Glen Burnie designer Irina, of Lanceray Couture was busily chatting up the designers near her while she waited her turn to have her work judged by Project Runway season three contestant, Laura Bennett. Russian-born, and holding a fine arts degree, Irina has been in business since May of 2005, but she's been sewing since 1984. She'll tackle anything from bridal and prom gowns, to alterations and "restorations" where she will take what she can of a gown that is damaged, and use it to make one that you can actually wear. She showed me her portfolio, which was filled with beautiful, precise work of bridal gowns and one very nice theater production she did for Everyman Theatre.
Unfortunately, she did not get the nod from Laura to take it to the next level. Irina's critique was that her work was "well made but the designs are too simple." Considering that these were designs she had made for herself, Irina had to agree. Since her work is all custom, there is no "stock" to pull from for an event like this. Not to worry. Irina says that "I am going to prepared differently for the next casting. First I will get opinions from the best fashion designers in Russia."
Irina joined me (and most of the other designers) in the no-man's-land of talented-but-not-right-for-television group. Laura does not mince words, and deemed me "too costumy" for New York City, and Project Runway. She did say, however, that it was clear that I had the technical skills for the job. That's something to hang on to, especially as the Baltimore Sewing Examiner! Still, I found the costume reference a bit odd, since I have seen things that were far more "costumy" than my work trot down the catwalks of the New York fashion week. In fact, Mila Hermanovski and Emilio Sosa, of E. Sosa fame, are both very successful costumers. Was it the absence of black in my work, or was it my pink hair?
The moral of the story it is that these jaunts to the Project Runway casting calls are always a good time. This was my third try. Each season has a different flavor, with this season being the most sedate I have experienced. The constant is the camaraderie that the waiting-room designers share, and the eagerness to chat and look over each other's work. There's nothing better to get your creative juices flowing than meeting with one's peers. The networking is also a huge prize, even if you do not get the go-ahead to semi-finalist status.
It certainly was exciting to meet Irina Lanceray at this event that draws designers form all over the nation. We have a great pool of talent here in Baltimore, and connecting with it —even if it's in New York City—is good thing.