Season 14’s designers have been turning in strong work and generally getting along, and that simply won’t do when you’ve got a reality show to fill with drama. So last week Project Runway reached for the most dependable tool in its drama-creating shed: the team challenge!
For some reason (coughproductplacementcough) the designers were dragged aboard a luxury cruise ship to choose their partners and one of seven destination-labeled suitcases, in which they would find the locale-specific fabrics with which they would construct a day-to-night look suitable for a luxury cruise ship. As product-placement challenges go this one is about as well-presented as they get, but it is a little odd to have the designers saddled with pre-chosen textiles – and even weirder to have the judges praising or dinging them for those textiles.
In any case, let’s get to the power rankings!
Note: Power Rankings are totally unscientific, coming as they are from a straight man. But this straight man has 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.
14.Hanmaio (last week: #9)
If Hanmaio had been partnered with anyone other than the preternaturally even-keeled Edmond for this challenge, she would probably be in a shallow grave near the Parsons School of Design right about now. She disagreed with every idea he presented, even though he won the last challenge by a hundred miles. Assigned to make the bathing-suit portion of the look, she dragged her feet and complained for so long that Edmond felt compelled to make a second bathing suit on the sly, just in case she couldn’t pull hers together. The look they sent down the runway was a disaster on every level, but it’s hard not to put all the blame on Hanmiao, which is exactly what the judges did.
13.Edmond (last week: #1)
It’s hard to agree that Edmond belongs at #13, but even without Hanmiao’s disaster of a bathing suit their look would have been tragic. What was the story with those colored straps they wrapped around her? I think that was Edmond’s idea and it was a very bad one. I still think he’s going to win it all – the amount of patience he showed with Hanmiao bordered on saintly, which suggests a level of focus that will carry him far – but Edmond picked the right week to have immunity.
12.Merline (last week: #14)
Joseph took a firm hand once he was partnered with the very eccentric and chatty Merline, and forbade her from dancing, singing, or babbling in the workroom. That seems reasonable, because she’s pretty annoying, but he also forbade her from having any real voice in the garment they made, a very dowdy lavender dress with an odd, sideways cape. I don’t know that Merline could have made it any better but she just let Joseph steamroll her into taking his orders and these are the Power Rankings!
11.Joseph (last week: #12)
Joseph has done almost nothing to distinguish himself as a designer thus far – his showing last week was appalling – and though Merline is a little bit of an oddball, she had one of the best looks in week 1, far better than anything he’s yet turned in, so his putting her in her place was more than a little unearned. That’s the kind of overconfidence that can really come back to haunt you when the competition gets a little stiffer.
10.Amanda (last week: #11)
For their “South of France” look, Gabrielle and Amanda made a two-piece ensemble and Amanda made the top, a white asymmetrical piece that looked cool from the front (I liked the striped inner lining on the draped side) but crumbled on closer inspection at the back. The idea was not bad but the execution was off.
9.Gabrielle (last week: #10)
Gabrielle made the pants in the “South of France” look, a pair of navy bellbottoms with a racing stripe up the sides. The judges didn’t really comment on the pants, because they were so busy being horrified by the back of Gabrielle’s top, but I liked them.
8.Kelly (last week: #4)
With the contents of a suitcase marked “Greek Isles,” Kelly teamed with Blake to make a white jumpsuit that flowed like a dress in back. I thought it was cool and one of the few garments that really seemed to go with the locale. Kelly also seems to be pretty easy to get along with, considering that she worked with Blake on this challenge and didn’t kill him.
7.Blake (last week: #3)
Blake seems to be toning down his super-queeny personality a bit as the contest goes on, which suggests that he has decided to try and win this show rather than just be content to be on it. Anyway, he gets the nod over Kelly for the Greek Isles jumpsuit because I think it was his idea.
6.Jake (last week: #5)
If Jake did anything this week other than complain about his teammate Lindsey, I didn’t see it. Even he admitted that at a certain point he gave up trying to satisfy her and just let her make their whole look herself. They clearly didn’t like working together, but at least he was gallant enough to admit that she deserved all the credit for their look, which surprised them both by getting into the top three.
5.Lindsey (last week: #8)
I can see why Jake got so frustrated working with Lindsey: she obviously sees him (and everyone else) as beneath her, has no patience for anyone who can’t read her mind, and is not very good at hiding either quality. Still, her “Hong Kong” look, a shiny red dress with a split-front hem and shorts, plus a long shiny-green vest, won over the judges.
4.Laurie (last week: #6)
After getting buddied up with Swapnil to make an “India” ensemble, Laurie turned in a pair of gray pants that had a slightly baggy fit at the crotch, which the regular judges seized on but guest judge Tracee Ellis Ross, who I am not familiar with but who is apparently Laurie’s personal style North Star, didn’t seem to mind, which made Laurie’s lifetime and which made me google “Tracee Ellis Ross.”
3.Swapnil (last week: #2)
As I said above I am still picking Edmond to win this thing, but if I’m Edmond, I’m looking at Swapnil as my main competition. He still won’t take his popped-collar motorcycle jacket off, but he is also still turning in immaculate work like the sheer-print sari that wowed the judges enough that they wanted to try it on. Keep an eye on this guy, I’d bet anything he’s going to Fashion Week.
2.Ashley (last week: #13)
Ashley had an off week last week, but she’s now been named the winner (or, as this week, co-winner) of two of the three challenges so far. For the “Venice” look she did with Candice, Ashley made a pair of high-waisted pink bellbottom pants, complete with pockets, which given the eight-hour timeframe is very impressive. She and Candice, who clearly had the best working relationship of all the teams, also collaborated on the flower-print cape that topped off the ensemble. Based on these first three episodes, I’m picking Ashley, Swapnil, and Edmond to show at Fashion Week.
1.Candice (last week: #7)
The pinstriped black-and white blouse Candice made didn’t seem like much until the model turned around to reveal a dramatic deep loop of a train on the back. Combined with the cape, the judges couldn’t say enough about how much they loved the look. I liked Swapnil and Laurie’s look better, but this is the Power Rankings after all, and Candice and Ashley are both immune from elimination from the next challenge.
This Week: Guest judge Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper on Mad Men) will be on hand! Does that mean the designers have to do something Sixtiesy? Watch live on Lifetime at 9pm ET Thursdays.