Only six contestants remain on "Project Runway" after this week's challenge, in which the designers were given the task of making a fashion-forward, iconic look using only Levi's 501 jeans. While there was nothing new about the episode's blatant brand placement, Ricky's tears or Tim's sage advice, the surprise winner's denim corset dress proved that anything is possible on the road to Bryant Park Fashion Week. Who knew jeans could be so exciting?
Jeans have undergone a rapid evolution over the past decade. It's funny to think that a material as functional and cheap as denim has become a hot, and expensive, commodity in everyone's wardrobe. Men and women can easily shell out upwards of $200 on an everyday pair of jeans, because nowadays, we're buying our denim for fashion over function. We've got different cuts (skinny, boot-cut, flare), different washes (faded, whiskered, aged), even different pocket designs (triangles, swirls and curls, oh my!). But ultimately, we pay for the brand names — the jeans we see Hollywood wearing and think, "Maybe my ass will look that good in those pants too." It's no wonder Levi's used "Project Runway" as a platform to get that all-important brand-name exposure. As America's original jean company, they've probably learned that being a household name isn't nearly as important as getting someone named Heidi Klum to wear your product. My guess is she rocks the skinny fit.
Tim took the designers on a field trip to reveal the next challenge. The ride to the destination made Rami wonder if they'd be making wedding gowns out of garbage. Not quite. Turns out the destination was a Brooklyn warehouse stocked with over 500 pairs of jeans and one-yard bolts of white cotton. The designers had to create an iconic denim look capturing the originality and creativity of the Levi's brand. They were given three minutes to grab as much fabric as possible. Poor Chris — how many times are they going to make this guy run?
Back at Parsons, Christian got right to it and began to annoy everyone; Chris channeled Elisa and talked to his clothes; Sweet P actually tried to make a wedding gown out of garbage; and Rami made sure we all knew, once again, that he's Israeli, not American. But finally, Ricky "but I'm a lingerie designer" Lizalde did something right and actually managed to pull himself out of the bottom three by applying his construction skills to a corset mini that a stunned Tim called "stunning." I was happy with Ricky, not only because he miraculously managed not to cry when he won, but because he opened up the bottom three for Victorya.
Ah, Victorya. She did so many things wrong last night. First, she confused Sweet P for Kit, twice! When Sweet P gets hurt, we all get hurt. Then she told Chris some jeans on the ground were hers, when they clearly weren't. The guy is practically having a heat stroke, and you're going to make him run to find more jeans? Victorya then decided to copy Jillian's trench coat design from the last challenge. Did she forget that Jillian made that coat? Tim told Victorya hers looked "patchworky," meaning ugly, but Victorya ignored him again. It didn't help that Jillian also decided to copy her trench coat design from the previous week, and though they were both terrible, Victorya's was worse. Even so, I'm going to say karma played a hand in this one.
Runway Guest Judge: Caroline Calvin, senior VP of design for Levi's
Chris March with model Marcia: Halter dress with fitted bodice, frayed side seams and a slight flare in the skirt. Nina called it dated. Caroline saw it as two unfinished ideas. Heidi noticed the fraying right away and thought it looked inadvertent and home sewn. Bottom three.
Sweet P Vaughn with model Lea: Patchwork dress of multiple washes with sweetheart top. Michael found it super chic with the mix of denims and believed it had "slimming voodoo." He'd probably wear it "with the right shoe." Caroline said it was missing a bit of the 501 image but found the tailoring and fitting spectacular. Top four.
Ricky Lizalde with model Amanda: Cocktail corset dress with button detailing down the corset and a mini flare skirt. Heidi loved the fit and the entire look. Caroline called it a 501 in a fantastic dress with great craftsmanship. Michael said it was the first outfit where he saw the results of Ricky's work on lingerie. Nina called it impeccable. Top four.
Jillian Lewis with model Lauren: Trench coat consisting of different pairs of jeans with free-flowing bottom, side button closure, ruffled sleeve cuffs, and label details on one shoulder. Heidi didn't like this jacket as much as the one from the last challenge. Nina called it overly complicated and Caroline commented on the excess of red labels. Bottom three.
Rami Kashou with model Sam: Fitted dress made of pieces of three different pants, zipper trim on seams with sailor pocket button details and asymmetrical collar. Caroline found it fun. Nina was happy to see Rami use a different material and called it sophisticated. Top four.
Christian Siriano with model Lisa: Motorcycle-inspired jacket made from two washes of 501 jeans and skinny jeans with jacket sleeves used for the bottom of the pant legs. Caroline thought it was innovative. Nina called it inventive and iconic. Michael was impressed with the tailoring. Top four.
Victorya Hong with model Jacqueline: Trench coat made of short jacket with draped skirt made of inside-out dark jeans. Heidi didn't see much work behind it. Michael called the look a party skirt glued on a denim jacket. Nina saw it as uninspired. Bottom three.
In designer: Ricky Lizalde
Out: Victorya Hong