Last week on Project Runway, the designers faced a challenge never before seen on this show. They had to make their own textile with the aid of some high-end (and lovingly shown) computers and make an outfit incorporating the new fabric. Emilio won, thus solidifying his status as the show’s front-runner, and Anthony was sent home.
The next morning, Jay and Seth Aaron note how quiet it is without Anthony. Emilio comments that many people had written Anthony off as somebody who would be sent home early, so it was a surprise to see him crack the top seven. Mila comments about how the judges were hard on everybody last time, but that she’s learned to brush herself off and move on. Maya finds being the youngest intimidating, as she lacks the others’ experience. She’s 21, for the record.
On the runway, Heidi Klum tells the designers they will be designing for an “opinionated and difficult” celebrity. She sends them to the workroom, where Tim Gunn tells tells them they will be making a red carpet look for the opinionated celebrity, who turns out to be Heidi Klum. She advises them to make a simple look, as it has to be an outfit that will look good from all angles. Heidi tells them the red carpet event will take place after she’s had her baby, and that she will provide a dossier with pictures of her at other red carpet events so the designers will have a feel for her tastes.
The designers will have thirty minutes to sketch. They will spend thirty minutes and three hundred dollars at Mood. While the others are sketching, Maya quietly slips out. Jonathan was shocked by being put in the bottom two last week, and wonders if the judges would like something ugly. Mila comments that she doesn’t do red carpet looks, but she believes she can do simple and elegant. Jay wants to work with volume and include “special details.” Emilio knows his design can’t be subtle, but must be eye-catching.
Maya comes back in, accompanied by Tim. They deliver the following announcement: Maya’s leaving the competition, as she feels she’s not ready to go all the way and needs to “develop” more as a designer. We’re shown flashbacks to the judging at the elements challenge, in which Nina and the guest judge both took her to task for being “too referential,” for making designs that were too obviously inspired by somebody else’s work.
Now, I’m of two minds about this. Part of me agrees with Emilio, who scathingly calls Maya’s quitting “a copout.” I’m sure scores or even hundreds of designers apply to be on Project Runway, and quitting is a slap in the face to these folk, all of whom would have dearly loved to have had Maya’s spot. Also, Maya has been one of the stronger contenders of the season. Granted, she never won, but she cracked the top three several times and was never in the bottom.
Maya was somebody I had long pegged as having a decent shot at the finals. Weirdly, she seems to have found that prospect intimidating. I think Maya may have been surprised by her own success, and that she’d expected to be an early casualty because of her youth and inexperience. Instead, she found herself well on her way to Fashion Week – and would have therefore been called upon to make a collection consisting of roughly a dozen outfits, if she’d actually gotten there.
Bottomline: I think Maya got a bad case of cold feet. She’s 21 and fresh out of design school. Given that, what are the odds she’s made a collection before? I think her stint on Project Runway showed her – and everybody else – that she had the technical aspects of design down cold. She never got called out for poor construction or the like. She’s even proven herself able to pick up new techniques, like making prints, in impressively little time.
But ever since the elements challenges of a few weeks ago, she’s been asking herself about the artistic end of design. How does she stack up in that department? Unfortunately for us and the show, she wasn’t as confident of her prowess in that area as she’d initially believed. Worse, an artistic sense is not something that can be developed quickly; it typically takes years. If Maya had made it to the finals, she would have only had a few months. So she quit.
As I said, Emilio is disgusted, while many of his peers are shocked and confused. Seth Aaron notes sympathetically that designers on this show are working 18 to 20 hours a day. That, however, holds true for everybody, not just Maya. Jay comes closer to the truth when he notes how young Maya is. He guesses she just couldn’t deal with the pressure – and dealing with the pressure-cooker environment of a competition show would call for a certain maturity.
Tim takes them shopping. Emilio wants a fabric that will pop on film. Jonathan decides to use brighter colors for his usual cut-away textile look. Mila gets gold and gun metal gray fabrics. Seth Aaron notes that half of the dresses in Heidi’s dossier were black, so he happily chooses some black fabric.