Project Runway’s Rodial Challenge

Every Project Runway season, whomever the beauty/makeup provider is, we always have a challenge. This season, it’s Rodial! Joining Alyssa on the runway was founder of Rodial, Maria Hatzistefanis, to lay out the full challenge details.

This week, the designers had to create looks for a woman’s inner superhero. Each were given envelopes with a Rodial beauty product, which would serve as the designer’s inspiration. The winner of this challenge would receive a year’s supply of Rodial beauty products.This would be a 1 day challenge, with a $150 Mood budget, a shock to the designers!

Anne’s check-ins for the week were very cautionary; she definitely pointed out her distinct opinion. It seemed a couple of designers disagreed. Joshua was clear of his disagreement. But also, Ken & Anthony let Fabio know of their opinions. Another interesting fact from Ken, Anthony, and Fabio in this episode was that they have formed a great bond, “The Sister Wives.” Very interesting as well that that these 3 landed in the top, granted some of the other designers were curious of this new bond!

Karolina Kurkova, super top model, was this week’s guest judge! Lots of interesting product designer pairs, with of course several designers landing in the safe column. I loved Stanley’s “smoky” heroic inspiration, and wish he had been in the top this week over his last week’s win. This look was beyond better!

Helen bounced back this week with her 24K luxe gold inspiration. I could see this look on the red carpet today. It was amazing!

Char had bee venom, creating an interesting black & white printed look. Not top material, but certainly a good effort on her part.

Shout-outs — Umberto for Hair & Rodial for beauty

Joshua had concealer, and he certainly disagreed with Anne’s assessment, but I think he lucked out this week. His look was daring, but it bordered with a taste issue. I’ve seen him do better. Kimberly was paired with illuminate, and I think she too lucked out on some worse looks in the bunch. Her “gimmick” treatment, I was not a fan of this.

I think overall, the designers did amazing this week. My top 3 looked different. But based on the judges’ picks, I agreed with Fabio’s win. His look was modern, with an edge. He took a print that could have read matronly, but he certainly made it work. I’m not sure it read “snake”, but it was very kick ass.

Shout-outs — Umberto on the awesome braid!

As I mentioned above, the rest of the sister wives trio comprised the top. I think they all did great work, but I was not a fan of the over-sized sleeves. I loved that Ken went with red, choosing such a bold, super color, mimicking in a way I guess super acids. The fit and quality were too spot on.

Anthony had dragon’s blood, but as he mentioned to Anne, he was not going so much with the name of the product for inspiration, but rather the product itself. Another super well-made look, very luxe and expensive looking. Again, just not a fan of the puffed up sleeves!

Shout-outs — Intermix for the pop of color with the heels

This bunch of designers is amazing, so almost any week, whomever goes, it will be sad. For Edmond, with his contouring inspiration, I could see where he was going. But the dress and the cape did not pair well. Edmond designs in a very sexy way, so he just needs to be careful in not crossing the line from sexy to sleezy.

I am still perplexed as to how Amanda got the axe this week over Merlinne. A designer who constantly makes such rookie mistakes as Merlinne does, should not be here this long. The judges pointed out all of the flaws, yet completely ignored them, sounding super hypocritical in sending Amanda home. Yes Merlinne has a vision, but if you can’t execute your concept, why are you on the show! But this look from her this week, it wasn’t even that visionary. The dress was bland in silhouette, as well as color. And the sleeves, nothing overly exciting there! Merlinne had magic gel, but there was no magic in this look, just in her ability to again brainwash the judges!

Amanda is such a classy person, so she of course left without saying one negative thing about Merlinne. That, for me, was impressive! And her look, in all honesty, was not that bad. I’m not even going to dignify her look with a critique because the judges made the wrong choice this week and more senseless critique on Amanda’s look just adds to the delusion that the judges made the right choice!

PR All-Stars Double Up

Project Runway All-Stars this week went for a pairs challenge. In the first episode, Alyssa said that would be the only team challenge of the season, but I guess pairs’ work is still a possibility! We also later found out that this runway would be a double elimination, sending the bottom 2 team, both designers, going home.

The designers met Alyssa at fine dining restaurant in NYC, Daniel. Joining her was the establishment’s head chef Jean Francois Bruel and Head Sommelier Raj Vaidya. The designers appeared to have randomly sat with a companion of their choosing, but it was soon discovered their dining companion was also their challenge pair. The challenge would be for each pair to receive a food and wine pairing. From that, this food/wine would serve as an inspiration to create 2 looks, fine dining for elegant creations. The winning pair would be invited back to Daniel for a full 5 star dining experience.

The designers were off to Mood, $400 budget, ready to get started on this 1-day challenge. Versus being in LA, the designers were in NY, so working at NYFW home Skylight Clarkson Square. During Anne’s check-ins, she noted being thrilled about how well the partnerships were working, but pushed for more creativity, and of course, a bold reminder of the pending double elimination.

This week’s guest judge was actress Whoopi Goldberg.Overall, I thought this was another great runway. I found in most pairings that one look really stood out over the other. I loved Joshua’s sexy black number, a perfect result with an inspiration from the black sea bass. His partner, Amanda, her look was very safe, but I thought it complimented Joshua’s look well, given a more RTW pairing to that of a more upscale piece. Edmond and Helen were paired, but I wasn’t seeing a clear inspiration from their Minted pea soup & Chenin Blanc pairing.Helen’s look was nonetheless stunning. Even though Char’s look seemed relatively safe too, I thought her and Stanley did well, receiving inspiration from their Lobster & Rose of Pinot Noir pairing. Stanley’s look was also amazing, a real stand-out. I believe they should have been in the top!

The judges’ top 2 teams were Kimberly & Anthony, as well as Fabio & Ken. I didn’t fully dislike the winning pair of Fabio & Ken. I wasn’t the biggest Fabio fan during his season, but I have been surprised at liking some of his work so far. I will remain optimistic. And this week, his look was very modern thinking, fashion forward. I also liked Ken’s gown, but did think that the mid-area made the look too boxy.

I would have gone hands down with Kimberly & Anthony. Anthony was the stronger of the 2, but his Jackson Pollack inspired work looked phenomenal. I am not sure how either pair really worked with the food/wine pairing of Lamb Chops and Syrah, but loved the color palette here and the work made.

This season is full of some strong contenders, so almost any given week, whomever goes home will be a shock. As much as I really thought Merlinne & Candice should have been sent home, I hated that Candice would be going. Her first 2 looks were knock-outs, and even though the judges failed to note this, I am at least happy we get to see her again. Merlinne on the other hand as received undue accolades the first 2 weeks and this look was just such a travesty. Her skills are nowhere near the all-star level and I will be highly disappointed if undue judges’ praise continues.

Shoutouts — Umberto for Hair, Rodial on Glam, Intermix on heels!

I guess given the safe designers’ group, finding another bottom 2 pairing was not the easiest. Candice and Merlinne were a given, but joining them was Melissa & Ari. This was such a surprise given how strong Ari had started out. Compared to the mess of Merlinne & Candice, I don’t see much justification of how Melissa and Ari were ultimately axed. And really, shouldn’t some consideration been given for Ari’s 1st two strong weeks! Melissa really steered off course, but I think Ari’s biggest misfortune here was beading placement. With a bit more time, this look could have been such a knockout!

Shoutouts — Umberto for Hair, Rodial on Glam!!

Sad to see both go because this was not the right decision in my book! Hoping for better results from the judges in future episodes!

PRAS Goes Post Apocalyptic

Isaac Mizrahi I believe said this was one of the best runways ever and I totally agree! From the first week until now, I could not have seen a huger difference! From the get go, with the designers meeting Alyssa in the workroom, cages, caution tape spread about, fire extinguisher craziness, I was lit from the get-go!

Alyssa said out of chaos can come a beautiful runway, and that was certainly the case this week! A major trend in fashion is distress, post apocalyptic fashion. There are lots of techiques, dyes, blow torcheers, sanders, etc. For this challenge, the designers had to use at least 2 techniques to create a post apocalyptic look. They also had to create a story, a scenario, for their woman.

So with the concept in mind, a $200 Mood budget in hand, the designers were off to work on this 1-day challenge. During Anne’s check-ins, she was concerned she wasn’t seeing enough distress with some of the designers. An added perk was told in that if Anne agreed with the winning look, it might end up in the pages of Marie Claire.

This week, we were also more formally introduced to the hair care provider, Umberto Salon, and for glam, Rodial. And the guest judge for the challenge was actress Danielle Brooks.

I found it so hard to pick only 3 for the top! I would give huge shoutouts to several, or really certain aspects of a look — Candice’s pants,Helen, Amanda Amanda Amanda, Josh, Fabio’s coat, and even a little with Melissa. With all of these greats, I still agreed mostly with the judges this week. I am shocked though that Merline ended up in the top again, but thankfully not with the win!

Shoutouts — glam Rodial, Intermix heels

Anthony was so deserving of this and he was stressed in the episode. He was having a rough go. But he made it work and this look was truly amazing!

Ari too deserves another week of accolades, creating so much, and everything being a true standout!

The bottom 3 was hard. I don’t know if this was my exact bottom 3, but I don’t see how Kelly is out this early! Her look was not the worst of the bunch. The fishnets didn’t help here, but her top and earmuffs were bangin’!

Of this bottom 3, I would have sent Char out. I guess the judges recalled her top 3 placement last week, but I felt that was undeserving. This was more costume than fashion.

Nice makeup look with Rodial

Stanley was also in the bottom. I could sort of see why, but I am so thankful he didn’t go home. I hope he remembers the judges’ comments on keeping things modern for the weeks to come and he should be fine!

 

PR All-Stars is Back!

Project Runway, the regular season, wound up recently, but it’s already time for another All-stars season! I have watched the first 2 episodes, and thankfully, because of episode #2, I am very excited about this season. With this first challenge, I felt underwhelmed, but after #2, I am hooked!

The designers met with host Alyssa Milano at the MetLife stadium/field, for introductions and challenge details. The theme this season is rookies versus vets, and given that, it made total sense for the 1st challenge to be a team challenge, rookies v. vets! Each team was tasked with creating a cohesive, fierce collection. To choose between fall or spring, the designers did a quick stitch relay (8 stations — sewing, cutting, pattern, tracing, pinning, hand sewing, etc.). The rookies were close, but the vets came out on top, choosing spring, leaving fall for the rookies.

Each team had a $1000 budget, but the winner of the relay race received an extra $500. And so with that, the teams were off to shop at Mood and get started on this 1-day challenge. This season’s mentor, aka Tim Gunn, is Editor in Chief of Marie Claire, Anne Fulenwider. And the same judges as seasons before, Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman of Marchesa. The first guest judge was PR designer, Michael Costello. Also new for this season is Intermix, as the accessory wall sponsor.

Before Mood, each team planned and organized. At this stage, I saw more from the vets, who decided to go with an “Art Basel” theme. Once in the workroom though, it seemed as if the rookies had it a bit more together, focusing on a 70s inspiration. During Anne’s check-ins, overall, she felt the designers were playing it safe and needed to step it up!

I agreed with Anne, but I didn’t see that many of the designers stepped up to the task. I found faves within each team, but if I had to pick a winning overall team, I did agree with the judges’ assessment in choosing the rookies’ Fall collection. I did not agree however with the top 3 from this team. I am surprised that Amanda, Kelly nor Candice didn’t make the cut. Their looks really gave this collection some pop and flare!

Umberto hair shoutout & Rodial for glam!

The judges picked Merline, Char, and Edmond, leaving Stanley and Kimberly safe. I kind of felt all of them played it a bit too safe, but of the judges’ top picks, I would have gone with Edmond.  It was a minimalist look, but I did like the color, and it seemed the most well made of this top 3 chosen.

If not Edmond, then maybe Char?? Her look was very basic to me, so not sure how it made top 3. It just felt safe, but I did love the color used. Merline won the challenge, and even after hearing the judges’ comments, I am confused. I remember she got rave reviews during her season and I was always left perplexed!

Shoutouts for all Styling, Intermix, Umberto & Rodial

70’s vibes are not really my thing, so the vets really should have had this in the bag. But I didn’t see the most cohesion here, and many of the looks fell flat. I was glad the judges pointed out how amazing Ari’s look was because it was such a shame he was in with the bottom crowd!

Shoutout — Umberto & Rodial, but overall for this collection wrong shoe choice from Intermix!

Shout-out — Correct styling here from Intermix, also on point with hair & makeup

The bottom 3 was Ken, Casanova, and Helen, ultimately with Casanova going home. This was the right call based on this bottom 3, and all in all, it was the right bottom 3 as well. Helen was safe from the bottom 2, but I think the reason she landed in the bottom was because of how safe and uninspiring this look was. I know she can do better!

Ken had some construction issues, but just as with Helen, it also lacked vision and innovation. Casanova too suffered from those same issues, but there was not a lot of effort in this look, just far too basic.

Gorgeous hair & makeup, Umberto & Rodial!!

I definitely found much more excitement in this next runway!

 

Project Runway’s Winter Wonderland!

In sharp contrast to the coveted fashion week spots, for S/S 2018, the designers this week were tasked to create winter-themed looks. And with this runway, it was supposed to decide which 4 would be going to NYFW? As we later see, I guess not….

Tim & Heidi met the designers on the runway, snow drifting down, to lay out all of the challenge details.The look created needed to be a high fashion, winter look, one where any fashionista would be thrilled to wear it while out in the cold. Tim & Heidi cautioned the designers to not think of a simple snow suit!

This would be a 2-day challenge, with a $400 budget, meaning the judges wanted to see ambition.To best get in the winter mindset, the designers would sketch in the coldest spot in Manhattan, Minus 5 ice bar. The interior is made of carved ice, a very cool setting!

Mood trips have been pretty par for course over the season, but not this go round! Margarita was the only one who thought fur for a winter look! After planning around this, picking out some select pieces, and even purchasing everything, it was then explained she couldn’t use these pieces. PR is a cruelty free show, so that means NO FUR!! I am not sure if this is spelled out in the massive rule list the designers must follow, but at the very least, it could have been stated as a reminder for this challenge! Tim, with the other designers’ blessing, did permit Margarita 5 more minutes to shop. I understood her initial frustration, given a plan around what she selected. But the constant whining over this, almost the entire first day, eventually started to wear thin.

Tim-time was on Day 2, and while he re-directed a new focus for some, he urged continued efforts for the rest. But the end of Day 2, Margarita was still in struggle-mode! This week’s guest judge was actress Katie Holmes. And what a sight the runway was, all Winter Wonderland’d out!

All designers were on the spot this week, and for the most part it was a judges’ love-fest. Although for some, there was some positives laid out, but mixed with some critique. I think at best, the judges could have picked a solid 3 for fashion week. And if they were set on having 4 show, then as in season’s past, they could have had 2 compete for that final spot, showcasing 3 looks from their collection. However, the judges didn’t allow anyone to receive a pass. This means all 5 designers left will create collections. And when they return to NY, they will most likely select 3 looks that best encapsulates their entire collection. And from that, the judges will decide on a final 4, but who knows, maybe even a final 3??

Personally, I am not a fan of Brandon, but the judges have sang his praises all season, including this week. Every designer also stated if they could go to fashion week, they would want Brandon to join. As much as I am happy he didn’t get a free pass, I think given all of this unwavering support, he could have been set to go. I have not seen growth from Brandon throughout the course of this season. His looks all remind me of each other. What might create an issue for Brandon in the next challenge, is that his 3 looks selected, might all look too similar. And maybe this was thought of internally by the judges.

I guess if no designer was getting a bypass for NYFW, then it makes no sense to only allow for one or two. But another designer who should have gotten this was Ayana. She has been on fire as of late. And while this week, the judges didn’t love every aspect of her look, she still did a great job. She was one of the only designers who I think really strove for full ambition, meaning worthwhile for 2 days of work and a $400 budget. Additionally, most of the other designers also said alongside themselves going to NYFW, she too should join.

Besides Brandon, the only other designer all 4 judges loved was Kentaro. This look really did make simplicity standout. The neutral color palette was a bit grappling for me. I don’t see it working in harsh winters, and this color palette, I just think it would get dirty so easily! But the judges were sold. However, in comparison to someone such as Brandon, who has repeatedly been on top, Kentaro has been in the bottom as of late. I would understand the judges doubting a guaranteed NYFW pass for him.

Margarita was another designer that the judges for the most part loved. I don’t think it was at the same level of Brandon or Kentaro, but approval nonetheless of her fur dress. The judges really liked the coat, but I thought it was okay. In retrospect now, I don’t see that this look felt overall, super luxe. I felt the coat lacked an expensive quality. No other designer picked Margarita when asked about who should join them at fashion week. I am guessing this did not instill much confidence in the judges permitting her the direct shot to show. She too has been on the bottom a lot lately, even being eliminated, but saved with the Tim Gunn save. So with a loved look this week, it did give her the chance to still create for NYFW.

And last, but not least, we have Kenya. She was last to be told she too would get a chance to create and show for NYFW. The sentiment I got from the judges this week was that her looks, even looked at individually, were just okay, but nothing knocked their socks off. Her coat, I find this would be hard to wear a great deal, and I didn’t really gravitate towards the look. Kenya has had no true highs over the course of the season. In fact, as stated at the onset of the week, she is the only one left who hasn’t won a challenge. I completely understand this. The judges have never seemed to gush over her the way they have for others. But I guess given she hasn’t fared too poorly either, this meant she too should get the chance for a mini-preview next week.

So almost a waste of an episode, given no actual decisions were made, but the question still remains, who will show at NYFW!?!

Project Runway Warriors

At the start of this week, the designers woke up to Everlast boxing gloves, stating the fight was truly beginning! I also picked up from the women, a little guy versus gals mentality! The designers were off to meet Tim at a boxing ring gym. Shocker — Tim was in sweats!! Alongside Tim was Evy DeAngelus, the Executive Director of Sales Development for Avon. We had the JC Penney challenge, the one for Lexus, so now, it was time for the Avon one!

Avon is all about improving the lives of women, and with that, Avon is steadfast in its commitment to the breast cancer crusade — help today, hope for tomorrow! Also in the ring with everyone were breast cancer survivors, sharing their inspirational stories. Each designer was tasked to create a high fashion, editorial look, with a warrior woman inspiration. This was all up to each individual designer for interpretation. Firstly though, the designers engaged in a boxing boot camp to get into spirits!

Each designer was given a $250 Mood budget for this 2-day challenge. On day 1, Kenya was struggling to get going, while Brandon & Kentaro were sort of working in the same aesthetic vein. But Kenya’s early struggles were nothing compared to Kentaro’s final craziness in trying to complete his look! Guest judge this week was actress Rachel Brosnahan.

The judges were gung-ho about the designs they loved, but for me, being so close to fashion week, I was underwhelmed with this runway! I was certainly left wanting more. I guess I wasn’t head over heels for any one look. Not all of the looks were bad, but they did not stand out as memorable looks!

I still do not get the judges’ unwavering affection for Brandon. He has not shown any growth with his creations. And to me, they all do look the same! He won this week, so I guess the judges’ love-fest is not dying down anytime soon. I did see a street warrior vibe in his look. It was well-made, but nothing new from previous weeks.

Ayana is still a fave of mine, but this look was not my fave from her. I am glad the judges liked it, making her safe for another week. It seemed very heavy on fabric in my book, but a great effort nonetheless.

Kenya rounded out the top looks. I guess of this top 3, if I had to pick a winner, it would have been her. I did love her color choice. And I really liked the concept with the petals. But I wish there were more. Other than that, itwas a simple dress. For a warrior look, it fell a bit flat. But on another positive note, I was also pleased that Kenya didn’t try to hide her model’s figure.

This left Margarita & Kentaro in the bottom. As I stated last week, the cuts are not going to be easier. Seeing either designer go for me was going to be sad. I will state now, Tim did finally use his Tim Gunn save, and I guess best to do it now, before time ran out. I am guess though that this next episode will be a double elimination.

Kentaro was not the planned eliminated designer. With his bottom placement the week before, I think Kentaro should have been out this week. There was nothing to his creation for the week. It was a lot of basic items, placed over basic items. It did give off an Asian warrior vibe, but overall, a let down. I am hopeful had he been eliminated over Margarita, the save still would have come into play.

AVON SHOUTOUT — LOVE THE HAIR & MAKEUP HERE!!

Margarita’s dress, under the armor she created, was very beautiful. But the final pairing of the pieces didn’t make this look a warrior great. It was very literal of an interpretation.

So with next week, I wonder if 2 designers will go home, right before fashion week!

Project Runway, Proceed w/ Caution!

The episode began with the designers discussing the shock of the previous week, 2 designers going home. But all noted, this meant the competition was getting SERIOUS! The designers were off to meet Tim, at an outdoor overlook, for the challenge details. Joining Tim was Brian Bolain, General Manager for Product & Consumer Marketing of Lexus, aka, this was the Lexus challenge!

Brian was discussing the Lexus safety features. This was a play on the week’s challenge, but against how safe Lexus vehicles are. This week, the designers were asked to not play it safe. The 3 Lexus vehicles were filled with many items related to safety, and with that, this week was also an unconventional materials challenge. Each designer would use the various safety items to create a WOW look, to think outside of the safety zone and to not conform to the rules.

There would be no Mood trip this week and it would be a 1-day challenge. With that, the designers had 3 minutes to gather their materials. In getting back to the workroom, Kenya was a focal point. Did she get enough materials? I am not sure of the timeline on her repeatedly asking other designers for scraps, but it seemed often and perhaps a bit early on the day! Tim time was par for course, a couple impressed, but for most, he pressed or urged to see more.

This week’s guest judge was Mr. Robot actress, Carly Chaikin. She was actually at this year’s finale, so it was nice to see her be invested past her point of judging for this particular week.

Heidi pointed out that this was an excellent runway, where there was not much the judges didn’t like. Although Nina & Zac didn’t seem quite on board with that sentiment. The judges seemed to like 4, but not 2. However I thought there was a clearer distinction with a top and bottom 3. So basically I agreed with the judges on the bottom 2, but I would have put Kenya there as well. But I 100% agree that Ayana deserved the win for the week, long overdue if you ask me!

This look was stunning, amazing, so much drama, and definitely not over the top as one jealous designer put it. I am so glad the judges loved it as well!

Next as a fave for me would be Margarita. Zac was right in that Margarita’s aesthetic is probably the least hard to pick out in this bunch, but nonetheless she has created some kick ass looks as of late. And speaking of kick ass, her look here was just that! It was graphic, bold colors, so much imagination. I am glad Nina picked up on the heroic quality as well!

Surprisingly, Brandon was in my top 3 as well. I can’t say I love his looks each week. And I can undoubtedly say, his overall aesthetic is not for me. But the judges seem head over heels with Brandon, so I can’t imagine him being cut before fashion week.

And Kenya also received praise for her look. She was not winning the challenge, but I didn’t see the need to expound accolades for this look. She did peplum, again. And it was a basic, black bandage dress, snooze! It wasn’t even finished properly as her zipper had broken on the runway. I am catching some leniency here, just not sure why.

Everyone left has talent, so until the final group of fashion week is announced, whoever goes, it’s not going to be an easy cut. Sadly, Kentaro & Michael were the clear bottom. I like Kentaro’s body of work better, so for that, I am happy he stayed. But this look could have easily sent him home. Hopefully next week he is way more careful! There was not enough transformation. And I do not get why he went with the Pocohantas vibe? With all of the cultural misappropriation chatter in the fashion realm, one should proceed in that area with extreme caution.

And very unfortunately, this meant Michael went home for his look. He certainly stood by it, still to the very end. It was a sexy look, but perhaps a little too sexy?? However, this look was far too minimal. There wasn’t enough here. Compared to the other looks, it did pale in comparison, which is the same fate bestowed upon Amy just the week before. Neither look was bad, but certainly not up to par with the rest of the bunch!

Until next week….

PR Goes Avant Garde

Avant Garde challenges are usually the most exciting on Project Runway, but this episode was EXTRA in that regard as the drama on the twins continued to unfold. End result, both twins are now gone. Claire was found to have a measuring tape in her room, where she measured garments, which is explicitly against the rules. I get the sense of drama around how this all happened, but as a huge PR fan, I was disappointed in seeing the unfolding. This information should have come to light sooner. For some of the designers to know, yet none of the producers, odd? And if this happened in a first instance 2 weeks before, why wait until now??

Ultimately, I am glad it is over with. And to the point Margarita was leading the bandwagon on, discussing designer copycat issues, this was quite annoying. Every designer in PR history, I can pinpoint other designer references. This is not unheard of, and it is very common in fashion. And you do not get to lay claim to techniques or basic garments in fashion! As someone who went to law school, and did a lot of studies within the fashion/IP realm, this is one of the main reasons it is hard for designers to have protection. But there is a huge difference between references/inspirations, and straight up replicas or copycat looks!

On now to some actual design, with this week’s challenge details. The designers met Tim on the runway, where lots of kids were playing! The designers thought this would be designing childrenswear, but alas, no! The kids were playing with Shopkins Shoppies characters. Joining Tim on the runway was Kotomi Nanjo, the US Marketing Director for Shopkins. Shopkins are stylized dolls, who are fun, colorful, and cute, but always with a little quirk. Each child had a different doll, each with it’s own story. The designers would each be assigned to a character, and in learning from the child about the doll, it would serve as the inspiration for an avant garde look.

The winning look would be re-created for a Shoppie character, and the winning designer would receive $5000. As the designers were meeting with the children, it was so cute to see that some of the kids had drew up some thoughts for a new look! This would be a 1-day challenge, with a $300 Mood budget. This week’s guest judge was model/actress Kate Upton.

The judges noted only 2 bottom looks this week, 4 top looks and the rest being safe. This was pretty much a clear distinction. The 2 bottom looks were just not up to par here. Kenya (Jessie Cake) & Kentaro were both safe, but I think Kentaro, with the Rainbow Cake doll, did a way better job than Brandon, for Cocolette. I am not sure how he landed in the top, yet again! I think the judges should have focused on 3 top looks versus 4. I can’t imagine that in this case, Brandon would have made the cut!

The winning look was from Michael, but I really wish it had been Ayana or Margarita. I think given the sponsor of the week, Shopkins, Ayana’s look just really fit the bill more, creating for Bubbleisha. It was fun, so imaginative, loved the dub of “surrealist bo-beep.” And just to point out something here I referenced earlier, talking about seeing references in a designer’s look from other designers, with Ayana’s look. I am not taking away from her design talent at all. But in her look, I saw a bit of Betsey Johnson, or that of Moschino. Did she copy, no! But the references are there! But again, love love love this look!

This is not to say that Margarita or Michael did not do well, because they did. I just saw more Shopkins vibes in Ayana’s look. But in terms of being avant garde, both Margarita & Michael did splendidly. Margarita, for Pineapple Lily, this look was just so pretty. The different textures, amazing. And such a beauty with the sculptured flow that the bottom portion of this garment gave off.

Michael, creating for Popette, he too did a stand-out job with sculpture. This was different and very sci-fi. I didn’t love the bell-bottoms, but I guess given this doll was about disco, the trend fit.

Sadly, compared to the rest of the looks, Batani & Amy did not measure up. Batani would have gone home the week before had Claire not been eliminated, and that would have made 0 sense to me. But 2 not so great looks, 2 weeks in a row, unfortunately, Batani was eliminated with her look for Sara Sushi. This look really did feel as if random bits of fabric were thrown together.

The surprising part of the night was the double elimination. I think it would have been hard to choose between these 2 looks, on which deserved to go home over the other. But it was clear, both did not compare at all to the other stellar avant garde looks of the night. Amy designed for Sara Sushi, and this was just so safe. Amy has had some highs, at least in my book, earlier on in the season. But when she hasn’t done top notch work, I have always found her work to be super safe. You will not win PR if you don’t push yourself!

Until next week….

PR & the PRINTS!

So where we left things the week before, Claire & Shawn were the bottom group, one in jeopardy of going home. But the judges could not make a decision, so as in seasons’ past, they had the twins compete in a 1-hour design-off. Only 15 minutes had passed, and while Claire had plenty done, Shawn could not get going. Thru lots of tears all around, Shawn decided to concede, and told Tim, as well as the judges of her decision. Knowing now what happened the very next week, this all seemed to be a waste!

On now to this week’s challenge though, the designers met Tim in the workroom for the details. Along with Tim was Teressa Busson, Brand Building Leader, for Dixie cups. The designers were tasked to create a custom print, to be featured in their look. The winning designers look would be re-created on a Dixie cup, to be available for purchase. The winning designer would also receive a $25k cash prize.

But there was more to this challenge! The designers would be creating “on the go” looks for friends and/or family members of the Project Runway crew. Assignments were as follows —

  • Sara Rea, Exec. Producer for PR, her friend Cecilia, with Claire
  • Gus Dominguez, Lighting Producer, I believe his sister, Analyssa, with Brandon
  • Ashleigh Hocking, Talent Producer, her mom Sabrina, with Batani
  • Sapna Shah, Field Producer, her mom Kekina, with Kentaro
  • Kristen Adams, Production Designer, her mom, Michele, with Kenya
  • Clive Salmon, Assistant Accountant, his friend Gina, with Amy
  • Chandler Dewitt, Challenge Producer, her mom Stacey, with Margarita
  • Oscar Cordova, Audio Department, his wife Cynthia, with Ayana
  • Romano Barnett, Assistant Camera Operator, his wife Halona, with Michael

This would be a 2-day challenge, with a $150 Mood budget for other additional materials. Two accusations were made during the course of this episode, one on ripping off designs, and two, regarding the use of a measuring tape in the apartments, not in the workroom. I will focus on the latter in my next recap, except to say that for now, Margarita, as an adult, or a professional, should not have been so easily distracted with what Claire had going on. Keep your eye on the prize, DUH!! I would much rather a designer own her mistakes. However, this is the 2nd time Margarita has pointed the blame elsewhere. I don’t agree with that!

On day 2 of the challenge, the fabrics/textiles arrived. Some were disappointed in the final result. Later, the clients arrived, with Tim, for check-ins. Margarita was still focused on Claire, but Tim said nothing to support her claim. The morning of the runway was crazed, as per usual. Margarita was quick to show her disappointment in herself to the judges, which is probably not the best course of action, given the runway had not happened yet! But she also had immunity, so take a chill pill! But this would be the last immunity of the season.

Guest judges this week were host of a new show, Making a Model, Yolanda Hadid, and model Sophia Stallone.

The safe designers this week were Brandon, Ayana, and Amy. Amy was far too safe, but for a 2nd week in a row, I was not sipping on my normal hatorade for Brandon! However, Ayana, should have been in the top! She was robbed! I pictured Brandon’s look above given at the end of all the drama here, Dixie did choose his print as the win for the week!

I actually think Kentaro should have nabbed the win for the week. Perhaps Dixie was not totally on board with his print though, especially as we later see, the end result was Brandon winning the Dixie prize. But Kentaro’s look, albeit very bright, it was so pretty! It had the signature Kentaro wave, such great movement. Nina was right to point out his growth. I wondered if another reason he didn’t win because Heidi was not a fan? This was an older lady, so I am not sure why Heidi felt she should be showing off so much of her body. Plus, she wanted this look for a wedding, also not the most appropriate venue to go the super sexy route.

The judges, at least at this time, chose Claire as the winner. Her look was cute, chic, much more than I ever expected  from her, given that this was the first week she was sans twin. Even the judges admitted its simplicity, so not sure why it nabbed the win over Kentaro, but ultimately, there was no victory here.

Kenya rounded out the judges’ top 3, which was quite perplexing to me! Too much peplum. The color combo did not work. And the print was too youthful, given the client at hand. I actually thought the critique here was super divided, so not sure how she landed in the top over Ayana, but glad to see there was not a total lovefest here, despite the full on lovefest between Kenya and her model!

I did not agree with Michael being in the bottom. I saw it as risky, but forward thinking. And it was something different, especially given the separates pairing. The only thing I took from the judges’ comments was that too much was going on. I disagreed. But what was more saddening to see was that this was when Michael decided to cause a scene, which seemed more acting out of jealousy, given his bottom placement, then true concern for the competition.

He was in the bottom 2, as Margarita was also in the bottom, and because of her immunity, she would not be going home. So really, there would be no point in placing her in the bottom 2 spot. I actually think if she did not have immunity, she would have gone home. Batani didn’t use much of her print, but her look was at least wearable. Margaritas’ was not. But again, as with Michael, I was not a fan of her actions this week. She kept saying she didn’t want to throw anyone under the bus, yet she was making vague accusations?? Ummmm, okay!

Batani was sadly the one at the bottom, as we saw in the next episode. She really should have knocked this challenge out of the park. She is all about prints!! Her dress was safe, but very wearble. However it was a maxi dress, nothing overly unique. To not use a print in a “featured” fashion on a print challenge makes 0 sense.

The show ended with Michael walking off the runway as Claire was announced as the winner of the challenge. So, what happens next!?!

PR — The JC Penney Challenge!

JC Penney is the accessories sponsor for Project Runway this season, aka the JC Penney Accessory Wall! And with that, we thus get a JC Penney challenge! The designers met Tim at JC Penney to get the challenge details. Along with him was Design Director of Contemporary Brands, Monica Dalton. This week’s challenge was not menswear, but to use menswear fabrics and menswear in general to create an inspired, fashion-forward fall look. The designers, well most of them, were relieved to see this was not a menswear challenge!

Each male model for the display had 2 designer cards with all of the corresponding fabric for their look. After each design duo received their fabric, they then learned this would be a team challenge. And out came the button bag! The only stipulation was that the chosen partner could not have the same fabric selection that you had. Each design team was responsible for 2 cohesive looks. Kentaro, as the winner from last week, chose first, his “bro” Brandon.Then, randomly, the next names were drawn from the button bag — Amy/Kenya; Claire/Shawn; Margarita/Batani; & Ayana/Michael. The winning look chosen from the winning team would be reproduced and sold by JC Penney.

Each team would have $100 for Mood, to be used on notions, trims, and truly supplemental fabric. Only 1 team member would need to go. While at Mood, we also learned it was Swatch’s birthday!! Super funny watching Claire & Michael in the sewing room, Clarie yapping away and Michael just left. Outside of the normal twin drama/scandal accusations, we did see Kenya & Amy have a bit of drama. Nothing over the top, but I did wonder why Kenya was working on back-up pieces and not her actual look??

This week’s guest judge was actress Asia Kate Dillon. So with 5 groups, this would leave 2 in the top, 2 in the bottom, and one safe. The judges named Ayana & Michael safe, but I actually would have put them in the bottom. I didn’t love these 2 looks. I actually didn’t fall head over heels for much of anything this week and I find that was because of some poor fabric options. I would think for a JC Penney look, being sold for mass consumption, that we would have some better fabric selections!

The top 2 teams, per the judges’ picking was correct, however my top duo would have surprisingly been Brandon & Kentaro. And I say surprisingly because I usually don’t care for Brandon’s work. I get the judges were gaga over Margarita’s look, which ended up winning the week, but the stronger duo was Brandon & Kentaro.

They did have the best fabric, this pink plaid. It was also the most cohesive duo. You could see each designer POV clearly. And yes, while it was heavy-handed as athletic wear, it too had hints of menswear inspiration. I also loved, as Nina pointed out, the separates — lots of versatility!

Margarita & Batani were in fact the winning duo, with Margarita’s look taking the top prize. Of the 2, this was the correct choice! Both dresses were cute. I again, didn’t love the fabric selections here. The bodice on Batani’s look was also a little wonky.

AVON SHOUTOUT FOR MAKEUP & HAIR — BATANI

Amy & Kenya would have been safe for me, but did land in the bottom for the judges. I am glad they were not in jeopardy! Kenya’s look was not bad, rather boring, and certainly not unique. But it was wearable! Amy was the weaker link for me, with this crazy throwback suit. The color, the suit, just overall too much.

This leaves the twins, Claire & Shawn, in the bottom. This was the right decision for the week. And I think for the sake of either twin doing better in the competition, it is best for only one to remain. For Claire’s looks, the pants were not too bad, but the top was a little too cute-sy. For Shawn’s dress, I didn’t mind this so much, as far as the silhouette, but I didn’t care for the ribbons. She had a full-sized model and did not dump fabric on her, making her look boxy or swallowed up. She gave her something to show off shape, and for that, I appreciate it.

The judges however didn’t eliminate either this week. We have seen it in season’s past, when the judges can’t make a conclusive decision, that they have a 1-hour design session battle. Yes, it’s dramatic! But for here, it also makes some level of sense — to see what each can do, solely on their own, and see who comes out on top. Eager to see next week’s decision!