You guys, the designers got to go to Medieval Times this week! When I was a kid, Medieval Times was the coolest place, just dripping with decadence. From the giant turkey legs to the pretty plastic gem-encrusted dunce cap things you could buy for $50 at the gift shop, I was all in. And even now, as a pacifist vegetarian who has since learned about the Plague, I have a special place in my heart for the jousting knights of Medieval Times and their damsels in distress.
The designers walk to the center of the fog-filled stadium, abuzz with 15th-century excitement. Introduced as the Queen of “Project Runway All Stars,” a majestic Alyssa dressed in royal blue rides in on an equally majestic horse and describes this week’s challenge.
Bring the beauty of the Baroque period into this century by creating a couture-inspired gown in two days.
The designers sketch while the knights put on a show for inspiration. At this point I throw my historical fact-checking hat in the garbage because who cares and also that hat is ugly as sin.
After sketching, the designers head to Mood with 30 minutes to shop and $300 in their hot little hands. They all go for expensive fabrics they would otherwise have no business buying. Alexander thinks he’s got a leg up in the competish this week because of his background in designing for the theater, but he and the rest of the designers had better tread lightly to ensure they don’t wander into full-blown costume territory.
The workroom might be indoors but a thick shade falls over the room as Ken jokingly suggests that Sam make yet another jumpsuit, adding that he’s made eight jumpsuits this season so far. Sam laughs. “Eight jumpsuits in five challenges. I am impressive!” To which Mitchell pipes in, “Well, don’t forget Kini made one of them.”
Then everything goes so tense you would need a machete to hack through it. It’s very lonely at Team Sam headquarters.
It’s around this time that Sam realizes that he has a fabric problem. His floral material is riddled with holes (purposely) and he needs to make sure the model’s unmentionables remain unmentioned. (She is not a naturist.) Happy-go-lucky Dom approaches Sam with a clever solution: Strategically layer some of the flowers in the spots that need covering. This interaction makes it easy for Kini to be annoyed all over again, because of course he assumes Dom will not end up with the credit for her idea. But Dom seems entirely unbothered because she’s lovely and easy breezy – or maybe because she doesn’t see Sam as a threat.
The designers spend the rest of the day talking about Sam and what they don’t like about him. He says he doesn’t care, but unless he’s a robot, it’s got to be taking a toll.
Day two begins much the same way day one ended, with Sam asking Dom for help and everyone else yapping their traps. Zanna! Get in here and referee this mess!
Zanna has major reservations for the group as a whole. She says that most of them need to reevaluate whether their looks can be classified as modern takes on Baroque inspiration. During his critique, Sam takes credit for Dom’s idea, just as Kini predicted. But would you admit to your mentor that you couldn’t design your look on your own?
Then there’s Mitchell, who reveals that he has decided to make greaves – basically a fashionable version of an old-timey shin guard. Zanna seems impressed and excited at the prospect. But Mitchell fumbles the ball on game day. His zipper busts and he didn’t finish the greaves. He’s hoping the judges understand, citing “these things happen” as his get out of jail free card. I would say there are no free rides, but with the way the judging has been going this season, the elimination issue is not so clear-cut.
Alyssa floats onto the runway serving up a lite version of Angelica Houston in “Ever After” and I’m digging it. She introduces a particularly frilly Georgina and Isaac in an ascot, plus gorgeous supermodel Coco Rocha and Marchesa’s co-founder Keren Craig as guest judges.
Ken, the winner: A curve-hugging dark reddish brown floor-length gown with a high collar and dramatic cape. It’s shiny and catches the light on the runway in all the right ways. She looks like a strong, evil queen, and the female judges love it, but Isaac says it’s not his taste.
Sam: It’s a pretty, flowy black and white floral gown with a high halter collar and pearl trim. Coco appreciates his strategic flower placement, giving him another chance to credit Dom, but he simply says, “Thank you.” Georgina points out that he is the only designer to have produced something light and feminine, but I would argue that this comes from a misunderstanding of what “baroque” means. That being said, I love this dress and there’s no doubt Sam has made it well.
Valerie: It’s a cobalt blue long-sleeve floor-length gown with a pleated skirt. Georgina points out that Valerie has taken the corsetry lines and put them on the outside of the top, thus perfecting the much elusive underwear as outerwear trend. The judges love it.
Layana: It’s a mustard and black long-sleeve dress with strong shoulder accents and brown underskirt, which kind of looks like a bed skirt rather than actual clothing. Layana has created a grid pattern in black trim on the chest, which is very King Arthur. Keren does not care for the color combination and Isaac says it looks factory-made – and not in a good way.
Mitchell: A great look…if you’re a gladiator. It is beige with a messy black triangle pattern. The long and short of it is, the look is both long and short. And he’s left out his much-anticipated greaves, so his open-toed bootie shoe choice is all the more offensive. He’s also full of excuses on the runway, which tends to be the kiss of death.
Alexander: It’s a black boat-neck gown with pearls. So many pearls! Too many pearls. This dress is not from medieval times, it’s from the 1950s.
So Ken finally gets his win! Deservedly, I would say. He is gifted with the opportunity to design a look for Marchesa’s upcoming collection. And poor Mitchell leaves the runway for good.