Before I begin taking notes on each episode, I make a list of the remaining designers so as each one says or does something noteworthy, I can note it by their name. Keeps things organized. This is the first week I remembered all the designers without having to look up their names and before the show starts, which means that only the most memorable designers are still in the game. We’re getting into the good stuff now.
A couple of weeks ago I gratefully mentioned that this season has mostly eschewed Project Runway’s old habit of shoehorning product placements into the challenges. Well, speak of the devil and he appears. Last week Heidi took the designers to meet Matthew Morrison, star of Broadway’s FINDING NEVERLAND, explaining that she took her kids to see the show and it inspired her… to rent out six minutes of airtime to FINDING NEVERLAND.
The good news is, they didn’t make the designers create costumes for the show or anything like that. Instead, they were instructed to take inspiration from the show, particularly its pro-imagination message, and make anything they want.
Most weeks, when the editors decide to include a designer’s emotional remembrances of the supportive family member back home who they’re hoping to make proud, it is a clear indication that that designer is headed home. But this week, half the designers were doing that, and Tim Gunn crashed the workroom to emphasize that one false move could get any one of them auf-ed. It was true last week and it’s even truer this week: anything can happen. 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.
8.Lindsey (Last week: #8)
I predicted in last week’s Power Rankings that Lindsey would be the next to go, and she did not disappoint. The moment her self-described “magical evening gown” hit the runway it was clear that she was leaving. I called it a “mullet dress” in my notes (long in the back and short in front) and patted myself on the back for coining the term but then Zac Posen said the same thing so I guess it was already a thing. Anyway, it was a truly mystifying effort, emerald green with a bizarre, shapeless flap covering the model’s whole chest like a lobster bib. If there has ever been a designer who came into this show as much unearned arrogance as eye-rolling Lindsey, I must have missed their season.
7.Laurie (Last week: #5)
Coming out of her shell and showing some personality for the first time all season, Laurie seemed inspired and ready to attack this challenge with renewed purpose, drawing what looked like a cool flared-sleeve jacket and skirt, with a top made of an unusual ringed, seethrough textile. It came out as a disaster: the top was so seethrough the model had to wear pasties and the top didn’t even hide those. The skirt was way too short, and maybe the jacket was okay but who could even notice it with the four-alarm garbage fire happening front and center? In my notes I wrote “she looks like a hooker in a B sci-fi movie,” but the ever-eloquent Nina Garcia nailed it: “It’s a woman’s worst nightmare.“ There was only thing that could have saved this look, and it was Lindsey’s look.
6.Merline (Last week: #6)
No matter how many times she calls her work “architectural,” I still don’t know what it means, but Merline is clinging to it like Rose clung to that oak door at the end of TITANIC. She started this challenge with a very simple dress made from a sheer fabric that looked like something a human woman might want to wear, but the voices in her head kept whispering “ARCHITECTURE,” so she Merlined it up with a bizarre pair of shoulder pads and sheer sleeves with extra-long cuffs. The superstructure across the shoulders is typical Merline, in that it looks sloppy and half-conceived. But then again, I loathed her lingerie and she won that challenge. I can’t believe she hasn’t been eliminated yet but I bet she’s next.
5.Ashley (Last week: #2)
In addition to her obvious talent as a designer, Ashley happens to have drawn the best model, who has helped to sell her designs week after week, but there wasn’t much she could do with what Ashley gave her in this challenge: a cocktail dress that started white on top and graduated to burgundy at the bottom. The color scheme was good, but it had a bit of a twisted-up toga feel, and the judges were not impressed.
4.Kelly (Last week: #1)
Having won last week’s challenge, Kelly had immunity, but she did not take the week off, instead making a pretty, if slightly odd emerald-green floor-length dress jacket, with a little black mini dress underneath. Her model looked kind of like an extra in a movie about 1940s debutantes, and the judges were split on whether the minidress worked, but they all liked the jacket, which was probably the best thing Kelly has come up with this season.
3.Swapnil (Last week: #7)
It seems like Swapnil somehow got ahold of some of the dailies for the season up to the point and decided he’s not projecting enough whimsy, because this week he was carrying on like a Hindi Corky St. Clair. Anyway, after essentially taking a week off, Swapnil gave this challenge all he had, and his dress was really cool, a gray fabric that looked like a suit, twisted into a big, well-structured (and diagonally symmetrical) knot in front, with a big flowing pink chiffon skirt. I was really surprised that this look only landed him a “safe” score, and I stand by my forecast that he’ll be in the finale.
2.Edmond (Last week: #3)
If you were playing the drinking game where you take a shot every time someone called Edmond’s look a “cloud vest,” I hope you made it to work on Friday. The big purple vest pulled all the focus away from the rest of Edmond’s look, and it divided the judges, but once it came off, everyone agreed that the high-waisted pants he made and the really cool crop top were on point. I have been riding for Edmond since week 2, and I still think he’s going to win, largely because he’s kept a level head throughout, talks no smack about the other designers, and has stayed totally drama-free. But I’m not as certain as I used to be.
1.Candice (Last week: #4)
Candice shocked everyone when, discussing her work-in-progress, she announced, "I wanted to work black into my look.” Somehow we guessed that, Morticia. My big knock on Candice has always been that her stuff is nearly all great, but a little samey. There’s always black leather in it, there’s always a bustier, it’s always somewhere near the intersection of Steampunk and Goth. Having said that, her look this week was immaculate, probably her best of the season: a black-leather bustier framed by an off-the-shoulder kimono, and a really interesting multilayered skirt over leggings. Where a lot of the other designers look exhausted at this point, Candice looks energized, and I’m starting to wonder if I need to make room for her in my top three.
THIS WEEK: A classroom and a midchallenge twist! What can it mean?!
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