Initially I had some serious reservations about "Project Accessory." A necklace wandering down a runway isn't quite as captivating (or easy to see) as an entire outfit, no matter how large your TV screen. The other issue I had with the concept was shoemaking. Having taken a shoemaking class, I can say that making a shoe -- a shoe that isn't crippling or dangerous, at least -- is no easy task. Several producers have already tried to make a version of "Project Runway" focused on footwear and failed (one show was sponsored by a well-known design house). Shoes are just plain tricky, and the issue then becomes -- do you penalize a designer with a great idea (and who doesn't usually design shoes) for crappy execution when they probably wouldn't be starting off in the footwear realm in the "real world" anyway? Is that fair? What about pitting a designer with metalworking experience against one who has a handbag background on a jewelry design challege? Is it realistic to think one designer has mastered all these skill sets? Fashion is obviously apples and apples, but lumping all accessories into one category is not. Naturally, I did not have high hopes for "Project Accessory." 
 
Last week's debut also disappointed, though for other reasons. While I agreed that Cotrice's corset-style belt was a bomb and her T-shirt design was too busy, I liked her chandelier necklace and bracelet. As for Brian's ugly, fuzzy belt, it looked like it had been yanked out of a moving blanket -- and more importantly, it committed the cardinal sin of making the model look fat. And yet, a few (thankfully, not all) of the judges loved it. I'm putting my faith in Kenneth Cole to be the voice of reason on the judges' panel. 
 
This week, our designers find themselves at the Swarovski Crystallized store with Richard Chai and Eva, who inform them that they must grab (they only have ten minutes, to grab is apt) a piece of jewelry and create two other accessories to complement it -- one being A SHOE. This should be interesting. 
 
James, being the only one shoe designer (!) on the show, is pretty sure he has an advantage. I'm pretty sure he does, too. Surprisingly, though, everyone whips out their masking tape to make a pattern on their lasts, so I'm wondering if there was a quick tutorial on this or if James simply clued everyone in. A few designers mention they're able to use a stiletto heel provided to them, so that makes things easier. Still, Nicolina can't believe James is being so helpful to everyone, as she wouldn't be, and I have to say, I'm surprised, too. Get tough, James!
 
Right off the bat, I have to say -- I love Brian's studded wedge heel. He seems to know exactly what he's doing as well, and I'm beginning to think that horrible belt was an aberration. Or I hope it was. Nina tells him she would buy his shoes, and while we haven't seen the finished product yet, I might be down with that, too.
 
While Shea and James make goo-goo eyes at one another in the workroom, things aren't going so swimmingly for some of the other designers. Kelly wants to make a stacked heel. For someone who hasn't made shoes before, and has to make shoes in two stinkin' days, this seems awfully ambitious. Nicolina seems overwhelmed. But then, Nicolina always seems overwhelmed. She also has crazy eyes. I suspect we will be seeing plenty of crazy from her later. 
 
Eva drops in to play the role of Tim Gunn. Sigh. I miss Tim! Anyway, Eva tells Nicolina to make sure her second accessory ties into her necklace. She tells David to hustle, as he hasn't started on his shoes. She urges Kelly to work with her stacked heel. We don't see any other conversations. Eva is obviously smart, but she doesn't have the warmth and connection with the designers we get with Tim. 
 
As expected, Nicolina begins freaking out full-bore. There's a collective effort to encourage Kelly to do her best, though increasingly I suspect her best isn't good enough. Yellow shoes? With a Victorian necklace? David tries to keep Nicolina from jumping out a window. I think this is a very real possibility. 
 
Molly Sims invites the designers down to the runway. She's trying to be Heidi, but she'd be better off just being herself. Go ahead and smile, Molly, we won't hold it against you. 
 
Ariel Foxman of In Style, Kenneth Cole and Swarovski creative director Nadja Swarobski will be our judges.
 
Rich
The shoes are pretty boring and ill-fitting, but I like the necklace, the cuff and the ring.
 
Nina
She was smart to do a flat gladiator, though the stones look pretty junky. This look feels cohesive, though. And hey, she has immunity.
 
Diego
I love the necklace, though (again), the shoes are ill-fitting.
 
Adrian
Oh no, he tossed out his second accessory. The shoes are interesting but too busy -- they probably just need to be laced differently. Hopefully he gets points for the dress.
 
David
The shoes look like Payless, and they don't really work with the necklace.
 
James
I like the shoes, but there's A LOT going on. I could do without the headband.
 
Shea
This is very clean. And I do really like the back of the necklace with the huge stone. 
 
Christina
This isn't bad, but it looks a little arts-and-craftsy. The necklace looks like something you might make at camp.
 
Kelly
The shoes are a disaster. And the bright yellow doesn't work with her other accessories. This is bad from the word go, unfortunately.
 
Brian
The shoes aren't all that I hoped, but I still like that heel. The bag isn't bad, either. 
 
Nicolina
Hey, she pulled it out despite the nervous breakdown. Very rock and roll. 
 
Molly calls out David, Nicolina, James, Adrian, Brian and Kelly. Everyone else gets to leave the runway.
 
James goes first. Molly wants the shoes and thinks they're sexy. Kenneth Cole thinks he did a great job with the open toe. Nadja loves the cuff. Ariel thinks the cuff is a distraction and thinks he should have stopped with the shoes, plus he thinks the headband is very Xanadu. Agreed.
 
Molly quickly moves on to Adrian. And, as expected, he's getting slapped down for leaving off his second accessory. Nadja loves how he incorporated the crystals into the dress. Kenneth Cole likes the shoe. 
 
Nicolina's turn. Ariel likes it. He thinks the shoe would sell out in any store. Molly loves the added necklace. Nadja again likes the cuff except for the clothespin in the back. 
 
We move on to David. He starts talking about stars and NASA. Ariel is confused. The hair is one era and the necklace doesn't go with the gold and the shoe is a total disconnect. Nadja doesn't think it comes together. Molly thinks the shoe looks cheap. 
 
Brian talks about his collection. Kenneth thinks the shoe is very well executed. Ariel doesn't like the single earring. He would have preferred a single hoop. 
 
Kelly tells us how much she loves her shoe. Really? It looks like she made them with Legos. Nadja doesn't feel cohesion between the inspiration piece and the shoes. Kenneth thinks the shoes are awkward. Nina loves the earrings. 
 
Time for the judges to talk. They think Brian could have left off the bag. They loved Nicolina's shoe. Ariel loved James' shoe. Kenneth thinks the headband would have been useful in protecting the country against evil. The judges think David's shoes are tacky, but they think Kelly's are horrible. But Molly does love Kelly's earrings. Kenneth Cole likes Adrian's shoes, but Ariel says they can't forget he left off his second accessory.
 
I think Kelly is in trouble. The winner may be, gasp, Nicolina.
 
Brian is safe. James is the winner. He did make the best shoes, even if he included that dreadful headband. Nicolina is safe. David is safe. It's down to Kelly and Adrian. Adrian is... safe. Kelly's getting the boot. 
 
In this case, I'm pretty comfortable with this. Not only were the shoes a mess, they were a mess from a design perspective as well -- yellow with a delicate Victorian necklace? Ick. But I do have questions about how the judging will lean in the future -- basically, if the panel will give points more for execution or for intent. It's not "Project Runway" and I don't expect it to be, but I am hoping this show works out some of the more obvious kinks -- and soon.
 
Do you think James deserved to win? What did you think of Kelly's yellow shoes? And are you a fan of the show?