‘Project Runway’ recap: ‘Suit Yourself’ reinvented the tuxedo with help from some old friends [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

This season the “Project Runway” designers have made looks out of wrapping paper, upcycled Goodwill clothes, pop art, and sheer fabric. But in “Suit Yourself,” the designers were tasked with reinventing the tuxedo. And not just for men — this week’s models were male, female and non-binary. As a male “Runway” watcher I’m always selfishly excited for a challenge with looks I can imagine myself in. So who suited up, and whose looks weren’t suited for the runway? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.

“Suit Yourself” follows the season’s most eventful episode yet. “Sheer Genius” started with Dayoung Kim withdrawing from the competition due to illness. That prompted the return of previously eliminated contestant Marquise Foster. Then Victoria Cocieru was so upset about her plans going awry that she almost quit the show too. Ultimately, Chelsey Carter was eliminated even though she had never been in the bottom before that — I and most of our readers thought that was a bad call.

Whew! That left Cocieru fighting to come back from her second bottom look in a row and Geoffrey Mac looking to rebound from his second bottom look of the season. Meanwhile, Sergio Guadarrama earned the last immunity of the season by winning last week’s challenge, so he was safe no matter what — barring another surprise withdrawal or disqualification of some kind.

The good news for all the designers was that they had help this week. Returning to the show to assist the top seven contestants were the designers who had already been eliminated. So how did those helpers affect the dynamic in the workroom? Who got a much-needed leg up? And what did you think of the judges’ choices at the end of the night? Follow along below starting at 9:00pm (times listed are Eastern).

9:02pm — Brittany is expecing a “curveball” for the ninth challenge. Marquise predicts a menswear challenge. Delvin jokes they’ll have to sketch while hanging from a building. One of them is right, but that second idea sounds kinda awesome too. Victoria seems to have come to her senses after almost quitting last week. “I won’t repeat this again,” she says. Good, because we’re too deep into the competition for her to just tap out.

9:04pm — Karlie and Christian come out to introduce the challenge with Karlie in a tuxedo with shorts — because even in a tux she can’t resist showing off the gams. Who could blame her? And of course Christian shows off the instant classic tuxedo gown he designed for Billy Porter at the Oscars. The challenge will be to reinvent the tuxedo in a modern way, and they’ll need to use satin somewhere in their designs. “Lord have mercy,” says Brittany when she hears this is a tuxedo challenge, so I wonder if this will be an especially out-of-her-comfort-zone. Geoffrey thinks tuxedos are “boring as hell,” so he also thinks this will be a toughie. But at least it’s a two-day challenge.

9:07pm — And in come this season’s eliminated designers as helpers! I’m still bummed to see Chelsey on that side of the room along with Jenn, Veronica, ShaVi, Melanie, Tyler, Alan (yay Alan!) and Asma. However, there are eight eliminated designers for the seven remaining contestants, so one of them won’t get to participate at all. The eliminated designers will choose who they work with and will be randomly selected from the good ol’ button bag. Jenn is first and she picks Brittany. Tyler picks Delvin, whom he worked with in the very first challenge. ShaVi picks Marquise. Melanie picks Geoffrey (they were also teamed up on the first challenge), Veronica picks Sergio (actively avoiding Victoria, whom she also worked with in “Blast Off”) — “Never again,” says Veronica. Chelsey picks Nancy. Which means Alan gets Victoria. And Asma … eliminated again, I guess. Honestly, they should have randomly selected the returning designers before the episode instead of dragging poor Asma back just to send her away again at random. That’s pretty cold.

9:09pm — There are male, female and non-binary models in this challenge given the tuxedo theme. Brittany is taking a risk on a male model. She has never done menswear, but she wants to show the judges her range. I hope it works out better for her than the wrapping paper did. Sergio wants to turn a tuxedo backwards. Delvin wants to use a corset. Victoria doesn’t seem to want much help from Alan at all. “She does not work well with other people. She barely works well with herself,” says Alan. Oh I’ve missed you, Alan. Geoffrey’s confidence was shaken by landing in the bottom last week; he wants to “pull back” on his look this week, which is a little worrying. If he pulls back too much, his personal style might vanish completely. Going too far is usually better than playing it too safe.

9:15pm — Tyler thinks Delvin is in trouble with his choice of a powder blue fabric. Christian is worried too, thinking Delvin’s color choice is like what Alan was wearing pretty much as a joke at the start of the challenge. So Delvin decides to switch gears — probably a good call. Nancy wants to show off a new version of the pants the judges loved in the Ashley Longshore challenge. Marquise has a really cool, bold print, and Christian is excited about it until he finds out it’s just for the lining. Geoffrey has settled on a tuxedo jumpsuit idea, also hearkening back to a previous challenge, his high-scoring “Blast Off” look. Lots of “Blast Off” callbacks tonight.

9:18pm — It’s remarkable how much more fun the whole workroom already is with Alan back, making Delvin laugh — Delvin! Meanwhile, Sergio is going ahead with turning the tuxedo backwards because he’s “never seen it done before. Wearing clothing backwards is thinking outside the box.” I mean, Celine Dion did that exact same thing on the Oscars red carpet once, and Nancy just did a backwards shirt in “The Ultimate Upcycle,” so while Sergio’s look might be great, it certainly won’t be groundbreaking. Delvin is going asymmetrical, and his sketch looks kinda Victorian — as in it looks like what Victoria tends to do. And Victoria is doing an evening gown with strong shoulders, while Alan … is fetching her water in a wine glass. And Brittany already regrets every decision she made at the start of the challenge: the greys and the menswear, all of it. Great start.

9:21pm — After the work day the designers go drinking and cornholing — okay, that actually looks kinda fun. But Geoffrey is worried about not making the final four because he needs a chance to make a collection in his career. “I’m really fighting with all my life for this,” he says, and now I’m worried this is like the retirement speech the cop gives before getting shot to death in the first reel of an action movie.

9:28pm — In comes last season’s winner Sebastian Grey on day two! He has brought them a Colombian breakfast with “carbs like crazy.” The CFDA is helping him develop his first collection, and they’re bringing him buyers, which makes Geoffrey even more excited to possibly win the competition (and more afraid to lose). But it looks like that’s from Sebastian. Just breakfast and a pep talk. But Brittany seems to be back on track, deciding to use her lining fabric as her main fabric instead of the black and grey she bought even though she hated it. And Victoria is actually going to let Alan do something … sort of. She has assigned him one belt. Teamwork!

Christian Consultations

9:30pm — Christian is worried about the “dated” shoulders on Geoffrey’s look, so he needs to edit it down. He’s going to “streamline the hell out of this.” Meanwhile, Sergio explains the political message he has literally just now for no particular reason tacked on to his initial idea (you see, our society has been going backwards since the 2016 election), and Veronica sums it up perfectly: “Let’s face it, the dress idea came first. We don’t need to attach a story.” Literally nothing about his design idea communicates that message. Just make the damn dress! But Christian’s main note is that he doesn’t need so much black.

9:31pm — Christian thinks Nancy’s look is “heavy,” and he hopes the judges like the bold print she chose. He doesn’t sound so sure, but I dig it! Delvin’s idea is “elegant,” but Christian thinks he needs to make it feel “young.” However, Tyler doesn’t think the fabric choice is necessarily a good idea.

9:36pm — Brittany doesn’t have enough of the lining print fabric to make the whole tux, so Christian suggests she just use her satin for the pants, but changing her design so late makes her really nervous, as it always should, but Brittany is a pro, so I have faith in her. Then again, I thought the same thing about Chelsey last week when she changed her design midway through, so …

9:37pm — Nancy loves having Tyler in the room because he and DD are actually the same size, but Delvin is annoyed that Nancy is taking up Tyler’s time when he’s supposed to be working with Delvin. “I’m extremely irritated,” says Delvin. That’s fair, though Delvin has clearly never liked Nancy.

Model Fittings

9:37pm — Marquise has his model Taurean take his shirt off, and everyone in the room melts a little, including Christian. Let’s just say that Stephanie wasn’t the last time Marquise has designed for a model with an ample chest — watch the darting this time!

9:38pm — Nancy’s look on DD looks “kind of amazing,” according to Christian, and I’m really liking it too. Nancy is deciding to go sleeveless after hearing Christian’s reaction to it. Victoria thinks Nancy keeps doing the same kinds of looks, but that’s the plot calling the kettle repetitive.

9:39pm — Alan is done with his belt, so he has nothing to do, and neither does Veronica because Sergio wants to do all the machine work. Maybe Alan and Veronica should team up on their own stealth look for the challenge with some extra fabric lying around. They can win the challenge on a write-in vote.

9:40pm — Delvin is going to be “devastated” if he doesn’t win a challenge that was literally and figuratively tailor-made for his skill set. He might throw down his lab coat and storm off the runway outright, and I’m worried that he’s only half kidding.

Morning of the Runway

9:46pm — At the penthouse the designers are discussing who might be at the bottom. Delvin tells Brittany that she might be at the bottom. They and Victoria all think Nancy will be at the bottom, and they don’t realize Nancy can hear them, including when Delvin calls her look a “glamorous garbage bag.” Seriously not cool, guys. I hate this pettiness. Sergio doesn’t think the other designers give Nancy enough credit because “they only see her age,” but she’s going to “sneak up on them.” I honestly think Nancy has had a couple of top-worthy looks this season the judges didn’t give her enough credit for, so I’m with Sergio on this one. Yes, I said it. I’m Team Sergio when it comes to defending Nancy. On the plus side, at least Delvin is noticeably embarrassed when he comes downstairs and sees that Nancy was there the whole time. Well, a little embarrassed. Not enough to apologize or anything.

9:47pm — Models are back, which means some more closeups of Taurean’s Adonis torso. The lingering closeup, of course, is to show off how well the pants fit. Sure, that’s what it’s for.

9:48pm — Brittany’s pants have pretty bad fit problems. It’s not looking too good. And so does Marquise, whose model’s shirt makes him look more like a Chippendale’s model. But you know, that might be a cool runway reveal. Ditch the buttons and stitching, replace it all with Velcro.

9:50pm — Victoria doesn’t need Alan anymore, though she didn’t seem to have needed him much at all, she she pimps him out to Brittany. Meanwhile, Nancy breaks the button hole machine — or it breaks while she’s using it, the causation is unclear, but Delvin is upset at Nancy again. “This is the second time Nancy has gone in my way,” he says, a little too dramatically. Buttonhole-gate!

9:51pm — Brittany likes Sergio, but even she notices how much his backwards tuxedo looks like Celine Dion red carpet look. But I’m at least as worried for Brittany’s tuxedo short shorts — not too promising there either. Victoria thinks her look will be comeback for her. I can’t tell yet if it’s a winner, but it might be safe.

Runway Show

9:56pm — Guest judge for this runway is three-time CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Thom Browne. He’s wearing shorts too, so maybe Brittany will be safe after all.

9:58pm — I’m … not sure how I feel about Geoffrey tux jumpsuit. The waist looks a little low and the pant legs are short, which makes his model’s legs look stubby. It has a futuristic vibe that I like, but I dunno. Delvin’s asymmetrical look with the corset is okay, but I’m not in love with it either. It just looks a little lopsided. Victoria’s look is cool, and it doesn’t feel like everything she has already done before — though it’s one or two straps and an asymmetric hem away from being like what she usually does. But I like it! Karlie thinks Thijin looks like the sexy villain in a Bond film, but I’m not sure if she means that as a compliment.

10:00pm — I really like Nancy’s look. A lot. I love the print with its pattern, colors, and shine. My favorite look on the runway so far. But will the judges hold it against her for making such similar pants as before? Brittany’s look doesn’t do it for me. The shorts with those shoes. the jacket doesn’t look like it fits that well. None of it is good Sergio’s backwards tux is interesting. I do like the back of it, but the backwards thing is kind of a cliche and the pale color is a teensy bit drab — a little straitjackety. He doesn’t see how the judges could say anything bad about it. Fateful last words? Closing out the runway is Marquise: great jacket, cool pants/half skirt on the bottom. Kind of a sleek bullfighter quality without being costumey. I could imagine seeing that on a red carpet tomorrow. Kudos!

10:01pm — My favorite looks are from Nancy and Marquise. I hate to say it, but I think Brittany is the poorest of the challenge. Karlie says it was an amazing runway show, so they’re actually going to speak to all the designers. None of the seven are just safe.


GEOFFREY — Nina loved it from the start. “It is very minimalist for you.” Thom thinks it “hit everything” and “stayed true to the challenge.” The only thing Nina would have changed is the bow tie. She would have picked a skinnier tie. Brandon thinks the model looks like a waiter in that bow tie, but “the tailoring is so beautiful.” I’m happy they like his look. And I kinda like it better now considering it as something he’d wear for himself. I could totally see him in that.

DELVIN — Nina doesn’t get a sense of tuxedo from the look because of the fabric choice. Brandon compares the look to a “leprechaun in a corset.” He thought the asymmetry and corset distracted from the strength of Delvin’s tailoring. Thom thinks the risks Delvin tried to take were actually “too safe.” Sergio leans over to Nancy and calls it karma for Delvin dissing her look earlier. I wouldn’t go that far, guys, especially since we don’t know what they judges thought of your two looks yet.

VICTORIA — Brandon is “really missing Brandon’s shoe game” without him on the runway. Nancy thinks it’s a “nice play” on a powerful woman who embraces her sexuality and femininity. She liked it. Elaine says Victoria knows how to make a woman feel sexy. Thom says she looks “amazing,” though it doesn’t necessarily reinvent the tuxedo.

MARQUISE — The judges are mesmerized … by Taurean. Oh, and the clothes are nice too. Nina thought he looked “regal,” “poised” and “powerful.” It was “so right on.” Brandon calls it “a great example of what happens when you let your ideas fly.” Thom says it’s “amazing … and I love seeing male cleavage” — he’s talking about the ankle showing. Thom’s only criticism is that he would have pleated the skirt.

BRITTANY — Elaine says it’s “hard to look at.” The lapels are “skinny and flimsy.” The shirt looked cheap. She was shocked that this was Brittany’s design. “It felt like a douchey Hamptons party.” Brandon says it’s “a mess,” and Brittany clearly agrees. Thom thinks the proportions are the worst part for him — but he’d have actually made the shorts even shorter instead of longer. Nina says it’s hard to see her at the bottom with this look, but she could see so many of the “technical difficulties.”

SERGIO — Oh God, Sergio is telling the story about the backwards administration. Stop talking! Stop talking! Your design isn’t that bad, but it’s so much worse when you explain your intention for it that isn’t expressed at all by the look. Delvin is facepalming. Tyler backstage is facepalming. I am facepalimg. Oh my goodness he’s talking about how good the 1950s were when you could afford a home, what on Earth is he talking about? Elaine sets him straight about how the 1950s weren’t so hot for women and people of color, so his messaging was actually “offensive. Stick to the fashion.” Nina liked the look, but yes, she also remembers the iconic Celine Dion red carpet look. That look shook Brandon to his core too. But no, Sergio doesn’t know that look, and he’s the only one who doesn’t. I’m not a fashion designer, and that dress was literally the first thing I thought of when he mentioned his design idea. Thom thinks the front is good looking and it’s a “beautiful” dress, but he recognized the reference. Oof, if he didn’t have immunity I’d say he just talked himself into elimination.

NANCY — She tells the story of how she removed the sleeves because of Christian’s reaction, and the judges are utterly charmed by her enthusiasm for her own story. Alas, the look wasn’t one of Nina’s favorites. She didn’t like the “wobbly” lapel. Thom also doesn’t get a sense of a tuxedo from it. He thought it was “safe” — oof, kiss of death. Elaine said it was one of her least favorite looks too because, yes, she remade the same pants she made before. I think that’s totally fair, though I still think the look as a whole is one of my favorites. I hope she’s not eliminated for it.

10:18pm — They had four top looks: Sergio, Marquise, Geoffrey, and Victoria. Wait, really, Sergio’s was a top look? They count him out because he copied the Celine Dion look. His excuse backstage is that he was in middle school at the time. Here’s the thing, though: Sergio and I are exactly the same age and I remember that Oscars look vividly. And I’m not even a designer. That said, Marquise had better win this.

10:20pm — Of the bottom looks, Karlie thinks Delvin’s was the most beautifully made. I disagree. It sounds like Nancy is going home. She says backstage that Brittany has the worst look but that the judges will want to see more from Brittany and not Nancy, and I think that’s exactly how this is going to go. Honestly, though, of those bottom three, I’d boot Delvin.


10:24pmThe winner of the challenge is … Marquise! Thanks goodness for this one good outcome! He’s now the third designer to win a second challenge, and after he was eliminated two weeks ago at that.

10:25pmThe designer going home is … Brittany! Whoa, I’m actually shocked by that outcome, but Brittany really did have the worst look by far. Might be a good time for the Siriano Save, though, because she deserves to stay in the competition.

10:28pmSIRIANO SAVE!!! Brittany is still alive! Thank goodness. This was exactly the right moment for it. “Your work has been so great for so many challenges. You deserve it,” he tells her, and he’s absolutely right. Welcome back, Brittany!

10:30pm — Next week’s show will be a tie-dye challenge with guest judges Leslie Jones (hooray!), but I just have a feeling Nancy is nearing the end of the road. The judges have never liked her as much as I have. And the other designers have never seemed to like her either.

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