Season 15, Episode 9 Recap: A Family Affair

One of the wonderful things about fashion is that it can be used to reinvent yourself and this was the theme for this week’s challenge: designing an outfit for the next chapter of a loved one’s life. Instead of silly workroom drama, there were tears of joy and lots of money involved. Get your Kleenexes out because it’s time for family makeovers on “Project Runway”!

After last week’s “Tim Gunn Save” of Cornelius, everyone was on pins and needles as to how he and his nemesis Dexter would interact on this first day following his comeback. Before too much shade was thrown, Tim Gunn enters bringing with him Barbara Shipley, senior vice president of brand integration for AARP. Shipley explains how AARP helps people 50 years+ re-imagine the next chapters of their lives. You can almost see the 20-something year olds having thought bubbles of, “Boy that’s OLD!” as she says 50. She then announces that they’ve brought some “very special people” who are starting the next chapter of their lives to help inspire the designers. On cue, some of the designers’ mommies, a daughter and a couple of besties enter the workroom to much jubilation.

After the tears have been wiped, Barbara puts a MAJOR exclamation point on the challenge by declaring that the winning designer will get $25,000 and in addition, the winning loved one will also receive $25,000, all from AARP. Two things: 1) Wow, and 2) Who knew AARP had so much dinero?! The designers get private consultation time with their loved ones and then head to Mood with a $250 budget. The first day goes off well as the designers begin working on their two-day challenge.

The second day arrives and besides continuing their designs, the designers meet with their “muses” for fittings and Tim’s critiques. Cornelius is making his travel-loving mom, Pam, what he calls “a casual/sportswear” outfit. Mah-Jing’s mom, Antonia, is an underground hip-hop artist named “Bahamadia” who wants to launch her own recording label. He wants to make her into a “Japanese hip-hop ninja” with an ambitious coat and pants look.

Jenni is creating a sweatshirt and pants ensemble for her mom, Amanda. Tim thinks the outfit is confusing. This isn’t such a shocker, knowing how frustrated Jenni was when, on the previous day, her mom said that she wanted an outfit for a birthday, graduation or going out to eat…or maybe an exercise outfit. Breathe Jenni, breathe!

Laurence is doing a leather jacket (quelle surprise) for her daughter Victoria and Dexter is creating a sweater dress for his friend Lauren. Roberi’s Venezuelan friend Suki, moved to Panama to begin a life as a graphic designer. He’s using graphic prints to make a dress. Nathalia’s mother is going to Europe and so she is making her a mix and match travel ensemble. Erin is next, explaining to Tim her “caterpillar into a cocoon” inspiration for her mom’s coat and dress. Tim is right in questioning Erin about her been there/done that coat and more importantly, the lace and pastel blue dress. Tim screams, “EEESH,” when asked to describe it, which is translation for dowdy, mumsy and icky. What is happening to Erin?

Finally, Rik is making a dress and jacket for his darling mom, Delia, who is going back to school to get her degree in organizational management. After Rik and his mom are finished with Tim, I find myself LOVING these two. Maybe it’s because they remind me of my mom and I, or maybe it’s because they’re both so adorable. Whatever the reason, I have this unabashed desire for them to win. Later on, he really cements my feelings when he sews a heart appliqué on the dress and then adds white stitching to give homage to the embroidered mariachi outfits he remembers from growing up in L.A. Seriously, I don’t know what this is going to look like but, can I just vote for them as the winners now?

The morning of the runway show has arrived and most of the designers are ready, except for Nathalia, who still has to make a top, finish a jacket and a pair of pants. Two guest judges grace today’s catwalk: former Miss Universe and Nick Jonas ex, Olivia Culpo, and CEO of Birchbox and “Project Runway: Fashion Startup,” investor Katia Beauchamp.

The fashion show beings and here are my two cents. First with the okay and good: Cornelius’ printed suit is nice but it was A LOT of print. I might have broken that up with a solid skirt. Laurence’s was actually quite boring and unstylish considering what she’s created before. Dexter’s “Elizabethan” sleeved sweater design was Comme des Garcons/Jean Paul Gaultier UBER directional. I wanted him to be on top, but I thought he had a slight unfair advantage since his bestie actually looked like a MODEL!

I agreed with the judges that the top looks were from Roberi, Mah-Jing and Rik. Roberi’s graphic printed cocktail dress looked Carolina Herrera sophisticated and fit well, but I wished it was six inches shorter. Mah-Jing ROCKED it with his ninja warrior goddess outfit for his mom. And I think that Rik really captured the essence of creating something that transformed and reimagined the next chapter in a loved one’s life with his dress and cropped jacket for his mom, Delia. Not only was it dignified and elegant, but it had those one of a kind, personal touches that really made it special. In my book they were already the winners, but after Miss Bahamadia’s Diva-like catwalk, I was afraid Rik and his Mom might not pull it off. But alas, they won, and got $25,000 for him and $25,000 for his mommy! I hope they have a BIG mariachi-inspired party to celebrate this huge win… and invite ME!

And now, the uh oh. Let’s start with Erin. Eeesh! Not only was it unattractive, it was disjointed in its design–modern coat meets bad vintage dress? Next. Jenni’s outfit was better suited for Jenni as opposed to her mom. I did like the athleisure-inspired sweater top, but those pants fit oddly and the combination was peculiar. And then there was Nathalia. Her coat, blouse and pants outfit was a complete mess. Not only was the coat unfinished with pins sticking out, it was overwhelming. And to finish it off, the pants were unflattering to put it mildly.

Last week, I wrote right here on my blog that Nathalia can “make a mean jacket and amazing pants.” I think I spoke too soon. I was sure that she was out this week for what she half-made. But in one of the many judging shockers this season, she wasn’t. Instead, it was Jenni who was aufed. I’ll just say it: I don’t think she deserved to go home. Jenni had some semi-stylish items and they were at the very least, finished. As for Nathalia, not stylish and not finished. This was a head scratcher of an elimination. But I’ll try not to dwell on it too much since I have bigger fish to fry, like waiting for my invitation to the fantasy mariachi bash Rik and his mom are throwing.

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