Project Runway Season 12, Ep. 11 - Next Generation

This week the designers waited in the backstage lounge to hear what the new day would hold. Tim Gunn came in with Rob Le Bras-Brown, the Senior VP of HP Worldwide Marketing and everyone sat up. It was the challenge they had all been waiting for since episode one.

Episode 11 would be the HP Intel Textile Design Challenge. The designers would be creating their own original print on the latest technology from Hewlett-Packard - the HP ENVY Rove. The inspiration for this challenge - a group of Next Generation innovators. They would not be the model or client, only the inspiration for the look. The print would be inspired by their muses, but the garment could be whatever they wanted it to be.

As the winner of the last challenge, Helen was allowed to select first and chose Ryan Keeley, an abstract artist, photographer and gallery owner who combines painting with new media and technology. The rest had to chose in an order dictated by the dreaded button bag - Bradon chose Nigel Sylvester, professional BMX rider, entrepreneur and youth mentor; Alexandria chose Ilana Greenberg, Creative Director at GD USA and a top graphic designer who uses her creativity to advocate social causes; Alexander chose Thiago Silva, executive pastry chef at Catch NY and named one of Zagat's 30 under 30!; Kate chose Maria Gonzalez, a 17-year-old who works with Girls Who Code (a nonprofit that teaches computer science skills to young women) and created an app called Say Something to help NYer's help homeless people;  Justin chose Miss USA 2012 Nana Meriweather who co-founded a non-profit in South Africa where her mother was born that focuses on education and health; and Dom chose Premal Sha, co-founder of Kiva which crowd funds loans for entrepreneurs world-wide.

Peter Som - Nina Garcia - Zac Posen - Heidi Klum - Justin's translator on the right

The designers were given one hour to meet with their muses to hopefully find the inspiration they needed to rock the runway this week, and then one hour to create their design after this meeting. The winner and their Next Generation partner would receive technology from HP including the Split X2, a combined desktop and tablet that splits, and the new Rogue that leaves the desktop behind. After their interviews, some brought souvenirs to the workspace - Alexander, a cake that melted in the 90 degree heat and Helen, a picture created by her muse with her image in it. Then they are given 30 minutes to shop at Mood Fabrics for additional fabric and a suggested budget of $100 to be debited from their GoBank account. Guest judge this week was fashion designer Peter Som. Note - after the workshop critiques Tim commented everyone seemed to be over thinking it and he was going to be a worried dad all night. When Heidi said on the runway that one or more may be out, she followed through this time with a double elimination.

Top 3 -

Dom (Winner) - Bradon - Helen

Dom's muse brought colourful photos of people being funded through Kiva. Print and colour was right up Dom's alley, so she was extremely excited to design a textile that translated all of those cultures seen in the pictures onto the runway. She decided to create a simple silhouette that incorporated her very complex, ethnic influenced textile. Tim adored her print and encouraged her to add the sleeves and not worry they were too much. I also loved this print and final look and put her the winner as well! She really brought it this week. Comments included - runway ready, modern, I love the detail on the back of the sleeves, I'd wear that, amazing job, this challenge was made for you, I love the hair and makeup, something very tribal but very current, loved your choice of colour, vibrant and dynamic and a global aspect but it doesn't feel costume'y.

Bradon's muse was an innovator with a lot of passion. He wanted to create a print that was an abstract reflection of a cityscape. His muse liked the concept and suggested a bird's-eye view of the lines created as a rider biked through the city. This translated into horizontal and vertical lines with energy given by the colour palette. Bradon was concerned about pattern scale, but felt the final fabric was bang on. Tim was perplexed by Bradon's use of his print - a jacket and long skirt. Bradon really listened and decided to use the print in the jacket and create something different for underneath. He changed from a maxi-skirt to a stretchy knit black dress in two parts (removable neck and dress). The judges loved it as did I. Comments included - I link your print a lot it is very modern, very hot, this is a cool and sexy dress, the dress is sick, glad you took an iconic piece like a bomber jacket and put your own twist on it, she's hot, something very dynamic about the print if was music it would be jazz, something very sporty chic about this outfit, its fabulous, it is totally wearable and your best work all season.

Helen shared with her muse that both of her parents are artists. Despite that connection, she was nervous about the challenge as she admittedly never worked with prints. I think that is a serious mistake for any designer. When she unrolled her textile she loved it, but admitted she hadn't given any thought into how she would use it. She pestered the others with constant questions which were extremely distracting. They became very tired of the interruption. She admitted to Tim she is freaking out. Tim's advice, "This is the print you have to work with. Make it work!" By the time this went down the runway I was also very tired of this designer's whining which continued when she explained her garment to the judges. I personally didn't think her print was all that interesting, didn't see the connection to her muse and the design was really simple. I would have put it in the middle or bottom and was shocked she was in the top three. Obviously the judges didn't agree with me. Comments included - I like this print, sexy but not slutty, still sophisticated, fit is not perfect, overall cool, the choice of ecru colour to contrast looks vintage but could be modern, dark spangled hipster and smartest thing you did was cut the dress into two pieces.

Alexander (sent home) - Kate (sent home) - Justin

Alexander was very nervous mixing pastry and clothing, especially as a costume designer. Silva gave him a chance to express his artistic side by actually decorating a cake. In the end, the chocolate lacing on top of the cake was the starting point for his print. The fabric looked better than expected, but the designer still commented it looked like the x-ray of an alien. His runway design was to have a futuristic feel, but Tim felt looked very clerical. Even Alexander finally admitted it looked like a nun. Many puns were offered as his last name is Pope. I didn't like the print or the inset white cross. The cut-out back was a little better. Comments included - I do feel the print you designed is not really showing me cake or fun or sexy, I think the cut of the dress is good but nothing sweet or sexy, a cult leader of chocolate, white stripes looks like you left the masking tape on, she's a landing strip, like 2 different recipes came together, she is so covered it's almost like when you over indulge in chocolate cake, should have been light and different elements that came together in not the right way to make them sing. 

Kate's muse was a programmer, so she decided do a play on the binary code to create a floral print. You would never know the final print was floral as it was invisible unless you were very close. When Tim visited her, she seemed very unsure of her direction with several images of different designs. The only thing Kate really had to show him was the insets to go into the skirt. All he could say was to keep working. When a designer doesn't have a clear direction by the time Tim comes in, it's never a good sign. Hated this look entirely and the print was only an after thought and not really an integral part. Comments included - oh god, mostly a print challenge and that was secondary in your design process, five panels too many, on top you add this belt, too many elements and none are working well, you had an opportunity to give us a print that looked strong, looks like she fell into a Kleenex box, it is ugly, so much wrong with it, the fabrication and your choice so every flaw and very sad.

Justin's muse's work in South Africa proved the inspiration for his print. He sketched out the symbol for I love you in sign language and integrated an abstract of it into the design. Tim loved Justin's print, but didn't like the straight line where the bodice met the skirt and encouraged him to keep the curves going. I actually liked this on the runway. He only used a small amount of the print but tied it in well with a white underskirt and a light, floating gray over skirt. The judges actually hated the gray over skirt saying it looked dirty or like smog so maybe it didn't work close up. Something it's hard to judge these things from a TV screen. Comments included - I love that you put sign language into your print, looks like you spent all the time on your corset and then slapped the bottom on, very messy, not cool and modern, hard to look at, I wish you would have made this a shorter dress, looks from waist up modern and sexy, it does look like the bottom of the dress is super depressed, a bit like a prom dress, I wish the print had continued onto the dress, it doesn't seem like it would make Miss USA the winner and it could have been so great as a knee-length.

Safe - 
Alexandria was drawn towards the brick walls that had been fixed with cement and repainted in the restaurant Barbalou - devastated by Hurricane Sandy and being restored by her muse. She used rectangles to emulate part of the white-washed bricks. When Tim came in she was set on an a-line mini-skirt (Justin is usually really sweet but called it a newspaper wraparound), but was choosing between a draped top and a cool leather vest. Tim tells her all the work must go towards either the vest or the top - she shouldn't do both. Cool idea, but somehow it just didn't quite come together to create a cohesive look. The plain white band in the middle looked out of place and the print too subtle for a print challenge. You want it to be an important and strongly visible part of the look.

Only a couple more episodes to go! The next episode determines who will go to the finale.

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