Project Runway Season 16 Recap: You Gotta Fight For Your Right For Fashion
Project Runway has their top five participate in a Susan G. Komen Pink Breast Cancer Challenge, a surprising first for the program.
The month of October is a big one, ushering in fall colors, pumpkin spices, Halloween and horror movies. But there’s one other October tradition that’s taken hold in the last decade: the pink one. Football players wear pink accessories. The WWE adds a pink rope to the ring. Yes, it’s Breast Cancer Month, brought to us all by Susan G. Komen, the capitalist monstrosity that preys upon families suffering from a very real disease by insisting they pay premium prices to wear a copyrighted shade of pink, and forcing other misogynistic ones to pretend they give a damn about women to do the same.
Frankly, I was quite pleased that Project Runway had not fallen prey to this terrible nonsense up until now, despite their slow turn away from aiming themselves towards a gay audience to a female one when they moved to Lifetime. But I suppose it was inevitable that one day we would turn in on a day in October and see the contestants holding boxing gloves in that all too familiar color.
It turns out it’s Avon’s fault this is happening. This is actually their challenge and their breast cancer charity that’s being promoted. They’re the ones who brought a group of survivors to the ring this week –notably seven of them, which is too many for the number of designers, which means they’re not actually the clients. They and “their warrior spirit” are the inspiration. (This is another cliche about cancer that drives me up and down every wall. Cancer doesn’t give a good goddamn about your “warrior spirit. Cancer is too stranger, to misunderstood still, too random for someone’s “spirit” to be why they conquer the disease while someone else does not.)
Whatever, we get a comedy sequence of the contestants undergoing “Boxing Bootcamp” to help them form an idea for their outfit. They sketch in the boxing ring after fighting and then have $200 to spend at Mood. Avon shelled out for them to have two days for this challenge, but apparently not anything beyond that, other than to stress that they only care about the makeup look, not the clothes. The rest of us laugh sadly at that.
Only Margarita seems to actually get the concept of what it is to have cancer, calling it “chaos” and saying her corset look represents the family coming together and holding everything in from spilling out. No one else’s outfits are quite so striking in their inspiration. Kenya especially, who has no ideas at all, and sort of falls into a blue suit for no good reason.
Let’s skip through the angst of Day One and see what Tim has to say about their directions.
- Ayana: She is doing a voluminous power suit, with cigarette pants under a miniskirt. Tim loves her top and advises on which side of the reversible fabric she should use.
- Kentaro: He has this bizarre sausage knit thing of a top that Tim doesn’t understand. “Why did you execute this?” Apparently, it was supposed to be the under piece, except it looks like outerwear. Tim thinks Tim should follow that idea.
- Brandon: It’s a typical Brandon piece. He says “androgynist” and “nomadic.” Tim wonders if he’s doing enough, or if it’s just what they’ve seen from him before. (It’s the latter.)
- Kenya: Tim takes one look at her boring blue suit and asks “what’s wrong.” Kenya does have a good direction with the petals. Tim says she should embrace them, and “on a scale of 1-10, this needs to be a 20.”
- Margarita: She’s all choked up talking about cancer. This is someone who *gets* what living through cancer is. Tim hates her gold armor addition, and Margarita realizes it’s too “Wonder Woman costume.”
With only five contestants there’s a lot of extra time, so there’s a long boring Avon commercial that no one actually cares about because it’s not a makeup design contest. Then the models arrive and interview how powerful their outfits make them feel and how powerful women are today. At least Brandon’s model gets “it’s all about the attitude.” Kentaro’s getting is a disaster and is trying not to panic, having almost no time left, only to have clothes that desperately need resizing or tossed.
Day of runway and Kentaro has flipped back to the ideas Tim told him to abandon. Margarita hasn’t abandoned the gold fabric despite Tim’s worries. Ayana is super confident. (It’s funny that she is treating this like the last elimination, like she knows the Top Four totally get shown on camera after all these years, despite the show pretending every year it’s a surprise.) Kenya’s petals seem to have come out well.
Let’s go down to the runway and see what the judges think.
Heidi is wearing a one-sleeved metallic top with a keyhole bellybutton, plus a black miniskirt. (And they call Margarita tacky.) Zac Posen is here in a silver suit. Nina is here in a tee shirt and expensive skirt. The guest judge this week is Rachel Brosnahan, who is shilling god only knows what Weinstein production.
Heidi says the judges were “all over the place,” which is a nice way of saying Nina and Zac graded knowing which designer was which who they want to go to fashion week, not on the clothes in front of them.
Ayana: That shirt is killer. I’m less into the pants with the suspender-like straps, but oh well. They’re well made. Zac says “wacky, but impeccable.” Nina pretends Ayana never did pants before, which is nonsense. Heidi glows over it.
Kenya: The petal shoulders came out really well. The rest of the suit is meh. Heidi loves it and says finally someone got this plus-sized model 100% right. Nina says the color and silhouette are power. Zac says she delivered and this is what he’s been waiting for her to do all season.
Brandon: It’s a Brandon pant special, with an Ayana-inspired hoodie. Heidi tries to come up with nice things to say because she wants him on the top, but it’s clear she’s not impressed. Nina is much better at bullshitting over it, even though it’s Brandon boring and they’re slowly over him. Zac and the guest judges are the only ones who love the bonnet. Zac even agrees to like the drop crotch pants, which he usually hates. They give him the win, which is also bullshit, and we all know it.
Kentaro: A big black blob. He babbles about samurai. The guest judge tries to be kind. Nina calls it “Monastic, not majestic” and also says “black blob.” She also all but accuses him of stealing from Brandon. Heidi tries to like it and says nice things about the pants. Zac is just sad about it.
Margarita: She needs a lasso of truth. Tim looks ill from his seat. Zac says the draping is great, but he says it’s more clubby than armor. The guest judge hated it until it was explained. Heidi calls it too literal. Nina sneers “costume.”
With a bottom two of Kentaro and Margarita, it’s obvious who the judges are planning on removing. Poor Margarita is out and cries her eyes out in the Green Room.
Tim is not having it. He does have a save after all, and it has to be used. So why not here and now? That means we’ll have our final elimination next week before the two-part finale. Will Margarita get re-eliminated Batani style? Or will Tim’s overrule stay?