It’s a structure we Project Runway viewers have become fairly familiar with: as the number of designers dwindles, the challenges start to require an even greater set of skills and effort from the remaining competitors. But usually, as challenges go, there is at least one designer in the group who has more experience at a particular task than his or her competitors. Not this week, however, the designers seemed to start at an even keel. No, they weren’t required to create a look for a plus-size model or a man or even a plus-size man, which always seems to cause the most trials. Instead the five remaining designers had to create an avant-garde look that incorporated innovation and technology, which basically meant they would have to create a garment using lights and color that would appear cool and totally bitchin’ under black lighting, which is how the runway show would be lit. To put added pressure on the designers, Angela Lindvall announced that their garments would be judged by the ‘best dressed man in the world’ Pharrell Williams. I know, not who I was thinking either. Pharrell would then use the winning look on one of his “artists” – all of which seemed very vague and appeared to offer the designers little direction. So when they were sent to Barbizon, a lighting store geared especially for use in theater, film and television, gone were the confident shoppers we normally see running up and down the aisles of Mood. Instead the designers were picking up fluorescents, LED lights and any other sort of glowing gadget with trepidation and unease.
The uneasiness carried over into the workroom as well. Mondo, who normally lets his fabric “speak” to him and tell him were to go with his designs, wasn’t hearing a peep from his materials. Michael, who is usually finished with his garment before Austin has made it to the sewing machines, had indeed finished a number of pieces, but none of which he was willing to use. Austin and Kenley both had clear ideas of what they wanted to do; Kenley was creating a plaid out of the Day-Glo tape she purchased, while Austin kept mumbling things about stars, dreams and fantasies. But I’m not sure either of them knew what sort of garments they would send down the runway. And Jerell, who likes to use fringes and attach any sort of accessory to his garments and call it “ethnic” was pretty much in heaven with this challenge, although he always seems thrilled to piece together a heinous looking outfit.
What ever apprehension there was early on in the challenge, disappeared by runway time. Even Michael, who is normally a bottle of nerves, was confident about his look, and my, what a look it was. If his intent was to frighten the judges, he succeeded as his model looked like a futuristic ninja, ready to kick some butt. Although the way the fabric was rumpled it appeared she had already fought a few battles. Mondo, who had struggled for inspiration, sent down a fairly simple mini-dress with odd-looking cone shapes protruding from the chest area which gave an over-all Tron-like look. The judges were very impressed that Kenley stepped up to the challenge this week and pushed her boundaries and created a look that was both interesting in depth and appearance, but also well put together and attractive. But it was Austin’s fairytale look that was named the winning design for this week. His garment was unlike the futuristic pieces the other designers sent down the runway (no use of neon for Austin), which made his gown really stand out in a favorable way. That left Jerell, whose maxi dress was anything but appealing and in fact made his model look more like a grandmother than an avant-garde fashionista. Needless to say, Jerell is no longer an All Star and I’d say it’s about time!
I’ve never really done anything with technology, like electricity. –Michael
They’re called fairy lights, coincidentally enough. –Austin
I go to the fabric and let it speak to me and right now it’s very quiet. –Mondo
Michael’s playing seven minutes in heaven by himself. –Mondo
Michael can finish a dress in the time that it takes Kenley to tie her shoes. –Jerell
This kind of looks part alien, part Elizabethan. –Joanna Coles
Whatever you do, girl, don’t sweat; you don’t wanna be electrocuted. –Michael
She’s got this crazy Ninja Turtle look. –Michael
It also looks like a Teletubby, of all things. –Isaac MIzrahi
It looks like she bought this stuff at the joke store. –Isaac MIzrahi
I just didn’t want to see Mortal Combat. –Pharrel Williams
Until next week! Be sure to check out our other favorite site dedicated to all things Project Runway…Blogging Project Runway!
–Bonnie J Brown
Photos: LifetimeSee the Top Ten Summer 2016 Trends for Women Over 40
Tags: "Project Runway", Angela Lindvall, Austin, black light fashion, fashion designer competition, Georgina Chapman, Isaac Mizrahi, Jerell, Joanna Cole, Kenley, Michael, Mondo, Neiman Marcus, Neiman Marcus Accessories, Pharrell Williams, Project Runway All Stars, Season 1 Episode 9, When I Get My Dress In Lights