Ra'mon-Lawrence Coleman, in town from his new home in New York, had the most relevant, stylish collection of the bunch. His stunning orange gown with a high slit at the back thigh was best-in-show and the drape, bold color and asymmetry were all quintessentially Ra'mon, though the African print jacket he paired with it looked a little dated and thrown-on. (Apparently, the jacket was added to satisfy the solar panel requirement.) I didn't notice the beaded shoulder until looking at photos now, and it's quite a lovely, exotic detail.
His sustainable look is a another perfect example of Ra'mon's signature aesthetic: a classic, figure-flattering silhouette rendered in pretty fabrics, which a lent an edge by giving a slightly disheveled and asymmetrical look to it all.
For his upcycled look, Ra'mon played with artistic colorblocking. Despite the unusual shapes and gathers, I think it is an unusual, eye-catching design - especially when looking at the textures of the fabric up close:
Niki English's was my initial choice for the winner. She wowed with a trio of looks that pushed the boundaries of what would be considered wearable, and of the designers, most fully lived up to the challenges. Her strongest look was a neon tie-dyed dress with two metallic side panels and a black, shiny yoke, which worked to satisfy the challenge (upcycled fabrics) while exhibiting Niki's signature futuristic, gothy edginess and pushing the boundaries.
She wasn't quite as successful with her bodiced dress outfitted with a jutting, sculptural, tulle-filled skirt. Though the bodice was gorgeous, my only criticism would be that she perhaps took her designs too far, incorporating too many elements into one piece.
Once again, for her sustainable fabrics challenge, she perhaps over-designed a bit, meshing tons of multi-colored fabric with L.E.D. lights. The look could have used a waist, and all that folded fabric ended up making the (very thin) model look a bit thick. But of the designer, Niki seemed to push design a bit more and really put on a show, which seems to be the point of a design competition. More is better than less in this case.
Project Runway season six contestant and local darling Christopher Straub won the competition with three edgy, architectural looks. Surprisingly, they were more McQueen than the ruffly, cute looks he's better known for. That's not to say the looks weren't well-designed - I particularly liked his printed denim bustier & leggings (though on the fence the froo froo underskirt) for the upcycled challenge - but they didn't seem very Christopher.
In fact, his unusual materials look couldn't be more McQueen (spring 2010 specifically) with its insect-like bodice and detailed, graphic print.
The same went for his sustainable fabrics look, which was edgy yet organic. I do love the fabric selected for the dress, which appears to have a bamboo print. In the end, I shouldn't have been so surprised that Straub won - the three looks are all well-constructed, cohesive and satisfied the challenges. But the looks have been done before, whereas it seemed like at least Niki English was reaching for something more, and Ra'mon showed innovation while staying true to his unique aesthetic.
For her upcycled challenge, formerly-local knitwear designer Allilamodie (now based out of Chicago) showed a chic, oversized knit sweater over skinny leather-looking pants - a strong streetwear look to be sure, but it didn't exactly say "design competition." Based on the strength of her design portfolio on her website, it does seem like the designer is upping her game as of late. She may be one to watch when it comes to chunky, ready-to-wear knits.
[Photo via Art of Wore]
For her unusual materials look, she selected an intriguing "fabric," the metallic material she used appearing scale-like and creating interesting movement as it went down the runway. It wasn't clear what materials were incorporated, and that's one qualm I had with the show - information regarding materials from what each piece was crafted wasn't provided. As for the design of the dress, I don't think it's particularly flattering, and the back had some extremely strange fringe on the shoulders:
New-to-Minneapolis designer Tara LaTour's bridal-y dresses were cute and well-constructed but pretty safe. (Apparently, she is best-known for her bridal designs.) And in white and off-white shades, they faded into the background amongst the other more highly-designed pieces other designers sent down the runway.
Apart from being rendered in awful-looking fabrics, this hooded look is also quite strangely designed. Who wants to wear a vest that is only open to expose the breasts?
Their upcycled look was sort of pretty (if impractical) with its flowing chiffon half-train and bodice with short-shorts.
Click here for more photos by Jules Christman.