[Can you hear me? Are you still with me? Is this thing on?]
Last week the teams were split up into partnerships and this week, those partnerships carried on with Michelle joining Layana and Patricia. This week was also the first week that the team element of the competition had a direct influence on the final result and Heidi helpfully called it out. I appreciate her candor here--the designer in question needed to know. But the designer who left had a complete right to feel really cheated out. You'll see in a minute.
This week, the designers met a group of vivacious elderly women. They were active, funny, feisty and opinionated. They all had really good hearts and were very good sports about their Project Runway experience. In turn, the designers were very supportive of their clients and worked hard to please them. However good their intentions might have been, the results fell short.
If you've watched more than one Project Runway, you know that the producers like to heighten the tension with the "real woman" challenge. Bring the mothers of designers in and watch the sparks fly. Bring women who used to be heavy with serious body image issues in who will argue with designers over hem length and shape. This time, the challenge was time. They only had a day to produce a dress and only one fitting. There was no time to work out issues of fit or appropriateness--things you can usually fudge when working with super thin runway models.
The designers faced an interesting panel of judges this week. Rachel Roy subbed for Zac Posen and Joan and Melissa Rivers were the guest judges. Withering criticism abounded.
The designers gave them plenty of opportunity.
First things first--the safe team....
Michelle, Layana and Patricia
|"I am totally not going to make you look fat and matronly."|
"I am, however, capable of making you look flat-out ridiculous."
Poor woman! She reminds me of a young Ella Fitzgerald. Ella would have cold cocked a designer who dared to dress her in frayed hunks of fabric. This was a lazy, tacked-on mess and, as Heidi pointed out, it got the lowest score.
The. Lowest. Score.
So low, it dragged two strong designs down into "safe," not that they ever would have contended.... It gave Layana and Michelle an excuse to feel put-upon. They should have felt sorry for the designer who got kicked off instead!
Patricia lumbered off into the back room and gave us her thousand-mile stare. Perhaps it sunk in. She's been coasting along throughout this competition on everyone else's coat-tails. She's a marked woman for the next competition.
Layana continued her streak of producing another fashionable garment. Rachel Roy called out another design as being "youthful." I'll have my thoughts on that later. This, to me, was a very youthful design but never crossed over into juvenile. The fit in the bodice could have been a bit more precise, but the sophisticated print and the piping in the midsection helped to elevate the design.
Michelle's model shimmied down the runway, clearly having the most fun with her dress and her experience. While the dress was very well fitted and perfect for a woman who dances, that print was giving me an ice-cream headache. I think the waist could have been either a little lower or a little wider, too.
Tu and Samantha
Tu would have been in contention for the heave ho this week had it not been for Samantha's strong design.
The back has some clever seaming but it appears that he ran out of time when he got to the front. It looks like he only had time to stitch the front and wrap a belt around everything to keep it together. He didn't even have time to hem the front.
In every "real woman" challenge on Project Runway, a disturbing trend has emerged: the designer who picks the person who has the body closest to that of a model wins the challenge. It makes sense because that designer does not have to spend time on fit and can concentrate on style. This time, there was more than one woman with a perfect body and it did come down to skill level here. Still, my dream is that someone wins this challenge with a model who is less than perfect. I will give them a Siriano for their troubles....
The next three designers had close to perfect models. How did they do?
Samantha and Daniel
|Could designers look anymore awkward and overpowering with their clients? Who staged this shot?|
....Daniel's "first wife" suit. Thank you, Joan Rivers! He attempted to produce an interesting collar and closure treatment for his almost-model body client. I'm all for innovative jackets, but this one is a mess. The pleating just expanded her midsection and the collar looks uneven and sloppy, not asymmetrical. Furthermore, if you're going to do all this work, why do it in black and have it lost on the poorly lit Project Runway catwalk? This woman had gorgeous coloring and could have handled more color in the fabric. The pants are just a bit too tight, too.
Let's see how a stronger designer attacked this challenge...
Stanley and Richard
What's left to say? This look is more sophisticated than any other outfit on the runway. It's steel grey, so you can see all the work that went into it--good and bad, for what it's worth. Heidi would have liked to see a longer pant and Nina wasn't pleased with the fit in the crotch. Still, Rachel pointed out that the back was fitted perfectly and Joan scored the ultimate compliment by saying, "This is a second wife's outfit." Congratulations, Stanley!
|"Hmm....32 inch waist...how do I fit that? I know, drawstring!"|
|From the Richard Hallmarq collection for Lane Bryant....|
|"Oh my God, that's fugly....but we're not ready to toss him this week. Judges, we need to say something nice about it." |
"We call it, 'youthful.' That word polled well with the focus group."
"'Effortless polled well too. Use that!"
Amanda and Benjamin
Amanda's dress has way too much going on...keyhole neckline, winged sleeves, way too much skirt... Melissa pin-pointed the problem when she said that the keyhole neckline was just too much design for a flowing dress. Furthermore a full skirt wasn't the best idea for her body type, either.
What is worse, a bad design or a good design with bad ideas?
"She looks like she's hiding the Liberty Bell," said Joan Rivers, thus sealing the deal. Good bye, Gentle Ben. We'll miss your fabulous hair and dapper bow ties.
See you next week!