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The Project Runway Blog

"Project Runway" Guest Fashion Blogger: Fashiontribes.com

By kim_messina Mon., Sep. 10, 2012 ,10:00 am EDT

By Lesley Scott, Fashiontribes.com

When Heidi kicked off Episode 8 by asking the group how many were "good at negotiation," almost everyone raised their hands. Which raised her eyebrow (and mine). "You’ll have to use your negotiation skills for this challenge," she warned them. Oooh, excellent! A bunch of diva designers are a lot of things but skilled at negotiation isn’t generally one of them.

The catfight potential was already looking good.

Entering the Parsons workroom where the tables were piled with plain white tees, craft supplies and girlie glitter galore (which horrified Elena), Tim announced yet another group challenge. Ding on the drama-o-meter. When Sonjia, Gunnar and Christopher were teamed up, the boyz circled each other warily but Sonjia’s adorbs personality made it possible for them to meet in the middle (negotiation — it’s the New Black). Now Ven, Fabio and Melissa … uh oh, are those polite smiles? Those three are gonna make do & get along. Fuhgiddaboudit. But wait: Alicia, Dmitry and, yes, Elena! Now this could be majah. Cue Dmitry asking what he did in a past life to have to deserved working with her.

DING.

The mission: use the crafts and tees to make stuff to peddle on the mean streets of downtown NYC and "fundraise" for the rest of the challenge.

Team Ven-Melissa-Fabio (VMF) promptly confirmed my worst fears, acting all professional and dividing themselves up into mini production facilities, with one focusing on decorating the tees, another on making accessories & the third doing something positive and "constructive" (sorry, bad pun — couldn’t help it). Team Sonjia-Gunnar-Christopher (SGC) had the fun idea of taking fashion tools such as sewing shears, laying them onto the tees and doing a quick swipe of spray paint over them, which was quite cute (I totally would have bought one). And team Dmitry-Elena-Alicia? Squabbling openly from the get-go had Mr. Witty Quip (Christopher) compare them to the inept and villainous duo of Rocky & Bullwinkle: Boris & Natasha!

LOL & DING DING!

The Challenge:
Make a two-look fall mini-collection that included at least one piece of outerwear.

The Catch:
The fabric budget was whatever the team had made playing street vendor.

The Good:
Team SGC hit the ground — and the stairs &151; running at Mood, gravitating toward fabrics that read well on the runway, looked great on camera and had enough heft and structure to say "Fall." IMO Sonjia showed how to team-play on a creative project by admonishing Chris to "pick a color" of fabric he liked that she would then turn into jacket work that worked & looked great, ensuring both her design and his fabric selections ended up integrated into a coherent whole. While she won the Challenge for her striking hunter-green jacket, I do agree with Nina Garcia that Christopher’s camel asymmetric trench was by far the most interesting piece editorially. But it probably wouldn’t have done to have Christopher win that Challenge a week after walking away with the L&T challenge. And besides, it was nice to see Sonjia win for a cool piece of design work.

The Interesting:
The professionals on Team VMF had fundraised the most cashish with their tees & accessories, giving them a huge initial edge. They decided to go for a feeling of "lingering summer" — which is totally on-point with the seasonless way women shop and wear clothes today, but the palette of lavender, white and gray looked limp & came out more "white shoes after Labor Day" inappropriate. Ven’s original elegant origami pencil skirt was given the thumbs down during the Tim Critique, which made his teammates then nix it. Ven, choosing the wrong moment to act like a grown up and a team player, went along the group decision which ended up costing them & him. Everyone deemed his swingy, pleated skirt frumpy — which I actually disagreed with. It was the washed-out palette that did it in. Paired with a leather top and some badass Balenciaga/Pierre Hardy booties, it would rock. But I digress.

The Bad:
Natasha’s droopy coat. The linear and graphic part of the design was actually kind of cool, but the execution? A disaster. Obviously lack of time played a part, but had Elena spent more time sewing and less being snotty, there’s a chance it could have been salvaged. Or at least looked less lifeless. Also, had it been paired with Dmitry’s Donna Karan’ish bodycon jersey dress (yet another…yawn), it might inadvertently have achieved what Dmitry said he going for with his look: a balance between the structured and the soft. The latter apparently justifying that embarrassing fringed shawl.

The Just Plain Ugly:
Two words: Babushka Chic. Although the shawl did seem to have one superpower: the ability to make Fashion People cringe involuntarily.

The Sad:
Alicia fading off into the background. Her vintage Chanel-homage LBD for the Lord & Taylor challenge the week before was actually quite interesting, especially had been floor-length & sported some practical Coco-approved pockets. But this week, she got the short straw in teams and the unenviable position of trying to negotiate some kind of sartorial settlement between the Mr. Woe is Me and Angry Elena. And instead of standing up for herself and her design, she choose the path of least resistance which Nina Garcia remarked on, noting that while the other two were at least fighting for recognition, Alicia’s forgettable ensemble showed she wasn’t fighting for anything.

Aufweidersehn, Alicia.

Although, her exit interview showed a lot of class, so high marks to her for that.

And the Best in Show Award goes to…
…Christopher for Best Quip: "Boris & Natasha"
…Christopher, again, for his asymmetric camel coat (Best Fashion)
…Sonjia for her bright fuschia lip & super-cute pixie cut look (Best Hair & Makeup)
…Sonjia, again, for her oversize gold-disc earrings & in her individual-commentary interview, a fabulous turban (Best Accessories)
…Natasha for her neon mani (Best Glow-in-the-Dark Nails)
…Team Boris & Natasha for Most Meow-worthy dramz
…Surprise judge, Anna Sui — for being Anna Sui