‘Project Runway’ recap: ‘What Do You Care About?’ asked designers to take a stand, but who stood out the most? [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

Project Runway” is down to the cream of the crop. In tonight’s 10th episode, “What Do You Care About?,” the final seven designers were asked to take a stand. This challenge demanded looks inspired by a cause they believed in, so whose statement piece was the most outstanding, and who stood out in all the wrong ways? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.

This week the designers were mentored by Elaine Welteroth, who helped turn Teen Vogue from simply a fashion magazine into a political voice for the younger generation. So this task required the contestants to dig deep, get emotional and get personal. And it wasn’t just the looks on their models that had to be personal. This episode put the designers themselves on display since they also had to create looks for themselves to wear.

It’s a shame Lela Orr was eliminated in last week’s “Stitch is Back” challenge because she made a point of highlighting sustainability in her work, so her unique environmental point of view might have been an especially good fit for this week’s task. She was in the bottom two with Venny Etienne, who was spared for the second time in a row by the judges, so he was in desperate need of a comeback.

Meanwhile, Garo Sparo won the “Stitch” challenge with his intergalactic Elton John look. In previous weeks that would mean he could breathe easy, but alas, this marked the first challenge where no one has immunity, so there’s no more resting on one’s laurels. Did the corset king stay on top of his game? Was Venny finally able to win a challenge for once? And who advanced to the final six? Follow along below starting at 9:00pm (times listed are Eastern).

9:01pm — It looks like Lela’s elimination was one of the most emotional for the designers, especially Tessa, who said goodbye to her best friend and was in the bottom three for the first time. “One of these boys has to go next,” she says, half-jokingly, since there are five men and only two women left in the competition.

9:02pm — In walks Christian Siriano to add insult to injury: their next challenge starts immediately after Lela’s elimination. They meet Karlie Kloss and Elaine Welteroth back on the runway. Karlie’s got a badass tee that says “Feminism includes all genders.” Yep, the designers will be making statements this week. They need to make high-fashion statement looks inspired by causes they believe in — so basic message T-shirts aren’t going to cut it.

9:05pm — Elaine is using her Teen Vogue experience to help the designers marry fashion with activism. Jamall is inspired by his brother, who is in prison, so he’s focusing on Black Lives Matter and he’s planning to do a big puffer dress, and Elaine loves that idea — loves it enough to shimmy her shoulders, so that seems like a good sign. Tessa is making a black dress (no surprise there) focusing on women’s rights and women breaking out of the boxes of abuse and inequality. Hester is focused on LGBT equality, so she’s doing a “crazy coat” (no surprise there either), but Elaine warns her not to spin out of control.

9:08pm — Garo Sparo is concerned about saving the bees in order to save humanity, but Elaine is worried about his black-and-yellow color combo. Venny wants to break stereotypes about people of color. Bishme wants to help the youth of Baltimore, which sounds promising since he won the streetwear design challenge by repping Baltimore. And Sebastian wants to tackle racism, but he’s not sure how to convey it with his design; Elaine makes him emotional just talking to him about it, but she tells him to use that to his advantage.

9:13pm — Another Swatch sighting! He looks a little bummed, though. Maybe he’s waiting for the Swatch challenge. Guys, try not to trip on Swatch.

9:15pm — Bishme is panicking a little about his fabric and talking too much to the poor woman trying to cut his fabric. Garo is working on a yellow and black corset dress (another designer who is staying totally on-brand). And Hester is — oh no! — carrying an armful of tulle. Hester and tulle is always a dangerous combination.

9:16pm — Hester is doing a “super gay but also fun” rainbow puffer dress. She’s feeling insecure after last week’s turkey suit fiasco, so she needs to get back on track, especially since no one has immunity anymore. Bishme’s anxiety, meanwhile, is all coming out through his mouth. He had coffee and Red Bull, so he’s talking … a lot. Sebastian is worried he doesn’t have enough organza fabric for his shades-of-skin-color idea; Tessa reminds him not to forget his super pale brothers and sisters. He’s got to represent the translucent community.

9:19pm — Hester is freaking out a little, and her tulle is breaking up, while Bishme sings, “I’m losing my mind and I’m sewing at the same time.” This may not be a statement challenge anymore. This week’s theme seems to be designers going crazy.

9:25pm — Christian consultations: He’s worried Bishme’s Baltimore look doesn’t have any fun to it. Bishme is trying to pull back after previous challenges where he juggled too many ideas. Venny’s idea is powerful, but Christian worries the concept won’t come through on the runway and he won’t even have time to finish the jacket, which is his most important feature. Jamall’s look is super ambitious and Christian is worried he won’t finish either, which is a problem he has had before. Multiple times. Not good. Tessa’s concept, on the other hand, is very conceptual, and Christian think it’s be “so cool” if she pulls it off. So do I. It sounds clear but also innovative. Garo Sparo’s look might be too period and too similar to the work he’s done before. And Sebastian needs to make sure he represents “as many people as possible.”

9:34pm — Uh-oh, Christian has a twist to reveal: They need to dress a second model in this challenge — themselves! They’ll need to create their own statement t-shirts that will be sold online to benefit charities that support their causes. The designers seem relieved: t-shirts should be a snap.

9:40pm — After the designers consult with graphic designers for their tees, it’s time for model fittings. Jamall is dressing MiMi, who has been such a great designer’s muse all season. Christian still thinks Garo Sparo needs something more than he’s currently delivering. Tessa is inspired by having Asia wear her dress, and she thankfully isn’t focusing on the fact that she’s dressing a full-figured model. Christian is worried Venny has too many ideas, which is another problem he tends to have, and Sebastian has hardly finished anything. Right now I’m especially concerned for Sebastian; Hester thinks he’s got a great look, but I’m worried all his shades-of-beige skin tones might not pop on the runway.

9:46pm — Venny has more work than he expected. He won’t be able to do a hoodie, so he’ll have to use a hat from the accessory wall. That’s a shame because a hoodie would have made a much more impactful statement in a design addressing black stereotypes.

9:51pm — Hester has only barely finished her jacket enough to actually send it down the runway, and she doesn’t think it’s finished enough. Garo is also disappointed by his own look, which breaks his heart because of how much he cares about his cause. Venny is in trouble too since he sewed his zipper wrong, which makes it impossible to take off completely, which was another important thematic element in his look. Winning and losing this challenge seems like it’ll come down to who actually finished their looks. I have a good feeling about Tess, while Venny might be in the most trouble. And Venny was in the bottom two for the last two weeks, so he’s the designer who can least afford a low score. Poor Hester is still trimming her tulle jacket like a topiary as time runs out.


9:55pm — Fashion designer Aurora James is the guest judge for this challenge. She’s a “leader in conscious fashion.”

9:56pm — Sebastian is out first. We had seen the least of his dress during the design process. It’s dramatic, complex, I like it a lot but I could see it being divisive with that unique style and shape. Aurura loves Sebastian’s statement tee, though. Venny’s up next. I like some of the details, but he acknowledges that his statement doesn’t come through and the construction is lacking. Could be enough to keep him safe, though, depending on the rest of the looks.

9:57pm — Garo’s bee look is too plain. It needs more runway impact. And Garo himself thinks it looks too much like a costume. But Garo’s runway walk is pretty badass. He’s selling the hell out of it. I like the sparkling faces on Bishme’s dress, but the message doesn’t quite come through for me until his statement tee, “#BaltimoreBlossom” comes out. I think that pulls it together nicely.

9:59pm — Hester is still down on her design. It’s not what she wanted, but I think it came out better than she thinks, especially with the “Gay As F” message on the back of the jacket and on her statement tee. I dig it Jamall’s puffer gown on MiMi is dynamite, very much in keeping with his aesthetic and very true to his statement. One of the best looks on the runway. I think Tessa rocked this challenge too with her body stencil and “Mine” message. It’s evocative, even if the stenciling of the body could be cleaner.

10:01pm — My top two looks are Tessa’s and Jamall’s. My least favorites are probably Venny and Garo’s, but this could go a lot of different ways. Garo might be in trouble.


10:05pm — It looks like everyone is getting critiques even though there’s an odd number of designers.

SEBASTIAN — I hadn’t realized that he used the same sheer fabric to create the entire multi-tone look. I’m even more impressed now. Nina thinks it’s “so beautiful, so impressive.” I agree.

VENNY — Elaine thinks the “messaging got muddled in the delivery.” Nina thought the outfit had a “problem with proportion”; he’s hiding his model too much. Aurora’s heart is breaking for Venny right now.

GARO SPARO — Brandon thought the exaggerated shoulders and black hemline are “costumey.” Nina thinks he needs to step up to be more than just his technical proficiency and corsets.

BISHME — Aurora loves everything about it, she would “literally wear it tomorrow.” Nina loves the way he plays with his model’s shoulders, and it has an “authentic inspiration.”

HESTER — She’s unusually stressed out and defeated, but Elaine loves the messaging. And Brandon thinks she should be proud of her message as well. Nina “completely got the message,” and it’s full of positivity. See, Hester, I told you it turned out well.

JAMALL — Karlie thinks it’s a “gorgeous gown” with material that wouldn’t necessarily be considered royal. Brandon thinks he did a “good job” as well. Those critiques seemed slightly muted though compared to what I was expecting.

TESSA — Nina likes that Tessa kept her minimalist aesthetic, she liked the reveal, and thought the look was “absolutely beautiful.” Aurora had a “tough time with this” because she perceives it as telling women “what their body shape should look like.” Tessa finally opens up about her story of how she was molested and only recently came to process it. Elaine feels Tessa showed the judges a piece of herself, and it’s “powerful.”

10:12pm — Tessa has the winning look for me, and I think Garo is lucky Venny had another misstep. I think they’re finally going to send Venny home.

10:15pm — Wow, it turns out Hester and Tessa had scores in the middle. I figured Hester would be in the middle range, but I thought Tessa would get a high score for sure.

10:17pm — On closer inspection, Aurora has mixed feelings about Sebastian’s look, but they all loved his story. Jamall’s is the most high-fashion look on the runway, but Nina doesn’t quite see the message beyond the streetwear references. And they seem to love Bishme’s look the most for telling a clear story.

10:19pm — Garo’s look is out of step and looks like an Elizabethan highlighter saleswoman or an S&M bee, but Nina gives him credit for delivering a polished look. And Venny’s look is poorly made. This is his third time in a row in the bottom two. I don’t see how they keep him around, even though I think Garo has the weakest look this week.


10:24pm — Tessa and Hester are both in. Hester grabs Tessa’s hand and rushes off the runway: “Quick, before they change their minds,” Hester says. I don’t always love Hester’s work, but she was way too hard on herself this week. But she should maybe learn her lesson and stay away from the tulle.

10:25pmBishme is the winner, which makes him only the second repeat winner this season, after Hester. I’m a little surprised by that choice since I thought Jamall really knocked it out of the park, but I can’t fault them on the choice.

10:27pmAnd the eliminated designer is … Venny. That means Garo survives by the skin of his teeth. I would have been mad if they sent Garo home after all the great work he’s done in previous challenges. I think Venny has had great moments too, but he probably should have been eliminated two weeks ago when they kicked Renee Hill to the curb.

10:30pm — On next week’s show, the designers are making dream dresses for the hardworking women who run New York City: a police officer, a sanitation worker, an EMT, a teacher and more.

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