Every little girl at one point or another has wanted their own American Girl doll. For the past 28 years, the brand has produced numerous dolls that represent girls all over the world. This week the designers were given the challenge of creating designs that girls can wear inspired by their favorite dolls — but it didn’t prove to be easy!
This week the designers met Tim Gunn at the American Girl store on 5th Avenue in New York City. There, Tim introduced the designers to Heather Northrop, Senior Design Manager for American Girl. Heather explained to the designers about the company’s BeForever line, which is taking the American Girl doll style and adapting it into wearable clothes for girls.
‘Project Runway’ Recap, Season 13, Episode 9 — American Girl Doll Challenge:
For this week’s challenge, the designers were paired up with a BeForever doll and a child model to create a piece for girls to wear that are inspired by the doll they were given. The designers were to use the doll’s time period, style and back story for inspiration. The catch was that it had to look modern and fashionable for the young women of today — definitely not an easy task!
The designers were given the choice to use the fabric supplied by American Girl for their design — or they could buy their own fabric. They were given 30 minutes to walk around the store, sketch their design and measure their models. Once they were done at the store, they were given a budget of $150 and one day to create their look — things are bound to get interesting!
While some designers struggled with the idea of designing for a child that has a smaller frame and no shape to their body, Emily felt as though she had a one up on all the other designers. Before coming on Project Runway, Emily designed children’s clothes, mostly for her daughter, and her line is apparently a huge hit on Etsy. As dark as Emily’s looks usually are on the runway, it was intriguing not only to the audience, but also to the other designers, to see just how she was going to create a look for a little girl to wear.
Make It Work:
It is a well known fact that if Tim tells you to change something in the design, you should probably change it! Emily created a grey tulle dress that was inspired by the American Girl Rebecca, a poor girl living in Manhattan’s lower east side in 1914 of Russian-Jewish heritage. Her creation in the beginning did not seem to reflect what Rebecca represented and Tim told her that she needs to rethink the design and how it will look on a little person. And Emily thought that she would come out on top with this challenge…
Kini was given the privileged American Girl, Samantha, and he created a long plaid coat that was paired with a long white dress. Tim told him that the coat may seem too mature for a young woman and to lose the white dress all together. In the end, Kini decided to keep the long coat but started from scratch to design a new dress.
Char was using inspiration from Kaya, the Native-American doll that was all about outdoor adventure. The doll itself wears a lot of fringe and there is nothing that little girls love more than some fringe! Knowing this, Char creates a fringe vest that Tim ends up calling, “cheap,” and “just not a good look.” She decided to stand by her design and Tim left her with the idea that this design will either make or break her in the competition.
The design that confused Tim and all the other designers in the work room was Sandhya’s design. She created a pink peplum jumpsuit that was inspired by Caroline, the American Girl that loves to sail. Sandhya took that knowledge and created a sailing jumpsuit complete with multiple cutout designs that were going to be sewn on the top and the entire thing looked like a cut and paste job. Tim explained to her that he feels like he can never do her a service because he does not understand how she sees her designs. Not to worry Tim, you are not the only one who has no idea what is going on with Sandhya’s designs! Even after giving her some advice, Sandhya basically tells him thanks but no thanks — she’s sticking with her original design.
Some Serious Hard Feelings:
After the work day is completed, the designers returned to their apartment. Sandhya has a complete breakdown — and it’s not because of the immense pressure of the competition. She felt as though no one in the house liked her or respected her. All she wanted was respect for who she is from other people, but no one seems to give it to her. The only one who showed any sympathy towards her is Emily because Sandhya has already rubbed everyone else the wrong way. Sandhya learned to pull herself together and not let anyone see her cry because at this point it would only make it worse!
Finally it was the day of the runway show and while the designers were putting the finishing touches on their designs and models, they all had something to say about each other’s designs — and it wasn’t pretty. Amanda slammed Emily’s edgy design saying that is was too dramatic, stating, “This is not the avant grade children’s challenge!” The claws truly came out when Sandhya’s design was said to look like, “A little baby onesie,” and “A pink Teletubby” by Alexander. Ouch!
Hits And Misses On The Runway:
While many of the designers felt confident in their designs, they were even more confident when the little girls took the runway to show off their creations! The designs truly came to life as each of the girls walked down the runway wearing the designs inspired by the American Girl doll that they were holding. Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss and Heather from American Girl served as the guest judges for this week’s challenge.
The highest praise on the runway was given to Kini for his Samantha-inspired design. The judges not only love the plaid coat, but raved about the red plaid dress that was underneath. Kini scrapped the old dress he already created and started from scratch — and it totally paid off! Any girl would feel like a million bucks wearing that design! The judges and some of the designers expressed the need to have the coat for themselves! Judge Nina Garcia explained the look as simply, “Perfection!” Talk about a hit!
Sandhya, however, did not receive the same praise. The judges were confused as to where Sandhya pulled this design from and while she thought she nailed it, the judges thought the complete opposite. Judge Zac Posen went as far as saying the model looked like a “circus flamingo” in the jumpsuit. Heidi Klum also said that it looked like a onesie for a one year old and not something an 8-12 year old girl would wear. Sandhya used her typical, ‘I appreciate your feedback but I stick to my design’ speech while wearing a big smile on her face.
Kini came out on top as the winner of this challenge, which served as no surprise after the stellar reviews from the judges and his own competition, and Emily and Sandhya were in the bottom two. Emily was told that her design showed no joy for a child and that her tulle dress that was completed with a cropped plaid coat looked frumpy. The judges had some serious problems with both designs but in the end only one designer can be out. Who ended up going home?
It was Sandhya who was sent to pack up her space in the workroom. After hearing the judges thoughts about her design and realizing how close she was to going home definitely gave Emily the wakeup call that she needed. With only a few weeks left, the competition is getting even more competitive and it is time for these designers to truly step up their game!
What do you think? Was it Sandhya’s time to go?
— Lauren Carr