After last week’s Project Runway challenge, I am hoping that we won’t see men’s wear for the rest of the season. One thing we definitely won’t be seeing is more of Carmen’s designs, because she was eliminated after sending her model down the runway with no shirt, horrendously fit pants and a jacket that was awkward at best. Oh, and in colors my blind grandfather wouldn’t have put together. Luckily, we are back to women’s fashion, but of course the evil producers must have some devious twist up their sleeves. This week the designers each had to choose a painfully out of date trend and update it. If that wasn’t hard enough, they have to do so while working in a three person team to create a cohesive collection. And just in case anyone cares, Jack stole Ricky’s model. Does anyone care? On to the design drama!

The designers were given one minute to divide themselves up into teams, which they did with surprising ease. After that they had one hour to pick a leader and sketch their collections, which also happened without incident. In truth, things don’t start to fall apart until the groups start working together. Christian, Jack and Kit all see to have a blast working together, but the other teams all hit snags. Sweet P decides as their creations are nearing the halfway mark that she doesn’t think Steven made a good choice in his fabric, which is hardly constructive as he can’t do a darned thing about it now. Rami wants Jillian to be Kevin’s task manager, but even though she is equally nervous about Kevin’s time management she doesn’t want to breathe down his neck. So instead she lets her anxiety exude from her tiny little body to infect all those around her. But the real fireworks are between Ricky and Victorya. Mostly because she ignores his direction, does what she wants and then nit picks at him whenever he tries to talk to her. He nails it when he categorizers her as passive aggressive, but he maintains a cool head (rather than resorting to singing "shut the f*** up!" , like he did to Carmen last week) and goes out of his way to counsel her on a fit that was truly off despite her underhandedness. Even more endearing, Ricky also tries to talk to Elisa in a manner she will understand each time he helps her. Which means lots of "centering", "breathe the crease" and "feel your pelvis" talk tossed about, which is always amusing!

But is Ricky’s assistance to his team mates enough to pull together the oh-so-over trends of underwear as outerwear, neon colors and cut outs in clothing? Is Jillian’s anxiety able to make the 70s, overalls and poodle skirts jive? Can Christian’s hair compensate for the disparity of pleather, fringe and zoot suits? And how can Chris manage to make baggy sweaters, shoulder pads and dance wear cohesive?  Let’s skip all the rest and go right to the runway, where our usual judges are joined by Donna Karan.

Jillian: I think her group managed to most cohesive and interesting collection. Her particular piece was overalls with a wide leg and pleating in the pant. While I still can’t say I would wear a pair of overalls, I did love what she did with the back, creating delicate looking straps that met in a deep V. It was a surprising touch that made the outfit more sophisticated.

Rami: He took on the poodle skirt with surprising flare. Lately, I’ve been buying full skirts and have secretly wanted to wear a little crinoline, so I loved seeing this, and using the fabric trim to tie his piece together with Kevin’s was a nice, but not overbearing echo. The only thing I would have changed would be the gathering at the mid point in the skirt, which made it look a little like an outfit you would see on a clog dancer. If that was eliminated, I would buy that dress immediately.

Kevin: I am not a fan of the high-waisted look, but it fits logically with the other pieces and paired with the high necked, sleeveless blouse, it ends up feeling shockingly modern. I recall a challenge from a season past where a designer created a similar blouse to mirror an orchid, but matched with the shorts it actually feels even more organic.

Chris: Oh boy. This collection is totally disparate and Chris’s outfit is clearly the worst. The shoulder pads would be bad enough, but on a cropped jacket with oddly cut sleeves they seem even more disproportional. Even worse, he paired it with a slim silhouette  gown and the bewildering choice of a gathered halter neckline. With the material gathering below the collar bone, interrupting the short fall of the jacket, there’s a lot of business up top with a long block of nothing but beige going on straight to floor. It’s a mess.

Sweet P: The baggy sweater does look modern in this sleeveless, bubble dress incarnation and the styling is pitch perfect. But other than beige, it has nothing in common with Chris’s outfit. Tying in a similar neckline or sleeves would have taken away from this particular piece, but would have made the collection make more sense.

Steven: His outfit almost seems to oppose the other two looks of this collection. He also used beige and opted for sleeveless, but in silk and with a kimono styled top. I fail to see where it fits in the collection or calls back to the idea of dance wear. There is no flow to it and it bisects the body oddly. I think he may have been attempting to style a wrap around warm up jacket that ballet dancers sometimes wear, but he’s way off the mark.

Christian: I kind of feel like this group took an easy road as their use of pleather and fringe is relegated to the tiniest of trims. I understand why they did that, of course, but it seemed against the spirit of the competition. Of the three looks, I found Christian’s the weakest. The fit of his jacket seemed off as it sagged around the model’s shoulders and accented her hips with a circular cut that met the 3/4 sleeves, succeeding in ruining the elegant and sexy cut of pencil skirt. Which is a shame, because I love me a good pencil skirt.

Jack: It’s a mod little shift dress with a wide square neck trimmed in upholstery fringe. Which is every bit as wearable as that description sounds horrid. The detailing on the pockets is adorable and matched with the tights, it is truly charming. Its shape is practically a polar opposite of the other two designs in the collection, but aesthetically there is a clear thought pattern that pulls it in line, which all comes down to the styling. I can see the woman who wears the pencils skirt to the office wearing this on the weekend.

Kit: She takes a lot of risks and her outfit is stronger for it. She mixed a bold print with the pin stripes, but when matched with truly impeccable fitting, it is an impressive sight. The patterns almost war with each other, but in the end settle into an interesting and modern feeling pairing. It’s unfortunate that this outfit will be bogged down with all the misdirection from Christian’s effort.

Ricky: Given the trends he had to work with, it’s scary that it looks this good. Which is not to say that it looks actually good – just better than I would have expected. Again, Ricky turns in an outfit that is poorly constructed, looking ill fit and wrinkled. I question his choice to not make the bodice more fitted, which would have made a lot more sense. All the same, I applaud the color choice, which made neon almost look wearable.

Elisa: Our favorite kook does it again! Her shift is simple, yet modern and elegant, with flashes of neon set amidst cutouts across the asymmetrical neckline. It also manages to make sense of the collection in a way that I wouldn’t have expected from her, especially since we saw so little input from Ricky and Victorya in what she was doing, while they were busy crawling all over each other with opinions about what each other was doing.

Victorya: The fit is good, but she largely owes that to Ricky (which she admits during judging). I like the neon pink accent on the bodice, but the material of the skirt seems too different from the rest of the material, not only in this dress but in the entire collection. It sticks out like a sore thumb and while I understand it moves nicer than the satin would have, I think a short bubble skirt might have made more sense in the bigger picture.

Judging breaks it down easily enough as Jillian’s team was the clear winner from moment one.  Christian’s team was also dismissed from the runway before we got down to the brass tacks of what went wrong with Chris and Ricky’s teams. The judges point out the alarming disparity of the outfits in Chris’s collection, as well as how it all felt old and irrelevant. For Ricky’s team, they pointed out the poor construction and bad silhouettes before the in-fighting between Victorya and Ricky emerged. When they asked her what she thought of him as a leader, she spent more time talking about herself and derailing the topic by telling the judges she did most of the design work. This was odd after she and Elisa had both praised Ricky for his help in the fit and construction of their garments and made her look like a poor team player. Ricky sealed the personality dispute by stiffly replying that Victorya had no respect for his leadership. Which was true, but which he did little to assert. Eventually, the judges told people they were safe until we were left with just Chris and Ricky, and in the end bad taste lost to bad construction and we said good-bye to Chris. Meaning that Ricky is quickly going through his apparent nine lives. But he didn’t cry this episode!

Tell me what you thought! What was your favorite outfit? Which did you loathe? How much longer do you think Ricky can last? Does Steven remind you of the equally squinty eyed Harry Solomon from 3rd Rock from the Sun, or is that just me?

Posted by:Jessica Paff