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Project Runway Season 10: Pretty as a Picture… Or Not

Last week on Project Runway, Andrea and Kooan shocked their fellow designers– and a good chunk of the country– by quitting.  Raul was thus brought back into the competition.  The designers also dealt with the week’s challenge:  Design a look for Michael Kors, who asked them to make a day-to-night outfit suitable for a woman “on the go.”  Sonjia won and Buffi was sent home.

Next morning, Gunnar tells us that he’s sorry to see Buffi go, but acknowledges that’s part of the game.  Melissa, who has seen all of her roommates leave, moves in with the remaining women.  In the guys’ area, Raul and Christopher talk about having each other’s backs.

At Parson’s, the designers tense up when they see Heidi carrying the black velvet bag.  Rather than tell the designers what their challenge will be, Heidi calls Nina to the stage.  Nina then tells them that Marie Claire has recently produced a spin-off magazine, Marie Claire at Work, which is, of course, dedicated to fashions for high-level professional women.    As the designers have already guessed, the challenge will be a team challenge.  Cue the groans and muttering.  Everybody has somebody that they do not want to work with.

Each team will make a collection suitable for a female executive.  The designers will have until 11:00 p.m.– and they need to be completely finished, as they will also do their own photoshoot first thing the next morning.  Nina tells them that their designs not only have to be suitable for a professional woman, they also have to be “editorial,” which means they have to photograph well and look good in a fashion magazine.  The winning team will have their photos shown in Marie Claire at Work.

As the last week’s winner, Sonjia gets to pick her first teammate, and she chooses Elena, citing her technical skills.  Heidi reaches into the velvet bag and draws out Nathan’s name.  He’ll be on the opposing team and gets to pick his first teammate, Ven.  The usual schoolyard pick’em proceeds, with Raul being left for last.  He’s livid about this, of course, and he’s also angry that Christopher didn’t pick him.  Christopher tells us in a DR that he didn’t pick Raul  because he knew that he and Ven don’t get along and decided that Raul would do better on a Ven-less team.  (He also probably didn’t want to deal with the drama that usually results when designers who dislike each other wind up on the same team.)

In the end, Sonjia’s team consists of Elena, Melissa, Dmitry, Alicia, and Raul.  Nathan gets Ven, Christopher, Fabio, and Gunnar.  Sonjia’s team, which has one extra person, will be responsible for six outfits and have a budget of $1200 to spend at Mood.  Nathan’s team will make five outfits and have a budget of $1000.  Tim tells the two teams that there will be no leaders, and he promptly dubs them “Team 6” and “Team 5,” based on the number of designers on each team.

The two teams then get their traditional 30 minutes to plan their strategies.  Sonjia wants to avoid trainwrecks by having everybody work on their strongest pieces.  She will therefore make a couple of skirts, Dmitry and Melissa will work on dresses, Alicia will make pants, and Elena and Raul will make tops.  Raul protests, saying he’d rather make pants, as he thinks that’s his strength.  He’s apparently forgotten about last week’s disaster, when he made pants that were several inches too small.  The others haven’t, and eventually overrule him, with lots of shouting and drama.

Over on Team 5, Nathan thinks they should use a fall theme with appropriate colors.  In fact, Team 5 decides to call their collection, “Fall in Color.”  They’ll use black, white, jewel tones, and prints.  Team 6, on the other hand, is having trouble picking a theme.  At Mood, while his teammates search for fabrics in the agreed-upon colors, Nathan tracks down such necessities as thread, buttons, and zippers.  Team 6 is so disorganized that they actually leave a bag behind– and it’s the one containing the wool that Elena had wanted for one of her tops.  She ends up using some jersey instead.  She and Raul both (loudly) proclaim their displeasure at having to work on a team, and at one point, both of them stalk out of the workroom to sulk elsewhere.  Over on Team 5, Gunnar feels that Nathan, Ven, and Christopher are calling all the shots and he hates it.  He especially hates that Nathan questions his aesthetic.  Eventually, Elena and Raul cool off enough to get back to work.

Tim comes in to make his rounds, and he starts off with Team 6, who have gotten a surprising amount of work done.  Sonjia explains how they’d divided the labor.  He likes Raul’s ruffled black shirt and Dmitry’s dress.  Elena worries aloud that one of her pieces is too plain, and Tim assures her that it’s not.  In general, he’s pleased with their progress.

He isn’t as happy with Team 5, who have accomplished significantly less, and don’t have a lot on the dress forms.  They are using a lot of silks and bright colors, and Tim warns them that too many bright colors can look “clownish.”  He also cautions them that lace can look “matronly.” He especially dislikes a purple skirt with black lace on it.  He exclaims, “Olé!” upon seeing it and adds that it looks “costume-y.”

After Tim leaves, Gunnar decides to scrap his skirt and make a dress instead.  He adds that he’s not going to listen to his teammates any more.  Um, in the real world, kid, you don’t have that option.  You have to listen to your clients and co-workers.

Over on Team 6, Sonjia wants to know when Raul will finish his shirt, so she can make the accompanying skirt and have it go with his shirt.  When he basically blows her off, she gets annoyed and decides to make the skirt anyway, and let the chips falls where they may.

Elena and Melissa notice that Ven, Christopher, and Nathan all like to use silk chiffon.  They call them the “silk chiffonnies,” and comment that silk chiffon may look nice, but isn’t the most practical material for office-wear.  Elena then jeers at Dmitry for incorporating navy blue in his dress, demanding, “Who wears navy blue anymore?”  Dmitry responds that she should have said something during the caucus, since it’s too late to change colors or fabrics now.  He DR’s that he bets Elena’s attitude probably causes her problems.

The models come in for their fitting, and Melissa notices that her dress doesn’t fit.  Christopher is dithering over whether or not to belt his jacket.  Ven informs us that Gunnar has no taste.  Dmitry tells us that he thinks Ven is a “one way monkey, I mean, one-trick pony.”

By the time Raul finishes his vest-like top, the models have already left, so he gets Elena to try it on.  She calls him “Eddie Munster,” and notes the vest is shapeless and lacks darting.  (Darting or darts is a line sewn into a garment like a blouse or vest to make it more form-fitting and to give it shape.)  Before going home, the designers grab the accessories they plan on using at the photoshoot.

The next morning, it’s off to the photoshoot.  There,  the designers are told that they will have three hours and will have to choose three photos for the judges to examine.  While the models get dressed and made-up, Elena drives everybody nuts by ordering them around, prompting Nathan to DR that Team 6 seems a little tense.  During Team 6’s shoot, Elena and Raul argue about whether to use props or not.  Elena hates the props and thinks they’ll distract from the looks, while Raul argues that the judges will expect them to use the props and might penalize the team if they don’t.  Given that the designers were specifically told about the props, I suspect he’s right.  (If I’d been present, I’d have suggested a compromise:  two pictures with props and one without.  That way, the judges can’t ding the team too badly for not using the props at all.)

Eventually, both teams do their photoshoots and select their pictures.  Then it’s back to Parson’s, where the models go to hair and make-up again.  Then it’s off to the runway, where Heidi introduces the guest judge, Joanna Coles, the editor-in-chief at Marie Claire.

Team 5 is up first.  Nathan gets the ball rolling with a pair of white slacks and a black and purple print top with only one shoulder.  It’s nice– but I can’t think of too many offices where that type of look would fly.  The pants could work, though.

Christopher made a white shirt and a black jacket with mid-length sleeves.  He then made a knee-length, pleated skirt.

Gunnar made a knee-length black skirt trimmed with the black and purple print.  He also made a white top that shows too much skin for the office.  It’s sleeveless and has a cut-out in the back that makes wearing a bra impossible.  Unfortunately, Gunnar’s model is large enough up front to need a bra, and the front of the shirt looks baggy.

Fabio made a short black and white dress with color blocking.  It also has short sleeves.  He also had the model wear a turban-like headdress made out of the black and purple print fabric.

Ven made a knee-length white skirt and a sleeveless black shirt with — surprise! — his trademark sculptured pleating on the front.  It’s nice and looks suitable for the office, but he really does need to come up with another trick or three.  One trick ponies usually only get so far.

Team 6 is next.  Melissa is up first and she sends down a sleeveless royal blue dress.  It has an exposed silver zipper diagonally going down the back and a large cowl neck collar.  It probably wouldn’t work for a banker or a lawyer, but an artistic type could probably pull it off.

Elena and Alicia teamed up on the second look.  Alicia made brown pants, while Elena made a black shirt and a matching jacket.  They livened up the look by having the model wear royal blue pumps and carry a clutch of the same color.  I can see somebody wearing this to the office, although I’d suspect they pick shoes with a lower heel.

Sonjia and Raul worked on the third look.  Sonjia made a knee-length, royal blue pencil skirt.  Raul’s contribution is a sleeveless striped black top with ruffles going down the front– and ruffles generally don’t work that well for an office look, especially if the woman has large breasts.  A professional woman who wants to be taken seriously isn’t likely to choose clothes that emphasize or exaggerate certain parts of her anatomy.

Elena and Alicia both worked on the fourth look.  Alicia made a pair of black pants, which look fine for the office, while Elena made a black with massive, poufy shoulders that make it look like a cross between a biker jacket– and a costume from Medieval Times.  I can’t think of any office where that look would fly.

Dmitry made a short, color-blocked black and navy-blue dress.  It’s sleeveless and has a small v-neck collar.  It also has an exposed zipper and triangular cut-outs in the back, which means a woman would need a jacket or a sweater if she actually wore it to work.

For the last look, Sonjia made a knee-length draped skirt out of striped black fabric.  Raul made a black tank top out of what looks like leather.  For the office?!  Is he for real?!

After the show, Heidi explains that the teams got exactly the same scores.  Both teams had some great looks– and some not-so-great looks.

Team 5 will face the judges first.  Ven tells them that they wanted to use black, white, and prints.  Heidi calls Team 5’s looks chic and sophisticated.  She also likes their fabric choices.  Nina’s favorite piece was Christopher’s skirt, while Michael liked Fabio’s look.  Joanna thinks the collection looks easy to wear.  She also likes Ven’s outfit.

Nina, on the other hand, dislikes Nathan’s draped pants, saying they look too “soft” for a corporate woman.  She calls them “pajama pants.”  Heidi dislikes Gunnar’s outfit and thinks it looks cheap.  In a blatant attempt to stir up drama, she then asks the team who the weakest link is.  Fabio tries to dodge this trap by naming Ven, whom he acknowledges is the strongest competitor and isn’t going to be sent home.  Everybody else, including Gunnar, names Gunnar.  The normally cocky Gunnar didn’t think much of his own efforts this time around.

Then it’s Team 6’s turn, and they explain how they’d divided the labor between them.  Sonjia tells the judges that the idea was to have everybody play to their strengths.  Nina loves Melissa’s dress, calling it “editorial” and a “showstopper.”  She also likes Alicia’s pants and appreciates the fact that she made them different widths.

Michael also likes the blue dress, but hates the ruffles Raul put on his top.  Heidi agrees on both points.  Joanna likes Sonjia’s royal blue skirt, but hates Raul’s ruffled top.  Heidi likes Dmitry’s dress, but Joanna doesn’t as she thinks the cut-outs in the back would make it inappropriate for work. On the other hand, she does like Elena’s big-shouldered jacket.  Perhaps jokingly, she says it would be a good look for a lawyer, and Heidi responds that she’d be scared of a lawyer who wore it.  When Heidi asks who the weakest link is, both Elena and Raul are mentioned.

The judges then have their chat, starting with the designers they’d liked.  Melissa made a dramatic and wearable dress.  Fabio’s look photographed very well.  Christopher’s outfit looked modern and powerful.

As for the designers they didn’t like, Elena is obsessed with huge shoulders to the point that her looks can be unflattering.  Her more normally proportioned jacket, though, was both flattering and work-appropriate.  Raul’s two tops were simply horrible.  Gunnar’s blouse was unflattering and poorly cut.

As for the photoshoots, both teams did a good job overall.  Team 6 crafted modern and polished photos.  Team 5 had a good work scene in one photo– that unfortunately obscured some of the clothes.  Ooops.

Nina then announces the winner of the photoshoot:  Team 6.  Their photos will appear in an issue of Marie Claire at Work.

Heidi then announces which designers are safe.  Alicia and Christopher are both in, and Melissa is the winner.  Fabio, Sonjia, Ven, Dmitry, Nathan, and Elena are all in, leaving Gunnar and Raul in the bottom.  Raul is out, which means Gunnar is in.

Next week:  The contestants have to make clothes for plus-sized clients.