Project Runway Season 12, Ep. 12 - Butterfly Effect

This is it!  Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn entered the runway where Heidi congratulated the remaining designers on getting this far - from 16 down to 5. Tim added this was the most important challenge yet. The pressure was on.  (Note - really wanted everyone to see the very sculptural back of Bradon's winning dress. It was every bit as interesting as the front and one of the reasons he won. It took a full day just to make all 100 stiff, rolled silk shapes, each sewn by hand.)

The designers were to "Spread Their Wings" a bit this challenge, so it was off to the Sweetbriar Nature Center's inspiring butterfly house where they met Tim Gunn and L'Oreal Paris consulting make-up artist Billy B. The beauty of the butterfly was the inspiration for L'Oreal's Voluminous Butterfly Mascara, so the designers were challenged to create an avant garde look - experimental, daring, cutting edge - inspired by the amazing insects fluttering around them. As it was the L'Oreal Make-up challenge, the make-up this week would also be important and Billy B. would be consulting on every look. Tom Bachik, global nail expert for L'Oreal, would also be creating a nail look for the models. They were given 30 minutes to sketch and two days to complete the challenge. At Mood Fabrics they had 30 minutes to shop and a suggested budget of $500.  Guest judge this week was actress and singer Emmy Rossum.                                                                     
Emma Rossum - Nina Garcia - Zac Posen - Heidi Klum
When the designers entered the workroom the day of the runway show, they immediately knew something is up. Displayed on mannequins were all the losing looks. Tim came in to let them know today would not be a runway day after all. Instead they would be given an additional challenge. Each had to select one of the designs and transform it from a loser to a winner. The judges had to KNOW that the new look arose from the original. Dom went first as she had won the last challenge and then the rest had to choose according to the dreaded button bag. They had until 11 p.m. that night to create the 2nd look.

On runway day, the avant garde looks for every designer was shown first followed by a 2nd segment featuring the re-made looks. Heidi commented before judges began talking with the designers that this was one of the best final runway shows and judges would have a tough time making a decision. No question Bradon and Dom were in, the question would be who would take that 3rd spot. I do like when the designers get to share why they should go to fashion week, but dislike them having to choose who to go with them. It ended up being more of a popularity contest. What surprised me the most was several picked Justin. He had probably improved the most, but was still the only designer left who had never won a challenge. Based on that, I think Alexandria or Helen should be chosen with Alexandria my preference. Her aesthetic is just so different from everyone else's that I think it would make a great show.

Top 2 with Bradon the winner over all!

Bradon (winner of this challenge)
Bradon was inspired by all that was going on around him - the silence combined with the movement, the flowers, the butterflies - so he took some time to enjoy it all visually. With no idea what his garment would be, he bought random stuff at Mood without considering amounts or how much he was spending. His final bill was $984 which was okay as he had underspent on a few challenges. Back in the workroom it was time to make a decision on design and he came up with the idea of rolling and strengthening pieces of fabric to give them a strange spring and bounce - $400 expensive silk noodles. It was day 2 before he decided on a silhouette - a tank top and miniskirt from the front that becomes a gown in the back. Originally the back was created with voluminous black/silver sheer fabric. Tim questioned whether the silk tubes would add anything, then changed his mind as they were placed on the garment. During model fittings,the designer let go of the 2nd fabric. A good choice as I thought it needed to be one detail or the other - edit, edit, edit. This was the judge's top pick and mine as well.

Bradon picked Sue's unconventional-materials dress, but then realized that was probably a mistake as there was very little fabric to work with - it was made out of placemats. He was horrified, but determined not to let it hold him back. I thought the second look was just okay, but given that he had little to work with he pulled it off. The judges, however, were seriously impressed. 

Comments included - two spectacular looks, white is extravagent-exciting-harmonius, every angle is an interesting angle, that's what avant garde is about, hallelujah, this makes me happy because you have created art, the rework look is super chic, we all had an emotional reaction, really cool, interesting play with hem lengths, 2 great pieces of work and well done.


Dom was excited both by getting to do something avant garde as well as the use of colour and beautiful insects as inspiration. She decided to pull from the designer prints at Mood because even though they were more expensive - they looked and felt nicer. In the end she was only slightly over at $628. Dom told Tim she found it interesting that butterflies crossbred so decided to use that same concept with her textiles. Her design was a jumpsuit under an interesting jacket, but she worried about taking the print combining too far. Tim's feedback was to not make it look like a crazy insane costume. Love the bounce of the jacket as the model walked and the look over all.

Dom picked Jeremy's look from the Belk challenge partly because it had such colourful fabric. She turned the jacket into a vest and used the sleeves to make a cool and crazy collar. Helen is seriously impressed and comments she totally deserves to be at fashion week. Not sure where the black fabric was in the original garment that she used to created the skirt and detail the sleeves, but the look was strong.

Comments included (note - while I would give Bradon's avant garde look the win, if you took the two looks together I think Dom was the right choice) - I love the exuberance of color and print of your avant garde print, I love that you chose to do a jumpsuit, wow, fantastic, (model takes off jacket to show jumpsuit and everyone AAHHHS) I'm blown away, beautiful use of mixed prints, for your repurposed look-impeccable work, the world of DOM - I see a brand, this was emotional clothing, well done, I love when you play with volume and go for it, you have a beautiful eye for combining prints, you made it work and I just want to wear the coat.

As the judges could not agree on which of these 3 to choose, they all will create collections. Only one will be chosen to show.

Alexandria was drawn to the dark Zebra butterfly whose life span is only one week. She felt there was a sadness in something so beautiful having such a short life span and wanted to bring that into her garment. She was just under double the budget at Mood's - $992. The designer took strips of the dark, sheer silks to make a striated effect. While she intended originally to come back after fitting with cleaner seaming - Tim admitted he liked the raw edges.  So raw it was. Tim, "It's on the goth side - I'm a fan!"  He also went to bat when Zac questioned her tailoring saying it would have taken two more days to finish it the way Posen wanted.

Alexandria decided to work with Miranda's plaid pegged pants, commenting she could transform them into a $2,000 pair. She turned the blouse into piping and created a faux hawk of feathers. A small meltdown from pressure led her to call home. We then found out that she taught little kids to sew and the students were there working on projects when she rang. They lifted her spirits and gave her the courage to continue. Again, not sure where the black and silver fabrics were in the original outfit. This look is okay, but I don't know if I would consider it transformed.

Mixed comments included - I love your avant garde, goth-sexy-dramatic dress, you would sell so many of these dresses, don't love make it work look, punk costume, pants are smoking hot, I don't love styling of make it work look but love the avant garde look, (Nina) I disagree I love the repurpose look but the avant garde this feels more like the butterflies that got stuck in the spider web and I appreciate the different techniques but the looks were not successful for me (Zac).

Justin found one albino butterfly that inspired him - an outsider - which was something he felt he was growing up as a deaf and gay man. He overspent at Mood's more than double - $1,167. Big chunky piping was one of the focuses for this look. He decided to make a complete look centered around this application. Tim agreed it was the core of his look, but was concerned that the first fabric for the coat looked cheap. Fortunately he had a 2nd choice. I think the dress was amazing, but didn't care for the black over-garment. It didn't really added anything to the over all look other than to hide and then reveal the amazing dress underneath.

Justin bravely choose the look that put him in the bottom to re-work. The decision put him in tears, but he felt it was an opportunity to transform it and impress the judges. He ripped off all the glue detailing, maintained the basic structure and took it in a sleek and modern direction.  

Comments included - I think you did a really good job, it has a lot of drama, she shed the cocoon and she emerged (different than I thought), inventive and creative, this re-worked piece is so much improved, I am so impressed, I would wear it, the avant garde dress is the best work I have seen from you and watch the details.

Helen took the Monarch butterfly as inspiration and the colour scheme became a focus - a gradient of gold and tangerine, in fact she took 6 bolts. Her original design also included a cloak. She was aiming for LUXE AS HELL, so admittedly overspent with a total bill of $1,057. When Tim came in she had created a big, black cocoon wrap with black detailing that would cover all but the model's face to be worn over the dress. Tim commented it looked like she had an exquisite dress that would be covered up by this thing. Another designer pointed out the black/orange palette was very Halloween. Helen was obviously discouraged as she had spent almost a day on that cloak. She again had a meltdown of self-doubt,very tiring. Even the model had to give her a pep talk. She needs some cojones! 
Helen grabbed Kate's losing look commenting that the designer had helped her a lot. This look was tons better than the original. Very chic and sophisticated. Loved the hook and eye strip down the back of the short white blouse.

Comments were mixed - construction is wonderful, you must have done a marathon of sewing, her body looks amazing in it, I'm more a fan of your avant garde look (Heidi), those are my favourite nails, I like your rework it's clean sexy and modern - the gown is okay and I've seen this several times before (Zac), I agree with Zac the repurpose look is very chic and modern - the avant garde looks like an orange soda (Nina) and I love your rework look - chic, elegant, could be worn to a meeting or to a yacht, Beyonce would look good in it (Guest judge).

To see more images go to RATE THE RUNWAY.