Only six designers went into “Project Runway” episode 11, “Olympic Game Plan,” in which the challenge was to make championship looks for champion athletes eyeing the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. So who won a gold medal, and who finished dead last? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.
Client challenges are always tough since the designers have to work with people who don’t necessarily have a fashion background. On one hand, you need to make your client happy, comfortable and confident. But this is also still a fashion competition, so you also need to be true to yourself as an artist and present something modern and unique. Sometimes those priorities clash with designers either ignoring their clients or abandoning their own creative identities entirely. The ideal is always somewhere in the middle where the designer and client intersect in perfect harmony.
The final six came into this episode pretty evenly matched. Four of them had won two design challenges apiece: Brittany Allen, Geoffrey Mac, Sergio Guadarrama and Marquise Foster. Another designer won one challenge, but earned five other high scores: Victoria Cocieru. The last, Nancy Volpe-Beringer, had yet to win any challenge, which made her especially vulnerable going into this week’s show, but she had also only gotten two low scores all season.
When everyone is this good, the judges’ standards get higher, so even the slightest mistakes can result in elimination. And the stakes are higher than ever with Fashion Week in sight. Follow along below starting at 9:00pm (times listed are Eastern).
9:02pm — Apparently it’s Victoria’s birthday and she has gotten dozens of roses from her hubby: “Look, it’s a rose for every time she’s been on the top,” says Brittany, though, to be fair, Victoria has mostly been on the bottom in recent weeks. So Victoria is “anxious” and uninspired and not sure she’s ready for this challenge after those recent struggles. The roses seem to cheery her up, though, so I hope that lifts her spirits because she really is talented.
9:04pm — Time for the challenge: Karlie introduces the designers to six women who are able to withstand the challenge of competition, 2020 Summer Olympians. Nancy is on her feet applauding. I think she likes this challenge. The athletes are rugby player Naya Tapper, track and marathoner Tatyana McFadden, freestyle wrestler Helen Maroulis, indoor volleyball player Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson (woot! I love indoor volleyball at the Olympics, and I remember her from the London and Rio Games), shotgun shooter Kim Rhode, and sprinter/long jumper Scout Bassett. The athletes have unique bodies specialized to their sports, so the designers will be making custom victory dresses for their athletes.
9:05pm — The designers are being matched up by the dreaded button bag: Geoffrey gets Naya, Nancy gets Tatyana (and Nancy looks thrilled with her draw), Victoria gets Helen, Sergio gets Foluke, Brittany gets Kim, and Marquise gets Scout. But alas, this is only a one-day challenge. It is a pretty straightforward challenge: party dress for a client. But they could’ve cut the designers a little slack and given them an extra day after last week’s overnight tie-dye challenge.
9:06pm — They’re designing for some of our country’s finest athletes, so “Don’t f*ck it up,” Karlie tells the designers. Sounds like Karlie’s gonna have Kim shoot the loser of this week’s challenge.
9:07pm — Geoffrey bonds with Naya about rugby, which Geoffrey mistakenly thinks is that thing with the net. Naya sets him straight — so to speak. “My muscles are more for visual sport,” Geoffrey explains. “They’re for physical sports too, but just not Olympic sport.” Winning that last challenge has made him frisky, and I love it!
9:08pm — Victoria’s client Helen tells her she feels self-conscious about her broad back and shoulders. Victoria tells her the kinds of things she actually designs. Helen sounds like she’s onboard, but I’m not sure how much of Helen is going to end up in this dress since Victoria hasn’t been known for collaborating well with others this season.
9:09pm — Foluke is pregnant, and Sergio has never made a maternity dress before because his dresses are too expensive for them to want to invest in with their bodies changing. Ah, once again, the true politics of the political designer.
9:09pm — Tatyana has trouble finding clothes because of her broad, muscular frame and her wheelchair. She likes to be “a little extra,” so she wants a train. Nancy seems to be familiar with adaptive design and the challenges of creating a look for someone with accessibility needs, so I hope this challenge works out well for both of them.
9:10pm — Kim wants black. Brittany is used to designing in prints and colors, but she has designed bridal before, so she’s used to adapting to her clients. It’ll be interesting to see if any designers stray too far from their clients’ wishes, and if any stray too far from their own personal style. Either could turn out badly on the runway.
9:11pm — Scout is open to showing off her prosthetic. Marquise is totally down for that, and I think some kind of high slit to showcase it could be really badass. Those two definitely seemed to be vibing.
9:12pm — At Mood, everybody seems to be shopping for red fabrics. Victoria, Geoffrey, and Marquise are all making red dresses because their clients specifically asked for it. I think there are definitely enough different ways to make a red dress for all three of them to be distinctive, and I kinda like how committed they are to honoring their clients’ wishes.
9:15pm — Nancy has to figure out how the make a train for a dress that won’t get tangled up in a wheelchair. She says she’s a goner if she screws that up. I think she’s definitely right. And Brittany thinks the dress she’s designing will look so good it won’t stay on her client for long — wink! She and Geoffrey are both frisky today. It’s like Alan never left the show.
9:17pm — Sergio is being arrogant again, but in a nice way maybe? He says Brittany doesn’t has “as much of a technical background” as he does, so he’s always happy to help since he wants to win for real on the runway and not because someone didn’t know how to execute a technical detail. I’ll say this much: Sergio can be defensive and full of himself and his political “messages” tend to be phony, but he has never been a jerk to the other designers, and that’s super cool. Slightly condescending maybe from time to time, but never an outright jerk. This has been my semi-annual episode of “Maybe Sergio Isn’t All Bad Maybe.”
9:18pm — Nancy is making five pieces, and she feels so much pressure not necessarily to win the challenge but to do justice to her client. Which is a lovely sentiment, and I really hope it turns out alright. She had me worried at around this time in the tie-dye challenge, and that turned out pretty well, so fingers crossed.
9:20pm — Christian doesn’t think Sergio’s design is very “exciting.” Sergio doesn’t think Christian understands because he wasn’t in the client consultation. In this case, I understand where Sergio is coming from, but Christian is almost always right. When designers ignore what he says here, they tend to hear it again from the judges on the runway.
9:25pm — Learning something new about Sergio: he used to play soccer, in part to hide that he was gay. “If you live your truth proudly, no one can really come for you.” He seems to have a real connection to his client and this challenge. Wait … am I rooting for Sergio?
9:26pm — Geoffrey is making a miniskirt with a slit, and Christian is worried about that combo. “It’ll be something,” they both say not exactly optimistically. Victoria got a “dream” client who totally matches her aesthetic, but Victoria doesn’t like dresses without sleeves. Come on, Victoria, suck it up and make something without sleeves for everything else you’re getting out of this challenge.
9:28pm — “There’s something there” with Marquise’s braiding effect, but it’s not as “cool” as Christian hoped it would be. It feels a little “bridesmaid’s” to Christian, who doesn’t think the look reflects Marquise’s personal style at all.
9:29pm — Christian likes that Brittany is working in dark colors, which aren’t in her comfort zone, but he wants Brittany to “push it” into something that reflects her more as a designer. Sounds like a common refrain: designers playing it too safe to honor their clients’ wishes.
9:30pm — Christian is worried about how much time Nancy is going to need to finish her look, especially after last week when she hastily cobbled together a top at the last minute and luckily landed on top.
9:35pm — The clients are back, and Foluke seems happy with what Sergio is designing. Helen is “on cloud nine” in Victoria’s dress. She would wear it “with the pins in it,” she likes it so much. Kim seems a little ambivalent in Brittany’s look, though she’s being very accommodating, so who knows how that’s going to turn out.
9:36pm — Nancy is using Velcro in Tatyana’s look. Sounds risky, but potentially really functional for a client in a wheelchair? I’m not sure, but I like how attentive Nancy is to her client’s practical needs.
9:37pm — Scout seems really happy in her dress, and I love the slit showing off her prosthetic leg, but Victoria thinks the dress looks cheap. And Christian still looks worried too. She looks great, but Marquise isn’t really pushing any innovative design ideas really. It’s a little basic.
9:38pm — Geoffrey’s dress looks like kind of a hot mess at the moment. The waistline is too high and the bust line is too low. He has way more alterations to make than he expected, so he’s basically going to re-cut the whole thing. There’s not a whole lot of time for that. Meanwhile, Marquise is going to make a matching shirt to go with his client’s dress because the judges liked it when he did that in “Sheer Genius.” But I worry about him spending time on that too since his dress is so simple.
9:39pm — It’s the end of the day, and Geoffrey still has a lot to do with his re-do. I really hope he doesn’t go home right after winning a challenge. I want to see him in the finale.
Morning of the Runway
9:45pm — “She’s funny, she’s mean, everything you could want in a girl,” says Geoffrey about Victoria when he says “Word!” and she agrees that yes, he is a nerd. They deserve a buddy-comedy spinoff.
9:46pm — “My design is so good that she’s already won the gold,” says Sergio, who’s ruining the whole I’m-rooting-for-him-this-week thing. Often when we hear him saying how effortlessly flawless he is, that’s when he lays an egg.
9:47pm — Christian is worried that Victoria’s dress is too short, but I think it’s fine. I’m worried about the fit on Brittany’s dress, though, and Sergio thinks it’s too basic and doesn’t reflect her aesthetic. Have we seen much of Nancy’s actually design? We’ve heard her talk about it tons, and I wonder what it means that we haven’t seen too much of her work in progress.
9:49pm — Disaster for Geoffrey: something black on the iron ended up on his red dress. It doesn’t look too bad, though. Nancy’s designing a black dress, so she’s worried it might’ve been her. Yeah, I think it might’ve been her. First the button machine, and now this? Sabotage! Well, accidental sabotage. But Christian thinks the hips are still a problem on Geoffrey’s look, so he’s just gonna re-do that now with, what, minutes left to go? Nancy’s iron staining may be the least of his problems.
9:55pm — Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn is the guest judge for this challenge. The editors of Sports Illustrated and the Council of Fashion Designers of America have honored her among the “Fashionable 50” athletes list.
9:56pm — Victoria’s look is nice and super flattering. I dig it, though it’s surprisingly simple for Victoria, and the asymmetric skirt looks kinda like a flap just hanging off the side of it. “Leg goals,” says Karlie about the look, and if Karlie Kloss is envious of your legs, those are some superhuman legs. Sergio’s dress is lovely too, flattering, and the open back keeps it from looking too basic I think.
9:57pm — Marquise’s model looks badass, and the exposed prosthetic is bold AF, but I do wish the rest of the design had more verve. Brittany’s look came out pretty well. Not her best work necessarily, but I’m not mad at it.
9:58pm — Geoffrey’s dress has really cool details, but it’s hard to tell how comfortable his client feels in it. It’s a little skimpy on her. But it might just be because she’s not a professional runway model. Nancy closes out the show with a sparkling dress that looks great on her client, great in the wheelchair, and great with the train while works well with the wheelchair. She nailed it.
9:59pm — All the clients looked good, but I think Nancy had the highest degree of difficulty and the most impressive design specific to her client’s body, wishes, and practical needs. Honestly, it’s hard to figure out who goes home. Marquise and Geoffrey might be my personal bottom two, but neither was a disaster. Every look was mostly solid.
10:02pm — No one is safe. Everyone is getting a critique. But the judges are going to be super positive with the clients on stage. They’ll get into the nitty-gritty with the designers after.
SERGIO — Elaine loves that it’s not traditional maternity wear. Nina thinks Sergio celebrated this stage of her life while still making her look feminine and sexy. Brandon thought Foluke was “gorgeous.”
BRITTANY — Elaine thinks Kim looks like “a bag of money.”
NANCY — Karlie calls it “gorgeous,” and Brandon is wowed by the reveal of the second look underneath. Nina admires the “fashion,” “function” and “fantasy.” Lindsey thinks it’s a “stunning look.”
GEOFFREY — Brandon thinks she looks “expensive.” Lindsey thinks she’s “confident” and “glowing” and “looks incredible.” Worrying that they weren’t very specific about the qualities of the dress itself. Methinks we’ll hear about that later.
VICTORIA — Nina sees “Victoria’s DNA.” It has femininity but also with an “athletic nod.”
SCOUT — Karlie liked the “beautiful reveal” of her prosthetic leg. Nina thinks she looks “amazing” and the dress is “perfect for her petite figure.”
10:10pm — Really hard to tell who’s high and who’s low. Except for Nancy. She’s high 100%. Okay, now for the real critiques. Karlie says this is the closest the scores have ever been in the competition.
SERGIO — Karlie thought it was “beautiful” and “stunning,” but it was too much of a day dress. Elaine wanted the baby bump showcased more. Brandon thought the chiffon on the bottom was “beautiful.” But he didn’t care for the fit on the cap sleeves. So mild bottom?
BRITTANY — Nina calls it a “smart fabric,” but it’s a “very cliche dress” and she should have come up with something more creative. Lindsey thought Brittany should have pushed the client into places she might not have even realized she wanted to go in, like Lindsey would have wanted for herself. Another bottom look.
NANCY — Elaine thought the color was “a little uninteresting.” But Nina thought it was “the right color.” Karlie thought the trim was a little “heavy.” Brandon said Nancy did a great job of accommodating her client, and Karlie loved the function of it too.
GEOFFREY — Elaine isn’t going to take points off for the stain, but it was “loose around the chest area.” It should’ve been fitted a little better. Nina thought when the client moved you could almost see an “accident” — wardrobe malfunction! Geoffrey agrees the slit should have been further on the side to avoid exposure.
VICTORIA — Brandon thought it should have been made with a “beautiful stretch crepe” instead of poly. Lindsey loved the dress and how it accentuated the model’s personality. Sooo …. high score? Low score? Somewhere in the middle?
MARQUISE — Karlie thought the top bodice was “more sheer than it needed to be.” Lindsey thought the design looks very young in spite of the slit. She could’ve done more to push the envelope and be more “sophisticated.”
10:18pm — Hmmm, it sounds like Nancy is the only one who was unequivocally a top look despite a couple of quibbles. Everyone else got mixed reviews.
10:19pm — Lindsey’s top two were Nancy and Victoria. Elaine gives the edge to Victoria since she stayed true to herself more than anyone else. Nina was especially impressed with Nancy and how she “thought about everything.” Brandon admires that Nancy always cares about the person she’s dressing.
10:20pm — It’s hard for Lindsey to think anyone should be out given the level of quality all around, but if she sends anyone home it would be Marquise. Nina also thought it was too simple, and yes, it doesn’t reflect well that he had enough time to make himself a shirt. But Karlie thought Sergio also had a pretty standard silhouette.
10:21pm — Backstage, Sergio says he doesn’t understand why any woman would want to wear a tight dress even after Brittany says she’d want it to be more fitted to her. “Well, you’re a man, so …” says Brittany. I liked Sergio’s look better than the judges did, but it’s a little weird how alien the experiences and opinions of women seem to be this upscale women’s wear designer.
10:22pm — Brittany’s look could have be worn by any woman — but not in a good way. It was unoriginal. And Elaine was “offended” by Geoffrey’s “tacky” look, but Karlie thought Geoffrey made the only victorious party dress for a woman in her 20s going out with her friends. Brandon thought it was cool and chic. Wow, those opinions are all over the map. “We never disagree like this!” said Karlie. I’m kinda excited by that too because fashion is subjective and the judges usually agree more or less with only minor quibbles between them.
10:26pm — Victoria and Nancy are basically the only ones with high scores. And the winner is … Nancy! Hooray! Well deserved! It’s her first challenge win of the season, and now all six of these designers have won a challenge. But one past winner is one their way out. And actually, the bottom four are all the designers who have won two challenges before.
10:27pm — And the designer going home is … NO ONE! “You are all … safe,” said Karlie with the most deliciously cruel pause. I’m actually really happy with this result since the designers all did right by their clients and none of their looks was an epic fail. Or even really a fail. Maybe a little meh, maybe a little imperfect, but I would have been sad to see anyone go home for those looks. Yes, even Sergio.
10:28pm — But Geoffrey is scared because he thinks two people are probably getting the boot next week, and I have a feeling she’s right. But Victoria says, “What competition is this where nobody goes home?” Zip it, Victoria, after you were so scared of being eliminated that you almost quit the whole show.
10:30pm — In the scenes from next week’s show, we learn that only four designers will advance to the next episode, and it’s the avant garde challenge! I almost forgot that we hadn’t gotten an avant garde challenge yet. And it will be inspired by the Vessel in New York City. Or as I like to call it, the Glorious Space Pine Cone. Especially after this week’s somewhat safe looks, I want to see big and weird and over the top.
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