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The Project Runway Blog
Category: "episode 8"
After eons of evening wear, we're finally moving on to something a little different. Heidi and Tim, flanked by two of the new curved televisions from Samsung, are tickled to inform the designers that this will be an avant-garde challenge -- and that it'll have a major twist.
Challenge: Create an avant-garde look that is as innovative as the Samsung Curved Ultra HD TV that should inspire it and that, like the TV, is "a 'wow' from every angle." It should also push the boundaries of design, like the television. The looks will be modeled on a specialized rainy runway, so they must also be waterproof.
Parameters: $300 budget, two whole days to work (hallelujah). The designers will be given additional heavy-duty materials to elevate their designs. Korina has immunity.
The designers seem more excited than scared of the added rain element in this challenge, except Fade, who is uninspired. He struggles to come up with some flavor of unexpected design, but nothing's really gelling; everyone on "Runway" has their off days, and this is definitely Fade's, poor guy. Sandhya wants to build something based on the visual of the old colorful television test patterns. Emily is thinking "raincoat catsuit," which doesn't thrill me. When he does his walkthrough, Tim praises Kini's umbrella-esque design and steers him away from over-embellishing. Sean's got a boatload of boring white fabric but explains to Tim that he's going to sew in satchels of dye that will activate on the rainway to change the whole look of the garment. Pause for a slow clap, because that's the best idea I've heard all season. Amanda's garment is allegedly based on heiroglyphics and eyes, but Tim sees vagina imagery and I see an elegant bug lady at fancy bug ball. Korina's combining a lot of elements that look stellar in her sketch; that her final design barely resembles this early idea is a huge bummer.
Meanwhile, Fade isn't doing great. He gets the chance to call home along with Emily and Sandhya, but his call is distinctly more fraught than the others. He can barely get words out around his tears. I'm upset about this! Fade has been low-key all season, slow and steady and turning out interesting, consistent work, and it's no fun at all when his breed of reliable competitor gets unexpectedly emotional.
Let's move on to the rainway! Our guest judge is "Masters of Sex" actress Caitlin Fitzgerald.
Sean - Sean's idea to use the rain to transform his look on the runway paid off in spades, and the judges are LOVING it. Nina is very excited about the waterproof crinoline Sean incorporated underneath the dyed layer. Zac admits he thought the color changing might be too gimmicky, but that seeing it in action convinced him otherwise. The chance that the coloring might have totally failed in execution also appeals to the judges; they love a risk. (No one points out that the design of the dress itself is not that interesting. Oh well.) Sean gets one half of a shared win.
Kini - The judges love that Kini heard "rain" and went with "umbrella." Heidi calls it avant garde, Caitlin calls it dominatrix, and both are intended as major compliments. Zac is VERY effusive with his praise: "You are so talented. You have such a skillful hand. You have great technique. It's a combination of Michelle Harper, a little McQueen in there -- it was so impactful when it came out. [...] You brought it today. Big time." You know how cartoon characters are given bulging heart eyes to show how head-over-heels they are? That was Zac's reaction to this look. Absolute hearteyes. Kini is awarded the other half of the shared win.
Sandhya - One of those instances in which I can't tell if the judges are responding to the look or to how easily the designer's unique personal aesthetic shines through in it. This look is VERY Sandhya. Nina thinks it's also very close to being too circus-y, but the whimsy of it seems to be enough to put Sandhya in the top. She's safe.
Korina - She explains that her inspiration was the mythological thunderbird whose powerful wings create thunder but the judges don't feel the look is very powerful at all. Nina thinks it had potential, but seems unfinished, a sentiment echoed by the rest of the panel. The black dress is too random, the sort of harness-y over-layer too flimsy. Not great, but Korina's got immunity, so she's safe.
Emily - Emily tried for armor but didn't totally succeed. This look got some of the same criticisms Korina's did: Too flimsy, too derivative, too little cohesion. Nina says it's dated, and she and Zac both call it cliche. Not Emily's best moment, but she's safe.
Fade - "Putting a play button on your dress doesn't necessarily make it look modern or tech-y. It makes it look gimmicky." That quote from Nina really sums this one up. Caitlin says she misses the relationship with the rain that the other looks had. This one bores them, so Fade is out.
Onward we march, one less designer in tow. I'll miss Fade, but Sean and Kini really kicked it up a notch this week and I'm excited to see where they go from here. How did you feel about the challenge and their shared win? Do you think immunity was the only thing saving Korina from the auf? If you could design your own element-based runway, what would you choose? (I think I'd do a whole obstacle course. Why not get weird, right?) Let me know in the comments.
The designers meet activewear-clad Heidi and Tim at the Upper East Side's Asphalt Green recreation area, where they're tasked with completing an obstacle course consisting of a three-legged race, a tire run, a wheelbarrow race, and a flag grab. They have to complete the race in pairs, but thankfully this isn't a team challenge. But it's one we've seen before: Design an activewear look for Heidi's New Balance line. The pair that wins the obstacle course will choose their fabric first, AND they'll get an extra hour to work on our garments.
Dom and Justin win the thing (and celebrate with an adorable chest-bump); meanwhile, Heidi's screaming at Bradon and Helen: "IT'S A FLAG. IT HAS A STICK ON IT." Jeremy and Alexander come in dead last. The gang grabs their fabric ($50 worth, per person, from stuff approved for Heidi's line) and get to sketching.
Back in the workroom, Ken has a for-real freakout at Helen for...no real reason? I've re-watched it a few times and all I can glean is that he's already frustrated by the usual competition-related things when Helen's weird self-centered melodramatic tendencies start to grate a little too much, so all his crabbiness gets directed her way in a loud, uncomfortable argument. Helen feels threatened (understandably) and asks Tim to intervene. Ken's eventual apology seems sincere, Helen accepts, and that is, thankfully, the end of that.
This week's guest judge is the magical Michael Kors!!! Three exclamation points because Michael is the best.
Helen - Black cinch-waisted, flowy zip-up hooded jacket, black and grey mid-calf leggings, and a tee with kangaroo pocket. The jacket gets raves from everyone. Nina loves that it covers the butt and thighs, the gentlemen give it complimentary names (Zac: "Elvira at the gym," Kors: "Stevie Nicks active"), Heidi says she'd wear it in a heartbeat. There's no love for the rest of her outfit, so it's clear the jacket alone is responsible for Helen's win.
Kate - Black pants, long-sleeved kangaroo-pocketed pullover with a zipper up the back and a pop of red at the loose cowl neck. Nina loves the fashion-with-function combination, and Zac -- who has without a doubt taken a liking to Kate's work this season anyway -- digs it, too, noting that Kate understands flattering lines.
Alexander - Black, purple, and heather grey bra top, pant, and jacket. Everyone on the panel loves the fit of the pants -- draped without an outside seam, as is proper for form-fitting fabrics -- but the asymmetry of the top and the color-blocking on the pants gets debated a little bit. "It looks like something you'd see on a sale rack in an active department," Kors says. "It's in a store though! It might be on sale, but it's in a store. It got there."
Alexandria - Black drop-crotch knee-length pants and long-sleeved zip-up jacket, both with a pop of purple, layered over a light grey tee. Zac is disappointed over the drop-crotch pants (accented by what Kors calls "pleasure-me pockets"), and Nina calls out the silliness of the trio of gashes on the stomach of the t-shirt. Heidi likes this look (no surprise) but not enough to help it land in the top.
Ken - A long purple tank top with black and purple knee-length leggings. Kors thinks Ken thought too much about function and not about fashion. When he gets up close to it, Zac frowns at the harness-y straps in back and the proportion of the top.
Karen - This utterly perfunctory black sweatshirt-sweatpant combo is the direct result of Heidi's awful critique of Karen's original take on the challenge. I'm not convinced Karen's first design would have turned out quite as horrifically as Heidi imagined. Regardless, Karen's actual runway look is unflattering and bo-o-o-ring, so she's auf'd.
What say you? Should Karen have ignored Heidi and risked an even more embarrassing elimination? Was Helen's jacket really special enough to cancel out her so-so shirt and leggings? Were you terrified or just annoyed by Ken's outburst? And now that immunity is off the table, who do you think will be the next to go? Let me know what you think in the comments!
Exclusive! The Season 12 designers pick who they think had the Top and Bottom looks each week!
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.
By Lesley Scott, Fashiontribes.com
When Heidi kicked off Episode 8 by asking the group how many were "good at negotiation," almost everyone raised their hands. Which raised her eyebrow (and mine). "You’ll have to use your negotiation skills for this challenge," she warned them. Oooh, excellent! A bunch of diva designers are a lot of things but skilled at negotiation isn’t generally one of them.
The catfight potential was already looking good.
Entering the Parsons workroom where the tables were piled with plain white tees, craft supplies and girlie glitter galore (which horrified Elena), Tim announced yet another group challenge. Ding on the drama-o-meter. When Sonjia, Gunnar and Christopher were teamed up, the boyz circled each other warily but Sonjia’s adorbs personality made it possible for them to meet in the middle (negotiation it’s the New Black). Now Ven, Fabio and Melissa … uh oh, are those polite smiles? Those three are gonna make do & get along. Fuhgiddaboudit. But wait: Alicia, Dmitry and, yes, Elena! Now this could be majah. Cue Dmitry asking what he did in a past life to have to deserved working with her.
I hope y'all got my Black Eyed Peas reference...
Another group challenge? Altogether now: "UGH!" Just when the designers were really starting to get praise for their designs from the judges, they're slapped in the face with another "make nice or get aufed" challenge.
As if learning that you have to work in teams was bad enough, the looks on the designers' faces when Tim told them that they had to barter on the streets of New York to make money to spend at Mood screamed, "I didn't come on 'Project Runway' to design t-shirts with glitter on them." Well suck it up, kids it's time for the Fashion Games.
It completely baffles my mind how in one scene the designers were like, "OMG we have, like, no money," and getting $24 sounded like they had won the lottery to each team ending up with over $500 (and $.48)! Who said New Yorkers were mean?!
Back at Parsons it was the battle of the Russian Federations! In one corner, Dmitry Sholokhov armed with his dry one-liners and darts. In the other, Elena Slivnyak armed with her "angry" attitude and strong-shouldered jackets. Those two argue more than a couple who's been married for 40 years! Heck, even Gunnar and Christopher put their differences aside for the sake of this challenge. (But I've said this before, I think their distain for each other is just undercover love.) It made me feel really bad for Alicia, who had to deal with the war of the accents, which ultimately put her in the position to be aufed. (Though I'm not disagreeing that it was her time to go.)
Can I just tell you that one of my favorite moments of the episode is when the models came in for their first fitting and Christopher joked that the vest (aka the beginnings of Sonjia's jacket that eventually helped her clutch the win) looked like Tinker Bell, Peter Pan and Zelda. As Nick Verreos would say, "That kid slays me." I die over his facial expressions and insane pop culture analogies. (i.e. Boris and Natasha. Who even knows that?!)
Last week, I was so impressed with the final looks. This week ... not so much. Let's take it team by team:
-Team Dmitry/Elena/Alicia: Frump city! Elena's outerwear swam on her model ("You coulda made a nice coat," as Dmitry said.) and Dmitry's shawl gave me terrifying flashbacks to "Ugly Betty." (Sadly not the first time I've referenced that show this season.) I did like his dress, though. And Alicia was so freaking lackluster about her shirt and pants. They may have not been the most exciting on the runway, but girl, stand up for your designs. Lack of confidence screams, "It's my time to go."
-Team Christopher/Gunnar/Sonjia: Winners hands down. Their designs looked expensive, well-made, stylish without being too over-the-top, and not for anything, the other two teams didn't really give them that much competition. Which brings me too...
-Team Fabio/Melissa/Ven: Blah, blah, blah. All three of the designers have won a challenge in the past (as Fabio pointed out), but their pieces were so boring, safe and didn't really reflect who any of them are as designers. That's all I got ... I fell asleep while walking their collection walk down the runway.
What was your favorite look of Episode 8? Which look do you think is the most wearable for fall?
One of the most frequent questions I get is "When are you going to bring back the menswear challenge, already?!" And now I can finally tell you! ... Not this week. (But VERY soon!)
Believe you me, I was fooled just like the rest of you when Tim threw in the "You're not making menswear" caveat, and momentarily even thought that the designers would be making something for the most rugged-looking drag queens of all time, until the wives and girlfriend showed up in the workroom.
Nonetheless, this was a great challenge. The key to doing well here was really how adept one's boyfriend or husband was at articulating their significant other's style. And this is probably trickier than one would think, because straight men can't shop. (If this episode didn't help prove that, I don't know what will.)
The situation kind of reminds me of that reality TV show where two people date in the dark and each tries to blindly guess what the other person looks like based on personality alone, and then once the lights flick on, they are either pleasantly surprised or running for the exit. If whatever these men conveyed about their partner's wardrobes didn't match reality, a designer was headed to the exit.
Viktor's client should have had it easier than anyone. His girlfriend's sense of personal style was clear. We know she's spent some quality time at the local Anthropologie, whereas Bert's client tempted me to just go ahead and call this blog post "What a Boob." I'm still trying to recuperate from watching husband Anthony motorboat a dress form, no less the fact that I got paid to write the word "motorboat" just now. But we move on ...
Anthony Ryan's client was a dear. The fact that he knew enough to use this challenge as a way to come across as a hero on national TV by replacing his girlfriend's two lost dresses was precious. Marry that man now, Caitlin!
Olivier was so petrified by boobs that he had to ask Tim Gunn for clarity on what the words "Double D" meant (hilarious moment alert!), and then was so overwhelmed by his clients' wishes that I think he got a bit railroaded. If he didn't end up being safe in this challenge, he for sure would have had to defend a garment the client didn't really like and neither did he.
It looked as though he pulled a P. Diddy and sampled the vibe of Kimberly's winning garment for the Nina Garcia challenge (especially the back), and was stuck on that yellow fabric that made a cameo in his Harlem School of the Arts challenge dress until Tim snapped him out of it. That may have ultimately saved him. And the fact that his model worked it out on the runway. (P.S. Did you see that RING?!)
Joshua's "Ode to Betty Draper" dress really surprised me. He showed a lot of restraint in not bedazzling the crap out of that thing, and the client certainly adored it.
But, I ultimately disagree with the judges' decision. Viktor should have taken this one home. I feel like Joshua just created a beautiful dress for a girl who loves beautiful dresses. That could be any girl. I don't think it was indicative of who she is. Viktor really hit the nail on the head from, as Bryce accurately noted, head to toe. Her look and her personal style were in harmony.
As for Bryce being given the big adios, I must say I didn't totally hate his pink-pocketed dress. Yeah, the fit was wonky, but if the girl enjoys oversized pockets and wants to use them as personal cubbies, have at it, sister!