By Nadine Kam
Ari South's punk challenge design. — Lifetime photo
When it comes to state pride, Hawaii has a strong reputation for supporting its own in the national arena, so many were looking forward to seeing Ari South compete on “Project Runway All-Stars” Season 3, which began airing last night.
Unfortunately, the euphoria was short-lived as Ari was the first to exit the show, in the episode, “Punked,” an ode to the punk trend, fueled in part by Spring 2013’s Met Costume Institute exhibition, “Punk: Chaos to Couture.”
Studying the exhibition would have been helpful to many of the designers, who didn’t seem to have a feel for the punk ethos. Only Seth Aaron Henderson and Jeffrey Sebelia seem to have grown up with the punk mindset, and, though Seth Aaron’s ensemble was fabulous, it wasn’t really punk in that it was way too polished. Similarly, judges’ “criticism” for Ari was, her design was “too well tailored.”
Punk from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute's “Punk: Chaos to Couture” Spring 2013 exhibition.
Designer interpretations of punk from the Met exhibition.
The Met show noted how American punk fashion was simply anti-fashion T-shirts, denim and leather jackets, while the British style we came to associate with the punk scene grew out of the mainstreamed designer aesthetic of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren.
The designers were sent to a makeshift workroom in the basement of the MOOD fabric store with the idea of creating a crude workspace for work that was initially rough, torn and battered. I think only Jeffrey got the challenge, in that he created a messy tangle of a skirt, with an imperfect fitted black jacket with leopard collar that a true punk might have come up with by Frankensteining thrift-shop finds.
In the end, Elena Slivnyak (Season 10), won her first challenge after following her model’s advice to wear her jacket backward. That gave it a straitjacket effect the judges, including Blondie’s Debbie Harry, liked, though Elena’s colorful jacket still registered more as New Wave to me.
Jeffrey Sebelia's design came closest to the makeshift, DIY spirit of punk.
After the episode aired, Ari posted to her Facebook page: “Thank you, to all my fans and family for your ENDLeSS love and support ... And for the result of tonights episode: Too well tailored, too well designed, and too classy might get you eliminated, but they also get you into Neiman Marcus. #stillwinning #honored #grateful @projectrunway thank you for the opportunity, it was a great experience. #itiswhatitis blessings are coming and I am ready. There is always perfection in the plan. Live and love to no end.”
Ari remains a fan favorite at the Lifetime site, with the most Facebook likes of all the designers. You can still show your support with a “like” at http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/project-runway-all-stars/season-3/designers
You can also show your support by shopping the designer’s latest collection at Neiman Marcus.
Elena's design more New Wave than punk, but the winner nevertheless, with the approval of Blondie's Debbie Harry, herself borderline punk/New Wave.
It will be really interesting if the competition comes down between Jeffrey and Seth Aaron Henderson, who created this ensemble. I was a fan of both "Project Runway" winners during their respective seasons, though Seth Aaron may have an edge because Jeffrey's been working in children's design, and as he said, hasn't been hands-on sewing for a long time. Other designers mentioned during the episode that he was struggling.