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Recap: Project Runway, Episode 10.12, “The One Where We Pretend Things Are Avant-Garde”

A big, sloppy, humpy thank you to SaraB who covered the show last week for me! No more giant shoulders from Elena, I guess. She was interesting, I’ll give her that. Scary, but interesting. I like a scary lady – we need more of them for to terrify the populace with their periods and whatnot. So go out and cause trouble in your neighborhood by being a ballsy bitch today, Persephoneers!

But this blog is not about balls or bitches (actually, it’s probably going to be about both) – it’s Project Runway time!

There are only five designers left. Heidi teased the final five and told them she would send them to a far, far off place for the next challenge. Long Island. There’s a joke there somewhere. Tim met them at Oheka Castle, a mansioney-castley place replete with gardens and rents you can’t afford. The designers would be inspired by the gawgeous grounds of the castle, but also by L’Oreal’s new makeups line Electric Fantasie. I italicized it because I want you to say it with sweeping arm gestures and long whispers: Electric Fantasie! The makeups came in four leading lady characters, The Enchanted Queen, The Seductive Temptress, The Wise Mystic, and The Artsy Muse. Hooray! Now we, as vagina-bearers, can be pigeon-holed into the roles the executives at L’Oreal have created for us, for our empowerment! Are you feeling venomous or “mystic” today, ladeez? I’m feeling crusty and tired, but I don’t see the role of The Leaky Sloth available to me, so I guess I’m not feeling that way at all. I should never have consulted myself.

Thus we finally have the avant-garde challenge! Each designer got a “look” to start with, with a color palette, so maybe, for once, we won’t have groupthink with the damn fabric choices. I hope?

Christopher had The Enchanted Queen, so he sketched a villainess gown with a huge, structured hip that would give her an “hourglass, evil shape.” Nice! I didn’t realize my hourglass figure made me inherently wicked, but the shake with my burger has been known to crane some necks, so I like to think I’m doing at least a little evil. Melissa got The Artsy Muse, when she dearly wanted the Queen, because black. All the artsy colors frightened her, and why not? Blue is the most terrifying color ever.

Five yards of awesome gold fabric was missing from Sonjia’s Mood bag by the time she made it to the work room. Horrors! But she called herself “the make it work queen,” so she put on her big-girl head wrap and got to, well, work.

Tim visited the work room, and nodded, and huffed at what he saw. Fabio took us through the Stages of Tim’s Silence, a stunned quietude to be dreaded, as one might the dentist. Stage one, hand on the face. Stage two, arms crossed. Stage three, squint and head tilt. If a designer gets all three levels? Dooooooom. Fabio turned his outfit’s frown upside-down by literally doing just that – he flipped his coat bottom to top, and revived a flailing design, turning it into a sculptural eye-opener.

Guru Gunn told Sonjia that he felt she hadn’t been working up to her supreme potential and giving it her all. He rode her hard, right there in the work room in front of all the cameras. It was hot.

This was the last challenge before fashion week, so there were a lot of monologues from the designers about it being the last challenge before fashion week. Emotions were high on the runway, as the five wondered, often aloud, who would get to the elusive show. It was like the last hours of prom, everyone wondering if they’d end up sweaty in a hotel room with their date, or at home eating Cocoa Puffs alone with aching feet.

Zoe Saldana was the guest judge. Not to knock her, but I’m not sure what qualified her to judge this specific challenge, except that she’s famous and co-founded, which looks to be a Pinterest for fashion, or, as you might call it, Pinterest. She’s lovely and all, I was just hoping for maybe an avant-garde designer for the avant-garde challenge.

Melissa, Fabio designs Project Runway Season 10, Episode 12
Melissa, Fabio (Left to Right)

Melissa’s artsy muse was definitely more hard-edged than patchouli and butterflies – and I liked it. The black and white geometric-patterned long, gown-y skirt peeped open to reveal a coral lining, echoed in the slashing neckline. I enjoyed the black, leather sleeveless top (and matching arm guards – to defend oneself against grabby artists, I suppose), and the aqua leather, high-collar vest atop it. It was tough, but bright, and just plain neat. But not avant-garde. Nope, not in the least, to my eye. Kors loved this one, calling the skirt both interesting and flattering. Nina loved the vest and the drama of the collar. Heidi said, “I don’t know which outfit is uglier – Fabio’s, or yours.” DAYUM. But Zoe liked it, too, and called it avant-garde. Really? It’s neato, but it’s a vest and a long skirt in fairly traditional shapes. This was just the beginning of my head-shaking.

Fabio’s queen was less awesome than I hoped she’d be. The coat ended up looking vaguely Shakespearean to me, and I liked its combination of poof and fitted. Except for the fact that it didn’t close – badass queens do not flap about in an open, shapeless schmatte. The underdress (pants?), vertical slashes of black hovering over a deep red, sleeveless dress (pants?), didn’t look at all like his original concept: hard on the outside, soft on the inside. She looked pulled down by her heavy colors and layers of fabric. Somehow, sleeveless and a ponytail does not an evil queen make. This one looked like a costume; a well-executed, but drab one. Kors called the jacket “fantastic,” but hated the palazzo pants. Heidi and Zoe said it was unflattering, and they were right. Nina said the jacket was gorgeous, and that the reversibility was great.

Dmitry, Sonjia designs Project Runway Season 10, Episode 12
Dmitry, Sonjia (Left to Right)

Dmitry made a suit. For the avant-garde challenge. His inspiration was The Wise Mystic and his model looked neither mystic, nor particularly wise. It was a gorgeous suit, with a high, bejeweled collar and tailoring to die for. The pieces were amazingly constructed, the seaming – exquisite. The skirt sides were open about an inch and the back of the jacket came to a deep V, which added a nice spark as she was going. But really? A fucking SUIT?! Cut-outs do not an avant-garde anything make! At this point in the show, I was beginning to wonder if any of these folks had just freaking googled what the term “avant-garde” meant. Don’t they have fancy HP computers for just this sort of task? Heidi called it amazing, and said it looked wonderful from every angle. Zoe called the sleeves stunning. Kors called the shoulders and neck costumey. They adored the tailoring. But not one, not ONE even mentioned the purpose of the challenge: avant-garde. I was shaking my head. I felt like they were grasping for a winner.

Sonjia’s enchantress took a page from one of the great seductresses from literature, Scarlett O’Hara, and made herself a dress of window sheers and curtains. It was kelly green water taffeta (from the ballroom at Tara?) folded over sheer, not-really-nude fabric. I admit, the shape was vampy as hell, and she looked both dangerous and sexy, with a sweep of fabric over each breast that looked as if a breeze might blow it askew, to delectable results. The skirt had a fishtail hem and a very Jessica Rabbit feel to it. BUT THIS WAS IN NO WAY AVANT-GARDE. It was nice (but frankly could have done without the ice-skater-modesty fabric. That’s what tit tape and design are for. DON’T HALF-ASS IT!), but I admit, I was frustrated. Heidi liked it, but thought the mesh didn’t match the model’s skin tone. Nina thought it brought to mind envy. Kors said it looked like Nancy Kerrigan skating through a banquet hall. Zoe said the upper boob part looked like a napkin. Kors said it was an old lady wanting to wear a bare back, but covering it with tulle. Ouch.

(This is the part of the blog in which your friendly neighborhood wordsmith flips a table over and begins muttering about watching Elementary after this.)

Christopher design Project Runway Season 10, Episode 12

Christopher’s evil queen didn’t break any evil queen ground, but when she came down the runway, I said, “At last! Some fucking drama!” Black, sexy, feathery, glittery, gown-y, badass. I loved the emphasized hips, as if she were about to give birth to some fuck-yo-shit-UP. My favorite part were the long, pokey, feathery armbands that lay flat against her arms when straight, but jutted out an a nasty angle when she put her hands on her evil hips. Her train looked to be a stiff chiffon (of course), and was both ethereal and wicked. And the styling matched – she looked about one failed plan away from a breakdown, and I like that in a super-villain. It was a little costumey, but at least it was SOMETHING. It was a story. Kors said it was a little Goth/Victorian to him, and that it veered costume. And he though the arm bands were coo-coo. Boo hoo. They pointed out that the bust was sloppily constructed and empty – something that was harder to see from far away. Kors said that he sympathized with making a couture dress in two days, but that she looked deflated.

I just plain didn’t understand this entire judging. I googled “avant-garde fashion,” and let me tell you, I didn’t see a purple suit amongst the bunch. Was it just me, Persephoneers? Was I expecting too much?

Dmitry won the challenge. And yes, the suit was amazing, but to me it failed on the basic question of the purpose of the garment. But no one asked me. He will go to fashion week. Yay!

Christopher will go to fashion week. Yay!

Melissa will go to fashion week. Yay? For that meant that either Fabio and Sonjia would be eliminated, and I REALLY wanted her to continue through.

In the end, Fabio was in, and Sonjia was out. I was devastated. This entire episode confused and angered me. I’m gonna go drink now.

By Lucy Woodhull

Lucy Woodhull is a novelist, humorist, parodist, and all-around geek. Her new venture is THE SHITTIEST PRINCESS, a series of un-fair-y tales right here on Persephone. You can check out her sexy, fun romantic comedies at

12 replies on “Recap: Project Runway, Episode 10.12, “The One Where We Pretend Things Are Avant-Garde””

I had high hopes for Sonjia this season. But this dress was a mess. That skater mesh fabric was terrible. I just don’t understand how these designers leave fabric at Mood all the time. But I would love to see what she would’ve made if she had that gold lame.

None of this was avant-garde to me, but I loved Dmitry’s suit. LOVED it.

The thing I’ve always thought about challenges like this is that avant-garde is not meant to be an on-demand thing. Avant-garde really happens when someone has an idea or is inspired, not when it is told to happen.

That being said, all the outfits still seemed particularly lackluster to me. But Dmitri is the PR love of my life, so I can’t complain about any episode where he wins.

It seemed to me that there were avant-garde elements in all the ensembles… but those elements do not an avant-garde design make! Some of this might have won more points from me in an haute couture contest, but there was really no conceptualization going on here–just some literal costuming.

Yeah, there wasn’t much avant to this grade. Even Christopher didn’t wow me, because I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that dress in a few Disney movies and possibly Once Upon a Time. The only thing strange and new that I saw was Michael Koors saying “Did you see the way that dress cupped her ass?”

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