Project Runway Season 11 - Episode 8

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This week the season's team challenge theme took a new twist.  The judges felt they had a good feel for who the designers were and their skills sets, so chose the teams based on who they would like to see work together.  The first team - Shades of Grey - included Patricia for her unusual techniques, Daniel for his construction strengths, Michelle for her cool vibe and Stanley who they wanted to see in a context where he was going to have to stay strong among all these creative forces.

The second team - Slick and Hip - paired Richard's talent but questionable taste with Layana's young vibe, Samantha's current fashion element and the Amanda who they didn't really give a positive spin on (a wallflower - up and down). All designers had happy and worried moments, but to me it was clear from the start that the first team had the stronger designers over all.  In fact in a spoiler alert nod to the future - it can be noted that all the season finalists came from this first team. Sort of says it all doesn't it?

Heidi Klum enigmatically shares that it's time to live it up a bit and have some fun. Then it's off to meet Tim Gunn and their new client. In an arena they are treated to a quick show by Australia's Thunder From Down Under - voted the best male revue on the Las Vegas strip. These very buff men, who have an obvious effect on all the designers, are their new clients.

The challenge this week is to create 3 full, cohesive looks for the dancers' opening act that are "...suave, sophisticated and masculine..." while also being flexible, sturdy and tear-away. The outfits had to both look great and come off easily. The teams were also admonished by Tim to not feminize these guys. Samantha claims it will be like dressing action figures; Richard labels them too hot to handle for 10 a.m and like dressing Thor, the Incredible Hulk and the Avengers; and Daniel notes, "No wonder Heidi wanted to be here - naughty girl!" The designers are given 30 minutes to consult, a budget of $750 per team and 1 day to complete.  Guest judge this week is actress, singer/songwriter Emmy Rossum.

The directive for something dressier, the need for the garments to be flexible, sturdy and tear-away, as well as the designers serious lack of experience doing menswear all added to the mess that ensued. No one was declared a winner, only a losing team was chosen with one going home.  Comments included - you didn't think enough outside the box, we should wrap up this show early and send you all home, I couldn't wait until they took their clothes off, this was the moment to be tongue in cheek, why not be creative, and the list goes on.

Team Shades of Grey (Stanley, Patricia, Michelle and Daniel) - Top team by default.
Michelle is one of my favourites this season and I loved her initial inspiration - an edgy approach to a business suit, delivery uniform and bike messenger. Something gritty and dirty. Unfortunately she didn't design all 3 looks. While these garments were cleaner over all, the only one the judges, the dancers and I liked was Michelle's take on the bike messenger. She put a lot of thought into what they could use on stage to be entertaining including a zipper and a scarf on the vest that could be handed out to a lucky lady. The only issue was the vest needed to be 2-3 inches longer. The other 2 were pretty expected.  Funniest part of the dancers showing these off is that Stanley noted he had just made tear away clothes for a commercial recently and the tear-away ending was a total disaster.

Michelle - Stanley - Patricia/Daniel

Team Slick and Hip (Richard, Layana, Amanda and Samantha) - losing team
There were serious worries on this team that Richard might try and turn them into drag queens. While there was some truth in their reasoning, the designers really should have taken elements of what he was suggesting to liven the looks up. It was a frustrating experience for him to have every idea he put forth turned down and see the final looks morph into a blah set of ill-fitting garments. The only one of the 3 looks that came close to fitting right was the one on the right below, but I found the super slim vest that only came a few tiny inches across the front on both sides looked as if was 2 sizes too small and gave the dancer nothing to work with onstage. The saving grace for this team was that the the tear-away ending worked perfectly. Nina had an uncharacteristic giggle fit while reviewing their collection, especially when one of the dancers pants started to fall off. Although it was a toss-up, in the end Richard and Amanda's look was chosen as the worst with Amanda sent home.

Amanda/Richard - Amanda/Layana/Richard - Richard/Samantha

To see larger versions of any of these looks, go to Rate the Runway.