Last week the designers of “Project Runway” collaborated with their models on their creations, and this week the theme of teamwork continued with the designers working with one another in teams of two. Paired up to design two cohesive looks, the designers deconstructed the boundaries of gender by creating womenswear inspired by and using the textiles of menswear. Though they worked in teams, the designers were evaluated for their individual contributions to help determine who was “in” and who was “out.” So which gender-bending collaborations were a hit and which ones were not? Read our recap below of season 16, episode 7, “The Ultimate Faceoff,” to find out.
Greeting the designers from the menswear department of JCPenney, Tim Gunn laid out the specifics of this week’s challenge: the designers would be paired up to create two cohesive looks using different sets of menswear fabrics for their female models. To decide the pairings, Tim pulled names from his button bag and had them select a partner from those remaining, resulting in Kentaro and Brandon, Amy and Kenya, Claire and Shawn, Margarita and Batani, and Ayana and Michael. As a prize for the winning designer, their fashionable fall look inspired by menswear would be recreated in limited edition by JCPenney and sold online.
In the workroom, the combined three wins of self-anointed “brothers” Brandon Kee and Kentaro Kameyama intimidated the rest of the cast, especially Shawn Buitendorp who admitted in a confessional that they are nearly unstoppable together. Shawn’s partnership with her sister Claire Buitendorp was unsurprising, but as Ayana Ife pointed out, they’ve been more or less working together all season and still haven’t managed a win. After weeks of her sister’s dependency, Claire finally admitted that having to help Shawn was having a negative impact on her own ability to succeed in the competition.
During critiques with Tim, Margarita Alvarez showed signs of her confidence having been cracked after appearing in the bottom three in the previous challenge. On the other side of the room, Tim echoed the earlier sentiments of their peers in referring to Brandon and Kentaro as “the dream team” based on their previous wins and their skills as tailors. Yet during an examination of their in-progress garments there was a disconnect between their vision and Tim’s ability to understand how it would function.
On the runway, series judges Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia and Zac Posen were joined by “Billions” actor Asia Kate Dillon to help score the designs. Those scores resulted in one winning team, where the challenge winner would come from, and one losing team, from which one of the two would be eliminated. The teams with top scores were Brandon and Kentaro, and Margarita and Batani, while the teams with low scores were Shawn and Claire, and Amy and Kenya.
The judges referred to Brandon and Kentaro’s looks as versatile, effortless and casual. Though the other designers disagreed, Asia Kate enjoyed the small hint of menswear because it didn’t hit you over the head. Similarly, Heidi enjoyed the simplicity and sophistication of Margarita and Batani’s dresses, but it was Margarita’s shirt dress that got most of the attention. On the low side of things, Zac called Shawn and Claire’s looks banal, trashy and uninspired, but complimented Shawn’s model Liris Crosse for holding the dress with such great confidence. Amy and Kenya also gave the judges boring, and their taste level felt dated, costumey and misguided.
In the end, Margarita and Batani were declared the winning team, and as expected the challenge winner was Margarita, whose shirt dress sealed the deal for her and is now available for purchase online through JCPenney. From the bottom two teams, Claire and Shawn were declared the losers. But without a clear understanding of who created which parts of the garments or what their individual talents are, Heidi told the twins that they will be facing off in a head-to-head, one-hour design challenge to create a new look. The results of that challenge will go down at the start of next week’s episode, so for now we live with nothing more than a “To be continued…” and the possibility that maybe there should be an “i” in “team” after all.
Here are the answers to Gold Derby’s predictions event questions for “Project Runway” #16.07:
Who will be eliminated? No one
Who will be in bottom 2, but safe? N/A
Who will win the challenge? Margarita Alvarez
Who will be challenge’s runner-up? Batani-Khalfani
Will Tim Gunn use his save? N/A
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