‘Project Runway’ recap: The designers got personal and political in ‘There is Only One You,’ but one wasn’t up to snuff [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

The “Project Runway” team challenge in “Sew 80’s” was a roller coaster of tension — between the designers, and between one designer and the judges. So this week’s wide open challenge came as a relief … or did it? In “There is Only One You,” the designers were free to create whatever looks they wanted with inspiration from their personal heritages. So who was truly inspired, and who expired? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happened.

On one hand, a challenge with no parameters beyond the designers own backgrounds and imaginations sounds like a breath of fresh air for a designer. But having no constraints also means having no specific direction. Sometimes having too many choices is overwhelming, especially in a one-day challenge like this one when you need to make decisions fast.

So who stood out to the judges this time, for better and for worse? After an up-and-down few weeks, Geoffrey Mac won the “Sew 80’s” challenge and filled our hearts with joy when he was moved to tears by the approval of his idol, Cyndi Lauper. That meant he had immunity going into this week’s challenge no matter what happened, so he could breathe a little easier.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Marquise Foster and Sergio Guadarrama were looking to rebound since their last designs were “Sew” bad. Or at least, Marquise was looking to rebound after two straight weeks at the bottom. Sergio, on the other hand, didn’t think there was anything he needed to improve or that the judges’ critiques were his problem. Well, they’ll certainly be his problem if and when he’s eliminated. Did that happen this week? Or was it a return to form for the, shall we say, highly confident designer? Follow along below starting at 9:00pm (times listed are Eastern).

9:02pm — Victoria feels a little “guilty” that she’s been at the top so many times on the show. She thinks she could actually win this, and her only real competition is Geoffrey, Brittany and Delvin. The producer asks her, “What about Sergio?” and she’s like, “No, of course not.” Okay, I may have mixed feelings about a couple of her looks, but that burn already deserves to win this challenge.

9:04pm — Time for the challenge, and both Karlie and Christian come out on the runway to announce it to them. This will be a challenge inspired by the personal histories of the designers. “You can create any look you want” inspired by their personal heritage. Victoria is thrilled about the freedom to make any look she wants. Delvin looks … unhappy? “I would prefer to have a bit of direction.” Well, the unconventional materials challenge was a direction, and he didn’t like that either. What’s the Goldilocks challenge for Delvin exactly? And it’s a one-day challenge, so he’s going to have to figure it out pretty fast.

9:06pm — Delvin isn’t clear on where he came from. He lost his dad when he was two; he was involved in gangs, which led to his death. So Delvin feels a “loss of identity” that’s going to make this challenging for him, though a loss of identity itself could be a promising creative inspiration. But when using his tablet for “research,” as the designers were told they’d be doing, he gets a video call from his mom, and so do all the other designers. It’s like the tablets all came with pre-installed software, but instead of the app store it’s their parents.

9:08pm — Chelsey is going to user her grandmother as inspiration since she’s descended from strong black women. ShaVi is looking back to his grandmother’s sister, who was Cuban and black, but could pass for white. Geoffrey is having trouble connecting — literally, the wifi is bad. Maybe he could make a garment that’s a metaphor for a bad wifi connection with your mom. Nancy is having trouble coming up with ideas for how to translate her Italian background — meatballs ain’t cutting it.

9:10pm — Dayoung’s mom tells her not to kill herself trying to be the best. I wonder if she told her mom that worked herself into the hospital in week two … Hopefully she doesn’t get Bravo. But Dayoung is so moved by talking to her mother that I really hope this is a good challenge for her. She badly needs a breakthrough. Delvin has Cherokee heritage, and his mom tells him — for the first time — that he has Mexican ancestry. Delvin was now years old when he found out he was Latino. Welcome to the fam! But he doesn’t know what to do with all that information. I hope he’s not taking this challenge too seriously, like he thinks he needs to recreate strictly traditional Cherokee or Mexican looks. I’m worried about him.

9:14pm — Time for Mood! Victoria wants to create a baby blue Moldovan woman, but Christian is worried about the shade she’s choosing. I think she has earned some leeway given how good her instincts have proven with the judges in recent weeks. Chelsey may have too many colors going on, and Christian warns her to listen to him more than they did during last week’s team challenge. Delvin is doing a melting-pot look connecting his Creole ancestry to the French couture houses he admires, but Christian thinks his fabrics look like college team colors.

9:16pm — Back in the workroom, Dayoung feels like she might be coming down with a fever. I wish we had Alan back to remind her to drink some water or have some macaroons because her mom is gonna be so mad if she runs herself into the ground again. And Nancy is trying an idea based on the culture she wishes she had had living out in suburbia. Sergio loves her fabrics, which would make me nervous if I were Nancy.

9:18pm — Meanwhile, Sergio is inspired by his grandfather, who had a cotton farm, so he’s making an evening gown telling a story about the six migrant children who died at the border in US custody. He’s using white for their innocence and red for their blood, and he’s going to include their names in the hem. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I love the idea of political fashion, but Sergio gets an inflated sense of his own moral and artistic virtue, so it could end up being powerful or self-important.

9:19pm — Geoffrey is “going dark” on this one because he comes from a military family, so a lot of “murder and death” is his heritage. Maybe he should have saved some of his black from last week’s Cyndi Lauper challenge.

Christian Consultations

9:20pm — He warns Dayoung not to be too “shy” with her look, which is inspired by her grandfather, who was a prisoner of war. She needs to be bolder than she usually is so she can clearly tell her story. ShaVi’s lounge singer-inspired look, meanwhile, is “interesting,” but he needs to figure out the shape and movement. Oh, and make sure she doesn’t have three booties — very important.

9:21pm — Sergio’s not going to show Christian anything at all. He says “it’s very personal,” and “at the end of the day you have to listen to who you are as a designer and do what you do best.” I mean, sure, stick to your guns, but last week his guns misfired badly, and he’s gonna have to show the look to the judges eventually, unless it’s too personal then too.

9:26pm — Sergio doesn’t think Christian will understand the Latino struggle, which is part of why he doesn’t show him anything or ask for any advice. I can’t speak for the entire diaspora, but I am Latino, and I don’t always understand Sergio. Chelsey is also going personal, inspired by the limited opportunities for African-Americans, so she’s making a varsity jacket, which Christian responds to with “Hmm.” He likes the idea, but he wants it to be “a little bit more fashion.” She seems to be on the right track, though.

9:28pm — “It needs to be you,” Christian tells Delvin because he needs to get back to the top and get out of the middle of the pack. He even goes as far as to suggest exposed seams to show the process. Sounds risky, conceptual. Christian is blown away that Brittany’s husband won cowboy of the year once, and he likes how different the cowboy aesthetic is from what the other designers are doing.

9:28pm — Ooh, Sergio is ready for a consultation! Christian wants him to make sure his “heavy” story comes through, so the look needs balance. He seems more receptive to Christian’s input than he has been before. A little. Low bar to clear.

9:30pm — Delvin is thinking of sending a partially muslin dress down the runway. Chelsey is like, hell no, and then she thinks it sounds edgy and exciting. I have a feeling he’s going to get a critique this week, but I’m not sure if he’ll be at the top or bottom. Could go either way, especially since he’s kinda re-starting from scratch midway through. “That’s how diamonds are made,” he says. I mean, it’s muslin, but okay. You do you.

Model Fittings

9:32pm — Delvin has nothing ready for Asia to try on, which is unusual for him since he’s usually finished with his look by now. He’s “in foreign territory. I am currently in a country that I do not know,” which, again, sounds like an interesting creative approach to a personal-heritage challenge. If the judges are confused, just tell them that’s your narrative.

9:37pm — Christian isn’t too sure about Victoria’s look. She “looks like an alien.” Could be a cool alien, but yeah, I’m getting a little alien vibe from it too.

9:37pm — “I don’t think it looks like a dick at all,” says Geoffrey’s model. Is it a good sign when that’s the conversation you’re having with your model? Thank God he has immunity.

9:38pm — And at the end the the fittings Christian announces a twist .. this will be a flash-sale challenge! Whew, the only extra work the designers will have to do is Instagram photos. But now that Sergio knows it’s a flash sale, he’s cutting his gown to cocktail length. Sounds like a pretty drastic change, but he wants us “to make a change together.”

9:39pm — Brittany is a little confused about Victoria’s look, but Brittany thinks it could be an advantage thhat Victoria is from Moldova because none of the designers or judges know what Modolvan fashion looks like, so she can sell pretty much anything.

Morning of the Runway

9:45pm — Geoffrey thinks Victoria should wear her hair bigger, but bigger than what? Brooklyn? It’s already pretty big.

9:47pm — Models are back, and Sergio’s model (and any other model he can get his hands on) is going to help him stitch the names of dead children. Brittany isn’t happy about all those helping hands.

9:48pm — Delvin is taking a risk by writing measurements onto his look to make the work-in-progress idea look intentional. Fingers crossed, it’s a risk, and he’s already got a kind of Sunday church dress in a pink color he doesn’t even like and runs the risk of looking old. But it could be cool.

9:50pm — ShaVi’s dress is starting to buckle, and “it’s going to take a miracle for me not to go home.” He’s been in the bottom once before, so he may not get much benefit of the doubt from the judges. Delvin also has zipper problems and stretching fabric problems, and he thinks he’s screwed too.

9:51pm — “Win this for all Latinos,” Sergio tells his model. So is she supposed to free all kids from cages and repair Puerto Rico’s electrical grid on the way down the runway? Maybe if he’d designed this dress sooner Julian Castro would still be in the presidential race.

Runway Show

9:55pmFernando Garcia is the guest judge for this challenge. He’s the co-founder of MONSE and the co-creative director for Oscar De La Renta. Don’t worry, Fernando, Sergio is going to win this challenge for you too!

9:57pm — I don’t know how I feel about Chelsey’s letter jacket look. It’s an interesting idea (kind of letter jacket meets graduation gown), but looks a little gimmicky to me? Geoffrey’s look is pretty badass, and indeed it doesn’t look like a penis! Solid work. Dayoung’s look isn’t bad. Fernando notes that the jacket looks like it’s for a different customer than the skirt. I kinda agree. I love the top, not sure how well it goes with the bottom.

9:58pm — Time for Sergio. I like the dress, but the political message doesn’t really come through, and the judges have trouble reading the names. ShaVi’s dress is bunching, has serious fit problems. I think it could be in the bottom, but the idea behind it isn’t bad. I think Nancy’s look is pretty cool with that great coat and oversized plaid pants. The coat is definitely the main attraction for me there.

10:00pm — Brittany’s cowgirl look is really sexy, modern, doesn’t look so on-the-nose with its country-western ideas — thumbs up! Delvin hates his look coming down the runway. I don’t know if I love it, but I don’t hate it as much as he does. Not sure how well the exposed muslin communicates a personal background, but it too has an interesting idea I’m not mad at. Won’t be surprised if that’s a bottom look, though. Victoria’s baby blue space alien … It’s definitely a look. Is it a good look? I’m not sure, but it’s original and feels like a change of pace for her. She might be right that that particular shade of blue is throwing off the effect.

10:01pm — And finally Marquise’s look, which I absolutely love, and Elaine’s reaction suggests she loves it too. It looks like nothing else on the runway. It’s bold but totally wearable — hell, I’d wear it in a minute.

10:02pm — I think Brittany and Marquise had my favorite looks on the runway, but I have no idea how this is going to go. The only look that seemed to get a clearly, visibly positive reaction from the judges was Marquise’s, so I think he’ll probably win.


10:05pm — Geoffrey, Brittany, Nancy and Marquise are safe — wait, what? My two favorite looks aren’t even in the top three. I have no idea what’s going to happen now.

VICTORIA — Brandon says it’s “not timeless or ageless whatsoever, but you know what, it didn’t bore me,” and he praises how well she sews. “Those pants fit her within an inch of her life.” Elaine thinks it was a “missed opportunity,” though, and it “fell flat” in terms of how it connected to the challenge. But it was a split decision from the judges. Karlie admires that she “took a risk and really leaned into it, so you made it to the top.” Nina says she lives for the moment when a designer surprises her. “I love it,” says Nina, even though it’s strange. Backstage, Brittany says, “They’re obsessed with her,” and I’m starting to agree. I like the interesting ideas in that look, but they seem to judge things more favorably when they know she made it. I thought the four safe looks were probably more successful than hers overall.

DELVIN — Fernando likes the idea of the writing on the exposed corset, and he wishes the whole look had followed that idea. It was “muddled” with all the other ideas. Elaine thought the style and color choices were very “Dynasty.” Brandon points out that the bold color draws attention to imperfections like the zipper in the back, and he clearly got “lost.” Nina credits him for being “ambitious,” but it should have been more “organic,” and “more you.”

CHELSEY — Karlie thought it was “striking, fresh and cool,” and it “nailed the challenge in execution and the meaning behind it.” Fernando loved that she “kept it simple … Balenciaga goes to the tailgate.”

SHAVI — Fernando thinks he should’ve just thrown the fabric on his model and tacked it a couple of times instead of overworking and layering it. Nina loves the story about his grandmother, but it’s a “basic dress” they’ve seen before. “This is not your best work.” Karlie also loves the idea and the story, but she wishes she could have seen it come through in the garment. He’s worried he disrespected the judges, but Brandon assures him he didn’t. It was just a bad day and probably would have worked out better if he had more time.

SERGIO — He’s explaining the political basis for his design, and Delvin has the perfect “give me a break” smirk. But then Sergio starts crying about the deaths of children at the border. His sentiment and outrage are absolutely correct, so I don’t want to assume he’s insincere, but “politics” feel like such an affectation for him. It’s his brand, but how much is it his passion? Talking about the actual look, Elaine thought his use of cotton cheapened the effect he was going for. As a Latino himself, Fernando wishes Sergio had elevated the Latino concept: “This stayed in comic book world. This is not modern … I think you need to push yourself more as a designer.” Nina understood the message, but she doesn’t like the “mullet shape” he picked for the skirt. It looked unfinished to her. And no back-talk from Sergio, so there’s that at least. I’m kinda glad he’s on the bottom since it means Dayoung is on top and she needed a good week. But I actually liked the look itself better than the judges did, though I think Fernando has a point that it’s somewhat costumey.

DAYOUNG — Nina “loved” her outfit. She’s a quiet designer, but the work speaks for itself. It’s “polished and elegant,” and they look “very expensive.” Fernando would have liked to see the jacket with a trouser instead, but it looks “polished.” Brandon felt like it “nailed the challenge” because he could feel Dayoung in it, but any woman would look good in it too.

10:19pm — I wonder if Sergio might actually get the boot. ShaVi and Delvin seemed to have bigger construction and style problems, but Sergio’s who design concept seemed to fall flat for them.

10:20pm — Deliberating about the winner, Elaine thinks Victoria’s look is too “superhero,” so the win comes down to Dayoung vs. Chelsey. It’s the strongest they’ve seen from Dayoung, but Chelsey also nailed the challenge of heritage-meets-fashion. Nina is torn. I think it’s a toss-up, but my hunch is that Chelsey gets it.

10:21pm — As for the loser, they think Sergio should have been more modern and let the work do the talking. But ShaVi’s look felt “basic” and “poorly made.” Fernando thinks Delvin has “potential” thanks to the side patch. But it was “dated” and “tacky” and didn’t fit well. Brandon thinks he had the worst garment, so it’s really hard to say who they liked the least.


10:26pmAnd the winner of the challenge is … Chelsey! Not my favorite look, but I like Chelsey, so I’m not mad at it. I’m glad Dayoung had a breakthrough too.

10:28pm — Sergio … is in! So the bottom two are Delvin and ShaVi. And the designer going home is … ShaVi. I’m gonna miss him, but I can’t blame the judges for sending him home for that look. It’s especially sad when someone is eliminated for a look they know isn’t up to their own standards.

10:29pm — And indeed Christian is sending him to the workroom, so no Siriano Save. I wonder who he’ll use it on, if anyone. If he agrees with the judges every time, maybe he won’t use it at all.

10:30pm — Next week, the designers will be collaborating with Ashley Longshore, and, yikes, it looks like Dayoung is going to have another medical emergency, so this week’s concerns that she was feverish were foreshadowing. I hope she doesn’t have to leave the competition.

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