Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jillian Lewis: 'I will create a fashion empire'

One more week and we will know: Is she in or is she out? We checked in with Selden native Jillian Lewis to find out her latest thoughts on Project Runway and even find out – sort of – what she’s wearing to the finale party.

AB: You really looked radiant on last night’s episode, did you feel good?
JL: I felt really good. It was the sunniest New York day, the East River was blue and I felt good about everything. I was back to being healthy because the regular part of the series was so stressful it took the humanity out of us. I had gained all the weight back (she lost 8 pounds) and it was shot around Christmas time.

AB: So you brought Tim Gunn to Long Island. Did you drive together? And how long did it take?
JL: We drove to Long Island in a Saturn, there was traffic and it took an hour and a half. Normally it takes about an hour but it was rush hour and there was a lot of traffic.

AB: Well, that’s nothing new. Was Tim antsy?
JL: Tim was totally cool about it. He’s so nice and low maintenance.

AB: Tim seemed really comfortable with your family, what did they think of him?
JL: Oh my god, they were so excited. Everybody was definitely star-struck. They wanted to brag about Tim Gunn coming to my house. My father is so shy that we didn’t even put a mike on him, but he was talking to Tim. He wore his “My Daughter’s On Project Runway,” hat. My mother had it embroidered for him and he wears it all around town.

AB: How was Tim?
JL: He was so sweet. He really liked everybody. He’s just an easy person. When I meet person I forget their names. But he would call people by name and not have to ask anybody’s name twice. He just has such great manners and is so lovely.

AB: So are you, as your mother’s psychic predicted, the famous child?
JL: I don’t know. I wonder is this fame, or is this being lucky enough to be on a show that documents my talents. This is just the beginning of my life, I can’t get comfortable with this fame stuff, the autographs, and it feels fake still and doesn’t seem real. There are benefits. My friend was able to get reservations using my name. I just feel it’s not really it yet. Maybe I know it’s reality TV --people come and go. I’m not insulting the experience. Now my life is completely changed and so different, and I’m getting really nice feedback. Before I walked around anonymously and now people know who I am.

AB: I actually almost felt you said this for Newsday, the thing about all great American designers coming from Long Island…Michael Kors and Donna Karan and Jillian Lewis. Do you think you’ll end up there?
JL: I know I will. I’m not trying to be conceited, but I know I’m going to make it happen. I’m a very determined person and when I want something, I’ll get it. I will create a fashion empire.

AB: I want your true reaction to Chris’ human hair fringe.
JL: I didn’t feel comfortable with what Chris was showing. I just think it’s not nice to put hair on a woman’s body. It was like saying that she’s an animal, she’s not evolving she’s devolving. I was reading it was hair growing out of the back of her body. Though I though some of his other work was really nice.

AB: Rami seemed really panicked pre-runway presentation. Where you all there for him as a support system and do you think you helped him get through it?
JL: That was the edit. He wasn’t at all panicked. There was plenty of time, more than enough time. He needed it to be perfect. We’re the brother and sister act, we worked together a number of times and I wanted him to be in the final three.

AB: What is the most important thing you’re taking away from this experience?
JL: The exposure and the feedback, that was for me the main focus of the experience. The best compliment I could have received is, ‘I want to wear what you make.’ As a designer, it all comes down to dressing people. I’ve gotten the momentum and a collection people will recognize.

AB: Have the stores been in to see the Jillian Lewis, Inc. fall collection yet?
JL: All the buyers are in Europe right now. I’ll probably show it the second week in March. It’s a little late but I felt like it was missing something and I really filled in with passionate pieces.

AB: OK, well, our Newsday gang is coming to your finale party and we’re really looking forward to it. So what are you wearing?
JL: Every time I have an event to go to I have to make something so I’m still deciding. I was going to make the pleated pants, but my boyfriend told me they made my hips look big which I appreciate. So what I’m thinking right now is very wide legged pants and an off the shoulder tissuey blouse. We’ll see.

- Anne Bratskeir

Episode 13: Designer duel

So here we are, after 13-weeks we have arrived – almost — at the final episode. Last night father hen, Tim Gunn, makes home visits, and we learn who, between Rami and Chris, wins the last spot in the final three. Of course, we already know that Christian and Jillian clinched awhile back. And let’s not mince words, Rami takes it. Chris is out.

But lets start with home visits. It’s a good thing that Christian is about 5’2” because he lives in one of those Hobbit-sized apartments in NYC. Each night he lays a skinny mattress down on his closet floor which, by day, doubles as his workroom. It is incredible that this kid has developed such sophisticated work in this pint-sized space. Tim warns him that some of his looks are costumey – “a lot of look,” -- and he takes note.

Next up, it’s Jillian’s glam NYC pad with miles of view, and her sophisticated set-up. “All of the great American designers are from Long Island…Michael Kors, Donna Karan and…Jillian Lewis,” says our girl. Inspired by her challenge at the Metropolitan Museum, Jillian looks to 15th Century armor and works to combine femininity and strength. Tim likes it. It’s “really compelling,” though he feels it has a “cloudy day palette.” And, Long Island, guess where Tim goes next? To Jillian’s house in Selden where her whole brood is hanging including her hunky boyfriend/business partner. Her mom reveals to Tim that she saw a clairvoyant before she was married who told her she would have three children and one was going to be famous. Yes, indeedy.

Onto Los Angeles, where Rami has a real showroom. We learn that the guy was a closet designer until 12, that his mom, a beauty, was Miss Jordan, and that he’s inspired by Joan of Arc. His collection, he says, celebrates the female form. Tim thinks some of it is a little heavy duty (he comes close to using the f-word).

And there’s Chris, who calls his collection sleek and dark and daring, “95% fashion, 5% costume.” Some of it causes Tim’s “gag reflex to kick in,” because Chris uses a lot of human in for real. It’s scary. But Chris is into the idea of beauty with a quirk though to us it's more like beauty with a scalp. Now don’t get us wrong, we think Chris is fab, and some of his work on the runway was really terrific – but the hair…yikes.

On judgment day, Jillian assists Rami, and Christian help Chris prepare. And the judges seem pretty impressed with both collections – Rami, for his commercial viability and the line’s organic qualities, and Chris for his usage of unusual materials (uh, yeah) and creativity. And in this challenge, well the judges were pretty kind though Michael Kors called one of Chris’ looks, “a velvet condom.” He exits like a gentleman – “I really didn’t expect all the love the universe would send my way. Would I do it all again? Yes.” And then the maniacal laugh.

Jillian will weigh in with us later today, and next week, Newsday is going to the Tresseme finale party where we’ll hang with all the players and bring every juicy detail back to you. – Anne Bratskeir

Tim Gunn's real take?

I'll play $27 to hear Tim Gunn's actual thoughts after walking out of Chris March's friend's place. No cameras. No quoting, either. Tim, call us. I gotta know. I promise I won't publish your real thoughts.

- Mark La Monica

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Holla at some geographic designer lovin!

"All of the great American designers are from Long Island,” Jillian said on tonight's episode.

And the Selden native is out to prove she’s one of them. Lewis, who, along with Christian Siriano, 21, of Annapolis, Md., clinched one of three finalist spots weeks ago, is in the final stretch of Project Runway. If Ms. Lewis wins it, she scores $100,000, a Saturn Astra, a spread in Elle Magazine, and a chance to sell clothes on

Rami Kashou, 31, of Jerusalem, and Chris March, 44, of San Francisco, Calif., had a bit more stress to deal with in this episode. They waged a fierce designer brawl to claim the remaining finalist slot. It didn’t surprise us a bit that Rami trumped Chris.

Rami’s collection had “a lot of ingenuity, was organic and had commercial viability,” agreed judges Michael Kors, Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia. On the other hand, Chris, a costume designer by trade, produced several pieces that incorporated real human hair . . . scary. He’s definitely “auf.”

Who wins the whole shebang? The final episode airs March 5 at 10 p.m. and we'll be there with pens, pads and video cameras.

– Anne Bratskeir

We both got it right

Way back, we predicted Jillian, Rami and Christian would make it to the final tree. Remarkably, the readers agreed.

Then two weeks ago, we guessed Rami would beat out Chris for the final spot. Remarkably, the readers agreed, but by a narrow margin.

In our reader poll, Rami eeked by Chris, 213-208.

Now it's time for the final poll. We've asked it before, but now that we know the final three and have seen all their collections (in these videos), we can make educated guesses instead of random guesses.

Who's gonna win? Vote in the poll on the top right part of this blog.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Episode 12: Designer Reunion

“Gather round designers and let’s have some fun,” may have been the directive for this week’s fluffy, air-filling “Designer Reunion,” show, where aufed designers and finalists chewed the fashion fat with Heidi, Tim, Michael and The Nina. This was not scintillating TV to say the least, mostly because there was a distinct lack of chemistry in the room and lordy, we’ve waited soooo long for the end. That said, there were a few stellar moments:

1) The outtakes of Michael Kors uncontrollably cracking up at the WWE Diva’s ensembles. Kors is one cool cat, but he just lost it and it was infectious and fun to see.

2) “The Crying Game,” starring Ricky, of course. We don’t even think he realized that he was such a crybaby on the show, but the composite proved the point. “I didn’t realize I was going to cry like a woman,” admitted the Rickster. For the record, he told us recently that he makes all his own hats, and the ruby patent leather job he wore on the show was created about a month ago. Did somebody say Village People?

3) Heidi’s fairly raucous imitation of Chris’ crazy laugh and the ensuing takes on it.

4) Again, Heidi, and even dignified Tim’s attempted outing of Kevin’s true sexuality. As you may remember, Kev’s claim to fame was that he was the only straight guy on the show. Finally, Kevin concedes, “Maybe I was gay in my former life.” And Tim says, “If being on Project Runway doesn’t turn you gay, nothing will.” Word to the wise.

5) Elisa happily accepting her portrayal as a nut job. Gotta love that girl because she is, as Simon Cowell might put it, “authentic.” The spitting, the writing backwards – all that aside, she’s sweet. Though we loved Chris’ line, “Keep your brainwaves off of me.”

Some observations: Victorya is a hater. Man-oh-man, she did not crack a smile and even Heidi told her she was uptight. Also, Carmen – ouch, we’re talking shoulders of misfortune on that horrid ensemble she wore tonight. We think and hope she made it, because it does not belong in a store. And she was grandstanding a little with her hurt feelings…enough.

Christian won $10,000 as the fan favorite – he seemed surprised. He also seemed surprised when last season’s fan favorite Michael Knight presented it to him because we’re thinking he had no idea who he was.

Finally, our Jillian. She looked fantastic in her sassy black dress and patterned tights…no? Plus, she seemed cool, calm and collected -- entirely self-assured. Hmmm. – Anne Bratskeir

Friday, February 15, 2008

Video: Heidi, Tim Gunn and Posh Spice

Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn and Victoria Beckham talk about the finale of "Project Runway" at Fashion Week.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Exclusive: Jillian Lewis dishes on 'Project Runway'

Ha! We knew all along that Selden’s Jillian Lewis would make the finals and on Wednesday night’s 11th episode of Project Runway, she easily clinched her spot, making us, and all of Long Island pretty darn proud.

So, what’s going on in Miss Thang’s head these days? Jillian takes a moment to give Newsday fashion writer Anne Bratskeir all the fashion 411.

AB: Woo-hoo!! You did it. You’re a finalist. How did you feel when you nailed it?
JL: It was so exciting. I’ve known for awhile, and it was hard not to be able shout it out to the world. For me it was a huge feat to make it to that point. I felt bad for Sweet P, though so I tried to be supportive.

AB: Guest judge, Roberto Cavalli, said he’d like to hire you. What do you think of that?
JL: It was the ultimate moment for me. I’ve worn a couple of Cavalli outfits while I’m on the show. He’s a big person in this industry and it was really cool. For me it was something I was really proud of.

AB: You did this little dance number with Christian behind the screen when you clinched it, but earlier in the show you wanted to kill him. What’s up with you and him?
JL: We’re like brother and sister, I love him. I told him during that show, “I don’t need you to monitor my progress.” I was really bitchy. He was like, “Ew, don’t be bitchy.” But they didn’t show the part where we kissed and hugged and made up. Sometimes I love him, and sometimes he’s just so annoying.

AB: Do you think the judges diminished the title at all by tying Rami and Chris and having four finalists instead of three?
JL: For me and Christian, we were really proud, because we felt like we were the final two. I hate to say it, but I was just glad not to be in that position of making a final collection and then not getting to show it. It was really a great privilege to be the only two that the judges confirmed.

AB: Did you have a victory party?
JL: Can I be honest? Because of the lack of sleep, I came home and had to recover. I’ve spent 14 hours a night sleeping for this whole week. I really needed to go out, and I missed it, so I watched it at 1 in the morning. I went to this folk-singing event, and people were like, “Oh my god, aren’t you from Project Runway? What are you doing here?

AB: We saw your collection during Fashion Week at Bryant Park. We think you had a very specific point of view. Tell us, who’s your customer?
JL: I kind of design for myself. Lauren Browne, my model is my first muse, other than myself. It came out to be a very wearable collection. It’s definitely for the fashion conscious person, someone who enjoys fashion and dressing up, someone who has the guts to wear it, and is urban or urban conscious.

AB: What was your concept?
JL: I was inspired by European armor, extending off the last challenge. I was so inspired by the experience of being in the Metropolitan Museum. Although they just showed one part, there was a lot of information in that painting to go by. I didn’t want to give up on it because I thought it had so much potential, and there’s so much interest in armor. It’s functional and beautiful.

AB: What was your favorite look in your collection? And your least favorite?
JL: I love the little dress with the silverish/bluish border and the pleated shorts and pleated pants. I was concerned about the black and white sweater with the fluffy sleeves, and that it didn’t fit with everything. At the time I thought it was weak but in the end it was my favorite.

AB: Did you plan to skip down the runway at the finale taping?
JL: Actually, I couldn’t keep up with Lauren, my model. My legs are short and she just was taking these huge strides with her enormous, long legs, and then I was like OK and started skipping to keep up with her.

AB: Did you make that cute little strapless sweater dress you wore that day? We want it and we think our readers would like it too.
JL: I have to say wearing that was one of the smartest things I did. My boyfriend [Lewaa Abdulkhalek], left his job, and now we’re business partners and that was one of the pieces we designed. I had the producer saying his wife wants one. It was inspired by a poncho that I had worn. It’s made of extra fine Merino wool in ivory and it will be in stores under the Jillian Lewis label in August. I kind of assume it will be around $498, accessible but a little expensive.

AB: Who do you think is your biggest competitor?
JL: In this case, I shift back and forth. I think Rami is amazing, breathtaking and solid and Christian is great. We all have different strengths.

AB: Is your life much different than it was before you started this whole journey?
JL: It is. I think there are good things I’ve taken out of it other than my fashion career. I’ve become more comfortable with myself which you’ll see when you see the last few episodes. When I showed up I could not have been more terrified. I am shy, and I’ve finally overcome this little battle I’ve had with myself, when I have to stand up and say something and present myself to the judges. It was a battle for myself, a personal thing I’ve gone through. Win or not, this whole experience was what my career needed. I didn’t want to be another name or tag in a store that no one cares about. I’ve got the momentum, and got the product. The only regret that I have is that I wish I was more pleasant on the show. My personality couldn’t shine.

AB: Do you think you and any of the other contestants will be friends for life?
JL: I think that Rami will be my friend for life, absolutely. And my model Lauren. And Christian, I’ve grown to love the kid, and I think he loves me. We’re like brother and sister and keep scratching at it.

AB: Do you think you’ll win the whole shebang?
JL: I was really confident. If you believe so much in what you’re doing, you feel like the whole competition belongs to you. It’s your baby, and you will always think that your baby is the most beautiful one, even if it’s not.

AB: Sorry to lead you into this but didn’t you think Newsday’s coverage of your whole deal was excellent?
JL: I think you guys really went above and beyond. My mom and dad love your stuff and you should come have dinner with my family sometime.

AB: On our reader poll as to whose collection was better, Long Islanders had you beating out Christian. Aren’t LIers are the best?
JL: Yeah -- shout out! Because of the great reaction and support of the people here, I want to make sure my clothing gets in the stores on Long Island. We really appreciate the interest and support. So many people I went to school with, I danced with have been in touch. This is really close to my heart.

– Anne Bratskeir

Episode 11: Only one big surprise

OK, so this was the episode we’ve all been waiting for . . . who was in and who was out? Who would show at Bryant Park, and who would go back to their regular lives? Five contestants left, and guess what? The judges could only narrow the finalists down to four – what a total gyp. So here they are with only one really big surprise:

- Woo hoo, our girl Jillian made it
- Christian, who won the challenge (more on that later)
- Rami

And ta-dah – the only really big surprise: jolly Chris March. It was actually a toss-up between Rami and Chris, but the judges simply could not decide. It’s such a rip. Why bother having a competition? Imagine if this were the Olympics. “Nice dives you two – yours is pretty, yours has style. Just have two gold medals and call it a day.”

Sweet P, who really lives up to her name, is out but still she got to strut her stuff at Fashion Week, even though she was faking it, because again, and we must vent, Bravo is milking this for every week they can get out of it. For heaven’s sake, next week is a “Designer Tell-All,” and the real, real final episode is March 5.

The challenge was to use masterpieces at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to inspire fashion. The designers had their choice of art from three rooms: The Greek and Roman Sculpture Courtyard, European Painting Wing, and the Temple of Dendur. Line of the night was from Chris, who when examining one of the ruins from the Temple said, “Joan Rivers carved her initials here when she was a girl.” That’s comedy.

Of course, Rami the draper went for a statue of Aphrodite, what else? From it, he created a really beautiful lilac-gray draped dress that anyone would love to own, but the judges thought lacked originality and was too much same old, same old for him.

Christian used a Spanish military painting,“Don Andrew de Andrade Y Cal” by Barolome Esteban Murilla (circa 1665) inspiration for his swashbuckling ensemble that included a white puffy blouse, bolero-like black jacket and leggings. Guest judge Roberto Cavalli saw his “love” for fashion in the work.

Jillian’s sassy little ensemble -- an equestrian-like black jacket and tiny metallic gold minidress -- was artfully drawn from “Scenes from the story of the Argonauts,” by Unknown master of the Argonauts (circa 1465). She was definitely a judge favorite. In fact, Cavalli told her that he wanted to hire her, and Heidi said her work was “ballsy.” Cool.

We did not like Chris’ dress. It looked like it had a giant, pewter-colored brain attached to the top, but the judges sort of enjoyed it. He used a dark oil portrait as inspiration, “Marie Francoise de la Cropte de St. Abre Marquise D’Argence,” by Jean Marc Nattier (1685 –1766).

Finally, there was poor Sweet P, who chose “Peacocks,” a painting by Melchior D’Hondecoeter (1683). The dress was more turkey, though not horrid, and not nearly in the others’ league.

Who wins the whole gig? We’re guessing Christian, but of course rooting for our homegirl Jillian. In the words of Bravo, stayed tuned . . . for as long a drawn out period as possible.

– Anne Bratskeir

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Jillian Lewis is a 'Project Runway' finalist

Designer Jillian Lewis, of Selden, is definitely in it to win it.

On Wednesday night's episode, Lewis, 26, handily stitched her way into one of four finalist spots (it was supposed to be three but the judges were deadlocked) on the Bravo TV hit series, “Project Runway.” She is joined in by Christian Siriano, 22, of Annapolis, Md., Chris March, 44, from San Francisco and Rami Kashou, 31, who is a native of Israel’s West Bank.

Lewis’ final challenge, to draw fashion inspiration from a masterpiece at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was one of the judges’ top two picks. Jillian chose a work from 1465 by an unknown artist, called “Scenes From The Story of the Argonauts.” Her ensemble, a black, slightly equestrian style jacket over a gold pleated minidress, had what Heidi Klum called, a “pow,” factor.

Last Friday, Lewis was one of five designers who showed a complete collection to a packed audience at the tents at Bryant Park during Fashion Week. One designer, Sweet P, 46, from Los Angeles, CA, knew she had already been eliminated, but faked it to protect the identities of the actual finalists.

Lewis’ collection that included knitwear, outerwear and short dresses, received mixed reviews from fashion critics.

The final episode airs March 5. If Lewis does win, she’ll receive $100,000 seed money for her own business, a 2008 Saturn Astra, a spread in Elle Magazine and an opportunity to sell her stuff on

Added bonus? She gets to join what seems to be a burgeoning Hall of Fame for Long Islanders who have won reality competition shows. Among them Top Chefs Ilan Hall (Great Neck), Harold Dieterie, (West Babylon) and Survivor champ Tom Westman, (Sayville). Go Jillian.

– Anne Bratskeir

Please consult a calendar next season

Sweet P is gone, and Rami and Chris will battle it out for the third and final spot at Fashion Week at Bryant Park . . . which already happened last week in real life.

Seriously, Project Runway producers, how difficult is it to look at the calendar, determine when Fashion Week at Bryant Park is, count back 12 weeks and then start the new season then? Heck, go 13 weeks and build in a re-run somewhere.

Here's a hint: Fashion Week is the same time every six months, the first week in February and the first week in September. And they're all planned out way in advance, so there are no surprises.

So why is it that all season long we hear that only three will make it to Fashion Week, then we watch the broadcast of the show (taped waaaaay in advance, by the way) that determines who will make it to Bryant Park, even though we've already been to Bryant Park in real time and we've watched all five collections walk down that runway?

There were three weeks of reruns, one in late January which made no sense in terms of scheduling. Two were during the Christmas and New Year's holidays, so that is somewhat excusable, but not really.

Quit all the "suspense" about the "final three" when you can't even figure out the calendar. This is not about maintaining the integrity of the final episodes. If you planned it properly, it wouldn't be a problem. The decoy idea is counterintuitive to what you're trying to accomplish.

Sweet P got eliminated from "Runway" this week and therefore won't go to Bryant Park. She cried about it, too. Then whose fashion show did I watch last week at Bryant Park? And what about the 3,000 people that watched our Sweet P video from Bryant Park?

Man up and do this thing right for Season 5.

- Mark La Monica

Watch the Project Runway fashion shows from Bryant Park:

Chris March
Christian Siriano
Jillian Lewis

Rami Kashou

Sweet P

Past designers' reactions

Gotta love this Siriano kid!

He's grown on me and all of us in the past 10 weeks or so. But he just locked up a spot on the Reality TV Pantheon of Outrageous Quotes:

"Every five minutes, I was ready to cut someone."

Stunning work, Mr. Siriano. Thanks for that. I will use it liberally and footnote you properly.

This time, Jillian beats Christian!

Two weeks ago, we asked you to pick the Season 4 winner of "Project Runway." In that vote, Christian Siriano edged out Jillian Lewis, 267-217.

Now that you've all seen their collections from Fashion Week, there's a new tune to be sung.

Here are the results from our latest reader poll, asking readers which collection they thought was the best:

43% Jillian Lewis (260 total votes)
33% Christian Siriano (199)
9% Chris March (58)
8% Rami Kashou (49)
4% Sweet P (26)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Video: Christian Siriano collection at Fashion Week

Collection is most like: John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, avant- garde couture meets a rock ‘n’ roll sensibility – lots of black.

What was very good: For sheer drama, this designer is the one to beat. A teacup shaped skirt with a stretchy black turtleneck, incredibly fitting skinny pants and others, looser, tailored to a tee. Ruffles in several iterations – a dress in coffee and cream colors, a scarf, a shirt with feathers, and the incredible long-sleeved gown of feathers, costumey, over-the-top but amazing.

What was very bad: Too many puffed sleeves on jackets. The fit around the body was great, but there was an ungainly, unflattering bulk to many of these.
Who is in and who is out? We predict Rami, Jillian and Christian will make top three, but no guarantees. Stay tuned.

– Anne Bratskeir

Video: Rami Kashou collection at Fashion Week

Collection is most like: Donna Karan’s shaping in years past with a touch of Zac Posen’s whimsy thrown in for good measure.

What was very good: Probably the best, most detailed entrance making gowns in the lot. One an artful gold and white, perfect fitting job and another black, textured in shiny squares, totally scene stealing. Kudos for the basket weaving technique on the olive gown and jacket. Also, a ladylike geometric print was ladylike to the max.

What was very bad: Despicable tux pants in raspberry and another bowed pair that either had a broken zipper or was just plain unzipped on the runway. A teal dress with shaped bodice was just plain bunchy.

- Anne Bratskeir

Video: Jillian Lewis collection at Fashion Week

Collection is most like: Ralph Lauren meets a flirty Jill Stuart. Amazing, classic tailoring with a definite subversive edge.

What was very good: A brilliant coat so sharp and fitted it could sell in stores now. It had a wide, angular shawl collar and was done in dark fabric with metallic pattern, and belted in red patent. There was a sleek equestrian style khaki pant with black ruffled sweater. A sexy sparkly sweater featured cut outs below the bust. Fun razor pleated palazzo pants with a corset of navy and black, were a fun evening option.

What was very bad: Truth told, we love Jillian’s ruffled coat – gray and lined with bright red – but she ruined it with superfluous cut-out holes on the arm. Several of her dresses lost sophistication because they were way too short.

- Anne Bratskeir

Video: Sweet P collection at Fashion Week

Collection is most like: Cynthia Rowley, with plenty of cuteness and a bit of gimmickry.

What was very good: A mauve sparkly peplum tunic atop a puffy sleeved gold chiffon blouse anchored with a slim pencil skirt. Also, a lovely olive green ruffle gown with a leather back bow and olive cape, and a cute sparkly strapless number with gold piped pockets.

What was very bad: An awkward striped pant suit – just plain weirdo with slim pants and a back ruffle, and many, many pockets that pooched out at the hips – who wants the added volume there?

- Anne Bratskeir

Video: Chris March collection at Fashion Week

Collection is most like: Bob Mackie (he’s a costume designer after all) with a touch of Vivienne Tam’s graphic drama. The collection was more sophisticated than we expected, but kitschy and a little scary too.

What was very good: A swanky blue halter with a silkscreened image. A satin and velvet ruby gown accessorized with a cross brooch and a black crushed velvet gown with a massive and beautiful knit scarf.

What was very bad: One scary Goth crushed velvet gown and oy vay the hair trim on many pieces. We’re not talking a smattering of goat hair – this was full out fright wigs dangling in all the wrong places. Even more shockingly horrid than the black version, was the brown. “I like to wear my hair on my head,” said “Housewives of New York” star Countess Louanne Delessepes.

- Anne Bratskeir

Video: Audience reactions

After the five runway shows for the Season 4 finale of "Project Runway" at Fashion Week, we scoured the tents at Bryant Park looking for reactions to the collections.

We found "Runway" alums Ricky Lizalde (hey, Ricky, sorry about all those crying comments), Kit Pistol, Victorya Hong, Jack Mackenrath and Malan Breton and the new queens of Bravo, the Real Housewives of New York City.

Here's what they thought.

Project Runway Fashion Show photos

While we're editing all the videos, six to be precise, have a look at some photos from the Project Runway Season 4 finale at Bryant Park. It's mostly just guest celebrity judge Posh Spice, with a few other celebs and maybe a shot of some designs.

Click the pic for pics.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Episode 10: Tacky town

There is some dicey timing going on with Project Runway. In two days, we will be sitting at Fashion Week in the tents at Bryant Park for the ultimate PR runway show -- and as it stands now, there are five designers left.

Five designers and two of them are actually already out. So will they fake it for the showing? According to our friends at Bravo TV . . . yes they will.

Speaking of fake, this week’s challenge was to create a new look for the women of World Wrestling Entertainment known as the Divas, and well, there were definitely some artificial parts on them. This is not to say that they weren’t the ultimate hard bodies and sort of sexy-pretty in that brutal way, but this was some major bosom.

The designers learn about their challenge first by listening at a closed door where the women are hooting, hollering and doing their fighting thing. “These sounds are so sexual,” says Christian. “They sound like sex moans.” One has to wonder.

Then, there’s a 30-minute consult with the Divas – one of the girls wants to look like “a classy sexpot, not a whore sexpot,” so you get the gist. The gang gets $100 each to spend at Spandex House, and not a whole lot of time. (Who even knew there was such a thing as Spandex House? Wanna go?)

So, here’s the deal: Rotund Chris, whose laugh has become more insane each week, wins with a bondage style leopard job and sequin-lined hoodie. Actually it’s fab. He says, “Of course I am winning with the tackiest challenge that we have had which I find very funny.” It’s true, though.

Poor Ricky is aufed for his orange bathing suit with gold hardware and dullard gold trapeze dress. He was clearly not the greatest talent there, but sort of a sweetie and here’s breaking news . . . he does not cry.

There were highs and lows in between. Christian was really a contender to win this one with his “ferosh” leather and lace combo. Jillian meshed sports and sexiness in her athletic strappy royal blue top with super short shorts. Rami almost bit the dust because of his vile Pepto-Bismol pink ensemble, and Sweet P was, well, strong-armed by her client, who was the tackiest of the bunch. – Anne Bratskeir

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

All cried out?

Let's review: In every episode so far on Season 4 of "Project Runway," Ricky has managed to find a way to cry on camera.

Now, when he finally gets whacked from the show (after being whacked out in our reader poll nearly every week), there are no tears? No waterworks? No "the kind of crying where you're trying not to cry?"

Makes no sense.

Michael Kors talks about Jillian Lewis

Last week, I pleaded with Journalista friend Lauren to shoot the Malan Breton show at Fashion Week so I could post it here in the blog for our dear readers.

She was all set to do it, then the Michael Kors reps gave her pre-show backstage access. Breton's show started at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Kors at 11. So, even the intrepid Journalista friend Lauren couldn't be in two places at the same time.

Nonetheless, I made her do some work for me (and for you!) for this little "Project Runway" blog of ours. I had her ask Michael Kors his thoughts on fellow Long Island native Jillian Lewis and her work on "Project Runway" so far. Watch the video to see what he had to say about fave gal.

- Mark La Monica

Meet the WWE Diva/Project Runway challenge winner

Her name is Maria. And she's smokin' hot. I'm just sayin.

Click the pic below to learn more Maria from

Video: Michael Kors Fall 2008 collection

We know you all love Michael Kors. (Our favorite judge poll question from a weeks ago helped us out.)

So here's video of his Fall 2008 collection from Fashion Week, shot and produced today by Journalista friend Lauren. Enjoy.

A look at Malan Breton's Fall 2008 collection

Remember Malan Breton from season 3 of 'Project Runway,' the example of perseverence paying off? He tried out for season 1, and... no luck. Season 2 he was offered a spot, but then turned Bravo down. In season 3 the stars aligned and he was accepted as one of the designers. Too bad he was off in the second episode.

But that is neither here nor there. This morning he showed off a new collection at New York Fashion Week's Bryant Park Salon stage.

Peep the runway photos here or below (click on the picture).

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Video: Malan Breton on his Fashion Week debut

Don't let that black bag thumbnail fool you.

"Project Runway" alum Malan Breton does a little interview with our pals over at CW11. Watch the vid.

(P.S. His debut show at Fashion Week is Wednesday at 9 a.m.)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Siriano nudges Jillian in our 'Runway' primary

There are six designers and one episode left before the actual "Project Runway" fashion show at Fashion Week.

Clearly, the math is off, as is the show's scheduling skills. So, after this Wednesday's episode, we'll have five left unless they double up and whack out two people. Why not, right? It is a WWE Diva challenge, so maybe it'll be tag team match.

Either way, the people have spoken: They think Christian Siriano will beat out Jillian Lewis for the Project Runway Season 4 championship belt.

Have a look at the poll results:

42% Christian Siriano (267 total votes)

34% Jillian Lewis (217)

13% Rami Kashou (87)

4% Chris March (26)

3% Sweet P (24)

1% Ricky Lizalde (9)

Who knows if they'll even make it past this week? Who knows if they've already been ousted and will serve as decoys? But that's what the Internet is for: rampant speculation and letting the people voice their opinions.

Now go and rock the vote at the polls that really matter in this life.

- Mark La Monica

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Elisa Jimenez shows Fall 2008 collection

She's gone, but certainly not forgotten. Elisa Jimenez, made famous on 'Project Runway' for using saliva to measure her polymorphic clothing, showed off her Fall 2008 collection at Manhattan venue Touch early Sunday morning.

Newsday scored a seat and also an interview with the designer, combined into a video, below:

Outside of the roughly two and a half minutes of posted video, some, let's just call it, very interesting (if not totally wacky) stuff went down at the show.

You want the highlights?

  • Fellow 'Runway' designer Victorya Hong sat in the front row. It should be noted, in spite of her icy exterior on the show, she was the ONLY fellow designer in attendance. Maybe 9 a.m. was just too early for the rest...

  • There wasn't a proper runway. The audience was arranged in semi-circles, the "models" walked in the center, most posing and doing some sort of improv performance or dance, before heading back out. Most likely a fashion week first.

  • Each chair had a blown up surgical glove on it with 'bless' written on it.... backwards. Turns out, Elisa only writes backwards. Each glove was meant to be a 'touch' from the designer to the audience. Hmmm.

  • The show was a theatrical representation of 'The Hunger World,' which Jimenez called a pseudo-fictitious world she started working on some 18 years ago. I still haven't figured out what this Hunger World is, but from looking at the program and speaking to Jimenez, I know that her models were meant to be 'marionettes' and 'puppeteers,' ranging from a 'Little Worm-Thing' to a 'Honey-Giver' to a 'Mistress of Tenderness.' See if you can figure out who's who in the video.

  • As a final note, Jimenez has NOT watched any 'Runway' yet, so she isn't sure if the way in which she's portrayed is accurate. Talented designer? Check. Sweet, yet a bit spacey? Check. Still hand sewing and using oils, herbs and saliva on the designs? Check. I'm going to go with.... YEA!

--Anne Machalinski

Victorya Hong's na-be Fall 2008 fashion show

Someone had a spot just to the left of the runway and had a camera there, too. Thanks to for the vid.