— Project Runway (@ProjectRunway) October 14, 2016
This week was a very special week because we had our boss and the Daily’s Executive Arts Editor, junior Justin Krakoff, as our guest judge. (Hi Justin, we love you. Please let us keep our column forever.) Justin is the ideal guest judge: he is hungry, not only for two whole bowls of popcorn, but also for opportunities to make the snarky quips that basically write the column for us. Our mighty exec used to watch this show with his family when he was younger and was shocked to find that not much has changed since it first aired, remarking, “Has Tim Gunn doused himself in formaldehyde? Because he looks the same. Like he has not aged in 10 years or whenever it was that I stopped watching the show.”
Episode Five is a team challenge sponsored by Mary Kay cosmetics. The designers are split up into two teams that are tasked with creating their own mini collections of four looks each. The first team, Team Unity, is made up of the cliquey mean girls in middle school who huddle together and let that extra girl tag along because their moms make them. The team members are Alex, Cornelius, Rik, Nathalia and Roberi. The extra girl is poor Mah-Jing. Brik, Dexter, Erin, Laurence, Jenni and Tasha fill out the self-described “really fun and really badass” House of Bouton (formerly Team Button Bag). In a first for “Project Runway” (2004-present), the designers are tasked with coming up with a design concept to pitch to judges Heidi, Nina and Zac for funding. Each judge has $1,000 that they can split between the teams however they like. After Alex’s lackluster speech, Team Unity is awarded only $800, while Dexter successfully snatches $2,200 for House of Bouton.
Another series first is that, in spite of the difficulties both teams faced, no one backstabs each other. In typical fashion, Erin guides House of Bouton toward a yellow-themed collection and crafts a precious canary and mauve (“mow-ve”) coat. Laurence makes an amazing leather jacket that we would buy in a heartbeat and Jenni and Dexter create a slenderizing but boring-ish dress that we seem to enjoy more than the judges. Over on Team Unity, Mah-Jing makes a cool vest that goes underappreciated, and the group works with a black print accented with neon green and blue that Justin described as looking like “someone threw up tie dye at Crafts House” – later clarifying, “No shade, I love the Crafts House.”
During the judging portion of the show, tears flow from almost every designer’s eyes. The winning team is so happy that they cry. The losing team does the opposite. And to make everything more emotional, Alex rightfully takes full responsibility for his team’s loss and is sent home by a bleary-eyed Tim Gunn who commends Alex for his “statesman-like behavior,” telling him “you’re an inspiration.” It is so sentimental and genuine on a show that generally is the opposite that we didn’t know how to feel about this ending.