Project Runway Season 16 Recap: Real Models, Real Designs
It’s time for Project Runway’s “Real Women” challenge. But in a season where (some of) the models are already plus sized, why send out for clients?
This week it’s time for Project Runway to do their tried-and-true “real woman” challenge. You know, the one where they bring in super fans of the show, or firefighters, or mothers and daughters, and those who don’t get the one skinny girl in the batch bemoan the experience of having to make clothing for something larger than size 2.
But wait, haven’t we been doing that all season already, since half of the models are “plus sized”? Why oddly enough we have! So why send out for clients, when they’re already here? That’s right — our real women are the models. The designers will be creating them “day off” outfits, which, because our society is 24-7-265, are really “day on” outfits.
Since this would otherwise be just a streetwear challenge, much is made of the models being “the client” including having them pick their designers. (This is also a great way to discover who the models dislike, since those designers will be picked last.)
I know we haven’t paid attention to which model is which, but for posterity, here is the order of who chose who:
The twins being in the bottom three are unsurprising. Interesting that Ayana is also down in the bottom. I guess I might find her modest style very interesting in terms of what we usually see on the show, but in terms of the sort of streetwear the models want, it’s probably not high on their list of interests.
Back to a one day challenge, and a $200 budget at Mood. Shawn and Claire spend their time shopping together rather than considering what their models wanted, because of course they do. They are also treating this as a team challenge (again).
Tim is bringing the models with him to the critique, as he would with the real women in the traditional version of this episode.
- Kentaro: His model is into Japanese culture, so he’s going for Japanese American streetwear hybrid. Tim suggests a tighter top, but that’s all.
- Shawn: She’s making a version of what’s she’s wearing blending with what the model is currently wearing. When Tim questions this, the model defends it. Ok then.
- Ayana: It’s not modest. No one blinks. She’s making stars. Tim blinks at them hard.
- Amy: “Urbanwear tuxedo” she says. “No pants,” the model says.
- Brandon: She asked for classic. Brandon is giving her his usual random urbermodern mush. Tim pushes the model to accept it.
- Claire: It’s a sweatshirt with unnecessary zippers and peplums. The model looks ill.
- Batani: She’s going African print. Tim is awed by the colors.
- Michael: He needs Tim to help him pick between the light and dark blue. Tim picks dark. The model looks relieved.
- Samantha: I heard the words “hipster bartender” and stopped listening. Tim looks like he did too.
- Kenya: She’s making pants and a vest out of a green fabric that Tim worries is “too greenbean.” The model hates the cowprint top.
- Margarita: She’s going for menswear hip hop. She’s worried she’s being too ambitious. Tim encourages her to go for it.
This doubles as the model fitting, because time management is Lifetime’s favorite watchword. The sewing session goes until 1am, and somewhere in the 12 midnight hour the designers start doing Zac Posen impressions. (They’re not that good.) Meanwhile the twin drama is only getting worse. At this point, some of the designers have caught on that Shawn is the more dependent of two, and yet Claire is the one landing in the bottom, and starting to wonder if this constant “team” scenario is only working in one direction.
Day of runway and the designers don’t even have the usual 2 hours. Since part of today’s show is about having the models do streetwear shoots in the outfits, with the best one of which going on their Instagrams, that is cutting into time. (Some of the designers apparently did *not* take this into consideration, and make scared eyes as Tim talks.) A few of the models are daring to have opinions since they are the clients, but most acquiesce into “loving” what was made for them,” as they have been taught.
While the models finish being casually shot in the streets for IG, let’s head to the runway.
Heidi apparently needed to compete with the models, and is wearing bright red and high hems. Zac is back to full suit this week. Nina is here and still being announced as part of Marie Claire Magazine, because I guess Heidi didn’t want to redub her title. Guest judges are Georgina Chapman of Project Runway: All Star judging fame (ad also Marchesa) along with Kelsea Ballerini, who is a platinum selling recording artist of some sort. At this point, the fact that the Tim Gunn Save hasn’t been mentioned at all is becoming curiouser and curiouser. Is it really gone? Or just not even considered until we’re within the Top Ten?
Ayana: It’s a bathrobe over a craft project.
Michael: I love the strappy look, but I’m not sure the model does.
Brandon: Homeless Hipster Chic.
Batani: An African print dress.
Amy: An LBD and a dust jacket.
Shawn: Hot Topic Meets Khols. She even admits she was inspired by what they were both wearing yesterday. Zac loves the pants. Heidi loves how it photographs in the IG. Nina says “feminine and pretty always sell.”
Kenya: I feel like this is what Courtney Love used to wear as “adult clothing” in the 90s. Zac: “Debbie Harry meets Peter Pan meets 101 Dalmatians.” I’ll allow it. ….and then suddenly they love it and it’s in the top and my brain fell out of my head. Not that I don’t like it, but seriously, this is in the top and Margarita is not?! At least Heidi hates the print, and insists she does *not* get why the others voted this so high.
Kentaro: If someone dressed like this walked by me down the street, I would assume she was a professional model. I love this because it lets me see what it is about her that got her hired, even if I don’t notice her on a weekly basis on the show because I’m too busy judging the clothes. Heidi calls it the coolest thing on the runway. Georgina loves the samurai skirt. Nina loves how unstudied it is. With Margarita in the wrong category, he has no competition and takes the win.
Claire: Shapeless baggy fabric. Nina calls it “a blob of black.” Heidi complains the only part of the model’s figure she can see are the butt cheeks hanging out. Georgina suggests the model looks pregnant. And yet she goes to safety first.
Margarita: Now *that* is some stylish motherfucking streetwear. Like Kentaro, Margarita hit the brief for me because she too made me see why *this girl* got picked up by a modeling agency recruiter, and why she is in the pages of Marie Claire, and someone else isn’t. This has no business being in the bottom. I don’t want to hear about the pants Zac. I don’t want to hear she should wear heels, little nobody popstar who liked Claire’s look. (You liked Claire’s look. Your opinions are irrelevant.)
Samantha: Totally Torrid. Georgina calls it a costume. The judges look sad when it turns out to be what the model wants. Zac is not impressed by the Lolita look, and says it’s been done — he wants the runway version. Heidi is also sad because she can see how much work Samantha did, and it’s just not good enough.
During the close up critique, Tim puts Shawn and Claire’s outfits next to each other and reveals to the judges how much these two help each other, and stating (quite correctly) that at this point Claire is actually screwing herself over for the “designer teamwork” aspect. Heidi asks if this is legal. Tim says yes, helping each other is not against the rules. It’s the fact that Shawn and Claire are not putting their own looks as the priority and then helping each other afterwards that’s the issue. Zac gives both looks all the side eye.
But because of this, revelation, Claire skates by, leaving us Samantha vs Margarita. Bye Samantha.