Richard absolutely wins this episode for employing the phrase "RuPaul meets 'Gilligan's Island'" and by extension filling my mind with visions of an incredible celeb and drag queen-filled themed photo shoot. Someone call Annie Liebovitz!
I've always loved the now-infamous Unconventional Challenge (so infamous it gets capitalized!) and this season's contribution to the pantheon doesn't disappoint. Tim kicks things off with a little shakeup: bottom-placing Dream Team, down to five members, can snag two designers from Keeping It Real, who can then steal one of Dream Team's original designers for themselves. DT smartly chooses solid utility players Stanley and Layana. Keeping It Real makes the equally sound move to grab Michelle, one of the few Dream Team designers to stand out for good work instead of bad. The Season 11 group might not have been prepared for the team angle, but they've caught on quickly to the strategy that must be employed toahemmake it work.
Tim announces that the teams have two days and $2,500 a piece to spend on this challenge, which is fabulous. More time + more money = better looks. Working with weird materials means the designers need all the time and money they can get.
The shopping portion of the unconventional challenge is a make-or-break moment. Flowers, plants and hardware are more difficult to measure in large quantities than fabric, and it's inevitable that someone will wind up with an uncooperative (or surprisingly ugly) material, so the choices the designers make here are crucial. Wire, twine, tape, buckets, clasps, blinds, stacks upon stacks of petals and branches and leaves? I wouldn't know where to start.
But these groups don't get the luxury of complaining! So they get to work. The results are actually kind of awesome. Stanley's forcefulness in pushing Dream Team's "1950s Dior" style results in a collection that's impressively cohesive. Team Keeping It Real's errs when they forge ahead on individual looks without concerning themselves with a unifying them. But the judges (including the incomparable Bette Midler and the man repeller herself, Leandra Medine) seem to genuinely love every piece that walk the runway, so let's get to it:
Dream Team - Top (Finally!)
The judges really love this collection, and I don't blame them one bit. There are a lot of details to appreciate, from Layana's delicate cage skirt with dainty flower embellishment to Tu's gorgeous, seemingly wooden blouse, and of course Benjamin's painstaking loom work. But the judges single out Samantha's mesh peplum-y skirt and lattice top for the win.
Team Keeping It Real - Not The Top (But Not the Bottom?)
The lack of a convincing theme gives the edge to their opposition, but the judges like Keeping It Real's set of looks as well. The judges come down hard on Joe's oversize sweater dress (which I loved) and have surprisingly little to say about Patricia's. . .inventive Mother Nature dress/shawl-looking thing. The rest of the team points at Amanda's minidress as the source of their problems, but the judges have the final say on these matters and choose Joe to depart our little game.
We didn't get to see a whole lot from his this season, but I really appreciated Joe's zen, wholly unique take on fashion. Do you think Joe should have been auf'd? If not, who deserved to be cut? Which runway looks caught your eye? And if you had to design an outfit based on either florals or hardware, which would you choose to work with?
The episode kicked off with the designers chitchatting back at the Atlas probably no more than a few hours after the most recent elimination, where they said goodbye to James. What started off as a simple "Team Keeping It Real is kicking @$$" conversation, quickly turned into a roast of the "weakest" designers, most notably, Kate. But Kate proclaimed that she isn't going to play Miss Nice Girl anymore:
As the designers make their way into the workroom at 1407, they are greeted not only by Tim, but by baskets filled with items like rose petals, pink peppercorns, mandarin oranges and jasmine leaves. Tim then tells them that for this challenge, they'll be creating something for a "very important client." (VIC? Let's go with that.). And in walks none other than Heidi. IT'S THE HEIDI KLUM CHALLENGE. DUN DUN DUNNNNN.
Heidi goes on to tell the designers that as a team, they'll be designing garments for the launch of her "very feminine and sensual" scent, "Surprise." Each team will be responsible for designing four garments for her "Surprise" TV and print ad, and two looks for a press event. After all a woman needs options, right? Or to put it in Heidi terms:
Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon co-owns a New York-based table tennis club called SPiN. It sounds like the start of a weird joke, but it's totally true. Fresh off their first elimination in a team-based season, the "Project Runway" designers get to spend a few hours working in the bar/ping-pong lounge/restaurant before they're tasked with their next big challenge. The goal: create cohesive, fashionable, upbeat new uniforms for SPiN's coed serving staff and ball boys. The designers have taken relatively quickly to the concept of working in teams, and they get started right away on divvying up responsibility and figuring out their collective visions for the uniforms.
I liked this episode a lot, and not just because it could easily be turned into a drinking game. Take a shot every time someone says "balls"! Take a shot every time Patricia says "leggins"! Take a shot every time Matthew talks about his personal creativity! Boom, you're drunk.
One good thing about the team setup is that it makes trips to Mood far more interesting. There's a lot of collaboration during the fabric-finding process, notably between Cindy and Benjamin, who are paired together to create a look despite the fact that they don't get along and have wildly different aesthetics. James, worried about the negative impact his team's advice had on his look last week, makes every effort to close himself off from the group by taking on the creation of a full look himself. (Foreshadowing! Ahem.) And in the workroom, Layana and Daniel work adorably together while Benjamin and Cindy continue to clash. Matthew and Patricia separately try to figure out how to best incorporate their specific aesthetics into basic (but necessary) pieces for their teams.
The runway show is judged by Heidi, Nina, Zac Posen (who definitely steps up his game this weeKgo Zac!), and the incredible Ms. Sarandon herself.
Team Keeping It Real - Top Three
Daniel/Layana - The utility of the skort is really smart, and in a nice athletic touch, the black-and-white combo and the cut of the vest echos a referee's uniform. Casual, theme-appropriate, sexy but not over-the-top. An easy win. One caveat: The asymmtery on the back strap is great, but the same effect on the lapel is too floral-looking for my taste.
Stanley - Making a drop-crotch pant look good isn't easy for the designer or the wearer, but in this case it came off extremely well. The easy, clean cut of the top (good fabric choice!) complemented the pants nicely.
Joseph/Richard - I didn't love this look. The harness for the ball-catching contraption was super smart and the judges were good to acknowledge it, but the typographic treatment on the pockets and chest made my eyes bleed (I blame that terrible boxy font). On a separate note, I really liked watching Joe and Richard work together and I hope they do so more in the future. Something about their laid-back personalities and good humor made me smile.
Dream Team - Bottom Three (Again! Womp womp)
James - The vaguely alarmed look on Nina's face as James exposited about this look said it all. This isn't a bad look, per se, but not for a food service employee (no sleeves = no go) and not for an indoor club-type atmosphere.
Benjamin/Cindy - Again, not a terrible look overall, but absolutely not appropriate for the setting. The puff sleeves and short-cropped torso on the jacket looked very "lady ringmaster at the circus" to me.
Benjamin/Matthew - I understand why this look doesn't work visually (and why it wouldn't work for SPiN's purposes) and yeah, that screen printed crotch overlay was tasteless, but Matthew gets many many bonus points in my book for going with his gut and making a kilt instead of standard jeans. Had the other parts of the look been stronger I think the judges would have responded to this a lot more favorably, if not for the ball boy than perhaps for a server or host.
Dream Team carried a lot of negatives this week, but Cindy's lame jacket, Benjamin's below-average contributions and Matthew's borderline-annoying kilt were no match for the utter blandness of James' look. He seems like a chill, talented guy, but a little too chill and not quite talented enough to move forward in the competition.
Next week: More shenanigans! And a Heidi-focused challenge, which is always fun. Until then, holler back in the comments about your thoughts on the episode. What's the most important quality for a restaurant/bar uniform to have? Which team presented the best collection of looks? If you were Susan Sarandon, which look would you have chosen for your employees? How quickly do you think the animosity between Cindy and Benjamin will devolve into a knock-down drag-out fight?
Also, are you any good at ping-pong? Because I am terrible.
We're back with a new season of "Project Runway," and almost immediately the show reminds me of one of the things I like the most about it: Its commitment to casting diversity. The Season 11 group is comprised of a wide range of body types, ages, education levels and races, and that's a pleasure to see on a long-running reality show. Whether or not this diversity will be reflected as the race winnows down remains to be seen, but this is a good foot on which to start the season.
Episode 1 is a flurry of introductions, but some people stand out right away. Daniel has a fabulous mustache, Benjamin is Australian, Cindy is a funeral director and Patricia is the first Native American to appear on the show. [You can check out the full roster of designers here. Go ahead, I'll wait.]
The group assembles for the first time, and Heidi fills them in on the season's big twist: they'll be working in teams. At this point I have to pause my screener because I'm laughing so hard at the designers' reactions. They've still got smiles plastered on their faces but you can see the terror and annoyance in their eyes. It's admittedly a bummer of a twist for any designer who entered the competition expecting to work solo, but hey, we're eleven seasons in. I don't hate the idea of shaking things up a bit. Fashion is way more a team sport than this show usually acknowledges, and as Nina notes later in the episode, forcing the designers to interact with and depend on each other's garments will hopefully raise the bar for quality all around.
On to the challenge! The designers must create a garment that shows their personalitiesbuilt with input from the rest of the designers on their teamsinspired by a view of New York City. Team Keeping It Real (hold on while I pause my screener to laugh at that terrible name) takes a boat out on the Hudson, where the designers size each other up. Dream Team (again, terrible) does the same from the roof of Atlas.
There are more changes afoot. 1) To adapt to the team challenge format, Tim's critiques are now a kind of art-school-ish group critique session, which I'm anticipating will lead to a fair bit of drama. 2) The adorable/talented/fabulous Zac Posen has stepped in to fill Michael Kors' spot. 3) Since the judges are paying attention to the work of the group as well as the work of the individual, we're treated to a second group-walk down the runway after seeing each look. This hews a little more closely to industry standard for collection presentations.
Team Keeping It Real - Top Three
Daniel - A striking silk wool crepe suit, and probably the most NYC-feeling garment of the episode. I particularly loved the cut of the pant. The judges gave this look the crown and I totally agree that it was an exciting standout for the season's first runway show.
Richard - Zac Posen liked the use of asymmetry, and all the judges commented on the sporty elegance of the dress.
Patricia - I was nervous when Patricia first started to work on her fabric, but the end result, with the incorporation of the cobalt blue detailing and cut-outs, was very strong and totally wearable. She's the designer I most excited to follow as the season goes on.
Dream Team - Bottom Three
James - Yawn. Posen described it as "pedestrian," and that really sums it up: no one would protest this dress, and I've actually seen a number of people on my morning commute rocking the same basic ensemble, but there's nothing of substance or interest in it.
Cindy - A ho-hum but acceptable silhouette that's totally ruined by a mind-blowingly bizarre combination of prints.
Emily - Hot mess! Just a hot mess. A mishmash of silly pieces and poorly chosen fabrics, without even the benefit of smart construction to save it. I want to defend Emily (She's my age&3151;us eager early-twentysomethings have to stick together), but she was way over her head here and got the boot because of it.
I know y'all have a lot of feelings regarding the team challenge format, so chime in with your comments below. Should Cindy or James have gone home instead of Emily? Whose first look impressed you the most? And who are you planning to keep an eye on as the season moves forward?
A team is only as strong as its weakest link…but only ONE Project Runway designer can be the winner, so who will play nice and who won’t this season? As 16 talented designers from across the country arrive to The Big Apple, they will have to prove they can create, construct and collaborate their way to Fashion Week for "Project Runway" Season 11 - Teams Edition, premiering Thursday, January 24, at 9.8c.
In the premiere episode, the designers will use New York as their inspiration to create their garments but discover working in teams for the entire season will challenge their patience and creativity. The designers will have to watch their backs while keeping their eyes on the prize as they work together to impress Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Nina Garcia and featured judge Zac Posen and guest judge, Season 4 "Project Runway" winner Christian Siriano.
And the Season 11 designers are:
Amanda Valentine, 31 - Hometown: Nashville, TN; Resides in Lincoln, NE
Benjamin Mach, 35 - Hometown: Sydney, Australia; Resides in London, England
Cindy Marlatt, 59 - Hometown: Kent, WA; Resides in Kent, WA
Daniel Esquivel, 48 - Hometown: Dallas, TX; Resides in Austin, TX
Emily Pollard, 24 - Hometown: Richfield, OH; Resides in Falls Church, VA
James Martinez, 29 - Hometown: Dallas, TX; Resides in Fort Worth, TX
Joseph Aaron Segal, 30 - Hometown: Framingham, MA; Resides in Providence, RI
Kate Pankoke, 23 - Hometown: Eau Claire, WI & Parkland, FL; Resides in Chicago, IL
Layana Aguilar, 28 - Hometown: Valadares, Brazil; Resides in New York, NY
Matthew Arthur, 30 - Hometown: Hammond, LA; Resides in New Orleans, LA
Michelle Lesniak Franklin, 34 - Hometown: Portland, OR; Resides in Portland, OR
Patricia Michaels, 46 - Hometown: Taos, NM; Resides in Taos, NM
Richard Hallmarq, 39 - Hometown: Saramento, CA; Resides in Sacramento, CA
Samantha Black, 28 - Hometown: Bronx, NY; Resides in Fairfield, CT
Stanley Hudson, 45 - Hometown: Lynwood, CA; Resides in West Hollywood, CA
Tu Suthiwat Nakchat, 26 - Hometown: Chacheangsao, Thailand; Resides in Springfield, VA
There is no "I" in "TEAM," but there is in "FASHION!" Project Runway’s Season 11 returns on January 24 at 9.8c with a twist...the 16 designers will be participating in the series’ first-ever Teams Edition! Yep, you read right. The normally controversial "team challenges" are taken to a whole new level when the designers must work together for every challenge while ensuring their own garments stand out on the runway.
"Project Runway" is also spicing up the judges panel this season with the addition of featured judge, award-winning fashion designer Zac Posen, to help rate the designs alongside Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia. Tim Gunn, will, once again, serve as the mentor, as they sew their way to New York Fashion Week at Lincoln Center where Michael Kors will serve as the finale guest judge.
This season will also feature guest judges: Bette Midler, Oscar® winner Susan Sarandon, country music sensation and Grammy® Award winner Miranda Lambert, Grammy-winning singer songwriter John Legend, red-carpet fashion experts Joan and Melissa Rivers, Emmy Rossum, Kristin Davis, Jordana Brewster and designers Rachel Roy, Tracy Reese, Chris Benz and "Project Runway" winner Christian Siriano.
Even though all the challenges are team challenges, there will only be one winner. As part of the winner’s prize package, this season’s victorious designer will receive $100,000 from L’Oréal Paris to start his/her own line, a fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine, a 2013 Lexus GS 350, a $50,000 technology suite by HP and Intel to create his/her own vision and run his/her business and the opportunity to design and sell an exclusive collection at Lord & Taylor. The model paired with the winner of Project Runway will also appear in the designer's Marie Claire editorial feature and receive $25,000 from L'Oréal Paris EverStyle.
React! What do you think about all team challenges? Do you think Zac Posen will make a good addition?
Now that "Project Runway" Season 10 has a fashion champion, we couldn't wait to talk to the newly crowned winning designer, Dmitry Sholokhov, all about the anniversary season and what we can expect from him next! We also pooled questions from our loyal Twitter followersread on to see if your question made the cut!
Picking up right where we left off last week, Tim enters to tell the designers to not overthink the rest of the night. As much as I love Tim Gunn and want him to be my BFF, that is just plain crazy. The final four designers have just been told they're one step and a couple days away from making their ultimate dream come true, and now they're supposed to relax? Blasphemy! Their nerves are on fashion overload and they're hours away from the biggest show of their lives. It's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, baby! It's time to bring out the big scissors.
Side note: After living in New York City for six years, I just recently attended my first fashion show, featuring...you guessed it: Christopher, Melissa, Dmitry, and Fabio! Not only that, but I also interviewed each of them for the digital videos right before they left New York the first time around to work on their final collections. In case you were wondering, being at MBFW was amazing and so are the remaining designers. They are some of the most down-to-earth, cool people I have had the pleasure to meet. So, in their honor, I will be sharing what I loved about each designer this season, in addition to gossiping about their final collections and the craziness of MFBW. After all, they’ve made it this far, they certainly deserve the extra love!
Without further ado, the final four:
CHRISTOPHER: I have been Team Christopher from the beginning and I'm reminded why every time he does an impression of one of the judges, or rolls his eyes, or gives the "WTF?!" look to the camera. Christopher can say it all in a look, whether it be an outfit or in an interview.
My heart was breaking for Christopher during the majority of this episode. We haven't seen him this stressed all season and he just doesn't seem to have his emotions together. I think he was aiming too high and trying to bring too many ideas to life. Christopher, you have the talent. Just breathe and concentrate!
Christopher's collection is based on deconstruction and reconstruction, hence the X-ray that served as the design for his new print. So cool. Major kudos to Christopher for being the only one to make his own textile; it showed complete originality and totally rocked on the runway. The bleached leather was also very fresh and fashionable.
One of my favorite pieces was the one-shoulder print dress with the silver collar; I would totally want to wear that out on a Saturday night in New York. But the showstopper was his final gown. It was gorgeous and totally red carpet-worthy. Also, props to him for boldly ripping off the bottom so Claudia (the model) could actually walk in it. It was a much better presentation of the dress in comparison to the rehearsals earlier that morning. I know, I was there for both.
I'm no fashion expert, but I don't agree with the judges' assertion that this didn't look like a collection - save the blue-jacket-with-maroon-pants look. The jacket was great, but those pants did not belong. Aside from that, I thought it was a gorgeous collection.
MELISSA: Melissa is badass. I wish I were as cool as her. Who doesn't want to be a gorgeous, talented blonde who can rock a bunch of tattoos and rocker-chick style? I love Melissa's designs and you can bet I'll be shopping for her clothes when she has a fashion line. That said, she does struggle with using color and this time was no different. She was very smart to take the judges' advice and throw in the red dress.
When I was in the audience at Fashion Week, Melissa's blood-orange* dress was a show-stopper, so I was blown away to learn in this episode that she made it within her final three hours. YOU GO GIRL. Proof Melissa is badass.
*Christopher gets the quote of the week here: "Blood orange? She’s so pretentious. Shut up, it’s f***ing red." [Insert eye-roll here.]
Watching the model attempt to walk in the long white dress made me uncomfortable. I know every second of prep time mattered here, but if I were Melissa, I would have taken five of them to rip a slit in the side so the model could walk. The dress is super-chic, but no one wants to wear a dress they can’t even walk in.
Melissa's line, inspired by a new exploration of death to life, strikes me as the most wearable of the four final collections: The white leather jacket (Nina was right – it looks so much better without the cuffs), the leather vest over the black dress, the white sheer top with the black leather vest, and the black dress with white netted fabric in the back would all appeal to a modern woman. As Michael Kors and Nina Garcia put it, Melissa understands how a girl wants to look: Sexy, not slutty. Nina's concern is that Melissa won't be different from what's already out there, but I disagree. She may share the tough-girl-rocker style with other lines, but she cranks it up several notches and makes it classy and chic at the same time.
DMITRY: I love listening to Dmitry talk. His accent is as fabulous as the clothes he makes. As the season has progressed, I've found myself rooting for him more and more. His clothes have been fantastic from the beginning and I'd love to wear them, but personality-wise, it took time for my love to grow. I give Dmitry the award for Most Improved Awesomeness this season. He is also a Belarusian hunk.
Dmitry's collection is inspired by organic architecture and I think it's the most cohesive, glamorous collection of the bunch. The white pants with sheer black top is a classy and very sexy combo. I absolutely love the first dress with the fringe on the bottom; the neckline is gorgeous and totally eye-catching, and I love how just the zipper runs up the top of the back - again, sexy. Dmitry does sexy so well.
I wasn’t too fond of the yellow he chose to add in some of the looks, but I do think it was a nice splash of color that he used very well. The one-shoulder black silk top that he paired with the yellow skirt was to-die-for. I want it. Now. The black leather dress with one sleeve was also totally cool. I think Dmitry's final dress was stunning and belongs on the red carpet right along with Christopher's gown. It's even more beautiful in person. Another show-stopper, hands down.
Overall, it was an amazing collection, impeccably made as always. As glam-gal and guest judge Jennifer Hudson put it, Dmitry's clothes are strong, they are "now," and he is ready. I agree.
FABIO: I didn't really notice Fabio this season until he immersed himself so wholeheartedly in Heidi's Babies"R"Us challenge and took to his plastic baby as it if were real. So adorable. He's going to make a great dad one day. Maybe he'll even make all the baby's clothes. Was anyone else completely entertained watching Dmitry and Fabio just chillin' in the last few hours while Melissa and Christopher were running all over the place? Fabio even suggested they play games. Doing crossword puzzles with Fabio would be fun.
Fabio's final collection was much like Fabio himself: "Out there," but in a good way. It's called "Cosmic Tribalism" after all! Fabio definitely has a gift for draping and layering as Michael and Jennifer pointed out, and the collection was certainly cohesive, but I thought it lacked the sexiness of Dmitry's. I did love the first outfit with the striped blue shorts (which he made in the last few days) and the gray draped tunic that went over the white pants. I totally want to own that top and wear it out with some jeans and stilettos. Hot! The plain white satin dress was also beautiful.
Fabio's main issue, as the judges said, is that his collection is more conceptual. It is not "now." People don’t want it yet. But the judges swear they will. Time will tell. We're rooting for you, Fabio!
And the winner is…
I have to give major props to each and every one of the final four designers this season. Those who didn’t take home the winning title – Melissa, Christopher, and Fabio – are all very talented. Their collections were unique and impressive, and they made it to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week! That's a huge accomplishment. In my eyes, they're all winners. (Cheesy, but true.)
I thought the judges were spot on choosing Dmitry as the winner of "Project Runway" Season 10. His collection was glamorous, sophisticated, polished, and overall completely fantastic. I also love Dmitry's story: He left Belarus at the age of 18 with a backpack, some cash, and a big dream. It seems like his dream has come true. He's an incredible designer who deserved this win and I couldn’t be happier for him. You have your wings, Dmitry, now go and fly! (And please make me a dress while you’re at it!)
I'm excited to hear your thoughts on the finale. Which collection was your favorite? Which pieces could you see yourself wearing? Would you have crowned Dmitry or should someone else have taken the title?
As "Project Runway" winds to a close, we want to hear about your favorite moments from the season! Maybe you loved one of Christopher's off-the-cuff quotes or one of Tim's critiques. Maybe a challenge - or one of Heidi's infamous twists - has stuck with you. Regardless of what your favorite moment might be, you can share it with us on Twitter for a chance to win a "Make it work!"-worthy prize!
Tweet us your favorite Season 10 moment between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to enter to win one of three pairs of bedazzled scissors (see above). Tweet us again between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. for a chance to win one of FOUR designs from "Project Runway" Season 10!
To enter, follow @ProjectRunway on Twitter and tweet us your favorite "Project Runway" Season 10 moments using the #ProjectRunway hashtag during the specified time periods. Can't pick a favorite? No worries - multiple tweets count for multiple entries.
The first sweeps begins today, Thursday, October 18 at 4 p.m. ET! Read the "Project Runway" Designs Twitter Sweepstakes Rules and the "Project Runway" Scissors Twitter Sweepstakes Rules for more info, and good luck!
"Project Runway" seasons come and go, and with them all kinds of talented, promising designers. Judge Nina Garcia and mentor Tim Gunn have been around for all of them. The pair took the time during the run-up to the Season 10 finale to chat with us about this season's developments and to share their thoughts on the final four designers. Check out the Q&A below, and don't forget to watch the finale episode (full of Fashion Week goodness) tomorrow night at 9.8c.