Project Runway season 19
E P I S O D E O N E
Hello sports fans! It's been way too long since I've done a Ryan on the Runway post. I looked back in my archives - - the last one was in April of 2020! Oh, the humanity.
Is this really the 19th season of Project Runway? Many of the designers are super cocky, so I guess some things never change. Heavy sigh.
The first challenge: two teams, they each create a cohesive collection of monochromatic looks. One team was using warm colors, the other cool colors. And an interesting twist, one team worked in the morning and one in the evening.
Darren: angered me right off by saying that Lincoln Center was “a continent unto itself.” Not really, honey. At the end of the second day he had a meltdown and was on the patio smoking in the final minutes while Bones made his dress. Not good. We'll see more of this, I'm sure. Mind you: this is the FIRST EPISODE.
Meg: love her energy, her attitude, her mouth! And bravo that she shared her history with mental health issues.
Zayden: the only man on his team. Snaps to him for deciding the best strategy was to fly under the radar and not cause any trouble.
Bones: a bit of a blowhard but has the talent to back it up. Background as a dancer, no surprise there.
Shantall: you had me at “palazzo pant.”
Octavio: I can’t decide if I like him. His hot red mustache definitely bothers me.
Caycee: was inspired by movie fashion from the 40s through the 60s. I support that, but will the judges?
Chasity: crack me up, she asked questions to the room and heard crickets chirping. Live and learn, honey.
Sabrina: wow, she’s from Afghanistan! That’s special. And she said that their girl is “going to Costco.” OK.
Prajje: very little screen time, which will probably mean he’s in the middle.
Aaron, Kristina, Coral, Kenneth, Anna: ditto.
The concept that the Warm Team chose was “dinner and a show.” Is that idea drippy or droopy or both? The Cool Team didn’t do much better - - their concept was either “a flower” or “a bow.” Either way, a one-way ticket to Yawnsville.
Guest judge: the marvelous Jason Wu.
The Warm Team was the winning team. Top three looks: Octavio, very bold. Bones: this was a surprise, I thought the top made her boobs look funny. And ouch, Darren: in a dress that was actually made by Bones! It took Darren a minute to admit that Bones had made it.
Bottom three looks from the Cool Team: Sabrina. It looks like it took ten minutes to make. Caycee: shapeless, sloppy, unfinished. Not good. Chasity: dull. And the bow was stupid. Love that Nina said she had “choked.” Oh yes.
The winner of course was Bones. I thought the dress he made for Darren was a bigger win - - it would have been great if the judges had given it to "Darren" but actually given it to Bones! That would have been historic.
And the auf was Caycee. Too bad because I liked her energy a lot.
E P I S O D E T W O
I was glad they did a recap of the previous episode, I had forgotten so much. It was a busy week for me, but then maybe it’s that it’s just plain forgettable? Is that uncharitable or just honest?
The challenge: make a streetwear look that consists of three separate pieces. A few of the designers were put out by that - - oh dear Lord, THREE separate pieces! Such a big ask! How on earth will I do it!
They got more details on the challenge from the guest judge, Tik Tok star Wisdom Kaye. I’m not on Til Tok but he’s super cute and his look is rad fresh. An expression I just invented, dawg. The designers will be working with male, female, and non-binary models. Right on cue, one of the designers says, “I’ve never done menswear!”
So much cigarette smoking this season. Is PR sponsored by the Philip Morris Agency? Later in the episode Darren was out not the patio using spray paint while smoking. Um, hello! Do they have a fire safety coordinator on this show? If not, do they need one?
Meg was the drama queen in this episode, it was Real Housewives of the Project Runway Workroom. She started by having a “Look how woke I am about racial issues” conversation with Prajjé. Ill advised. You can have that kind of conversation with your white friend Becky - - you do NOT have it with a Black man from Haiti.
In the workroom. Prajjé mentioned to Christian that he was disappointed that he ended up with a white model. Christian spoke with Coral and she was OK with trading models, so everybody was happy.
Meg had a little meltdown when Christian expressed his worry that her bland color palette would be a yawn in the midst of all the zippy colors and prints the other designers were wearing. She assured him that she could do something that didn’t read Old Man. This meltdown was a mere aperitif for the coming meltdown.
Kenneth saw Prajjé and Coral trading models and decided he wanted to trade models with Meg, so he could have an Asian model. She ended up saying yes but oh wow did she have a lot to say about it. From my point of view, either you say Yes and shut up or you say No and stand your ground. The drama got major, Meg dropped the F bomb to Kenneth about five times. It turned into a shouting match between Prajjé and Meg about their “woke” conversation that morning. Part of this shouting match happened over Zayden’s head at his sewing machine. Awkward!
Meg left the workroom, said she wanted to take off her mic and go home. Then Kenneth was crying. Oy. The next day Christian had a Gather ‘Round moment and announced that Meg had decided to extract herself from the competition. She said the intensity of the show was not good for her mental health. She made this realization in the second episode!
Kenneth wanted to honor the love and support he got from the other designers - - he did this by incorporating fabrics from the other designers in his design.
A propos of nothing, I realized last week that PR no longer has a host. Did Karlie Kloss decide to auf herself? Did the producers need to save money? It seems like Christian and the judges (welcome back, Nina) will be picking up some of those duties.
The runway was full of ideas this week so I decided to write about each of them.
Darren: Christian said to him (and I quote), “You’re gonna make your own look this time, right?” Didn't turn out so good for him.
Katie: Christian was concerned that her look was too costumey. I say cue the clown music! Yikes.
Prajjé: bravo, very strong. Very street but still sort of high fashion.
Chasity: I know very little about streetwear, but her look didn’t seem like street to me, it felt more MTV Video Music Awards Red Carpet.
Aaron: I liked it, especially the jacket.
Sabrina: I didn’t like the wacky straps.
Kenneth: he said early on he wanted to do “luxe street.” Well honey, that look was sloppy and dull, neither luxe nor street.
Kristina: more than anyone else, her outfit had a silhouette and an attitude. I loved it.
Shantall: very strong and sexy.
Octavio: oh yes, he took a big gamble with the mask and the unusual shapes but I thought it paid off.
Anna: what the hell was that? It was like Alexander McQueen doing ready-to-wear. But the reveal of the skirt coming off, that was exciting.
Coral: maybe too understated? She specializes in evening wear, maybe she didn’t quite know how to pivot to the street.
Bones: rather sloppy but probably safe.
Zayden: he said he was inspired by growing up on the south side of Chicago and more than anyone, his model really looked like a real person who was walking on a real street!
ON THE TOP
Zayden, thank you. Nina said that each piece could stand by itself, which says a lot. Zayden got emotional, clearly this challenge meant a lot to him.
I got the feeling that Aaron didn’t know if he was on the top or the bottom. He was relieved! Elaine said she wanted the whole thing. Aaron impressed the judges with the reversible jacket and convertible pants.
Nina loved that Prajjé used so much of his culture and his artistic sensibility in his outfit. It was stellar. But Elaine thought it was a little less wearable.
I was thrilled to see Kristina on the top, her look was so fresh and unexpected.
ON THE BOTTOM
Elaine asked Darren if he was proud of his look and you could tell she was perplexed when he said yes. But then guest judge Wisdom Kaye said he liked it, so clearly he was going to be safe.
Of course Katie was on the bottom. Brendan felt like it lacked modernity. Nina felt like it was a confusing silhouette, that the proportions were off. Elaine used the word “kitschy,” which was spot on.
Brendan asked Kenneth if he was proud of his look - - Kenneth said he was proud of the story but not proud of the overall look. His answer was evasive, it felt like he didn’t really want to tell the story. He started crying, Prajjé started crying, the judges definitely wanted to hear the story. The story came out. It was refreshing to hear Kenneth say that he agreed with the judges about being on the bottom, but the judges were touched that the other designers had been supportive of him, and sorry that he had been belittled by Meg.
The winner was Prajjé. I was surprised by that, he was my least favorite of the top four. I would have given it to Zayden or Kristina. Actually, I liked Aaron better than Prajjé too!
And our first cop out of the season: the judges couldn’t decide who was the worst of the three, so since Meg had auf’d herself, they didn’t send anyone home. I have my eye on Katie and Darren to go home soon. Watch, they’ll both end up in the final five.
E P I S O D E T H R E E
This was a spooktacular challenge. Did you notice the “Thriller”-esque music at the start of the episode? I did. Thank you. Christian started things off in the apartment surprising the designers in a vampire cape. Boo!
The designers are brought to the Bartow-Pell Mansion in Pelham Bay, which is allegedly haunted. Christian made a spectral video appearance giving the details of the challenge: create a macabre, “hauntingly chic” look with a mask. Not a costume. They’re supposed to be inspired by the haunted mansion. They toured the mansion and EEK! they spent the night there. All kinds of creepy business, like flickering lights and unexplained noises.
Off to Mood and what a treat to see Swatch! He’s an old boy, bless his heart. Christian was disappointed that nearly everyone was doing black or red. Yawn.
Back to the workroom. A question for you: is anyone else bothered by seeing a designer with pins in their mouth? That always gives me the heebie jeebies. Another question: many of the designers used fabric they had brought with them when they came on the show. Have we seen that before? One last question: I know that Bones is totally hot but is it appropriate for him to spend so much time shirtless in the workroom?
Guest judge: Taraji P. Henson! She is so super cute. And wow, she was a scream.
I liked how they did the reveal of the top and bottom designs.
ON THE TOP
Anna: fantastic, and I loved the creative solution for the mask.
Octavio: I liked it, it was risky but I thought it worked. The judges thought even though it was voluminous the proportions were right on.
Chasity: so beautiful, very high fashion. The judges were all crazy for it.
ON THE BOTTOM
Zayden: I’m glad he figured out the issue with the model not being able to walk. The judges had major issues with the construction and felt like he made a bad choice with the fabric.
Kenneth: I couldn’t quite figure out how I felt about it. Taraji felt it was confusing, Nina felt it was unfinished. Elaine felt it was unflattering.
Bones: major drama, and the model totally delivered. I was shocked that was on the bottom. Nina thought it was “showgirl.” Taraji pointed out the sloppiness. Nina: “It didn’t feel unfinished.” Brandon: “But it didn’t feel STARTED either!” Hilarious.
The winner was Chasity. I love that she was so shocked when they announced her name. And the auf was Kenneth. I’m sure Bones was pooping his pants.
E P I S O D E F O U R
The designers were brought to the workroom, which was decked out with flowers. The challenge: create a high end fashion look that embraces floral prints. Each designer will work with a graphic designer to create their own floral print.
The designers talked about their inspirations. Sabrina was inspired by her journey out of Afghanistan. Darren was inspired by Sponge Bob.
The designers got their fabric back from the printer. Some were thrilled, some were less thrilled.
Christian was full of saucy observations in the workroom. He was concerned about the area of the jumpsuit covering what Sabrina called “The Ding Dong.” She wasn’t sure that was the right term - - I would call it a Hoo Ha.
Christian said Darren’s outfit made her think of ladies in Palm Beach who’ve had a little wine and were now a little messy. Darren was fine with that description.
Christian described Katie’s look as “Doris Day goes to the mall.”
Guest judge: Gigi Hadid! Who was so cute.
ON THE TOP
Kristina: I was surprised to see her on the top. I felt like the underdress was too shiny and tacky looking but I love the fabric of the robe.
Shantall: again, surprised she was on the top. It was a sharp look but the flowers were invisible. Brandon was impressed that she lined the sleeves on the jacket.
Prajjé: again with the surprise! This was a little too Carmen Miranda for me. Nina was impressed with the placement of the print. Brendan said he had a “gay child moment” - - “Oh, she is so pretty!”
Who do I think should have been in the top instead of these three? Aaron. His yellow outfit with the big pant leg was marvelous.
ON THE BOTTOM
Darren: cheesy! He was surprised to be on the bottom. Nina felt that both the print and the design were a yawn. Brendan said Darren knows how to design but is not yet a designer.
Sabrina: wow, talk about taking a risk! I guess the judges didn’t feel it paid off. Christian encouraged her to ditch the skirt - - of course she didn’t listen to him and of course the judges loved it without the skirt.
Katie: sloppy, sloppy, sloppisiimo! Elaine pointed out that it was supposed to be “a high end runway look” and this definitely was not that.
The winner was Shantall with the invisible flowers! But the look was supreme. Darren was sent home. Total amateur hour. I’m sure Katie felt like God was smiling down on her. But maybe not for long, honey!
E P I S O D E F I V E
Brandon Maxwell. His name is Brandon Maxwell. I keep calling him Brendan by mistake, and I’m sure he hates that.
The episode started with some low-key “get to know the designers” moments in the apartment. Sabrina shared that she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was six and we saw her doing yoga and physical therapy. Octavio did Chasity’s hair. She requested that he put it in two buns and make it tight! It looked fabulous. Aaron said he was missing Darren, who had been eliminated in the previous episode. Prajée said Darren had been his roommate, “But you know what? People live and people die.”
The challenge was announced by figure skaters Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir. The winner’s look would be worn by them during their commentary for the short program at the 2022 Beijing winter Olympics. Johnny passed around cards that randomly paired up the designers - - one designer would make a look for Tara, the other a look for Johnny. Tara and Johnny’s bullet list of tips was a hoot:
Waist up design.
Make a statement.
Dress (Tara likes a dress).
Full *Hunger Games.*
Not too voluminous.
Special and unique.
They went to Mood, bought their fabric, and ran into the workroom. Christian had a gather-round to announce that he had the option of doing a Siriano Save at some point this season - - if he disagreed with the judges’ decision to eliminate a designer, he would override the decision and the designer would stay. I would love it if he surprised everyone with a Siriano Auf, where he would override the judges’ decision and save one designer while eliminating another designer. Wouldn’t that be major drama? How can I sell this idea to Project Runway? Baby needs new shoes.
Anna and Bones ran into a problem. They had left one of their fabrics at Mood. I was relieved that they didn’t do any, “It’s your fault! No, it’s your fault!” business, they just went straight to figuring out how they could make it work with the fabric they had.
The models arrived for their fittings. Some of the male models were on the hunky side, which I imagine would lead to massive alterations for the pencil-slim Johnny Weir.
Poor Sabrina had an arthritis flare-up which led to a small breakdown in the green room. Katie was clearly in trouble with her look, which was no surprise. Christian had some spot-on commentary, a lot of the looks were too Figure Skater and not really Figure Skating Commentator. You see the distinction.
Something I will never understand about this show: when they have a one-day challenge, why do they have two hours of sewing time the next day? And then sewing hems backstage while waiting to go on the runway? That is not a one-day challenge.
On to the runway!
Shantall: nice dress but the color was too muted.
Aaron: ditto, he nailed the aesthetic of Johnny but why did they choose such a dark color palette?
Prajée: a little too Real Housewives of the Ice Rink.
Sabrina: thankfully she was able to work out the Aladdin moment she was having earlier. I liked it but Prajée thought the jacket was too matador. Brandon described it as “Night at the Roxbury.” Crack me up.
Kristina: the dress was shapeless. Did she miss the note about “form fitting?”
Coral: good work for the Johnny look but maybe a little underpowered.
Chasity: cute but way too Figure Skater.
Zayden: love it! Perfect for Johnny.
Katie: total fail, the only interest was under the waist. Again, were they not paying attention when Tara and Johnny told them what they needed?
Octavio: I felt like the ruffles were too out there but maybe the judges will love it…?
Anna: wowie wow, such a winning look. Understated but full of impact.
Bones: that sheer blouse was heaven. Plus both looks worked so well together.
Nina announced how they came up with the top and bottom - - Tara and Johnny chose the top two and the judges’ overall scores determined the bottom two.
ON THE TOP
Anna and Bones. The judges felt like the icy white color scheme referenced the skating theme but didn’t really hit it on the nose, which was good. Brandon felt like the beading was so elevated in Anna’s dress, he felt like the more crafty placement of the jewels on Bones’s vest cheapened it, in comparison. He asked him to remove the vest and yes, it was much better.
Shantall and Aaron. I was surprised by that, because it was so dark. Tara and Nina were concerned that the dress was too bare on the top and short on the bottom.
ON THE BOTTOM
Sabrina and Prajée. Johnny felt like the men’s look was a “cartoon version of what a figure skater wears in performance.” Sabrina shared a bit about her physical and emotional struggle and Brandon wisely said that this should have been a moment where the two designers worked together and supported each other but that clearly didn’t happen.
Katie and Octavio. The judges felt like the man’s jacket was too extreme. If Tara were sitting next to that, she would be lost. Nina was disappointed that nothing that Katie does well was present in her design.
Anna and Bones were the winning team, with Anna being the individual winner. I was surprised - - Sabrina was sent home. I was sure it would be Katie. I saw Katie’s look as a much bigger fail. I felt awful that Sabrina was ultimately undone by her arthritis.
E P I S O D E S I X
I'm shocked - - it appears I didn't write about episode six! Mea culpa!
E P I S O D E S E V E N
Oh yes, an avant garde challenge using faux fur. Right from the start I could see things going very well and going very wrong! This is what we want from this show. And adding to the drama, the designers were paired up in teams of two. Kristina had won the previous challenge so she got to choose her teammate and she chose Shantall. Thank you, Button Bag. So much more humanity, having it be random rather than using the middle school basketball team humiliation, where someone is always the last to be chosen.
They went to Mood, the usual frenzy at Mood. Then would you believe they got in an accident in their van on the way to the workroom? Anna was covered in broken glass and bleeding at the nose, poor thing. Richard thought maybe she’d get a date with one of the EMS guys - - he’s so gifted at turning disaster into opportunity. Anna was sent to the hospital, checked out, and sent back to the apartment. The other designers were given the rest of the day off, the producers thought they might have been shaken. I assume the challenge was delayed one day, rather than having them lose a day…?
Kristina and Shantall: Christian thought their hot pink quilted dress looked like female genitalia. I thought it looked like a bedspread. Either way…
Coral and Zayden: they were inspired by their experience as minorities to put their model in a cage. The cagey head piece was super cool, the jacket was gorgeous but the skirt was a mess for a while. They figured it out and the final look was marvo.
Bones and Aaron: you know how they start the new episode with little clips from the previous episode? It seemed meaningful that they showed Aaron and Bones having a hair pull in the previous episode. Of course the Button Bag put them together. We all know how "random" the Button Bag is. Bones was concerned that the judges would think it was less avant garde and more “avant garbage.” Ha! And oh dear they had such an epic fight out on the patio. Awful, and so uncomfortable for the other designers. They patched things up in the workroom the next morning but I was curious to see how it would pan out on the runway. It would all depend on whether or not the damn collar would stand up.
Prajjé and Chasity: wow, their look was super sharp and unusual. The painted fabric in the skirt was fantastic and the way they worked the pink faux fur into it was super cool. And wow, their model totally delivered it on the runway.
Anna and Octavio: they went through a few goofy ideas with their cheetah print. They didn’t quite seem to know what they were doing and/or what they wanted to do, they went through many different permutations. The final result was sloppy and weird. Richard said, “I don’t think it’s crap.”
Brandon was at his brother’s wedding so they brought in designer Esteban Cortázar to take his place. And the other guest judge: Miss Billy Porter! Oh yes!
ON THE TOP
Zayden and Coral’s look had so much attitude. Billy said it was free yet structured. Elaine said it was the most wearable look they had seen, and that she could see evidence of each of the two designers in the look.
Aaron and Bones were in the top, they were greatly relieved. Nina felt like it was more of a costume, Esteban thought the necklace was one element too many.
Prajjé and Chasity’s look was such a wow. Esteban said it was couture, which is such high praise. Billy was concerned that she wasn’t able to walk but the model showed that she COULD walk, she just chose to walk slowly on the runway.
ON THE BOTTOM
The judges didn’t like Kristina and Shantall’s look. I liked it a lot, it was totally giving me a Verushska vibe, never a bad thing. Nina said it was clunky. Esteban thought the dress was too heavy, it should have been lighter to counteract the heaviness of the coat. And someone said a catsuit under the coat would have been ideal. Oh yes.
Anna and Octavio’s look was just a mess. Billy said, “There’s so much that I like about it and there’s so much that I’m confused about. I can see a lot of ideas. That’s what’s hard for me.” Esteban said she looked like a villain on The Flintstones! Which was not the challenge.
Prajjé and Chasity were the winners. Esteban made the point that it was a bigger challenge to make an elegant gown out of faux fur, it’s easier to do a coat. That, I think, gave them the edge. Chasity was given the win.
Shantall was sent home. I was surprised by that, I really thought the whole look was pretty cool, and furthermore, Anna and Octavio’s look was a bigger failure. Hm.
But what do you know? Christian used his Siriano Save on her. I was very happy about that.
E P I S O D E E I G H T
The challenge: create a comfy chic look that’s both luxurious and cozy. You can wear it at home on the couch but still wear it out on the town. A one-day challenge.
The designers were interviewed for the camera, asked what they wore during the lockdown. Amusing. Prajjé was my favorite: he sat around the house naked. Why waste clothes when nobody’s going to see you?
They went to Mood and we got a quick glimpse of Swatch. Love that little dog. Back in the workroom, the designers were having issues with the different sides of the challenge: some were too evening, some were too shlubby. Once again Prajjé had the funniest comment - - he said looking around the room it looked like “some were going to a wedding, some were going to a strip club.”
They had a visit in the workroom from Cyndi Lauper and PR18 winner Geoffrey Mac. They had some helpful suggestions, especially Mac. Some of the designers still seemed to still be struggling with the balance between chic and cozy.
The guest judge was Maria Cornejo, found and creative director of Zero + Maria Cornejo.
ON THE TOP
Chasity. Beautiful and breezy. Nina loved that it was three separate pieces that could work with other garments. Elaine liked the mix of girly and sporty.
Aaron: nice but a little ordinary. The sweater cheapened it. I was surprised they chose this over Shantall, I was crazy for Shantall’s look. But Elaine agreed with me about Aaron: she used the word “frumpy.”
Kristina: Nina said it was very Resort. Brandon felt like it bordered on costume. I felt like it was a little too tricked out.
ON THE BOTTOM
Octavio: I was surprised he was on the bottom, I thought it was a very cute jacket and I liked that she showed her undies. Brandon was not a fan of the super long sleeves, he said it was like a Slinky.
Prajjé: dull. That’s all I need to say.
Coral: too evening, not enough couch. The judges all agreed it was a sharp outfit but not an execution of the challenge.
Zayden: oh Lord that outfit did her no favors. Bulky. And too much going on.
Kristina was the winner. A surprise to me. I would have given the win to Shantall, who wasn’t even in the top! Another surprise: both Octavio and Zayden were sent home!
E P I S O D E N I N E
Anna had a hard time with Octavio being sent home - - she had a little monologue at the start of the episode and had a crying jag in the workroom later. Hey honey, that’s show biz. Your career will be built over the dead bodies of the people you killed on your way up.
The designers got a text from Christian inviting them to brunch at a bar next door. They shrieked at the words “bottomless mimosas.” Christian and Brandon met them at the bar to announce the challenge: make a cocktail dress using materials found in the cocktail bar.
The vibe was surprisingly well-mannered. No mania, no screaming, no fighting over a throw pillow. The workroom was full of waffling ideas, spray painting, burning plastic, and full on singing that was allegedly a tribute to Miss Patti LaBelle. I was more into Aaron giving a shout-out to Miss Myrna Loy.
Guest judge: designer Christopher John Rogers.
ON THE TOP
Aaron: oh yes, so gorgeous. The cape was off the hook. Nina called it “extremely polished.”
Shantall: YES, so fantastic. Looked like a real dress. The single sleeve was so daring. Brandon: “What kind of person just picks straws? That is a person who clearly has no fear.”
Kristina: it was too bare for my taste. Plus it looked stiff. I would have put Bones on the top instead of her. But Nina said, “I can feel the confidence in this design.”
ON THE BOTTOM
Chasity: cute shape but very unfinished. And parts of it were falling off on the runway (never a good thing).
Anna: crafty, sloppy, awful. Elaine thought it showed a lack of taste. Ouch.
Prajjé: better than in could have been! But many fit issues and the judges had feelings about the doilies.
The winner was Shantall and Prajjé was sent home.
E P I S O D E T E N
It had been so long since the previous episode, I was afraid I wouldn’t remember who anyone is. Then it all came back to me. A bit like a bad dream. But just a bit.
This was the “real client” challenge and their real clients were women from the Real Housewives of Orange County, Potomac, and New York City. The designers were designing outfits for their upcoming reunion show, which I guess is a big deal in the Housewife World.
Can we please put the word “real” in air quotes? Previous “real client’ challenges had, for example, the moms of the designers. That’s what I call Real. The housewives are Unreal. Which I guess is their whole appeal?
The designers met with the clients, took their measurements, and talked through ideas. The clients, were of course, full of opinions. The trip to Mood is full of compromises and new ideas which filled me with fear.
Christian visited the workroom and had lots of good advice. As always, it was a balance of pleasing the client and staying true to one’s personal vision. Coral appeared to be in the most trouble: she took the requests of her client and did the opposite on every bullet point. But whadya know, the client really loved it. Freaking miraculous.
Poor Kristina had a hard time with her client, she had a crying fit and had to go outside for a smoke. Her client had a gather-round moment with the other housewives to talk a little trash. Not pretty. Kristina tried to start the next day right with a glass of celery juice. Which is a cure-all, right?
The guest judge was of course the delicious Andy Cohen, creator of the Housewives franchise. It was fun seeing and hearing the designers scream and cheer during the runway show.
ON THE TOP
Shantall: so full of power, so confident. Brandon said the dress showed “a real understanding of women.” High praise.
Bones: cute little dress, well made, full of attitude. Andy said the dress looked like her. Nina loved all of the details on the dress.
Aaron: major drama and perfect for the client. Nina was crazy for the color, that hot pink was where it was at.
IN THE MIDDLE
Coral: isn’t a long dress off challenge? The judges felt like the beige color was too monochromatic and drab, it wouldn’t come across on TV. But I'm putting her in the middle because she wasn't in the bottom three.
ON THE BOTTOM
Anna: Real Housewives of Star Trek Voyager. Nina said it was poorly made and felt like the client had a hard time walking. Anna said that was her point, that she wanted the client to walk slowly. Okay…
Kristina: nice but a little underpowered. Elaine felt like the fabric choice was dated. The client said the final look was 95% Kristina’s aesthetic and 5% hers. Ouch.
Chasity: beautifully fitted, sophisticated but with oomph. Nina felt like the choice of black was a problem. I would have loved to have seen that same dress in purple.
Shantall was chosen as the winner. I would have given it to Aaron, I felt like his outfit was so much more extraordinary. Anna was sent home. If you do the litmus test between her and Kristina and chose the look that was the bigger failure, it was Anna’s hands down.
E P I S O D E E L E V E N
My dear friend Laura asked me to predict who I see as the winner this season. A fool’s game, to be sure, but I’ve never been anything but a fool. I choose Chasity. I’m not ruling out Shantall.
Coco Rocha! I have two Coco Rocha stories. First, I was going to an event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music a few years ago and had dinner at Subway down the street at Atlantic Terminal Mall, as is my custom. I still had little time to waste so I went downstairs to DSW, Dress Shoe Warehouse. And who came walking down the aisle but Coco Freaking Rocha. Seven feet tall, wearing a bright purple fur. She had a handler and they had their forcefield up, the one that says, “Back off.” Otherwise I would have said, “Coco Rocha, what the heck are you doing at DSW in Brooklyn?”
The other story: Richard and I were big fans of Fashion Police, we never missed an episode. In one episode Coco Rocha was being discussed by George Kotsiopoulis, Giuliana Rancic, and Kelly Osbourne. Joan Rivers stopped the conversation:
JOAN RIVERS: Wait wait wait wait wait. I have to interrupt. I have a serious question and the best way to pose it is to play a game with the audience. Audience: knock knock
AUDIENCE: Who's there?
JOAN RIVERS: Coco.
AUDIENCE: Coco who?
JOAN RIVERS: Coco Rocha.
AUDIENCE: Coco Rocha who?
JOAN RIVERS: Exactly, who is this girl, what does she do, why should I care.
I'm still laughing?
The challenge was to do an outfit for Rocha that would be used in an editorial shoot, shot in a brick-walled warehouse. The designers were told to choose one prop (from a set of props) to be used in the picture. There would be no runway for this challenge, the judges would only be looking at the photo.
The designers went to Mood and then to the workroom. Chasity, as winner of the previous challenge, was given first choice of the props. And UGH, she was told to choose the next person who would choose their prop. And that person would choose the next person. I HATE this grade school gym class scenario, it makes me want to retch. If I were Chasity's position, I would say, “OK, this is she way it’s gonna go down. I’m choosing mine first because I have that privilege, but then you guys are going to draw straws.”
Christian had his consultations with the designers. Thank you, Christian, for asking Bones to put a shirt on. Please.
Shantall had a lovely video visit with her husband, son, sister, and brother-in-law. So sweet.
Rocha had her first fittings and was full of helpful ideas. She knows better than anyone what makes a dress work for a photo shoot.
They were down to the wire and the designers who had finished were helping each other but no one was helping Shantall. I wonder how much of this workroom drama is manufactured and how much is authentic. In any case, they were creating a narrative and I was curious to see where it would go.
Hm, very interesting. The three judges watched the photo shoot and watched the designers directing Rocha. Chasity takes the prize for the best quote of the season, one of the best quotes in Project Runway history: “My price just went up, I used Coco Rocha as a model. Who are you. Nobody. Thank you. End it.”
The judges were no holds barred in the runway critique.
ON THE TOP Shantall: her key word was “passion” which totally came across. The judges felt that the dress, the photo, and her handling of the photo shoot were all first rate.
Coral: Elaine called her “a true artist.” They thought the dress was very strong.
ON THE BOTTOM
Chasity: Nina said she was inconsistent, “hero to zero.” She was also over the Disney story.
Bones: Coco felt like there were too many things to worry about in his outfit. And let’s face it, the photo was a failure.
Kristina: Nina felt like the outfit was a nice change from a gown, everyone agreed the prop was odd, but Elaine felt like in the end she pulled off the photo. Nina, on the other hand, was “offended with the picture.”
Shantall was the winner. Bones was sent home. He celebrated by putting a shimmery ‘do rag on Christian. Crack me up.
E P I S O D E T W E L V E
First off, could you believe the double biff I had in my Ryan on the Runway column last week? First the subject title was just plain "PR." Duh. And more horrifically, the column started with the words, "TELL OTHER COCO ROCHA STORY." Which was a note to myself and clearly not meant for publication. I. Could. Just. DIE.
This season is going by fast, am I right? Very interesting that 10 out of the 13 challenges had been won by the designers in the final four. That’s impressive. Wow, that gorgeous view from the roof of wherever the hell they are. They said Rockefeller Center which doesn’t really specify the actual building…
The challenge: create a look that looks to the future and makes the judges want to see their full collection at Fashion Week.
The visit to Mood was a perfect example of a complaint my dear friend Laura has: Christian gives too much advice! Tim Gunn would never be so overt in his advice.
They went to the workroom and met with two women from the CFDA, who counseled them on how to establish, define, and develop their brands. They spoke with them as a group and then individually. What a treat - - they have their individual meetings while looking at the looks they had created over the course of the season.
I have a question. Have there been any last-minute curve balls in the challenge this season? I don’t remember that happening.
Guest judge: Karlie Kloss. Nice to see her again.
Kristina: I wasn’t into it, it wasn’t high fashion, it was totally JoAnn Fabrics bargain bin and looked like it was made in an hour and a half. Nina thought it showed versatility but Elaine thought it was too reminiscent of what they’d seen earlier in the season.
Coral: gorgeous, so well executed and special. Coral spoke very passionately about her intention and her vision.
Chasity: beautiful dress, so fabulous. And Richard pointed out the great makeup, which was part of the challenge. Elaine felt like it was a little dated and felt like the clothes that Chasity was wearing were more modern and innovative than the gown she had shown. The judges asked her if she thought she would have made the final four and she got emotional talking about her journey to get there.
Shantall: full of attitude, love the back most of all. Brendan was impressed with the ambition of the design but he didn’t like the peplum. Karlie liked the peplum.
And the judges’s decision: ARGGGH! I am so over four people in the finale! Fed up with it! Clearly Kristina was the loser, am I right? The others all did so much better than her.
Wow, $10,000 and five months to create their collections.
F I N A L E
Maybe this was just for the camera, but it seems like the final four designers genuinely like and support each other. Am I naive? Don't answer that.
The home visits are always fun, right? Christian started with Shatall in Miami. Her collection was inspired by a Mexican goddess of a snake with feathers. She was also inspired by the Art Deco design of Miami. I loved the yellow suit with the woven panels of fabric. Christian was impressed with the technique but hated the pale yellow color. And her husband and her little boy? Precious.
Next: Chasity in Houston. Richard said, “Ugh, I hate Houston.” Thank you for your truth. Her work was interesting but completely unfinished. She seemed to be having a little crisis of confidence. Christian encouraged her to take her wild ideas and make them 100%. We saw her two daughters, her fiancé, her sister, and her mother. I got teary when her older daughter talked about how proud she was of her mother. Oh yes.
Off to Los Angeles and Coral. Christian loved some of the pieces but felt she needed to do more than macramé, he thought the judges would be expecting that and she needed to do something new and different. Her son made a little appearance and of course he was very handsome.
His last visit was Kristina in Queens. She was very methodical and deliberate in her process. She decided what her silhouettes would be, made photos of the twelve outfits, made some digital prints from photos of poppies and celery, and paired the fabrics with the outfits. She made Christian a celery juice and he was not into it. He said, “It tastes exactly how I thought it would taste.”
The four of them came back to New York. Coral said, “This is better than a dream!” They showed off their collections to each other and they were all wonderful and complimentary. The model casting was fun. No fighting, no pulling of hair. Christian looked at the looks on the models. Chasity had a lot of work to do - - beading to finish, hems to make, zippers to put in. What was she doing at home for three months?
Hair and makeup, product placement, yadda yadda. Christian told Kristina she could NOT send exposed boobies out on the runway. He encouraged Shantall to do something to sex it up, her collection was looking too Going to the Office. He asked Coral to be thoughtful about the order of the models. And he got Chasity to think about using an outfit that wasn’t a beaded gown.
Backstage at the show! Always so exciting! Shantall decided a red dress looked better on the model than a grey dress. She didn’t want to eliminate the grey dress, so she decided to wear it herself! Love it!
Christian announced that Elaine Welteroth was unable to be there, so the guest judge was Tommy Hilfiger.
Thank God she made the little bra for that white chiffon dress. The movement of the fabrics was divine. I wasn’t convinced by the hot pink jacket with the orangey red flower in the dress, I thought those colors together were blech. I thought the hot pink gown had too much going on. I loved the white gown with the molded bodice and the giant poppy on the skirt. The final look on the Hoverboard was a dream - - it wasn’t a gimmick, it was elegant and special. Richard asked, “Is this music something?” I didn’t recognize it, but thought it sounded like Stravinsky: The Dance Remix.
The judges: Nina thought show look was theatrical and conceptual. Brandon was not into the Hoverboard. Brandon liked the prints and said she had a good eye for styling. Tommy thought the prints were limiting, that the would not sell. Tommy also said her looks were relevant for today, but would they be relevant tomorrow?
The opening jacket dress was fabulous. The red pantsuit: fabulous. The black knee-length dress was deceptively simple, so beautifully cut, very Balenciaga. The grey suit was sharp. Love that she cut open the sleeves on the red pants outfit. The grey dress on the plus-size model, marvelous. I loved that her collection was so pants-heavy. The black gown with the long coat should have been the final look, incredible. The final black dress, very femme fatale. Her collection had lots of variety and yet was so cohesive.
The judges: She chose my favorite look to present to the judges. Tommy was impressed with the work, he said he didn’t know how she could sew it. Nina: “I was very impressed with the grey suit. Those pants mesmerized me.” She said, “Those clothes had elegance.” Nina said her motifs could be expanded.
The opening look: the skirt was too short and the front was too open. I liked the second look better, it was more tasteful. My favorite look was the beaded sheer jumpsuit with the big ruffled coat. The black gown with the blue ruffle, that was a red carpet look. But the collection on the whole was not as impressive as I wanted it to be. It was all too similar, it didn’t have a lot of impact.
The judges: She chose my favorite look to present to the judges. Brandon said her aesthetic was very HER. Tommy felt the ruffled pants were too heavy but Brandon said he would wear them on Instagram. Nina felt there was too much beads and ruffles.
I loved what SHE had on! Great choice to lead with the male model. Her warrior goddess concept was so interesting: hard and soft, delicate and powerful. I liked the white dress with the red highlights, the way it was pieced together was fascinating. The final look had me in tears! It was so powerfully Mexican but still modern and high fashion. The strongest single look in any of the four collections.
The judges: Brandon pointed out that her peers gave her a standing ovation. He loved that she opened with a man. He said the collection was “laced with soul.” Tommy felt that the tailoring was one idea and the macramé was another idea. Maybe two separate ideas? Tommy loved her mixture of indigenous influences and couture. Tommy asked Nina what she would buy and she mentioned three pieces!
The winner was Shantall! Don’t forget: she got the Siriano Save! She was almost sent home! And her collection was extraordinary. Brava to her.