+ More

Season Premiere July 24 at 9/8c

The official site for "Project Runway" Season 13 offers video, designer portfolios, Rate the Runway photos, blogs and more.

mila-hermanovski-blog-project-runway-blog

Mila Hermanovski Blog

Category: "season 12"

21
MON

No More Tears

Posted By laurareineke 10:30am GMT

When we left off, it had been whittled down to four finalists after the elimination of Helen. Now, with two days until the finale at Lincoln Center, the final four must edit one look out of their collection and replace it with a new "washable" look, sponsored by Tide Pods. I think I'd be pretty annoyed at that, because it's difficult enough make a cohesive collection with less than 10 looks, but then after all that hard work making these collections at home, having to 86 one of them would be super frustrating. It involves new fabric (i.e. finding something that works in the collection), which would be used in only the one look, unless someone bought their original fabrics at Mood. Not to mention the designer could be omitting a look which potentially took several days or even a week to make, and substituting it with one that must be made in a day or two. Then again I suppose for some people it could be a bonus if they were not happy with one of their looks.

The beautiful and articulate Kerry Washington is the guest judge this week. I don't think I'm alone when I say that usually I find the choice of some of the celebrity judges very annoying. I'd love to see a powerhouse fashion designer a la Donna Karan or Narciso Rodriguez, not another actress. However, Kerry seems to know quite a bit about fashion, definitely had some opinions, and made some valid points. Plus she is just straight up eye candy!

Judging from Bradon's collection, I am not sure I know who his customer is. Where does one wear some of those looks? I'm not into all the gold (particularly the shorts and pants). The Tide washable look is not cohesive with the rest of the collection. Though the prints are pretty and have a painterly quality about them, the addition of the gold, along with the very average proportions, make the looks rather mature, and therefore they don't seem fresh. All I could think of when I saw look one was "Gone With the Wind" skirt with meringue hem! I can't understand what the judges liked about that, and again who wears it. Bradon's muse look was the one I responded to the most, when the camera started panning low.....then it reached the top and there was this giant gold caterpillar thing on one side and it ruined the gown for me. Bradon came in fourth place.

Dom was awarded the win with her print-heavy collection, which I felt was very overpraised. I think she is great at her prints, but the gown looks were questionable for me. The colors of the three solid gowns, in that shiny charmeuse (?), looked cheap and like the silhouettes I've seen department store "occasion dress" areas, and while I like a good clear plastic trench, this was a bit too referential to "Blade Runner" and went a bit costumey. I did love the printed jumpsuit, Tide Pods look, and the unconventional look.

My favorite collection was Alexandria's "Neo Nomadic Punk." Like the female judges, I responded to many of the looks with, "I want that." She really understands what the modern contemporary look is about right now. It looked professional and well made, the fit and proportions were great, and it had a relaxed, luxe vibe. The oddball look, however, was the full skirt with vest. I have a feeling Alexandria is a lot like me in that she doesn't wear many skirts or design them, which is why perhaps it was a head-scratcher. She was very smart to open with her unconventional look to grab the judges' attention, although I didn't feel it fit with the rest of the collection. Apart from that, the collection overall was extremely focused and well styled (though I could've done without the headdresses). I'd always been rooting for Alexandria, even though she had some misses through the competition. I think itʼs because I relate to her aesthetic a lot as a designer, and it's refreshing to see someone whose work is very relevant to what's happening in fashion now. I hope she is able to get her line going, because she makes great clothes.

Justin's sleek, futuristic collection made a very powerful statement with its thoughtful autobiographical story behind it. The 3D-printed accessories were such an innovative, fabulous addition; the collection made me recall the work of Claude Montana or Thierry Mugler in the '80s, but in a good way, softened and brought into this decade. I love how he explained some of the looks representing different pieces of his life and how they related to his hearing. My favorite look was his muse look, which I liked but then LOVED when I saw the cut of the vest and how it cleverly plays into the tank to create the back opening shape. My other favorite was the taupe dress with soundwave print. Look 2 and Look 3 were a bit too similar, though; I felt like there are a few that needed amplifying, or at least more variation. And though I am a big fan of white and monochromatic, dare I say I was wishing for some sort of POP? Maybe it didn't need to be color, but just something with more contrast. When the entire collection walked, it was all white with only a couple of taupe looks, and I felt it needed a little something else. Fortunately he worked out the hair to much improvement, so the styling overall felt more complimentary and cohesive.

What an emotional season, right up to the end! All the designers were teary-eyed in front of the judges, and with good reason. As you know, they have to wake up at 2 a.m. to go to Lincoln Center, on top of the stress of knowing their collections are about to walk the BIG runway and be seen by millions of people, and then be judged to determine who will be the winner. It's a hell of a day. The whole experience is at once surreal and exhilarating. For those of you who don't know, the finalists must say goodbye forever to their collections that day at Lincoln Center. I will never forget that moment after I'd put my blood, sweat, and tears into a collection I was so proud of, only to never touch it again. That's right, it's the property of the show. It's like walking away from a baby after you've just given birth to it! Imagine how Justin felt!

Until next season, bloglings! Thank you for reading and commenting. Who do you feel should have won this season? How are we feeling about the new "All Stars" airing next week? I'm a little dubious. I'm also a little put off that there are three winners competing again; are you?

11
FRI

To Each His Own

Posted By laurareineke 1:30pm GMT

It's that time again! The designers have $9000 and 6 weeks to make a 10-look spring/summer collection. There is a twist this time, however: one look must be made out of unconventional materials. While this twist makes for good television, and everyone likes to see unconventional-materials challenges on "Project Runway," I feel it makes the collections more TV and less NYFW. For those of you who look at all the runway shows, when was the last time you saw an established designer's collection include a "wearable art" look? I know many of you may not agree, but I'm just seeing it from a designer's perspective, as a PR alum who is trying to create her brand and business and be taken seriously as a designer, not as a "reality show designer." In my opinion, the key to succeeding with this look will be creating one that works seamlessly into the collection and doesn't stand out as so obviously made of unconventional materials.

Bradon and Dom have secured finalist spots. Justin, Alexandria, and Helen are all creating collections as well, and will show 3 looks to the judges to determine who gets the final spot (though the judges ended up having 4 finalists).

Bradon's collection is inspired by the first sign of spring after a long winter, specifically flowers, when he was living on the East Coast. We donʼt see too much of his or Dom's collections in New York, only the works-in-progress during the home visits. Bradon used a couple of prints and seems to be doing a lot of dresses.

Dom took her "Blade Runner" inspiration (one of my top 5 favorite films of all time!) and designed her own prints. Do we expect anything less from her? The "retro-futurism" collection ought to be interesting. I wonder how much pattern mixing she will do, and what her silhouettes will be. The prints are quite bold, so her silhouettes should probably be more simple.

I've always thought Justin has had great ideas but weak execution. He is clearly a very creative guy. His inspiration, sound waves, made a very compelling statement. I love the futuristic quality the looks had (I DIE for those 3D-printed accessories!), yet there was also a softness to the actual clothing, making it feel approachable and real. I also love the sound wave digital print he used in targeted areas. His test tube gown was magnificent, and does indeed feel like a "wearable art" piece, but stunning nonetheless. It must have taken forever to tie on all those tubes! Should be interesting to see the gown in the context of the entire collection. While he knocked the socks off the judges by showing the gown as one of his three looks (the goal when trying to secure that finalist spot), hopefully the rest of the collection does not disappoint. I still see some execution issues, but the ideas are so good. If there is one designer who really made me curious to see more, it's him. I was skeptical of his work in the past, but I think when he has his own environment to work in, and more time, the outcome is much better. The judges out him through of course.

Alexandria, who was harshly criticized by El Nina for using no color (boy, did I have flashbacks!!), created a collection which she calls "Neo-Nomadic Punk." I donʼt know that I see the punk element there, but I do see the nomadic. It's ironic that Nina always criticizes for lack of color because a) she hardly wears it, and b) her job requires her to look at every single fashion collection that walks a runway, and there are MANY successful designers who donʼt use a lot of color. Alexandria is of the Helmut Lang/Rick Owens variety, two very successful brands that do not use much color. I immediately knew Heidi would respond favorably to the three looks, as they are very contemporary and "now." The looks may not have been show-stoppers, but they were very well executed and full of interesting details. I do wish there had been a bit more variation in the three looks she selected though. Nonetheless, Alexandria went through as the 4th finalist, which it seems Heidi had a big hand in.

Are you wondering as I am why Helen wasn't eliminated last episode? Alexandria nailed it when she said Helen just comes across as young and student-like in the way that she always speaks so highly of her own work. I was curious to see if she would produce better work outside of the "bubble." Her inspiration was clairvoyance and so she somewhat literally designed a print from a photograph of her boyfriend's eye. At first I thought it was kind of cool but the more I looked at it, the more I did not care for it, certainly not paired with the clear red. I actually like the choice of the bright orange-red, but that color along with some of the design details she chose (the geometric "tails" Tim hated, the cape) are extremely referential to one of Givenchy's recent collections. It's not just the color but the combination of all the elements she chose. It was an amazing collection, but she took a LOT of those elements. I am surprised Nina did not call her on it (then again she only saw three looks). The trouble is, for such streamlined designs, the execution must be flawless and it was hardly that. Helen was eliminated and I'll bet she is cringing while watching the episode at the way she was edited. Perhaps it will be a dose of humility for her.

Can we talk about the "additional look" for TIDE?! Just when I thought the sponsors were done rearing their heads! So in the same collection, there is meant to be an UNCONVENTIONAL look and a WASH-AND-WEAR look? Oy. Discuss!

04
FRI

Five For the Road

Posted By laurareineke 4:00pm GMT

I know L'Oreal typically sponsors the avant-garde challenge, but come on! I find this sponsored challenge pattern to be really tired now. I can barely recall an episode this season that hasn't been sponsored. It has become very distracting. I understand that the network makes money from advertising, but it is so in-your-face this season, and all I keep thinking is that if the execs are going to shamelessly "sell out," they could at least make part of the sponsorship package a cash prize for the challenge's winning designer. You know, like some other competition shows do. Contrary to popular belief, we Project Runway designers don't get paid a penny to compete on the show (people are always shocked to hear this; it's a question Iʼve been asked many times), and honestly it never really pays us anything back post-show either, except to hear that we've inspired people (which is nice and all but it doesnʼt pay the bills or help our businesses get off the ground).

This avant-garde challenge for the top 5 designers is meant to determine who goes to New York Fashion Week. It reminds me SO much of the one I had at this point in my season. It's the same exact formula. I recall being less than thrilled to hear that we were assigned to be inspired by the circus, because frankly I don't find the circus to be all that inspiring to my particular aesthetic. "Butterflies" is also quite specific, but perhaps a bit more open to interpretation as there are many types of butterfly, in a variety of colors. Nevertheless, I find it restricting to be told what my inspiration must be as a designer. I think for some designers, it resonates, and for others, it does not. When the inspiration does not resonate for the designer, it is difficult to really "spread your wings" creatively. I can't help but (again) see this "butterfly inspiration" as a direct result of the L'Oreal marketing strategy, to promote the new Butterfly Mascara. So basically the designers become pawns for L'Oreal and don't see a penny!

I guess I'm cranky because I've been so sleep deprived from finishing a new collection. Sorry! :)

Anyway, as if it isn't enough to create a truly "inspired" avant-garde look in two days, after the designers have made it this far (and trust me, they are just as exhausted as I feel right now, if not more so, from the pressure of being in the "bubble"), there has to be another twist: to rework an eliminated look. While I think this particular challenge is interesting, it kind of pissed me off that the producers felt the need to add this twist right now. Honestly it seemed gratuitous and a total plug for Justin. The whole Justin-selecting-his-previously-eliminated-design, after getting the Tim Gunn Save, and now making it this far to Fashion Week? can you say "phoned in?" Not to mention I did not think any of the "make it work" looks were particularly great, because they were literally an afterthought. An add-on.

There was no clear winner of this challenge, in my opinion, and I donʼt agree that all 5 designers should have been able to produce collections and compete for the final spot later. I appreciate the fact that Bradon's avant-garde look was dramatic and creative. But he did admittedly struggle with the inspiration, and it shows. I think he just did whatever he felt like (making hundreds of "noodles"), and the result bordered on costumey. I don't care for the extreme mullet hemline but I quite like the back lace-up detail on the bodice; I just think he went overboard with the "noodles." I thought surely his Make It Work look would be criticized, because all I thought when I saw it was "waitress uniform in a low-budget sci-fi flick." However, the judges were completely wooed by his over-the-top look and awarded him the win.

Dom used the cross-bred butterfly as her inspiration, and cleverly showed her point of view by utilizing a print mix (which translates very well from "cross-bred butterfly"). While I think her print combo was successful, I am not a fan of the overall silhouette. It wasn't particularly avant-garde and I felt the look could have been better had the jumpsuit been a more tailored shape. She did a good job turning Jeremy's look into something less "marmy," but the jacket was too haphazard for my liking.

Alexandria took a black and white butterfly as her inspiration, of course. I know Alexandria hasnʼt been doing well lately but I still think she is talented and I like her POV. Her gown fit well but I think she went overboard on the tatters. It went goth really quickly. I like the draping on the bodice but the rest of the gown felt a bit too Tim Burton for even me! I do think she aced the Make It Work look, though. Talk about going from Talbots to Punk! Trousers are not easy to re-cut (and who knows what there was on the inside to work with), and she made them fit perfectly with the clever addition of leather. I'd have preferred a different hairstyle and to lose the feather mohawk, which felt a bit contrived, but the use of the combat boots sold it. The leather vest was smart, but I wish she had used a different leather.

Justin was inspired by the Albino butterfly, so he opted to make an off-white dress. I was really into his technique of jumbo piping when I saw it developing in the workroom, but I wish he had let that feature really shine and used fewer tiers on the skirt. The black coat was a wonderful idea (as Emmy said, it looked like shedding a cocoon), however I found myself wishing it had been either more cocoon-like, or less lacey, or...something. Perhaps if it had been more dramatic it may have been more successful. Perhaps if he had carried that piping into a coat out of faille or something with more structure, and more Dior. Did anyone else think it was awkward when Justin said he should go to Fashion Week because he's gay and deaf? Umm...so you shouldn't be selected because youʼre a good designer?

Last and certainly least, Helen -- who has butterfly tats and thus was very excited about the inspiration -- designed a gown which a) looked like two or three other gowns she's done before and b) did not push any boundaries to make it avant-garde. It is a super simple silhouette (avant-garde is all about shape) and we've seen the technique already. Furthermore, the color choice was awful. I know she was inspired by the Monarch butterfly, a most ubiquitous variety, and actually she nailed the color of the wings. However, it's not such a great color to make a gown out of; she did not need to be so literal. I was sort of surprised at how many designers abstained from color considering the colorful inspiration. I fully expected the judges to comment on that (they did not). On top of it, it was not so smart to choose what is quite possibly the WORST eliminated look of the season for the Make It Work challenge just because it was your friend's. Then she made basically the same thing as she did last challenge, shorter and sans print. I can't understand why she wasn't eliminated for two mediocre looks, except that the producers can't get enough of her meltdowns...

27
FRI

A Printed Matter

Posted By kim_messina 4:20am GMT

The HP Textile Design Challenge has become as much of a "Project Runway" tradition as the Unconventional Challenge. Is it just me, or does it seem like more than half of the challenges this season have been sponsored? Nonetheless, we all expect and anticipate the HP challenge, as they are such generous sponsors every season; the fact that the designers receive an HP prize (unlike other sponsored challenges) goes a long way.

There is a different twist on the "inspiration" for the designers this time. In the past, they have had to draw upon experiences, photos, or field trips. This time, they are to select a muse from a group of "young innovators," whom they must go meet and hang out with and, well, be inspired to design a print. I thought this was bit convoluted, and an odd way to derive inspiration. Sidebar: did you notice how quickly Tim spewed the names from the "velvet bag?" Did he even pull the buttons out at all? There was no actual footage of that, and you know how dubious I am of that velvet bag. I mean, I know editing was involved, but still...

After designing their prints on the HP Envy Rove, the designers head to Mood for fabrics to complement their print. One thing you may or may not know is that the designers only have TWO options for base fabrics for their printed textiles: cotton twill or cotton sateen. When you think about it, (a) these fabrics are rarely used in high fashion ready to wear, especially in printed form, and (b) they are sneaky difficult to work with due to their stiffness. They do not drape whatsoever, so really making a gown is not a good choice (I learned this the hard way as well, when I had the print challenge...*shudder*). I recall being very stumped on this challenge, much like Helen, because not only do I seldom use prints, but also the fabric quality really threw me. It just felt like something I would make throw pillows out of, not a fashion-forward outfit.

For me, the clear winner of this challenge should have been Bradon. His look was a clever example of how to use that awkward fabric: in a jacket. But more than that, his look really captured the spirit of his BMX racerʼs energy and urban vibe. Both the look and the print were fabulous. However, the judges awarded the win to Dom, whose bold, linear print a la Trina Turk was fun, but I was incredibly distracted by the football shoulder pads and symmetric placement of pink scribbles on the nipples. Scripples! I was shocked Heidi and Nina werenʼt all over that. I also did not understand the over-praising of Helenʼs design. I felt it did not really say anything about her inspiration (mind you she had first pick, an artist, which resonated with her fine-artist parents). The print was weak and maybe it was my TV but I felt the combination of white and cream was unsuccessful; the fit was extremely tight to boot.

Alexander's days were numbered, especially after last weekʼs tragic unfinished outfit. I felt he was getting the loser edit from the beginning of the episode. He was admittedly "blocked" creatively, though I thought a CAKE was a fitting inspiration for a part-time drag queen! His look had no relevance to his inspiration, and the print was just kinda fugly. Moreover, just because his last name is "Pope" doesnʼt warrant license to make clothing with a religious reference! How very art school! The one redeeming thing about his look (if you squint really hard and pretend the giant white cross isnʼt there) is the silhouette, which was somewhat interesting (I love me a dolman sleeve). However, when he was aufʼd first, I thought, "Theyʼd better not keep Kate!”, because her look was an epic fail. There was not a single redeeming quality to it. The print, which started off conceptually as brilliant, was barely recognizable; the outfit itself was odd, ill constructed, and poorly styled. Who wears that, and where is she going? To me she should have been first to go, but the producers likely kept her squirming on the runway to create drama (and maybe torture her a few minutes longer). Justin was spared, though his gown was a hot mess. The print was thoughtful and cool, incorporating a stylized "I love you" in sign language; however the print seems inappropriate for a gown, and the addition of white chiffon, tacked on haphazardly, took it to a pageant level. Alexandria was also spared, and produced another letdown of a look this week. Honestly she should not have been safe, but someone had to be, I suppose!

20
FRI

Smashing Superfans

Posted By kim_messina 4:03am GMT

For the LʼOreal Paris challenge, "Project Runway" superfans competed to be selected as one of 8 clients/models to be made over. Behold, the "Project Runway"/Lifetime TV majority demographic: housewives and suburban moms! But seriously, I am sure these women were all beyond giddy to see "Project Runway" from the inside. Iʼd love to read a blog from their side, about how eye-opening their experiences were!

From the perspective of the contestant, though, while it feels good to try to make a woman feel better about herself through transforming her and making her something new to wear, at this point in the competition everyone is exhausted. It is that much more arduous to deal with a "real" body (i.e. not a model) and the specifics of what the client wants in such a short time, and I feel this was evident. Then there is the added pressure of the superfan tagging along to Mood, which makes the already-challenging 30-minute fabric search that much more stressful (the producers should have given them more time). At least the designers had two days for this challenge. Even still, it was obvious to me that they are tired, because much of the work was underwhelming and seemed labored. When you have to come up with new ideas every other day, on very little sleep, the pressure of cameras following your every move, and none of your creature comforts, the work starts to suffer.

The Ken drama continues. At the end of day 1, Alexander and Braden must move into Ken and Justinʼs room. The producers ask the designers to "consolidate" like this as more of them are eliminated so that (a) they only have to shoot in one room and (b) there is more potential dialogue and interaction to film. Hmm....foreshadowing...perhaps they also already knew a male would be eliminated this episode? Alexander attempts to enter Kenʼs room but apparently Ken is too consumed with his beauty treatment and ironing his cut-offs. His blatant disregard for Alexander really sets him off, so all hell breaks loose as he barges in, throws the iron on the floor, and we see Kenʼs temper flare yet again, big time! Donʼt poke the bear! This guy really does have an anger management problem. The outcome? Ken gets his way, because the producers (by way of Tim) intervene and determine Ken will be staying in his own room after all!

Heidi must have been feeling the housewife vibe because she sure did dress down this week! From the waist up she looked like she was running to the market in her stripey tee. Zanna Roberts Rassi filled in for Nina this week, and the guest judge Erin Fetherston, a somewhat indie designer, didnʼt have a whole lot to say; she seems an odd choice of judge for the challenge.

BRAVO to makeup and hair leaders Scott and Johnny, because honestly the most interesting and impressive things about all these makeovers was their metamorphoses! You guys really did an amazing job!

HELEN was the clear winner; it helps that her superfan was the MOST transformed physically. Her navy gown made Jamie feel truly glamorous, was very well done, and had design interest and a signature. Also in the top was BRADON with an ensemble which fit well and absolutely helped his client, Jennifer, feel empowered as she requested. The epaulet detailing shows that he really listened to her needs. The shiny patent trim on the dress was necessary, because it was quite basic otherwise. Both Jenniferʼs and Jamieʼs hair styles were fabulous! JUSTIN, also a top scorer, clearly made his client feel confident and glowing, and she may have been one of the more challenging ones as she needed a more conservative look due to her religion. The clever use of her signature as an abstract embellishment was wonderful and the dress fit her very well, imperative as it was a rather simple design.

It was a toss-up for me between KENʼs and ALEXANDERʼs designs at first, mainly because Alexander did not finish. But as I looked at Kenʼs, I couldnʼt get beyond that strangely hideous split-pea soup fabric. He kept saying he would never choose it, so why did he allow it to happen? The style lines of the leather pieces were so unflattering as well. When there are such bold lines, their placement is everything; he did not place them well. On top of it, the dress was ill-fitting, and the hem was awful. Alexanderʼs suit, even if he HAD finished, was not without issues. The skirt was an odd shape, and I donʼt like the random flap/patch thingy on the right shoulder. Organza was not the right fabric choice for those accents anyway. And where are the sleeves? ALEXANDRIA had a 20 year-old client who works in the arts, a seemingly perfect pairing, but somehow she managed to make her look like a 30 year-old bank teller or real estate agent. This hum-drum outfit was a big disappointment from Alexandria, who is typically a more edgy designer.

KATE and DOM were safe, Kateʼs top had potential but whatʼs with all the handkerchief hems this season?? Why donʼt these designers know handkerchief hems end up on the clearance rack? Dom is lucky there were other designs that were worse than hers, because this dress looks like it was plucked off the rack from an average department store in Anytown, USA. The combination of the length, print, and style made for a pedestrian look, and the little jacket was devoid of any signature as well.

Thank goodness we donʼt have to listen to Ken anymore. And now production doesnʼt have to pay for an extra room for him! Unless, of course, he was truly sequestered from the other eliminated designers because he was deemed threatening. If that was not the case, I feel bad for the previously eliminated designers whoʼve now inherited him as their roomie!

13
FRI

A Word From Our Sponsor

Posted By kim_messina 4:49am GMT

We all saw it coming: the BELK challenge. It did, however, take me by surprise just as much as it did the designers when they were brought to a lovely southern style brunch at Juliette restaurant. They all knew too well that when Heidi announced they had "the morning off," it meant something was up. There is no such thing as "time off" in ProjectRunwayLand! As they brunched away, the designers were wondering the entire time what their fate would be (not exactly relaxing, but hey, they probably had some yummy food for a change). When Tim emerges, they knew their down time had come to an end.

I must admit I bristled a bit when I heard the details of the challenge: to design a look for the Belk customer, a "modern, Southern woman," "vibrant and expressive," "put together, with feminine details." While I think Tim very well described a southern woman, this is not my target customer, so I could relate to the designers who struggled with wrapping their heads around this, like Helen and Alexandria. I personally hated it when "Project Runway" challenges were so specific, because it would prevent the designer from being whom he/she is completely and therefore doing his/her best work while in the competition. I donʼt necessarily think that the talent and success of a designer is measured by how well she/he adapts to such challenges or "designs for a client" if what the client wants is completely opposite from the designerʼs style. In reality, a client is likely going to hire a designer whose signature style she relates to.

Nevertheless, Belk is a sponsor and this season seems to be all about sponsors! John Thomas, a judge on this weekʼs panel and bigwig at Belk (and doppelganger in pink for Jeremy!), tells the designers that the winning look will be manufactured and sold at Belk (and again, not a penny of profits shall be given to the designer). Does this mean the winner of "Project Runway" Season 12 will be someone who can design for Belk, a.k.a. the modern, Southern woman?

KEN's deep purple gown was too plain, too safe, and lacked any sort of point of view; weʼve all seen it before. Last week his design was equally boring, so I was sure he would be eliminated this challenge, especially after his montage of "finest moments" and Skype to Mom. He was safe, but at least the judges are starting to catch on to his attitude problem. His cockiness was on fire again in this challenge, and I couldnʼt help but get a little enjoyment out of seeing him fail after being so certain he was nailing it (and so certain others were making bad choices), being from the South and all.

HELEN knew this challenge was not in her wheelhouse, so she made something which no one would ever guess came from her (an example of what I mentioned earlier, and a waste of a design for her...but at least she made it through safely). The yellow and white daisy gown was not very modern, but I could see a southern belle appreciating it. How annoying was it that she was pissed off she wasnʼt in the top, though? Honey, just be appreciative. Someone is greedy after her last win!

Thank goodness JUSTIN took Timʼs advice and abstained from using black with coral. Indeed, it would have been too "Halloween." His little dress was fine, but nothing groundbreaking and a tad sloppy considering it was so simple. I could definitely see a southern woman buying it, though, so Justin survives another challenge, post-Tim Gunn Save.

ALEXANDER is one of three designers who used plaid, even though Ken thinks the southern woman would never wear it. His dress was well-fit as usual, and that particular plaid was lively and happy which is perfect for the southern market. I am not a fan of the layered pointy kerchief hems though.

ALEXANDRIA was understandably completely thrown by the parameters of the challenge, but she kept her game face for her competitors. I can relate the most to her style, so I know what she was going through. I do think she could have selected a more vibrant textile. The dress wasnʼt bad at all, but it could have been much better suited for the challenge had it perhaps been a vibrant red or ultramarine blue, or more of a statement print. Iʼm sure she was extremely relieved to be safe.

BRADON wins the challenge by using plaid as well, which Ken is clearly livid about. I was not a fan of his very "Brooks Brothers" Madras fabric choice, but he utilized it in an interesting way, with all the panels, seaming, and shirt-style bodice. The mullet hem is a bit tired, but was dramatic for the runway; it will be interesting to see how the design team at Belk modify it.

JEREMY's try as he may, still cannot design anything modern or youthful. This is very problematic for what the judges are looking for (design that is forward, or even somewhat current), and even more problematic that he doesnʼt see this (he has made it very clear every time that he doesnʼt agree with the judges). Everything about the outfit was mature and lacking any distinct point of view, from the print selection to the bland jacket to the cut of the dress.

KATE selected a very vibrant print. I thought she might win just based on that when I saw it in Mood; she was a runner up. While it might not be my idea of a fabulous print, I think many women in this target market would love it. The dress in the end was cute. I really like the way she utilized the solid raspberry to break it up a bit. However, the waist was not sitting in the right place on the model, so it made her look big.

DOM's teal green and periwinkle gown was forgettable, again; it lands her in the bottom 3. Nothing about it was modern or fashionable, and the colors donʼt work well together. The flutter cap sleeve looks dated.

But WAIT! For some reason, this week, the judges feel compassionate. They cannot decide who should be eliminated and feel that none of the bottom three designers "really understood the challenge." They are all given one more hour, access to any fabrics laying around in the workroom, AND a teammate of their choosing, to rework their disasters. On the contrary, I think all three of them VERY MUCH understood the challenge, and all were quite confident in their designs! Ken and Dom, in particular, seemed to think they knew what southern women like to wear much more than their competitors. Iʼm still trying to figure out why the producers wanted this twist to happen.

The results were infinitely better. Ken chooses Kate to assist him, and clearly doesnʼt agree with the judgesʼ comments at all, so he is reluctant to change the dress much or make a new one. He whacks off too much of the length and slaps a sleeve onto one side, giving it more of a clubbing vibe than a southern day dress. Jeremy asks Alexander to help him make something more youthful; they scratch his entire first look and make a sundress from one of Alexandriaʼs discarded fabrics. It is certainly a 180 from his original, but isnʼt enough of a distinct or interesting design to keep him in the competition. He is chosen over Ken for elimination, unfortunately, because while both of them need to be gone, we have to endure Kenʼs personality for another episode! Dom, with the help of Helen, makes a fantastic asymmetric sundress out of the wonderful black and white printed silk she had originally chosen in Mood; I was disappointed that she did not use it the first time. The dress looks great from all angles, and though some of the draping looks rushed (because they had ONE HOUR), the overall effect is so strong that she ends up being Winner #2! Shocker!

What do you think? Is it unfair for the three bottom designers to get second chances and for one of them to then win because of it?

09
MON

Fashion Has Its Obstacles

Posted By kim_messina 11:43am GMT

No "Project Runway" season would be complete without the obligatory "design something for [insert one of Heidi Klumʼs many business ventures here]" challenge. Itʼs that time again: this season itʼs for her activewear range for New Balance. Heidi tells them that she is looking for a fashion-driven athletic look for the line (so basically Stella McCartney for Adidas, Heidified). Per usual, part of the "prize" for the winning designer is that their look will be produced and sold in the collection; shame they donʼt see a penny of those profits (now that would be a little more of a prize)! Itʼs just another example of "Project Runway" making money off the designers who sign on to the show and get paid nothing to participate.

Without a doubt, the biggest highlight of this episode was seeing Tim in a referee outfit (with shorts)! I canʼt believe he agreed to wear it; whomever thought of that should get a raise. Why is he in a referee outfit, one asks? We find out the designers will have to go through an obstacle course in teams of two, decked out in HKNB apparel, and the winning team will receive an extra hour of work time (which is golden), along with first dibs on fabrics, all HKNB issued. After the obstacle course challenge, however, the designers will be competing solo. Dom and Justin win the race.

After theyʼve been awoken by the screech of Timʼs whistle at the crack of dawn, competed in the obstacle course and gotten sweaty, the designers return to the workroom around 3pm and are told they only have until 11:00 to produce their looks. As if that day isnʼt already exhausting, drama ensues. Helen (quite cleverly, in my opinion) asks Tim if it would be within the rules of the competition to use the HKNB pant on her form as a pattern/spec reference. Tim concedes. Her fellow competitors are curious about what she asked, and she does not want to share. On the one hand, when competing on Project Runway, the producers and Tim make it very clear that there should always be an "even playing ground," so really that information should have been shared by Tim. However, itʼs a competition and Helen thought of a strategy for a shortcut, and why should she share her idea?

Well, Ken is not having any of it. We see Kenʼs true colors and lack of anger management rear their ugly heads. He launches a totally unnecessary verbal assault on Helen, dropping F-bombs and B-bombs left and right. She is understandably shaken, but I do think she overreacted a bit in thinking her life was in danger. She goes to Papa Tim for refuge, he has a talk with the two of them, and Ken calls his Spiritual Mother (is this code for “shrink”? because that is what he really needs!). The result is a fake apology from Ken to Helen. Can someone get him some meds please? By the way, did anyone catch his “grandmother” reference to Karen back on the field? Rude! Moving on....

RUNWAY
In general, many of the designers created very SAFE designs, that look innocuous enough...but innocuous isnʼt what HK wanted. This challenge seems relatively simple to most people, but itʼs sneaky. There is a fine line between "overworked" and "underwhelming" because spandex can go clubwear quickly, and there still needs to be a functionality in the clothes because they are for working out and being active.

The top scorers were:
KATE, who designed an interesting and wearable ensemble with great details like piping, thumb holes, zippered back vent, and mesh panels. I thought the proportions could have been better (i.e. slightly longer jacket to balance the pink blocks on the lower part of the legs), but could totally see this look in Lululemon.

HELEN, the winner, who made a hooded mesh jacket with drawcord and arched hemline, with cropped leggings which had panels of lime with a black mesh overlay. This is the look which I thought was the most "cool" and that I could see a woman in New York wearing when hitting the gym.

ALEXANDER, who made a sharp, sleek look that fit well but was nothing extraordinary. As Tim pointed out, he is a costume designer so it was an achievement for him to create a successful activewear look. My response to that is, "A lot of costumes utilize spandex!"

In the safe zone were:
BRADON's dynamic look, which I thought was a bit more interesting than Alexanderʼs. I liked the use of grey with black and the pop of lime piping.

DOM, whose look was rather forgettable. I thought she would do better and push the "urban" element which is in her wheelhouse.

JUSTIN's black+lime asymmetric zip jacket, sports bra, and short-shorts. I thought that again, this look was “fine”, but I did particularly like the cutout detail in the back of the bra and the fact that he made shorts when no one else did. They just needed another inch on the length.

JEREMY, who must have been a close contender for the bottom, made VERY purple outfit which would surely end up on the clearance rack at a discount store. It also lacked any sort of distinctive design elements.

Bottom of the barrel:
KEN's super generic tank and leggings, which was simply devoid of any personality except the layered straps on the back of the tank. Iʼm not so sure I agree with the criticism of the longer tank, however, because that proportion is on trend.

ALEXANDRIA went outside the box again and repeated her drop-crotch pant from last week. I may be in the minority (like Heidi) in liking me a drop-crotch, when itʼs DONE WELL. There was way too much volume in this pant; as Nina said itʼs not practical for any sport. However her jacket was smart and cool, with the mesh back. I felt the tank could have been better had those slashes been filled in with mesh.

KAREN, whom I somehow knew would be eliminated in this episode before it even started, began producing a train-wreck of a bra which looked like bad clubwear in lime and black, and based on Heidiʼs workroom critique, scratched it and went the complete opposite direction. The result was a sad, shapeless 2-piece ensemble, which might be found at your local Walmart. #Imgoinghome is right, Karen!

30
FRI

It's All About the Shoes

Posted By kim_messina 4:38am GMT

For this seasonʼs Marie Claire challenge, the designers take a field trip to the styling closet full of shoes, where Anne Fulenwider, the new editor-in-chief (who replaced Joanna Coles), makes her television debut. I must say she is no Joanna. When I first heard that she was leaving MC to go to Cosmopolitan, I thought it must be because Nina wanted her job! But sadly Nina wasnʼt promoted, and they brought in Anne, who was previously at Brides magazine and Vanity Fair. Is it me, or would Nina not have been a more appropriate choice than a Bridal editor? But what do I know about the editorial hierarchy...?

I digress...back to the SHOES. The designers are told to select a pair of shoes from the massive array in the closet....oh wait, *psych*! They can only choose from a select area within the closet, a choice of about 10-12 pair, it seems. The shoes are to serve as the source of inspiration, and basically the challenge is to design an outfit FOR the shoes. But why didnʼt they have to use shoes from the Belk wall (kidding!)? In lieu of the old velvet bag to decide the order in which the designers get to select their shoes, Tim gives them a fashion quiz! I love this twist as it does sort of separate the dedicated fashion designer from (well, the NOT so dedicated). You really do need to know at least some important moments in fashion history and fashion popular culture to be a respectable designer, in my book. It is important to not only know the significance of fashion movements in history, but also be aware of that which is happening in contemporary fashion and pop culture. Miranda fails and gets to choose last.

Iʼve noticed recently that the show covers a lot more of the workroom processes, which I think a lot of viewers have wanted to focus on more so than "life outside the workroom." I for one am not sad that we donʼt see designers applying mascara, straightening their hair, brushing their teeth, and being prompted to discuss the most recent elimination from their beds. A little is OK, but Iʼd much rather see what is at the crux of the competition: the pitfalls of trying to make an outfit in a day. One of such pitfalls was Bradenʼs struggle. He had committed to his materials and had this technique in mind, but got so hung up on it that he lost any sense of modern style. After his critique with Tim, he had a partial "do over," but was pretty much stuck with what he had in terms of fabric.

KEN, who harped on how unforgivable it was that many "educated" designers didnʼt know their fashion history, selected a high-heeled, strappy, laced black sandal, and to compliment it, designed a top-scoring peplum dress out of what I believe is a black Carolina Herrera reptile cloqué (I swear someone in front of me at Mood today just bought some!). I honestly thought this dress was overpraised, but maybe itʼs because I think peplums need to go away—and this peplum was larger than life (and a bit sloppy)! I did like the sporty styling in the bodice, but couldnʼt get completely behind the dress. However, I do think it complemented the shoe very well; the outfit was believable.

ALEXANDER chose a nude patent Louboutin pump with red stripe up the back, and decided (along with Miranda) he must make red Tartan plaid pants. Unless you are Vivienne Westwood, itʼs very difficult to make red Tartan look cool and not "Talbots." I was concerned that he would have fit issues, but in the end his trousers fit well and it was key that they have an exaggerated fit (in his case, skinny) to be successful. The top he paired with them, while interesting, did not in my opinion complement the pants; there was a disconnect. The top looked like it belonged to a dressier ensemble. He was safe.

MIRANDA, on the other hand, having chosen red Tartan as well, had the last pick of shoes, which appeared to be the last pair available...but from the editing I couldnʼt tell. Nevertheless, she "knew she wanted" one of the ugliest pairs of shoes in the closet the moment she saw them (what does that say?). She then made one of the ugliest outfits to complement those shoes, so hey, I guess she was fulfilling the challenge! Nina was right when she said it looked like Christmas. When I saw the first shot of the shoes and bottom of the pants come out from the scrim, all I could think was "holiday grandma," given the combination of red Tartan with red patent flats, and the fit/hem. A super wide leg would have been soooo much better than this dated, mumsy fit. And why on earth would it not register to Miranda that she should avoid making virtually the same odd cropped tank top she had made before, after she was so supremely criticized for it? And white leather with red Tartan? Yikes. The poor styling choice to "Winehouse" her model didnʼt help at all either! I knew Mirandaʼs days were numbered, and this was just another in a series of uninspiring designs throughout the competition...so itʼs an Auf to her.

DOM was second-to-last to pick shoes, but she actually got a pair that were so bad they were good, if that makes sense: colorblocked creepers! At least it was something she could have fun with, and I thought she had a lot of potential since it seems she can do the urban/street/sport thing better than some of the others. However, the choice to make a quilted dress was a poor one. And she tried to select the exact same colors in the shoes, which made the whole outfit a bit too matchy. That didnʼt bother me as much, though, as the silhouette and some of the odd design lines. The dress needed to either be a super fitted/stretch construction, or a cute little boxy/mod shift. Trying to fit her quilted look only made the model look big and begs the question, "Who would wear that?" Dom slipped through though, and is on to the next round.

JUSTIN is safe for his design, and has redeemed himself (at least for now) from his disaster last week, with this all-black edgy look for his multi-colored, printed pumps. This was a surprise coming from him, but maybe itʼs just because Iʼm not sure what his POV is as a designer. I am normally not a fan of poufy anything, especially not hips...but the pant look succeeded because of a successful balance and proportion: super fitted bustier, leather shrug to add strength to the shoulders, and tapered leg.

ALEXANDRIA having won the last challenge, was able to choose her shoes first. She selected the badass thigh-high gladiator sandals (This totally would have been my choice). I think generally Alexandria has been under the radar, and have always thought she is the designer this season who understands what is modern and contemporary in fashion and what the downtown girl wants to wear. Itʼs not for everyone, but I respond to what she designs. The little black dress she made was a perfect balance of simple lines with interesting details. It has an ease to it which complements the shoes which are in-your-face hard. I love that she added a bit of lace as well. In my opinion this is the only look (with Helen a close second) which really looks straight off the runway or like you would see an off-duty model wearing walking through New York. However, Zac called it "pedestrian" (HUH??) and Anne criticized that Alexandria relied only on the shoes (isnʼt the challenge about the shoes?). The styling was perfection as well—from the fab hair and dewy makeup to the bold arm cuff and simple clutch. She was the winner in my book, and I think in Ninaʼs as well, who said it looks just like something she would see in the pagers of Marie Claire.

KAREN created another predictable, safe look which was very matchy to her chartreuse/grey sandals. The jacket was terribly ill-fitting; it was super boxy (not in a good way) and kept falling off the modelʼs shoulders when she walked, a sign of a poor armhole/sleeve/shoulder construction. When the look is that simple, the fit and construction need to be spot-on; hers was not.

BRADEN's choice of champagne colored, embellished flats could have inspired him to do much more than this awful, matronly swing dancer look which landed him in the bottom two. I was sure heʼd be eliminated (the phone call to his fiancé, I thought, surely was the kiss of death), but then again earlier in the competition he was a judgeʼs favorite. I had always been skeptical, as he is more of a costume designer and while he has produced some great work, I feel the last challenge and now this one have shown that sometimes he does not have a grip of what is fashionable. The styling did not do any favors.

KATE was on the right track with designing a black split palazzo pant and white shirt for her surrealist red sandals. When I saw the shoes...and then the pants...I thought, "She could be in the top 3 for this"...but when the camera panned up there was a disastrous top happening. It way too tight and appeared to be lopsided, which may or may not have been intentional. Either way, it failed. If she wanted to push the artsy/surrealist concept, it needed to be pushed further, a la Margiela. Instead the shirt appeared very poorly constructed. However there were worse blunders (and at least she got the bottom half right), so Kate slipped through.

JEREMY whose ego we are seeing rear its ugly head more and more in every episode, selected a pair of "Pretty Woman"-esque over-the-knee black suede boots with gold chain trim. I recoiled a bit when I saw those, and thought right away it could be a runaway train. Still, there was a part of me that thought maybe he would do something more tasteful to balance those boots, since he has good construction skills and if anything airs on the more conservative side with his design POV. Well I guess not! He really did feel inspired to design a look which felt like Shakira-meets-Dionne Warwick circa 1999. The fabrication he was so proud of looked sloppy and cheap. There are some major taste issues here, and an even bigger concern that he was so defensive about the critique (“the judges donʼt know what theyʼre talking about”).

HELEN. takes the win this time, which was surprising to me. I liked her very referential Alexander Wang for Balenciaga/ Margiela look a lot, but it was really all about the cape. I am a fan of minimalism, and it was executed very well. BUT...it is so rare that a designer wins for a look which is all black and minimalist. The biggest problem I had with her winning, however, is that the look did not complement or seem inspired by the boots. Thatʼs not to say it wasnʼt styled fine, or that they donʼt work at all as a look, but to me it lost the point of the challenge, and in my opinion Alexandriaʼs made a stronger statement and fulfilled the challenge better.

Random observations on Tim Gunn this week:
-Tim totally threw Jeremy under the bus to the judges! For that alone, I thought Jeremy could have been eliminated. Clearly Jeremy is not a TG fave.
-Tim told Miranda after she had been eliminated that he "responded well to her look." Whaaaa?
-Tim used his ubiquitous expression, "The most talented group in the history of the show," to describe this crop of designers. Donʼt you know he says that each and every season? Tim, the BS meters are going off...

23
FRI

Don't Glamp My Style

Posted By kim_messina 4:19am GMT

Glamping. Glamorous camping. For fashionistas who wouldnʼt typically be caught dead in the woods. But letʼs call a spade a spade. The designers didnʼt really go glamping...they went on a retreat for the day, sponsored by Resource Natural Spring Water. How nice for them to be able to escape the city and get some inspiration from nature, but the indisious thing about this is that it is still a competition and there are always cameras and producers directing them and following them around. Can they really decompress, feel inspired and have fun? Itʼs not always how it looks. I know I would have pulled an Alexandria, and cherished the opportunity to go off and be "alone" for a few minutes, a rare thing while in the competition! Viewers probably donʼt realize that the only time a designer is truly able to have privacy or be alone is in the bathroom; you are either being filmed, chaperoned or with roommates.

Tim is too cute in a camo-print blazer: his nod to the outdoors. He instructs the designers they are to create a high-end, editorial look inspired by nature and/or their activities (you know, like ziplining...how inspirational!). Sometimes the challenges which are very open to interpretation are the most difficult to execute in a short amount of time. Typically it takes more than a few hours (or even a day) to develop and execute a truly inspired design, not only through the initial brainstorming/sketch process but also in the workroom, for the design often evolves and can even change drastically as it is being executed. There are many factors which can affect it: fabric selection/availability, the ability to construct and actualize the sketch and unexpected sewing issues are just a few. The designers have a suggested budget of $300 for this challenge.

In the workroom, there are quite a number of interesting techniques and POVs developing. I was curious as to why Justin bought glue guns at Mood; then in the workroom I see this beautiful "lace" he is creating with the glue, and thought it was brilliant, albeit a bit ironic as the glue is so very synthetic. Braden is using the sewing machine to create an embroidery of sorts, which appears almost like hand-scribbled colored pencils. Jeremy is hand-painting a love letter onto silk. Alexandria is making separates, and while she seems confident about her drop-crotch pants (which apparently no one else likes), this entire episode so far she seems sad and defeated after being in the bottom last time.

HELEN's nude gown, inspired by a dying moth, is safe. The bodice looks completely forgotten and bare, as if she ran out of time. It needed to be covered in the same treatment as the skirt (which, incidentally...can she do anything else? Iʼm getting tired of seeing this raw-edge thing that she does over and over). Even a different color top would have been more interesting.

BRADON's gown looks like a maternity dress. Itʼs not flattering at all to the model, and the colors are more Maypole than nature-inspired. I was really hoping he would have made it more about the treated fabric he made. If he wasnʼt such a judgesʼ darling, he may have been in the bottom for this; it just looks very student-y to me.

MIRANDA finally stepped out of her box a bit. While there is still nothing earth-shattering about her embellished gown, it fit well and had some interest to it, which is more than one can say about her designs up til now. Nevertheless it was safe and I wonder how much longer she will "just be getting by."

KEN was worried that his day dress was "too simple." Not only was it too simple, it was top-heavy and slightly conservative. For most women at any age, the decolleté and collarbone are some of their most favorable features; hardly any woman wants to cover them completely, or add bulk. It was a very odd choice to add all those layers of heavy wool at the chest. He could have paneled/blocked the different colorways of the print and it could have been a much more interesting and successful look. The styling was awful as well. And so Ken was in the bottom, which must have made Alexandria pleased, and Ken humbled (if thatʼs possible). As much as the dress was a blunder, I would not be shocked to know that the producers put him in the bottom instead of Braden, for example, just to continue the storyline of tension between him and Alexandria.

ALEXANDRIA WINS for her edgy sportswear look which all her peers seemed to snub (at least it was edited that way). The judges love separates, and often reward designers for taking a risk in this way, when all the others are making gowns. I have seen it so many times, and won a challenge myself for doing that. I personally was happy to see this, as I think her look is the most fashion forward and editorial. I would have rather seen a different material used in the jacket, though—maybe leather or a heavier denim—something stiffer in the front. The chambray/soft denim fell short and looked a bit cheap in my opinion. I wasnʼt crazy about the hair and makeup styling, but I suppose one canʼt argue it was editorial, which no doubt Nina appreciated.

ALEXANDER finally managed to turn down the volume enough from his usual overdone style to achieve a top-scoring design, his navy and black painted gown with black leather "pool." I am not crazy about the actual painted design, but the fit is perfect and I like the strength and simplicity of the cut, and I really love the black leather at the bottom and trimming the armhole and neckline.

JUSTIN is eliminated for his unfortunate mess of a gown. Oh Justin, what happened? The glue gun lace was a great idea but the use of it and overall design was awful. The lace near looked to me like grey pubic hair. There was nothing fresh or modern about the cut of the gown and the sheer panels. Justin brings everyone to tears backstage, including Tim, who is so verklempt that he uses the "Tim Gunn Save" to give Justin another chance. While I think Justin is a sweet guy and has some potential, I donʼt see him winning the whole competition. What happened to the "Project Runway" mantra, "One day youʼre in and the next day youʼre out"? His design was worthy of being eliminated; Iʼm not convinced it was worthy of being saved.

DOM is safe as well...not inspired to say much about this look except that I like the print. The neck treatment was unnecessary and excessive. But then if you take that away, youʼve just got a rather straightforward silk print dress.

KAREN's dress is nowhere near editorial enough. The brown leather strapping is so very Kors circa-2005. The first thing I thought when I saw the dress was "clearance rack at Ross." And the styling was godawful, from the country-western singer hair to the odd ankle boots she paired with it. The gown had way too much volume, again looking maternity.

KATE was trying to have a Vera Wang moment with all the tulle, and while I like the concept in theory, she did not execute it well as it made the model look like a pregnant hunchback—no bueno. I do like the contrast of cutout patent leather with airy tulle, but it needed more construction finessing.

JEREMY. wooed his husband and the judges with his love-letter-painted silk gown. Thank goodness he 86ed the primary colors! Can you imagine? I winced when he mentioned that in the workroom. While it is impressive that he handled that bias silk well in a short amount of time, and the gown was well executed, I still take issue with Jeremyʼs rather matronly style and styling.

16
FRI

Placemats and Primadonnas

Posted By laurareineke 4:44am 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 myLifetime.com 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 well...at 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.

ALEXANDER / BRADEN / MIRANDA:
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.

HELEN / DOM / JUSTIN:
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.

SUE / KEN / ALEXANDRIA:
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.

JEREMY / KATE / KAREN:
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!