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The Project Runway Blog
Category: "episode 2"
Wake up and smell the popcorn, designers! Tim and Heidi have arranged a screening at Manhattan's Village East Cinema and the designers are excited by the possibilities -- Red carpet looks? Celebrities? Something about 2D versus 3D? -- but Tim arrives to take them down a peg. I LOL at the designers' looks of collective dismay when Tim announces that this will be an unconventional challenge and I LOL even harder when he adds that the designers would be working in teams. Insult, meet injury.
Challenge: In teams of three, use the movie-experience materials in the theater (including props and concession items) to create three cohesive unconventional looks as part of a team.
Parameters: Designers have 15 minutes to gather materials and can only leave the theater with what they can physically carry. They have one day to complete the looks. One winner will be chosen from the winning team, and one loser from the losing team.
Right off the bat, the members of the Silver Team (Amanda, Korina and Kristine) seem to be on the same page. In a helpful bit of foreshadowing, Amanda tells them (spreaking from her own experience) that when it comes to unconventional challenges, the judges prefer a focus on materials that DON'T already look like fabric. Over on the Blue Team, trembling leaf Angela struggles to assert her point of view to Sean and Fade, but it comes across as inflexibility. Deep breaths, Angela! Please don't cry!
When Tim does his walk-around, the communication issues on the Red Team (Sandhya, Carrie, and Hernan) come to a head. Tim says their looks are too disparate AND too costumey to pass for a proper runway collection. The conflict here is one that comes up often in team challenges (which is what the producers want, which is why they do them -- especially early in the season before the designers know each other well): Sandhya, Hernan, and Carrie are all equally headstrong, equally convinced that their individual visions are correct, and equally unwilling to concede decision-making power to the other two. Sandhya feels that she's not being respected, but she also doesn't seem to have any concern at all for the fact that her immunity raises the stakes of the challenge for Carrie and Hernan. The group reassesses their work, makes some changes, and gains some confidence, but it's still not an ideal team setup.
Silver Team - Amanda, Korina, Kristine
Zipline, cording, straws, speaker wire, VHS tape, marquee letters, cellophane, duct tape
This team vibed really well together and it feels like everyone (the three of them, the judges, me) is sighing in relief about it. See? Team challenges can be fun! Heidi calls their collection "the most original" and praises their cohesion. It's a rave from Zac, who's really into their use of text and fonts and transparency. Nina is excited about the color (green is a rare one for the "Runway" runway, it's true) and the difference in the three silhouettes. Amanda walks away with her first win ever.
Blue Team - Angela, Fade, Sean
The judges take care to point out that the success of Fade's and Sean's looks was brought down considerably by the failure of Angela's. That's probably the worst thing for Angela to hear at this point, but also: Not wrong.
Purple Team - Char, Kini, Mitchell
Green Team - Emily, Samantha, Alexander
Red Team - Carrie, Hernan, Sandhya
Film strips, and that's...about it, really
The chief concern among the judges seems to be the near-uniformity of the dresses, which the team is quick to kinda-sorta blame on Tim's workroom advice to make things more cohesive. Sandhya's offering is ripped into by Nina for being sloppy but no one has compliments for the other two looks, either; Heidi thinks they belong in a music video instead of on a runway and Garance dislikes how literally the unconventional material was incorporated.
The whole critique devolves into a back-and-forth finger-pointing extravaganza, with Hernan calling out Angela as someone more deserving of elimination, Carrie calling out the winning team for work she felt was lower quality than her own, and no one calling out Sandhya, because she has immunity. Zac is frustrated by the team's laundry list of excuses (me too, Zac). The judges look everything over and decide that Carrie should be eliminated.
Carrie's mad about her elimination and I sort of am, too; it's always rough when a designer gets the boot so early in the competition just because someone with a worse garment but better luck has immunity. The team situation is never kind, either: Anyone else convinced Angela would've been out if her team had scored lower overall? But them's the breaks. Do you think Carrie should've been eliminated over Hernan? How do you feel about the top and bottom looks this week? How did this unconventional challenge stack up to previous efforts? Let me know what you think in the comments.
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.
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.
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.
Exclusive! The Season 12 designers pick who they think had the Top and Bottom looks each week!
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.
Let's just get this out of the way the white elephant in the room, if you will. TIM. GUNN. CURSED. THIS. EPISODE. I never knew I would hear such language out of the man who defies the epitome class. Tim said, wait for it, "So this is a glue the s&*! out of it moment." Let's take a moment, let it all set in ... I know. But let's be honest, even when Tim Gunn says s&*! it sounds classy.
And boy, did the designers have to glue the s&*! out of this week's designs. Sigh ... the unconventional challenge: what the designers dread the most and what fans anticipate the most, including yours truly. I'm not a designer by any means (I struggled making pilgrim vests out of brown paper bags for Thanksgiving when I was a kid), so I can't really put myself inside their heads when they're told to create an outfit made of candy. But come on you got to raid Dylan's Candy Bar! Suck it up! It's not like they had to get materials from a pet store like in Season 9. At least a candy store smells better.
(Sidebar: Dear Christopher, Hey I just met you and this is crazy. But let's go pick up chocolate boyfriends together. So call me, maybe?)
Besides Tim Gunn cursing like a sailor (Okay, okay, I know I'm being dramatic), my favorite moments of the episode were the ones when the designers decided to turn their brains off, leaving the audience thinking, "Did that really just happen?!" For example, when Kooan and Buffi's cotton candy disintegrated. Did you ever go to the circus as kids?! That stuff is gone in 2.5 seconds once it hits any kind of moisture. Duh. And poor, poor Elena. News flash: hot glue is hot. I think you're cool and all, but your shorts were totes inapprops.
To me, the final looks fell into two very clear categories: sweet and sour. Let's start with the sweet:
Ven - Flawless
Dmitry - I would literally wear that dress.
Melissa - I get it, you like black. But I do dig the two-piece look.
Sonjia - Love the color palette.
Fabio - The dress doesn't even look like it's made out of candy.
Raul - I enjoy a good cutout.
Christopher - The dress is similar to the style of your previous episode outfits, but it works. I get it. Please wow me in Episode 3.
Gunnar - The pattern was a little too checkerboard for me, but the craftmanship was impressive.
And now, the sour:
Andrea - Remember how when you eat dots, there's always that awful-tasting coating of paper on the back? I got that taste in my mouth when I saw your apron. However, I do appreciate the symmetry of your dots. (I'm a little OCD about that kind of stuff.)
Alicia - I have no opinion on this outfit. It just fell flat for me.
Buffi - CARRIE BRADSHAW WOULD NEVER WEAR THIS. The "Sex and the City" fan girl in me is sobbing.
Nathan - Your model had to literally hold her dress as she walked the runway. No bueno.
Elena - No more strong shoulders, please. And you had an entire candy store and you chose cream-colored licorice?! Willy Wonka is freaking out right now.
Kooan - Nothing surprised me about your design, it's just not my taste. (Is it anyones?!) I'm still obsessed with you, though.
Lantie - If the challenge was make a dress out of an umbrella, you would have won, hands down. But it wasn't. After last week, you really needed to be on your A game to secure a spot in Episode 3.
And then there were 14. I know I harped on this in my last blog, but you do not want to miss Episode 3 there is a cliffhanger that will leave you speechless!
Do you think Lantie deserved to go home?
It's true, Tim Gunn: I've never heard the words "Wee-Wee Pads" used as often as in last night's episode. Sponsorship opportunity next year, guys?! (I kid.)
This unconventional challenge was a fun one. Besides the aforementioned overuse of the words "wee" and pet puns, we got to peel back the layers a bit and see everyone's true spots. (I needed to get that last pun out of my system.)
In the pet store, some designers are considering purchasing perishable dog food, and I can only wonder why, considering the smell. But, more important, Josh M.'s first thoughts on the challenge are not that it involves pets, but that it perhaps involves S&M ("I like it, like it!"). Keep the leashes away from that guy!
As the contestants survey their final purchases, as I always say, they mirror some fine moments in "Runway" history:
• Anthony Ryan is playing the role of Chloe in the Season 2 plant challenge. He's taking 98 bird feeders' worth of seed and is going to glue on every stinking one of those things until every inch of muslin is covered. The collar he created was a nice touch to what could have just been a "construction paper covered in glue and sparkles" project, and gave it an immediate look of sophistication. As for the "too short" note from Nina, yeah, it probably could have used another two inches, but it was still impeccably made.
• Bert is playing the role of Daniel V. in the Season 2 makeover challenge: the person who has immunity and fails to rise to the occasion. Bert. Buddy. Pal. You just came off of an Episode 1 win and you approach the second challenge by phoning it in? It was clear that he didn't want to work with these types of materials, and was going to use whatever was the most fabric-like to get the job done. He would have been in some serious trouble without that immunity.
• Fallene is Gretchen in the Season 8 team challenge. She acts as if she's completely in love with her materials and her final end product, but throws herself under the bus when it comes to a bottom placement in judging. This woman has no fight! Stick up for yourself and DEFEND your garment!
• Bryce is every contestant in every season who ever made a dress that resembled a napkin. The top was kind of cute if you had one contact lens in one eye, but he made it through only because there was some joy there. It wasn't boring.
Zzz ... zzz ...
I just fell asleep thinking about Josh C.'s design. Although it looks like he and his model finally hugged out their "fit" issues, it really was kind of a snoozer. Sorry that I will not be seeing any more of the newly formed Josh-Squared bromance that was blossoming. Sigh.
• Josh M. provided the shot of fashion triple espresso I needed with that fantastic crop top and the wacky parrot mirror. It looks like Josh M. is the type of designer who has problems editing, and if he's not careful, he could have the potential to have really beautiful work fade into the background because jazz hands and bells and whistles are drowning it out on the runway.
• Laura Kathleen is Zulema/Ping in their respective challenges when they had WAY too much of their model's booty exposed, but at least she had the wherewithal to call a spade a spade (or a butt a butt) and create a new, more modest skirt before the judges saw it.
• Although my Magician Award went to Anya last week (and she seemed to pull it out of the hat again last night), this week it goes to Viktor. "Oh my Lord of the Rings!" is right! He took the beloved Wee-Wee Pad and transformed not only the color but the texture to create something completely unrecognizable. Nice job.
• Olivier is playing the role of ... well, himself. He may have the Malan accent, but he's certainly a unique character. (Also, I've known enough people from the state of Ohio to know that they do not sound like that. Even if they did a very long study-abroad program, they would not have returned saying things like, well, everything he says.) But we move on. Everything from his color palette to the textures he chose to play with gave his design a very luxe feel. The thin clear-plastic belt was a chic touch.
A well-deserved win, even if I do believe that Anthony Ryan's garment was better executed. Speaking of which, who else was waiting for Heidi to slap Michael or Nina in the face, exclaiming, "This one's for Mondo!" and Jessica Simpson to stage-dive into the mix for backup? ... OK, so I may have been alone there.
As for poor Josh C. leaving us this week, the only comfort is that when recapping these episodes every week, I will not have to indicate which Joshua I am referring to.
Here's to Josh M., a.k.a. the only Josh standing.