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Mondo Guerra Recaps 'Project Runway' Season 10, Episode 9: The HP/Intel Challenge

The past contestant and "All Stars" champion also appears as a guest judge in this week's episode, in which the designers get to create and use their own print.

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

It’s the HP and Intel challenge and yours truly was in the hot seat this week as a guest judge. I have to admit, it was very different being on the other side of that runway. Seeing myself as a judge frightened me a bit! But first let’s recap, shall we?

In the Workroom

It’s halfway through the competition and the designers are feeling the strain. They want it so badly. It’s New York Fashion Week or bust! Speaking of busts, good son Gunnar said he would buy his mom a boob job if he won Project Runway. Random and hilarious.

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Heidi tells the designers to step it up and wow the judges, and then sends them to the workroom to meet Tim Gunn and … me! We fill them in on the HP and Intel challenge. The designers must create a modern, runway-worthy print inspired by their heritage. 

(On a side note, when we were introducing the challenge, I really tried to connect with the designers. I wanted them to know that we design the best when we show our truth.)

Dossiers arrive for them special delivery. Who else could it be but their loved ones! It’s so sweet to see the designers soften. Even Elena lightened up. But for others, the visits seem to throw them off their game.  Christopher in particular.

I was proud of Gunnar for sharing that he was bullied growing up. It was touching. I was also surprised at how unexpected Melissa’s print was considering her aesthetic. Ven needed to step back and realize his print needed help.

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Nothing beats a home cooked meal after a long day of designing. Then it’s like Christmas morning when the fabric is delivered. The designers make their rounds appreciating each other’s prints when Fabio shares that his design is abstract vaginas and penises. Copulation couture!

Across the workroom, isn’t it sweet how the wall is coming down between Christopher and Gunnar? But the best moment came when Tim Gunn called Ven’s dress an homage to a menstrual cycle. That’s not the kind of maxi dress anybody was expecting.

On the Runway

Anya Ayoung-Chee and I joined the judges’ panel this week. I have to say, it’s interesting to see the garments in person, on the runway, and then on TV.  Some of my critiques have been swayed since seeing them on Thursday’s episode.

Sonjia: Love this look! One of the most successful garments on the runway. The pants are cut beautifully.  She looks elegant.

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Elena: I really thought that the print and silhouette of this design worked. When I first saw it, during Tim’s critique, I was a little worried, but she really pulled it off. I think that the colors she used really softened her harsh line/silhouette. Sucessful!

Christopher: I wish he would have embraced the print and tried to use it to its strength. When he covered it in organza, it got messy. 

Ven: This dress was so disconnected. There was an information overload with the three dresses smashed into one. It was confusing. And what about the unprecedented appearance of Tim Gunn with the judges?  Was that a Project Runway first?!

Fabio: Once again Fabio was one of my highest scores in this challenge. I thought the cut of the top, the trousers, and the styling was very fashion forward. The print was very cool.

Melissa: It’s a smart design. I can see how the neckline influences the shape of the shoulders. It’s definitely an eye-catching print. I just wasn’t crazy about the styling. Overall, pretty good!

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Gunnar: The print was very chaotic to me. I appreciate the message and inspiration behind the print, but the print itself felt busy. The jacket was boxy and looked crafty.

Dmitry: The take-away piece here is really the jacket. I agree with everyone! I just wish he would have used more of the print. It’s a print challenge!

The Judges’ Decisions

In the end, Dmitry was named the winner and Gunnar was bid auf wiedersehen. 

I looked so unhappy during my critiques, but honestly I wasn't at all! I was concentrating and really studying each designer’s work. Trying to be unbiased and score as fairly as possible. I'll work on the stone face!

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I was proud of Gunnar in the end. He left with his head held up and through the competition, I feel like he really grew up. I feel like he was very genuine in his exit, wishing everyone luck. I like how he admits that he came to commit and how committing is winning for him. Good luck, Gunnar -- wishing you all the best.

What did you think? Sound off in the comments below! xoxo

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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