‘Project Runway’ recap: ‘New York City of Dreams’ celebrated civic workers, but which dream turned into a nightmare? [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

A cop, an EMT, a postal worker, a sanitation worker, a school teacher and a ferry deckhand walk into a bar. The cop says, “What are we doing in this bar? We’ve got a runway to get to!” … Okay, so my comedy needs work, but the work that really matters in NYC is done by the public employees “Project Runway” celebrated with this week’s challenge. In “New York City of Dreams,” the six remaining designers had to create dream dresses for the hard-working women who keep the city running. So whose dreams came true, and whose dreams turned into nightmares? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.

The six designers who went into this week’s episode were Colombian craftsman Sebastian Grey, minimalist maven Tessa Clark, corset-crazed Garo Sparo, urban puffer king Jamall Osterholm, Baltimore’s favorite son Bishme Cromartie and eccentric extraordinaire Hester Sunshine. Each has their own unique aesthetic, so were they able to adapt their individual styles to the wishes of their clients? And were they able to dress a variety of body shapes and sizes without the models they’ve gotten used to dressing over the course of the season?

The designers struggled with another client challenge recently when they had to create vacation looks for actress Morena Baccarin in “Blame it on Rio.” A champion designer should know how to create looks for real-world clients, so this was another golden opportunity for the designers to set themselves apart. Who rose to the occasion? And did you agree with the judges’ winner and loser? Follow along below starting at 9:00pm (times listed are Eastern).

9:01pm — Designers called for their next challenge: they’re on their way to Christian Siriano‘s atelier. Hester is feeling brownstone envy when they pull up. And it’s even more impressive inside — how much is Bravo paying him anyway?

9:02pm — Sebastian is inspired and wants to follow Siriano’s example. He tried opening a couple of stores in Colombia, but he had to shutter both of them. Now he’s going to keep dreaming in that direction now that he has seen Christian atelier. He might want to dream towards an outer borough or maybe Jersey, though — the rents will be cheaper.

9:04pm — Christian thinks high fashion should be more inclusive, which brings us to the challenge: “create dream dresses for the hard-working real women who run New York City.” They’re dressing employees from the Department of Sanitation, the Ferry Service, the US Postal Service, the NYPD, and the FDNY, plus a school teacher. Garo Sparo is excited since he too is a New Yorker. Hester is excited because the biggest sacrifice these women make as far as she’s concerned is “having to wear a uniform every day.” If she went to the police academy, I bet she’d come out as the only tie-dyed cop on the force.

9:06pm — Garo is paired with postal employee Debra. Hester is with police officer Dina, so maybe we will get to see a tie-dyed uniform — just no tulle or pasties please, Hester. Sebastian gets sanitation worker Nicole, which feels to him like a field trip from school — that’s sounds way different from the school trips I remember. Tess is working with EMT Maria. Jamall will be dressing ferry deckhand Angela. And Bishme is getting schooled by teacher Jaclyn.

9:09pm — Jamall’s client wants a design like a prom dress, but he doesn’t do prom dresses. He deconstructs masculinity and femininity with puffer jackets — which I guess you could wear to prom. A very conceptual prom at MoMA maybe. Sounds like this could be a clash of aesthetics that will cause problems.

9:11pm — Nicole wants Sebastian to make a dress for her engagement party when her boyfriend finally proposes, dammit! Debra wants Garo to make her sparkle. Does she also want a corset? Let’s hope so because she’s probably getting a corset. And Maria considers herself “girly” despite the navy blues she has to wear for work. Her favorite color is pink, which now makes this the greatest clash of aesthetics because Tessa almost breaks out in hives at the very mention of pink. Maria is okay with grey and black after Tessa tells her how she usually designs, but I dunno, sounds like she really wants pink, Tessa. Give her something pink. Maria also asks for a short dress, and Tessa is like, “How about a jumpsuit instead.” Now I think she’s the one in trouble.

9:13pm — Time for Mood, where the designers have $300 to work with. Hester is looking for fuschia. Sebastian wants sparkles, but he’s not sure how to translate what his client wants into fabric he can afford, but Christian saves his butt with a perfect suggestion. Garo is worried about being too “extra” after last week’s bee debacle, but in the end he needs to stay true to himself.

9:16pm — Garo has decided to do less corsetry, so he’s going to make his client two dress options. Sounds like he’s biting off more than he can chew. Meanwhile, Jamall says, “I don’t really subscribe to other people’s wants.” Sebastian doesn’t think it’s easy to work with a client either. I know, right! Clothes would be so much easier to make without those pesky people actually wanting to wear them. Tessa and Hester have never worked for clients either. “We need to stay true to ourselves,” says Tessa about designing something entirely different from what her client specifically asked for. Still don’t like the sound of this.

9:18pm — Hester seems to have closer to the right idea, trying to keep elements of her own playful aesthetic with the more mature design her client wants. We’ll see how that goes, but I don’t see tulle or pasties, so we’re already off to a good start.

9:19pm — “I don’t know how much I care about mainstream fashion,” says Jamall. This challenge has quickly gone from designing dream dresses for hard-working women to condescending to normies with more conventional fashion desires.

9:24pm — Tessa objects to the accusation that she only designs using black — cue the montage of her black dresses. If the shoe fits, Tessa, it’s probably black because you designed it.

9:29pm — Christian consultations: He thinks Bishme’s dress looks a little too “Disney princess.” And he doesn’t think Sebastian’s look is very modern — spruce it up! He suggests that Garo abandon his two-dress idea and make sure he makes one look as good as possible — the purple one, ditch the pink. Meanwhile, Tessa straight up lies about the colors her client wanted, says she wanted dark colors and not pink. But even not knowing that, Christian is worried that Tessa is rejecting the challenge entirely by making pants instead of a dress. Me too, Christian! Tessa reluctantly decides to (gasp!) make a dress like the challenge calls for and like her client actually wants.

9:34pm — Tessa scraps her pants and now she needs to make a dress using the black fabric she has left — again, the client wanted pink. Maybe borrow the fabric from the pink dress Garo scrapped. At the very least, she could use it for exposure therapy to at least get used to idea of the visible spectrum. I wonder if she hides indoors after it rains to avoid rainbows.

9:36pm — The good news is that Tessa’s client seems to love her design. Maybe she’ll dodge a bullet. But it does look like just a black dress so far. Garo’s client loves his purple color too and loves the design and fit. Jamall needs more detail because his red dress is too simple. The light bulb went on in Sebastian’s mind because he figured out the perfect finishing detail for his retro look. After the client fittings, I think Garo Sparo and Sebastian are on the right track, but I’m worried about Tessa and Jamall.

9:38pm — Sebastian is being a little passive-aggressive with Tessa, who he thinks is just making another version of the dress he helped her make in the week-two team challenge, and she doesn’t seem all that concerned with what her client wants. But Bishme is not only excited for his teacher client, he also got a lovely, thoughtful card from her. Teacher’s pet.

9:44pm — On the day of the runway, it’s time for final fittings and the last finishing touches. Hester seems ambivalent about her look: did she do enough to advise her client, or did she just reproduce all her client’s requests in a way that aren’t as flattering or fashion-forward as they could be? It sounds like Jamall doesn’t have enough time to finish everything he wanted to finish, and that has been disastrous for him in previous challenges. Unfinished looks are a big no-no. And only now is Tessa looking to add a “pop of pink” to the black dress she made for the client who asked wanted pink.

9:46pm — Jamall’s construction is off, and it’s loose up top. She needs more support, and Christian thinks the back looks “a little scary” too. And Tessa doesn’t have time to hem her garment. Jamall is out of time and Tessa has unfinished hems — a familiar story for both designers. I think Tessa might be toast this week.

9:53pm — Last-minute change! Tessa is cutting off the chiffon hanging off her client’s belt entirely. Christian cringes at how drastic the change is. Now Tessa really is left with just a black dress, which is not only too basic, but I doubt her client is still happy with it.


9:54pm — Joining the judges’ panel this week is special guest Danielle Brooks (“Orange is the New Black”). But I’m a little scared for some of these looks that are about to come down the runway.

9:55pm — Garo’s client looks great, not his most showstopping look, but it’s elegant and his client is loving it. Sebastian’s look is young, fun, has movement, great blush color with some sparkle. Another winner. I think these two are safe at the very least. Hester’s look is nice — again, not as showstopping as we’re used to from her, but it has some nice details.

10:00pm — Tessa’s look has nice movement on the runway, especially in the skirt. From the standpoint just of the dress, it’s not bad, but the unfinished, unpolished quality of it combined with the complete lack of color could hurt her, especially since her model didn’t look like she was really enjoying it on the runway — but maybe that’s was just nerves from having to walk a runway. Jamall’s look is just so-so too. It doesn’t flatter her shape very well. But Bishme’s blue look is gorgeous. Great details, great shade of blue, his client looks comfortable and confident. Might be my favorite on the runway.


10:02pm — Elaine thinks Garo’s client looks like “a million bucks.” This is how Brandon Maxwell wants his mail delivered: “You look so great!” Sebastian’s look exceeded all of his client’s expectations, but the judges themselves didn’t say too much about it just yet.

10:04pm — Hester’s client feels like a million bucks. Nina thinks the color is beautiful and the design looks comfortable and glamorous.

10:05pm — Then comes Tessa’s look. Karlie asks the client is she’s especially into black, and that’s when she reveals pink is her favorite color. She’s nice enough not to throw Tessa under the bus by telling the whole truth about how she said she wanted pink and Tessa was basically, “I don’t do pink.” Nina looks aghast, and I don’t blame her. There’s staying true to your aesthetic, and then there’s completely ignoring your client’s wishes. Danielle likes the dress without the belt. The client really liked the pink that had been on the dress before, another instance of Tessa denying her client’s wishes. No strong comments from the judges, but from the looks on their faces I have a feeling we’re going to be hearing about this later.

10:06pm — Nina doesn’t look too pleased about the details up top on Jamall’s look where he tried to give his model more support at the last minute. The judges are definitely reserving their brutally honest opinions for when the clients aren’t there, which is downright decent of them. For Bishme’s blue look, Nina loves the details around her waist and the “elegant” way he gathered the peplum. Karlie also loves the gathered fabric.

10:07pm — Okay, real talk now. Clients are leaving, and the judges are going to have it out with the designers. Brace for impact, Tessa! Bishme, Garo and Sebastian have the three highest scores. I absolutely agree with that choice for the top three. They get to leave the runway for now. That leaves Jamall, Tessa and Hester in the principal’s office.

HESTER — Brandon thought she had an “identity crisis” and never found the right balance between herself and her client. Danielle agreed about the lack of communication between her and her client.

TESSA — Karlie thought it was more Tessa’s dream dress than her client’s. Tessa is once again lying about her model saying she liked black and charcoal. No, she said she was okay with black or grey but really wanted pink. Tessa is trying to talk her way around it, but they’re not buying it. Danielle doesn’t think the client got what she wanted. Nina accuses her of playing it safe. And oof, now Tessa’s trying to make excuses about not sewing her hems and claiming other designers do the same thing all the time. This is the most uncomfortable critique of the entire season.

JAMALL — Nina thought his model looked the most uncomfortable in her dress: “Technically it was falling apart.” Elaine thinks his execution on curvy women has been poor all season. Jamall admits he had problems and isn’t accustomed to dressing plus-size women. This is a really negative critique, but he’s much more receptive to the judges’ comments than Tessa, and I feel like he genuinely tried to engage with the challenge in a way that Tessa didn’t.

10:12pm — Honestly, I think Jamal had the poorest look, and he’s more inconsistent in general this season, but I’d eliminate Tessa for being dismissive of her client’s wishes and for being so defensive during her critiques.

10:15pm — Hester and Bishme are the middle two, so they’re safe. Bishme had my favorite look, but I can’t fault them for picking Garo or Sebastian to win this challenge. That was a rock-solid top three.

10:16pm — Karlie likes that Tessa’s fabric looks comfortable and flattering, but they can see more clearly how frayed it is up close. Jamall’s look could have been a lot more flattering, and the inner workings of the dress were the problem. Those comments seemed more generous than Tessa’s, but Jamall has been at the bottom more often, so they may take that into account.

10:18pm — Garo gave them the fantasy dream dress they were looking for, and they hold up his finished chiffon to contrast against Tessa’s unfinished work. Nina feels Sebastian delivers time and time again, but Elaine thinks it’s dated. What!? That might keep him from winning, but I think Elaine is dead wrong.


10:24pmThe winner of the challenge is … Sebastian! Hooray! I’m so glad he finally won another challenge. He was long overdue another challenge win, and it wasn’t dated at all, Elaine! Garo is the runner-up with another well deserved high score.

10:25pm — Hester is safe, and she’s relieved that she was a “soft bottom,” which she says to mean that she got a low score but wasn’t in the bottom two, but it sound vaguely dirty and I’d love for that phrase to catch on.

10:27pmThe eliminated designer is … Jamall! They definitely took into account past performances. This was Jamall’s fourth time at the bottom and only Tessa’s second. They think Jamall needs more time to grow and evolve and iron out the kinks in his technique (literally and figuratively). They’re not wrong about that, but boy is Tessa on notice after this challenge. If she sends a black dress down the runway next week she’s done for.

10:30pm — Next week the designers will create their own version of an experiential fashion show. I have no idea whatsoever what that means, but Cardi B will be there, and Sebastian is threatening to fly the coop, so it’ll definitely be dramatic.

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