Project Runway Recap: The Rockette Debacle

It’s always nerve-wracking the week the designers get a challenge that makes them totally flounder, and it happens at least once a season thanks to the diabolical minds at Lifetime. This week was that challenge for the Season 10 designers, and it’s not hard to see why — they were put in charge of designing a new costume for the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.

Designing a costume rather than a ready-to-wear garment is a totally different skill set, and some of the designers were adrift from the start, including Melissa Fleis whose outfit was totally over-designed (18 different pattern pieces!) and Sonjia Williams, who seemed to have no idea where to start.

A nice touch in this episode was that the designers appeared to be getting along much better at this point in the season than they were before, even taking advantage of the opportunity dinner as a group. It must be so nice (and so unusual!) to have downtime sanctioned by the shooting schedule, and Elena Slivnyak used the opportunity to apologize to Dmitry Molokhov for her behavior toward him in the previous group challenge. Ven Budhu also opened up to the group, sharing some of his personal history. Also, at one point in the episode, Christopher Palu put on a turban and lipstick and did an impression of Sonjia, and it was amazing.

When Tim Gunn came to check in on the designers everyone was in such bad shape that he gave them more money and sent them back to Mood. Has that ever happened on the show before? Most of the designers seemed to feel that they had turned things around with the extra time and money, and the model fittings were executed with more confidence. On runway day, the guest judge was, somewhat inexplicably, Debra Messing. Was she once a Rockette? Did the producers figure that Smash, a movie about a fictional Broadway musical, was close enough to whatever the Rockettes do at Radio City Music Hall? Unclear.

The judges sort of hated everyone this week, except for Christopher’s New York skyline-inspired sequined number and Dmitry’s look. They ended up giving the win to Christopher, continuing to disappoint my under-appreciated favorite Dmitry. The bottom two were Ven and Elena’s weird band uniform and dress. The judges ultimately sent Ven home, which was very unexpected. I suppose Elena’s mean personality was preferable to his stoicism for reality television. You can see a slideshow of the top two and bottom two looks below, via

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