‘Runway’ recap: Big prize, huge looks, epic fails

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READ MORE | ‘Runway’ recaps from every episode this season and last

imageWith an unprecedented $20,000 and a magazine spread at stake, this week’s contest to create an avant-garde look proves which contestants have their eyes on the prize and which ones are blinded by its light.

Some of the designers are more than up to the challenge, throwing down outright couture and the gauntlet. Others get lost in thoughts of the money and crumble under the pressure of just how big a win this would be. Let’s break it down.

For the second week in a row, our little Mondo rocks it out. His fantasy ball gown of neon stripes, black satin and tweed plus a kick-ass hat (top photo) is all him.

imageWhile all him, we admit that it may not be all us—or even very many of you—but when the designers are thrown a curve this week to create a commercial, wearable companion piece, he shows he can not only create outside the box, but tone it down for real people as well (second photo).

We’re also giving another shout out to Georgia’s own April, who sticks to her rocker aesthetic but grows it up for the challenge. She overworks the second look a bit, but the two definitely go together.

imageWe have a feeling that, like our love for Mondo, our appreciation of Andy’s futuristic warrior (third photo) may create blowback from readers who disagree. The folded-fan coffee filters from space may be divisive, but that’s inherent in an avant-garde challenge. And like only Mondo and April, Andy’s second-look interpretation not only relates to his vision for the couture ensemble, it looks good.

Try as we might not to let it get to us, we do get caught up in the blown-up backstage bitchery made possible by this season’s longer format. We’ve already said that knowing too much about the designers as people makes it more difficult not to prejudge designs by contestants we have come to despise.

imageThat said, we gotta give it up for Gretchen. The longer we look at her bohemian-inspired frock of velvet and hand-sewn feathers (fourth photo), the more we like it. And since we don’t like her—at all, ever and never, and call her names offline that would sully this column—it feels good that her companion piece is well made, and even respectably conceived, but doesn’t relate in the least to her showstopper.

The judges disagree. So what else is new?

Speaking of people we dislike with admittedly too much intensity, Ivy thrills us with her catastrophic failure. Her looks belong together alright—on the 75-percent-off rack at Marshall’s. Even then, they won’t sell. Her oft-touted skills as a seamstress are not in evidence, and it couldn’t happen to a shittier person—well, except Gretchen.

Competing with Ivy in what judge Michael Kors calls “a tight race for hideous” is Valerie, who bails on her original idea and settles for a bad white pageant dress. Worse, her black romper of a second look has ab-so-lute-ly no-thing to do with the first look.

As for the final auf-ing, the judges should make the same call that they clearly do at the bar before taping: make it a double. They give one bottom-rung designer a gift for the second week in a row, and they give us a gift with the elimination.

So long, sucker!

Click any of the photos here for larger versions or see all the looks in the Rate the Runway section on the official “Project Runway” page at MyLifetime.com. You can also catch up on our “Runway” recaps from each episode this season and last.

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