Season 5, Episode 10 Recap: Rebel with a Cause

I think Kini said it best: “At this point, good is going to go home, great is going to stay.” We’re down to six designers, which means no one will be safe sitting backstage and waiting to hear the fate of their competitors. Sam says he’s fine with it because he doesn’t like being safe, which is about as cliché a line on a reality competition show as, “I’m not here to make friends.”

Alyssa, in some tight leather leggings, explains that this week they’re continuing the “Project Runway All Stars” tradition of giving back. I just tried to combine the words fashion and philanthropy to come up with a fun new buzzword but I just wound up with “filanthropy.” Sorry, I tried.

The designers sit on those cushy black leather couches while Alyssa introduces Yvonne Niami, founder of n:Philanthropy. Yvonne explains that n:Philanthropy is a women’s apparel company that gives 10% of its profits to fight pediatric cancer through the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

The Challenge: With $250 each and one day to work, design a summer look for a modern, sophisticated client with a badass edge. The winner of this challenge will design an exclusive look for the n:Philanthropy summer line. All profits from the look will go to funding children’s cancer research.

I love when the riff-raff clears out and there’s time to hear each designer’s process from beginning to end. Ken believes that he already designs for badass women (as does everyone else) and he goes for a bright summertime palette. I love that he’s breaking his own color mold. Asha thinks about Josephine Baker’s rebellious spirit but then sketches a strappy dominatrix-y dress that I don’t think Josephine Baker would ever wear. Emily, arguably the most badass designer left, is thinking power suit, which is so right I can’t stand it, and Kini is thinking genie pant, which can go horribly wrong fast. And while Sam is picking a distinctly summer fabric (seersucker), Dom is not into restricting herself by season (brocade).

In the workroom everything is going relatively well. Dom expresses a concern that her lamé skirt, while very light, might read as too heavy. Emily plans on hand-painting her vest but needs to be careful not to screw everything up when she does so. And Sam is doing another jumpsuit. He thinks he can make the seersucker fabric look badass, which (he says) is more impressive than making a black fabric look badass. Okay Sam, I’ll believe it when I see it.

When Zanna shows up with Yvonne, who is wearing a cool as hell black leather dress with fringe, the two of them spend some quality time evaluating the designers’ progress. The overall note is that most of the designers have forgotten to keep the look summer-appropriate.

Zanna puts the fear of God in Sam, warning him that he should absolutely not send a design down the runway that the judges have seen from him before (*cough* duh *cough*). Sam rips apart his jumpsuit with two hours left in the day. To his credit, the new direction he chooses is definitely different from his usual aesthetic, but his initial fabric choice can’t be undone, so he ends up draping what Dom calls “a jumpsuit for a breastfeeding mother.” Ack.

Kini, trying to break free from the banana disaster he’s created for himself, decides to dye his yellow tweed jacket black to create an ombré effect. I don’t know if he intended for the jacket to turn green but I’m having the worst déjà vu because I did this to my hair once. (About two weeks ago, in fact. I’m still recovering.) Luckily for Kini, the dye dries a kind of grey-green color that looks way better on a jacket than the sea-sick green locks did on my head. None of this matters anyway, though, because he doesn’t end up using the jacket at all.

With seemingly minutes until the end of the workday, Ken takes apart the top he has created, calling it ugly. On runway day, Ken is still not sure how to make the top sophisticated and badass. He and Asha commiserate about being stressed as they sew. Asha says, “Bonnie and Clyde are gonna be the last ones sewing.”

With seconds until the buzzer (ah, where were my sports references last week?) Ken throws his top out again! After a series of expletives he cuts a piece of the same cream fabric the pants are made from and drapes a top on his model. In my humble opinion, it looks incredible, especially against his model’s beautiful skin.


Looking like a princess of a far-away planet on “Doctor Who,” Alyssa introduces Georgina, Isaac, the incredible actress Debi Mazar, and our “Runway” pal Zac Posen.


Sam: It’s a red, white and blue fitted seersucker jumpsuit. While explaining his look, Sam tells a story about a girl who is forced to go to a party in the Hamptons by her mother while dressed in one of her mom’s old suits. Isaac says Sam gave it “almost like a Baby Björn kind of look,” which I think he means as a compliment. Georgina likes it but wonders if it couldn’t have had more movement. Debi appreciates the flat shoe. Zac is unsatisfied with both the look and Sam’s defense of it, and Alyssa doesn’t see “badass.”

Emily, the winner: White paint-splattered flowy black culottes and a structured black and white asymmetrical vest. She’s given the model a blunt black wig that covers her eyes, in one of the few times this season so far that someone has gotten creative with styling! Alyssa says she wants to be this girl. Georgina appreciates the shorts and the deconstructed treatment of the look. Zac doesn’t like the shoe choice (white open-toed booties), and Isaac says it makes him feel old-fashioned. What a compliment!

Kini: It’s a white halter top (actually pretty similar to Ken’s, now that I’m seeing it up close) and yellow/silver high-waisted genie pants. Debi and Zac love the overall vibe of this girl. Georgina is “perplexed” by it. Isaac appreciates how edgy Kini has gone. I bet his model is so comfy in this look.

The Bottom:

Ken: A long, wide-leg, tailored cream pant and matching backless halter top with a wide coral leather belt and a strip of the same material running down the part in the model’s hair. Georgina likes the look apart from the “cheap” leather belt and Debi thinks the top of the halter is too thick. Zac doesn’t think it fits the prompt and Isaac takes issue with the length. Ken bites back a little at Isaac’s criticism because, as we all know, Ken doesn’t take criticism particularly well.

Asha: Mentioning Josephine Baker again on the runway (why?!), Asha’s dress is made of a wild tribal-patterned fabric with oxblood leather straps all up the neck and around the back and a sheer fabric to make the neckline look both nude and not nude. Georgina says it’s too buttoned up, Alyssa loves the back, and Isaac says it doesn’t read as summer. Debi says it feels dated and that Asha is trying too hard to be badass. I think the problem here is that Asha has been looking at Dom’s looks each week and thinking she somehow has to match that organized chaos look, but doesn’t have quite the same eye for it.

Dom: Influenced heavily by her time working in cancer research, it’s a silver dress with big sleeves, a deep V-neck, and a super high slit. Debi thinks it’s elegant, Zac says the slit is too high, Isaac calls the top aluminum foil, and Georgina points out that the skirt looks too heavy. Honestly, she looks like a glammed-up Tin Man.

Emily wins the prize and Asha is sent home. I loved Asha’s exit. Yeah, the dress was all wrong, but she did some really kickass stuff this season and she’s right to be proud of all she’s done.

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