September 16, 2013 8:00am PT by Mondo Guerra
Mondo Guerra's Take on 'Project Runway': 'All Stars' Champ Critiques Designers' Creations
The designers were baffled this week when they were challenged to create a look for the modern, Southern woman.
With a chance for the winning design to be sold at Belk stores and online, the competition has never been fiercer. And in a surprise twist, Heidi Klum sent the bottom three back to the workroom to alter their looks and return to the runway in just one hour.
Let's recap, shall we?
In the Workroom
When Heidi gave the designers the morning off to enjoy a delicious, Southern-style brunch at Juliette, they knew it was too good to be true.
It wasn't long before Tim Gunn announced that the meal should serve as a source of inspiration to design for the Belk customer. The problem is, no one really seemed to understand that woman.
For Alexandria, Bradon and Alexander the South spoke in plaid. Resident Alabaman Ken was not amused, taking offense that his competitors seemed to think Southerners were hillbillies. But when the designers pressed Ken for his insight into the modern, Southern woman, he kept a zipped lip. (Funny how just last week Ken had criticized Helen for not sharing her inside scoop.)
Alexandria was clearly lost when Tim came for his critique. The usually diplomatic mentor couldn't disguise his concerns about her design and said, "It's hideous. I'm sorry. It's hideous."
The Best and the Worst
Host of Supermarket Superstar Stacy Keibler and Belk's John Thomas were this week's guest judges.
Alexander, Bradon and Kate earned the top scores. Ken, Jeremy and Dom landed in the bottom and--for the first time in Project Runway history -- were given one hour to redesign their looks and save themselves from elimination.
This is a cute dress. I think he coped well with the oversized scale of this print and delivered a silhouette that would be flattering on a lot of girls. And it's versatile too. Pair this with a cropped leather jacket and a micro bootie and you've got an edgy day look. A solid design from Alexander.
The judges couldn't get enough of Bradon's shirt-dress, which surprised me a little. The front draping technique isn't very flattering and this design seems tricky to mass-produce. It's an innovative, unexpected use of fabric but it seems more experimental than commercial to me. I guess I just didn't "get it."
Heidi said Kate's model looked pregnant in this dress, which is a criticism I've had with a few of her past designs. But I disagree with Heidi here. Sure, she could have offset the skirt so that the print didn't create a big "8" down her body, but I think the volume works. Kate delivered a dress with vibrant, expressive colors and feminine details -- which is what the challenge asked for.
Ken supposedly had a big advantage with this challenge, being from the South and all, but the judges tore him apart for playing it too safe. While they liked his color choice, John Thomas said his first look was borderline bridesmaid dress. I agree -- it just doesn't have enough impact.
The judges thought his second dress was too short but said that it was still a big improvement. It was definitely more modern but I thought the design seemed very unresolved. Not a fan of either version. And honestly, not a big fan of Ken in general.
From his jacket to the print, Jeremy's first design felt very dated, mature and pedestrian. Zac Posen likened the jacket to a flight attendant's uniform and Heidi even put it on to demonstrate. But Jeremy should get some credit for completing separates in a one-day challenge.
For the second look, he was able to capture a more youthful ease but honestly, it was kind of a snooze. Still better than his first attempt, especially considering the one-hour timeframe, but the color completely washes out his model. The design is a bit anemic.
Nina Garcia said the colors of Dom's first dress reminded her of scrubs. I thought it was a very pretty design but it did need some more "oomph" to make it runway ready. Had she followed her instincts and designed this silhouette in the print, it could have been a wow moment.
But everything happens for a reason. Dom was able to use the print for her second dress and it redeemed her with the judges. Aside from some strange fit issues in the bust (can we say lopsided boobs?) this design delivered her modern, sexy, fun point of view.
The Judges' Decisions
The judges named Bradon the "clear winner." And in an unexpected twist, Dom's one-hour look not only saved her from being auf'd, it also earned her the second challenge win. Talk about a comeback! Both designs will be produced and sold at Belk stores and Belk.com.
Jeremy couldn't deliver what the judges wanted and he was sent home.
Mondo's Last Word
I actually really liked Kate's dress and would have given her the win over Bradon. It was joyful, exuberant and captured the spirit of the challenge. And from a retail perspective, I would guess that Kate's dress would sell better than Bradon's.
I was upset that Jeremy got the axe instead of Ken. For as many times as he's been in the bottom and all his eye-rolling and disrespect, I was almost sure Ken's time was up.
I understand that the panel has to judge what's in front of them, but I'm much more interested in seeing more from Jeremy. In both the initial challenge and the second face-off, Jeremy was more ambitious. Ken's rotten attitude has made me lose a lot of respect for him and his designs show consistently bad taste.
BUT...I will say that Alexandria dodged a MAJOR bullet this week. That plaid mess could have easily sent her home. EASILY.
Did you agree with the judges this week? Whose dress would you rather buy--Bradon's or Dom's? Sound off in the comments!
Project Runway All Stars champ Mondo Guerra is back to dish on the designs and drama of Project 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.