Project Runway Power Rankings: Week 4

Sep 03, 2015 by Alex Castle

What does Mary Kay cosmetics have to do with reimagining iconic designs and being inspired by the New York City skyline? What does Mary Kay cosmetics have to do with clothes at all? They’re paying for this episode, that’s what, now shut up and go with it!

The heavy workload and fatigue that comes with it is starting to affect the designers in week 4, which is week 4 for us, the audience, but is probably only day 4 or 5 for the designers, who have probably never worked as hard in their lives. Some of the designers are starting to crack under the pressure, some of them are starting to get catty, and some of them may or may not be relying on performance enhancing drugs.

In other words, we’re starting to see what these people are made of, so 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.

13.Gabrielle (Last week: #9)
Oh Gabrielle. Before anyone laid eyes on your look this week, you looked defeated, exhausted, intimidated, spent. And it showed in your work: You sent a vest coat with a ruffled short sleeve, over a plain white dress so shabbily constructed it looked like a child made it in the dark, down the runway, and the judges recoiled. It is good to have reached the point in the competition that even the loser’s work looks (from a distance) like something a human would wear, but this was still a shockingly weak effort.

12.Amanda (Last week: #10)
Amanda is rattled. She doesn’t understand the judges' choices up to now, and being self-conscious about scoring into the bottom for two weeks in a row landed her there for a third. She is clearly accustomed to being the sharpest, most talented person in the room but now she’s not and it’s clearly getting to her. She waffled about how to start her dress this week and complained about being uninspired, and she was telling the truth: her black-and-white wrap dress looked like a high-waisted toga, prompting Heidi Klum’s favorite burn: “it looks great from the neck up.” It’s a good thing Gabrielle cratered even harder this week, or Amanda would have been out.

11.Lindsey (Last week: #5)
No one has more unearned confidence this season than Lindsey, who continues to look down her nose at the rest of the field despite never having earned a top score. It’s hard to imagine how someone could call themselves a fashion designer and turn in the baggy, unflattering, plus-size red jacket that she saddled her model with. The matching two-piece top-and-skirt print combo fit well, but as Heidi said, it looked like it was made out of an old couch. Either step it up or quit talking trash, Lindsey!

10.Jake (Last week: #6)
A basketball jersey made out of wine-colored sequins is bad enough in concept, but in Jake’s execution it made his poor model look like a waitress at a strip club. Jake justified this disaster by saying “It’s a dangerous look, but some women like to play… dangerously,” complete with Austin Powers-style dramatic pause. Jake is the one playing dangerously, but not in the sense he thinks.

9.Kelly (Last week: #8)
I don’t know what to make of Kelly’s ensemble, a pair of tight black pants (jeans?) and a t-shirt made of a sheer material with a pocket and a literal skyline along the bottom. It’s totally unremarkable and not particularly imaginative, but I guess it was well made?

8.Merline (Last week: #12)
After getting totally steamrolled by Joseph in last week’s team challenge, Merline comes roaring back this week with a layered black jacket that looks just like the orange jacket she made in week 1, over a high-necked shiny platinum-and-copper dress. When you’ve only done three looks in four weeks and two of them are basically the same, you’re clearly not headed for the winner’s circle.

7.Laurie (Last week: #4)
I liked what Laurie made this week, a big black and white cape with an oversized bow, but I particularly liked the patterned pencil skirt she made: was the fabric textured? Was it partly see-through, or did it just have really interesting coloring? Either way my eye was drawn right to it.

6.Ashley (Last week: #2)
The mandate of this challenge was to rework a classic look from the past, taking inspiration from the New York skyline, and Ashley was the only one who really took that direction to heart, with her cool ‘50s wasp waist dress in shiny shades of gray. It looked like it had a clear layer of fabric to make the light play on it, and it worked for me. This wasn’t her strongest effort, but get used to Ashley, she’s not going anywhere.

5.Joseph (Last week: #11)
After beginning the episode telling Edmond outright that he’d have been sent home if he hadn’t been immune, so bad was his work last week, Joseph set to work on a black cocktail dress with a sort of second short, ruffled, tutu-ish skirt around the waist. Ashley remarked that Joseph has been doing the same thing every week, and I tend to agree, but that doesn’t change the fact that this dress came out well.

4.Edmond (Last week: #13)
After a disastrous team challenge last week in which he was saddled with Hanmiao as a partner, Edmond rebounded in a big way with a very chic black and white print jacket that strongly evoked the Chrysler building. I was surprised he wasn’t in the top with this look. But Edmond’s level of focus continues to be impressive: I don’t think he said a word to the cameras or to the other designers during this challenge.

3.Blake (Last week: #7)
No one seems to be asking the obvious question: Is Blake high? Blake can’t tell time on a clock. Blake can’t explain his design to Tim Gunn. Blake is making weird noises in the workroom. Blake just barely pulled his dress together in the final moments before heading to the runway. Is Blake doing bumps of Ritalin when the cameras aren’t looking? Yes, he ended up winning the challenge and his dress looked great, a blue gown with big billowing side sections that shouldn’t work but somehow does. But if I’m right about what he’s been up to, he’s headed for a big crash.

2.Swapnil (Last week: #3)
For the third week in a row, Swapnil scored in the top, and he’s close to edging Edmond out of my prediction as the winner. This week he finally got to work with his beloved leather. We know Swapnil likes leather because he apparently wouldn’t take his motorcycle jacket off at gunpoint. It is clear at this point that Swapnil is this season’s most skilled technician, and the dress he made, a short black cocktail dress with a high, ruffled babydoll front and a backless top, wowed the judges. This guy is on the hottest hot streak of the season.

1.Candice (Last week: #1)
Clearly emboldened by having won (along with Ashley) last week’s challenge, Candice is feeling herself. She’s having fun, she’s super confident, and she made a really cool look this week, a badass sculpted black leather dress that somehow doesn’t look cheap, with a white blouse that looks like a riff on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” jacket. It didn’t win, but this was my favorite look of the week, and more importantly, I like where Candice’s head is right now. Just as some of the other designers are starting to crumble under the pressure, Candice is thriving.

NEXT WEEK: The designers have to fight for their fabrics in a paintball battle that is in no way a contrived effort to introduce interpersonal strife into the proceedings!

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