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Season 13, Episode 13: Arrivederci Roma, Hello NYC

Posted By laurareineke 4:53am GMT

This week, “Project Runway” goes international as the designers go to Rome, Italy as inspiration for their New York Fashion Week collections (P.S.: So jealous!). This week's episode begins with Heidi and Tim congratulating the top four designers for making it this far and also announcing that they are getting $9000 and five weeks to make a ten-look collection. In case you are doing the math, this means two looks per week and about $900 a look. Which breaks down to a LOT of money and NO time.

Heidi and Tim then welcome Dorothy Dowling, Senior VP of Marketing for Best Western, onto the runway stage to announce that she has an "extraordinary surprise" for the designers. The surprise? The designers will get to fly to Rome -- with mentor Tim joining them. And they have to leave that same day! They will get to tour the city for their collections' inspiration.

Ten-plus hours later, the designers arrive and get to greet Tim at the Best Western Premier Hotel Rome. Tim greets them then because I am sure he flew First Class and the four designers, alas, did not. After checking in, Tim takes the designers on a “Rome’s Greatest Hits” tour for the next two days. It's like a "Rick Steve's Italy Tour" but with a much better dressed tour guide. Tim shows them the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. They also get to visit St. Peter’s Basilica and Valli Tessuti Alta Moda fabric store. At Valli, the designers have a chance to buy fabrics to use for their collections. Only Char and Amanda purchase anything.

Let me tell you, if I had been one of the designers there is NO WAY I would have walked out of that store without buying fabrics. I don’t understand why Sean or Kini didn’t; even if you had not figured out what your collection would be, at least get a yard of something to inspire you. To cap off the Rome trip, Tim meets with the designers one-on-one. In the meeting with Char, she asks him point-blank why he saved her. It seems interesting to me that last season, Tim used his save on a designer who also made it to the finals (Justin). If anyone is counting, it's 2 for 2. This could be pure luck. But some “Project Runway” conspiracy theorists out there might suggest it’s more the producers making sure Tim comes off looking good. Either way, if history tells us, a designer on next season’s show who gets saved by Tim has a rather high probability of ending up in the finals. #JustSaying

Bye Roma. Hello America. Three weeks later and the designers are back on home turf. Tim visits the designers. First stop is Kapolei, Hawaii and Kini. I’m expecting Kini to have made five collections by now but surprisingly, he isn’t even done. His theme is “Park Avenue Princess Going to Rome," making luxe looks out of his prized denim. It looks good to me and Tim. Before leaving back to the mainland, Tim is treated to a festive Luau and, more importantly, gets a mini hula lesson and gets Lei’d.

Next stop: Detroit, and Char. Char says that she was inspired by the small portions of Italian dishes and espresso she witnessed in Rome. I had to wonder: with all the incredible monuments, architecture and art, that’s what she took away? In terms of her collection, it looks A MESS. Tim rightly pointed out a dress that looked as if was “attacked by a bunch of birds” but to me, the rest of the stuff wasn’t any better. The clothes look a bit tacky-licious.

Ten days until Fashion Week and Tim is in Nashville visiting Amanda. Her inspiration is the Art Deco details she noticed throughout Rome. There’s A LOT going on in what she’s doing including custom prints, custom jewelry, and handmade trim. Tim tells her to “rake out all the extra stuff." Good advice. On a side note, it was interesting getting a peak of her calendar (behind Tim, on the wall) which showed the date when Tim was going to be there (August 14th) and August 26th being the day the collection was due. The actual NYFW show occurred on September 5th so were the designers required to ship everything almost 2 weeks in advance? Back in the day (the early seasons) the finalists just traveled to NYC with their finale collections on the plane!

One week before Fashion Week and Tim is in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, visiting Sean. It seems that after returning from Rome, he somehow found the funds to set up a work studio with all the necessary materials/tools. His inspiration is one of the most thought-out and interesting ones: Caesar’s “Et tu Brute?” betrayal. Tim noted that it looked as if there were two collections, one with fringe and satin, and one with striped separates. Tim pushed Sean toward the fringe (uh oh!) and in fact told him to push it even further (more fringe?!). Other than that, Tim LOOOOOVED it. (Naturally. It's Sean, Tim's favorite). I actually liked the striped designs.

I noticed on Sean’s wall (yes, I don't miss A THANG!) fitting photos of his collection on models. I recognized one of his models from the show, Alisar Ailabouni, who also happened to be Germany’s Next Top Model 2010 (crowned by Heidi Klum!). I presume that somehow Sean got in touch with her once he began working on his collection, and asked her if she could be his fit model. It makes total sense and I think it was very smart of him. Is it within the competition’s rules? I think so. If the designer can use a fit model --and they lived in the NYC area -- why not use a model that is ACTUALLY ON THE SHOW?! Five points for Tim's favorite.

The designers are finally back in NYC and set up at the New York Palace Hotel Penthouse Suite. This is quite the upgrade from sleeping next to the kitchen at the Gotham Apartments. Post Champagne-popping celebrations, they are in the workroom unveiling their collections to their fellow competitors. Tim is back from all his trips (I want his Frequent Flyer points!) and tells the designers that the judges have asked to see three looks as a preview of their collections. Char is surprised by this news. Char: have you watched "Project Runway" before?

Judges Heidi, Nina and Zac are ready to check out the designs. In terms of the Finale Collection Preview, I think that Sean's was the strongest. Sean's three-piece preview showed his fringed ensembles including two really good ones: the "Le Smoking" tuxedo jumpsuit worn by his aforementioned "Look Book Photo" model, Alisar, and the white draped satin dress with orange fringe. The judges all gave him praise with Nina giving the only hint of "Does every look have fringe?" Amanda is next on my top list. I liked her patterned maxi dress with custom necklace and I agreed with the judges that the jewelry needs to be MORE MORE, MORE!

Then there was Char and Kini. Char's looks lacked cohesion. While I loved the black and white striped exaggerated bomber jacket, the other two looks were not cute. With Kini, I agreed with Heidi in that his three girls looked very "Doyenne"; the makeup, hair and accessories were very aging and dated. I also thought that the pleated trench coat was over-designed and should be left out. It will be hard for Char or Kini to remove their emotional attachments from these pieces but I hope they do. And let's hope that there will be a Mood shopping trip in store for them to help make things better.

As of now, it's Sean and Amanda as the top two. Will Char be able to re-style her looks and will Kini be able to work magic in just 24 hours? We'll soon find out in next week's big FINALE!


Season 13, Episode 12: Sidewalk Catwalk

Posted By laurareineke 4:45am GMT

On last week’s “Project Runway," Char and Korina were in the bottom and there was a Sew Off. Char was safe, and Korina ended her time on PR with a very unsportsmanlike “Goodbye." Now, it’s a new week and new challenge, and this one will decide who gets to move on to show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. The stakes are high for sure, so let’s recap who rose up to the challenge -- or, as we found out, challenges.

Tim arrives at the Gotham Apartments to give the designers a wake up call. I giggled a little bit when he said “So this is how you all live?” when entering their apartments. Yes, Tim, they sleep next to the kitchen. Tim gathers the designers on the rooftop to take in the spectacular view and discuss how many New Yorkers use the sidewalk as their own personal catwalk. Perfect segue to announce the next challenge. The Lexus Challenge is to create a street chic look inspired by NYC. They will get two days to do it. He adds that it should be something that can be worn every day, be fashionable, and be progressive (read: not tired, dated and tacky).

Joining Tim in announcing the challenge is Brian Bolain, Corporate General Manager for Lexus. Bolain tells the designers that they will get to drive around NYC in Lexus automobiles for their NYC Street Style Tour. I have to say that I have been to New York City many times and one of the things that I love about it is seeing the diversity of its “sidewalk style” and people-watching. You’ll see skinny-jean and vintage t-shirt hipsters with long beards, Chanel-suited ladies-who-lunch, and Indian women in brightly colored saris -- and that’s just in one block!

Post-tour and Mood shopping, the designers are working on their creations. At the end of Day One, they are all enjoying dinner together and musing about how happy they are that Korina is gone. You just know that something is brewing and this blissful serenity is about to end.

Day Two and the designers walk in to the workroom to find five creations from this season's eliminated designers. Tim walks in to announce that there will be a SECOND challenge: Create a winning look from a losing look. This second creation will be completely separate from the street chic look. Each designer chooses one of the five auf'd looks. Emily gets to go first and chooses Samantha’s blue strapless dress; Char picks Korina’s Machu Picchu/Helsinki caped girl (you can almost hear the producers high-fiving each other, knowing what will happen next); Amanda goes for Fade’s avant-garde look; Kini chooses Mitchell’s strapless red dress; and Sean is last and “stuck” with Sandhya’s American Girl onesie.

Soon after they get back from another Mood trip, Tim drops in to announce that the designers will get help in creating their two looks. And by help, he means the designers of the five losing looks. Each designer gets assigned their assistant based on which look they picked and of course, Char gets Korina. Sour-faced, bitter and still angry from being eliminated, it's pretty obvious that Korina does not want to be there. Frankly, I’m appalled by her behavior. It doesn’t surprise me but I am still dismayed that Korina is acting like a four-year-old who didn’t get her ice cream and is still mad at her mom a week later. Embarrassing. For her sake, I hope a future employer doesn’t Google her name or watch these last two episodes. I also have to wonder if she broke any contractual rules by walking out. I personally believe that she should not have been allowed to make a decoy collection for Fashion Week, but I guess that would have defeated the point of a "decoy," so they allowed her to present a collection.

After the air has been sucked out of the room, Tim eventually finds Alexander to step in and take Korina’s place. Tim then returns for his check-ins. He’s “crazy” about Amanda’s patterned maxi dress inspired by NYC graffiti but questions Emily’s hoodie coat. Tim also wonders if Kini’s trench coat looks like something one can already buy at Michael Kors. Char, who was inspired by a SoHo window display, is making a skirt using fabric petals on one side of it, with a welt pocket on the other. The design is a bit disjointed and Tim points it out. Sean’s NYC Street look is not well received by Tim. In terms of his re-worked creation, all I can see is the fringe and I'm waiting for Tim to say something negative, similar to how he commented on Char’s American Girl fringe. But there is none. Fringe is bad for Char but good when Sean does it, I guess.

Runway Day:

Along with the other judges, actress Shay Mitchell of “Pretty Little Liars” is on hand to help make the "Who gets to show at NY Fashion Week?" decision. My favorites: Amanda’s maxi dress is Boho/NYC Fashion Girl chic. The dress screams Trust Funder at a Summer VIP Pool Party. Her reworked look left a LOT to be desired. Nina said she looked "borderline nightclub hostess." Kini’s two looks were stylish and superbly executed. I loved the trench and so did the judges. If there was any design hiccup, it would be the ruffled skirt; it was too fussy. I think that Kini listened to Tim and felt that he needed more. And then there was his reworked second look. That red one-shoulder gown was superb red carpet perfection.

The judges went WILD for Sean’s all white street chic look. Heidi could barely speak and when she did, she called him “a genius” and Nina went as far as to pronounce it “one of the best pieces I have seen on 'Project Runway.'" Now, simmer down folks. Let me rein y’all back a bit. I loved the simple geometric lines, and the top and skirt were very Jill Sander/Helmut Lang late 90’s modern chic but...genius? Sorry, I wouldn’t go as far. Maybe I missed something on my TV that the judges saw live in front of them. Otherwise, I think they were a bit exaggerated in their bouquet-throwing ovation. It was good but not Cristobal Balenciaga amazing. And for Sean’s second look, maybe Sandhya’s helping hands” got the best of it, but honestly that looked like something from “Mamma Mia!" Char’s looks were a mixed bag. Nina was correct in saying that it was “a lot” with many ideas, not all executed well. And the reworked look: She chose an outfit that had a lot of different fabric, yet she just made a black sheath dress? Not exciting. Luckily for her, Heidi announced that her time on “Project Runway” continues.

Amanda, Kini, Sean and Char move on to Fashion Week, while Emily's designs were deemed the worst of the week. They weren't awful or badly constructed, just not exciting or innovative -- at least for the judges. She was so obsessed with making that hoodie that she barely paid attention to her second look, leaving almost all the design and construction choices to Samantha. Of note, Samantha even put a bow in the back. A bow! That’s as far away from anything Emily would do as you can get. And then there was the hoodie-and-pajama look. While it was instantly recognizable as very Emily, Zac called it "homeless." She was out. In her exit, Emily was ALL class, humble and sweet: a lesson to Korina on how to leave with dignity and a smile. Now, time for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week...or is it?!


Season 13, Episode 11: Unmannerly Auf

Posted By laurareineke 4:36am GMT

As we head to the (almost) home stretch of this season of "Project Runway" we are down to only six designers. The quick intro recap of this week's episode reminds us that hipster boy Alexander was out on his hideous Part 2 look, there was also Char's ZipperGate, plus, Korina won. Something tells me this episode will deal with the latter two designers. Just a "Nick Intuition."

The designers wake up at their Gotham West apartments (do they really sleep NEXT to the kitchens!?) to find a Samsung Tablet with Heidi telling them that they are to meet Tim Gunn at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She adds that "You will need to UNLOCK your creativity" and "Open the door to your imagination...which is the KEY to your success in your next challenge." An hour or so later, they meet up with Tim where he is waiting with five storage units behind him.

Tim tells the designers that these units contain the materials for their next challenge and they will be working in teams of two (uh oh, another Team Challenge!). Tim gets that button bag and randomly (NOT!) selects the teams. Amanda and Kini are Team Blue, Emily and Korina are Team Purple, and Sean and Char are Team Green. And in typical "Project Runway" Challenge fashion, there's more: an auction. There are five storage units and each team has $500 to bid on a unit -- or units. Since there are only three teams, at least one team will end up with more than one unit and what's inside. Finally, Tim announces what the Challenge is (I was wondering if that was ever was going to happen!): Create two cohesive looks from found materials in the storage bins.

Storage bin #1 was filled with furniture and sold to Emily and Korina; they also bid for Bin #4 which had textiles, fabric and a wedding dress. Bin #2 had children's toys, soccer balls, beach stuff and a psychedelic Stephen Sprouse-like yeti poster, and it went to Amanda and Kini. Bin #3 went to Sean and Char with scarcely anything but a packing blanket. They also bid and won Bin #5 which had lots of leather and suitcases. Tim tells the designers that they get 30 minutes to grab all they can.

Back in the workroom, the teams are busy creating their two looks. Of note on Day One, Sean and Char are struggling a little bit since Sean feels overwhelmed with having to help and assist Char with construction. Day Two brings a twist: Tim Gunn announces to the designers that they are to create a THIRD look. The teams get $100 each to go to Mood and shop.

Tim checks in with Team Purple. He thinks Emily's look is a mess and reminiscent of Sponge Bob Squarepants (I do too!). I also personally think their looks are a bit all over the place, too "Winter Heavy." Reminds me of a cuckoo Tarot Card reader living in fictional Portlandia...or Siberia. Naturally, Tim thinks Sean's look for Team Green is "remarkable." Is there anything that boy does that Tim doesn't like? Well, maybe not the lampshade dress he's making. Last but not least, he concedes that Team Blue's creations are "a lot of look." He even adds that Kini's creation reminds him of a teenage hooker. Ouch. I agree with Tim; it all looks tacky-licious. Luckily -- and thank goodness for Tim's not-so-subtle comments -- Kini and Amanda change things in their mini collection, and for the better, we later find out. Seeing Kini make a gathered ball gown skirt out of plastic tablecloth material in less than the 3 hours left in the workroom day was EVERYTHING.

Judges Zac Posen, Nina Garcia, Heidi and Season 4 winner Christian "Fierce" Siriano are there to give their two cents on the "Storage Bin Chic" challenge.

Team Blue's creations are first. Up until halfway through this episode, it seemed (via the editing) that Kini and Amanda would not be safe. But alas, we were fooled (or at least, I was!). They were FABULOUS. I loved the cropped jacket made of the "psychedelic yeti" poster and yes, Kini's ball gown skirt was Met Gala chic. But the star was Kini's soccer ball dress. You know when Nina Garcia can barely speak, it's good. This creation should go down in "Project Runway" history as one of the best; top ten for sure.

Team Green's designs are next and while I like Sean's blue coat, his black lampshadedress is restrictive and very "amateur Gaultier." I have to ask: Who is Sean? (Design-wise.) Char's bomber jacket and dress was hoochie-licious. Zac called it a "walk of shame" dress and he was right.

Finally, Team Purple's designs. I completely disliked these. I thought Emily's football-shoulder coat with fur collar didn't make any sense and Korina's Machu Picchu-meets-Navajo poncho look was a layered confusing mess. When Korina kept saying that at least hers was wearable -- a "snap" to Sean and Char's looks -- I thought "Wow! This girl is ready for a runway fight." In addition, Korina continued to argue with Nina (and the rest of the judges, for that matter). I always cringe when "Project Runway" contestants do that; this always comes off badly. My advice is just to sit there, smile uncomfortably and take it. You will NEVER win with the editing department if you do anything else.

It was pretty obvious who the top team was and more importantly, the best designer: Kini. He won this challenge for that soccer ball dress. And now, the bottom. The judges deliberated and they put Char and Korina as the worst. But they can't make up their minds who was worthy of going home. Heidi announces that there is a Twist to the auf: there will be a Sew-Off between Char and Korina. They will have one hour to create a new look using fabrics left over from previous challenges. Korina fails and Char succeeds.

The entire time Korina is sewing her creation, she is bitter and Meany McMeany. I always say that you have to "Sew with Love" and well, this was a perfect example where that didn't happen, and the final result showed it. Char's cobalt blue dress with chiffon back cape was the better of the two and Korina was OUT. In typical Korina fashion, she could not understand the outcome and argued with Char in front of the other designers and Tim. It was very uncomfortable and, most of all, really tacky of Korina. I just about fell off my couch when she said to Char "It's not about you!" Yep Korina, it's always about YOU. Congrats darling, you just cemented your place in "Project Runway Villain" history. What a way to go. I wish her all the success but hopefully with time, she will be served many slices of humble pie; the fashion industry has a way of dishing those out. Trust me. Oh, and I'm sure we'll see her in a future season of "Project Runway All Stars." Guaranteed.


Season 13, Episode 10: Second Saves and Mary Kay Makeovers

Posted By laurareineke 4:29am GMT

This week’s episode begins with a quick, yet telling, intro: TWO clips from the previous week’s challenge showing Still-in-Design-School Hipster Boy Alexander. I thought this was odd considering the fact that he was barely a blip in last week’s challenge. Then, I surmised: “Uh Oh! He’s going OUT this week!” Yes, kids, I’ve become a bit too savvy even for the “Project Runway” editors. Time for this week’s recap including my two cents on what I think of Char’s zipper snafu drama plus much more.

In addition to the clips of Alexander, the intro is highlighting two other things. First, the designers are discussing NY Fashion Week, since they all know by now (in terms of numbers) that they will be showing their collections, whether as a decoy or a finalist; and secondly, they're all talking about winning the show. The designers meet up with Tim Gunn and Luis Lasco, Mary Kay Global Makeup Artist (gotta love those titles). Luis discusses that the Mary Kay brand stands for "Discover What You Love" and that it’s about helping women discover both their inner and outer beauty. With that, Tim announces that it’s the Mary Kay Challenge: to create a makeover look for randomly selected muses. He tells the designers that they are going to Washington Square Park and have only 30 minutes to find their models/muses. They are also getting an additional 30 minutes to chat/take their measurements and $200 for materials. Best of all, it’s a two-day challenge.

Once they get to Washington Square Park, the designers are shown having a tough time approaching strangers and not-so-subtly telling them that they may need a makeover. But soon, as if by “magic” -- in other words, people who have been pre-screened by production -- the perfect muses appear throughout the park lounging languidly on park benches. Emily “finds” Julia, a Ukrainian yoga teacher who loves Thierry Mugler; Amanda has Eva as her muse; Char’s model is Lisa, a pre-school teacher; Kini’s model loves tie dye and “never dresses up”; Alexander has Marisa who is a thrift store/vintage/retro gal; Korina is with Shelby, a professional ballerina; and Sean, after "struggling" to find someone, miraculously locates his muse, Lelia.

Back in the workroom, we discover that Kini is in a design rut. I thought “Uh oh, a family phone call” (and we all know what that means by now!). Thank goodness, that didn’t happen. He eventually gets inspired by what he does best: denim. When I judged the castings/auditions for LA, Kini was one of the people we saw. He showed us a group of fabulously made denim looks. Tim, myself and the other judge all loved it. I was happy to see he went back to that.

Day 2 and Korina is back to her old “hatin’ on the other designers” talk. She’s dissing on Char’s peplum obsession, Kini’s denim dress, Emily’s extravagant look and Amanda’s printed creation. Maybe the next time Nina can’t make it on the set to judge, the producers should just call Korina.

Tim checks in. He loves Korina’s boucle and leather Moto jacket. He advises Char to be “tasteful” and points out uneven chevron mitering on Amanda’s dress; I thought he was going to point out how the chevron stripes are pointing to her models you-know-what. In addition, he thinks Emily's creation is beautiful. With Sean, he wonders "Where are you?" (in the design) and finally, he gets to Alexander. Tim is visibly perturbed. He calls him over and first tries to lessen the pain of what he's about to say by stating that he thinks Alexander is one of the "most talented designers he's ever witnessed." I have to pause here and ask: Really, Tim? This boy is still in design school and has not even won a challenge on the show. And yet Tim feels the need to faux-praise him. Oy vey. Following this, Tim sticks the dagger in and says that Alexander's design is one of the most HIDEOUS garments he's ever seen. In fact, he adds, "It's butt ugly." Tim is right.

It's Runway Day and Korina is going on and on about how everyone wants to take orders on her fabulous jacket creation. Amanda is stressed over the way her dress puckers. More importantly, Char's romper has a busted zipper. Tim has called time and Char is in a conundrum: her model is about to go out completely exposed with a broken zipper...Tim comes to Char's rescue. He asks if any of the other designers have any issue allowing Char ten extra minutes to put in another zipper. Of course, no one is going to be the bad guy and say that they do. Nonetheless, they are not happy with Tim for putting them in such an awkward position. Frankly, I wouldn't be either.

Here's the deal, I probably know what happened. Call it a "Nick Intuition": Char sewed the invisible zipper, it was too long for her garment and made the rookie mistake of just cutting off the end; therefore cutting off the "zipper stop". When her model went to try it on, she unzipped it and in doing so, went right through the end of the zipper; therefore rendering it useless. This is COMPLETELY Char's fault and not a reason to allow her to have a redo. I think Tim was in the wrong for allowing her more time. Char should have known better than to cut off the zipper without putting a few stitches at the bottom to stop it from separating completely. This is Zipper-Sewing 101...okay, maybe 202.

The Runway:

Guest judges were actress Michelle Monaghan and TV host and model Asha Leo. My favorites of the runway included Emily's Flamenco Fab look for her muse Julia. There was nothing Mugler about it but rather, very Lacroix, and I thought it was a definite stand-out creation; Julia loved it and felt she would never be the "style wallflower" in this look. I would say that with that fabulous neckline, she didn't need all the ruffles at the hem. Kini's denim jacket and dress ensemble matured his muse in a good way. I thought it was a nice date night look even though some of the judges didn't agree. In the end, it was Korina who had the best design. The boucle and leather jacket fit perfectly, was on-trend, and the fan-pleated chiffon skirt gave a hint of her muse's ballerina inclination. The entire look--and styling--was on point. She could have been more humble to her fellow designers about the fact that hers was the best but, oh well.

The worst: Amanda's creation was a mess. After seeing her own completed outfit, she stated that she could not make a dress. Ya think? The dress was too short and had puckered seams and a wonky hem. Char's coral red peplum jacket and romper was considered the second worst look this week. While, yes, it was not appropriate for her muse and ten minutes away from Vegas Hoochie, it wasn't as bad as Amanda's. As I knew two minutes into this episode, it was Alexander who got the auf. His crop top/circle skirt design was so Amateur Hour. The hems of both the top and skirt were uneven and not well done. In addition, he used double-stick tape on some of his seams (which I always thought was banned from the workroom?). Alexander had TWO days and this is what he made? Kini would have been able to complete a fully lined gown! #Unacceptable. I know it may sound harsh but I will take a page from Tim Gunn's advice book and say that Alexander needs more time in the "design oven." And while I don't agree that Char should have received her second Tim Gunn Save, it was truly Alexander who had the night's worst design.


Season 13, Episode 9: American Girl Glamour

Posted By laurareineke 4:12am GMT

I'm sure that this will not be a shock to anyone, but I played with dolls. I played with my sister’s Barbies as well as her Farrah Fawcett “Beauty Head” doll. I would style the Barbies in different outfits and do Farrah Fawcett’s feathered hair over and over again. But I never played with American Girl dolls; my sister didn’t own one and heck, it wasn’t until only several years ago that I found out what they were. I accompanied my partner David on a shopping trip with his very young niece to an American Girl store. Only then did I get indoctrinated into this world of American Girl. This week’s episode was of course, about the American Girl dolls. But it was also about the most polarizing of the Season 13 designers, Sandhya. Time to discuss dolls and much more.

The designers meet up at the American Girl Place NYC. Tim Gunn is there, along with Heather Northrop, Senior Design Manager for American Girl. Tim mentions that Heather has been with the company for 22 years (Did she start as a doll model at six? Because she looks like she’s only 28!). They both introduce this week’s challenge: to create a modern and fashionable look for a young girl inspired by an American Girl doll from the “BeForever” collection. Each historical doll has a full story -- from a girl whose parents are Russian Jewish immigrants to a Native American girl who cares for her blind sister. Not kidding.

Eight young girls walk out holding dolls from the “BeForever” American Girl collection. Each designer is paired with a doll and the little girl as their model. Tim explains that the designers’ point of departure should be the time period, style and story of each of the dolls’ characters.

Post Mood shopping, the designers are back in the workroom. On the tables are their respective dolls and next to them, children’s dress forms to aid in their tween couture creations. After several hours of working, Tim checks in. Kini’s Samamtha doll lives in a big house and is surrounded by servants (Can I be her?). He is almost finished making a houndstooth coat -- with all the plaid stripes properly mitered of course -- and a white dress underneath it. Tim advises him to ditch the white dress. Sean’s doll Julie is '70s-San Francisco hippie dippy. He’s making a jumpsuit out of a Liberty-like print. Tim thinks it’s “adorable” but I’m perplexed by the yawn-inducing color palette. Tim also tells Sean to think twice about the fringe on the vest and I immediately know that is a bad decision. Besides the fact that his outfit is already boring, we know the judges have a strong penchant for anything fringe this season.

Emily’s doll Rebecca is the one who comes from Russian Jewish immigrants. She’s making a big poufy dress and crochet sweater. This could be fab or drown the little girl who will be wearing it. Char’s doll Kaya is the Native American one. Char is making a vest with...you guessed it...fringe! I think it could be cute and fun but for some reason, once again, Tim is completely against it and warns her that the look might seem “cheap and tawdry." I’m not sure why Tim has such hatred toward fringe (maybe a bad experience in the '70s?) but this trim seems to repulse him. Char, thankfully, also thinks like me and respectfully continues on her fringed avenue.

Korina’s doll Josefina is from 1824 New Mexico, when it was still part of Mexico. She is bringing some of the doll’s outfit color elements into her design but is having issues creating it. Finally, Sandhya’s doll Caroline is from 1802; her character wants to follow in her dad's ship captain footsteps. With that story in mind, Sandhya wants to incorporate sailing appliqués into a little jumpsuit she’s making. Tim is not amused and has a “Tim Moment” telling her that he has had serious difficulty understanding a lot of her color relationships and proportions during the entire season. I’m sure right then and there, 80% of the show’s viewers were screaming “Yeaayyyy Tim!” However, I also wanted to interject and say “But the judges somehow love her” and before I could say it, Tim did it for me.

Later that night in the Gotham Apartments -- or "Project Runway Decor Jail" (what is with those non-decorated/depressing looking apartments?) -- Sandhya is having a meltdown. Finally, after so many weeks and so many hatin' whispers from her fellow designers (and I'm sure the "Tim Doesn't Understand ANYTHING I Do" talk didn't help) she breaks down in bed, talking about getting no respect and wanting some compassion.

Runway Day:
While some of the designers are frantically trying to finish their designs (Hello Korina!), Kini is playing with his American Girl doll's hair. It's runway time and judges Heidi, Nina, and Zac, as well as American Girl's Heather Northrop and "Mad Men" actress Elisabeth Moss, are there. My favorites include Korina's colorful creation; the skirt is great and so is the hat-and-braids styling. The color combination was very Mondrian, as Nina said. Char's fringed girl was also super cute . Thank goodness she did not listen to Tim. But it was obvious that Kini's was the best: The coat and red plaid ruffled dress with horsehair hem was aspirational, fashion-forward and yet, still tween fashion perfect! He won. Two for Kini.

And now, the "uh-oh": Sean's creation was drab-o-licious; it’s supposed to be for a modern young girl and this looked like something you might have seen in the covered wagon days. Yet Tim, during the closer inspection segment, had to give his two cents supporting him. We get it Tim, you really like him. Next. Emily's taffeta hi-lo skirt and crochet knit sweater looked like something a Babushka would wear for a Siberian Tundra Debutante Ball. And that tulle veil even annoyed her little model. #PoorThang. But yes, kids, it was Sandhya who finally got the boot. That onesie look of hers reminded me of a Teletubbie, and that peplum ruffle looked like inflatable swim rings. It almost looked as if Emily was going home (how typical for someone who boasts about being a children's clothing designer to get the boot) but nope, it was Sandhya's turn. And rightly so. Her look was not fashion-forward and way too young-looking for the 8- to 12-year-old market. It was bye-bye for Sandhya.

Finally, I know that lots of the fans -- especially here on my blog -- have commented and asked “Nick! Why do you like Sandhya??!! What is it?? She’s not very nice and her designs are not cute.” Let me begin by saying that it’s not that I like or dislike her as a person. I don’t know her, and we all know how heavily these shows are edited. I like her unique design sensibility and think she has a “different” eye. Fashion is all about personal taste. I don’t think her designs are bad fashion (for the most part!). You know what’s not good fashion? Plastic sandals and pajama sweats for a flight; cargo shorts and flip flops on a date; basically someone who doesn't even make an effort to dress themselves appropriately. Are Sandhya’s designs kooky? Yes, and it’s not for everyone’s liking. But I concurred with the judges with most of her creations. Now, if I had been one of her fellow designers and had to live and work with her, my experience and conclusions might have been different. But as a recapper, I saw someone who was creative and thought outside the "fashion box." I'm hoping as she continues in her career she will further define her aesthetic and continue to grow as a designer and as a person.


Season 13, Episode 8: A Runway Downpour

Posted By laurareineke 4:59am GMT

We are past the halfway point in Season 13 of “Project Runway” and after seven challenges, including three involving evening wear, an unconventional challenge, and a few team kerfuffles, it's naturally time for the avant-garde challenge. At the end of this episode, Tim declares that this is "The best runway ever!" Was it? Let's see...

As the remaining designers gather around, Tim and Heidi (What is she doing here? Isn’t this her day off?!) are onstage flanked by two Samsung Curved Ultra HD TVs. After a long-winded diatribe on how essential innovation is to the fashion industry as well as the technology industry, how fabulous these new Curved Samsung TVs are, how one can watch TV from every angle, and how this next challenge is supposed to test your ability to push the boundaries of design just like these TVs are pushing the boundaries of technology, we finally discover that all this is to announce to the designers that it’s -- drum roll -- the avant-garde challenge, also known as the Samsung Challenge.

The designers have to create forward-thinking designs with the “spirit” of the Samsung Curve TV in mind. I have a question: What does this mean? Should there be curved style lines in EVERY designer’s creation? The designs must be cutting edge, innovative and “A ‘wow’ from every angle." And there’s a twist (cue the water visuals on the slick Samsung TVs): RAIN! The models will be walking the runway on (as Heidi says) a RAINWAY! Get it: RAINway as opposed to RUNway. Clever. I guess. Now go hashtag it and make “Project Runway"'s social media department happy! The designers get $300 and two whole days to complete their forward-thinking looks.

Post sketching and Mood-shopping time, the designers are in the workroom and Tim checks in. We discover that Amanda is thinking about Cleopatra in a Nile River flood and eye hieroglyphs. Tim points out the unfortunate v-jay-jay placement of one of her “eyes." Emily is working on a poly-vinyl catsuit with armor-like details. Tim warns her to not make it too R2D2 or fetish-y. Korina’s vision of a Northwest Thunderbird intrigues me, plus I LOVE her sketch. But I’m afraid it might look too "Miss Oregon USA costume."

Sandhya is inspired by the colored stripes on old TV sets when there was nothing on (I remember those from when I was living in Caracas, Venezuela) and is making a rainbow-colored jumpsuit and clear vinyl coat. Tim is dubious that it will all work. She reassures him it will. Kini is making an upside-down umbrella and wants the Win really, really bad. His biggest nemesis, Sean, is creating a white dress with powder dye hidden within the seams that will then bleed on the “rainway." Tim gets chills just thinking about it. So do I, I admit. But at the same time, I can’t help but think this is very McQueen Spring/Summer 1999/Shalom Harlow (more on that later!).

Fade is not managing so well; he’s stuck, feeling uninspired with his “Play” button and power cord dress. He says that he considers many of the pieces he has made “avant-garde," but I beg to differ. I think he actually does quite predictable, albeit slightly quirky clothing. I wouldn’t say he is avant-garde in his design sense. And I think he’s also coming to that realization. Unfortunately, it’s happing live with cameras around him.

After a night of wine, the designers return for their second work day. Korina is having doubts about her thunderbird creation and Fade is still stuck. Phone calls to loved ones are made by several of the designers, including Fade, who inevitably has the most emotionally-ridden one. He cries, can’t even talk. It’s almost a sure sign that the designer who has the most poignant phone call with their significant other is going home that week. It’s now almost the norm on every season of “Project Runway."

The RAINway:
The entire production team -- designers, models, makeup and hair -- is taken to a large studio in New Jersey for the RAINway runway. Judges Heidi, Nina, Zac are there, as well as “Masters of Sex” actress Caitlin Fitzgerald. The rain begins and the models saunter out...carefully.

The Best: I really liked Sandhya's kooky and colorful creation. As Heidi said, it had her "handwriting" all over it. I thought her clear vinyl coat with (not-so) spinning pinwheels was fun, unique, creative and oh-so-Sandyha. But without question it was Kini and Sean who won this challenge. Kini's black upside-down umbrella gown creation was Grace Jones-meets-Jean Paul Gaultier fab! And Sean's look was a definite WOW. When his model came out and did her twirl and the dye began interacting with the rain water, the judges' faces said it all: Oh No He DIDN'T! I thought that as well, but I also thought "Poor Kini, he lost this one!" and "Wait, this is so Alexander McQueen."

It’s inevitable that every time there is an avant-garde challenge, two words come up: Alexander McQueen. With all this talk of McQueen comparisons from the judges (“That hat is very McQueen," “The pony tail headdress is very McQueen") it is most surprising that NO ONE mentioned how VERY McQueen Sean’s paint-dripping-on-a-dress leitmotif was. I’m most surprised that Nina Garcia, the Queen of Pointing Out What Is Referential, did not call it out. Sean’s vision has been done before, and to a much more stunning effect. Google "Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 1999 robots spray painting model Shalom Harlow" and you’ll see. With that off of my FASHION chest, I do think that Sean's creation was still quite a "moment," and as we know nothing in fashion is new. He did put quite an exciting twist on the theme. Who should win? I'm with Heidi and Caitlin Fitzgerald: It should be Kini. The judges are torn and therefore both Kini and Sean are the winners.

The Bottom: I now wish that Korina had gone all "Miss Oregon USA costume" because her thunderbird creation was lacking thunder and bird; it was amateur crafty and seemed like an unfinished cheap Halloween costume. However, it was obvious that Fade was the one to go. His struggles through this episode were painful to watch and his design was anything but avant-garde, inspirational or transformative. Maybe instead of "Play," he should have created an "Auf Wiedersehen" button. In the end, Tim announced that this was the "Best runway ever!" While Kini's umbrella gown and Sean's McQueen-like paint dress were top notch, I feel like the "rainway" was the real star of this episode and disguised a few clunkers on the runway. Maybe Tim should have said "This is the best staging of a runway show ever!" What do you guys think?


Season 13, Episode 7: Shine Bright Like A Diamond

Posted By laurareineke 4:44am GMT

When last week’s episode ended, there was a preview of what was to come. I guessed two things (along with most of America): Char was going to come back and there was going to be a THIRD evening wear challenge. I was right on both counts. As this week's episode begins, the runway is packed with display cases featuring millions of dollars of jewels. Tim announces, along with Chopard’s Co-President and Artistic Director Caroline Scheufele, that this is the Chopard challenge: to create an extravagant evening look inspired by the jewelry.

When Tim finished his introduction of the challenge, I scratched my head thinking, “Another evening wear challenge?” Nobody loves formalwear more than me, but even I think focusing three challenges out of seven on evening wear is a lot. I also don't really understand why a luxury brand like Chopard would pay to brand itself within one of the show’s challenges. The Lifetime and “Project Runway” viewing market is not the Chopard market. It’s not a cut-down, it’s just true; I venture to guess that 99.8% of the viewers (including yours truly) cannot afford a $2 million Chopard diamond necklace or a $200,000 diamond watch. If this was “Project Runway Monaco” or “Project Runway St. Tropez," then I’d understand.

Time for Char! Soon after the challenge is given to the designers, we see Tim Gunn looking distraught as he says in voiceover that “Something is weighing heavily...and it’s kept me up all night." He walks back into the workroom, holding back tears, while bringing in last week’s auf'ed designer, Char. Tim subsequently announces that he has decided to use his Tim Gunn Save on her. While everyone is happy to see Char back, Kini acknowledges what I’m thinking: No More Saves, Y’all!

I'm not quite sure why Tim would feel so inclined to use his all-important Tim Gunn Save on Char. She’s a lovely person but Char has never won a challenge, and so far, she has been in the middle or bottom. And why use the Save so soon into the show, only halfway through the season. Personally, I feel that there are other designers -- Sean, Kini, heck even Sandhya -- who might have a really bad design day and be eliminated and could therefore be better served by Tim’s save.

With Char back, Tim also announces that it’s time for a field trip. He takes the designers to the “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” Met exhibition. I went to this exhibition recently and it was extraordinary. I was moved, shaken and almost had an outer body experience seeing the glorious gowns and architecturally stunning coats. They were all technical masterpieces. Besides paying tribute to Charles James and his work, it is a necessary visit for an education in the importance of harmonious marriage between draping, pattern making, and design, as well as how not to die penniless (P.S.: Always have a business partner!). If anyone still questions if fashion can be considered art, go see this exhibition.

Back in the workroom, the designers get started. Sean and Samantha are concerned because they’ve both chosen similar navy blue fabric. I never understand this anxiety when "Project Runway" designers are using the same color; half the time on the show we have many designers using BLACK and no one ever seems worried about that! In addition to her navy blue fixation, Samantha keeps saying how she’s never done an evening gown. I want to yell at her from the TV screen and tell her that evening wear doesn’t have to mean a GOWN. Especially for her, being a separates/sportswear designer -- why not do a pair of directional silk satin drop crotch pants with a luxe boyfriend jacket? What would Olivier Rousteing of Balmain do? Since Samantha admits that making a gown isn’t her forte, why do it?

I’m also worried for Kini and the construction problems he is having. And then there is Korina: She buys this stunning Native American/Southwest printed upholstery fabric and decides to ruin it by putting seams that break the beauty of the entire print. Amanda is making a jumpsuit and sheer organza coat. I’m not sure about it, but at least she’s stepping outside the box and not doing a gown (pay attention Samantha!). I’m intrigued by what Alexander is doing; it could be a Vivienne Westwood-like moment, but I fear he’s not really design- and construction-ready for the gala “primetime." Sean seems fine and same goes for Emily, Fade and Sandhya, whom we’ve barely seen throughout the episode (always a sign they will be okay).

Runway Day:
Heidi, Zac and Chopard Diva are ready to judge, along with Nina, who is featuring a new accessory: a cast on her foot. The looks come out and naturally the designers who weren't really featured in the episode are safe. Now, my favorites: Korina’s look is STUNNING. Thank goodness she saved the coat and its bold and gorgeous print; it’s a showstopper and as Zac correctly pointed out, very Deeda Blair. I might add Nan Kempner as well; society heiress at a gala fundraiser! Sean’s navy gown was elegant. His model looked like an actress at the Cannes Film Festival. For me it was between Korina and Sean. But for some reason, the judges also loved Amanda’s look. I did not. Inexplicably, Nina was gushing on and on about it. By now, I surmised her pain medication was kicking in and she was in a design haze, perhaps. The judges kept saying that it was something they’d “never seen before." Really? A stretch jumpsuit and sheer organza housecoat? Never? In the end, they came to their senses and gave the top prize to Korina.

The bottom: Kini, what happened? That bustier was a hot mess. Why the neoprene and why all the boning and seaming on this stretchy fabric? He should have known better. On a positive note: Kini's design had the semblance of what a top actress would wear with the million dollar jewels, which is not what I would say for Alexander and Samantha. Nina said that Alexander design looked as if "Princess Grace got stuck in the washer spin cycle". Si! That dress was tortured, there were pins all over the place and the neckline didn't even highlight the gorgeous Chopard necklace it was inspired by. Now, yes, some of you out there might argue that the designers didn't actually have the opportunity to put the jewels on the models and therefore, they didn't know. But still, he should have measured the length of that necklace and known better. As I guessed, 22-year-old Alexander needs more time in the Design Oven. And then there was I've-Never-Done-Evening-Wear Samantha. Her dress was a prom discount special: too simple, nothing extraordinary, a big yawn. Part of me wished both Alexander and Samantha would have gone home but alas, Samantha's creation did not "shine bright like a diamond." It was time for her to say adieu. With the Tim Gunn Save now gone, we will hopefully see a renewed fight to the finish.


Season 13, Episode 6: Something Alternative

Posted By laurareineke 4:01am GMT

The subject of wedding gowns and creating them is not a foreign one to “Project Runway." Last night's episode had elements of a Throwback Thursday: Back in Season 6 the contestants had to reconstruct a divorcée's wedding gown into a new dress, and in Season 1 the designers created wedding gowns with their models as clients (how can we forget Morganza!). Now on Season 13, it’s time to revisit the Wedding Gown but with an “alternative” twist.

The episode begins quite awkwardly as Amanda and Korina are sitting in their Gotham West apartment surrounded by uncomfortable silence. It seems that Korina, out of the blue (according to Amanda), told her that she was “kind of a phony." Umm, okay. So either A) Korina is hatin’ on Amanda for winning a couple of challenges; B) Korina is just being Meany McMeany; or maybe, C) Amanda is a phony and we’re not seeing this via editing. Either way, WHO CARES? Well, soon we realize the producers sure did when they “randomly” paired them together for a challenge.

Cut to the designers arriving at Webster Music Hall. Tim Gunn and burlesque diva and lingerie designer Dita Von Teese enter arm and arm, walking down a makeshift aisle. They introduce the challenge, which is to create "alternative" wedding and reception looks for a bride. Tim says there are no rules, and advises the to unleash their creativity while making sure the looks are believable for a bride. Since the designers have to create TWO looks, it’s also a team challenge. The dreaded button bag comes out and Tim "randomly" names the couples who will be working together: Faye and Emily, Alexander and Samantha, Kini and Sean, Sandhya and Char, and of course Amanda and Korina. What were the chances that unhappy-roommate couple Amanda and Korina were going to end up working together? Very high.

After sketching and Mood time, the designer couples are back in the workroom. Sandhya and Char have chosen a highlighter-yellow fabric and tacky-looking lace and appliqué for their wedding and reception looks. The episode is barely into its first 15 minutes and you know this isn’t going to be good. Emily and Fade are going the goth route. Alexander and Samantha also got bit by the lace-and-appliqué bug. Kini and Sean are inspired by gay marriage. Finally, unhappy couple Korina and Amanda are doing a black-and-white suit and dress. Tim checks in and predictably calls Sandhya and Char out on their color choice and sloppy construction. He then spends a lot of time on Korina and Amanda, particularly discussing Korina’s lack of innovation in comparison to Amanda. To be honest, I liked both of their looks and felt that Tim was unnecessarily being too critical and too hands-on. Speaking of too hands-on, Tim told Kini and Sean that they should do a cummerbund for their tuxedo look. If I had ever done that to my designers on “Under The Gunn," Tim would have CHASED me out of the workroom -- and made sure it was all caught on camera.

Runway Day
There are lots of last-minute “Make it work" moments occurring prior to the runway. Korina has only made a jacket so Amanda takes on the responsibility of creating a pant, which ends up being too tight. I realize that Amanda has never worked with this particular model but does she know what adding extra seam allowance means? Sandhya and Char are a mess trying to put lipstick on two chartreuse pigs. Sean has spent the entire time making a pair of pants and has no top. Well, Kini to the rescue. He offers to make Sean's top and has it completely finished in just a few short hours. Soon it’s runway time. Joining Heidi, Zac, and Nina are Miss Von Teese and Chiara Ferragni, a fashion blogger who also goes by the name of “The Blonde Salad” and incidentally loves to enunciates every word as if she's a waitress in a Firenze restaurant.

Now, the wedding belles. First off, surprisingly (if you believe the editing and where it was all leading) unhappy couple Amanda and Korina are safe. My favorites were the creations from Kini and Kini’s “assistant” Sean. Both looks were sophisticated, chic and aspirational. I thought that Kini’s "wedding dress” looked like a couture doll and was impeccably made. Sean’s tuxedo pants were tailored perfectly and just right for a Power Fashion Lesbian. The blouse Kini made was seductive and added the right feminine touch to the pants. They were the obvious winning team. But who should win? I'm with Heidi. It should be Kini. Even Sean thought so, though he forgot to mention who made the blouse. The judges eventually gave it to Sean. I felt a little icky about Sean not giving Kini props in front of the judges, but at the same time, I understand it is a competition. He didn't want to point out his own flaws and throw himself under the bus.

The bad: Dita Von Teese and Zac thought Emily and Fade's goth gals were not-so-cute. However, I agreed with Heidi and Chiara and totally got it: I liked Emily's lace Goth Queen and loved Fade's sexy dress made from his unique fabric creation. Alexander and Samantha were also on the bottom for their oxblood lace looks; they were tacky, UBER appliquéd and honestly two seconds from a store in a mall (especially Samantha's). But without question, Char and Sandhya were the worst. Those chartreuse lace and corn-cob (thank you Alexander!) looking things were a total #FashionFail. I almost fell off the couch when Dita said that she was waiting for the "She's a lemon heiress" story: 10 Points for Dita. Both Char and Sandhya were not up to the task for this challenge. And draping, by the way, is not Sandhya's forte. Stick to fabric manipulation, darling. In the end, it was Char who went home. I loved how humble, honest and positively unassuming Char was in her exit interview. While I agree with the judges, I definitely think she has a bright future. Hopefully just not chartreuse bright!


Season 13, Episode 5: Red Carpet Redo

Posted By laurareineke 4:51am GMT

Last week on “Project Runway" we had Red Robin, and now, it’s red carpet! This episode begins with a black SUV pulling up to the formally-known-as-Parsons building and lots of paparazzi taking photos of a celeb getting out. It’s the one-and-only Heidi Klum! She steps onto the red carpet runway, dressed in only a trench coat and high heels. Heidi tells the remaining 12 designers that she has nothing to wear. Sidebar: I doubt that, but I’ll go along for the sake of the show. She announces that the Challenge for the designers this week is to design a red carpet look for her to wear to the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

Sidebar number two: The Creative Arts Emmys occurred last week and we saw TONS of photos of what Heidi wore, so if you are at all connected to social media, you knew who won prior to the airing of the episode. There seemed to be some sort of scheduling snafu, but I'll suspend disbelief once again. Heidi tells the designers to create something unexpected, fashion forward and fearless. Oh, and one last directive: She doesn't want to end up on a Worst Dressed List.

I have to take this time to give Heidi some props. She doesn't have to wear clothing created by "Project Runway" designers, but she has done so on many occasions. Heidi can wear any designer in the world, but she is also savvy enough to know that it is always good, in terms of promoting the "brand," to wear something from some of the many talented designers of the show. She's worn creations by "Project Runway" alumni including Christian Siriano, Kara Saun, Mondo Guerra, Rami Kashou, and I'm happy to say, myself.

Back in the workroom, Tim Gunn meets up with the designers. There are dossiers showing several past red carpet looks that La Klum has worn. Thirty minutes to sketch, $250 and a trip to Mood later, Tim reminds Mitchell that the Emmy Awards is an elegant and sophisticated event (Oh, snap!). In regard to the challenge and how important it is, Sean says "You can't BUY this kind of exposure." Well Sean, I'm here to burst your bubble and say that, actually, you can. It's called Dior on Jennifer Lawrence, Chanel on Keira Knightley, Prada on Lupita Nyong'o, and so on. But I digress.

Post-Mood, the designers begin their creations and many are having problems. There are your usual subjects saying that "They Don't Do Red Carpet" to excuse the fact that they made bad fabric choices and have construction skills that are not up to par. Heidi and Tim check in and find out who failed and who is almost done. On the latter point, it's Kini of course. Heidi also likes Sean's design. For all the rest (almost), Heidi No Likey. One designer after another becomes Klum Road Kill: Sandhya, Kristine, Mitchell, Samantha, and Korina especially. The drab green color of Korina's design reminds Heidi of a German Lodenjacke. She also does not like the fact that Korina's look has actual snakeskin. Basically, Korina is in major trouble, since that's all she's got.

Five hours until the end of the day and Heidi and Tim walk in. The designers wonder what kind of twist is next. No twist: Heidi admits to the designers that she is scared of the mess that she is seeing. After all, she has to wear the design, and it's not looking good. Time to call Donatella, French Couturier Alexandre Vauthier or...allow a Mood shopping re-do. It's decided that the designers can go back to Mood with an extra $100 to try and "Make it work" for a second time. Seven of the 12 designers go back and Lodenjacke Korina decides to get another shade of green fabric. She thinks it's more emerald-looking, however it's the dullest emerald I've ever seen. Sandhya continues to alienate herself from the rest of the designers by gathering enough money to buy $200-a-yard fabric. The smack-talk continues behind Sandhya's back but the girl certainly knows how to play the game and is NOT backing down.

The Runway:
All the designers who were having issues yesterday are having more issues today. Korina cannot get it together. Pre-runway, she even has the nerve to say, "Who can make a red carpet dress in five hours?!" Kini can. Oscar Garcia-Lopez of "Project Runway: Under The Gunn" can. It's runway time and judges Zac, Nina, Heidi, and Olympic medalist Lindsey Vonn are there. Not sure why American World Cup alpine ski racer Vohn is there to judge a red carpet fashion challenge, but for the 3rd time in this episode, I will just "go with the program."

My favorites were the same as the judges: Amanda, Kini and Sean. I liked Amanda's dress. The trim did look cheap but from a photo it would read "Cleopatra Fab." I was happy to see that she somehow took her hippy-dippy tarot card reader Boho aesthetic and made a nice gown. Kini's was FLAWLESS. It was elegant yet sexy and perfectly made (horsehair braid on the hem: Hello!). Sean's electric blue fringed gown was SO Heidi! It moved beautifully, was fearless and unexpected and would look great from every photo angle. Sean was the winner. But then again, anyone who had seen photos from last week's Creative Arts Emmys Red Carpet would have known that.

The bad. And they were BAD. Emily's was hoochie-licious. Too short and too girl-waiting-in-line-at-a-Vegas-DJ-party. Alexander's fishtail-front black design was neither elegant nor sophisticated. And then there was the I-can-almost-see-your-butt-cheek hemline. Yikes! Kristine's red dress was a mess. The devil-horn bustline, the rippled fit, plus the design -- it all added up to a big NO. The worst for me were Mitchell and Korina. Korina's green halter gown was so badly made and the style looked like a Mother of the Bride dress ON TRIPLE MARKDOWN. The un-sewn raw hem was amateur hour. But then there was poor Mitchell. His red satin creation reminded Nina of a Christmas ornament. I thought it was WAY too short (what happened?) and looked like it was tortured. The super-wonky back zipper was the nail in the "You're out" coffin. Yes, he was bye-bye, but so was another designer, and it wasn't Korina but Kristine, who got the second auf. So while Sean walks off with one of the biggest and most publicized wins in "Project Runway" history, the rest seem to be left shell-shocked with lots of work to do. Next week should be very interesting!


Season 13, Episode 4: Burger Couture

Posted By laurareineke 4:34am GMT

Are you hungry for high fashion? Well then this episode -- and challenge -- is for you. For Season 13 of “Project Runway” the main sponsor is Red Robin, home of “gourmet burgers." What do delicious hamburgers have to do with high fashion? This week’s episode was going to do its darnedest to somehow answer that -— or at least make sure you get hungry while watching and want to run out to your nearest Red Robin to get one of their burgers. Let's discuss the Gourmet-Burger Couture.

The beginning of this fourth episode has the remaining 13 designers thrown in vans and transported to what looks like Staten Island or New Jersey, where they arrive at a Red Robin restaurant. Kini is famished from the long ride and excited at the prospect of possibly having a breakfast burger (if there is such a thing!). No time for eating just yet, Kini: Tim Gunn is waiting, along with Jason Rusk, VP of Brand Transformation. You gotta love a good corporate title!

Jason and Tim inform the designers that Red Robin is a burger joint that "likes to look at things with a fresh perspective." Out walk 13 male models decked out in 13 different suits, from 70's leisure polyester and corduroy ensembles to "Disco Danny" looks, Prom Boy tacky tuxedos to 80's "Miami Vice" neon, and everything in between. I was thinking "Are these vintage Red Robin uniforms? What's the tie-in?" Nope, they were not. Red Robin Jason and double breasted Tim announce that the challenge is to transform these "classic suits" into high fashion, using the fabrics of these suits as a prominent part of the final runway look. Wait, no burger influence?! No Red Robin uniform re-do!? I'm confused. Moving on...

Of all the designers, Miss Unpopular and two-time-winner Sandhya gets to choose which tacky -- I mean “classic” -- suit is her inspiration first, and then pick suits for the rest of the 12 designers. Some are okay with what they were given and lots of them are not. Amanda, Hernan and Mitchell are complaining; they're not happy suit campers. Hernan especially thinks Sandhya gave him his tacky suit as "payback" for being mean to her during the team challenge and begins to use the B-word over and over and over again when talking about her. The women in his life watching this should be proud. Not.

Post Mood-shopping, the designers are in their workroom as Tim does his check-in. Kini is almost done. He is clearly the new Oscar from “Under The Gunn." Seriously. Mean Girl Korina and Kristine are both doing motorcycle jackets and Korina is NOT HAPPY (naturally). Alexander is worried that he's trying too hard and New Zealand Sean is deconstructing his '70s camel-colored corduroy suit and making what looks like more of a deconstructed mess. Sandhya chose the "Miami Vice" look and of course, she's doing a "Sandhya" and creating a colorful original-looking design. She mentions to Tim that she's inspired by a poster at the Red Robin restaurant with a tagline "Is there ketchup in my moustache?" She's stenciling mustaches into her design. While part of me thinks it's a bit cartoony, I'm also thinking "Just let her do what she does!" Finally, Hernan seems to be on a downward spiral, having major issues creating his look and still blaming Sandhya for all of them (and yes, more nasty uses of the B-word). To cap his horrible workroom day, during the model fittings Hernan doesn't even have anything for his model to try on. Ayy, dios mio!

The Runway:
It's Runway Day and issue-riddled Hernan decides to cut his hem and leave it raw and tack-i-licious. And speaking of raw...Sean's deconstructed look is getting a new top that he thinks will improve his not-so-cute look. Kini is still more than done (he was done the day before). Hopefully he’s enjoying a Red Robin burger with egg at the catering table. Judges Zac, Nina, Heidi as well as "YouTube Sensation" Bethany Mota are there. P.S.: I am really, really old when I don't understand that being a "YouTube Sensation" is a major plus in someone's Curriculum Vitae and worthy of a guest judge position on "Project Runway." welcome to the new world of Social Media Famous. Onto the designs.

I like Korina's red moto-jacket chic suit look; it's better than Kristine's. I also like Sandhya's mustache-stenciled colorful ensemble. It's original and very consistent with her design aesthetic. Kini's is PERFECTION: That structured shouldered pin-stripe dress is EVERYTHING. The way he transformed that boxy menswear suit into a high fashion design, the mitered stripes -- the entire look screams "Winner!" Now, let’s discuss Amanda: I wasn't a fan. I get the whole "transformative" boho-hippy/dippy vibe but her dress was not my taste and seemed more Stevie Nicks-meets-Janis Joplin than high fashion. With that said, the minute it walked down the runway, it screamed "Heidi Klum will love it!" And she did. If you are a true fan of “Project Runway” and have watched all 13 seasons, you know that if Heidi wants it...done and done! I would have chosen Kini but hey, that's just me.

The Bottom: Sean's deconstructed look was not inspiring, transformational or high fashion. I get the whole raw-edge shredded thing but it’s neither new nor original. Been there done that. In addition, Nina was correct when she said that it looked very "orthopedic" and that the top seemed like a post-breast surgery bandage. His design was BAD, but not as bad as Hernan's. Hernan's design looked tortured, amateur and almost vulgar; the gigantic "V" placed below the waist torso did scream "Super V-Jay-Jay." It was tacky, had fit issues and was obviously the worst. I wanted to send him home just for treating Sandhya with such disrespect. He was already eliminated but still had to get in one more jab, not at Sandhya but this time to the judges. Que classy? Not! Now, is it FINALLY time to get a Red Robin BURGER? I’m stylishly famished!