Saturday, December 19, 2015

Project Runway Junior: S1 E5 "Race to the Red Carpet"

Did I promise to stop comparing PR JR to its predecessor? I lied. Or well, at least in this instance I won't be comparing the two shows on a functional level but in more of an intangible way. You see, last season of PR found us questioning the overall talent level of the contestants chosen to be on the show. Each runway left us struggling to pick out a solid top three looks and hoping for multiple eliminations. On PR JR, however, I have to say the opposite is more true: it's hard to honestly pick three bottom looks from week to week. Last episode had Jaxson, Jesse and Victoria in the bottom, and even though I didn't think Victoria's look encompassed the challenge, I did like it. So judging based on one's personal aesthetic appreciation leaves us with two bottom looks, and that's pretty standard for these first five episodes. So what are some of the effects of having a solid group of talent on a season of PR? Well for starters you can trust the contestants to be able to pull out stellar looks in next to no time flat.

This week's episode sees the contestants being greeted by actors from Finding Neverland. If that sounds familiar to you, it's probably because PR did the same thing back in its eighth episode of last season. Though, unlike the adults, we don't get to see the kids spending anytime watching the show, so for all we know they weren't granted the full on special treatment of their adult counterparts. The challenge is to work in teams of two to create a look worthy of the red carpet on a Broadway premiere. Each team will produce one look and they only have five hours to do it.

It seems a bit overwhelming, but with two people working on just one aspect of a look a piece, five hours seems like a life time. But when you throw a third helper into the mix and when that third helper is a past PR contestant, things look a lot more manageable. And so we welcome Samantha Black to work with Zach and Samantha; Amanda Valentine to work with Zachary and Matt; Fabio Costa for Maya and Peytie, and Sonjia Williams for Bridget and Jaxson. The kid's seemingly genuine excitement when they see their helpers is one thing that makes this episode so much fun. You watch these kids on the show and get the strict impression that they understand that they're a part of something bigger than just themselves and they're knowledgable about what's come before them.

Tim makes it clear that the alumni are only here to basically be seamstresses and won't be helping with any of the design process. There's no trip to Mood this episode, but Mini Mood is available for them to select from. Everyone gets to work and seems to move smoothly. Everyone except Bridget and Jaxson as the case may be who don't work together very well combining their respective aesthetics. But the two of them also don't have the worst kind of toxic chemistry that we've seen in pairs in the past. But their poor communication and lack of compromise lead to them having the worst Tim critique.

The colors they chose were all wrong and it's a bit ridiculous that they didn't see that sooner. Meanwhile, Peytie and Maya aren't faring much better with their interesting idea failing to come to life due (I think) to the limited kinds of fabric they have access to. Both cases see the previous PR contestants swooping in to offer the kind of help and guidance that they're there for. Bridget has a meltdown when they go back to pick out new fabric (with only three hours left in the day one might add), and Sonjia takes her by the hand and just calms her down. Her words aren't exceptionally gentle, but it's exactly the kind of firm hand and weathered experience that Bridget needed to get passed her emotional moment. And for Peytie and Maya, once they decide to ditch their white see through skirt and start looking at the ornate black fabric they have, Fabio suggests they use the reverse side of it for the skirt and that gives Maya the idea to go with a solid black but more flowing material when the time comes.

The Runway:

Zachary and Matt: I wish it was in a color other than red and I wish they had a bustier model to fill it out more. It seems like there's a lot going on here, but it could truthfully be great on a model of different proportions. The cut outs are sexy, and the movement is eye catching.

Samantha and Zach: OK. Good, not great. I don’t think they avoided having the jumpsuit be boring the way Tim said they needed to. The cape is a wow, and I even like the boxiness of the shoulders, and I love the print. But I think something needed to be different about the jumpsuit which feels swallowed up by the cape. 

Maya and Peytie: This I love. It’s bold and makes quite a statement. Going with the flowing fabric for the skirt was exactly the right way to go. I wish the detailing on the top was more photographable as I couldn’t make it out from the walk on the runway, but up close this is great. The openness on the front to show off those shorts is really killer. 

Bridget and Jaxson: The fit is great, the faux leather is really great and catches the eye exceptionally well. I like the color a lot too. It’s something that I think looks muted, but would really turn heads on a red carpet. All the right amount of sexy too. 

So with four looks on the runway, you'd expect a top and bottom two looks, but the judges seem to like everything except Zachary and Matt's look. Admittedly, they like Samantha and Zach's outfit a lot more than I did, but I can at least understand what drove them to their compliments. Oddly enough, Zachary and Matt's look is touted as being too ambitious. So it seems like this is one moment when too many ideas is going to bite someone in the ass, and that's mostly because there isn't really a boring or bad look on the runway. Everything, at least according to the judges, is so good that we're left with the unenviable task of punishing someone for trying too hard. 

There's no secret in the deliberation that one of the two of them has to go home. Matt's been in the bottom before. Indeed, just a couple episodes ago he was spared from going home in favor of not sending anyone home and having a double elimination to follow. So the fact that he's down here again suggests he's the most logical choice to be sent packing. But then there's Christian's (somewhat harsh) points about Zachary being the one who's actually let them down since the expectations on what he's capable of achieving are so high. Matt is clearly something of a favorite, though the jury's still out on whether or not his designs have earned him such a position, so it seemed very possible that Zachary could be going home here. 

But in the end, the judges do the smart thing and send Matt on his way. Peytie and Maya both share a much deserved win, incidentally. Matt's send off seems to be the saddest one yet as Hannah and Kelly both tear up a bit and Hannah tells him he was a favorite of hers and she was the one who fought to keep him around so hard the last time. I know I said before that sending these kids home each week would be very difficult for a long list of reasons, and I don't want to contradict that at all, but I'm thinking the fact that everyone here is so talented plays a contributing factor as well. If the judges couldn't see fit to place two pairs in the bottom and deliberate over the fate of four contestants instead of just two, then how can they hope to make this easy going forward? These kids seem to be getting stronger as the competition goes on, and everyone left has a world of potential within them. The high level of talent here means we should get harder and more satisfying challenges, but that the decision on who to say goodbye to will get harder and harder. 

Loose Threads:

--Peytie won the last immunity with the previous challenge. Knowing about that before this episode would have been nice, but beyond that eliminating immunity at the top eight seems a bit early, doesn't it?

--It's hard for me to believe that this is Maya's first win of the season, but there you have it. At this point, she's easily my favorite designer. (Jaxson is my favorite person, but that's another matter all together.) 

--Matt's the second person to go home and acknowledge that he's sad to leave the other contestants because he got closer to them quicker than he has anyone else from back home. Again I say this show stands to be really important. 

--Which only seven contestants left, who do you think deserves to make it to the top four? My money is on Maya, Zachary, Zach and Samantha. I think Jaxson isn't long for this world, sadly, and while I like Peytie and recognize she's the only one with double wins, I also think it would be easier for her to slip up one week and miss the cut given her particular aesthetic. Samantha has slipped from my good graces, but the judges still seem to love her, and she does have the most unique voice. I could be tempted to replace Zach with Bridget, but I'm wondering if we don't end up with an even split between the girls and the boys. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Project Runway Junior: S1 E4 "OMG! That's Michelle Obama"

OK there's only one thing to say about this episode: SWATCH IS BACK AND HE'S OK!!!!!! Well looking a little old and sluggish, but alive and OK all the same! So there, we can all go to bed now and feel relaxed; all is right with the world. Or is it? Because given our "no one goes home" decision of last episode, we're left with two people going home this week as everyone is ready to remind us time and time again. This means either that the show is going to chicken out from this monumental moment either by not sending two people home or by letting Tim save one of them, or it means one designer who probably isn't so deserving, who probably would be safe in a regular week, is going home. So the stage is set for a naturally dramatic episode of PR JR; probably the most dramatic episode we've seen thus far, but will the challenge and everything else deliver?

Well the challenge starts things off in the right way. The designers are tasked with creating a modern look for a fashionable "girl on the go." To give them a jolt, Michelle Obama shows up on the screen and, not going to lie, I knew it was coming and I still screamed like a little girl with excitement when I saw her. Because she's Michelle fucking Obama! No shame!

The lovely and resplendent (angelic too much? No, I'm going with angelic) First Lady talks to the designers about Let Girls Learn, a White House initiative that is really exactly what it sounds like. She also tells them that the winning designer will be given the opportunity to partner with Lands' End to create a backpack the proceeds of which will go towards Let Girls Learn. So this brings me to something else I'm enjoying about PR JR thus far: the rewards beyond immunity simply feel bigger, more interesting, and more important that the rewards for that other show I can't remember the name of at the moment. This is because the rewards here are less about giving the designers stupid swag and more about giving them a way to leave a serious impact on the world or the world of fashion with their young brands. If your look is getting produced and photographed, or the pattern you use is being mass marketed online for other designers, or you're getting a hand in creating something for a good cause, that's so much cooler and more important than getting a 3D Printer for your own personal use.

But anyway, there's a big spinning gameshow wheel on the stage and the designers are spinning it to see what kind of girl they're designing for. Categories available are School, Work, Travel, and Party. And the breakdown of who gets what:
  • Maya: Sporty
  • Zachary: Party
  • Jesse: School
  • Victoria: School
  • Matt: Travel
  • Zach: Party
  • Samantha: Work
  • Peytie: Travel
  • Bridget: School
  • Jaxson: Sporty
First things first, "Travel" is a weird category. Or maybe it's just a weird one for young people to be given. Is there a specific look that you see someone wearing and say "Oh she must be traveling?" I know I don't, which makes me think from the start that Matt and Peytie are at an odd disadvantage here. Or maybe since they can literally interpret it to mean whatever they want it to, they have an advantage? We'll circle back around to this later.

Jaxson is the most worried about his category seeing as how he doesn't feel much like his design aesthetic is sporty in the slightest. He decides to do a kind of Jersey inspired dress which reminds me of something we've seen before but I don't feel like looking for it at the moment. At Mood he gets this stark white fabric the likes of which seems to be used on basketball jerseys. Sadly, he would have been better off with a kind of jersey knit fabric, but that's neither here nor there. Peytie finds a print that speaks to her typical hippie/tribal aesthetic. On the roll, this fabric is an eyesore and everything about it says stay away, but since it was Peytie grabbing it, I honestly didn't feel worried. 

Back in the workroom, Tim shows up with some chick from the Peace Corps, and I honestly have no idea why. She talks about the fact that there are girls working with the Peace Corps, which is a surprise to no one at all, and then she leaves. That's the kind of moment they should have had for the designers and then left on the cutting room floor since it adds nothing to our viewing experience. 

Early on in the design process, shots are fired from Zachary at Victoria when he comments that she constantly makes the same top over and over again. She takes offense and isn't shy about telling him he should worry about his own look and leave her's alone. Everything this season has been pretty copesetic between the designers often verging on lovey. And I've remarked multiple times that I like that about the show, but I'd be lying if I said this little exchange didn't make me giggle a bit. To his credit, I don't think Zachary's comments were meant to be mean-spirited so much as observant and maybe even constructive, but his statements lacked tact and hit at a worry Victoria was having anyway. 

Tim's visit a little bit later shows me what I've been missing in a Tim Gunn visit lately. He talks to Jaxson who is missing the mark, he tells him he's unimpressed, he questions why the look has to be a dress and Jaxson responds that he doesn't want it to be shorts. Tim returns with, "Are those the only two options?" at which point Jaxson's eyes light up and he says Romper like it's the magic word that will breath life into the entire look. Tim nods and points out that Jaxson was the one that said it as if to point out that the potential for the idea was there all along, and now he's got a road map going forward. And it's that back and forth that was missing last episode and from a lot of what we saw last season. "Mentor" is Tim's job title, and you can see him doing and being that most when we get to hear some of this back and forth. He's stern when he doesn't like something, but he sticks around and gently leads the designers to where they need to be. 

Or, as is the case with Victoria, maybe he does a bit too much and over plays his hand. Tim says, much like Zachary before him, that Victoria's becoming a bit of a One Way Money™ by making the same look over and over again. So the two of them stand there and he tells her to remove the skirt leaving the look with a pair of short shorts, and then tells her to use her other fabric on the top to make it pop. Zachery, away from Victoria's line of hearing, comments that Tim basically designed her look for her and now she's little more than a seamstress. I don't know why this intervention by Tim doesn't bother me, but it doesn't. I'm guessing if these weren't kids, it would bother me more, but in this situation, I'm honestly OK with it. Also, I don't feel like we've seen him doing this with only one designer in the way we saw him working with Ashley last season, so at least it's not favoritism. 

The only thing left is the model fitting and yet more of Jaxson working til the last minute to turn his look out and be runway ready. This portion of the show has become perfunctory and kind of pointless. Some contestants have looks to try on, some don't, and that's all there is to it. So I think from now on unless something important happens, I'll start to go right from Tim's critique to the runway. 

The Runway:

Samantha: I like it more on the runway than I did on the dressform. Does it scream “Work” to you? It says more “Travel” to me. It’s not professional attire, but it looks like the kind of perfect match for someone who might be traveling between two places with different weather. The looks underneath seem more warm/cool wear, and then you throw the coat on overtop of it all and you’re ready to go into somewhere a bit colder. It’s a long way of me saying that I like this look but I don’t know that it fits her category. 

Jesse: NO! I do think the skirt is too school uniform which can take this a bit costumey, except that those uniform skirts would never be paired with that top. I don’t like this, but I will say that I can see how someone might. To someone else, those two elements might not be as discordant as they are to me. But either way, I’m not a fan. 

Bridget: I love love love this. The fit is breathtaking, the flannel shirt tied around the waist is a kind of ingenious 90’s throwback but the fact that it isn’t actually just a shirt (or is it? I can’t fully tell) and is just a specially made tie is so smart and creative. I love the look and the styling so much. And it totally says “School” without being too obvious about it. 

Victoria: OK nothing at all about this says school. I don’t know what school Victoria is attending, but when I was a kid, this girl would have been sent home before she even got off the bus. With that being said, I like the look a lot. It fits like a glove, it’s super sexy, and it’s something different from her without feeling like she’s totally lost herself in the process. I like it, but it doesn’t fit all challenge parameters. 

Peytie: I like this a lot more from the back than I do the front which I find boring except for the print. And here we see the problem with the "Travel" category. Do you dress for where you’re going or where you’re leaving? It’s this weird liminal thing. But to those ends, Samantha’s look feels more like travel wear to me than this does. This feels more at home in “Party” if you ask me. It’s cute, but again not 100% what was asked for, but in this case I think that’s not her fault so much as the fault of the stupid category she had. 

Matt: Same thing here. This is beautiful beautiful beautiful. But no one is getting on a plane in a ball gown. I’m still blaming this on what is a stupid category, but I also don’t know which category this would go in. It can be “Party” if we’re talking about an after hours Oscar party. Maybe “Work” if you work as a fashion model for an elegant designer. But that’s it. I don’t want that to detract from what is easily the best thing we’ve seen from Matt thus far and totally serves as justification for keeping him around last week, but still. 

Jaxson: ……… I’m happy he likes it. I don’t hate it, but I can’t like it either. I do think there’s something “Sporty” about it in a lot of ways beyond just the type of fabric he used. But the cut of the neckline is really distracting, as are the seams in the romper. And the combination of the metallic fabric and the this spaghetti straps makes it almost look a little trashy. Maybe I do hate it a little bit.

Maya: Perfection! The top, the asymmetry, the zipper, the fit on the pants, all of it is just great. It does say “Sporty” and without screaming it in your face. My favorite so far. 

Zachary: Color and movement and the cut of the top and the train are gorgeous. This is a kid who really knows how to dress a woman’s body. I like the skin showing; it’s one of the only high waisted pants I’ve ever really liked. The neck reminds me a bit of Maya’s from last challenge in how stirking it is if not in the cut of it, but I like it all a lot. The seam on the back of the cape is a bit distracting, but that could be purposeful. “Party?” I guess…

Zach: I’ll praise the cut and the fit of this which I think works out well. That print is all wrong though. You walk into a party like that and you’ll get laughed out. The print is too busy for how designed the whole thing is. I don’t think he needed a flat color for it, but maybe two solid tones that complimented each other? Or at least just a quieter print or a simpler design.

The judges' critiques go quicker than last episode, but they're also highly informative. Zachery, Maya, and Peytie are in the top, Jesse, Jaxson, and Victoria are in the bottom. The key points I responded to were Aya's statement that Jaxson's look was more costume than fashion and Jesse's look was clothing and not fashion, and Kelly's point that seeing something different from Victoria almost exclusively means color at this point and not just the cut of an outfit. I thought, and still think, that the change in the cut of Victoria's outfit is enough to suggest the ability to present something else from her, and I liked that she was able to change that while at least keeping her usual (read: Black) aesthetic, but Kelly's point is valid too. 

Over on the top side, Christian has a lot of great things to say about Zachary's intelligence in creating something that could be either a cape or an overlay and yet it just works both ways. Kelly's compliment to Peytie that she chooses prints and works with them in a way that makes Kelly love her looks in spite of the fact that they go so much against her own typical tastes is really great. But the winner here for me is Maya since I didn't hear anything they said to her after I saw her zip up the zipper and transform her look into something else entirely. My jaw dropped at the turtleneck she created by zipping that zipper. They might as well have been two totally different outfits and both of them are breathtaking. 

And yet Peytie wins the challenge. I've been a bit more forgiving on the last three episodes' winners; I haven't agreed with many of them, but I've at least understood the decision. And to be honest, I love Peytie's look (from the back) and I can see how this would be a winning look in another challenge that doesn't feature Maya's outfit. The fact is that Maya's look is ready to be manufactured and sold right now. Girls everywhere would spend a lot of money on it, and rightfully so. Maybe the judges thought Peytie's backpack design for Lands' End would be stronger than Maya's were she to win, but getting to see the finished product of the bag at the end of the episode, I have to wonder at the wisdom behind that. Either way it's not the first time I've questioned the decision on the winning look, and I'm guessing it won't be the last. 

Meanwhile, Jesse and Victoria are the two designers sent home, and true to their word, the show allows them both to go. No backing out, no Tim Gunn save, just a quick and sad goodbye to them both. Jaxson gets the save because again bad ideas, or even good ideas executed poorly, are better than no ideas. And Victoria seems to only have one trick while Jesse decided to make clothes instead of fashion. I don't know how much I agree with this decision so I'll leave the conjecture on it to others. My biggest take away actually has more to do with the decision from last episode in connection to the decision from this week. 

Roll with me for a minute here; these were the looks that were in the bottom two but were saved from elimination last episode:

Now look again at Victoria and Jesse's looks from this week which were sent home. Now, I'm not saying that Jesse's look specifically isn't bad enough to be in the bottom and even sent home this week, but is it really worse than the two from last week? Couple that with Jesse's exceptional unconventional materials look and you've got one misstep in an otherwise strong body of work. Conversely, this week is the first time we've seen something "strong" from Matt, and yet it doesn't really fit in with the girl he was given and it was ultimately only safe--not in the top. And Samantha's look this week was a lot better than last week (in my opinion) but it's also not something that's wholly unique from her; certainly no moreso than Victoria's look is. So as much as I'd hate to bring up the "f" word, is it really fair that we lose Jesse and Victoria this week when we could have lost Matt and/or Samantha last week and avoided this? It was unavoidable that someone undeserving would be going home. Or at least someone who otherwise wouldn't have gone home had we just been getting rid of one contestant. But it's looking to me like we might have lost two contestants who may not have deserved to go. Couple that with the fact that I think Jaxson's look really is the worst of the three (impressive innovation not withstanding) and you've got a bit of a quagmire here. But I guess time will tell and that should be a conversation for another week. 

Loose Threads:

--So clearly these reviews are coming later than the regular PR reviews did, and I apologize for that, but this week there was at least a better reason for it than usual: I was all set to write the review on Friday after work, but my day at work ended with me losing my job along with a few of my friends in an unexpected layoff. So as you can imagine, my weekend was a lot more stressful and hectic than originally planned, and that's why I didn't get around to watching the episode and writing it up until tonight. My days for the foreseeable future will be spent applying for every job I can find in order to get back up on my feet as quickly as possible, but it's safe to assume that reviews will be late on a regular basis from now on. That's assuming my roommate and I don't have to cut out the cable all together and I start missing the episodes. Fingers crossed everything's OK soon. 

--This episode saw Maya's 14th birthday and that was cute and sweet. I was wondering if they didn't give her the win specifically to avoid looking like they were giving her a b-day gift in the form of immunity. Either way, wrong decision.

--I feel like this was the most colorful episode we've seen thus far, but I could be wrong about that. It felt like they ask them to design for a young girl and out comes the color. 

--Jaxson dominates this episode in a way that made me feel sure he was going home. Meanwhile, Jesse and Victoria are there but not as much focus as Jaxson got. It was a nice little misdirect on the part of the producers. 

--Seriously though, Sundaynightaddict, did you see Swatch was back?!?!?!! I literally screamed and cheered at that moment. 

--Back to my thoughts about the elimination this week: I feel like I should say that I don't think given everything we've seen that Jesse or Victoria honestly had a shot to win the whole thing, so I don't think losing them but keeping Samantha and Matt is a huge loss for the show as a whole. But on the other hand, I don't think Matt realistically has a shot to win either and the more I see from Samantha, the more one note I find her to be. She plays her note well, but it's still the same note over and over again and I'm bored with it. I don't want her to lose her aesthetic as I think it's beautiful and important in a world with complicated gender politics to begin with, but I do want to know that she can do something other than questionably made oversized coats. And if she can't, I'm going to get more and more upset over the fact that she didn't go home last week. </rant>

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Project Runway Junior: S1 E3 "Teamwork is Hard"

Is PR JR getting better with each passing episode? I ask this honestly, because I can hardly express how good I thought this episode was. We'll talk extensively about the ending and how that's either a mark against the hour or a point in its favor depending on where you stand, but everything prior to that felt like a kind of culmination of three episodes worth of toil. The progress of this season isn't surprising to anyone who watches PR on a regular basis. There's been an introductory episode, an unconventional materials challenge, and now a team challenge. Honestly, if we got a Heidi as client episode and a Real Woman episode in the next two, I'd say we'd have hit all of the PR staples in the first four hours. But there's something special here that we just don't get from PR anymore. And I'm sure everyone's tired of hearing me say this by now, so I promise I'll try and make the next review less about comparing this show to its predecessor, but it still rings true. These challenges are smarter, simpler, and thusly more entertaining than what we see on the other show. The quality of the finished designs might not be on the same level, but that's a given and a small enough consideration when you're dealing with contestants in their teens.

Take this week's challenge. The first thing we find out is that it's a team challenge. Fair enough. Hannah comes out with the button-bag-o-doom. She tells everyone Zachery has immunity for this challenge, but stops there because his win last challenge doesn't give him any other kind of leg up in this one. He doesn't get to pick a team, or start off a school-yard pick. No, PR JR is actually concerned enough for the mental wellbeing of its contestants that it doesn't put them through the potential hurt and embarrassment of a school-yard pick. Gone is also the "Who should win? Who should go home?" questioning we usually see on the runway, but we'll get there.

From the early going, it looks like one team is stacked and the other is the underdog. A team that features Matt, Samantha, Maya, Jesse, and Peytie simply feels stronger than one featuring Zach, Zachary, Bridget, Victoria, and Jaxson. Not horribly stronger, but the trio of Samantha, Jesse, and Maya sees contestants who have been consistently great to this point. Whereas Zachary and Jaxson are probably the strongest on their team with the others having been mostly safe, or even in the bottom as was the case with Zach in the first episode. But the picking was totally random, so there's no complaints to be made.

From there, it's off to see Tim where the designers are told that their being given three fashion eras to choose from (the 40s, 50s, or 60s, though I don't see why you don't replace the 40s with the flappers in the roaring 20s, but that's just me), and they're to be inspired by those eras to create a five piece cohesive collection. They're also told that only two people from each team will be going to Mood so the other three can stay behind and get to work. They'll be in communication with the workroom through FaceTime. I have to say, I like this as well. It shows a dedication to making sure there's time enough to get to work on the product, and also gets into the core of teamwork: having to trust members of your team to have your back and not screw you over when you aren't there to guide their hand.

One team picks the 40s, the other the 60s, and it's off the sketch and come up with a plan. From the start, it looks like Team 1940s has stronger communication and a more democratic kind of leadership while on Team 1960s, Samantha steps up and takes the leadership role almost by force. Matt comments that her consistent spot in the top three makes him confident in her abilities as a leader, so they're in good hands. The team seems to go through the motions of gaining consent, but there's something in the way that Samantha kind of (I say kind of because we've seen much worse) steam rolls people, and makes a "suggestion" and asks if everyone agrees that suggests she's not really looking for consent so much as expecting the others to just agree with her superior idea. Either way, everyone knows what they want to do, Maya is pretty set on her idea to make a vest, and it's off to Mood. Samantha and Peytie are going for Team 1960s and Zachary and Bridget head out for the 40s.

If Samantha's steps toward leadership in the workroom were tentative (and I'm not even sure that they were), then her actions in Mood are nothing but overt. It becomes clear that this is the Samantha show and everyone else on her team is just going to have to get in line. While she and Peytie are looking for fabric for Maya's vest, she blatantly says "I don't think we really need the vest, right? She can do something else." and after something of a beat, Peytie agrees. She either agrees or capitulates, I'm not certain which, but it's a problem either way. They have phones, they have the ability to call in to their team and check with them about these things instead of making unilateral decisions and declarations about what the people back at the workroom will do.

This isn't without its pratfalls, of course. Zachary FaceTimes his team and has a great conversation with Jaxson without a problem. But when Peytie tries to contact Jesse, they have a bad connection and lose the call. One of the things I loved about the idea of having the kids call back to the workroom to communicate fabric choices was that it seemed to fit in perfectly with this our 2015 world. These kids are probably on their phones constantly anyway (as are the rest of us to be fair), so this felt like a way to get at them on their own level to a certain extent. But of course when you rely on technology to such an extent, the option for that tech to crap out on you is always there looming over everything you do. Who hasn't had a meeting or an interview scheduled over Skype just to have your internet go down or Skype decide it just doesn't want to work today? But even so, I can't be the only one to think that Peytie could have tried a little harder. If Zachary can have a clear conversation with his team, there's clearly a sweet spot in Mood that she could have gotten to and got stronger reception.

Everyone gets back to the workroom and, surprise surprise, Team 1940s is happy with the fabric choice and already had a considerable amount marked out with muslin. Conversely, Samantha walks into the workroom and starts everything off with a "Here's how's it's going to go down" pronouncement, and everyone's miserable, Maya is especially upset about having to come up with an entirely different design since her vest was the focal point of what she was doing before and that idea got scraped without her knowledge. So when they do finally get fabric, almost everyone on the 60s team has to start their designs over from scratch because none of them got what they wanted.

Tim comes in and has one of the least effective visits of this short season. Gone is the harsh-but-ultimately-helpful Tim Gunn we've been seeing so far, and back is the mostly condescending and insulting Tim Gunn we saw in last season of Project Runway. He doesn't like much of what's happening with any of Team 1940s looks, or at least not the ones we hear him talking about. He thinks Jaxson's stark white top is horribly discordant to the rest of the collection, but he doesn't remark on the cut of it, so there's no telling if simply changing the color would be the way to go. He doesn't have anything overly negative to say about Zachary's look except that using the zippers as the hem of the pants is the wrong idea. And this is where I was most confused. While I agree with him about not using the zippers, where was the compliment to how great the top was on its own? Probably left on the cutting room floor, but still.

But that's nothing compared to Team 1960s critique. He likes Maya's dress, but hates the neckline of it and then spends all of his time talking about that one element. He's also not a fan of Matt's hunter green look, which I thought was the best thing the team had created. And he hates the tope colored fabric most of the looks are using. He also doesn't like Samantha's jacket, but it's the sole piece she's got going for her, and she likes it so she isn't changing it. Everyone else, however, scraps their looks and starts over yet again! Everyone except Maya who just reworks her neckline. I don't think we've ever seen this many start overs bode well for someone, and there's no reason to assume it'll all work out here.

The Runway:

Peytie: I’m not so concerned with how short it is, minus the fact that this is the 60s and there should be a little more modesty, but I am concerned with the way the print seems to carry the dress more so than anything else. It doesn’t look innovatively designed so much as just a simple dress with a cool print. I’m not impressed. 

Jesse: Not a fan of this either. The color blocking at least feels 60s inspired, but the dress is simple, and the cut of the hem looks sloppy and uneven to me. The addition of the pink at least pops and doing it in black and white would have been a massive failure, but I’m still not impressed. 

Matt: That head scarf has got to go. I don’t see Jackie O in that at all. There’s no way in hell this simple and basic look is better than the green dress we saw during Tim’s visit. All in all, this collection looks like exactly what it is: looks thrown together at the last minute. 

Maya: This is the best look so far. The color is perfect, the shine and the movement of the fabric is great, and the details along the neckline are fabulous. Does it say 60s to you, though? I’m still unsure. I love the swooping open back, and it’s pretty sexy, but there’s something about it all that I feel is a bit too edgy for the 60s. Still, this is great!

Samantha: The white dress gathers and bunches up in a way that’s horribly distracting, the coat still has those eyesore flyaway threads that makes it look messy and unfinished, and on top of all of that, it’s all horribly boring too. This is a massive failure from Samantha. 

Victoria: I’m going to say that I’d like to see something from her in colors other than blue and black. But with that being said, I still like this a lot. I think the pop of blue catches you off guard when you do see it. I think the peak-a-boo slit in the back of the top is really striking. And I think it’s all very tastefully done. 

Zachary: I love love love love this. The slits in the front showing off those spectacular pants! Another keyhole open back! The cut of the neckline! It’s all so sexy and sophisticated, and I like it that he says it’s modern because that’s what I think of it too. Idk that it screams 40s, but I also don’t know enough about the fashion of the 40s to be able to say one way or the other. What I do know is that it’s a great look!

Jaxson: I like this look. My complaints are in the messy construction of the top, and in the fact that the ribbon detailing on the top is black instead of in the same navy color of the dress. But other than that, it’s OK. His back isn’t open in the same way as the first two, which I think throws off that one element of cohesion, but we’ll see about the rest of the collection. 

Zach: I echo Kelly’s WOW on this one. That jacket is crazy great. The whole thing is streamlined and elegant and professional looking. It looks expensive. The neckline is sexy as hell too. I’m a fan of this!

Bridget: OK I like this a lot, I honestly do, but does it look a bit bath robe, or like a nightgown to you? Something about it takes it out of the glam I think she was going for and puts it more in the bedroom. It’s still nice, and the fabric and movement are great. I just don’t know that she achieved what she was specifically going for. 

No one's surprised to find that Team 1940s is in the top and Team 1960s is in the bottom, though Hannah is quick to point out that it's not that the 60s looks are bad so much as the 40s looks are really great. She can play lip-service to that idea all she likes, those 60s looks are pretty horrible. They talk to the 40s team first, and spend most of their time focused on Zach and Bridget. I love it that Aya is so quick to point out the evening gown quality of Bridget's look that I thought I might be alone in noticing. But as they point out, the collection goes from day to night, so Bridget's look works even better than I think she actually anticipated. But Zach's look is my favorite. They compliment the fit of the pants, and the impeccable tailoring of the whole thing. I think Zachary is short served with no one pointing out how great his look is and how impressive it is that he could pull this out even when he already had immunity. 

Maya gets the lions share of the compliments for the 60s team as her neckline and the open back are stellar aspects of the look. For some reason I simply don't understand, they seem to like Samantha's jacket (though I don't think we really hear from Aya about it), and then when she's asked to take the jacket off, everyone collectively gasps at the sight of the horrible and unfinished dress underneath. Kelly seems to like the frayed edges of the jacket itself, but to me it makes Samantha's clothes look cheap and it never feels purposeful or strategic. So when you couple that with the cheap and unfinished aspect of the dress she paired it with, you've got this consistent problem of Samantha putting cheap and unfinished looks down the runway. I forgave it in the first challenge since it was the first challenge and I figured they'd all need some time to adjust. Plus the design of that first look was strong enough to surpass any construction issues. That's not the case here though, and I find everything about this outfit to be a horrible problem. 

We don't get a closer look at the dresses in this challenge, but we do get a fairly extended conversation between the judges about who should win and who should go, and I honestly would love to see more of this in the future. It's clear that the decision on who to lose is between Samantha and Matt, and if you're anything like me, you assumed it was time for Matt to go since he's been safe-bottom-bottom through the first three challenges while Samantha has been win-top-bottom. But the judges explanation for each were really fascinating. Hearing Christian almost excuse Samantha's crappy dress in favor of the jacket they all like, and the intelligence to at least leave the jacket on to hide the horrible dress is fascinating. Couple that with Kelly's vehement anger over the state of Samantha's dress, and you can see that there's a really solid case for sending this girl home. 

Bridget wins which I can't be upset over though I like Zach's look more. Everyone is dismissed from the runway except for Samantha and Matt, and the looks on their faces say it all. Samantha is told that she's in, and she breaths a clear sigh of relief and starts to walk off the stage before anyone tells her to. Hannah stops her and sends her back to her spot before saying that Matt is safe too. No one is going home, but there will be a double elimination next week. 

Here's why I think this decision doesn't work so well: a lot of what we've been noticing thus far has seemed to be in favor of coddling these kids to an extent. A lot of what I pointed out in this episode alone suggests they're playing with kid gloves in certain places. One place where I'd like to see them not really do that is in the eliminations. I know I complain each week that these eliminations are harder to watch than the eliminations on PR, but they're still needed both to keep things moving and to perhaps teach these designers something. You can't have an off week and still be successful here. Plus, while I like Matt a lot, I don't think we've seen anything from him yet that automatically suggests we need him to stick around. Not sending anyone home here feels like a bit of a cop out. 

Here's why I think this decision works perfectly: if we take Hannah's statement that they really did like both teams looks, and didn't feel as though either team truly deserved to be in the bottom, and the arguing back and forth through the judging certainly seems to suggest that was the case, then why should anyone have to go home? I don't think they should make a habit of this by any means, but if there was ever a moment when it makes a level of sense, it's this one. Also, the conversation between the judges seems to suggest the biggest problem for the 60s team was a lack of inspiration. They bring up multiple times that it's odd that they didn't go psychedelic, Woodstock, hippy wear for this one. And while I can understand wanting to, I don't know that you can fully justify sending one person home for what is ultimately a failure on the part of the whole team. 

Either way, whether you agree with the decision or not, this is where we are. No one goes home, and yet we have a double elimination next week meaning no one except Bridget is safe. If they cop out again and only send home one person, or if they send home two and Tim saves one, that could be a problem and shed an even more negative light on this development. But if they stick with it, it could be the most stressful and dramatic episode thus far. 

Loose Threads:

--I forgot to mention that the winning look with have its pattern produced on which is a site I'd never heard of before. It's for this reason that I certainly think Zach should have won since I thought his design had a little more thought and complexity to it than Bridget's did and fit in with that aspect of the challenge more. 

--Once again Zach is the only person upset by the outcome of no one going home. He seems to be the only person going hard on the competition aspect of the show. He's not wrong, but I maintain that he makes for a blight on the otherwise cute and friendly nature of the show that I've enjoyed so much. 

--With that being said, it's to his credit that he doesn't complain about not getting the win that I think he deserved. Even Bridget on the runway said she thought Zach was going to win, and he just holds his tongue. Gotta respect that. 

--Tim tell Jaxson that he doesn't like his top, and that leads to him changing it, but once again we see Jaxson's time management issue come up. Even when the team was talking about going to Mood, it was pointed out that Jaxson needed to stay in the workroom because he's constantly pressed for time. I'm happy to see them acknowledging this, but I'd like to see him get better. I'm hoping Jaxson sticks around for a long time. 

--Christian seems to be the main judge taking these kids to task on the runway. he doesn't seem to hold back much in his comments. There's one moment here where he says something and we catch the briefest shot of Kelly's "OMG! I can't believe you said that!" face before the show moves on. Kelly is quick to point out that Samantha's dress looks like shit, but she waits until everyone's in the greenroom before saying so. I've been fascinated with the judging thus far.