Season 15 Premieres September 15 at 9/8c

Mila Hermanovski's Blog

Candy Couture

By kim_messina 07/27/2012 05:03AM GMT

It’s the unconventional challenge, a "Project Runway" tradition and perpetual crowd pleaser. While fun for the viewers to watch, it’s always harrowing for the designers to go through. Some embrace the test to think outside the box, while others are uncomfortable with using anything but fabric. Each season, the producers have to come up with a new setting, material and premise for this challenge, and this time it was Dylan’s Candy Store, owned by Ralph Lauren’s daughter.

The unconventional materials challenge always reminds me of my sophomore year in college, at Rhode Island School of Design. Our very first assignment in the Apparel Design program was the “Innovative,” in which we were to create a look made out of a non-traditional material of our choice. I made a cocktail dress out of multicolored telephone wire. Of course this is in art school and I loved it (And also had more than one day to complete it). When I competed on Season 7 of "Project Runway," our “innovative” was the hardware store challenge. I definitely enjoyed it, as stressful as it was, and reminisced on my college years.

I have a problem though with the choice of a candy store for this challenge. While candy is fun and everyone loves to eat it and look at it, it is nearly impossible to do much more than glue it onto a muslin foundation in such a short amount of time. With a hardware store, 99-cent store, etc..., there is a wide variety of materials the designers can choose from. Most candy is so small to work with that in the end, the challenge becomes more about creating graphic design or a new textile.

Did anyone else notice that when Kooan picked out his orange candy, he used his hands? Ew. Of all the thousands of candies in Dylan’s, Elena selected one of the blandest looking ones which happens to resemble PASTA (piña colada licorice)! Both Buffi and Kooan have cotton candy disasters —perhaps they didn’t have it growing up in their respective cultures and experienced what happens when you attempt to save it for later (You have a collapsed mess).

There is definitely some panic in the workroom this episode, rightfully so. And the runway showed it. Read my thoughts on each designer after the jump!


Boring, flat and a dated silhouette. Who really wears peplums? It made the dress look too costumey and the whole thing too rigid. Why the judges gave him one of the top scores is beyond me.


An impressive entry. Love the use of several types of candies, as if she was using different fabrics, yet they all work together. Love the back detail, and fit and construction are spot-on. I sort of wish the sharks were not so obviously “gummy sharks,” but I’m just splitting hairs. Also, the hat turns the model into a cigarette girl. A well deserved top scorer.


I like that she made separates, and she is one of the few who didn’t default to gluing everything, by using licorice string and silver "beads." The design is youthful and fun. Her execution is a bit weak, but the use of different types of black candies makes it interesting.


Too costumey, and not well thought out because the model had to hold on to the skirt while she walked so it would not fall off!


Really fun. I like that she actually utilized the dots on the sheets, as they came, thereby using structure of the material. The bustle also really took it to the next level, even though it was made of umbrella fabric and not candy.


Tarzan. Italian. That’s all I got.


The base design looks almost identical to the coat she showed in the previous episode, at least, it appears that way. And then she glued beige licorice to it and the result was a football player in a pasta trench coat. The judges deemed she was in the bottom two.


One of the less costumey looking entries, and an impressive creation of ombre by crushing the various shades of blue candy.


Another danceresque look this week, but very well done. Sure he used black t-shirts, but it was the perfect backdrop for the pops of sour balls which had great movement. The center back metal zip was a nice touch too, though where did it come from? The overall look was very dynamic and he was my pick for top three instead of Gunnar.


A crazy genius painting. I wonder how many different candies he used?


Not a bad entry, but after the chevron design in his gown from last episode, he chose to apply the candy in a chevron formation again. (Is that his signature, or default?) The sweetheart neckline though turned a modern cocktail dress into a dated little mall dress.


Interesting and painterly use of textures and colors. I like the pop of red.


Where do I start? All she needs is a hot pink unicorn — she has everything else! Buffi could benefit from an editing eye for sure. The dress could have been much more tasteful if she had used more of the woven candy "textile" she created and lost the handkerchief hem. Why did she use the collapsed cotton candy hat? The judges were right on when they said her design looks like a five-year-old got dressed in the dark.


I could tell Lantie was struggling in the workroom. She likely did not have a clear vision or plan going into the candy store. But she grabbed multi-striped umbrellas and ended up using the fabric for the entire dress, completely defeating the purpose of the challenge. The sad little bit of candy she had time to glue on to the dress made it look very crafty, which didn’t help the situation. And the boots! Oh honey, NO. For Lantie this was the end of the road.


He stated his concept was stained glass, and he achieved it. The dress was very flattering, both fit-wise and graphically. His color palette is right on trend, with the use of pastels punctuated with black outlines. Ven was the winner of this challenge. The design was definitely one of my favorites as well.

Whew! Now that the unconventional materials challenge is behind them, what will the next episode hold? Hmm ... what would be the farthest thing from this challenge?!