Project Runway recap: 'The Ultimate Faceoff'
“To be continued” — three words every TV viewer dreads. It’s the first time in a long time (if ever?) that Project Runway has employed them. And it’s the first time in a long time that I can’t wait to see who goes home. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
The designers start the week’s challenge in the JCPenney men’s section, where there are five male models waiting for them. Brandon is as excited as Brandon can be because he thinks it’s going to be a menswear challenge. Not everyone has those feelings, particularly Kenya, who says, “I want to touch them, but I don’t want to dress them.”
But they quickly learn that the challenge is not menswear; it’s a menswear-inspired challenge. The five male models represent the fabric they’ll be working with. Each model is holding two names to determine which model gets which fabric.
“There’s one more thing,” Tim Gunn says while sneakily pulling out a button bag. He tells them that it’s a team challenge and they have to pick a team member who doesn’t have their same fabric. Kentaro gets to go first since he was last week’s winner, and he picks his “brother” Brandon (they’re the best bromance on reality TV in…forever?). Amy chooses Kenya. Claire naturally latches on to her sister — so they can proceed just like every other week. Margarita and Batani pair up, and Ayana and Michael end up together.
Tim explains that they must create two cohesive pieces and the winning look will be reproduced by JCP. After sketching on the floors of the department store (I’ve been to the NYC JCPenney — trust me when I say it is not a place where you would want to sit on the floor), one designer from each pair goes to the workroom to start working, and one goes to Mood to buy trim, finishes, and supplemental fabrics.
Once the designers are reunited, they start to put their looks together. Ayana and Michael are working on plays on the collared shirt: Ayana wants to do an oversize one, and Michael is doing a collared dress. Kentaro and Brandon are working on “futuristic sporty” with their country-style patterns. Batani and Margarita want to make dresses using suit jacket buttons as embellishments. Amy and Kenya work on a denim suit and a knit look while Shawn and Claire contemplate what type of clothing is appropriate for fall.
For the most part, the teams work well together. Batani has never done anything remotely menswear or tailored, so she’s leaning a lot on Margarita. Margarita gets a bit frustrated with all the help she has to give, but she wants their looks to turn out well, so she does it. And she’s still giving less help than Claire gives Shawn on a normal week.
Amy and Kenya feel like they have a “true collaboration” — that is, until Amy decides she doesn’t like what Kenya is doing and wishes she were her teacher so she could boss her around. Meanwhile, Ayana and Michael work together seamlessly, and the brothers just bro out in their own world.
The twins are also in their own world, but there isn’t as much love in this one right now. Claire is clearly getting more and more frustrated with all the assistance she has to give to her sister. At one point Shawn says, “I feel like you are abandoning me.” It’s like we’re watching their twin-lationship devolve before our eyes.
Tim comes to do his critiques and doesn’t hold back from the twins. He tells them that they’re not doing enough, that they need to take a step back and rethink. He even gives them specific suggestions for how to dress their models. They take that information and throw it right out the window. Claire isn’t feeling Tim’s suggestions, so she’s going to retool on her own. Sounds like a great idea. (Recap continued on page 2)
The morning of the challenge, everyone wraps up their looks early, so early that Margarita is annoyed that she’s the only one still working. But she finishes in time, too, and they all head down to the runway.
On the runway, Heidi introduces them to their guest judge: Billions star Asia Kate Dillon. After all the looks walk the runway, Heidi tells Michael and Ayana they’re safe. When they go back to wait for the results, the judges give critiques to the top and bottom two groups.
Brandon and Kentaro took a risk going with sportier looks, but it paid of for the Dream Team. Heidi is in love with both looks and thinks the fabrics mix well together. Nina says it’s effortless and cohesive at the same time. Zac says it’s perfectly ready for JCP and the most cohesive collection. Heidi asks which person should win; they hem and haw and ultimately refuse to answer. Brothers for life!
Batani and Margarita may not be brothers, but they had great success, too. Heidi is also in love with both of these looks. Heidi is a fan of Margarita’s dress and would run to JCPenney to buy it. I highly doubt Heidi has set foot in a JCP ever, but sure. Zac says he loves the asymmetry of Margarita’s dress. Nina says the two dresses are polished and sophisticated, and Asia says they both look comfortable yet effortless.
The twins tell the judges they worked in true collaboration, but that doesn’t mean they created cohesion. Zac says Shawn’s dress is trashy, uninspired, and banal. He also goes in on Claire’s top, saying it’s a bad design. He does say the jeans are the most finished look, but even those have a “dumpy butt.” Asia says the look is confusing and many components feel like an afterthought. Nina wants to know who would buy these clothes, and Claire tries to say that JCP customers would be inspired by influencers like them. Zac says they don’t have enough of a brand to do that. And then things get real heated.
Shawn tries to say that maybe they need to cultivate their brand more with time, and Claire tells her to stop selling herself short. Heidi then goes for the jugular: asking which sister should go home. Shawn acknowledges that she should be out, and Claire doesn’t want to answer.
Amy and Kenya are probably feeling much better going after that critique. Amy says that she and Kenya were collaborative, but Amy kind of sort of tries to say all of this was Kenya’s idea and therefore her fault. Heidi says the looks are boring and definitely not modern. Asia gives a Michael Kors-level burn, saying the designs look like flight attendant uniform rejects from the ‘70s. Zac just says they’re a snoozefest, and Nina says it makes the models look old.
Winner: Margarita, rightfully
Out: To be continued…
Heidi tells the twins that one of them will be out…[Ryan Seacrest-length pause]…“but not yet.” Instead, the two of them will have an hour to re-do the challenge ALONE, and whoever has the best design will stay. “My success will result in my sister’s failing,” Claire says. Which, yes, I realize is a complicated position for her to be in, but all I can say is: Let the Hunger Games begin.
Gotta go now, I’m heading to JCP.com to buy Margarita’s look!
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