Not Martha

Fantasy Project Runway Challenge, episode 2: the one with unconventional materials

Tim Gunn in front of a pet supply store

What’s going on here? HP invited me to play along with the current season of Project Runway and sent me a TouchSmart computer to create my own designs. Along with creating designs I decided to write myself into the show. I am not doing well.

The second episode of this season of Project Runway was one of the familiar unconventional materials challenges. This time it was a pet store. I love the shopping scenes for these episodes. I also love how Tim Gunn looks even better with a real world backdrop.

Here is my design:

blue sheath dress with criss crossing leather straps on the open back

And here is how I imagine this came about:

I originally grabbed a huge amount of of colorful rubber and stuffed dog and cat toys thinking I could suspend them, or maybe make a super chic version of Flea’s pants. Or something. My mind was blank. I spent far too much time looking for a decorative domed bird cage to put over my model’s head (they only had square!). In the last moments I grabbed a bunch of leather leashes, some chain and some oversized dog beds because they seemed like safe materials to have. I worked most of the first day trying to arrange the chew toys in a way that looked good but it just wouldn’t work. I started cutting them apart hoping that a solution would present itself. Attaching them to a skirt was too literal, arranging them on a bodice looked to much like brightly colored chest hair. Tim’s analysis was grim. I was out of my mind with worry. Tim gave me advice that was the very opposite of “make it work.” I gave a frantic workroom interview clutching stuffed toys to the sides of my head.

Around 7pm I trashed everything and turned to my dog beds. I didn’t have any time to dye the fabric so I had to go with the dull blue polyester canvas. Great. I talked myself into a simple sheath dress with criss crossing leather leashes in the back. I hoped that decent construction would be enough to keep me in. I also created a fascinator with the feathers from the cat toys and I attached a pull-through chain training collar to a leather clutch I grabbed off the accessories wall and wrapped it around my models wrist a few times. Is it against the rules to permanently alter the accessories? I hope not, I had to poke a huge hole in the corner of the leather to attach the chain.

My model rocked the dress on the runway, but it was obviously a very stiff fabric. The judges thought the look overall was boring, the back detail was interesting but they took off major points for using materials that were so obvious. In the end I just barely managed to stay out of the bottom three and was safe. I didn’t even have to defend my choices and break down onstage to dramatically explain that I had started all over again.

Here is Scott‘s design:

a bulldog dressed in a floral print shirt, a striped mini and with smoky eye makeup, yes really

Use of a live animal was certainly an unconventional material, and the producers loved the drama it created in the workroom and on the runway. (The dog ran straight over to Nina’s legs and left a lipstick smeared lick mark!) Three of the four judges liked a dress made entirely from rawhide for the top spot but Nina liked Scott’s look the best. And since we know that Nina always gets her way when it comes to a standoff in the judging, he won! Twitter was buzzing. Also, he gets immunity for the next challenge.

The end.

(A note: In reality Scott didn’t misunderstand the challenge at all, he watched the episode with me. He had a packed schedule for the weekend and barely managed to find time to make a sketch. Since he was rushed he went with his very first instinct, and rightfully so since he won in my imaginary version of the episode!)

About the episode that happened in reality: I was really impressed with the ways contestants looked at the options. Do you think Anthony’s birdseed dress should have won? I liked it over Olivier’s wood shavings look, but I do understand why the judges liked that one. I also really liked Fallene’s orange aquarium skirt but I agree that paired with the browns it wasn’t shown as well as it could have been.

My go to site for smart and hilarious Project Runway commentary is Tom and Lorenzo, they’ve gathered the PR posts here. Wanna know what they have to say about Bert’s look last week? Of course you do.

A quick shout out to HP who sent me a TouchSmart computer to create my imaginary designs using ArtRage and the touch screen. Which is way fun. (They didn’t pay me any money for this challenge or for my opinions.)

There are a bunch of fellow bloggers also taking part in the HP challenge, many of whom I had the pleasure to meet at Alt Summit in the last two years. Go and see what they have come up with: Design Milk, Design Crush, Creature Comforts and Freshly Picked. Hi everybody! We’re also doing a Twitter chat during the episodes, you can find us at #ProjectRunwayHP. I’m the only one over on the West coast so I’m an hour or two behind the others, please do join me next week (9pm PST).

And one last thing, Kat at Project Project Runway put up this link to the Piper Lime Accessories Wall accessories. I’ll have to use that next week.

· comments [10] · 08-8-2011 · categories:misc ·

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bonney // Aug 8, 2011 at 5:33 am

    Also a great review:,59857/

  • 2 Lindsey // Aug 8, 2011 at 5:34 am


    I stumbled on your blog today, and I LOVE it. I’ve now notified my coworkers of the amazing things here.
    Just wanted to get that out there. Regarding this post, I always had a special spot in my heart for Project Runway. Unfortunately, I haven’t watched it a long while, as I gave up cable (because I was never home when anything I wanted to watch was on anyway)

    I look forward to your next post!

  • 3 kat // Aug 8, 2011 at 6:29 am

    I’m so laughing at Scott’s design! I love your fascinator idea with the cat toys. I can’t believe no one on the show did that.

    I thought the birdseed dress was the best but after reading the Nina said it was a rip off of a McQueen I guess I understand why she was against it.

    A couple of the Project Project Runway designers were working in the workroom yesterday & boy, this unconventional challenge can get tricky.

  • 4 Kelly // Aug 8, 2011 at 9:35 am

    your commentary is the best thing ever!

  • 5 kelly // Aug 8, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Loving these posts, Megan — your imaginary showdowns are totally cracking me up.

    Keep up the great work and thank you so much for sharing!

  • 6 megan // Aug 8, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Kat – I fear it was overdone last season (or the season before?) when it was a signature of Kenley’s. Maybe? Maybe the fascinator is *so over* that I would have been kicked off the show just for considering it :)

    Also, T&L have up pictures of the two McQueen dresses here if you wanna see. I get it but there have been other times when the judges have raved about something because it calls out something from other runways. I suppose this is why the show works, it gives us something to pick apart.

    Thanks everybody!

  • 7 melissa // Aug 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    @Lindsey (comment 2) I don’t have cable either, but you can watch Project Runway online as well (not sure of timing, but I watched ep2 yesterday so no later than 3 days after airing) –

  • 8 Jules // Aug 8, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Ok, I think the birdseed dress should have won. yes it has similarities to the McQueen dress, but let’s face it…….McQueen ripped off a once royal designer to the queens of England ha ha! If you can make me a McQueen out of birdseed then you win in my book!

  • 9 Natalie // Aug 10, 2011 at 9:49 am

    You guys are cracking me up!!

  • 10 Heather // Aug 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    I like Fallene’s orange skirt, TOO! I got what they were saying, but I kind of dug it anyway!
    The birdseed dress was insane and awesome and should have won, and it fit so much better than Oliver’s.

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