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Mondo Guerra's Take on 'Project Runway': From Textiles to Tears

Prints are my passion, so each season I look forward to seeing what the contestants whip up for the HP + Intel textile challenge. For some designers prints are a piece of cake while for others, they're a recipe for disaster.

With the fashion week finish line within sight, the competition turned from textiles to tears this week with a shocking double elimination.

Let's recap, shall we?

In the Workroom

Tim Gunn and HP's Rob Le Bras-Brown introduced seven new generation innovators who served as the core inspiration for the challenge. After some help from the trusty button bag, the designers set off to get to know their muses so they could create their textiles.

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Back at Parsons the next day, Helen's insecurity about her print had her asking the other designers for their opinions. But with the pressure of the competition nearing its peak, they weren't exactly happy to help.

Across the workroom, Tim said he was "perplexed" and didn't get Bradon's concept of a bomber jacket paired with a floor length skirt. Time for Plan B. Meanwhile, Alexander stuck by his design despite Tim's critique that it was reading "clerical." He better pray for a miracle.

Dom, on the other hand, took to the challenge like a duck to water. Her love of prints put her in a happy place and she was eager to show the judges what she could do.

On the Runway

Fashion designer Peter Som joined the judging panel this week.

Bradon, Dom and Helen's prints earned them the top spots and Alexandria was safe, leaving Alexander, Justin and Kate in danger of elimination.

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Bradon McDonald inspired by Nigel Sylvester, Pro BMX Rider

I'm glad Bradon scrapped his original floor-length skirt idea -- too fussy. The "sporty-chic" vibe of this look captures the energy of his next-gen innovator much better. His print is lively, animated and feels very urban. But isn't it essentially an abstract plaid? With Bradon's big ideas, his print felt a little restrained to me.

 

Dom Streater inspired by Pramal Shah, President of Kiva.org

Social media fans drew a lot of comparisons between Dom's design and a couple of mine from season eight and All Stars season one. I see the resemblance, sure -- but Dom definitely has her own aesthetic. The quilted "neck ring" detail and tribal styling gave this look the international flavor she was aiming for. It has strong graphic impact and is a very wearable. A success!

 

Helen Castillo inspired by Ryan Keeley, Artist

Helen's star-spangled separates intrigued the judges. It's a cool concept but my biggest criticism is that it doesn't reflect her next-gen muse whatsoever. Ryan's work is so bold and colorful that this design looks like a blank canvas in comparison. But for all the stress she put herself through in the workroom, she pulled a rabbit out of the hat with this look.

 

Alexandria von Bromssen inspired by Ilana Greenberg, Creative Director at GD USA Magazine

This design looks very similar to the one that landed Alexandria and her team in the bottom for the Lexus unconventional challenge. Her Achilles' heel has consistently been proportion -- it's just not working here. This is such a confusing look and her print is completely unremarkable. It looks like old wallpaper.

 

Alexander Pope inspired by Thiago Silva, Executive Pastry Chef at T-ago's Cakes

I don't mind this silhouette, but the print didn't read on the runway and the white stripe treatment was distracting. I wish Alexander would have indulged his costume designing background and served up more cake and less communion wafer.

 

Justin LeBlanc inspired by Nana Meriwether, Miss USA 2012

Heidi Klum said Justin's design was "hard to look at" and Peter Som said this dress was "depressed." I agree that the transition from the bodice to the skirt was pretty rough but I was surprised the judges hated this gown so much.

 

Kate Pankoke

This is just unfortunate. First off, where is the print? Second, the starburst pleats completely overwhelmed this look. And lastly, what's up with that belt...? Kate took a big risk with this design and it did not pay off.

The Judges' Decisions

Comeback kid Dom strikes again, earning her second win of the season. She and her next generation innovator Pramal Shah will both receive an HP technology suite. Congrats, Dom!

Heidi stunned the designers this week with a double elimination, sending both Alexander and Kate packing. Poor Kate was almost inconsolable with regret. How auf-ful...!

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Mondo's Last Word

Bradon's overall design was more fresh but Dom's print stole the show. A well-earned win in my opinion.

At this point in the competition, it's getting harder to say goodbye to one designer let alone two. I did not see that coming.

I think Alexander ran out of steam and unfortunately never got his second wind. Project Runway is brutal and takes its toll creatively. He's a talented designer with impeccable construction skills and a flair for the dramatic. I have a feeling we'll be seeing more from him.

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I wasn't a Kate fan initially but her growth has earned my respect. She consistently delivered strong, thoughtful designs and lost the attitude from last season. It was painful to see her stumble so badly this late in the game.

However, I'm still scratching my head about Alexandria's safety. I thought she deserved to be in the bottom this week. Not sure what the judges saw in her look. If she doesn't step it up, she will get steamrolled by the remaining designers.

Was the double elimination this week unfair? Which print was your favorite? Speak your mind 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.