Mondo Guerra Recaps 'Project Runway' Season 10, Episode 12: Creating an Avant-Garde Look

Mondo Print on Print Portrait - P 2012

Mondo Print on Print Portrait - P 2012

One designer is forced to improvise when her fabric goes missing, while another struggles with the use of color in the final challenge before New York Fashion Week.

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

It’s the last challenge before NYFW, and with only a few spots left for a chance to create a collection, the remaining designers must fight harder than ever.

This week, Tim Gunn met the final five at a fairy tale location to inspire them for the L’Oreal challenge. Consulting makeup artist Billy B. helped reveal that the designers must create an avant-garde look inspired by the new L’Oreal makeup line, Electric Fantasie.

The notorious button bag assigned each designer a muse -- Fabio and Christopher got the enchanted queen; Sonjia got the seductive temptress; Dmitry got the wise mystic; Melissa got the artsy muse. They each get $400 and two days to complete the challenge.

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In the Workroom

Sonjia realizes that the gold lame fabric that was supposed to make up most of her look is missing. She must quickly come up with a plan B. Tim urges her to realize her full potential as a designer, so she takes a risk with a gown that has the illusion of floating pieces.

Melissa wishes her muse was the enchanted queen instead so she could design in black. She’s shy about color but wants to wow herself and the judges. Tim reminds her to stay focused and use her time well.

Christopher exaggerates the hips with his look to create a more sinister hourglass shape. Tim wonders if that element makes the look avant garde or if it makes it seem like a mistake. Christopher has a hard time explaining what he’s trying to achieve.

Fabio’s enchanted queen is tough on the outside but fragile on the inside -- referenced by a structured coat over a sheer ensemble. But Tim says he thinks it’s borderline costume, so Fabio turns the coat upside down, making it reversible as well.

Dmitry tackles separates for his look, but Tim doubts there is any remarkable drama. Dmitry’s jacket has triangular sleeves, but Tim says it isn’t enough. Dmitry looks for ways to pump up the wow factor and show something new.

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On the Runway

Zoe Saldana joins the judges as a celebrity guest this week, and then it’s time for the show.

Here’s what I thought of the runway looks:

Melissa: The pops of color combined with the energetic print of the skirt were unexpected for her, but she managed to still keep her strong, edgy vibe with this look. For me the arm cuffs were a bit expected and a bit dated, but the proportions worked. Melissa challenged herself by using color but I felt she still played it safe.

Fabio: I liked the idea of contrasting structure and sheer. The coat was an interesting idea and I appreciated that it could be worn two ways. The sheer ensemble underneath had nice movement and detail. Overall, I thought that Fabio took the biggest risk creating a look that was truly inspired. But was it enough impact? I'm still questioning.......

Dmitry: This look was constructed impeccably and had a lot of interesting angles and details but was it avant garde? I wasn’t crazy about the collar and questioned the sheer side panels of the skirt. I wished Dmitry would have taken this even further. Just like Tim advised in the work room this design really looked like some previous designs he has sent down the runway......

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Sonjia: I’m glad she took a risk and tried some new ideas. Although it was an innovative design the execution was sloppy. The floating pieces needed more refinement -- they looked like they were just stuck on. I applaud Sonjia for being the most experimental of the bunch this week.

Christopher: His model looked like a villainess straight out of a fairy tale -- but that’s the problem. It looked like a costume. I thought the feathers were kind of cliché and wished he would have been less literal with his inspiration. He tried too hard, and I totally understand -- he wants a spot at Fashion Week.

The Judges’ Critiques:

Sonjia: Heidi liked the color of the dress but wished the mesh matched her model’s skin better; Michael said it looked like an ice skating costume and that the back was an old lady’s approach to going bare; Zoe said it felt unfinished and that the top looked like a table napkin.

Christopher: Michael liked the styling but said his model looked like she had hairy forearms; Heidi said there was too much material in the bust but loved the back; Zoe agreed with Heidi and said the dress didn’t fit; Nina said he tried too many ideas in one dress.

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Dmitry: Heidi called this look amazing and thought it looked great from every angle; Zoe said the sleeves were stunning; Michael called him a brilliant tailor but thought the jacket’s shoulders were too far out and that the neck was too “Vampira”; Nina said the details were incredible and that it was impeccable work.

Fabio: Michael called the jacket fantastic but didn’t like the palazzo pant; Heidi said his model looked like she was going to a funeral; Zoe liked the jacket too but said the look overall was unflattering to his model’s body.

Melissa: Michael said he loved it; Nina said the collar was dramatic but thought the skirt was too long; Heidi said she didn’t know whose look was uglier, Fabio’s or Melissa’s; Zoe praised Melissa for working with challenging materials while still flattering her model’s figure.

The Judges’ Decisions

In the end, Sonjia's green seductive temptress fell short and was bid auf wiedersehen. Sonjia has a lot of potential and I know that we willhear more from her in the future. Best wishes, Sonjia!

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Congratulations to Christopher, Dmitry, Melissa and Fabio for earning the chance to design theirdream collection for NYFW! Will the time back at home in their own creative space prove to be what each designer needs to be triumphant, or will they start second guessing their work and drop the ball?

What did you think? Did you think Sonjia should have gone to fashion week? Which designer’s collection are you looking forward to seeing most? Who do you think will take home the title from Project Runway Season 10? Speak your mind in the comments below!

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