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Season 13, Episode 8: The Fade Defense

Posted By laurareineke 4:18am GMT

Week 8 and I was expecting an interesting challenge after a series of evening wear. Well, I got it! They are having the first ever Project Runway rainway challenge, which as Char points out is exactly what it sounds like: A runway in the rain. We also learn that this is an avant-garde challenge.

avant garde - noun, 1. new and unusual or experimental ideas, especially in the arts, or the people introducing them; 2. favoring or introducing experimental or unusual ideas

This should be exciting. However, usually on "Project Runway" it seems as if it is taken as "who can create the craziest, largest look." We also learn that this is going to be the first two-day challenge. They are really setting up the designers for greatness here –- I hope that they can deliver.

Once everyone has chosen their fabric and started working, Tim comes in for his critiques. Some go extremely well. Others, not so much. Surprising to me, Fade is really struggling. Tim tells him to "push it," however Fade doesn’t see avant garde as big and bold (understandably), so he is just as lost after Tim’s crit as he was before. He also seems to be having a tough time mentally (again understandably). I always tell people that the hardest part of "Project Runway" is not the sewing till midnight every night, but rather the way that it messes with your head. You are not able to speak to family or friends unless video taped (and that’s very rarely). Add the fact that you are living with people you are also trying to compete against, and we know that often times people can act extremely weird in these situations, like with Korina and her comments to Amanda. Throw in the difficult aspect: the judges, and not understanding what they want. I think Fade has had some of the strongest designs of the season, yet he has not been selected for the top three once. The pressure of no Tim Gunn Save also can’t settle his mind. I would be feeling very frustrated too.

We have the group stressing over Sean’s design, and the idea of the fabric dye coloring a white dress on the wet runway. Yikes! I think everyone agrees that his could be the biggest competition if it works. Kini also has a bright idea of making a skirt look like an upside-down umbrella. He also wants to include a large hat to keep the water off, but I think this could detract from embracing the water, which it seems a lot of designers are looking to achieve. Alexander has the beginnings of a beautiful flowe- inspired jacket.

That evening the designers get some downtime for the first time with some much needed wine. Yet it seems as if Korina is only one who is really ready to relax, all because of the wonders of immunity. Judging from her design so far, she is a lucky girl. From what I see, her look is a bad Halloween costume. On a side note, I actually think they should get rid of immunity, especially with the whole tag line, "Fashion, one day you are in and one day you are out." That's true: Unless of course you have immunity.

The next day the designers continue to work and pack up their designs for the runway at the new location. Amazingly, no one seems to be stressing about time, and the whole process all goes smoothly. Now onto the rainway.

Char - The texture doesn't look super unique. I know I've seen it before. However, I like the dark color and it kind of does look like a thunderstorm cloud in the rain. The small hat is interesting.

Sandhya - I actually kind of like the coat, and I don't hate this loud design. I agree with some of the designers that is a little bright, but it's interesting. I think it actually would've shown off the coat a little better if there was a simpler piece underneath.

Emily - This again is not the most unique idea, but it is really clean, and the top is well constructed. I have definitely seen it before, and the leggings are horrible.

Alexander - I love, love, love, this look. I think the purple flowers are beautiful. I love the jacket, it is just done amazingly well, add in that simple piece underneath, well done. I must say, a favorite of mine so far this season.

Fade - I like this look, but then I think all of Fade's looks are unique and interesting. I do agree that avant garde doesn't need to be completely crazy to be avant garde. Unfortunately, I can tell he's in trouble. I know "Project Runway" and they like all the glitz, glam, and volume. I like it, and I love the accent lines. I think he did a good job.

Korina - I can't stand this look. To me it looks like it's falling apart. Also the basic dress underneath doesn't look that interesting. I think she should have had her immunity taken away for that monstrosity.

Amanda - I wasn’t so sure about her design, but she ended up pulling it off. Plus, it actually looked kind of cool on the runway. I didn't love it, but I definitely thinks that it looks good. Not a favorite, but not horrible.

Kini - This looks so Christian Siriano to me. I like the hat, and I like the skirt. It did look like an upside-down umbrella! I thought it was really a cool thing, but again not the most unique thing ever seen by man. However, I loved how he can really covered her whole body in that black latex.

Sean - This turned out amazing. I thought he did a great job. I actually thought he could have used more color, and I would've liked if he didn't have a ruffle on the bottom. I wish he had just left the entire dress long. Overall it was a great idea and executed amazingly.

So in the end it's Sean and Kini as co-winners (WTF?), and WHAT? Fade is sent home? Honestly? WTF? I was totally against the judging here. Again, totally arbitrary decision-making by the judges. Alexander was even recognized for his good work (top three for me, if not the outright winner). And Fade, easily one of the most talented designers this season, goes home. And, no frickin’ Tim Gunn Save? Boo, hiss, I’ll have to bill Lifetime for a broken remote, and work up enough interest to watch next week. Tim Gunn save thyself.


Season 13, Episode 7: Evening Wear Exhaustion

Posted By laurareineke 4:31am GMT

This week is, SURPRISE SURPRISE, another evening wear a challenge. Really? I mean, who didn't see that coming? I love a good dress and all, but it seems like a lot of challenges this season have been evening wear based. I just don't think it's fair. I enjoy PR much more when the challenges are designed (get it?) to showcase all the designers' different talents! I would also like to see some ready-to-wear looks (the bread and butter of fashion) and I am really missing that this season. That said, if you're going to do a gown, I would certainly say pairing it with beautiful Chopard jewels is the way to do it.

This week's evening wear design memo, I mean challenge, is for the designer to pick a favorite jewelry item, and then design a piece around it. Everyone seems pretty happy with the piece they have selected. No one is really complaining that someone else has an unfair advantage. What? After last weeks attempt at drama, there's no meltdowns? Huh, imagine that.

We also see that Tim Gunn is visibly upset. Strangely, it actually kind of has me shaken. I'm not used to seeing Tim get worked up. He usually has the best composure of everyone. We then move to a flashback of Char getting kicked off and Tim Gunn saying "If only we were a few more weeks into the season, I would have used my Tim Gunn Save for you." So with that editing I'm not surprised that the next time we see Tim he comes in to make announcement, again visibly shaken, that he is going to bring back Char. Ugh, I have to say that as sweet as Char seems to be, I'm a little disappointed by this. Fade hasn't really been getting all the acclaim that he deserves, and I'm concerned the judges could send him home. That said, there are a number of designers who have been overlooked, and in an off moment might be on the bottom, about to be sent home (or, more correctly, to a different floor). I'm surprised that Tim Gunn used his save to have Char, who is sweet but definitely at the bottom of the field in design ability, stay.

We move onto Mood where Samantha and Sean pick the same fabric. I can't help thinking that this might not be Samantha's challenge. Once we move to the workroom, it doesn’t seem to get that much better. Tim Gunn seems to have some issue with the lines on Amanda's dress, and I can't help but agree; it just doesn't look right -- almost Victorian, but not in a good or interesting way. And moving forward through the designs nothing is looking too promising. I agree with Tim that Korina's print is just way too much of a distraction from the jewels. Could it possibly be that after so many similar challenges our designers are running out of ideas?

Now Runway time! I'm excited to see the results. Why? Well, because thus far nothing has really impressed. I’m really looking forward to seeing who was able to pull it together. A tall task, methinks.

Korina - Kudos to Korina! She really pulled this look off. Along with Tim, I was worried that the print was going to fight too much with the jewelry. And yet, I think it really complements her choice. It makes the necklace stand out. Add to that, the coat is just beautiful. Well done!

Fade - I think the neckline is beautiful, and it definitely showcases the jewels; however the design is lackluster. I was really hoping this would have been Fade’s week to shine, but I just don't think this is the piece to do it.

Char - It's a pretty dress, but nothing really stands out. It looks like a bridesmaid dress -- one I've seen before. Also the armholes seem to be really ill-fitting. While it is looking like it might just keep her safe, I again question the reason for her being here.

Emily - Not a fan of the dress. I don't understand the use of that second layer that goes to mid-thigh. Plus, the top just looks ill-fitting. Even the model seems to feel drab in it.

Samantha - Boring.

Kini - Again, a pretty dress, but nothing original, and you can definitely tell those bust cups are ill-fitting. But it is was pretty dress.

Sandhya - I like the dress. I think it's different, and I think the color really showcases the jewels.

Sean - This is just beautiful, and well made. Unfortunately I also think it might be a little bit on the safe side.

Amanda - I love the jumpsuit. Actually I would have liked this look better if she had just jettisoned the chiffon jacket.

Alexander - This look seemed to be coming together, but I still don't love it. It looks a bit like "throw a piece here, place something here, and let's just hope it works."

To me there were really no clear winners, or clear losers for that matter. It is just whole lotta in-the-middle. I really wasn't moved either way. So, for the record, we have the departure of Samantha, and the crowning of Korina.

What do you guys think? Have you had your fill of evening wear challenges? For me next week better include some dumpster diving or something or I'm going to scream.


Season 13, Episode 6: Drama's Ugly Head

Posted By laurareineke 4:59am GMT

The episode starts with drama. We learn that Korina has apparently called Amanda fake, and surprisingly Amanda is actually concerned about this. I believe Korina is simply reacting to Amanda's success so far and should just not worry. Clearly Korina is just upset that she's only been on the bottom, never being recognized for her design work. Surprise! They are paired together in this team challenge. Dita Von Teese comes out and announces that they are going to make a unique wedding dress. I love this because I actually made my own wedding dress. (Although it did take me a week, not two days. But I didn't have a partner!) The other interesting pairing is Sandya and Char. I surmise they might run into some problems.

Back at the workroom my concerns seem to be pretty well addressed, because they are working with a yellow lace. Colored lace is always very difficult to work with. Usually it just comes up looking a little cheap.

Back to the drama. Amanda complains to Fade about the comment that Korina made, and as if I couldn't love Fade anymore, he proves to be very sweet to her, telling her if she ever needs to talk he will drop everything, and let his model go down the runway naked! He is seriously the sweetest.

(By the way, did Samantha just say she has never been to a wedding?!)

Also, I seriously need to get on Kini's level! I can't believe that his look is almost complete! He has this complete ruffled beautiful trench jacket done just around the time of critiques! He's insane!

Onto the runway.
Kini - A beautiful trench with a nice side ruffle. Very glamorous, but I think the model's makeup and hair could maybe use a little color.

Sean - Very chic, and a beautiful beautiful blouse.

Alexander - Very beautiful. Love this.

Samantha - Great reception dress, great use of feathers, and it helps that Dita is wearing the exact same color.

Korina - A very clean look. While I do love the fabric, I am not completely sold on the jacket.

Amanda - Not my favorite of all the dresses she's done, but it's interesting, and looks cute on the model.

Emily - This look almost seems a bit costume-y. I really like the idea of it, but I just don't think that it was executed very well. It could also lose the Red Riding Hood cape look.

Fade - Not his most interesting look, but I really appreciate the fabrication techniques that he used.

Sandhya - This definitely looked a little student like to me. The top technique was interesting, but the yellow was horrible and so was a skirt.

Char - A mess, just a mess. Not well executed at all.

In the end Char was sent home. No big surprise. And Sean won (thanks Kini!). Well, drama rears its ugly head once again on "Project Runway." What do you guys think about this week's episode?


Season 13, Episode 5: Houdini Kini

Posted By laurareineke 4:46am GMT

The red carpet look: Always a favorite of mine! Exciting, and such a fun challenge! Plus, and even better yet, the winner gets to dress Heidi Klum at an event. I did read that Sean Kelly made a dress for Heidi for the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, so I can assume that he wins this challenge (although judging from the tassel dress, it really looks like an Amanda piece –- perhaps a point of contention?). I was surprised that this was only a one-day challenge. Usually eveningwear is something they give more time for. Hopefully the designers can pull this off! I have to agree with Tim that fabrics are so important for this challenge, so their time at Mood is absolutely make or break.

Back at the workroom, Houdini -- I mean Kini -- is already done with his look. This is before most designers have even had the chance to cut their fabric! Soon (too soon for some), Heidi comes in to look at everyone’s progress. I like Heidi and enjoy her honest feedback, although she is not too scared to throw a few punches. I think there is a great critique that is given to Sandhya with the "Dynasty" reference. Heidi really lays into Korina, and then steals Tim’s line of "Make it work" when Korina starts to cry. Not exactly supportive. At least Korina can take comfort that Samantha seems to be in an equally bad place.

Heidi seems to soften (or is she that scared of all the designs?) and offers all the designers $100 to run to Mood again. I am surprised everyone does not take her up on this to get more fabric; you never know what could happen. Although in their defense, a "20-minute" run to Mood is much longer with NYC traffic and time for cameras to set up, etc. I can also understand Emily’s frustration with this gift from Heidi. I guess it really wasn’t "make or break" at Mood –- more like break it and then get a second chance.

The morning of the challenge there are a lot of designers who seem frazzled (even more then usual), and most looks don’t look too promising.

Char: Beautiful color but not too interesting of a design. Not a fan of ruched neckline.

Emily: Too short, not that exciting.

Mitchell: Horrible, too short, and just a mess all around.

Korina: A mess. Too simple a design to warrant any error. Bottom three.

Fade: Again, as I do every week, I adore the design. I think he is the most creative of the bunch and I think he is being overlooked. The design is stunning.

Alexander: A mess. Waayyy too short in the in back. I don’t understand the front.

Sandhya: Pretty dress, but it’s that fabric that really does all the work.

Samantha: A pretty dress with some interesting design elements, but not a standout.

Kristine: Again, a mess. Boobs are all out, and the dress does not fit.

Kini: Beautiful dress, fits great, would stand out more in another color.

Sean: A fun dress, but like Sandhya’s, the fabric does most of the work.

Amanda: Beautiful dress, but oddly, it doesn’t seem to move that well. The back is actually my favorite part. Would have liked to see more of the beaded trim on the back.

I was extremely surprised that Alexander was safe. He was lucky there were so many other bad designs! Kristine, Mitchell and Korina take his place. The top three are Sean, Amanda and Kini, with Sean taking the prize. Unfortunately, it's a double elimination and Kristine and Mitchell are sent home; although with their work on this challenge it was well deserved.

So, what did you guys think?


Season 13, Episode 4: Mouth-Watering

Posted By laurareineke 4:39am GMT

The fourth episode of Season 13 brings us to Red Robin! Not only does my mouth start to water, but I really get excited when the details of the challenge are announced. How fun that you get to make an outfit out of crazy suits! The twist comes, however, when Sandhya not only gets to choose first, but choose everyone else’s suit as well. Luckily she seems to be kind.

Moving on to sketching, it seems like Amanda might be in trouble; she states that she is trying to cover up all her fabric (a "Project Runway" no-no). Beyond that the drama seems to be that Kristine and Korina have similar outfits (deja vu?). This could be early, but I predict that one will be in the top, and one will be in the bottom. It also seems there is a mini war between Hernan and Sandhya. I have a feeling this will continue to grow throughout the season. The model fittings and critique don’t offer much hope for a great runway, but it looks to be an interesting one at least. Kini really seems to be the only one in good place. (P.S. Did you scoop the new "Project Runway" Rowenta irons they are using? Love them!)

Now on to the runway. I was happily surprised!

Korina: Super modern and clean. Loved it, and I LOVED the length. I thought she did a great job.

Char: I loved the skirt but I was not as crazy about the top. It all worked together in the end. I would say it seemed a little short to be backless, but hey, this is "Runway," not "Ready-To-Wear." My favorite look she has done so far this season.

Fade: He is quickly becoming my favorite designer this season. I thought his look was super chic, and it was such an interesting way to use the plaid. If anything I thought it would have been cute a little shorter. He has been overlooked this season so far, so I hope he gets recognized soon.

Samantha: I think this look is cute, but it lacks the interest that the other designs have. It seems a bit basic.

Hernan: I did not love this look, but after seeing what he started with, plus his struggle with the vinyl (and his mental struggle) I thought he did great.

Alexander: This look is cute, but again, it looks a little lackluster compared to some of the other designs on the runway. I am glad that he decided to keep the skirt length long with the crop top. (That model is stunning!)

Mitchell: This look is interesting! While the dress is nothing amazing, I love the top clear layer that he added.

Sean: This look is not great, but he styled it perfectly. I loved the top, and the model’s bare face and tousled hair made the look cool. He was a favorite of mine at the start; where did that spark go?

Kristine: The jacket looks pretty good (I like the open shoulders), however she is correct when she states that the pants were a mess.

Amanda: This look was a favorite of mine, although a little reminiscent of her looks in previous challenges. Time for her to push herself. The fringe ended up looking perfect, and I did like the patchwork look.

Kini: His look was very clean and sleek, but not the most original on the runway. That said, he did do a great job with the given suiting fabric, and I love the chic cutouts. In addition, it was crafted beautifully and kept the suiting feel, albeit in a very feminine way.

Sandhya: This looks great. While it is not my style, I can totally see the right girl looking stunning in it, and it is definitely creative.

Emily: I thought this look was super cool. I am not sure that I understand the top, but the pants are awesome. I thought she showed great trajectory from the suit she was given.

Wow, I was really wrong about this episode. I had the least amount of faith in this challenge, and yet it ended up being one of the strongest of the seasons (though it's early, I know). Plus all my predictions, well...were totally wrong.

What a fun episode! I was disappointed in the judges' choice of the top three. I thought Emily deserved to be there instead of Alexander. But then I also thought Amanda would struggle and yet, she ended up having a great dress. In the end Amanda won. While not totally original, it was very well done. Also, my prediction of Hernan and Sandhya having a growing feud was thrown off with Hernan being eliminated.


Season 13, Episode 3: A Throwback Already

Posted By laurareineke 4:58am GMT

It’s the third episode and already it's a throwback. We are taking it back to 1994 when Marie Claire was founded. The twist is that the look has to also be inspired by the future...and it is a one-day challenge. I actually loved these challenges when I was on "Project Runway" because each designer has to design a look and stick to it. Sometimes on the two-day challenges the designers have time to completely change their ideas. It makes the competition more exciting because of the "sink or swim" time factor. What an awesome challenge!

In addition to the time management factor, I think it also highlights each of the designers to see how they predict the future. Angela’s inspiration is notable because she used to work on Wall Street, and that style of clothing changes so little. I can think of so many suiting alternatives that she can design, but unfortunately after Tim’s critique we can see that she is not off to a good start. I also feel for Alexander because leather is SO hard to work with -- its shape gets so manipulated by the sewing machine, it makes the pattern-making impossible. However, I am not behind his idea to start over; he should have just stuck to his original design and, to quote Tim Gunn, made it work.

The next day the group heads into hair and makeup (loving the all futuristic beauty looks, especially Kini's) and the designers are scrambling to finish their looks. I believe this is going to be a great runway (excited for Sandhya’s and Emily’s looks). It also looks like my prediction about Alexander is correct. He is truly running out of time by trying to create this new look in two hours.

Kristine: Love this look. The dress is both chic and modern. I also think the cream looks great with the moss jacket.

Hernan: Interesting idea with the removable coverage. I think this is a pretty dress but nothing groundbreaking. Love the back straps.

Mitchell: He really stepped it up with this design. It looks sleek and refined, and I love that it is neoprene.

Amanda: I find the top extremely interesting but I am not so crazy about the pants. It looks a little more '90s than future to me.

Angela: I actually like this design. I think it is smart to take an updated look on suiting, and I think Heidi will appreciate the skirt length. But, on the negative side, it does look a little "Jetsons"-ish, and the colors seem little dated. It is not tailored to perfection, either. Sometimes that matters to the judges, and then again, sometimes not.

Emily: This look is very cool and well done. My only complaint is that I would like to see it in a different color to make it pop more. She also had a great use of accessories.

Samantha: This looks so cool – I love it! None of the individual pieces are that outstanding, but she styled it together, and it looks great.

Kini: This outfit is stunning and one I would love to wear, but unfortunately I am not seeing much future in it.

Fade: Stunning and unique. Extremely tasteful. My favorite so far.

Sean: Similar to Kini's, this is a great look but I'm not seeing much future here.

Char: One of my least favorites. The fit is great but the top looks a bit off. I think it would have worked a lot better if she used the same teal as the bottoms.

Korina: Another one of my least favorites. Nothing looks that unique and it almost comes off a bit messy.

Alexander: He pulled off a look, even with the restarting time crunch –- so congrats for that -– but it pales compared to the other looks as far as tailoring, amount of pieces, and finish are concerned.

Sandhya: I really love this look. I think it is very unique, and looks very chic for being so "crazy."

In the end it was:
Top: Sandhya (loved her description to the judges), Emily and Kristine
Bottom: Angela, Alexander, and Sean (a bit of a surprise)

Sandhya wins again (no surprise) and Angela is sent home. This was probably for the best, as she really didn’t seem cut out for this type of competition. I think she has design talent but there is no time for perfectly cut blouses on "Project Runway!"

Well, that's my take. What did you guys think?


Season 13, Episode 2: Matinee Styles

Posted By laurareineke 4:00am GMT

The show opens up with a popcorn statue in the contestants’ room. The first thing I think is, "Awesome – MTV Movie Awards. But do the MTV Movie Awards still exist?" Instead the designers are sent to the matinee where a scary video is shown to help explain their challenge, and while I am a little lost about what the video could mean, it is fitting, as I remember the explanation of the challenge always being one of the most suspenseful parts of the challenge. Tim then steps in and explains that this is the unconventional challenge (I'm still a little lost). After further explanation we are told the designers can use the materials in a movie theater to create the garments, and to add to the difficulty the designers are paired into teams of three based on who they are sitting next to in the theater.

Back at the workroom, Korina starts to talk about how her group (Amanda and Kristine) wants to go sci-fi, which scares me a little because if not executed well this could be a disaster. Hernan meanwhile has taken control of his group (Sandhya and Carrie) and seems to be treating them more like assistants then partners. Alexander, Samantha and Emily have an interesting idea of taking apart the movie reels to create a texture, and they seem to be working together well. Mitchell, Kini and Char are also working together well by "embracing each other’s style." Sean and Fade have an AWESOME idea of "villains of the cinema," but of course lame Angela is not on board and wants to incorporate fairy godmothers. Eek. Obviously she has another breakdown.

After Tim comes in and gives his advice to all the different teams, Sandhya has her own breakdown. I am a little annoyed by this because after not standing up for herself to her teammates and even telling them she is fine, she then goes and cries to Tim in a private meeting. It is interesting to me that she has such a strong message she wants to share in her clothing but then refuses to stand up for herself in a group. It seems a little passive-aggressive.

Runway day! In the a.m. the designers frantically try to finish their garments while eying the competitions'. That is such a mindgame portion of the competition, comparing the other’s designs to your own (especially a designer like me, where everything comes together last minute while others look done halfway through). There is the time of empty insults. "Sandhya isn’t showing who she is as a designer" -- um, where were you last week, Korina? If anything, Sandhya tries to give the biggest message, though I'm not saying I always agree with the aesthetics of them.

Then my favorite part of the episode: Tim thanks a model for being half naked all the time. Only he could say that and be so sincere for the most innocent reason.

Runway time!!

Sandhya, Carrie and Hernan - Surprisingly looks okay all together. Nothing ground-breaking but I'm impressed that they were able to make everything cohesive. Unfortunately it looks like a strong runway this week and this might not cut it.

Korina, Amanda, and Kristine – Good ideas and a fun group, but it is definitely carried by Amanda. The dress is awesome and the strongest by far. Love the nod to the '60s.

Samantha, Emily and Alexander – I loved this collection and thought it was smart to stick to the black and white theme. Alexander’s was actually my least favorite because it looked reminiscent of many other runway looks I have seen through the years. Samantha’s bodice was a great standout piece.

Sean, Fade and Angela – Another black and white collection. This was also a strong group, with the exception of Angela, whose look really stood out as the weakest link to me. I thought Sean’s dress was the best look of the show and Fade's was executed beautifully.

Mitchell, Kini and Char – This challenge was made for Mitchell -- his love of color and "teen" style was perfect for this! The dress was great, and while the other dresses individually were not amazing, the blast of color was so fun and made for a great runway.

In the end it was no surprise that Sandhya, Carrie and Hernan were in the bottom. It was not the most gracious of critiques and Sandhya impressed me by not getting involved in the conflict (she has redeemed herself in my eyes!). Ultimately Carrie went home in cringe-worthy fashion.

Korina, Amanda, and Kristine’s group was also not a surprise, with (of course) Amanda being the strongest and ultimately the winner.


Season 13 Premiere: The Self-Confidence Issue

Posted By laurareineke 4:29am GMT

"Project Runway" Season 13. Yes, Season 13. I can’t believe it, and yes, I am feeling old. Is there any undiscovered talent even left in America? Maybe it is just the "lucky" number 13, or my lack of favorites last season, but I started this season with not much faith in the franchise. However, after only a few minutes, I am happily surprised.

The show starts with the big announcement that there will be three designers cut after showcasing a three-piece collection to Heidi, Nina and Zac. I wonder why they do this, and just don't cut the wheat from the chaff before they start filming. I suppose it's to fill the extra 30 minutes, and the need to do something different season to season, but it just seems a bit cruel and unecessary to me.

Our three judges remain. Heidi is her usual excited self, Zac remains rather droll, and perhaps because my heart has softened since having a baby, Nina seems an bit extra “Nina-ish” to me -- very short and to-the-point. Unlike some of the designers she clearly doesn't lack self-confidence.

Korina is the first designer to share her designs. I absolutely love the three pieces that she shares. If the other designers are at her level, this is going to be a great season. Jefferson is next, and although I love his story, and that he knows the body well, it doesn't seem to carry on to his designs, noticeably the super cropped jackets that just don’t seem like they would be flattering on many women. We then have a few more designers that don’t really capture my attention -- until Mitchell. While his designs don’t blow me away, I LOVE his personality. He has a great sense of humor. He seems to be sassy without being bitchy; although after a week of no sleep, we will see how that holds up. Tim also keeps me laughing, and I do think that he has an interesting point of view.

In reference to self-confidence, it is clear that Angela is sorely lacking in that department. It is such a shame because she is such a beautiful, smart and talented woman. I thought her designs were pretty, but I do agree with the judges that they lack excitement. Ultimately it did not seem to matter, because she was selected to move forward to the next round. I was surprised and disappointed that Tim was not selected, but I'm still feeling optimistic about those who were chosen.

So now the real action starts! Of course we are greeted with product placements (Aldo! Not bad. But...a refrigerator? I can only imagine that future challenge) and mystery trunks. The PR gods (producers) are kind and the trunks are filled with usable fabric. (I say usable because I totally got screwed with unusable/last-choice fabric on "All Stars," and clearly know the importance of fabric.) We start seeing sketches and nothing is really moving me too much. Then again, how often do the designs actually end up looking like the sketches on this show anyways? Time limits bring desperate measures, and usually this significantly changes the garments. While working, everyone seems pretty normal (it IS the first day), except Angela, who keeps showcasing her lack of confidence. Korina and Mitchell just love to gossip. I have a feeling that because Korina lacks the comedic personality, this will ultimately haunt her, while Mitchell will walk away unscathed (granted, a VERY early prediction).

Runway time!!

Sandhya – Love the idea of it, especially the unique take on the cold-shoulder trend. It is creative, but lacks finishing. Also, and it could just be me, but the zippers seem a little "been there done that."

Angela - Again, I like the idea of the pants, but the finishing is off. The top is interesting, but too many ideas in one piece! Needs editing.

Alexander – Not a favorite. Not crazy about the mixing of those prints, and although I like the silhouette, it is a bit basic. Nevertheless, it is a nice nod to the '60s. Middle of the road.

Sean - LOVE this. Great seaming and a sexy back. I'm a fan.

Carrie – The piece looked finished, and I love what she did with the print, but as "futuristic" as this tried to look, it ended up just looking dated.

Samantha – A chic look, but the pants seem a little short, and it is probably not the greatest choice to go with black for a spring look.

Mitchell – Wayyyy too "junior"-looking. The back of the shirt needs to hang down longer to give any real feel of "cool."

Kini - I really like this floral dress! I think he should have skipped the jacket and showcased the dress a bit more. I also think a lower neckline or small cutout would have kept the look a little younger.

Jefferson – Very student-y. The shorts are too high-waisted, and way too short, combined with a top that just needed more movement.

Emily – Bottom choice for me. The dress is just too long, and looks odd under the corset top. To me it looked ridiculously simple, and very questionable (Tim, where art thou?).

Hernan – I really thought this dress could have been a winner – in fact, I want one! He took a dated print and made it modern. He had interesting cuts in the back, but they did not clash with the print. Well done!

Korina – Great color, but ultimately safe. I actually think it would have been stronger as a dress, or as extremely wide-legged trousers. And please, please, lose the train.

Kristine – Not feeling this one. It is just way too juvenile, and honestly I can’t think of who would wear this. Maybe the top, or maybe the bottom, but for god's sake, it is much too much together.

Amanda – Just okay. I have seen the pants (not into the half triangles). The top was cute, but it was not strong enough to carry the outfit.

Fade – I thought this also could have been a winner. I was surprised by how cool this dress was in comparison to the three pieces that he chose to show the judges earlier. Looked super expensive and modern. Well done!

Char - I liked this. The skirt has been seen a million times but she pulled it off with great aplomb. The top was beautiful.

Judgment time! Well, I can't say I agreed with the judges (déjà vu), but it is early days yet. The top three ended up being Amanda, Sandhya, and Char, while the bottom three were Mitchell, Jefferson, and Angela. With Sandhya being the winner of the first challenge, is there any question this was a smack down to Mitchell and Korina's bitching earlier in the episode? And Jefferson, who seemed like a nice guy, with questionable taste, gets the axe.

In the end my favs didn’t get recognized but luckily none of them got sent home.


Four Left at Fashion Week

Posted By laurareineke 4:46am GMT

We have come to the final episode. It is week 14, and if we look at some interesting facts about the number 14 we see that a) it is the number of Stations of the Cross, and b) it is the number of pieces Osiris' body was torn into by his brother Set. Both are emotions I'm sure our designers felt during this episode (only slightly dramatic here).

Never before have there been four designers left at Fashion Week finals, Heidi informs us. While this is true, to me it rings hollow. I believe these four could have been pared down, but nevertheless, we have four at the finals.

Oh, yeah wait, wasn't there something about Tide? Yep, the infamous final challenge. We are reminded that the Tide customer is fashion-conscious, but one who wants ready-to-wear clothes -- literally, wash it and it's ready to wear. Each designer gets $250 and one last visit to Swatch, I mean Mood, and a day to do it in. I remember when we had our final challenge, we had help from the most recently excused contestants. No such luck for these four.

Tim visits the final collections. Bradon is first, and where did he go? Because in his place is Jeremy's collection. Old and not very fashionable (Talbots anyone?). I don't see how the judges can give him the win. Strong all season, he lost his mojo. He has a hill to climb if he is going to finish higher than fourth. Dom produces what she has all season, similar silhouettes, some prints. It's overall a good professional collection, not very ambitious, not very adventurous, but very bog-standard. Justin is also a bit safe, but what he does have is variety. That, in this era of 10-piece collections made in 6 weeks, may be enough to give him the win. Boy, talk about a save. Alexandria may have a collection that is too simple, maybe too monotonous says Tim. Too many T-shirt style tops says Tim, Nina hates them. Alexandria starts to tailspin. But, she does have backup, plenty of backup (30 pieces?) to pick and choose from.

Here is where I miss some of the features from my season. I liked the footage of the three of us picking models. It was an introduction to the real world of fashion and organizing fashion shows. As Jay McCarroll famously pointed out, "Don't just give me money, show me how to run my own line." While they may still do these things—and I do not know if they do or don't—I missed seeing it. I miss some of the "behind the curtain" scenes. "Project Runway" has a tenuous grasp on the real world of fashion, but I do miss some the more mundane, real-world aspects we used to see.

As the designers fret through the last stages they become a little emotional. These are people with imagination, so what this all means to them is great. We see them at the before-dawn walk to the runway. The emotion of being at Fashion Week, and the last minute problems that crop up—models with broken ankles, models spilling coffee on clothes—it's a madhouse. Bradon freaks, but the show must go on.

Runway time, with Kerry Washington (I love her! She was a guest judge on our season) is guest judge this time as well. Justin is first up. He presents a collection that is varied. Shorts, dresses, gowns, pants, he seems more ambitious than maybe other designers, but the limit of color makes the collection slightly boring. A woman will only put up with so much white in her wardrobe. His unconventional materials dress steals the show. Strong, yet very consistent, it's a solid placing for Justin.

Dom is next. While I loved the prints, I actually thought there should have been more of them. Those are truly her standout pieces. I love her chic, simplistic dresses but thought the collection was a bit all over the place. Is she an evening wear designer, resort, or RTW?

Alexandria comes out with an exuberant show of simple, yet exciting looks. Well done. Not all the looks were my favorite (the first look really made no sense to me) but she is clear who she is as a designer and produces excellent separates which is what today's woman wears.

Bradon comes last. And it has the first Tide challenge look. Oh, yeah, there's that look. Otherwise it was a hum-drum showing of easy pieces, some too simple to be thrown into a 10-piece collection. As Nina would point out it was unfocused.

To me it was a race between Justin, and Alexandria, both the controversial, and most likely unpopular choices. Ultimately Dom takes the prize. She is a talented designer who has an excellent eye for print but I still am let wondering what typeíof designer she is.


Lucky 13

Posted By laurareineke 4:05am GMT

Lucky 13. It has come to the thirteenth week of Season 12, and five designers are still eligible for the win. Dom and Bradon are in. As last week's top two, they are in the catbird seats. Helen, Alexandria, and Justin are still to fight for the remaining slot at Fashion Week. Each is given $9000 to spend and six weeks to create, along with a never-before-seen twist: One look must be made of unconventional materials. Alexandria starts to break down at Tim's send off. At this stage the designers are just worn out, add to that the further pressure for Helen, Alexandria, and Justin to come up with a collection to go on to the next round.

On to what I know is for many their favorite episode: The Tim home visits!

First up is Dom. She meets Tim at the Philadelphia restaurant where she works. Her lovely mother, brother, and boyfriend have lunch, and then she and Tim head off to see her work space. It reminds me somewhat of the space I had in Dayton. Large, open, windows, industrial. She's doing prints inspired by the movie Blade Runner. Her unconventional material look is made out of door braces. While Tim likes her direction, she only has 3 1/2 of her 10 looks done. She's in bad shape. I would certainly hate to think that she waited for Tim to come in and give her direction.

Next Tim's off to LA, and Bradon's collection. His inspiration is spring time, being from up state NY he recalls flowers blooming while snow still blanketed the ground. For him it's the clash of nature. He has 4 looks left to do, he seems in fine fettle. But then the unconventional materials outfit comes out. Made of clothes line and painters plastic, Tim thinks it's heavy looking, and a drag on Bradon's mostly light, airy pieces. Well truth be told, Bradon is in good shape. Then it's a walk on the beach with his fiance and their very cute dog.

While in Cali, Tim heads off to San Mateo to check in with Alexandria. She has focused on "edgy, strong, and modern," which is somewhat of a mantra for her. The title is "Neo Nomadic Punk." As she leads Tim into her work space, she states "here's where the magic happens" -- anyone else cringe and think of an episode of MTV's "Cribs"? Alexandria has produced 30 pieces, and for her unconventional material she has chosen phone books. Now it could be me, but was Tim's reaction to the kids at Camp Couture helping Alexandria on the garment edited? In the rules you are allowed some help, but not much (recall Jeffery Sebelia). Off to Camp Couture, and Tim marvels at the dolls the children have made representing the contestants on the show, and I do have to say the Sandro doll, Susan doll, Timothy doll (funny how even Alexandria couldn't remember his name), and the Miranda doll were just as Tim said, "Spot on." Alexandria is ready.

It's off to Union City, New Jersey, and Helen. Tim looks at Helen's progress and is concerned. While she is moving along, what she has are simple dresses and capes that look very, very similar to what Helen has made this whole season. (I have been saying all along that Helen strikes me as an impostor in a designer's shoes and this is not helping my confidence.) Tim questions the excitement factor, especially when you send looks down the runway that seem exactly like the looks you made in one day months before. Some shower mats are stacked and ready for the unconventional challenge dress. I say it is foreshadowing a poor final crit. But then of course the judges could have a completely different script from Tim. Then there is a nice lunch at Helen's parents house with her family and boyfriend, and they get to talk about Helen's favorite subject, Helen.

Finally it's down the East Coast to beautiful Raleigh, North Carolina, and Justin. Sound waves are his inspiration. Tim visits Justin's workplace and marvels at the machine that will make Justin's prints (it's a print season, even Helen is doing them) being made at State. Justin has some work to do, but things are moving along nicely, and overall he's in a good place. Justin's unconventional material? Test tubes, gotta love the 'outside the box' thought process there, I'm interested to see his collection. Lunch with his delightful family. Interesting to know that Justin started in architecture, and his sister will wear only the occasional garment from Justin.

Back in NYC, and it's the stink-eye as designers start to look around the room at the others as they unpack their creations.

Wait, what? A Tide challenge? It's all a bit surreal here as the workroom is given its traditional "final" challenge. But only for the chosen. First, heads must roll -- one of the three contenders to the finals must be axed. One must go. Why not two? I mean it's not like the forth place gets to be a decoy. 70% of the contestants get to be decoys. Is it because they want to have another week to get rid of someone?

One thing the designers do have is time. They certainly have time to walk around to critique each others looks.

Oh, well, runway time for those on the chopping block. Each of the three on the bubble have picked three outfits to give the judges an idea of their collection. A rather beat up Tim Gunn has his final check-in. Alexandria is seen by everyone as having three pieces too similar. Tim essentially gives her the green light to do as she pleases. Tim likes Justin's looks, but worries about Justin's construction. Helen is quick to point out Justin's lack of construction skills, which I find highly annoying.

Tim sees Helen next, and she is blasted by the same critique she got in NJ: poor sewing, poor choices of which garments to show. It's a bad crit. Helen again shows her immaturity by not defending the time she put into her work rather than the work itself. Let me tell you, you can spend a lot of time digging a ditch, and in the end it is still a ditch. She whines and pleads, but no rewards. Helen has just proved the old "Peter Principal" theory by reaching the level of her own incompetence. She is outclassed by all those around her. That 6 weeks she wanted to "blow the judges out of the water" just pointed out her deficiency as a true designer. Again, I believe, she came to this show too soon.

It comes down to last minute before the runway showdown, and it's interesting to see Dom help Helen finish up, Bradon help Justin with a few final stitches, and Alexandria organizing her looks alone.

Runway shoot out:
First up is Alexandria. Her first look is not a wow moment for me, the top is not very exciting, but it's honest. She seemed to pick not the most stunning, but the most representative of her work. You understand her when she says those three represent a nonchalant downtown vibe. I like her look, it is all about the detail, a very subtle style. I like it, but will it stand up to Helen, and even Justin's more boisterous looks?

Helen is next. she sends down three similar looks that I find ill-fitting, way too simple, and poorly constructed. If it looks this awkward on the small screen, my Lord, what does it look like in person? It lacks imagination, fit, maturity. I do feel somewhat for her. But, hey they built the monster.

Justin sends down three nice pieces including his unconventional materials piece. A brave move as his looks are the most encompassing and ambitious of the three. He walks a skirt, a pants suit, and a gown. Well played sir.

Justin is the first to be criticized, more for his styling than his designs, a good sign. Alexandria, the IKEA of fashion, points to her hooks and stylized features. She's praised by Zak and Heidi, but Nina blasts her, surprising from her I thought. In the waiting room Alexandria pointed out Nina's harsh criticism with "Missed that one." Again, I love the Nordic understatement.

Helen is just shot down, while her "concept" of minimalism is praised (I agree) but her vision, and execution are heavily critiqued. While the time in front of the judges on TV is mere seconds, it can be hours, especially at this stage. She is left to stammering, monosyllabic utterances, "modern," "good," worked hard," and finally "rough." I'm thinking this is Helen's "deer in the headlights" look. Not good.

First to be saved is Justin. It is down to Alexandria and Helen. For me an easy choice. Alexandria has consistently produced more adventurous looks than either Justin or Helen. And Alexandria it is. Helen was just not ready. So with Justin, a controversial choice, and Alexandria, an equally controversial choice, we're off to the finals.

So did the judges make the right choice? Was Helen the weak link?