Project Runway NZ recap: Good on paper, not so good on fabric

Here we are, halfway through the competition and I find myself wondering if some of these designers are talented at all.

As usual, we start this week with the designers reflecting on the events of the previous episode. While sipping tea, Kerry – who has too many opinions for someone who’s only been on the top once - wonders what the judges think avant-garde is. He soon realises that Judy, the winner of the challenge, is in the room and reassures her that he’s not talking about her.

Although Judy has had two wins, Jess wonders how much further Judy can go in the competition given her lack of experience.

Peni is disappointed to have landed at the bottom again last week. He realises he needs to step up his game.

Into the woods, the designers go to meet Andreas and to choose a wallpaper pattern that will be the inspiration for this week’s challenge. With $150 and a day and a half in the workroom, the designers must create a high-end look.

There are nine pieces of wallpaper wrapped around the trees, and the designers have to race to get the one they want.

Benjamin and Kerry get the ones they fancied, but Judy is left with an uninspiring design; her words.

Jess has to settle for a floral design.
Jess has to settle for a floral design. Source: Tom Hollow

Jess and Caitlin get to one of the pieces at the same time, so they check the tape on one of the cameras to see who got there first. Caitlin gets the paper, and Jess has to settle for a floral pattern that quickly grows on her.

While choosing fabrics, Beth admits to not understanding high-fashion. She does what she likes and doesn’t care what others think. Beth is the worst kind of reality competition contestant there is. The one who thinks they’re fooling the audience with statements like that. Of course she cares. Hopefully, this won’t be her demise. I’m still intrigued by her style.

The designers have been encouraged to use colour pods in their designs. Benjamin is matching the colours of his wallpaper with a few Resene’s sample palettes. Later, he’ll create a print with shaving cream and paint.

Kerry is going with a sleek suit on which he’ll reproduce some elements of the wallpaper.

Peni is doing a poncho/cape with a futuristic jumpsuit. I’ll let that one sink in, and move on to Jess who is designing a jacket with a printed fabric inspired by her wallpaper.

While doing the rounds the next day, Andreas tells Jess to make the jacket soft and comforting like the wallpaper she’s chosen. He tells Caitlin, who’s recreating the wallpaper print on the fabric, to make it more sophisticated, and reminds Peni to create a more finished and precise look.

The judges found the runway show underwhelming.
The judges found the runway show underwhelming. Source: Tom Hollow

Judy has nothing for Andreas. She is struggling with her design and is feeling the pressure to deliver.

On the day of the runway show, Judy is losing it. She has a new design that she’s expecting to finish in just three hours. Kerry thinks it's a crazy idea and convinces her to go back to her original design.

After an underwhelming anonymous runway show, Georgia announces that Kerry, Cami and Misty are safe. I’m happy to see Misty make it to the next round. She’s a good designer. But I can’t believe that Cami is still here. I can’t see a designer in her.

Cami's, Misty's and Kerry's safe looks.
Cami's, Misty's and Kerry's safe looks. Source: Tom Hollow

Except for the midsection of the jumpsuit – which Sally-Ann likens it to a Teletubby, the judges like Peni’s look. Georgia thinks it’s a strong look and guest judge Marc, from Stolen Girlfriends Club, thinks there’s a good balance between jacket and jumpsuit. I like the jacket, but the square in the jumpsuit reminds me of an anatomical model missing the stomach section.

Beth, whose birthday is today, is worried that there’s not enough colour in her look but that is the least of her problems. Sally-Ann doesn’t think it’s fashion forward, and Marc calls it vanilla and underwhelming. At first glance, I thought something was missing in the look as if the model had left a jacket or coat backstage.

No one is very impressed by Caitlin’s overall look. Sally-Ann believes she’s spent more time stencilling the fabric than on the actual design. But, when the jacket comes off, they can see some merit. Marc likes the draping in the pants and the bodice under the top. I think it’s matronly, I can only see women over 40 wearing an ensemble like this.

Caitlin's, Beth's and Judy's high-end looks.
Caitlin's, Beth's and Judy's high-end looks. Source: Tom Hollow

"Grandma chic" is how Sally-Ann describes Jess’ look. She praises the use of colour and finds the jacket interesting and memorable. Benny thinks it’s unique and interesting, and both Georgia and Marc praise Jess for her creative interpretation of the brief. But they agree that there are construction issues. Of all the designs on the top, this is the one I hate the least. I like the bold use of colour.

Benjamin’s graffiti-inspired look is a winner in the judges’ eyes. Sally-Ann deems it cool and fresh with a tad of modesty. It’s very editorial. Benny praises its construction. I can see their points, but I find it a tad insipid. I believe it’s the model’s attitude what makes the outfit work.

The biggest disappointment of the week is Judy. Hard to believe that after two weeks on the top she has crashed like this. Benny thinks it’s a boring mess and Sally-Ann admits she was floored when she learned this was Judy’s design.

Benjamin's, Peni's and Jess' high-end looks.
Benjamin's, Peni's and Jess' high-end looks. Source: Tom Hollow

Luckily for Judy, she has immunity this week, so she'll stay. But that’s terrible news for birthday girl Beth who ends up walking.

This week's winner is Benjamin. I thought it would be Jess who at least dared to use colour in a challenge sponsored by a paint manufacturer.

This wasn’t a very creative week. While most designers fail to fully understand the brief, it’s time to look into the mentor’s role. Maybe Andreas’ mentoring style is the real issue here.

* Project Runway is on TVNZ 2 at 7.30pm on Mondays and on TVNZ OnDemand

Caitlin and Jess want to use the same wallpaper for this week's challenge.
Caitlin and Jess want to use the same wallpaper for this week's challenge. Source: Tom Hollow