Project Runway: The Last Straw
December 18, 2021 5:44 AM - Season 19, Episode 9 - Subscribe

The designers fall for an age-old prank when they're invited out for cocktails by Christian Siriano only to discover that it's actually challenge-time, not party-time. It's time for the unconventional challenge where the designers will be asked to create an elegant cocktail dress from an actual cocktail bar. Plus, one of fashion's most exciting designers, Christopher John Rogers, is the judge on the guest list for this VIP party. (imdb) Contains Spoilers

The unconventional materials challenge seems to me to be a little late in the season. From memory, this is usually an early-on challenge when there are still at least a dozen designers. Anyway this was a two-day challenge, and was punctuated by an amazing fireworks display that the designers watched from the street and which was for ... reason? Was it 4th July? I have no idea. I also thought at one point that Aaron was about to go postal with the Patti Labelle singers. Christian's bafflement at being greeted in song was also funny.

Prajje was not fooled one bit by the invitation to bottomless mimosas - he knew there was something up. He decided not to drink and kept a clear head but stole a bottle of champagne for later.

There was a great selection of materials for the designers to work from, including lots of fabric items such as bar towels, dishcloths and upholstery, as well as all sorts of things you'd never think of using to make a cocktail dress from. As we've seen in past challenges, the judges are usually unimpressed when a designer just repurposes fabric they've found rather than creating their own textile, so the bar was set pretty high for what they were expected to do.

Aaron went classic, using straws and stirrers sprayed silver to create a 1920s-inspired dress which I thought was beautiful, and deservedly got him into the top. I wasn't thrilled about the cape-let he made and agreed with the guest judge that it could have done without that.

Bones' dress - worn by Mimi, who can make a trash bag look like haute couture - was stunning, a gorgeous shimmering fringed dress with a corset decorated with broken glass. I was surprised he wasn't in the top, but he was safe, probably because he used beaded curtains, which was a bit of an easy option compared with what some of the other designers did. Still, I loved his look, particularly the disco-ball bag.

Shantall started sewing straws together to see if she could make a textile. She had a clear idea of what she wanted to do from the start, unlike some of the others who found it difficult to be inspired by what they'd picked up. Shantall was, I think, the only designer not to use glue on her dress. It was amazing, with this geometric fabric made of straws, and a marvellous single sleeve.

Anna was a mess. She desperately missed Octavio, and she struggled with having to use these materials. Her first idea of a tinfoil dress was, rightly, nixed by Christian. Her second idea of a cheongsam made of take-out bags wasn't much better. It was quite stiff and looked awful, although Nina did get where she was coming from with her idea. But deservedly so, Anna was in the bottom.

Coral also struggled a bit with the challenge, particularly as she too started off trying to make a straw fabric like Shantall and was worried that they might both be doing the same thing. It wasn't until her critique with Christian that she found her groove, after he suggested she used trash bags to make rope for her signature macrame. Her outfit was safe.

Kristina was using a lighter to mould bits of plastic and metal into sequins and petals. It looked horribly time-consuming, but her finished dress was really striking. I have to say, though, that she was lucky to have a model with very small breasts. The model had to wear metal pasties to cover her nipples, as the rest of the top was mesh. But a model with larger breasts would have struggled to maintain her modesty in that outfit. Still, it looked beautiful on the runway and put Kristina in the top again.

Chasity. Oh, Chasity. She started off with what I thought was going to be a good idea - cutting up straws to make bugle beads which she was going to use, along with coffee filters, to make her cocktail dress. Christian suggested she sprayed the whole dress at the end, rather than each component individually. I'm not sure where it happened, but Chasity then decided to use popcorn, knives and forks on the dress, which had a sort of flouncy skirt made of said coffee filters formed into rosette/ruffles, and a very stiff top with all sorts of crap glued onto it and sprayed red. It was horrible.

When the model put it on, it was too short, so Chasity, with just minutes to spare, had to spray more filters bright red and glue them onto the crotch area of the dress. I swear to God, my first thought was that it looked like the model was having a period mishap. Despite bits of popcorn falling off along the runway, the judges liked the movement in the skirt. But it ended up in the bottom, for good reason.

Now I come to Prajje. I have a lot to say about him this week. He used as his base for his outfit the pleather that he tore from the benches in the bar, and covered that with paper doilies made to look like lace (allegedly). Christian warned him about it looking like a craft project, and about how poorly the dress fit the model, but Prajje dismissed those criticisms and continued anyway.

And here is the thing that got me quite cross this week. Like Zayden last week, Prajje's model was Dariana, who is plus-sized. Also like Zayden last week, Prajje made a garment for her out of stiff, bulky fabric, with a high neck, effectively hiding her curves and, by the choice of fabric, making her look bigger. If he'd used bar cloths as the base for his dress, he could have made something that actually fitted her properly with some draping, and then his doily lace might not have looked so awful.

It seems to me that he and Zayden made outfits that might have looked alright on a skinny model with no curves, where the stiff fabric would have fallen in a totally different way. But given a model with curves who is bigger than a size 2, Prajje and Zayden weren't up to the challenge, which is unacceptable.

Top 3 - Aaron, Kristina, Shantall.

Shantall was the winner, and I think that was the right choice - she made her own fabric without using a glue gun and it was such a striking, beautiful dress.

Bottom 3 - Chasity, Anna, Prajje

Any one of the bottom three deserved to go this week, as their dresses were all horrible. But Prajje's was definitely the worst, one of the most unflattering garments I've ever seen on PR.

I cannot wait for next week, as there is a mash-up of PR with another of my guilty pleasures - The Real Housewives. The designers are each paired with a Housewife to make her an outfit for (I think) a reunion show. Whoever gets Luann de Lesseps has struck gold as she used to be a model and has an amazing figure. Whoever gets Shannon Beador, pray for them. The preview showed that the Housewives are bringing the drama, and, did I say I can't wait? I CAN'T WAIT!!!
posted by essexjan (10 comments total)
I thought Anna would be sent home. I was surprised it was Prajje.
posted by wittgenstein at 8:33 AM on December 18, 2021

Yes it’s true it was unacceptable that both Prajje and Zayden did not fit their plus-size model appropriately. But please also tell me which of the top designs would have worked at all with a plus-sized model? I say again, it is not fair that some designers get clothes-hanger models each week. It is wildly unfair that every designer does not get a similar sized model. This is ruining the show for me.

I thought Chasity did a pretty cool job with those bottle caps and knives for the top of the dress. That skirt was a wild disaster though, and she was lucky to stay.
posted by Glinn at 1:02 PM on December 18, 2021

One thing I noticed with this challenge, usually it’s earlier in the season with more designers and they really have to hustle to get enough material. This time, fewer people? or more supplies? because everyone just grabbed everything and there was still quite a bit of stuff left over. (side note: where do you get purple string mop heads?)

I think they should’ve awarded a double win, to Shantall and Kristina. Aaron’s look was impressive but there was something laborious about the bodice, it was overworked. I think I would’ve made a skull cap rather than a cape. I also liked Coral’s a lot but it was very difficult to see it on the runway in its brief appearance. (It’s just ridiculous that Bravo wrestled this show back from Lifetime and then totally dumped support. Tim and Heidi were smart to jump to Amazon)

Someone on another forum gave a possible explanation for Chasity’s complete failure. It’s because as she said, she’s done these a couple times, so she really wanted to show off but she probably hasn’t done it under such time constraints. I was really surprised that her method was glue a bunch of tiny things to a backing. Shantall cinched the win over the other two because she actually sewed everything.

Not looking forward to a Real Housewives crossover. It seems intended to bring the fakest of fake drama.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:07 PM on December 18, 2021

Some amazing work on display from the top three. Any of them could have been picked, but Shantall earned the win.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 5:35 AM on December 19, 2021

I was really surprised that her method was glue a bunch of tiny things to a backing.

Super-common approach to this challenge. Majority of the pieces are usually employing a muslin scaffolding of some kind.

The top three were showstoppers. I liked Chasity's approach to texture, but she just didn't have enough time. I felt it was Prajje's time to go, though he cracked me up at the bar.
posted by praemunire at 8:12 AM on December 19, 2021

glue a bunch of tiny things to a backing

Somehow part of my comment got lost. I meant to say, gluing things onto muslin was okay the first season or two when Unconventional Materials was a new challenge but in later seasons designers were specifically criticized for that and like I said, I think that really cinched Shantall’s win over the other two, because she sewed those straws.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:57 AM on December 19, 2021

I definitely agree that one should get difficulty points for not doing so!
posted by praemunire at 9:14 AM on December 19, 2021

Yes it’s true it was unacceptable that both Prajje and Zayden did not fit their plus-size model is not fair that some designers get clothes-hanger models each week. It is wildly unfair that every designer does not get a similar sized model. This is ruining the show for me.

Agreed. There might be a problem when it's the designer with the plus-sized model who goes home (two weeks in a row). It's great that they're including a plus-sized model, but the challenge should be that they all have to design for a larger model one week (not as the primary objective for the week, but just part of the week's modeling assignments). If Kristina had that model, for example, her dress may not have been in the top.
posted by hydra77 at 2:25 PM on December 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Shantall making that textile out of straws and then making that into that incredible dress with that showy sleeve blew me away this week. So grateful for the Siriano save. She and Aaron were tops for me. Kristina's look was really good and cleverly made but I did not like the mesh and the metal pasties at all.

Prajje was a mess. Christian warned him but he wasn't interested. His poor model looked terrible. Bones was great this week, finally. I was starting to really worry about him. Chasity and Anna both had a very bad week.

I am not looking forward to the divas with attitudes and bullshit drama. No one in a stressful fashion competition with only 2 days (hopefully) to make a dress needs that kind of drama.
posted by ceejaytee at 10:08 AM on December 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

If I had Anna's materials, I would have put the "Exit" sign across the butt, the "Closed" sign across the groin or chest, and looked for other words I could place for comic effect. This aesthetic and my lack of experience with a sewing machine ensure that I will never be on the show.
posted by obol at 8:40 PM on December 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

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