Ah, the unconventional materials challenge. So pointless, so unrelated to fashion design or dress construction or anything else that humans do on planet Earth, other than awkwardly jam some non-fashion-related sponsor’s name and product onto the airwaves. The designers last week were herded into the Hallmark store, and instructed to create dresses out of greeting cards. While this may seem ridiculous, consider that it’s better than being herded into the Times Square M&M’s store with similar instructions (as actually happened on a past season). But yeah, still pretty silly.
The personalities we’re dealing with here in season 14 are beginning to come into focus, and I already have all my money on one designer to win this thing, so let’s get to the Power Rankings!
Note: Power Rankings are totally unscientific, coming as they are from a straight man, but I have successfully predicted three of the last four Project Runway winners no less than five weeks before the end of the season. In any case, they are an amalgamation of the designers’ work, their entertainment value, and whatever hints the editors may drop about what’s to come, in that order of importance; they’re presented in reverse order, last week’s loser first.
15.David from New Zealand (Last week: #12)
David should not have lost this challenge. Not because his garment was great – a baggy hoodie made of muslin that he stuck lettering from some greeting cards to – but because far, far worse pieces went down the runway. The judges actually liked his work, but it almost totally ignored the mandate of the challenge, which was to construct something from greeting cards (not use greeting cards to decorate a conventional garment). So auf wiedersehen, David.
14.Merline from Haiti (Last week: #2
This week was a little unusual in that rather than three top scores and three bottom scores, the judges brought the four top and two bottom back to the runway for a closer look. Merline was not one of the bottom two, but she absolutely should have been; her dress was an abomination. It looked like a child made it out of construction paper, with no shape or fit of any kind. It was far worse than Amanda’s dress, which was inexplicably the other bottom scorer. It seems clear that Merline is going to get a pass for a couple extra weeks because she’s a made-for-TV oddball, but strictly on the merits she should have been eliminated for this travesty.
13.Ashley from San Diego (Last week: #1)
Heidi Klum told Ashley she was lucky she had immunity this week after winning last week’s challenge literally 30 seconds after I wrote “Ashley is lucky she has immunity” in my notes. The weird, yellow and gold sack she sent down the runway, without even a place for the model’s arms to come out, looked like a trash bag recovered from King Tut’s tomb.
12.Joseph from Las Vegas (Last week: #6)
The white polka-dot top Joseph made out of envelopes wasn’t so bad, I guess, but the big pink skirt with the huge, upswept stiff pockets didn’t even look like clothing, it looked like some kind of umbrella stand from the ‘50s.
11.Amanda from Florida (Last week: #5)
She didn’t belong in the bottom two, but Amanda’s look was pretty bad; the top was okay, with black paper lace over a multicolored print, but the skirt was just a disaster. I used to watch this bizarre Brazilian telenovela called Meu Pedacinho de Chão where everyone was dressed in garish bright colors like the whole show was a wedding cake or something; if Amanda washes out on Project Runway they might have a place for her in the costume design department at that show.
10.Gabrielle from New York (Last week: #11)
Gabrielle had a good idea, to cut her cards into narrow strips in a color range from red to pink, for a gradual color change. But she made it pink at the center and redder as it went out to the edges, which Ashley pointed out resembled a certain piece of female anatomy. Also, the fit was awful.
9.Hanmaio from China (Last week: #15)
Literally anything would have been better than the monstrosity Hanmaio inflicted on our eyeballs last week, including the oddball patchwork Judy Jetson silhouette she made this week. The judges seemed to like it a lot more than I did, though.
8.Lindsey from Texas (Last week: #8)
Lindsey’s dress looked like a plain old off-white, conservative dress that would not be out of place at a job interview or after-church function. Lindsey came on the show spouting attitude and confidence, so it’s a little odd that she’s turning in such conventional stuff.
7.Candice from San Francisco (Last week: #10)
After starting with a strong idea, using a silvery mylar-esque substance to construct the top part of a cocktail dress, Candice took Tim Gunn’s advice to make the whole thing silver, which could have turned out great if it had fit her model a little better.
6.Laurie from Chicago (Last week: #4)
I really liked Laurie’s effort this week, a gold dress that fit her model well. I liked how she leaned into the limitations of using stiff material and shaped her dress so that it rocked across the model like a bell as she walked. Laurie has been pretty low-key so far but I think she’s a threat to go deep.
5.Jake from San Francisco (Last week: #9)
One of the judges mentioned that the best compliment they could give this week was that a garment didn’t look like it was made of paper, and Jake definitely cleared this bar, making a good-fitting cocktail dress out of black paper with pink and purple glitter all over it.
4.Kelly from Los Angeles (Last week: #13)
In each of the episodes this season Kelly has mentioned her thrift-store shopping, craft-store owning background, and that history served her well this week; her fringey skirt and crop top combo was a little “pop star,” as the judges said, but it was very well made, particularly the mosaic-pattern, sleeveless hoodie top. Yes, she made a hoodie out of greeting cards.
3.Blake from Los Angeles (Last week: #14)
Blake made some waves in the workroom when during an exchange with Swapnil where Swapnil apparently couldn’t hear what Blake was saying, Blake said “I don’t know how to speak Indian,” which would have been a little racist even if “Indian” were a language. Anyway, his dress was pretty great, with a similar graduated-color concept to what Gabrielle made, only way better in terms of cut, fit, color, and way more glitter. I look forward to more workroom drama between him and Swapnil and whoever else he manages to alienate.
2.Swapnil from India (Last week: #7)
Swapnil refuses to take off his leather motorcycle jacket for any reason, which seems totally impractical from a work standpoint. How can anyone work with their hands while wearing a hot, heavy jacket with the collar popped? In any case, there’s no denying the construction of the combo he sent down the runway, with a really inventive stripe patterned top made of shiny envelopes and a skirt with paper flowers pulled off the cards that the judges went wild for.
1.Edmund from Atlanta (Last week: #3)
I’m calling it now: Edmund is going all the way. Some people come onto this show with an unshakeable focus and the eye of the tiger, and this year Edmund is that person. Dead silent in the workroom, very cagey about revealing his plans to the other designers, and clearly not interested in getting sucked into any kind of drama, Edmund is in it to win it. He not only constructed a really cool, flattering dress out of small envelopes and large pieces of white paper, he incorporated the whole Hallmark theme – greeting cards for happy occasions – and made a wedding gown, complete with paper bouquet. Super impressive. Does Vegas take odds on Project Runway? If they do, I’m putting $500 on Edmund.
THIS WEEK: Get ready for personality clashes galore as the season’s first team challenge gets under way on a cruise ship, for some reason. They’re not going to have to make clothes out of a cruise ship, are they?
New episodes of Project Runway air Thursday nights at 9pm on Lifetime.