Welcome back, Project Runway fans! The last time we spoke, five designers traveled across Europe for inspiration for high-end fashion looks. These past two weeks, we’ve been engrossed in the finale – first in the narrowing down of the Final Four to Three, and then in seeing the final collections walk the runway.

After working on their collections at home for four months, the designers each picked three pieces to show. Two of the season’s best looks (in my opinion) – Michelle’s layers and black chaps and Patricia’s horsehair cape with leather pants – helped the ladies secure their spots. Stanley’s skill with luxe, ornate fabrics earned him the last seat, leaving out Daniel, whose capsule collection was sadly made up of well-designed but boring choices.

With the judges’ advice (primarily for Stanley to add interest and youth, Michelle to edit, and Patricia to bring cohesion and maturity), the Final Three returned to the workroom to prep for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Everyone was stressed, but Stanley especially – he still had unfinished garments as he walked into Lincoln Center. Between an army of sewing assistants and a (very) patient stage manager, he pulled it together, but it was ugly there for a bit.

Stanley: “Urban Opulence” had some standout pieces, like the gold belted coatdress and white-and-gold dress, but ultimately his collection still felt dated and his quick-fix hemlines were too shoddy for Fashion Week.

Patricia: Inspired by trees, this collection showcased her creativity and Native American heritage. She created a beautiful fabric, and the judges appreciated her leather hole-punch pants. The pink dress she opened with was also really lovely. I still noticed a lack of cohesion, though, and while the judges liked her headpieces, I found them to be a little over the top.

Michelle: This lone wolf–inspired collection exemplified the casual/tough attitude I’ve come to love about her. It was diverse, yet told a complete story through quilted fabrics and pleated dresses. Those chiffon scarf-ties took it a little too far, and her closing gown was quite heavy – even to Michael Kors (can he come back next season? Please?), who said it was like a “cardboard box walking.” Overall, though, she was my favorite.

The judges had a hard time narrowing it down, and I was happy with their final choice. What did you think – did the right person win? Until Season 12, auf Wiedersehen.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer

How did you like Project Runway: Teams? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @ruelala. And if you missed an episode, check out our Project Runway recaps to date.

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April 26, 2013

Hi there, Project Runway fans! Last week, the remaining five contestants created editorial looks for Marie Claire. This week, the designers flew across the globe to find inspiration (and buy $1,000 worth of European fabric) for a high-end runway look.

We were left hanging last week in regard to Michelle’s fate, which was resolved quickly here – she got to stay, but she was on a sort of probation. So, while Layana traveled to Barcelona, Daniel to Berlin, Patricia to Paris, and Stanley to London (each accompanied by an eliminated-designer-turned-assistant to maintain the team aspect), she remained solo in New York so she could focus on fighting for her life.

This actually benefited her, in a way – she got to shop at Mood. The other designers had to find fabric in local shops in their respective cities, and between language barriers, unexpectedly expensive materials, and poor selection (Daniel had to buy white pleather – yuck), they had a difficult time.

In the workroom, Tim had some wise advice for Patricia: If you’re going to make something reminiscent of a multicolored marshmallow, it should be a shirt rather than a jacket. He also supported Michelle’s desire to paint her “fabulous, really beautiful, sophisticated look” and tried to be nice to Layana, whose lace coat looked like it belonged in a mid-90s shopping mall.

On the runway, Patricia would have been better off if she’d made a simple top and left off the massive, puffy sleeves, and Layana’s coat didn’t look any better than it did in the workroom.

Michelle’s cashmere skirt moved wonderfully, and the breast plate and strappy back made this a winner for me. Daniel’s pleather looked edgy and luxurious, which couldn’t have been an easy task, and the wedge/stocking combo was, in Nina’s words, “a showpiece.” Finally – the shape aside, though that in itself had me falling in love – Stanley’s use of paillettes for the lining was pure genius.

I’d be surprised if any of these three didn’t go to Fashion Week at this point – and it helps that they’re the most likeable.

Talk to you next week. For now, auf Wiedersehen.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer

Were you happy with who went home? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @ruelala. And if you missed an episode, check out our Project Runway recaps to date.

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April 12, 2013

Hey there, Project Runway fans! Last week, the designers took an inspirational trip to the Guggenheim. This week, the challenge belonged to Nina – and not in the form of a dress for her own wardrobe. Instead, the outfit was to be shot on actress Jordana Brewster for an editorial feature in Marie Claire.

First, of course, the teams needed tweaking. “It’s time for each of you to design on your own,” Heidi said. Finally! But the twist (to keep it team-oriented) was that each designer had to work with and manage an assistant. (Three guesses as to who those assistants were.)

The “wretched Button Bag” (thanks, Michelle) helped Tim assign the eliminated contestants/assistants to their designers. Stanley and Tu became a team, as did Michelle and Amanda, Daniel and Samantha, Layana and Kate… and Patricia was once again left to work with Richard. Her thoughts on that? “I don’t have a prayer left.” Very optimistic.

Stanley put far too much pressure on Tu in the workroom, telling him over and over that mistakes were unacceptable. Michelle apparently forgot Nina’s instruction of “no pants and a T-shirt,” because that’s exactly what she showed to Tim. Layana and Kate worked together like a dream, whereas Patricia spent half the time giving Richard sewing lessons.

Patricia’s final product had a nice style to it – the judges liked the one-shoulder look – but ultimately the shape didn’t work in the context Nina needed it for. Daniel’s piece looked like an Easter outfit for Lady Gaga, but it had the benefit of being bold and unique. While Michelle’s green pants and white blouse were very well-done, they were not daring enough for an editorial fashion shoot – and they went against Nina’s instructions.

The judges loved Stanley’s multipiece look, and Nina said that the stylists would be able to do a lot with it. Layana made a beautiful armor-inspired piece with cobalt leather and metal links – but she gave Kate a lot of credit, saying she couldn’t have finished without her help. I’m still not positive Layana is strong enough on her own to show at Fashion Week.

What did you think of that cliffhanger ending?

I’m anxious to see what happens next week. Until then – auf Wiedersehen.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer

Did the right person win? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @ruelala. And if you missed an episode, check out our Project Runway recaps to date.

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April 5, 2013

Welcome back, Project Runway fans! Last week, the teams made ready-to-wear looks for Lord & Taylor. This week, they paid the Guggenheim a visit – and created their own textiles for inclusion in wearable art designs.

The judges selected the pairs: Patricia and Richard, Layana and Daniel, and Stanley and Michelle (ordered by how excited they were to work together, from least to most). No one was happy Richard stayed last week, and Michelle quipped that he’d only show 12 colorblocked dresses at Fashion Week. Can’t say I disagree.

At the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museumthe place to see modern and contemporary art in New York – Tim explained each team’s task: find inspiration to create their own textile, then produce one piece of wearable art and a complementary ready-to-wear look. He gave each pair a camera and let them run wild.

In the workroom, Layana broke down in tears when she realized the level of difficulty that wearable art calls for, but to her credit, she had her pity party then pulled a dress together. And in the time that Patricia used to construct the foundation of her look, Richard just toyed with making a bracelet.

My favorite ready-to-wear look on the runway was Daniel’s blazer and skirt. Both pieces were beautifully designed and fitted, and this is an outfit I’d love to own. Patricia’s tribal look – surprisingly soft and light despite its many layers and white veil – solidified her as the stronger member of her team.

Stanley and Michelle worked together on both their pieces, and their wearable art, with its painted Bubble Wrap, artsy cape, and well-done headpiece, was the highlight of the show. Nina called it “inspiring and editorial.” I liked their ready-to-wear look somewhat less – the shape felt awkward and heavy – but it was beautifully constructed.

Richard’s skirt looked like a cross between a balloon and an accordion (read: not pretty), and I agreed with the judges that Layana’s dress was like a Barbie version of Gone with the Wind.

The remaining designers seem to be hitting their stride (finally). Do you have picks for the Final Three? I’m fairly certain Stanley and Michelle will make it, but the last is a toss-up.

More next week. Auf Wiedersehen for now.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer

Did you agree with the judges’ decisions? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @ruelala. And if you missed an episode, check out our Project Runway recaps to date.

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March 29, 2013

Hi there, Project Runway fans! Last week, the teams failed at crafting exotic dancewear for men. This week, they took on this season’s ready-to-wear challenge: creating a budget-friendly spring look for Lord & Taylor.

Tim broke up last week’s teams into smaller groups – two pairs and a triad – but since everyone was able to design their own garment (with input from their team members), the pairings seemed to be more for drama than anything else. The designers were so competitive and sick of working together that the team dynamic was pretty much shot.

The teams met with Suzanne Timmins, fashion director for Lord & Taylor’s parent company, who gave them their challenge: Use the Lord & Taylor rose as inspiration for a ready-to-wear spring look that will be displayed in the store’s Fifth Avenue window as well as sold online.

There was, of course, some trouble in the workroom. Stanley’s attempts to control Patricia were thwarted by her feigning agreement and then moving on to do what she was going to do anyway. Michelle hated the color Daniel chose for his look, and Richard wouldn’t even talk to Layana.

On the runway, Patricia’s rosy draped blouse with matching capris and Stanley’s drab pink dress kept them both safe.

I agreed with the judges that Richard’s sporty maxi dress, though quite pretty, looked over-styled and too similar to what he’s done before. Samantha’s short, flirty dress was cute and interesting, but too junior for Lord & Taylor. Layana’s floral-patterned chiffon dress was beautiful – except for that print. Yuck.

Michelle turned out to be right about Daniel’s bright pink. It wouldn’t have worked as a jacket, and though I did love the shoulders, the dress wasn’t tailored well enough – and it was (frankly) sort of boring. Michelle’s on-trend chartreuse shift dress, however, was a clear front-runner with its impeccable details and great styling.

Already know who won, or don’t mind being spoiled? The winning design is on sale now. (Or was, until it sold out).

See you next week. Auf Wiedersehen.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer

I wanted someone else to go home – how about you? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @ruelala.

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March 22, 2013

Welcome back, Project Runway fans! Last week, the designers crafted duct-tape prom dresses. This week, their clients (and, as they were dismayed to learn, models) were the men from Thunder From Down Under – exotic dancers who offer the “Ultimate Girls’ Night Outback.” Mmmhmm.

But before the designers could get to work, another switch-up was in order. Heidi and the judges picked the new teams of four: Stanley, Michelle, Patricia, and Daniel formed Team Shades of Grey, and Layana, Amanda, Richard, and Samantha became Team Slick and Hip. (Let’s just not talk about these name selections, okay?)

No one seemed overly enthusiastic about their new teams, and the challenge’s specifications – three cohesive, tear-away exotic-dancer outfits for Magic Mike–esque figures (when many of the designers weren’t even that familiar with menswear) in only one day – had the designers pretty stressed.

Unsurprising, then, that the workroom was a complete disaster. No one on Team Slick and Hip could get along, to the point where Layana asked Stanley – a member of Team Shades of Grey – for help. Those over on his own team, though, weren’t doing much better.

All of this made for quite possibly the worst show in Project Runway history. The lack of time and cooperation led to designs completely devoid of creativity. Heidi said it all: “I think we should just wrap the show early and you’re all out.” Ouch.

Shades of Grey won by default, thanks mainly to Michelle’s zippered vest, even though it didn’t fit the team’s office theme. All of their pants failed the tear-away test, Patricia’s basket-woven shirt impressed no one, and Daniel’s trench coat looked, as Nina mentioned (between her fits of laughter), like a beauty smock.

Nothing worked over on the Slick and Hip side. Amanda’s pants were the worst offenders, with their uneven legs and too-tight fit. Add Richard’s ridiculous, falling-off silk collar and Layana’s horribly fitted jacket, along with all of those too-long shirts, and it’s no wonder these guys were on the bottom.

Now, I usually try to stay away from spoilers (consider this your spoiler alert), but there’s one Project Runway first worth mentioning from this episode: No one won.

I hope you agree that the person who got Heidi’s kiss of death definitely deserved it. Are you, like me, ready for the producers to do away with team challenges for the rest of the season? (Not that it’ll happen, but a girl can dream.)

We’ll have to wait and see what they come up with for next week. Auf Wiedersehen.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer

Were you as disappointed by the designs as I was? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @ruelala.

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March 15, 2013

Hello again, Project Runway fans! Last week, the designers created timeless looks for mature women. This week, it was a Project Runway first: The designers were tasked with producing fashion-forward prom dresses out of duct tape.

They had to work in pairs to create one innovative look, a reorganization that led to the following conclusions: Kate loves to boss Tu around, Stanley prefers Layana to Richard (much to Richard’s dismay), and no one wants to work with poor Patricia, despite the fact that the judges often love her designs.

I know not everyone is a fan of the unconventional-materials challenges, but I personally really enjoy them – yes, I said it. They lead to some gorgeous creations. And this particular unconventional challenge was fun, although it didn’t quite meet my high hopes for what the designers could do with such a classic DIY project.

On the other hand, there were still a lot of playful, imaginative designs in the workroom. Michelle and Amanda had a great time creating a bold houndstooth-happy outfit, and Stanley and Layana somewhat haltingly worked their way to a fun 50s-inspired zebra print ensemble with pink accents.

The designers first previewed their looks for a group of high school students (a fitting and, according to the designers, absolutely terrifying audience). The students voted for Patricia and Samantha’s leggy space-age number as their favorite creation – despite Tim initially disparaging the look as “bride of the tin woodman” (come again?) in the workroom. The students’ vote supposedly counted toward 20% of the judges’ final decision – and if you have any idea what that actually means, please let me know.

Patricia and Samantha’s dress was also a hit on the runway, with all of the judges loving the unusual look. Unfortunately, Kate and Tu’s uninspired, old-fashioned gown missed the mark completely. Tim called it “boring” in the workroom and the judges unanimously agreed – as did I. Richard and Daniel also had a miss on the runway with their dated gold extravaganza, receiving a stated “zero” from Nina.

The very low lows and the many highlights – with Patricia and Samantha, Stanley and Layana, and Amanda and Michelle all producing strong looks – led to a tough decision, and I must admit that I was a bit surprised by who won, although not so much by who went home. What did you think?

Now on to the After Prom and next week’s challenge! Auf Wiedersehen.

By Shaina Malkin, Staff Writer

Was the winning look Prom Queen–worthy? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or tweet us @ruelala.

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March 8, 2013

Hi again, Project Runway fans! Last week, the designers mixed a dash of rock with a whole lot of country for superstar Miranda Lambert. This week, the client-models were seniors longing to update their closets with timeless new looks.

First, since Michelle’s partner went home last week, she needed to join a new group – and much to her chagrin, the Button Bag put her with Patricia and Layana. Since the start of the competition, all of Michelle’s creations have been overshadowed by the lower scores of her teammates, and she was (rightly) nervous about this grouping.

The mature ladies seemed to have fun in the workroom, but the designers found it difficult to balance their own aesthetics with their clients’ wishes. Amanda, Patricia, and Tu all had problems with fabric and fit, and going into the runway, it seemed Amanda’s mistake-ridden dress and Patricia’s sloppy poncho – with its thick fabrics and odd colorblocking – were in the running for last place.

After the judges (including Joan Rivers – the most perfect guest-judge selection for any episode ever – her daughter Melissa, and designer Rachel Roy) had a look, Benjamin’s too-tight turquoise number also got a harsh critique, even though his client liked it. Melissa Rivers summed up Amanda’s look: “I feel like you tried to make a cake with whatever was in the kitchen rather than getting the right ingredients.” Bingo.

Over on the happier side of things, Stanley’s purple suit looked expensive – however, I think his client’s model-esque figure gave him an advantage. I was surprised to see Samantha’s leopard print, with its giant bow and puffy sleeves, on top (though it was probably teammate Daniel’s suit that earned them the spot). Michelle’s flattering, colorful dress deserved recognition, but she was once again hindered by her team.

I’m not so sure the right person went home this week. What did you think?

Auf Wiedersehen, until next time.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer 

Which client-model rocked it best? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us at @ruelala

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March 1, 2013

Hello there, Project Runway fans! Last week, the designers balanced hardware and flowers. This week, they had another client-based challenge – and the lady of the hour was country star Miranda Lambert, who wanted a little added rock ’n’ roll to spice up her look.

Before the designers could get to work, Tim and Heidi brought out the dreaded Button Bag. Apparently last week’s team shake-up wasn’t enough, because rather than sticking with it, the designers were broken into pairs. (Now this is a “team” challenge I can get behind.) Each pair was responsible for two outfits: a red-carpet look and a stage-ready performance look.

The freedom of no teams let the designers loosen up in the workroom – especially Michelle, who treated us to her spot-on Nina Garcia impression, and Amanda, who revealed she’s under a lot of familial pressure because her brother is a member of Maroon 5.

But there were lows, too, particularly Daniel (my early fave), who seemed to be letting his winning track record inflate his ego. His leather fabric certainly looked cool, but the finished product was a mess – despite his no-holds-barred boasting.

On the runway, Amanda came back from last week’s humiliation to turn out an incredibly practical (did someone say “normal bra”? How revolutionary!) and rocking design. Richard’s piece was perfect for a country-rock performance, and though Miranda wasn’t convinced that Benjamin’s regal chiffon skirt was right for her, Heidi thought it was perfect.

I also really liked Kate’s red gown, and it kept her safe – but I see why Miranda didn’t pick it. Down on the bottom, Matthew’s lifeless two-piece outfit lacked confidence, and Michelle’s look reminded me of a Whitesnake music video.

What did you think? Were pairs better than teams, and did they let the right person go? (I say yes.)

Until next week – auf Wiedersehen.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer 

Which design was your pick of the week? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us at @ruelala

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February 22, 2013

Hi again, Project Runway fans! Last week, the designers made publicity-ready outfits for Heidi Klum herself. This week, it’s the unconventional-materials challenge – and not only did the designers get to visit the flower shop, but they took a trip to the hardware store, too.

But before any shopping or sketching happened, Tim answered my question from last week regarding the inequality between the teams. Rather than let the Dream Team get picked off, he decided to shuffle things a bit. Stanley and Layana hopped over to the Dream Team, and Michelle joined Team Keeping It Real.

Each team had to create a cohesive line, and Stanley proved to be a great addition to the Dream Team by immediately giving them a direction – 1950s Dior. Team Keeping It Real, on the other hand, identified no such starting point, instead going with “well, let’s all use flowers.” Good times.

For once, the Dream Team seemed to have a solid handle on things while Team Keeping It Real crumbled. Joseph Aaron even said he wanted “flowers that look like brains and eat the model.” Sounds glamorous. Tim seemed to agree with Michelle, in that “it’s as if everything is designed by crazy people.”

The runway results were surprising based on the course of the season so far – but not so much when based strictly on this episode. The Dream Team’s line was stunning, between Samantha’s tulle-and-leaves skirt, Matthew’s surprisingly well-done mop top, and Stanley’s very retro, very Dior dress.

Over on Team Keeping It Real, both Patricia and Joseph Aaron showed dresses hindered by an overabundance of mismatched flora. I was also saddened by the hip bulges plaguing Daniel’s look. Add in the lack of cohesion, and this line just wasn’t as good, even if the judges didn’t seem to dislike it as much as I did.

The shake-up seems to have been a good thing – a leveled playing field means the weak links on each team will be at risk at some point or another.

Let’s see if the Dream Team can keep it up, or if Team Keeping It Real manages to rally for another win. Talk to you then. Auf Wiedersehen for now.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer 

Do you prefer the switched-up teams? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us at @ruelala

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February 15, 2013