March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Project Runway Tie-in and Fun Reads for Fashionistas

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Who will make the cut? The hit reality TV series that provides aspiring fashion designers with a chance to strut their stuff—and compete for the opportunity to show their own collection at New York Fashion Week—has just launched its 10th season, airing Thursday evenings on Lifetime. Hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum, Project Runway dares competitors to design and sew their most wow-inspiring garments while working under strict limitations and tough time constraints. Each episode revolves around a challenge—using unconventional materials (e.g., items from a candy store), incorporating a specific theme (remaking a wedding gown into a divorcee date dress), or designing for a particular celebrity or fashion line—intended to test the contestants’ creativity and demonstrate their artistic vision. As the designers work under pressure-cooker conditions, the behind-the-scenes drama becomes just as compelling as the runway show that culminates each episode, a parade of outfits ranging from chicly appealing to absolutely appalling. Tim Gunn serves as mentor, while Klum, fashion insiders Michael Kors and Nina Garcia, and a guest judge provide constructive commentary and make the final call on which participant will be sent home. Teens can visit the Project Runway website to meet this season’s contestants; view bonus judging videos and full episodes; check out related blogs; and vote for their favorite designers and outfits.

Book Tie-in

Project RunwayWritten by Eila Mell, Project Runway: The Show that Changed Fashion (Weinstein, 2012; Gr 9 Up) provides a lively backstage look at the series’ origins, day-to-day workings, first nine seasons, and impact. The text is embellished with a plethora of full-color photos, and much of the book consists of Q&A sections featuring commentary from the show’s creators, stars, and contestants. Topics covered include how each year’s crop of designers is chosen and inspirations behind the challenges. Chapters zoom in on each season, introducing the participants (contestants, guest judges, and models), recapping highlights (e.g., memorable challenges along with dramas and dustups), and showcasing the winning looks. Interviews with several of the contestants follow, as designers discuss the audition process, their favorite and least-liked challenges, camaraderie and competition, and how the show has affected their careers and lives. While some dirt is dished, the contestants’ responses come across as well thought-out and honest, providing insight into both the pressures and pleasures of participating and underscoring their individual personalities and design aesthetics. Whether they have watched this series from the get-go or have recently become hooked, fans will enjoy this abundantly illustrated behind-the-scenes account.

Putting Together Your Own Look

Perfectly pitched to a YA audience, Seventeen Ultimate Guide to Style: How to Find Your Perfect Look (Running Pr., 2011; Gr 7 Up) is packed with ideas that will help teens look their best, express their creativity and personality, and feel great about themselves. Eye-catching chapters highlight “six iconic Seventeen Guide to Stylestyle vibes”—girly (sweet yet sophisticated), edgy (rock-star rough but feminine), boho (updated earthiness), classic (timeless chic), glam (go for the sparkle), and indie (a blend of vintage, artsy, and cool). Each chapter presents eight essential pieces along with outfit possibilities, introduces both a real-life girl and a celebrity who revel in that particular look, and includes easy closet-ready styling ideas, a “Look Book” (photos from the runway, red carpet, and street), and list of “go-to spots” for shopping. This inviting oversize volume is filled with striking full-color photos, and the ensembles presented are both attractive to and appropriate for teens. Written in a chatty girlfriend tone, the emphasis is on “crazy-delicious-insane fun,” and YAs will get kick out of trawling the pages for ideas, mixing and matching looks, and honing their personal sense of style.

Lauren Conrad StyleLauren Conrad, reality TV star turned fashion designer and author of the “L.A. Candy” novels, offers an elegant guide to Style (2010; Gr 8 Up; both HarperCollins) that will inform and entertain readers. Chapters cover wardrobe basics, the best way to shop, organizing your closet (Conrad’s last overhaul required “a crew of four people… three full days without sunlight, and countless food deliveries”), choosing accessories, putting together “Foolproof Outfits,” tips for hair and makeup, and more. Charismatic photos of the author and close-ups of clothing underscore the high points and decorate the handsomely laid-out pages. From finding the right pair of jeans, to shopping online, to reminding readers that “true style extends beyond what you look like when you walk out the door,” there’s plenty of useful advice here, presented with an insider’s know how, a touch of humor, and loads of class.

Tales as Light as Tulle and as Pleasing as Pashmina

It’s always been “all about the clothes” for Emma Rose, a New York City eighth grader who spends all of her time envisioning, sketching, and sewing outfits. When a famous fashion editor catches a glimpse of one of Emma’s dresses at her Allegra Biscotti Collectionfather’s lace warehouse and wants to feature the work of this hot new designer in Madison magazine, her dreams seem to be coming true… but will anyone take a 14-year-old seriously? Flustered, Emma invents an alternate persona—a polar opposite who is worldly, self-confident, sophisticated, and grown up—and dives into making the first pieces for The Allegra Biscotti Collection (2010; Gr 5-9) absolutely fabulous, while keeping her identity secret. In Olivia Bennett’s novel, the challenges of designing and creating clothing under pressure are neatly embroidered with more common teenage issues including friendship woes, a new crush, schoolwork stressing, and finding an outlet for self-expression. Pencil-and-wash sketches of Emma’s outfits appear throughout, perfectly accessorizing this engaging tale. The design challenges continue in the second installment, Who What Wear (2011; both Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky).

Seventh-grader Louise Lambert loves vintage clothing— researching fashion designers, rooting out and wearing interesting pieces, and daydreaming about what the lives of their original owners would have been like—so when she receives a mysterious handwritten invitation to a pop-up vintage sale, she can’t resist. When she tries on a drop-dead stunning powder-pink gown, she’s suddenly whisked away to another time and place. Transported to a luxurious ocean liner in the early 20th century, Louise finds herself inhabiting the body—and the life—of a 17-year-old starlet, hobnobbing with socialites, and The Time Traveling Fashionistaadmiring their glamorous attire, until she realizes just what ship she happens to be traveling on, and must settle on a course of action before it’s too late. Bianca Turetsky’s The Time-Traveling Fashionista on Board the Titanic (2011; Gr 5-9) is a frothy and fast-paced blend of dreams-come-true fantasy, historical fiction, and fashion-focused passion. Sandra Suy’s softly colored full-page illustrations depict the exquisite ensembles lovingly described in the text with elegance and artistry. Louise embarks on another adventure in a sequel to be released in September, The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette (2012, both Poppy/Little Brown).

In Sequins, Secrets, and Silver Linings (Scholastic/Chicken House, 2011; Gr 6-9), Sophia Bennett adeptly balances fashion-world action with more penetrating themes. Set in London, the book stars three likable 14-year-old BFFs: the always imaginatively dressed (she’s currently in a metallic phase), fashion-obsessed Nonie; whip-smart, socially conscious Edie, with a career path targeted straightSequins, Secrets and Silver Linings at the UN; and Jenny, an insecure actress withering in the sudden media spotlight from a small movie part. After meeting 12-year-old Crow, a refugee from Uganda with an incredible talent for design, the three friends pitch in to help the girl make good on an opportunity to develop her very own clothing line for London Fashion Week. However, details from Crow’s past are uncovered; the teens learn that like the other Invisible Children in Uganda, Crow’s brother, Henry, had been abducted and forced to become a soldier, and the family hasn’t heard from in years. They are determined to help, and it’s fashion meets compassion as events unfold to a satisfying conclusion. Filled with humor, Nonie’s chatty narration is at once lighthearted and heartfelt, as she struggles with discovering her own strengths and finds the empathy to walk in someone else’s shoes.

When their families swap houses for the summer, wannabe-designer Molly from Los Angeles and mountain-biker Charlie from Boulder, CO, each end up staying in the other’s bedroom. As the two teens begin a friendship, communicating only via email and instant messages (the 21st century’s version of good old-fashioned letters), they soon find themselves sharing secrets and aspirations, discovering common ground, and falling head-over-heels in love. In Your RoomMeanwhile, Molly takes a job in a vintage store, and with Charlie’s encouragement, finds the courage and creativity needed to complete her portfolio for a fall internship with her favorite designer. And, unaware of this budding relationship, Molly’s gorgeous neighbor and close friend Celeste is determined to catch Charlie’s eye. Will this long-distance romance survive long enough for the two to meet? Featuring strong and believable characters, Jordanna Fraiberg’s In Your Room (Razorbill/Penguin, 2008; Gr 9 Up) is a romantic charmer, at once as timeless as Chantilly lace and as refreshingly up to date as the latest runway couture.

Publication Information

MELL, Eila. Project Runway: The Show that Changed Fashion. Weinstein Bks. pap. $25. ISBN 978-1-60286-178-7.

SHOKET, Ann, et al. Seventeen Ultimate Guide to Style: How to Find Your Perfect Look. Running Pr. 2011. pap.$19.95. ISBN: 978-0-7624-4193-8.

CONRAD, Lauren. Lauren Conrad Style. HarperCollins. 2010. Tr. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-06-198914-8; pap. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-198969-8.

BENNETT, Olivia. The Allegra Biscotti Collection. 2010. ISBN 978-1-4022-4391-2.

_____. Who What Wear. 2011. ISBN 978-1-4022-4392-9.

Ea vol: Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. pap. $8.99.

TURETSKY, Bianca. The Time-Traveling Fashionista on Board the Titanic. 2011. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-316-10542-2; pap. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-316-10544-6.

_____. The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette. 2012. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-316-10538-52.

Ea vol: illus. by Sandra Suy. Poppy/Little Brown.

BENNETT, Sophia. Sequins, Secrets, and Silver Linings. Scholastic/Chicken House. 2011

FRAIBERG, Jordanna. In Your Room. Razorbill/Penguin. pap. $8.99. ISBN 978-1-59514-193-4.

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Dodie Ownes left the glamorous world of retrospective conversion and disco to jump on the library vendor train. Since then, she has been learning at the feet of the masters about all things library. Dodie lives in Golden, Colorado, where even the sign which arches the main street says "Howdy."

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