This week's episode of "Project Runway" featured the custom textile challenge...and a whole lotta HP products. The designers were also visited by Mondo Guerra, the talented little guy from Season 8 who finished second to the WORST. WINNER. EVER. Mondo was a perfect guest, considering that he won his season's custom textile challenge with his bright "plus-sign" pattern that represented his HIV+ status. With Tim Gunn's help, Mondo explained that each designer was to create a print that represented their heritage, so it needed to come from the heart.
See this accessory wall behind me, kids? Use it THOUGHTFULLY!
To help bring the designers' hearts to the surface, Tim brought in a group of their loved ones. The tears flowed as the group was visited by moms, significant others and close friends. Ven was visited by his sister, a lovely—but definitely plus-sized—gal. Therefore, I hope she kicked her insensitive bro in the cajones after the makeover episode aired. Seriously, would Ven have appreciated any of the designers being as disrespectful to his sister about her size as he was to his model, who was even smaller?
With their loved ones at their sides, the designers began creating their custom patterns on their HP Touchsmarts, which sat atop the HP WoodenDesks on the HP LinoleumFloor. Dmitry created a bold red and black design that represented a "traditional Belarusan ornament," while Sonjia went with a tribal design that incorporated black because, as she reminded the audience, she's black. (GASP!) Melissa's really-red design symbolized the bloodlines of a family tree, while Fabio thought his squiggly lines looked like "penises and vaginas." I couldn't quite figure out what Elena was doing (weird Ukranian scrubs?), but anyone probably could have gussed what Ven was doing before even seeing it. His design was just a repeating pattern of a giant pink hibiscus, because if he can't fold fabric to make it look like a flower, he has to draw flowers on it. Although Christopher was a self-proclaimed pattern hater, he eventually came up with a "ladybug" pattern because ladybugs mean something to his family. Gunnar probably put the most emotion into his pattern—a bird breaking free of two hands—which represented his high school struggle with bullying. However, it was a little "Laura Ashley," so I started worrying right away that Gunnar was going to fail. (Especially when he revealed that he was going to make an equestrian outfit.) But that figures, because I was finally starting to really like him! Christopher was also starting to like Gunnar (and vice-versa), especially when Gunnar's print made Christopher realize that their life stories were actually quite similar.
The fabrics arrived the next morning, and some were much bolder than the designers were expecting. As everyone worked, Tim stopped by for his rounds. Honestly, I don't remember anything he said to anyone but Ven, because his comments on Ven's design were HILARIOUS. The always-classy Mr. Gunn did his best to channel Kors, King of the Zingers, with the critique that will live in infamy: "It looks like an homage to a menstrual cycle...it looks like cloths that have soaked up blood...I just hope no one's offended by it, because it looks like maxi pads."
Oh man, I hope there's extended footage of that critique somewhere on the Internet. I can imagine it now: Have you thought about who your client is? Is she a sporty gal surfing the crimson wave? Is she a lady-business owner who just received her monthly bill? Did she contract Scarlet Fever of the crotch? Is she trying out for the lead in a remake of 'Carrie?' Was this look inspired by your Aunt Flo? Really, Ven, it looks like she went swimming in the Red Sea and was attacked by lesbian vampires. Do you understand? Perhaps I'm using too many euphemisms. What I'm trying to say is that any woman who wears this is going to look like she is experiencing the cyclical expulsion of her uterine lining. Menstruation. It's like, she's a busy woman on-the-go who unexpectedly got her period, and she didn't have time to stop at the store for feminine products, so she just used her dress to clean up the mess. But it's your design and you'll have to stand by it. Carry on.
Anyway, Ven did carry on. He scrapped the HP MaxiPad dress and brought back the fan effect that he always does. (Yawn.)
At the runway show, Heidi Klum, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia welcomed Mondo as co-guest judge, along with Season 9 winner, Anya Ayoung-Chee.
(L-R): Dmitry's winning design; top-scoring designs by Melissa and Sonjia.
After Fabio and Elena were sent off to safety, the judges chose Melissa, Dmitry and Sonjia as the Top 3 designers. Kors was pleasantly surprised that Melissa went so "Park Avenue" with her flattering "Uptown girl" dress. Although Heidi also liked it, she was disappointed that Melissa didn't put enough of her "coolness" into the design. Mondo and Anya both felt that she could have done more with it, and Mondo also felt that the styling wasn't right. Everyone had great things to say about Dmitry's design, which was NOT a dress for once, but a jacket/top/skirt ensemble. His textile was only used for the top, which may have been risky for a textile challenge, but his geometric jacket with the cut-outs meshed perfectly with the pattern. Kors thought that Dmitry's look succeeded in all the right areas: design, concept, execution and wearability. The judges also loved Sonjia's flowing, patterned pants, which fit her model perfectly. Kors explained, "If the print isn't right, it would look like Pac-Man eating her crotch...but it's perfect."
The Bottom 3 designs belonged to Ven, Gunnar and Christopher. While Ven may have changed his maxi pad, Heidi still felt PMS-y about his revamped design, calling it "one of the worst ones," and comparing his model to "a Hawaiian Airlines hostess." Kors called Ven a "fabric florist," and all of the judges expressed their boredom with his fan/flower effect. Nina wondered why Ven didn't try to work his print into the effect, instead of creating two different types of flowers (one print, one fabric effect) on the same dress. While the judges all appreciated the story behind Gunnar's print, none of them thought it worked. Heidi simply deemed it "not cool," as Kors said it looked like "a sheet of bird postage stamps." Mondo felt that the print was too chaotic and that the entire look was too arts-and-crafts. I'm not sure why Christopher was in the Bottom 3, because no one seemed particularly offended by his ladybug cocktail dress. They were all just kind of like, "eh" about the look overall but actually seemed to really like the print. So, it was pretty clear that it was going to be Ven and Gunnar on the chopping block.
(L-R): Gunnar's losing design; low-scoring designs by Ven and Christopher.
After deliberating, the judges handed Dmitry his first (well-deserved) challenge win. And although the judges were so frustrated with one-trick-pony Ven that they called in Tim for his opinion, my initial gut feeling that Gunnar was going to be the one auf'd was accurate. So, Ven insults his clients and designs the same thing over and over, and for that he is rewarded with more time on Project Runway. Ugh.
While I don't think Gunnar had any chance of winning, I was still sad to see him go. He took it really well—no tears, only smiles and well-wishes. I only wish that Gunnar had shown his real personality all along, instead of trying to play the villain toward the beginning of the season. But I definitely understand his reasons for doing it. The fact is, the villain on these kinds of shows always sticks around way too long. A fact now being illustrated by the man currently playing that role: Ven.
Auf wiedersehen - see you next week!