Before Project Runway, the only outlet us normal people had for critiquing designers was the red carpet. We’ve see the best- and worst-dressed lists after each award show every year — we (mostly) understand why things belong on those lists and what looks good on a red carpet. And while we may be more familiar with avant-garde and “editorial” looks thanks to 14 seasons of this show, the runway challenge always feels the most familiar.
Since there hadn’t been a runway challenge in season 14 yet, we were due. (Yay!) Making it even more interesting is that two out of the final four designers are not exactly “runway” designers. Ashley designs ready-to-wear, and Kelly designs streetwear. According to Candice, she’s got this in the bag. Well, let’s just see…
In order to get extra inspiration, Heidi sends the designers to the city of red carpets and paparazzi: Los Angeles. They’re to use L.A. as their inspiration for a red carpet look, which they have two days (plus flying time?) to design. On the West Coast, Tim takes them to a gorgeous house with a nice view of the valley so the designers can sketch. Some lady comes to tell them that red carpet looks are all about color, drama, and fit.
So with $400 in hand, the designers head to L.A.’s Mood to find fabric that touches on all three elements. Kelly, who has no idea what to buy with this much money (adorable!), gets a variety of textiles to build her own pattern. Edmond gets the world’s loudest sequined fabric you’ve ever seen. Ashley get’s the coolest sequined fabric you’ve ever seen (it changes colors when you touch it, kind of like a microfiber couch, but fancier). And Candice bought a few variations of black. No surprise there.
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The designers set up shop at FIDM and get to work. They all have pretty clear inspirations (Ashley — asymmetrical, Candice — open back, and Kelly — her own textile), except Edmond, per usual. He stares and stares and stares at the sequin fabric. It doesn’t talk back, so he decides to go with a very bright, loud purple and lots of tulle. It’s talking loudly to him (sorry). He starts constructing…something. He spends the whole first day creating that…something.
Luckily, Tim comes in on day two for critiques and squashes it. He doesn’t want to see Edmond play it safe, so he tells him to “conquer” the sequins. Tim also thinks Kelly is playing it safe: He loves her pattern, but she’s making it into a gown when he knows she wants to do something else. Jumpsuit it is!
Tim also tells Ashley to create a focal point of her dress and for Candice to nix the gold trim and make sure her look is flawless. He responds positively to all the work in the room, tells them as much, and heads out. With more direction, Edmond puts the sequin fabric on his dress form finally and starts cutting the dress. And he keeps cutting it. And cutting it. And cutting it. It is short. Very short. I am worried.
Kelly puts her jumpsuit pants on the dress form, and they won’t zip up. She didn’t take into consideration the stretch she would lose when she sewed on the leather triangles. I am worried here, too.
NEXT: Best and worst dressed
Fast-forward the rest of that day and the whole next day of travel, and we’re to the day of the runway show. Kelly’s able to get her pants zipped up (phew), and Edmond is cutting his dress even shorter (oh no). Despite this being the first and only model fitting, everything goes relatively smoothly, and the models get to the red carpet runway on time.
Candice‘s dress is elegant, breathtaking, and totally safe. But as Nina says, it was pretty smart of her to do something that was good, but not too risky since this is the challenge before Fashion Week. Zac says it’s a tiny bit Nancy Kerrigan — which I didn’t see until he said it, and now I can’t unsee it. It’s not showing up on a best-dressed list, according to Nina, but guest judge (and future permanent judge of Project Runway Junior) Christian Siriano loves the detailing.
Kelly‘s inspiration is Katy Perry going to the VMAs. (Katy Perry would totally rock this at the VMAs.) It’s different than a lot of red carpet looks, but it’s very Kelly. Nina is impressed with how refined she’s becoming — and that’s true: Kelly has come a long way from the deli. Her style may be different, but the quality of her clothing keeps going up and up. When the judges see the look up close, they’re even more impressed with her textile design.
Everyone keeps saying how great Edmond‘s fabric is, but honestly I never saw it in the workroom, and I definitely don’t see it on the runway. What else could that sequined material turn into except a disco ball? Nina says the mini-dress is the biggest disappointment, and Christian says it feels dated, but Zac nails it when he calls the model “Rainbow Bright.” This is not the look anyone was expecting from him. The judges are disappointed, and, frankly, I am, too.
When Candice was saying Ashley should have used metal boning instead of plastic and when her corset seemed to sag, I was nervous. But walking down the runway, Ashley’s model looked amazing in the look — plastic boning to boot. The fabric was fun, the fit was incredible, and I’m with Heidi: The cleavage looked insane. All the other judges like it — even though Zac says the fabric isn’t red carpet and gold is old. It even gets an “it’s pretty fabulous” from Christian.
After receiving critiques, the designers then have to give a brief speech and the names of the two other designers they would like to go to the finale alongside them. The speeches are pretty much the same we always hear: “I did things I didn’t even know I could do,” “I want to show you my signature,” “This is my passion,” etc. The most surprising thing to come out of the designer picks, though, is that Candice and Ashley may not like each other? But it doesn’t matter, though, because…
This means that we will have three women presenting at New York Fashion Week, and no Tim Gunn save? How do we feel about this? Were you all as disappointed in Edmond as I was? And where do you think Kelly is going to book her 100 Best Western nights!? Let’s talk below and on Twitter @realdalener.
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