Saturday, October 24, 2015

Project Runway Season 14 Episode 12: Best Western

"Hi. I'm Kelly Dempsey. You might know me from TV's Project Runway."
"And after 12 hours hunched over a sewing machine day after day, I'm ready for a break."
"A chance to recharge, relax..."
"Pamper yourself without breaking the bank. Next time, choose Best Western Plus!"
Greetings, Project Runway Fans!!!

Well, we're down to the final four and they're headed out to the land of swimmin' pools and movie stars...Los Angeles.

It's there where Tim greets them with the marketing director.... 

......for Best Western Hotels.

"Wait? This is a Best Western property?"
"Can't be. The hallway didn't smell like a wet dog was sprayed with disinfectant."
"The pool works and it doesn't have dead bugs floating in it."
The first prize for this challenge is 100 free nights at any Best Western property, including their exclusive Best Western Plus properties. I know what you're thinking. The second place prize was 200 free nights....

But what's the challenge?

Kelty Knight, correspondent for "The Insider," a syndicated entertainment show, came out to explain to the designers that their challenge was to design a look for the red carpet. Kelty then proceeded to insult their intelligence by explaining what famous people like her look for in a red carpet gown.

As if they didn't know this.

Tim gave them some time to sit, take in the surroundings, draw and plan their designs. They had $400 and two days to sew.

"Welcome to LA Mood!"
NYC is showing Project Runway no love this year. Parsons moved its NYC location to digs that no longer accommodate the show. The new studios are nowhere near Mood or the fashion district. The fashion district, itself, is slowly fading away. Designer boutiques are now found all over the city. In fact, some of the hottest up and coming designers have studios in Brooklyn and Queens. We getting the feeling that we're wanted anymore, New York!

Meet Oscar (named after Oscar de la Renta.)
You may recall Oscar from Tim's short-lived design show, Under the Gunn, which aired during one of Project Runway's hiatuses. UTG also taped at the workshop in the Fashion Institute of of Design and Merchandising, right in downtown LA, blocks from Mood. Oscar is a rescue dog who sleeps most of the day and walks around greeting customers in the late afternoon. Should you happen by and wish to see him in action, around 3-4 pm is best.

I remember the dreadful season when Project Runway taped in LA. Maybe now that the Fashion District is more established there, perhaps another season in LA might be in order.  I can't believe I'm saying it, but as AARP would say....

imagine the possibilities....
  • the canyon fire challenge, 
  • the mudslide challenge,
  • dress a former actress fso that she can attend a fake party thrown by her reality TV star friend,
  • design, draw and hand sew your dress while stuck in traffic on the 405....
This could be good stuff, no?

This week's guest judge was Christian Siriano. Now that he's grown up and wildly successful, he doesn't throw the shade he used to throw when he was a contestant. 

But we all know what he was thinking....

This was the last challenge before choosing the finalists and this was the best you could do?

Why don't you pull up a comfortable hotel lobby chair and join me as we look through this week's designs?

Candice Cuoco

There was such little drama from Candice this week that it hardly seemed as though she was there. This dress walked down the carpet and it hardly seemed as if it was there, either. 

Candice looked at the wide expanse of the valley view and was inspired to do an "open back."  I'm not really seeing an "open back" here. At Mood, she saw a black, sequined, sheer fabric and used that to close up the dress. The dress had one, interesting feature that you can't see in these pictures. The cross hatch fabric continues to the front under the arms.  

But the way the runway is lit, you can't see those details. Christian had to practically put his face up against it to appreciate the darting. Even still, the fit in the bodice is off, particularly on the (model's) right side, which formed a little bunch up that distracted from the silhouette.  And how many times have we seen this silhouette before? There is nothing fresh or inspiring about this dress.
In many other seasons, this would not have been enough to get to Fashion Week as a finalist. She could gamble by doing a simple thing well because she was pretty sure that Kelly would go hip hop, Edmond would go trashy, and Ashley would take a huge risk and be in over her head.

And that's exactly what happened....only....Kelly worked harder than anyone expected.

Kelly Dempsey

Do I like this look? No. Do I think that it fits the challenge? Only if you stretch the definition of the challenge to include music award shows. Should this have been a disaster? Most definitely.

Kelly spent most of her time constructing a textile from triangles of fabric sandwiched between a grey, patterned sheer layer and a blue moiré type fabric underneath. The effect of this was stunning.  However, by layering muslin in between, any stretch the fabric may have had before was gone. And Kelly had a lot of trouble fitting the garment on to her model. 

Despite all her hard and clever work, the model's body won this challenge for Kelly. It fits HER perfectly. SHE can carry off the look and this styling. No one else could, however. Kelly won a styling and construction challenge, not a DESIGN challenge.

But once again, in a season that is so hungry for anything beautiful or compelling to walk down the runway, Kelly comes out on top. She wins 100 free nights at a Best Western property! 

I love Kelly's personality and her honesty but I'm left wondering if, without completing formal training and technical savvy, will she run out of things to say in a final runway show? Her early work showed some questionable taste. She appeals to such a niche market that you wonder if she even has a business model and whether it could be sustained. This is, after all, a show to find the next, great American designer.

We'll see when she gets to Fashion Week, won't we? Whether or not she wins, I think it's clear that she needs to be Best Western's new spokesperson.

Ashley Tipton

Ashley did exactly what she needed to do this week. Her fabric choice and her technical savvy kept her from being successful with it.

First, she fell in love with the weirdest fabric. On the surface, it was a matte bronze. The slightest brush revealed silver lamé.

The design was on point. Change up the shape of the bodice on a gown to present some interesting positive and negative space. She would have been able to pull it off if only she had purchased the right boning for the bustier. Instead, the bottom began to sink and she had to sew in a support strap.

As you can see, the support strap caused awkward gathering on the top part of the bodice. As for the rest of the dress, as Heidi observed, it was a brush by accident waiting to happen.

"I'm really not supposed to like this, but I kind of do."
That impish Christian might have just thrown this challenge to Ashley. And why not? In a season of such lackluster designs, exactly who should you reward? The one who takes the risk and fails or the one who is so afraid to take a risk that he fails?

Edmond Newton

This week, Edmond had some commitment issues.
Long gown. Red carpet means long gown. Got that?
This is for the final. Got to take a risk. Color. Bold color. Got that?
But on Tim's first walk through, Edmond had a table that looked like the remnant bin at Mood.

He even went so far as to produce a ruched garment that looked pretty compelling, next to the other three designs.  But he also draped a garment out of the sequined fabric for comparison. Tim convinced him to go bold.

I'm not the world's biggest fan of sequins. Oh, they're shiny and all, but to me, they're a cheap and easy way of producing glimmer and shine. I can't get past the rough feel of the edges. It's like rubbing a fish scale the wrong way. So I completely understand Edmond's trepidation.

I don't know exactly what happened after he draped the dress, but Edmond began cutting until he got to this.

As you can see, it's really short. The sleeves aren't sleeves but cape like wings...and

That didn't work out so well for Gabrielle Aruda.
The judges weren't that thrilled. Christian tepidly argued that Edmond's was the most colorful piece. But it wasn't enough. When Heidi went on and on about who would wear this and why it was so sort and how she was SO DISAPPOINTED in Edmond....

Well, let's just say, Ms. Klum, that the Internet knows all.
Well...looky here!
As they were saying their Auf Wiedersehens, Heidi mentioned that Edmond had been up and down. Not exactly. There was only one challenge in which Edmond received a low score. He had been a solid sender this season up to this point.


The chatroom erupted into a debate.

There's a save because....

  • The last scene which should have been Tim saying goodbye and telling him to clean out his space was rushed through.
  • Next week's preview showed a mysterious piece of arm next to Ashley in one scene that didn't appear to belong to the other two designers.
  • Since getting the save, Tim has always used it.
  • The preview video is tantalizingly titled "Almost Eliminated."
There's no save because...
  • Tim has said on several talk shows and in interviews that this was his least favorite season.
  • Heidi said he may or may not use the save.
  • Some of the folks who attended the fashion week show indicated that there appeared to be three clear finalists, not four.

I don't know what to think anymore. I think this picture of Nina wraps up everything I'm feeling right now.
Nina can't even.
Back to Edmond for a moment. I'm getting a huge Mychael Knight vibe from Edmond. While I think he's way more thoughtful and technically accomplished than Knight was at the time he was on the show, like Knight, he benefits from being surrounded by good designers. As the field began to shrink, Edmond's imagination appeared to shrink with it. He's practically by himself now and second guessed everything in this challenge. What would happen when he was completely by himself to produce a runway show? That's where Knight collapsed. 

It would be a shame if he didn't get a chance to try to pull off a win. Of all seasons, this would be the season to do it.  I guess we'll see next week when Tim talks to the finalists and visits them at home to find out what they're doing.

I'll be reviewing all of the decoy designers in the weeks leading up to the Fashion Week runway show. So stay tuned for those posts.

Until next week, join us in the Blogging Project Runway chatroom on Thursday, 9 pm Eastern Time for our weekly group watching party.


  1. "The folks who attended the fashion week show indicated that there appeared to be three clear finalists, not four." Not from where the BPR crew was sitting! Have no fears, Edmond fans.

  2. Some folks said they weren't sure. We'll see. You seemed really convinced that there's a save.

  3. Well I would love to see Edmond was saved by TG then got booted again next episode.

    1. You're a cruel, cruel person! I wanted to see all four compete for three slots. What does that say about me?
      Neither is going to happen.