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Designers' Choice: Season 12, Episode 11

Posted By laurareineke 4:09am GMT

Exclusive! The Season 12 designers pick who they think had the Top and Bottom looks each week!

TOP Bradon "Awesome jacket."
BOTTOM Kate "Little House on the Prairie threw up."

TOP Bradon "Wearable, fun, cool print."
BOTTOM Helen "Confused by entire design."

TOP Justin "Love the print. Looks like an X-ray in a fun way."
BOTTOM Alexandria "Print, silouette and construction are weak."

TOP Kate "Love the play on transparency."
BOTTOM Alexander "Didn't like the silhouette."


Season 12, Episode 10: Cranky Makeover

Posted By laurareineke 4:55am GMT

We open this week with Tim. He tells us that eight "Project Runway" super-fans have been flown in to have "the ultimate 'Project Runway' experience," which includes a tour of NYC and participation in this season's Real Women makeover challenge. We see Tim lead the women on a tour of the "Runway" facilities before introducing them to (and pairing them off with) our designers, who dive right in on creating makeover looks for their new clients.

Parameters: 2 full days to work! Hallelujah! Plus 30 minutes to sketch and a suggested budget in the $200-$400 range.

The women are so thrilled! They're thrilled to meet Tim, to work with the designers, to go to Mood. They're excited and eager and clearly loving every second, and their joy is contagious: The designers are dedicated to nailing the challenge and doing right by their fans. As a bonus for viewers, this is the first Real Women challenge I can recall that doesn't involve a designer passive-aggressively complaining about having to work with a woman larger than the usual size-0 models. High-fives for everyone.

But it's not all fun. Last week we heard Ken's mom ask him, "Has that 'other side' come out yet?" and this week we get another look at the dual personalities she was talking about.

Because of Jeremy's elimination, Alexander and Bradon pack up to move into Justin and Ken's room. But Ken, who clearly isn't hot on the idea of new roommates, blocks their entrance to the door, blithely taking his sweet time to iron a shirt. Alexander and Bradon ask nicely to be let in. Ken ignores them. Finally Alexander squeezes past, knocking the iron off the ironing board as he does: "I can throw drama, too, honey."

This sets Ken off on a rampage mightier and scarier than we've seen from him yet this season (and we've seen a few). Face slathered in a mud mask, he screams at the top of lungs to the crew about the inconvenience of changing his living arrangements. It's...uncomfortable. The next morning Tim mediates an apology session between Ken, Alexander, and the rest of the designers, but the alarming unpredictability of Ken's temper tantrums hangs over the rest of the episode.

Back in good-time land, the clients are getting buffed and polished, with brand new hairstyles and makeup courtesy of L'Oreal. Let's fast-forward to the runway, where our guest judges are designer Erin Fetherston and Marie Claire Senior Fashion Editor Zanna Roberts Rassi. (Nina's out this week.)

Top Three
Helen - A wallflower with wholly outdated style, Helen's client, Jamie, wanted an Oscars red carpet dress to match her drastic makeover. Helen made a silky navy blue dress with a sweetheart neckline, corset bodice, and gathered back. The sleek look earns raves. Helen wins for the...I've actually lost count how many times she's won now.

Bradon - His client, Jennifer, wanted to look "intimidating, powerful, and classy, with a major edge," so Bradon made a black sleevless v-neck dress with shiny details and a leather vest with an embellished shoulder. Zanna and Zac think the shimmery pieces on the dress might've looked better (read: more expensive) in leather, but that's the only criticism.

Justin - Justin's model had quite a list of requirements for her garment. It had to be modest, to respect her Mormon faith; fitted to flatter her figure, which has undergone fairly extreme weight loss; something personal, to reflect the uniqueness of her experience on the show. Justin rose to the occasion with a knee-length black dress featuring his model's signature sewn on the front, fitted underneath with a custom corset. The judges are impressed by the personal touch of the signature, and they love that he was able to incorporate all the model's requests in a good-looking garment.

Bottom Three
Alexandria - Super-fan Stephanie is a 20-year-old art history student who wants something to interview for jobs and internships in. Alexandria created a grey jacket and a printed skirt. The judges are bored and don't think the garment suits the model's age or interests at all. "It doesn't look hip or modern," says Heidi. "Maternity librarian," says Zac. "There's no visual impact," says Erin.

Alexander - For his client Alexander made a straight-up awful tan skirt-suit with black organza contrast details on the top. Zac dislikes the graphic breakup of the organza, Zanna thinks it's boring, and everyone comments on the horrible construction, which Alexander admits suffered because he didn't have enough time to finish properly.

Ken - To jazz up his stay-at-home-mom client, Ken put her in a green dress with leather accents. Heidi dislikes the placement of said accents and Zanna points out that it's not particularly well crafted. Heidi: "There's not much fashion here."

Annnnnd Ken is out. Alexander lets out a "Wow." when they tell him he's safe, and it's hard to blame him for being surprised. It is a bit bizarre that an unfinished garment sent down the runway this late in the season wouldn't get its designer sent home. That said, I'm sure the other designers breathed a great big sigh of relief at the news of Ken's auf-ing, too. The person who really needed a makeover this episode was cranky Ken.

What do you think? Should Alexander have been sent packing for his unfinished suit? Should Ken have been disqualified for his temper tantrum? Which client do you think received the best makeover? And as we near Fashion Week, which designers do you think will make it all the way? Chime in below!


Designers' Choice: Season 12, Episode 10

Posted By laurareineke 4:19am GMT

Exclusive! The Season 12 designers pick who they think had the Top and Bottom looks each week!

TOP Bradon "HOT."
BOTTOM Ken "Crazy! Duh!"

TOP Ken "Model was most enthusiastic."
BOTTOM Helen "Didn't invent a new look for her."

TOP Justin "Made her client feel like a million bucks!"
BOTTOM Alexandria "Heard she returned to work room after time was called."

TOP Justin "Love the signature on front of dress."
BOTTOM Alexandria "Dated/old/bad color combo."


Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn Win Emmy Award!

Posted By kim_messina 11:49am GMT

Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn at the 2013 EmmysAs if we needed confirmation that Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn know how to make it work! Yesterday the "Project Runway" hosts took home the 2013 Emmy award for Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality-Competition Program. "OMG, I am in a state of apoplexy! Love to everyone," Tim tweeted after their win. And Heidi echoed his sentiment, tweeting, "We won!!!!!!! yay!!!!!"

Send Heidi and Tim your congrats!

Photo: Mark Davis/Getty Images


Season 12, Episode 9: Belle of the Brunch

Posted By laurareineke 4:07am GMT

We're nine challenges in and the designers have wised up. When Heidi and Tim offer them a relaxed sit-down brunch, the gang immediately starts to brainstorm how it might tie in to their next task. "Do you think we're designing for a garden party?" "Mad Hatter's tea party." "Socialite women." "Maybe [the clients are] our servers." Tim finally clues them in: They'll be designing for the modern Southern woman, or more specifically, the Belk customer. The look can be for day or evening. 30 minutes to sketch, a suggested Mood budget between $200 and $250, and -- as usual so far this season -- they have a day to finish. The winning look will be sold in Belk stores and on belk.com.

"Southern" means different things to different people. Alexander, Alexandria, and Helen admit outright that they don't know who this customer is at all. On the other end of the spectrum, Dom and Ken feel self-assured since they both hail from Southern families. (Dom's family is from New Orleans; Ken's is from Birmingham, Alabama.) Dom and Ken roll their eyes at the stereotypical understanding of the South that their fellow designers latch on to. "Tim said to design for the modern Southern woman, not 'Little House on the Prairie,'" Ken says as Bradon, Alexander and Alexandria gravitate toward plaid fabrics and flouncy skirts. Dom agrees: "The women in my family? They're not going to throw some polyester plaid dress on. These aren't farm boys. They're people who live in cities."

Interestingly, the judges feel the opposite about the looks that are eventually sent down the runway. They dislike the bottom three -- Dom, Jeremy, and Ken -- so much that they send those designers back to the workroom for 60 minutes to either create a new look or alter the garments they've already made to better match the goal of the challenge. Twist! (Helen, Alexander and Kate are brought in as reinforcements, thank goodness.)

Our guest judges: Belk's Executive VP of Private Brands, John Thomas, and "Supermarket Superstar" host Stacy Keibler.

Top Three
Bradon - A sleeveless cotton shirtdress with a high-low hemline done in a sort of pastel madras plaid. The judges really like it, citing the sex appeal and modern feel of the silhouette as a huge plus. Plus it's made well. Bradon wins.

Kate - An empire-waist dress with cap sleeves in a bright orange, white, and pink print. Heidi thinks the model looks pregnant (no surprise -- she never seems to like empire waists, which do add volume to thin women but are usually very flattering on average- or plus-size figures) but Nina and Stacy both adore the colors and the print.

Alexander - A painted-plaid patterned handkerchief-hem dress with a sweetheart neckline at the fitted bodice. John and Stacy both love the way it moves on the runway. The bodice earns praise for being nicely constructed and the judging panel agrees that the overall look is fresh and young.

Bottom Three
Dom - Dom, frustrated with landing in the safe zone nearly every challenge so far, wants to show the judges that she's capable of making tightly designed, pattern-free work, so she sends this floor-length cap-sleeved purple and green gown down the runway. Nina is disappointed in the color and Zac just seems bored.

Heidi LOVES Dom's second, totally different look, an asymmetrically draped, flirty dress in a black and white pattern. Zac, Nina, and Stacy love its effortless style, and John Thomas loves it so much that he decides to produce it for Belk along with Bradon's. This means that Dom is a winner of the challenge, too. Yay Dom!

Ken - A floor-length deep purple racerback gown. Zac likes the color but calls the dress "a beautifully-cut purple nightgown." Heidi and Ken have a staring contest after she says she doesn't find the gown very flattering. John says he's seen the look before.

Ken's second look is a glammed-up version of his gown. He keeps the racerback, adds a drapy dolman sleeve, and shortens the length to make it more of a bodycon mini-dress. The judges are placated. Ken's safe.

Jeremy - A sleeveless, knee-length V-neck dress in a pink-hued floral print, paired with a red jacket. Heidi's quick to let Jeremy know that she finds it old and un-sexy. Zac is disappointed by the jacket. Nina hates the print. When he gets a closer look at it, Zac says, "It looks like a college fashion show in a non-metropolitan city," which I think sums it up: It's inoffensive, but absolutely been-there-done-that in terms of cut, fit and color choice.

Jeremy goes in the opposite direction with his new look, a bias-cut sleeveless beige dress. The judges appreciate that this look is considerably more youthful and brunch-appropriate but it's still a little too boring. Auf wiedersehen, Jeremy.(He takes the loss with a good attitude: "I get to see my kids...and I get to f***ing drink tonight!" Cheers.)

Were you as disappointed in the runway looks as the judges were? Did you think the new looks were an improvement for the bottom three designers? How well do you think the group captured the idea of the modern Southern woman? Let me know in the comments.


Designers' Choice: Season 12, Episode 9

Posted By laurareineke 4:00am GMT

Exclusive! The Season 12 designers pick who they think had the Top and Bottom looks each week!

TOP Bradon "Work the plaid!"
BOTTOM Alexandria "WTF?! Again!!!"

TOP Justin "Sophisticated and cool color. Made the model look amazing."
BOTTOM Jeremy "Looks old and dated."

TOP Dom "Sexy, fresh, and is great for the Belk customer and more!"
BOTTOM Justin "Interesting pattern, but not the right fabric for the cut."

TOP Helen "Love the lace detail all over the dress."
BOTTOM Alexandria "Doesn't look well-sewn."


Season 12, Episode 8: Activewear Volcano

Posted By laurareineke 4:00am GMT

The designers meet activewear-clad Heidi and Tim at the Upper East Side's Asphalt Green recreation area, where they're tasked with completing an obstacle course consisting of a three-legged race, a tire run, a wheelbarrow race, and a flag grab. They have to complete the race in pairs, but thankfully this isn't a team challenge. But it's one we've seen before: Design an activewear look for Heidi's New Balance line. The pair that wins the obstacle course will choose their fabric first, AND they'll get an extra hour to work on our garments.

Dom and Justin win the thing (and celebrate with an adorable chest-bump); meanwhile, Heidi's screaming at Bradon and Helen: "IT'S A FLAG. IT HAS A STICK ON IT." Jeremy and Alexander come in dead last. The gang grabs their fabric ($50 worth, per person, from stuff approved for Heidi's line) and get to sketching.

Back in the workroom, Ken has a for-real freakout at Helen for...no real reason? I've re-watched it a few times and all I can glean is that he's already frustrated by the usual competition-related things when Helen's weird self-centered melodramatic tendencies start to grate a little too much, so all his crabbiness gets directed her way in a loud, uncomfortable argument. Helen feels threatened (understandably) and asks Tim to intervene. Ken's eventual apology seems sincere, Helen accepts, and that is, thankfully, the end of that.

This week's guest judge is the magical Michael Kors!!! Three exclamation points because Michael is the best.

Top Three
Helen - Black cinch-waisted, flowy zip-up hooded jacket, black and grey mid-calf leggings, and a tee with kangaroo pocket. The jacket gets raves from everyone. Nina loves that it covers the butt and thighs, the gentlemen give it complimentary names (Zac: "Elvira at the gym," Kors: "Stevie Nicks active"), Heidi says she'd wear it in a heartbeat. There's no love for the rest of her outfit, so it's clear the jacket alone is responsible for Helen's win.

Kate - Black pants, long-sleeved kangaroo-pocketed pullover with a zipper up the back and a pop of red at the loose cowl neck. Nina loves the fashion-with-function combination, and Zac -- who has without a doubt taken a liking to Kate's work this season anyway -- digs it, too, noting that Kate understands flattering lines.

Alexander - Black, purple, and heather grey bra top, pant, and jacket. Everyone on the panel loves the fit of the pants -- draped without an outside seam, as is proper for form-fitting fabrics -- but the asymmetry of the top and the color-blocking on the pants gets debated a little bit. "It looks like something you'd see on a sale rack in an active department," Kors says. "It's in a store though! It might be on sale, but it's in a store. It got there."

Bottom Three
Alexandria - Black drop-crotch knee-length pants and long-sleeved zip-up jacket, both with a pop of purple, layered over a light grey tee. Zac is disappointed over the drop-crotch pants (accented by what Kors calls "pleasure-me pockets"), and Nina calls out the silliness of the trio of gashes on the stomach of the t-shirt. Heidi likes this look (no surprise) but not enough to help it land in the top.

Ken - A long purple tank top with black and purple knee-length leggings. Kors thinks Ken thought too much about function and not about fashion. When he gets up close to it, Zac frowns at the harness-y straps in back and the proportion of the top.

Karen - This utterly perfunctory black sweatshirt-sweatpant combo is the direct result of Heidi's awful critique of Karen's original take on the challenge. I'm not convinced Karen's first design would have turned out quite as horrifically as Heidi imagined. Regardless, Karen's actual runway look is unflattering and bo-o-o-ring, so she's auf'd.

What say you? Should Karen have ignored Heidi and risked an even more embarrassing elimination? Was Helen's jacket really special enough to cancel out her so-so shirt and leggings? Were you terrified or just annoyed by Ken's outburst? And now that immunity is off the table, who do you think will be the next to go? Let me know what you think in the comments!


Designers' Choice: Season 12, Episode 8

Posted By laurareineke 3:59am GMT

Exclusive! The Season 12 designers pick who they think had the Top and Bottom looks each week!

TOP Alexander "Awesome cut on the jacket!"
BOTTOM Jeremy "It looks old and dated, bad color combinations."

TOP Dom "Super cute moto-cross/scuba look."
BOTTOM Alexandria "Poopy pants."

TOP Ken "Love detailing in back of top."
BOTTOM Jeremy "Don't see the concept/idea behind it."

TOP Bradon "Perfectly executed and compliments any body type."
BOTTOM Justin "Poor construction."


Season 12 Q&A: Justin LeBlanc Embraces His Strengths

Posted By kim_messina 3:20pm GMT

Justin LeBlanc

Justin LeBlanc made history not only as the first designer to ever receive Tim Gunn's Save in Episode 6, but he's also the first deaf designer to compete on the show. To learn more about Justin's hearing loss and how he didn't let his disability affect his performance in the competition, read our Q&A below:

Q: Justin, would you please tell us a little about your history as far as your hearing loss?
Justin: When I was around 1 year old, my parents became concerned that I wasn't responding to sound. They took me to my pediatrician. According to my parents, after a general exam, he looked at me and said, "Where's your dad?" I smiled and poked my father in the stomach. What that, the pediatrician said, "There’s nothing wrong with his hearing." My parents weren’t convinced. They took me to Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. There they did some sophisticated tested that involved measuring my brains response to sound. The tests revealed that I was deaf.

I was raised in an environment of "total communication." My parents hired a sign language teacher to teach us all sign language. They also provided me a speech therapist through most of my pre-college years. As a young child, I relied more on sign language, but as I got older, and interacted more with the hearing world, I relied more and more on speech. I have many deaf friends, so sign language is still an important means of communication for me. Throughout school, I’ve been mainstreamed in regular classes with the help of a sign language interpreter.

I always saw this as an opportunity to educate people about that aspect of myself. There were discouraging times, many in fact. But I am a VERY positive person. I am proud to be a deaf person. It is who I am, and I embrace it.

Q: What are your thoughts around cochlear implants?
Justin: I can only speak to my experience. This is not the best option for everyone. Each person needs to decide what best fulfills their goals and lifestyle. It provided me with greater access to the hearing world and the possibility to further my education and meet my personal dreams for the future. But that is a personal choice. I received my cochlear implant when I was 18 years old, I made the decision for myself.

Q: Can you share some of your reflections on being on "Project Runway"?
Justin:It’s been a truly life-enhancing experience. I’ve pushed myself to the limit physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from my peers and I’ve established friendships that I hope will be life-long. And believe it or not, it was a lot of fun!

Q: Has your hearing loss ever been a barrier or kept you from achieving a goal?
Justin: Never. If anything, being deaf gave me more incentive to achieve my goals. A deaf person can achieve anything that they choose.

I remember my parents telling me that that when I was little, a couple who had just learned that their child was deaf, came up to us to say that they were terrified at the prospect of having a deaf child. But after seeing me, they were put at ease because I was so happy, outgoing, communicative, and well adjusted. I hope that, as an adult, I can get the same message across. I don’t view deafness as a disability or a handicap. It’s part of who I am and I am proud to be deaf.

Q: What advice would you give to young people who are deaf and would love to follow in your footstep?
Justin: Work hard, really really hard. Pursue your educational goals with whatever resources you can find. Don’t use your deafness as a crutch. Demand equal treatment and access to educational resources. Experiment with art in all of its forms. Do not sell yourself short. And find something that you are passionate about.


Season 12, Episode 7: Best Foot Forward

Posted By laurareineke 4:15am GMT

It's time for a pulse-taking. The designers chat about the fact that the stakes are higher, both because the competition is now halfway over and because Tim's sole designer-rescue card was put in play last week to keep Justin around. Better step it up, make it work, etc.

The gang heads to the Marie Claire offices at Hearst to peek in on the mag's epic shoe closet. Editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider is there to help introduce the challenge: Design a look inspired by a pair of shoes. The models will be wearing those shoes on the runway, so the looks have to complement and show off the footwear, too. The suggested budget is $250, and the designers have 30 minutes to shop.

Alexandria gets first dibs in the shoe-picking game thanks to her win last week. She grabs a pair of intimidating thigh-high gladiator sandals. In order to determine who'll pick next, the designers are quizzed on fashion history by Tim and Anne. They're asked about the inspiration for Christian Louboutin's famous red-soled heels, the creator of the Little Black Dress, Dior, McQueen, Marc Jacobs, and the famous ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, until finally Miranda, last to choose, nabs a pair of red leather loafers.

At Mood, Alexander and Miranda gravitate toward very similar wool plaids, and in the workroom they realize they're creating nearly the same outfit: White tops and fitted, high-waisted plaid pants. Both designers acknowledge the coincidence, but neither backs down from continuing to make their garments. I think there's an interesting challenge idea in there somewhere -- it would really test the creativity and construction abilities of the group if they were all required to make the same basic outfit, no? I can't be the only one who'd love a jeans-and-white-tees challenge -- but, as Ken points out, when two people create nearly identical looks, it's going to benefit one of them and leave the other in the dust.

For the runway show, Anne Fulenwider steps in as a guest judge, along with The Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco. Onward:

Top Three
Shoes: Black stiletto booties with silver studded toe embellishments
A tailored sleeveless knee-length dress with a black shrug cape. Nina fawns that it's minimal and classic and sophisticated and fashionable (enough adjectives to prove she really likes it), and Zac digs the simplicity of it. Heidi compliments the young, modern hair and makeup. Faced with three solid, chic black dresses, the judges pick this one for the win.

Shoes: Thigh-high black gladiator sandals with knee pads
An understated black shift dress with lace cutouts at the clavicle and an asymmetrical hemline also trimmed with lace. Heidi loves that its femininity contrasts with the hardness of the shoes. Nina likes that it has an editorial attitude. Zac doesn't love the shoes or the dress nearly as much as the ladies on the panel, and even goes so far as to call the look "pedestrian," but he's easily outvoted.

Shoes: Lace-up black sandal heels
"My interpretation of a maneater for the new milennium," Ken says of this black peplum cap-sleeve minidress. The judges are impressed by the fabric choice and the garment's edginess, especially since Ken has struggled to keep his looks youthful. This one fares even better once the panel gets a closer look at it.

Bottom Three
Shoes: Black velvet knee-high stiletto boots with gold buttons along the outside length
A tube miniskirt and shimmery gold tank paired with a cream-colored silk chiffon mock-argyle sweater. Like many of Jeremy's previous designs, this one veers too old and too trampy for the tastes of our judges. Zac gets real: "I'm starting to question who you are as a designer. [...] I really need to see [your techniques and skills] come together so we can properly assess you." That's an official warning, Jeremy!

Shoes: Gold tuxedo loafers with gold beading decoration
A halter-necked silk top draped and sewed to resemble water paired with a brown silk circle skirt. There's no love in the room for this garment, but the judging panel likes Bradon a lot so they offer a lot of suggestions for what they would've liked to see with those shoes instead, like a suit or a brocade t-shirt dress. He's in the bottom two, but let's be real: It's too early for him to go home.

Shoes: Red patent leather tuxedo loafers
Plaid pegged pants with a white polka-dot top and a white leather bolero jacket. This is not offensely bad, in my opinion, but the judges have no residual affection for Miranda's work so they tear into it a bit. Zac admits that he likes its inherent "nerd alert"-ness, but Nina says it's too Christmas-y and too obvious. It's also way too similar to many of Miranda's earlier works. Miranda gets the auf.

What say you, commentariat? Was Miranda's look that much worse than Alexander's? Was Helen's dress that much better than Alexandria's or Ken's? Do you think this is the beginning of the end for Bradon? Which pair of shoes appealed to you the most? (I loved those studded black booties. Gimme.) Holler at me in the comments.