Project Runway: Haute Hair Collab
January 16, 2022 6:21 AM - Season 19, Episode 11 - Subscribe

It's time for a twist--a hair twist, that is. In this one day challenge, the designers are each teamed with an up-and-coming hairstylist for a head-to-toe fashion collaboration. The pairs will work together to create an innovative design and hair look that compliment each other that showcases their creativity to the judges and guest judge, model Precious Lee. (IMDB). Spoilers inside.

This was an interesting challenge, and for me it highlighted the limitations of some of the designers' imaginations, as well as a few 'one-way monkey' moments. I put some of this down to exhaustion, as this challenge began immediately after the last two-day challenge finished, so there was no break for the designers, they were straight into it. Even poor Aaron wasn't able to celebrate his birthday properly - he turned 40 the next day, and although he had a piñata, he barely got one swing at it before Coral demolished it.

The challenge was to match an outfit with a hairstyle, in a collaboration with a black hair stylist (in one case, a pair of stylists). They all had different aesthetics - bantu knots, buns, twists, finger waves, ponytails, braids, etc. It was clear from the outset that the pairings were going to work better for some designers than others - particularly where there was a narrative thread that both stylist and designer had in common or a story the designer was able to resonate with.

Bones in particular wanted to use the theme of hearts in his design - not traditional heart shapes, but taking into account his father's recent heart surgery. Aaron's designer talked about how, on the way to get her yearbook photo taken, her hair got wet, leaving it pouffy on one side. Aaron decided to make a raincoat. Chasity talked about how she has tried to instil in her daughters a sense of pride in their natural hair, and that she wanted to embody the theme of a crown. Her two hair stylists were totally on board with that. Chasity said that she wanted to take this "back to the mother country".

Shantall decided to make a hip-hop look, Kristina wanted to create an oversized kimono (which we've seen several times before) and Coral seemed a bit lost and without a clear point of view.

At mood Aaron wanted to use satin for his raincoat (what?!) but Christian nixed that and steered him towards some clear plastic in shades of lime, yellow and blue. Shantall spent her entire budget on white leather, ignoring Christian's concerns about the time constraints of a one-day challenge. Of all the designers, Shantall is the one who just puts her head down and gets on with it, largely staying away from distractions in the workroom.

Most baffling for me, given her comment about the 'mother country', Chasity chose a tiger print for her outfit. I thought for sure she'd have gone for an African print - I looked on Mood's website and they have some gorgeous African prints. So choosing a fabric with an Indian theme seemed quite odd to me, in the circumstances.

Both Kristina and Coral made things we've seen before, although Kristina did listen to Christian and ditched her full kimono to make a one-sleeved half-kimono garment, coupled with a plaid bralette top (for her buxom model who really needed something more structured). Kristina had to improvise though, because her model had come along to the fitting without bringing a bra, which seemed to me to be a bit strange - I've watched enough ANTM to know that models are expected to go on a fitting wearing flesh-coloured bra and panties, with the bras preferably strapless (or convertible). So Kristina had to work with making something to fit her bra-less model, which I didn't think looked great. I also didn't think the stripes and plaid went with the finger-wave hairstyle. But, as I've said during many past seasons, what do I know?

Coral's horror at the sight of the numerous messy ponytails her stylist had created was apparent, and she realised her vision of a sleek ponytail wasn't going to happen and that her outfit didn't go with the hair at all. She made a very similar silhouette to what we've seen before - a fitted bodice, a straight skirt and long macrame fringe. The leather jacket/bodice didn't match the lace skirt, and it was all a bit of a mess.

When Shantall's leather pants ripped I thought for sure she'd be in trouble but somehow she managed to magic an invisible repair to create an outfit together which looked really stylish - her model was a hip-hop artist going to an awards ceremony, and I could totally see that. I liked her pant suit very much.

Aaron spent too much time on his coat (but it was cool, I'd wear it) before realising that a transparent garment needs something underneath. He had neoprene, and made a horrible jumpsuit that looked as if he'd sewn it with a knife and fork. Then he made yellow neoprene pants that were, astonishingly, even worse, so with about two minutes to spare, he went back to the jumpsuit and tried to rescue it. There was nowhere to hide and Brandon described it as 'tragic', which it truly was.

I absolutely LOVED Bones' gown, although there was a lot going on with it with several different reveals and a skirt with an adjustable hem. But, honey, not every girl is going to the Met Gala every week, so think about where else she might need to go and design for that once in a while. Still, it was dramatic and spectacular, on a runway which was otherwise a bit lacklustre.

Bones and Shantall were safe, leaving Kristina and Chasity in the top, and Coral and Aaron in the bottom.

I was surprised at the love for Kristina's outfit. I felt sure Nina was going to criticise her for showing us the same thing every week, but they heaped her with praise. As I said, what do I know?

I wasn't all that taken with Chasity's gown either. It was ... alright... but nothing special or new. But she took the win, and it was obvious it meant a lot to her. Given the choice between her outfit or Kristina's, I preferred Chasity's.

Sadly (for me, he'd become my favourite) Aaron had to go - the day after his 40th birthday too. There was no defence for that horrendous jumpsuit. Although Coral's outfit was a mish-mash and didn't match her stylist's hairdo, at least it was decently made.

My heart is now with Bones, which is probably the Kiss of Death for him, although the drama of next week's challenge - an editorial shoot with Coco Rocha - might well play to his strengths. We shall see.
posted by essexjan (13 comments total)
The looks can all be seen here.
posted by essexjan at 7:13 AM on January 16, 2022

I thought Kristina’s outfit was awful and I am still flabbergasted that she was in the top. The “kimono” just looked like weird shapeless fabric and the bra had no support at all. And it didn’t go with the hair. I don’t get it.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:50 AM on January 16, 2022

Yes yes, Kristina’s outfit was terrible. It looked like she draped a tablecloth on her model very poorly. They also seemed to like Bones’ wig she was wearing which…did not look good.

I think Shantall saved her look, which was originally all leather, by making the back of each piece out of a matching twill. Also what was the deal with Kristina being offended(?) because Shantall was in line first for notions or whatever that was? That made no sense.

Aaron’s raincoat was great, and because they all agreed Coral failed the challenge - and did the same thing she’s done several times - I really thought Coral should have gone home.

Meanwhile, wtf one day challenges. So stupid and they should stop that. There is plenty of drama without doing that. Ugh.

Bright spot - Swatch sighting, yay!
posted by Glinn at 11:26 AM on January 16, 2022

What I liked about this challenge is that it again opened up a variety of looks (red carpet, street, cocktail) vs the make-a-pretty-party-dress dumbed down for sale on JC Penney that so often characterized the Lifetime years. But the challenge itself was confusing: design a look that coordinates with a hairstyle but not the hairstyle you see when announcing the challenge. And in fact the stylists won't themselves be working on the model's hair, they'll be describing it to the Tresemme stylists after the outfit has been created. It just seemed ill-conceived.

I didn't think anyone covered themselves with glory here. Aaron made a really cool raincoat but tried to push on with that awful jumpsuit. When he ran out of time, I wish he'd just made a strapless tube in the blue neoprene, something simple to show off the coat.

Bones, same thing, Too Many Ideas. The snake tube on the bodice was not well-executed and the drawstring skirt/reveal was overkill.

Coral, boring in black. She can thank her lucky stars that Aaron messed up so badly.

I really liked Shantall's look and she should have been in the top. Buying rotten leather at Mood though, not a good advertisement for them. She salvaged it with white twill, brilliant move to do the entire back view in that material to make it look deliberate. Three separates and a cohesive look.

Chasity, oof, choosing a tiger stripe when she promised an ethnic/African look. I like animal prints but they can end up looking cheap real quick. The silhouette was interesting but what really sold it was the model's hairstyle.

Kristina. Well what could she do? Her model showed up without a proper bra. Seriously her boobs were not supported at all. And they'd already bought all the fabric, Kristina, not being a mind reader, didn't buy boning or an underwire; she bought cotton. The guest judge commenting that the girls needed more lift showed her unfamiliarity with clothing construction (while wearing what looked like a most uncomfortable corset). Me, I think that the producers "helped" the model to forget her bra, just to lay on the drama. Kristina salvaged her look, just barely. She should've been safe, not in the top.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:54 AM on January 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

That tiger print fabric and Beadazzling looked so unbelievably cheap and tacky. Bones's fabric choice and design as well. That cotton tablecloth runner fabric was awful and was in no way complementary to the hair. I honestly question a lot of them and their taste levels, as Nina would say. The gushing by the judges was kind of embarrassing. It was just a weird, ill-thought-out challenge.

I sometimes wonder if people understand tigers are Asian rather than African--I've run into many people who don't seem to realize they're not on both continents.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 3:51 PM on January 16, 2022

At the beginning they specified that the main point was celebrating Black hair, so whyyyyyyy did they use several models who do not have textured hair?
posted by desuetude at 10:52 PM on January 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

made a horrible jumpsuit that looked as if he'd sewn it with a knife and fork

These recaps are fucking gold. I love them a million times more than the show.

I was happy to see Aaron go. None of the designs really impressed but there were some gorgeous hair looks.
posted by the webmistress at 7:28 AM on January 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

At the beginning they specified that the main point was celebrating Black hair, so whyyyyyyy did they use several models who do not have textured hair?

It's the same models (dwindling in number) for every episode.
posted by praemunire at 10:17 AM on January 17, 2022

TWinbrook8 brought up my question. What was the point of introducing these up and coming hair stylists if they weren't going to actually be doing the models' hair?
posted by wittgenstein at 10:59 AM on January 17, 2022

I don't understand why Aaron didn't just make a simple tube dress, in either color, when he knew he was running out of time. That coat was one of the best things on the runway; that and Shantall's entire outfit. I did love Bones's coat, but he should have just stuck with that, instead of adding the weird mesh and artery (?) thing underneath. Coral or Kristina should have gone home. Or maybe Chasity. I love her, but the hair was the best part of the whole look. I was so disappointed in that animal print. I was looking forward to a beautiful African print. She won on story (and maybe the hair that she had nothing to do with) alone. Except for Shantall, this was a disappointing episode.
posted by ceejaytee at 11:24 AM on January 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yes, ceejaytee, I think this week really emphasised that, when the designers are exhausted, not only are they not going to bring their best to the challenges, but the energy levels are going to be low too, leading to a not-very-good episode from a TV point of view. I think Aaron's poor decision was fuelled by lack of sleep and he just panicked.
posted by essexjan at 11:29 AM on January 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

It's the same models (dwindling in number) for every episode.

They have regularly brought in different models than the regular crew when it's relevant to the challenge. Male models for menswear, etc. I felt sorry for the hairstylists, who were just put in a weird awkward position throughout. It didn't do any favors to the designers either. This was not a collab!! the way they made it out to be.
posted by desuetude at 12:16 PM on January 17, 2022

What was the point of introducing these up and coming hair stylists if they weren't going to actually be doing the models' hair?

If I understood some of the side chatter, these were actually young and inexperienced stylists being promoted through an industry program (I think the one young lady said she'd just gotten her license the year before?). Maybe the producers didn't want to have any of them underperform under pressure, or maybe there was a contractual obligation to Tresemme. was definitely weird.

Chasity is a thoughtful and charming person, and her kids are adorable, but that dress was not good, though at least it didn't compete with the elaborate hairstyle. I agree that everyone was exhausted and therefore not putting out their best work.
posted by praemunire at 3:28 PM on January 17, 2022

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