My oh my, Project Runway fans. Last night's episode certainly ran us through the gauntlet, huh? A memorable episode indeed with emotions at an all-time high.
Before I start tearing up again, let's get to it, shall we?
- Challenge: After Heidi tells the designers they will be "starting from scratch" this week, they head up to the workroom to meet up with Tim and HP Worldwide's Tracey Trachta. The workroom was full of HP Touchsmarts, each one with pictures of the designers as children (Mondo was the cutest as a little matador). It's obviously time to repeat the awesome HP Challenge from last season - the task to design a textile with the HP Touchsmart to be placed on a fabric and used in the design. This season, the designers were told to draw inspiration from an especially profound, important and inspiring moment from their lives. I just prayed we wouldn't get another "ES<3SA" disaster print like last season.
- Surprise: No twist this week, only a few wonderful surprises. Halfway into the first day, Tim brought in some special guests - the designers' families! Gretchen's mom! Michael's son! April's hot mom! Christopher's partner - they are a gorgeous couple, huh?! There were tears everywhere - both on the TV and in my living room. Not only that, but then they got the rest of the day off to spend with their families - and you know that would've never happened if this show was still on Bravo! Remember when Jeffrey made Angela's mom cry? Not on Lifetime, my friends!
- Mondo: Yes, Mondo gets his own category today. Our brave little matador revealed to us that he is HIV+ and has been for the past 10 years. The courage he showed last night was unbelievable - I can only hope he uses that same strength to one day be honest with his family about what he is going through. To say that Mondo caused a few tears in our apartment last night is a gross understatement, and I hope that everyone watching took away a message of positivity - that there is life and joy after even some of the most devastating news. Okay... we need to move on to the fashion...
- Judges & Tim: The coocoo judges were back this week, though with a bit more sense about them than the last few challenges. They were joined by American fashion designer and beauty Rachel Roy. Tim was his good ol' lovable self - especially when he got choked up in the workroom at the thought of there only being seven designers left. Come here, Uncle Tim, I'll give you a hug!
- The Runway: The judges couldn't decide on a Top Three and a Bottom Three this week (because, really, there were only two solid entries), so everyone got a critique!
- Andy - Andy really lost his way this week, and had the nerve to blame his mom! Shame shame. The look he produced was beyond pedestrian and plain with sad, dreary colors, odd pleating and horrid styling (those tall black boots were not right). A total miss.
- April - Our little oddball churned out another dark look this week which left me with mixed feelings. Although I really enjoyed the print (inspired by her parents' divorce), the silhouette was a little too "figure skater" for my taste. The judges agreed to some extent, praising the print and the friction that so often comes up in April's work, but questioning the frilly, poofy skirt that looked a bit haphazard.
- Christopher Collins - Oh, Christopher. You sure are nice to look at, as is your partner, and one day you are going to make wearable, sellable clothes for women who will love you. But as far as designing clothes for Project Runway, you are pretty much a big ol' snooze. This off-the-shoulder look was safe and boring - Nina called it "fine" clothes (ouch). The fit of the top was odd which is probably what led Rachel Roy to critique the silhouette. Heidi was adamantly against it, though perhaps a bit too much (calm down, Fraulein).
- Gretchen - Gretchen stepped out of her box a bit this week with a simple, fun, Southwestern inspired print. True, the print should have been a bit more varied with different sizes and closer spacing, but I loved the fit of the pants and the fact that this wasn't another flowy Bohemian dress.
- Michael C - First of all, how nice that the Plastics have decided that Michael C is cool enough for them to like him. 'Bout time. But as for that dress - ugh. It look like a samurai warrior going to a cocktail party at the Imperial Palace - too busy and too many ideas thrown into one look. The "evil eye" print was a bore and the matchy shoe was a misstep. As Michael said, "it makes it look funny like a joke" - except no one was laughing.
- Mondo - Mondo once again hit it out of the park with his fearless mixing of prints and colors. It was true to his aesthetic and impeccable styling - I love that his jackets always have a great lining. The pants were a bit too high-waisted, but the overall look was terrific, inspiring and wonderful. Using the plus sign in the print was a risky step, but he managed to bring happiness out of such a rigid geometric shape that represents such a horrible disease.
- Valerie - Truth be told, I didn't hate this look. The sexy sheer top was totally on trend with what showed at New York Fashion Week last month and the print was creative and fun. It was clear last night that the judges were simply over her. Comparing it to the napkin dress from the party store challenge was a bit of a stretch - if anything those panels in the skirt looked more like Kenley's mermaid dress from Season 5 (okay, not helping my point). In the end, they dislike her heavy-handed design and confusing details - especially the bizarre blue slip peeking out the bottom of skirt. I didn't think it was the worst, but I get their point.
- And the winner is: Mondo again, confirming my belief that we have a front-runner here. He's now tied Emilio's record of consecutive challenge wins - though, as Emilio can tell you, that doesn't necessarily translate to victory. Still, an exciting and well-deserved win for Mondo.
- Auf Wiedersehen to: Valerie, who got to go down the line saying nice things about everyone because Lifetime needed a few more minutes to fill out the hour and a half.
What did you think, fellow judgers? Were you wiping away tears? Were you relieved there were no self-centered monogram prints? And who do you think is securing a spot in the Top Three? Sound off in the comments!