Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Project Radio City

Well, folks, it's almost that time again: time to sing carols, trim the tree, and elbow your way past tourists in Rockefeller Center.

I was absolutely thrilled to began rehearsals for my fifth year in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular™ last week. But I was over the moon when I walked by the costume shop and saw this stunning design created by Project Runway's  Christopher Palu:

Now, in case you missed it, Heidi and Tim challenged the designers to create a dress for the Rockettes to wear at a future performance. While watching the episode, I thought that Christopher's idea and design were absolutely brilliant and well-executed--and utterly New York. I knew he would win the second I saw it.

But upon seeing the dress in real life, I must say that there are some flaws:
*The skirt has no movement, no give. So it won't be flattering when the girls kick.
*The trim outlining the buildings is hot glued on and is already crumbling.
*The design of the dress doesn't really allow for undergarments to be concealed.
*The flesh-colored material isn't supportive, which means the garment will begin to lose its shape the second the wearer puts it on.
*There isn't enough color contrast between the buildings and the fleshy material, making the buildings harder to distinguish.
*Even if there was more color contrast, the buildings wouldn't be visible to anyone past the tenth row. And Radio City is a 6,000-seat house.

My Nina-like critique is not to say that any of these flaws are Christopher's fault. I'm sure there are many, many challenges dance designers face when creating new costumes, and the Rockettes are an iconic brand performing in an incredibly unique space. There are few that would have succeeded in this challenge, given the time, resources, and requirements. Interestingly, after seeing the dress firsthand, I can't help but wonder if Dmitry's dress should have won.

Here's the big question: WHY WEREN'T THE ROCKETTES IN THE WORKROOM? They would have easily been able to communicate their needs to the designers, who would, in turn, have more information with which to create usable costumes. They also would have looked stunning on the runway. Perhaps the producers thought that might be setting the designers up to fail? Though they did give the designers a little lesson in dance.

I suspect that Christopher may not be able to claim his prize. Costume costs range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars. Each. And there are 36 girls to costume. I'm not sure anyone would invest that much in a dress that will only be worn once to an unidentified event. So, I'm sorry, Christopher. I don't want you or your adorable Long Island family to be disappointed. But don't worry--I'm sure you have a well-dressed future ahead of you on the runway.

(Curious about how the other contestants fared? Check out this recap on

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