Project Runway Season: Blame It on Rio

Posted on May 03, 2019

The theme for today’s recap, which should be running through your minds constantly like some relentless refrain bearing down the refrain tracks toward you is this:



At least that’s what we’re telling ourselves this morning as we try to grapple with that win. Nina was under the weather and Karlie had a wedding to go to, which left us with the first truly unbalanced judging panel since the show returned to Bravo. It felt weird. Without Nina there, we had to struggle with whether we accepted Brandon, Elaine and Marni as legitimate stand-ins for her taste and smoothly competent reliability.


But the fact remains, the judges clearly have a favorite and Nina has certainly been a Hester-booster through most of the season. It’s probably not too much of a stretch to think Nina might’ve been on board with this one. Still, that judging session felt like we were on Bizarro world.


In other news, cracks are starting to show in the cast’s camaraderie. Tessa has always been fairly opinionated about the work of her competitors, but this week, her competitors decided to return the favor and she wasn’t particularly happy about it. Still, it says something about the casting of this season that even with tensions rearing their head, the most these designers could do was get a little snippy and passive-agressive about it. And while we can’t say Tessa’s always in the right, we also can’t blame her for being a little frustrated by the judging this week. Hester really is getting wildly over-favored.


Otherwise, it was a fairly typical episode of Nu-PR. We thought the announcement about Karlie and Nina not being on the judging panel was interesting, because that sort of thing would have been mentioned as an aside by Tim (or even not at all) during the old days. The new team is determined to weave a story through each episode and we kind of appreciated the time they took to stage this announcement. It felt like they were respecting the designers and the audience.

As an aside, Karlie. Girl. That’s not your look.


We think Marni makes a great addition to the team and any time she’s consulting in the work room, there’s an energy and savvy to it that really helps the show and the designers. Having said that, she probably shouldn’t be a regular judge. As a stylist, she’s always going to gravitate toward high-personality looks that either border on cray or happily leap over that line. In other words, she’s an expert on style but that doesn’t mean she makes the best judge of fashion design.



Team Rio Holiday
Sebastian (Beachwear)

It is INSANE that this wasn’t the winning look, let alone that this wasn’t the winning team. This is stylish, on point for the brief (unlike so many others, who thought Morena Baccarin was going to hit the streets of Rio with a basket of fruit on her head, while covered in bananas and macaws), and actually looks like something she might wear, based on our coverage of her style over the years.



Tessa (Daywear)

Nice to see Tessa break out into some bold color. This is okay. The bodice seems a little heavy and overdone and the straps down the back were way too much for a day look.



Lela (Eveningwear)

Hmm. Okay, fine. Maybe Sebastian’s was the best and then his teammates followed that up with passably good work. This isn’t an award-winner, but it has a low-key elegance to it, which is very much in line with Morena’s style.



Team Carnival
Jamall (Beachwear)

WHAT EVEN IS THIS? He’s not only lucky he has immunity, he’s lucky Nina wasn’t there because she would have had his head for this. The idea of a swimdress isn’t unheard-of, but putting all that tulle and netting between her legs is so bizarre it makes us wonder if he’s got any decent instincts. He really seemed blindsided by the judges’ hatred of this.



Renee (Daywear)

Oof. Even if we look at those pants and go, “Poor Renee. She had a bad day,” that doesn’t explain or excuse her hideous choices here. Maybe we were imagining it, but we thought Morena was kind of pissed about the output this week. So many designers listened to a stylish, elegant woman talk about her return trips to Brazil and wound up making the most hideous tourist clothes for her.



Venny (Eveningwear)

Cute, but as noted, far more appropriate for a teenager.



Team Disco Queen
Hester (Beachwear)

We fully admit that this is a pretty hot bathing suit. And we think the judges wound up doing that thing they tend to do when they have a pet who made something they like: they tossed the brief out. Obviously we don’t know the woman, but it strikes us as very hard to believe that this is something Morena Baccarin would wear on the beach. She just doesn’t go for loud or over-sexy looks. She’s not someone who does a lot of body-baring or body-conscious style.



Bishme (Daywear)

And we admit that this is one of the best looks on the runway. We think Sebastian’s is much better, but we suspect part of the reason this team was in the top was because Morena really did want to wear this.



Garo Sparo (Eveningwear)

And yes. Fine. This also has a low-key elegance to it that would appeal to her. We don’t dislike the design, but we did think the fabric choices didn’t help. They don’t look expensive. Also, we don’t like the shape of that neckline or the heaviness of the zipper, which really does make this seem like a day-time cover-up rather than an evening gown.

But whatever. The judges love themselves a character and Hester’s been giving them that in spades. We don’t dislike her as a designer and we can see why she’s bubbled up to front-runner status, but they wildly over-praised her work this week. More on today’s podcast in a bit.






[Photo Credit: Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo]

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