The Tom & Lorenzo Archives: 2006 -2011

PR: Ripping the Collections: Mondo

My supperdish, my succotash wish.

A bit of "conventional wisdom" has popped up over the weekend regarding Mondo's collection and we have to say we disagree rather strongly with it. It's this idea that because Mondo uses relatively simple shapes and techniques in his collection, that means it's somehow less "designed" than Gretchen's. That would be fine if design was only about line and silhouette, but it's not. Design, especially fashion design, is a synthesis of line, form, color, texture, and pattern. Since Mondo loves the last three elements, he naturally uses them extensively. Experimenting with form or silhouette on top of all the graphic elements he utilized would have been way too much. He struck a perfect balance, as far as we're concerned.

Let's start the show.







Probably our favorite of all his looks. The reason he can get away with two wildly different black and white prints is because the ratio of black to white is very different in both patterns. The top reads as black with white elements and the shorts read as white with black elements. This is why Gretchen's prints didn't work for us, because they were all roughly the exact same shade of brown with roughly the same ratio of contrasting colors.

Mondo clearly went the Galliano route in his styling, assuming (wrongly, it turns out) that the judges would do what all fashion editors and journalists do when assessing a collection: mentally edit and pick out the separate pieces. Granted, Mondo's styling (especially the hair and makeup) weren't great choices, but the fact that he paired wildly different pieces in one look shouldn't have thrown Nina and Michael so much.

Lorenzo loves that bag but Tom thinks it's a bit much for the look.






We're not exactly partial to the idea of metallic leather high-waisted shorts so we don't love the bottom half of this look. We do love that top, though; especially the structured shoulders.

Let's continue that discussion on styling, shall we? We get the cultural references in the hair and makeup but since the clothes themselves were so bold, he should have gone for cleaner-looking, more modern styling. The hairpieces and heavy makeup just take it into drag land and he should have known that an editor like Nina and a designer like Kors would want to see the models styled in a way that says "right now." We can't help thinking that in a competition where styling suddenly became one of the most important deciding factors, he would have had this locked up if all the girls had simple makeup and hair.






We absolutely love the patterned tights but that oversized t-shirt pains us. On the one hand, you can argue that Mondo makes clothes for a range of sizes and that's true. On the other hand, oversized t-shirts with sequins on them just scream tacky. It's a shame, because we love the skull on the t-shirt; we just wish it was on a different shirt.






Our second favorite look in the collection and another example of how the styling hurt him. This is a fresh, young (but not "teenager," Nina), modern look that comes close to being ruined by '90s drag queen makeup. And while we didn't agree with their conclusions, we think Michael and Nina were absolutely right to think that the styling was a strike against him. It's important that a designer understand not just how to design their clothes, but how to display them.

Anyway, we love the little strip of patent leather at the bottom of the skirt and the way he used multiple fabrics on the cuffs of the shirt.






This is an utterly adorable dress but we're sorry to say, we've seen it a hundred times before. This is one instance in which we agreed with the judges. Strapless bubble dresses have been done over and over again. Even in plaid. The only thing that makes this slightly interesting from a design perspective is the embellishment around the bustline. We love the patterned tights paired with this look.






We like the patent leather piping on the shorts. We're in a little disagreement on the top. We both like it, but Tom thinks the paillettes were a bit much. It's a cute look but a bit of a throwaway when you only have ten to show. While he did some interesting things with it, it's still just a cami and shorts.







If the pants had been in another pattern, we would have considered this perfect. Still, attention must be paid to the construction here because the lines of the plaid match up perfectly. The top and the jacket are gorgeous. Fantastic separates that would sell like bagels. If you're going to do a sequined t-shirt, better that it's a fitted one like here. LOVELOVELOVE the patent leather detailing in the jacket. Yes, Mondo's shapes are basic, but what he does inside the lines is what makes him a great designer.





Although that skirt's not so basic, is it? Unfortunately, the shape is just odd and unflattering. We try to stay away from Kors-like pronouncements that start off, "No woman would..." But we have to admit, we can't imagine any woman, no matter how thin, wants a kangaroo pouch.

Still, we love the top (again with the gorgeous structured shoulders) and we love the idea of a metallic leather skirt; we just don't like the shape this one took.





We don't know about anyone else, but this is the one piece that springs to mind when we hear "Mondo's collection." It's as much a signature piece as the polka dot gown that caused so much sturm and drang with the judges. A simple shape, yes. But the colorblocking is masterful. And it's a piece that could be worn by just about anyone, as either a dress or a top with leggings. We don't particularly like making the wearability point but the judges were the ones who brought that into the conversation. We see way more in this collection that would appeal to a wide customer base than in Gretchen's Collection for Tall, Skinny Girls with Small Breasts.

This would be a good point to mention that Mondo's collection was the ONLY one that caused a stir of excitement in the crowd and afterward, this was the one dress that everyone in the tent was talking about. Everyone we spoke to and every conversation we overheard indicated that the majority not only thought Mondo was the winner, they thought Gretchen was a decoy.







And finally, the dress heard 'round the world. We mentioned last week that this dress, while fabulous, had a dated, early '90s, Lady Miss Kier quality to it and we still think that. On the other hand, we totally understood Heidi and Jessica when they said they wanted to wear it. Dated or no, this is a fun but slinky dress guaranteed to get the wearer a lot of head-turns and on that level, it would appeal to a lot of women (assuming they had the body for it). Our thinking is this: it would have worked so much better as a cocktail dress. Since he knew the judges were at best ambivalent about it, we wish he hadn't been so stubborn. We can understand his insistence on keeping it in the collection, but he should have made some sort of concession to the judges' criticisms. Had he hemmed it at just above the knee, we guarantee Heidi would have given up a half-dozen of her children for it.

We never noticed the embellished cuffs before. Nice detail.


We never thought this collection was flawless, but even after pointing out the parts that didn't work for us, we still think it was the clear winner of the season. Mondo simply makes clothes that people want to photograph, wear, and talk about. That isn't the be-all and end-all in fashion, but it's always been the main criteria for declaring the winner of Project Runway. No winner of Project Runway ever sent a flawless collection down the runway, with the exception of Jay McCarroll. Yes, the shapes are often simple and yes, one or two of the looks appear dated, and yes, the styling is unfortunate. But the CLOTHES, kittens. The clothes are gorgeous and wearable and exciting. We don't know what Mondo's got planned for himself but we sincerely hope he keeps at the designing and doesn't fall into the trap of "I'm a beloved reality TV star" because there's a pile of people over in the corner who made that mistake and paid for it. Keep at it, Mondo. You make clothes that make women want to play dressup and that is a rare quality in a fashion designer.

Oh, and another thing: "Teenager," our asses. What a load of bullshit THAT was.

[Photo Credit: getty, wireimage, Barbara Nitke via myLifetime.com]

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