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Project Runway 11: A Little Bit Country and a Lot of Fringe

Last week on Project Runway, the designers faced what Heidi called the “ultimate hard and soft challenge.”  It was an “unconventional materials” challenge in which they had to use both flowers and hardware.  The two teams were also mixed up a bit, with Stanley and Layana going to the Dream Team and Michelle going to Team Keeping It Real.  The Dream Team won their first challenge, thanks partly to Stanley’s organizational skills and idea of patterning the collection after 1950′s Dior, thus ensuring a cohesive collection.  Samantha of the Dream Team won immunity, while Joseph from Team Keeping it Real was sent home.  Then Tim announced that there was some “unfinished business” to attend to…

The designers go back to the runway to find Heidi holding the Ominous Velvet Bag of Unnecessary Drama, which immediately makes everybody nervous.  Heidi explains that the teams are history.  From now on, the designers will work in pairs.  Heidi advises the designers to consider things like complementary skills when choosing a partner.  Samantha, as the winner, gets first pick, and she chooses Daniel.  The other pairs are Richard and Stanley, Patricia and Layana, Matthew and Michelle, Kate and Tu, and Amanda and Benjamin.  Afterwards, everybody goes back to Atlas Apartments for some much-needed sleep.

The following morning, the designers meet Tim at a country-and-western bar called Johnny Utah’s.  Tim tells them he wants to get them in the appropriate frame of mind, since their next challenge is a client challenge– and said client is a country-and-western singer named Miranda Lambert.  Each team will make two looks, a stage look and a red carpet look.  The looks don’t have to be cohesive or complementary, but they do have to fit Miranda’s tastes.  For instance, she “likes her curves.”

The teams then have the traditional thirty minutes to caucus.  During this, they divvy up the design duties.  Patricia plans to use her Native American heritage to advantage and make the performance look, while teammate Layana will work on the red carpet look.  Similarly, Amanda hopes to use her Nashville roots to advantage while making the performance look.  Partner Benjamin will do the red carpet look.  Kate will tackle the red carpet look while Tu makes the stage look.  Michelle will make the red carpet look, while Matthew makes the stage look.  Samantha will make the performance look and Daniel will make the red carpet look.  Noticing that all of the other red carpet designers are talking about making gowns, Daniel decides to make separates, which he believes would travel better and be more versatile.  As for the last team, Stanley will make the red carpet look, while Richard will make the stage look.

Then it’s off to Mood, where each team has $400.00 and thirty minutes to spend.  For some reason, quite a few people get something navy or dark blue.  That could work for a red carpet gown, but probably not for a stage outfit.  Benjamin and Amanda discover they have spent only around $270.00 of their money– and they wonder if they have bought enough supplies or overlooked something essential.  Back at the workroom, the designers watch a tape of Miranda performing, which likely reminds some of them that stage outfits have to accommodate movement.

Matthew talks about feeling the need to prove himself.  He was on the Dream Team, which had lost three out of four challenges, and consequently fears being sent home.  It’s an understandable concern– so long as he doesn’t let it paralyze him.  Richard is using a black netted material for his look.

Kate and Tu talk about their different aesthetics.  She likes feminine looks, while he prefers edgier styles.  Tu’s thinking about making something inspired by Lady Gaga for the stage look.  That’s probably a bad idea, since Lady Gaga isn’t a country singer.  Samantha is planning a motorcycle jacket for part of her look.  Daniel is using a soutache technique with some leather.  Wikipedia defines soutache as “a narrow flat decorative braid…, used in the trimming of drapery or clothing. “  It can be used to conceal a hem.  Michelle is working on a vest, while Benjamin has decided to try to solve his time management problems by making a schedule.  So far, he’s been able to stick to it.

Tim comes in to make his rounds, and he starts with Samantha and Daniel.  He likes Samantha’s fitted jacket and draped skirt and is impressed by Daniel’s soutache.  He also likes the keyhole in Layana’s red carpet gown.  He is initially nonplussed by Patricia’s garment, but warms to it after she’s explained the thinking behind it.

Tim okays Kate’s red dress, but isn’t so impressed by Tu’s attempt to “Gaga-ize” Miranda Lambert by exaggerating her curves.  He notes, “If the construction elements are fitted, then they’ll work, but if they are filled, she will look like a cartoon.”  He also has concerns about Richard’s look, since Richard is using mesh– without a lining.  Consequently, a lot of skin will be showing.  Tim seems satisfied with Amanda and Benjamin’s progress, but spots problems at Michelle and Matthew’s table.  Matthew is using leather and lace in his piece– and has no idea what sort of skirt to make.  Sensing that the real problem is a lack of confidence, Tim gives Matthew a pep talk.

After Tim leaves, the designers get back to work.  Well, most of them get back to work; Michelle decides to entertain everybody with her impersonations of Nina.  The models come in for their fitting and Michelle finds her dress fits.  Stanley frets about the fact that Richard still hasn’t come up with a lining for his dress.  As Amanda works with some fringe, she tells us about how her family produces more than its fair share of achievers and she feels the need to live up to that standard.  Specifically, her older brother James is the lead singer in the band Maroon 5.

On the morning of the runway show, Michelle is worried about Matthew, who still hasn’t made a skirt for his look.  He finally starts work  on a pleated skirt.  Richard still hasn’t come up with a lining for his dress, and it’s not until the models arrive that he gets a brainwave and cuts up a Mood t-shirt he’d bought.  He’ll make a tube-top out of it, which should cover enough skin to satisfy modesty.  While the models go to hair and make-up, Michelle helps Matthew finish his skirt.

On the runway, Heidi introduces Miranda Lambert, who is both the client and the guest judge.  Amanda is up first, and she made a sleeveless dark blue mini-dress for a stage outfit.  It is decorated with lots and lots of fringe.  Benjamin made the red carpet look, a strapless navy gown.

Tu made a sleeveless black mini-dress for a stage outfit.  It has pleats down the front.  Kate made the red carpet look, a long red gown.  It has a sleeveless bodice made of red leather that has a cut-out in the back.

Samantha made a short black skirt and a black leather vest for the stage look.  Daniel made the red carpet look, and opted to make separates.  He made a long navy blue skirt with a slit and a short fringe decorating the hem.  He also made a black leather halter with lots and lots of soutache.

Matthew made a stage outfit with a simple, short black skirt.  He also made a one-shouldered black bodice.  For a stage outfit?    Wouldn’t lighter, brighter colors be better for that?  Michelle made a red carpet look consisting of a long, tight, black skirt, and a black vest.  She then made an item that seems like a cross between a necklace and a bib.  It consists of several strips of off-white leather hanging down the model’s front.

Patricia made what looks like a simple brown dress for a stage look.  She then decorated it with lots and lots of long, off-white fringe.  Layana made a red carpet look, a sleeveless blue gown with a goodly portion of the front cut away, revealing the model’s legs.

Richard made a sleeveless, black and silver mini-dress.  It’s decorated with lot and lots of fringe.  Stanley made the red carpet look, which is a long, black sleeveless gown with a voluminous skirt.

After the show, Heidi calls Patricia, Layana, Kate and Tu.  She tells them that they are safe.  The other pairs all have to face the judges.  Richard, Stanley, Amanda, and Benjamin got the high scores, while Matthew, Michelle, Samantha, and Daniel got the low scores.

The judges decide to talk to the high scorers first, and start with Stanley and Richard.  Richard explained that he’d made the stage outfit, so one of his priorities had been making something Miranda could easily move in.  Zac said that he’d been successful, while Heidi thought the dress looked expensive.  Nina said it would flatter Miranda’s curves.  Miranda herself liked the length and said she could see herself wearing it.

Stanley had designed his red carpet dress to be photogenic.  Miranda said it was “great,” and that she loved the plunging neckline, but also that there was too much skirt.  Nina said it was beautiful, but also agreed Miranda would be “swallowed up” by the skirt.  Heidi loved the plunging neckline.

Benjamin simply wanted to make a dress fit for the red carpet.  Nina thinks the dress is gorgeous and elegant from “every angle.”  Zac liked the styling.  Miranda was uncertain about how “forgiving” the fabric would be, but Heidi thought the dress would look good on her.  Nina also thinks the dress would provide sufficient support.

Amanda tells the judges that she was inspired by Nashville “classic dive.”  Miranda thinks the dress is really cool and adds that she would buy it.  Zac praises Amanda for using a fabric like jersey, which is more commonly used in casual attire, and making a nice dress out of it.  Nina likes the “easiness” of the dress.

Then it’s time for the low scoring designers to face the judges, and they start with Michelle.  She tells them she’d designed her look with the MTV awards in mind.  Heidi scathingly comments that dress would put Miranda on the “worst-dressed list.”  All of the judges hate the bib, with Zac going so far as to say it looks like linguini.  Nina thinks the outfit looks “very rock of ages” and “dated.”

Matthew simply shows his look.  Heidi says she can tell he had put in a lot of details, but she can’t really see them– and a stage outfit’s details should be visible from a distance.  Heidi and Zac both agree that a stage outfit should be bolder.  Nina adds that the garment has neither shine nor movement.  Miranda believes he could do better and needs to have more confidence in himself and his work.

Daniel describes his soutache technique, which, unfortunately doesn’t impress the judges.  Miranda hadn’t been able to tell the top was made of leather, and Heidi thinks it looks like tinfoil.  Nina thinks the outfit looks cheap and that the fringed skirt looks a cross between a tablecloth and a napkin.  Zac says the outfit looks old, and Heidi thinks it makes the model look heavier.

Samantha had used leather and suede in her stage look.  Zac thinks it lacks “wow.”  Miranda comments that she would wear the outfit Samantha was wearing before she would wear the one she’d designed.  The consensus seems to be that Samantha is lucky to have immunity this week.

Afterwards, the judges have their chat, starting with the designers they’d liked.  Amanda’s look was versatile, while Benjamin’s was elegant and timeless.  Richard’s look was more rock and roll than country, but still a good dress.  Stanley’s was nice, but had some fit issues.

As for the designers they didn’t like, Michelle has questionable taste.  She also has a strong point of view and an 80′s vibe.  Matthew does have good taste, but no confidence.  Daniel’s dress looked cheap, and Samantha is lucky to have immunity.

Heidi then asks Miranda to announce the winner and it’s Richard.  She tells him that she’ll wear his dress in a performance.  Stanley is safe, as are Amanda and Benjamin.  Samantha is in, and this time, there are three candidates for ouster:  Matthew, Daniel, and Michelle are all in the bottom.  Matthew is out, so the other two are in.

Next week:  Joan Rivers is the guest judge, and the designers have to design for retirees.

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