starring Elle® magazine's Joe Zee

It’s Time to Grow Up! Tonight at 10p.

I am always intrigued by up-and-coming designers who have worked under major designers with strong, distinct styles. Case in point: Dana-Maxx, who peaked my interest for this week’s episode when I heard she had once done stints at Betsey Johnson and Marc Jacobs, two top-of-the-game designers with unique but very different sensibilities. I find designer apprenticeships extremely interesting because I am always curious to see how much of their former employer’s voice they actually retain, or in some cases if any at all. Some new designers can take several seasons to wipe that ingrained training out of their own DNA while others can find smart new ways to adapt it into their own work.

When I finally inspected Dana-Maxx’s clothes, I saw little evidence of her former employer’s design ideas; her style fingerprints were uniquely her own. That was a good starting point. But unfortunately, what didn’t work for me was some of her collection was just not wearable, not to mention, shockingly expensive. I wasn’t convinced (and still not) that women were looking for a royal blue sparkly ice-skater dress with peaked shoulders and with a heavy pricetag, to boot. It was just, so – gasp! – junior at designer prices. In fact, even writing the description sounds absurd but when you did look deeper into her collection, there were indeed dresses and tops that had potential to look smart and chic and most of all, covetable. What Dana-Maxx did do well – and this was quite evident to me – were her two big ideas. Firstly, she understood color. Sure, black is the color of choice for the fashion crowd, but for me, it’s always refreshing to see someone use bold hues that didn’t translate into a cartoonish exaggeration. Secondly, I loved the way she cut clothes for a female body. No disrespect here, but sometimes it takes a woman designer to really understand that idea of dressing a woman, especially when the silhouettes are graphic and sharp. But even with that, some of her collection lacked focus – and maturity –  and my challenge was clear. Could I “grow up” Dana-Maxx’s collection and see it stepping out in real life?

Tune in for Between the Sheets and more designer transformations on Sundance Channel’s all new original series ALL ON THE LINE. Tuesdays at 10p EST.