Project Runway Season 11, Episode 11

At the start of the show this week, the five remaining designers are sent to the Hearst Building in Manhattan - a truly unique piece of architecture - where they get some GREAT news. They finally get to design and conceptualize on their own. I am absolutely shocked no one breaks into song or dance as they've been waiting the entire season for this moment. There is a small catch. Because every challenge is a team challenge this season, they will each have a sewing assistant to manage and direct.

This week it is Nina Garcia's time in the spotlight. The Hearst Building is the home of Marie Claire Magazine where she is fashion director and the magazine is their client. Nina has very specific instructions for this challenge, "We want you to create a fashion forward editorial look for a celebrity that will run in our May 2013 issue. The winning designer's look will be worn by the beautiful and talented Jordana Brewster. I don't want to see a red carpet look. I don't want to see t-shirts and pants.The look needs to be bold in the colour, in the shape, in the print, in the silhouette, in something! Do your best work. Do not disappoint me. Do not embarrass me."  Tim Gunn adds - "You're designing what's next, not what's now." They have 30 minutes to sketch, $250 to shop at Moods and one day to complete the look.

Back in the studio they learn that their sewing assistants will be designers that have been sent home. Stanley won the last challenge so was allowed to pick first - he chose Tu thinking he had great sewing skills, a mistake as that is not Tu's gift. It created a very negative work duo. The rest chose in order based on the dreaded button bag. Michelle chose Amanda (really great working team), Daniel chose Samantha (also worked well together), Layana chose Kate (okay) and Patricia ended up getting Richard (not good as they had a HUGE and ugly falling out previously). In the end Tim reminds them, "You are in charge of your vision, you are in charge of managing time and your sewing assistants. This is your design that's being presented to the judges. This is meant to enable you to be more ambitious than you could be on your own." Guest judge this week is actress Jordana Brewster who will be wearing winning the look.

Stanley (winning design) was clearly the only one who really listened, thought of it in terms of how it would work in a photo shoot and how it would look on Jordana. Kudos! My only dislike was how he treated Tu. It really was unpleasant to see this side of him. Stanley spent most of the time criticizing Tu's work and being negative. Not the way to get the best work out of anyone. That said - the final look was wonderful. He created something with versatility that would look good in close-ups or in full length. Judges comments include - it was smart of you to create 3 pieces because it gives options, the culottes are fabulous, I love the fact you played with volume, it's a highly editorial look, it's flirty, it looks fresh, it's elegant, it looks expensive and I love the fact it has pockets because it gives you something to play with.

Michelle was the bottom design but I put it second because I truly loved it. Even Layana commented on the fact she felt Michelle was her biggest competition. Here comes the huge BUT - she didn't listen to Nina's instructions which was no t-shirt and pants. I found this shocking as the one thing Michelle has consistently done is listen to criticism, run it through her personal filter and find a way to incorporate it. This week she screwed up big time while still creating one really hot look. I would love to ask her why as she is not normally one to ignore instructions. Judges comments - I am shocked how good you are with your sewing skills but wonder if it is enough for an editorial, if you crop it all you'll see is a white t-shirt, I do not think it is strong enough, the finish is impeccable, not special enough for this particular challenge and too much reality and not enough fantasy. While she was the obvious choice to be sent home, the judges recognized her talent and chose to send no one home this week. She was given one last chance - a  do or die moment - and if she doesn't rock it the next week, she goes home.  The other designers are shocked.

Layana did a great job this week interpreting her inspiration. Honestly - it wasn't my favourite but it fit the challenge well and the judges loved it which is really important. I included an image of the Hearst Building so you could see where her inspiration came from. For this look, Layana replicated the architecture of the building. Pieces of blue leather were cut to resemble the geometric shapes and linked together with small metal rings. The skirt is a light and sheer. There is a hard and soft which the judges found intriguing that I find a bit discordant for a reason I can't put my finger on which is weird because I love hard and soft - just something wrong with the skirt for me. The unusual shape of the neckline and blue colour would make a close-up still pop. Judges comments - I'm really proud of you, the top looks really good and architectural, the neckline is interesting, I love the shine coming from the leather, the colour is beautiful, it's sexy and bold, it's amazing and I think this would photograph really well.

Daniel just isn't my cup of tea and this week was no exception.  Again, great sewing and drafting skills, but really? This outfit reminds me of something you might see on a TV space fiction series. The shiny, stiff fabric and the lack of movement all shout disaster to me (a bit of fluidity in a garment is a great asset at a photoshoot as without it the model is really limited). Add in those weird shoulder projections and the looks is truly out there. And honestly, isn't this just another form of jacket from him, just without sleeves. Nina adores it and she is the client, but other comments were mixed - you gave Nina what she wanted but for me I see Victoria's Secret, [the shoulders are] almost like borderline little wings, a little bit gimmicky, didn't like the hook and eyes, I would like to see a long tulle skirt perhaps to balance the shoulders and make it more romanticit looks a little Easter and a little FTD Florist, I see Easter too and bunny ears and I see Star Trek. From Nina - I love the colour and the back, this would definitely be on a rack for a model, the fact the shoulders can be manipulated is exciting and it really has a lot of potential.

Patricia - I adore her unique outlook and would love to see her in the finals, but this week I would have sent her home (although I would prefer to send Daniel home). Her garment looked unfinished and like a high school sewing project. It was also the only outfit that wouldn't have looked good on Jordana. If it had been any other designer to put this on the runway, the judges would have torn apart it. It all started with Richard. Patricia cannot explain to anyone what she is doing and without that, Richard has nothing to latch onto. Richard's forte is also knits, so needs a lot of instruction on how to finish a sheer woven. She falls behind and has to make compromises to get something finished in time. Judges comments include - you always bring an element of surprise but I don't think this would work for Jordana, she has a rocking body and this wouldn't be flattering, almost tent-like, it looks unfinished, I didn't see lots of movement, a good palette, a bit unusual and borderline Pocahontas. In the end Nina saved her, "Patricia is so original and is referencing no one. We need that in design. There are things here we haven't seen before."

To see these images in larger format go to RATE THE RUNWAY.