by Todd O'Dowd
Halfway mark everybody! We only have seven more designers to go before the end of the season, but first it’s the return of my favorite challenge that’s come out of the new Lifetime era: the custom fabric challenge. It’s a great idea in theory, what better way to customize a design then by creating and using a textile that was created by the designer. But that said, the producers couldn’t leave well enough alone.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
•It’s the return of Season 8 runner-up (and Project Runway All Stars winner) Mondo Guerra comes on to reveal the challenge: the designers must create a patterned textile and a modern look based on their “cultural heritage.” And then Tim reveals that a special guest has brought a “cultural dossier” for each designer…
•…and it’s the family members of the designers. It’s always fun to watch the designers interact with their families in that it helps humanize them and gives them a much needed lift. This year, the family members get to go back with the designers to the Atlas for dinner. But Christopher’s comment about wanting the families to leave so everyone would be sad again was a bit douchey.
•Side note #1: Given his freegan lifestyle, I was shocked that Fabio’s boyfriend was so surprisingly normal.
•Side note #2: Contrary to his protestations, Gunnar’s mother does not need a boob job.
•Everyone pulls their looks together and then Tim makes his rounds and then he gets to Ven, describing his dress as a maxi pad and his print as menstrual stains. It was quite disconcerting to see the usually unflappable Tim Gunn lose his shit. Was it a little overdone? Of course it was. Was it unintentionally funny? Oh yeah.
•At the same time, the gays were off of their game. Christopher was making everything about him and trying to be a drama vortex. Meanwhile, Gunnar reverted back to his most obnoxious ways. While bullying is nothing to make fun of, it is interesting that he tried to make his bullying a thing to keep the cameras on him and to garner sympathy.
•And we’re off to the runway, where Mondo and Season 9 winner Anya Ayoung-Chee join Heidi, Michael, and Nina in the judges’s chairs.
First off, with a few exceptions, the prints that each of the designers made were pretty good, so then it came down to how the designers used them. So starting from the upper left…
•Christopher: Great pattern, but then he just made a boring cocktail dress. While there was one other cocktail dress that was all in one pattern, this was so somber that it felt lifeless and boring. Frankly he deserved to be in the bottom three.
•Dmitry: A well deserved (and overdue) win. The print is amazing, but the way he used the print is what set him off. That jacket is amazing!
•Elena: Middle of the road, but it was shocking to see the color combination in the print. And I know they are on trend but if I see one more exposed zipper I’m probably going to go mad.
•Fabio: His inspiration was a little weird, but the print was nifty. I just wished he would have used more color.
•Gunnar: Oddly enough, I though he had something with the print. The faint hands going for the bird was not a bad idea, but then he took the print and made an equestrian-esque jacket and kicky skirt that was completely at odds with the print. I’m not saying he had to go all goth but there was too much of a disconnect between the print and the final outfit.
•Melissa: While she made a cocktail dress, this was better than Christopher’s dress thanks to the print itself being so striking and the tailoring of the dress being well done.
•Sonjia: I was torn between Dmitry and Sonjia for the win. Sonjia’s outfit is pretty simple and I don’t see how the print was her cultural heritage, but the print itself was one of my favorites of the challenge, and the whole look (from the pants to the top with its beautifully draped back) was so well put together that it was a tough call.
•Ven: While I can agree that the judges calling him out on his reliance of his vortex/rose/vagina pleating, frankly this should have happened several challenges ago. As for the print, it was easily the weakest of the bunch. But frankly I felt the judges’ response was over the top, added to the fact that Tim came out to explain to the judges the horrors he dealt with involving menstrual stains and maxi pad dresses. It was frankly outrageous.
•Side Note #3: If you were surprised by Tim’s appearance in the runway segment, you shouldn’t be. As has been reported many times, Tim usually sits in the back of the auditorium of Parsons (where they film the runway segments) and watches the proceedings.
•And it’s a slightly sad farewell to Gunnar. The outright obnoxiousness and fame whoring finally caught up to him.
Next Week: I’m actually quite excited about the challenge. It’s The Rockettes!!