When it’s time for the runway show, I’m confused about why they have the ‘same’ judges. Project Runway has had guest judges and celebrities before. The week prior they had the Costumer from “Pompeii” come in as a guest judge, but this week there is no such ‘extra’ judge sitting on the panel. No Steampunk fashionistas available? I highly doubt it, but then again, who to pick from the thousands of amazing Steampunk fans?
One of the judges likens the experience to Paris Couture. I’m not sold on it… but I’ll give you my takes on some of the outfits and you can let me know what you think… why not have some fun? What do you think?
Asha’s dress has some of the silhouette of Victorian fashion, but the neckline strikes me as odd along with the white lace-ish narrow skirt.
Stephanie’s dress was called ‘costume-y’ and they mentioned that it looked like Disney, but here’s where I shrug…
Her belt looks like an exaggerated version of a Medici belt from the Civil War Era.
So really, is it costume or just the judges not really knowing historical fashion? It really comes down to (like every other week) the subjective POV of the judges. Especially when one calls the belt a ‘Mr. T’ belt.
Oscar’s outfit was panned earlier by another designer for looking too much like a Saloon Girl… okay, obviously they haven’t really seen much of the Wild Wild West… but we’ll pass on that for now. A judge mentioned that the clock at her center is a bit too spot on for them, but they loved the draping and the hat.
I totally agree that the man is fabulous in construction and I want the hat… NOW… err, please. But then again. I kind of like the clock where it is because Oscar mentioned how the shape and look of the dress was inspired by the train. And yeah… it kind of looks like the front of the train with the hardware there.
Natalia’s dress is inspired by the concept of a “Time Traveler’s Mistress” – the girl in me says.. Why can’t SHE be the Time Traveler? But that’s just me.
She has engineer’s for parents and something must have rubbed off on her because using clock parts she has literally created a workable pulley that lifts both sides of the front half of the skirt to reveal her underskirt. Way cool.
She has now earned some points with her mentor and the head of the show. Go girl! I also appreciate her whole outfit. I like the shape of it that brings to my mind the silhouette of a Victorian Era outfit.
There was one outfit that confused me on the dress form, but once on the model, I think I got what he was going for…
the dystopian future that brought to mind Boneshaker’s fashions. 😀 Sam’s would have had more of my support if he’d chosen a different kind of goggle. But that’s just my personal choice.
I think this next outfit created by Nicholas was more suited to a Mad Scientist creation with the tubes and metallic fabric. The outfit brings to mind a lab coat patchwork that would make Tim Burton proud.
Another creation, this one by Michelle. I loved the stained glass look of the collar and the coat has a great flair to it in the back.
I do, however question the hair ‘tower’ they created for her head. Not quite sure I can forget that one. It must have given the model and horrendous headache. Poor thing.
The next design is from Blake, who described his inspiration as controlling time, wrapping around her. The outfit looked like pieces of different items of clothing sewn together and a bunch of gears and metal pieces sewn or glued on. I think with more time it might have become something with more ‘clarity’… is that the word I’m looking for? Yes, I think so.
The last design was created by Shen. It is the outfit that WON the challenge. I’m not sure if I completely understand why it won. I was hoping to be more excited by the look of it, but perhaps its just not my idea of avant garde Steampunk fashion.
So… tell me… did you see the episode? What did you think?
Which outfits floated your dirigible? Which ones sank your submarine?
How many days would you think a Steampunk challenge should have had to create complete designs?
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