‘Project Runway’ season 19 episode 12 recap: In ‘The Model as Muse,’ a picture of Coco Rocha was worth 1,000 words from the judges

Last time, on the 11th episode of “Project Runway” season 19, the final six designers began the final stretch of the competition by joining forces with up and coming stylists in a collaboration to celebrate and showcase their artistry in hair by and for Black women. Aaron Michael Steach took on the risk of creating something he’d never done in practice before, a raincoat, and while the judges liked the trench they were just as displeased as he was with the messy jumpsuit underneath and so they sent him home. Aaron’s elimination left five remaining in the competition with only two challenges left before a winner would be named.

Below, read our “Project Runway” recap of season 19, episode 12, titled “The Model as Muse,” to find out which of the final five succeeded on their photo shoot with supermodel Coco Rocha and which faltered on Thursday, January 20. Then be sure to sound off in the comments section about your favorite designers on Bravo’s reality TV show, who has the best aesthetic, and who you think will ultimately be crowned the next big name in fashion.

The five designers remaining were: Bones JonesCoral Castillo, Kristina Kharlashkina, Shantall Lacayo, and Chasity Sereal.

Immediately following Aaron’s elimination, the designers were asked to meet Christian Siriano in a warehouse across the street where he was in the middle of a photo shoot with fashion icon and “one of the best editorial models” Coca Rocha. Christian explained that for this challenge they’d test how their art would be presented in an editorial look worn by Coco during a photo shoot of their own. Coco earned them to think outside the box and leave “functional” and “practical” at the door and asked that they incorporate props to help bring the story to life. Furthermore, there would be no runway show and they’d be judged on the editorial alone.

At Mood, Christian pointed out the importance of fabric choice and in giving them $800 told them they should go extremely high end and make Coco feel special. Despite acknowledging that Coco is a model that likes to exaggerate her movements, Bones considered keeping the bottom half of the garment tight. Coral went in the opposite direction, looking at brightly colored light fabrics for a gown and Kristina eyed multiple colors and textures. Christian broke the news to Shantall and Chasity that they’re both going for all red looks, setting up a direct head-to-head in color story.

The next step in the planning phase was for the designer to pick a prop from the set that they’d ask Coco to use during the shoot. As last week’s winner, Chasity got first choice and went with a wooden palette. Bones was next and chose poi balls. Kristina picked a large blue container. Coral took the big fan. And Shantall in the last spot selected a ladder. Chasity at the top of the selection order and Shantall at the bottom further emphasized the competitiveness between the two red dresses. Shantall was not surprised that the group selected her last to choose a prop, though, taking it as a sign that they see her as the biggest threat.

Christian returned to the workroom later in the day to check in on their progress. Coral was noticeably nervous; she was having a crisis of confidence after landing in the bottom two last week, and Christian warned her that she might be too in her head and was making a look that was “too pretty” and “dressmakery.” He advised her to go less feminine to better fit her normal style. Bones called his vision a “fashion tornado” and while Christian liked the dress he’d constructed, he seemed less thrilled when Bones began describing the over-cape that he was planning. When he got to Shantall and Kristina, Christian was worried that they had too many plans on their plates and might need to narrow their focus for time, but with Chasity he didn’t even know what direction she was headed in because she couldn’t articulate her vision clearly.

The next morning, ahead of their one and only fitting with Coco, Chasity and Shantall realized they were creating similar sleeves in their similar red dresses and so Shantall went in a different direction in order to make sure that she was presenting a unique point of view. During the fitting, the designers got even more pointers about how their looks will be translated differently in photo than on the runway. Coco told Coral to shorten some of the train because otherwise it requires the photographer to pull back further to get it all, told Kristina that there was too much blue and she needs to show more skin to break the monochromatic look, agreed with Christian that Bones needs to ditch the cape and perfect the dress, showed Shantall where the fit could be better based on movements she’d make, and was similarly unsure about what Chasity was creating despite liking her princess-turned-villain idea.

On the third morning of the challenge, the designers arrived to the shoot one at a time without a chance to see any of the other designers at work. Without a runway presentation, the photo shoot was also where the judges got to assess the work of the designers, so Brandon Maxwell, Nina Garcia and Elaine Welteroth were all there too, along with Christian and photographer William Richards.

Shantall was first on set, directing Coco to show “passion” from the ladder and using the red chiffon train by throwing it in the air to create the look of fire. Up next was Coral with her concept of the “beautiful struggle” through a yellow gown with a billowy train that was blown out by the use of the industrial fan. Chasity’s “fairy tale villain” red-and-black dress contrasted the wooden palette in a way that showcased the geometry of the garment. The “tornado” dress by Bones was limiting in how Coco could move, but the poi ball prop provided the perfect accessory to create movement around her. Kristina was last to shoot with Coco wearing her “love for fashion” pants and jacket look in blue and green using the blue container that she thought looked innovative and interesting.

For the critiques, the judges, Coco, and the designers returned to the catwalk with the garments on dress forms for display. Coco said that Shantall was great to work with and the judges applauded her choice of the ladder because of its elongating properties. Brandon and Nina both said that her vision of passion came through immediately. Elaine liked Coral’s choice of color because it spoke loudly for her otherwise timid personality, and Nina called it daring overall. Brandon told Chasity that her dress looks slightly like an ’80s costume, but that it is still very editorial, and Nina said it was more rock and roll than it was fairy tale.

The judges were confused by Bones’s decision to restrict Coco’s legs; Nina called it the most sophisticated design he’s created thus far, but that it missed the point in terms of working for photography. Nina liked a lot of decisions Kristina made with the fabric choice, but took issue with the photo she selected as the final one and that she chose a prop that didn’t make sense. However, Elaine said that while she wouldn’t have liked the garment on the runway, she did in the photo.

During the judges’ deliberation, Shantall and Coral were the clear favorites of the panel, and in Brandon’s words it came down to “ketchup and mustard and everyone has a favorite” between the two. In this instance, the judges went with ketchup and Shantall for the “fully realized story, clarity of vision and editorial design and photo,” making it her fourth overall win. With the other three, the judges see an inconsistency in Chasity’s work from week to week, believe that Bones has the tools without the refinement, and they debated whether Kristina “got lucky” with her look and photo or “pulled it off.” From that group, the panel agreed that Bones would be the one to say goodbye because of the constricting nature of the dress.

NEXT TIME: It’s time for the final four to prove to the judges what their vision is and why they deserve to show a collection at New York Fashion Week.

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