This was the episode we were waiting for! When Tim Gunn previewed this season to my colleague ahead of the premiere, he warned us that he would absolutely lose it. And he did not disappoint. But the reason he was so upset has me a little frustrated. I think the designers had the deck stacked against them for this challenge, but I’ll get to that. First let’s recap…
“Crew’s All In” began with shots of the people behind the cameras and scenes. On the runway, Heidi tells the designers to head up to the workroom, where Tim is holding a walkie-talkie. Why you might ask? Well, so he can make a show of not-at-all-planned requests for crew members to report to the workroom. (I do hope that they call him “TG” in production, though. It takes no less time to say than “Tim Gunn,” but it has a certain ring to it.)
Once there, the poor crew members who were forced into this challenge are paired with the remaining six designers. It’s the Sally Beauty, every-woman challenge. Tim calls this taking it to “another level.” I call it not wanting to have to pay strangers for a day of filming. The good news for the designers is they get two days for the challenge — which probably means the show needed the extra time for their crew to juggle running the show and being in the show. (Has recapping Project Runway too long made me this cynical?)
The designers have 30 minutes to work with their “clients” on what design ideas. And here’s where I think the bias of this challenge starts to show. When past every-woman challenges pulled a stranger off the street, that woman wouldn’t have preconceived opinions about the designer’s work. All of these crew members do.
Case in point, when Katie Harris, a camera assistant, is put with Merline she says “good god” and then promptly requests no coats because she’s seen Merline’s boxy shoulders before. So instead of requesting what she actually wanted in a design, Katie requested what she didn’t want from Merline. That’s not a good place to start a design. And I think many of the other women did that as well.
Desiree Ortiz, a sound mixer, is assigned to Edmond. She wants a raincoat, which actually made me LOL at the TV. But she also rides her bike a lot, so she’d like it to flow out behind her while she’s pedaling…or something like that.
Ashleigh Hocking, a talent manager, walks in in overalls. So naturally she’s assigned to Kelly. She tells the designer that since she’s always working in front of celebrities, she wants something casual but cool — and no animal print.
The real fireworks start with a production coordinator named Jennifer Cohen; she’s assigned to Swapnil. He immediately thinks “bombshell” — that was last week, Swapnil; get your head in the game — but she’s thinking more day-to-night. She also tells him she doesn’t like to show her arms, but he’s barely listening as he barrels past her with his “full-on evening” idea.
Ashley gets Nicole Plascencia, who is a challenge assistant, which is a job I need to know more about. Ashley is so happy to be designing plus size…until she actually has to do it. Then she’s drained of any ideas and worries what Nicole is asking for is something the judges have already seen her do. Nicole has seen it, too, and probably liked it, which is why she asks for it!
And, finally, Monique Stout, a model wrangler — another fantastic job title — is paired with Candice. All the direction we really hear Monique say is that she likes blue, so naturally Candice figures out how to incorporate blue and leather.
NEXT: The Wrath of Gunn