This season has a new twist on the “real woman” challenge: the clients are “über fans.” This is always an interesting challenge that plays on a number of tensions. What is a “real” woman, anyway? Aren’t we all? And if there are a range of sizes in the clients, is everyone on an even ground? How will the designers balance the need to produce something more fashion-forward while still producing a garment for a client who generally shops in mass-market stores?
Having super fans was a nice twist because they were all so happy to be there and they understood the game–they knew that their designers needed to win, or at least survive. Also, they knew that a dress produced as part of a competition in less than two days was unlikely to be finished, wearable, and 100% their preference…they were there more for the experience than for the free dress.
When the fan-clients arrive, Tim gives them the tour. And that, right there, would have been worth the trip for me! Tim hides the ladies in the sewing room for the big reveal.
You can tell the designers are nervous but, thankfully, none of them has the poor taste to make the stupid remarks others have in seasons past.
Ken does admit in confessional that he’s never sewn for “them” before (which, again, asks the question…what is a “real woman” and how does a designer make money only designing for models? Even actresses and young heiresses are rarely quite as tall and skinny as models…plus they have opinions about what they wear). However, even Ken is quite sweet with his client, who wants something more dramatic than her usual jeans and fleece.
Justin’s lady reveals that she recently lost 135. She’s happy about her weight loss but not entirely comfortable. Plus, she’s Mormon and needs to dress modestly.
Alexandria’s lady says Alexandria is kind of intimidating. If the producers were manipulating the button bag, they probably gave Alexandria the ideal client–an art history student looking for an interview outfit. This could be a triumph like Viktor’s adorable look for his “real woman” client. And yet, Alexandria seems incapable of listening to even such a simpatico client.
Dom’s client is “uncomfortable in her own skin.”
Helen crows that “everyone is jealous” of her client because she presents “the perfect makeover opportunity.” She’s 100% right. Her client is an adult stuck in an awkward late 80s, early 90s, adolescent look. Yet, she’s cute, tall, and super skinny. Even better, she’s ready for a dramatic change.
Alexander says his client has a “great figure, very curvy — I love that.” She wants a skirt suit.
Kate’s client wants to be a super hot mom.
Bradon has the other top pick, a gorgeous lady whose worst trait for this competition is she does not really need a makeover. However, this suburban soccer mom is open for changing her look and wants something intimidating, powerful, sophisticated: “Gimme an edge like I will cut a bitch.”
The designers have a $200-400 budget and will take their clients with them to Mood–which is great fun for the ladies and helpful for keeping the clients happy but definitely slows the designers down.
Bradon says he has been under budget so he is willing to blow his budget on this challenge.
Ken is not feeling the chartreuse fabric his client loves but he wants to make her happy.
After Mood, the clients get to head to hair and make-up. I love that they are getting a full professional makeover because even if the dress is a fail, they still come away from the challenge with a new look.
Helen’s client has been cutting her own bangs and it shows. I hope they do something amazing for her.
Dom’s client is getting an ombre dye job on her hair??? Oh, honey, no.
Now we take a break from design and makeovers for Ken’s Hissy Fit. Honestly, I don’t have much to say about this. Alexander was no angel but Ken was just insane in his Phantom of the Opera Mud Mask.
Ken is more than just a jerk. He clearly has complex mental issues that render him too unstable for a reality competition. He had some real moments of empathy and sweetness and even seemed to connect with a few others. That doesn’t mean that he is any less unpleasant or frightening when he snaps. He should have never been on the competition and it was a dangerous game keeping him on for drama.
Let’s Hit the Runway!
Without Nina there, it was like Gay Charlie and his Lily-White Blonde Fashion Angels.
Dom Streater: This dress was just a bit too typical. The scale of the patter was all wrong for the client and the dress but otherwise, it was a decent department store dress. I’ve worn dresses like this, though without the mullet hem. A better fabric choice and a better fit in the bust would have bumped this up.
Kate Pankoke: This is a mixed bag. First of all, the hair and make-up do work on her. I like the idea of a tunic and leggings. However, I hate the Peter Pan hem. If she had given the top more shape and skipped the belt or maybe used a better belt to define her figure, this would have been more successful.
Work It, Girl!
Justin LeBlanc: I know a lot of people loved this dress but I had issues with it. First, modest does not always mean black. He could have had fun with color or texture or pattern. Everyone loves the embroidery but I wonder if the reaction would be the same if we did not know it was her signature. Allegedly the judges did not and still loved the design element. To me, it looks like she was chalk-marked for alterations.
Bradon McDonald: I also have to part ways with the judges here. First, I think the hair cut ages her but that’s not Bradon’s fault. I also feel like the silhouette of the dress was standard and the straps were too think. I think she looked skinnier and more youthful before. I know she wanted a hard edge but I feel like this design just thickens her. The epaulettes were ridiculous on her. The judges disagree, though. Heidi says it is sexy and flirty and not boring. One of the judges suggests the accents would have worked better in leather instead of patent leather because the shiny looks cheap. Side note: Zac miming a whip is frightening.
Helen Castillo: Just the hair and make-up alone are a huge transformation. Helen gives her client an Oscars red carpet moment without veering to “bridesmaid.” Zac says it is spectacular and loves the color but warns Helen to watch the seaming. This can’t have been easy to construct and it really is gorgeous on the model and high impact. A well-deserved win for Helen.
Real Shouldn’t Be Ordinary
Alexander Pope: You cannot tell me he wouldn’t have been out if Ken hadn’t overstayed his welcome. I’m shocked. Alexander’s work is usually impeccable and this was unfinished. Of all people, Alexander should know how to flatter curves. This is just awful and Alexander knows it. You can see the judges are trying to throw him a bone, allowing him to say he didn’t finish it and making that seem like a point in his favor, rather than the major time management issue it usually is. At least her hair and make-up are gorgeous!
Ken Laurence: Ken should have been more assertive about the fabric–he didn’t like it from the beginning. The fact that he wasn’t is damning to him as a designer but says something positive about his personality when he isn’t going insane. He says it looks like a couch but the client loves it. The fabric is too coarse and heavy for the design and the placement of the stripes is off but I actually do not think this was the worst thing on the runway. Heidi is offended by what it does to her bust, saying, “I’m a fan of good looking boobs…I’m always boob patrol.” Okay. The judges are also bothered by the plainess of the back–something that always bothered my grandmother and mother as the sign of a cheap garment and so still bothers me to this day. A guest judge points out that simple is okay if it is impeccable but this is not.
Alexandria von Bromssen: I actually think this is kind of cute and appropriate. Unfortunately, it is also ordinary and not a huge transformation. Heidi says it is not youthful, hip or modern. Zac says the jacket doesn’t look modern and the waistband makes him see “maternity librarian.” I think the styling was a bit off, too. This should have been Alexandria’s style and so it is disappointing she couldn’t pull off something edgier but still interview appropriate.
By the way, the judges feeling up the real women the same way they poke and prod the professional models during the close up makes me uncomfortable.
Ken is out, of course. He is decently calm about it and says he is relieved. He was intimidated because of his lack of education and experience but grew from the experience. No sign of violent temper Ken…yet.
Tim comes in to say goodbye and remarks, “You’re happy? Good! Because I have to send you into the runway to clean up your space!” Quickly! Before your other personality comes out! Just in time, too, as Ken brusquely brushes by Tim showing that Ken’s issues are always just a hot button away.
Tune into Project Runway Season 12 on Lifetime Thursdays at 9/8 central.