8:00am PT by Mondo Guerra
Mondo Guerra Recaps 'Project Runway': Bring on the Bling
Twinkle, twinkle little rock -- last week's show came with sticker shock. At a price tag of more than $30 million in diamonds and jewels, Project Runway broke the bank with this one. Let's recap, shall we?
With help from the trusty button bag -- and two armed security guards -- Heidi Klum challenged the designers to create looks glamorous enough to complement these precious gems in ONE day. Talk about being between a rock and hard place.
Bring on the BLING!
In the Workroom
For the inaugural trip to (thank you) Mood, Tim Gunn reminded the designers that they will be managing their $4,000 budgets for the entire season. In other words, don't go crazy. The suggested budget was $300.
Early on, Timothy (pictured at right) showed signs of defeat. He wasn't inspired by the challenge, refused to peruse Mood's organic section and eventually decided to choose fabrics from the cast-offs. Great sentiment. Only problem? Sometimes fabric gets thrown out for a reason.
Back at Parsons, Sandro and Ken kicked up the dust with a little yelling match in the sewing room. Later, Sandro's mini-meltdown over a garment steamer left the other designers on edge. Why is Sandro so confrontational?
Not a fan of the drama, Justin tuned it out with the quick removal of his hearing device. NICE.
Helen, on the other hand, couldn't seem to silence her own inner critic as she struggled with cups and construction. And speaking of struggling, someone just needs to give Sue the sewing machine manual already. Is Dom going to thread Sue's machines for the rest of the season?
On the Runway
Glamour challenges always run the risk of turning into Project Runway prom, and there were definitely a few dresses that would have felt right at home in a high school gym. But for the most part, I think the designers coped really well.
Some looks sparkled while others were surprisingly outshined. For me, Justin's black strapless stunner and Bradon's shimmering showmanship stood out. I can't believe these looks only took one day to complete. Impressive!
Helen was less thrilled about the runway.
Seeing her gown walk ignited Helen's regret and she became almost inconsolable. Almost. Luckily, mentor extraordinaire Tim was able to comfort her enough so the show could go on. It's not too hard to see that Helen's tough-girl exterior actually guards an intensely sensitive artist.
(Aren't we all...?)
The Best and the Worst
Super-stylist and costume designer Eric Daman joined the panel as a guest judge this week.
Dom, Sandro and Kate's designs carried their carats to the top, while Helen, Kahindo and Timothy's lackluster looks landed them in the bottom.
Dom Streater, $290
I was a little surprised this was in the top three. I appreciate that Dom chose a print for this challenge and I think it was that unexpected moment on the runway that the judges liked. But the styling here kills it for me, not to mention the sloppy waist and unnecessary trim. Strong idea, but some missteps. Still, principal Heidi said it was her top pick.
Sandro Masmanidi, $220
Another questionable top three for me. Eric Daman said Sandro's look was on the line between stripper and chic. I have to agree. The fact that his design wasn't accompanied by a little black box this week is a step in the right direction, but both looks Sandro has sent down the runway so far require you to go commando.
Kate Pankoke, $250
Kate channeled a Marie Antoinette fantasy and the judges ate it up. It's a pretty color and a nice concept but honestly I thought this dress got way too much praise. The model's boob looks deflated and I don't think Kate's draping was successful here. But she aimed for princess and she achieved it. (Tiara and fairy godmother not included.)
Helen Castillo, $245
When her dressmaking skills were challenged during the judges' critique, Helen exploded into a passionate defense that seemed to resonate with Nina Garcia. Sobs aside, this gown was a swing and a miss -- Helen clearly understood that. Too many ideas and techniques, not enough time. Or as Zac Posen put it, there are no "bibbity-bobbety-boo elves" to finish your work. My eye goes everywhere except to the jewelry.
Kahindo Mateene, $215
This is a fine dress but definitely not Kahindo's proudest moment. I actually liked the print but think it ultimately stole the spotlight away from the jewels. She didn't do herself any favors with this fabric choice, but her styling and proportions were spot on.
Timothy Westbrook, $120
Zac Posen recognized this blue velvet from his reject pile. (Awkward!) Timothy's design is pretty bad. All the risks he took -- from the fabric choice to the "racer-front" -- backfired. Maybe he shouldn't have had his competition design the dress for him.
The Judges' Decisions
Princess Kate had a happy ending this week when the judges crowned her the challenge winner, which also earned her immunity for next week.
In an upset, the judges spared Timothy once again and sent Kahindo packing.
Mondo's Last Word
Sorry, Kate -- didn't agree with the judges this week. Of the top three designs, her dress had the strongest drama and story. But I thought it looked exactly like she described it -- a corset wrapped in a bed sheet. What about Justin? Or Bradon? Their gowns were so exciting and showcased their jewels so well.
Kahindo may have stumbled, but she didn't deserve the axe. While all three bottom looks had their construction issues, I thought hers was the most palatable. Timothy not only missed the mark, he missed the mark AGAIN. And Helen is lucky "Meana" was on vacation this week, otherwise she might have been auf-ed too.
Do you think the judges got it right this week? Which was your favorite design? Sound off in the comments below!