Project Runway recap: The Klum of Doom
The Heidi Challenge (noun): an impossible challenge in which the ultimate picky client is also the head judge.
In nearly every (if not all?) past season of Project Runway, there comes a time for The Heidi Challenge. In season 13, it came this week, in episode 5. When Heidi announces it to the designers, it has them shaking in their runway-side seats—and rightly so. Heidi is notoriously picky, and it’s not easy to pinpoint what look she actually will like. Her personal style runs the gamut, as evidenced in the dossier each contestant receives. To guide them in their creations, Heidi gives them the guidelines: She wants “unexpected, fashion forward, fearless”… oh and of course, she doesn’t want to end up on the worst-dressed list (such as here or here).
The stakes are high-ish, as Heidi will be wearing the winning look to the Creative Arts Emmys. It’s unusual that they didn’t time this episode better; the Creative Arts Emmys were last week, so anyone could Google to find out the winning look before the episode’s end. But at least we know she wore the dress (unlike the debacle that was Project Jay).
Tim is full of sage advice for the Heidi challenge: “The success of our challenges begins and ends at Mood.” And then later, specifically pointed at Mitchell, he says to keep it “elegant and sophisticated.” It’s like the man is psychic. Even with all their mentor’s wisdom, the designers make some poor choices. Kristine wants to do a long floor-length gown in a gray color that ends up being closer to a bedsheet; Korina is doing a one-arm dress with snake skin and a mermaid bottom; Mitchell is using silks, satins, and sequins… but “subtly”; and Amanda doesn’t know what the f— she’s making. So it’s no surprise that when Heidi walks in the room (perfectly timed and edited with the thunder) for the critique, the designers are silent and fearful… which leads her to cackle with delight.
Heidi’s picky reputation does not disappoint. On this stormy day, she goes around the room like a tornado, telling most designers she doesn’t love their looks: Char’s print looks too much like she’s going on a cruise. The peacock feather look from Sandhya reminds the supermodel of Dynasty—and the best part is Sandhya doesn’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Heidi says something about Fäde’s look needing to wake up a baby (is that a German expression?). What’s definitely a German expression is “Lodenjacke,” the military jackets to which Heidi compares Korina’s sad dress. Finally showing some emotion, Korina’s eyes start to water. “Don’t be sad about it,” Heidi says. “Make it work.” First of all, Heidi, you just insulted her designs, can you give her a minute with her tears? Second, don’t steal Tim’s line.
NEXT: Twice the Mood, twice the Swatch
But it turns out Heidi does have compassion—or she was worried about only having a couple options for the Creative Arts Emmys (not to be confused with the real Emmys)—so minutes later she comes back and offers each designer a second trip to Mood with $100. This turns out to be a godsend for more than half of the designers, as seven people end up making the return trip and snagging more fabric. The best part about this added element is learning that Sandhya is a hustler. She played by the rules, asked nicely for unused cash, and was able to purchase an incredible fabric. Mitchell you may call her selfish, but I’m with Char: “How can you be mad at her for that?”
Although Korina, Kristine, and Mitchell all struggle to get their looks down the runway in time, Tim’s hounding gets them out the door in time. But none of them look comfortable as the settle in across the runway from guest judge Lindsey Vonn. It’s never a good sign with practically half of the designers are unhappy with what’s going down the runway.
Alexander’s model’s butt cheeks, Sandhya’s expensive fabric, Char’s blue drapey dress, Samantha’s lacy front (which probably should have been in the top), Fäde’s striped ensemble, and Emily’s Mad Max-esque mini dress are all safe.
Evoking old Hollywood glamour, Kini’s look received Zac’s highest score of the night. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but the volumous skirt with the perfectly fit top is definitely Kini’s wow moment. He easily is back in the top.
Although Zac has an allergic reaction to Amanda’s beading, the female judges love her design, so she’s back on top as well. It’s the perfect combination of a red-carpet dress and an Amanda look.
Poor Kristine. Maybe if she had stuck with her gray fabric, it wouldn’t have turned out quite as poorly as this “boob canyon” look. She agreed with all of the judges’ critiques, and it was no surprise to her that she was on the bottom.
NEXT: And twice the elimination
For the first time, Mitchell was self-aware, but sadly that doesn’t make is look any better. He knew this red dress was no good. His taste levels weren’t high enough to keep him out of the bottom.
Sean’s fringe look almost made Zac’s eyes roll 180 degrees. It was an impeccable look. Being in the bottom two for the past two weeks, Sean had something to prove—and he did—on his way to the top. The fringe was trimmed so flawlessly, maybe he should be a hairdresser.
Heidi kept calling Korina’s color choice “sad.” And there’s really no better word for this bottom look. Korina is capable of much more than this, but she gave up. Even when given the opportunity to pick a new textile, she picked a slightly less muted, but still hunter green, fabric. She was defeated and let it affect her outcome.
In: Sean. When someone says “it’s the American dream” about his win, how can you not be happy for him?
Out: Mitchell, who surprisingly went out like a winner, saying “Good luck girls, you belong here” to Kristine and Korina on his way off the runway.
Also out: Kristine.
The Heidi Challenge lived up to its name: the designers struggled this week. At least half of the safe designers, should be thankful that there were so many worse designs… so many that it made the judges feel the need for the double elimination. But this could be what the designers need to realize they need to step it up—especially for Korina, who really should have been sent home in a triple elimination.
Most true words: “I have no idea why they love Amanda so much.” You and America both, Samantha.
Famous last words: “Red could read hooker or red could read gorgeous. So I gotta do it right.” —Mitchell
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