Project Runway season 16

Episode One

A momentous day: my first Project Runway column that originates on my very own website!  One of those Big Girl Panties moments, I'm having a lot of those this summer with my website.

 

I loved the montage of highlights of the season, especially the way Tim ended it: "Unprofessional, unseemly, atrocious!"  To paraphrase a line from Woody Allen's *Deconstructing Harry,* he could run for public office in France on that slogan, and win.

 

The guest judges, I don't feel like I've heard of a third of them.  I am so out of touch, such a square.

 

A few early impressions of the designers: the twins.  Do I love them, or are they tap dancing on my last gay nerve?  Some of each, I expect.  Very impressive that Deyonté joined the show even with his partner having a freaking BABY.  I love Amy, I get a serious Laura Bennett vibe from her, and you know how I love Laura Bennett.  I have a feeling that Amy will not suffer fools gladly.  She'll have a low threshold for cray cray.

 

Kenya - - love her spirit.  Aaron and Chacha - - can the work live up to the surface dazzle?  (Looks like I got a partial answer to that question before the end of the episode.)

 

Bring on the product placements!  Grey Goose Espresso Martini cocktails!  And erasable pens by Pilot!  My dear friend Frank had prepared me about JC Penny and Avon being the purveyors of the accessory wall and makeup room this season, but it was still shocking when I saw it for myself.  Richard said, "JC Penny?  Really?  They're gonna be out of business in 36 minutes."

 

The first challenge is for them to create a red carpet look that showcases who they are as designers.  And they're mixing it up with the models this season - - they don't just have different size models, but a different model every challenge.  Both major.

 

Two more notes about the models, before I move on.  I don't like the Model Mirror.  It's nice hearing what they have to say, but the mirror setup is creepy.  And I love what Liris said to Brandon: "We don't hope, we do!"  Stitch it on a pillow!

 

I loved Tim being completely speechless over Cha Cha's goofylicious outfit - - the highlight of the season so far.  Yes, I know it was only minute 29 in the first episode.

 

A few other funny quotes:

 

Tim about Michael: "If you want a sense of tackiness, you've GOT IT!"

 

And Margarita: "I'm just questioning my entire life right now."


Love the control booth and backstage footage, I hope we have more of that.

 

ON THE TOP

Kenya's gown was lovely.  The judges were right on when they said it was impressively made for only $300 and one day.

 

I was puzzled that Brandon made it to the top three with that outfit.  This is what Nene Leakes would say on Fashion Police: "That's for the red carpet?  That's what I wear to the Whole Foods."  I can see the judges' point, that he did right by the model's body, and caught a unique and sporty vibe.  But I didn't buy it.

 

Deyonté completely deserved the win.  Gorgeous dress, extraordinary use of the fabric, perfect execution of the challenge.  He's one to watch.

 

IN THE MIDDLE

Michael's fuzzy black outfit prompted this comment from Richard: "It's LIZA!"  And got a strong whiff of Grace Jones from Anaya's outfit.  We all need to lay flowers at the altar of Miss Jones.

 

Aaron was lucky to not be on the bottom - - his concept of the tux shirt on the bottom and the pants on the top, it didn't translate at all, it just looked like a goofy top and a goofy bottom.  I thought Margarita's gown was dreamy, I would have put her in the top instead of Brandon.  Though I imagine the judges thought they'd seen that kind of chiffon drama a million times.

 

BOTTOM

Batani's dress was a mess, and that gap in the ass crack was horrid.  This why the judges go all hands on, right?

 

Shawn.  Nina, quoting Carolina Herrera: "You cannot be best dressed and not be wearing any clothes."  Love the judges' idea that it would have been in the top three if she had done a normal skirt.  The silver shorts were just not right.

 

Chacha.  Going back in his clown car?  Or out to pasture, with His Little Pony?

Episode Two

Not the greatest episode, but not a total clunker either.  The designers were split into three teams of five, courtesy of our old friend the Button Bag.  They were brought to a recycling plant and had to use the recycled materials to create a five-piece, cohesive capsule collection.  One of the highlights of the episode was the three adjectives the twins chose to describe the smell at the plant:

 

Acrid

Noxious

Repugnant

 

I think Acrid, Noxious, and Repugnant might be the Snap, Crackle, and Pop for the new millennium!

 

I knew one of the twins would be flipping out, and wasn't surprised that it was Shawn.  And this is with the two of them on the SAME TEAM, just try and visualize the day when they're on opposing teams.  I have a theory that the only reason PR put twins on the show is so that one of them can throw the other under the bus.  Stay tuned.

 

I flinch every time I hear the words "JC Penny."  Also every time I hear the word "Avon."

 

Heidi!  Rockin' the zebra jumpsuit.

 

Here's my two bits on each of the designs:

 

WABI SABI

Margarita - - cute.

Kentaro - - OK.

Deyonté - - like it a lot, great manipulation.

Kudzanai - - best in the collection.

Michael - - like it.

 

TEAM TSUNAMI

Sentell - - "Safe enough to pass me through."  That's your aspiration?  Ordinary dress.  Made out plastic.

Samantha - - the top is lovely.

Amy - - skirt is cute, the top is dopey.

Shawn - - OK.

Claire - - good.

 

BALLIN' ON A BUDGET

Batani - - sharp.

Aaron - - metal edges skeeve me out.

Kenya - -so sweet.

Brandon - - wow, fantastic jumper.

Ayana - - Sacheen Littlefeather as Barbarella.

 

Ballin' On a Budget was in the top, with Ayana taking the win.  I would have given the win to Kenya or Brandon, but I can see why they gave it to Ayana.

 

Team Tsunami was on the bottom, with Sentell being sent home.  Heidi thought his look wasn't transformed enough, it looked like a garbage bag.  The other designers can all whine about doing Shawn's work for her, but hey, they could have left her high and dry.  It's their choice to help her.  Clearly she spent too much time flipping out and not enough time doing work.

 

PS - - Richard said, on the subject of Shawn and Claire, "Like the Collyer brothers, these two."

Episode Three

Another "Meh" episode.  But hey, I'm incapable of not watching this show.  It's important to know your limitations, right?

 

The designers are shown a clip from an upcoming animated film called *Leap* and given a short performance by the hip hop/ballet fusion dance group Hiplet.  I don't know very much about ballet, and even less about hip hop, but those dancers didn't look like they were representing either of those disciplines with what I would call success.  The challenge is to make a look that is inspired by dance, movement, and innovation.

 

LOVED seeing so much footage of Swatch at Mood.  He is the cutest dog.  And Tim seemed to be full of wonderful adjectives in the workroom critiques: smashing, magnificent, fabulous, remarkable!  He had a few not great things to say, too, but those are the ones that stood out.

 

Too much blood in this episode.  First Deyonté got the needle through his finger (yikes) and then Margarita stabbed her model with a straight pin.  First off, why are you putting your model in danger by fitting her in a close-fitting garment with straight pins?  Isn't that a recipe for disaster?  And second, Richard made the observation that Margarita saw the blood, hurriedly shimmied the dress off her model, and rushed to the sink to remove the stain.  "Um, was she concerned at all about the model?"  Clearly not.  Maybe this will come up in the reunion special.

 

Were you as tickled by Heidi's hair situation as we were?  Zac complimented her on her cute messy topknot, and she said, "Yeah, I was so late, this was the only thing they had time to do!"  I'm paraphrasing.  She is such a delight.

 

ON THE TOP

Batani's look was dramatic, but I can see Zac's comment about the metallic fabric being a little tacky.  The rest of it was divine, and I like that Nina pointed out the gorgeousness of the shadow on the scrim, starting the drama even before the model walked out.  That's impressive.

 

I wasn't wild for Margarita's look, it looked ordinary to me.  The choice of fabric and the construction were both first rate, but the overall look was not inspiring.

 

Brendan was the clear winner.  All that Zen is serving him very well.  What a gorgeous outfit, a fascinating concept, touched on all of the elements of the challenge, and beautifully constructed.  The loops were my favorite bit, I also loved the mixture of white, off white, and pale beige.

 

IN THE MIDDLE

I would definitely have put Amy in the top instead of Margarita.  The leotard was sharp and that overthing that did six different things, jeez, how much more innovative can you get without using a can opener.

 

ON THE BOTTOM

Deyonté's look was such a mess, and the idea itself was not good.  He'll live to die another day.  Kentaro's outfit was a big nothing.  Has he got the goods?

 

This is what Nina said about Kudzanai's outfit: "The 'a lot of ideas' are all SCARY ideas!"  Major blech all around, he was the clear loser.  His fate was sealed when he said that he liked his look and stood by it.

 

What a treat - - I didn't say a word about the twins!

Episode Four

Once again Heidi is cannibalizing the Project Runway talent pool to make designs for her collection.  This bothers me every time.  The challenge is to make a look for her sleepwear collection, and they kick the challenge off by spending the night at the top of the Empire State Building.  Here's an exchange from our viewing of the show:

 

ME: Is it quiet up there?

RICHARD: Yes.

ME: Except for the twins.

 

Another tweak to the challenge - - they have to use heavy silk that's provided by Heidi, and they have to do some kind of handmade treatment to the fabric, dyeing, painting, printing, or similar.  I knew that Kenya was in trouble when she said she had never dyed fabric before.  For real?

 

Samantha had the quote of the week, and how unusual that it's something kind rather than something snarky.  Kentaro went to her and Kenya for advice about how to make a garment for a plus size model, and Samantha appeared to spend a lot of time explaining to him, in detail, the specifics of the cut.  She said, "What's the win worth if you have to knock someone down to get it?"

 

The runner-up for best quote of the week, and yes, it was snarky - - Heidi had this to say about Claire's painting technique: "Looks like you sat on a strawberry."

 

The designers have varying degrees of problem with the fabric.  That heavy silk satin is a nightmare to handle, if you don't know what you're doing.  It slips around and gets all kinds of boogie fever.

Maybe I'm showing my age, but I am not up on the Demi Lovato oeuvre.  I wouldn't recognize one of her songs with a gun to my head.  I only know her from having been discussed on Fashion Police.

 

ON THE TOP

Shawn's pajamas were gorgeous, weren't they?  The judges were suitably shocked that one of the twins did something so refined and restrained.  I wasn't completely sold on the blousy hem on the top, but the overall look was luxe and smart.

 

I was very disappointed that Kentaro didn't win, I thought his dress was the clear winner.  The design was lovely, the painting was extraordinary, and it looked like a dream on his model.  I think that shape would also look good on a slim woman.  Maybe Heidi thought the details were too intricate for mass production?

 

Michael was the winner, and it's for sale online, for $200:

 

https://www.heidiklumintimates.com/deco-doll-slip-chemise?attr=37648

 

It's been dumbed down a little bit, the silver detail is only done on the bodice, not on the hips.  It is lovely, but to me, it doesn't seem practical for actual sleeping.  Those skinny straps would not be comfortable in bed.  Maybe it's more for something you wear until you (ahem) take it off?  In that case, I imagine it would be very effective.

 

ON THE BOTTOM

Richard thought it was typically German that Heidi was so fixated on the bathroom aspect of Kenya's look: "You've got to pee like crazy in the middle of the night, you're not going to have time to deal with that hook and eye closure!"  I'm paraphrasing.  I think Kenya knew that she was lucky that there were bigger losers that week.

 

Thank you, Zac Posen, for mentioning Aaron's underpants!  The ones he was WEARING.  What on earth does that boy think he's doing, wearing chiffon shorts on the runway.  Oh the horror!  The horror!  His look was lumpy and dull.  Never what the judges are looking for.

 

I felt bad that Deyonté went home, because I like him and think he has talent, but clearly, his outfit was the worst.  Shapeless, with no verve.  I thought the dyeing was kind of beautiful, but it wasn't enough, not by a long shot.

Episode Five

Richard and I were both disappointed that they didn't have more of a feature on Lyndhurst Castle.  What's the point in going all the way to Tarrytown if you're not really going to show the place?  They spent too much time with those Disney chicks, who seemed super phony.

 

The challenge was to make an evening look that communicates either Good or Evil.  Michael, as the winner of the previous episode, got to choose which one he wanted to do, and assigned either Good or Evil to each of the designers.  I was impressed at how well he did that.

 

Michael Kors said, early in Project Runway, that the challenge is won or lost at Mood, and that was certainly the case with this episode.  Wasn't it nice to see Swatch being so active?  I don't think we'd ever seen him run up the stairs before.  Usually he's taking a nap and/or giving the side-eye to the camera.

 

I love the bromance between Brandon and Kentaro, they're cute.

 

There were so many great quotes this week, my column is going to be littered with them.

 

ON THE TOP

Kenya: so fantastic, I would have given the win to her.  Nina hit the nail on the head when she said it was balanced.  Loved the whole look, it was ambitious and flawlessly executed.  Richard said, "What a brilliant idea, the hems are finished!  That's what I call innovation."

 

Michael: wow, that model looked glorious.  I didn't quite follow what he and the judges were saying about the construction, how there were no side seams, only darts, but clearly it led to a stunning garment.

 

Brandon: interesting that they chose him to the be winner.  That outfit was unexpected and completely unlike anything I had seen before.  And how nice that the other designers (or was it just the twins?) were throwing him shade and saying it was bad.  Neener neener neener.

 

ON THE BOTTOM

Claire: what a snooze.  The problem was she didn't have time to make a finished garment, she'd already gone through four ideas before she landed on what she ended up with.  Zac called it "Cinderella on her day off" or "a princess who had her credit card taken away from her."

 

Samantha: not good, way too hippy dippy, and it was the choice of fabric that steered her to the bottom.  God bless Nina for pointing out that the dress that Samantha HERSELF was wearing was so much better!  That dress was fantastic!  She needs to get her groove back.

 

Aaron was sent home, and I have so much to say about Aaron, most of it said by other people.  Let's start with what he said himself: he started the episode by saying, "I'm gonna go a little more crazy this week."  Well ya DID!  Richard said this: "It's like he's in Fashion 101, Introduction to Buying Fabric.  What is he doing there?"  Nina said something similar, she said, "This is Project Runway, not Project Kindergarten."  That musta smarted.

 

Heidi described the seams on his outfit as being "bumpitty bumpitty bump," which cracked me up.  Zac said, "I still don't know what he's about."  I said to Richard, "He's about to go home!"

 

Nina hit the home run: "This was supposed to be for the Good, but I thought it was for the Evil, and she was like engulfed in flames or something."

 

Let's give the final word to Aaron (and me):

 

AARON: At the end of the day, I have cool ideas, and you didn't get to see half of them.

ME: Thank Gawd!

Episode Six

Brunch for the models - - what a cute idea!  In this challenge, the models are also the clients, and the models choose the designers they want to work with.  The end product has to be juicy enough to have some presence on social media.

 

Kenya had a very fruitful collaboration with her model, aka The Chrysler Building.  That model is to tall and lean, it was startling.  Especially standing next to Kenya.  Margarita referred to a floral print as a "botanical."  I don't know how I feel about that.  Yes, I do know how I feel about that.  I don't like it.

 

Shawn was clearly going a little nutty having to help Claire all the time.  My favorite quote from the workroom:

 

Claire: I need your help, too!

Shawn: Can't hear you!

 

Georgina Chapman was a guest judge, always a treat seeing her.  I almost didn't recognize her, so blonde and gaunt she was.  And the other guest judge, Kelsea Ballerini - - who the hell is she?

 

ON THE TOP

Shawn's look was pretty groovy.  She's got some promise, much more than her sister.  I like what Nina said: "Feminine and pretty always sells."  I wasn't wild for Kenya's look - - dark green is my favorite color, but it looked a little flat in that outfit.  I wasn't bothered by the Cruella de Vil print on the blouse, but I can see that as an issue.

 

Kentaro deserved the win, that outfit was cool and unique and looked great in the photos.  Plus he clearly had a positive collaboration with his model and client.

 

IN THE MIDDLE

I would have put Amy in the top over Kenya, I thought her outfit was much more successful.

 

ON THE BOTTOM

Claire's outfit was dull, dull, dull.  I thought Margarita would be sent home, I thought her outfit was a much bigger loser than Samantha's.  Plus I didn't like how Margarita threw her model/client under the bus - - Margarita seemed pretty jazzed up about the pants in the workroom, but then she changed her tune on the runway when she realized she was on the bottom, and she trotted out all this crap about the model/client steering her in the wrong direction.  I hope that comes back to bite her in the ass.

 

Samantha was sent home.  I can see the judges' point about her being stuck in a rut, and Nina was dead on when she said that once again, the dress that Samantha was wearing was 100% cooler than the dress she was showing on the model.  My guess is that she spent much more time on her own clothes, they weren't created in the pressure cooker that is Project Runway.  Still, I liked Samantha and am sad to see her go.

Episode Seven

My friend Nick warned me that this episode was funny, and it shore was! The reactions were the funniest thing: lots of side-eye, eye-roll, and aghast.

This was a two-person team challenge, and the designers had to do stylish fall outfits, a cohesive pair of looks using menswear as their inspiration and using menswear fabrics furnished by JC Penney. The fabrics were distributed "randomly" (note my quotes), ten fabrics total, two fabrics given to five designers each. Do you follow? Let me map it out for you:

Fabrics 1 and 2: given to designers A and B.
Fabrics 3 and 4: given to designers C and D.

Et cetera. Kentaro was the first designer to choose his partner, and his only constraint is that he couldn't choose the designer who was using the same fabrics as he had. Thankfully he was able to choose his brother from another mother, Brendan. Shawn was all cranky about that in her commentary, which prompted Richard to say, "What's she complaining about? She has a partner every f--king challenge!" Trigger warning: Richard will drop the F bomb one more time.

Of course the twins ended up together. Kenya got Amy - - Margarita and Michael were disappointed that they couldn't be together (they were given the same fabrics), so Michael ended up with Anaya and Margarita with Batani. They had a half hour to sketch (right there in JC Penney) and one member of the team was off to Mood.

Which turned out to be the highlight of the episode! It was Swatch's tenth birthday!  I love that dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Not much notable going on in the workroom. Let's go straight to the runway.

ON THE TOP
I would have given the win to Kentaro and Brendan, their two outfits were totally ready for ready-to-wear. They were sharp, cool, wearable, versatile, and right on target. Here's what Heidi said, and what Richard and I said, as Heidi, in response:

HEIDI: I'm in love with both of these looks!
ME AS HEIDI: I'm stealing them for Heidi Klum Activewear!
RICHARD AS HEIDI: F--k JC Penney, this is MY show!

Margarita redeemed herself with the win. Her shirtdress with the interesting cut will be sold on JC Penney.com, though I looked for it and could NOT find it. I'm sending out a big HMMM on that. I went to their website and did not see it among the 61 items that came up when I searched for "Project Runway." I had to Google "Margarita JC Penney" and then go to JCP's Facebook page to see that it was being sold for $39.99. I send out a second HMMM.

ON THE BOTTOM
Ironic that Kenya said, in the workroom, that her outfit was for JC Penney, not for church, because this is what Nina and Zac had to say:

NINA: This is a nun!
ZAC: A pretty sexy nun.
NINA: A South American nun.

Kenya and Amy did not have a good experience together, but at least their outfits were passable. Here's what Zac and Heidi had to say about what was made by the twins:

ZAC: The world doesn't need this.
HEIDI: I would feel sad for people walking around on the street looking like that.

The judges couldn't decide who to blame, the twins are so freaking conjoined. So...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The twins will have a face-off in the next episode! Am I alone hoping they would BOTH be sent home? 

Episode Eight

I know that looking for logic from the twins is like looking for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie (five points to anyone who identified that as a quote from *Clueless*), but all of this strum und drang about one of them winning and the other one not. Did they not see this as an essential component of the competition? Even if they ended up in the top two (and how likely would that be), one of them would win and the other would lose.

Of course I was disappointed that Shawn bowed out rather than go head-to-head with her sister. Especially because it was Shawn and not Claire who had proven herself as the superior designer over the course of the season (Claire was third from the bottom twice and next to the bottom twice, Shawn was in those positions once each, third from the top once, and next to the top once). Did you notice the smirk on Zac's face when the twins walked off the runway?

OK, on to the new challenge. They designed for the friends and family members of the Project Runway crew. What a relief to not hear the words "real woman" in this challenge. The challenge was sponsored by Dixie - - the designers created their own fabric, and the winning look would be the inspiration for a Dixie cup AND the winner would get $25,000. They ain't just whistlin' "Dixie!"

Claire understandably felt a little unmoored. Who knows when was the last time she did anything without her sister's help. Margarita was enraged and thrown off by the belief that Claire was stealing her winning design from the previous challenge. Claire did end up changing her design, but Margarita didn't get over her frustration. Here's my take: forget about Project Runway, isn't part of being a success not being derailed by distractions, petty slights, etc?

I had to Google both of the guest judges, both of whom seem to be famous for being connected to more famous people - - model Sophia Stallone is the daughter of Sly, and Yolanda Hadid is the mother of Gigi and Bella. There you have it.

ON THE TOP
I thought Kentaro should have won, his outfit was sublime, effortless, full of impact. She's clearly going to be the talk of that wedding. I thought it was interesting that Kenya was in the top three with that double peplum (peplum à deux?) misfire. But the top was cute, and the print was cute.

Of course they'd pick Claire to be the winner, but yes, her the outfit was very well done, and the print would look great on a Dixie cup.

IN THE MIDDLE
What on earth was going on with Amy's outfit? Were those chaps? And I love when Brendan said: "She's never worn nothin' like it!" And she never will again!

ON THE BOTTOM
Batani was on the bottom, her outfit had so little life and you really had to search for the print, that was really a bad choice on her part. Michael and Margarita were also on the bottom. Margarita knew that she was in trouble, she wasn't able to get out of her own way, poor thing. And Michael had good ideas, but too many of them. It would have been a really cool outfit if he had reined all of that in and looked at it with a critical eye.

DRAMA! Michael walked off the runway when Claire was announced as the winner, and they gave us another cliffhanger. We won't know who was being given the auf until next week. Of course this is exciting, but it seems a little overkill to play this card two weeks in a row. 

 

Episode Nine

I'm relieved to have all of the drama from the previous episodes cleared up, but not half as relieved, I'm sure, as the designers were to have BOTH twins gone!  I'd like to examine the whole process...

The situation with Michael and Margarita ganging up to derail Claire made me uneasy. As much as I don't like Claire, their behavior just didn't feel sportsmanlike. Here's how it SHOULD have gone down. The issue of Claire copying looks should never have come up, that had no value. The real issue (and they should have known this) is that Claire had a measuring tape in the apartment, and was using it. That's a blatant violation of the rules, and there's no ambiguity in this - - the designers sign off on their understanding of the whole shebang, so Claire knew that she was cheating and hoped that she wouldn't get caught.

Anyway, back to how it should have gone down: M & M should have approached Tim, the producers, Harvey Weinstein, whoever, during the challenge, and told them about Claire violating the rules. They would have questioned Claire and sent her home. Then the runway show would have happened without Claire, the judges would have chosen a winner, and someone would have gone home with $25,000. I'm sure Dixie was thrilled to have saved that money. Nice that Brandon got the Dixie cup prize. I was disappointed that the judges didn't give the win to Kentaro, since it seemed he was in second place after Claire, but although his dress was gorgeous, his fabric design wasn't so impressive and would have no oomph on a Dixie cup. Ah well.

OK, on to the new challenge. They had to make an avant garde look inspired by a Shopkins doll and the little girl (a Shopkins superfan) who explains the Shopkins aesthetic to them. The winner gets their look made into a one-of-a-kind Shopkins doll, plus a $5,000 prize (which must seem like chicken feed after a $25,000 prize the week before).

I had a barf within a barf when Kenya showed her little girl how to use the Pilot Frixion erasable pen, within the context of the Shopkins product placement. Maybe we could have added a third product, and had "I'd like teach the world to sing..." playing in the background?

Odd that the judges chose a top four and bottom two:

ON THE TOP
Zac described Ayana's look as "surrealist Bo Peep." She came up with a clever solution to covering her model's arms by covering her arms COMPLETELY - - she had no arms! I wasn't convinced by Brandon's look, it didn't seem to have any relation to the chocolatey fixation of the little girl. It took me a while to warm up to Margarita's look, but the more I looked at it, the more I saw how thoughtfully she assembled and draped the three fabrics.

Michael was the clear winner, that outfit was fabulous. I guess I'm glad that he and Margarita have got their groove back...?

ON THE BOTTOM
Wow, Batani is sent home for the second consecutive time! That's gotta hurt. And Amy was also sent home. This was a clear case of Who Do They Punish? The one who did too much, or the one who didn't do enough? They chose not to make the choice, and sent them both home! 

Episode Ten

The episode started with just six designers, and I thought to myself, "THESE are the six at the top?" I think most of these chumps would have been eliminated weeks ago on one of the early seasons. It's kind of incredible.

This was another unconventional materials challenge, sponsored by Lexus. Did they say that the prize was a car, and I missed it? I don't think they said that... Anyway, their materials were crap that they use in construction sites, "Caution" tape, plastic netting, crap like that.

Margarita looked around the workroom and saw herself as one of the strongest designers. She said, "It all comes down to the taste level." And they cut to a shot of her outfit, which used knee pads on the boobs. The talent in front of the camera might not be the greatest, but the talent behind the camera makes it all worth watching!

ON THE TOP
I thought Brandon's look was cute, it had nice movement was was a fluid use of the materials. I was sure that Kenya was on the bottom, especially after she described it as a plain black dress with a broken zipper. The judges, clearly, were seeing things that I had missed.

Margarita's dress looked so much stronger earlier in the workroom, before she went coo coo nutty on it. I was reminded of a quote from John Guare's *Six Degrees of Separation* (thank you, imdb, for the quote):

FLAN: I remembered asking my kids' second-grade teacher, "Why are all your students geniuses? Look at the first grade, blotches of green and black. The third grade, camouflage. But your grade, the second grade, Matisses, every one. You've made my child a Matisse. Let me study with you. Let me into the second grade. What is your secret?" "I don't have any secret. I just know when to take their drawings away from them."

Margarita didn't know when she was done, I felt like she ruined it by adding all that extra crap, it was streamlined and sharp at first.

Ayana was the clear winner, no? What a fantastic look, so full of drama and inventiveness. I'm pleased for her. I think she might end up in the top three, and what a coup to have a runway show of hijabs!

ON THE BOTTOM
I have three quotes about Kentaro's outfit. Liris said,"I look like Pocahontas is going to play football." Kentaro himself said, "Doesn't look that bad." Which led Richard to quote guest judge Milla Jovovich in season 6 - - she said this about Logan of the Silver Jeans: "If this was 'Project Good Enough,' he would be the winner." Kentaro really got derailed on this one, but I think the judges could see that there were good ideas there. 

Michael, on the other hand, was just a straight up failure. Maybe there was the promise of something interesting with the bungee cords, but it sure didn't come across in the final design. If you're gonna make your model look like a hooker, at least make her look like a hooker who's gonna be making some money.

I was touched that they inserted a tribute to season 3 designer Mychael Knight, who died this week at the age of 39. He was a sweet guy (one of the sweetest in the history of the show) and a talented designer. Remember that Pam Grier-inspired outfit he did? Fierce. RIP, Mychael. 

Episode Eleven

Another not so jazzy episode.  We're getting so close to the finish, you'd think I'd care more.  Am I suffering from a recurrence of PRFS (Project Runway Fatigue Syndrome)?

 

Their challenge is to do a high fashion editorial look with the theme "Warrior Women," inspired by breast cancer survivors.  They have two days for the challenge.

 

Kenya started off feeling very lost, not sure what she was doing, where she was going.  Unmoored.  I was concerned about her.  Brendan started off feeling cocky and more or less continued in that vein.  Kentaro gave us a sort of BDSM experience trying to get his model's head through the turtleneck.  That might turn into a GIF in certain circles, but I found it disturbing.  Though I was tickled that Kentaro said, when he discarded that look, that he needed to make something "quicker than Cup of Noodles."

 

Forget all of the designers, my favorite person this season (apart from the always amazing Tim Gunn) is Liris!  I LOVE her!  She said this, looking into the Model Mirror: "Mirror mirror on the wall, who's about to SLAY them all?"

 

ON THE TOP

The judges liked Ayana's look, and I admired the construction, but it felt like the wrong fabric choice for the blouse.  The powder blue didn't convey "power" to me, it was too delicate, too well-mannered.

 

Kenya should have had the win!  That dress was a knockout, made Liris look like a dream, and communicated power without being cute or gimmicky about it.  I was sure that she had her first win in the bag and was shocked and disappointed when...

 

Brendan had the win?  Really?  For what he accurately described as "Gangster Bo Peep?"  Richard and I were both sure that he was headed for the chopping block, and then he WON!  I could kind of see some of the things the judges liked about it, but on the whole it just looked weird.  The judges were split over the stupid bonnet, and they were unanimous in their admiration of both Kenya's and Ayana's work, so I don't know why they chose him.  Maybe they're building him up for a fall.  I have no idea.

 

ON THE BOTTOM

Kentaro's look was shapeless and blah.  The judges asked about the similarities between his look and Brendan's, but we didn't hear either of them respond to that.

 

I KNEW that Tim was going to use his Tim Gunn Save on Margarita, and wish he had been more precise about why.  HE had told her that the gold bustier was great, and that was one of the primary elements that sent her to the chopping block.  So he felt responsible for her auf.

 

Now I wonder if they'll axe two people next week, like they used to, approaching the final three.  If they cop out with a final four again, I will barf.

Episode Twelve

We're getting closer, boys and girls. I was disappointed that the judges once again chose four people to compete in the finale, but I should get over that right?

But first, let's look at the home visits.

Ayana: Her mother and friend were very sweet. I wasn't wowed by what we saw of her collection, but I was curious to see how it would develop.

Kenya: Great that she pulled in the strong women in her family, clearly they've been a big influence on her and support for her. Tim advised her to add some color to her collection, it was looking rather wan.

Kentaro: We saw him talking with his family (I assume they're in Japan?) but I don't think he introduced Tim to anyone in person. Notable, no? His collection looked pretty random, but it had some promise. The most memorable thing about his home visit was his explanation of the music he wrote for his show. I wrote it out word for word. "I found a dead cat in the street. So I thought I'd bury the cat and I put an ear to the ground and this is the kind of sound I heard." The expression on Tim's face was classic Tim, completely INSCRUTABLE. He should get an Emmy, just for that.

Margarita: I want to go to Old San Juan! Doesn't it look marvelous. Very interesting that she auditioned nine years ago, was rejected, and didn't audition again until this season. It was so sweet that her mom and dad both got all weepy, clearly she didn't get it from no stranger (as my mother would say). Her collection looked a little wacky, but intriguing. So glad that Tim talked her out of that crochet and gold hoop business, that was horrid.

Brendan: His girlfriend is also a designer, she seems like a valuable resource for him. I wasn't jazzed up about the flamingo fabric, but I was sure he'd work his standard magic on the judges.

The designers were brought back to New York, where they were told to choose two looks from their collections. These looks would be presented to the judges, who would eliminate (heavy sigh) one designer. Tim checked in with them and made some suggestions. Kentaro asked for Ayana's help at one point, and Margarita, seeing this, shouted out, "Shawnie! Claire!" Bless her heart for giving a shout-out to the twins.

Ayana chose two outfits, including a stunning pale grey number with distressed detailing on the sides, one of the strongest outfits from any of the five designers. Then later that day she was conflicted and decided to put her two models in two other outfits, a couple of ensembles from what Richard called The Arsenic and Old Lace Collection, mumsy in the extreme. Thankfully she slept on that idea and went with her original plan. Good save for her.

Very strange that Heidi was there via satellite from Los Angeles. We haven't seen that before, have we? The judges chose Brendan and Ayana right off. Ayaya was the only designer with no criticisms of any kind, the judges were impressed with both of her looks. They loved the more streamlined of Brendan’s two outfits, but had reservations on the sloppier outfit he made for our beloved Liris. He'll need to keep an eye on that.

The judges advanced Margarita, they liked her spirit, but told her to visualize her clothes being worn in New York, not so much in Miami. Richard wondered if this was a little racist? I thought she sort of opened the door to that when she said that there are almost 70 million Latin Americans living in the US who would respond to her style. Hm, doesn't she also want the white girl in Omaha to buy her clothes?

The judges were conflicted about whether to eliminate Kentaro or Kenya. Kentaro's peach dress was fantastic, but the white outfit was really weird, that bulbous pouf was not a good idea. The two outfits had nothing to do with each other, and the hair and makeup was terrible. Those eyebrows looked like they were done with electrical tape, and Nina hit the nail on the head when she said the styling was dehumanizing, it made his models look like robots. But they advanced him anyway. I wish they had sent both him and Kenya home.

Kenya was sent home. Her two outfits definitely lacked oomph. The judges praised her, and loved that she, in some ways more than any of the other designers, really revels in a woman's body, whatever size it may be. I hope she lands on her feet and makes a big success. The strangest sight of the episode was seeing Nina hug Kenya - - Nina and Zac had to do the auf, since Heidi wasn't there. I don't think we've ever seen Nina hug a designer. 

Finale

The episode started off with Brendan taking a nap!  Which seemed like a clear indication that he would NOT be the winner.  A few weeks ago I had a hunch that the producers were setting him up for a fall, and the footage of him asleep in the lounge seemed to seal the deal.  I feel like finally, after sixteen seasons, I'm beginning to crack the code.

 

I have a comment about each of the judges.  Is it just me, or was Heidi's purple outfit just a teensy bit trashy?  I was tickled (and a little barfous) over Zac showing off his Heidi Klum underwear.  Please.  And Richard picked up on Nina giving the side eye to guest judge Jessica Alba.  There was a split second where her expression clearly said, "Girl, will you shut up."  Just for a split second.

 

The results are in: Margarita came in fourth, Brendan in third, Ayaya in second, and Kentaro was the winner.  I'll talk about them in that order.

 

MARGARITA

No surprise that Tim had the best comments about her.  In the workroom he said, "This is a customer who would own each and every one of these looks."  And while they were watching the show, he said, "You put on a SHOW."  Too many feathers, maybe.  But personally, I would have put her in second, Brendan last, and Ayana third.  But did they ask me?

 

BRENDAN

Of course his stuff was well made and had his signatures, but the overly unified color palette made the whole thing seem very flat.  It's not that he needed to use more variety in his fabrics - - season 2 was won by Chloe in a collection made of TWO fabrics.  But her stuff was so extraordinary, Brendan's was just this side of blah.  It was a little heartbreaking to see him break down like he did in the lounge.  I think he might have been counting his chickens.

 

AYANA

There were a few looks that I loved (the light grey sporty look, the final gown), but too many of the other pieces were washed out and mumsy.  The judges liked the silky dress with the tiers of ruffles, but I thought it was ruined by the fabric.  Her collection would have had so much more presence and attitude with a different choice of fabrics.  She has a clear idea of what she wants to do, I hope she does well.  Actually, I wish that for all four designers.

 

KENTARO

This was a big surprise, yes?  He didn't know it at the time, but he put himself on a winning path when he said early in the episode that it was clear to him that either Brendan or Ayana was going to win, "so I'm going to do whatever I want to do."  His collection was the coolest, the most sophisticated, and strangely enough, given the criticism from the week before, the most cohesive.  He really pulled it together.  He set the tone with that stunning opening look - - so full of drama and confidence.

 

I love what Nina said, that there are two ways that you can tell when a show has impressed the audience: either they yell and scream, or they are completely silent.  Heidi cracked me up by saying, "You could hear a mouse fart in that room."  You can take the girl out of Germany, but you can't take the Germany out of the girl.

 

One more word before I close it out: I thought of my beloved Laura Bennett, who was driven mad by the judges going on and on about styling.  She said they should change the title of the show to Project Stylist, if that's all they were going to care about.  Anyway, my point is - - I don't think the judges said a word about the styling on any of the four runway shows.  Interesting.

 

Next up: PR All Stars season 6, premiering in January.  Sixteen designers, EIGHT of whom have been on a previous All Stars season.  They really are getting worn out.  But of course I'll be watching it.  Do I need to seek professional help?

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