This week’s episode made me cry and call my mom. After last week’s awkward tension, which led to that rather ugly argument between Dexter and Cornelius, our designing dolls need a warm hug from home. So when Tim and guest Barbara Shipley, Senior Vice President of Brand Integration at AARP, invite the designers’ loved ones into the workroom, it’s no surprise that nearly everyone dissolves into a puddle of tears.
Barbara and Tim explain that this week the designers will have two days and $250 to create new looks for their loved ones’ next chapter in life. The winning designer will receive $25,000 and the winning designer’s loved one will also receive $25,000. The stakes are already so high when designing for someone you love but this huge cash prize takes the challenge to a whole new level.
The designers and their loved ones spend some quality time eating and chatting about potential looks and inspiration. Most of the designers are right on track, including Mah-Jing, who is re-connecting with his mother for the first time in what seems to be a long time. Jenni however, is having trouble pinning her mother down to one focused idea. Amanda, Jenni’s mother, suggests creating a look for everything from a date night look to a workout class. Jenni is left with too many options and not enough inspiration.
After spending some time at Mood, the designers head to the workroom. As they begin creating, their loved ones come back in for fittings and critiques with Tim. Cornelius has the right idea with a rope print and asymmetrical skirt for his mother. Tim also takes a moment to reflect on the events of last week and reassure Cornelius that he deserved to stay in the competition.
Mah-Jing’s hip-hop and Japanese street style fusion look is going to take some time but could wind up being amazing. His concept stems from an origami inspiration and the idea of folds are very present in his sketch. Whether he can execute the sketch in the time allotted is debatable, but I’m all here for watching him try.
Jenni’s sporty dark grey sweater and yellow printed pant are mismatched according to Tim, but perfect according to her mother. Jenni is torn between the client and the mentor, but ultimately feels that making her mother happy is the best option.
Laurence is creating a leather jacket for her lovely daughter and Tim questions repeating the material. Laurence curtly explains that when she’s done with it, the jacket will be a one-of-a-kind.
Roberi is creating a look for his best friend, a graphic designer with a new studio, to wear to her own opening. The organza he’s chosen from Mood is strikingly beautiful and has the potential to bring a “wow factor” to the look.
Nathalia is designing separates, including a leather and wool jacket, and Tim worries about how much time executing a perfect jacket will take.
Erin uses the concept of a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly for her mother’s jacket and dress. Tim explains that the baby blue she’s chosen for the dress and the familiar shape of the jacket may be problematic for Erin on the runway. Erin chooses to ignore him.
Dexter is creating a dark green sweater dress for his best friend. It’s very cute but pretty simple for a Dexter original, which Tim points out. He explains that Dexter and his friend are two of the coolest people in the room so why not show that off?
Finally, Rik is creating a black dress and checkered black-and-white jacket for his mother to wear and feel strong in as she continues her education. There are lovely accents of red throughout the look and Tim gives his nod of approval to an enthused Rik.
The next morning both Jenni and Nathalia are worried about fit. Jenni laments that she can’t just check the size of the pant on her dress form because it doesn’t have the same measurements as her mom. Petite Nathalia tries on the jacket she made for her also very petite mother and realize that it’s extremely oversized, as are her pants. The day of the runway, Jenni’s pants are too big for her mom, which she says is an easy fix. Meanwhile, Nathalia’s mom is drowning in material and there’s no time to drastically adjust the look. In fact, Nathalia runs out of time before she can even finish hemming her jacket and has to send it down the runway with pins holding it together. Speaking of the runway…
Heidi introduces our pals Zac, Nina, fashion and beauty expert Olivia Culpo and Birchbox co- founder and CEO Katia Beauchamp. Katia is also an investor on “Project Runway: Fashion Startup.” Finally, Tim joins the judges on the runway as usual as the mentor.
Roberi: Using the motivation of a special cocktail party, Roberi has created a very sweet sleeveless, v-neck, knee length dress for his friend Suky. The top portion is a graphic black and white print and Roberi has strategically piped in coral lines. From the waist down, the dress is a teal organza with a bit of volume that is extremely flattering on his friend. She looks like an edgy and professional artist, but most of all she’s looks confident. Olivia Culpo points out that the color makes her blue eyes pop and the fit is absolutely spot on. Zac and Katia appreciate the textile combinations that Roberi chose. Heidi calls it perfection and Nina calls it sophisticated.
Rik, the winner: Rik’s mother Delia has recently returned to school and his goal was to create a look like made her feel strong and professional. And while he didn’t vocalize this, I think that he had a third adjective in mind: loved. He made a black knee-length dress with Mariachi-inspired white stitching and a small heart detail at the chest. He also made a short-sleeved black-and-white tweed jacket with red leather detailing at the pocket and around the edges. The tweed has a waxy sheen to it that makes it look just that much more expensive and fashion forward. Nina calls the look “dignified,” and notes how well the proportions fit on Rik’s mother, Zac compliments Rik’s mother’s runway walk and appreciates that the look can work in any number of situations and Heidi says that it looks expensive.
Mah-Jing: Inspired by the strength of his mother, Bahamadia, who recently started her own record label, Mah-Jing created a black kimono style shiny leather jacket and a drop crotch pant. Underneath the jacket she wears a long-sleeve black mock turtleneck. The Japanese street style, origami and hip-hop influences are all very apparent in the overall look. Nina calls it “badass,” and as she explains that his mother’s power is reflected in the outfit Mah-Jing created, he starts to cry. Zac says she looks like a leader. Overall, the judges feel that the look achieved its goal of making her feel confident, intriguing and a little intimidating in the best possible way. My favorite comment about the look is from Bahamadia herself who says it, “depicts what I feel on the inside.”
Erin: Inspired by the recent changes in her mother Whitney’s career, Erin has made an oversized, casual grey cocoon coat and a blue dress. With the coat closed, Erin’s mother looks like she’s wrapped in a giant piece of light grey felt. Underneath, the baby blue dress is fitted and actually, not the worst silhouette for her mom (who has a great figure and might look good in most things she wears), but Erin has added a second, frilly, lacy, flowery textile over all but the center panel of the dress. Had Erin made some different textile choices for the dress it could actually work really well, but instead it’s confusing. Nina doesn’t understand how the two pieces relate to each other, Zac says it looks like she’s wearing two different seasons and Heidi says it doesn’t look like it was made with her mom in mind.
Jenni, the loser: Hoping to make a work-appropriate but casual look for her pre-school director mother, Amanda, Jenni created a sweatshirt, t-shirt and pants. The sweatshirt is dark grey with black beaded appliques and a rib-knit, sporty cuff. Underneath is a plain white t-shirt but it’s a bit too big and bulky for the sweatshirt on top. On the bottom, Jenni tried to reconcile the fit of the cropped beige and yellow printed pants, but they’re still extremely loose in strange places. They’re not falling off of her mom, but they’re not flattering her figure, either. The pairing of the top and bottom together is odd; it doesn’t look like they belong together or on Amanda. Heidi calls it the worst look on the runway because it is “juvenile,” and Zac doesn’t like that the general vibe of the look lacks professionalism. Katia brings up a good point, musing that maybe if the construction was perfect, the confusing, mismatched, eclectic feel might be interesting, rather than distracting.
Nathalia: In an attempt to create a comfortable and stylish travel look for her mother, Sory, Nathalia created a wide-leg maroon trouser, a billowing white cap-sleeve top and black and white leather jacket. None of which actually fit her mother. Nina explains that the proportions are overwhelming for her mother’s petite frame and the other judges agree. Heidi is unhappy that in two days Nathalia hasn’t finished the jacket’s hem, which is still pinned in places. The concept of each piece makes sense for her mother and the story Nathalia is selling, but the fit of the look and unfinished hem are inexcusable. Her graceful, beautiful mother says in response to the critiques, “Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn.” Nathalia is a lucky girl.
She’s actually lucky in more ways than one because she’s in, despite the fit of her outfit. Instead, the judges decide that ultimately Jenni missed the mark the worst and it’s going to be really quiet in the workroom now that we’ve lost that signature laugh. Meanwhile, Rik, who has made it clear since the beginning that ultimately he wants to repay his mother for the way that she has supported him throughout his career, wins the challenge and the $25,000 for himself and additional $25,000 for his mother. Though something tells me all $50k is going to the darling Delia.
Happy to have had such a sweet episode to pick all of our spirits up after what happened last week, but now I’m ready for more delicious drama! Until next week my friends, keep it fashion!