Project Runway Recap: What Nina Doesn't Like

This week’s Project Runway featured the scariest challenge yet. No, it didn’t involve having to design an outfit for freaky tall stilt walkers or make a dress out of a napkin or something else absurd. The designers had to create a day-to-evening outfit for a client. Sounds simple enough until you find out the name of said client: judge Nina Garcia. Everyone was all smiles when Nina walked out onto the runway, but Bryce summed up what they were really thinking when he said, “Oh s–t.”

He had reason to be scared. Nina quickly gave a description of what she wanted — clean, tailored, classic with a edge — before launching into a list of what she doesn’t like: Anything overly voluminous, loud colors or patterns — my immediate thought was, “You’re so screwed, Anya” — pleats, boring grey, breathing. You know, the stuff you always do, designers. The hate train continued in the work room as she checked out the designers’ progress. Add Bryce’s cowl collar, Cecilia’s sad color palette, Anya’s mustard yellow print, Julie’s big collar, Danielle’s too soft blouse and Laura’s Christmas green to the Nina Hates This list. I was disappointed Anya dyed her fabric because I loved the yellow, but Cecilia’s grey was, indeed, so very sad. She thought it looked purple under the Mood store lights, which made me wonder if she was really the colorblind one and not Anthony Ryan.

But the prize for the winning look this week was big. And balancing out the toughness of trying to impress Nina as both a judge and a client, not to mention two guest judges — actress Kerry Washington and Marie Claire Editor in Chief Joanna Coles — was daunting. Not sure why Washington was necessary when you had Coles, who was tougher than Nina and doled out more one-liners than Michael Kors this week. But back to the prize… Not only would Nina wear the outfit, it would also be featured in a Marie Claire ad on taxi cabs across New York and in a Marie Claire editorial. Not too shabby.

THE BEST | The top three were Anya, Viktor and Kimberly. The dyed color on Anya’s jumpsuit actually turned out to be quite nice, so I forgive her for not sticking to her guns and getting rid of the yellow. There was still a hint of yellow, and as the judges pointed out, the back was divine. Anya’s model also deserves some props. She worked that outfit, and the bob was great, the styling sleek. But Anya failed to mention that Laura helped her sew the outfit when Heidi marveled at how quickly she’s picked up the trade. Anya just smiled and said she was a quick learner. A little deceitful, if you ask me. A part of me wonders if maybe Anya is underplaying her sewing skills to position herself better. When she creates something bad, it’s, “Oh, well, she can’t sew. But she’s trying.” When she makes something good, it becomes a “Wow!” moment.

Viktor was very smart to make his little black dress into two separate garments, giving Nina the option to mix and match it with other pieces. And the outfit’s unusual shape took it from a nice, but safe LBD — cough, Bert, cough — to something a little more interesting. It looked sophisticated, polished and completely worthy of a fashion editor.

But the winning look was Kimberly’s gold top and navy pants. Given how much Nina disliked Anya’s yellow, I’m surprised she went for the shiny, golden top, which was the very definition of “loud colors.” While the pants were tailored to perfection, I just couldn’t get over how much the top looked like gift wrap I once bought at Rite Aid. It also looked constricting and uncomfortable. I would have given the win to Anya just because I don’t quite believe Nina when she says she’d wear a jumpsuit. I want to see her in it!

THE WORST | Danielle’s simple black pants and green blouse ended up being safe, but not before they bore the brunt of the judges’ wrath. Michael said it looked like something Joan Crawford would wear to a St. Patrick’s Day party. (That’s a bad thing?) Nina called it pedestrian. But Coles took the cake, saying she’d think Nina was ill if she came into work wearing it and that it looked like something a housewife might wear while making pureed acorn squash for her kids. First, what in the world?! Second, who’d wear that while cooking? Third, are her kids squirrels?

Then there’s Cecilia. Maybe instead of helping Julie, you should have spent more time on your outfit? There really was nothing redeeming or unique about it. But it was Julie who ended up going home after confusing the judges with her “droat.” They thought her dresscoat looked more like a housecoat. I thought it was more of a tracksuit dress. I could see there being a customer for it, but it’s definitely not Nina.

THE REST | In the battle of the same fabric, I liked Becky’s dress over Anthony Ryan’s dull top, but both of their outfits looked like they had fallen into wet cement. Not sure how Bryce escaped the bottom 3. His outfit looked like a rejected Star Trek uniform, and the hem was horrible. While I wouldn’t put them in the Top 3 as is, Laura and Joshua M’s outfits intrigued me. I liked Laura’s peekaboo skirt, but the drop sleeves had got to go. The color and back of Joshua’s dress were very eye-catching (and also revealed that Nina never wears a bra, thanks TMI!), but the front was odd. It looked like the pattern for the dress had been placed on top. And that’s it… Oh, wait, Olivier’s still here? He’s so quiet and unassuming that I keep forgetting he exists — as did Bert, who spoke about Olivier being on the runway when he was sitting right next to him! Both he and his outfit were forgettable this week. Pump up the volume, kid!

What did you think of this week’s episode of Project Runway? Was it Julie’s time to go? Did you agree with the winning look?

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