Who’s Making the Finale!?!

The age old question for any season of Project Runway. Well for this first season of the show, back on original home network Bravo, we finally have that answer and our final 3! But let’s not jump ahead quite yet! How did we get there? So from last week, our final 5 became a final 4 — Garo, Sebastian, Bishme, & Hester. Each designer would have 5 months, and a $10k budget. So at the 2 month mark, Christian was on his way to check in with each designer.

First up, Christian visited Hester in Santa Fe. Hester was going for a y2k recoco, digital tech concept. All in all though, it actually read as just a bunch of ideas. Her collection was very print heavy. The one print I saw was an angel or a broken doll and I did like that one. It seemed that with some time, it paid off in terms of Hester’s quality in her work. I saw some cool looks, but I wasn’t seeing a collection, just a hodge podge of random, crazy looks.

Next up was Sebastian in Ft. Lauderdale. This was like night and day compared to Hester’s visit. Hester clearly can work in chaos and a bit of disruption, but Sebastian’s workspace was super neat, so organized. Because of the mess, I couldn’t see how much Hester truly had done. But it was clear Sebastian had lots accomplished. His idea was stemming from palm trees on ceramics jars. His dad helped him with creating some gorgeous leather belts. Christian was smart to advise him to keep an editing eye and to not overwork his looks. Every trick Sebastian has in his bag, we don’t need to see in each look. I saw cohesion in his creation, but Sebastian still needed to better define his story, how to articulate who his type of woman is, his type of client.

After Sebastian, we were led to Baltimore, to visit Bishme. His studio had a very comfy vibe. He had everything planned out along the walls. His focus would be on the buildings of Baltimore, a mix of the old and of the new. He sees potential in the old, to rebuild, and be better than what it was. It was hard to see any of this because Bishme didn’t have much done, maybe 2 looks. He had all of his fabrics out, seeing some crazy, bold orange color. He has lots of ideas, but the visions had not come to life. Christian helped him figure out next look, what fabric, get going.

And finally, for the last visit, it was to see Garo. Christian thought he would be at Garo’s studio in NY, but instead, he was off to Phoenicia, upstate NY. I guess there is something to be said in just getting out of the city, going remote and really just getting to work. Garo was going for a space, galactic concept. So in his looks, we would be seeing glimmers, textures, and rigid lines. I was seeing some stunning fabric choices! Of course there were corsets! But were these looks dated, too much in that of an era type look? Christian reminded Garo to not go for costumes, but think commercial, a bit more ready to wear.

It was then back to NY, to a new workroom in Brooklyn. Everyone was hugging and then eager to unpack their designs. Each designer’s collection was set at 10 looks. Garo actually did 14, whereas Bishme only had 8. I guess it is smarter to have more, edit down, than be in a scramble to finish. As everyone was unpacking, getting organized, each designer was of course curious to see what the others had created. But before embarking on work, the designers were visited by Karlie & Christian. They announced that before being at the finish line, there would be one more challenge, and Nina would provide those details at the Elle offices.

While at Elle headquarters, the designers received a tour, including the desired fashion closet, aka heaven! Nina was explaining this is where in a given shoot, in a given story, they work to make that story complete. And that is what she would be there to help the designers in doing. The designers would show 3 looks to secure their spot in the finale. Two looks would be ones already completed, and the 3rd look would be a new one created in the next day and a half, an 11th look. Nina would review each designer’s collection and give guidance as to a look that is missing. That is the look each designer would create, and take part in showing as this 3 part mini-collection.

First up in the Nina consultations, Sebastian. Nina was seeing a very rigid, hard collection, so she wanted to see something soft, an eveningwear look. For Garo, she asked to see a tailored suit. Moving on to Bishme, Nina was finding some cool pieces, some standout looks, but she thought the collection needed a more accessible look. Bishme was tasked to create a street inspired outerwear piece. And finally, for Hester, as again we already all knew, her collection was crazy, very print heavy. Nina thought a breather look, something devoid of any print was needed. Hester didn’t seem to be listening though!

So first the designers sketched, and then they were off to Mood with an additional $400 budget. There was lots to do, so everyone was ready to get back to work. The time felt limited to create a whole new look, and make 2 other looks runway ready! Day 2 rolled around, and Bishme was really struggling on creating his look. It was time for model fittings. Christian saw that Sebastian was not going for a gown, and he rethought that decision, scrapping the leggings and just focusing on a gorgeous flowing goddess gown. And for Hester, with this white look she was creating, he thought it read cheap. She was going to change it to red, but decided to try and focus on making what she already created in white better.

It seemed however that some red was going to get on the look regardless! Hester sewed thru her fingernail — YIKES!! She got blood on her garment, so she had to rethink her look. And so while Hester was having an external freakout, Bishme was continuing to have an internal struggle. But all those issues aside, it was time for the morning of the runway! Bishme decided he had to scrap his bomber jacket and make a hoodie dress. And Hester ended up creating an entire red look. In seeing so much of these new 3rd looks, I was ready to see everything being presented! Guest judge for this runway was President & CEO of the CFDA, Steven Kolb.

Sebastian Grey

I said it last episode, and will say it again, this is Sebastian’s competition to lose. And unless he has 8 other truly hideous looks we haven’t seen, I don’t see how he is losing. With what has been seen so far, Sebastian is significantly outpacing the other designers. Unlike Hester & Garo, I feel Sebastian designs clothes that are far more appealing to more women. They are looks women would want to and actually could wear. Say this in comparison to someone like Hester, who really designs for such a niche market. But outside of just a little more commercial appeal, Sebastian still designs clothes that are high fashion, super chic, items that any major fashionista would want to don.

Sebastian Grey

With what I saw, I loved his color palette. This bolder orange can go wrong, but not in Sebastian’s hands! He does have a clear designer voice, such a great aesthetic. His looks are just such a high quality, so well made. I loved this geometric take, and with this new look Nina tasked him to make, I was in awe. He really has created something special with the stunning leather belts and this chain link mesh items were really cool as well. I believe the judges said it was clear Sebastian and Hester were in the finale. And while that does hold some truth, it was slightly laughable to compare what Hester created, to the far more superior looks from Sebastian.

Sebastian Grey
Hester Sunshine

Hester made the finale, more so than Garo, because she lucked out in actually creating a great, new 3rd look. Her 2nd look was not the best. Even though I still stand by my comments from the last episode, that she was barely making this final 4, I did figure she would still somehow make the final 3. I would still be amazingly shocked if she wins, but she did rise to this challenge in creating this 3rd piece, granted there was some major luck in that. The fur-like skirt was better than the top. And this fur-like material was more successful in this piece than on that jacket. I guess it was a blessing in disguise she bled on her original look because that white look I don’t think would have been as successful!

Hester Sunshine
Hester Sunshine

This first look above, it really gave off such a Clueless vibe. And I did really like this first look. I wish we could have seen more of the print, and so I am hopeful the rest of the collection would show more some of these prints she keeps talking about. And while I do love this first look, this still isn’t something to me that I haven’t seen before. Hester says she wants to dress the world, but her looks are always going to just service a specific type of client; it is not going to appeal to the masses. Another huge issue for Hester is going to be if this collection has any cohesion. I didn’t see that in these 3 looks. And my sneaking suspicion is that her collection is going to be hit or miss for every other look. I will probably like one, think it’s cool, but every other look, I am probably going to be like THANK YOU, NEXT. This is pretty much how I have been all season for Hester, and that doesn’t deserve the win in my book!

Garo Sparo

And so with Hester and Sebastian securing their spots in the final 3, it came down to Garo & Bishme. Garo nabbed that 3rd spot, and really, that was the right decision. Bishme was not ready. Garo was far more prepared, already had all of his looks created, and could just focus on editing and fine-tuning. Whereas Bishme was going to be scrambling to still create 3 looks. And so yes, while Garo’s new look wasn’t a success, his other 2 looks were intriguing enough to leave me wondering what else he had. I also saw some snippets of his other looks throughout the episode and I was curious! This first look, with this stunning, shimmery overlay, I am shocked Nina was not a fan. I was in love with this first look. It had such a goddess-like flow, and really cool with the reveal to create such a different vibe with an asymmetrical dress look.

Garo Sparo

This next sparkly number was such a fun dress, and something a little unexpected from Garo. I didn’t like the shaping of the neckline, but the mixed media portion with the leather was cool. So it was surprising to see these 2 amazing looks, ending with a fairly hideous suit. The color choice was so drab. I do think he had the hardest new look to create in such a short amount of time. But regardless of not accomplishing that, he still made some questionable choices in even beginning here, color, fabric, etc. I still think it was the right call for Garo to move forward over Bishme. I feel is collection is going to have more cohesion and was overall just more runway ready.

Garo Sparo

It was also odd seeing Bishme fail so badly in this final challenge. Both he and Garo did pretty well in these more timed challenges throughout the season, but Bishme’s head was out of the game a bit. With his family issues ongoing, I am sure he wasn’t in the best headspace. And so it was bad just seeing this hoodie dress gone so awry. I don’t get why he ended up just tacking on so much fabric here, with the pink and orange. It all felt very sloppy. I also don’t get this as being outerwear. I don’t know why Bishme put himself in this box, in immediately getting stuck in this bomber jacket idea and then scrambling to even put this hoodie dress together.

Bishme Cromartie
Bishme Cromartie

I liked his other 2 looks, but I don’t think he even picked the best of what he created to show. And thinking back to his original vision for this collection, the architecture of Baltimore, I didn’t see that in these looks. I did really love the top he created on the skirt look. And the all black leather look was very cool as well, but I wasn’t left wanting to see more. The only reason I knew there was more was because we saw some other items throughout the episode. Had I not seen those, I would have no idea where this collection could go, so I just wish Bishme had shown stronger pieces.

Bishme Cromartie

I am very ready to see all of the finale pieces! And as an added bonus, the winning designer of the season also gets to create a capsule collection thru Nineteenth Amendment, which will be sold on Bravo. I clearly know who my winner is, but let’s see if the judges agree!

The Final 5 Become the Final 4

The first season of Project Runway, back on it’s original network Bravo, is getting down to the wire. We are very close to the finale! And thus the final 5 become the final 4. I won’t say for sure that all final 4 designers are showing final collections. But these 4 are nonetheless still in the running for the title and all of the prizes! And what better time than right before the finale, for the designers to really let the judges know who they are as designers.

For most of these final few designers, we have a good sense of their designer POVs and aesthetics. But in this final challenge, they were tasked to really go bigger and bolder in that regard. For this challenge, the designers were asked to create any look they wanted, showcasing who they are as designers, but to also design an experimental art installation to create the setting, the environment, for each look. Over 100 industry insiders would be in attendance, as well as the judges. And with a personal invite from mentor Christian Siriano, rapper Cardi B would also be in attendance.

The designers were choosing their own models this week, with Sebastian choosing first since he won last week. He then chose the next designer who would make their selection, and so on and so forth. You really got to see who was “buddy buddy” & Tessa was not on that list! This would be a 2-day challenge, with a $500 Mood budget. So first up would be sketch time & time with each designer’s creative consultant for their art installation room. Each designer, minus Sebastian, really had clear visions of what they wanted. But all in all, Sebastian was feeling as if he was running low on ideas.

It was then time to head off to Mood! Christian reminded the designers to go for a buzzworthy, memorable, look. Hester decided to go back to a picnic-type look, but supposedly much more aggressive. However, she was frustrated over her color choices. Tessa wanted to focus on design aesthetic “wabi sabi”, showing their is beauty in imperfection, very much going back to the ever-discussed unfinished hems of hers. It was then back to the workroom to complete the first day of this challenge. Garo was focused on his corset work. Bishme was having some self doubt since he is the only self-taught designer in this group. But it was Hester who really went nowhere on the first day, barely getting anything accomplished in this first day.

Day 2 began with a field trip as the designers were off to the CFDA offices. While their, the designers met with Steven Kolb, President & CEO of the CFDA. The CFDA is known for working with and boosting the profiles of emerging designers. This could be such a huge resource for the winner of this season! As important as this was, so was making the final 4, so it was back to work the designers went. Siriano sessions were up next. He cautioned Hester to not repeat silhouettes she has already tried. For Tessa, he urged her to have an editing eye, very similar to his chat with Bishme.

Model fittings were up next. This was going well for all, except Hester. Her top/bodice was off and she had no extra fabric to use. Christian was getting super stressed watching Hester cut away and Bishme only trying on part of his look with his model. The designers were then off to check on their art installation rooms with their models. Most were happy sans Bishme and Sebastian. Bishme wanted his room to look less literal, more abstract. And Sebastian was just very unhappy, only seeing yellow, not seeing his palace creation. Cue in MAJOR BREAKDOWN moment for Sebastian as they headed back to the workroom. He was really wanting to just leave, go home. He took a time-out, chilled out a bit, and came back ready to fight! He is really the best of this bunch, so it would have been a shame to not see him in the finale.

As the morning of the runway approached, everyone still had so much to do. Bishme decided to go with a really cool hair look, using strands of his dress in the model’s hair! But also attaching to his model’s hair was the over-exaggerated back piece as a part of his look. It was not standing up properly, so he had to do something! And Christian was again stressing out, this time over Tessa & Garo, really working down to the wire! This week’s guest judge was Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo, Senior Vice President of the fashion office and the Director of women’s fashion and store presentation. So she knows fashion and what coordinating installations should look like.

PHOTO CREDIT — ALL COLLAGE PHOTOS COURTESY OF TOPIC PROJECT RUNWAY!!

I think all in all, with this final 5, it was fairly predictable in a sense who was making the final 4. As much as I think Tessa did deserve the shot, I found it hard to see that happening, even before seeing the final looks. So I feel the only shock in this episode was that Sebastian didn’t win this final challenge! I get that his room was not perfect, and he had a hard time formulating his story, but this look was clearly the best of the bunch. Yes, I do think the rooms should be factored in, but I felt with Garo’s look, there were some negatives, and so yes, his room bolstered his look. Whereas with Sebastian, yes, the room was not the best, but it didn’t take away from how beyond stunning this look was.

Heading to the finale, this was just the best and it’s sad that once again, Sebastian was unfairly not handed the win! I think his room would have been better thinking like a museum, versus a palace concept, and this was a sculpture, his looks are such works of art. Or, if he left the room as is, an if he could have incorporated a little color somehow in this look, would have been better. But again, what a stunning look! And going back and just seeing all his amazing looks in final judgment, that should have somehow factored into the equation here as well! It’s just like Brandon said, he doesn’t need a concept, he would put on his looks and just go out, be ready, and be such a standout!

So clearly I wanted a Sebastian win, and I still feel as if this is his competition to lose. But for this final challenge, Garo was named the winner. I didn’t hate his look, but there were some negatives here. I don’t like the knit he used. This look read upscale and using a knit really downplayed the regal quality it should have been giving off. The corset was gorgeous, but I don’t think Garo should win this competition based off his corsetry skills!

The bodice into the neckline was gorgeous! But the sleeves he added were not elegant, really again, stripped away from how great this look should have been. His major greatness here came from how amazing his room was. And I will give him that, this interactive, robotic dressing room was beyond cool! Elaine really made the case for this win, and I guess she somehow got Karlie on board. He should definitely be in the finale, but still not on board with this final win!

I feel as if I am still on the fence about Bishme. This picture above even has me rethinking it. Something about the fabric up close, doesn’t read as great on TV, but does in this photo. I felt he was going bigger and bolder, but it was still maybe a bit too much. I think he should have either focused solely on a crazy back embellishment, or an exaggerated peplum on the front. This look definitely photographs well, but had some fit issues as you took a closer look. I think this is still Sebastian’s competition to lose, but if Bishme can really fine tune and edit, he does stand a chance.

His room was not my most fave, but it was not too bad. I loved the concept of Baltimore and the roses growing from concrete, but I think he stripped away too much from the literal concept and maybe went too abstract.

And even in predicting it would be Tessa who was out, I also figured the bottom 2 was going to be Hester & Tessa as Hester really has been super inconsistent. This look was just such a hot mess. It is not big or bold, just her same old, same old. And it wasn’t constructed very well. I just kept thinking she spent $500 on this?? This was in no way impressive, especially the top.

Her baroque forest concept was great, but the look wasn’t! Hester was put into the finale to add some color, both literally and figuratively. Yes, her looks are fun, cute, very niche. But lots of people do this and do this better. She is theatrical and very silly with her looks, but when they read costume and are not done well, the luster is lost. She had some super low moments here, whereas with Tessa, she had some highs and then safe moments. And yes, Hester had wins, but I would still adamantly disagree that her wins were deserved, especially the bathing suit and the space looking suit! I don’t know if Tessa could have pulled off a win, but I would be beyond shocked if Hester does. It would take a miracle, so I hope she at least provides some good drama, aka color, in these final episodes!

Tessa I really thought did so much better on this challenge, both the look and the room. This ceramics studio was one of the best, probably 2nd or tied with 2nd to Hester. It was so fitting and still very interactive with the potter’s wheel and the model actually working with clay and allowing that to be on the look. It was just such a super cool concept. There is a lot to be drawn into here with, both with the look and the room.

I love this color palette of her look, so bold and still very Tessa and her minimalist style. And no hem issues here apparently, but to be honest, I never noticed them before. Because other than that, whether it was wabi sabi or not, the rest of the work on her looks always felt impeccable. I thought she really gave this such a great final push here, and far surpassed what Hester created. And one of the judges talked about who is buying this in a store? Do they really think Hester’s looks are going to be sold in this mass market, wide spread appeal? Both women have clear aesthetics, clear designer POVs. But I can see more women wearing Tessa looks than Hester.

But what’s done is done. I am eager to see what these final 4 will do with 5 months to create and a $10k budget! That is a lot of time and a lot of money, so the looks better convey that!

PHOTO CREDIT — ALL COLLAGE PHOTOS COURTESY OF TOPIC PROJECT RUNWAY!!

What Would be Your Dream Dress?!?

A question I am sure most of us have thought of, and this week on Project Runway, 6 lucky women in NYC got the chance to try and make this dream a reality! It was a reality for a few, but certainly not for all. But let’s not jump ahead too much, first things first. The designers met their clients at Christian Siriano’s NYC atelier. Such a gorgeous spot and I can’t wait to one day go! The clients for this challenge were the women who keep NYC city moving, various civic worker roles such as FDNY, NYPD, a postal worker, and more.

The ultimate goal here, as Christian mentioned, was to make high fashion more inclusive. All women deserve high fashion that they can incorporate into their wardrobe. Each designer was paired with their client, to first meet, and learn what their dream dress would entail. Most of the consultations went well. Although Jamall was not sure if he could deliver every bell and whistle his client was desiring, and Tessa was making her designer POV very clear. But was she listening at all to her client??

The designers were then off to Mood. They would have a $300 budget. Sebastian was confused by which fabrics he wanted to choose. And earlier in the day, Bishme received a math lesson from his client, the teacher, so he was giving that same lesson to the Mood employees. Math lessons aside, the designers were soon back to the workroom to begin work on the 1st day of this 2 day challenge. Garo decided to make 2 dress options for his client, while Bishme was actually back to the math lessons! Sebastian was still unsure on this sparkly, pretty dress he was creating.

Day 2 began with some Siriano sessions. Tessa originally wanted to create pants, and on a dress challenge, that would have been a huge risk. Christian urged her to reconsider, and she did. He also made sure to have Sebastian keep in mind who he is as a designer. Next up was model fittings. Tessa & Garo’s clients both seemed happy, and Sebastian’s look was finally beginning to come together. Not so much for Hester as she was having trouble balancing her client’s wants with who she is as a designer.

The morning of the runway was filled with normal timing issues. Most of the clients were all smiles, but you could visibly see that Jamall’s model was unhappy and uncomfortable. Tessa was having some chiffon issues and decided to cut most of it away. Before the runway, there was of course the judge introductions including guest judge actress Danielle Brooks.

For once, I was in total agreement with the judges. Right top 3. Right bottom 3. Right winner. And right eliminated designer. I feel this is a rare occurrence! But yes, hands down, Sebastian was the winner. He gave his client exactly what she wanted, while also including his designer POV. His client was beyond excited, really living a dream come true, and you could tell by her beaming face and twirling runway walk. It was total old school glam, but with a few modern touches. I would rock this look in a heartbeat! I am happy most of the judges agreed, minus Elaine!

Garo was runner-up, but I didn’t see it as a close race. There were quite a few positives to mention, but it wasn’t a total love-fest. The color was bold and really just the right choice. This look felt glam and you could also tell his client loved this. I also loved the shimmer around the bodice. But the spiky points around the shoulder, didn’t really love those. And I know the cape aspect was detachable, but I think it would have been a little better if it was a little shorter. Overall a great look though, and very deserving to be in the top 3.

Another satisfied client was Bishmes’. This was another great color choice, with some interesting elements. I do feel the fit was off a bit and it read a little boxy. I think this needed a bit of elevation, but overall, for the challenge at hand, a job well done, and very clear compared to the bottom 3, this would be a top look.

Hester was definitely going to be in the bottom, but certainly wasn’t a contender to actually go home. I will say, most of the designers knocked it out of the park in some great, bold color choices. Hester picked a fun color to work with, and it aided in the overall quality of her look. I do feel all of the straps she used on this look, I get that is her trying to incorporate her voice, but I felt it stripped away from the elegance and glam this look was seeking to purport. I compared it in my mind to Garo’s look, total upscale, very high fashion, whereas this just felt like a cheapened version. The client loved it, but I didn’t see this as a memorable or special enough look.

I really liked Tessa’s original idea, with all of the colors of chiffon. Such a shame it didn’t work and led to this. Clearly not executed to the fullest, but compared to Jamall’s look, there was no justification to send this look home over his. The judges could have eliminated both, but the clear bottom look was Jamalls’. Even though the judges were not a fan, the client still really loved this look. Tessa didn’t remain quiet during critiques, and yes, there was some bite-back, but I do feel it was in a way to defend her look and not be fully disrespectful. Brandon was the one giving her the most hard time, so too bad too sad if he doesn’t care for her unfinished hems, but the other judges noted there were still positives. I also thought it was disappointing most of the other designers were quick to jump on her, but completely disregarding just how bad Jamall’s look was. And yes, at this point, these construction issues really shouldn’t be there, but Jamall had them too, and there was certainly some just even in last week’s episode. So maybe Tessa is not their cup of tea, but let’s not be hypocrites and overlook what the other designers are doing.

Just as I said with Venny last week, it was Jamall’s time to go. He has been so inconsistent. And most of his top placements, I don’t think were fully deserved. Thus when he has been in the bottom, I am not surprised. Jamall just doesn’t work the best in these competitive parameters, especially when dealing with execution of a vision and time management. Unfortunately, this look was just a hot mess. It literally looked as if it was falling off his client the entire time she was in it. The client never looked happy, so it was weird hearing her right at the end try and defend the look?? But girl, here, actions speak louder than words! There was no design here. I kept thinking, what did he spend $300 on? What was he doing for 2 days? And what is with these guest judges?? Candace said at least he seemed willing to listen, whereas Tessa didn’t. This guy has been in the bottom multiple times, clearly demonstrating he listens, but doesn’t do anything with those critiques. Being quiet, doesn’t mean you are really listening, and taking in what is being said to then turn things around and do something about your mistakes.

Designing for Good Causes

On Project Runway this week, the designers were tasked to bring attention to a social cause that was one they personally cared about. It seemed this challenge began right after last week’s runway, with Christian and Elaine providing all of the details. Elaine would mentor each designer to channel their voices to create change. This look needed to be a high fashion interpretation, a statement look, where it clearly represented their chosen cause.

This was set to be a 2 day challenge, but it was more like a day and a half. The first day was really just sketching and chatting with Elaine. The work to be done, it was all boiled down to one day. With the Elaine mentor sessions, she cautioned Hester to not go too much off the deep end. And did we really learn that amongst all of the great causes, Garo was choosing “save the bees”?!? For the next day, it began at Mood, with a budget of $250. It was there we learned Bishme could really channel Lorelai Gilmore, talking a mile a minute. And Hester was going crazy with tulle — clearly, seeing it was all about the tulle!

Day 2 continued as the designers got back to the workroom. Bishme was still doing some crazy talk. And Hester seemed to finally be seeing the error in her ways in the way she was working when she had immunity. I’m not sure I buy this and will really need to some great work from her in the future to view her as a true contender for this competition. It was soon time for Siriano sessions. He let Bishme know that his cause was not coming thru in his look. He cautioned Garo that he was beginning to see repetition in his looks. And as always with Jamall, he needed to really focus on time management!

Also as a part of this challenge, there would be a flash sale twist! There would be a 2nd model for this challenge…..the designers themselves! Each designer would make statement tee to correspond with their look, showing support to their chosen cause. The shirts would be sold on Nineteenth Amendment. And the designers would walk on the runway with their models. With the morning of the runway, so many still had so much to do. Hester was seeing she bit off more than she could chew. But really it was Venny who was having some major time issues. He was having to cut some corners, and even had a major zipper issue.

But time running down aside, the show must go on! Guest judge for this week was Aurora James, Creative director for fashion brand Brother Vellies. I can’t say I agreed entirely with the judges this week, but at least the right designer went home! It was Venny & Garo in the bottom 2, and even though Garo’s look was not great either, there was no way Venny should have been saved, yet again. His cause was breaking down stereotypes, so his vision was to create a bomber jacket to unveil then to a glam LBD. The problem was, his vision did not come to life. The jacket was ok, but this dress he created, so poorly constructed, super ill-fitting, and it didn’t read well at all. It was way too edgy. From the dress and jacket pairing, Venny’s overall vision was unclear in direction. His statement tee was okay, not the best of the bunch, but at least clear in its messaging. Regardless, he has been in the bottom far too many times, and saved one too many. It was just his time to go!

I still am a little confused about Garo choosing “Save the Bees” as his social cause. Not saying it’s not important, but among so many other causes out there, this just seemed to fall short in a level of severity or priority. And I think a less than passionate cause created a less than great look. This look read cheap. It was crossing the line on taste, meant to be sexy, but not achieved. Garo has achieved greatness a couple of times in this competition, but really has been inconsistent. And when his looks are average or on the bottom, they really do lack taste and come across tacky. Bottom-worthy look, as well as a bottom-worthy statement tee!

Very odd that there wasn’t a bottom 3 this week, just a bottom 2 and top 3, leaving Hester and Tessa safe. I imagine Hester would have been in the bottom, but given she had immunity, there was no way she was going home. I guess it didn’t make sense to even put her in the bottom. Her social cause was Marriage Equality, quite clear in her rainbow colored look. She did really bite off more than she could chew. The tulle faux fur styled jacket was very underwhelming. And the under garments here, this blue exercise style shorts look, it was nothing equating to fashion. It was poorly fitted, and this was overall, not a great look. The statement tee was great in design, but I didn’t care that it was a crop top. You want everyone to wear statement tees in support and that should be something of comfort. A crop tee is not going to work for everyone.

I actually would have placed Tessa’s look in the top. Her minimalist aesthetic read so clear here, and didn’t need bells and whistles. I applaud Tessa for sticking to who she is as a designer week in and week out. It’s a close call between Tessa and Hester, of all the designers left, who really have the clearest vision of who they are as designers, but Tessa executes her work much better! Her social cause this week was Women’s Rights. It was such a personal story for her to work with, and you could really see the passion and feeling behind this look. It was conceptual, intriguing, and the reveal was amazing. This guest judge was crazy in trying to call her out for the reveal, and being unclear on her look, yet had no problem coddling Venny with his super underwhelming, and clearly bottom-worthy look. Great job on the statement tee as well!

I think the judges were split on trying to name a winner between Sebastian and Jamall, and in not being able to agree, chose to name Bishme the winner instead. I am actually just thinking this was what happened, regardless, I am much more pleased with Bishme as the winner than Jamall. Jamall’s cause was Changing the Black Narrative. I liked his idea, but can’t get behind this gorgeous dress in a puffer jacket materials. He uses puffer jacket way too much and it’s not a great fabric choice in my opinion, or is one that is overly intriguing. I also don’t think he created an aesthetic that is overly inventive or creative. Thank god for Nina here and her voice of reason! And not an impactful statement tee here at all!

Congrats still to Bishme, but Sebastian was clearly the winner here. I mean this dress was just stunning. His social cause was Racial Equality, and it read thru so clearly. This was so high fashion, a work of such beauty. And this guest judge was whack this week! First she harshly and unfairly critiqued Tessa, and then said this look wasn’t elevated. Girl, bye! Thankfully again for Nina who made it clear to later say how elevated this look was. I’m going with Nina as the better fashion expert here! Top look and a top statement tee!

Ultimately though, it was Bishme for the win. His social cause was Youth of Baltimore. Up close, I think the cause rang thru a little more clearly, but on the runway, in just a quick glance, I didn’t see his cause in this look. I loved the color, but felt the top was larger than life and not in a good way. And given the print didn’t come thru as clearly for me, the statement tee also fell a little flat.

Rocketman is Getting all the Attention

First it was Project Runway, and then American Idol this past week was also all about some Elton John and Rocketman! This was definitely going to be an interesting runway and I finally feel most of the designers stepped up in being given such a huge budget and another 2-day challenge! For this challenge, the designers were tasked to create an over the top look inspired by the movie about Elton John, Rocketman. They were to create a look as if Elton John was coming to them for a performance look. It needed to be larger than life, spectacular, and showstopping!

The designers followed a yellow brick road near their workroom building to meet Christian and learn more. The actor playing Elton John in the movie, Taron Egerton, sent a video message to give encouragement and inspiration. Julian Day, the costume designer from the movie, joined Christian to also give the designers a bit more insight into the costume work for the movie. Julian would also be a guest judge this week.

As this was such a huge task at hand, the designers were given some extra hands. So yes, that meant all of the eliminated designers were back to assist. The button bag was brought out to select the order each designer got to choose who they wanted to work with. Garo went first, choosing Sonia. And last picked were both the first 2 eliminated designers, Cavanagh and Frankie, no surprise there! This would be a 2-day challenge. And in addition to a $400 Mood budget, the designers also got to visit a sequin trimmed notion store, Trims & Feathers, where they received another $300. Christian also announced there would be no more immunity given for the rest of the competition.

This challenge would also bring us some lovely male models! While shopping at Mood, we saw some great partnerships formed, such as Bishme and Afa. Venny was not quite as sure about choosing Nadine and listening to all of her opinions. It was then off to Trims & Feathers, which was full of so many shiny, sparkly items! And then, back to the workroom for day 1 of this challenge. The male models were creating a distraction for some, such as Tessa! And we saw Lela was choosing to expose some booty. Sebastian seemed a little lost and slow to get going.

The day winded down with some dining and wining with all of the designers. Day 2 began with some Siriano sessions. Christian needed more from Sebastian. For Venny, he needed to keep the fit in mind. We also saw that Garo was way over working with Sonia. As the day continued, coming to model fittings, Hester really needed her jacket completed, to really tie in the whole look together. And then as always, the morning of the runway rolling around, everyone was crazed, running around with so much to do. Someone had left glue on an iron, so that went all over Lela’s look when she went to use it, yikes!

But glue on a garment or not, there was just no saving a few of these looks! However a couple were supremely amazing, a knockout! The safe looks were Hester and Sebastian. Given Hester had immunity, she was safe, so it didn’t make quite as much sense to put her in the bottom, although she really deserved to be there. This is the 2nd time she has created a disastrous look when she knows she is safe, and can’t go home. So I would think the judges would cool it with overpraising her and giving her these wins, a couple of which were absolute undeserved! Elton John is all about some fun and quirky looks, but I don’t see him needing a Thanksgiving inspired, turkey look. Hester should have been able to do much better here given quirk is her thing!

And then with Sebastian, this was absolutely a safe look. The look felt too relaxed and sporty, not super Elton John-esque. There was also not enough sparkle and shine, it just kind of fell flat! As for the top looks, the only one I didn’t care as much for was Jamall. I am just not a fan of his work, and I see that now. I felt he was trying to be too modern, when this felt like more of an era challenge. And also with this look, I didn’t necessarily see Elton John, but just more of a gender fluid type piece. The reason Jamall was not in contention to win is because it didn’t fully fit the challenge parameters.

I had a hard time choosing between Bishme and Garo for the win. Both were great and would have deserved it. I think I would have given the win to Bishme though because it felt like Elton John, but not in a super expected way. There were just so many amazing things about this look. All of the details, the jacket, the hat, the t-shirt, I mean the list just goes on and on.

But I still loved what Garo created as well, so definitely would not take away from him on this win. It was sad to see so much focus on his work with Sonia in this process, but if there was ever a show-stopping, performance look, this was it. All of the bells and whistles were here, and they were ringing in the right way!

As for the bottom 3, I was surprised Tessa was there. I really liked this look and felt it was much more Elton John than Jamall. Clearly Brandon was the only one who was really hating on this look. Guest judge Julian loved it, not necessarily for this challenge, but it was not a bottom-worthy look, not as compared to the other 2 looks in the bottom. I was impressed that Tessa did find a way to make her minimalist style work here, and she did that well.

So that left it between Venny & Lela in jeopardy of going home. I can’t argue with Lela going because I didn’t see her lasting much longer anyways. And her look was worse than what Venny created. But the fact that the judges aren’t paying attention to Venny’s inconsistency more is baffling to me. They talked about feathers, flashed to 2 previous looks of his using feathers, talking badly about both looks, yet one of those looks, they put him in the top for?? I mean come on judges, don’t backtrack now on when you undeservedly put him in the top! I’ve said this before and will say it again, the judges don’t seem to get why he can be in the bottom and then be in the top. Duhhhhh! It’s because he doesn’t deserve to be in the top the times you judges put him there! All that aside, this look was just very costume-esque, not Elton John, and the coat looks like a bath robe. Very unimpressive undergarment jumpsuit here as well.

So that left Lela leaving this week, which I knew was coming. She hasn’t done anything super impressive all season, and was nowhere close to being a contender for the win. And really, this look was bad. Glue issue aside, it wouldn’t have mattered. The fit was off. The fringe did nothing to really set this look apart. It was really just a snooze. And when you think about it, $700 to make this. No way! It looks like it would cost about $150.

Designers in the Rio Mindset

Last week was about elegance, and this week was about pretty much resortwear. The designers got to enjoy some champagne last week, but this would be no vacation for this next challenge. The task for this challenge, to create a mini collection for actress Morena Baccarin for her upcoming trip to Rio de Janeiro. Back this week to help was stylist Marni Senofonte and this would be another group challenge.

The designers needed to create cohesive looks to tell a vacation story for Morena. Marni described this process as creating an underlying theme when you are looking at planning for several looks. Three designers were in each group, thus 3 looks. There needed to be a chic beachwear look (practical, but glam), a daywear street look, and a killer evening look. The designers were also tasked to really utilize the Tresemme hair salon for this challenge, to create 3 unique hairstyles for each look.

The infamous button bag was back to aide in team selections. Two names were drawn, and those 2 designers would pick their teams. The remaining designers would then form a team. Tessa’s name was drawn, and she chose Sebastian and Lela. Hester’s name was then drawn, and she chose Garo & Bishme. That left Renee, Jamall, and Venny forming the final team. This would be a 1-day challenge with a $500 team budget.

The designers first made some plans before heading to Mood. The models were randomly assigned. Everyone seemed to be planning with ease. Marni joined to remind the designers to work on their story. It did kind of seem at this stage, Hester was taking the lead of her group and Garo was having some doubts. Upon arrival at Mood, Christian was there to greet everyone, giving a reminder that fabric selections would be vital here. It could lend to cohesion and of course, tying in with each groups’ story. At this stage, Tessa started to take the lead in her group, but Sebastian was having his doubts as he saw Tessa was feeling a little lost, kind of panicking at the end on fabric selections.

Upon arrival back to the workroom, we saw the groups really all had the same palette of colors — coral, turquoise, yellow, and blue. Renee decided after her last disastrous group challenge, she needed to be more vocal this go round. Jamall was worried having immunity would make his group think he was not pulling his weight. Renee and Venny were going on with this pants making process. Renee thought her typical process might take too much time, so she decided to give Venny’s mathematics approach to pants a try. And Jamall had a bit of a disaster with his lycra fabric, and learned, DO NOT IRON IT!

It was soon time for Siriano sessions. He was excited about all of the color. We began to learn more about each groups’ themes. Renee’s group was thinking Carnivale, but Christian urged to not go too party. Tessa’s group was thinking Roman Holiday, to escape from life and experience something new. But Christian wasn’t sure that made sense since Morena goes to Rio often. And really with all of the groups, he had to make sure they realized they all had the same color palette, so how would each group separate themselves from the rest of the pack?!?

Before getting back to work, the designers noticed it was snowing out, so they decided to take a little “play in the snow” break! Tessa was filling Lela in on some earlier drama. The episode began with Bishme calling out Tessa as to why she wasn’t in the bottom last week. Bishme was in the bottom so naturally he was probably not handling well that bottom placement for himself. I don’t care for Tessa’s personality all the time, but in this instance, she was deservedly safe in that challenge, so Bishme’s comments were unnecessary.

Model fitting time was next and Hester was expressing some concern over her swimsuit. Garo was over working with Hester, and Venny was worried his look was feeling to junior. But work was over for this 1-day challenge, and the designers had to head home in the snow. The morning of the runway soon approached, and Karlie joined Christian that morning. She would not be judging/hosting that day, so she at least wanted a peak! Jamall was still complaining about his immunity, OVER IT! We also learned Nina would likely not be judging that day. But the panel would at least be Marni, Morena, Brandon, and Elaine filling Karlie’s role.

I absolutely think Team Rio Holiday was robbed! Sebastian’s look was beyond phenomenal. I loved what Tessa created. And even though I feel Lela’s look was the weakest in the group, I don’t think it took away from the overall group impact. I thought they had the most cohesion. I could see the same woman wearing these different looks. No way you could say that about the team that won — the same woman wearing Hester’s swimsuit would wear Garo’s look, I don’t think so! I can’t say enough positive things about Sebastian’s look. I loved the pants! The top was amazingly crafted.

Tessa’s look wasn’t my fave of hers from the season, but this was such a great resort streetwear look. I wish one of the designers had created a skirt look or maxi for this type of garment, but Tessa still did a great job. Sebastian was worried his look was too sexy as compared to the rest of his group. But I still think Lela brought that in her look, especially the slit. The back of her look was gorgeous. I didn’t love this color, the darkness kind of made the look read heavy. But still disappointed that this group was safe!

But alas, it was team Disco Queen that won, overall winner being Hester. I just can’t imagine any person picking Hester’s swimsuit as the best of everything on the runway. It wasn’t well made, as we saw her complain about all episode. It was very complicated as a swimsuit. And I do not see Morena actually wearing this. I am familiar with her style and from what I’ve seen, from what she said at the start of the episode, I don’t see her in this. She’s having fun, playing with her kids on the beach, yea, those straps wouldn’t get in the way at all!

Bishme’s look was not horrible. I didn’t see them giving him the win over Hester because outside of the top, there wasn’t much to discuss. His top was amazing, but some basic white pants, ehhhh, not impressive. Garo’s look was actually the best of this bunch and so for him to not even be in contention for the win is hysterical. It kind of read a little heavy, but the color was spot on, and this was no doubt an impact look! And yet another reason I felt Team Rio Holiday was robbed, we later see during judges’ critques, it wasn’t such a love-fest with Bishme or Garo’s looks. So it left me wondering, how did this group then really win??

Despite a confusing win, it was clear the bottom group was Team Carnivale. There was no cohesion in this group whatsoever. Given that Jamall had immunity, of course he was not at risk for leaving. But just like last week with the bottom 2, I think had Jamall not been given that immunity, he might have gone home on this look. I would have loved having Renee stay and Jamall left, but dang, that immunity is giving some of these designers undeserved 2nd chances! I just don’t get the craziness with all of these weird swimsuits. And yes, the ice skater comment was absolutely correct!

Even though Venny created a very junior look, there was just no way this look was going home over what Renee created. I love Renee, but her look was not great. Venny’s look was very junior, but actually was the best of this group. I didn’t like the flounce and the ruffles. But again, as I said last week, this guy is overpraised when he is in the top, very undeserved every time he has been in the top. And the judges then debate why he can so easily fall in the bottom, which he has done. It’s because he shouldn’t have been in the top those times and he really is just in the middle of the pack for this bunch.

As much it pains me to say, Renee just doesn’t thrive at group challenges and this look was deserving to go home on. If ever there could have been a Siriano save, this is where it should have been used. Renee has been robbed the past several challenges on being in the top, so it’s almost as if she was going home on a low note. And that sucks! But there really wasn’t much positive in this look. The pants were a hot mess. But I don’t get why it had to be pants! And the top, the print was okay, but overall, it just read so messy. I will very much miss Renee!


Designers go With Champagne Wishes & Caviar Dreams

While yes, there was some champagne & caviar in this next Project Runway episode, the focus really was all about elegance. The designers were invited to a Brandon Maxwell photoshoot, featuring Karlie Kloss. And this is where they did receive a champagne toast with a little caviar to snack on. It was the perfect moment to celebrate the top 10! But celebrations aside, there was a challenge to face for the week.

Brandon challenged the designers to impress with elegance. Elegance doesn’t have to be a gown, but just the epitome of true elegance in whatever look each designer chose to create. We then found out that this season’s button bag actually came from Brandon’s Spring 2019 runway show. So this clear, hard clutch-like bag, is now the official button bag for Project Runway as well. This week, the button bag was also a part of the challenge. There were 10 bags filled with 10 different items. This item would serve as a jumping off point for the designer’s looks.

Names were chosen randomly from the bag to have each designer choose their item, but also their model. Tessa received some flack for making a comment about being left with a curvy model. Brandon was certainly a little snippy. Actually, Tessa & Garo were the last 2 designers, and both were left with the only 2 curvy models. So yes, while Tessa actually said something about that, every other designer did so as well by not choosing one of the plus size models. Actions definitely were speaking louder than words, even though some words were definitely spoken as well!

This was another flash sale challenge for Nineteenth Amendment, upping the game a bit for the designers, as well as being a 2-day challenge. This would also be the biggest budget thus far of the season, $400, so the designers were cautioned to use that wisely. The designers were off to Mood. Christian reminded the designers that success would come from fabric selection. It is what would make the look feel expensive. The designers were of course excited to begin work for the 1st day of this challenge. We saw Lela was all about some organza, and Bishme was having a hard time choosing between fabrics.

Day 2 was proving to be make it or break it for the designers. Tessa was really worried over what she was creating. But Garo was over her whining! I’m sure at this point though, the designers were ready for some Siriano sessions. He was interested to see where Hester was going. And he didn’t seem impressed with Jamall’s jacket. It was at model fittings that Jamall decided to go in a new direction. Sonia was have a major freakout moment with her look. And really it came down to Sonia & Bishme with worry over time.

The morning of the runway was of course crazed! Garo was getting some finger cuts. And he and Tessa were exchanging some negative remarks. It was a battle of the plus size looks. Venny ran into a zipper malfunction. They were all working right up until the runway began though. I have to say, given such an extreme budget for this challenge, I was less than impressed with the overall outcome of the 10 looks. I don’t even know if I could come up with a top 3. And most looks did not even look like a $400 outfit. I think the designers should thrive in a 2-day challenge, such a large budget, but thus far, the designers this season are not doing that.

Sebastian and Renee were robbed! Their designs were the epitome of elegance and really looked like $400 well spent. Renee did a great job with her items of lemons and limes, creating a truly inspired look. Everything just read super luxe. She always creates so much, never plays it safe, but yet she keeps landing SAFE! Sebastian was inspired by an orchid, and I don’t think this look was his best, but even not his best is still great. The shoulder embellishments were stunning and he really took the orchid inspiration into his entire look.

I thought what Tessa created looked well made, read very luxe, of good quality, but not necessarily super elegant. It felt a bit more casual of a read. And for Garo talking so much smack, the battle of the plus size, I think Tessa won. Garo was inspired by a silver mirror and brush, and I saw that in this look. It was a very pretty dress from the front, but I didn’t like his corset work in the back at all. I felt it stripped away from the elegance factor. It was far too basic and didn’t look like a $400 dress, maybe $100.

Given I already stated I felt Renee & Sebastian were robbed, clearly the judges top picks were confusing to me. I think the only one of the 3 the judges named that I found to be truly problematic was Venny. I was beyond perplexed! This guy is constantly in the top and it is very undeserved. I felt he went too literal in the interpretation of the wine bottle. I thought this look was very basic, not at all elegant. And it felt a bit sloppy as well. At least when the judges critiqued, there were some mixed reviews, not full on rave reviews. But when Venny is in the bottom, the judges question why he is there, and then yet some times in the top. The answer is simple. It’s because he shouldn’t be in the top those times! The judges are overrating him and are then confused when he lands in the bottom. I am not because I don’t think he is one of the best in this competition.

Lela being in the top, I am still mixed on this. As we later saw, the judges didn’t love her look as much up close. This was probably the best we’ve seen from her. But if this is the best, I don’t think her best is good enough. I do think she had clear inspiration with her marble statue. And the top she created with this dress was quite lovely. But the hips were too wide. I thought the stripes took away from the overall elegance of the look. It was okay, but not a knockout.

I definitely would have rather seen Renee or Sebastian win over Jamall. But I guess of the 3 the judges named as the top, Jamall winning made sense. I didn’t see anything inspired from a perfume bottle. This didn’t look like a $400 look. It felt jumbled and disjointed to me rather than effortlessly draped. And I really didn’t appreciate him saying this look was so him, when it actually took Christian prodding him that what he originally was creating for over a day, wasn’t working and this is what he transitioned to. I felt he got pushed to this, not that it organically came to him, really being the epitome of who he is as a designer.

While the top made 0 sense to me, at least the bottom wasn’t as confusing. I was sad to see some in the bottom, but based on the looks created, it was hard to argue of their bottom 3 placement. And when I say that, I am not applying that statement to Hester. Hester won in the previous episode, so she couldn’t go home based on immunity given. Given she wasn’t even at risk to go home, I am surprised the judges even put her in the bottom. Oh trust, it was deserved, but we all knew they weren’t going to do anything. At least it put her in place to some extent.

She really looked as if she was trying to be some bad ass designer with her outfit and shades, kind of a little tude to her persona, and I found her behavior to be disgusting. I get the idea to take a risk when you have immunity, but all of this felt like a slap in the face. There was nothing elegant about what she made. She created something super Hester just because she knew she could, no matter how horrid it was! I don’t mind Hester being Hester, but Hester with this cocky, overconfident tude, I do not support.

So given Hester was in no way going home, it was so sad knowing it would be between Sonia and Bishme. I knew it was going to be Sonia, so that made it even more sad. I just knew there was no way the judges were letting Bishme go. I loved his top actually, such a gorgeous back, and really did embody elegance. But the skirt was lackluster. He put too much focus on his top that it left the skirt unresolved and really falling by the wayside.

I wonder if Hester hadn’t been given immunity if she would have actually gone home on her look. She seems like the shows’ pop of color and dramatic flare for the season, so would they let that go too soon? I don’t think Hester would have created this look without immunity, so regardless of that debate, Sonia had to sadly be the one to go this week. I wish Sonia could have been applauded for her better moments, because she did have some!

But this look was just far too basic, not elegant enough, just not enough in general to warrant a save. Sonia had purple rhinestone headphones, so the expectation was just such a dope DJ look, and this look wasn’t it. I know she had more she was trying to do, making a kimono, so this should be a lesson learned, do all that you can because one basic piece is not enough!


Best Dressed — Oscars 2019

It’s been a hot minute since the Oscars, but I of course have to always go thru my faves and create a Best Dressed list. This is a mix from the main red carpet and the Vanity Fair afterparty!

MADELAINE PETSCH

MICHELLE YEOH

ELAINE WELTEROTH

HALSTON SAGE

STELLA MAXWELL

KELLY TISDALE

  • Wearing Ahluwalia

JENNIFER LOPEZ

KELLY RIPA

HELEN MIRREN

LESLIE BIBB

AMANDLA STENBERG

MICHELLE RANDOLPH

KATHRYN NEWTON

CAMILA CABELLO

AMANDA SEYFRIED

MARIA MENOUNOS

JESSICA OYELOWO

MARINA DE TAVIRA

JOEY KING



Video Games Merging with Fashion

This week on Project Runway we got a bit of insight into the video game world, and the designers got to merge that industry with fashion. The designers met Karlie on the runway, first hearing video game noises, then seeing a game character, which turned out to be Karlie’s alter ego. Joining Karlie on the runway was Robin Hunicke, co-founder of Funomena (worked with the SIMS game, tenure professor at UC Santa Cruz, & THIS WEEK’S GUEST JUDGE), Mitu Khandaker (professor at the NYU Game Center), & Nina Freeman (video game designer). These amazing ladies would also be there to help the designers for this week’s challenge.

The designers’ challenge for the week was to create a female video game protagonist with a functional and stylish look. This video game character would need a story and to have an ability. The designers were cautioned to not go too costumey. The designers lucked out in having another 2-day challenge. This is certainly one program format change I have noticed, the designers receiving quite a few 2-day challenges. I am not sure it has created an overwhelming number of successful looks, but it’s hard to imagine some of these designers coping well with too many 1-day challenges! Also this week, instead of a race to model comp cards, all of the designers would be keeping their same models.

First up for the week, mentor time with some of the leading women in the video game industry. Some of the designers looked at games, seeing how a character could encompass being anyone; the designers didn’t have to create themselves for this challenge. Others got to see how algorithms and coding worked into the games. After these mentor sessions, it was off to Mood. Christian reminded the designers this look was to be fashion, not a costume. Another change I have noticed this season is slightly larger budgets, or at least from what I recall in the past. This week the designers were allotted $300. While at Mood, many of the designers were going for red fabrics. Christian was urging the designers to be more creative and not just all go for red. Venny was one who changed up his color choice, then later finding himself overbudget by $90. He had to cut some major corners!

As the designers got back to the workroom, animators were there to work with the designers to create a digital version of their characters. It was soon time for Siriano Sessions. He reminded a couple to not be boring. He was intrigued by others, such as Hester & Bishme. And he was all about Garo’s whip! Getting into the 2nd day, Garo began with some hammer-time. Tessa went a more quiet route, really needing that laser focus to work on her look. Later in the day were model fittings. Tessa had some doubts with Hester’s look, thinking it was treading the line of a costume. Venny was worried over his lack of fabric and then couldn’t even do his fun shoe idea as it was too small for his model. Jamall was running real low on time. Sonia was having a major fit issue and thinking she might have a lot of work to redo.

With so much to do for some, it was back to work. The designers were excited to see their digital illustrations. And poor Jamall! He made some alteration marks during fittings and then ironed away those marks, yikes! The designers had been working so hard and decided to have a little fun on the way home. They took a ferry, and enjoyed goofing off a bit, doing some runway walks & posing. Fun time aside, it was back to work for the morning of the runway. Many designers still had so much to do. Rakan was very unsure on his makeup choices, like literally having no ideas for the makeup artist. Jamall decided to scrap a mesh top for his look. He had spent so much time on the tailoring of his suit. Christian did express disappointment in that choice. A few designers were working right up until the runway began. Rakan was one such who was cutting away very quickly, right until the last seconds.

Before breaking down the judges’ top & bottom choices, here are my thoughts on the rest! I can’t help but see Lela in a battle with Tessa because they both work in a minimalist aesthetic. Tessa clearly has won each week, so I generally feel less than impressed with Lela’s work. She said this look was representative of femininity & power, I get the feminine aspect, but nothing with power. Sonia has impressed me each week, but came up short in this challenge. The styling choices she made really took her look to a costume level. I loved her story (empathy powers), she chose a gorgeous color, and the look had such great flow. But this felt like a rather basic dress with a lot going on for hair & makeup.

Sebastian has been on top lots as of late, but also came up short this week. I felt his look was more dated, more historical, than that of a video game character or a Moon Goddess as he dubbed this look. I didn’t feel it embodying a strong woman. Not his best work, but just okay. I guess that is why Lela, Sonia & Sebastian found themselves safe. I was on the fence about Bishme. I really thought he brought something so different to the table and so for that, I felt this was a top look! His woman was a goddess, or a Queen of Hearts as he called this look, and one with such a gorgeous, long back train. It was a little over the top, but could work in a game setting!

I also really felt Renee should have been in the top. She stayed trued to her aesthetic and created still a hardcore, bad ass look. Renee says “sensitive warrior”, which I feel is perfect depiction. Her mixed media choices were amazing. The top with the embellished neckline and the draped silver sash piece were just so stunning. I could have lived with Bishme being out of the top, but Renee was very much deserving. So even though Hester got the win, that would have been the person I would have had to take away from the judges’ list. Hester’s look was very Hester. So for remaining true to her aesthetic, I certainly applaud. But this look was a fun girl, not someone I felt fit the challenge parameters in creating a strong female protagonist. I mean even the name of the look, Star Raver, I take that as a depiction of fun, maybe a little adventurous, but that adventure side, I wasn’t seeing in this piece. Nonetheless the pants were super dope and she made some great styling choices.

Tessa created a great look, so seeing her in the top was deserving. She really created such a character, something very different and unique. And even though this was for a video game character, the Miller’s daughter, it was still super wearable. I didn’t even notice until later, she created an apron, which was the part that folded down, super creative!

But Garo was in my original top list, as well as the judges. I felt this was the winning look. I definitely got the point the judges were making in that a strong women didn’t have to be defined by being a dominatrix, but that doesn’t take away from this type of empowerment. And Garo really created such strength here and didn’t do so in a cheesy or tasteless way. Super hilarious that everyone thought this was Nina in a sense and I guess it might have been since Gara said this was a Fashion Editrix character!

The bottom 3 couldn’t have been more spot on. I also agreed that Rakan was clearly the right choice in being sent home. As for the other bottom 2 spot, it was hard to choose between Jamall and Venny. Neither should have felt safe. Jamall I thought was deserving for having not got another challenge. But I think the judges put Venny there to shake him a bit — seeing just as you were on the top last week, doesn’t mean you can’t go home the next week! So Jamall being saved from the bottom 2 was inconsequential since it was super clear it was Rakan’s time. I liked his idea, but this look was cheap. It looked like pleather, it was not constructed well, and it read like a superhero costume. It was not functional fashion. I don’t even think his story for the character, a Syrian Queen, made sense. It also made no sense what he said after the critiques that the best 3 designers were in the bottom. So 2 designers who have constantly been in the bottom and one who really didn’t even deserve his top placements are the three best in this competition?? I don’t think so!

So again, Jamall should feel super lucky he was saved, again. Last week his look didn’t make sense when looking at the challenge parameters and neither did his look this week. The suit fit okay, but it was not a video game character. It was too basic for this challenge task. Why when given this type of challenge do you think of a suit?? Scrapping that mesh top I don’t think would have kept him out of the bottom, but it would have helped this look tremendously in terms of at least not being basic.

And finally, looking at Venny’s outfit, I also didn’t get what he was thinking in this creation. Also similar to my critique with Jamall, why would you go to this type of look when thinking of a video game character?? This look was one you might see as part of a church choir, definitely not a Savior of the World! I think back to his changing of a color choice at Mood, per Christian’s suggestion, and also having to cut corners when being overbudget. You might think this led to his bottom placement, but if this was his idea all along, those 2 points would have no bearing here. More fabric was not going to help this look and instead of a blue look, this creation wouldn’t have been any bit of success in red.

The Designers Go Luxe with Streetwear

I am not the biggest fan of streetwear, but at least if I am going to look at a whole challenge comprised of this style, it might as well be LUXE & high-end! This challenge was inspired by trailblazer Dapper Dan, known for introducing high fashion to the hip hop world by creating luxury streetwear. The task at hand would be for each designer to create their own take on the future of streetwear, taking into account the inspiration of Dapper Dan’s work.

There would be no trip to Mood this week as the designers were provided with a great deal of high end fabrics to choose from and use for their looks. This would be a 1-day challenge. Renee, as the winner from last week, chose to keep her model, while the rest of the designers were randomly assigned models by Karlie. The designers enjoyed meeting with Dapper Dan and were pleased to learn he would be visiting the workroom to give his take on their looks.

As the designers were back to the workroom to get started, many designers were getting their ideas going, such as Kovid wanting to create multiple pieces. However some designers, such as Sebastian, were stressing right from the onset, noting streetwear is not something he typically does. Christian was around next for his Siriano sessions. We got to see everyone was wanting to do a bomber jacket. There was some excitement for Renee, while Hester seemed to be a bit all over the place. Christian was confused about Rakan’s idea of a farmer woman? And we were all really left to wonder if Jamall was even getting this challenge?

Christian then announced this would be a flash sale challenge, so the designers had to take special photos for the Instagram stories and this would be the chance where winning looks would be sold thru Nineteenth Amendment online. Next up, model fittings! Christian was still around and seemed very bothered that Rakan and Jamall were taking breaks at this time. The designers do need to eat, but maybe during a short model fitting time is not the best idea?!? But as this was a 1-day challenge, it was time to really get to work! Tessa decided to incorporate her brand name into the inner part of her jacket, hand-painted, so we then got to see her version of a fun drying technique, which was basically running around the workroom, air drying! Kovid was in major freakout mode, which I really saw as no surprise. And there was a little debate on Sebastian’s look from both Tessa & Rakan, over his sleeves.

Dapper Dan made his appearance the morning of the runway. He was very excited by some of the looks! But even with this special appearance, there was still a good bit of work to do for some, especially Jamall. And while Dapper Dan was not going to be a guest judge, we were welcoming a guest judge to the panel, Founder & President of Harlem’s Fashion Row, Brandice Daniel.

Of the 2 minimalist designers, Lela (pictured above) & Tessa (pictured below), Tessa definitely did a better job in this challenge. I don’t think either really stood out against some of the better looks this week. I do think Tessa created a solid look, but most of her intricacies just kind of fell flat on the runway. I at least found some positive with Tessa. However Lela created a rather boring look. I didn’t see anything super high end or with a nod to the future with her look. Both were fitting of their safe status.

What Hester created was very Hester, but I don’t know if it was streetwear. I saw this more as festival fashion, something you would see at Coachella. The color, the sparkle, the sheer overlay to her short, just really took this out of the streetwear element. I loved Sonia’s look, but in a similar critique to that of Hester, I didn’t see streetwear elements here. I couldn’t give this a top status for that reason. Regardless though, this was such a super chic look, the bodice, the neckline, so amazing.

But 2 designers I have to give props to, that both would have been in my top 3 were Sebastian and Renee. For Sebastian not having any clue on streetwear, this was an impressive look. I loved the pants! Perhaps one could argue there was a lot going on between his jacket-style sleeves, the pins, and the criss cross top, but I did see this hitting the challenge mark. This was elevated street style with a modern vibe. I also really loved what Renee created. This was a super dope look. She really did a lot of great work here, especially the jacket! The pop of sparkle was not overwhelming and the plaid addition was sublime! Renee or Sebastian would have been way more deserving of top 3 than Venny!

This is the 2nd time Venny has been in the top 3, where I have been left really perplexed. He was in no way a contender for the actual win either time. This look was not elevated enough for me, sort of a snooze. I also don’t think he did well with a plus size look. The judges saw it as streetwear, which I don’t disagree with, but this wasn’t high end or something with a modern feel.

Joining Venny in the top 3 was Garo & Bishme. I didn’t hate this look, but I also didn’t love it. The wasitband detail was not working for me. The tweed was okay, but I definitely didn’t care for the zippered neckline. I didn’t agree with the judges’ assessment for this look.

But a clear contender for the win with this top 3, definitely deserving of a top spot was Bishme. The judges fell absolutely in love with this look. It really hit the mark so well across the board for the challenge. It was streetwear, super luxe, and bringing something new to the table. He chose the perfect color with this cobalt blue for the jacket.

The bottom 3 consisted of Rakan, Jamall, and Kovid. Kovid and Jamall clearly being the bottom 2. I don’t know if Rakan really deserved a bottom 3 placement. I actually kind of liked this look from him, probably the best of anything I have seen from him. I guess I sort of got what the designers were saying in this looking a bit like a “genie” look. It probably would have also come across more street in flats or sneakers, versus heels. I didn’t dislike this as much as the judges did, but I did agree with Nina’s assessment — it felt safe.

This was a tough bottom 2 because both looks were pretty awful. If the judges were making a decision based only on this challenge, clearly Jamall would have been out. But given Kovid has consistently been in the bottom and how super obvious this competition was just not for him, the right call was made in him leaving this week. Jamall really should be breathing a huge sigh of relief. This could have been an easy challenge for a double elimination and both would have been fitting for elimination. If it was not already confusing how Jamall saw his teaparty dress as street, I believe we all got even more confused listening to him explain that this look was also inspired from black culture. The look not fitting the challenge aside, it was also riddled with technical issues, which the judges definitely pointed out.

Ultimately though, it was Kovid’s time to go. I actually feel Kovid has a very street aesthetic to his look. In fact, his top look from the prints challenge was super street. I don’t know how he then really missed the mark here! I am glad the judges pointed out how out of place the top was in this look. This was one of my first notes! But there was no nod here to the future, it was very much looking back at the past.