Last week on Project Runway, the designers all got a lesson on the business end of their chosen industry. They had to design for a client, Nanette Lepore, a fashion designer associated with Nieman Marcus. Their looks had to fall within a given price range and they had to work within a very small budget. They also had to accept feedback from their client and make something she would be happy to sell. Mondo won and Kenley was sent home. For the first time in the show’s history, the finalists are all guys.
On the runway, Angela greets the finalists– and notices that Austin has shaved off his mustache. Angela then calls out the judges, Isaac and Georgina, who explain what the final challenge will be. The finalists will be putting on a runway show– in four days. Each of them will have to make a mini-collection of five different outfits. Boo. Hiss. These ridiculous time constraints mean the designers will almost certainly cut corners and stick to garments they know they can make within the stated time.
After telling the designers they will have a $3,000.00 budget at Mood, Angela sends them off to the offices of Marie Claire, where they meet with their mentor Joanna. Michael asks her what she looks for in a runway show. She answers that she wants to see evidence of a theme and the designer pushing themselves. Mondo asks for her take on theatricality in a show, noting that all three finalists have sometimes been dinged by the judges for being too over-the-top. Joanna assures him that theatrics do have their place in runway shows– provided they fit the stated theme. Joanna also explains what a guest editor at Marie Claire would do, since one of the prizes is a one-year stint as guest editor. Amongst other things, the guest editor would work with Nina Garcia.
After that, the designers head to a park to sketch for the next hour. Michael is inspired by the greenery around him, while Austin decides to design a wedding dress for his final look. Mondo is in one of his funks and doesn’t feel inspired at all. Then it’s off to Mood, for an hour-long shopping session. Michael channels his inner Anya and picks out safari prints. Austin wants to make things fit for both a noblewoman and a “Hasadic gentleman.” Um, okayyy. Mondo wanders around feeling lost, as his prints aren’t “speaking” to him.
When the designers get back to Parsons, they find the work area has been overhauled. Everybody now has a workroom of his own, with doors they can shut. Mondo takes advantage of this feature, so he can sulk in private. Austin tells us he wants to make whimsical clothing. Michael wants his safari looks to be “fun, adventurous, and sexy.” Mondo paws through his fabrics, but can’t get motivated and thus doesn’t start.
Georgina stops by to see how everybody is doing and give them advice. Michael and Austin are happy to see her, while Mondo is still in his funk. She’s sympathetic to Mondo and even admits that she’s had similar days.
A the end of their first day, the designers have dinner together. Mondo announces, “I’ve had enough,” and leaves. Come on, Mondo, try acting your age. You are the oldest designer left, you know.
The following morning, Mondo seems to be feeling better– and he now has a theme, “Therapy,” as in acupuncture, Rorschach tests, and electroshock. Then it’s time to cast the models. Each designer will get five. On a couple of occasions, Austin and Mondo clash over the same girl. Michael solves the problem by flipping a coin, so Mondo wins one girl and Austin wins the other. After pouting that “Austin gets everything,” Mondo returns to his “Therapy” collection and makes something with Rorschach ink blots.
Isaac comes in and the designers are happy to see him. Mondo tells us that he has a bit of a “man-crush” on Isaac, who gives everybody CD’s and tells them to pick music for their show. He also gives them some advice. For line-ups, the newest piece should be first, while the grandest piece should be last. He adds that they should enjoy the process, because “if you don’t, we’ll be able to tell.” Mondo and Michael quickly made their music selections, leaving Austin to take what was left. He’s a good sport about it and decides not to fight about it.
On the third day, the designers get back to work. Angela comes in and announces there will be a twist. It turns out to be the same twist Project Runway has every finals: Make an extra look. Models come in carrying baskets of discarded fabrics from previous challenges, and Angela tells the designers that they have to make their sixth look out of whatever is in their baskets. Also, as she’s aware of the time constraints, she’s arranged for them to have help. As she says this, the eliminated designers troop in. Angela adds that the finalists can each pick one eliminated designer, who will help them for the next twenty-four hours. Mondo, as the winner of the previous challenge, gets to pick first and he chooses Mila. Austin asks for “her Serene Royal Highness Antoinetta,” in other words, Anthony. Michael picks April of the silver hair.
The finalists and their assistants get to work. Mondo and Mila sort through Mondo’s basket, looking for fabrics they can use for the sixth look. Austin is worried that the sixth look might not be cohesive with the rest of his outfits. For some reason, he decides leggings are a safe thing to make. Michael asks April to help him with his fifth look, presumably because he hasn’t decided what to do for a sixth look, and doesn’t want to waste April’s time.
The models come in for their fittings. The finalists have chosen at least some of their fabrics by now for the sixth look. Austin will be using some of the leather from the “street muse” challenge. Michael will be using fabric from the flag challenge, sine he has lots of it left. Mondo will be using bits and pieces from several challenges.
Not only did the assistants help the designers choose fabrics and finish looks, they also gave advice and helped them reign in their worst impulses. Anthony, for instance, warned Austin that one of his looks was too “dead white lady.” In other words, it looked as grandmotherly as the outfit Austin had made for the seasonal sportswear challenge– which had nearly gotten him booted.
On the final day before the show, the designers have only a couple hours of help left. Mondo is worried because he and Mila didn’t accomplish as much as he’d hoped they would. Joanna comes to see how everybody is doing. She starts with Austin and asks him how he’ll “convince the judges that he’s pushing the boundaries.” He immediately displays a very odd-looking pair of pink pants.
Mondo shows off his “Therapy” collection and she assures him that it’s coherent and strong. She’s especially impressed by the inkblot shirt, which strikes her as both stylish and humorous.
Michael’s “Safari” look is cohesive, in Joanna’s opinion. She also comments that she would immediately peg the garments as his creations. (How much do you want to bet that because many of them can’t be worn with a bra?)
After Joanna leaves, the designers have to visit Johnny Lavoy for a consultation on hair styling. Here, Austin asks for looks suitable for “Hasidic gentlemen.” Michael tells us that he considers Austin a bigger threat than Mondo and adds that Austin’s garments all look as if they’d been made over seven or eight months, rather than a few days. Mondo likes some of Austin’s looks, but thinks some of them are “risky.”
Next week: The show!