Saturday, October 30, 2010

Week 1 in the Bridal Industry? Success!

I don't know what took me so long to move into this industry, but I think it's where I'm meant to be! Every day this week, I've been up to my eyeballs in the most fantastic, beautiful, ethereal, spectacular, dreamy, frothy, sparkly, amazing gowns I've ever seen. And these gowns are not just beautiful to look at, they're amazing to touch. The silks are pure decadence- dupioni, taffeta, organza, satin, charmeuse- these are all fabrics I've worked with in the past, but mostly in synthetic form. If I did choose to work with a silk in the past, it was often for a small project because that's all I could afford of the more expensive fabric. For example, the most recent collection of bow ties that I made for Brance included two silk ties. Those were my favorites of the bunch, partly because of how they looked, but mostly because of how they felt when I was working with them. Now imagine yards and yards of that fabric billowing out over a full-skirted petticoat. I'm in heaven. Heaven.

My background in theatre and styling has really prepared me well for the work at the bridal shop. Understanding silhouette, proportion, fit, etc. are all second nature to me, so I'm able to focus on the nitty gritty of their procedures and policies for handling each situation. For example, today I took a woman's measurements for her bridesmaid dress, which as you can imagine, was remarkably simple for me to do. But the process of ordering her gown through the computer system? Well, let's just say I had to call in some back-up. At thins point, I'm still learning a new software system that tracks every aspect of the brides purchases, including what accessories they've also purchased and even what they've selected for the bridesmaids. We also sell Mother of the Bride and Mother of the Groom dresses and even some flower girl dresses. It certainly keeps things interesting with all of that going on.

I hope to have lots of fun stories to share with all of you very soon, but don't worry- I'll still be posting about other things like shopping, my outfits, my tips and tricks, and of course, Shoesday Tuesday. I was a little disappointed that more of you didn't participate in my interactive Twitter #ShoesdayTuesday, but there will be many more opportunities for that in the future. Maybe even THIS Tuesday- check back to see!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Project Runway Season 8 Finale Part II -- The Live Blog

So after soaking my fingers in ice water for a week, I am back and ready to tackle the second part of Project Runway's Season 8 Finale.

Last week's finale was a bit of a disappointment in my mind. There weren't many surprises, and the producers didn't even try very hard to mislead us on who was getting Auf'd. I mean Tim Gunn actually singled Michael C. out and told him not to choke at the same time he told the other designers to carry on on their "fabulous trajectories." If that wasn't a neon sign of foreshadowing, then I don't know what is.

There was some drama at the end when Michael completely broke down in the green room, but after 88 minutes of the mundane, that wasn't enough to save it. Here's hoping this week's part II will go out with a bang.

Despite last week's lack of drama, the season overall has been quite memorable. We've had big egos (Gretchen, Ivy), out-sized personalities (Casanova), sob stories (Mondo, Michael C.), accusations of cheating, and backstabbing, backstabbing, backstabbing. This week's showdown features one of the most successful designer's in Project Runway history (Mondo) versus one of it's best villains (Gretchen). It's reminiscent of Season 2 when Santino Rice was a thorn in the sides of Chloe Dao and Daniel Vosovic. That season, the dark horse, Chloe, emerged the winner over the uber-talented Daniel V. and the uber-eccentric Santino. Could Andy pull a Chloe and come from out of nowhere tonight to beat the favorites?

It'll come down to the runway show, and based on last week's three-look preview Mondo has the inside track. But all three designer's left last week's runway promising to surprise the judges. Who will come through on that promise? The answer will likely reveal the winner.

More to come...remember the liveblog starts right here at 9pm Pacific.

Last week we got a glimpse at three looks from each designer's runway show. Two they made in advance and a third design made especially for last week's show. Let's take a look at the remaining designer's three pieces for a preview of what to expect tonight. (For larger images of each designer's runway go here.)


The judges loved the third look and were very impressed that Andy created it in such a short time frame. In fact, that third look is quite likely why Andy made it to Fashion Week because the judges essentially dismissed the bikini, and had little to say about the first piece, which I said looked like an alien space suit. The real problem here is a lack of range or any sort of cohesion. It's hard to imagine these three pieces as part of the same collection. Beyond the sheen of the fabric and the eyebrow-raising shortness, what connects them? Furthermore, try to imagine what other pieces a woman who owns all of three of these garments would have in her closet. It would be a What Not to Wear field day!

Andy's greatest strength, but also his biggest weakness is his youthful willingness to take chances. The problem is that this leads to a lack of focus and inconsistent results. Will he be able to pull it together for tonight's runway, or will we see many different looks walk down the runway without any sense of story, style, or cohesion?


These three outfits look more like an ad for the strappy heels each model is wearing rather than the clothes themselves. Look at how versatile my shoes are! I can wear them with anything, and I do mean anything! (Or in the case of the third model, almost nothing.)

Nina said these looks lacked "oomph," and she's right. The dress is cute from the front, but is a mess in the back with a "tail" that connects to the shoulder straps. And the rough-textured material looks more Little House on the Prairie than New York Runway.

The jumpsuit is actually separates, but the tailoring makes the model look hippy and the cropped, tapered pant accentuates the problem. Where is this model going? The look is too casual for business, too homespun for a night out, and too dressy for a trip to the grocery store. At least with her similar (and winning) jumpsuit look from the second challenge she made her intent clear by choosing a classy navy blue and adding a plunging neckline that left no doubt about where the outfit should be worn.

The third look is the only one that interested Nina, and did make the biggest statement on the runway. The problem is that statement lacked pants. At least, unlike Andy, I can see how these looks fit together and there's some range here. And with Gretchen's styling sense, a complete collection featuring these looks could really pull together.

The question is if she can shake the "granola" vibe enough to wow these cosmopolitan judges. (Wild card: Jessica Simpson is the guest judge tonight, and the Dukes of Hazzard star might feel right at home in these country chic fashions.)


By far the most cohesive and enjoyable collection last week, Mondo sent the message that he is the designer to beat. However, these three looks were hardly perfect. You've got to worry about a collection where the "best" look the designer shows is the cute, but tame first look here. Yes, it's Mondo's signature mixed prints, and the bag does have a silk-screened "Day of the Dead Clown," but this is hardly a showstopper. It's more like the transitional look that comes between the sexy party look and the jaw-dropping evening gown.

The third look was quite the eye-catcher, but not necessarily in the good way. Nina felt it crossed the line between fun and excessive. Mondo has been a master all season at toeing that line without actually crossing it, and he'll need to be careful tonight if he wants to stay in the judges' good graces. But he'll also have to show them something new. Mondo's style is well-known to them by now, but the finale is often about taking it to that next level.

Mondo said he saved some surprises for the judges, and he'll need them if he wants to win tonight.

The next time you hear from me will be at the first commercial break. See you then starting at 9pm Pacific!

Time for "the toughest decision in Project Runway history!" Welcome to the Project Runway Season 8 Finale Part II -- the Liveblog!

We're starting the day before the Runway, and appropriately hearing from Gretchen--the woman of a million opinions.

The designers are enjoying breakfast together when they get a not telling them that some special friends are waiting for them at Parsons...and surprise! It's the other contestants! It's an ambush reunion!

There's hugging and laughing and happiness. I want daggers and evil eyes! bring it!

We start by getting a runway retrospective of Andy's work. Including his fabulous ribbon dress and the stunning resort wear swimsuit. But it's not all happy for Andy--remember his Jacquie Kennedy pants disaster?

Andy ends with some teary-eyed words about what it would mean for his family if he wins Project Runway. Awww.

Back to the group for some updates on post PR life--Peach has a big gay following, Valerie was proposed to, and Casanova learned "a lot of English."

And then suddenly, it's drama! Is Gretchen a bitch? She says no, but quite a few cast members aren't on her side. Ivy says her tears are fake, but Andy and Mondo both come to her defense. I'm sorry Gretchen, but the evidence is stacked against you.

Which brings us to the Gretchen retrospective, starting of course, with her back to back challenge wins to start the season. Honestly, if Gretchen hadn't won those two challenges, I think that she might not have been quite so insufferable. Her truly bitchy moments came after her head swelled too big to fit in the diary cam after winning those first two challenges. The video ends with her Times Square billboard and some of the few seemingly genuine tears that Gretchen has shed. She is a good designer...good enough to win?

Michael C and Mondo bonded throughout the season--here's some cute shots of them hugging and with arms around each other in the green room. That's sweet.

Now it's Mondo's turn. We get a series of first impressions during which Michael Drummond eloquently says he's a "weird guy." But of course, nearly everyone agrees. Mondo says, "I feel like if you're misunderstood, then you have something really good going on." Words to the wise.

We get to see Mondo's three-in-a-row winning designs (a Project Runway first, btw), capping it off with the HIV+ revelation from episode 10, possibly the best moment in 8 seasons of Project Runway. Mondo had a viewing party for that episode that raised $8000 for gay youth in Colorado. No matter how hard I try to be unbiased, I will be rooting for Mondo.

Now we get a montage of funny moments from this season which includes several sexual innuendos. The chemistry this season really was great, whether it was laughing, bitching, backstabbing, or designing. Project Runway is usually one of the better reality shows for crazy personalities, but they really nailed it this year.

"I've never laughed so much or cried so hard or been so stressed or had such a crazy good time all in one experience" Valerie's parting words to end the montage. Back to the group, now all in tears--even Tim pulls out a hankie.

That wraps up our reunion portion of this finale. And Tim sends the three still in "back to the workroom." And I'm sent back to the "Post" button. First commercial break!


And we're back! Obligatory NYC landmark establishing shots before we get to the workroom.

Andy is reliving his last runway critique where Nina tore him apart. Gretchen and Andy comiserate over styling. Gretchen is thinking about changing her shoes. Good idea Gretchen. The strappy, high-heeled sandals didn't do anything for me.

Mondo worries he has too many details left to take care of, but here's Tim to save the day. Guess what designers, you can only show ten pieces, so you have to remove one. LESS work, yay!

Tim and Mondo are going over his collection. He's keeping the polka dot dress that Nina didn't like. Could be a risk. But Mondo is "treating this runway like it's [his] last runway." Go Mondo!

Andy has MORE THAN ONE bathing suit??!! What was he thinking? I know he's from Hawaii, but the runway is still in New York last I checked. Tim express his concern over one bathing suit that looks like it's half-wookie halloween costume. Tim is concerned it looks like hair is growing in questionable places, but Andy can't see it. Open your eyes Andy! It's right there in front of you.

Gretchen and Tim conference on how to make her looks more rich. Her major critique was that her work looked inexpensive. Nina said it was granola and Michael Kors said it needed to be granola deluxe. I'm not sure you can make it work just by changing their shoes and hairstyles Gretchen. We'll see.

Before I post I must add a quick comment about Fairy Job Mother...the auf'd designers need jobs--enter a bitchy british woman (cuz the British do bitchy sooo well!) to "help" them. This has a high probability of hilarity. I mean...think about Casanova, Ivy, and Valerie...oh yeah, this has potential.


Tim introduces the weekly L'Oreal, Garnier, and Piperlime commercial. But now we have TEN models to get made up. Even bigger commercial!

Tim tells them he thinks they are all winners. Aww, Tim you're so sweet, but there can only be ONE!

In the makeup consultation we find out Andy is sticking with his antennae from last week. I know he put a lot of work in those, but I'm not convinced they do anything for his designs.

Time for fittings. Mondo agonizes over which designs are staying in. He admits to having some designs that are "breathers." I'm not sure that's a good strategy. With only 10 looks every design counts.

Back in Makeup, Gretch wants her models to walk though the Sahara. Umm, Gretchen, you know the Sahara is a massive desert, right? The Sahara is a little more than sunkissed.

Andy doesn't know who's going to wear what, but he's okay with it. Mondo shares that three models didn't show up. That could be a problem! Those looks won't walk themselves down the runway you know!

Back in the apartment, the three designers have a quiet night reminiscing over the past season. We get flashbacks from the first episode. These designers really have come a long way and have reason to be proud. The final diary cam of the night has each designer explaining how badly they want to win. Mondo chokes up. He's been very even keeled all season, so to see this emotion is a big deal. I hope he's not losing it the night before the final runway!

Okay, we're promised a runway show after this commercial!


3 AM. UGH. But adrenaline is a powerful drug. The designers are quite chipper as the head for the runway at Lincoln Center.

Gretchen tells us she's scared. You're walking around New York at night with two gay guys. You should be scared!

The designers have a moment when they see the runway for the first time. But it's only moment because within minutes they're backstage getting ready. And chaos hits early. Mondo is having a problem with the order of models and really looks distressed. Tim steps in to help and gives Mondo a pep talk. Mondo looks like a lost puppy. This is not good.

Andy is sewing some pants!? Really? Okay, I'm sure it's a small detail, but still, it feels like something that should have been done before today.

Mondo is still missing a model. He gets an alternate with short hair and Mondo is concerned that it will break the cohesive look of his runway. Meanwhile out on the runway the judges are here.

Heidi welcomes us to the runway. She's wearing a sharp cerise pant suit. She looks great! OMG here it comes!


Onto the Runway! Here's our judges including Jessica Simpson Musician/"Actress"

Gretchen is first! I'll do my best to get each piece. here goes.


1. Short shorts in a knit with a cool leather jacket. It's a strong start.

2. Long flowy hippie dress. I like its movement.

3. Shiny leather? pants with a cute jacket. It's a sharp look. So far so good!

4. Bellbottoms and a lowcut blouse.. This should have been a look for last week.

5. More short shorts. This is the first bleah look of the runway. A lot of these tops are backless. Kind of a nice edge.

6. African print dress with that tail again. A little one note.

7. The shiny blazer of questionable taste from last week.

8. The pants from last week now with a crop top. The look is better than last week, but still doesn't look expensive.

9. Shiny short shorts and a flowy printed top.

10. Very long flowy top with a Little House on the Prairie leather top. I think it's supposed to be an evening look. Fail.

Overall it's quite good, but there's not a lot of upscale look here. The two dresses were pretty casual. I'm afraid the judges will hammer Gretchen for that. We'll see.


Andy's up. And he's wearing his warrior woman pants!

1. First look is a shiny short-sleeved jumpsuit with a lime green vest. It's super sharp. Love it.

2. A sheer pant and top. It's gray. It's boring. Quite a letdown after the first look.

3. More gray, but there's some fun texture here. It's pretty.

4. Lime green shorts and a sheer tank. It's okay.

5. It's the "hairy" swim suit with a coverup that hides its faults.

6. It's an ADORABLE one-shouldered gray dress with fringe. Best look so far. Love it, even the antennae.

7. Some steel colored pants and a cute flowy top.

8. The shorts from last week with a much better top. This is much improved.

9. Green pants with a SHEER top. It's beautiful but also very see through.

10. The new look dress from last week. I still think it's about two inches too short, but it fits a LOT better in context than last week. The shiny green had potential to be blinding but the gray saves it.

Overall, the collection is very pretty. There's a couple non-looks, but overall it's an A.

Ack no commercial! Mondo is up and dedicates his collection to his grandmother.

1. It's Mondo at the Office from last week. It's still cute and very Mondo.

2. Painted shorts and a patterned top. It's sharp.

3. Mondo patterned leggings and a day of the dead clown. It's a lot casual.

4. The new look from last week. It's still good.

5. SUPER cute black and white plaid dress. LOVE the tights.

6. Neon sign top with pallettes and a pair of black shorts. Only okay.

7. Awesome plaid pants with a patent leather embellished jacket.

8. Polka dot top that echoes the longer dress.

9. Color blocked short dress. It's pink and electric blue. Really brings a pop to the overall story.

10. The polka dot dress from last week. Somehow looks better this time around.

Mondo's collection is really great. It shows range and creativity. There's a look for every occasion here. If there's a criticism here, it's maybe a little too Mondo. There's few low notes.

No surprise Betsey Johnson loves Mondo, but Gretchen and Andy have plenty of fans too. No wonder this was such a tough decision.


This is going to be a close one--I know because they told me in the commercials.

The judges overall like the show, but here come the designers to be grilled.

High praise. Every designer's voice came through. Nina says they're all winners, and Jessica Simpson wants to wear them all--but not all at once.

Andy's up first. His inspiration is his homeland, Laos. He used many materials from there. Michael praises him for not going costume-y, and he especially liked the one-shouldered dresses. But Michael felt there wasn't enough range.

Heidi didn't like the first look--Heidi is wrong, I loved it--but she did like the saucy pieces in teh middle of the show.

Nina feels like there wasn't enough of the "Andy" aesthetic. He went too soft; not enough warrior woman! Who'd of thunk?

Jessica loves the silver one-shouldered dress--she has better taste than I thought--it was the best piece of the collection.

Gretchen next. Nina says she did a "fantastic job." She praises the range of choices in all of the separates that Gretchen made. It felt like a ready-to-wear collection. Nina also criticizes the styling and the order of looks. Those are pretty minor criticisms.

Michael thinks some of the shiny leather pieces didn't fit, but he LOVES the jewelry, as does Heidi. Jessica Simpson laments the lack of a high-end piece. Wow voice of reason from Jessica Simpson!?

Mondo explains his day of the dead inspiration. Michael says it was "Molto Mondo!" I think that's good? Heidi loves it. She likes the range from the Skull T-shirt to the Color-blocked tunic. Mondo says it was based on an Aztec pyramid.

Nina likes the collection, but she does think it was a bit over the top. The embellishments make the collection look too young, she thinks. Nina wants Mondo to add more sophistication. Edit edit edit.

Jessica loves the unique vision and calls Mondo a "true designer." She admits to being obsessed with the polka dot dress. Heidi is too. Ooh Jessica Heidi catfight!

Heidi questions using the polka dot dress again, since Nina and Michael didn't love it. Mondo stands behind it. Michael praises his drama. But was it enough?

The designers give their final statement. Why should they win? Mondo is a better person because of his experience. Gretchen echoes Mondo. Andy reveals that the money would have a huge impact on his life.

I have no idea how the judges will go here.

Back in the green room, Gretchen congratulates everyone, and they all agree that it's been "a dream!"


Judges' deliberations.

How are the judges going to decide among these very different looks.

They start by praising Andy's best looks: The green dress, the silver pleated top, the one-shouldered dress.

But they think the collection was too safe. And Michael doesn't like the headpieces.

Michael likes the workmanship but in a Project Runway first, Heidi tells us Andy is "Out." Wow, talk about killing some drama!

But what about Gretchen?

The praise how well she listened to them. She accessorized well and put together a cohesive looking collection. Nina praises how current her clothes feel, and Michael likes how well it all fits together.

And on to Mondo. They love his sense of drama and showmanship. Nina singles out the plaid dress and Michael likes the tunic. But they question his ability to edit and make wearable clothes.

Heidi jumps to his defense. Oooh, Nina and Michael like Gretchen. Heidi and Jessica like Mondo. Michael says Mondo needs time...the last time we heard that from him was the famous upset of Daniel V. by Chloe.

They're divided. Nina says make them both the winner. But she does prefer Gretchen's aesthetic for being a little older. Heidi and Jessica want to buy Mondo's clothes.

Heidi seems to be able to see Mondo's looks beyond the runway. Nina says she can't wear the polka dot dress, and Heidi agrees. Nina shouldn't wear the polka dot dress.

Nina lays down the law...she says Gretchen's look is what is going to play tomorrow in Peoria. She thinks Mondo's looks are dated.

Michael thinks Gretchen's looks are now, but Heidi thinks they aren't exciting. It is still divided.

OOh fighting words. Nina: "I want to see you wear the polka dot dress, Klum!" Heidi: "Will somebody please hand me my boxing gloves!"

No wonder they said this was a tough choice. Michael says this is about finding the next great designer.

Bring back the designers!


Welcome back. Andy, Gretchen, Mondo. You are the final Three.

Time for the Aufing of Andy. Heidi softens the blow, but here it is...Andy, I'm sorry you're out.

Andy has no regrets and leaves the runway after hugs and kisses. He hugs his family back stage. I have a feeling we'll be hearing from Andy again.

Back to the runway. It's always been between these two and it's fitting that it comes down to them.

Gretchen, you have your finger on the pulse of fashion.

Mondo, you have evolved so much throughout this process. You are a master of prints.

We wish there could be two winners, but tehre can only be one... are the winner of Project Runway. Congratulations!

Mondo looks a little stunned but recovers quickly. Heidi is sorry that he is out.

Backstage, he hugs his family, and Mondo is philosophical about his defeat. He realizes how much he has grown as a person because of Project Runway. And he still feels like a winner.

Heidi comes on the runway to congratulate Gretchen. "It was a battle and you won!"

Gretchen feels like "a hundred thousand dollars!" The last few episodes have made Gretchen a little more likeable, but honestly it's hard to be excited about someone who took every opportunity to belittle her competitors and showed herself to be calculating and two faced throughout the season.

Alas, it's another Project Runway final upset.

Still. It was a great season. Bring on Season 9!

Thanks for joining the live blog! I'll be back for the next final runways...if Renee will have me!

Till then...Auf Wiedersehen!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Can't (or don't) have pierced ears? Try clip-ons!

Earrings are one of my favorite accessories, and since I've had pierced ears since I was about 8 years old, it rarely occurs to me that some people might not be able to have pierced ears. Maybe you're plagued by infections, or the holes close up quickly. Maybe you've gone your entire life without piercing your ears, but you still want to wear earrings. Whatever the reason, wearing clip-on or screw-on earrings might be the best solution for you. 

Many vintage earrings are clip or screw fasteners, but vintage style isn't necessarily for everyone. In that case, consider the many jewelry-makers on Etsy- many of them offer clip-on closures as an option. Like these: 

Faceted Hoop Earrings, TwistedBeading (Etsy), $18.90

Pink Owl Earrings, Momadonna (Etsy), $10

Owl accessories have been hot for a little while now, so don't assume that just because you're in clip-ons, the trends won't be available to you! You may have to search a little harder than those with pierced ears, but your persistence will pay off. There are plenty of options on Etsy that are already clip-ons and they're not all vintage, although many that are vintage are pretty fabulous! 

Freshwater Pearl Earrings, RingRingRing (Etsy), $20

Beruria Earrings, Leeya (Etsy), $27

Vintage Cluster Earrings, iamcameo2 (Etsy) $5

Of course, clip-ons don't have to be limited to small dangles or clusters- you can find chandelier-style earrings in clip-ons as well: 

Not all "standard" options on clothing and accessories work for all people, but that doesn't mean you can't find what you're looking for. As I've said before, you may have to look a little harder, or in some cases, pay a little more, but the options are out there. Be persistent and don't give up! 

However, I understand that sometimes you don't want to keep looking- you've found the most perfect pair of earrings, but they're pierced, not clip-on. Maybe they coordinate perfectly with a dress or outfit you've purchased for a specific event. Maybe you just LOVE them- whatever the reason, you do NOT have to walk away from them just because they're pierced. You have two options:

1.) Buy them and take them to a jeweler who can convert them to clip-ons for you. 


2.) Convert them yourself! 

You'll be amazed at how simple it is to convert a pair of earrings to clip ons, and you'll be even more amazed at how affordable it can be. Go to your local craft store and find the jewelry "findings" section. Or let your fingers do the walking and try an online jewelry finding supply store like Jewelry Supply. There are several different types of clip-ons including these: 

As you can see with the clip in the above picture, there is a loop in the front. Simply use a pair of small pliers to transfer the earring from the pierced finding to the clip-on. Obviously, if it's a post-style earring, this type of clip-on won't work, but in that case, you can try these converters: 

The instructions are on the website, The Earring Doctor and are very straightforward. Another type of post-earring converter can be found here and here. Don't be intimidated by the converters- the last three links are for converters that don't require any type of tool to convert. The converters with a loop are much easier to use if you are comfortable with small jewelry pliers and it make take a little practice working with the jump rings. I found this basic video on YouTube that offers some basic instruction. 

If you have any other useful advice for women who prefer clip-on earrings, feel free to leave a comment! 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bridal Boot Camp

My original plan for today was that I would come home from my first day working in the bridal industry and write an insightful and inspirational post all about it. That will not be happening. After ten hours on my feet in what I thought would be a great shoe choice, I am tired and my feet hurt and I can't really think about much else to say on the matter. I have a far better shoe choice lined up for tomorrow, so perhaps at the end of THAT day, I'll have something insightful and inspirational to share with all of you. 

Fortunately for me, the one thing I can talk about is how horribly my feet hurt right now and have been hurting since about 4:00 PM. I wore my black round-toe wedges today, which I thought was an excellent shoe choice. Not. So. Much. What I remember as being my go-to fall/winter standard shoe that I could wear while on my feet all day turned out to be nothing like that at all. I'm sure it's nothing that a cushion-y insole couldn't fix, but I think I'm going to give my feet a rest and stick to flats for the rest of the week. Perhaps it's the month or so I've spent at home in pajamas and slippers that has changed my high-heel stamina. After all, I wasn't even in high heels today, just a moderate wedge. I hope to build my shoe-pain tolerance back up to at least what it was prior to my move to NH, but until I do, I'm going to have to find ways to make flats work for me. 

Since tomorrow is our first interactive Shoesday Tuesday, I have decided that the first theme will be "dressy flats" for the workplace. This is of course in honor of my aching feet. You all know how much I love a lace-up oxford, but I'm not opposed to ballet flats or boots. As of midnight tonight, start tweeting along this theme and don't forget the hashtag: #ShoesdayTuesday. I can't wait to see what you come up with! 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

PodCampNH Fashion

As you know I attended PodCampNH this weekend and I have to say that if you haven't yet attended a PodCamp- DO IT. They are all over the country and they are fabulous. If you are thinking about getting into blogging, or video for the web (like YouTube), or even if you want to know how to use Twitter or Facebook to enhance your business, you will definitely learn something at PodCamp. I learned a LOT in the 2 day "UN-conference" and I'm looking forward to attending more in the future.

When I decided to attend my first PodCamp, I also decided to dive in head first and sign up to lead a session and I don't regret a single moment of it. I spent a lot of time agonizing over what to present and how best to do it. In the end, I decided I would just try to keep it simple and be myself. Everyone's advice was, "Have fun!" I figured that was a pretty great idea. Still, I left the last session on Saturday afternoon wondering if I'd made a terrible mistake by choosing to lead a session. It seemed as though all the other session leaders were not only masters of their particular field (photography, marketing, writing, etc.) but they were also incredibly knowledgeable and skilled with all forms of social media. I felt a tad inadequate that I'd only learned what it meant to use a "hashtag" about three days before the conference.

But I'd already signed up- I wasn't about to back down now. I decided to go with my original plan: just talk about my experience as a fashion blogger and how I do things and just hope for the best. At most, I hoped that someone there would realize through hearing about my story that it doesn't take a lot of money or a high-tech graphic design team or even a lot of experience to have a successful website and/or blog. But I also thought it wouldn't hurt to have presents. Everyone likes presents, right? So as I sat there during the closing comments of day 1, I looked over and saw the table full of PodCampNH t-shirts, some from last year, some from this year, all men's sizes, most bearing Large or X-Large tags. I even had my free t-shirt in my computer bag, a mens size Medium. I started thinking about t-shirts in general. I don't really have many because most t-shirts are boxy, shapeless and really unflattering. They are NOT designed with a woman's body in mind. Even men don't always look good in a basic t-shirt. Unfortunately, flattering or not, that's what the popular souvenir of any event is: a shapeless Hanes or Fruit-of-the-Loom t-shirt with a silk-screened logo on the front and a list of sponsors on the back. (I received MANY black "Local Crew" t-shirts while working at AMT. The only one I saved is my Ringo Starr one.) I know a lot of people who LOVE their collection of event t-shirts, so I'm not trying to criticize the choice of souvenir. I'm merely pointing out that as a fashion choice, it's not exactly one I support.

A fitted jersey shirt and quirky accessories, however, now THAT I can get behind. So on my way out after day 1, I asked some of the organizers if it would be all right to take a handful of extra t-shirts, even if they were from last year. The logo was basically the same, just smaller and in a different location. They were fine with it, and I found myself designing in my head on the drive home. The end result was these:

PodCampNH Bow Tie made using PodCampNH 2009 t-shirt

PodCampNH womens FITTED t-shirt made using both 2009 and 2010 PodCampNH t-shirts

The best part was seeing them on actual human beings who were more than thrilled to wear them: 
Left to Right: John Herman (PodCampNH Organizer), ME!, Carla Companion (PodCampNH Presenter)
Photo Credit: Cait Downey

As you can see from the picture above, I gave each of them away to a couple of willing participants and they quickly became very popular. I opted not to take down names and numbers of people who wanted one for themselves- let's just call these one-of-a-kind-limited-edition Bouchard Originals. Maybe next year I'll create a line of PodCamp Fashions to donate to the raffle. 

As fun as it was to see PodCamp participants modeling my goofy (last-minute) designs, it wasn't the most memorable part for me. My favorite part was talking to the participants at my session and finding out that they would enjoy participating in my weekly Shoesday Tuesday feature via Twitter. So, starting THIS WEEK, Shoesday Tuesday is now (drumroll, please)... INTERACTIVE! Don't worry- it's also very simple. All you have to do is post a Shoesday Tuesday-related tweet with the hashtag #ShoesdayTuesday. It can be a link to a shoe sale, or a picture of your favorite shoes- whatever you want, really. That's what I like the most about this idea- YOU are in control of how awesome it can be. I'll likely post a round-up of my favorite tweets each week, but I'm hoping you all get really creative and surprise me with some interesting tweets. Who knows? Maybe we'll end up having #ShoesdayTuesday contests! Oprah will call! We'll all get invited to appear on the farewell season! The sky's the limit, friends.

I'll remind you again on Tuesday- you have a couple of days to start thinking about what your first #ShoesdayTuesday tweet will be! Make a good one, a funny one, a bizarre one- whatever you like- from now on, Shoesday Tuesday is all about YOU!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


This weekend (likely as you read this), I'm attending PodCampNH and hopefully learning lots and lots about new media- what other people from other industries are doing with it, what new media I can integrate into my blog and/or website and maybe even what types of new media are out there that I have yet to discover. I also hope to be meeting lots of interesting people. 

If you happen to be one of those interesting people I've met this weekend and are checking out my blog for the first time, you may or may not have just discovered that I have a little over 500 posts to date. I certainly don't expect you to wade through them all, so I've compiled my "Top Ten Fifteen" posts from the last 16 months as a starting point for you. I hope you like them enough to continue perusing on your own and maybe leave a comment or two (or ten), but if not, thanks anyway for stopping by! 

1.) My first post- What's Your New Black?
2.) One of my first instructional posts, perhaps more relevant today than when I posted it- Recession Fashionista: How to Dress for a Job Interview

3.) A guide to avoiding feeling overwhelmed when shopping, strangely titled- I Lied

4.) The post that (eventually) spawned my Etsy shop- Lady in Red

5.) Unlike many other fashion blogs, I try to acknowledge that women come in all shapes and sizes. This post offers shopping solutions to many different body types- Square Peg, Round Hole

6.) This is one of the MANY posts where I show some amazing items from Etsy (and long before I started my own shop, too)- Fabulous Etsy Finds

7.) A fun, Tiffany's- inspired post that offers a little insight into my personality and taste preferences- Happy (Little Blue) Boxing Day

8.) One of my favorite "Rate My Look" posts- Rate My Look- Elongating Effects

9.) One of my few attempts at a humorous post- I Met Someone Today

10.) Advice for keeping it fresh- In a Rut?

11.) I actually have TWO posts that I titled along similar lines- you decide which one is actually the "BEST"- Accessories Anonymous: The BEST Accessory Ever and Best Accessory EVER 

12.) I don't limit what inspires me- if I see a rock on the ground and it makes me think of something fashionable to write about, that's great- Inspiration: Maggie the Cat

13.) Posting an average of once per day is sometimes hard to maintain, as is my weekly "Shoesday Tuesday" entry, so I do the best I can- Shoesday Tuesday- Out of Time

14.) I even admit when I'm wrong (sometimes)- Rate My Look- I'm Eating My Words

15.) One of the few posts that really shows my personal/private life- Announcement: I have BIG news!

I hope you enjoy clicking around my blog- stay as long as you like! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Getting Thrifted Clothes Clean

I spent the morning at Salvation Army with my mom- we LOVE bargain hunting and you never know what kind of treasures you can find at the local Goodwill, Salvation Army or any other type of second hand shop. I love a great bargain more than just about anything else, but I don't love how I feel so grungy after pawing through the racks. Some nicer consignment shops require the pieces they sell to be dry cleaned immediately prior to taking them, but shops like Sal's and Goodwill aren't as discriminating.

If you're like me and get the heebie-jeebies when you think about wearing another person's dirty clothes, then this post is for you. I never wear a second-hand item without cleaning it first. Even if the garment still has the original tags on it, there's something about it being on a rack next to all the other potentially dirty clothes that gets my mind reeling and before I know it, I'm having nightmares about microscopic bugs infesting my closet. Ok, you really didn't need that visual, I know, but it's definitely something you should think about if you shop second hand.

I've bought clothes and accessories from vintage and thrift shops and not noticed their smell until I was home and it wasn't until then that I realized how overwhelming it was. Of course everything I buy second hand goes through the wash, but that doesn't always do the trick. Strong cigarette smoke, body odor and even some perfumes are absolute nightmares to get out. Fortunately, I have a few tricks up my sleeve for just such a situation.

For starters, make sure that you inspect every garment carefully in the store before you purchase.
1.) Look at all the seams to make sure they are all secure and free of holes or tears.
2.) Always check out the armpits and necklines for staining and discoloration- those are the areas that will have the worst discoloration. Deodorant may keep us from being stinky, but it is not always kind to our clothing.
3.) If the garment has a lining, check to make sure it is in as good shape as the outer part of the garment. Linings on coats, jackets, pants and dresses can be close to disintegration while the outside appears brand new.
4.) Hold knits and felted knits up to the light to look for moth holes. If your local thrift shop is warehouse-style and not particularly well lit, carry a small flashlight with you to get a really good look at the garment.
5.) Make sure all zippers and closures work and are fastened securely. The last thing you want is for a button or hook & eye to fall off immediately after you purchase.

Once you have determined the garment is in good condition and worth the purchase, go for it. Have it cleaned or take it home and wash it prior to wearing. If the garment still smells musty, or has a residual scent you want to get rid of (perfume, cigarettes, B.O., etc.), then grab a bottle of- you may be surprised- VODKA. I'm not kidding. Straight vodka acts as a disinfectant and deodorizer when used on clothing and even upholstery. Simply use a spray bottle filled with straight or slightly diluted vodka and saturate the garment, just like you would with a bottle of FeBreze. (I find it to be most effective if you spray both the outside and the inside of the garment.) Hang the garment in a well-ventilated area and let it dry. The vodka kills any bacteria in the garment and when it evaporates it leaves no scent behind. In my experience, vodka has removed all offensive odors from many different types of fabrics and textiles. In extreme cases, I've had to apply it two or three times before the smell would go away entirely. In those cases, it was usually the smell of stale cigarettes that was the culprit.

If a garment I see in a thrift or second-hand store has any kind of stain, I will always pass on it. Generally, the stains are old and set-in and I don't consider it to be worth my time to try to get it out. I would rather move on and find something that is stain-free. Occasionally, however, I won't notice a stain until I get home. In that case, I try to determine what it is and go from there. I posted a few months ago about getting different types of stains out. You can view that post here and apply the various methods to the stain you've found. In other cases, I may find I've stained a vintage garment myself. Usually it's that I've managed to get lipstick on the neckline or my foundation has rubbed off somewhere. In that case, I want to get the stain out, but because the garment is old, it's more delicate. I don't want to just spray it with Shout and toss it in the wash! That's when I go to the shower and pull out my clarifying shampoo. It doesn't have to be an expensive brand- in fact, I've had success with both White Rain and Suave brands in the past- usually they cost around a dollar or two at the most for a pretty large bottle.  To remove a stain using clarifying shampoo, simply take a damp washcloth and a small amount of the shampoo and massage the stain in a circular motion, allowing the shampoo to foam up a bit and continuing the motion beyond the stain. Rinse the area thoroughly and repeat until the stain is gone.

These tips can of course be used on clothing that has not been thrifted, too. Happy thrift shopping and cleaning!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Project Runway Season 8 Finale Part I -- The Live Blog

Though I have read and participated in many live blogs, this is the first time I've tried my hand at such a venture. Bear with me as I try my best to keep up with the twist and turns of tonight's Project Runway--If all goes well it should be a fun and snarky adventure, and if I crash and burn in a haze of sequins and puckered satin...well that could be exciting too.

Tonight's questions are many: who will need some extra Tim Gunn inspiration? Who will need to "make it work?" Will Gretchen redeem herself after a season of arrogance by appearing normal and likable with her family? Will Michael C. be able to design without Tim as a sounding board? Will Andy actually use a suit of armor for his new collection of warrior women, or might he find a softer side? And how did Mondo's family react to the revelations in episode 10. (Apparently he used the episode as an opportunity to raise $8000 for gay youth in Colorado with the help of Michael C. Good for you Mondo!)

Before we get started, let's take a look at each of the remaining designers, and because I live in Las Vegas, where odds are put on everything, I'm going to do a little handicapping on each designer's chances of winning. It's only my opinion of course, so by all means let me know if you think differently in the comments!

First up, Michael Costello:

Wins: 2 (Episodes 4 & 6)
Chopping Block: 4 (Episodes 5, 9, 10, & 11)
Best Look: Episode 4, "Hat's Off to You" Took a difficult inspiration and nailed a coordinating look without being too literal. Both the hat and the dress shine in Michael's first winning (and most deserving) win.
Worst Look: Episode 10, "There's a Pattern Here" Failed to showcase his own textile pattern in a dress that was Renn Faire up top, underpaid secretary down bottom in a narrow miss for elimination.
Should win because: Michael has shown the most willingness to take criticism and grow with each challenge. He might not know the technical aspects of construction, but his raw talent is undeniable.
Won't win because: He's mostly raw talent. He's not formally trained, and it shows too often. Michael's inability to edit himself consistently is bound to come out on the final runway. Expect a collection of beautiful clothes that lack focus or an overall narrative.
Best Moment: Michael C.'s spot on (and hilarious) impression of Michael Kors critiquing his Statue of Liberty-inspired dress before the runway show.
Odds of winning: 8-1 I expect Michael C to be in the final 3, but only as the "wild card" the judges seem to like to include in the finals. (See: Wendy Pepper, Santino Rice, and Mila Hermanovski)

Mondo Guerra

Wins: 3 (Episodes 8, 9, & 10)
Chopping Block: 1 (Episode 7)
Best Look: In a season of many great looks, I'll give it to his Jackie O inspired look in Episode 8, "A Rough Day on the Runway" by a hair over his HIV+ inspired ensemble in Episode 10.
Worst Look: Episode 7, "What's Mine is Yours" Mondo's overly adolescent take on resort wear was his only Runway miss of the season.
Should win because: He's been the most consistent and innovative designer. No matter the challenge, Mondo comes through with a look that wows the judges nearly every week. He's been in the top 3 a whopping 8 out of 12 challenges. His three wins are the most of any designer this season (and the first time a designer on any season has won three times in a row.)
Won't win because: On Project Runway, nobody is a lock. Several times the season's strongest designer has been surpassed on the final runway by a different designer who used the break to recharge creatively and wow the judges at fashion week. (See: Jay McCarroll, Chloe Dao, Jeffrey Sebelia, and Seth Aaron Henderson)
Best Moment: Coming out about his HIV+ status on the runway in episode 10 provided one of the most moving and poignant moments in Project Runway history.
Odds of winning: 2-1 Mondo is the designer to beat, and a win would possibly cement his status as the best Project Runway contestant ever...even over Episode 12 guest judge Christian Siriano.

Gretchen Jones

Wins: 2 (Episodes 1 & 2)
Chopping Block: 3 (Episodes 5, 11, & 12)
Best Look: Gretchen wowed the judges with winning looks in episodes 1 and 2, but it was her cropped faux-leather jacket and Tina Turner skirt made from party store supplies in episode 3, "It's a Party," that really showcased her skills.
Worst Look: Gretchen's bossy personality got her into trouble with the judges in episode 5, but it was her safe and uninspired skirt and jacket--when the finals were on the line in episode 12, "We're in a New York State of Mind"--that should have almost got her auf'd.
Should win because: Gretchen's obviously a talented designer. She's only been seriously in danger of being eliminated once, and she's made a reputation as the best stylist of the season. With a long break to design her runway collection, Gretchen--who was obviously creatively drained by the final challenge--should have the time to recharge her batteries and find the designer who made Project Runway history by winning the first two challenges (and almost the first three.)
Won't win because: As strong a designer as she is, Gretchen seems stuck in a beige hippie box. She'll need to show more range if she wants to compete with an innovator like Mondo. Plus, the villain rarely wins on Project Runway; the judges keep them around long enough to create drama in the finals, but don't like to hand them the $100,000. (See: Wendy Pepper, Santino Rice, and Kenley Collins)
Best Moment: Hard to pick one for the acid-tongued and pretentious Gretchen, but her tears upon seeing her mom in episode 10 seemed genuine and gave this season's villain a much-needed shred of humanity.
Odds of winning: 3-1 It seems likely that given the time to design an entire collection, Gretchen will find herself and her voice again and the judges will be reluctant to leave the only remaining woman out of the finals. Whether her collection will surpass Mondo's is a bigger question.

Andy South

Wins: 2 (Episodes 3 & 11)
Chopping Block: 3 (Episodes 5, 8, & 10)
Best Look: Episode 7 (What's Mine is Yours) The only thing more stunning than Andy's resort wear bathing suit and wrap is that he didn't win the challenge. I expected nothing less from the Hawaii native.
Worst Look: Episode 10 (There's a Pattern Here) Andy blamed this unfortunate look on the visit from his mom, but I blame it on a boring pattern and lack of color, fit, or styling.
Should win because: Andy is the youngest remaining designer, and his youth makes him willing to take chances. He'll need to break out of his warrior woman aesthetic if he hopes to win it all.
Won't win because: Andy's youth has been as much of a liability as it has an asset. He's seemed creatively limited at times, unable to think outside of the box he's created for himself. His taste level has been suspect.
Best Moment: Andy's win in episode 3 with a dominatrix dress made from black bows gave the designer the confidence to make it to the finals and ended Gretchen's insufferable run to start the season.
Odds of winning: 10-1 Unless Andy comes up with an entirely new concept for his runway collection, I'm afraid the judges will think his design (and his ability) have played out.

Finale starts on the West Coast in about 50 minutes. See you then for what is sure to be an eye-opening start to the Season 8 Finale!

Welcome to the Finale Part 1. From here on in we'll be treated to visits from Tim Gunn at the designers' homes, a preview look at their collection in progress, and then a final runway that will determine the three finalists.

Here comes Heidi to greet the final four. She's wearing a gray dress that's really quite subdued for Heidi. She often saves her flashiest looks for the final runway, but this is low-key even for the initial runway greet.

Tim tells the designers they will be back in six weeks. That seems short. That's a lot of look in a short time. But the designers all seem confident; I guess when you have gone through the Project Runway gauntlet, six weeks seems like an eternity.

Tim Gunn visits Andy first. He really does live in Hawaii! I'm surprised though, because Andy's home isn't pretty like Hawaii's supposed to be. In fact it kind of looks like a dump. He even lives with catfish, which Andy says look like Chinese men, but Tim Gunn shrieks and says he's "never seen a Chinese man look that unattractive!" Does Tim Gunn have a secret thing for Asians?

Tim meets Andy's family and they have an outdoor lunch of what looks like traditional islander food. Andy even cracks a coconut using a machete--yikes!

Andy admits to being worried about only having two weeks left. I knew that short six-week time frame would be a problem for at least one designer. Andy starts bringing out his materials, and wow! he has all sorts of beautiful crystals and metalwork jewelry. If he uses them judiciously this could really work. Tim lets him know that too much look could be a hot mess, and knowing Andy that may be where we're headed.

Next visit is to Michael C. in Palm Springs. Guess what Tim? Palm Springs is hot. Now you know.

Michael introduces Tim to Richard. Who is Richard? I've thought all along that Michael's previous marriage was a beard, and now I am starting to suspect I was right.

As usual, Michael has made more looks than he can use on the runway. He has 12 completed looks and 6 reject looks. It's "Design Diarrhea!" Tim exclaims and tells him to "STOP designing! It's time to edit." I'm shocked that Michael C. needs to find focus (not!). But at least what he shows Tim is mostly complete and looks interesting...much better than what Andy had.

At dinner, it is revealed that indeed, Richard is Michael's partner, and that Michael's parents haven't always been supportive of his life. Aww, Michael has a sob story too! No wonder he and Mondo bonded!

All right, first commercial. That was a lot before a commercial break! POST!

Next up Denver. And Mondo! I can't wait to see what Mondo has to show Tim. But before we get to his workroom, the first thing we see is a PINK living room. OMG, it's blinding. How will Tim be able to see his designs?

Mondo starts explaining his inspiration. He's using his Mexican neighborhood and some Day of the Dead motifs as well as clowns and the circus. That feels like it could really fit with Mondo's aesthetic. Ooh...there's an adorable black and white plaid dress in the back. Show us that!

He shows Tim a Day of the Dead Clown--terrifying, but somehow very Mondo. Tim doesn't seem to like the hot pink pom-pom embellished top that Mondo pulls out next. I'm skeptical too, but if anyone can make it work, Mondo can.

Finally--lunch with Mondo's family. I've been dying to find out their reaction to his outing. At dinner his family seems jovial and proud of him. His mother admits trying to make him more macho, and his dad wanted him to play sports. Mondo explains that he went along with the sports so he could take piano lessons. How cute. It was a trade-off and he has no regrets. It looks like Mondo has made peace with his family and I am happy for him.

Next, Tim heads to Oregon to visit Gretchen. We meet Gretchen and her mom (does she have any friends besides her mom?) packing up her house.

Gretchen tells us that since returning from Project Runway, her relationship has failed, she has no money, and her life is in shambles. Next thing we know Tim is giving Gretchen relationship advice--wow, now that's a Project Runway first! Despite Gretchen's headbutting with Tim during the show, she says she missed him and she wouldn't share her pain with anyone besides him. Next Lifetime reality series...Tim Gunn's Relationship Help!

On to the clothes! Gretchen's inspiration is rural cultures from around the world. Tim seems confused by some of her pieces, and frankly, so am I. Her work room looks like a thrift shop. A high end thrift shop like Buffalo Exchange, but a thrift shop nonetheless. Can Gretchen pull a cohesive line out of that mishmash? I'm not confident.

The lunch with Tim is the shortest of the lot. Gretchen's mom tells Tim that Gretchen is a control freak (duh!) and that's about it. There's no other deep revelations. Gretchen doesn't come across as obnoxious as usual, but maybe when she gets back with the other designers the sparks will fly.

Okay. Commercial. POST

Mondo is the first designer back in New York and he greets Michael C. with a running hug. They really did forge a strong friendship during the show! Awww. Mondo asks if he scared Michael, and Michael says, "No, but your pants scare me." Sure enough, Mondo's skin tight multi-colored leggings are eccentric, even for Mondo.

Next Andy walks in with hair down to his waist. Michael says he looks like Pocahontas meets Naomi Campbell. Hopefully he doesn't beat anyone up during the show--we alreadt know he knows how to use a machete.

Gretchen's entrance is subdued, but surprisingly pleasant--hugs all around. Before long, Tim shows up carrying the infamous button bag. The designers are terrified, but then Tim reveals the bag contains vacation getaway trips provided by Hilton! Wow, what a welcome back gift. That's another Project Runway first. I guess they felt bad for giving them only 6 weeks to design.

Finally we get to the workroom! Let the sniping begin. The first jab comes from Mondo towards Michael C and his 20,000 ruffles. They're friends, so you know Mondo means well. Besides, he does have a point.

Now Tim shows up with a real twist that we all knew was coming. The designers have to show two of their looks on the runway and then make a third one in the next two days. The three looks they show will determine who goes to Fashion Week.

Mondo has trouble deciding what he needs to add. Tim's advice: do a riff on something you already have. Sounds like a plan.

At Mood, Andy selects a shimmery green fabric and explains that pleating the fabric will give it extra depth. I'm worried that the judges will need sunglasses to see it.

Back in the workroom, Mondo starts a form-fitting jersey dress that combines a color-blocked Mexican motif in aquamarine with a brown stripe. It's not hideous, but it's not up to Mondo's standard, and he peels it off the dress form saying he will start again. "Yet another day wasted in a two-day challenge." Hopefully Mondo can get it together tomorrow, because not having Mondo in the final three is NOT an option.

Commercial 3. POST

Day two in the workroom starts with a check-in from Tim. Michael is as indecisive as ever. He can't decide which two completed works to show. He must have had a favorite. This is Michael C.'s biggest problem. Will it be his downfall?

Gretchen is much more confident. She knew what she wanted to add, and she knew what she wanted to show with it. Tim agrees with everything she says (maybe for the first time ever this season) and lets her be on her way.

Mondo shows Tim his failed jersey dress (Tim agrees with his decision to trash it). Then we see a cute checked skirt with a patent leather detail (wouldn't be Mondo without a patent leather detail!) It's cute, but Gretchen thinks it looks too subdued. She may be right, but then again knowing Mondo, a subdued look is just what his collection needed.

Andy shows Tim the acid green dress. It's not as bad as I thought, covered in scalloped waves of pleating, but it's a lot of design. Tim thinks it's amazing that Andy made the pleats in such a short time. In fact, it's amazing that Andy's collection is as complete as it is. The boy can work fast.

Tim's pep talk is two-fold. He tells Gretchen, Mondo, and Andy to "Carry On on this fabulous trajectory!" But then he turns to Michael C. "Don't Choke!" Yikes. Michael C. must be even more lost than we thought.

Suddenly it's day 3. Michael admits to *still* not knowing what looks to show. He may be in serious trouble. Then again, this may be the producers red herring to throw us off.

The designers take their models to the L'Oreal Hair and Makeup salon. I have mixed feelings about the extended makeup sessions we've had this season. On one level it's cool to see how the designers make their styling decisions. On the other hand, if I hear "smokey eye" one more time, I might take that eyeliner pencil and give you bloody eye instead!

Now we hear how much getting to Fashion week means to each designer. Usually weepy Michael C. is the only one who doesn't come close to tears. Is his investment the same as it was when he was here before? I'm wondering if he feels like he has already proved himself just by making it this far. If he's lost that drive, Fashion Week may be auf wiedersehen.

Commercial. POST

Back to the Runway. Heidi is wearing a black dress that almost looks a tunic and tights. The top is matte black with no detailing at all. I'm surprised. After her first look, I was expecting the volume to be turned up to 11, but this is pretty quiet.

Andy's looks are first down the runway. His model is wearing an alien space suit complete with antennae. I don't hate it, but it's not my taste. It has a ruffled collar that saves it for me. The next "outfit" is actually a swimsuit. Andy proves that he *can* make a beautiful swimsuit. This one isn't as stunning as the resort wear challenge look, but the gauzy "cover up" does make it feel elegant and sophisticated despite the lack of material. His third look is the green dress. This model has antennae too. And the dress feels out of proportion. The skirt is too short for the pleated top. Andy says he loves the look, but I don't buy it. The only relation to the other two looks is the sheen of the fabric. I'll be interested to hear what the judges say.

Next up is Michael. His first look is the new dress, and wow, my first reaction is love. It's off the shoulder free form with a beaded strap that gives just enough embellishment. It's loose and flowy without being shapeless, and for once Michael seems to have nailed the color. The next look is an enormous feathered skirt. The model may as well not be wearing a top because the bottom is so distracting. Michael Kors gets saucer eyes trying to digest it. He recovers quickly, but Kors' look says it all. The last look is a sequined/scaly/palletted (?) pant with the stringy top Michael showed Tim in Palm Springs. It's reminiscent of the 70's, and not necessarily in a good way. The three looks do show a lot of range, but the bronze-y color palette is old by look three. Michael may be in trouble.

Gretchen is third. Her new look is a fun sun dress. I think it's cute until the model turns around and I realize she has a tail. The second look looks like Gretchen's attempt to combine prints a la Mondo. She failed. The two prints are too similar to work together. I had to look three times to decide if the model was wearing a jumpsuit or if it was separates. On top of it all, the fabric just doesn't look expensive. I don't hate the look, but I'm shocked this is one of Gretchen's best looks that she thinks will get her to Fashion Week. The third look is a shiny sport-coat/bathrobe thing over a bathing suit bottom (?) It doesn't appear the model is wearing anything under the jacket, and there's quite a lot of cleavage. This doesn't feel tasteful. I'm a little shocked, frankly. Right now I can't even predict whose going home. Inevitably the judges will love one of these designer's looks, but I can't figure out who it will be.

Mondo's looks are last down the runway. The first look is a mix of black and white prints embellished with pink. It's cute, but not a showstopper. It's like "Mondo at the office." The second look is his reclaimed jersey dress. He definitely salvaged it. The model is not wearing a bra, and the clingy top makes this clear, but overall the look is sexy and surprising. He dressed up the subdued skirt with the bright blue jersey from the original dress, and for me, it works. The final look is a polka dot, full-length sleeve of an evening gown. It's extremely optical, and quite eye-catching. I feel like the judges will like it, but they may feel like it isn't anything they haven't seen from Mondo before. I'm biased here, but Mondo feels safe to me. I'd be shocked if the judges don't put him in Fashion week first.

On to the judging. Heidi calls each designer by name and lets them know that one designer will be out. Critiquing looks takes a long time. I'm behind! POST!

The judges decide to critique the designers one at a time. Mondo is first. Talk about the hot seat.

Michael Kors loves the new skirt and the top from the "office" look. Heidi loves the dress. So far Mondo's getting almost all positive comments.

Uh oh. Nina LOVES the boldness, but she thinks the dress may be too much. Michael supports Nina's opinion, but it sounds like they like it overall. Mondo promises they will be surprised by the rest of his collection. Michael says that's what they want to see. Based on these comments, I think Mondo will get a chance to surprise them.

Andy is up next. He explains where his materials came from and his inspiration. The judges jump on the new look green dress. They are surprised it's the new look. They like it, but they point out a lack of range among the three looks. The judges want to know why he didn't show them more than two evening dresses and a bikini. Andy says he didn't want to give it all away...Andy Andy Andy...Fashion Week is on the line! You should have known better.

Michael is up next. He explains he wanted to show range with a gown, the skirt, and the pants. Michael Kors singles out the gown. Heidi loves the string top. Nina hates the one-color palette. I knew that lack of color would bite him when I saw his three looks come down the runway. Heidi finally talks about the elephant in the room--the hideous skirt. She says it looks "bedazzled." Ouch. The judges don't hate the clothes, but he has the same problem as Andy. Not enough range especially when it comes to color.

Gretchen says her three looks are essential to her collection and reveals she also designed the jewelry. Gretchen says she wanted to show the judges just enough to pique their interest. Nina immediately jumps in: "My interest was *not* piqued." Oops. She says it feels a "little crunchy granola"--well, duh, this is Gretchen and she *is* from Portland. Nina's favorite is the shiny jacket, but overall there's not enough "oomph." Heidi actually likes it. That surprises me, because I can't see Heidi wearing any of this. Michael Kors doesn't think it looks bad, but it doesn't look expensive. Gretchen claims to have higher end looks in her collection. So why didn't she show them!

The designers are dismissed, and now it is time for the judges to deliberate. Based on the comments I think it is between Andy and Michael for who gets Auf'd. Mondo seems safe, and I suspect the judges will be willing to see Gretchen's more expensive looks.

Heidi feels "bad" for being mean. Aww, c'mon Heidi, that's why we love you. Michael complains that Gretchen's looks were granola but needed to be "granola deluxe"--he must mean the kind with dried fruit and M&Ms in it!

Nina feels that Mondo needs a little bit of Gretchen in his looks. Now that's a scary thought.

Michael Kors is using future tense when talking about Mondo. Yep. He's safe in Michael Kors' mind. But not so Michael C. It sounds like Heidi would have liked to see three Michael C. gowns rather than what he showed. Michael Kors laments that Michael C. lost the simplicity of what made his looks so good during the season.

Nina sounds sad when she talks about Andy. She obviously likes him as a designer, but hated today's looks. Will the judges rely on what they know about Andy or judge simply on these three looks?

It's between Andy and Michael C. when the designers are called back out. But of course: commercial. POST!

Back on the runway Heidi starts by softening the impending blow by complimenting them all. But...

Mondo is safe! Heidi cheers him on as he leaves. "Yay!" she says with child-like glee.

Gretchen is next...and she's safe too. "Remember that your clothes are going down the runway," Heidi warns as Gretchen walks off.

Now it's between Michael and Andy. Gretchen and Mondo commiserate. Who will be safe? "It can really go either way," says Gretchen. And she's right. I have no idea what to expect.

The dramatic music starts back on the runway.

da-duh da-duh da-duh. Andy you did yourself a disservice. Michael the monotone color scheme really worried us. da-duh da-duh da-duh.

Andy...congratulations. You're in, and you're showing at Mercedez Benz Fashion Week.

Michael is in tears. Andy is too. He gets a hug from Gretchen in the green room, while Michael is left on the runway. Andy expresses guilt for taking the last spot, but he was deserving. Michael was unfocused the entire time in New York. His inexperience showed when he couldn't even decide what to show the judges. Shouldn't those decisions have been made before leaving Palm Springs?

Michael barely keeps it together as he leaves the runway and then completely breaks down in the green room. And it's Gretchen who is there to comfort him. Ironic.

Michael laments having to tell his parents he didn't make it. "I tried so hard!" and I can't help thinking he tried too hard. If he had put up three gowns like his new look, I think he'd be in the finals.

Tim comes in to play therapist, but Michael is inconsolable. Gretchen expresses her concern to the diary cam that she's worried for Michael. But I think he'll be fine. He's learned so much, and he's always been open to learning more. If he keeps that attitude, he'll be fine.

The designers say their goodbyes and Mondo says how proud he is of Michael. It's a touching moment.

I really liked Michael. I wish him well. And for the remaining designers: next stop Fashion Week!

Whew! The end. POST!
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