Project Runway Recap: S8 E10

What an episode! I was prepared for this week’s challenge to be dramatic and feelingsy, but it was truly emotional and even inspirational. You’ve just got to watch it for yourself to understand how moving it was, but Mondo has transformed from a quirky but talented tap-dancing designer to an honest and brave soul who knows how to find inspiration in life’s blessings and curses. The best part? Unlike most Project Runway drama, this didn’t feel scripted or over-produced. It just felt raw and real.

But enough about the feelings – we’re here to talk about the designs. This week, Project Runway brought back a terrific challenge from last season, giving the designers the opportunity to create their own prints. No twists and turns – just prints (and feelings). So let’s start the show!

Andy – Bottom 4

This late in the game, there’s no excuses. I don’t care if you’re distracted by your family or your feelings or your personal life – you can’t just give up on a challenge the way Andy did yesterday. Andy hasn’t always made the best choices in this competition, but until this challenge, he stayed true to himself. You could feel Andy’s spirit in every design. But this outfit lacked the vision that makes Andy unique. And Nina was right – this, like too many other garments on the runway this season, is clothes, not fashion.

Andy is at a disadvantage because of his truly awful model, but that’s also no excuse. That mullet blouse was uninspired and unflattering, that vest is disgusting, and those shorts make her look thick-thighed and not at all fashionable. And the print? Sad, boring, and unoriginal. I wouldn’t have eliminated Andy simply because of the strength of his prior work, but if I were basing my decision solely on this challenge, Andy would have been the sure loser.

April – Top 3

Another dark, sexy and intriguing look from April, who I love more and more every week. I like that she’s rough around the edges, with her gloom-and-doom aesthetic and general badass attitude, but she is clearly a gentle soul with a good heart underneath it all. This print, based on her parents’ divorce when she was 13, was stunning. The tree going up the model’s arm is beautiful and very unique, and her incorporation of the print into the design was rather brilliant. I love the silhouette and the styling, and I respect April for being the only designer besides Mondo to create real fashion for this challenge. She was my choice for the runner-up.

Christopher – Bottom 4

Christopher’s designs get more boring every week, and this garment is living proof. The print looked pretty cheap on the runway, but it’s even worse in close-up. It lacks emotion and personality and just looks incredibly amateurish. It’s my least favorite print of the group. I keep being stunned that Christopher is sneaking through when the judges admitted that there’s nothing memorable in his portfolio from this show. I’m still hoping he’ll turn it around and churn out something awe-inspiring, but if he’s planning on pulling out all the stops, I hope it does it soon.

Gretchen – Top 3

I hate the colors. I hate the print. I hate the cut of the shirt. I hate the ruffly collar. I hate the butt-flap on the pants. I have HAD it with Gretchen’s “disco-earthy” (aka “dated-matronly”) aesthetic, her over-confidence, and the judges’ refusal to critically view anything she designs. Nina gave her a “you can do better” speech, but it was more of a “you’re so amazing that we know you can do better” speech rather than a “step up your lousy fucking game” speech. And which one of the crack-smoking judges said that Gretchen is by far the best stylist of the group? That’s the furthest thing from the truth. Mondo is clearly the best stylist, with April riding close behind him. Gretchen has some strengths, but I really don’t think styling is one of them.

Michael C – Bottom 4

Oh, lord. Is Michael C still in the competition? I wrote him off so many weeks ago, I get frustrated just having to look at his face. This print is almost as bad as Christopher’s, and this design was downright ridiculous. As always, the styling is as dated and tacky as can be. So even though we still don’t actually know who Michael is as a designer, because everything he makes is completely derivative and lacking in any sort of originality, HE’S STILL HERE. Because although he’s never the best and usually pretty terrible, he’s also never the worst.

Mondo – Winner!

Incredibly moving inspiration aside, this look was the clear winner. I’m happy the judges said what they did about this outfit before Mondo told them his story, proving that they loved it as fashion AND as a message. Nina and I made the same moaning noise when the model took off the jacket, revealing that fabulous polka-dotted lining. The blouse is draped perfectly, and those pants are simply fantastic. Yes, they’re crazily high-waisted, but they look incredible and fit like a glove. Mondo truly is a master at the art of mixed prints, and he is deserving of his third win in a row.

Valerie – Eliminated

This was far from the worst of the week, but copying your own design from earlier in the season in such a half-assed way is definitely a dealbreaker. Valerie deserved the auf-ing just for thinking she could get away with such shenanigans. Valerie was sweet and talented, but she let the pressure of the competition get to her too early on, and she lost her way. (This is the direction Andy is headed if he doesn’t get his head together.) I don’t think the print was as bad as the judges thought it was, but it certainly wasn’t my favorite. I feel that this garment is over-worked, over-designed, under-edited, and far too stiff and unforgiving. Other than that, I didn’t mind it, but sweet Val got what was coming to her after several consecutive weeks of unimpressive looks.

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