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22
FRI

Michelle's Winning Spring Dress Available Now!

Posted By kim_messina 11:25am GMT

Michelle Lesniak Franklin was the "clear winner" during last night's Lord & Taylor challenge. "I knew I was going to win the minute I dressed my model," Michelle says. "It was so different than everybody else's and it fit numerous types of people."

And now her chartreuse shift dress is available at Lord & Taylor stores and online! Click here to buy the dress online.

22
FRI

A Rose By Any Other Design Would Smell Just as Sweet

Posted By kim_messina 4:25am GMT

As much as I'll miss the hunks from Thunder From Down Under, I think we can all let out a sigh of relief because that disaster of a challenge is over. But as it became clear through out this episode, the designers were not quite ready to see past it. (I'm talking to you, Richard.)

It's the Lord & Taylor challenge! Besides the HP challenge (Next week!), this is always my favorite challenge because it gives us, the loyal "Project Runway" fans, a chance to actually purchase the winning design. But more on that later…

I really feel for the designers. At this point of the competition, they are sleep deprived, haven't seen their families for weeks and are so close, yet so far from being crowned the winner. And you can just see the look of despair on their faces each time Tim tells them they have "some business to take care." I don't know what's better anymore—having the judges pick the teams or the button bag. This week the teams were at the mercy of the judges again, dividing last week's teams into pairs with one trio: Stanley and Patricia, Daniel and Michelle, and Richard, Layana and Samantha.

After the usual drill of sketching (This week's inspiration: the Lord & Taylor rose) and Mood (Hi, Swatch!), it was on to 1407 for what should have been a relatively quiet day in the workroom since each person had their own design to worry about. I believe Stanley said in the beginning of the episode that it was going to be, "no drama day." He was wrong. In fact, he was the source of a good amount of drama!

If you were to ask me in the beginning of the season who would be one of the first ones to go, I would have said Patricia solely based on the fact that she typically has unconventional ideas, especially when it comes to textiles. But if there is one thing I've learned over the years, when it comes to PR, there is never a clear winner or loser at the beginning of the competition. And I must admit, Patricia has really won me over. It's a shame Stanley didn't feel the same way! Bless her heart. I would have gone total New Jersey on Stanley's @$$ if he badgered me as much as he did to Patricia. I get it Stanley, you don't like to lose, but leave her alone!

But Stanley's whining was nothing compared to the silent treatment that Richard was giving Layana. Get over yourself, dude. It's a competition—at some point, the claws will come out. I'm glad Layana didn't stoop to his level, but I would have also loved to have seen a full-on confrontation. That girl is a sassy one.

While Michelle and Daniel didn't have any drama, per se, but that pink fabric was a major sore spot for them. I'm team Michelle on this one (I hate pink). However, I do support Daniel's mantra, "Happy clothes for happy people." I do not support his tears over deconstructing his jacket. That was all a little to soap opera for me.

It was nice to see Rachel Roy back on the judges panel. She's a PR judge A-lister at this point! And as always, Bonnie Brooks brought an element of class and poise. She's pretty fab.

The looks:
-Patricia: The colors of her outfit look like sherbet to me. I'm not a huge fan of capri pants, but I thought the flowy top was beautiful. I loved the opening in the back. It's not my favorite design of hers, but it was definitely good enough to keep her safe.
-Stanley: Snore. Boring shift dress. Next.
-Michelle: Obsessed. As Heidi said, she was definitely the clear winner. Great color and the leather detail was the perfect touch. I agree with Rachel when she pointed out you could tell that Michelle really took into account what would look good on women of shapes and sizes. I'm literally running to Lord & Taylor tomorrow to buy the dress.
-Daniel: Also another boring dress. I'm just over these simple dresses. It's spring—have some fun! I kinda wish he stuck with the shorts idea. It would have looked dated with the "Joan Collins" blazer he made (RIP), but at least it wouldn't have been boring.
-Layana: I'm a sucker for a good maxi dress. Unlike Heidi, I actually liked the fabric. I do wish, however, she used a lighter fabric than leather for the accents. It was too much of a "hard and soft" contrast for me.
-Richard: OMG, guys! He designed a jersey dress just like the one he did for the senior fling! Gasp. He should have been sent home this week. Richard's been given one too many chances, if you ask me. Not that his dress was bad, it just lacked creativity.
-Samantha: Sammy B, what happened?! I 100 percent get that she wanted to design for the younger L&T audience, but this dress could have easily been sold at Forever 21 or H&M. Too much frill, the heart cutout was excessive and the colors screamed middle school dance. auf Wiedersehen.

19
TUE

Meet Michelle Lesniak Franklin in NYC!

Posted By kim_messina 10:41am GMT

LORD & TAYLOR TO HOST "PROJECT RUNWAY" DESIGNER MICHELLE LESNIAK FRANKLIN

WHAT: Lord & Taylor will host "Project Runway" Season 11 designer, Michelle Lesniak Franklin, at its Fifth Avenue flagship store. Franklin will meet with customers and sign sketches of her design from the show.

WHO: Lord & Taylor, Michelle Lesniak Franklin

WHERE: Lord & Taylor, 424 Fifth Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY

WHEN: Friday, March 22, 12:30-2 pm

HOW: This is a public event and customers are invited to attend.

15
FRI

Menswear Thunderdome

Posted By laurareineke 4:55am GMT

This recap is brought to you by Nina's laugh attack. I can't blame her for falling to pieces at this week's utter mess of a runway show, but it was still disconcerting to see the usually-composed judge lose it.

After the surprising double elimination last week, the judges decide to handle the teams shake-up themselves. They place Richard, Layana, Amanda and Samantha on one team, while Stanley, Patricia, Michelle and Daniel make up another. The teams pick new names, too, but they're no improvement from the terrible names earlier this season: Team Slick and Hip and Team Shades of Grey.

This week's clients are the beautiful buff men from Thunder From Down Under, an all-male revue that's essentially the Australian version of Chippendales. (Their website cheekily bills their show as "The ultimate girls' night outback." Wordplay!) The dudes are in need of new outfits for their opening act. "One of the elements must be a suit," says head Thunderer Alex. "The looks need to be suave, sophisticated, and masculine, but overall, flexible and sturdy." Each team will create three full cohesive looks.

There's a lot of drama this week as the ladies of Team Slick and Hip butt up against Richard's growing attitude and his Vegas-y aesthetic. Over on Team Shades of Grey, Patricia is tasked with creating a woven white shirt while the rest of her team handles almost everything else for their looks. Tim notes that the whole process is "chaos and bedlam" as struggles with fit abound and time management is basically nonexistent. The runway show itself is equally messy; the designers look on in horror as the clothes fall apart in front of them.

I don't have a lot of thoughts about this week's looks. Team Shades of Grey wins by being slightly less terrible than Team Slick and Hip, but no one is named an individual winner, and thank goodness for that; if you take a look through our Rate the Runway gallery, you can see how rough these looks are up close. The only two of any interest to me are Michelle's vest and Samantha's "Converse look," but even those could have been improved with very basic, obvious changes. Amanda ended up getting the auf this week. Her elimination has been a long time coming, so I'm anxious to see who winds up on the chopping block next week as we start to whittle into the core group of talent that remains.

I think the real problem with this challenge was the Thunder From Down Under's request for dressier outfits. I can't help but think everyone would have been better off by ignoring that directive. This setup was punishment enough, combining the designers' general lack of menswear experience with strapping action-figure bodies AND a one-day time limit AND a tear-away component. Why make things more complicated by designing suits? A mastery of proportion and tailoring is essential in mens' suiting, and this group of designers had neither the time nor the breadth of knowledge to pull it off in this context. "Project Runway" designers have ignored clients' wishes before, and while it can be a gamble, it seemed silly to me that no one stopped to say, "Hey, I know they asked for dressy suits, but let's try something a little more casual that we know we can do well."

Anyway, how did you feel about the challenge? What kind of looks would you have designed for the Thunder From Down Under? Should Richard have been sent home instead of Amanda? And as we inch closer to the finale, who do you think will make it to Fashion Week? Let me know in the comments!

Next week: Get ready for drama between Michelle and Daniel as the designers refocus on ready-to-wear looks.

08
FRI

The Duck-iest Girl at the Prom

Posted By laurareineke 4:50am GMT

This recap is brought to you by Fred the Duck, who hit all his marks and looked great while doing it. Did you catch him waggling his little duck butt? You'll go far, Fred, I can tell.

Time for a second unconventional challenge! Bill Kahl stops by the workroom to introduce Duck brand duct tape as the medium for this week's challenge: Prom dresses. The designers don't appear to be phased by the weird material, but they're understandably alarmed by the abbreviated time allowance (less than a day) and the fact that their looks will be judged by a group of high schoolers before the official runway show. I can't blame them for their apprehension because high schoolers scare the crap out of me.

We also get a bit of a team switch-up. Kate chooses to work with Tu again, which is a smart move. They clearly get along, but the partnership works primarily because Tu is willing to be the seamstress second-in-command to Kate's bossy, in-charge designer/leader. That leaves Michelle and Amanda, Richard and Daniel, and paired together by default, Samantha and Patricia.

Let's talk final products:

Amanda/Michelle - Michelle's pattern-building is perfect, especially considering the folds of the skirt and the cross-over bodice. Chris likes that it's modern and fun, and I'm with him in loving the cut of the skirt. Michelle gets her long-awaited win with this dress, and Amanda is partially redeemed after her mess of a look last week.

Patricia/Samantha - I really am not connecting with this dress. Patricia's intricate textile work is well done and Nina compliments Samantha's work with the closure on the back, and the dress got the highest number of votes from the high school set, but I don't dig the robotic-looking color scheme of blue and silver.

Layana/Stanley - This strikes me as Hot Topic chic, as any garment combining hot pink, black, and zebra print is likely to do. But the skirt has great movement and the judges love the pop of pink in the bow.

Richard/Daniel - A well-constructed piece that unfortunately would not have been out of place on a Texas pageant princess in 1995. Gold, short, ruffles, and strong but misplaced detailing has the judges crying "Dated!" and lands the pair on the bottom.

Kate/Tu - The construction and fit of this gown might have landed them in the Safe Zone in any other challenge, but Nina and Heidi take issue with the length ("So old!" Nina yells) and everyone bemoans the use of denim-patterened Duck Tape instead of something more colorful and interesting. (Also the piece at the top of the bust looks like a fancy cracker garnish that I was served at a steak place once.) This dress gets Tu the auf, and surprisingly, Kate gets the boot, too, in the season's first double elimination.

Preferred prom dress styles vary by year, region, even school. I went to a Catholic high school in Ohio in the mid-aughts, where above-the-knee dresses were reserved exclusively for the fall homecoming dance; long, elegant, expensive-looking gowns were saved for prom, and 90% of them were strapless and solid-colored. The goal was to look good but not to draw negative attention by looking too different from everyone else. (Ah, youth.) Kate is my age and she's from Chicago, so everything about her design made sense for the style of prom with which I'm familiar. That said, it's 2013 and this challenge was built with fashion-forward NYC teens in mind, so I get why the judges gravitated as far away from Kate/Tu's design as possible.

I'll leave it to y'all in the comments to debate whether the double elimination was necessary. While you're at it, tell me about your prom experiences! What dresses were popular when you were in school? How would you have judged this set of looks? Who do you think handled the Duck Tape best? And if you were to go to prom tomorrow, which would you pick to wear?

Next week: Buff men means buff menswear, right? Plus, guest judge Emmy Rossum!

01
FRI

You're Timeless To Me

Posted By laurareineke 4:52am GMT

This blog is brought to you by my new mantra: "You've got great legs, so show them, b*tch! Don't be a fool." Thanks for the motivation, Joan Rivers.

I don't envy Michelle at this point in the competition, as literally everything she's done has been overshadowed by the lower scores and eliminations of her teammates. But she doesn't help her case by declaring early on in this week's episode that she doesn't want to work with Patricia (as if we haven't heard her say it a million times before). Hasn't she heard of foreshadowing? Of tempting fate? Heidi brings out the button bag, which decides that Michelle will join Patricia and Layana's team. "Wow, what a surprise!" says no one.

The designers head to Midtown Loft, where a group of lively older women are rocking out with a dance instructor. Tim tells the group that their challenge is to design a fashionable look for one of these mature women. There's no need for cohesion between teammates and no other constraints, and best of all, the ladies are fun, funny and game for anything. There are no twists and turns this week. It's all about design and execution.

I want to jump straight to the runway looks because I think there's a lot to discuss. Michelle and Layana are apparently given high scores for their work, but Patricia's low score lands them squarely in the Safe Zone. Here's the thing: I like Patricia. I like her perspective and I like a lot of her techniques, but I'm increasingly beffudled by her design choices. The thick-looking fabrics, the color blocking, and the neckline of her look combine into an unflattering and frankly amateur-looking mess. I imagine she was super thankful for the teams conceit this week, because it absolutely saved her from elimination.

Top Two
Daniel/Samantha - I assumed these looks would land the team in the Safe Zone, so I was surprised to see them on top. The judges love the thoughtful details in Daniel's black pantsuit, and they like the thought behind—if not the execution of—Samantha's sassy leopard-print look. (Different sleeves and a minimization of the bow at the waist would have improved the latter a lot, I think.)

Richard/Stanley - Stanley's purple suit looks expensive and it flatters his client, but working with a woman in possession of such a model-esque figure was an advantage I was surprised the judges didn't acknowledge. I agree with Nina that the silhouette of Richard's jersey dress drowns the client just a tad, but the judges like that the look is youthful and simple.

Bottom Two
Benjamin/Amanda - The judges are not at all fond of Amanda's hankerchief-hemmed dress, and I don't blame them; there's something very off about it, including but not limited to the messy tailoring at the back of the skirt. Melissa Rivers says, "You've tried to make a cake with whatever was in the kitchen," and that hits the nail on the head, really. Ben is justifiably called out for the constricted fit and misguided style of his garment.

Kate/Tu - Tu admits that he a) failed at properly sewing his garment, and b) let down his client. The entire judging panel is sort of horrified by the fact that the belt is the only thing really holding his dress together. Kate, on the other hand, knocks it out of the park this week. The subtle ribbing and detailing in the sweater is great, and combined with the strong print of the skirt offers a very classy, timeless look for her client. (Shorten the sleeves and the skirt just a tad and I'd wear that look, too.)

So whose look is the worst? The tightness of Benjamin's top is problematic, but certainly no more so than Tu's basically unfinished dress or Patricia's ill-proportioned mess. And compared with Amanda, at least Ben put together a garment that looked polished, and one that the client truly liked. This challenge wasn't Ben's finest hour, and I'm not his biggest fan by any means, but I'm not sold on his auf-ing.

What do you think? Was Patricia's look as terrible as I thought it was? If this challenge had taken place in a team-less season, who do you think would have been eliminated? Which look was your favorite? And if you were a designer, how terrified would you be to have your look judged by the ruthless Joan and Melissa Rivers? Chime in below.

Next week: Prom! Duct tape! ACTUAL DUCKS! Sign me up.

22
FRI

Gunpowder and Leather

Posted By laurareineke 4:27am GMT

This recap is brought to you by Tim's use of the insult "stinkpot," which I'd never heard but plan to incorporate into my vocabulary immediately.

Before the designers have a chance to recover from last week's elimination, Heidi and Tim appear with Ye Olde Button Bag to winnow down the teams into pairs. We end up with Samantha and Daniel, Richard and Stanley, Patricia and Layana, Matt and Michelle, Kate and Tu, Amanda and Benjamin. This seems like a fairly natural extension of nascent friendships and what we've been able to glean about their individual aesthetics.

The gang heads to Johnny Utah's, a New York City bar that has wholeheartedly embraced the country-western aesthetic, and it's there that Tim announces their next client: Miranda Lambert. She's a successful, respected country music star now, but Ms. Lambert got her start as a contestant on the talent competition show "Nashville Star" a decade back. Take aspirational note, designers! Each team must create both a red-carpet look and a stage-ready look for the singer.

At one point in the workroom Layana says, "There's a fine line between interesting and glamorous and tacky." I personally don't think the line is all that fine during a typical challenge. "Glamorous" and "tacky" are opposite ends of the spectrum. But the materials the teams jump to use here—fringe, sequins, denim, leather—can very easily trend toward tacky, so the difficulty really becomes reigning everything in enough that it feels country without feeling Dolly Parton-style country.

Top Two
Richard/Stanley - Richard's look is the one that immediately strikes me as being perfect for a country performance AND perfect for Miranda Lambert herself. Heidi likes that it looks expensive, Nina likes that it's flattering, Miranda likes the style and the length. Stanley's gown is complimented for highlighting the waist but neither Nina nor Miranda like the volume of the skirt.

Benjamin/Amanda - I don't love Benjamin's gown because it's sort of boring and the beading on the bust looks like sleepy eyelashes. But the judges and Miranda like it, and so does Benjamin, who looks thrilled to have done well yet again. Amanda's dress, like Richard's, rocks the fringe in an easy, flattering way.

Bottom Two
Michelle/Matt - The enormous fringe leather necklace on Michelle's look is such a huge misstep, and she's so convinced that it's great, that it ruins basically everything else about the look, including the otherwise satisfactory leather vest. Matt's lack of confidence gets the real critique because his dress is so blah.

Daniel/Samantha - No one likes Daniel's look, myself included. Unflattering silhouettes are never improved by unflattering fabrics, Daniel!. Nina tears it apart, and Zac gives him the "you're good but you better get better, fast" speech. Samantha has immunity, so the fact that no one likes her dress is a moot point for now.

Richard takes the win, deservedly, and he looks super excited. Go Richard! He's turning out to be quite the personality. I'm glad to see him get a win. On the sad-trombone side of things, Matthew gets the auf after failing to establish confidence and authority over his work. Michelle lives to see another challenge, but she's going to have to pull out all the stops to break away from her seemingly permanent place on the bottom.

What say you? Was Matthew's look the worst? How would you compare Richard's dress with Amanda's? What look screamed "Miranda Lambert" to you? And now that we're a few episodes into the season, which designers are you the most excited to starting to like— and dislike? Weigh in below!

15
FRI

Flower Power

Posted By laurareineke 4:12am GMT

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 to—ahem—make 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?

08
FRI

Klumalicious

Posted By kim_messina 4:18am GMT

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:

01
FRI

Let's Have A (Ping-Pong) Ball

Posted By laurareineke 4:38am GMT

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 weeK—go 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.