There is always a push-pull feeling when a “Project Runway” challenge involves real-life clients. The designers want to maintain their signature style while at the same time trying to make their amateur models happy with the outcome. On episode 11 of Season 18, the six remaining contestants were tasked with making a victory dress for female Olympian and Paralympian athletes who will compete in Tokyo this summer.
As Gold Derby’s Susan Wloszczyna noted in her and fellow editor Daniel Montgomery’s previous video recap of the Bravo reality show, she was a bit nervous whether this group of designers would put their client’s needs and wants first and place their desire to flaunt their fashion sense second. We have seen the opposite happen on past seasons and sometimes it isn’t pretty or easy to watch.
But, as Daniel notes, “In this case, it was the exact opposite. Everyone bent over backwards to serve their clients so much that maybe it didn’t serve their designs quite as well, according to the judges. But all of the clients were really happy and I think that’s the most important part. That’s why, of course, we got this week’s surprise elimination, which was no elimination at all.”
Susan says that she was fearing the worse because “I’ve seen the worst when they try to do designs for real people.” She was glad that this group of designers were “much more mature about it than what I’ve seen in the past. It made for a very pleasant experience because, truly, these women, these athletes are amazing and they knew how to cater to them. A few of them lost some of their pizzazz because of it, but that didn’t matter … the feelings of the athletes came first.”
But there was one negative in what was shown on the runway according to Susan: “Victoria (Cocieru) made the same damn silhouette”of a dress. Daniel agrees, saying, “In looking back on this dress, I realized that it was basically the two-hour dress she made for ‘Sheer Genius,’ but the good version of it that she made with more time. And it looked good, her client was extremely happy with it and it was what the client wanted. She is a designer with basically two ideas. There’s this more masculine suit thing with all the straps and boots and cutouts and when she makes the dress, she makes the same one – asymmetric , that high-low, and, you know, a little bit open here and straps there.”
However, Daniel is surprised that Victoria ended up in the top two instead of one of the bottom four and says that it looked like a very “off-the-rack challenge” where the designers seemed to hold everything back. But both he and Susan were glad that Nancy Volpe-Beringer deservedly won her first challenge of the season. As Daniel notes, “She nailed every aspect of the challenge. … she made the dress her client wanted.” Even better, she adapted the design to incorporate the athlete’s wheelchair with a special train.
Susan adds, “I knew when I saw her client go down the runway with her just glowing, I knew she would win this week.“ She also guessed, even before host Karlie Kloss declared the four other designers as safe, what the eventual outcome — no elimination. But next week, Susan observes, “It is going to be a bloodbath” since now two designers will have to leave before the two-part finale. It is also an avant-garde challenge, one that can prove difficult for some designers who aren’t used to pushing the envelope too hard.
Daniel goes on to discuss why he is especially psyched for next week’s assignment, saying, “I want them to play with volume and weird crazy shapes and flattering, yes, but I want to see those kind of big weird ideas.” The editors also muse about which two contestants they think will likely do well in the final challenge of the season. Tune in to Bravo at 9 p.m. ET/PT this Thursday to see which Season 18 designers will be making collections for New York Fashion Week and who will let their avant-garde down.
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