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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!

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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!

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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!

08
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Season 13, Episode 3: 2034 Is The New 1994

Posted By laurareineke 4:13am GMT

1994. Part of me doesn’t want to admit that I actually remember 1994 and that I was already a just-graduated-from-college 20-something. Unfortunately, there are photos to prove that I was not only an adult but that I wore oversized blousy shirts, had a Caesar haircut and goatee, and loved boxy Nehru-collared suits. What got me strolling down Fashion Memory Lane was of course this week’s “Project Runway,” which involved 1994 and the future. If you think that the future in terms of fashion will be inspirational, exciting and innovative...keep reading. Let's hope that at least there will be no blousy shirts, Caesar haircuts and goatees involved.

Flanked by photos of supermodels on the cover of past Marie Claire magazines, Tim Gunn and Editor-in-Chief Anne Fulenwider announce that the magazine is celebrating its 20th anniversary and that this week’s challenge is to create a look inspired by the past, but for 20 years in the future in 2034. “What does the future of fashion look like filtered through your design aesthetic?” asks Tim. Before the designers can ponder the thought, it’s time to go on their first trip to Mood!

Post-Mood shopping, the designers arrive in the workroom to see old photos of themselves on the wall showing how they looked in 1994. Realizing that some of the designers are so young, I wondered if any of them had been born yet. I'm happy to say that the answer is “yes” and therefore my thoughts of feeling like an old grandpa subsided. Yes, some were barely walking (Alexander was 2!) but then there was Emily who by the looks of it was a smokin’ HOT music video model back in the day. P.S.: Do people still say “smokin’”? I doubt it. So 1994 of me.

The designers are busy working on their retro-future fashions as Tim does his check-in. Sean sees a cluttered future so he wants to go the minimalist route. Tim thinks it might be chic and sophisticated. Personally, I’m bored and despondent just looking at it. Habitually depressed Angela is inspired by her Wall Street past and is looking to update corporate style for 2034 -- with a jacket, and that’s it. Ripped-jean aficionado Mitchell sees the future as wet (since where he lives will probably be underwater by 2034!) and is going scuba, but as Tim points out, it’s looking like a figure skating costume. Sandhya wants her woman of the future to be a strong, stylish Recyclable Queen. Tim is concerned, but I’m intrigued. Finally, Alexander, who is inspired by an Afghan blanket his mom wrapped him in as a child, is trying to make a dress using tweed fabric plus a leather top. He’s having issues with the top and Tim is happy to point out each and every problem: puckering, gaping, leather stretching. During the model fittings, Alexander realizes that he now has one more issue to deal with: a “uni-boob” top. Time to scrap the entire thing, darlin’.

The Runway
Heidi, Zac, Nina, Tim and Anne Fulenwider are present as well as photographer, Lifetime show host, and former wife of Duran Duran’s John Taylor, Amanda de Cadenet. The 1994-2034 runway designs were a mixed bag to say the least; lots of drab and sad, some questionable designs, and happily, a couple of shining moments.

The good: I loved Mitchell’s scuba diva. The colors were great, especially among all the dull-colored outfits from the other designers. I just wished his seams matched. Samantha's vest/a-line skirt/turtleneck "Backpack Girl" was cute (Samantha could be a silent threat!) and Emily's "Ewok" hooded and jumsuited diva was powerful, mysterious and sexy; very "Mata Hari 2034." Kudos to her model for stomping it on the runway like the rent was due. My favorite was Sandhya's by far. I loved her explanation that "Strong women don't have to wear menswear-inspired fashion." Her design was editorial, exciting and futuristic but with the right touch of couture in her hand-done metallic detail work. Queen Amidala has just arrived. Sandhya won (Yeah!). The look on Korina's face after finding out who won was priceless. It should be played on a loop over and over again. Seriously.

My not-so-faves: Kristine’s olive neoprene coat with slashed sleeves was too "Matrix" costume-y. Hernan’s black cocktail-to-gown concoction was two seconds from looking like a future hooker. Fade made a female version of himself at a cruise ship’s all-you-can-eat buffet. Korina: What. Are. Those. Pants? Sean and Alexander: Please don’t let me live until 2034. Not surprisingly these two were at the bottom, along with Angela. I honestly thought it was between the boys. Sean's look was sewn poorly, he made bad fabric choices and that hat should have stayed a Mood bag. And when "Meana" Garcia tells you that your look reminds her of "Planet of the Apes," you know you are in big trouble; Alexander really should have gone home for that raw hem, homeless-looking blanket fabric dress.

But nope, it was Angela. Angela wanted to design a vision for a Corporate Woman of 2034, but by the looks of it, Wall Street executives will be serving warm nuts and hot towels in the future. And then there were the construction issues. She should have admitted that the pleating detail at the hem was a mistake; I'm sure she thought the sweep (at the hem) was too much and figured, "Let me take it in...oh yeah, I'll put a pleat on each side." I think she went home not because of her design, but more because of what the producers -- and Tim -- were thinking: This environment is not right for the very neurotic and depressed Angela. So while Angela is off being debriefed by the staff psychologist, it's on to the next challenge, with Sean and Alexander lucky to be saved and Sandyha riding high with her second win!

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FRI

Season 13, Episode 2: Lights! Camera! Fashion!

Posted By laurareineke 4:09am GMT

Lights! Camera! Fashion! Time for the first (I assume there will be more) unconventional challenge of Season 13. And this one involves both film and fashion. So, kids, it's time to microwave some popcorn, sit back and let the DRAMA -- and fun creations -- unfold!

The episode begins with the 15 remaining designers waking up in their Gotham West pied-à-terre, finding a tub of popcorn, 3D glasses, plus an invitation to a private screening at a Manhattan movie theater. The designers then head to the Village East Cinema, where they sit down to watch a supposed fashion movie trailer...until it is quickly interrupted by Tim Gunn. Tim announces that instead of a fun Movie Day, it’s time for the unconventional challenge: to create a look incorporating their “Movie Experience” by using materials found in a movie theater, from camera and lighting supplies, art department props, costume and wardrobe, to even the concession items. The designers seem pretty excited until Tim tells them that they are to work in teams: Silver Team (Korina, Kristine, Amanda), Purple Team (Char, Kini, Mitchell), Green Team (Emily, Alexander, Samantha), Red Team (Hernan, Carrie, Sandhya), and Blue Team (Angela, Fade, Sean). Each team is to create a cohesive mini collection.

Any time there is a challenge involving teams there is bound to be harmonious teams and one or two discordant ones. Most of the groups are getting along and working together for a cohesive end goal, save for two. First, always-mousy, continually-depressed Angela is making her Blue Team members worry over her lack of team spirit and her disinterest in going the same inspiration route as them. I’m concerned for her, too: it’s only the second challenge -- and probably only the third day into filming in “real time” -- and Angela seems ready to snap if anyone yells “Boo!” Why do these types of people go on this kind of show? Moving on.

The second unharmonious team involves last week's winner (and this season’s Miss Unpopular) Sandhya. We know this: None of the designers think highly of her, and most believe she shouldn’t even be there. Naturally, there was going to be trouble within the team she was on. In the workroom, team members Carrie and Hernan belittle Sandyha’s creation, causing her grief. She summons Tim Gunn for a “Tim Therapy” session. When Sandhya tells Tim how she is being treated by her team members, his first response of “Oh Dear!” says it all (“Oh Dear” as in “Oh Dear! Here we go again!”). However, after some positive words from Tim, Sandhya gets the impetus to join her team and do whatever Bossy Hernan and Bossy Jr. Carrie want, so they can at least stop berating her.

Clever editing (kudos!) during the workroom scenes in the lead-up to the runway show leads me to believe that the Silver Team (Korina, Kristine and Amanda) will be in the bottom (seriously, what the heck is Amanda making!!??) and that Sandhya’s team finally gets their act together and they’re going to be all good. If I was a gambler, I would have bet money.

The Runway
Nina, Heidi, Zac, Tim, and French fashion blogger/photographer/illustrator Garance Doré are on hand to judge away. One team would be on top and one on the bottom, with one designer from each getting the Best or Worst honors respectively. The designs come out and all in all, it’s a pretty fabulous display of creativity, innovative designs, and original use of unconventional materials. Highlights: I LOVE Sean’s coat made out of drinking straws; it certainly is one of the best. Unfortunately because of mousy-and-depressed Angela’s uncreative design, Sean will have to wait for another challenge to get any top honors. I also liked the Galactic-Barbie-at-a-Katy Perry-Concert dresses from the Purple Team (Char, Kini and Mitchell). They were fun and really made me smile (if that’s worth anything!). Green Team’s designs were quite good, I thought, particularly Samantha’s CD top and film skirt. Neither of these teams made the top. Surprisingly, it was the Silver Team of Korina, Kristine and Amanda that got the top spot (I just lost some money!). Heidi praised their designs for being original, cohesive, and “really, really special." I agree on looking cohesive (the base color of neon green helped) but design and construction-wise, they looked like craft projects. I just didn’t get it. And then Amanda won? Now I am really scratching my head because I thought hers was one of the worst (along with Angela's).

The bottom was the Red Team. Poor Sandhya -- she is not gaining any additional friends in the workroom after this one. Her design was deemed the worst, but since she won last week, she is safe, therefore it's either Hernan or Carrie to be auf’ed. Now, I must confess something: I liked their designs. I liked how they used the film and made the fabric look as if it was sequined paillettes. I agree that the dresses looked alike (because of the fabrication) but I honestly felt the judges were exaggerating in saying that they ALL looked the same. There were 3 different shapes, necklines, lengths. Hernan did basically run the team's show and made his other team members design for his mini-collection. But to me, they were nice and cohesive. I kind of understand how both Hernan and Carrie were up on the runway scratching their heads. But what I didn’t understand was that they actually verbalized it to the judges. The judges didn’t like that AT ALL. Neither Heidi, Zac, Nina nor Miss French Blogger was in any mood to hear it -- and especially from Carrie. Therefore it was “The End” for Carrie’s brief fashion and film career.

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Season 13 Premiere: Lucky Number 13

Posted By laurareineke 4:29am GMT

Back in the “covered wagon days” when I was a contestant on Season 2 of "Project Runway," neither I --nor Heidi, Tim, and company -- would have ever imagined the show would continue on for eleven more seasons. Yet here we are! All these years later with a new season, new designers and undoubtbly new drama. So let’s see who was lucky or unlucky during this premiere episode of "Project Runway" Season 13.

The episode begins with 18 designers arriving in NYC for one final audition where judges Nina Garcia, Zac Posen and Heidi Klum will get to whittle them down to 15. After the audition, Heidi waves auf wiedersehen to three of the 18 who will have to pack their bags and go home...or be sequestered into an undisclosed location until further notice.

As in any premiere episode of a reality competition show, we get a quick get-to-know-you glimpse of each of the contestants, featuring soundbites from all the designers and judges. The new cast of "characters" is revealed and solidifies very early on who each person is supposed to be: Char, a single mom from Detroit, is self-taught; mousy, quiet Angela from L.A. used to work at an investment bank; Jefferson is fresh from school and used to be a hip-hop dancer; Mitchell is from Ft. Lauderdale and dresses as if he’s going to a Fire Island Bar-B-Q as opposed to an audition interview with Nina, Heidi and Zac; Kini is the bleach-blond guy from Hawaii; Carrie’s designs are considered referential and very Rick Owens; Fade is the "kooky" German who probably wears fanny packs while vacationing; India-born Sandhya had an arranged marriage and has a "definite point of view" (read: she’s the "creative" one); and Hernan is the Latino designer with the questionable taste level according to Miss Nina. Oh, and every other designer seems to reside in Brooklyn (!!??). On a side note: For the last 11 seasons, besides recapping the show, I’ve also had the pleasure of judging the casting/auditions, and this season was no exception. I was happy to see several of the designers I saw (and liked) at the L.A. auditions -- including Kini, Carrie, and Angela -- make it through!

The following day, the 15 designers find out what their first challenge is, as well as the identity of the one final designer who will join them. Last season, this Runway Redemption designer arrived to much flourish disembarking from a plane. This season, not so much. Season 11 designer Amanda Valentine (the sister of a member of Maroon 5, we are reminded), just walks into the workroom like another day at the park. Now, onto the challenge. Since the Grand Prize for the Winning Designer (and the eight runners-up) is to show a spring collection at Fashion Week, this first challenge involves creating a spring look from the fabrics that are inside 16 individual black trunks (five different kinds of fabric in three-yard cuts). The challenge is to give the judges a glimpse of what their collections might look like. And they have one day to do it.

During the workroom time, we get a good view of where the season might take us in terms of the designers and who's who. Already we get hints that Korina (one of the Brooklynites) will be the token not-so-nice one (rhymes with witch); flip-flop boy Mitchell is her Best Gay and “Peanut Gallery” co-gossiper; and (almost) everyone thinks Sandhya’s point of view is tacky and she shouldn’t be there. It may be too soon for me to make this prediction but I have a feeling that in Sandhya we have a new Natalia (from "Under The Gunn") or Patricia Michaels (from Season 11). This classic archetype is praised for creativity but hated by her co-designers.

The Runway
Before we get to the Runway, Heidi announces the Season 13 prize package worth over $300,000: $100,000 from Red Robin, the opportunity to design an accessory for the Red Robin servers (a fabulous fascinator hat and apron, perhaps?), a fashion spread in Marie Claire, Aldo shoes and accessories, Samsung home entertainment, Mary Kay beauty products, Brother sewing studio, and Best Western travel and hotel accommodations to “fashion capitals and other inspiring destinations." Oh yeah, and a Lexus (cough, cough). Moving on...

Judges Heidi, Nina and Zac as well as “Modern Family” actress Julie Bowen are on hand for the first runway show. And mentor Tim is back in his side role to possibly save a designer whom the judges vote out (he gets one "Tim Save" per season). The runway show can be summed up in one word: meh! While a couple did stand out for me, there were some definite clunkers and for the most part everything was a 5 out of 10. I did like Korina’s coral-colored halter jumpsuit. I thought it was chic, slightly edgy and very "Runway," but she didn’t even make the “best” cut (and she was NOT AMUSED, as we saw from her stink face). Carrie’s was also one of my favorites (she also didn’t make the judges’ top). Instead, Amanda, Char and Natalia -- oops, I mean Sandhya -- were the favorites. Amanda and Char’s designs were praised for their construction but it was Sandhya’s creative, albeit not-so-well-made design that won. If there’s a rule on “Project Runway”, it's that creative designs almost always trump the need for good construction. Personally, my favorite was Char's. Her mix of draped and tailored fabrics with the colors really was a strong spring look.

I agreed totally with the judges in regards to the designers on the bottom: Angela’s pants with peek-a-boo side slits and asymmetrical top were a disjointed mess. The pants in particular affected Nina and Tim deeply: Nina called the pants’ slits "sluts" and Tim wondered out loud if Angela’s pants came with "a gift certificate for a Brazilian." Ouch. And then there was Jefferson. Nina -- who’s ON FIRE with the zingers -- said very slowly and deliberately, “W.T.F.” to his top-and-shorts look and called them "a bib" and "big diapers." She was completely right. Jefferson was out, and mousy Angela was in. And (almost) everyone was in shock at Sandhya winning. Get ready kids, because this season looks like it’s going to be another emotional, catty, kooky catwalk ride!

18
FRI

The End Is Here

Posted By laurareineke 4:39am GMT

The end is here—well, at least for this twelfth season of "Project Runway." Now, before I begin discussing this finale episode and my recap of the collections, I have to give a HUGE thank you to everyone who tuned in and joined me for the FIRST EVER "Part 1 Finale Live Chat" here on myLifetime.com. I had a blast during my "Nick Dishing on the Web" session, answering fan questions about the season and "Project Runway" in general. I really enjoyed it and hope we can do it again next season!

Time to DISH on the Finale
As of last week, there were five remaining designers—with Bradon and Dom having secured spots at Mercedes Benz NY Fashion Week and three having to "fight it out" for the coveted third spot. As it turns out, there were going to be four designers showing. Alexandria and Justin were in and Helen (and her "caped crusader" girls) was out.

Washable Redux
Halfway through last week's episode, we had the introduction of a final challenge, the Tide Pods Washable Fabrics Challenge. The designers had to create a look using only washable fabrics. The challenge, however, was derailed as a result of Tim's unfortunate subway accident. During my Live Chat, I talked about how great this challenge was since I think it is so important for "high fashion" designers to think of using washable fabrics in their collections. This was brought to my attention this past Summer while doing events for my NV Nick Verreos dress line; I heard from LOTS of women who told me how important it was for them to have chic garments that they can actually throw in the wash. But during last week's episode, it was only introduced and then...nothing else about it happened.

Step Away From The BouillonnÈ
The beginning of this episode solved my "Can we get back to the Tide Challenge?" conundrum and immediately showed the Top 4 designers at Mood, picking their washable fabrics and going back to their Parsons Workroom to create their a "washable look that pops" as well as finish whatever they had to do in their collections. Tim checks in. Last week we got a glimpse of what Bradon and Dom were doing through their home visits but this time, Tim got more up close and personal. He LOVED what Bradon's collection was looking like; but I didn't so much. Bradon was mixing prints and while that could have turned out to be good, his designs looked missy, and the styles, not directional enough. And, oh dear: did I spot his BouillonnÈ pick-up 1984 prom technique in some of the looks? No, please Bradon, I said this once and I'll say it again: Step away from the BouillonnÈ! S'il vous plaÓt!

Don't Listen To Tim
I also didn't think Tim's critique of Dom's FABULOUS prints was warranted; he was worried about them and thought they may go a bit "cartoony." I thought they were great, and if anyone can mix prints, it's Dom—not Bradon, thank you very much. Now I'm two for two, in terms of not agreeing with Tim's (usually insightful) two cents. Time for Alexandria: Tim thought she should nix her t-shirts (since Nina wasn't a fan). Good enough, I get that; it's always good to bring back judges' feedback to the designers and alert them of anything they didn't like.

Early Wake Up
It's Runway Day and the designers are up and ready at the ungodly hour of 2 a.m. I love that they show them traipsing on their way to Lincoln Center at this hour while most Manhattan-ites are just leaving the bars. In case you guys are wondering why they have to be up at this time, it's because traditionally, the "Project Runway" finale fashion show at Lincoln Center has two showings: One at 6 a.m. (for extra camera footage) and one around 10 a.m. (for the press, fashion editors, stylists, celebs, etc.). I've attended many a "Project Runway" Finale Fashion Show and thank goodness, it has always been the latter one.

The Runway
Here is what I wrote on my "Nick Judge's Card" on the final collections:

Justin: His entire collection is sleek and very modern. I love it. It looks refined and very directional. And construction-wise, there were no loose threads or visible seam puckering: Good job Justin! I liked the hairstyles he gave his models last week (even though most of the judges had issues) but, I admit these re-styled 'dos were much better; they matched the sleek, architectural lines of his designs. I LOVED his unconventional "test tube" final gown as well as what he created for the Tide Washable Look. Both blended seamlessly into the collection.

Dom: Two words: Luxe Resort. Her collection blew me away; just gorgeous. I am immediately drawn to her prints and the fact that she showed me a story and one woman and I totally "got" who she was. My favorite look was a printed jersey cowl back dress with sleeves. Chic and effortless. She should be in Santorini eating Spanakopita and drinking ouzo with a multi-millionaire Greek shipping heir. Her unconventional final gown was flawless. Dom is the winner for me—just from her runway collection.

Alexandria: First off, I wasn't a fan of her unconventional creation; it looked very Arts-and-Crafty/Student Fashion Show. I admire what she was going for but with the rest of her collection, it did not belong there. Besides that, I actually liked most of her designs; they were chic, modern, and very Heidi Klum in Berlin Fashion Week. Right now, I'm thinking it's between Justin and Alexandria for 2nd place.

Bradon: Bradon is the last to show—and last on my "Nick Judge's Card." I was let down by his collection. I don't think he should have begun his show with a printed top and iridescent lame and organza BouillonnÈ gown-skirt. The entire collection looks dated, not directional enough, and for an "older woman" who isn't so fashionable. What happened? Bradon was a judges' favorite and Tim LOVED him too! He admits during the final judging panel that he's only been doing this for three years and well, this tells me that he needs more time to know who he is and cultivate his design aesthetic. Trust me; it takes more than just three years. And I didn't even mention the fact that his Unconventional look—compared to the rest of the designers—was a major hashtag fail.

And The Winner Is...
Bradon was out, which left Justin, Alexandria and Dom. Justin was the next to be auf'd. His fabulous 3D prints weren't enough to satisfy the judges. Leaving Alexandria and Dom. Out of these two finalists, it was pretty obvious that Dom was the top. Yes, the Winner. The judges loved her collection and her 1960s Retro "Supremes" styling. This was the designer one can see a brand being created with. To me, her finale collection was the best, by far. It told a story, created a mood and looked directional, high-fashion and perfectly made. Move over Trina Turk, it's Dom Streater printed dresses. Soon at Belk. If I was a girl, I'd be all over it!

Until next season! Byeee!!!!!

11
FRI

1, 2, 3, 4

Posted By laurareineke 4:50am GMT

Season 12 is almost over. Almost. We're down to the top 5 designers out of sixteen. Two have confirmed sports at Lincoln Center NY Fashion Week -- Bradon and Dom -- and the other three have to "fight it out" for the coveted third spot. So pre-finale episode, here we come!

$9,000, Six Weeks and One Unconventional Look
Emmy Award-winning "Project Runway" co-hosts Tim and Heidi come onto the runway to congratulate the remaining designers and announce that they are giving each of them $9,000 to create a 10-look collection ($900 per look) and that the designers have six weeks to do it. In addition, one of the looks must be created out of unconventional materials, e.g. NOTHING that even looks like real fabric. Got it? Good. Now, byeeee! One month later, time for the Tim Trips:

Philadelphia and Dom: Dom's inspiration is the movie "Blade Runner,î and she calls her collection "RetroFuturism.î She has created her own prints which look fabulous! Everything looks fine and dandy until we find out she's only done three and a half looks (out of TEN!) and she's only got 2 weeks to go. Something tells me, however, that she'll be okay.

Los Angeles and Bradon: Tim goes BAREFOOT on a Southern California beach! Still, the jacket remains. Moving on...Bradon explains that his inspiration deals with flowers and the melting of snow right as spring is about to begin. Tim is instantly wowed. I'm actually a bit worried. From the quick glances, the collection has hints of Valentino, but Valentino from 1994. In a later direct-to-camera, Helen comments that she thinks Bradon's collection looks "old lady." Here's a shocker: for the first time this entire season, I agree with her!

San Mateo and Alexandria: It's only nine days until Fashion Week (thatís what the Chyron says) and Alexandria has made 30 pieces! Wow, she's a busy bee! Her inspiration is "Neo Nomadic Punk" and everything looks very her. I'm just a little worried at the lack of "punch" in the color scheme of her collection; it all looks bland. Alexandria then takes Tim to her Camp Couture, where little kids sew and create things. They've all made these "ugly dolls" inspired by Season 12 contestants: There's the Sandro Doll (where's the broken camera?), Unicorn Doll, Sue Waller Doll with dreadlocks and yes, even a Tim Gunn one. Alexandria better put those little kids to work--and FAST--to make a ton more because I can see those selling like CRAY-CRAY! Camp Couture just turned into Camp Sweatshop!

Union City and Helen: Somehow, it's still NINE DAYS to Fashion Week (that's what the Chyron says!) and Tim went from San Francisco to New Jersey in one day and it was still daytime. Helen tells Tim that her inspiration was clairvoyance. She's made a print out of her boyfriend's eye. There's a lot of color, especially red. I like that but...I'm just not sure about the shapes. If you're going to do Cristobal Balenciaga cocoon capes, those things better look IMPECCABLE. These do not. Helen does admit that she has never done a collection before and that this is her first. Not even at F.I.T.? Nothing? I think to myself "Wow, doing a ìProject Runwayî finale collection might not be a good place to start." Too late now.

Raleigh and Justin: EVERYTHING looks great! He's inspired by sound waves and is creating these original 3-D printing pieces. I am so intrigued that I just want to see more. For his Unconventional Challenge look, he is using test tubes. Test tubes! I can't wait! Let's hope his questionable construction will not be his Achillesí heel.

Back in NY
One week later and all the designers are back in NY. They're in their Parsons Workroom for the awkward first-look in front of their competitors. This is an unusual group for "Project Runway" since most (not all) of the time, there's always a villain, someone EVERYONE hates who makes it to the end. But here, nope, nothing. During the unveiling of the garment bags, they're all "That looks cute!" and "Oh, look what you did!" But when they're alone -- direct-to-camera -- they all diss each other. Typical.

But first...there's another twist
Tim walks in with Raquel Rozas, Tide Brand Manager, to announce that Tide is partnering with the CFDA to push their designers to create designs in washable fabrics. Therefore, the finalists who will make it to Fashion Week (Bradon, Dom and ?) will also have to create one additional look using washable fabrics for a look that "pops." Unfortunately, it seems that this challenge was sidelined and I have a sneaking suspicion that it was due to Tim's accident...

Subway Tim
Tim returns for his critique and he's all gashed up! "What happened?" everyone asks. (An extra-long time must have transpired since he last told them that he'd be back). Poor Tim fell down the stairs in the subway, slashed his lip, nose and forehead and consequently had to go to the emergency room. You know THE LAST place he wanted to be was back filming in the workroom to critique the designers. But he's a trooper! After his check-in, as he is saying goodbye, he chokes up and gets emotional. Part of me thinks it's less about the designers and more that he's just happy the day is OVER. Time for a stiff martini!

The Runway
Judges Heidi, Zac and Nina are there to determine who makes it in. I've got my Judge's Note Cards and here's what I wrote:

Alexandria -- I like her three looks. These girls look edgy and modern; very NY-meets-Berlin fashion editor. I LOVE the pant pocket detail. The clothes don't necessarily have a "runway punch," as Nina noted, but they're great for the showroom, and a super hip boutique in the Marais. I would have liked more variation in the pant looks, however.

Helen -- Uh oh. Where's all the amazing construction and creative designs that she did all season long? There's always one designer in these final stages who is really good the entire season, then goes home and somehow, fails. The capes she made were clunky and restrictive (Nina was right in calling one a straightjacket). I know what she was going for, but it didn't work. As Zac said, it takes YEARS to master architectural shapes like those. You can't do that at 25. You can try but it ain't going to be right. I also didn't like the print: It was drab and uninspired. Oh, and the center back zipper closure of the printed cape-dress was wonky and rippling. And what do capes have to do with clairvoyance? Just sayin'.

Justin -- One word: Bravo! All three looks he showed were fab! I loved the cut-out vest and pants, the painted flared dress was great, and the "test tube" gown, wow! His 3-D prints/accessories were unique and strong statement pieces. I loved that he showed a variety with a pants look, a dress and a gown. And it all worked. This is how you do it kids! And I am with Nina: I liked the hair. So there!

Final Four
Justin was by far the one to keep, so he's in! Alexandria and Helen are left. Will they both be out or is Heidi tricking us? Yep, she is. It's Top 4 not 3, darlings. (For ìProject Runwayî historians, this is only the 4th time in 12 Seasons that there has been a final 4). Alexandria snuck in and "caped crusader" Helen is out. So it's Bradon, Dom, Justin and Alexandria. Who do you guys think will win? And was it okay to let Alexandria in and have a Top 4? Was this really necessary? And will she use a COLOR that "pops" for her Washable Tide Look? Please Alexandria, I hope you do.

04
FRI

Butterfly Avant-Garde

Posted By kim_messina 4:14am GMT

It's a double-double on "Project Runway." No, not the delicious In-&-Out burger that Tim Gunn ate with me during this season's castings (Google it, I took a picture for my Twitter AND Instagram!). I'm talking about the fact that last week we had the double elimination of designers Alexander and Kate. Kate's was a big shocker since everyone and their puppy thought she would stay until the end, no matter what she did. But alas, it wasn't meant to be. And now this week, we have a double challenge. This was supposed to be just the avant-garde challenge but as it turned out, there was much more. Time to discuss...

Dangling Sausage
Heidi and Tim saunter on the runway to congratulate the remaining five designers for making it this far. I give them medals of valor for A) dealing with "Unicorn Boy" (what was his name?); B) Sandro, the camera-punching Diva; and C) surviving the mud masque wrath of Ken's anger management issues. Kudos to the five remaining designers indeed! La Klum tells the designers that this is the challenge that will determine who makes it to Fashion Week, and adds that the "sausage is dangling in front of their noses." Say what Heidi? I think the saying is "carrot on a stick." I have a feeling that either Heidi was hungry for a schnitzel at the time, or she was thinking of...well, never mind.

Butterfly Avant-garde
The designers are then off to Sweetbriar Nature Center in Long Island where they meet back up with Tim, as well as Billy B., L'Oreal Paris' consulting makeup artist. He is there to talk about the Voluminous Butterfly Mascara (great challenge tie-in!) and to co-announce that this is the "L'Oreal Makeup Challenge": to create an avant-garde look inspired by butterflies. Dom loves the cross-breading nature of butterflies; Alexandria is inspired by the Zebra butterfly; Helen goes for the Monarch butterfly; Bradon is inspired by the butterfly's movement; Justin bonds with an Albino butterfly and "comes out" to national cable TV that he is both deaf, and gay! Good for him!

Bradon is Stressed...He'll Be on Top
Back in the Parsons workroom—after spending way more than they are supposed to on their GoBank cards—the designers get to work. The highlight here is that Bradon is stressing out (A LOT!) and making very expensive fabric "noodles." The minute he is shown as a "stress case," I have a feeling that he will either be on Top or actually win. Yes kids, it's not my first time at the "editing rodeo."

Weepy Helen is Still Weepy
The following day, the designers have their L'Oreal makeup/nail consultations and Tim has his check in on their avant-garde looks. "Weepy Helen"—she of the "Project Runway" after-school special7#151;is still weepy. She is thinking of making a cocoon-like cape and gown and Tim is not a fan and therefore she begins to cry. This is becoming a bit old. Really.

Day of Runway Show...Not!
The following day, the designers walk into the workroom, expecting to finish their avant-garde looks and get ready for the runway show, but instead they find all the Season 12 losing looks on model forms. Tim enters to tell the designers that this is NOT Runway Day and in fact, they have something else to do: the "Make It Work" Challenge. They must create a new look using an eliminated designers' creation. So now, not only do they have to finish their avant-garde looks, they must also create another look for the runway (which will now be the following day). Dom chooses Jeremy's "Soccer Mom" red jacket/printed dress look; Alexandria picks Miranda's plaid pants look; Bradon chooses Sue's placemat creation; Helen goes for Kate's dress from last week and Justin, in a very emotional moment, chooses the "Foaming Vagina" dress he was eliminated for (prior to Tim saving him). Let's see if they can doa avant-garde and...turn a loser look into a winner.

Runway Day...Really
Finally it is the real runway day. Guest judge is actress and singer Emmy Rossum. Here is what I wrote on my "Nick Pretend Judge" Card:
Dom: Amazing! Love it! Great avant-garde look; Dom has a certain knack for mixing prints and making them work. Her construction is also pretty great. Her "Make It Work" look was transformative. She turned a Virgin Atlantic hostess into a chic Paris fashion editor.
Alexandria: I don't think she pushed the avant-garde button far enough just by being deconstructed. The judges say it's "goth-like" but frankly, I see Elvira. I agreed completely with Nina in that I really liked her reworked plaid pants look. All I kept thinking was, "Finally! Alexandria knows what cool, young, hip girls like!"
Helen: I thought that the gown was well-made but not so avant-garde. The raw-edged strips: been there/done that. I think she should have not listened to Tim and kept the cocoon coat. The models hair was more avant-garde than the pumpkin-colored dress. In terms of her "Make It Work" look, she did a great job but it wasn't outstanding; a crop top and super slim pencil skirt? Not so revolutionary and was too similar to last weeks look. But it was much better than Kate's original creation, for sure.
Justin: LOVED both his looks. First, his avant-garde creation was Alexander McQueen meets Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons fab! When the model took off the black coat to reveal the intricate dress beneath, it was very butterfly coming out of a cocoon. In addition, the way he reworked his own not-so-cute creation, was fantastic. Justin does have some issues with construction but he did a very good job design wise.
Bradon: The judges went berserk over his avant garde creation. He did do a wonderful job; finally, his bouillonné technique had a purpose and looked couture. I really liked it. However, I wasn't a fan of his second challenge look; it reminded me of a naughty french maid, and not in a good way.

You're All In!
In terms of who should have won, my bet was on Dom. I thought she did the best work for BOTH challenges. But it was Bradon who got the judges' vote. Congrats to him. He was in, as well as Dom. They got two of the coveted three spots to show at NYC Fashion Week. So, who is out? The worst for me was between Helen and Alexandria. While neither were bad, I thought they both played it a bit safe. And that is exactly what they were; safe. In fact, the judges decided that the bottom three, Alexandria, Helen and Justin, were going to be allowed to make a Fashion Week collection and fight for the third spot. Heidi said that they weren't strong enough to confirm a post in Fashion Week so therefore...THEY WERE ALL IN! So, who do you guys think will make it through? Alexandria's Mohawk Goth Girls? Helen's shredded raw-edged chiffon gals, or Justin's black and white...and grey ladies? Who do you want to make it through?

Finally...
Join me NEXT WEEK during the pre-finale episode here on myLifetime.com as I host a first-ever "Project Runway" Live Webchat! Get your questions ready...I can't wait!

27
FRI

Generation HP

Posted By laurareineke 4:15am GMT

Previously on "Project Runway": the UBER SUPER DUPER fans were celebrated with their very own episode, while designer Ken's anger management issues were "celebrated" as well, for the world to see. I still can't get the image out of my head of Ken looking like Faye Dunaway in "Mommy Dearest," shrieking and yelling at the top of his lungs. Besides myself, I'm thinking that most viewers -- and I'm sure everyone associated with the production of the show (oh those poor talent coordinators, P.A.'s, camera and sound people) -- were happy to see Ken get the "You're out!î from Fr‰ulein Heidi. I hear Ken's trash-talking on Twitter, saying he purposely threw the competition (what is this, ìBig Brother"?) as well as dissing Lifetime's target audience. Bless his heart. Now that the nastiness is gone, let's get back to designing and one of my favorite challenges of the show.

YAY: It's The HP Challenge!
After changing from his "Therapist Tim" uniform back to his "Mentor/Co-Host Tim" ensemble, Tim Gunn walks into the lounge, greeting the remaining seven designers and introducing Rob Le Bras-Brown, Senior VP at HP Worldwide Marketing. He is there to announce that this is the HP and Intel Textile Design Challenge. Usually, during this much-anticipated episode, the designers create a print inspired by something personal or their surroundings. This time, it will be different: They will be inspired by a "Next-Gen Innovator. The winning designer and his or her Innovator partner will get an HP Technology Suite consisting of the Split X-2 and Notebook Rove.

Designer/Next-Gen Innovator Pairings:
Helen, who won last weekís challenge, gets first pick and chooses Ryan Keeley, an artist who combines painting with new media and technology. Bradon is with Nigel Sylvester, a world-recognized DMX rider/entrepreneur and youth mentor. Alexandria chooses Ilana Greenberg, a top graphic designer who uses her creativity to advance social causes. Alexander is with Thiago Silva, Executive Pastry Chef at Catch Restaurant (who coincidentally has THE BEST EYEBROWS EVAH). Kate chooses Maria Gonzalez, teen software developer and creator of the app ìSay Somethingî to help homeless individuals. Justin goes for Nana Meriwether, Miss USA 2012, who created a foundation focusing on education and health in Africa. Dom gets Premal Shah, co-founder of KIVA.org, a crowdfunding organization for entrepreneurs worldwide.

After visiting with their innovators, the designers go back to the Parsons workroom where there are FAB HP Envy Roves for each designer to create their original prints. After they are done, the prints are sent to Dynamics (a textile/print printing company) and in 24 hours...poof! The prints are done and on the designers' workroom tables, ready for some designin'.

Afterschool Special Helen
Tim makes his requisite check-in to see how the designers are doing. He's crazy about Dom's bold graphic print (so am I). Bradon wants to make a long A-line skirt out of his "washed" plaid print but Tim is perplexed by this, which leads Bradon to nix that idea (good). Helen is just an overall weepy mess, over-thinking every drape, cut and seam she makes, and asking advice from her fellow designers. Famed bloggers Tom and Lorenzo refer to her as an "Afterschool Special" and that pretty much sums it up. I'll also add that she reminds me of one of my first quarter students at fashion school. I think at this point she shouldn't be acting like a student but more like a full-fledged designer. On top of all that, Helen keeps saying that she doesn't "do prints" which of course leads me to yell at the TV, "Well, GIRL, you better start now!"

The Runway
The following day, the designers are working frantically to finish their looks. When the camera quickly pans to Kate's look on the model, I just about lose it: WHERE'S THE PRINT, KATE? It's a PRINT Challenge! Did she not get the memo? I just know she'll be on the bottom. Onto the runway: Miss Nina is back from her Capri vacation (in my dreams) and designer Peter Som is the guest judge. Here is what I wrote in my sitting-at-home judge's notecard:

Bradon - Love the bomber jacket. The black tube dress is sexy and once again, his model Ya works it OVERTIME (that girl can wear a garbage bag and make it look couture). But I'm a little dumbfounded by the lack of print used in the entire look.

Justin - Love the top section but from the hips down, a mess. There was too much white and once again (for me), not enough celebration of the print. P.S., the fact that it kind of looked like a pageant gown was NOT a bad thing, at least to me. It was just a poorly designed and constructed pageant gown.

Kate - Oh honey. What happened? What are all those godets? And where is the print? Why is it hidden? She really didn't get the memo. Hasn't she watched past seasons and the amazing work designers like Mondo and Emilio Sosa did for this challenge? Bottom for sure.

Alexander - All I wrote was "he's going home." Oh, and yes, she looks like a high-priestess of the Catholic Chocolate Factory.

Dom - THE WINNER, by far. Hot, gorgeous, celebratory and exactly the kind of look (and perfect use of print) for THE PRINT CHALLENGE!

Alexandria - Alexandria says in her voice-over, "It's cool. It's well made." And my response to her is "No and No." What is that jacket? What is that skirt? And why does the top make the model look as if she's got a pooch? The look is dated and tacky, like for some Club Kid in 2002.

Helen - Miss weepy-mess Helen pulled this look out of nowhere. Good for her. I liked it. It was very on-trend; every other collection during the latest NY Fashion Week showed midriff-baring crop tops. And she used the print well. Only complaint: Too short in the front.

Print Celebration
After the designs come out, Miss Heidi warns that there will be one winner and that one...OR TWO...will be out. She's done this before, almost every season in fact, and lots of times, it's just a faux warning. Not this time, darlings. By the luck of the 2002 Club Kids Gods, Alexandria is safe. I cannot imagine how. Dom's bold and graphic dress is the winner, of course. I additionally praise her for cutting those raglan sleeves so beautifully, especially with that stiff twill fabric they had to use.

One...Or Two...Will be Out
The bottom, unsurprisingly, are Kate and Alexander. Alexander's is criticized for not being "yummy, sweet or sexy" and for looking like a chocolate cult leader (thank you Zac Posen. Whenís your next Comedy Show?). Then there's little Kate. I wish I could put Nina Garcia's "Ohhhh God!" remark (when discussing Kate's dress) on a running GIF loop and watch it EVERY other day. Classic Donít-Mess-With-Me Nina. Alexander is first to be waved goodbye and then it's just Kate. I would have bet money she was staying. She has done so well throughout the season and in fact many fans/viewers suggested that she was the "chosen one" and might win the whole thing; perfect "comeback kid" story. But alas, it wasnít meant to be. In a double elimination shocker, Kate is indeed out. During the goodbyes, Dom tells a weepy Kate how amazing of her that she even did the show a second time. And I wanted to tell Dom, "Honey, don't worry. I have a feeling Kate will be back a THIRD time...I can just imagine her in an upcoming season 'Project Runway All Stars.'" Iíll bet money on that one.