In October’s cover story, we introduced you to the first life-size, scientifically accurate reconstruction of a Neanderthal woman that's based on fossil anatomy and ancient DNA. She is five feet tall. She is heavily muscled. And you've surely noticed that she’s not wearing any clothes. Anthropologists believe that in summer, Neanderthals probably went naked.
Although the cover headline reads “Neanderthals Revealed,” we thought Wilma, as magazine staffers affectionately call her, might have occasionally craved a cover-up. So we asked some of the Project Runway designers to sketch an outfit for her, featuring materials that would have been available in Neanderthal times: animal skins (aka “leathuh”), fur, bones, and ocher body paint. Two National Geographic magazine designers also took on the challenge of answering the question: "What Would Wilma Wear?" Here are the fashion-forward ensembles they came up with.
Since there are no official judges for this challenge, we ask you, our readers, to share your opinions. Vote for your favorite. The winner will get immunity in the upcoming Cro-Magnon challenge!
Blayne Walsh, Season 5
Known for his colorful, urban designs on Project Runway, Blayne segues
into very vintage women's wear with light-colored leather, fur, feathers, and
bone detailing. Watch for that fashion-forward fur boot, complete with
claws (fierce!) to spring up on couture runways in future seasons. Blayne
plans to launch a menswear collection.
Johnathan Kayne Gillaspie, Season 3
Johnathan envisioned Wilma in a chic, midriff-baring outfit made of animal
hide, with the sides "sewn together with sinew from captured prey."
The shoulders are covered to protect Wilma's light skin from the sun, but
are cut to allow air under the top. Johnathan usually works with fabrics
like tulle and satin to create prom and evening gowns at his
Joe used ocher-dyed leather thread, leaves, and fur to create a figure-flattering
wrap dress for Wilma, and topped it off with a classic dinosaur tooth closure.
Body art completes the look. And as all women know, a spear is always the
ultimate accessory. In addition to heading his own label, RedFly, Joe is
senior designer for outerwear company Schott NYC.
Terri thought Wilma should strut her stuff in a tight bustier, leather jodhpurs, and
knee-high boots constructed of fine strips of bear. A bone necklace dangles
from Wilma's formidable neck. The look is topped off with a show-stopping
yak coat. Terri has her own (yak-free) clothing line, Funkin' Beautiful.
Wilma sports a luxurious fur wrap dress (designed to show off her body art)
and a lavender-grey feather capelet to warm her shoulders and
accentuate her fiery red hair. Wooden platforms painstakingly carved with
rudimentary tools form the base of her t-strap bone sandals, and Wilma
accessorizes her wrists with bangles made from the teeth of her neighbors
(whom she cannibalized). When she's not dreaming up outfits for cannibals,
Mollie is a designer for National Geographic magazine. Not that we're biased,
but we think she deserves extra credit for designing to fit Wilma's true
Ruben put Wilma in a trendy mammoth tusk mini with leafy accents and an
eye-catching red carnation top. He included a lichen-covered beach
umbrella--perfect for twirling daintily on a hot day, or scaring away sabertooth
cats. Ruben usually puts his imagination to work as an art and design
coordinator for National Geographic.