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.

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