Season 15 Premieres September 15 at 9/8c

Mila Hermanovski's Blog

Placemats and Primadonnas

By laurareineke 08/16/2013 04:44AM GMT

This may be the third unconventional challenge (out of five), but what a doozy! This has to be the mother of all unconventional challenges, with not one but *three* sources for materials! We've got Surprise!Surprise! (basically the 99-cent store), an antique wallpaper store, and Garden of Eden, a New York market. All sponsored by Lexus, who provides the winner of PR with a new car. So are the designers supposed to be inspired by Lexus as well? My head would be spinning! The designers have been pre-selected into teams of three, to create a "high-end, luxurious mini-collection." Each designer is responsible for one look, however the three looks need to be cohesive; some teams found this element more challenging than others.

We immediately see that the team consisting of Sue, Ken, and Alexandria is doomed; all the other designers see this as well. There is the concern that the three of them each have distinctly different styles, but no one could have imagined that it would go so far south. Well, I have to say, I saw this personality in Ken from early on. He didn't just get the "bitch edit," he IS a bitch! There is only so much editing can do. He is still responsible for his harsh words. He is nothing but sour and a poor team player this entire challenge. I do wish he had been eliminated just for his lousy attitude and overall nastiness. Some of his comments and looks were really revolting. Only problem? I do have a big issue with someone who is competing on "Project Runway" and can't use a sewing machine.

Oh Sue. You know, I watched a few of the audition videos/home visits and I was immediately intrigued by Sue's work. She is an artisan (there's one on every season) who does things "her way," and she actually makes really beautiful pieces. She definitely has the potential for a high-end, handmade, celebrity/rocker clientele. But "Project Runway" is not her platform. When Tim critiqued this team's work (in particular Sue's), he really ripped on them. I've never seen Tim give as harsh a critique as he did here. He asked Sue if she had ever seen "Runway" before, for if she had, why would she select curtains for an unconventional challenge? She said she had seen it, and knew what she was doing...but her Q&A on her profile would indicate otherwise (Q: Favorite Project Runway designer? A: Not familiar enough to say). And while I think her work is special, her skills and applications are not diverse enough to compete on, let alone win, "Project Runway." And how is it that the executive producer of the show, Heidi Klum, is so shocked to know that a designer who doesn't use a sewing machine made the cut onto the show? I wouldn't be surprised if that alone was the deciding factor in the decision to eliminate her over Ken. Though it's still a toss-up. who would you have rather seen stay for another challenge: the bitchy queen or the sweet-yet-daft, artsy Brooklynite?

Tim was on fire in the critiques this week! Not only did he elevate Kate's design by pointing out that she was not using any interesting materials, but boy did he slap the losing team, including calling Ken on his poor attitude. What's up with Sandro coming back just to apologize? Seems oddly gratuitous. Ah least he was not allowed back into the competition! And speaking of egos, who does this June Ambrose think she is that she can a), address the designers as "darlings" (doesn't she know that's Mizrahi's schtick?), and b), pull off those furry black ears on her head? Oy.

The only thing in my opinion that makes this team's work cohesive is the color palette, and maybe the giant poufs of light-colored material (on Bradon's skirt and Alexander's top). I am rather indifferent.
Alexander: A look that is pure "Dynasty"-meets-Cirque-du-Soleil-clown. Everything Alexander designs has a drag queen vibe to it: just too costumey.
Miranda: Such a basic silhouette, but at least it looks upscale. This look is the least cohesive simply because it is the cleanest, and the other two designers went very "grand," a completely different direction.
Bradon: Impressive that he achieved such a large confection of a gown in such a short time. For me it is too costumey, but I respect the ambition.

The team only spent $600 and it kind of looked it. What happened to their Art Deco/1920s concept? The only thing that reflected that was their wallpaper choice, quite a nice print. Helen's look was a wreck, with the lopsided, haphazard pouf skirt that screams "unconventional challenge."
Dom: Stalagtite-shoulder overdose! Not fresh or modern, and competely overdone; very Gaga-3 years-ago.
Justin: He hasn't made pants many times, and it showed! Pants are already challenging so why would you then attempt to make them when your material is wallpaper? This is a challenging material with which to make well-fitting pants even if you are an expert. The team was safe, however.

This mini-collection made me think of an amateur music video circa 1992. Or three best friends in high school attempting to make their own dresses for junior prom. It's an oddly cohesive (albeit awful) collection. It was kind of pathetic and sad because it was so evident in the quality of their work that they were all just miserable during this challenge, largely due to the Lilliputian bad seed Ken. His sour attitude and refusal to attempt to work together with Alexandria and Sue simply rotted the team. All three looks were just haphazard and Ken's look made his model look thick from the slapped-on duct tape waistband. Certainly hard to believe they spent $1400 on materials.

The winning team's collection was not the most cohesive, but it did look luxurious, elegant, and high-end, fulfilling the requirements of the challenge. All the looks used a really nice mix of materials, NOT JUST predominantly PLACEMATS like so many other teams did. I'm not sure to whom I'd have given the win, however.
Jeremy: oh wait! He used predominantly PLACEMATS! This is why I'm not so convinced he should have won. He sewed a bunch of pieces of cloth together. The glitter ombrÈ effect was very nice though, and the dress fit very well, except the bust, which Heidi was singing praises about -- usually it's the thing she criticizes the most. I was sure she wouldn't like the bust on this dress as it really didn't do the model any favors.
Karen: I very much liked her concept and use of mixed media in this modern dress. The drawbacks were the length and placement of a couple of the style lines, both of which made the model look wide. But overall this look was super modern, luxurious, and European, a surprise coming from Karen, who has not yet impressed me.
Kate: Another thoughtful use of different materials, which she must have added after her critique with Tim, because it would appear she missed the mark of the unconventional challenge based on that. Tim was concerned that she was only using PLACEMATS to make a little black dress. She should definitely be thanking Tim for that one!