Good Queen Fun

A challenge of queen size proportions!

Heidi announces, "Let's bring out a special guest." The silhouette of an exaggerated Valkyrian presence appears behind the Project Runway scrim: It's season four semi-finalist Chris March in drag! Chris informs the designers that for this challenge they will be designing for drag queens, and out come 11 captivating individuals who line up on the runway. They introduce themselves and say a little about their persona. Then, the designers each choose a drag queen with whom to work. Chris concludes, "Fashion is all about putting on a show. So, be as theatrical and over-the-top as you can be." Mark those words, designers!

The designers have 30 minutes to consult with their new clients in the workroom. Then, we're off to MOOD with a budget of $200. There are two days for this challenge.

And the stunning and inimitable RupPaul is our guest judge. How uber-fabulous is that?

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Joe WINS! Joe designed for Varla Jean Merman. He created a pink sequined catsuit with a "Hi ya, sailor!" twist that was so spot-on perfect that for the first time this season, I actually was able to predict who would win. For me, it was only too obvious: Joe's concept was superb, his execution was flawless, and the sublime Varla Jean Merman worked this look on the runway as though there were no tomorrow. Isn't it ironic that our only hetero male would win this challenge? Congratulations, Joe!

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Daniel is OUT. Daniel designed for Annida Greenkard. Using yellow and orange jersey in a creamsicle print, he created a strapless gown with a flamenco-like skirt and cascading train. The dress was beautiful -- there's no denying that. The problem was two-fold: The look wasn't exuberant enough for the purpose of the challenge, and the judges have grown tired of seeing Daniel regurgitate evening and cocktail dresses. Daniel, best wishes. We'll sincerely miss you.

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Blayne designed for Miss Understood. He created a crazy, gay Jurassic Park-ilicious pterodactyl outfit in pink. Oy! The bodice of the dress was fine and meshed perfectly with Miss Understood's sensibility, but those wings! Not only did they look patched on and arbitrary, but their engineering failed: One was flagging. I thought it was miraculous that he squeaked by without being cited as one of the bottom three. Blayne, this was a close call!

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Jerell designed for LeMAY. He created an "ocean inspired" sequined dress with a very odd collar treatment. Oy, again! This look was the biggest loser in my opinion: The dress was a simple silhouette, albeit jazzed up by the piecing of the sequined fabrics; the green collar was too high and too GREEN for LeMAY's relatively short neck and fair complexion, thereby dwarfing her head and giving her a sickly pallor; and that fringe along the hemline? Egads. he fringe looked saggy, it was too long, and did it have to be asymmetrical, too? The judges were correct to be stumped by why-oh-why over-the-top Jerell would hold back in a challenge that's all about being over-the-top. Jerell, you're very lucky that you're still in!

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Keith designed for Sherry Vine. Given that the judges placed him in the bottom three, I know that he regretted not having immunity for his win in the last challenge. He designed a mini-dress that was expressly intended to expose Sherry's bra and panties, which is evidently a Sherry Vine signature (go figure?). I was concerned about the possible vulgarity of this display, and Keith assured me that he had reeled in this request and that the panties wouldn't show. This look was topped by a stole (or sorts) made out of strips of black, white, and gray fabric, and this treatment was echoed over the skirt. This led to a potent issue for the judges Keith's repeated use, challenge after challenge, of this layering method. They're simply tired of it and want to see what else he can achieve. RuPaul, who was not familiar with Keith's designs for prior challenges, actually declared his fondness for the outfit and even stated that he would wear it. OK -- go Keith!

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Kenley designed for Farrah Moans. She created a long column of a gown in silver sequins that was enhanced by a large collar treatment using black and white ostrich plumes. The look was very Marilyn Monroe, but a costumey Marilyn, not a modern 2008 Marilyn. Still, she passed through the judges' discerning eyes and was safe for the next challenge.

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Korto designed for Sweetie. Her concept, "an animal in heat," was realized as a red sequined cocktail dress with an empire waisted, detachable skirt in duchesse satin. Sweetie isn't diminutive, and Korto mitigated her size with deft thoughtfulness and consideration. The proportions of the pieces of the look all worked beautifully and harmoniously, and the detachable skirt made for a dramatic reveal. And to top things off, Sweetie really worked it on the runway!

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Leanne designed for Sharon Needles. She created a modern, edgy mini-dress in black with jagged origami-like extensions on the shoulders and the skirt. The look she designed was pure Fashion with a capital F, because it said "Paris couture" just as potently as it did "drag queen." I was stunned, quite frankly, that Leanne didn't remain on the runway as one of the top three. Her look was perfectly conceived for Sharon Needles and it was superbly executed.

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Stella designed for Louisa Verde. Stella used a rather lackluster tartan and an odd black spandex fabric to create a floor-length dress with a train. It was dull and basic, but for the peculiar tartan panel in the front, the bottom of the skirt, which swung like a doggy door. Furthermore, the grommets and lacing (surprise!) on the back of the dress were used arbitrarily. As with Leanne, I was equally stunned that Stella wasn't kept on the runway for being one of the bottom three. I believe that her savior was her drag queen, Louisa Verde. Louisa's presence was profound and captivating: Her hair and makeup were memorable, as was her jewelry. In my opinion, those were the only good aspects of this entire look.

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Suede designed for Hedda Lettuce. He created a Flintstone-like green print "jacket" with peplum over a strapless green cocktail-length dress. I write "jacket," because, given that the piece didn't have sleeves, it was more like a vest. Instead of sleeves, opera-length gloves with baby bib lettuce embellishments covered Hedda's arms. I'm merely happy that Suede's look walked the runway at all: He and Hedda had such an incendiary relationship, and Hedda was so vocal about how she wanted to re-design the look, that I was concerned that she might refuse to walk the runway. In the end, all was well, thankfully.

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Terri designed for Acid Betty. Her concept was "geisha-on-acid," and the judges loved it. I was dubious about Terri's extensive use of white, especially given that color's discordant relationship with the gummi bear red corset-as-obi. (She and I had a BIG disagreement about this look, but not one second of our several encounters is seen on the show.) OK -- I get it Terri, and I respect the judges' adulations, but I'm still not a fan of this design.

Garden Of Locks

How to create botanical worthy hair!

As part of this week's challenge, the designers went on a field trip to the New York Botanical Garden to find inspiration for an evening gown. For this elegant episode, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman was the perfect choice for the guest judge, as her line embodies pretty eveningwear that offers delicacy and detail.

As the models started heading down to the salon, I instantly fell in love with Kenley's fuchsia, black, and purple snake print dress for model Topacio! The sleeveless dress had a mock turtleneck and was very form-fitting. My favorite part of the dress was the explosion of petals at the hem. Her silhouette reminded me of a mermaid. To make the dress modern and fashion-forward, Kenley cinched Topacio's waist with a 1" black leather belt. Kenley came to us confident in her design, describing her dress as "really high fashion, very edge-y." To show off the unique neckline, we put Topacio's hair in a glamorous up-do. I had the most fun creating a modernized evening hairstyle for Korto's model Katarina. Since Korto got her inspiration from an orange tropical flower, she created an orange satin and silk floor length halter neck gown. She added beaded lace panels at the side and on the skirt to add additional texture. To take this backless number from the prom to the red carpet, I knew I would have to give her a trendy hairstyle. First, I started by generously misting Katarina's hair with TRESemmé Thermal Creations Curl Activator Spray to create and hold her curl. After, I took a horseshoe section from the ends of her locks to her temples and teased to create volume. I pinned the rest of the hair up into a horizontal French twist and loosely curled the top section of Katarina's hair with a ½″ curling iron. Next, I fingered through the top for an undone look and finally, pinned the ends into a twist. I finished the look by spraying TRESemmé TRES Two Ultra Fine Mist Hair Spray. Jerell designed a sleeveless sweetheart-neck gown that was dark purple, deep pink and bright green.

Jerell's use of color and the voluminous skirt made the dress look like a flower. He added antique buttons and lace patchwork over the center of the empire bust line to accentuate the fitted top. Since the dress was very bottom heavy, we wanted an elegant look for Nicole. We started by working in TRESemmé Thermal Creations Straightening Gel and blow-drying her hair back into a sleek ponytail. Then, we teased the ponytail for maximum volume. Next, we lightly brushed the surface of the pony for a smooth finish and tucked the ends under creating a rounded shape.

Jerell's elegant creation made him the winner of the challenge! The most surprising twist of the episode? No one was eliminated! It was a bit of a relief because each challenge has become an emotional ride for us, as we have seen each of these designers bloom.