Season Premiere July 24 at 9/8c
The Project Runway Blog
Category: "episode 5"
The designers convene at Gansevoort Plaza in NYC's Meatpacking District, where Tim announces that this will be their third unconventional materials challenge! They'll also be working in teams again! Poor guys. This challenge is a mishmash of (arguably too many) components, so let me try to break it down. In teams of three, the designers must create a luxe mini collection -- one look per person -- out of unconventional materials; they can choose two of three stores (a vintage wallpaper store, a specialty food store, a home goods/party store) from which to get those materials. The looks can be inspired by the new Lexus IS '14s they're given to drive to find supplies, but that's not a requirement. They have one day to work and a suggested spending amount of $1500 per team.
Ken throws shade like a true professional. He slowly turns to gaze upon his enemies with a stare so icy it gives me chills. Forced to work with Alexandria and Sue, he monotones "I'm living a nightmare" and the disdain just radiates from him. The other, more amenable teams: Helen, Dom, and Justin; Alexander, Bradon and Miranda; Jeremy, Karen, and Kate.
After their shopping shenanigans, Sandro pops back in the workroom for an impromptu apology/goodbye session, which the other designers greet with sighs of relief since they don't have to deal with him anymore.
Tim is unusually sassy during critiques. "This makes me sick!" he says of Team Ken/Alexandria/Sue's insistence on using materials that barely qualify as unconventional. He reminds them that teams who don't push themselves to use weird materials in creative ways usually come under fire from the judges. "How do I keep this dress sleek and modern like the car, and then also embellish the shit out of it?" Kate asks, summarizing the contradictions posed by this exercise.
Team Ken/Alexandria/Sue really struggles in the workroom. Alexandria tries multiple times to make executive decisions for their team, only to be met by Ken's aforementioned steely-eyed negativity; Sue prefers to keep her mouth shut and focus on her work, likely because she's hit often with criticism from her teammates regarding her design process. It's no fun to watch, especially when the other teams generally seem to be having fun and making cool stuff.
Runway show! Our guest judge is celebrity stylist/designer June Ambrose.
Top Team: Jeremy, Karen, Kate
Materials: Placemats, drawer liner, shower curtain packaging, poppyseeds, black rice, coconut shavings, glitter
The judges fawn over this collection, dubbed "futuristic Great Gatsby" by Karen. Most impressive to the panel is the incorporation of so many disparate materials. They love the construction of Jeremy's white strapless cocktail dress, and Karen's mod-looking sheath dress earns praise for its texture. Heidi is surprised that Kate designed the minidress with plunging neckline and shoulder details because it's a color she never uses: black. Nina likes that she can immediately tell how the collection relates to the car. Jeremy gets the win.
Bottom Team: Ken, Alexandria, Sue
Materials: Placemats, drawer liner, duct tape, vinyl curtain covering
This team does itself no favors when they can't properly articulate to the judges any relevent info about their garments, like the type of woman they designed for, where they found their inspiration, or even what each designer brought to his or her look. Zac decimates all three immediately. He calls Alexandria's structured jacket "a cocoon without a butterfly." He thinks Ken's dress makes the model look too wide, and calls out Sue for her uneven hem and tailoring problems. Nina: "It all looks bad, weird, funky, ugly. All of it." Sue's credentials come up for discussion again, and that seals the deal. She and Ken are the bottom two. Sue gets auf'd.
What did you think of this week's challenge? Which team do you feel best rose to the occasion? Who deserved the blame for the Alexandria/Ken/Sue blowup? And now that we're a few weeks into the season, which designer strikes you as most promising? Let me know in the comments.
Exclusive! The Season 12 designers pick who they think were the Top and Bottom looks each week!
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 herefringe, sequins, denim, leathercan very easily trend toward tacky, so the difficulty really becomes reigning everything in enough that it feels country without feeling Dolly Parton-style country.
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.
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!
Heidi Klum arrived on the runway holding the infamous button bag which means:another team challenge was presented this week! Bring on the drama. Each team had to create a capsule collection for Marie Claire @Work Magazine. Looks had to be editorial friendly while wearable enough to wear to work.
Team 5 consisted of Gunnar, Chris, Ven, Nathan and Fabio, also known as “Team SILK CHIFFONIES.” Team 6 consisted of Sonjia, Raul, Dmitry, Alicia, Elena and Melissa the team that couldn’t agree on anything.
Raul acted defensive and stubborn, determined to stick to his own aesthetic without compromising for the team in fear of getting eliminated again. Team 6 also left a bag behind at Mood, which caused more frustration to the group. On the other side, Gunnar felt like a tailor rather than a designer since he’s creating a look which he feels isn’t true to himself and hated all the micro-managing his team was putting him through.
Later on at the photo shoot (or Everyone Hates Elena time), designers styled and decided on final shots. Elena was giving everyone problems arguing that shots looked better without props, treating the other designers so harshly she was stressing me out!
Melissa won the challenge with her bold, chic dress. Both teams tied their scores but eventually it came down to equally unflattering designs from Raul (with his ruffled bib) and Gunnar (with the floating soufflé boobs). It seemed like Raul couldn’t redeem himself far enough in the competition and was sent packing home once again.
Le sigh ... another group challenge. And I totally get it designers, you didn't come on this show to work in teams. But don't act like this is your first rodeo it's "Project Runway"! Anything is possible and after 10 seasons, you should be prepared for any challenge that is thrown your way even if it's another dreaded group challenge. (And really, I can't think of any "PR" fan that doesn't love the insane amount of drama that comes from group challenges!)
I knew this episode was going to go down in flames the minute Raul was picked last and then huffed and puffed when he said that he only works alone, doesn't like group challenges, tailors good pants, yada, yada, yada... Oh sweetie, you should be so grateful that you were even there to experience the second group challenge cause let's be honest, the first one didn't work out so well for you. (I also hope you sent Kooan and Andrea an Edible Arrangement or something for leaving the competition last episode, giving you your second chance.) I respect the fact that you have your own vision, but there is this crazy word called "compromise" and you didn't do any of it. (Want more Raul dirt? Read his Q&A after his first elimination here.)
What I found most interesting this challenge was the way the two teams strategized how to make their cohesive line. (BTW, they couldn't think of more creative names besides Team 5 and Team 6?!) Team 5 decided to have each person do their own look for the collection while Team 6 used their strengths to create articles of clothing to put together. I'm not too sure which method I favored as each had pros and cons, but if I was a betting a woman, I would have initially put my money on Team 5. Geez, was I wrong.
In my opinion, I think Tim Gunn hit the nail on the head when he told Team 5 (aka the Silk Chiffonies) that their clothes looked "clownish." I'm a 28-year-old professional and I would never be caught dead in that print on the streets of New York City. It looked like a print that my mom would rock in a cardigan with mom jeans. (Hi, mom!) I don't necessarily think the structure of most of their looks was bad (More on soufflé boobs later...), but I just couldn't see past the fabric. That combined with the unnecessarily strong personalities on that team didn't really bode for an overall good look.
But that's not to say that Team 6 (with no creative nickname) was flawless. Two words: Dictator Elena. I would have freaked on her if she treated me the way she treated her teammates, especially at the photo shoot. I didn't realize Elena was an expert in styling, hair, makeup, props and camera angles.
However when it comes down to it, I do think the right team won. Their clothes were indeed the most cohesive and wearable for the working woman ... except for the winning look. Don't get me wrong, I think Melissa definitely had the best look, but I don't think that it was work-appropriate. I personally would find that high neck suffocating while sitting at a desk.
As for the two worst looks, it was the battle of "soufflé boobs" and the "schoolyard reject," who were ironically the last two chosen during team selections. How telling... I honestly wished there was a double elimination because when it came to their attitudes, work ethic and overall design this episode, it was 50/50 in my book. But it was Raul's time to go (again.) But hey, he got the "Heidi double-cheek kiss" twice which I'm sure many guys dream of so congrats on that, Raul.
One final thought on the episode, any creativity that workroom lacked was made up awesome one-liners. Here are some of my faves:
-"She is, she's a little bitch." -Christopher
-"It's like floating soufflé boobs." -Heidi
-"[She's a] one-way monkey." -Dmitry
-"I thought it looked like two puppies wrestling in a sack." -Joanna Coles
Do you have a favorite line from this episode? Which look was your favorite?
Well, let's just start off with the awkward elephant in the room: Cecilia's departure. She's not the first designer to choose to walk away from "Runway," but she's certainly the first to do it this soon.
Only the designers who have competed on this show over the years can truly know the pressure, stress and insanity the contestants face day in and day out, but after going through rounds of casting and years of trying to get your work recognized, why take yourself out of the competition at THIS point? I guess only Cecilia can answer that question.
Moving on to Olivier, quote, falling like a bitch (didn't know that was an "ism" across the pond, by the way) and the choosing of teams for the Heidi New Balance challenge …
Newly discovered track star Joshua strategically picks Anya for his first teammate, followed by Becky for her strong sewing skills.
Bryce smartly chooses last week's winner, Kimberly, and rounds out the team with loves-a-chiffon-moment Danielle. Anthony Ryan chooses former stilt-walker-challenge teammate Laura Kathleen, and is stuck with Bertzilla (LOVED that Heidi beat him in five-inch Louboutins!), who complains that he's picked last, yet gets along with no one at this point.
Viktor chooses a brought-back-to-life-from-near-death-fall Olivier, and is allowed to choose a third team member from the previously dismissed designers. His choice? Josh C. (Now I have to use Josh initials again! Thanks, guy.)
From the get-go, it's clear which teams are really teams of two with an oh-sorry-you're-working-with-us-too bonus mate, and who have true party-of-three cohesion. Anthony Ryan and Laura Kathleen initially shut Bert's ideas down in a dismissive way that perhaps is unfair, but given his winning personality lately, can we really blame them? Likewise, Joshua M. and Anya are clearly fashion BFFs, and Becky is the third wheel in this arrangement.
Josh Squared bromance is back, y'all!
But even this momentary moment of workroom happiness can't stop the sass factory that's about to take over the next hour of our lives.
In the workroom, Anthony Ryan often asks Bert what he thinks, but doesn't quite assert his authority as team captain to rein Bert in. Maybe it was his body temperature slowly rising over 98.6, but he could have had much more dominance in what needed to be done as a complete collection. Instead his work suffered, and his team fell apart in the process.
Both Joshua M. and Anya ask Becky to help sew their garments, and I use the word "ask" here purposely. They ASKED her. What Joshua eventually said to her with the whole "Your clothes are dowdy!" rant was certainly offensive to Becky, or anybody for that matter, but at no point did she ever open her mouth and say, "No! I will not be your seamstress wench! You figure out how to sew jersey, magician!" She should have put her foot down when Josh put his foot in.
Speaking of sewing, let's talk about the epic fails of needlework Betsy Ross is somewhere rolling in her grave about. The last-minute stripe on the front of Anya's maxi dress was tacked on with a stitch every foot or twelve. You could stick your hand through it to give your teammate a high-five when the judges completely missed the for-decorative-purposes-only exposed zipper on the razorback that was simply laid on top of the garment. The overall effect was nice, but the execution on these notions was seriously sloppy.
Bertzilla strikes again on the runway as he openly mocks and laughs at his own teammates during judging. Yes, Anthony Ryan's look was probably one of the bigger tragedies ever seen on the catwalk, but at what point was it OK to kick the guy when he's down ... and feverish? Bert's look, although better than the giant basketball-shorts romper next to him, was a pair of socks and a Staten Island Ferry ride away from a 1988 "Working Girl" moment.
On the flip side, Viktor's motorcycle jacket (pictured right) makes us all want to go out and buy one, and Joshua M. picks up the surprising second win.
In what's sure to be one of the more controversial judging decisions since Gretchengate of 2010, Danielle is sent home and Anthony Ryan is spared. Did you think her elimination was fair, or did Anthony Ryan's body of work save him?
Tweet with @projectrunway, special guest Heidi Klum(@HeidiKlum), plus Season 7 designer Jesse LeNoir (@jesselenoir) on Thursday night at 9 et/8c. Use #projectrunway in your tweets to follow the conversation!