Project Runway invades Denver at the Cut 'n Sew: Yves Saint Laurent Challenge

Categories: Fashion

Fallene Wells.JPG
Fallene Wells, decked out in H&M, hosted the event.
Denver fashion fixture and Project Runway Season 9 contestant Fallene Wells showed off her Tim Gunn skills at yesterday's Cut 'n' Sew event. Amidst the H&M hoopla at Denver Pavilions beginning at 10 a.m., local designers Melissa May, Tricia Hoke, Rachel Marie Hurst, and Heidi Busk participated in the speed-design challenge for a $100 Denver Pavilion gift certificate first place prize and the title of Cut 'n' Sew supreme master.

"I think this is harder than Project Runway," said Wells in an interview. On the TV show, they had eight hours to design and execute a design versus two to three days she says it normally takes her to create a piece. Though on the show "there are twenty cameras in your face watching you stumble" at all times. Sponsored by Denver Art Museum in conjunction with its March 2012 Yves Saint Laurent retrospective, Wells hopes to organize a similar challenge next year with twelve contestants.

The Challenge: Inspired by a Yves Saint Laurent piece, create a full outfit in four hours with the help of up to two assistants. Contestants were given $100 in supplies and workspace. They brought their supplies and materials to the event. No Mood shopping runs in Denver.

Melissa May
Inspired by YSL's 1976 Ballet Russes collection, Melissa May (right) created an outfit fit for the weather with a dress and faux-fur muff and hat. "The pieces I'm making aren't difficult but there is a lot," she said.

Tricia Hoke's sketch.

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Tricia Hoke
Tricia Hoke had two inspirations: a YSL smoking jacket and a black lace-backed dress. She had planned a black dress and jacket over it. She was the only contestant to work alone and she nearly didn't have a machine.

Hoke usually works on instructional machines which are not portable so a producer for the event promised to bring her one. The producer forgot. A make it work moment ensued and a machine magically appeared, Hoke's not sure how but in the midst of feverish competition, she was too busy to contemplate that.

Rachel Marie Hurst's design.

Rachel Marie Hurst (right)
The tailored cigarette jacket was Rachel Marie Hurst's inspiration except she was going to do it up "with more glam." She created a tailored jacket with faux-fur accents and a double layered skirt with a shorter inner tier.

Heidi Busk of Sew Heidi's design

Heidi Busk hard at work.
Heidi Busk wasn't inspired by a single YSL piece, but rather, his continued use of bows throughout his career. She took that inspiration and gave it a literal twist, creating what she calls a "vertical bow dress." "I never do things this elegant," she said. "I usually do more ready-to-wear but what better time to challenge yourself?"

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The prize was only a $100 gift card and some Thursday media coverage?  Did an H&M shopper buying $10 sweaters even care about these designers working?  I wasn't there, so I don't know about the immediate exposure these designers may have really gotten, but - this $100 gift card is not enough for such time-constrained, technical work to create a "beautiful" garment inspired by YSL!  I hope there were other compensations that made these designers feel really recognized for their work and not deflated.


I totally agree. A $100 gift card is a joke, not to mention the $25 gift card!? At that rate I'm surprised they didn't issue trophies! It was under promoted and poorly attended. If people want a Denver fashion scene they need to get out and support it. The designers did amazing with what little money they were given for supplies, and what little time they had to create a garment. Kudos girls!

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