Project Runway Recap: Changing of the Garde

With only five Season 10 designers left fighting for a HP Intel Technology Suite, there was no one to insult the bodies of women who dare let themselves expand past a Size 4, no one to explode into fits of involuntary profanity, no one to disappear under cover of a dark Manhattan night. In other words, this week’s Project Runway drama was almost entirely confined to the runway, or at least in the creation and execution of the garments that ended up on it.

Naturally, there was product placement in the week’s assignment: The Final 5 had to make avant-garde outfits on a $400 budget, over two days, drawing inspiration from Long Island’s Oheka Castle and one of the palettes of the L’Oreal “Electric Fantasie” line. (Side note: That’d be a great name for a thoroughbred racehorse or a high-energy girl group on The X Factor.)

The designers drew their inspirations from the button bag as follows: Enchanted Queen (Fabio); Seductive Temptress (Sonjia); Wise Mystic (Dmitry); and Artsy Muse (Melissa). Christopher, going last, got to choose his muse, and opted for Enchanted Queen. “OMG, it’s a motherf—-n’ Queen-off!”

The workroom process was fairly uneventful, although Sonjia lost a big bolt of gold fabric she’d picked up at Mood. (Where’s a kindly producer to help retrace her steps in the event of such a catastrophe?) And then there was Tim Gunn, expressing lengthy, wordless dismay over Fabio’s bland, rust-colored jacket. “He goes through the stages of silence,” Fabio observed. “There’s the hand on face, there’s the crossed arms, and then he does the whole squint with a tilt.” But the quirky designer, recounting how when he was in college, used to wear button-downs upside-down as pants (!), got a flash of inspiration: Turning his jacket upside down into a sculptural bit of couture.

The runway show brought us a very specific, tough judge in Zoe Saldana. (Let’s have her back again next season, yes?) And here’s how it all played out:

The judges handed the win to Dmitry — and rightfully so — for an innovative suit with a neckline that almost resembled interlocking puzzle pieces, peekaboo panels on the sides of the skirt, and sleeves with exaggerated triangle shapes. As with all things Dmitry, the fit was astonishingly good and the taste level was impeccable, although I agreed with Michael Kors that the neckpiece was “a little Vampira.” Heidi,though, summed up Dmitry’s aesthetic best of all: “[His women] always have a whip in their hands!”

Also sent to safety were Melissa and Christopher — the former for taking risks with a garment that featured a sweeping green leather collar, a black-and-white print skirt, and a neon salmon lining. Heidi debated out loud which was uglier: Melissa’s design or Fabio’s, and while I can’t disagree — the look wasn’t exactly attractive — it also wasn’t boring. In other words, Melissa pushed her boundaries and got rewarded. Christopher’s black gown with exaggerated hip and exposed corset back had more eye dazzle, but a little less excitement — unless you count the feathered sleeves that had La Kors screeching “she looks like she has hairy forearms!” Still, given his four prior wins during the season, there was no way he was getting auf’d without a full-scale disaster, and this was far from it. (Side note: Anyone else suspect Christopher might be a Once Upon a Time fan?)

And so the final elimination came down to Fabio or Sonjia. I didn’t get the former look at all. As Ms. Saldana noted, “not a single item defines any kind of curvature to [the model].” The shapeless palazzo pants, the billowy sheer blouse, the bulky jacket that seemed to flare in all the wrong places? Michael and Nina clearly responded to Fabio’s outthere-ness — “he’s conceptual, androgynous, articulate,” Nina cooed — but as Heidi noted, aside from his real-woman makeover, has the guy come up with any showstoppers?

You knew, though, when MK adopted an old woman’s voice to ridicule the creepy “sheer” back of Sonjia’s gown — and Zoe piled on that one of the floating front pieces looked like a dropped napkin — that she was the one who’d fall short of NY Fashion Week. Personally, I thought her body of work through the season should’ve pulled her ahead of Fabio — Heidi, after all, said she could envision actual celebs rocking Sonjia’s piece on the red carpet! — but it wasn’t meant to be.

And so with that, we’re down to the final four: Dmitry, Christopher, Melissa, and Fabio. Who would you like to see win it all? (I’m going with Dmitry.) Who do you think actually will win? (I’m guessing Christopher.) And did Sonjia deserve to get booted, or should it have been someone else?

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  1. rochelle says:

    This is the first season where I correctly picked the 4 designers. I really think they’ve deliberately been downplaying Dimitry. He’s going to win.

  2. Stefanie says:

    FIrst off, I dont understand how one can wear a button down as pants…. anyone want to try and take a pic? Secondly, I couldnt stand Zoe as a judge- I thought she was trying too hard to be mean/sound like she knew what she was talking about. Lastly, I think the right ones were picked- I actually thought only 3 should move on and Fabio and Sonjia should have gone home.

    • Alyssa says:

      The preview for next week made it seem as if they’re going to eliminate one more person before Fashion Week like they’ve done before. I’m guessing (and hoping) it’ll be Fabio.

      • martina says:

        Having already seen the final NYFW collections I can assure you that Fabio’s was the most conceptual and cohesive of all.

        • Lisa says:

          I give you a sarcastic thank you for providing a spoiler that was not asked for and not wanted.

          • MoHub says:

            It’s not a spoiler. All of the last eight designers showed at Fashion Week, and the collections have been viewable on line at several sites. Knowing Fabio showed is no indication as to how far he ultimately got.

    • MJ says:

      I thought Zoe Saldana was a great judge.

    • gailer says:

      I agree. Only the 3 should have moved on. I was kind of surprised they chose Fabio over Sonjia.

  3. George says:

    I was disappointed to see Sonjia eliminated, but I was glad for once they actually cut someone entirely right before Fashion Week. It had gotten so anti-climatic in the past when nobody was eliminated from the final challenge and they did that whole design-off.

  4. I was super nervous for Dimitry. His clothes are so impeccable and beautiful but they are also quiet and understated. He really isn’t an Avant Garde designer but the man could design an entire wardrobe for the upper crust working women and everyone would say how incredible she looked every day. I really want Dimitry, Christopher and Melissa as the top three. I’m surprised that Sonjia isn’t there but that dress wasn’t exactly up to her construction level. I think Melissa doesn’t work fast, period. I’m sure she’ll have a very good collection now that she’ll have a lot more time to work on it. I’m also sure it will be architectural, black and probably involve a lot of leatha’. ::yawn:: I’m not sure what the heck Fabio is going to put into a whole collection because, in my opinion, his vision isn’t supported by his technical skills. Christopher is kind of a mystery to me. I’m not sure what his vision is. He makes beautiful gowns but I’m not sure I would know a “Christopher” if I saw one. ::shrug:: We will see. Also, when he was drawing and designing his dress I was laughing and saying to the TV that it was too bad he didn’t have Lana Parilla to walk it for him. ::smirk::

    • martina says:

      I agree with what you said about Dmitry: he’s an amazing designer and couturier, but that garment was hideous! Avant-garde at the office, maybe, but no, just no.

  5. Forwarddad says:

    Michael – love your recaps. But it feels like you have
    Lost your creativity on PR? Typos, quick and really without your signature snarkiness.

  6. Kalee says:

    Jaw is on the floor! Cannot believe constantly underwhelming Fabio is going to fashion week while poor Sonjia (who has 2 more wins and more top 3 and less bottom 3 looks than Fabio) got sent home! Hate when Michael and Nina actually fought for him while Heidi championed Sonjia by herself.

    • teatime says:

      Fabio is the contestant where I keep forgetting that he is there. I feel like he has done some interesting things but then I can never remember what they are.

  7. Coolio Jackson says:

    Fabio & Melissa’s outfits were horrific…Sonjia’s wasn’t great but it was better than either of them. Dimitry’s just didn’t fit…it wasn’t Avante Garde nor did it embody any kind of fairy tale allure. He got lucky.

  8. Anna says:

    I’m so glad for Christopher and I hope he’s gonna win – but I’d be fine with Dmitry as a winner as well, because he’s awesome.

  9. Matt says:

    I don’t get the Dmiitry love in this episode. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was gorgeous and incredibly well made, but it looked like a business suit with an odd collar. Not avant garde (at least in my opinion). I thought Fabio’s was more avant garde, even if it was not quite as polished.

  10. Stacy says:

    Based on Heidi’s two outfits last night, I’m not sure she should be judging anyone on fashion! I thought Sonjia really ran out of steam on the show and last night showed it. That green dress was awful. Not a fan of Fabio either, but at least that coat was innovative. I like Dmitry the best but will be interesting to see if his collection is too conservative for the judges. Zoe was a great judge. Articulate, on point and not afraid to disagree.

    • teatime says:

      “Based on Heidi’s two outfits last night, I’m not sure she should be judging anyone on fashion!” lol. About half the time I think what she is wearing would cause someone to be sent home if they created that on the show.

  11. Lisa (@KittyKay3) says:

    Melissa should have went home weeks ago with her “1” dress. The kids challenge was horrific. Her outfit this week was just ugly. Sonjia should have been there over Melissa and Fabio.

    Did anyone else find themselves judging everyone against Chistian Siriano and Chris March’s fabulous season 4 avant-garde look? No one has that kind of talent this season.

    • Melissa says:

      yes i was completely comparing them to those looks, and honestly none of these came close!

      but my guess before the episode was the final three of Christopher, Dmitry and Melissa – so that’s likely, not always my choice, but my best guess. and i completlely agreed with TIm when he said Sonjia wasn’t living up to her potential, i saw that too, and i bet that frustrated the judges.

  12. Summer says:

    Actually, Christopher’s design reminded me more of Charlize Theron in Snow White and the Huntsman than she did Lana Parilla’s Regina.

    I don’t think that the looks were avant-garde-y enough, tonight, to be honest. I liked Christopher and Melissa’s the most, though.

    Out of the four of them, I really want Christopher to win, but I would be fine with Dmitry winning as well.

  13. Pepper says:

    Dimitry should win. Happy with Christopher and Melissa in finale. Totally think Sonjia should have been there over weak Fabio. Didn’t get that last choice at all

  14. Lana 1 says:

    Sonjia should be there instead of Fabio or Melissa but I want Dimitry to win though I wouldn’t mind Christopher since I’ve liked most of his designs too. I too liked Zoe’s critique’s though I disagreed with some, she was pretty right on with what she said. I have to admit I would have loved to have seen what Sonjia would have done with that beautiful gold material and wish they could have sent someone to collect it. Oh well I can’t wait to see everyone’s collections.

  15. Mara says:

    This was the worst Avant Garde challenge I have ever seen!
    Where was the elegance, the drama, the beauty, the innovation?!
    Each outfit was a combination of bland and ill-fitting messes (aside from Dimitry).
    Every single dress was badly constructed (except again for Dimitry), the colours were boring, nothing stood out. No creativity!
    I am happy Dimitry got through and hope he wins, but agree, his look was ordinary and not fairy tale avant garde at all.
    Fabio should have gone home over everyone. His dress was just… horrifically blah. Melissa’s dress was horrific as well…. I wish they had both gone really.
    Christopher’s was badly made and just unflattering on the hips, as Sonjia’s dress was also very badly executed on the top.
    Disappointing final runway.

  16. Gilda says:

    I would have liked to see Sonjia instead. I thought her dress was actually very interesting, and the sheer being obvious and not matching the models skin seems like an understandable mistake because of the competitions speed. In real life she’d have a picture of the model when picking out fabric.
    I think Raoul (I don’t know how to spell it) is clearly talented, but I have the same problem with him heidi does. Besides the grey dress, I can’t even picture a single piece he’s made! In the fashion world, being not memorable is almost worse than being bad!
    I think melissa is a little too one-note. How many high collar leather outfits can you make? If Nina is going to call Dmtry a one trick pony for gravitating towards clean, professional silluetes, she shouldn’t let Melissa off the hook just cause she used teal one week.

  17. Gilda says:

    I nominate Zoe Saldana as a permanent judge.

  18. Ali says:

    Anyone else surprised that Heidi made the comment that they (the judges) were really impressed right after the runway, but when it came to judge’s comments uh…….seemingly not so much??

  19. D says:

    Ok, no one has mentioned this yet. I thought the Loreal guy looked absolutely disheveled this episode. What was with the tie and the unevenly rolled up sleeves? As my mother would say, “he looked like he was dragged through a hedge backwards”. Dude-you are representing your brand! Get it together! He only looked slightly better at the indoors shoot than he did at the outdoors shoot.

  20. martina says:

    LOVED the Season 2’s Motherf—-n Walk-off reference in this recap!

  21. Richard says:

    Because of the timing of Fashion Week vs. the episodes’ airings, usually don’t eight to ten of the designers actually get to show at Fashion Week, with only three are eligible to win Project Runway?

  22. teatime says:

    Is Sonjia left a bag of fabric at Mood, wouldn’t they have found it and delivered it to PR? So did she leave it on the bus on the way back to the workroom?

    • martina says:

      It happened before with Kenley in season 5, she realized she forgot a bag at Mood several hours after and she was given the option to go back to get it, but she wouldn’t be given extra time at the workroom. I guess Sonjia didn’t want to make that sacrifice and decided to “make it work” with what she already had.

  23. GoGiants says:

    None of them were avant-garde, really. And Melissa’s? BORING, it was a long skirt and a vest, looked like 1991 to me. Dmitry’s was an impeccable suit, but still a suit. Nothing avant-garde about a suit, IMO.

  24. nodak says:

    Once again, I agree with you , MS. I hope Dmitry wins, but I think Christopher is going to win.

  25. I’m get in on this late, but only just watched last week’s episode, which I recorded. There wasn’t a single one I really liked! Sanjia’s made me think of Jack and the Beanstalk. I didn’t think the colors of Melissa’s worked, and the jacket didn’t look like it belonged. Fabio’s looked like a bathing suit that was worn by a young woman who lived in Wash. DC in the early 1920s who was in lots of bathing beauty contests. There are about a half dozen pictures of her posted on Shorpy. Those slats belong on some window blinds, in my opinion! Christopher’s had some good things about it, but I think the hip-padding was way too much for that little wisp of a model he has. I think it needed less padding at the hips and a little bit of padding on the bust.

    The one I liked the best was Dmitri’s, but it did have some problems with the fit. It looked kind of like a 1940s suit that might have been designed by someone who had done some time traveling, 100 years in the future. .

    I also the dress that Heidi wore for the runway. The one she wore at the beginning was a pretty outfit, but I think it belonged on someone at least ten years younger than she is.

    Looking forward to seeing the finale. I just hope there is something besides black!

  26. Tim says:

    I’m glad they kept Fabio. Sonjia’s designs have been dull, and she’s had some really terrible ones like the Rockettes outfit.