'Project Runway' Brings Neon, Overalls And Pleather Back From The Dead

Tasked with reviving awful fashion trends, some designers have natural flair, while one puts on a sad 'beauty pageant in camel.'

I loved last night's episode, and I'll tell you why in four words: gold lamé parachute pants. I know that wasn't one of the awesomely bad fashions the designers had to update last night, but I've always found it fascinating to think, "Would people actually start wearing those again?" Last night's challenge was all about the nine lives of the trends we wish would just go away. But trends are pervasive — they tend to mimic and invade pop culture, so you don't have to read Bazaar to see them everyday. They are the clothes we love to wear or love to hate.

The funny thing is, bad fashion is making a really big comeback right now: Leggings are everywhere, from simple stretch cotton to the body unconscious skinny pants. Shoulder pads have been seen in collections from Balenciaga and Vivienne Westwood. Even overalls have been given a modern twist with the rise of suspenders — pick up the new issue of Elle, and you'll see Victoria Beckham rocking them. All it takes is one high-profile designer or client to put even the most outdated trend back on the map.

Unfortunately, I believe there is little to no hope for MC Hammer's gold lamé parachute pants. Seriously, try bringing those back. I dare you.

The Challenge

Nina made an unnecessary cameo to plug Elle and deliver this week's challenge: Working in teams of three, create a collection of three looks that incorporates three outdated trends. And make the collection cohesive and relevant for today. Each team would have a budget of $225 and two days to complete the challenge. The teams and trends broke down as such, leaders' names appearing first:

Team 1: Chris, Sweet P and Steven using shoulder pads, baggy sweaters and dancewear

Team 2: Ricky, Victorya and Elise using neon, underwear as outerwear and cut-outs

Team 3: Christian, Kit and Jack using zoot suits, fringe, and pleather

Team 4: Jillian, Rami and Kevin using overalls, poodle skirts and '70s flair

Whenever terms like "cohesive" and "relevant" are used in a challenge, the judges usually look for that first. So when Chris announced his team would be doing three individual looks for each trend, I got nervous. I think the other teams understood that such disjointed fashions would need to be expressed in each outfit in order to look related. When Chris went on to describe the shoulder-padded bolero he was designing, I had visions of Jennifer Hudson at the Oscars and cringed. Some clothing is beyond saving. How Sweet P and Steven could have explained this to Chris, I'm not sure. Both of them seemed aware of the lack of cohesion, which Tim was quick to point out, and Steven labeled Chris' jacket "sweet merciful crap." Perhaps Steven got busy perfecting his Tim impression, which was, hands down, the worst ever. Santino, please come back and show these kids how it's done.

While Christian's team, which he dubbed "Star" because they're, like, fierce or whatever, seemed totally unfazed by this challenge, Ricky and Victorya went head-to-head for title of biggest stitchin' bitch. Victorya, who said doesn't like to be a "bossy cow," was a real headache for Ricky to lead. She took credit for the collection's design, changed her own design without talking to Ricky and then made the poor guy cry. Yes, I know, it's not that hard to do. Still, Ricky proved his weakness as a leader when he couldn't stand up to her, and his team and outfit suffered. He found himself in the bottom two again. Can that trend die already? Jillian's team almost had the same fate when she didn't push Kevin to finish his outfit. But Kevin got his work done, and done well, at the last minute, completing their team's collection of "Things Jillian Would Probably Wear."

Runway Guest Judge: Donna Karan

Due to the nature of this week's team challenge, there was no critique for the top three, and models' names will not appear.

Team 1

Jillian Lewis: Pleated, high-waisted overalls in blue-gray denim with brass buttons and a sheer blue sleeveless neck-tie blouse.

Kevin Christiana: High-waisted denim hot pants and sleeveless print shirt with a dramatic collar.

Rami Kashou: Denim V-neck wrap dress with print fabric details on hem.


Team 2

Chris March: Long camel halter dress and long-sleeve brown bolero with shoulder pads.

Sweet P Vaughn: Belted knee-length V-neck camel dress and sleeveless black turtleneck.

Steven Rosengard: Belted gold tunic top with black detail and black leggings.

Donna thought there was no movement in Steven's look but liked Sweet P's dress. Michael said they could be three girls from three different shows, and called Chris' dress a beauty pageant in camel. Nina labeled Chris' look outdated, prompting Donna to question his abilities as a leader. Bottom two.

Team 3

Christian Siriano: Black suit coat, pinstriped pencil skirt and light-blue turtleneck.

Jack Mackenroth: Square-neck, gray-and-white pinstriped parachute dress with black details at neck and pockets.

Kit "Pistol" Scarbo: Black-and-white cap-sleeved paisley dress with pinstripe vest and long black tie.


Team 4

Ricky Lizalde: Bright-pink satin mini-dress and sheer gold top.

Elisa Jimenez: Black one-shoulder shift dress with bold color geometric cutouts at neck.

Victorya Hong: Mini-dress with red-and-purple tube top and purple flared skirt.

Nina thought the concept was good but the fitting and execution were not. Donna liked Elisa's shift dress and the fitting on Victorya's, which Victorya gave Ricky credit for. Michael thought Ricky set his team up for failure by picking satin and said the team's personal problems were reflected in the clothing. Bottom two.

Winning designer: Team Jillian

Out: Chris March