Project Runway Recap: Auto Immunity

project runway lexus challengeIf too many cooks can spoil the soup, then it follows that too many “twists and turns” can reduce a Project Runway challenge into something of a muddled mess. This week, the 14 remaining designers were split into seven teams of two, paired with a client who happened to be a former Runway contestant and a Lexus vehicle that would provide a “color inspiration,” and then asked to create a red-carpet look for said client for the 2012 Emmys. (Why not just make everybody jump through a flaming hoop for good measure?)

Things in the workroom got fairly ridiculous — as is usually the case during team challenges. Gunnar wondered with thudding cultural cluelessness if Kooan had ever seen the Emmys, apparently oblivious to the fact that Japan is a developed nation with access to international broadcasts and red-carpet events of its own. (Ugh.) Alicia and Raul — nether of whom had ever made a gown before and both of whom had expressed a general fear of prints — naturally gravitated to making a gown with a print fabric. And in what I should’ve realized was an ominous sign (but didn’t), Christopher expressed how “honored” he felt to team up with/learn from elder stateswoman Andrea.

Adding a little extra tension to the process, the show brought back some of its, um, stronger personalities as clients. (Alas, though, Gretchen Jones was not there to bring her Blair Witch/damp wool aesthetic to the mix.) Gunnar, adding a desire to hit a woman to his list of charms, blathered about wanting to “slap” Season 6 champ Irina Shabayeva for having an opinion. Tim Gunn and Mila Hermanovski, meanwhile, cast a dubious eye on Raul and Alicia’s work in progress: When Mila noted their chosen fabric had a “daytime” vibe, Tim chimed in that “you don’t want her to look like she just came from a pool party.” (That might’ve been preferable to the final product, though.) In another ominous sign, Andrea began searching for scraps of fabric in the trashcan so that she and Christopher could make their gown a little more modest. And then Elena began a scaryfaced meltdown/dramatic cigarette-smoking interlude over time-management and partner Buffi’s tailoring skills. “The weak don’t survive” in Ukraine, she huffed, probably envisioning Buffi being ejected from fashion school and forced to work on an assembly line in a chicken-processing plant.

Anyhow, let’s review the best and worst of the week in Lexus/Emmy red carpet/former contestant couture-:

Judges’ Top 2
VEN & FABIO: No doubt, the draping across the bodice and skirt (pictured far left) was masterfully executed, but I couldn’t shake Sonjia’s spot-on assessment: “She could go to church in that dress and no one would think twice.” Alas, how this frock won a red-carpet Emmy challenge is one of those Project Runway mysteries understandable only to those who use “on trend” in daily casual conversations. And no, Nina’s rave — “it’s appropriate!” — didn’t justify the win in my book.

GUNNAR & KOOAN: Possibly my favorite moment of the episode was watching Irina crack open a bottle of 100-proof bitchery as she examined the nasty bunching at the back of the gown (pictued second from left) that Gunnar and Kooan designed for her. “Do you not wanna fix this?” she said, incredulous. “I seem to be the only one concerned.” By the time she started barking out orders — “get some needles!” — I half-expected her to slip out of her garment and remedy its issues herself. Still, while the hem looked a little wonky to me, and the only special detail appeared to be a necklace from the Lord & Taylor accessory wall, the dress won first runner-up.

Judges’ Bottom 3
RAOUL & ALICIA: Raul huffed that he hated “every single second” of the red-carpet challenge, and boy did it show in the haphazard waistline and atrocious bust of this basic black dress. “Not one piece of sex appeal,” gasped Heidi, who does like a bit of sex appeal in her clothing. “There’s a horse somewhere missing its tail!” squealed Michael, noticing the ghastly extension the contestants had attached to Mila’s head. Later, though, he summed up the dress’s issues better than I ever could: “The skirt was a piece of fabric. It literally just gathered at the waist, crooked hemline, with that ugly red belt at the wrong place.” But how did he really feel? When Alicia finally spilled the beans that Raul was the one who began the sketching process, you knew the dude was about to get auf’d.

CHRISTOPHER & ANDREA: I felt kind of skittish watching Christopher and Andrea turn on each other on the runway, but it seemed like the kid had a point that his more experienced partner had wasted too much time cutting her pattern, and that she seemed a tad blasé about the entire Runway experience. (Granted, with age comes the wisdom to know that a reality competition crown isn’t the most important thing in life, but that doesn’t mean you giggle through your sewing errors, either.) As Heidi noted, the hooks on the sports-bra back were plainly visible, and the hem was “a bit on the slopey-slope.” Luckily for Christopher and Andrea, Raul and Alicia’s garment relegated it to a Silver medal in fuggery.

Should’ve Been in the Top
DMITRY & MELISSA, ELENA & BUFFI Clearly, the judges have some vendetta against Dmitry, leaving him midpack for the second week running despite cranking out a silver charmeuse gown (pictured second from right) with his partner Melissa that looked extemely expensive and featured interesting details like a mid-arm sleeve and a groovy neckline. Buffi and Elena, meanwhile, despite all their workroom drama, cranked out a sexy yet classy black gown with a delicately pleated bust and poofy little sleeve (pictured far right) that would’ve actually been right at home under the glaring spotlight of Ryan Seacrest’s “Who are you wearing?” ridiculousness.

Whay did you think of last night’s Project Runway? Use the comments section thoughtfully to express yourself!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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35 Comments
  1. Chris says:

    Continue to be just baffled on the judging this season. I liked the winning dress but agree that it was mostly forgettable and not really red carpet worthy — so why give it the win. Maybe because Kenley just LOVED it? Kooan’s moments of fatality commentary was hilarious. I do fall on the side of Christopher — and he also get’s a win for his snappy comebacks when in the sewing room. Elena and Buffi’s workroom antics and cattiness were another highlight — especially Elena basically calling for a hunger strike until they finished the friggin’ dress. Really Elena, you couldn’t allow 5 minutes??!!

    • Jenny says:

      I think that one overall won because Kenley simply loved it. She sold it and you could see how happy she was. I don’t know if it is red carpet for the Emmys. Would be perfect red carpet for something like a movie premiere. Maybe if it were longer (to the ankle) it could be more Emmy red carpet. Irina on the other hand looked miserable even though it was a nice dress. I get being frustrated in that you see how something is wrong and someone doesn’t want to deal with it, but it looked like there were other issues with it in her mind and not just a hemline.

    • Runway Watcher says:

      I think Christopher is equally to blame for his and Andrea’s problems. It appears he never really addresses his issues to Andrea. Maybe if he had actually talked to his partner than talk about his partner, things might have gone a little differently.

  2. anon says:

    I think Ven & Fabio won simply because theirs was the only outfit that was not a complete mess. It was pretty and very well made, but I couldn’t see anyone wanting to wear it on the red carpet at the Emmys. A cocktail party, wedding, on a date, sure — but not on the red carpet.

    Gunnar & Kooan’s gown was far more appropriate for the red carpet, but I thought it was pretty boring and a little sloppy in the execution.

    The rest of the outfits were dreadful.

    • anon says:

      Also, the most interesting part of the whole episode came right at the end, when Andrea disappeared in the middle of the night.

    • KevyB says:

      Yes, this is the SECOND straight season where they’ve had an evening gown competition and then given the contestants far too little time to make nice dresses! STOP THIS, RUNWAY, IT ISN’T FUN TO WATCH! There wasn’t a perfect dress in the group, but I was willing to overlook tailoring issues given the ridiculous time standard. I’m NOT willing to overlook the fact that the LEAST Emmy-worthy dress won. GAWD! If it wasn’t for all the drama next week, this would’ve been one of those weeks where judging ridiculousness would cause me to forget this show exists until next season.

    • Lisa (@KittyKay3) says:

      You wrote what I was planning to write. Keenley’s dress wasn’t Red Carpet, but it was pretty and she loved it. Everything else was a hot mess. Anya is a gorgeous girl. They made her look frumpy and a little chunky. Michael and Andrea both should have went home for that alone. They had the best model.

      I am hating this season so far. I don’t like many of the contestants, hating many. They aren’t as talented as past seasons. I am giving this show one more week before abandoning it for the season. Is anyone else disappointed in this season so far?

  3. forwarddad says:

    I agree about Andrea missing but alas I believe she will turn up after a long walk to clear her head. Just typical PR drama I think. All the designers did was use the Lexus car color. Someone could have gotten creative perhaps incorporating the insignia, inside leather color or grill work,

  4. martina says:

    I’m not a fan of Dmitry’s aesthetic, but I feel he deserved to be in the Top in all 3 challenges. He has a clear point of view and amazing design and sewing skills. Hope he doesn’t get frustrated and keeps working hard, as I believe that he has a good chance of being at Fashion Week.

    • I agree with two of the challenges but not the candy one. The crux of that challenge was to use candy and Dimitry really didn’t use all that much. The top half of his dress was fabric. I loved it, it was beautiful but it wasn’t the challenge. His dress this week was definitely top 2 material though. I really don’t understand how that under designed poorly executed white dress beat the silver or the gold dress. Gee, I’ve never ever seen a white choker mermaid dress with a cape before! What utter crap. I understand that Kooan was freaking out because he’s never made any kind of formal wear but he knows how to construct clothes. So why was that look so freaking sloppy?! If I were Irina I’d be irritated too. If those two yahoos had won she would have been stuck wearing that to the Emmys. That would have been humiliating for someone who is as good a tailor as Irina. I think April’s Blue Steel walk down the runway probably hurt their chances.

  5. Lena says:

    I personally thought that Andrea should have.gone home bc.of her attitude, cutting and sewing skills. She absolutely said in the waiting room that if she were to leave.it would almost be a relief and poor Christopher he.has true talent. I would have given Raoul another chance. If Andrea did leave then I hope they bring someone back and Christopher will be.validated.

  6. MDEP says:

    Every dress was terrible and not Emmy worthy. The first few eps had some great designs, but this week was just terrible. I agree with Matt that DMITRY & MELISSA and ELENA & BUFFI should have been in the top, though. And Gunnar seems like a terrible person, really. The fact that he was in the top made me feel disgusted.

  7. Mara says:

    I couldnt believe gunner was in the top two at first. However, looking at the picture with all the dresses side-by-side, the white dress really does pop the most.

    Dmitry and Elena’s dresses should have been in the top for sure. The white dress still looks the best in the pictures oddly enough, just not in person.

  8. Alyssa says:

    Christoper and Andrea was so entertaining. I loved him mouthing “marrowing” over and over haha. And Krysten Ritter’s face illustrated exactly what I was thinking. I don’t understand why Dmitry isn’t getting recognized for his work. And I have no idea why Andrea wasn’t in the bottom last week with that awful apron.

  9. revknits says:

    I think April’s completely dour expression during her runway walk killed the opportunity for a win. And the lack of a bra didn’t do the dress any favors. Designers never seem to think about undergarments.

    Andrea is totally bye-bye. She fled into the night never to return. That will probably be the last local sewing instructor that they cast.

  10. Deb McLean says:

    “Gretchen Jones was not there to bring her Blair Witch/damp wool aesthetic” OMG – that phrase alone is GOLD…..

  11. Zoey says:

    I like Ven and Fabio’s dress as a daytime or cute cocktail look, but the three designer pairs the judges declared merely “safe” gave better and more memorable dresses. Also, what the sam heck was up with Elena’s meltdown?

    • GDV says:

      I agree, the ‘safe’ dresses were actually a lot more memorable for me. I thought that gold/sequined one especially looked very red-carpet and should have gotten some attention from the judges, but no one has even mentioned it in any of the comments!

  12. D says:

    The judges were smiling so much when April’s dress came down that I thought it was going to be in the top 2. Should have been.

  13. soarin829 says:

    I think I must be alone in thinking Sonjia and Nathan’s dress was the best! I loved that one for sure.
    I think in Kenley winning, they probably were also thinking about having to take part in interviews and she seems like she could easily hold conversations with red carpet folks. Whereas Irina comes across like such a … well, b*tch.

    • Katie says:

      No, I totally agree. Their dress was my personal favorite. But Sonjia echoed my thoughts exactly when she exclaimed that she thought the “middle” three were going to be the top 3. I just did not understand judging this week AT ALL.

    • LadyB says:

      I agree. Sonjia and Nathan’s was my favorite too! The judging for this challenge didn’t make a lot of sense to me this week.

  14. Paige G. says:

    YES!!! Dmitry SO should’ve won this week and last week! Ven is good, but he can’t win every single challenge.

  15. Brigitte says:

    i think that they really need to give the designers more time when they are doing “red carpet” looks. The designs all looked rushed and the fabrics tend to be difficult to work with. And if the design doesn’t seem to be working there is no time to rework it. (Unless you are Michael)

    • Tess says:

      I think they need to give them more time for challenges period. Ever since the show moved to Lifetime, it seems that every challenge aside from the final runway collection gets little more than a day to complete – and if you notice the quality of construction and creativity has gone down considerably since the channel change as well. I can’t help but think that if they were given more time the designers would create more amaing garments then we’ve seen over the last few seasons.

  16. arials says:

    I missed seeing Laura’s detailed request, but felt Buffi and Elena went with the wrong style for someone as tall, slender and sophisticated as Laura. Had they chosen something more form fitting, Laura could have carried anything off (and they might have won!). What a missed opportunity! And the hair style! That was more appropriate for a twenty-something, not someone Laura’s age. I guess I just can’t help but compare the work to date by this group with the contestants of Laura’s season (as a group, they were probably the best ever). Perhaps, as the season progresses, we’ll see better work from the remaining designers.

  17. Sookie says:

    I definitely loved the gold dress that Sonja and Nathan made, it was red carpet worthy and very flattering as well. April’s dress would have looked gorgeous on someone else. She just looked like she was miserable. In fact, put the silver dress on Laura and the black dress on April and it would have been perfect. As far as poor Christopher and Andrea the whole thing was Anya’s fault! The neckline of the original dress was great! Considering every dress she designs has a plunging neckline I do not understand her supposed modesty. The skirt was a disaster!
    And I do not understand the love for Ven’s dress. That was in no way a red carpet look. Maybe if it was a long skirt. I bet the skirt is long when the Emmy’s actually happen. And what was wrong with the red and black print? If the short church dress Kenley was wearing was red carpet worthy then the print would have worked great too.

  18. PFitzDC says:

    Dmitry and Melissa totally should have been in the top–and won! How could the judges not find Gunnar/Koan’s dress boring and uninspired? And Ven/Fabio–it was beautiful, but it was not an Emmy dress. Please dump Nina and Michael–they clearly aren’t fashion forward anymore. Bring back the judges from all-stars!

  19. PFitzDC says:

    Koan might be the person to quit next week…but I think it’s going to be the mysterious Nathan… He was crying and it sounded like his voice saying he couldn’t take this or whatever. Also, can anyone remember if he has done ANY producer interviews? I don’t think he has…and as Michael noted–he was totally absent from the first episode…. Something weird is up with that one.
    I can see Andrea, at 58, deciding that she just doesn’t want to deal with the reality show b.s. The being filmed, the being asked to back bite, etc. etc. Her personality doesn’t suit the format and she probably decided to just walk away and be done with it all.

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