September 02, 2013 8:00am PT by Mondo Guerra
Mondo Guerra's Take on 'Project Runway': If the Shoe Fits
Heidi Klum sent the designers on a "sole-searching" mission to the Marie Claire fashion closet to create runway looks inspired by every woman's favorite accessory -- SHOES!
A couple of designers learned how it felt to wear the shoe on the other foot, flip-flopping from the top to the bottom. And while three little black dresses were shoe-ins for the high scores, two competitors went toe-to-toe in a battle of the tartan pants.
In the Workroom
It was new day for Justin who, after receiving the Tim Gunn save last week, was ready to work harder than ever to keep his spot in the competition. The other designers seemed to agree with the save, but quickly realized that Tim's decision meant there was no more safety net when it came to elimination.
A pop quiz at the Marie Claire offices tested the designers' fashion knowledge and determined the order they got to choose their shoes. Then after a quick sketch session, it was off to Mood.
Alexander was seeing double when he noticed that both he and Miranda had both selected red plaid for pants. But they dug in their heels with their designs, determined to execute each of their visions anyway.
Back at Parsons, Bradon's hand-stitched draping technique had Tim worried, so he had to come up with a hurried plan B to resolve his look. Ken was in the same boat after Tim's critique that his design looked dated.
The Best and the Worst
Marie Claire editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider and The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco rounded out the judges' panel this week.
Alexandria, Helen and Ken's little black dresses took the top spots, leaving Miranda, Jeremy and Bradon waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Alexandria von Bromssen
Alexandria had first dibs on shoes and chose the strongest statement pair of the lot. Kudos to her for being mindful enough to balance the edginess of these strappy, "hyper-gladiators" with a relaxed dress--but this look is ALL about the shoes. With the dress being so simple, I question whether the judges were really rewarding her for strong design or just smart styling.
The judges gushed over this look and praised it for being sleek, chic and modern. Zac Posen even went so far to say that simplicity was next to godliness here. I agree -- it's well-made and very wearable. Sometimes less really is more.
Ken was eager to rebound from two consecutive weeks at the bottom and he did just that with this design. The fabric texture is really cool and the proportions work here. Nina Garcia loved his man-eater reference, saying his girl was sexy while still being covered up. This is the best look I've seen from Ken so far.
"Where's the eggnog?" Nina Garcia wanted to know. Aside from the Christmas cheer, there was nothing particularly remarkable about this look. For me, these are just clothes, not fashion. And while I like a good nod to the '60s, the styling here wasn't doing her any favors either.
These boots were made for walking but, according to the judges, she's streetwalking. Heidi Klum said Jeremy was serving a Pretty Woman moment with this design and not in a good way. For as much work as he put into his cable sweater technique, it wasn't enough to save this look.
Bradon's Achilles' heel here was his commitment to displaying this draping technique. And he realized it, but by then it was too late. Not a fan of his color choices or fabrics here. Wish he would have trusted his instincts and dressed the shoes down.
The Judges' Decisions
Helen's design had the judges head over heels, scoring her second win of the season, while Miranda's look got her the boot.
Mondo's Last Word
Was the challenge to design a look inspired by the shoes or a look that complemented the shoes? Trick question -- it's both. That was the problematic part about judging this episode.
On one hand, you have designers like Bradon and Dom who delivered more literal translations of their shoes both in color and aesthetic. On the other hand, you have designers like Alexandria and Helen who tried to counterbalance their shoes.
I guess if you look at this challenge as if the shoes were a client, it makes sense to sacrifice some of your design aesthetic for the greater good.
Honorable mentions go to Justin and Kate for drawing inspiration from their shoes while still delivering high-fashion looks with their signatures.
Miranda should be proud to have made it this far in the competition, but I agreed that it was her time to go. But Bradon certainly dodged a bullet this week. For a split second, I wasn't sure who was going home.
I was sick thinking Bradon would be eliminated with no Tim Gunn save to rescue him. Hopefully he was just having a bad day and we'll see him back on his game next week.
Did you agree with the judges? Sound off in the comments.
Project Runway All Stars champ Mondo Guerra is back to dish on the designs and drama ofProject Runway season 12. His exclusive collection of eyewear with national optical boutique SEE hits stores this fall. He has also partnered with Merck for "I Design," a national HIV/AIDS education campaign that underscores the importance of patients tailoring treatment goals with their doctors. To learn more about Mondo, visit mondoguerra.com