Project Runway: Season 12, Episode 7: Shoes First

On the last episode of Project Runway, Tim used his Tim Gunn Save to rescue Justin. Fans have been dissecting the save and wondering whether it was truly merit-based, since Justin’s output so far has been just middle of the road and his design for the Glamping Challenge was pretty bad. What happens in a challenge when a top contender makes a serious misstep?

That’s on the minds of the designers, too. Bradon and Jeremy, in particular, have gotten a lot of love from the designers but have also found themselves on the bottom. Kate, on the hand, knows that she already has her second chance and that the save was never for her.


After a little introspection, we are whisked off to the offices of Marie Claire where the designers get to select shoes to inspire their designs.

Marie Claire editor Anne Fulenwider explains that many readers say they get dressed “shoes first” and wonder “where are these shoes going to take me?”

Here’s where I admit that shoes don’t do much for me. I loved me some fun stack-heeled sandals before I had three kids and back problems but I never lusted after $500 pumps.

Alexandria gets to choose her shoes first because she won the last challenge and selects a giant pair of gladiator sandals. The other designers will have to buzz in and answer trivia questions. Miranda confesses she knows nothing about fashion history and she isn’t being modest. I think they should have just kept asking until she got one right. That would have been entertaining…cruel…but entertaining.

The designers have a $250 suggested budget at Mood and Tim gets a big wet kiss on the ear from Swatch.

As Alexander gets his fabric cut, he notices that he has picked a red plaid similar to Miranda’s–and they are both planning pants!

Back in the workroom, the designers are spending quality time with their shoes and dress forms. Kate loves her shoes but gosh they are just so ugly. She decides to play up the surrealism of the shoes which sounds like a good way to go.

Bradon is using a bouillonné (boiling) technique which, according to Uncle Nick, is famous from Cristobal Balenciaga’s 1967 Chou (Cabbage) Dress.

I may not know bouillonné from bouillabaisse but it seems unwise to try to copy a famous technique from a master in a dress made in just one day.

Alexandria is keeping her dress simple since her S&M gladiator sandals are such a statement piece but Karen opines that that’s “weak sauce.”

Justin has awesome shoes but Tim worries the fabrics he chose at mood are too matchy.

Miranda is pairing high waisted pants with her loafers. Oh, Miranda, the 1980s called and they want their old lady clothes back. Tim tries to get her to freshen up the look but Miranda feels Tim’s advice threw her off-track in the past. Miranda is worried about lining up the plaid but is confident she’s got it in the “crotchal” region.

Alexander, meanwhile, is confident that his plaid pants can kick Miranda’s pants in the crotchal region. Is it just me or is Alexander getting paler and paler? Maybe daywalker Helen is draining him? Or maybe he is using arsenic powder?

Tim says Ken’s look is dated…take that Mr. I-Don’t-Design-for-Women-Over-40!

Bradon and his bouillonné are failing. Tim wants to know where this girl is going and Bradon realizes he’s in trouble. With too much time and emotion invested in his technique, Bradon decides to chop off the bottom of the dress and limit the technique to the top.

Dom is making a quilted “skater dress” for her brightly colored creeper shoes.

Tim worries that Karen’s look is too matchy-matchy, which, of course it is.

Helen is making a tailored dress with a sharp cape and plans to embellish the cape to match her awesome studded leather booties. Tim warns that the look as is calls to mind Kate Middleton but with embellishments veers into Mother-in-Law territory. “But that’s DIANA,” screams the audience. I can only assume Tim meant “Mother-in-Law” as a type–not literally Kate’s mother-in-law.

Let’s Hit the Runway! Guest judges are Kaley Cuoco and Anne Fulenwider.

Walk the Line: The Middle

Alexander Pope: Alexander definitely won the battle of the plaid pants. His look is more sleek and modern than Miranda’s. Still, boring shoes (from a DRAG QUEEN, no less), and a top that does not quite go with the pants land him safely in the middle.

Dom Streater: Dom takes risks and has a style all her own. That said, the quilting, poor fitting, and droopy, heavy, faux sweetheart neckline make this color-blocked dress thick and unflattering. The colors are also too literal of an interpretation of the shoes. If Dom had limited the quilting to the shoulders and the hemline and made a boxier dress (or a tightly-fitted, body-conscious stretch number, instead), this could have worked. I do think with more time to think and fit, Dom would have made some adjustments to this. I still believe she’s a contender for the finals. I like that she stretches herself but I do wish Tim had reserved his save for someone like Dom.

Justin LeBlanc: Speaking of Tim’s save, Justin does not do too bad for himself. This is hot and modern and works well with the shoes. I also like the couture Courtney Love styling. Still, Justin needed to land in the top three, if not pull off a win, to really justify the use of the one and only Tim Gunn Save.

Karen Batts: Awful. The outfit matches the shoes too literally, it is bulky up top, and that is some weird puckering in area you don’t want weird pointy puckering. Or maybe you do. I don’t. Girl has a target on her back.

Kate Pankoke: I thought for sure this would land in the bottom. The top is too tight and is pulling and off-center. I know Kate said surrealism but I don’t think the asymmetry is intentional here. The pants are just ridiculous. Kudos to the model for not tripping. Not even the Amidala lips can save this monstrosity.

Best Foot Forward: The Top

Interesting that all three top designs were LBD’s. I think that speaks to the challenge of making something inspired by, but not matchy-matchy duplicating the design of, the shoes in a short period of time. That requires thoughtful design or defaulting to a blank slate. White would work, as well, although not necessarily with the heavier black leather of the the shoes for the three top designs.

Ken Laurence: I like the material but not the puckering hem and the high placement of the peplum. Nina likes the balance of covered up on top and exposed leg below, though other judges feel the hem could have been a scotch longer. It is okay but I could easily replaced it with Justin’s. The fabric is doing a lot of the work.

Alexandria von Bromssen: I wonder if Alexandria knew she would have Ya when she chose those shoes because those are not easy shoes to pull off. I’m not sure what else Alexandria could have done with these shoes–the dress had to be simple. However, walking the runway all I can see is the shoes. The dress looks like a belted nightgown to me but the judges love it. Heidi likes the soft with the hard. Nina thinks top is editorial. Zac is not a fan of the shoes (interesting that the women all love them but Zac does not). He says he gets it but it doesn’t wow him and he thinks it is pedestrian.

Helen Castillo: Helen wins with this 21st century Audrey look. The judges are wowed by the minimalism. Nina, who usually speaks more objectively of luxury and editorial qualities, says she wants that look. Zac says it fits immaculately, which is exactly what Helen wanted to prove. The dress without the cape would have been too simple but the cape elevates it.

Wrong Foot Forward: The Bottom

Miranda Levy: I get that she was going for a nerdy rockabilly look but her model looks like a clown. Or, as Ken put it, “Amy Winehouse…after she OD’d.” (Hey, don’t blame me; blame Ken.) Heidi complains, “She’s not a cool girl.” She also questions what decade this girl is from–is it the 50s, 60s, 80s? Zac isn’t bothered by the “nerd alert” quality but says it is maybe not kooky enough. Nina asks, “Where is the eggnog?” and says it is Christmas and retro but not in an inspiring way.

Bradon McDonald: Bradon is very, very lucky that the judges considered his previous output because this was a total fail. The skirt is 1950s prom (although Bradon says he was going for “swing dancer.”). She looks like a foamy latte or a coffee ice cream cone. It is old fashioned and awkward and inexpensive looking. Another cheap costume. Zac says he needs to freshen. Anne Fulenwider says the top looks like Grandma pillows. This could have easily gone home.

Jeremy Brandick: The judges see Pretty Woman.

With a short skirt and boots like that, the comparison is pretty unavoidable. The 90s looking bulky top doesn’t help. I don’t actually mind the chiffon faux able knit but it was a definitely “no” with the rest of the look. Nina suggests he would have been better off going with a strong, rock and roll, edgy look, maybe with some pants. Zac says he is starting to question who Jeremy is as a designer.

One could make the argument that Jeremy’s taste issues and poor choices were worse than Bradon’s dated-looking failed attempt at something more interesting. In the end, it doesn’t matter as both designers’s prior wins save them and, instead, Miranda is auf’d.

Back in the green room, Tim admits it was not a terrible look and reminds all the designers to put forward their best efforts and be true to themselves because at this point, someone is going to be sent home on a good look. Might as well go out with something in which you believe…because Tim Gunn can’t save you, now.

Tune into Project Runway Season 12 on Lifetime Thursdays at 9/8 central.

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One comment

  1. linda rand says:

    I so love reading these recaps. They are spot on and fashionably funny!! Definitely agree with the “auf”.