Saturday, February 16, 2013

Project Runway Season 11, Episode 4: The UNCONVENTIONAL Challenge

I didn't write about last week's episode because it was a total snoozefest.  It was the now ubiquitous "make a dress for Heidi" challenge.  This time the lovely Ms. Klum is hawking a new perfume and she needs a fantasy gown for the commercial and a day dress for the press tour.  Sweet bridal designer Kate got the win for the black and blush corset gown she made with Brazilian bombshell Layana.  Daniel won the "press tour" prize despite the fact that he also made a gown for the commercial... probably because the winner had to come from the winning team and the day dresses were unwearable.  If this was not Project Runway TEAMS, I expect that the press dress win would have gone to snarky cool Michelle for her black and gold leather studded shift.  Funeral director Cindy was auf'd for a truly heinous pink/gold iridescent shantung (Shantung? Really Cindy?) dress which managed to be dowdy and sort of skanky all at the same time.  No wonder Cindy hadn't previously done "sexy" - she clearly doesn't understand the concept. 

And so that brings us to this week.  This week's episode started with some of the clunkiest product placement I have ever had the misfortune of witnessing.  The designers walked in to a room filled with lit "Glade 2-in-1" candles.  Can you imagine the smell?  I imagine that room was sheer hell for days and I am shocked that none of the designers collapsed with a migraine.  In any case, Tim Gunn and Heidi explained that this week's challenge was a "2-in-1" (just like the candles!) and this unconventional challenge would mix "hard and soft" (apparently Heidi's new catch phrase?) by combining two favorite past unconventional challenges and using materials from the florist and the hardware store. 

As an aside, are they out of unconventional challenge ideas? I've long wondered how long it would take before they would have to start repeating and apparently the answer is 11 seasons.

Before beginning the challenge Tim also mentions that the teams need to be balanced.  After three wins in a row, Team "Keeping it Real" (KIR) still have eight designers while the poorly named "Dream Team" are down to 5.  Tim allows the Dream Team to steal two designers from KIR and KIR gets to swipe one of the original Dream Team designers.  The Dream Team wisely grab Stanley and Layana, two strong KIR members while KIR requests that Michelle join them.  Despite having spent most of the last few episodes moaning about being a member of the perpetually losing team, Michelle is none too happy about the switch noting that she has no desire to work with Native American designer Patricia who (and I agree) talks too much and often comes across as bossy and condescending. 

The designer switch turns out to be just what the Dream Team needed.  In Stanley, they finally have an actual leader rather than merely a self-professed "natural" leader Benjamin.  Stanley suggests that the team use Dior New Look as their inspiration, providing a cohesive vision.  Of course on the runway Benjamin states that they were unified by choice of color palette and never mentions Stanley's Dior leadership genius.  But that's why we are all starting to hate stupid Benjamin and his stupid bleached hair...  KIR, on the other hand never decided on any cohesive theme and while there were many excellent looks they were completely unrelated to one another.  This deeply concerns Michelle who states that KIR's looks were made by crazy people but none of those crazy people are staying at the same mental hospital.  Ultimately it is Michelle who suggests a decades theme, "fashion history through flowers" as it were.  Let's take a look shall we?

Team Keeping It Real:

My personal favorites from this team were Kate's larger than life 50's style cocktail dress and Michelle and Richard's Madonna-esque cage dress constructed of mini-blinds and folliage.  My least favorite was Patricia's mother-nature cape which just looked messy to my eye. 
Dream Team:

By far, my favorite on this team was Tu's rope blouse and necklace (which looked like it was made of wood... gorgeous) paired with a yellow and green floral skirt.  I also loved Layana's pink floral birdcage silhouette and Samantha's technique of catching large leaves inside layers of mesh.  I don't think this team had any weak links although Matthew's yellow skirt looks like a hay fever attack about to happen.

In any case, this truly was one of the best runways to date. Heidi declared that there was no losing team this week. Just a winning team and an "almost winning" team. But a winner would be chosen from the first place team and someone from the second place team would be going home. So it's sort of a distinction without a difference. In the end, Dream Team's cohesion put them on top. While KIR's decades idea shockingly made a lot of sense as they explained it, the concept didn't read on the runway so one of them would be auf'd. 
And this is where my opinion parts ways with the judges.  Ultimately the decision came down between Amanda who had some trouble with her green moss (did she not watch Season 2?) but whose end product turned out pretty well, and Joe who created a "futuristic" shapeless sweater dress.  Sadly I think Amanda largely wound up on the bottom because her team threw her under the bus when asked who they thought should go.  Geeky cat-sweater Joe was sweet when explaining that he dreams of a future where fashion is less focused on body-consciousness but in the end he had to clean up his workspace and Amanda survives to fight another day... perhaps a little less trusting of her teammates.  What I cannot understand is how Patricia was not in the bottom with Joe.  Her creation was a disaster.  It looked like a swamp creature had gussied itself up with flowers to go to the carnival.  It was ridiculous... but if I agreed with every call it wouldn't be Project Runway would it?
After saying goodbye to Joe, the episode ended with a peculiar teaser for next week...  Tim came into the work room and stated that there is still some business to be taken care of and the designers are to meet he and Heidi on the runway in ten minutes.  Ominous music plays and the screen reads: "To be Continued..." 
I can't wait to see what's in store for our fearless designers next week!

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