Project Runway: “What Do You Care About?”

Posted on May 17, 2019

This was the kind of challenge that made us long for our snarky outlaw fanblogger days of the aughts. And by that we mean we wished it was literally 2006 so we could make the kind of bitch-on-blast recap that this outrageously pretentious challenge deserves. But times change, bloggers change, and given the seriousness of some of the themes in this episode, it wouldn’t be a cute look for us to go off, blogspot-style, tempted as we might be to do so. Suffice it to say, points were made on T Lo’s couch last night.

 

We’ll say this: While it’s true that fashion has (re)discovered a more political, social issues-oriented voice in the last few years, it just seems silly to portray it all as a deeply heartfelt expression of truths rather than the usual branding exercises and self-aggrandizement that characterizes the responses of corporations, business, and celebrities to social justice issues. In other words “Put it on a t-shirt” actually serves as a mockery of the whole idea of fashion-with-a-purpose but the show was taking everything deadly seriously, which left us a little bemused and primed to roll our eyes at any given moment.

 

As is the case with so many “BE INSPIRED! RIGHT NOW!” challenges, you can’t really put a creator on the spot like that and expect them to come up with something nuanced or well thought out on the fly. They were asked to address social issues and most of them wound up expressing personal issues or going so broad in their messages as to be almost meaningless. That’s less of a criticism of the designers and more of an observation that you can’t expect much from them when the show tasks them with something that should take a long time to work through, but imposes a short deadline to do it.

 

And while we appreciate the show attempting to get designers to tell stories and deliver messages through fashion, we kinda felt like Nina was gritting her teeth through this entire “Let’s all talk about our feelings” “Thank you for sharing your truth” judging session. It just didn’t feel like fashion or like Project Runway. When the guest judge tried to take Tessa to task for imposing body images on women’s fashion only to be met by Tessa’s deeply personal and clearly heartfelt response and explanation, you had two competing agendas clashing messily in the judging criteria. An attempt at social justice critique came face to face with someone’s personal pain – and it all felt very far removed from the world of fashion or the point of a design competition.

 

Tessa

Conceptually, this was interesting. And it clearly came from some place deep inside her, representing something very personal for her. But we can’t say we loved the final result all that much. The graphic just looked too rough and sketchy to our eyes. And aside from the cutout and the reveal, there really wasn’t much design to this look.

 

 

Hester

For all the talk about how dated Garo’s work is, it’s starting to look odd to us that the exact same criticism isn’t being levied at Hester’s work, which tends to all resemble a queered-up Benetton ad or come off like warmed over Club Kid retreads. The tulle jacket is very cute and clever, but everything about this look, from the hair down to the boots, reads late ’90s to us. Fashion is cyclical, of course, but this doesn’t feel like a freshened-up take.

 

 

Garo Sparo

Straight-up early aughts music video. It looks like something Christina or Britney would’ve worn 15 years ago. He’s very talented, but he’s had the exact same issue with his work in every single challenge. His aesthetic is limited and dated, even if his designs are occasionally impressive.

 

 

Venny

A muddled mess of a design. There are just too many elements for there to be any clarity in the message, but then again, the message (“Stereotypes are bad”) didn’t lend itself to strong aesthetic statements. Had he done basic hip hop outerwear over a basic gown, his point would’ve been made, but he tried to get cute with the jacket and treated the dress like an afterthought.

 

 

Sebastian

It is completely fucking ridiculous that this didn’t win.

We would rate this as one of the best all-time weekly-challenge entries in Project Runway history. It’s THAT good. Even his t-shirt design is hot. PR always has this weird aversion to rewarding the designers with the sickest technical skills, as if doing so turned the show into a sewing competition. But he is regularly churning out work so far ahead of his competitors that it’s kind of ridiculous how little attention it gets. This isn’t just technically perfect, of course. It’s gorgeous, it’s chic, and it subtly portrays a message that’s easy to grasp.

 

Jamall

It’s Moncler. Nina was right to point it out finally. He’s young and his voice as a designer clearly hasn’t fully developed. It’s time for his puffy fashion to go.

 

Bishme

We were torn on this one. We both liked it, but Lorenzo was pissed it won. Tom definitely thinks the win should have gone to Sebastian, but likes the dress enough that he’s not really mad at Bishme. The faces were hard to see on camera, but they look really great in the picture. Design-wise, it’s pretty basic, which is why Lo’s pissed.

 

 

We didn’t realize until this episode what a sausagefest this season has become. Venny seems like a really sweet guy and a talented designer, but we can’t say we disagreed with his elimination this week.

More on today’s podcast.

 
 

[Photo Credit: Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo]

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