Last week on ‘Project Runway,’ luxury streetwear proved to be embullient Kovid Kapoor‘s downfall but Bishme Cromartie was inspired by his Baltimore roots to make an urban outfit whose standout piece was a sparkly blue bomber jacket (head to Nineteenth Admendment to buy a copy for $300 if you wish). Others earning high scores were Venny Etienne, whose cool outfit was inspired by a sneaker, and Garo Sparo (loved his cinched corset). But among the bottom dwellers were Jamall Osterholm, who didn’t even finish sewing his design, and Rakan Shams Aldeen, who didn’t really meet the requirements of the challenge. Let’s see if these two redeem themselves on our episode 6 recap of Season 17, “Power Play.” All times are Eastern.
8:02 p.m. Suddenly a familiar noise gets a rise out of the designers as they await their next assignment in the runway area. It sounds like the kind of beeps and boops that video games make as a female character pops up on a screen. Turns out, the figure is host Karlie Kloss‘s alter ego in fighter form. She tells the group that the challenge this week involves both “fashion and technology.”
8:03 p.m. Out come three women involved in the video game industry: Robin Hunicke, who is one of the team leaders on the “MySims” franchise, Mitu Khandaker is an indie game developer with a Ph.d in virtual reality game design and Nina Freeman is on “Forbes” 2015 list of most influential game industry figures. They play up the importance of the diversity of both game designers and the characters they create. The designers must create a video game character who is a powerful woman and create a look that showcases her story. her abilities and her world. “It must be functional but still fashionable,” declares Karlie.
8:05 p.m. Unlike last week, when they only had 11 hours to complete their looks, they get two days. They will consult with the lady video game whizzes and then head to Mood with mentor Christian Siriano. Also, everyone is keeping their model. Karlie gives some valuable advice: “Don’t go too costume-y. Otherwise, it might be game over.”
8:07 p.m. The designers split up into groups as one of the experts gives them advice. Robin says, “When you are thinking about your character, it doesn’t have to be you but it can be informed by that.” Tessa Clark says she has been interested in digital design and she coded her own website. “I want to make this strong female character that can do what is typically viewed as the man’s job.”Mitu talks about the abilities their characters will have. “Can she run? Can she jump?” Lela Orr shares that she wants to make a warrior woman, “a really cool bad-ass chick.” She thinks she needs a pair of pants for a character who is jumping or kicking and twirling. “The pants have to happen.”
8:09 p.m. It’s Mood time and Christian greets everyone and almost immediately says “no costumes.” The designers get 30 minutes to shop and $300 to spend on their super gals. Woo-hoo! Tessa’s girl will be a miller’s daughter. Why? Because her dad is a miller. She is thinking of a jumpsuit that is worker-wear inspired. Sonia Kasparian is gathering a lot of gray fabric but insists she is not making a robot. Venny says he is using red for the first time. Rakan took offense when the judges thought his previous outfit looked cheap. So he is gathering leather and spandex. “I am feeling excited for the first time in a long time.” Christian yells, “Ten minutes!” Lela picks the same fabric as Venny, who switches to blue. Alas, he is way over budget by almost $100 and knows he will have to compromise.
8:13 p.m. Time to go back to the workroom where animators await them in the lounge. They will collaborate with them to make a digital version of their girl, so they can see them in a virtual world. (And, again, no sign of Swatch, Mood’s Boston terrier mascot — my pet peeve this season!)
8:15 p.m. Rakan tells his animator that his character is wearing a jacket and a body suit. “That will be her armor.” He envisions her as a Syrian queen named Zenubia who was fighting the Ottoman Empire while trying to save her people and her city. He laughs and says, “That’s a good story.”
8:17 p.m. Garo says his character is “a fashion editrix — a fashion editor and dominatrix.” Who knew that career option existed in journalism? Renee Hill says her woman is “a warrior that is very sensitive and soft inside.” Hmm. She says she is creating an avatar to defend the neighborhood because “for so many years I lived in a really close-knit community. Like everyone knew each other.” For her, “That environment needs to stay protected.”
8:18 p.m. Venny explains his lady is “the savior of the world.” That is a big duty. He adds, “My character looks for people who are sick or are in pain and whoops them into her cape and brings them to heaven.” Interesting. No surprise he is a devoted churchgoer although he sometimes catches the service online. “We call it ‘Bedside Baptist.’ “
8:20 p.m. Lela says the first video game she ever played was “Mortal Combat,” and adds that her girl is “a kick-ass female warrior ninja.” She is creating someone “who can conjure the wind and create cyclones and storms and knock her opponents over.” Sonia says her fierce fighter is not as aggressive as some. “She has the power to destroy the sting of bad memories.” No light sabers for her. “She puts you in the state of harmony and bliss.” NOTE: It seems like this challenge is acting as a kind of therapy for the designers. Which is not a bad thing.
8:22 p.m. Sebastian tells Garo that his girl is the goddess of the moon. His drawing shows her holding a scepter and he is putting computer code all over her dress. Hmm. Dare I say the dreaded c-word?
8:23 p.m. Bishme is making Tessa scream like a schoolgirl with some slippery looking gloves he has made. Christian comes in to do his mentor thing. Bishme says, “My girl is the Queen of Hearts,” which Christian guesses right away. “She is at her wedding. She stabs her fiance in the heart because he’s the one who killed her father.”Christian is a bit nervous when Bishme says she will be wearing a crown, but he promises, “I won’t make it costume-y.”
8:25 p.m. Jamall is doing a “femme fatale James Bond” so he is making a tuxedo, which is more in line with his tailoring skills as a menswear designer. Christian suggests he should go beyond a boring black suit that is safe. Jamall promises to push it more.
8:27 p.m. Let’s see what Hester Sunshine is whipping up. She is wearing her top, a black sweater that will have mirrors on it. Christian asks who is her character, and she says, “She is a jumping lady. She is going to jump through stars to get to her rave.” Her pant will be a denim, with cutouts at the hip with clear plastic over the denim with organza cut-outs. Christian suggests it would be cool if any of the clothes did something. She says she is going to make a jet pack for her.
9:01 p.m. Garo reveals he is doing a fashion editrix to Christian. When he hears the word “dominatrix,” his reaction is, “How cool! Maybe that is a little Nina” — as in Nina Garcia, judge extraordinaire. And, yes, there is a whip involved and some weird red glasses.
9:03 p.m. It’s Venny time. His outfit for his “savior of the world” is white and blue. She flies, he says, which Christian interprets as teleport, and she wears a cape. Venny adds he is going to add a vortex of sorts in the back, which Christian says is a very important detail. “That’s her function.” Mr. Mentor seems a bit nervous for Venny, who admits he isn’t quite sure where he is going with his idea.
9:08 p.m. Hester does some face time on her phone with her wife, who is back home in Santa Fe where they moved recently because her dad is sick. She says it has been bittersweet being back in New York City. Garo starts pounding on leather. He confesses that one of his first jobs was “being a house designer for the biggest house of domination in New York.” Nice work if you can get it.
9:10 p.m. The models come in. Rakan says it is the first time he is using “the lycra with this bodysuit kind of stuff.” Tessa, meanwhile, is nervous about her miller’s daughter look — I mean, carrying a bag of flour is a kind of feat but not exactly video-game material. But she is taking a risk because, “I’m tired of being safe.” She’s worried about Hester because her outfit is creeping close to being the c-word. “She borderlines the question of taste. It looks a little cheap and she missed the mark on the non-costume part.” Venny is all happy with his design, until Christian blurts out that the top “looks dated.” He promises the mentor that he will spice it up. As for Jamall, Christian says he scares him — he hasn’t even gone beyond the muslin for his model’s tuxedo. Jamall explains that it will be a black jacket with a white collar. That makes Christian fear she will look like “a cheap waitress.” Meanwhile, Sonia is taking apart everything she has done because his gown is “ill-fitting and sad.” She adds, “This could be the one I go home on.”
9:13 p.m. As usual, many designers are under the gun time-wise. Hester talks up her “very sexy” space cargo pants. Venny has gone feather happy and Tessa is being a Debbie Downer, saying his look is dated, the colors are wrong and it reads old lady. The designers get to see an illustration of their characters on their phones. Rakan is way behind, saying he is not used to stretchy fabric. Jamall makes a rookie mistake when he irons out all the marks he made during the fitting. Renee cries out “10 minutes” and there is a mad rush. Garo suggests they have a “New York moment” and take a ferry home.
9:14 p.m. Back in the workroom, Rakan is blaming his stretchy fabric again. The models come in. Jamall tells his that he is struggling. She says, “You’re so good at making suits.” He just laughs. Venny is very worried about his look and he should be with the lace, weird cape and off-putting blue. Not even a superwoman could pull it off. Christian reminds them there is only an hour before the runway show and no one is paying much attention to him. Jamall is giving up on making his mesh top piece because he still has to hem and do a waist band.
9:16 p.m. On to the runway show. Joining the judges Brandon Maxwell, Nina Garcia and Elaine Welteroth is Robin, the video-game developer. Garo kills it as model MiMi works a whip. Renee’s sensitive warrior is pretty good and Robin applauds the strong silhouette. Rakan’s isn’t as refined as it should be and I am guessing he is in trouble. Lela’s look doesn’t say video-game to me and once again we see fabric strips hanging like ribbons. Sonia’s is more Grecian goddess warrior but she probably is safe. Next is Tessa’s flour girl. As she says is wearable, it’s functional and — yes, there is a reveal moment for Brandon to drool over. Sebastian’s look does not read moon goddess to me. Then there is Hester, who has dubbed her character Star Raver 2000 and could put her in the top three again. I don’t know about Jamall’s tuxedo or Venny’s choir girl with the lace cross running down her left leg. Or, as Venny himself says, “very churchy” and “very literal.”Now Bishme’s Queen of Hearts is a knock-out — and it makes Nina smile — but the crown takes it into c-word territory. But not to worry because he has immunity.
9:18 p.m. Karlie tells Lela, Renee, Bishme, Sonia and Sebastian that they are in. Those on the bottom and the top are Rakan, Jamall, Hester, Tessa, Venny, Garo. As expected, Rakan is on the bottom again. Elaine says his design was better as an illustration and that the armor that is up to her neck “look like it was constricted and not empowering her.” Brandon calls him out for “cranberry lycra” and tells him to “never use it again.” Nina says the shiny armor part “looks like really big duct tape.” Garo tells his editrix story again, with Karlie saying, “Sounds like you, Nina.” Brandon calls the design “a sexy video vixen in the best possible way because she was in control.” Nina even gushes over the accessories. The judges seem intrigued by Tessa’s flour girl. Elaine says, “It’s such a modern interpretation of a gamer.” Robin says she got emotional because this is the type of role model she wants to promote.
9:22 pm. Jamall has to sell his Lady Bond, whose main accessory is her cleavage. Brandon asks, “Did you have access to a bra, Jamall?” Unfortunately, with her unsupported breasts, she is more of a Bond girl — or, as Brandon says, the antithesis of the challenge. Venny describes his savior of the world. Robin says she likes the idea of a female savior, but she couldn’t understand what he was trying to do. Brandon says, “She did not take me to church today.” Nina calls it ” a head-to-toe disaster.” Last is Hester, who says her girl is built “to jump from star to star but also to party.” Robin goes gaga over her concept. Elaine calls it a “virtual reality Wakanda” but then dings it for being “a little kitsch.” Nina adores it, so it doesn’t matter.
9:25 p.m. First the good. Nina likes Garo’s design but is nervous about the S&M messaging and calls it a cliched point of view. Brandon tells Nina she has to crack the whip and of course she does. Robin likes Tessa’s because she is a fully-formed character and Elaine declares it “functional and fashionable.” Nina embraces the kitschy-ness of Hester’s star girl completely. Elaine disagrees and she labels it “tacky.”
9:27 p.m. Then the bad. Robin calls Rakan’s look “completely confusing to the eye.” As for Jamall’s Bond lady, Robin says, “The fantasy wasn’t strong. It didn’t sell the character.” Then there is Venny’s church lady look. The judges think her cape looks like a turtle shell and Nina says there is a taste level issue that is concerning.
9:28 p.m. Who is in? Hester wins again! She is the only person to win two challenges and has immunity again. Who is out? It’s Rakan. I will miss his humor but not so much his designs. He is gracious on his way out.
Next week: The final 10 are tasked to make a design that embraces elegance.
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