This episode of Project Runway was brought to you by Celebrity Cruises.
I know, I know. After 14 seasons of the variously branded accessory wall, beauty shots of Brother sewing machines, and throw-away lines about how awesome the Samsung refrigerator in the workroom is, I should be used to it. But when an episode opens like a commercial for a cruise ship, I still can’t help but roll my eyes. The producer who was able to get Amanda to say, “If I go on a cruise, I’m taking theirs,” without sounding like she was reading a cue card deserves a raise.
However, the cruise promo does allow for a cool theme (and 1,000 times better than last year’s Red Robin theme challenge): The designers must work in pairs to create exotic, high-end looks that go from day to night. The button bag — which Swapnil says has been “ruining everyone’s careers” for years — decides the pairs; and the pairs each pick a suitcase, which decides their destination. Here’s how it shakes out:
Amanda and Gabrielle — South of France
Ashley and Candice — Venice
Lindsey and Jake — Hong Kong
Laurie and Swapnil — India
Kelly and Blake — Greek Isles
Edmond and Hanmiao — Caribbean
Merline and Joseph — St. Petersburg
Inside the suitcase, the designers find fabric “in the spirit of the destination” they have chosen. There’s also a “mini Mood” back in the workroom, where they can choose solids. Three episodes in and no Swatch? Rude.
As the pairs begin to sketch, it’s immediately clear who will have the most trouble working together: Hanmiao and Edmond, Lindsey and Jake, and Joseph and Merline. But problems or no, they have eight hours to get a look completed. And according to Tim Gunn, since they’re in teams of two, that’s 16 hours as far as he is concerned. So let the battles begin!
Edmond has a lot of patience — a lot, a lot, a lot of patience. True, he has immunity, so he can wait out whatever Hanmiao creates and take no credit on the runway. But the amount of times he’s able to hold is tongue with Hanmiao is impressive. Whenever he asks her to communicate what she’s thinking, she just yells, “Shut up.” So he just sits back and tries to be agreeable.
And agreeability seems to be what’s causing the most tension in the room. It’s plaguing Merline and Joe as well. He takes the lead, and she doesn’t seem to mind. She does exactly what he says, even when he tells her to stop singing in the workroom. (Which I thought I would be thankful for, but it really just sucked the joy out of the room.) You would think that would make Merline mad, but no, it’s Joseph who keeps getting upset. He’s angry that he has to walk her through how to make all of the designs he came up with — designs Tim calls “matronly.”
Lindsey is doing all the work in her pairing as well, but for a different reason. Lindsey is full of ideas, all of which Jake shoots down without offering solutions. Somehow they agree on a vest. When Tim comes to do critiques, Blake says he wants to do it in black and Lindsey says she would “sooner die.” Tim says their destination, Hong Kong — which Jake has been to! — is all about lights and neon, so Lindsey wins.
Aside from those, Tim is impressed with most of the looks he sees in the room. Ashley and Candice are collaborating as if they’ve always done it; Laurie and Swapnil have “found the secret sauce”; Blake is keeping his offensive comments at bay while creating a Greek goddess look with Kelly; and Amanda and Gabrielle have a pattern that Tim calls “excellent.” What could go wrong??
NEXT: Everything will go wrong.[pagebreak]
The morning of the runway show Hanmiao and Edmond essentially aren’t talking. She was tasked with creating a swimsuit, but instead she created something with non-stretch cotton that isn’t a swimsuit. Edmond panics and creates another swimsuit (which actually looked promising, but we’ll never know). Hanmiao sneaks off to the bathroom to stitch their model into her not-a-swimsuit. Edmond is mad, so he wraps ropes around the model.
Even though Hanmiao is literally sewing the bikini bottom as the models are walking out the door, somehow they all make it to the runway. They are joined there by guest judge Tracee Ellis Ross. At the mere sight of her, Laurie burst into tears. It’s okay, Laurie, we love her, too.
Blake and Kelly’s Greek Isles white jumpsuit puts them through to next week, and the rest shake out as so…
Listen, I’m just a recap writer; I do not profess to be a fashion expert. But there are some times, I just think “Huh?” And this was one of those times. As Candice and Ashley‘s look walked the runway, I wrote ” a lot going on” in my notes. And then Nina said it took her breath away. This is why I will never work at a fashion magazine.
Now, this look, I understand. Swapnil made a bold move choosing India as his and Laurie‘s destination. It set the bar high, and they delivered. For a modern take on a sari, they used a patterned crop top and Tracee Ellis Ross-approved drop-crotch pants underneath a sash. It works and all the judges love it, even though Heidi doesn’t like the fit of the pant.
With all of the bickering between Lindsey and Jake, they still make it to the top. Lindsey has no problem saying how she constructed and designed almost the whole look, as she should. Jake says he took a backseat so they wouldn’t fight and could just get a look down the runway. Well, he’s very lucky that this “Chinese Christmas” look pleased all the judges but Tracee.
It’s no surprise that Hanmiao‘s bathing suit and Edmond‘s shower curtain skirt are in the bottom. There was zero collaboration between the two designers—and it shows. Nina, disagreeing with Tim, says she hates that they did a bathing suit, but Tracee can’t stop talking about what a terrible suit it is. The ropes that Edmond tied last minute don’t help—and neither did him creating a new swimsuit when the skirt was unfinished.
In Joseph‘s explanation of his “oversexed grandma” design, he says the look is matronly because that’s his aesthetic. Dude, don’t give them a reason to hate it more! He goes on to say how it was all his work, but Merline should be the one to go home because he had to spend so much time teaching her how to make his cape that he couldn’t work on his dress. I think that must have sounded better in his head.
Although working together really well on a look they thought was great, Amanda and Gabrielle are in the bottom. There’s weird asymmetry going on in the top, the pants are baggy, and the judges aren’t having any of it. I know it’s good for designers to stand behind their work, but it’s concerning when they have zero awareness of how bad that look is.
Winner(s): Candice and Ashley
Do you agree with the judges — on the double winners and on the ousted designer? If you ask me, Swapnil has had two wins in a row taken from him… but like I said, I’m just a recap writer, so what do I know?