The Project Runway Blog
Category: "Episode 12"
It's the final countdown! We're down to Dom, Alexandria, Justin, Bradon, and Helen, who are whisked away by Tim to Sweetbriar Nature Center. Surrounded by butterflies, they learn about their next challenge from Billy B., L'Oreal's consulting makeup artist. Their task is to create an avant-garde look -- experimental, daring, cutting-edge fashion -- completed by hair and makeup by L'Oreal. Suggested budget: $500. 30 minutes to shop at Mood.
Midway through their workroom time, the designers are presented with an additional challenge. They have to choose one of the looks that got their fellow designers eliminated and rework it. "When the judges look at the transformed look," Tim says, "they have to believe that it came from this point of departure." The gang snaps up the looks they want. In a bold move, Justin decides to reinvent the look that got him eliminated originally. Helen grabs Kate's awful mess from last week and Dom picks Jeremy's misguided jacket-and-dress combo from the Belk challenge. Alexandria uses Miranda's plaid pegged pants and blouse. Meanwhile, Bradon picks Sue's unconventional-materials dress, then balks when he realizes how little fabric was actually involved in the original look.
Off to the runway, featuring guest judge Emmy Rossum:
Bradon - He wanted to capture "the frantic energy of the silent but energetic butterflies" (okay) with ">this buttery soft midriff-baring white sculpted gown. The avant-garde look is totally up Nina's alley. "Every angle is an interesting angle!" she exclaims, clearly thrilled that someone remembered to make their garment editorial. Zac: "I went gaga for it, and I think Gaga would probably wear it." They're impressed by the level of detail. They love that it's a bit outlandish without being silly. The judges gush over the reworked dress, too. He wins the challenge, which automatically gives him a spot at Fashion Week.
Dom - This season's queen of patterns chose to mix a few different ones in tribute to the cross-breeding butterflies they encountered. The judges adore Dom's avant-garde look, and are even more excited when Dom reveals a low-backed jumpsuit underneath her structured jacket. "The World of Dom. I see a brand," Zac says before complimenting the way Dom breaks up prints. Emmy's so excited about the coat that she tries it on. Remembering how much they hated Jeremy's losing look gets the judges pumped about the changes Dom made to it. Dom's easily safe and through to NYFW.
Alexandria - Her reworking of Miranda's losing pants-and-blouse combo gets mixed reviews. Surprisingly, Nina digs this one, specifically praising Alexandria's decision to lower the waistline of the pants. Heidi doesn't like that it seems like a punk costume. As for the avant-garde look? Heidi loves it, calling it goth and sexy, and Emmy appreciates the hand work and the intricate details. Nina's not a fan ("It's like the butterfly that got stuck in a spider's web") and Zac is pretty much over Alexandria altogether: "I can appreicate the different techniques that you work in; however, I don't find it that transporting or that magical or that beautiful. I think you're very talented but the looks were not successful for me today." I get the vibe that Heidi is the only judge keeping Alexandria around at this point. Your mileage may vary.
Justin - Justin was inspired by an albino butterfly for his avant-garde look, a black jacket over an intricate white dress. Nina says it's the best work she's seen from him all season. Zac is impressed by the "penne velvet cording" on the jacket, though he and Heidi both agree with Nina's earlier assessment that the details and finishes are a little on the messy side. They're also pleased with his reworking of the dress that got him eliminated originally. "It was hideous before," Heidi says, "but you've made this so sophisticated."
Helen - Based off a butterfly's fluttering wings, Helen's avant-garde look is a form-fitting orange gown. We've seen this shredded effect from Helen before, but not in a bright color like this. Zac: "It sort of felt like a carrot in the grater." Nina and Emmy also think the color is too much. The reaction is really sort of like a group shrug. But Helen remade Kate's losing look and the judges are really into it, way more so than the avant garde. They dig the simplicity and cleanliness of it. "Chic," "elegant," and "modern" are other adjectives thrown around.
It's that time again for our remaining designers to wax poetic to the judges about why they should move on to Fashion Week. There are a lot of tears! We've whittled the season down to a bunch of softies. Interestingly, none of the designers picks Alexandria as someone they feel should accompany them to the final round. (Dom, meanwhile, had everyone's vote.) During the judges' follow-up chat it's clear that my earlier vibe was right and that Heidi is really the only one on the panel still invested in Alexandria. It's sort of inevitable, then, that no one is eliminated this week. Dom and Bradon move through to Fashion Week, and Alexandria, Justin, and Helen are moved into a bit of a holding pen: They'll return home and build out collections as usual, but will then compete against each other for the remaining spot(s) alongside Bradon and Dom.
How do you feel about this week's looks? Whose reworked look most impressed you? How do you feel about the lack of an elimination? Which of our bottom three do you think will move forward? Let me know 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 Stanley's confession that as a little boy, he wanted to be a vampire. I am not at all surprised by this.
We ended the last challenge on a weird note. Michelle was on the verge of elimination until a last-minute reprieve from the judges, and now we see the follow-up to their "You have one last chance!" threat. Heidi and Tim meet the designers on the runway to explain that for this challenge, they'll be creating high-end runway looks with a budget of $1000...and finding inspiration and fabrics in Europe.
Unlike in previous seasons, when the whole gang would pack up for the same exotic locale, each of our final five is headed to a different fashion capital. They'll be accompanied by an eliminated designer acting as travel buddy/sewing assistant. I can't remember another season in which auf'd designers were called upon for help so often, so I'm glad Amanda, Richard, Samantha and Kate were given a bit of a reward in the form of a super-quick Europe trip.
The tickets are dispensed: Layana to Barcelona, Patricia to Paris, Daniel to Berlin, Stanley to London...and Michelle to good ol' New York City, where she'll have to atone for her sins in the previous challenge. Womp womp. She handles this disappointment with an understandable mix of resignation, bitterness, and turning-lemons-into-lemonade enthusiasm.
Watching the rest of the group gleefully jaunt around Europe is refreshing. They seem excited and inspired, and the shenanigans they get intotrying to buy fabric on a steep exchange rate; finding iconic spots in which to sketch and discussmake for a nice change of pace, not to mention a nice change of scenery. And later on in the episode, the judges (including guest judge John Legend) have an interesting discussion about art vs. fashion while debating which contestants should get to move forward. But sandwiched in between is some intense workroom time and a very solid runway show. Let's talk about the looks:
Stanley - "A woman tucked away inside the dark, dramatic Tower of London" is essentially Stanley's story behind this garment. It's not a flashy look, but the judges love the pop of sequins lining the dress, and Stanley gets compliments on the sleek capelet.
Michelle - On her NYC sightseeing tour, Michelle spots the patterns left on the sides of many buildings from old fireplaces and chimneys and incorporates those ideas into a quilted patent leather harness/breastplate and a strapless cashmere-wool dress. Heidi dislikes the messy quality of the dress hemline ("It looks like a dirty horse blankie," HAH), but otherwise the judges are impressed.
Daniel - A geometric, modern building inspires Daniel in Berlin, and Amanda encourages him to work that into a design for a hipper woman. The result is classic Danielstructured jacket, black dressbut with a more current sensibility than he's known for. The judges love it, and unanimously praise the way the look evokes the city to which Daniel was sent.
Patricia - I like Patricia's intention to emulate the rougher edge of Paris, rather than the uber-romantic ideal many of us are used to, and I'm surprised that this lookone of the more accessible pieces she's ever donedoesn't get a better reception from the judges. Nina is underwhelmed at the oddity of it ("It looks like a collage you put together with paper-mache") and John Legend dislikes the lack of the character in the slacks. Heidi likes it, though. (Patricia is really becoming a point of contention between Nina and Heidi, which could prove interesting as we head into the end of the season.)
Layana - It might've been best for Layana to avoid mentioning that she was inspired by older architecture in Barcelona because the judges latch on to "old" as their primary issue with this look. I am so into the print and piping on the coat, but the judges rightfully call Layana out for its matronly length and the ridiculous sleeves. But Layana isn't phased: She loves her work.
Heidi asks, as she does every season, why each designer feels he or she should go to Fashion Week, and which other designers should accompany them. Michelle and Stanley get the most love here, and combined with their solid work in this challenge, they're shoo-ins. (Stanley gets the challenge win.) Daniel and Patricia are also picked to move on, leaving Layana to be eliminated.
Which look was your favorite? Which do you think best encapsulated the city that inspired it? How are you feeling about the final four? Let me know in the comments.
When I first got wind that this episode was titled "In A Place Far Far, Away," I immediately thought the designers were either grabbing their passports and taking a private plane to a wonderfully fabulous foreign country...or that they were designing dresses for Disney Princesses. So you can imagine my surprise (and utter disappointment) when I saw that instead, they took a shuttle van to a castle...Long Island. (Fun Fact: Kevin Jonas and his wife Danielle got married at Oheka Castle, as did Joey Fatone and his wife Kelly.)
The designers were told by Tim and Billy B. from L'Oreal (Who sorta looked a little like Ted Danson, no?) that their challenge was to create an avant-garde look not only inspired by the castle, but by L'Oreal's new Electric Fantasie line. Each designer was given a palette from one of the makeup sets (Artsy Muse, Enchanting Queen, Seductive Temptress, and Wise Mystic) to use as their muse. (Okay, so maybe when I thought Disney Princess earlier, I wasn't so far off. Tim kept referring to the pallets as "ladies.")
Annnnnnd the pressure is on. I feel like an avant-garde challenge is the perfect way to wrap up the competition. It basically gives the designers a free pass to, as Tim would say, design the s**t out of a garment, with very little restrictions. And honestly after last week's children's clothing challenge, I think the designers have really earned the right to be as creative as possible. But it seemed like instead of taking this challenge and running with it, they all put their avant-gardes up.
I think the designers were so fearful that they would get cut this episode, that they all over-thought the entire challenge which Tim delightfully pointed out during his first check-up. He had the poor designers shaking in their boots. (Even the normally confident Christopher!) His "two days to make a look that would normally take two months" line slayed me.
As the episode progressed, I specific worries for each designer:
-Fabio: What was he going to do to fix that coat? (Well, before he turned it upside down.) And boy shorts? Oye.
-Melissa: Another high-neck? She's making herself a one-trick monkey, as Dmitry would say. -Dmitry: A suit is avant-garde? Would you like some sneakers, socks and a scrunchie with that?
-Christopher: Is he creating a dress for Angelina Jolie's new movie "Maleficent"? It started to become borderline Disney evil witch at one point.
-Sonjia: Where is the Adam to her Eve? I felt terrible that she lost her gold fabric, but the kelly green does not scream seductress. At all.
But as always, despite my worries, the designers always seem to turn it out. Whether it'd be for good or bad, that's your call.
There's been very few times this season that I've disagreed with the judges, but I definitely think Melissa should have won. She's had a rough few weeks and I think she finally got herself together and created a look that was a nice balance between her aesthetic and avant-garde. It was chic, colorful, the print was fun and her leather work was fantastic.
There's no arguing that Dmitry's craftsmanship is impeccable, but his outfit was boring to me and was definitely not avant-garde. I 100 percent think that he deserved to go to Fashion Week, but his look this challenge did absolutely nothing for me. (Sidenote: Dmitry's little, "Yeah!" after Heidi told him the good news was super adorable.)
Christopher also deserved to right to show at Fashion Week. If I was sure of anything going into this episode, it was that with four wins this season, Christopher was a shoe-in.
As for the final two designers left on the runway, Fabio and Sonjia, I was torn if one, both or none should go home. Throughout the season, they each had their strong and weak moments. I thought the judges brought up a good point that none of Fabio's looks really stood out in the minds, and that Sonjia never fully performed to her potential. At the end, Sonjia was aufed. For a second I thought the judges were going to pull a Gunnar and cut no one, but I was wrong.
I’m the type of person who rises to the occasion when the finish line is in sight: finish strong or go home. With Fashion Week one challenge (and three looks) away, the designers FINALLY have the payoff for little sleep, close quarters and crazy challenges on the horizon, so why do I feel like everyone phoned this challenge in with just good work and not great work?
Anya, Laura Kathleen, Kimberly, Joshua and Viktor create three looks inspired by Governors Island, varying from sculpture to architecture, with the help of some blasts from the past: auf’d designers.
Becky would be my choice, based on her sewing skills alone, no matter how well I worked with someone in the gigbillionty team challenges of the past. The key to this challenge, and really the door to Fashion Week, was finding the best sewer/seamstress/patternmaker to help execute three cohesive looks to show the judges “I belong here.”
Kimberly’s three looks had something going for them in a big way: They were her point of view. You know a Kimberly look when you see it, and that has never been a question this whole season. She knows herself and she knows the woman she’s dressing. Whether or not that woman would be wearing all three of these looks, I don’t know, but it was enough to get her through. I was surprised she struggled so much with the jacket, considering she chose Becky to assist her.
Anya’s sculpture-inspired looks actually looked better on TV than in photo form. Being able to see them in motion on a body was the most appealing thing about them. They’re not flashy clothing; they’re thinking clothing. A smart woman who wants to look effortless, yet put some serious thought into her wardrobe, wears those clothes. As Michael mentioned, it’s good to see her varying from her vacation/resortwear and into another direction by this point. However, the velvet ropes to Fashion Week were lifted here in part thanks to Bert’s construction skills. He mitigated the snafus that plagued her in the previous challenge by helping her execute the looks she was envisioning. And, truly, their aesthetics are not dissimilar. They both love clean, simple silhouettes that have a big impact. But, Anya can out-style him any day, which is why she is as strong a competitor as she is.
Viktor made three totally fine looks, and as the judges mentioned, they would be on every shopper’s receipt if sold to the masses. But was this the “wow” moment we all know he’s capable of? No. He has proven to be so consistent this season and obviously knows his way around a sewing machine. We were missing the magic from the recipe, and that’s what he’s so good at. I hope to see that come back in his final collection — and some of those leather jackets and tailored moments he’s known for ... if only for my own selfish, closet-filling reasons.
Joshua’s white cocktail dress was the only look I appreciated from his mini-collection. And, really, when the finish line is that close, why send a look you’re admittedly not happy with down the runway? That “Peggy Sue Got Married” baton twirling dress had no business walking down the runway with the white cocktail stunner. Those two ladies would never sit at the same lunch table. His third look was way too Statue of Liberty for me, and the fabric choice was all wrong. But Joshua will ultimately get through because the man knows how to put on a show.
Laura Kathleen’s three looks had the opposite effect of Anya’s for me — they looked better in photos. Maybe I was sucked in by all of the mesmerizing circles, but it certainly made a loud statement. I think if she had more time to play out how she would create these pieces, we’d have a different final four.
Did you love Episode 12? Piperlime has behind-the-scenes exclusive video with the designers who made it through to Fashion Week. Check it out here: http://www.piperlimeblog.com