Project Runway Season 12, Ep. 5 - YOU Can Choose Your Own Materials

Brian Bolain (Lexus) - Tim Gunn
Only episode 5 and the designers face their third unconventional challenge. Very unusual. They meet Tim Gunn at the Gansevoort Plaza in New York City's Meatpacking District where they are introduced to Brian Bolain - Corporate Marketing Manager for Lexus.  Behind him are 4 brand new 2014 Lexus IS Sedans which will be their transportation while they complete their shopping for this unusual challenge.

This week the designers will be working in teams of 3 - huge sigh from everyone - to create a luxurious high end mini collection of 3 looks. It can be inspired by their car if they chose, but it's not a requirement. Each individual is responsible for 1 look. Their cars are pre-programmed for 3 destinations - a vintage wall-paper store (Second Hand Rose), a specialty food store (Garden of Eden) and a combination home goods/party store (Surprise, Surprise) - but they can only purchase supplies from 2. The suggested budget is $1500 per team and they only have until midnight  Right from the start it's clear that Ken is offended with who he has to work with and that affects all their future interactions. Instead of finding a way to work together, he creates a mood that guarantees their failure from the start. The other 2 just end up ignoring him and making decisions or walking away. Guest judge this week is celebrity stylist/designer June Ambrose (love her website name - The Juniverse).

Team Jeremy/Karen/Kate chose to shop at the home/party store where they picked up everything silver and black and then headed to the grocery store where they selected a variety of colored rice, sprinkles and more to use in detailing.  Team Dom/Justin/Helen started at the vintage wallpaper store. They wanted to reflect the red colour of their car, but vintage colours tend to be more muted so it was a struggle. For their second stop they chose the grocery store and looked for items that would provide accents - chili peppers, dried fruit that could be used to resemble beading, etc. Team Alexandria/Ken/Sue started at the home/party store looking for anything in metallic tones in silver, grey and black. Unfortunately they grabbed a lot of fabric-like products which would come back to haunt them. Alexandria tries to bring in some hardware and is totally nixed. They spend $1300 of their budget here. Next they head off to the wallpaper store - something Ken totally does not agree with. He takes a back seat except when he wisely refuses to let them overspend their budget. The only time I respected him this entire show. Team Alexander/Bradon/Miranda also started at the home/party store. Their theme was white and they really did step outside the box with things like an eggshell product (probably for packing) and textured blinds.  Their next stop was the vintage store which didn't provide a lot of inspiration.

June Ambrose - Nina Garcia - Zac Posen - Heidi Klum
Alexander/Bradon/Miranda - I'm going to do something very different this week and put the team I would have loved to see win first. These designers brought it in my opinion. Their white/metallic theme worked well.  They incorporated some really unusual materials and the 3 looks screamed luxury. Alexander and Bradon had the strongest looks and I would have hands down given Bradon the win. That amazing skirt is out of a textured blind material that they hand shaped. Amazing that is looks so effortless, like soft fabric naturally draping. When Tim was in the studio to give them an early critique, he was stunned and speechless. I also appreciated that even though Bradon was safe, he worked as hard as he could with the other 2 designers to make sure they all had great looks on the runway. No judges comments to include as they were only safe - not top or bottom. Heidi did note their score was very close to that of the top team.

Alexander - Bradon - Miranda

Jeremy/Karen/Kate - The original idea was a futuristic Great Gatsby. During critique Tim told them they needed to be inspired by some of their more unique materials. "Look what you have - take it further. You're at a 2, take it to a 10." I think the judges put this on top because of their great construction and use of out-of-the-box materials. I did struggle with this choice partly because I didn't think Karen's dress was flattering - very boxy and odd. More sci-fi than luxury. I also didn't think the collection was as cohesive or luxurious as the one above. The other issue I had was the choice of Jeremy as the winner. While his was definitely the best look, he was the only one who didn't really use the extra materials Tim pushed for. The dress is made out of placemats (the most like fabric) and he decorated with glitter instead of something truly unique. Although I'm not a fan of their garments, Karen and Kate incorporated the more unusual items such as rice, coconut flakes, unique construction materials, etc. Comments include - style by design, I do see this on the red carpet, it's delicious, all these surprises piqued my interest, you captured the car and luxury, the white dress is fierce, I can immediately tell the reference to the car and it looks effortless.

Jeremy (Winner) from placemats - Karen - Kate from trashbags

Dom/Justin/Helen - This team was also in the middle "You're safe, you can leave the runway" position, so no judges comments.  When Tim critiqued their early work, he questioned why they spent only about half their budget. This severely limited them to just a couple wallpapers for construction and some grocery items to decorate. The designers decided to seriously crumple the wallpaper to try and make it look more unconventional. I honestly don't care for Helen or Justin's look.  The only one I think was interesting was Dom's. The 3-D shoulders are at least an unusual detail. The collection also doesn't exude luxury which was part of the challenge. A miss. I am beginning to question Justin's presence. He has yet to put an outstanding look on the runway. The pants and shirt here are dowdy and the crotch on the pants is sad. He gets a nod for constructing them from wallpaper, but you can see Alexander at the top worked with the same material, but managed a wow look and great fit.

Helen - Dom - Justin
Alexandria/Ken/Sue - I would have loved to see Ken go home. Everyone admitted this team was a recipe for disaster, but Ken's attitude took a bad situation and made it unworkable. The first thing Ken does during Tim's critique is diss his 2 partners by saying they were, "Vomiting too much information."  When Tim tells Sue he is disappointed she was using a curtain which is too much like fabric, Ken smirks - not nice and Tim notices - then goes on to denigrate Sue as a designer. Again - not nice. Sue decides to start over. With only a few scraps left, she is really limited. On the runway when asked to talk about their collection, all 3 are zombies and the judges notice. Comments include - materials, sewing and taste level is bad in all 3, a cocoon without a butterfly, not chic, a coffee filter, no surprise, very random, not very thought out, very haphazard, it doesn't look expensive, not luxury, all of it is badly made, (to Ken because of his attitude) we're harping on her but it's all bad, rushed panicked and painful. Alexandria said it all when asked to choose who should go home. Sue lacked good drafting/sewing skills, but working with Ken......................Tim admitted even he was intimidated. Of course Ken doesn't see it and is very put out. The judges didn't like his garment, but I would have sent him home for being an ass to his teammates.

Sue (Sent Home) - Ken - Alexandria
I actually loved some of the unique work Sue brought to the runway and felt bad the last 2 team challenges put her first with Sandros and then with Ken - both really difficult and abusive personalities. While she lacks the traditional training, sometimes that lets a designer bring a different point of view and I think that is true here.  I love the way she takes blocks of fabric and molds them through draping and pleating to create beautiful flowing shapes that are oh so elegant. I'll have my eye on this one.

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