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Season 12, Episode 4: Ties A-Plenty

Posted By laurareineke 4:17am GMT

This week we open in media res on an epic argument between Ken, Helen, and Sandro. It gets so heated that Sandro runs out of the building and hits the camera that's trailing him. Buckle up for some drama! Sigh.

We flash back to the day of the challenge. Tim Gunn introduces Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who with his fiance founded the menswear-based charity and advocacy organization Tie the Knot. Thankfully for the designers (and the judges, and the viewers), this isn't a menswear challenge! Instead, the designers are tasked with creating looks inspired by the ties Jesse has provided. They must incorporate at least one tie into their design. The designers get 30 minutes at Mood, eleven hours to work, and a suggested spending limit of $200.

Workroom shenanigans: Helen struggles after her critique with Tim, admitting that she doesn't handle criticism well; Sue, who over-spent by $200 at Mood, makes two looks because she's indecisive; Jeremy gets the news that his grandmother passed away, and since he won't be able to leave the show to attend the funeral, he seems understandably withdrawn. Tim tries to make Sandro understand that catering entirely to the judges' preferences might get him far on the show, but won't help him succeed once it's over. Sandro clearly just wants to figure out the cheat code that will allow him to bypass the rest of the season and win the whole thing right now.

After the runway show, the judges deem Karen, Ken, Alexandria, Justin, Alexander, Sandro, and Helen safe for the week. But they take a second to scold Helen: Nina suggests that the only reason Helen won last week was because of Kate's influence, a totally valid observation to which Helen takes offense anyway because she can't handle criticism, remember?! Nina and Heidi let Helen know in no uncertain terms that they want to see better from her next week.

Then, despite the fact that he's safe, Sandro demands feedback from the judges. Zac praises Sandro's garment construction but notes (again) that Sandro's taste level is an issue. This doesn't please Sandro one bit. While the judges deliberate, we find ourselves back in the middle of the heated argument that opened the episode. Sandro and Helen get into it over the importance of having respect for the judges and for the "Runway" process. Ken tries to intercede, which only serves to make Sandro crankier. As we saw in the beginning, Sandro runs out, hits the camera, and escapes.

Meanwhile, the judges make their decisions:

Top Three
Bradon - A crop top made of hand-stitched bowties in shades of gold and brown, paired with tweed shorts and a jacket. Bradon's craftmanship is fawned over by the whole panel. Jesse thinks it's a homerun. Zac calls it "a labor of love without looking labored." Bradon gets his second win of the season -- and uses his time on the runway to propose to Josh, his partner of 18 years. At the end of the episode, Bradon videochats with Josh, who, inspired by the Supreme Court striking down DOMA and Prop 8, coincidentally proposes as well. A heartwarming moment, for sure.

Dom - A black-and-white striped dress with colorful striped bowties pieced together around the neck and right shoulder. Nina calls it "adorable" while Zac and Heidi compliment how seamlessly Dom arranged the fabric's pattern. It's not the winner, but Dom has officially caught the judges' eyes with this one.

Kate - This combo of an open-backed tunic with belt details and a modified-tuxedo-stripe pant gets the judges' approval for its wearability and sexiness. Kate seems to be on a roll so far this season.

Bottom Three
Miranda - Houndstooth extravaganza! A cropped houndstooth jacket and houndstooth pencil skirt offset an emerald green top. The judges are bored, calling into question Miranda's decision to leave her model's midriff exposed and the minimal incorporation of bow ties. They emphasize that they need to see more from her than pencil skirts.

Sue - A black jersey dress with bowties assembled on top of it like a sort of kelp exoskeleten. Heidi is in disbelief: "What a mess! It's so crazy. I don't understand it. It's memorable, but it's kind of like 'What was she thinking?' memorable." Zac calls it "Octopussy" and Nina is reminded of Sigourney Weaver in "Alien." Thumbs down all around.

Jeremy - A bright orange lace top with a high-backed collar and long sleeves, plus a pair of brown pants. The panel agrees that despite the solid construction of the garments, its overall effect is more akin to (in Jesse's words) "a really gorgeous 68-year-old actress receiving her Kennedy Center honors." Acceptable, but old.

Because of Sandro's outburst, he's out. (It's not totally clear if he withdrew from the competition or if the producers disqualified him.) That means Sue, Miranda, and Jeremy survive to see another challenge. How do you feel about Sandro's departure? Do you think one of the bottom three designers should have been eliminated anyway? Which look was your favorite? Let me know in the comments.


Designers' Choice: Season 12, Episode 4

Posted By laurareineke 4:13am GMT

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

TOP Bradon "Love the top."
BOTTOM Kate "Boring."

TOP Justin "Dress was very cute, great silouette."
BOTTOM Alexander "Neckline needs editing."

TOP Sandro "Inner construction of the gown is great work for one day."
BOTTOM Miranda "Look has been done too many times."

TOP Alexander "Loved the rainbow ties."
BOTTOM Bradon "Fabric was ugly."


Season 12, Episode 3: Cranky Kitsch

Posted By laurareineke 4:30am GMT

Tireless Heidi Klum wakes the designers up at the crack of dawn to send them off on a jaunt to Coney Island. It's a rainy day, which is no fun, but the challenge parameters are pretty interesting: The designers will hand out samples of Yoplait Frozen Yogurt to people on the boardwalk, then ask them to describe the experience of eating it. The designers will then choose three of those words to inform and inspire their looks. As for the materials? The group will have to play boardwalk games to win their fabric in the form of giant stuffed animals, inflatable toys, and other Coney Island ephemera. Another unconventional materials challenge, yay!

But then Tim announces that it's also a team challenge, which bums everyone out, especially Kate, who's probably still stinging from a whole season's worth of team shenanigans. The pairs are decided by button bag: Alexander and Justin, Alexandria and Dom, Bradon and Karen, Helen and Kate, Jeremy and Ken, Miranda and Timothy, Sandro and Sue.

The workroom is evenly divided between teams working well together and teams embroiled in conflict. Sandro and Sue are a mess from the start; he's argumentative and controlling, and she doesn't feel like battling his ego, so she ends up working as his assistant, essentially, in the interest of completing their garment on time. Meanwhile, Miranda has little patience for Timothy, both as a designer and a person. When he overhears her unkind complaint session in the sewing room, he runs away to cry with his stuffed unicorn in a closet (literally). There's a lot of conflict and a lot of tears, and sometimes it's funny (like when Timothy dramatically sobs "If you know me so well, HOW DARE YOU?") but other times it's just sad (like Miranda crying over the conflict she instigated). Fortunately, the other pairs have a much more nuanced understanding of how to communicate effectively in a team setting.

Our guest judge for the week is Fashion Police co-host Kelly Osbourne. To the runway!

Top Two
Kate/Helen - A sculptural red mid-thigh strapless dress accented with rosette details, made out of sombreros, a kite, and stuffed animals. It's "sombrero Saturn chic," according to Zac. Kelly says she can imagine young starlets fighting to wear this on the red carpet. Kate graciously says that Helen should get the win, and the judges agree.

Alexandria/Dom - A sort of monster costume inspired by Japanese street style. It's youthful, casual look reminiscent of a sweatshirt dress, made out of stuffed animals. The front pocket looks like a monster's mouth and the crooked shoulder wrap has eyes sewn on. The judging panel praises the fun vibe this gives off. Nina calls it "an Instagram moment" and Zac likes that it's inventive. Alexandria and Dom are safe.

Bottom Two
Alexander/Justin - Made almost entirely of balloons, this look is an utterly bizarre mix of styles that I don't even know how to describe. Zac immediately complains about how much is going on in the garment: "There's kelp on the bottom, she has dorsal fins from her hips...she has seaweed on her bum. It just looks like a hot mess." Heidi wants them to edit; the panel agrees the look is much more palatable sans vest and weird peplum bumpers at the waist. But Alexander and Justin are safe for now.

Miranda/Timothy - A blue racer-back dress with a high-low skirt and a woven yellow vest. The judges don't respond to this one at all. Nina compares it to a bio-hazard warning and the consensus seems to be that the look, while technically complete and wearable, is boring. (The palpable crankiness between Miranda and Timothy during their judges' critique certainly doesn't help to sell the garment, either.) His vest is lackluster and this is his third time in the bottom, so Timothy is auf.

Which look was your favorite this week? Do you think Miranda and Timothy shared equal blame for their losing look? Are you sad or relieved to see Timothy go? Let me know in the comments.


Designers' Choice: Season 12, Episode 3

Posted By laurareineke 4:27am GMT

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

TOP Helen/Kate "Did a great job on their outfit."
BOTTOM Miranda/Timothy "Does not work well with others."

TOP Jeremy/Ken "Looks cool. Interesting."
BOTTOM Miranda/Timothy "He left his teammate halfway through the challenge."

TOP Sandro/Sue "Great technique."
BOTTOM Miranda/Timothy "Left his teammate; only made a vest."

TOP Helen/Kate "Great graphic use of sombreros."
BOTTOM Miranda/Timothy "Didn't work as a team. Bad design concept."


Season 12, Episode 2: Dripping With Diamonds

Posted By laurareineke 4:41am GMT

We're greeted this week by an armored truck full of burly men with guns, who escort a series of black suitcases into Parsons. Minutes later, the models take to the runway dripping in jewels ($30 million worth, according to Heidi) of all shapes and shades: necklaces, earrings, and bracelets adorned with diamonds, yellow diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and more.

The challenge: Create a look that's glamorous enough to walk the runway alongside jewelry of this caliber. The designers are chosen by the button bag to pick which jewelry they'll base their look around. "I'm not inspired by money," says Timothy, who has perhaps forgotten that he's participating in a competition with a prize package worth half a million dollars. "We have to pick the prettiest diamond, and I think that's very superficial." Again, that's big talk for a dude who's trying to make a career out of fashion design.

The designers will have one day to complete their looks. "My bowels just drop," Alexander announces. Okay!

During critiques, Tim tip-toes around the fact that Kahindo's silk charmeuse fabric is sort of hideous, and he tries to hint to Helen that she might not have time to properly complete her ambitious design. He asks Timothy, "Where's the design? Right now, this is one big hot mess." As the runway show will later prove, Tim's concerns are on point.

This is a weird episode for Sandro, who seems to be all over the place emotionally. He has a great moment at Mood when he nonchalantly asks Alexander ("Red Hair") why he's planning to go so couture with his garment. (Alexander: "Because it's a million-dollar necklace. What am I gonna use, plastic?" Sandro: "That's a good point, actually.") Sandro and Ken argue loudly in the workroom, but there's no real point to it other than a clash of ego. (It's so loud and so pointless that Justin disables his hearing aid to escape it.) Sandro makes a fuss later on when he can't figure out how to use the fabric steamer; he physically pulls a crew member out from behind the scenes to demand assistance, then pouts when the crew member leaves him to fend for himself. Even later, Sandro sweetly comes to Helen's defense on the runway, and in a moment of zen advises Timothy to focus less on explaining his gown and more on accepting the judges' feedback. I thought I had this guy pegged last week, but now I'm not so sure.

Runway time. Heidi, Zac, Nina, and Tim are joined by Emmy Award-winning costume designer Eric Daman (Gossip Girl, The Carrie Diaries) for a runway show that's halted midway through to allow for a weepfest from a distraught Helen. Fun stuff.

Top Three
Kate - A Marie Antoinette-inspired pale grey asymmetrical gown with a see-through boned bodice. Heidi says she knew it was Kate's work right away, and Kate also gets praise for her fabric choice and her model's styling. Zac: "This is the strongest work that I've seen you do." A solid win for her.

Dom - A casual, flowy, green-and-white-print gown. The judges love that it's youthful and that it complements the emerald necklace, but Zac and Nina both call out Dom's choice to style the model with a printed bandana. Eric says he "could see it on the red carpet in Cannes as well as on a beautiful young Southern debutante." Safe.

Sandro - A knee-length fishtail dress with an exposed midriff and black lace detailing that frankly looks like something a stereotypically Russian James Bond villain might've worn, but it somehow manages to land in the top. Eric thinks the lace is overdone, but Heidi admires the bust; Zac and Tim both voice concerns over Sandro's taste level, but Nina seems to dig it. Safe.

Bottom Three
Timothy - A blue velvet gown with white accents and a racerback detail on the front, this one befuddles the judges, who don't understand why Timothy chose to make a high-necked gown for a challenge based around a necklace.

Helen - This brown and beige gown suffers from poor construction, ratty-looking shredded detail at the hips, and sad bust cups. Nina thinks it's a case of a decent design gone wrong. While Heidi and Zac appear more critical, they all agree to keep Helen around for another week.

Kahindo - A sleeveless sheath dress made out of a fabric Zac compares to sand art. Nina thinks it's boring, Heidi thinks it looks too "off-the-rack," and Eric doesn't think it works with the jewelry at all. Kahindo says her intentional was to keep things simple. "Too simple?" Nina asks. Yep, too simple. Kahindo is out.

Which design do you think best matched the expensive jewelry that inspired it? Do you think Kate deserved the win? Was Kahindo's simple design really worse than Helen's poor construction? What was your favorite moment this week? Let me know in the comments.


Designers' Choice: Season 12, Episode 2

Posted By kim_messina 4:32am GMT

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

TOP Sandro "The pleats are beautiful."
BOTTOM Timothy "Execution is lacking."

TOP Kate "Interesting and well made. Solid dress, very cool."
BOTTOM Miranda "Not glamorous. Construction wasn't strong."

TOP Kate "That much romance in a short amount of time is amazing."
BOTTOM Kahindo "Fabric and design are not right for jewels."

TOP Justin "Great use of materials that aren't typically bridal."
BOTTOM Timothy "He didn't use the material in a new or modern way."


Season 12 Premiere: Pretty Pretty Parachutes

Posted By laurareineke 4:33am GMT

We're back! And on the heels of some flattering Emmy nominations, no less. I'll be here each week to deliver recaps of each Season 12 episode, along with the occasional contestant interview. You can also check out episode reviews by former "Runway" contestants, including our new blogger Althea Harper, here.

Let's get to it. A number of important changes are being incorporated into this, the twelfth (TWELFTH!) season of "Runway." For one thing, the runway show will now be anonymous: the judges won't know to which designer each garment belongs until after the designs have been scored. Tim Gunn will join the panel during runway shows to offer the judges his perspective of the happenings in the workroom, and he'll also have one opportunity during the season to save a designer from elimination. I'm all about this! More Tim is always a good thing.

Tim and Heidi introduce this season's gaggle of designers at an actual airport runway (a visual gag I can't believe it took twelve seasons to make). There they meet Kate, who fans voted to bring back to the competition after her unjust elimination in Season 11. Then skydivers pop out of a plane high above to deliver the materials for the first challenge. The designers must turn the divers' parachutes into garments that represent their aesthetic and individual point-of-view. They receive extra black and white fabric, but Tim emphasizes that their design must be primarily made of the slippery, crinkly, bright-colored nylon parachutes. There's an enormous sigh of relief when Tim tells the designers they have two days to create their looks. Spoiler alert: No one makes parachute pants! What a bummer.

In the workroom, we start to get to know the gang. Justin is deaf, and points out that in some ways this is an advantage: if the other designers' outrageous personalities get on his nerves, he can just turn his hearing aid off. (Hah! I already like Justin a lot.) Miranda is dubbed "a real-life Rosie the Riveter" when she tells the group about her past as an Army mechanic. She has a less-than-happy reunion with a fellow Milwaukee designer Timothy, an earnest and frankly kind of annoying "sustainability-focused fiber artist." In his quest to be environmentally friendly he refuses hair and makeup for his model. Then he choreographs a bizarre "conceptual performance" for his model to do when she hits the runway. I didn't get a good look at the dance-thing because I was too busy rolling my eyes, and his model is clearly over it, too; she abandons the performance aspect during the actual runway show.

Returning judges Heidi, Nina Garcia and Zac Posen are joined for the runway show by guest judge Kate Bosworth and, as previously noted, Mr. Tim Gunn. (Be sure to check out all the looks from this episode in our Rate the Runway slideshow!)

Top Two
Bradon - A voluminous gown with a fitted bodice. The judges rave about the movement of this garment on the runway and the way Bradon constructed a clumsy fabric to look lighter than air. Zac notes that the various concepts—cording, strapless neckline, straps—were expertly combined.

Sue - A double-layered neon ruched gown with pin-tucked pleating details along both sides. Zac likes the sculptural quality of the dress, and Nina compliments the placement of the ruching. Tim says it could fit in a Bergdorf's display window.

Bottom Four
Miranda - Here's the thing: the judges might love your modern cut-out dress, but if you deviate from the challenge rules that require you to use a certain percentage of a given material, you will land in the bottom. Miranda learns her lesson here, hopefully.

Sandro - A one-piece pseudo-swimsuit fit for a '30s bathing beauty. The judges admire the impeccable fit but call out Sandro's heavy hand in accessorizing, which they feel notches down the taste level of the garment considerably. Also affecting the taste level: The model's vagina popping out mid-walk. Yeah, that definitely had something to do with it.

Timothy - Zac dubs this flowery butter-yellow dress "Tinker Bell at Burning Man." Heidi and Nina feel that the lack of hair, makeup and shoes don't help an already-muddled design. There's also a fair bit of dubious eyebrow-raising at Timothy's choice to burn the nylon fabric.

Angela - A sporty color-blocked hooded raincoat...thing. The judges agree it would have been greatly improved by the addition of pants. When they get a closer look, they find more to dislike, like the darting at the bust. Boring design + sloppy construction = an easy auf this early in the season.

Do you think Angela deserved to be the first eliminated designer of Season 12? Were you as impressed by Bradon's winning look as the judges were? On a scale of 1 to 10, how insufferable did you find Timothy's shenanigans? And most importantly, who do you have your eye on as the season gets rolling? Let me know in the comments!


Designers' Choice: Season 12, Episode 1

Posted By kim_messina 4:03am GMT

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

TOP Bradon "I liked cording detail in front."
BOTTOM Timothy "Execution wasn't up to par."

TOP Dom "Cute jacket."
BOTTOM Sandro "Too vulgar."

TOP Jeremy "Amazing pants—inspired by challenge."
BOTTOM Helen "Not enough of the parachute was used."

TOP Sue "Love the texture."


"Project Runway" Nominated for Five Emmys!

Posted By kim_messina 10:16am GMT

Project RunwayTalk about a big day, "Project Runway" fanatics! Not only does the 12th season premiere TONIGHT at 9/8c, but the 2013 Emmy Award nominations just came out and "Project Runway" received five nominations! They are:

-Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality-Competition Program - Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn
-Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
-Outstanding Cinematography For Reality Programming - "A Times Square Anniversary Party" (Season 10, Episode 1)
-Outstanding Picture Editing For Reality Programming - "A Times Square Anniversary Party" (Season 10, Episode 1) and "Europe, Here We Come" (Season 11, Episode 12)

Congrats to everyone nominated! The 65th Emmys air on Sunday, September 22 at 8 pm ET on CBS.


Meet Season 1 Winner Jay McCarroll at Hamilton Mall

Posted By laurareineke 3:54pm GMT

Jay McCarroll named Fashion Ambassador of Hamilton MallThe original "Project Runway" champ, Jay McCarroll, has been named Fashion Ambassador for Hamilton Mall, the largest indoor mall in all of Atlantic and Cape May counties in New Jersey.

Jay will help the mall celebrate an extensive redesign and redevelopment program with a number of special events, including a back-to-school themed "Battle of the Runways" in August. He'll be designing a special T-shirt for the mall, as well as writing an interactive column for their monthly newsletter. And he's kicking it all off with a meet and greet this Friday, June 28, at Never Too Spoiled, the mall's exclusive carrier of Jay's design.

"This is an awesome opportunity for me," Jay says. "I am really looking forward to being a part of the mall's expansion and in taking the mall's image to the next level. It really is going to be a special shopping destination for the area."

For more info on how to meet Jay, check out shophamilton.com.