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Launch My Line: Merle's Collection

Time to check in with our girl Merle.


We said that we would have given the win to Merle and we almost talked ourselves out of that when we looked at Kathy's winning collection, but we're nothing if not fickle bitches and now we're swinging back around to the Merle side.

Not to be dismissive, but we've already talked about most of these looks, even if some of them have been altered. Rather than do a look by look rundown, let's just look at the collection as a whole.












Wow. Looking at it all together like this, we're struck by two things: how beautiful this collection is and how cohesive it is. There is only one look we don't like, the track suit, and even then we can admit that it's a pretty good design even if we don't like track suits.

Her color story is good, but she could have used some brighter or more saturated tones to offset all the overwhelming brown-ness. That orange and that pop of pink went a long way.

Here's the thing: judging by their commentary, it would appear that the biggest detriment to her winning the whole thing was her gimmick of making each outfit convertible in some way. We share that point of view with the judges. A gimmick, by its very nature, is going to cast the collection in a particularly down-scale light. Nothing wrong with putting a collection together of salable looks that the average woman could use to expand her wardrobe, but that's not what Merle and Thai did. They went for a particularly upscale aesthetic which forces the question: What woman out there is in the market for a red carpet gown that also converts into a cocktail dress? Answer: there's no such woman.

BUT.

She stated her gimmick with the first outfit and with every subsequent outfit. If the judges didn't think her gimmick was a good idea, they had a half-dozen chances to tell her that and they didn't. In a way, they kind of screwed her over because had the judges criticized her gimmick early, we have no doubt that Merle would have been smart enough to course-correct. She took every judge's criticism to heart and altered the offending garments accordingly. Had she known they didn't like the gimmick, she would have tossed it.

So now we're kind of back to saying that Merle should have won it. We didn't like the gimmick either, but every single one of these garments stands alone without it. That's a testament to both Merle and Thai. There may have been a gimmick involved, but they clearly put all their energy into making beautiful clothing first.

[Photos: Trae Patton/BravoTV.com]


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63 comments:

I think given how cheaply Kathy's line actually ended up getting produced, IMO Merle's collection would have been to pricey to manufacture what with all the convertible bits. Kathy's was relatively basic and still got dumbed down considerably for mass market. That probably influenced the judges decision quite a bit.


I think the overwhelming browness of Merle's collection is a reflection of Merle herself. It's obvious she'd look good in that color, and that's what she bought.

Jr. Goddess


i totally agree with Jeefy. the decision was based on cost of production. That said, the judges comments about messy stores, while hypothetically correct, were ridiculous in this context, since the winning collection wasn't destined for a physical store, but an online store where no one tries things on and therefore no pieces would go missing. When the judges made those comments, they were clearly doing so to justify the decision.

This collection was the winner!

Peri


Merle bears an uncanny resemblance to my therapist. That's all.


TLO- you are so right! EVERY piece had a gimmick which made the entire collection gimmicky. It was a toss up between Kathy and Peg Bundy for me- and I LOVED Kathy's use of color, so IMHO judges made the right decision.


"What woman out there is in the market for a red carpet gown that also converts into a cocktail dress?"

The same woman who would buy her red carpet gown over the internet at ruelala.com


As much as I do like Kathy's collection and think she had some nice pieces, Merle's was the winner to me. And I agree, if the judges didn't like the gimmicky nature of the line, why wait until now to bring that up?


i would wear everything in this collection...


Not everyone finds those colors appealing. I hated the line for the colors. It was excessive.


When TLo said "Merle thought she should won" over in the Kathy post, I thought to myself that was her problem the whole time. Merle went into this contest with a sense of entitlement, and I think that was apparent in everything she did. She spent the whole show looking like she smelled an offensive odor, and she shit talked all the other designers as if she was god's gift to design. Honey, loose the attitude and loose the gimmick. Honestly I thought the convertable thing was a little plebian for the client Merle was going for. Wouldn't her lady be able to afford more than one outfit?


Loved her color story, loved the execution, didn't love the concept. I see what you're saying about the judges not giving her more notice that they weren't into the gimmick, but I don't think it was as simple as "We don't like the gimmick, she loses."

She was in a competition against others, not herself. You wouldn't have to hate the gimmick in advance to think it looked unsophisticated next to Kathy's stuff.

That being said, I never understood WHY no one said anything about the gimmick, because it seemed so obvious from the beginning that it made her stuff seem chip in a chip way, but that's what passes for judging on this show.


Oh, come on! No screen cap of the look on her face when she found out she lost! That was the best moment of the entire show!


Merle reminded me of the Nina Van Horn character from Just Shoot Me....has this been discussed? I spent the whole show trying to decide where I had run into her before and just the other day I saw a rerun of Just Shoot Me while at the gym and I had an ah ha moment.


Her design are far more sophisticated. She had no chance with those tacky judges.


Oh, I also wanted to add that I have been a Merle fan from the start, but I, too, have a problem with the colors of this collection and can see why Kathy won.

That said, I do see what Jenn said about Merle's attitude being her downfall. Frankly, I've always been a tad bugged that she was a contestant on this show after being a judge on another show. It seemed an unfair advantage for her to have been on another show judging how other people dress and put outfits and looks together and then be a contestant on a show where she does the same thing. I think that contributed to her own belief that she should have won, which meant she rarely felt that adrenaline rush that could have pushed this collection forward.


Say 'gimmick' again, lol.

Oh, and jumpsuit, not tracksuit. LOL


Some of them where convertable and some were more gimmiky. I doubt that many women need a red carpet gown that converts but I would buy the jersey dress that wraps different ways.

You know what I mean?


Some WERE gimmicky (not where, I am humiliated by my typo, though I know I will make them again)


Indeed, Merle's is a bit more sophisticated, which gave Kathy the edge for being slightly more youthful. Not to say that Kathy's was unsophisticated or all that youthful (though less animal print would have made it more so).

But Kathy's is largely a braless collection and, as we all know by now, reality fashion design show judging is enemy of the foundation garment industry.


it was a pretty collection, but, take the gimmicks away, and you will find it all at your local Macy's, perhaps with better colors.


In the end the gimmick is what got on my nerves. I have to admit that without the gimmick I could easily see it getting the win. If this show comes back they really need to get rid of the female judges. They need some judges to offset wonder twins. The judging they did was the same with Patrick/Roberto. They put them through saying they had a cohesive line, but failed to own up to the fact hat the line was ugly til the last possible minute.


Yes several of the pieces are good and she made excellent improvements but frankly I felt she repeated her gimmicks too much. Note she has 2 red carpet gowns with tear-away skirts. The tear-away skirt on the finale gown was pointless. The idea of good, versatile separates should have been played up more

That last gown has multiple gimmicks like her signature outfit. And like with the signature outfit I found it offputting. Besides I was surprised how much they raved about that final gown since I found the trimming on the top of the dress a little on the cheap looking side

But yes her attitude ultimately destroyed any sympathy I might have had for her loss. She came off way too arrogant by the end of the show.

Frank


edinamonsoon

TLo said...
"What woman out there is in the market for a red carpet gown that also converts into a cocktail dress?"

Anonymous (11:53) said...
"The same woman who would buy her red carpet gown over the internet at ruelala.com."

***********************************

Good point. I think that Merle's collection would do well on QVC, or possibly HSN. I can hear those callers now, ooohing and ahhing over her multi-functional garments and color story. I was never a huge fan of her work, but agree that as a whole her designs were far more interesting and unique than Kathy's collection.


Nels said: I've always been a tad bugged that she was a contestant on this show after being a judge on another show. It seemed an unfair advantage for her to have been on another show judging how other people dress and put outfits and looks together and then be a contestant on a show where she does the same thing.


I don't know, Nels. I'm not sure that judging drag queens is even close to the same thing. Had she been a judge on The Fashion Show or even PR, maybe. But she's judging performance and over-the-topness on RPDR, not "fashion" per se. For that matter, Patrick would have had the same conflict, since he was in the audience -- and therefore "judging" -- on one episode of TFS.


without the zipper it's just another suede skirt...

http://www.surfstitch.com/images/catalog/live/imageLibrary/840766ITANGO-PIPERLANE-1600T.jpg


merle has a very lucrative career waiting for her at qvc. those shop-at-home bitches eat this stuff up & would go nuts for her designs.


another one wanting to see the screen cap when she lost.

btaim, I do like Merle's colelction. I think she would've dropped dead if the ruelala folks had their way with her stuff...


On the other hand, what is Merle herself wearing in the judging??


I could have gone either way. I think Merle's stuff was more interesting, but that color palette is narrow--flattering for Merle, but not for a lot of women. Some more saturated colors would have helped.

And in some cases it was gimmick for the sake of the gimmick. Kind of wish she'd stuck with a notion of layers instead--remove one layer from the evening gown for two different looks, you don't need a rip-away skirt. Do that with one outfit, not several.

That said, I wish someone would fund her and Thai. There's an elegance to what they did.

I think though that, yes, Merle was set up for the fall--though she may be thankful in the long run for being spared a line production like that of Kathy Rose's.


Re: Merle's collection:

One of the things that was off-putting for me was the bottom of the skirt that zipped off to be a fanny pack. She can call it a "purse" all she wants but it was a fugly fanny pack.

Also, loved the look on her face when her name wasn't called for the win.


Stellaluna said Oh, and jumpsuit, not tracksuit. LOL


No, tracksuit. It's two pieces. A jumpsuit is one-piece. You can see that more clearly here: http://projectrungay.blogspot.com/2009/12/lml-runway-rundown_18.html


I liked a few pieces of Merle's line more then the entirety of Kathy's line, even if I found Kathy's more joyful and understand why it won.

I don't mind the convertible gimmick, except that it does look gimmicky when faced with an entire line of tear-away skirts. The problem with this gimmick is that Merle was forced to employ it for each outfit, whether it was appropriate or not. A convertible red-carpet gown? Don't see the point or the customer. But a longer formal dress that converts to a cocktail dress, I can see a customer for that.

Indeed, I can see almost anyone enjoying the flexibility some of these outfits offer, but I can't see an entire closet full of them. How many dresses with a tear-away skirt does any one person need?

And yeah, Merle was entitled and got annoying with her bitchiness, but she's not the most monstrous reality contestant ever. She could be grating, but was no worse than some actual successful designers out there, so no big. And part of me wonders if she was playing a bit with being a character. Being a judge for RPDR, she has to have a sense of humor and understanding of reality show cliches.


It's amazing how different a view one can have when not watching a show and the characters unfold. The only reason I know that Merle was offensive at all to viewers is from reading it here. I have to admit that I didn't read every blog about the show so I really had no idea that her whole line has multiple purpose.

All that being said; after looking at both lines as TLO showed and wrote about them I like Merle's better. My first thought as I scrolled down was how cohesive it seemed and I liked the styling.


I'm amazed that only one other person mentioned Merle's outfit! And as bizarro as it was (the dress might be alright on its own, but the netty sweater thing has to go), it was nothing compared to what Kathy wore - shorts and a tank top made out of plastic coins. I mean, wtf? As soon as I saw her walk out I was like, 'Kathy! They're about to judge your final collection, and you're wearing *shorts*? And a tank top you wear to the pool??' I thought she should have lost for that alone.


I wondered if the garments had converted in a variety of ways they would have been more successful with the judges. Most of them changed length by removing part of the skirt. The final runway was a heck of a time to bring up that criticism.


Ehh, I don't think Merle was that bad either. A little arrogant, but less arrogant really than those who had no fashion background, but figured they could create a line. Merle knew her stuff.

Also, it's clear she treated Thai well. That was a respectful collaboration. She knew he was good and appreciated that.

So, yeah, some smack-talking in the interviews, but, hell, it's a reality show--that's part of the gig.


Lilithcat - actualy is is kind of both.
She made it as a jumpsuit for the one piece challenge - but her gimmick was the zipper (which in that case I think was a decent attempt since I hate jumpsuits)

I did not dislike her outfit


That judging panel would never have given Merle the win even if she didn't have the convertability gimmick. The twinks and the two brunettes were obsessed with everything being young and fresh and edgy, probably because none of them are getting any younger but don't want the horror of seeming "old."

Merle doesn't design young or fresh or edgy, she designs pretty. The judges were just never going to reward that. Kathy's isn't all that fresh and edgy, but the judging panel probably was stymied in giving the DJ the win because his collection was just too fugly. And maybe not very reproducible.

And that's another problem with the show. If the prize is getting cheap copies of your clothes made to sell at some online site, the collection needs to be something that can be approximated with cheap fabrics and mass production. Kathy's came closest to that.


I agree totally. When you see the still pics and and aren't distracted by all the maneuvering the models had to do to execute the gimmicks, her clothes are way more interesting than Kathy's. However that first skirt looks like she's selling hot dogs at a ballgame.


What do you guys think of that ball gown?


My main gripe is that the tear-away gimmick creates tiers in the skirts and it's pretty obvious that there are removable layers.

It's like those old hiking pants that zip off into shorts... great idea, but they'll never look like regular pants, there's no hiding the fact that there are zippers halfway down your leg.


I'm sorry, but I just don't like it. I don't like the gimmick and even if one were to remove it I still just dislike what she did.


It has been mentioned that the quality of the garments produced and sold on Rue La La are...questionable. Does anyone have images of the reproductions? I'd love to see them but am not a member of the site.


Funny, just looking at the collection, I think "Yes, she should have won" but at the time, I was so annoyed by the gimmicky crap that I'd have given it to Kathy. All that it's-a-floor-wax-it's-a-dessert-topping nonsense really prejudiced me against it.


I think that Merle wasn't going to get the win no matter what. The "judges" had made up their minds.

The use of pink to add a bit of color was good--then one of the twins called her on it! wth?? Yet they also complain about the lack of color....

I think that Merle's would be too complicated to reproduce at the low price point that the on line company wants. I hope someone can post pics of what gets produced.

TLo, I hope you can interview Merle and she can talk about the LML experience, RPDR, and if she is going to get an investor to help produce her clothes.


I started off liking Merle's collection and loved her first convertible gown but yes, the gimmick got so old so fast. I mean, who rips off a skirt and wears it as a "cape"? yick.

The color palette is also horrible unless you're auburn or blonde. Redheads and brunettes would look like ass in these colors. I would never wear these orangey browns unless I was dressing in costume for a particular reason.

Kathy had some stand-out pieces in beautiful colors that sank Merle's gimmicky pieces and all are right about the manufacturing ease. Either Kathy or slut-loving DJ boy would win based on that. The Ruelala knock-offs were horrible. I'm not sure I would want to win based on that, but of course, the designers didn't know how tacky they'd be.

QVC or HSN are calling, Merle darling. Go snobhob over there - I'm sure you will make a mint!


t.goodfellow

I would have given it to Merle. She did have too many tear-away skirts, but that wrap dress is pretty fab.

I think Thai (and Jim) should try out for Project Runway. They're both pretty talented, and Thai's speed would be a big advantage.


i'm not dorothy gale

I loved Merle from the beginning and was horrified that she didn't win. Although the clothing WAS convertible it didn't HAVE to be - the basic designs without zip-off components were beautiful. I thought her color palette was elegant and timeless.


Seriously, were these judges ever going to award the win to a fashion CRITIC?


Meh, disagree. I didn't care for Merle's color palette, so very brown. And there are at least three pieces that are downright dowdy (tracksuit, orange dress with the unattractive drawstring shoulder treatment, brown tiered ruffle dress, at least before the bottom layers are ripped away.) If I were going to give her the win I'd give it to her based on the strength of the showstopping final gown, and the awesomeness of the distressed jersey multi-dress. Overall, though, I preferred Kathy's collection.


Merle should have won.


From as much of it as we saw, I really did like the peplum jacket w/ the reworked skirt and the reworked 3 pc outfit right after it.


I was trying to explain this to my husband when I agreed with the Kathy win. I bought a couple of "reversible" skirts a few seasons ago, as I just loved the idea of having two different skirts for the price (and closet space) of one. But inevitably I always liked one side better than the other, and wore it that way so much that the "reversibility" was an unused feature. Maybe if I were backpacking across Europe for the summer, the dual functionality of an outfit would be a huge selling point. Or if I shared clothes with a twin. Otherwise, it's a neat idea but something that wouldn't sway me to buy a piece.

I certainly respect her taste and think what she and Thai did in the time allotted was amazing--they out-designed and out-sewed the other teams week after week, IMHO.

I too loved Merle's face and immediately declared it was worth watching the entire season for that moment.


I'm not sure how much we can criticize the color palette when they picked out the whole palette at the beginning of the show.

It was a huge mistake. I knew it would be then and it is definitely so now. You don't really have time to rectify color palette mistakes in 2 days (or whatever half ass amount of time they gave the contestants to assemble the whole line).

Granted, Merle liked the palette, so oh well.


No one looks good in every color. Some look good in brights such as in Kathy's line, some look good in muted browns. Not really fair to judge her color story based on whether it looks good on you.


I was entertained by Merle and her collection. I would wear almost every one of her outfits vs. maybe two of Kathy's designs.
The gimmick didn't bother me but I could see how it could be overwhelming seeing it in 10 pieces in a row.
It was nice to see a talented woman OVER 40 actually making it to the finals (Project Runway are you listening?)


Most of the reality game shows don't give their prizes to the clear winner because they want to create that "shocking result". I knew Merle won't win because it is way too obvious that her collection is the best.


Otherwise, it's a neat idea but something that wouldn't sway me to buy a piece.

Ah, but it did. You said that you "just loved" the idea of two skirts in one.

That's why I can see this working on QVK or HSN. Let women see the gimmick at work and have the same idea: Wow! Two ___ for the price and closet space of one!

Sure, in the long run you probably do prefer one of the looks and stick with it. (With some exceptions -- the jersey dress, the convertible sleeves -- those you probably would wear different ways.) But in the meantime you have the fun of thinking about it, congratulating yourself, looking forward to wearing the item and showing off the gimmick, telling your friends about it.

I'm not sneering at this either. I'd buy one or more of these outfits myself with the same thoughts in mind -- all of them, including the awareness that really, I'm probably going to favor one look and so only have one ___ for the price of... two? One and a half, surely.

I liked the designs and the color. Didn't mind Merle, loved Thai. I hope she has the connections to put this line into production for an "as seen on TV" consumer. You really do have to see it in action to get the impact.


Otherwise, it's a neat idea but something that wouldn't sway me to buy a piece.

Ah, but it did. You said that you "just loved" the idea of two skirts in one. At first, that is.

That's why I can see this working on QVK or HSN. Let women see the gimmick at work and have the same idea: Wow! Two ___ for the price and closet space of one!

Sure, in the long run you probably do prefer one of the looks and stick with it. (With some exceptions -- the jersey dress, the convertible sleeves -- those you probably would wear different ways.)

But in the meantime you'd have the fun of thinking about it, congratulating yourself, looking forward to wearing the item and showing off the gimmick, telling your friends about it.

I'm not sneering, either. I'd buy one or more of these outfits myself with the same thoughts in mind -- all of them, including the awareness that really, I'm probably going to favor one look and so only have one ___ for the price of... two? One and a half, surely.

I liked the designs and the color. Didn't mind Merle, loved Thai.

I hope she has the connections and resources to put this line into production for an "as seen on TV" consumer. You really do have to see it in action to get the impact.


Dang! I meant to preview my post and published it instead. Obviously, that's my post before editing, published by "Anonymous". Sorry for the double post.

Why isn't there a delete or edit function?


Yes, it was the convertible aspect to this collection that turned me away. I understand the need for women to be able to stretch their limited budget for clothing.

But not this clothing.

If she had made office wear to evening out or weekend wear to office wear, maybe she would have had it in the bag. But women who wear evening gowns regularly will also wear cocktail dresses. She won't need to convert one to the other.

Real women need practical clothing items that can be used for a variety of occasions. That's why I like Tim Gunn's list. He includes something for most events the average woman would attend, and allows a woman's personality to shine through.

Now product lines that focus on that, rather than the awkward gown to cocktail type stuff, would be terrific sellers. We need reasonably priced, well constructed, durable, fashionable clothing in all sizes.


At one point during the shows, she was criticized for not using a conversion feature....something along the lines they were disappointed with it coming from the queen of convertable? or something.

However, the jersey wrap dress is fabulous.


No, no, no, no and no. Updated women do not wear little snaps all around our thighs and knees...some of those are just





BALMAIN for women

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