Project Runway Recap: You Weep What You Sew

This week’s Project Runway found the nine remaining designers tackling the “Push Everybody to the Brink of Emotional Collapse” challenge. Sonjia and Elena wound up sobbing as though someone had snuck into Parsons in the middle of the night and used the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall thoughtlessly and haphazardly. Melissa scrapped her dress and started a new one with, like, 11 minutes left in the workday. And Tim was reduced to chanting ridiculous platitudes like “Channel your inner winner!” (Perhaps it’s best The Revolution didn’t get a second season after all.)

Okay, okay…actually this week featured the Lord & Taylor challenge — yes, apparently every week of Season 10 will feature some kind of synergistic shout-out to a Project Runway judge and/or corporate partner — but the idea was a pretty cool one. To celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary, the retailer put into production a Project Runway Collection consisting of nine cocktail or evening dresses — one from a designer from every season the show has aired. The Season 10 contestants were tasked with designing the 10th and final frock, one that could fit in seamlessly with the other looks, stay true to their own points of view, and retail for $200-$300.

The idea of having a look mass-produced and sold in a major department store seemed to energize most of the designers. Even “He Who Gags at the Sight of a ‘Real-Sized’ Woman” suddenly began saying that he had to “think about the customers” (or at least the customers who are Size 4 and under).

But the honeymoon was short-lived, especially for the female designers. (“Men are usually stronger designers, while women are a little more practical,” quipped “He Who Reduced a Working Mother to Tears in the Middle of Her Fantasy Makeover.” Nothing like a little rampant sexism to woo your female customer base!)

Anyhow, Elena grumbled and gurgled and fretted and cried about having to compromise her avant garde style to suit a mass-market audience. Melissa spiraled into a frenzy when her chosen brocade fabric proved unforgiving to potential design flaws, scrapping her garment and starting it from the very beginning with only a few hours left. And as the runway show approached, Sonjia wept openly while trying to fit her dress onto her model. I thought it was sweet how Elena (Our Lady of Eastern European Heartlessness) came to her friend’s rescue with some last-minute assistance.

dmitry project runway lord taylor challengeThe judges — including guest Bonnie Brooks of L&T — chose a Top 4 and a Bottom 2 this week. For some reason, they not only failed to give the win to Dmitry’s silver stunner (with its flawless fit, “city skyline” neckline, and flattering vertical seams, pictured at top), they relegated him to the “safe” pile along with Sonjia and Ven (whose “bodice rose” detail is growing really tiresome). Anyone have a theory why Dmitry gets less respect from the judges than a substitute teacher on the last day of school? Please help me to understand!

Anyhow, let’s dive into the week’s highest- and lowest-scoring designs:

Judges’ Top 3
CHRISTOPHER: I agreed with Christopher that his gown (pictured, second from the top) looked really expensive, plus it fit his model beautifully. I didn’t even mind him repeating his raggedy-silk-strips technique — except for the fact that the frayed edges looked really sloppy on that open back. All in all, Christopher’s victory would’ve made total sense — if Dmitry’s superior garment hadn’t been held hostage in the designer’s lounge.

MELISSA: I’ll admit I howled with laughter when Michael Kors suggested a little bell get placed on the end of Melissa’s 1-800-too-much fishtail back. But that flaw aside, her copper brocade dress had a quirky sexiness about it, and while that strapless neckline panel wasn’t exactly the stuff of mass-market success, it certainly wasn’t boring. (Side note: What the heck was with La Kors’ cryptic comment that “half the battle at night is from the waist up”?)

ELENA: I’m not sure I loved what Elena’s dress did to her model’s breasts; they seemed caught in a trap between the “harness” and the babydoll straps. Plus, the back of the skirt made her model’s hindquarters look pretty bulky. But the dress certainly had more of an individual point of view than most of Elena’s competitors, and I have to admit I was touched when she burst into tears at the news she was among the top-scoring contestants.

fabio project runway lord taylorFABIO: Fabio seems like a sweetie, but come ON. His little black dress (pictured, second from the bottom) was as plain as a piece of unbuttered toast, save for the asymetrical hem and atrociously executed back zipper. I agreed with pink-disco-ball-wearin’ Heidi: This one could’ve been more exciting. In fact, I’d have put Fabio at the bottom of the pack along with Alicia.

Judges’ Bottom 2
GUNNAR: “Why the f— am I in the bottom?” asked Gunnar, and honestly, I don’t know. Yeah, okay, so his short lace number with the matte sequins (pictured at bottom) wasn’t exactly revolutionary, but neither was Christopher’s winning garment. I mean, when I really think about it, I bought a Michael Kors suit last year at a department store, and it’s made from a nice fabric, and well cut, but at the end of the day it’s still just a mass-market gray suit that doesn’t really look all that different from a gray suit from Calvin Klein or Hugo Boss or DKNY. And it doesn’t mean Michael Kors should be auf’d. I think 90 women out of 100 would rather wear Gunnar’s dress than He Who Will Not Be Named’s “alien ripping out of the chest-flower” nonsense, no? Okay, I’m rambling, but I’m not really sure what criteria put Gunnar at risk of going home. To quote Heidi Klum, “I quite liked it!”

ALICIA: Yeah, this one was a little too plastic-bag chic, and probably the right choice to go home, if someone was gong to go home. But despite Michael’s disdain for the “field-hockey uniform” style, Alicia, along with Gunnar, was spared an air kiss from Heidi. The judges felt everyone had passed the Lord & Taylor test — and also with the double drop-out of Andrea and Kooan, they needed to buy another week for Lifetime — and so no one was sent to the workroom to clean up his or her space. Hoory? Okay, hooray.

What did you think of last night’s Project Runway? Did you agree with the Top 4 and Bottom 2? Would you have sent someone home? If so, who? Use the comments section thoughtfully to express yourself!