Last night’s episode of Project Runway was one of the stranger I can recall seeing in all ten seasons of this wacky design and sewing safari we know and love. After the dust settled, my major question was: have these people never seen PR before? Did they not expect that it would be an emotionally draining experience? The answer to both questions appeared to be “no,” as nearly every contestant seemed to be mid-nervous breakdown or teetering on the verge of one.
In summary: everything unraveled. Andrea disappeared in the middle of the night, then sent an email saying she was quitting. Kooan declared he was leaving for vague and incomprehensible reasons. Fabio started weeping and said he wanted to leave but wouldn’t. The producers brought Raul back because, in Tim’s words, the competition must be kept fair (or because, in my words, they needed to make sure they had enough contestants to film their pre-planned number of episodes). In any case, the workroom was crazy this week, and with so much drama off the runway, the clothing shown on the runway seemed lackluster in comparison. Let’s discuss.
The Challenge: The designers headed to Michael Kors’s flagship store where Tim tasked them with designing an outfit for a “woman on the go” that was consistent with their own aesthetic. Everyone kept stressing that the look had to be “in their own aesthetic,” which I found odd. Aren’t the designers supposed to create everything in their own aesthetic? It’s not like Tim has ever opened a challenge by saying, “designers, please create something highly derivative of McQueen.”
Anyway, armed with these maddeningly vague challenge parameters, the designers set off to Parsons to gather supplies. While none of the finished products were trainwrecks, I found most of this week’s designs underwhelming.
My Top Three:
- Gunnar: I hate to give props to anything created by Satan’s bitchiest minion, but I liked this dress and thought it deserved better than middle of the pack. The color palette was unique and the skirt was interesting.
- Sonjia: The grey was a little muted, but I loved this garment and agreed with the judges giving Sonjia the win. To my eye, the dress fit perfectly and the way Sonjia worked the fabric was gorgeous. Perhaps it wasn’t a revolutionary dress, but all the effort and detail here were fabulous, particularly the little ruffle in front. Nina called the look “conservative yet sexy,” and I concur.
- Ven: Ven has a look, and sometime soon (mark my words), the judges will begin to criticize him for always sticking to that look. But, my thought is: why change something when it works so well? This was a cool dress, with a nice silhouette and pretty pleating on top. I also liked the zipper work – it added an edgy and unexpected element to the design.
My Bottom Three:
- Raul: This was just weird – a pair of oddly-fitted pants with a jacket that resembled a pointy apron pinned to the front. The more I look at them, the more the fit of the pants bothers me. If Raul wanted to prove his skills as a menswear designer, making this garment was not the way to do it.
- Elena: Like Ven, Elena has a very specific, very distinctive aesthetic. Sadly, that aesthetic appears to be “gothic space alien.” The coat here was just plain bizarre – who would wear something that bulky? Completely impractical, and even if she was going for avant-garde, there’s nothing special about this design.
- Melissa: I want Melissa to be one of my favorite designers, but for that to happen, she’s going to need to experiment with a shade other than black. I saw this look and thought, UGH. Just stop with the sad black, Melissa. Beyond that, this garment was shapeless; the model looked like a hobo who was wearing every item of clothing she owned on her back.
Bitchy Lines of the Night:
- “Can I be blunt? It looks sad.” (Tim to Nathan, delivered in the patented Tim Gunn tone of mournful incredulity).
- “I think Raul has no point of view, to be honest, because everything he does is just a mess. He needs to go home again.” (Ven, clearly in the running for this season’s Miss Congeniality prize).
- “It looks like a hairdressing smock. She was cutting her hair, there was a fire in the beauty salon, she belted it, and she ran out in her zebra dress.” (Michael on Buffi. I live for Michael creating fanciful little stories like this).
Random Bits + Pieces:
- Tonight’s guest judges: Hayden Panettiere and Rachel Roy. I’ll let you guess which is which, but one of these ladies is a legitimate fashion authority and one is not. On second thought, I’ll just tell you: I was impressed by Roy’s thoughtful critiques and underwhelmed by Panettiere’s (failed) attempts to say anything of substance.
- “Way to be immature, Andrea” says Gunnar, himself the very picture of maturity.
- Buffi began growing on me, personality-wise, so naturally she was the designer sent home. I’ll miss her ridiculous (faux?) accent, her bubbly disposition, and her colorful albeit highly questionable personal style.
- Sonjia, with her gigantic hair bow, seemed to be channeling the ridiculous fasteners favored by Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. But, you know what? I kind of dig it – Sonjia, unlike Buffi, has great personal style, which bodes well for her design sensibility.
- I was baffled by Christopher’s unsolicited advice to Buffi. Thanks for the “constructive criticism” buddy, but it’s kind of condescending to question Buffi’s choices and say she should use your fabric instead.
The Result: The judges sent Buffi home in an auf-ing foreshadowed throughout the episode. I would have preferred seeing Raul sent home again, if only because I find Buffi more entertaining (clearly a legitimate basis on which to judge a design competition).
If you watched last night’s Project Runway, what did you think? Will Melissa, Dmitry, and Elena ever discover the rainbow of colors that exists beyond basic black? Will any of the other designers crack under the pressure? And who will get sent packing next week?