Project Runway Recap: S14 E11

Welcome back! Let’s get “avant-garde,” except not really at all. 

The Challenge: The designers used 3D printers to create avant-garde looks inspired by three of New York City’s bridges. Every season, we get an avant-garde challenge, and every season, most looks don’t come anywhere near the definition of avant-garde, and the judges will praise things for being “wearable” and “red-carpet ready” even though that has little to do with avant-garde. Sigh. Such is the way of Project Runway.

Anyway, the 3D aspect of the challenge was a surprisingly brilliant idea – though I think it somewhat failed in execution because the printers couldn’t print anything larger than a few inches long. For all the talk about 3D, you can barely see most of the printing in the pictures, and even on TV there wasn’t much to look at. They should have sold this episode as ‘3D printing: now available for babies!” But it did lead to memorable lines such as Merline’s “I see things in 3D when I walk,” which I just don’t even know how to respond to. And of course you can count on Kelly for one-liners like, “I don’t even have a 2D printer,” which legit made me giggle out loud.

Guest Judge: Mel B, about whom I have nothing bad to say, because I was ten years old during the Spice Girls’ heyday and so I get to love those women unconditionally forever.

ASHLEY NELL TIPTON
Bottom 2

Bridgspiration: Manhattan Bridge

Photo: Lifetime

I think this should have sent Ashley home. It failed at all three aspects of the challenge: it was worlds away from avant-garde, she used the 3D printing in the least imaginative way possible, and even the judges admitted they couldn’t see what the hell this had to do with a bridge. The 3D design itself wasn’t very interesting, and the way she used it wasn’t any better. The pants and top had sheer polka-dot panels running through them, making any kind of undergarment (top or bottom) impossible. (That wouldn’t be my primary concern if this were actually avant-garde, but since it’s not… it’s a problem.) Even as the model’s nipple was poking out into the sheer fabric, Heidi was praising this for how well-fit this was. God, I’d hate to know what a bad fit looks like. Just sheer polka dots over a vulva, I guess.

CANDICE CUOCO
Top 3

Bridgspiration: Queensboro Bridge

Photo: Lifetime

Let’s get real: this is a Zac Posen gown with some shapes glued to it. I’ll admit the best view of Candice’s 3D work is actually from the side, so you really don’t get the full impact in photos, but I still thought this was significantly overpraised. I don’t like the seam down the center, and I feel that the lace-up corset and the asymmetrical skirt may have been a few details too many. This just felt overworked. And also, seriously, what the hell does this have to do with the Queensboro Bridge?

EDMOND NEWTON
Top 3

Bridgspiration: Manhattan Bridge

Photo: Lifetime

I know black detailing can look stunning in person, but I do get frustrated when Project Runway contestants do it, because it’s hard to see on TV and damn near impossible to view in photos. But if you brighten your screen the point where it might blind you, you can see that a lot more detail went into this than goes into much of Edmond’s work.  He still made a red carpet gown instead of an avant-garde look, so I wouldn’t have given him the win, but this had more detailing and creativity than I thought Edmond was capable of.

KELLY DEMPSEY
Winner

Bridgspiration: Brooklyn Bridge

Photo: Lifetime

She only used the 3D printing on the belt, which you can barely see. But Kelly made up for it by choosing a textured print that could ONLY work on a bridge-themed ensemble. I think her work using wires and angles and suspension really brought this look to an extremely creative place. The model basically had to hold the skirt onto her body, so I won’t pretend this was flawless, but it was far more conceptual than anything else on that runway. And you can call Kelly a lot of things, but “conceptual” usually isn’t one of them, so kudos to my girl for giving this one her all.

MERLINE LABISSIERE
Eliminated

Bridgspiration: Queensboro Bridge

Photo: Lifetime

What a disappointment. Merline knew all eyes were on her to do something architectural and out there, and she choked. This was somehow less avant-garde than most of what she’s made this season, and I hated that the different portions of the skirt were sort of just left to hang off the body instead of being tacked down together at the bottom. And we all know she’s not the first PR contestant to do that umbrella flap skirt – even the judges pointed that out. But it felt to me like I was always waiting for Merline to have the opportunity to really let her freak flag fly and blow us all away. This should have been the time for her to do that, and she just couldn’t. For that, and for how underwhelming this dress is as a whole, I’d have sent her home too.

Judges’ Top 3: Kelly, Edmond, Candice
Diva’s Top 3: Kelly, Edmond, Candice
Judges’ Bottom 2: Ashley and Merline
Diva’s Bottom 2: Ashley/Merline. I’d have sent ’em both home. I’m mean like that.


© Democracy Diva, 2015.
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6 responses to Project Runway Recap: S14 E11

  1. Eric

    I LOVED Kelly’s look. It was the only one that met the challenge criteria and the lacing on the bodice was beautiful. It’s clear they’ve been pushing the Edmond/Ashley/Candice train all season and now that Kelly has stepped it up at the end, she’s throwing a wrench into their plans.

    I’m sure TG is going to use his save on whoever is eliminated next and all four will compete at fashion week.

    As for Merline, I was hoping she’d make it to the end. I think she’d have the best ability to really make an amazing runway collection. Give her plenty of time to plan it and make it on her own and I’d bet we see some really interesting/innovative designs. Making a dress in 9 hours is not her strength at all. Obviously she’ll still make a decoy collection but I was hoping to see her in the end. Kudos to her for leaving in such a classy and positive way.

    • democracydiva – Author

      Yup, I feel the same way – that our little underdog that could Kelly wasn’t really meant to make it this far, but she did it, because she’s fantastic.

      And when was the last time we had a final 3 instead of a final 4 or 5? I’d be shocked if all of the remaining designers didn’t “make it to fashion week.” (Ironic quotation marks because obviously half the cast makes it to fashion week.)

      Merline was never really able to work under the constraints of this show, but I agree, I would love to see what she’s capable of with more time to let her crazy process work.

  2. MoHub

    As usual, the brief for this challenge had two too many elements. Bridges and avant garde and 3D printing? And I also object to designers being told what their inspiration should be. In past inspiration challenges—especially in the Bravo days—the designers were given cameras an let loose to find inspiration in a given locale. Without that freedom, we’d never have had Andrae’s fabulous “gutter water” gown or Leanne’s “sewer grill” dress. And without using its iconic gothic arches, the Brooklyn Bridge outfit could have been modeled on any bridge structure from the late 19th century.

    • democracydiva – Author

      I’m not sure there will ever be an “inspiration” challenge look better than Andrae’s gutter water gown. I still think about that dress every single season. I completely agree that it’s much more creative and fun for the designers and the audience if the designers are unleashed on the city (or a museum, or other locale) and allowed to pick their inspiration from there. And picking something as specific as bridges is a little bit nuts – as you said, you need to get way into the details of the bridge in order to have it be a particular bridge, rather than any bridge from a particular era.

  3. Lewis

    It’s a real shame the 3D printing technology they gave the designers was so limited in its scope – I would have loved to have seen designs on par with what we saw in Justin’s finale collection.

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