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Mondo Guerra Recaps 'Project Runway' Season 10, Episode 4: The Michael Kors Challenge

Two contestants make shocking exits, while the remaining competitors head to the judge's flagship store for their latest assignment.

[Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Thursday's episode.]

This week, the designers pick up the pace to create a look for a woman on the go.

And speaking of “a woman on the go,” we learn a few more details about Andrea, who left the Atlas Apartments in the middle of the night. Tim Gunn’s announcement about her sudden departure draws some critical responses from her former competitors. Was Andrea’s decision to leave justified or just plain wrong? I’ll share more of my thoughts on this in just a bit.

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Michael Kors greets the designers in his flagship store on Madison Avenue to inspire them for the next challenge—to design a stylish, fashionable piece for a busy, modern woman that is also versatile, practical, and comfortable. The designers get $150 and one day to create a look that reflects their own aesthetic.

In the Workroom

Thirty minutes of sketching and a Mood visit later, Christopher and Buffi are still processing the news of Andrea’s exit. However, Kooan has some news of his own—he is leaving the competition. WHOA

Here’s my insight into the quitting phenomenon—Project Runwayis freakin’ hard. 

There will be plenty of haters for Andrea and Kooan, but personally, I can empathize. There was a point during my time on All Stars when I was ready to leave. The demanding schedules and exhausting challenges take their toll physically and creatively and the pressure is unbelievable.

That said, between the two quitting designers, I have more respect for Kooan. Andrea’s vanishing act was harder to swallow, especially when she claims she has “brass balls” in her early interviews on myLifetime.com.

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Kooanat least took ownership of his decision and stood on the principle that he was only happy when he could create in his own way. With Andrea, who knows? Hopefully, we’ll find out during the season 10 reunion.

After the designers say goodbye to “funky, little, weird guy” Kooan, they say hello again to negative, red-carpet-hating Raul who has returned to the competition. Getting auf-ed should have humbled Raul, but he is as arrogant and delusional as ever.

At another workstation, Christopher is pushing Buffi’s buttons with his suggestions and criticism. I’m totally Team Buffi for her fabulous attitude and eclectic style but I also admired how she stood her ground. Still, she struggled with this challenge and it shows in her garment.

On the Runway

Heidi, Michael, & Nina are joined by guest judges Hayden Panettiere and Rachel Roy. After some disappointed words from Heidi about the designers who quit, it’s time for the runway.

Here’s what I thought of the looks:

Sonjia: She really listened to the challenge and delivered a very strong look. The dress was well-constructed, wearable, versatile, and looked comfortable. She took a potentially boring fabric and manipulated it into something very interesting. Really well done.

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Alicia: This look was ok. I thought there were some interesting design elements in the shirt but the hem on that pant was a little strange. Overall, the look was clean and well-proportioned, but I didn’t feel it translated from day to night as successfully as others.

Melissa: I’m normally a fan of Melissa’s work, but this look was too costume-y for me. It looked a little Lord of the Ringsvillain meets death eater from Harry Potter. The layers and textiles look comfortable, but I don’t know where this girl is going day or night.

Buffi: This look was busted. As much as I adore Buffi, I thought her garment looked like bubblegum stuck to a zebra-print rug. I just didn’t get it. While I respect her for staying true to her point of view, Buffi’s playful vibe came off as tacky and wacky for this challenge.

Fabio: I like this print and I think his girl’s styling is spot on, but otherwise it’s not a strong look for me. The proportion of the jacket to the dress was off balance and the look as a whole was not very innovative. Comfort? Maybe. Glamorous? Not really.

Gunnar: Not a fan of the color palette here. Something is off about that deep purple paired with those brown/tan tones in the skirt. It’s more Chicos than chic and I don’t see this look going successfully from day to night.

Nathan: I don’t like the color—this in black or a better neutral shade could have helped the look. But this girl can use her cape for a nap, so I guess that means the garment is comfortable and versatile? It’s a little odd.

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Dmitri: It’s a nice look, but kind of expected. I feel like we have all seen this dress before. Still, there are some nice details at the neckline and I feel like he addressed all of the points of this challenge well.

Ven: I didn’t think this dress was as “polished, clean, and sophisticated” as Ven proclaimed it to be. There were some fit issues in the back and the front was just another version of Ven’s favorite draping techniques. Is there more in his bag of tricks?

Raul: Badly styled, poorly constructed, and disconnected. This look seemed more like an experiment than a fully formed idea. The pockets on those trousers made the model’s butt look lopsided and the proportions of that Golden-Girls-Dorothy-Zbornak vest were completely unflattering.

Elena: I actually thought this look had the most high-fashion feel of the bunch. I really love the modern, structured feel of that coat and I really appreciate how successfully Elena tackled separates. Still, this look doesn’t translate to evening for me.

Christopher: I like this look, but I’m touchy about the jacket. I would have liked to see the dress on its own just for comparison’s sake. I think by itself, the dress seems more evening-appropriate than daywear, so I understand why the look needed the contrast with the jacket. She was a modern girl.

The High Scores

Sonjia: Heidithought her dress was “stunning.” Michael liked the choice of grey jersey. Nina said it’s conservative yet sexy. The dress was one of Hayden’s favorites and Rachel sees something special, saying that she would even be interested to see the dress worn front to back.

Christopher: Heidi loves it and is impressed that he created his look for only $150. Hayden lusts over the jacket. Rachel thinks he styled the look perfectly. Nina thinks it looks “polished, easy, comfortable, glamorous, and sexy.” Michael thinks he nailed it.

Dmitri: Michae lthinks it’s the hands-down best garment on the runway but wished it were a brighter color, like red. Heidi liked it but didn’t have to have it. Hayden wants bigger shoulders? Nina really liked it and Rachel thought it was safe yet beautiful and exquisite.

The Low Scores

Buffi: Hayde wanted a focal point in the shoulder. Heidi thinks it looks inexpensive. Rachel suggests a more editing eye. Michael thinks Buffi’s girl looks like she belted a hairdressing smock to escape a burning salon. Nina questions her technical skills.

Raul: Michael hated it, Vampira points and all. Heidi points out the poor construction. Hayden thought the crotch of the pant was “scrunchy.” Nina thinks the proportion of the vest is too long. Rachel points out the heavy-handed styling.

Fabio: Michaelwants to see Fabio’s personal style more clearly in his designs and Rachel agrees. Heidi would have preferred a longer blazer to balance out the short dress. Nina thinks he could have done so much more.

The Judges’ Decisions

In the end Sonjia was named the winner while Buffi was bid auf weidersehen. Sonjia also got the bonus of Hayden wearing her design to a red carpet event.

I think Sonjia’s win was well-earned. It was sad to see Buffi go but I understand the judges’ decision. Raul dodged a major bullet today—his look was a train wreck. I was surprised that Fabio scored so low. Personally, I would have put Gunnar in the bottom before Fabio. At least Fabio’s look was modern. Gunnar’s look was outdated and confusing.

What did you think? Was Sonjia’s look the true winner? Did Buffi deserve to go home? And how do you feel about the departures of Andrea and Kooan? Weigh in and sound off in the comments below.

Denver fashion designer Mondo Guerra earned a runner-up finish on Project Runway season eight then went on to claim victory on the debut season of Project Runway All Stars. In addition to an upcoming guest editor position at Marie Claire, Mondo has also launched I Design, a new HIV/AIDS education campaign with Merck. To learn more about Mondo, visit mondoguerra.com.

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