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

Hello, Project Runway fans! Last week, the designers made server and ball-boy uniforms for Susan Sarandon’s club, SPiN. This time around, their client was Heidi Klum, who needed two looks ­– one for a TV and print ad campaign and one for a public relations event – for the launch of her perfume, “Surprise.”

The fragrance’s packaging was pink, gold, and black (to go along with the scents of pink pepper, mandarin, and jasmine), and each team was asked to use those colors to craft six dresses – four options for the ad campaign, and two for the event.

Team Keeping It Real – unsurprisingly – worked well together (despite Layana panicking about using pink rather than gold during the critique session),  while the Dream Team fell apart. Benjamin needs to learn that, ultimately, he can’t control everyone else’s work and still design good garments himself.

On the runway, the winning team was once again apparent. Kate and Layana’s gown was one of my favorites, and Daniel’s would have looked better with some lining (to allow for a neater slit). Though the judges adored Patricia’s crafty leatherwork, the garment seemed too boxy for Heidi.

Over on the Dream Team, the inappropriateness of Matthew’s S&M dress made my jaw drop. What was it that Heidi said, about looking sexy but not slutty? Yeah, a little over the line. Benjamin’s strappy (literally) gown reminded me of a kid wrapping a string around his finger until the tip turns red. And Cindy’s iridescent pink fabric looked too cheap for the challenge guidelines.

This season is starting to feel like a season of Survivor where one team dominates and the other team is picked off one by one. I wonder what will happen if the Dream Team is demolished?

Let’s find out together. Until the next episode – auf Wiedersehen.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer 

My favorite designer so far is Daniel – who’s yours? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us at @ruelala

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February 8, 2013

Hi there, Project Runway fans! Last week, we got through the initial groaning over a whole season of teams. This week, the designers created new uniforms for SPiN New York, the “preeminent Ping-Pong social club.”

Knowing the club was owned by the ever-beautiful Susan Sarandon seemed to make Team Keeping It Real and the Dream Team even more nervous. (Can you blame them?) Each team was asked to design five uniforms: three for female servers, one for male servers, and one for male “ball boys” (featuring the club’s “balls are my business” slogan – cue 90 minutes of male-anatomy jokes).

The Dream Team’s Benjamin micromanaged Cindy – who is a competent designer, if a bit dowdy – yet ignored James and his horrible blue fabric until it was too late. Over on Team Keeping It Real, Daniel generously helped Layana, who struggled last week. I do love that a self-taught designer like Daniel can share some tricks of the trade with the FIT grad who interned with Oscar de la Renta.

You may be able to guess what happened on the runway.

Team Keeping It Real
I really loved Layana and Daniel’s upscale take on a server’s tee-and-apron look, though it would have been better without the asymmetrical collar and back. Stanley’s male-server attire worked for the client, and no arguments here. Susan loved the graphic pockets on Joseph Aaron and Richard’s ball-boy uniform, but it seemed busy (on the plus side, the shirt and harness were fabulous).

The Dream Team
The length didn’t work for James’s cabana-boy shorts, and pairing them with that ill-cut top made it worse. As for Benjamin and Matthew’s kilt, Heidi put it best: “The crotch piece was tasteless.” (Yet “ballsy,” said Susan. Ha.) Really, not much worked out for the Dream Team – including the jacket and shorts created by Benjamin and Cindy.

No tears from me over the elimination this week, but the Dream Team has got to get it together. How are you feeling about the teams? Do you agree with Cindy that “the thrill” is gone?

And PS: Just in case you’re as intrigued by Joseph Aaron’s multicolored cat sweaters as I am, I had to share. You can thank me later. Until next week – auf Wiedersehen.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer 

Did the right person win? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us at @ruelala

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February 1, 2013

Welcome back, Project Runway fans! A week ago, the second All Stars season came to a (rewarding) close. This week, we met an all-new set of designers striving to make it to Fashion Week – but with the addition of a new twist. Teams. All season long.

I (like everyone) doubted the premise when I first heard about it. Everyone will participate in critiques of their team members’ garments. They will be judged individually, but one team will win and one will lose – so it’s possible for someone to have the worst design and stay. I’m curious to see how this affects the workroom dynamic.

But, I mean, Tim Gunn says it’s his favorite season ever. Can’t argue with that.

Anyway. After the designers began to assemble, it was clear there were some standout characteristics, like Daniel’s mustache, Benjamin’s Australian accent, Michelle’s presentation of her age (“thirty-fou-dorable”), and Cindy’s past career as a funeral director. Patricia has the distinction of being the first Native American to join a Project Runway cast.

Heidi parted the group like the Red Sea, into two teams of eight: Team Keeping It Real and the Dream Team.

The Dream Team’s Emily only had sketches to present during the critiques, which we all know means disaster (ironic, since she talked a big game). Kate didn’t want to listen to her Keeping It Real team – until Tim said the same thing.

On the runway, Emily’s unfinished piece, Cindy’s horribly mixed prints, and some of the other designers’ “sad and boring” looks (stated by both Heidi and new judge Zac Posen, who replaced Michael Kors this season) had the Dream Team on the bottom.

Over on Team Keeping It Real, Daniel’s silk wool crepe suit felt very New York. I really liked Richard’s sporty, asymmetrical dress and Stanley’s metallic halter jumpsuit (though I wouldn’t wear it myself). And Patricia’s painted pattern with the pop of blue was a lovely addition.

All in all, a winning premiere. Are you looking forward to more from the teams? For now – auf Wiedersehen. 

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer 

Did any of the designers immediately strike you? Sound off in the comments below, or tweet us at @ruelala.

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January 25, 2013

This is it, Runway fans. Last week’s couture challenge sent Joshua packing, so Emilio, Anthony Ryan, and Uli were left to duke it out in the All Stars finale this week.

The challenge was to create a mini collection and plan a runway show around it, all in four days. Let’s just skip right to the important part (although Joshua refusing to be Anthony Ryan’s assistant and Casanova crashing out on the couch instead of helping Uli were both pretty good moments):

Emilio: Urban Plantation
The story here was strong. I loved the white shirt under the bustier, the unstructured jacket with the last dress, and even the bright red pantsuit, but the 80s graphic print put this collection into a-little-too-loud-for-my-taste territory.

Anthony Ryan: A Fine Line
Though I expected more from Anthony Ryan – this was supposed to be a collection, yet there were no separates – I liked the colorblock theme. The opening look (the one Isaac called the best dress he’s ever seen on the show) didn’t appeal to me personally, but I adored the silver-and-yellow dress for showcasing one of my very favorite color combos.

Uli: Mystical Winter
Ivory and white have worked for Uli, so I’m not surprised she went with winter for her finale collection. The detailing was incredible, but the faux fur looked inexpensive. The styling was very “snow queen,” with a hint of masculinity. The best look for me? The long vest and graphic silver pants.

Overall, I only liked the winning designer’s collection – but loved his or her body of work from the show, which made it okay. Were you all for the winner, or did another designer steal your heart (only to have the judges break it)?

That’s all for now. Join me next week for the premiere of Project Runway: Teams, as we welcome back Heidi, Tim, and the gang (minus Michael). Until then – auf Wiedersehen.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer

Who was your favorite All Star this season? Share in the comments below, or tweet us at @ruelala

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January 18, 2013

Bonjour, fellow Project Runway fans! Last week, the designers crafted custom dresses for lady veterans. This week, they took an haute little side trip to France.

That’s right. This episode started with the designers packing their bags for a less-than-24-hour hop across the pond to tour the House of Valentino, learn about couture, and shop at Janssens & Janssens for fabric to create their own couture-inspired looks.

Cue the collective jaw-drop.

With 3,000 euros and one hour to shop, Emilio said it best: “To have a great budget to buy beautiful fabric really elevates this challenge to the level of couture.” And Joshua – in a French shop brimming with gorgeous material – picked the tackiest floral fabric possible. “This is like Joshua and the Amazing Technicolor Couture Challenge,” he said. Okay. Let’s see how well that works out.

Back in the States, Joanna cautioned Emilio against going appliqué-crazy and Anthony Ryan about running out of time, worried about Uli’s dress coming across as “gladiator alligator meets Sicilian widow,” and tried to be polite about Joshua’s choice of fabric.

The runway was a mix of hits and misses. Joshua’s lace-and-floral combination was risky (as couture should be) – but quite possibly the ugliest thing I’ve seen yet. And while the judges liked Emilio’s gown, it could have been fitted better (and I wish he had kept some of the appliqué we saw in the workroom, despite Joanna’s warnings).

Anthony Ryan’s look was a touch funereal, but it certainly met the conditions of the challenge in a way that Uli’s dress did not. Despite its strength, her construction was problematic in the lining and back – and one challenge from the finale is not the time for such issues.

Rather than announcing a final verdict, the judges sent Anthony Ryan and Emilio through to the finale and held Joshua and Uli back for a tiebreaker challenge: deconstruct their gowns and create a new look, all in one hour.

Who was your pick to win the Hunger Games–style face-off between Uli and Joshua? Were you satisfied with the judges’ decision?

Join me next week to watch the Final Three in action. For now, au revoir.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer 

Did the right person go home? Sound off in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala

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January 11, 2013