Project Runway Recap: Season 8, Episode 2

Another week, another misguided decision by our judges. This week’s Project Runway had a run-of-the-mill but necessary challenge: design a look that represents the Marie Claire woman. Doesn’t require innovation, but it’s important to see early on who can just make a dress and follow simple directions. The interesting aspect to this challenge was that the winning designer’s look would be featured on a billboard in Times Square, which is an amazing prize, especially for so early on in the season. As such, the designers had to direct their models in a photo shoot with Marie Claire, and the judges took into account those photos during the scoring process. Unfortunately, Lifetime didn’t think to post those photos online, meaning that us devoted bloggers will have trouble taking the photos into account in our judging. But let’s forgive, forget, and start the bitchfest.

Also, my apologies for the lateness! The post was completed a few days ago, but my computer ate the whole thing and I had to start from scratch! Le sigh.


Design: This is one of those dresses that looks like it might be something special while it’s on the dress form, but once it hits the runway, the concept just falls apart. The corseted belt piece is interesting, and the design down the center of the dress is eye-catching and appealing. Of course the bright color is great for a billboard. But that black band that stretches around her back? Not a fan. It looks stupid on the model, and would highlight some very awkward fleshy areas on normal women.

Execution: Mistakes were clearly made. AJ did not intend for the skirt to puff out from under the belt the way it does – it looks like she’s wearing a small rectangular petticoat to keep that awkward shape. A few weeks from now, the judges would have torn him apart for that mistake, but lucky for AJ, they had bigger fish to fry this week. And the hem lays flat in front, but appears like a bubble hem in the back; another mistake that can’t be intentional.

Styling: Downtown club girl. Love the wild hair and the dark lipstick. The necklaces were great in theory, but there should either be less of them or they should sit a little higher on her neck, because that is a LOT of necklace on top of an already fairly busy look. But you can tell AJ thought about a head-to-toe look for a real woman, not just a dress.


Design: The shoulders are fabulous; everything else is a mess. The purple stripe on the back of the pants was a rookie mistake – how could Andy have thought that stripe would flatter the model? And the shirt just has far too much going on.

Execution: Those pants are just sad! The fabric sags everywhere and the pants are far too long. They’re too tight at the top, too loose on the bottom, and an overall mess. But the unleashing of those cute little retractable sleeves was particularly wonderful.

Styling: Not enough. Also, is the makeup job bad, or is the model a bit fugly? Or both?


Design: Great concept. Two-tone in very different fabrics, the trendy exposed zipper, the high neck and exaggerated shoulders – it’s all forward-thinking, modern, and chic. But the proportions aren’t exactly right.

Execution: The bust is a mess; that grey fabric just doesn’t lay properly. And it puckers in the back along the butt. And the top of the zipper is a huge distraction – she should’ve stopped the zipper where the grey fabric ends and avoided the challenge of sewing the zipper all the way up a different fabric with a high neckline.

Styling: Chic and simple. Good hair, good makeup, minimal accessories.


Design: He put a naked girl on the runway last week, so of course he zips right from whore to matron. The design is beautiful enough, but on a billboard for Marie Claire? Maybe a billboard for AARP Magazine. I’m sorry, but who other than a lady-who-lunches would wear this outfit?

Execution: The front of the skirt is impeccably draped and looks incredibly expensive and well-made; the back is a puckering mess. I’m not crazy about the puffy sleeves, but I think he did it pretty well.

Styling: Hate the makeup and the shoes, but the necklaces are nice.


Design: The neckline and sleeves of that cropped jacket are simply adorable, but the skirt is boring and doesn’t feel like it goes with the top.

Execution: The skirt is two inches too long – the proportions are awkward. But the tailoring of the jacket, particularly in the back, is quite excellent.

Styling: Great hair – it’s Betty Draper meets 1940s Hollywood. The makeup is a little heavy, but I love the jewelry and the way the shoes match the yellow fabric in the jacket.


Design: The judges drooled over this like they’d never seen a jumpsuit before, even though jumpsuits have been basically the only thing on the red carpet and the runway for the past three seasons. The design is fine, for a jumpsuit. Except for where the pants tie around the calves in the back – that was an awful touch. I’m not sure the band in the middle or the pockets are particularly flattering, either.

Execution: There’s something awfully unflattering about the fit around her bum. And I don’t like the lower back cleavage that the V-neck back exposes.

Styling: Those shoes are fugly, and particularly with that length pant. The hair is barely passable from the front, but what the hell is happening in the back? She has a beehive comb-over. I can’t support that.


Design: What design? It’s a basic sheath dress with an extra hem. It’s about as boring as boring can get.

Execution: No glaring problems, but then, she didn’t exactly give herself much of a challenge, did she?

Styling: All the accessories are fine individually, but together, they’re a mish mosh. There’s nothing tying them all together.


Design: The more words a designer feels the need to use to describe a garment, the shittier that garment usually is. Jason’s design was no exception to that rule, as he droned on about infinity and his grandiose concepts. And so of course he ended up with a dress that was horrifically ugly AND had no visible connection to his original concept. That’s a pretty huge failure. And I understand that Jason got stuck with one of the heftier models, which doesn’t make his job any easier, but this “dress” would flatter absolutely no one.

Execution: One of the most poorly-constructed garments in Project Runway history. This was the second garment in a row in which Jason ended up safety-pinning the dress together at the last minute. And you don’t need a Parsons-educated eye to see that there’s NO way the use of pins was intentional.

Styling: No accessories, ugly shoes, and awful hair.


Design: A mullet shirt (short in front, long in back) with saggy draping covering the butt and a skirt that looks like it got in a fight with a chainsaw.

Execution: It’s hard to tell what’s intentional and what’s not, which means that the entire outfit is a saggy, puckering, uneven, unfinished mess.

Styling: The hair is nice, but the scarf is too much and the shoes were a random choice.


Design: It’s basically a carbon copy of half the Alice + Olivia dresses I’ve seen on the runway, but it’s still a great design. Sexy minidress with an exposed zipper and draping in the front – all safe but solid choices.

Execution: No complaints here.

Styling: Great hair, great makeup, great shoes, and that necklace is to die for.


Design: This looks like something Kesha would wear on the red carpet, and I certainly don’t mean that as a compliment.

Execution: Either Michael D. made some errors, or he meant for this dress to be worn during a rectal exam.

Styling: Cute shoes, ugly bracelet. And the girl wearing this dress would not style her hair and makeup like that.


Design: That skirt is one of my favorite garments in Project Runway history. Great fabric, funky texture, unique silhouette, creative draping. Body-conscious and flattering and totally chic. The matching embellishments on the leggings are to die for.

Execution: Perfect.

Styling: The shoes are cute, but I’m not loving the girly hair and makeup. I’d go a little grittier to counterbalance the sweetness of the outfit.


Design: Poor Nicholas was set on creating a cape out of a circle, and I can’t say why. But it was clearly a mistake. The long in the back, short in the front mullet skirt was an equally bad choice.

Execution: Is the hemline of the skirt supposed to be that crooked? I hate it whether it’s intentional or not. But the cape is well-constructed, and I actually don’t have any problems with the silk blouse.

Styling: Minimalist, but this look had so much going on that it didn’t need to be over-styled.


Design: All of Peach’s ideas were headed for destruction, but this Barbie mess was the worst. A basic, boring dress with an ugly sash sewn on to make it look like it’s not just a shitty, dull dress. It didn’t work.

Execution: What happened to that neckline? Why is it so high, so crooked, so awkward? And the boxy shape is completely unflattering to the body.

Styling: What styling?


Design: The proportions were clearly conceived without any regards for what a woman’s body actually looks like. But overall idea was strong.

Execution: I don’t know what it is about the strips of fabric, but they just don’t look right. They’re a bit too unfinished and sloppy for what seems like a tailored business garment.

Styling: The matching purse is amazing. I hated the shoes at first, but grew to love them.


Design: Excellent, original, youthful. Wonderful collar, perfect color, and the seaming in the back is fascinating.

Execution: Near-perfect. Very meticulously crafted.

Styling: Could have used a couple more accessories to make the look feel more complete.

For those of you who are keeping score, here’s the top and bottom according to the judges, followed of course by my humble opinions.

Judges’ Top 3:

1. Gretchen (winner)
2. Mondo
3. Valerie

Democracy Diva’s Top 3:

1. Mondo
2. Valerie
3. Michael C

Judges’ Bottom:

1. Jason (out)
2. Nicholas (out)
3. Peach (safe)

Democracy Diva’s Bottom:

1. Jason
2. Peach
3. Kristin

Next up: The Teen Choice Awards red carpet! Get all the latest updates on twitter: @democracydiva.

Recap: Project Runway Season 8, Episode 1

Check out yesterday’s liveblog of the premiere for my at-the-moment thoughts on all 90 minutes of the episode. Already read it? Well, get ready for the bitchiness that comes with a) seeing things a second time and b) seeing close-up photos. And don’t forget – click on the photos themselves. They’ll take you to the Lifetime website where you can see way more details on the garments. Here we go!

AJ's design, front

AJ's design, side

AJ's design, back

Overview: This was my personal favorite look of the night, which should come as no surprise to my most faithful readers. What do I love more than tight bodices with poofy, erratically draped crinoline skirts? Sure, AJ took quite a few pages out of the Marchesa/Vera Wang cocktail dress books in creating this design, but it’s nonetheless eye-catching and intriguing.

Styling: The hair is a bit too lopsided on top for my tastes, but still wild and ferocious. Perfect make-up, good shoes, and an absolutely killer necklace make this dress look more high fashion.

Idea vs. Execution: The back of the skirt is a big sloppy mess, but what more can you really expect in five hours? I think the fact that the bodice fits her well and the proportions are working is impressive, given the constraints.

Judges’ Vote: AJ was one of many middle-of-the-road entries this week, according to the PR judges.

Andy's design, front

Andy's design, back

Overview: It’s certainly daring and risky; the drama of Andy’s design reminds me of Christian Siriano. The outfit sort of works when the cape is on, but when it comes off, we run into some serious problems.

Styling: The dramatic hair, hair accessories, and eye make-up reinforce Andy’s message that this is SOMETHING TO LOOK AT. But whoever this woman is, I don’t see her wearing those cuffed boots.

Idea vs. Execution: Most designers can’t make pants in two days, let alone five hours. I think Andy deserves some probs just for making so many different pieces. But the fabric of the pants stretches oddly over the model’s crotch, and from behind, the effect is even worse. The pants are too tight and don’t flatter her butt, and I hate that little peek of flesh between the bottom of the shirt and the top of the pants; it’s incredibly distracting. And clearly the sloping hems of the back of the shirt were meant to look more symmetrical.

Judges’ Vote: In.

April's design, front

April's design, side

Overview: A near disaster, from styling to concept to implementation.

Styling: The hair (and, to a lesser degree, the makeup) scream 1986. Also, the side pony is not the best hairstyle for a model with the biggest ears since Dumbo. Seriously, those things are HUGE!

Idea vs. Execution: I don’t support anyone who thinks they can just turn a jacket inside out, cut off the sleeves, and say they designed something. I think the idea was lazy at best, and the execution was clearly a nightmare. Heidi said it best when she questioned whether the unfinished look is actually what April was aiming for, or if she just can’t sew. But even if you’re going for a deconstructed look, you have to construct something. This outfit has a slanted hem; that same hem is unfinished and stringy. The shoulders are frayed and unfinished, as is the neckline of both the dress and the jacket/vest. From the side view, we see that the bottom of the jacket/vest is also unfinished. So tell us, April… What did you finish?

Judges’ Vote: 6th from the bottom – Heidi called this look “a hot mess.” Bad enough to be in the bottom of the barrel, but the first one of the pack to be told, “you’re in.”

Casanova's design, front

Casanova's design, side

Casanova's design, back

Overview: Hello sideboob, my old friend. We’ve seen a lot of naked on the runway before, but outside of bathing suit, lingerie, and female wrestling costume challenges, this may be the most scantily clad model in Project Runway history.

Styling: Excellent hair and make-up – wild and natural, like the queen of the jungle this sexy woman must be.

Idea vs. Execution: If Casanova’s idea was to make a dress that no woman could possibly feel comfortable wearing in public, then he executed that terrible idea perfectly. In the episode, it seemed as if Casanova knew that this dress would be quite revealing – at least, he refuted Tim’s comment about it possibly being vulgar, which is exactly what it turned out to be. But putting aside the question of taste, I hate the way that fabric is draped in the back. There’s something very toga/diaper about it, and while the print of the bottom layer of the skirt is fabulous, the dirty, washed-out colors of the other fabrics are just ugly.

Judges’ Vote: Bottom 3. After kicking off the loser, the judges kept Casanova and Ivy on to torture them just a bit more, but eventually let them stay.

Christopher's design

Overview: Christopher was giving a good piece of clothing to start with (basically the entire patterned fabric of the dress), but dolled it up and edited it with a keen eye for detail.

Styling: Not loving the gold bag when the fabric on the dress is tan, and I think a summery shoe would have worked better. But none of it distracted from the look itself.

Idea vs. Execution: The top is a bit lopsided and not quite symmetrical, but the rouching of the collar was pretty nicely done and the belted element is well-made and flattering.

Judges’ Vote: In.

Gretchen's design, front

Gretchen's design, back

Overview: Simple but beautiful, elegant, conservative evening wear.

Styling: The lips and cheeks are far too bright, bordering on whorish. And those shoes definitely throw off the proportion of the outfit.

Idea vs. Execution: The fit is pretty excellent. When fittings are hurried, loose garments like this can just look baggy and saggy, but Gretchen did an excellent job. And the back of the skirt is very nicely constructed. The shoulder appliques look a little amateurish, but overall, Gretchen’s execution was very strong.

Judges’ Vote: Gretchen is the winner! Congratulations, darling.

Ivy's design, front

Ivy's design, back

Overview: Every year, there’s a loudmouth bitch I can’t stand, and this season the award already goes to Ivy. I hated her before I saw her lack of design skills, but once I realized that she, as Heidi repeatedly said, “made pants out of pants,” I was done.

Styling: Ivory purse, nude shoes, and white pants? No, no, no.

Idea vs. Execution: What idea? She made pants out of pants. You can rouch them all you like, but don’t pretend you actually designed any of that. In fact, the only part of the look Ivy did design was that God-awful top, which clearly has some serious construction issues. The front is just completely unflattering and poorly fitted. The bow in the back could be nice, if the hanging pieces of fabric were actually the same length. And what an unforgiving choice of fabric – it just puckers and wrinkles all over the place, particularly from the back.

Judges’ Vote: Bottom 3, but ultimately safe, along with Casanova. But in my opinion, Ivy deserved to go home.

Jason's design, front

Jason's design, back

Overview: Escaped mental patient goes to the hair salon? What was Jason thinking?!

Styling: Hard to say, since the outfit itself is so nonsensical. That over-the-top punk/whore look may work with some outfits, but it couldn’t save this train wreck.

Idea vs. Execution: Failure on both parts. Look at the second picture – doesn’t it just look like she’s wearing a kimono backwards? THAT’S BECAUSE SHE IS. If that’s not laziness, I don’t know what is. And the construction is even worse. Pins everywhere, awful seams, accidental asymmetry, and no shape to it whatsoever.

Judges’ Vote: 4th from the bottom. Saved by the bowler hat.

Kristin's design

Overview: Boring. Cute scarf, though.

Styling: Again, pretty boring. Not a fan of those clog-like heels or the Princess Leia hair.

Idea vs. Execution: Simple idea, fine execution. This is an example of how to best use deconstruction without looking sloppy – the scarf is frayed and unfinished, but the rest of the dress is much more tailored.

Judges’ Vote: In. You can leave the runway.

McKell's design, front

McKell's design, back

Overview: Tacky, tacky, tacky. One wrong choice after another, this dress is a textbook Monet. (Props to those who caught the Clueless reference.)

Styling: So bad, it was basically the reason McKell was eliminated. That hair is awful from the front and downright disastrous from the back. The pink purse is awful – the judges were right to call McKell out for her inability to style her model.

Idea vs. Execution: The idea was precious – even Tim agreed – but the execution was where she failed. The fit is wrong, the proportions are terrible, the front is much shorter than the back, we’ve got some sideboob issues… do I really need more?

Judges’ Vote: Auf wiedersehen, McKell. Enjoy Utah and your new baby.

Michael C's design, front

Michael C's design, back

Overview: It’s borderline prostitute wear, but it’s bold and has a point of view all the same. And just a general note – why do so many of these models have tattoos? Ladies, isn’t it your job to be a blank canvas? Isn’t it expensive for magazines and such to airbrush those tattoos out? I’m just surprised so many of them are donning ink; I’d think it would be more taboo.

Styling: Basic black accessories were a good choice, as was the simple and chic hair. Modern, funky, cool.

Idea vs. Execution: A tight black miniskirt isn’t exactly a novel idea, but it serves its purpose (though the seam in back is problematic). The shirt is okay from the front, but has some fit issues with the straps in the back. Not particularly well-made and not particularly innovative, but not a completely fuck-up, either.

Judges’ Vote: In.

Michael D's design, front

Michael D's design, back

Overview: I’m not sure who’s wearing this, but it’s certainly interesting and fairly well-made. At first glance, I had a strong distaste for it, but it’s one of those dresses where the more you look at it, the more you like it.

Styling: Minimalist in a good way.

Idea vs. Execution: I think this dress is executed quite well, particularly the hood/cowl piece in the back. I like that someone is utilizing such a strong Native American perspective – the beadwork, the colors, and the general effect is unique and quite lovely. The big, baggy sleeves are not my cup of tea, but otherwise, it’s a job well done.

Judges’ Vote: In.

Mondo's design

Overview: Unique fabric choice – I like the combination of the pattern with a surprising solid color. It holds my interest, even though the silhouette of the dress is quite simple.

Styling: Who still does pin-straight hair? But it does work for this outfit. The orange purse is a nice touch, but I’d have gone a little more low-key on the shoes.

Idea vs. Execution: Clearly, this has some execution issues. There’s puckering everywhere, and it seems uncomfortably tight in some areas and fairly loose in others. But everybody needs a basic dress in a funky color and print; with more time, I think this could have been something really interesting.

Judges’ Vote: In.

Nicholas's design, front

Nicholas's design, back

Overview: Oy. A hot disaster if there ever was one, I can’t get behind any part of this dress. To me, this is what the most evil brides in the world reserve for their bridesmaids – a dress no one, no matter how hot, will look good in.

Styling: Minimalist. Should’ve done a bit more – it’s quite empty.

Idea vs. Execution: The idea was brilliant: sportswear meets formal wear. But the execution was a total nightmare. From fit to fabric choice to proportions, this is just one sad sack of a dress. The only piece that works is the neckline; all the little sportswear features look far too craftsy and amateurish for the runway. And that length? A nightmare.

Judges’ Vote: 5th from the bottom. Saved from a worse fate because his ideas were strong and creative, even if he couldn’t implement them.

Peach's design, front

Peach's design, side

Overview: Hated it at first, but I’m coming around. Another cute, simple dress with nothing particularly interesting going on. Let’s just say these bitches better bring their A-game next week, because I’m not about to stand for any more simply little sundresses. But there’s not glaring problems with this garment. Except the model, who looks about 45. Seriously, Project Runway, how hard is it to find good models? Half these bitches couldn’t even walk. I’m five feet tall and I can stomp harder than them. Get it together.

Styling: The hair is simple, almost dated. I’d have gone a little more adventurous.

Idea vs. Execution: From the front, the execution looks pretty damn good, save for a few rough edges in the hemline. But the side angle shows that the red piping stops a little bit before the rest of the dress actually stops, which is a pretty glaring mishap. But the fit is nice, and the halter top is pretty great.

Judges’ Vote: In.

Sarah's design, front

Sarah's design, side

Overview: Another design that I hated at first glance, but am coming around to. Definitely a unique concept and silhouette with intriguing color choices. Like it or not, it certainly stood out on the runway.

Styling: Great. Casual but sexy hair, and I love the way the purple lipstick matches the purple shoes. Very nice touch.

Idea vs. Execution: You know how I feel about rompers, jumpers, and any kind of one-piece items, but this really is adorable. The short-shorts are super-flatting, and I love the flash of bright blue we see when the model turns to the side. The buttons on the sides of the shorts are super-cute, the jacket is well-made, and I’m really enjoying the proportions of it all, even though it’s so shrunken. But I think it’s definitely one of the better-made pieces of the bunch.

Judges’ Vote: In.

Valerie's design, front

Overview: It feels very art-school to me, which is basically the worst insult Tim Gunn can hurl at any given designer. Everything from the boob swatches to the color blocking feels a bit contrived and immature to me, but it’s definitely not hopeless.

Styling: Very basic, understated. A good choice, considering this is a busy dress.

Idea vs. Execution: There are definitely some glaring construction issues. The hem is quite uneven, the belt area is puckering, and the little boob-shields are distracting and not particularly body-conscious. But I do admire her use of color – not just color, but three different and unusual colors that we don’t often see together. And the zippers in the skirt are a very cute touch. This is another garment that I honestly believe could have been excellent, had the designers been given more time.

Judges’ Vote: In.

And there you have it, folks! Don’t forget to check back in on Saturday afternoon/evening for the weekly fashion recap. And follow me on twitter @democracydiva!

No more posts.