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Project Runway Blog

"Project Runway" Guest Fashion Blogger: Pop Culture Madness

By kim_messina 09/17/2012 10:40AM GMT
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By Allison Ebner,

If "Project Runway" had a soundtrack, we’d nominate Bon Jovi’s "Livin’ on a Prayer" for the song of the episode when it came to the HP Intel Print Challenge. The designers may be halfway there in terms of the overall competition, but, boy oh boy, a few too many of them were living on a prayer when it came to this week’s runway.

Heidi greets the designers on the walkway with a wake-up call of her own: it’s time to step it up! Gunnar’s motivation to step it up? He’d like to buy his mom a boob job when he wins. Kind of sweet, we guess, but more along the lines of totally creepy.

The designers go to meet Tim in the workroom where he’s joined by Mondo Guerra, "PR All Stars" winner. Remember back when we all liked and rooted for Mondo back in season 8 where he ended up revealing that he was HIV positive through his fabric and winning the challenge? Yeah, that’s why he’s there. So the challenge is this: create a textile design and modern runway look inspired by your cultural heritage. Mondo’s parting words of wisdom? Don’t’ make the print too literal – which certainly has us hoping we don’t see any straightforward prints covered with initials.

Before most of the designers have time to fret or boast about their feelings on this challenge, it’s revealed that their dossiers for this challenge will be hand delivered… by their loved ones! From moms to sisters, best friends to boyfriends, everyone had someone walk in to encourage (and distract) them in the competition. Between all the tears and hugs from even the most unexpected of designers, we admit, it was a pretty heartwarming turn of events. Elena was particularly affected with the arrival of her mother (or should we saw twin?), even getting her to admit that she wasn’t normally so… we’ll say "witchy."

The cuteness continued as each designer flipped (e-flipped?) through a slideshow of photos from their childhood. Some designers quickly decided to go the more traditional heritage route, like Dmitry, Melissa and Ven, but Christopher and Gunnar both opted for a little more of a twist on 'heritage,' a twist we actually kind of liked because sometimes doing something red and white because those are the colors of the Polish flag is a little boring. Sorry, Melissa.

Gunnar went with an abstract version of skeleton hands with a bird breaking free of them, which he found represented his painful past with bullying. He continued to get the likeability factor up with his vulnerability and openness. He also happened to start breaking down the walls with Christopher, who felt a kindred spirit in Gunnar when learning of his past. Christopher’s print honored his grandmother with a slightly abstract version of a ladybug. This idea, however, took a long time for Christopher to settle on.

After a long day in the workroom, Tim came with some good news. Their loved ones were all back at the Atlas making dinner for them. Again, it was nice to see the designers letting themselves enjoy the evening with their loved ones.

Day 2 was Christmas on "Project Runway"… or that’s what it felt like for the designers when they walk into Parson’s and see their fabrics laying on their stations. Again, it’s Christopher who seems to be the most out of it. He likes his fabric, but he still doesn’t know what silhouette he wants as he starts wasting time, which also includes giving his personal opinions on the other designers’ prints. Melissa’s? Carribean. Elena’s? Kindergarten doodle. Dmitry’s? A cowboy’s handkerchief.

But he was surprised when Fabio explained his pattern to him. Essentially it was sex as a print or as Fabio went on to elaborate, "the source of life." Christopher was not alone in his "WHAAAA?" reaction. We were there, too.

But Dmitry joined in on the lets-talk-about-other-peoples-prints trend, too, and we found ourselves wishing he could just give us running commentary the whole episode. “You drew a bad flower. Try and do something with it! Don’t just place it the way you place it!” Dmitry said of Ven’s pattern. Sounds like the perfect time for… TIM GUNN!

The highlight of his visit was near scandal. "I see an homage to a menstrual cycle. It looks like cloths that have soaked up blood." Those words actually came across Tim’s lips as he consulted with Ven. With Christopher agape at what the amazing Tim just said, Tim continues, "They look like maxi pads."

After that scandalous review, Tim continued on finally pushing Gunnar into a freak-out frenzy when he said the look is too heavy, prompting Gunnar to need to redo his jacket and feeling defeated. Ven also changes his design given Tim’s critique and where else does he go but in the direction of the fan effect. In the last ten minutes before runway, the loved ones return. While all of their loved ones express their love of the designs, the highlight was Christopher’s mother saying, "Oh my God, Christopher, is this supposed to be centered?" as they were literally walking out the door. Perfect timing, mom!

Now on to the runway! Heidi, Michael and Nina are all there and ready to judge alongside guest judges Mondo and Season 9 Winner Anya Ayoung-Chee. This should be interesting!

The models walk and we see the final designs in all their glory… or lack thereof. The judges decision: Elena and Fabio, safe. Melissa, Sonjia and Dmitry, top. Gunnar, Christopher and Ven, bottom.

The judges gave Melissa kudos for doing something different than what they’ve come to expect from her, but Heidi and Anya were kind of underwhelmed. The judges thought Dmitry’s entire look was great, the jacket was the showstopper and he did exactly what they were looking for (including moving away from dresses). As for Sonjia, the judges all agreed the fit of the pant was brilliant, the print was beautiful and the garment young, cool, chic and an overall success.

As for the bottom three, well, the judges had some harsh words. They appreciated Gunnar’s inspiration for the print but they didn’t understand the look and called it crafty, junior and non-fashion. Ouch. It wasn’t THAT bad. The judges thought Christopher’s dress was fine, but he really needs to step things up. It was blasé and completely covered the print – on a print challenge. Ven’s critique again brought the OMG factor. Heidi likened his look to a Hawaiian airline hostess and they all agreed it was visually confusing, looking like three dresses in one. When they asked him if anyone ever stops him to say maybe you shouldn’t do the fan/flower look AGAIN, he said no.

For the winning look, the stand outs were Dmitry and Sonjia. Here, Dmitry snagged his first win. Good for you, man. Keep doing separates.

For the bottom two, it came down to Gunnar and Ven. Heidi wanted to send them both home, but it was Gunnar who we would have to say auf wiedersehen to. Even worse, Ven gave some speech claiming he won’t play it safe from here on out, kind of taking away from Gunnar’s moment. Heidi came back hard with a "if we see this flower one more time…"

The bright side of Gunnar getting auf’d? He went out looking like a champ, both to himself and to the audience. As Gunnar put it, he committed and gave his best effort which is a win for him and as we all saw, he went from being a semi-annoying and slightly obnoxious personality to someone we came to love over these last few challenges.

Ven, on the other hand… you’re failing on both accounts. Be careful, buddy, Heidi is on the prowl and I’m pretty sure everyone watching is just really tired of your attitude and fan effects.