The Project Runway Blog
Category: "Episode 13"
5 designers. $9000 each. Six weeks. Two last-minute challenges (an unconventional-materials look and a Tide-sponsored washable look). Four spots at New York Fashion Week. Let's do this.
This is a busy episode for Tim Gunn, who spends the first part of the 1.5 hour telecast jetting around the country to visit our designers and the second half with a bruised and battered face from an awful-sounding fall down a flight of subway steps. A moment of respectful silence for Tim, please. He's maybe one of the most selfless humans in all of reality television.
Dom - Tim heads first to Philadelphia to meet with Dom. Her print-heavy collection (which she's working on when she's not hosting at a local restaurant) was created under the influence of "Blade Runner" -- lots of greens and purples based off watercolor-and-ink pieces Dom created. The designs earn praise from Tim, though he's concerned at how behind she is in actually executing her looks. He helps her decide to use knits instead of silks and jaunts away.Bradon - In Los Angeles, Bradon introduces Tim to his spring-inspired collection, on which he seems to be making decent progress. I admit to being a little perplexed at the mishmash of muted florals and metallic silky neutrals that seem to dominate Bradon's looks, but Tim is pacified. And then he's literally Pacif-ied when Bradon and his fiance Josh and their dog Eddie take Tim to the Pacific ocean! Ugh, that was an awful pun attempt. I apologize. Let's move on. Alexandria - In San Mateo, Tim meets up with Alexandria. Her "neo-nordic" collection is based on her mantra of edgy, strong, and modern. She has boatloads of pieces (thirty, I think?) to show Tim, all of it muted but very detailed, with lots of separates for mixing and matching. She takes Tim to her super cool kids' sewing camp, Camp Couture, where he gets to see the hilariously on-point series of ugly dolls the kids made to resemble this season's "Project Runway" designers. (Timothy's is called Unicorn Doll, of course. Sue's has dreadlocks! They're fabulous.)
Alexandria's three looks are met with squeals of glee from Heidi (no surprise whatsoever on that front) for being accessible and cool. "I want to have all of this," she says. Zac calls the looks "luxe" and compliments the professional detailing as well as the individualism of Alexandria's three models. Nina is less impressed. "When you put a show for New York Fashion Week, these clothes are going to look like anything. Do you have the goods to present something wow?" And on closer look, Zac smartly observes that all the elements Alexandria has used are just a shorthand of what's cool at the moment. Helen - Our tatted diva is camped out at her home in Union City, New Jersey, where Tim gets a sneak peek at her collection, which is based off the concept of clairvoyance and a blown-up photo of her boyfriend's eye. She's working with red, greys, and black, and focuses intensely on the cocoon cape concept that got her so far this season. "Where's the excitement?" Tim asks, and frankly that's a question that viewers have been asking of Helen for ages; her work is solid and wearable but seen in succession it's clear that Helen is a bit of a one-trick pony.
The looks she sends down the runway almost offend the judges. Nina and Zac slag on the "tortured" quality of her sleeveless print dress. "Spooky" and "contrived" are tossed out, too. The trio express surprise at the lack of easiness to these clothes, that the design seems forced, and poor Helen gets tongue-tied trying to explain herself. It's her worst crit yet. The consensus: Helen might be a little too young and a little too inexperienced to show a full collection. Justin - Tim's off to Raleigh, North Carolina. Justin shows him the 3D printing machine that he's using to create accessories for his collection, which are meant to help illustrate his theme of sound waves. His collection combines greys and whites with hand-painted details and the aforementioned accessories.
Justin shows the judges a gown (his unconventional look), a shorter dress, and a pantsuit, which is wise: The judges appreciate the variety of silhouettes. Heidi and Zac frown at the wigs used on the models, and Zac also notes that some of the details need to be cleaned up, but along with Nina they seem very impressed by the cohesiveness and modernity of his looks.
Justin is tapped to move on. With the choice between Alexandria and Helen, the judges decide to allow Alexandria's more polished and interesting work through to Fashion Week. That means that after churning out competitive work all season, Helen is finally auf'd.
What say you? Are you surprised to see Helen miss the mark? Of our final four -- Alexandria, Bradon, Dom, and Justin -- who do you think will stand out the most at NYFW? Let me know in the comments before we head into our final episode!
Want a refresher on the season's winning looks? We've got a gallery ready for you right here.
Exclusive! The Season 12 designers pick who they think had the Top and Bottom looks each week!
We're down to the Final Four: Stanley, Patricia, Michelle and Daniel. Heidi and Tim sternly remind the designers that "now is not the time to rest on your laurels," and that "any one of you could win this"! The four each receive $10,000 to create a 12-look collection for Fall 2013. They'll show three looks each to the judges, who will then choose three designers to show full collections at Fashion Week. And with that, they head home to detox from the cameras and get to work.
It's time for home visits! Tim heads out on a cross-country trip to check in on the final four and critique their collections. In Taos, NM, Tim meets Patricia's family. "People enjoy our celebration [of] our culture," Patricia explains, "but then they don't want to be intrusive, so that's what made me think of [making] contemporary clothing." In her (huge!) studio, she presents Tim with the seeds of her collection; his advice is for her to back off from her more literal tendencies. Stay away from the arts and crafts, Patricia!
Tim jets off to Portland for a meal with Michelle's husband, brother and parents. He confesses to speaking on Michelle's behalf after a few "dicey moments" with the judges. She shows off the beginnings of a wolf-inspired, dark-hued collection, to which Tim responds favorably. "Just don't over-design!" he whispers on his way out the door.
Time for Daniel, whose hair has grown out like a Chia Pet. In his Austin studio Daniel describes the melting pot of inspiration for his collection: the cosmos, astronomy, Salvador Dali and surrealism, and his trip to Berlin. Tim seems to dig a lot of what Daniel has put together, but he also has a viscerally negative reaction to many of Daniel's other ideas. Which is...probably not good.
On to West Hollywood, where Stanley is putting together a very dramatic, opulent group of garments that Tim cautions must be edited well in order to be effective. The only problem Tim really has is with a discordant orange dress that Stanley agrees to get rid of. Over lunch with Stanley's partner and niece, Tim tells him that the other designers see Stanley as a force to be reckoned with.
Back in NYC and back in the workroom, the designers unload their collections and get to work making adjustments and finishing things up, with special help from Amanda, Richard, Layana and Samantha. The rest of the episode is a lot of busy-busy workroom stuff. Tim comes in to critique again. Michelle notes that Stanley has an enormous amount of work left to do and very little time in which to do it. Layana and Samantha gossip about the uneven quality of Patricia's looks. But let's get right to the runway!
Michelle - I confess that Michelle's aesthetic is right up my alley, but even if it wasn't I think I'd approve of these pieces. They demonstrate an attention to detail and cohesion that wasn't totally apparent in Michelle's earlier work this season. The judges compliment the mini-collection's wearability and the incorporation of different fabrics, but Nina asks that Michelle refrain from adding too many unnecessary details, namely the messenger bags and the compasses. Heidi also hints that she'd like to see more color. Michelle easily moves on to Fashion Week.
Patricia - I was very curious to see what Patricia would produce with more time and fewer constraints. The horsehair cape with leather pants is a total knockout, and might be my favorite thing that Patricia's ever sent down the runway. But that grey dress with the gaudy necklace and scarf is horribly misguided, and the sequined blue dress is one of those divisive looks that can make or break a runway show. The judges go back and forth, acknowledging the merit of Patricia's artisanal techniques but hesitating over the thought of her sending out a collection that lacks cohesion and maturity. But they err on the side of generosity, and Patricia moves forward.
Stanley - Stanley's interest in and skill with luxe, ornate fabrics are his saving grace after showing these otherwise "blah" looks. Zac and Nina both decry the proportions and the dated styling, with Zac taking a moment to call Stanley out specifically for not producing anything more interesting in his time away from the show. "Chic banal," Zac calls these looks, and the other judges seem to agree. But Stanley's done too well this season (and impressed the judges too often) not to move on, so he's confirmed for Fashion Week as well.
Daniel - These looks are a far cry from the white, red, black and light blue ensembles we saw in his studio space at home. Heeding some of Tim's advice about staying away from unexciting colors, Daniel chooses to emphasize his use of stingray. But showing three all-black ensembles that mirror work you've done before is certainly not the way to convince the judges that you belong at Fashion Week. The judges are bored, and Daniel is auf'd.
Here we go! Off to the final runway show of Season 11. How do you feel about the final three? Who of the eliminated designers do you wish would have made it this far? Were you as bored by Stanley and Daniel's capsule collections tonight as I was? And based off what we saw in this episode, whose collection will come out on top next week? Let me know in the comments.
The Fab Four? The Fierce Four? Either way, after a season of ups and downs, twists and turns, it has cumulated to Christopher, Dmitry, Fabio and Melissa representing Season 10 at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. But of course, in true "Project Runway" fashion, their road to the big runway was anything but smooth...which fans got to watch play out in this week's episode. Instead of breaking down the episode bit by bit, I'm going to break it down by designer (a la Mila Hermanovski), because if you watched the episode [SPOILER ALERT], you know that all four designers make it to MBFW.
(I now welcome you to the interactive portion of this post…)
Christopher was the first designer to face the wrath of Tim Gunn on home turf. His family was just lovely they sipped tea with Tim. Precious. Upon first glance, I was impressed with Christopher's progress. It's very my style, and I've gravitated toward his looks all season. But I also initially thought that he needed to step outside the box some more and push the envelope. (i.e. Using bleach on leather). I also thought using his mom's X-ray was a bold move and pretty damn creative. I was confused, however, as to why two out of the three looks he sent down the runway were booty shorts. Seeing as though Tim raved about two of his jackets during the home visit (the studded-leather and structured coats), I was shocked to see that neither of those pieces made the cut. However out of all the designers, I thought Christopher had the best styling.
First off, if I didn't know that Fabio's sick work space actually belonged to his friend, I would have been super confused that Freegan Fabio had such luxurious digs. If I'm being honest, all season Fabio's clothes have never been my style. But that being said, his creativity and vision for his collection was off the charts. I don't think I've ever heard of "Cosmic Tribalism" in my life, but I'm a believer now. The dyeing? Fab. The draping? Fab. The shoes? Not so much. (Can you imagine someone accidentally stepping on your toes while wearing them?) They scared me almost as much as the blunt bangs that Fabio's models wore on the runway. I think he showed the most diversity with his collection (I like that he did a pants outfit, skirt and dress), but I really had a hard time seeing past those bowl cuts. Oye.
Dmitry was working on his collection just a hop, skip and jump from where I live. Had I known, I would have put on my "Project Runway" super sleuth gear and scoped out the collection. Or at least would have tried to grab a cup of coffee with the Wonder from Belarus. I don't care if you do or do not like Dmitry's clothes you can't argue with me for one second that they are not impeccably made. I truly think that his craftsmanship has given him an edge up on the competition all season. And as Dmitry put it, he's very "confident" in his collection. He should be. I thought the judges made a really good point that Dmitry has to watch his styling and try to make it "younger." They said you don't want the look to be so busy that you don't know where to focus, and I agree with that. (I also want that white dress.)
Throughout the entire season, Melissa has stayed true to herself and has really showed who she is a designer. Her collection is no different. However, I don't know if that is a good or bad thing. Don't get me wrong, I've very much been Team Melissa all season and I think her collection had some strong pieces, but it's Fashion Week! You don't want to play it safe. I can appreciate leaning towards the cautious side, but as Heidi said it didn't "knock me off my chair." I do think her collection was the most consumer and wearable. (PS: And how adorable is Melissa and her boyfriend?!)
All three judges echoed that sentiment to not just Melissa, but to Dmitry, Fabio and Christopher: if this was you're only chance to ever see your collection walk the runway, would you regret not showing your "best" pieces? All four said yes. Luckily, all four get a second chance.
Home visits. The time when Tim Gunn can play detective and do some spying on our behalf to see how the finalists are doing with their collections. Gone are the days when Season 1 winner Jay McCarroll had a leisurely four months to stroll around his native Pennsylvania and ponder the meaning of life before starting his collection. This crew has a matter of weeks to figure out sketches, fabrics, styling, hair, makeup … well, you get it.
First up, Brooklyn … er, Maryland! (Or maybe she meant Brookland?) Kimberly is hard at work on some looks that I'm not completely sold on, but you can see she knows exactly who her girl is (as usual) and where she's going directionally. I'm distracted by the minty beverages her family is sharing with Tim at the dinner table, but glad to see she seems confident and hungry for Fashion Week.
Tim goes on his first international home visit to Anya's hometown via boat, yet lets me down by not wearing mandals with his suit like he did in Season 6 out in L.A. Speaking of being let down, Anya has either completely dropped the ball or really loves to procrastinate when she shows Tim a whole lot of nothing. No sketches, no garments. Just a bunch of fabric bolts and some muslin. Basically, she showed him Island Mood.
If you've ever seen Tim Gunn concerned or worried, which happens often on "Runway," I don't think we've ever seen him this concerned. At least in a scenario like Seth Aaron in Season 7, Tim was worried by 30-something garments that existed. Tim is worried by figments and hopes and dreams of what will walk down a runway in New York's Lincoln Center. This is DEFCON 1-level "This concerns me" territory.
Back on the mainland, Tim swings by Viktor's workspace to see quite the opposite: a lot of progress. Not only does Viktor have his most of his collection completed, he created his own fabrics from photographs he took with a deeply personal story behind them. And we see the beginnings of what looks like an amazing white leather jacket. (And we know how I feel about Viktor jackets!)
Final stop, is Joshua's home base in Queens. We learn that Josh was not kidding about his track star past in the New Balance challenge when we are blessed by several slow-motion stills of a longer-haired version of himself leaping in the air with wild abandon. Tim is back to his worrying ways when he looks as though he wants to light one of Joshua's fabric choices aflame to protect the masses. As more and more garments in the collection start failing the litmus test, Joshua realizes that he has some big changes to make in a hurry and needs to play to his strengths. Oh, and edit!
As the designers finally arrive to a swank penthouse as they settle in for Fashion Week, Tim announces that the designers must narrow down their collections to three looks that will convince the judges to send three (yes, three) designers through. (We knew there must have been a catch somewhere!)
Viktor, Anya, Joshua and Kimberly are eyeing each other's pieces around the room and one thing is clear: Anya is in trouble. Whatever "trouble" is expressed as a number, times 68, times infinity, TROUBLE. Her details are unfinished and the garments look as though they were a Summer Reading assignment done at 1:30am the night before the first day of school. Meanwhile, Viktor is playfully stroking the luxe pearls sewn onto his this-looks-like-you-need-a-black-AMEX-card-for-that leather jacket. The man is on his game, and on it big time.
Kimberly is trying to sort out which looks she should showcase for her mini-collection for the judges, and Joshua is smartly deciding to hold back his neon moments for a later time. Here goes nothing!
Anya is trying to put on a brave face as her fellow designers are clearly showing her up in the execution department as the clothes come down the runway. Heidi has been pulled into the tractor beam of Viktor's white leather jacket and may have to hope that he really does accept the the titanium black AMEX in her wallet because she doesn't want to give it back. Nina, however, remains laser-focused and questions the leather ode-to-zippers hula skirt on his other model. Michael is once again giving Viktor a hard time for his accessory choices (a pair of sunglasses? Really, MK?), but it's clear that Viktor is going through to the finale.
Joshua has smartly shown his more subdued moments from his collection and demonstrated that he has an eye for tailoring that he wasn't credited for enough during the challenges and is also put through.
Kimberly's big-butt bubble skirt and styling choices has put her into the danger zone, but it's clear that Anya's lack of sewing skills is screaming so loudly next to her, our final three are apparent. Or are they?
Surprise! All four go through!
Yes, yes. I know.
And for once, I actually agree with something Joshua said.