Project Runway Recap: The Couture Caper

This week was the couture challenge, which is always difficult for a layman to evaluate — in other words: I never have any idea what’s going on. There was a marketing tie-in, naturally, with a new line of L’Oreal Cosmetics, and each designer was given a “character” to design for. Thus we ended up with the contestants trying to figure out what an “artsy muse,” a “seductive temptress,” and an “enchantress” would wear.

The group was psyched at first because they each got way more money for this challenge than they have for previous challenges, but their euphoria wore off somewhat when they learned they only had two days to complete their looks. It would be cool if they were given the couture challenge after they went home to work on their collections, since more time could only benefit them and the clothes. But alas!

Tim Gunn stopped by early to make sure that no one was getting too off track. He hated the coat that Fabio Costa was making and told him so, and gave Sonjia Williams a pretty stern dressing down that seemed to come out of nowhere about not living up to her potential as a designer. Fabio responded by turning his coat upside down, which Tim loved, and Sonjia vowed to stop holding back.

Most of the other designers were pretty calm, although there were concerns voiced from Tim and the designers themselves about their looks being sufficiently “avant garde”. Everyone also finished their looks on time, in contrast to all the rushing and last-minute sewing of challenges past. On runway day, Zoe Saldana was the guest judge. Girl loves judging episodes of Project Runway! She looked beautiful, as usual.

The judges liked Christopher Palu’s Victorian Gothic gown (minus the weird feathers affixed to his models’ forearms), were fascinated by Fabio’s coat, loved Dmitry Molokhov’s suit, and also liked Melissa Fleis’s work with leather. The only designer who got really panned was poor Sonjia, whose mermaid-esque gown was hated by everyone but Heidi Klum (who defended it rather vigorously). The designers did the usual song and dance where they each picked two fellow contestants they’d like to have with them at Fashion Week, and they were very sweet and complimentary of each other as usual.

After the judges deliberated, everyone came back out to the runway. I hated this part of the episode, since I really like everyone left in the competition. Christopher was in. Dmitry was in. Melissa was in. It was down to Fabio and Sonjia, and Fabio squeaked through. Boo! When Sonjia went back to the other designers they all screamed about how she must be in after all, and she had to repeat that she was actually out of the competition. It was very weird. She handled her elimination beautifully, though, and everyone, even the judges, seemed really sad to see her go.

Next week is the hometown visit from Tim and, as is customary, none of them look like they go very well. Until then you can see the judges’ favorite and least favorite looks from this week below, via

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