Nu-PR continues to entertain us by tweaking the format ever so slightly and centering the stories and inspiration of the designers. Little by little, the backgrounds and insecurities of the designers are being doled out through the design and inspiration processes. Despite over a decade of us complaining about Project Runway making itself all about the drama, we are enjoying how the new version is handling it. As we kind of noted in last week’s review, there’s a way of telling the stories of your contestants without making it seem like you’re exploiting or manipulating them.
Nu-PR seems to have figured this out, allowing any work room drama to arise out of the challenge and the personalities of the designers under pressure rather than forcing them all to jump through flaming hoops. Little things like Afa getting the phone call home. everyone rallying around Kovid, or even the drama between Hester and Nina of the over-purchased tulle.
There’s a difference between manufactured drama created by producer fuckery or contestant attention-seeking and letting the contestants be real people with stories of their own. So far, we’re not minding how this is playing out. And it’s notable that the moments of tension in the work room largely worked themselves out without any major blowups or anyone being thrown under the bus during the judging.
The introduction of the challenges are clearly more creative and stagey in tone, but in all honesty, having Heidi stand on the runway and poorly explain it each week wasn’t doing the show much good anymore. The A Human line is au courant and allows the designers to be forward-thinking and creative.
In addition, the judging session was incisive, on-point and fairly kind to the designers. We loved Brandon taking the time to buck up Kovid or to explain to Frankie that the fashion world isn’t going to give her a chance to explain her designs. We like how Elaine is settling in as the Good Cop to Nina’s Bad Cop. And as a mentor, Christian’s advice is getting more results-oriented and problem-focused. Unlike his predecessor, he has no problem sweeping in, listing everything that’s going wrong and ordering the designers around in order to get them to course-correct. So far, the revitalized Project Runway is hitting on all cylinders. Is the fashion up to this new sense of energy?
Team Back Scaffolding
This wasn’t the most original design in the world, but it has a strong point of view and is pretty much perfectly executed. As a way of showcasing the back mod, it was kind of unimaginative.
But Venny’s offering was even duller. An open back was a given on all of these designs. The trick was to offer something new and original. This is neither.
This is a little unresolved and underdesigned, but it feels very of-the-moment. We could see this walking a current runway. Of course, the brief was to do something futuristic and forward-thinking, so she missed the mark.
Team Shoulder Horns
Hester’s a LOT to take, but it’s to her credit that she just seems to be an intense and perhaps self-absorbed person rather than someone who’s trying to be villain or a camera hog. For all her drama, this was a pretty underwhelming look. Not nearly the disaster it could have been, but still pretty disappointing.
This is badly rendered and cheap-looking, not to mention the exact opposite of futuristic, i.e., stale.
And this is so basic it probably deserved to be in the bottom.
This was surprisingly lovely. The front is just okay, but the back was absolutely beautiful. She picked a gorgeous textile and executed her design really well. It doesn’t remotely look futuristic, though.
Horrible. He didn’t take his model’s proportions into consideration at all and the result is an oversized, unflattering hospital gown. Then again, there’s no such thing as a well-fitted, flattering hospital gown. Unfortunately for him, the challenge wasn’t “Make a hospital gown.”
It was also not “Make a comforter and try to do a cheap Moncler knockoff.” This was absolutely awful. Jamall and Rakan are very luck there was a clearly worse team on the runway.
Team Neck Ruffles
Gorgeous. All three members of this team did fantastic work. Work so good, it elevated the episode. That’s the thing that Nu-PR hasn’t quite shown us enough of: stunning fashion. We’re hoping the work this team did this week is going to light a fire under some of these other designers. The pants and the cape are the real wow elements here. The former are flawlessly executed and the latter is fresh and futuristic.
It took Nina to figure out the correct way to wear that top and once she zhuzhed things into place, the whole look came together. Tessa was a little bossy, but again, there was no drama arising out of it and her teammates even praised her and credited her with keeping them on target. Even better, she was quite forthcoming about the fact that Sebastian did the entire lower half of her look. It shows. The skirt is gorgeous.
But there was no question Sebastian was the winner this time. There’s a bit of Iris Van Herpen in the design, but it’s a fabulously fresh and modern look that fulfilled the brief of the challenge perfectly. This is futuristic and perfectly married to the body mod.
Team Chest Feathers
This whole team was a disaster from the jump. As Nina noted, their concept of a woman going out clubbing completely missed the point of the challenge, which was clearly evident in the designs; all of which obscured the body mod they were supposed to be highlighting. Two of these looks had high necklines and two of them had jackets when the whole point was to design something strapless to show off the model’s chest.
It’s hard to decide which one of these was the worst of the three. They’re all terrible concepts, poorly designed and horribly executed.
Just about the only thing the judges could base their decision on was which designers showed more potential than others. Renee was clearly safe and Kovid did a pretty good job of selling himself to the judges, but Frankie had two disasters in a row. This early in the competition, that’s a deal-breaker.
More thoughts about this episode and the fashion that walked that runway on today’s podcast:
[Photo Credit: Barbara Nitke/Bravo]
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