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Project Runway 10, Episode 7 – On Mixing Art and Business

Last week on Project Runway, the designers had to design outfits for regular, non-model women.  As you may have learned via the Internet, Ven acted like a complete jerk and was horribly rude to his client.  Nathan tried to please his (taste-impaired) client, but failed to please the judges, who sent him home.  Fabio won the challenge.

The following morning, Christopher tells us that he misses Nathan.  Sonjia and the other women agree that male designers are more likely to put women in outfits they want to see them wear, while female designers are better at making clothes women would actually wear.  There may be some truth to that as women designers are generally better at remembering that other women usually wear bras and thus design accordingly– but it still feels like tempting fate (or the producers) to actually say it.

When the designers assemble on the runway later that morning, Heidi sends them off to meet Tim on 5th Avenue.  They find him at Lord & Taylor’s flagship building.  Tim then introduces them to Bonnie Brooks, the president of Lord & Taylor.  She and Tim show the contestants nine dresses on display.  Each of them was made by a Project Runway designer from the previous nine seasons:  Jay McCarroll (S1), Nick Verreos (S2), Uli Herzner (S3), Chris March (S4), Korto Momolu (S5), Gordana Gelhausen (S6), Seth Aaron Henderson (S7), Mondo Guerra (S8), and Bert Keeter (S9).

In honor of Project Runway’s making it to 10 seasons, the designers will have to make a look that complements the nine on display.  The dress will have to retail between $200.00 and $300.00.  The winning look will be displayed in a window along with its nine fellows, and it will be sold on Lord & Taylor’s website.

The designers will have the traditional thirty minutes to sketch, but there will be no trip to Mood.  Lord & Taylor will send them materials from their own supplier, JS Collection.  As the contestants sketch, Gunnar decides to make a Little Black Dress similar to Jay’s dress.  Christopher notes that there are only two gowns in the collection and decides to contribute a third.  Dmitry decides to make a cocktail dress to go with the seven already there.  Elena, by contrast, has no clue what to do.  She’s used to making avant-garde pieces, not commercial outfits.  Project Runway usually has at least one designer of her stripe; they think of themselves as artists first– and businesspeople not at all.  Unfortunately, if designers expect to make a living, they have to learn to balance artistry with commercial appeal.

Back at Parson’s, the designers find that JS Collection has already delivered the fabrics and trimmings that they’re supposed to use.  Elena realizes that she is going to have to rethink her plans as the materials she’d hoped for aren’t there.  Tim tells the designers that they have until 11 p.m. to finish.  Sonjia tells us she’s nervous and less confident than usual because of last week’s trip to the bottom.  While she’s right to be concerned, as the show has reached a point where more than one trip to the bottom will get you sent home, she shouldn’t psyche herself out to the extent she is.  Gunnar, on the other hand, is excited by the challenge.

Christopher notes that most of his fellows are making cocktail dresses, which makes him even more determined to deliver a gown, as it will stand out.  He’s also using his shredded material technique, despite his worries that the judges might ding him for using it again.  (He’s used it in two other challenges, if memory serves.)  Elena worries that her usual style won’t fit Lord & Taylor’s aesthetic.  Some of the other designers debate over how long a cocktail dress should be:  to the knee or not?

Ven is going to do his rose-on-the-chest thing again.  He also tells us that men are stronger designers, but women are more practical.

Tim comes in to make his rounds, and he starts with Gunnar.  He likes Gunnar’s look and advises him to trust his gut.  Alicia tells him that her work is inspired by Chanel.  Tim thinks it looks like armor.  He notices Sonjia’s nerves and tries to calm her down, warning her that she’ll give herself a “psychotic breakdown” if she tries to second-guess the judges.  Fabio is making something with an exposed zipper and Tim likes it.

Elena is working on a black dress with cut-outs in the back.  When Tim warns her that it might be too expensive, she bursts into tears.  She’s struggling and not used to making clothes for a mass market.  She’s afraid even her simplest work won’t be simple enough for Lord & Taylor.  Gunnar goes over to try and comfort her.

Next up is Dmitry.  He tells Tim that his dress might look expensive, but it’s actually cheap to make.  Tim is pleased to hear that and he likes how the dress looks, too.  Tim likes Christopher’s gown, but worries that the shredding technique might be overdone at this point.  Melissa worries about the brocade she’s using.  Tim advises her to see how it moves.

The models come in for their fitting.  Melissa dislikes the results so much she decides to scrap her dress and start over.  Elena notes that the women seem to be having more trouble with this challenge than the guys are.  On that note, it’s time for everybody to go home.

The next morning, the designers get back to work.  Practically everybody is making some version of a cocktail dress, except for Christopher who is working on a gown.  Melissa decides to stick with her brocade and design the rest of her dress around it.

Tim sends in the models, who go to hair and make-up.  Melissa is still frantically working on her dress.  Sonjia breaks down crying, and Tim tries to reassure her.  He tells her that he likes her dress and advises her to channel her “inner winner.”  Then it’s off to the runway, where Heidi introduces the guest judge, Bonnie Brooks.

Fabio is up first.  He made a sleeveless black cocktail dress with an asymmetrical skirt.  In the back, it has an exposed zipper and harness-like straps.  Melissa made a sleeveless bronze cocktail dress with an asymmetrical skirt.  There are side cut-outs below the arms exposing the breasts a tad, and the back is completely bare.  The neckline is straight and the bustier is made of some stiff material that can stand up on its own.

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