After a relatively harmonious first four challenges, the designers are starting to turn on each other, thanks to the greatest device for creating interpersonal drama at Project Runway’s disposal: The team challenge.
The designers divide into two teams, first by Heidi choosing the first member of each team, and then having them choose the next person, that next person choosing the next, and so on. Oddly, this results in an all-girls team and an all-boys team, plus Merline. The teams are then suited up in white canvas jumpsuits, armed with paintball guns, and taken to a remote location where they are to battle each other for yards of loud, solid-colored fabric; they’re then told that in addition to that fabric, they can use their paintball outfits for the next challenge: a 6-look collection.
Back in the workroom, the boys decide on a 1950s theme, while the girls go a little too crazy painting their fabric, turning everything pink and pale orange. It’s clear from the jump that the boys are going to win, as they are working together beautifully and the girls are doing the exact opposite, and that’s exactly what happens. This was the most entertaining episode of the season, and it produced some of the best and worst looks we’ve seen yet, 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.
12.Amanda (last week: #12)
Oh, Amanda. After three consecutive weeks with a bottom score, Amanda smelled like despair coming into this challenge, and like last week spent most of her work time trying to decide what to work on. The dress she finally came up with, a very unusual silhouette with a high babydoll front opening to a big billowing back, had interesting movement and I found it weirdly intriguing, and Heidi Klum agreed, which further proves that she and I are meant for each other. But Nina Garcia called it a “maternity dress slash Easter egg,” and even though the judges seemed to agree that it wasn’t the worst dress on the runway, the fact that it was so simple and uninspired, and was Amanda’s fourth low score in a row, spelled her doom. Auf wiedersehen.
11.Merline (last week: #8)
She was on the winning team, but her dress stuck out like a sore thumb in the boys' collection, a really awful smock? caftan? muumuu? with long sleeves and an uneven hemline with a high cut in front. If I had to guess who’ll be next to go, I’d bet on Merline; she’s been weak all season and only getting worse.
10.Kelly (last week: #9)
Kelly complained that she wasn’t happy with the fabric she had to work with and wasn’t happy with the color scheme, and no one with working eyeballs would disagree: after ruining all their lighter-colored fabric, all the girls were forced to work in lavender and “Barney purple.” Kelly turned in a very strange look that, had Amanda not been such a sad sack for the last month, would have probably sent her home: a light tube top under a purple, I want to say jock strap but Nina called it a harness, with a purple mermaid skirt that clashed completely with the top. As Nina succinctly put it, “It’s bad, I don’t understand it.”
9.Candice (last week: #1)
After two very strong showings in a row, Candice caught a big humble this week. She spent the challenge acting like the team captain, which the other ladies quickly resented, and then turned in a mess of a dress, with the folds in the lighter-colored linen revealing the darker purples, before bisecting the skirt. She had an idea here, but the execution is sloppy and the fit is off.
8.Lindsey (last week: #11)
If they granted immunity for the best eye-rolling on this show, Lindsey would definitely make it to Fashion Week, but once again her attitude is way out of proportion to the work she’s turning in. Week after week she seems to be designing clothes for Murphy Brown (ask your mom), and this week’s effort, a short-sleeved, long hem pink jacket over lavender high-waisted pants, did not reverse the trend. Lindsey herself predicted her look was “not gonna knock anybody’s socks off,” and she was right.
7.Ashley (last week: #6)
It’s unclear why the rest of her team went all Mean Girls on Ashley this week, with an apparent agreement to throw her under the bus when things went pear-shaped. She’s a good designer and has won two challenges, but maybe that’s the answer right there: she’s a threat and they want to eliminate the toughest competition. But that doesn’t explain why she was chosen last when the teams were forming. In any case, her look was well constructed, with a nice ruffled jacket collar, but it was severely hampered by the awful colors her team saddled her with.
6.Laurie (last week: #7)
I already liked Laurie before this week, but warning Ashley that the rest of the girls were conspiring to throw her under the bus made me actively root for her. That, and the fact that her short skirt and purple vest were totally unremarkable, which made it solidly the best effort on the girls' team.
5.Joseph (last week: #5)
In weeks past I have been a little turned off by Joseph’s haughty attitude, but he toned it down and worked well with the rest of his team this week, but his dress, a two-piece number that made his model look kind of like a stewardess teaching an art class at a preschool, was definitely the weakest of the guys' efforts.
4.Blake (last week: #3)
No evidence of crystal meth abuse from Blake this week, other than the fact that the blue “flowers” he painted on all the guys' dresses didn’t really look like flowers, and that he didn’t put one on his own. Regardless, his dress was very chic and very well made, a form-fitting cocktail dress in white on top with a V-shaped waistline giving way to a seethrough blue on bottom, with a really cool cutout pattern on the back. As much as I want to dislike Blake, he keeps turning in good work.
3.Jake (last week: #10)
I was kind of hoping Jake would win this challenge because by creating the Pollock-inspired, splattered blue textile that all the guys used for their looks, he was the MVP of the team. And his look was great to boot: a pair capri pants with a really cool vesty-cape (or capey vest?) with a popped collar.
2.Swapnil (last week: #2)
I don’t think Swapnil has won any challenges, but other than the first week, he’s had a top-three score on every challenge, which is a startling level of consistency. Everything he’s made has been very thoughtful, impeccably constructed, and full of – to use his favorite word – drama. This week’s effort, a dress with a mushroom skirt, was good but not his best. I did really like the laced-up back, though, even before I found out that he made it out of one of his boots from the paintball battle.
1.Edmond (last week: #4)
I called it in week 2 and I’m sticking with it: Edmond is going all the way. The judges loved his work this week and so did I: a ‘50s gown with a popped collar and a volume skirt that made excellent use of Jake’s textile and Blake’s painted-on flowers. Edmond himself called it a “statement piece,” and it really was, right down to the matching nail polish. The fact that this guy can keep turning in great work without getting bitchy with the other designers or succumbing to the pressure in any visible way tells me that not only is he going to win this thing, he’s going to have a career afterward.
THIS WEEK: The designers will create lingerie for none other than Heidi Klum herself! Does that mean she’s going to personally model it? Please?