January 26, 2008


This week the designers had to create an iconic look that captured the "Levi's spirit". Oh, and they had to construct it out of Levi's 501s. Not half as interesting as the icon challenge in season 3.

Before we look at the results, let me give you some background on our friendly sponsor, Levi's jeans. Levi Strauss, was born and raised in Buttenheim, a small town in Bavaria (Strauss is the German word for (a) ostrich and (b) bouquet, i.e. they are homonyms). The whole family emigrated to the United States, where two of Levi's brothers had started a tailoring business. In the 1850s Levi started a business in California, selling clothes to gold miners. His speciality was a canvas overall, made of a durable material that came from Nîmes, France. It was called "serge de Nîmes" and this name was then contracted to "denim", which is now of course considered an English word.

I've been to the house where Levi Strauss grew up, now a small museum. It looks like this:

I'm not sure if the blue details were originally part of the design...

Back to our challenge. I was quite bored with the outcome. Most designers delivered simple tube dresses, which are a look that I find practical for dressing Barbie dolls only (easy to get on, easy to get off). It reminded me of early seasons when sleeves and pants were practically never seen on the runway. Quite a letdown after last week's extravagant couture/avant garde looks.

My favorite look this week was Christian's motorcycle jacket/superskinny jeans outfit. Not only was it well made, it also had some spunk (am I the only one who thinks that the "Levi's spirit" is not best embodied in a dress?). The judges called it "very innovative" and a "brilliant job", but they didn't give him another win. Christian himself was adorably unbearable, as always (Chris: "It's so cute to see youth!"). He's bursting with ambition, and isn't that what the show should be about -- showcasing young talent?

To my surprise, Ricky won with one of those tube dresses, and not the best-constructed one. Let's make up a word for it and call it "peccable". However, the judges couldn't find fault with it and praised its "spectacular tailoring". They stressed that finally they could see Ricky's lingerie-tested skills. Well, I couldn't. Whatever that tells about my undergarments.

Rami's dress, certainly more impressive than Ricki's, was particularly praised for the innovative use of zippers at the seams. Obviously, this detail was reminiscent of the zippers on Jeffrey's finale dress in season 3.

Another garment that received praise was Sweet Pea's patchwork dress, which, although several steps up from a denim wedding dress (her original idea), still didn't look iconic in any way to me. Easy on, easy off, Barbie-style. I couldn't really see why it didn't receive the same criticism as Chris's dress, another short, sleeveless number, which came across as "dated" and "boring".

The real shocker, however, was that the two garments with the lowest scores were Jillian's and Victorya's. Hadn't they just created a spectacular look last week, as a team? Yes, and apparently they used up all their creativity for that challenge. They both went for coats again, but with less time, fewer hands, and decidedly un-couture fabric. The results were slumpy and sad, and suddenly they were faced with the fact that one of them would be out. Between the two, Victorya's garment was even less inspired (and certainly not iconic in any sense of the word) and she had to go. It almost looked as if she wanted to be out. Goodbye, V., I'm not sure we will miss your mopiness.

We now enter the stage of "no immunity". [Originally (14th century), the concept of immunity referred to freedom from public services or charges, from the Latin stem "munus" (= service). ] Let's turn up the fierceness! [From Latin "ferus" = wild, untamed]

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