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The Project Runway Blog
Category: "episode 4"
Sponsor challenge! Sponsor challenge! We open at a Red Robin restaurant slightly removed from NYC, where the designers are lined up before an array of male models in slightly oversized vintage men's suiting from all sorts of dark corners of fashion history. Corduroy, floral print, tweeds, lapels wider than a highway, truly misguided color palettes...it's a nightmare, really. A restaurant spokesman explains that Red Robin is a burger joint that likes to look at things with a fresh perspective, and that they're interested in prompting the designers to do the same. Ghosts of Sponsored Challenges Past flash before my eyes. Are they going to redesign the Red Robin waitstaff uniforms? Make clothing inspired by cheeseburgers? Is this going to be the season's awful hot mess of a menswear challenge?! Blessedly, it is none of the above.
Challenge: Create a high-fashion womenswear look using the jacket and pants of a vintage men's suit.
Parameters: The suit must be a prominent part of the final design. Supplemental fabric can be purchased from Mood. As the winner of the previous challenge, Sandhya gets her first choice of suit, as well as the power to assign suits to the rest of the designers.
Say what you will about the fairness of allowing one designer to assign fabric to the others, but Sandhya seems to take the job very seriously. She attempts to assign the suits based on what she thinks each designer would like, which is waaaay more charitable than many of the other contestants would've been; that some of them (Mitchell, Amanda, Sean, Hernan) feel that they were cheated suggests to me that they might be slightly in denial about the kind of vibes their work so far this season has given off. Is it really Sandhya's fault if her impression of their aesthetics doesn't match the way they see themselves?
In the workroom, Hernan whines and whines and whines. His fabric is gross! He can't match the color! Nothing is draping right! Tim tries to counsel Hernan away from treating vinyl like fabric instead of, you know, vinyl, but Hernan remains stubborn as ever. He tries to direct his annoyance at Sandhya, but she's over it: "If you can't make something good from what you've got, then you're not a good designer." That's some Real Talk right there.
Meanwhile, Kristine and Korina go head-to-head with different motorcycle jackets, yawn. Kini, who was given arguably the easiest suit to work with -- a relatively understated grey pinstripe -- finishes with hours to spare. He's some kinda sewing wunderkind, that Kini. My favorite workroom observation is Alexander's take on Mitchell's look: "It looks like he put the awful blue polyester suit that he was given and stuffed it into a Ziploc bag." IT TOTALLY DOES THOUGH.
On to the runway, with our guest judge, teen YouTube star (I know, I know) Bethany Mota.
Amanda - Heidi fawns over the mixed patterns and the fringe; you can see her imagining herself wearing it. Nina appreciates the resourcefulness on display. The judges all agree that this look offered the greatest transformation from original suit to runway look, and in the end I think that's what gave Amanda the edge. She gets her second win of the season and another round of immunity.
Kini - The judges are very impressed. "This is sharp suiting," Zac says, complimenting Kini's use of neoprene for the shoulder. Nina approves of the tailoring, Bethany likes the cut-outs at the sides, and Heidi notices the smart inclusion of the suit's original pockets at the back of the skirt. From the way this garment was discussed I was sure it'd be the winner, but even though Kini didn't come out on top this time, the look cemented his place on the judge's radar. Not a bad place to be at this point in the season.
Alexander - The judges all like this one quite a bit. They praise the flirtiness and volume of the skirt, especially compared to the more structured top. He gets bonus points for showing just the right amount of skin. Zac says it's the best work he's seen from Alexander so far.
Kristine - The panel is flummoxed by the organza extensions on the trouser legs, which Kristine says was a necessity based on the amount of fabric she had to work with. Heidi asks why Kristine didn't just make a miniskirt, to which Kristine doesn't have a very compelling response. Nina says it feels like a "mish-mosh" of too many elements.
Sean - Zac calls it "orthopedic" (also "like peeling skin," which is a gross but fair comparison). Sean tries to defend the awful ragged edges and hemline as intentional deconstruction, but the panel knows better. "It doesn't feel like an inventive use, in any way, of the suit," Zac says. Sean is safe for now.
Hernan - "How do you feel about your look?" Heidi asks, which gives Hernan an excuse to make excuses. He reiterates that his original suit was difficult to work with, and tells the judges that the material fell apart on himi when he tried to get a better fit. Unfortunately for him, the judges get a closer look at the garment and see for themselves how sturdy (albeit awkward) the fabric is. Nina and Heidi point out how costume-y the outfit looks, especially from the front and the side; Bethany says it looks like a popstar's Halloween costume (hah). The judges decide his look was the worst and send him on his way.
This week's real winner, I think, was Sandhya, who strategized her way through to the next round while also eliminating her most obnoxious competitor. "Runway" is primarily as a skill-based competition, so it's not often the designers get a chance to outmaneuver each other directly; I was pleasantly surprised to see Sandhya own her brief window of power so thoroughly. Meanwhile, Kini and Alexander are both on the up and up, and Amanda has won half the season's challenges already. Do you think the distribution of the suits was fair? Was Sean's mummy-bridesmaid look more worthy of elimination than Hernan's bizarro costume? Who do you have your eye on heading into the fifth challenge? Let me know in the comments!
Side note: If there was ever an episode of "Runway" that deserved the Smell-O-Vision treatment, it's this one. Can you imagine? The scent of charred meat and fried potatoes mixing with the moth-eaten mustiness of super old menswear. Delicious.
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:
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.
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.
Exclusive! The Season 12 designers pick who they think were the Top and Bottom looks each week!
Richard absolutely wins this episode for employing the phrase "RuPaul meets 'Gilligan's Island'" and by extension filling my mind with visions of an incredible celeb and drag queen-filled themed photo shoot. Someone call Annie Liebovitz!
I've always loved the now-infamous Unconventional Challenge (so infamous it gets capitalized!) and this season's contribution to the pantheon doesn't disappoint. Tim kicks things off with a little shakeup: bottom-placing Dream Team, down to five members, can snag two designers from Keeping It Real, who can then steal one of Dream Team's original designers for themselves. DT smartly chooses solid utility players Stanley and Layana. Keeping It Real makes the equally sound move to grab Michelle, one of the few Dream Team designers to stand out for good work instead of bad. The Season 11 group might not have been prepared for the team angle, but they've caught on quickly to the strategy that must be employed toahemmake it work.
Tim announces that the teams have two days and $2,500 a piece to spend on this challenge, which is fabulous. More time + more money = better looks. Working with weird materials means the designers need all the time and money they can get.
The shopping portion of the unconventional challenge is a make-or-break moment. Flowers, plants and hardware are more difficult to measure in large quantities than fabric, and it's inevitable that someone will wind up with an uncooperative (or surprisingly ugly) material, so the choices the designers make here are crucial. Wire, twine, tape, buckets, clasps, blinds, stacks upon stacks of petals and branches and leaves? I wouldn't know where to start.
But these groups don't get the luxury of complaining! So they get to work. The results are actually kind of awesome. Stanley's forcefulness in pushing Dream Team's "1950s Dior" style results in a collection that's impressively cohesive. Team Keeping It Real's errs when they forge ahead on individual looks without concerning themselves with a unifying them. But the judges (including the incomparable Bette Midler and the man repeller herself, Leandra Medine) seem to genuinely love every piece that walk the runway, so let's get to it:
Dream Team - Top (Finally!)
The judges really love this collection, and I don't blame them one bit. There are a lot of details to appreciate, from Layana's delicate cage skirt with dainty flower embellishment to Tu's gorgeous, seemingly wooden blouse, and of course Benjamin's painstaking loom work. But the judges single out Samantha's mesh peplum-y skirt and lattice top for the win.
Team Keeping It Real - Not The Top (But Not the Bottom?)
The lack of a convincing theme gives the edge to their opposition, but the judges like Keeping It Real's set of looks as well. The judges come down hard on Joe's oversize sweater dress (which I loved) and have surprisingly little to say about Patricia's. . .inventive Mother Nature dress/shawl-looking thing. The rest of the team points at Amanda's minidress as the source of their problems, but the judges have the final say on these matters and choose Joe to depart our little game.
We didn't get to see a whole lot from his this season, but I really appreciated Joe's zen, wholly unique take on fashion. Do you think Joe should have been auf'd? If not, who deserved to be cut? Which runway looks caught your eye? And if you had to design an outfit based on either florals or hardware, which would you choose to work with?
Season 10 designer Kooan Kosuke may have abruptly bowed out of the competition last week, but he's taking to YouTube for one final goodbye ... in the form of dance. "thank u all for rooting for me and watching project runway season 10," he wrote. "i hope u will all understand why i did what i did by understaning me through watching video more, recorded right after the episode 4. thank u all once again and thank u project runway." Watch the video below to see Kooan's (impressive) moves:
What do you think about Kooan's exit interview (er ... dance)? Do you wish he was still in the competition?
By Jen Luby - Editor, YouKnowYouLoveFashion.com
The title of this week’s episode may have been "Women on the Go" but it ended up more like "Designers Get Gone." Not one but TWO contestants hit the road: Andrea, who slinked away in the middle of the night, and then sent a "SRY. IT’S NOT U, IT’S ME" email, and Kooan, who decided that the real world was A Bad Place and hightailed it back to the land of pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows. This show started with sixteen designers, and right now, my heart goes out to numbers 17 and 18. Andrea and Kooan took someone else’s place, and that ain’t cool. If you don’t think you can hack the challenges, then don’t apply.
Right! There was a challenge! The designers arrive at Michael Kors’ brand new flagship store. Sonjia says they have no idea what’s in store today, which is really weird, because I thought they received daily itineraries detailing every single thing that's going to happen to them. No? Not how this show works? My bad.
MK & Tim reveal that this week’s assignment is to design a day-to-night look for a woman on the go. Day to Night Barbie was one of my favorites, so this challenge pleases me immensely. The designers sketch and talk about their imaginary clients. Gunnar’s sketch scares me, and as soon as Melissa says "hoodie" I’m wondering what kind of day-to-night scenario she’s envisioning. A quick weightlifters’ meeting followed by cocktails with druids?
The designers go to Mood, where they talk about how confusing it is. There are a lot of aisles! And those aisles are filled with fabric! You guys, it’s hard! But they muddle through and head back to the workroom, where Kooan drops his bomb. He jubilantly shouts “make it work!” on his way out. Tim & Co. are not amused.
Tim returns with a surprise Raul is back! Christopher ascertains that he is "one lucky ho" and I must agree. Raul’s skills are shaky, so he’d better bring it. Speaking of shaky skills, Buffi is creating a smock out of hot pink chiffon, and Christopher (OMG, he’s like "Project Runway’s "Greek chorus always saying what we’re thinking) points out that it resembles resort wear. She eschews his input, saying that she needs to stay true to her (tacky) self.Runway time!
Sonjia: Functional but a bit of a snooze. Does anyone remember Units, from the 80s? They sold plain pieces that could be twisted into multifunctional ways a cardigan became a shirt, for instance. Then again, Day to Night Barbie had a hat that turned into a skirt, so maybe Sonjia is onto something.
Alicia: I like the concept, but the shirt and shorts look odd and ill-fitting. Pass.
Melissa: When her model came out, she did indeed resemble a druid for a hot second, although overall, I like the look. It has possibilities.
Buffi: Oh, girl. This just looks cheap. It’s a world of no.
Fabio: This is what a 22 year old would wear if they thought they were being totes profesh. I think they sell this at Forever 21. That is not a compliment.
Gunnar: Goes to show you can’t judge an outfit by its sketch. Well done, sir. I would absolutely wear this look.
Nathan: Very much a pile of sad, and ohhh, that mustard color. Not cute.
Dmitry: Impeccable. He’s got some serious skills and knows how to make women look good. I'd run out and buy that now.
Ven: Sigh. Stunning as always. That zipper? Killer. It absolutely looks like something Michael Kors would have in his line.
Raul: What? What is this? No. Too many things going on, and none of them good. He just got here so he won’t be aufed, but he deserves to be.
Elena: I don’t love her aesthetic, but this is not so bad. The shoulders are too boxy, but I dig the overall look.
Christopher: I'm totally down with the hard/soft vibe he’s got going on, although the hanging part is too long. The jacket makes the look.
In the end, the judges gave the gold to Sonjia and said buh-bye to Buffi. I would have chosen Dmitry (although I agree his look needed a bit of spice) or even Gunnar for the winner, and Raul to get the boot. His skills and his taste are very questionable, but then again, so are Buffi’s.
Which one do you think deserved to go home?
No truer words have been spoken, Mr. Kors. Well played.
For once in my life, I'm speechless. This never happens ... seriously. Going into this episode (or this season for that matter), I knew that Andrea and Kooan were peacing out this episode. Let's call it one of the many perks of working for Lifetime. But how they handled their departure completely befuddled me.
All I know is that thousands of hopefuls try out for "Project Runway" each season, and even the most talented designers don't make the cut when the final cast is narrowed down. It completely devastates me for those designers who genuinely deserved a spot on the show that two contestants just got up and left mid-competition — seeming ungrateful for the once in a lifetime opportunity that was presented to them. It's like, come on — "Project Runway" has been on for eight years and nine seasons. You knew exactly what you were getting into.
I will give Kooan props though for the way he bowed out. At least he had the courtesy and class to tell the designers his decision before his final, "Make it work!" Andrea, on the other hand, completely chickened out to the point that producers didn't know if something happened to her! Great example for your students, Andrea.
But enough of my lamenting about Kooan and Andrea — there's fashion that needs to be discussed!
For the record, I pray to the God otherwise known as Michael Kors. Even before becoming a "Runway" junkie, I swore by his clothes, bags, shoes, etc... His products are well-made, top-quality and relatively affordable. Michael's aesthetic completely encompasses my personal style. so if I ever was to become a fashion designer (I'm sure everyone I know is laughing at me right now — I can't even draw a stick figure!), his carrer and products would be my muse. That being said, I feel like the designers were handed this challenge on a silver platter: they were in Michael's amazing flagship store, with Michael (!) and he and Tim basically spelled out the way to win over the judges, keeping fabric in mind.
Sounds pretty straightforward, right? It never is. After all, it wouldn't be "Project Runway" without bad decisions, honest critiques from Tim and, of course, workroom drama.
Once the situation surrounding Kooan and Andrea subsided, some designs really started to stand out. Maybe not for the right reasons, but stand out, nonetheless. (Oh yeah, and welcome back Raul! You are very, very, very lucky!) Off the bat, Buffi's pink-but-not-pick-sorta-coral-with-zebra-print ensemble definitely made a statement — it screamed "Buffi." I am glad that she stayed true to herself, but as we all know, that doesn't always get you to Fashion Week.
What I found really interesting was that everyone really had their own perception of the "woman on the go." Nathan thought of a working mother and Buffi saw her girl as someone who works at night while Elena saw her woman switching from sneakers to pumps. It was all over the board. (PS: Was I the only one was humming Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money" the entire episode?!) Regardless of the designers' point of view, per usual, it all went down on the runway.
I agree with Tim when he said that this week has been the designers' strongest week so far. But then again, it doesn't take much to trump candy dresses and group challenges. And for once, I agree on who the judges put in the top and the bottom. I absolutely loved Christopher's black dress with leather jacket. It was sleek, chic and for a girl who work in New York City, it's definitely something I could see myself wearing as I strut my stuff (ha!) down third avenue. I'm sorta in a pickle about whether he should have won over Sonjia, but her dress was also really well executed. (And isn't she just adorable?!) I'm declaring it a hung jury.
Like I said before, Buffi designed the weakest look. It was clear as day to me. I loved her exit the way she hid behind the couch was just precious. (If I'm being honest, I've had a Buffi obsession since before the show started. I had to call Buffi for something and she said, "Thanks, love!" at the end. I just adore sweet, cool people with accents.) So in a tribute to all things Buffi, let's take a walk down memory lane and watch why "Everyone Loves Buffi Jashanmal":
Are you going to miss Buffi as much as I will? Do you think it was her time to go?
My Destiny's Child reference may be lost on some (What? It's a classic!), but the fact that Nina Garcia is one tough lady to please will be lost on no one. She has a very particular editorial eye that's made her successful at her job as a fashion editor and here as a judge on "Runway." But when she's the client, watch out! Your Plan A better be banging, and your just-as-good-as-Plan-A Plan B better be waiting in the wings in the event that Plan A bursts into flame. Don't even mention a Plan C. (It's like "Fight Club." We don't talk about Plan C.)
Given the constraints for this challenge (i.e., don't bore Nina, don't use crazy prints, cowl necks are the devil, no volume allowed), the designers had their work cut out for them after their one-on-one consults. Nina knows what she wants, and if you don't deliver it, you're in trouble.
Let's start with some questionable fabric choices:
Anya has decided to create a mustard jumpsuit for Nina. Maybe she can get the jumpsuit part through the pitch, but mustard is a hard sale for anyone, no less for THIS client. Mustard?!
Anthony Ryan and Becky, as different as their aesthetics can be, grab the same exact fabric. And we're talking EXACT, like odds-of-winning-the-lottery-with-the-same-numbers EXACT. Their (surprising) reaction is to play some bizarre game of fashion chicken with each other, and both designers decide on moving forward with it. What?!
Cecilia needs to visit her eye doctor ASAP, because even Mood's fluorescent glow cannot be blamed for the choices she made. Gray and beige?!
Surprise! Danielle is working with chiffon. Again?
Back in the workroom, Anya finally comes to terms with Nina not being a mustard kind of girl, remembers to throw on a pair of gloves (fast learner!) and dyes her fabric to make it work. Anthony Ryan spots her from the sidelines while he video-chats with his fiance. (Too-adorable-to-handle double Southern accents alert!)
Julie is making a
coat dress coatdress for Nina, which is kind of a hybrid of her first two challenge designs, creating one bad, unfinished, "no way in hell Nina would ever wear that, even while home sick" design. Cecilia is finally calling a spade a spade and doing whatever she can with her odd-couple fabrics, and has agreed to help sew Julie's sleeves on.
Laura Kathleen has also drunk the do-gooder Kool-Aid and is helping Anya finish the collar on her no-longer-mustard jumpsuit. I don't sew, so I don't know the effort involved in sewing a sleeve on or finishing a collar, but why is everyone sewing everyone else's stuff?! Maybe it's a simple gesture I'll let the designers fight that fight! but in a competition setting, you beginning to wonder if it's genuine or a tactic.
On the runway, I'm biting my nails as Anthony Ryan's and Becky's dresses follow one another in the run of show, making the fact that they used the same fabric go from obvious to NEON BLINKING LIGHT. They look like they're part of the same collection a two-piece collection that went rogue in the middle of an unrelated fashion show. I still don't understand how these two made it through safely without so much as a "Really?"
Maybe it's to her benefit to keep her mouth shut, but I was wondering why Anya didn't fess up to the collar help, only because the way she finished her garment came up and it landed her in the top.
In the end, Kimberly takes the win with a look that really grew on me the more time I spent staring at it, and especially when Nina wore it to the office. Viktor really stepped it up this week and proved he has a well-deserved place on Season 9. (P.S. Bert NEEDS TO LEARN PEOPLE'S NAMES!)
As for next week's preview ... I really want to see this Olivier falling scene in slow motion.
Tweet with @projectrunway, special guest Nina Garcia (@NinaGarcia), Season 3 vet Mychael Knight (@mychaelknight), plus Episode 4 guest judge, actress Kerry Washington and her Krew (@KerryWashington), on Thursday night at 9 et/8c. Use #projectrunway in your tweets to follow the conversation!