[Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Thursday's episode.]
This week, the designers find themselves in a sticky situation after Heidi sends them to meet Tim at a “pretty sweet location,” where they discover that they will be creating a runway look out of candy.
Ah, the unconventional materials challenge! For Project Runway fans, it’s the perfect chance to see which designers have the creativity and innovation it takes to make it in the competition and which designers will crack under the pressure.
Tim greets the crew outside of Dylan’s Candy Bar, joined by its founder/CEO, the lovely Dylan Lauren. (On a side note, I thought Ms. Lauren’s green shirt and striped tie ensemble was just adorable!) Tim reveals that Dylan has a fashion royalty pedigree—her father is the Ralph Lauren—and that she will also be the guest judge for this challenge. The designers get a 50% discount and a $250 budget for materials, 30 minutes to shop and 1 day to complete their look.
The designers have a short amount of time to develop a winning strategy. Mr. Sinister, Dmitri, scowls at kids and sweets, while Gunnar has literally been dreaming about this challenge. Kooan and Buffi seem like kids in a candy store but Lantie isn’t feeling very sweet. Melissa seeks out all things black as Ven is drawn to soft pastels.
Back in the workroom, it’s a collision course—hammers banging rock candy and umbrellas and egos clashing head-to-head. Christopher and Gunnar have some serious tension between them and I can’t quite pinpoint the source. They need to get in a fight or make out or something. Either way, Evil Twin Gunnar and Nice Twin Christopher both try to achieve ambitious print design on their candy creations.
Alicia has a cool, earthy vibe but I shuddered a little when she said she wanted the bottom of her one-shouldered overall to look like dirt. Poopy britches ain’t cute! Sonjia went under the sea with her inspiration and I was mostly pleased by the journey! There was definitely some whimsy in her approach, but also a sense of refinement.
I agree with Tim’s reaction to Andrea’s design. It was a total snooze. And she walked out of her interview! Andrea needs to grow a thicker skin and push herself creatively. I want to see more! Elena is falling apart and so is her garment. She burned herself with hot glue and really struggled in the workroom.
On the runway, here’s what I thought of the designs:
Gunnar: Everyone knows I love a graphic, geometric pattern but there was a moment when I wanted to yell CHECKMATE! Although the silhouette was not the most innovative thing we’ve ever seen, I think that he was ambitious and coped well with the challenge. I would have liked Gunnar to have lined the peplum underneath so it would have been a bit more finished.
Sonjia: There was such a sense of joy when Sonjia’s design walked the runway. The dress was flattering to her model, she used a variety of different candy to complete the look, and it was very well executed. Sonjia definitely pushed herself with this challenge and it paid off. The colors and textures of her garment were really lovely.
Melissa: This look was ok. Melissa has a good grasp on who her girl is and was able to translate that vibe out of licorice. It was simple and styled well, but ultimately so predictable for her. I would be interested to see what Melissa can do beyond black.
Nathan: His silhouette was interesting and there was definitely a sense of playfulness with the way Nathan used his candy. But I couldn’t get over how his model had to carry her skirt the entire time. It gave me a bit of anxiety thinking that this poor girl would lose her skirt mid-runway.
Andrea: The Twister apron with a bustle that Andrea created was really confusing. It wasn’t flattering, the orange “1” on the front was distracting, and the styling felt very matronly. The back of her garment was not harmonious with the front and nothing about the look really said fashion to me.
Alicia: I actually thought this look was very cute. Alicia’s model looked like Pebbles from the Flintstones all grown up. I liked the paint-drip effect she achieved at the bottom of the jumper and I’m glad that she scrapped the dirt detail. I’m curious to see more!
Elena: WHOA. That’s what I said as Elena’s design turned the corner. The proportions of this dress made her model seem huge. She looked like a fettuccini football player. It was a very somber, poorly executed look.
Fabio: This silhouette was very safe and wearable but there were also some special details. I liked the gumball closures on the side and the ombre he achieved on the skirt. Still, I think the look as a whole just wasn’t as memorable as the other competitors.
Dmitri: I loved that Dmitri was able to capture a sense of movement in his dress. He was very thoughtful about the placement of his candy and I liked the exposed zipper in the back. Not a bad look, but I’m still struggling to see Dmitri’s signature come through.
Kooan: I don’t think anybody could accuse Kooan of being timid in his designs. There were some really cool elements in his dress—I liked the placement of the candy on the front. But I think that he tried to use too many different types of candy and it became distracting. Sugar overload!
Christopher: The chevrons were a good idea, but I don’t think they came together quite as sharply as he had hoped. It was a relatively simple cocktail dress with candy attached. Not a huge fan of the colors he chose, either. It was just ok.
Raul: I was confused by the exposed midriff in Raul’s design, then the patchwork of different colors and candy types didn’t work for me. But he did manage to manipulate his materials to the point that it didn’t seem like candy at first glance.
Buffi: Oh, Buffi. Her look was very costume-y and lacked any sophistication. I’m a big fan of bold colors, but even this was hard to stomach. Weaving the candy strips was a good idea, but it was barely noticeable amidst all the look’s other components. Buffi needed to edit her design and show some restraint in her styling.
Lantie: No effort, no vision, no excitement—no nothing! Honestly, this look was kind of disrespectful for the challenge at hand. She pretty much just gave up. The judges had hardly any candy on the garment to judge and she had no one to blame but herself.
Ven: This was a really special dress. I like the bold lines paired with the soft pastels and the optical illusion he created with his stained glass inspiration. It’s clear that Ven knows what he’s doing and could be one of the strongest competitors this season. Ven Master!
After the runway show, the judges praised Gunnar, Sonjia, and Ven for their candy creations, while Buffi, Lantie, and Elena fell to the bottom.
The judges liked that Gunnar created a print for his dress and though about including accessories out of candy as well. They were impressed with Sonjia’s ability to create harmony in her look with so many different candies but Heidi wasn’t feeling the headpiece. Then Ven’s look earned the distinction of being “candy couture” from Nina Garcia and the other judges agreed.
On the bottom, Buffi got reprimanded for her heavy-handed styling, with Michael Kors suggesting that her girl was like the crazy, homeless lady of Candyland. Nina’s consolation prize for Lantie’s look was that it “wasn’t atrocious” but the real sting came when Michael called Lantie a decorator, not a designer. Lastly, Elena’s design had Michael seeing a “rigatoni Mad Max” and Nina questioning whether she had the range to compete on Project Runway.
In the end, Ven was named the winner while Lantie was bid auf wiedersehen.
Good riddance to Lantie with her sour attitude and tons of excuses. Even the usually nurturing Tim was pretty brisk with his goodbyes, I noticed. Lantie didn’t seem passionate about her work or driven to succeed. I wholeheartedly agree with the judges’ decision.
Congratulations to Ven for the win! If I had it my way, however, Sonjia would have won this round. I felt that she was more ambitious with her design and believed her garment really captured the spirit of the challenge. But, I’m still pleased that Ven won. I just hope he can stay humble with this victory and not let his head get too big.
What do you think? Did the judges get it right? Be sure to 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.