Mondo Guerra Recaps 'Project Runway' Season 10, Episode 7: The Lord & Taylor Challenge

Mondo Print on Print Portrait - P 2012

Mondo Print on Print Portrait - P 2012

The designers compete to have their creation sold in stores and online in this week's challenge, and one competitor has a meltdown moments before the runway show.

[Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Thursday's episode.]

Heidi has a big surprise "in store" for the designers when she sends them off to meet Tim Gunn. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Project Runway, Lord & Taylor will be producing a collection featuring one design from each of the show’s nine past seasons (yours truly is proud to represent season eight with my little black dress).

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This week, the designers have an opportunity for their look to be the 10th design included in that collection, which will be sold in Lord & Taylor stores and online. Plus, the winner’s design will be featured in a window display on 5th Avenue. This is a big deal!

In the Workroom

Mood gets a break this week as the designers use materials provided by the manufacturer, JS Collections. This entire episode seems to be all about BOYS VS GIRLS. The girls are plotting to get rid of more guys (the “chiffonies”), the guys notice that the girls are struggling and Ven notes that guys are stronger designers, while he says girls are more practical. Let the battle begin!

Elena is unnerved trying to create something simple and wearable -- she hasn't worked so hard for so long, perfecting her high-fashion aesthetic only to dumb it down for mass market. Melissa, who reminds us twice that she wants to go down into history with this dress, goes back and forth about her fabric selection and ends up having to re-do her dress, pushing her to the limits with time. Sanjia seems lost trying to overcome her disappointment of being in the bottom last week. Alicia tries to channel Chanel with her dress, but Tim thinks her look reads “Joan of Arc,” which she takes as a compliment. Alicia KNOWS the judges won't like her dress but she really doesn't care.

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Gunnar, who points out that Dmitri and Fabio are his competition these days, seems confident about his design but Tim warns him not to take it into “matador” territory. Fabio is mindful of the whole production process as he approaches his design. Dmitri, Ven and Christopher each stick to their signature techniques in hope of putting his own stamp on the collection. The “chiffonies” strike again! 

Moments before the runway, Sanjia has a meltdown. She has to hand-sew her model into the dress and she is unhappy with the unfinished details. Tim tells her to channel her inner winner. Sonjia -- life as we know it on Project Runway is over! Sewing in a model? Unfinished details?! Never! Go home now! (Ok, I’m being sarcastic.)

On the Runway 

Joining the judges’ panel this week is the president of Lord & Taylor, Bonnie Brooks. After the usual round of introductions and challenge details, pink-disco-ball-clad Heidi starts the show.

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Here’s what I thought of this week’s looks:

Fabio: I like the asymmetrical hem and the detail of the stretch tulle overlay as well as the reverse halter detail of the back, but the exposed zipper cheapens the look for me. Still, this is a modern, wearable dress with lots of styling potential.

Melissa: Despite her concerns, the dress came together nicely. There was a richness in the fabric and the neckline was an interesting, powerful detail. The hem was a little strange, but overall it was a dramatic, well-styled look. At the very least, if the judges don’t like it, the neckline will shield what the judges throw at her this week. 

Gunnar: Kudos to him for following his gut, but this was too safe for me. It’s a pretty dress, but it lacked innovation. At this point in the competition, we should be able to clearly see the designers’ points of view. I don’t see anything here that is unique to Gunnar.

Elena: Unlike Gunnar’s look, Elena’s dress was unexpected and edgy. It’s a feminine silhouette but the harness detail gives it toughness. She figured it out! She offered a look for her fashion minions -- er, I mean mass market.

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Christopher: This look is very feminine and romantic, it has good proportions and you know it’s from Christopher as soon as it turns the corner. He was smart to tackle a gown -- it distinguished him from the other designers. Point of view -- check! 

Alicia: This look fell flat, in my opinion. I don’t know where her woman is going in this dress -- maybe a funeral for a tennis player? I’ve seen some very forward designs from Alicia before, but this missed the mark. Not a fan of the placement of the pleats on the skirt either.  

Sanjia: This dress was ok. It fit well and I liked the styling, but it wasn’t exciting or memorable for me. The peplum flattered her model, but I’m on the fence about it. Over-thought and under-executed. 

Ven: WE GET IT! Yet another folded floral frock. I think that technique on the bodice is a bit heavy and overwhelming. But I do like the tone on tone mixture of textures he achieved with his different black materials.

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Dmitri: Even though this silhouette is starting to get repetitive from Dmitri, I thought the draping details in the dress were pretty. He was smart about his fabric choice and constructed his garment impeccably. Not crazy about those earrings, however. 

The High Scores

Fabio: Heidi thought the dress had versatility; Michael liked the asymmetry of the hem; Bonnie said she would wear the dress and that it had good taste; Nina thought it was a classic design with a twist and agreed with Heidi that the dress had a lot of legs.

Christopher: Heidi thought it was a beautiful dress; Michael appreciated that the gown looked like separates, but warned Christopher that the shredding technique was getting stale; Bonnie said it was a beautiful marriage between lightness and strength; Nina wasn’t sure it was a dress that would work on a lot of women, but thought it was elegant and sophisticated. 

Melissa: Michael and Bonnie liked the surprising neckline but did not like the hem; Nina liked the fabric; Heidi called the dress a stunning showstopper.

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Elena: After Elena’s emotional moment of gratitude on the runway for earning a high score, Heidi said Elena’s dress was sellable, flirty and fun; Nina called the back extraordinarily beautiful; Bonnie thought it was fresh and fun; Michael praised the balance of art and commerce and said he liked that the dress was nice but nasty at the same time. 

The Low Scores 

Gunnar: Nina said the dress was expected and that she had seen it before; Michael wasn’t impressed and thought it read too mother of the bride; Heidi liked the dress and thought it was well-constructed; Bonnie thought the unforgiving lace took away the dress’ fluidity and made it stiff. Gunnar is shocked he’s in the bottom.

Alicia: Heidi thought it was a pretty, simple dress; Bonnie felt the dress got lost somewhere between office and cocktail; Nina called it dowdy; Michael said it looked like a field hockey uniform.

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The Judges’ Decisions 

Is it just me, or were the judges extra nice this episode? 

In the end, Christopher was named the winner and no one was bid auf wiedersehen. Heidi claimed that since everybody met the bar of this challenge, the judges felt like no one deserved to go home. Everybody gets a pony! In reality, we all know that because of Andrea’s escape and Kooan’s decision to make more LOVE, the show needed to skip an elimination to keep the season on pace.

Christopher’s dress was really lovely but I’m kinda surprised that it won. Considering that the manufacturer now has the task of re-creating that shredding technique, I thought the price point would go over $300 given the extra steps. I expected Fabio to win since his design was simple enough to reproduce but still had special details. He was my favorite again this week.

Between Gunnar and Alicia, I would have sent Alicia home.

What did you think? Are you in love with Christopher’s gown? Are you relieved that Gunnar and Alicia will get to see another runway? Share your thoughts below! And be sure to shop the Project Runway 10th anniversary capsule collection at Lord & Taylor stores and online starting Friday.

Denver fashion designer Mondo Guerra earned a runner-up finish on Project Runway season eight then went on to claim victory on the debut season of Project Runway All Stars. In addition to an upcoming guest editor position at Marie Claire, Mondo has also launched I Design, a new HIV/AIDS education campaign with Merck. To learn more about Mondo, visit