Project Runway Recap: Betsey Johnson Parties With the Top 14 Designers

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This week the designers were sent to a party, or rather a party store. Yes, this was one of those challenges revolving around making designs out of unconventional materials. In this case, things you could buy in a party store.

Tim warned the designers that the judges wouldn't like them just picking up materials that could act like traditional fabrics (i.e. tablecloths) but most of them gravitated to things like napkins, ribbon, tablecloths anyway.

So, what did we learn in this episode?

-That this challenge supposedly mirrored AJ's existing design "sensibility", and that that wasn't necessarily a compliment.
-That Casnova was willing to commit stuffed-puppycide in order to have materials to work with. It was surprisingly distasteful to watch him slitting those stuffed puppies up!
-That Gretchen is cast as this season's oblivious pompous know-it-all.
-That the producers are trying to sex up Tim Gunn a bit, letting us see him dissolve into helpless laughter over "wooly animal balls" and expound upon the potential diamond-making properties of one designer's butt.
-That the Ascot Gavotte would not introduce teal. I don't think anything more need be said about that, do you?
-That Mondo is a poor little lamb that isn't good around people, and might not see that he projects not wanting to be around people, which might make people not want to be around him.

We also learned that Heidi is not above a fashion faux pas approaching Cat Deeley proportions, when she walked out on the runway wearing pair of pants that had an absolutely inexplicable fit. I kept trying to pretend that the weird baggy crotch and jodhpur hips might be intentional, but no, they just really seemed to be a poorly-fitting pair of pants.

Heidi was joined by MK and ninagarcia and true fashion icon (not young actress who gets dressed up by stylists in clothes that are given to her) Betsey Johnson.

As always, click on the designer's name to see their outfit.

1. Christopher
Christopher made a lovely little yellow day dress out of paper napkins. (Seems as much to use materials that can be like fabric as anything else, IMHO.) It had that retro Mad Men style that's very in right now. He glued on little strips of brightly colored tinsel to give it some visual interest. It was hard to believe it was napkins...it did look well-made and held together perfectly. The styling was a bit off, with a pair of shoes and a belt that didn't seem to match either one another or the dress itself. And that my well have been what kept him out of the top 3.

2. Michael D.
This silver tinselly one-shouldered top paired with a stiff blue A-line skirt looked a bit too much like an elementary school project to me...it could have been made of aluminum folk and painted construction paper! Lucky to squeak by.

3. Andy
Andy went over the top with his black braided and folded ribbon one-shouldered mini-dress...leaving him with little time and in need of the help of several designers just to get it done. But the effect was pretty fabulous. My only quibble would be that the proportions seemed a little off..managing to make the model seem hippy...and you've seen these models. You know that's hard to do.

4. AJ
If this is AJ's sensibilities, and he stands by this design, then it does not bode well at all. Between the bubblegum pink palette, the crotch-level beaded fringe curtain and the tiara, I gotta go all MK on AJ's ass and roll my eyes and question his taste level. This was a life-size Barbie Doll of tackiness.

5. Ivy
A one shoulder, below-the-knee, silvery pleated dress extravaganza. With so much folding and pleating she made the model look twice her actual size. And that's just never good. The dress was also veyr one-dimensional. A subtly more purple rosette at the waist didn't stand out much, so the entire outfit was unembellished and therefore, despite all the puffy pleats, plain.

6. Michael C.
This long one-shouldered red ballgown made real impact when the model arrive on the runway. The color was bold and fantastic, the workmanship seemed great. Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear there's just a little too much going on with it. The folding and pleating was a common theme of the night, and in most cases it ended up adding volume to the wearer...which no woman really wants. I still might have put it in the Top 3, but it had definite room for improvement.

7. Peach
This outfit was an improvement on Peach's earlier attempts, no doubt. A white bodice, paired with a black, pink and white flouncy (yet stiff) skirt. The skirt was a bit too lampshade-in-a-bordello for me, but I loved the little purse Peach made. Maybe Peach will be the one who shows dramatic improvement this year.

8. Gretchen
It's too soon for me to jump on any anti-Gretchen bandwagon, but I do wonder why the judges liked this outfit as much as they did. Yes it was three pieces. But it seemed like three pieces that did not go well together. Add in those totally wrong thigh-high boots, and the whole thing was a muddle to me. The black leather-looking jacket was the one cool thing about it. The skirt was just tinsel...hand-cut chevrons or nots, and the blouse seemed incongruous. And the boots, did I mention the boots? Because she clearly couldn't win due to those boots alone.

9. Mondo
Mondo had a lot of good thoughts, and this was another outfit that made good impact upon first sight. But a closer look takes it down a peg. The pink plastic plate bodice is a great idea, but unevenly executed. One side looks perfect, the other doesn't have the same shape. The very short pink mini skirt of rosettes is cute, but a bit stiff and unflattering. And the styling with black tights and pumps...incongruous, not ideal. I like Mondo's take, but he can do better than this.

10. Casanova
Well. What to say. I mean, Casanova can definitely construct and sew. He threw together a mish-mash of materials and styles, but it was a long strapless gown that fit his model and obviously had lots of work put into it. The fact that the back was an almost-but-not-quite acceptable silvery, tiered pleated dress, while the front was a bizarre combo of colors texture and more ruffles...at the knee, and that the whole combination was topped off by "fur stiles made of stuffed animals. Well, really. I think that's all that can be said about that.

11. Kristin
Well. Ths babydoll mini-dress was bright, I'll give it that. All yellow and lime-green. But it joined AJ in being a bit too juvenile. It's like a clown who does balloon animals exploded all over the model.

12. April
April's black one-shouldered mini-dress was similar to Andy's, but I might have even liked it better. It had a little more edge and a little less perfection than Andy's. The broken glass look of the one-shoulder added a ton of drama. I didn't much like the Flinstone's-style jagged hem approach, but that was all I didn't like.

13. Sarah
Remember up above when i talked about Michael's school project? Take it back, this is the school project. Heidi called it sad, and she was right. It screamed out to be put in the Bottom 3. A drab gray dress with inexplicable blue construction paper cut-outs affixed to it. What was she thinking?

14. Valerie
This was a successful effort, again with napkins. She folded hundreds of them to create a black and white skirt. It was paired with a simple top, black panels as a sort of breastplate. It could have probably used something at the waist to emphasize the waist. As going form the stiff breastplates to the full folded skirt created a boxy figure, but it was pretty cool looking (as impractical as it may be).

In the end, the Top Three were:

Andy
Gretchen (again!)
Valerie

I have a couple of other choices I would have put in the Top Three over Gretchen, mostly because of those boots! Andy was named the winner, and there was a collective sigh of relief that Gretchen didn't win three challenges in a row. No one wanted to clean up the mess that would have ensued had her head gotten any bigger!

The Bottom Three were:

Sarah
Casanova
AJ

And it was an absolute no-brainer that Sarah would go. Sad indeed.

So, any favorites emerging for you yet?

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