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Generation HP

By laurareineke Fri., Sep. 27, 2013 ,4:15 am EDT

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.