Rue Recap: Project Runway Goes to the Prom

The designers get wrapped up in duct tape for Season 11, Episode 7

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

Rue Recap: Project Runway’s Senior Fling

Timeless styles are all the rage in Season 11, Episode 6

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

Rue Recap: The Project Runway Designers Dress Miranda Lambert

It’s a little bit country and a little bit rock ’n’ roll in Season 11, Episode 5

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

Rue Recap: Project Runway’s Edgy Flowers

It’s all about hardware and soft petals in Season 11, Episode 4

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

Rue Recap: Project Runway’s “Surprise” Client

The designers create press-ready looks for Heidi Klum in Season 11, Episode 3

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

Rue Recap: Project Runway’s Ping-Pong Style

The designers craft nightclub server uniforms in Season 11, Episode 2

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

A First Look at Project Runway: Teams

The designers begin their team-challenge journey in Season 11, Episode 1

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