Last week the designers were given a deceptively simple challenge: to create a lingerie look that will fit with Heidi Klum’s Intimates line, with the winning entry actually going into production. A bra and panties sounds simple, but when the client is the deceptively sweet supermodel who is also lead judge in the competition, there was a lot of pressure in the workroom.
The designers came into this challenge feeling like this would be one of the easier ones, but nearly all of them ended up struggling with it. Unlike past challenges, where people started turning on each other, everyone seemed to be mostly trying to beat the toughest foe of all. (Themselves. The toughest foe of all is yourself, you guys.)
This season seems to have decided to cut costs by going to Mood as little as possible, and in this episode the designers just got a load of lace and elastic and flesh-colored bras dumped on a table. Right around the time they began to realize how much more difficult lingerie is than they’d expected, they were told that they also had to create a coverup to go over their lingerie, and that they’d have to work through the night to get it done. Disappointingly, Heidi did not model the looks herself, but there were a few surprises in how the judges scored the results, 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.
11.Blake (Last week: #4)
We have had our differences, Blake and I, but I always had to admit that he was a strong designer, until this week, when he made such a show of being squicked out by female anatomy that he just barely finished his lingerie, and didn’t even get to the coverup. And the look he turned in was bizarre: a hot-pink pairing that looked kind of like a bathing suit, with a very low bust line that was somehow both revealing and unsexy. Blake himself called it “Sporty meets French,” whatever that means, but Nina Garcia, always dependable for a bon mot, said “There is no fit, there is no quality, there is no sophistication.” Auf wiedersehen, Blake.
10.Laurie (Last week: #6)
I think this was Laurie’s first time in either the bottom or the top; she’s been solidly in the middle for this whole season, even though I have liked a lot of her designs. But there was no defending the bottom half of her look last week, a very 1988-cut, high-waisted abortion that would have been awful even without the seam that went right up the middle to create something that rhymes with “schmamel schmoe.” The top was good, and she made good use of her fuschia-and-navy color scheme – she called fuschia “the grown woman’s pink” – but when half of something is awful, it doesn’t much matter what the other half is.
9.Jake (Last week: #3)
It was a little unfair to have to design lingerie for a model who just got dumped and didn’t want to wear anything revealing, but given that, I thought Jake’s entry was better than the judges gave him credit for. His black-and-tiny-white-polka-dot pair fit his model well, it served her preference of not being too revealing, and he spiced it up a bit with a lace scalloping at the bust line. But his double straps – everybody went a little crazy with the double straps on this challenge – pinched his model in all the wrong places, and the judges hated it for its lack of imagination.
8.Kelly (Last week: #10)
Like Laurie, Kelly has made a career of being in the middle every time, and this week was no exception. She began this challenge by declaring, “I’m going for sexy boobs,” and she achieved that with a very well-fitted push-up bra, but her color scheme was totally baffling: a lavender lace over a pea green bra on top, and a big green mesh patch in the front of her bottom. Still though, she was one of the only designers to give any thought at all to her coverup, a silvery leopard print robe with a hood.
7.Lindsey (Last week: #8)
Humbled perhaps by five straight weeks of middling Murphy Brown looks, Lindsey toned down the deep sighs and the eye-rolling to a manageable level this week, but then she stabbed herself with her scissors and had to get a shot, which resulted in a totally numb right hand. Given that, it’s a miracle that she completed a look at all. The one she turned in had a nice cut and fit well, but the peach and royal blue color scheme was kind of weird.
6.Candice (Last week: #9)
Candice is really good at what she does, but she does it an awful lot, turning in yet another dominatrix look. It’s surprising the judges haven’t called her out on this yet, considering it’s one of their favorite ways to ding a contestant, but she really does it well so she’s managed to skate by. The garter belt was a good idea and she did a better job with the extra straps than most of the competition, but the yellow accents were a little strange and the whole thing had a bit of a “This again?” feel.
5.Edmond (Last week: #1)
Regular readers of these Power Rankings are aware that I’ve got Edmond going all the way. His effort this week was one of his weakest all season, but it provided the best critique probably in the history of this show, beginning with Heidi telling him his work in progress was “beyond tacky”:
I mean, you’ve taken off a few bras.
And they’ve looked similar to this?
Well, I mean, I thought I was going in a different direction…
You’re hanging out with the wrong girls!
Or paying for them.
4.Joseph (Last week: #5)
Seldom in the top and never in the bottom, Joseph has spent this whole season firmly ensconced in the Upper Middle Class, with look after look that’s among the best of the ones dismissed from closer critique. I thought he was going to be in the top last week, with a very flattering gray and red color combination – gray lingerie with little red ribbons in the middle, and red coverup – with an interesting U-shaped neckline. The top fit very well, but the bottom was a little baggy, which may be why he’s still strictly Upper Middle Class.
3.Ashley (Last week: #7)
As usual, I liked Ashley’s work, and in this particular case it didn’t hurt that she drew the best model. Like a few of the other designers she worked in lavender, but she got the best results, with a really cool strap outline around the top of the bust and a perfectly fitted bottom. If you haven’t figured out that Ashley is going to be one of the final three, you haven’t been paying attention!
2.Merline (Last week: #11)
Yes, Merline won this challenge, so she has immunity next week, but I cannot in good conscience put her in the top slot because a) her work has been spotty at best to this point and b) I thought this look was awful. I don’t understand what the judges saw in it, which just goes to show you how much I know about fashion. After eschewing the preconstructed bras that all the designers were given as a starting point, Merline made her bra herself from scratch, with no underwire, so her model looked really flat-chested, the extra straps (again with the extra straps!) were uneven, and she saw Laurie’s center seam on the bottom and raised her a huge V seam. And another thing: Merline keeps using the work “architectural” to describe her own work but what exactly does that mean? You could fairly describe any of the designers' work as “architectural.” Candice put it best: “None of the designers think Merline is a threat in the competition.”
1.Swapnil (Last week: #2)
Another week, another second-place finish for Swapnil. He still hasn’t won a challenge, but he’s in the top Every. Single. Week. That kind of consistency has got to be worth something. I did not exactly love his look this week – I found the braided straps on his bra a little overworked and much sloppier than one would expect from the usually fastidious Swapnil – and he seemed to have a much harder time with this challenge than any previous, but he had the best coverup, a Greek-myth-inspired sleeveless number that matched the lingerie well. Edmond, Ashley, and Swapnil – you heard it here first.
THIS WEEK: It’s another Unconventional Materials challenge, as the designers go to an old technology graveyard and are tasked with making clothes out of coaxial cable, old VHS tapes, and other obsolescences.