What A Girl Wants

Giving the girls that magical dress.

Heidi tells our nine remaining designers that for this challenge they are to create a look for the most important day in a girl's life. Then, she introduces the models: seniors from St. John Vianney High School in New Jersey. These young women are the designers' clients, too, and in a Project Runway first, it is they who are choosing the designers with whom they will work. The selection process was informed by a review of each designer's portfolio: Pick the designer who best suits your own sensibility.

The designers have 30 minutes to meet with their new clients in the workroom. While they are expected to listen to and assimilate their client's desires, they are also to be true to who they are as a designer.

We say goodbye to the ladies and head to MOOD where each designer shops with a budget of $250. The designers have two days for this challenge. And as a surprise on day two, the designers' clients return for a fitting -- with their mothers!

Gilles Mendel is our guest judge. His design work, J Mendel, demonstrates how perfectly-suited he is to judge this challenge. We were so fortunate to have him.

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Victorya wins. This is her second win, tying her with Rami for the most challenges won. Victorya's win was especially noteworthy in light of the fact that her client, Jessica, told her that she didn't choose her to be her designer; rather, she was the last client standing and Victorya was the last designer remaining. Interesting. Regarding the judging, I have a refrain this season: it's a matter of taste. Chacon a son gout. With the level of execution being at an all-time high, it's the design content and presentation that tips the scales for or against a designer.

Frankly, the decision to toss Victorya this win eluded me. In my view, the electric blue textile said "superhero" not prom. Furthermore, the jewel emblazoned panel on the front of the halter made the dress look more appropriate for a hostess at a Vegas cocktail lounge than a teenager attending a suburban prom. C'est la vie. The judges loved it and Victorya enters into the next challenge with immunity. Congratulations! raterunway_09_220x415.jpg

Kevin is OUT. OK -- accepting the aforementioned statement about "execution being at an all time high," Kevin's undoing was that #$^&ing hem. The judges fixated upon it. Oh, there were other issues with the dress, indeed -- his red fabric looked harsh and cheap, and the appropriateness of the babydoll silhouette was questionable, as was the dress's length. But in the end, it came down to the hem, literally and metaphorically. Kevin, we'll sincerely miss you.

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Chris, for the second challenge in a row, practiced unbridled restraint and it served him exceptionally well. He teased me at MOOD when I saw the moss green charmeuse and raised an eyebrow: "I'm making a Christmas theme dress complete with a poinsettia corsage!" What?!?! "Just kidding!" His design was superb in my view. The silhouette was sleek and elegant, the slit up the front was sexy without being even remotely vulgar, and the proportion of the train (almost always a risky design element) allowed the dress to still be navigable. Go, Chris! raterunway_06_220x415.jpg

Christian, our fierce prodigy, was almost derailed by this challenge, a demonstration of his relative youth. Some may say that his client, Maddie, was difficult. I prefer to say that she was just being an opinionated client. But it was a battle of the wills, and Maddie dared to throw hubris in the face of an angry god. Christian's design concept was sound, but his execution was deplorable, especially the fit. He was crashing and burning and he knew it. Fortunately, he skidded by, but not without some significant rug burns. raterunway_03_220x415.jpg

Jillian designed a turquoise spaghetti-strap dress with a fishtail hem. The silhouette was beautiful, the drape was languorous, and the overall effect was stunning. Her client, Erika, looked good enough to be crowned prom queen. raterunway_01_220x415.jpg

Kit took risks, which I always applaud. In this case, the risk was in her choice of textiles -- an unconventional blue for the main body of the dress and three panels of color for the bust-line. I looked at the fabric on her worktable and asked myself, "How is this going to work?" I was concerned that her dress would look like a school craft project. But work it did! Her client, Brie, looked ravishing. raterunway_04_220x415.jpg

Rami fell into a trap of his own making; that is, he was too "Rami" and didn't adequately embrace the teen aspect of this challenge. As he continued to develop his design and it came clearer and clearer into focus from the ether of its origin, it looked like a dress that would be more appropriate for his client Bianca's mother. The dress was matronly, plain and simple. He had plenty of feedback and plenty of time to mitigate this issue, but he can be stubborn. Furthermore, he had immunity. But, immunity granted, wouldn't he still like to win? raterunway_08_220x415.jpg

Ricky-oh-Ricky. I am constantly reminded that this is a competition among peers, not a competition with one's self. It's essential that the designers look around the workroom and assess how their design measures up to everyone else's (but without harboring the delusions of Christian). After we return to the workroom from shopping, I don't believe in talking to the designers about things that they can't change: in this case, the fabric. So, let's accept that the color was lackluster and do something compelling with the silhouette, which a bubble skirt is not (nor ever will be ...). And this particular bubble skirt had the oddest quasi-organic/quasi-architectural construction. Everything about the design and execution was flat. Ricky, I'm merely happy that you're still here! raterunway_05_220x415.jpg

Sweet P was neck-and-neck with Victorya for the win. In fact, Heidi declared that their two designs were the only two that the judges really liked. Sweet P artfully facilitated and mitigated the wants of her client, for had she executed the dress as instructed by Nicole, then she would have had a vulgar mess. Instead, her champagne charmeuse full-length gown was glamorous and regal, and she beautifully evoked a sexy attitude. The only casino that this dress would see is in Monte Carlo. Bravo, Sweet P!

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