Yep! So much about this week’s episode of Project Runway was just down right super cute — the American Doll theme, the designers working with kids, the kids being the models and thus, getting all made-up & rockin’ the runway! Well……almost everything was super cute, minus some designer tensions and the norm judges’ critiques — not quite as warm & fuzzy!
Tim Gunn & Heather Northrop, Senior Design Manager of the American Girl Doll brand (also one of this week’s guest judges), delivered the challenge instructions for the week. The designers had to create age-appropriate looks for younger models, again, young girls (ages 9-12 I believe was the range). American Girl has been freshening & expanding their brand via fashion with “BeForever” — taking from signature classic doll looks, and creating modern, wearable styles for girls today. Each designer would be paired with a BeForever character to create a young, modern look for children to wear.
The designers had 30 minutes to sketch and learn about their doll’s character and life story. They could read the doll’s attached storybook, glance around at displays in the American Girl store, and even ask questions to their young models. For this 1-day challenge, American Girl provided fabrics the designers could use. But a Mood trip was also still an option, with a $150 budget on hand.
Sandhya was certainly a focal point of this week’s episode, generally not a good sign with how PR likes to foreshadow results with their editing magic. So first, we saw a little tension at Mood between Sandhya & Korina due to Sandhya interrupting Korina’s time with a Mood employee. We also saw Tim & Sandhya disagreeing quite a bit during his consult, leaving Tim to say that he often doesn’t get what she does, but the judges seem to like it, so I will leave you be. And then as the designers were back to the Gotham apartments, Sandhya was frustrated over other designers not understanding her point of view or aesthetic. Many viewers are on the same page as the designers though! But I think what Emily had said during her confessional was spot on. It’s hard not to take things personally when it involves your work, your designs, something which is of course, so personal to the creator. On the other hand, when the judges critiques make zero sense as to how someone landed in the top 3 or won a challenge, questions are going to arise and confusion will clearly surface.
Kini was experiencing an early designer’s block, but Speedy Kini was soon back and stronger than ever as he completed several different looks before settling on the separates he chose for the runway.
Tim & Char were also on different pages this week during his consult. He wanted her to ditch the fringe, but she decided to keep it with the look. Heck, even her doll’s look had some fringe and with this season also being a season of many fringe looks, why not right! It definitely worked in her favor as she snagged a top 3 spot!
Emily was another bit of a focal point during this week’s episode. She has her own children’s clothing line. This should have been her challenge right! Wrong! She actually landed in the bottom 3, more details later!
The morning of the runway came and a few were still in busy bee mode. Joining American Doll design manager Heather, was Mad Men actress Elizabeth Moss.
The top this week was pretty clear cut, not much disagreement in my opinion. As mentioned earlier, Char did not take Tim’s advice in ditching her fringe. Char’s look definitely deserved a top 3 nod! Many looks this week seemed more on the mature side for kids, but Chars’ was very age appropriate. She chose bold colors, but they were super fun and also going with my title for this post, Super Cute! The fringe vest was clearly part of her doll, Kaya’s story.
This look was a modern take for Kaya, sticking true to her ancestry, story, and roots, but clearly youthful and updated. She stuck to the challenge and deserves the great compliments received from the judges and viewers!
Shout-out also for Philip B. hair — chic side braid, complete with a bow matching her tan fringe vest.
Korina worked on a modern look for Josefina. I’m very happy she landed a top 3 spot with her super cool, super cute, graphic, and fun tiered look. It was so well deserved! I’m not sure if she finished her tiered patches exactly the way she wanted to. I know she was working up to the very last second. And so I think if she had a bit more time she could have won this week. But hey, top 3, not too shabby at all!
Just as Char did, Korina too was spot on with the challenge. She really stuck to Josefina’s story and created a modern look. It was very touching that she included the color yellow, which was integral to her doll’s story — I believe it was related to the loss of her mother, and so Josefina always integrated yellow into her wardrobe somehow. Shout-out also for Philip B. Hair, the pigtail braids were perfect for the character. And, a shout-out to Aldo, I’m assuming this was their red hat, but nonetheless, it was perfect for the challenge.
Rounding out the top 3, and this week’s winner, was Speedy Kini! Kini’s look was a bit mature for a 9-12 year old, but young girls love to, on occasion, get a little dressed up. There is no harm in a child having a look or 2 in their wardrobe that is not for the everyday, but for a very special event or moment. Kini’s plaid dress and coat were so well made and the dress really had some nice touches/details — the cutouts, the volume, etc.!
I think it’s important to remember that this look was supposed to have a connection with the Samantha character. And with that in mind, I believe he did create a modern look based off of the doll’s character and story. Shout-outs to Philip B. hair for this wavy do and Aldo Shoes for the perfectly coordinated black flats.
Sean has been riding a top 3 & winning look stride for the past few weeks, but this time around, he narrowly escaped being in the bottom 2. I think a couple of judges had more to say about Emily’s look so this was his saving grace! Generally, a look that is too basic is almost always in jeopardy of going home, but again, Sean overcame that hurdle as well. But that was his biggest issue, this look was just a bit too bland. It does look super comfy, but I think Nina was spot on in her critique. Julie was in the era of the 70s, a time where use of color was so prominent, and this look was all blue, full pun intended!
There was an updated market with boho chic that Sean could have taken with his design direction, but this print, the lack of color used, was a missed opportunity.
Emily’s resulting bottom 3 placement, well really bottom 2, was the surprise, for me, this week. I did think with her already having experience in making children’s clothes, having her line and all, that she would have not been in jeopardy of going home. In fact, when it came down to her & Sandhya, I was for sure she would end up going because the judges seemed to be so enamored with Sandhya. Had this happened, surprising feelings would have been in addition to unfair, shocking, and much more heat-filled emotions!
Speaking to Emily’s look specifically, there were aspects I liked, but also, some I didn’t. The knit top and the netted face mask were the latter! I don’t think she needed the face piece since her tulle voluminous skirt was enough of a show element. The younger model clearly was not a fan of it either! The knit top also seemed very dated — not much of a modern feel for Rebecca. I did enjoy the luminescent tulle skirt though. In fact, I thought this skirt was very fun and playful! I think paired with a different top, the direction might have been more accepted by the judges. But with this top, the judges thoughts on the look being a little frumpy, too dark of colors, kind of made some sense. I’m still not sure she deserved such harsh critiques and a bottom 2 placement, but hopefully she can bounce back strong!
This left Sandhya rounding out the bottom 3 and going home this week. Honestly, when I saw this look, I clearly thought it was worthy of elimination. But after last week, and her crazy clown-like ensemble being in the top 3, I really didn’t know what the judges would think. Because they finally seemed to be on the same page as me, I can’t say I wasn’t 100% pleased with this decision. I’ve not been a fan of many of Sandhya’s looks this season. But my frustration and overzealous confusion arose because the judges seemed to love her looks, yet never clearly explained why.
And I get a designer going out on a look they love, but clearly Sandhya was not having any critique this week. First she bypassed Tim’s comments and then, she clearly disagreed with everything the judges had to say. I know a ton of girls in the age range of 9-12 and I can’t think of any who would want to wear this, making them appear much more baby-like. Taking a more costume-y look like Emilys’ or a more mature look like Kinis’, girls would want to wear those because they get to dress up a bit, pretend they are a bit older. But Sandhya’s look for Caroline really did look like a child’s onesie. I don’t think she got what age appropriate meant for a child. Yes, a look can still be fun and playful. But what a child might wear at the age of 3, is not something children would want to wear at 10. Many of Sandhya’s looks this season have lacked sophistication, this one included. I’m glad the judges were finally able to see this and that they made the right decision with her elimination. Creativity and risk-taking are always appreciated in my book. But the end result, or a designer’s overall portfolio of work, should have some sense of high fashion and/or sophistication, not just DIY looks with way too many elements going on.
Question, so now that the designers don’t have immunity anymore, will there at least be something in store for the winning looks each week?? For example, this week, will Kini’s look actually be sold thru American Girl — did I miss that announcement?!?