The Challenge: Design a “timeless and feminine” ready-to-wear look for Nanette Lepore’s collection – and work with a coster to present a design and price out how much the dress cost to create in order to determine the budget.
The Prize: The winning look gets sold in Nanette Lepore stores, with all profits going to charity to save New York City’s Garment District.
AUSTIN SCARLETT, Top 2
Here’s my pitch for how this episode should have gone: The challenge would be to create BOTH a runway look AND a ready-to-wear, Nanette Lepore-store-ready version inspired by their runway look. Give them four days and enough cash to do it right, or bring back former designers to give them an extra set of hands to work with. That way, the designers could have used the runway version to show off their creativity and the fact that they are capable of more than the same exact silhouettes and tricks they’ve shown us time and time again. AND, they can prove that they are also capable of fulfilling part of the grand prize (having your garments sold in Neiman Marcus) by making something real women can buy in actual stores.
By giving them a day and a half and no money, the producers once again ensured a terrible runway show. What else can you do but pull out your old tropes under the parameters of this challenge? Hence, the raincoat above you, and the similarly uninspired garments you’ll soon see. Who the hell is paying $500 for a wrinkled raincoat with a very unfortunate collar? Other than that, I suppose Austin met the challenge – it’s feminine, though more dated than timeless, and it’s sellable (though nowhere near at its stated price point) and wearable to real women. But if you expect me to fake an orgasm over this like the judges did, well, I’m just not that sort of girl.
KENLEY COLLINS, Eliminated
Kenley should have won this challenge. Hear me out, haters: this was boring as anything else on that runway and nowhere near her best look, and she’s churning out those same silhouettes like it’s her goddamn job. And she was an idiot to lose the keyhole, which was clearly Nanette’s favorite part of the design. I totally get why Kenley gravitated toward this phenomenal peacock print – it’s gorgeous, and it’s very Kenley, but different than her usually baby bedroom polka dots. But I wish she’d found a way to make the keyhole work. It was probably a timing issue more than an “it won’t work with this print!” issue, but it was an issue either way. And the judges were right to criticize her for that.
But this is the only thing on the runway that I believe is decent to look at and would sell to a variety of women at its stated price point. The judges can hate on the seaming in front, but I thought it was at least flattering to the body, even if the print didn’t line up the way the judges expected it to. And in the back, I loved the way she seemed to purposefully line up the prints “wrong,” and create a new sort of feather swirl pattern surrounding that seam. And the girl might love her a cap sleeve a little too much, but the way the blue center of the peacock feather popped out from under the cap sleeve was quite lovely. She wins no awards for innovation or ambition, because this is a dress in which the print does 98% of the work. But I’ve got Nanette Lepore hanging in my closet, and I’m not shaped like a supermodel, and I’d buy this dress tomorrow. I can’t say that of anything else on this runway – that’s why I’d have given Kenley the win.
MICHAEL COSTELLO, Bottom 2
A haze of crack pipe smoke lingered in the air as the judges praised this hideous, unimaginative piece of ill-fitting, vulgar garbage. First of all, this is just his winning design from episode 4 in a tacky print that’s making my hangover so much worse than it already was. Second, the fit on this was so disastrous, it could not possibly have been worn for longer than the length of a runway without exposing the model’s nipples and/or buttcrack – and that’s if she doesn’t trip on the embarrassingly long hemline. Third, and most importantly, REAL WOMEN WON’T BUY THIS DRESS. You don’t just need to be a size two to wear this – you need to be a 5’10” size two with no breasts. There is one and only one body type this gown works for, and that’s a runway model. Don’t even try to tell me that this is ready-to-wear – I am certainly nowhere near ready to throw a few yards of ugly fabric around my shoulders and wear it out in public.
MONDO GUERRA, Winner
This made me miss Tim Gunn, who would have told Mondo this was fashion student work at its worst, and to snap out of his obnoxious funk and get to work. This was amateur work, it’s not aesthetically pleasing, and the trim at the bottom is just horrible. The top is sort of sophisticated, but the bottom is twee, and that incongruity kills this dress for me. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I’m nearing last season’s atrocious finale levels of exhausting with Project Runway. Leave your snarkiest feelings on the subject in the comments.
Judges’ Top: Mondo and Austin
Diva’s Top: Kenley and Mondo
Judges’ Bottom: Michael and Kenley
Diva’s Bottom: Austin and Michael