Project Runway: Petals and Grommets

Posted on February 15, 2013

We have a feeling this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but the team conceit is actually pumping a little bit of life into a tired old format.

It’s not just the shuffling around of contestants from team to team; we all pretty much figured that was coming.


No, it was more than that. Look at this challenge. We’ve seen plenty of unconventional materials challenges over the years, including flower shop and hardware store challenges. Combining the two into one didn’t yield anything interesting in the storytelling, but having these challenges approached from a team perspective was an interesting twist. We don’t think we’ve ever seen an unconventional materials challenge where the designers had to come up with their concepts and designs before they even set foot in the materials store.

And having them pitch their ideas to the team for consideration and then watch them attempt to make a series of looks into a cohesive collection is interesting. The creative process is taking center stage this season and we can’t complain about that.


We feared this season would be nothing but a string of arguments and ego clashes, but it’s to the credit of these designers that they’re all acting fairly maturely, supporting each other, and critiquing the work in a grown-up way. We’re not ready to declare this season a success, but this episode was one of the best in a while. More, please.

Of course, it always helps when they’re given time and money to complete their designs. It’s not a coincidence that the runway show was great this week and the judges had a hard time picking both the winner and the loser. That’s the way it should be.




So congrats to Samantha! We wouldn’t have picked this for the win, but it’s definitely a contender. That skirt won it for her and we can see why. The technique of putting the leaves under the screen made for an interesting effect. We just think the whole thing’s a bit overdone, with the contact paper bodice, the twine, and the peplum. We would have liked this a lot more with one or two elements subtracted.



Layana’s getting a little full of herself, but we have to admit, this should’ve been the winner this week. It’s stunning. And we love the way she played around with the string in the bodice.


This was another very good contender for the win. The flowers are arranged so well in the skirt that it really does look like fabric. And the bodice is gorgeous, topped off by that amazing necklace. It’s always nice to have a designer outside the European/American aesthetic that dominates fashion. He brings in a non-western point of view and, in this case at least, made something beautiful and interesting.

Michelle and Richard

This was just okay, as far as we’re concerned. They used the blinds creatively, but the shape is awkward and the flowers look like clippings thrown in a trash can.




Pun intended, this really grew on us. It’s just unusual enough that we keep coming back to look at it. Our only real issue is with the shape, which is thick and kind of unflattering.


All that ridiculously time-consuming (and attention-seeking) effort, and the result is a basic pretty dress. Yes, it’s impressive that he weaved the fabric out of string, but to our eyes, it doesn’t look like it was worth the time he spent on it. Pretty, but not exactly amazing.


We thought this was kind of hideous, to be honest. The first real clunker coming out of Daniel’s corner. Everything looks overdone and awkward.


“Pow-wow chic,” our perky gay asses. This was an utter mess.


It’s very pretty, but annoyingly simple. You have to do more than make a dress and glue flowers on it to get the judges excited. Still, kudos to him for coming in and whipping the team into shape. We were confused as to why they all picked him over Daniel, who’s a judge favorite at this point, but they must have seen something in him that we’re not seeing at home, because it paid off.


We’d never praise this for being innovative, but we don’t understand why so many people rolled their eyes at this design. It’s pretty and exuberant. Yes, it’s just flowers glued to a dress, but it’s not the disaster some of her teammates feared it would be.


This wasn’t a top-tier effort, but she problem-solved when she ran into trouble and she managed something that looks pretty good, if a little rough. We thought the way her teammates all singled her out on the runway was a bit bullshitty. “Amanda struggled, so she should go home.” Benjamin struggled through the challenge too; as did Michelle and Richard. Don’t get us wrong; she’s clearly in the bottom and an argument could be made for sending her home, but the reasons her teammates gave were arbitrary and a bit unfair.

But in a way, they also saved her, because she clearly was saved by the promise of potential drama. Now she has to work with an entire team that somewhat dishonestly threw her under the bus. There’s no way the producers were sending her home when there’s so much arguing to be done.


Joseph Aaron

Which left poor Joe as the sacrificial lamb. Speaking of arbitrary, the judges’ complaints about this look seemed to be totally made up in order to justify the auf. We honestly thought this was gorgeous. Not every garment needs to be form-fitted and body-conscious as every one of those judges well knew, so the complaint about the shape rang false to us. Not as false as the complaints about the flower placement, though. They sounded NUTS when they criticized that. His use of flowers here was absolutely beautiful. We knew the guy was cannon fodder, because the weird, experimental types always are on Project Runway, but it’s a shame they sent him home for making a beautiful garment that’s really only slightly off the beaten path.




[Photo Credit: Barbara Nitke for Lifetime]

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