Jack Mackenroth, the resident blue-eyed hunk of this season, removed himself from the competition in Wednesday night's episode after developing a potentially serious staph infection on his face. The designer, who has been HIV-positive for 17 years, said his doctor had encouraged him to leave the show and receive aggressive treatment. In October the New York Daily News reported the rumor that producers coerced Jack to depart, but directly after the episode aired last night, Jack posted on his blog that he was motivated only by a desire to get well and has since made a full recovery. I think I speak for all "Runway" fans when I say Jack showed immense promise as a designer and we wish him the best of luck!
Knowing that Jack is doing well made it a lot easier to love the rest of last night's episode. It also helped that in order to "preserve the quality of the competition" (read: to ensure a full season of episodes), Tim brought last week's castoff, Chris March, back to the show. What a relief to see Sweet P — who'd been crying more than Ricky — smile again at the sight of the beloved costume designer.
Good health actually proved itself to be a sort of theme for the night. The designers traded in their models for some extraordinary women who had lost a significant amount of weight. The women introduced themselves on the runway in what had been their favorite outfits before their physical transformations. The designers were going to have to use the old looks to make an updated, beautiful outfit for these newly improved women. This challenge lay in creating a commercial look for the "average" woman that could make her feel like the world was her catwalk. Calling these women average seems a misnomer: They were beautiful, fun, personable and even "fierce." They wanted a fresh start in clothes that looked as good as they felt. And as Kit aptly put it in the first episode, "Life's too short to go through it in a bad outfit."
Tim reminded the designers to let the clothes express both themselves and their clients. They had until midnight the same day to complete the outfit and were given a budget of $10 and 15 minutes to shop at Mood for any extra fabric they might need.
Most of the designers seemed really happy about this challenge. Kevin said he loved making clothes for real people, although by "real people" he may mostly have meant his model Elyse, who was a blonde bombshell. (Just in case you forgot for five seconds, Kevin is the straight one.) Elisa, who expressed the same desire about making her model feel sexy, managed somehow to cover most of the woman's body in her outfit. Tim warned her to clean it up, but you know Elisa never quite gets it. Christian, who originally saw the challenge as his death sentence, appeared to warm up to his client, especially after Tim asked how "fierce" his fitted top was turning out. Such a Tim moment could only be overshadowed by his conversation with Chris, in which Tim talked about all the bad decisions he's made at 3 a.m. There was a stunned silence, then giggles all around. Tim played the naïve "old fart" card, claiming he hadn't thought about it that way, but I don't buy that for a second!
There was, sadly, no smiling for Steven, who got stuck with an old wedding dress. While he pointed out everything the dress had going on — zippers, buttons, sequins, beads, acetate lace — I guess he saw more potential in the boring, black stretch cotton he picked up at Mood. The result was a repeat of Laura Bennett's Season Three take on a couture gown: part French maid uniform, part funeral garb. It's never a good sign when your outfit is "slapped together with glue and a prayer," but Steven argued that just because the judges didn't like it, didn't mean it was awful. Unfortunately, Steven, that's exactly what it means.
Runway Guest Judge: Patrick Robinson of the Gap.
Sweet P Vaughn with model Chris: Turned a long, olive-gray polyester dress into a halter dress with silver straps and detailing. Safe.
Jillian Lewis with model Erika: Turned a red button-up shirt and black pants into a red halter dress with black detailing on seams. Heidi pointed out that Jillian didn't use much of the original material, but the judges loved it. Michael and Nina thought it was sexy but tasteful, while Patrick loved the hint of corset. Top three.
Ricky Lizalde with model Penny: Turned a pink T-shirt and jeans into a champagne chiffon V-neck top and denim capris. Safe.
Chris March with model Silvia: Turned a blue T-shirt and black elastic pants into a blue empire-waist top and black pencil skirt with red sash. Patrick thought it was a beautiful top but the red accents took away from it. Michael called it Shirley MacLaine playing a hooker with a heart of gold. Bottom three.
Christian Siriano with model Kerry: Turned a black button-up shirt and jeans into a fitted black top with satin detailing and cropped jeans. Patrick found it young, cool and fun. Michael thought the look was commercial (in a good way). Nina thought Kerry looked very comfortable in it. Top three.
Victorya Ong with model Ory: Turned a floor-length, green velvet tank dress into a fitted half-sleeve cocktail dress. Safe.
Elisa Jimenez with model Tracy: Turned an oversize, red, button-up shirt and black pants into a black mini-dress with an exposed black slip and a red cardigan. Tracy told the judges she felt wonderful in it, but Heidi didn't think it fit Tracy's personality. Patrick thought Elisa had forced her ideas on Tracy. Michael wondered why Elisa designed an outfit that didn't flatter Tracy's great new body. Bottom three.
Kit "Pistol" Scarbo with model Alicia: Turned a draped paisley top and black pants into a flirty red dress with paisley detail on the bust and hem. Safe.
Kevin Christiana with model Elyse: Turned a canary-yellow jacket, black top and pants into a yellow sleeveless tunic with black buttons and black leggings. Elyse said she felt incredible in it. Nina called it a great makeover. Michael thought Kevin could have used more ingenuity instead of making leggings. Top three.
Steven Rosengard with model Laura: Turned a white polyester and lace wedding dress into a black cocktail dress with white trim and ruched bust. Nina told Steven he went from wedding to funeral with his look. Michael was left speechless about how much original material Steven had to work with and had left out. Bottom three.
Rami Kashou with model Lisa: Turned a blue-and-white floral top and brown drawstring pants into a deep V-neck sleeveless top and brown pencil skirt. Safe.
In designer with immunity: Christian Siriano
Out: Steven Rosengard