Project Runway Season 12, Episode 2 - Million Dollar Runway

As I didn't give the full list last week, I want to start with the prize package worth over 1/2 million dollars. What do they win?  $150,000 provided by GoBank, $50,000 of next generation technology from HP/intel, a years supply of Re-source spring water, an all expense paid spa retreat for 2 to the Maldives courtesy of Resource, a chance to design and sell an exclusive collection at Belk's, a complete sewing and crafting studio from Brother, a fashion spread in Marie Claire, a 2014 Lexus IS 350, $100,000 fabric allowance from Tide Pods and a $50,000 styling contract with L'Oreal Paris. The model paired with the winning designer will receive a spread in Marie Claire and $25,000 from L'Oreal Paris.

To create a bit of drama this episode, an armoured car pulls up outside and then 2 armed guards enter the runway. The designers feign fright, but then truly react when the real scary part happens. Heidi Klum enters carrying the dreaded button bag. (Note: I honestly don't like the distracting white inserts on the sides of the skirt in the dress she is wearing.) Why are the guards here she asks and then answers,"For millions and millions of reasons. [models enter runway] Thanks to the Diamond District, our models are wearing over 30 million dollars worth of jewels."                                                                                                                                                                                       The stones are to be the designer's inspiration for their next challenge - to create a complimentary look that can walk the runway paired these amazing accessories. All the designers are excited, well except Timothy, of course, "I'm not inspired by jewellery. I'm not inspired by money. We have to pick the prettiest diamond and I think that is very superficial." Why is he on this show?  Bradon won the previous challenge so was allowed to pick first. Designers then had to choose in the order their name was drawn from the button bag.  Model Natasia was SOOO happy to get to work with a designer other than Timothy. Surprisingly no one complained about models getting stolen away.  Guest judge this week is Emmy Award winning costume designer Eric Daman (Sex and The City, Gossip Girl, The Carrie Diaries).
Back in the studio Tim Gunn tells them they have 30 minutes to sketch, 45 minutes to shop at Mood Fabrics and only until 11 p.m. to create a red carpet dress. Yikes! They are handed their new GoBank card loaded with $4,000. I was pleased the show offered a suggested budget. For this challenge it was $300. While all the designers shop, Timothy was found digging through bags of remnants even though there were some lovely organic material available. Sandro confused everyone this week with his mood swings, going from verbal fights, to hilarious jokes, to knocking a design, to supporting another designer during judging. Then there is Sue. I love her work, but her inability to thread a machine or wind a bobbin along with her lack of appreciation when someone helps her is disappointing.

Eric, Nina, Zac, Heidi
Before I start, I want to first note that I would have loved to see some of these dresses up close. I think it was particularly important in evaluating the garments this week, so please realize my comments reflect that I only watched this on TV. I'll do the top 3 and bottom 3 first and then share my thoughts on the rest afterwards.

Kate (winner) - Dom - Sandro
Kate wanted this Silk Taffeta gown inspired by Marie Antoinette to make the model feel like she ruled a country. When asked by the judges what it was like to wear it, the model gushed it felt amazing. It was a hands down hit. Comments include - I knew immediately it was your dress, I love the colour and that is very light, I love the back, really pretty all the way around, I love that you have a concept around which you're creating, I think you picked a fabulous colour for your model and those rocks, the jewellery pops, I like the asymmetry - the transparency - her styling is terrific and this is the strongest work I have seen you do. (The last - strong praise from Zac Posen.)

Dom wanted the look created to be a Caribbean woman covered in gems. Tim cautioned her to make sure it didn't look like Palm Springs poolside. The judges responses made it evident she hit the mark. I like it except for the green trim - take it all off. The judges seemed to only dislike the green trim at the bottom. Comments include - you have diamonds, emeralds and ?? that look very serious - what I loved is that you made it very young, the print shows the jewels in a very different perspective which I am always looking for, I love the back, what you used to trim the hem overpowers, if I had to pick one dress it would be yours, the hair band makes it a little beachy, the print plays with the graphic nature of the jewellery, I could see it on the red carpet and well done.

Sandro - Before they left for the runway, Sandro needed help figuring out how to turn on the steamer and everyone ignored him. As they usually seemed to help each other even when bitchy, I found this odd. Perhaps his tirades were worse than shown. He chose to create something 50'ish to match the tones in the jewellery - a mix of vintage and modern - which had that same Vargas Girl feel as last week, but stronger in design. Comments include - you really love putting a lot into your garments, last week you overdid it and you kind of did that again but it really works this week, I really like it, there is maybe a bit too much lace around the fish tails in the back, a nice combination with the jewellery, he is working with most technique, the fit is really good, walks the line between stripper and chic, I appreciate you made it short and used a fabric that is not usually associated with high jewellery, the sides take away and are a bit trashy but the space in the midriff saves it and makes it more modern.

Timothy - Helen - Kahindo (Out)

Kahindo was sent home this week and I was definitely not in agreement. The judges truly hated what she did so by the end of their comments I got it, but I didn't agree that she was the worst. I would have sent Timothy or Helen home. She chose a gorgeous Silk Charmeuse print that everyone seemed to like in the studio (but the judges were horrified by), but all questioned her design choice. It did overshadow the jewellery and was too simple. I just wouldn't label it the worst. Comments include - I feel like you haven't done enough, it's so simple it's kind of boring, you have a major diamond necklace and then this off the rack dress, the colours are beautiful on a redhead but you didn't explain how they work to animate that beautiful necklace, there is a big disconnect between the dress and the accessories, the print is really hard, the construction is not inspiring and I don't know if this is exciting enough.

Helen started out confidently creating a classic red carpet look with her trademark machine fluting, but she slowly fell apart. The design was too complicated to finish in 1 day. I like Helen and hurt for her, but still felt it inappropriate that Heidi paused the runway show when she started crying and sent Tim over to comfort her. I think it made the judges feel extra sorry for her - even Nina Garcia was surprisingly drawn in - and that is what saved her as her gown was a train wreck. Comments include -  I am always surprised you decide to do something you have never done before here, you bit off too much, a lot of problems in the back, the execution is very poor, hairy hips, a gown like this takes days, the hem is off, the fabric is the wrong choice, you have to time manage, there are so many imperfections that it distracts from the jewels, the design is interesting but you didn't deliver on it and I have trouble believing that you're a bridal and evening wear designer.

Timothy's first design was such a disaster that Tim commented, "This is a hot mess and has ticket home written all over it." While he re-thought the silhouette and it was better, his work still looks unfinished and like a high school project. He continues to affect the judges with his Eco stories, but I don't think it will save him for much longer. It doesn't make up for poor design and construction. Comments include - I am surprised your model is wearing eye makeup but still no hair styling - it does not look that great, you have to think of it as a head to toe look, I commend you for taking something as ambitious as velvet, I like the bottom of the dress but when I get to the top the dress looks backwards, I didn't see the jewellery was canary yellow - the blue sucked the colour out and it is bizarre to have the razor back in the front. Tim did stand up for him saying it was 1000 percent better than when he saw it in the studio. That really isn't saying much.  This is week 2 he is in the bottom.  Should be a heads up that something is missing.

Sue - Bradon - Jeremy

Loved Sue's design again - if not her attitude.  You can't see in this picture all the intricate, angled pleating used to create shape. I don't know that this was the best neckline was right to show off the necklace, but other than that I am a fan.  Bradon took a chance and used curtain fabric to get the texture he wanted. As he had immunity, he felt it was the right time to take a big risk like this. You can't see from this angle but there is actually a transparency in the skirt fabric. It looked great on the runway and worked well with the necklace. Jeremy's dress looked good on the runway as well, especially the graduated colour scheme of the tulle at the bottom. But while the neckline worked with the gems, I'm not sure the softer look of the bottom worked with the more graphic style of the necklace.

Justin - Ken - Alexandria

Justin's runway image does not really do this gown justice. The soft layers of black with nice shaping at the bodice and waist worked well on the runway and showed off the necklace well. LOVED the silhouette and colour of Ken's dress. My only note is that he should have had a small dip in the neckline to mirror the shape of the necklace. The high, straight across bodice line meant the necklace sometimes slipped behind or folded over it. Alexandria came through this week with this deep navy number I found very appealing. Simple, elegant and showed off the necklace nicely.

Miranda - Alexander - Karen

Didn't really care for any of these. Miranda's had potential.  Loved the shade of blue and the 2 pieces. The fit and proportions of the top from around the armpits to the shoulder straps is awkward somehow. Perhaps a bit too high and not quite the right angles?  It did look great in the back. If the top silhouette was bang on it might have received more attention from the judges. Alexander! Oh my! I do want to note that while I didn't care for this dress, this photo makes it look worse than it did on the runway. The colour and those big sleeves were a definite mistake.  Karen's gown had 3 issues - a bit too simple compared to what others were doing, the waist accent is in an odd place so makes her look thick instead of accenting her waist and most importantly, the bodice is not fit properly. Notice the bagging at the armpit on each side?

To see more views of each design or larger images go to Rate The Runway.