September 09, 2013 8:00am PT by Mondo Guerra
'Project Runway': Mondo Guerra Critiques the Designers' Creations for Heidi Klum's New Balance Line
Heidi Klum got the designers' blood pumping when she sent them to compete in an obstacle course for the New Balance performance wear challenge. Fusing fitness with fashion is a tall order, but with the winning look joining Heidi's line and no more immunity moving forward, the competition turned from friendly to frightening with one designer's unexpected outburst.
Feel the burn with another heart-pumping round of Project Runway.
In the Workroom
The designers probably thought they were dreaming when Tim Gunn delivered an early wakeup call dressed as a referee. Tim's a good sport for donning stripes and shorts instead of his signature suit and tie. (Is this the first time we've seen Tim's legs...?!)
At the obstacle course, Dom and Justin powered their way to a first place finish, earning them dibs on fabric and an extra hour in the workroom. With only one day to complete their looks, every second is an advantage.
Helen wanted to take advantage of some sideline advice from Tim, but when she wouldn't share it with her fellow competitors, Ken called her out of bounds. The disagreement quickly grew into a heated, four-lettered shouting match, leaving Helen asking, "What, Sandro part two??"
Luckily, Tim still had his referee hat on and guided the designers to a civil truce. Along the way, we caught a glimpse into Ken's past struggle with homelessness and learned why he can be so fiercely defensive.
Across the workroom, Karen's defense of her design didn't hold up under Heidi's critique that it was "impossible, crazy, Martian." With less than half a day left to completely redesign her look, Karen was knocked off her game.
The Best and the Worst
Project Runway fans rejoiced at the return of Michael Kors as this week's extra-special guest judge. (The designers on the bottom were not as thrilled.)
Alexander, Kate and Helen claimed their spots on the winners' podium while Alexandria, Karen and Ken's designs were benched.
For not having any experience in active wear, Alexander impressed his fellow competitors and the judges by draping this pant without a side seam. Although I agree with Zac Posen that his graphic treatment needed to be spot-on.
Zac Posen dubbed her "Kate the Great" for these performance wear pieces. Kate has proven she's refined her critical eye and expanded her range as a designer here. Her balanced use of color and line paired with the ease and transformable function of her cowl-pullover hits the bullseye for this challenge.
Kudos to Helen for translating her aesthetic into athletic wear--that's no small task. The judges called this jacket "fabulous," with Nina even offering to be the first customer. It's a cool, fun piece that can go from running at the gym to running errands. But Michael Kors said the shirt was a flat note and I have to agree.
Alexandria von Bromssen
I was on Alexandria's side when the drop-crotch pants helped earn her the win for the glamping challenge. Here, it's all wrong. These pants in the gym are an accident waiting to happen. Michael Kors said the accident had already happened--in her pants. She stumbled, but it wasn't all her fault. As Tim was quick to point out, what's a designer to do when Heidi loves it?
This was the weakest look of the show. Karen knew it, the judges knew it. Even the model knew it. She "made it work" in the sense that she completed a whole new look in a just a few short hours using unfamiliar materials to her. But she lost herself in this design.
The judges blasted the proportions and "safeness" of Ken's design and argued about whether or not the criss-cross treatment of the back straps worked. His initial design had way more promise but he second-guessed himself and couldn't get his head back in the game.
The Judges' Decisions
Helen is on a winning streak, earning her third victory of the season. Her jacket is featured on the front page of the New Balance website.
Karen's second wind never came and she was auf'd.
Mondo's Last Word
I liked Helen's look a lot. There's something happening at the intersection of athletic wear and fashion right now, so I think this jacket is clever and on-trend. Way to hustle, Helen!
For me, Kate and Helen had a photo finish. Kate showed innovation and good instincts--I could see a lot of active girls wearing her design.
Honorable mention goes to Bradon this week for his ambitious, successful design. Loved his technique, colors and proportion.
Karen made the observation that Ken has been consistently in the bottom yet she was the one to get the axe. If she would have committed to her original design but maybe simplified her style lines, she might have squeaked by. But even Ken's basic clothes outshined Karen's look.
Did the judges get it right? Were you happy to see the return of Michael Kors? Give me your two cents 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