Project Runway Season 12, Ep. 8 - Activewear Volcano

I think the whole world loves Tim Gunn.  It's rare to see him without a suit on, so how funny to start Episode 8 this way.  He charges into their Refinery Hotel rooms in the wee hours of the morning dressed as a referee.  On go the lights and TWEET - he blows a game whistle to wake them up. Each room receives a small duffel bag filled with the New Balance gray T-shirts and black shorts or leggings they are to wear.  Hilarious to see some of the more fashionista designers like Ken dressed this way.

When they arrive at Asphalt Green's sports field there is a banner blowing in the breeze that says Heidi Klum for New Balance. There are also five identical obstacle courses with four stations each in evidence which garner nervous smiles all around. Alexander expressed it the best, "WHAT THE HELL?!?!?!?!"   Heidi tells them they are going to have a field day. Tim goes on to explain the designers are going to compete in teams of two to complete the three legged race, the tire run, the wheel barrel race and the flag grab (find a flag in a pile of fabric pieces). The winning team will get to choose their fabric first and get 1 extra hour of work time.

The challenge this week is to create performance wear - now a multi-billion dollar industry - for Heidi's New Balance line and she tells them to bring the runway to the treadmill.  The winning look will be manufactured and sold at select New Balance stores and on  Teams are only for the purpose of the obstacle course and will be not be a part of the challenge itself. The dreaded button bag does the assigning: Justin/Dom, Jeremy/Alexander, Helen/Bradon, Alexandria/Kate and Karen/Ken.  Ken in true form looks miserable and makes Karen feel like she's the last person he wanted to be paired with. His comment?  "I am not excited about this because this is like me trying to be something with my grandmother."  WHAT?  The winner is the first team over the line with their flags. Poor Bradon and Helen are miles ahead when they realize they forgot to do the wheel barrel and had to go back. The winners are Justin and Dom!

At the end of the competition Heidi announces there will be no more immunity going forward. Next they are shown a table of fabrics from New Balance available for them to work with. Each designer can select 10 yards in any combination of colours and $50 will be debited from their GoBank account. There is only one day to complete this challenge - making that extra hour of work time very valuable - and Heidi will join Tim on rounds to give feedback. They were given a bit of time to sketch and then it was back to the workroom where they find examples of Heidi's collection on their mannequins for reference only. They cannot be cut up or used in their garment in any way. The guest judge this week is the one and only Michael Kors.  It will interesting to hear what he has to say.

Michael Kors - Nina Garcia - Zac Posen - Heidi Klum
Drama this week is created when Helen's pulls Tim aside to privately ask if she can the reference pants on her form to help with fit and he says yes. The other designers are obviously curious, but Helen refuses to share that knowledge at first. Although she gives in under pressure, Ken goes off big time. No one likes the tirade, but some are sympathetic as Helen is known for asking questions. I found it totally silly when Helen decided she was afraid and reported Ken to Tim. It had the sound of a high school complaint. Tim does meet with Ken for a private moment and fortunately treats him with great kindness asking him why he is upset, telling him the judges believed in him and he has an ally in Tim. That's all it took for Ken to calm down and apologize. As rounds begin, Heidi expresses relief that she is seeing colour and not just all black - but in looking at the final outfits there truly is a sea of black and her top 3 picks are mostly black. It is important to note just before the top and bottom three face the questions, she admits the judges were all over the map in scoring on a few designs.

Helen (Winner) - Kate - Alexander

Helen (winner) decides to create a three piece look with leggings, tee and hooded jacket. Heidi encourages her to finish the jacket first as the other 2 pieces are almost too basic on their own and she needs a wow piece. Turns out what sent her to the top on this one was the jacket - all the judges loved it and I think it was probably everyone's favourite piece. Without it, who knows where she would have ended up. Comments include - a jacket that covers the ass and the thighs I love, I love the proportion, great fashion/athletic piece, versatile, I love a cool hybrid, bravo on the jacket, jacket is like Elvira at the gym but the top feels like an afterthought, the jacket is your star, girls would like that and kaching.

Kate drew inspiration from her younger brother's love of Motocross. Heidi and Tim both like her look and use of volume. I like Kate's look on the runway. The only thing I found just a bit off was the length of the jacket as it was quite loose and flowy and yet short. Looked fine when standing still and holding it down with your hands in the pockets, but I would need to get a better look at this one. Comments include - you used the right amount of colour here and there, not sure about the zipper in the back (of the jacket), I love the idea of the zipper in the back - the idea you can change the silhouette, it incorporates fashion and function, it looks so polished, there is something familiar about it to make it commercial and something special that will actually make someone want it.

Alexander is working with colour blocking and one inch piping. Both Tim and Heidi respond well to it except for the width of the piping and they encourage him to reduce it to perhaps 1/2". Loved Alexander's look - definitely one of the top looks for me. Well fitted, interesting design and unique jacket that we really don't get to see much of unfortunately. He also managed to create the leggings with no side seam to make them more flattering. As I have worked with Lycra I have done this, but none of the other designers could figure out how. The judges like the asymmetrical zipper in the jacket. Very mixed comments include - pants are well made, like the colour blocking, I can see a lot of hip women wanting to wear this, looks so professional, highlighted the black area in the right places, I would not have put the colour blocking in those places but I like your jacket and I don't think it's memorable in a good or bad way.

Karen (sent home) - Ken - Alexandria

Karen (sent home) wants to do pieces with a simple design but play it up with geometric architectural details. When Heidi comes around, she has a lime green sports bra with tons of angled black geometric lines detailing it on her mannequin, then describes two more pieces.  Heidi first looks at the time and then notes it's impossible to finish. True. She goes on to say the top is martian, it's crazy - no one will want to wear it. It looks trashy, it needs to be more elegant.  I don't know if I agree about the last, but with only 4 hours to go she is right that the look is too ambitious. In looking at the illustration, the overall look is too busy. Helen has to start over with 4 hours to go so decides to create a looser top and pant. It hung well on the body and would suit customers who couldn't pull off body hugging. But more of a sweatsuit look than performance gear and way too simple compared to what the others did.  Comments include - her activity looks like going to a buffet on a cruise, nothing athletic, no body coming through, it is sad, your model looks sad, you could have done something interesting with this sweatshirt and if everything is loose then you don't see the body at all. 

Ken's first concept is a motorcycle inspired jacket and pants with quilting in the shoulders and knees.  Heidi's comment was that is looked like a scuba suit. Ken decided to scratch the design and go in a totally different direction - a purple halter top and mid-length biking shorts - which meant he had nothing for his model to try on. Ken is happy with his look on the runway. I think it's biggest drawback it is too simple and expected, but the colour scheme is nice and the back of the top is great. Comments include - I don't mind the outfit, too safe, too boring, needs a little bit more fashion, beautiful how you did the back, wish that would have been the theme of your project, there is something about the proportion where you cut this top that is very awkward, borderline Tina Turner and you lost the fashion.

Alexandria shares with Tim and Heidi that she trains a lot and has run in over 50 marathons. She is creating a detailed jacket and drop crotch mid-length legging because it's a new silhouette and nobody is doing it.  Warning bells - Zac hates drop crotch anything and although she won him over last time, it could be like lightening striking twice. Heidi likes that she's gutsy and willing to go a different direction. Alexandria admits it's a risk. Tim expresses real concern that with an all-black palette it will fall flat and all the details go unnoticed. On the runway the jacket comes across well, but that drop crotch was really unattractive and the colour and slashed nature of the tee underneath didn't mesh with the rest of the design. Comments include - I don't understand how she can do yoga or run, I saw these from you already in a winning look so it doesn't seem fresh, impossible to ride a bike to run to do yoga, nothing dynamic, bad, if you want guys to leave you alone in the gym wear that look, you pooped in your pants and creepy pleasure me pockets. (At this point a few judges dissolve into snickers.) Heidi notes she gave her a high score and that she is one of the few women who love poopy pants. "I like this weird and unusual kind of silhouette."

Bradon - Jeremy
Bradon shows Tim and Heidi a purple tank and leggings with lots of unique seaming on the sides that received a very positive response. Don't know if that was a mock-up because the final look was done with grey. black and lime green piping.  I love this look and feel it really had the most technical work involved. This would have been a win for me - or at least a top 3 - but remember it was about what Heidi felt would work in her line, so perhaps she felt it wouldn't find as large of a client base as Helen's or maybe it would be too expensive to produce with all that intricate detailing.

Jeremy - would love to give you anything on Jeremy's work this week, but nothing was given on TV. They didn't cover his inspiration and when Heidi and Tim came by all they talked about was the very red sunburn on his face from the day outside. As he was in the middle there are also no judges comments.  It is quite basic, but it was good enough to get him a pass to next week and it was nice to see some colour go down the runway. He uses a technique where the seams of the garment go around the body creating a lot of interest.  Not a big fan of this look though - not totally bad, but nothing great.  The negative for me was the loose fit of the crotch, never attractive.

Justin - Dom
Justin was very intimidated by Heidi and didn't have a lot on his form.  The only real feedback was to not make the front v-neck too high.  On the other hand you don't want it so low the girls come out. I liked the colour scheme, the angle zipper on the jacket and the shorts. The silhouette of the bra top just didn't work. The vee, despite her warnings, was super high in front although the back was very nicely done. Too bad as this look might have garnered higher scores if the bra had been fashionable.

Dom shows Heidi and Tim sketches with a really cute tank with lots of open strapping to show off the back paired with a jacket and leggings. Loved the sketches, but really not a fan of the look on the runway. I think the jacket and top are fine, but I don't like the pants.  Perhaps if the red striping was straight down the sides it would look more slimming.  As it is it looks a bit boxy and almost like the model has running shorts over above the knee length leggings over long leggings. The pants are just not flattering.

To see more or larger images of these designs go to RATE THE RUNWAY.