In Episode 4, the Season 3 designers tackled the unconventional challenge and created looks out of school materials. Now, Midtown West School and "PRAS" are teaming up to help the community. The Episode 4 dresses are being auctioned off to raise money for enrichment programs and supplies for P.S. 212.
Bidding is open now and the auction closes on Sunday, December 1. Click here to bid on one of the looks and to get more information.
It's not a real season of "Project Runway" until the designers are forced to make fashion (or something approximating it) out of distinctly unfashionable materials, so we find ourselves once again at the Unconventional Materials Challenge. The designers pile onto a bright yellow school bus that shuttles them to P.S. 212 in midtown Manhattan. At first they suspect their clients might be kids, but Alyssa's on hand to let them know that the real challenge is to create "high-impact runway fashion" using materials that would normally be found in a school. This is as good a time as any to lower your expectations.
The group has four minutes to grab everything they think they'll need to create a look. The classroom turns into a ransacked hellscape pretty quickly as they rummage through school supplies. There are crayons all over the floor, rulers being thrown through the air, glitter and pencils as far as the eye can see. The free-for-all continues in the workroom, where the designers discover that this undertaking is considerably more difficult than it sounded at the outset. Elena criest to Zanna, again, because it's all very overwhelming. "This isn't novelas," Viktor says, exasperated. "Stop crying!"
But Mychael understands her pain. "The materials, they just suck," he says. A "make it work" attitude is a major tenet of "Runway," but seriously, there's only so much ANY designer can do with (a) a severely limited amount of time, (b) no real fabric, and (c) stubborn, hard-to-manipulate materials. "Did you have fun?" Alyssa chirps before the start of the runway show. "No," Elena answers sullenly. I feel you, girl.
Anyway, let's talk runway. Our guest judges are hilarious actors Gabourey Sidibe and Michael Urie.
Christopher - A warrior-esque black number made from binders, toy magnets, and scissors. Christopher tries to explain the anti-bullying message behind the look but the judges aren't really here for it. "Who hasn't been bullied?" Isaac scoffs. But the panel likes it anyway. Christopher gets the win.
Elena - Round four of Elena's typical output: Sheath-y, color-block-y, strong shoulders, details at the bust. It's made from rulers, binders, and protractors. The judges really like it. Isaac calls the bust "Mansard roof goes safari pocket" in a complimentary way. Georgina's less impressed but can't deny the garment is good.
Viktor - A geometric patterned dress of rubber bands and thumb tacks surrounded by fringe made from rulers. Michael calls it "timeless." Gabourey delightfully admits that she judges clothing based on whether or not Beyonce would wear it, and that this look definitely fits the criteria.
Mychael - A dress made from construction paper and jump ropes that totally looks like a dress made from construction paper and jump ropes. Gabourey notices the detail in the bustier and Isaac approves of the color scheme but otherwise...meh.
Korto - "Oh, god. Don't judge me," Korto mutters as her look takes to the runway. It's a halter top with a mini skirt made from rubber bands, bean bags, and rulers, and while the top is nicely detailed, the skirt is a mess. Isaac calls out the proportions and Georgina doesn't even say anything, just sort of gestures at it and says, "You know." Korto does indeed know that this is awful.
Jeffrey - Floor mats, folders, and jump ropes make up this look, which Jeffrey says is supposed to be "anime girl in a sundress mid-twirl." "I'm not sure it fits?" Michael asks, perplexed. Jeffrey gets defensive. The judges note that the garment barely covered the model's body and Jeffrey can't argue with that.
The judges hem and haw over the bottom three looks, all of which seem to settle at the same level of bad-ness. Finally Alyssa announces that all three designers are safe.
My real question: How did Irina's look not land her in the top? It's floofy and uber-feminine, perhaps bordering on the arts-and-crafts aesthetic they were warned against, but it also looks like real clothing, which is more than I can say for the other safe look that belonged to Seth Aaron.
What do you think? Should someone have gone home, and if so, which of the bottom three most deserved it? Were you as crabby as Elena was when Viktor cribbed her design idea? Did you appreciate that this was a proper unconventional materials challenge or do you think the designers should have had access to more fabric options? Let me know in the comments.
The challenge by the people, for the people! Can I get a heck yeah!
There have been a decent number of "design a look based on a photo" challenges over the years, but I really enjoyed the fact that this time around it wasn't the designers choosing what to shoot. It was in the hands of you, America. (Heck, it was in the hands of the world...the power of social media!)
After Joanna Coles was done explaining the challenge, she let the designers go in pairs to pick photos. I didn't really understand why the designers were able to pick who would get to select a photo with them. If there were only 10 photos, then I'd get why you'd want to make sure your biggest threat picked last. But there were thousands of photos, so the odds were in everyone's favor that they would find something inspirational. Off the bat, my favorite photo was Emilio's only because little Sophie is freaking adorable. But the headline "Sophie's Choice"...not so much. I'm glad Emilio didn't go with that.
Forget that other young "Project Runway" designer you know and love for just a minute, Season 8's April Johnston is the new kid on the block. At age 22 she clocked in as our youngest All Star, but everyone from Lady Gaga to a Tim Burton-costumed-cast, to me dancing alone in my room would be lucky to wear her darkly divine designs. After her exit post-Episode 4's super speedy gelato challenge, April spoke with me here at the "PRAS" Blog to dish some dirt on her time on "All Stars," her beef with Michael C. and her Season 8 BFF.
It was a really emotional goodbye for you too!
Yeah, I mean because it’s a lot to lose, you know? It’s a big opportunity and just to see it kind of flutter away oh, it’s hard.
You were only on "Project Runway" a couple years ago, what did you think the experience would be like this time around?
I pretty much have the same expectations for what it would be like. I just felt like it was going to be the same but also a little faster. The talent’s definitely more up to par, everybody there is obviously super-talented. [There is] more competition. I felt this time around, we were going to be a little more professional, a little less amateur. I felt like it was going to be faster.
So you expected there would be six hour challenges and crazy things like that?
Yeah, I was prepared for that... but obviously I wasn’t! You can expect things but what are you to do whenever it’s actually there in front of you? You do whatever you can.
A lot of the "PRAS" designers have talked about who from their season they expected to see. What did you think when you found out Michael and Mondo were back with you from Season 8?
I expected Michael to be there and obviously Mondo, because Mondo was the hopeful winner of our season. Michael, I expected he would be there because we had some differences beforehand.
Do you mean on your season or between seasons?
Yeah, on our season. I had said some things about how fast he works and we had disagreements. So seeing him wasn’t really a surprise, seeing Mondo wasn’t really a surprise. But me and Michael, since that episode, you know, we’re fine. He does what he does and I do what I do and that’s the name of the game.
You guys definitely had some conflicts this season, picking the same fabrics, same colors. Did you see that coming or were you prepared?
No not at all. Well, he creates a lot of drama and I always tell him that. I wrote on his Facebook wall, I’m like, "Your middle name is 'drama!'" He loves to just start things, no matter what. I’m sorry, I didn’t know that the color red had Michael Costello’s name on it, you know? That’s just bizarre to me. I’m using a color for once and you’re going to bash me on national television for it? I mean, come on, I thought we had gotten over that hump, I thought we had worked out our differences and then to see that play out on TV after I thought we were cool, it was a little bit disappointing and kind of hurtful because I actually thought he was fine. So watching his interviews sucks.
Did you reach out to him at all?
Yeah, I mean we discussed it. At noon he said, “Oh, you’re using red?” and I said “Yeah, why, are you using red?” like, what’s the big deal? And then he just rounded the corner and told the the Mood guy, “Just don’t cut that, somebody else is using effing red,” and that’s why I was, in the interview, like, “If you want to use red, use red!" This is not second grade and Johnny is using the purple crayon! It’s just stupid.
How do you deal with that? You don't like something you see on TV so then do you Facebook him and say like, "Hey, I want to get it off my chest, that bugs me, I hope we’re cool now"? What do you do in that situation?
Well, we discussed it after the challenge, we got that kind of cleared up after the fact, but just watching the show and watching all the interviews that I didn’t get to see, on his part, it’s a little bit shocking how over-dramatic he can be. Sometimes it seems a little bit fake to me. I’m not like that at all so obviously I’m going to call people out on that because I’m a very down-to-earth person and I say it like it is. That’s just how I am.
On the next episode, the designers have to find muses on the streets of NYC, ask them for their clothing and create new looks using them. What kind of people or what clothing items would you look for if you had to do that challenge?
I would probably go for people who were wearing jackets because they have a lot of material and there’s also lining on the inside. And then, also, probably skirts, longer skirts, because you’re looking for the most material. That’s basically what I would have used for my strategy.
Going back to Season 8 for a minute, you and Peach had such a nice mom-daughter-older-younger-sister-friend relationship do you guys keep in touch? I kind of had this vision of you guys spending Easter together.
Totally! Peach is coming to my wedding. She calls me probably two to three times a week. She’s always keeping track of me. She’s so sweet, she’s my number one fan.
Did you make any new, surprising friendships on "All Stars"?
Me and Mila, we got along really well. She was very down-to-earth, very much like me so I loved hanging out with her and she was also a great buddy to run on the treadmill in the morning with because we both run. I would say Mila was the one person I hung out with a lot and Gordana was really, really sweet, I love her too.
Do you think you’d ever want to do something like what Mila does working in film and TV?
Oh my gosh, yes! I would die to do some Tim Burton movies. That would be right up my alley, you know, that’s a huge dream of mine. The only problem is I’m on the east coast.
Would you relocate?
I think I would, if I had the right contacts and connections, I would definitely move out there. I’m one of those people who are like, "Should I not fear the unknown and just make that move or should I schedule things out, get things prepared and then make that move?"
What do you think is in the future for you and your designs after "All Stars"?
I hope to expand my clientele and maybe get some people on the red carpet dressed. Kind of just get my name out there more. Also, I have a fabric line at Jo-Ann Fabric Stores nationwide now so that’s really a big opportunity for me. People saw what I did on the print challenge on Season 8 so they thought that I was good at that so I kind of ran with that and started my own line. The fabrics are amazing and it’s something new for Jo-Ann’s, it’s a fresh take on fashion fabrics there because they’re trying to expand their clientele and I think what I bring in is very edgy aspects of textile design.
Who do you want to win "All Stars"?
I have said Mila, because I think that she has what it takes. She’s very professional, she’s very talented and has a very fashion-forward eye and I think that’s what "Project Runway" stands for.
In this week's episode recap, Laura Bennett busts out her eagle eye/insanely good memory to discus some of the designers' inspirations (hint: they're not just gelato flavors!). You'll never guess whose dress was similar to their decoy fashion week collection read Laura Bennett's Episode 4 to find out and hear what she really thought of Michael at the top and Kara in the bottom!
Who is your favorite former "Project Runway" designer of all time, on "PRAS" or not?!