This week's challenge was meant to get our intrepid designers out of their comfort zone, and what better way to do that than to force them to design menswear?! Who wants to design boring old suits for men? Few, apparently, as just about all of the remaining twelve designers started hyperventilating at the mere thought of it. That is, until they realized there would be hunky male models involved. Perk! Something for everyone!
"Except Kevin," you say, "the straight guy."
Ah, but did you catch his eyes light up when he saw that they were designing on-air wear for none other than Atiim Kiambu Barber, Tiki to you and me, retired NFL great and identical twin brother to current NFL player Rondé Barber? Football, man. Straight men looooove football. And yannow, I don't know why, because it's just about the gayest sport ever. Where else do you routinely hear about "penetration in the backfield," "eyeing the receiver," "pounding the tight end," and "incredible ball handling skills?" Not to mention the numerous times I've heard, "he's a fine-looking young [tight end/receiver/
Don't the Barber brothers look darling with that cute little white doggie?
And tell me that you think this is just the most manly photo ever: Tiki in his stripy undies, looking "fierce."
Mr. Barber, now a correspondent for the Today show, asked the designers to create something that he could wear on air. Now, he's a pretty conservative guy who likes dark suits and perhaps a little texture and color in a shirt. And that's about it. Wouldn't "Neon" Deion Sanders have made for a more interesting challenge? Think of the orange or pink plaid pimp suits that could have gone down the runway! But, I digress.
Tiki also seemed to have issues with his ass and the fact that it sticks out. Judging by the photo above, I would say his thunder thighs could pose a wee problem as well.
Back at Parsons, the demoralized designers set to sketching ideas. The results were lots of blank paper accompanied by heavy sighing. The trip to Mood to purchase boring dark fabrics didn't lighten the mood at all. Heh. I can't blame them. Do you realize how much damn finishing/lining/detail work/pockets are involved in menswear? Have you noticed that former menswear designer Emmett McCarthy offers womens fashions in his NY boutique?
Now that we've hammered home the difficulties of this challenge, let's see the results.
Christian: I don't understand. Weird jacket over pajamas? Is the shirt collar asymmetrical, or was it attached wrong? Do the jacket pockets seem too low and shallow? It's Christian, so maybe that explains it.
Rami: On-air suitable perhaps if Tiki were doing commentary for the exciting world of golf, but I thought the jacket was extremely well-done, with lots of nice seaming details.
Sweet P: I'm surprised she survived this round. The collar was laughably huge and the sleeves were far too short. Michael Kors seemed to like the tie, so maybe that saved her neck. (God, I'm funny today.) I do think the pants turned out well, at least from my vantage point on the sofa.
Kit: She won kudos for making her jacket from fleece, giving it an edge while retaining a conservative spirit.
Victorya: She escaped without comment, but I think the jacket looked like part of a uniform for either an upscale bus boy or maybe a hospital orderly or bellhop. Or a hospital bellhop for a posh plastic surgery clinic in Beverly Hills. And since when is brown shoes with black a good thing? Or have they changed the fashion rules on me again?
Elisa: I was a bit disturbed that I liked this one so much. I love the vest, and also love the fact that nothing is turquoise or has torn rags hanging from it. No word if the pants are polymorphic, however.
Steven: This look straight out of a Ralph Lauren perfume ad featuring rich polo-playing boys who tuck in their sweaters and comb their hair funny. Not a bad ensemble for a skinny boy, but I think it would look a bit ridiculous on a somewhat squat and muscular guy like Tiki. Plus, tucking in the sweater would emphasize the butt, and that's a no-no in Barber-land.
Kevin: Now how is it that the straight man picks the loudest color of all? I think it's kinda great, and wish that he had been able to finish the vest with buttons. I'd love to see a finished jacket, too.
Jack: The winner, despite only having completed two pieces. Jack's tailoring was well done and the bias detail of the placket and pockets was noted by Michael Kors. Not the most interesting of designs overall, but compared to the sheer garbage that came down the runway, this was a clear winner.
Carmen: And speaking of garbage.... I expected Carmen to stick around for a few more weeks because she seemed like she had the potential for high drama at some point. But ack - the crotch on the pants was a problem, and the jacket was just not fitting the "I want to be able to wear it on-air" bill. Tiki's wife, who came on mid-show to critique the works in progress, likened it to a "Member's Only" jacket, that dated fad from the 80s. Ouch! And the blue fabric meant to stand in for a shirt more resembled a cleavage-revealing straight jacket.
Auf, baby, auf auf!
All-in-all, a more interesting challenge than the previous two, but we really need more sturm-und-drang this season, don't we?