The Challenge: The designers are forced to “unwind” and “have fun” at a southern brunch, which obviously means they’re in for some Belk Accessories Wall-related torture. They are tasked with creating a day or evening look for the modern southern woman (the Belk customer, allegedly) in one day. The winning look will be produced and sold at Belk stores and online. In spite of this runway being not any better or worse than the average challenge, Heidi and her team of crack-smoking jesters decide that this arbitrarily-chosen bottom three is the WORST EVER, and send the bottom three designers back to the workroom for another hour to create an entirely new look. And thus goes the story of how a bottom three look ended up winning a challenge.
Guest Judges: Stacy Keibler, whose fame continues to elude me. Also, Wikipedia tells me she’s from Baltimore, so how did they land on her for the “southern woman” challenge? Oh, and the judging panel was also joined by human-robot hybrid John Thomas from Belk.
I like the print, but it’s not as if Alexander created that textile himself. And the silhouette is a basic strapless cocktail dress with a flirty, asymmetrical skirt – it’s a look we’ve seen on this show and on other runways thousands of times before. All he did was render it in a print that, while cool, can only really be worn around the Fourth of July. Normally, I’d question how that makes it worthy of the top three, but there wasn’t much else worth complimenting on this runway, so I suppose it makes a modicum of sense.
ALEXANDRIA VAN BROMSSEN
I have been a big fan of some of Alexandria’s previous work – I think she has a very of-the-moment, fashion-forward style and a relatively unique point of view. So I’m actually biased in her favor, and I still think it’s an atrocious joke that this truly awful look escaped the bottom three. I’ve never seen Alexandria put something with such shoddy construction down the runway; it was as if she heard the word “southern,” knew she couldn’t win this one, and gave up before she even began. For once I think the judges should just come out and say, “Listen, Alexandria. You’re a very, very beautiful blonde former model born in Stockholm, Sweden, and that means we just don’t want to eliminate you yet, even though what you sent down the runway today is laughable garbage.” That way, we could at least understand where the hell these judges are coming from when they let something like this slide through in the safe pile .
Let’s get real, dear readers – I’m from New Jersey, raised by Brooklyn-ites, I’ve lived in DC since the moment I was able to escape the Jersey Shore, and I’ve spent almost no time in the south. So unlike all of the crack addicts on the Project Runway team, I am not about to pretend that I am any sort of authority on the “modern southern woman.” I assume that like the “modern northern woman,” and every other modern woman, her style is dictated by much more than where she lives and varies based on her personality. Because, you know, we’re humans and not fashion automatons restricted to a particular aesthetic based on our geographical location. But I digress. My point is, I’m not really sure what’s modern about this look. It’s got a farm-girl-goes-to-fashion-school quality to it, but that’s still quite far removed from the “modern southern woman.” (Yes, I will continue to use ironic quotation marks around that phrase, because the producers made no attempt to define it.) I suppose it was better than everything else on the runway, but I hate awarding a win solely based on that.
Whatever, judges. I actually liked Dom’s original look, before they put her in the bottom and made her create a new look in an hour. It was modern, it was interesting, it was bright and colorful – the judges railed against it because it didn’t have a print, which didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love prints as much as the next girl, but I’m not sure why it was a requirement for Dom’s look and no one else’s.
I’m loathe to admit it, because the judges were disgustingly proud of themselves for their inspired decision to squeeze another look out of three poor, tired designers in the last hour of the day, but this was a shockingly great dress. But the judges acted as if they themselves had created this stunning look in an hour, such was their obnoxious level of “SEE WHAT YOU CAN DO WHEN YOU HAVE US TO GUIDE YOU?!” And it seems a little unfair to Bradon to also give Dom the win, when she got two chances to the impress the judges and he managed to do it in one. Don’t get me wrong, this dress probably was the best thing on the runway, but the manipulation of the rules of the game in this episode was a bit too much.
I hate this print. And there’s no way in hell I’d call this look “modern.”
Since Jeremy is only capable of designing for old ladies, I wasn’t sad to see him go. I hated this jacket, which screamed “politician’s wife.” Jeremy has no concept of how to style a woman who hasn’t yet reached menopause. So I’m not denying his auf-ing was imminent – but the fact that Ken the Sociopath remains on this show despite never creating anything worthwhile makes me feel that this elimination was slightly unfair.
Any way you slice it, I think Jeremy’s work this episode proved he deserves to remain in the competition over Ken. Both of Jeremy’s looks had more happening in terms of design and style, even if Jeremy’s first look read as a little dated. The dress he completed in an hour was actually kind of fresh and fun – yes, it’s very simple, but again, he had sixty damn minutes to create it. As far as I’m concerned, he proved that when the pressure is really on, he can make something simple, stylish, and beautiful. And Ken can’t.
I keep forgetting Justin is still in the competition. Probably because I can’t remember anything he’s ever made. This will surely be no exception. But he’s been hiding in the safe pile for way too long – eventually, the judges will need to stop deferring to Tim Gunn’s ill-conceiving judgment and give Justin the auf once and for all. It’s clear they’ve only kept him this long in an attempt to make the audience believe that Tim used his save on the right person. Sadly, we are much, much smarter than the Lifetime producers.
I can’t even look at this, it’s such an eyesore. The judges’ love affair with Kate continues to baffle me.
Is there anything more hilarious than Ken spending the whole challenge talking about how he knows the “modern southern woman” better than anyone, and then creating something this boring and poorly constructed? This was a throwaway look if I ever saw one, and when he was given an extra hour to right his wrongs, Ken just made everything even worse:
Drunk sorority girl, circa 2002? Maybe. Modern southern woman? Not so much.
Judges’ Top 3: Bradon/Dom, Alexander, Kate
Diva’s Top 3: Bradon, Dom, Alexander
Judges’ Bottom 3: Dom, Ken, Jeremy
Diva’s Bottom 3: Alexandria, Jeremy, Ken