Somehow, the unconventional challenges on “Project Runway” are always easier for the designers to handle than challenges that deal with normal fabric but an out-of-the-ordinary client. Whether it’s moms, heavier women, prom dresses or children, the designers are always caught off guard by the spector of a client who isn’t a size 0 model.
Guest client challenges such as this week’s (Sept. 18) American Girl Doll-inspired assignment are therefore always more intriguing on a real-world level than the designers working with party materials or car parts. Designing for an active person with opinions that are meted out while on the runway is a true test of what the designers will be ready for as far as ready-to-wear collections after the show is over.
As usually happens with these types of challenges, the designers run into a lack of experience with the subject almost immediately. Sandhya has trouble finding a balance between her messy use of color and additional add-ons to the garment, Korina doesn’t communicate well with children or have any experience in this area, and Sean finds difficulty in designing on a smaller mannequin and model. Only a few of the designers are able to overcome these issues by the time the most adorable runway of the season rolls around.
Sandhya’s outright refusal to listen to Tim’s advice is ultimately her undoing, as everything he suggested would have put her design back on the right track without sacrificing her vision for the jumper. All season, the judges rewarded Sandhya’s work based on a concept of creativity and originality that they established. It was only a matter of time before they couldn’t make excuses for her construction and design aesthetic, and “circus flamingo” jumpsuit (according to Zac Posen) that made her model look like a toddler was the natural end point for her time on the show.
Their unabashed love for Kini, however, is still going strong. His outfit was admittedly gorgeous, but his creativity is sorely lacking and he has found a place at the top continually based on his ability to finish outfits quickly and skillfully. Char’s outfit found a way to update a traditional Native American style while still being respectful to the character’s story and she was almost entirely overlooked in favor of the nice-but-boring designs belonging to Korina and Kini.
For the first time all season, the judges made the absolute right choice with the elimination and a defensible decision with the winner. With only a few more episodes before the finalists are decided, there is at least a modicum of hope that this trend will continue through to the end. Watch a clip from the show below.