Project Runway Recap: S14 E04

Ribbet collage323

Welcome to the Trumpification of Project Runway: as long as they’re trending on Twitter, it doesn’t matter how insane and offensive their decisions are!

The Challenge: In one day, and with a $250 dollar budget (yay, Mood! even more yay: Swatch is still alive!! [he’s very old; I was worried]), the designers were tasked with putting their own spin on an iconic design (a trench coat, a wrap dress – there were basically no constraints). Oh, and something about Mary Kay (the challenge winner gets a Mary Kay spread in Marie Claire, plus $5,000), and something about New York City. God, if I had to hear one more person say “she’s a Mary Kay girl,” as if that’s something we all know and understand as part of our collective unconscious, I was going to scream. Sorry, Mary Kay, but you’re not Covergirl or even Maybelline. No one knows what the hell a “Mary Kay girl” is.

Guest Judge: The absolutely divine Kiernan Shipka, whom I adore more than life itself, on Mad Men and on the red carpet. But the poor girl was trying SO HARD to be SO POLITE, because she’s self-aware enough to understand that all these fully-grown designers were less than thrilled about having someone born in 1999 critique their work. She managed to find a lot of very nice ways to say “this would be better if you changed literally everything about it,” so that’s a good skill to have, but it was very uncomfortable to hear all those designers stiffly tell her how much they appreciated her comments, while their eyes said, “burn in hell, Sally Draper.”

Bottom 3

Photo: Lifetime

A fairly basic dress, rendered in an extremely unflattering silhouette. It wasn’t the worst thing on the runway, but it made the model look twice her actual width, and I’ve just about had it with Amanda in general. She sounded like she was reading compliments about Mary Kay off a cue card, and she seems to always be FLOORED that she’s in the bottom. Even though she’s yet to design anything that stands out. No, she’s not the worst of the group, but she also hasn’t displayed the level of talent she claims to have.


Photo: Lifetime

This was extremely pretty, though I’m not sure what iconic piece this was riffing on, other than “a dress.” But the treatment on the bodice was lovely, and I’m enjoying the sort of watercolor-esque colorblocking (watercolorblocking? is that a thing?) on the skirt. I think it was a little bit on the safe side, but Ashley clearly knows what she’s doing, and I’d wear just about everything she’s designed thusfar.


Photo: Lifetime

Well, the producers got what they wanted. They made a decision they knew would be unpopular just so that we’d all discuss how insane they are, and they were rewarded with being the number one trending topic in my city on Thursday night. Welcome to the Trumpification of Project Runway – the judges will spew whatever bullshit they think will piss us off the most, and laugh all the way to the bank as we boost their popularity with angry commentary.

So instead of a joke about crack addiction and a rant about the long, slow death of a show we all once loved, let’s just remember that this dress was basically falling apart at the seams, and move on.

Top 3

Photo: Lifetime

Freakin’, refusing to take runway photos that show the whole outfit. I thought this was very good, although a tad overpraised – by both Candice and the judges. She’s clearly got talent and a razor-sharp point of view, but I think the idea of this vest thing was a lot better than the execution.

Photo: Lifetime

And the dress underneath was sexy and chic as hell, but I’m not sure it’s a new spin on the little black dress. It’s a 90s-power-bitch spin on the LBD, for sure, but I don’t think it really met the (extremely soft) requirements of the challenge as well as some of the other ensembles.


Photo: Lifetime

What was this a riff on again? Also, Edmond needs to take a much stronger editing eye to his work. The jacket has about four too many details happening, and the skirt has at least one too few.


Photo: Lifetime

True story: once in awhile, I have a recurring stress nightmare that I’m on Project Runway and I don’t know how to sew. And I swear to you, the resulting outfit that gets me laughed off the runway in my nightmares doesn’t look much different than Gabrielle’s little white dress. That thing… my LORD. It was absolutely one of the worst garments in this show’s history. And though the jacket worked when the judges tried it on Kiernan, it’s hard to make anything look bad on the world’s most fashionable 15-year-old. The way those sleeves were open instead of sewn all the way around offended me to my core. I know it was intentional, but it hurts my eyes to even think about those goddamn sleeves. I’ve had Gabrielle at the bottom of the pack since the season began, so all I can do is wonder why it took the judges this long to realize she was in over her head.


Photo: Lifetime

Tacky, unoriginal, and poorly-made. And of course Heidi’s eyes lit up at the sight of it. The fact that Heidi Klum has made a career of judging fashion when she a) can’t sew and b) has no taste is truly mind-boggling. But it does help explain what designers like Jake are doing on this show, I guess.


Photo: Lifetime

You needed a microscope to see all the detailing that went into this, but trust me when I say it was impressive. Of course, there was virtually nothing new about this, and zero part of it looked like Joseph’s own spin on anything, but at least he can sew under time constraints. Unlike several of his competitors.


Photo: Lifetime

Haters gonna hate – this was my pick for the win. And not just because I have a crush on Kelly, her insane under-butt tattoos, and the way her Boston accent came out hahd when she talked about that “wicked high bun.” Kelly’s take on the plain white tee was, in my not-even-remotely humble opinion, the only thing on this runway that met the constraints of the challenge. (You know I’m a stickler for the rules, except for when I decide the rules are stupid. I’m very reasonable like that.) This was undoubtedly Kelly’s spin on a fashion classic, and though her styling isn’t anything I’d ever wear, it’s so true to the girl she designs for. And that’s more important than those oh-so-helpful judges who always respond with “I’d wear that” or “I wouldn’t wear that,” as if their personal aesthetic is the only thing that matters.

One quick tangent: back when the accessories walls weren’t as low-budget as they are now, Tim Gunn used to remind the designers to use the accessories wall “thoughtfully.” This season, he’s been telling them to use it “carefully,” as if the accessories are now so dangerously ugly that they might actually explode. (I mean, it’s possible I’m reading too much into this, but let’s just pretend Tim Gunn is totally on our side re: how the sponsorships on this show have gotten more embarrassing every season.)


Photo: Lifetime

I liked the cape, but I thought the rest of the ensemble was basic. But I do find Laurie to be one of the only non-Kelly personalities I can actually stomach, so I’m fine with keeping her around for a bit longer.

Bottom 3

Photo: Lifetime

Don’t get me wrong – that smock-like jacket is one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. And pairing that skirt length with that ankle bootie should be considered the Eighth Deadly Sin. But I think there is absolutely a market for that crop top and skirt, and that market is called “Alexa Chung’s entire wardrobe.” I think the judges were a little unfair to attack Lindsey for mistakes that were made by pretty much every other designer, including their pick for the win. So no, I don’t really like this, but it would have just barely escaped my bottom three.


Photo: Lifetime

Every week, Merline produces an outfit that has one fantastic element and a whole bunch of crap. I think that means she’s a talented, conceptual designer who absolutely cannot work under time constraints. The front of this coat is true to her architectural style, but the back of it makes no sense whatsoever, and that skirt could have been sewn by a small child.


Photo: Lifetime

Sexy as all hell and well-fit to boot. It made an impact and it had an element of surprise when she turned around and revealed all that skin. It didn’t make me squeal with glee the way I did over Kelly’s tee shirt, but Swapnil certainly has the skill to take home the crown.

Judges’ Top 3Blake, Candice, Swapnil
Diva’s Top 3: Kelly, Swapnil, Candice
Judges’ Bottom 3: Lindsey, Amanda, Gabrielle
Diva’s Bottom 3: Amanda, Jake, Gabrielle

© Democracy Diva, 2015.
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12 responses to Project Runway Recap: S14 E04

  1. I am with you…but then, I am a sucker for simple designs which are actually not that simple to made. Not everything needs ruffles.
    The styling is awful, though. To an outfit like this the model should wear less make-up and a simple ponytail.

  2. Vncnt

    Based on their portfolios, I’d say Gabrielle has a lot more potential than at least four designers who remain on the show, one of whom (Jake) has yet to even land in the bottom three despite turning out boring crap almost every week (with the same silhouette, as well); this week he added an additional adjective – tacky – to his arsenal. It’s true that Gabrielle doesn’t really seem cut out for reality TV competitions, but I still personally think it’s a disgrace that she got eliminated before Amanda or Jake. Somehow, the judges have now managed to eliminate three designers who, at the very least, had the ability to produce interesting decoy collections, and for what? So that we can see a decoy collection by Joseph or Jake or Amanda? Do the judges (and Tim) really have no self-respect left? Or do they assume no one will come to the PR show at Fashion Week anyway, so who cares?

    • democracydiva – Author

      I agree that Gabrielle’s portfolio is stronger than the others, but I only judge based on what I see during the challenge. And Gabi has churned out some truly terrible things so far this season. Don’t get me wrong, I think Jake and Amanda are basically unbearable, but I don’t think Gabi actually showed her true level of talent during the challenges.

      I think self-respect left this show ages ago, sometime around the switch from Bravo to Lifetime, sadly.

  3. MoHub

    I, too, noticed Tim’s change of adverb in referring to the accessory wall.

    And I’d have given Jake the boot for his lengthened—but not enough—sequined tank top with the unreadable basketball-jersey number.

    And finally, am I the only one who is sick and tired of cutouts? Especially those that do not seem to have anything to do with the rest of the design? (I’m looking at you, Merline!) A full-coverage garment would be a breath of fresh air about now.

    • democracydiva – Author

      Cutouts are the new peplums. They’re fine in moderation, but sometimes a trend sweeps this show and doesn’t let go for seasons at a time. That’s been the peplum problem, and I think it’s about to be the cut-out problem as well.

      (So glad you noticed Tim’s adverb change. It was a big deal to me!)

  4. katnap

    I too chose Kelly’s design for the win – what could be more basic than a white tee, and she actually transformed it. And with more coverage, it could actually be worn by consumers of all ages & sizes. Confession: I’m over 50 and I have those shoes.

    Ashley Nell needs to show something other than a pleated skirt and top with back cutout. She’s in danger of being labelled one-note.

    And I’m with MoHub, getting sick of cutouts. Especially since I notice on the street that many young women bear tops with back cutouts with the back straps of their bras cutting right across – yuck! Not saying they should go braless, since very few women can do that in the real world, but it just goes to show that some things are great for magazines but not for real life.

    For the challenge prize, the ad in MC, I can see why the judges chose what they did. Swapnil’s and Kelly’s were too sexy for Mary Kay.

    • democracydiva – Author

      Yes! Kelly picked the most basic fashion item and really did put her own spin on it. She’s just enjoyable to watch, which is such a rarity on these late, not-great season of PR.

      And you have a point about Ashley. I like her aesthetic, but she definitely needs to show some range ASAP.

  5. suzq

    “Alexa Chung’s entire wardrobe” BWAAHAHAHAHA! Paired with Dorothy Zborniak’s jacket.

    Now THAT’S a lot of look.

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