'Project Runway' Season 12 week 11: Innovation makes the runway work

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Last week, Ken's snot-green superfan dress (and his temper, uh, maybe?) cost him his spot on "Project Runway." Seven designers left, and they know it. The pressure is on. What designer will get shown the door on week 11? We're getting closer and closer to Fashion Week.

This week,  Tim Gunn introduces the group to Rob Le Bras-Brown, from HP, for the HP/Intel Textile Design Challenge. Let's make fabric! It's like crafty magic! They have to get inspiration from the "next generation" of innovators, an up-and-coming "muse" for the challenge. They are a cool group of modern idea-pushers. And the winner of the challenge gets a fancy computer along with the win. Nice.

  • Justin is partnered with Nana Meriwether, Miss USA 2012, who co-founded a non-profit in South Africa to open schools and clinics.
  • Kate is working with 17-year-old Maria Gonzalez, a software developer, who created an app called "Say Something" to help the homeless population.
  • Bradon has Nigel Sylvester, a BMX rider, who is a mentor and entrepreneur. 
  • Alexandria finds inspiration with Ilana Greenberg, the creative director of the graphic design magazine "GDUSA," who works with social causes like helping Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.
  • Dom meets Premal Shah, who is the founder of Kiva.org, a website devoted to helping tiny, home-run businesses worldwide get start-up money via crowdfunding to succeed.*
  • Helen and the artist Ryan Keeley talk about media and technology, abstract painting and printing.
  • Alexander gets to decorate cakes with Thiago Silva, executive pastry chef at Catch. He was named one of Zagat's 30 Under 30. 

Once they're back at the workroom, they get busy designing their fabrics, and then after a quick Mood run for extras, they get down to the second part of the design work - the garment. Kate is making a dress' Helen, too. Justin wants to show the judges he can make a beautiful gown. Again. Bradon is using his custom print for a skirt, and then this tube-like fabric for something else. 

The custom fabric is delivered, and the Christmas morning jumping around is adorable. Bradon, as Dom points out, yet again has a plaid (and how he got a plaid from a street BMX rider is anyone's guess.) 

Tim loves Dom's fabric and design idea, but is "perplexed" by Bradon's design, so he starts over. Kate's dress has giant pleats. Justin is doing another strapless dress, but Tim likes it, so he continues. Helen has a bit of an insecure fit over what she's going to do, even though she's in the lead with wins, but she doesn't have a good grasp on what she's doing, and doesn't like her print, and falls to tears. Tim tells her to "make it work" which is Tim for "suck it up." Alexandria is making an A-line skirt with her print, with a top and maybe a vest. Alexander's print is based on the lattice-work chocolate topper from his cake, and Tim cautions him that his dress looks like "clerical" (but he gets stubborn and says he's going ahead with his plans, no matter what. Let's see how that works out for him.) Bradon gets the quote of the show - "just because Alexander's last name is Pope, doesn't mean he has to make priest costumes. My last name is McDonald, and I don't make dresses out of french fries."

The overall feel of the workroom may lack the Ken kind of drama, but instead, the boiled down stress is making them all a little back-stabby, and they are over Helen's need for reassurance. But they're nice as pie to each other.

The Runway Show
: The designers are joined by the innovation muses, and the judges,  Heidi Klum,  Zac Posen and Nina Garcia (yay, Nina is back!), are joined by fashion designer Peter Som
 
  • Kate - The print is very delicate, and small, but the outfit doesn't look well made, especially if you look at the pleated skirt too closely.
  • Alexander - The chocolate print is cool, but the big white stripes on the dress are bad, and the back of the dress is non-existent. It's all cover in front, nothing in the back. 
  • Dom - Her print works perfectly with the design in a modern dress. It's beautiful.
  • Helen - She calmed down and did a crop top and full skirt with her funky print. She needs to freak out and then chill more often because it's young and hip looking. 
  • Alexandria - Her skirt and vest, if you can call it that, seems unfinished. She even calls it "naked." 
  • Bradon - He ended up doing a fitted, bomber style jacket with great black details and a black skirt. It's sharp. And he made plaid work for a BMX look.
  • Justin - The print of the gown is strange, with for the red dots on the bodice, which look like creepy eyes. And the gown looks cheap when it's trying desperately to look high class.

Judging: Somehow, Alexandria is in the middle, and is sent out as safe. Dom's dress is called "runway ready" by Zac, and Nina says the fabric design challenge was made for her. Peter says the global-ness of the inspiration is represented.

Heidi pans Justin's dress, saying the bodice got all of the attention; Nina said the long, drab dress should have been shorter. Peter says it looks depressed and needs therapy. Bradon's print and dress are both praised by Heidi. Nina calls it "fabulous jazz." Everyone loves the print. Zac even says it's the best Bradon has done all season.

Alexander's print is slammed by Heidi and Zac - he says she looks like a cult leader. Nina hates the white stripes (a "landing strip," says Zac) but she kind of likes the print; however, she says the dress is too much, when it should have been light and flowing.

Helen's layered funky star print is "patriotic" according to Heidi, and the design is sexy, not slutty. Zac says the crop top and skirt is cool, and Nina says it's one of her favorites, with a modern yet vintagey feel. Peter calls it a "star-spangled hipster."

Kate's print gets an "oh god" from Nina, and then the pleat panels and belt are dismissed. No one notices the print because of the pleats. Heidi calls it "ugly" and Zac says "there's so much wrong with this outfit."  

Before sending the designers back to the lounge, Heidi says that one "or more" designers could be sent home. Uh oh. Could this be a double elimination week?

So who's in? Dom. She earned this one, and she knows it. Her dress was the only one that worked as two good designs together. Bradon and Helen are also in. Justin is also safe. 

And who's out? Unfortunately, Alexander is sent home. We'll miss him, and his super red hair color. And even more unfortunately, a tearful Kate gets a second auf wiedersehen from Heidi. She had a good second run. Sigh. She had so much going for her.

So we're down to five designers. We know four go to Fashion Week. Who do you think is going home next week? Who do you think is a shoe-in for the finals and winning? 



* Full disclosure/not an ad: Kiva is a great website. Check it out when you don't know what to get someone who has everything. 
Photo/Video credit: Lifetime