Project Runway: The Model As Muse
January 23, 2022 8:28 AM - Season 19, Episode 12 - Subscribe

For the first time ever in Project Runway history, the designers will be creating looks for the same Supermodel in this one-of-a-kind challenge. They must create editorial looks specifically inspired by internationally renowned model, Coco Rocha. And shockingly, there's no runway. The final five are tasked to show artistic range by delivering a perfect look and a perfect photograph to show it off. (IMDB) Spoilers inside

I discussed this episode in depth yesterday with a friend in Ohio. We both had Opinions on the judges' choices, and where we thought they had made wrong decisions. Then we realised we were both wearing saggy bras, sweatshirts with food stains on them and baggy-ass Cuddl Duds. "I bet Nina Garcia doesn't even own a pair of Cuddl Duds" I said, attempting to justify my superior fashion knowledge. This is a question I think Nina needs to address.

Also, with my superior fashion knowledge, I have never heard of Coco Rocha, so I had to look her up. I was astonished to learn that she has three children, the youngest of which she gave birth to in Nov 2020, so only a few months before this was filmed. She is clearly one of the 'naturally thin' people of this world, as she doesn't look as if she's given birth to a grape, let alone three babies. (The only thing naturally thin about me is my hair ...) She's also a devout Jehovah's Witness (boo!) but apart from that seems like a nice person.

Anyhoo, this week's episode was kicked off on the back of the last one, with the designers asked by a member of production to go to a warehouse around the corner where Christian was conducting a photo shoot. Coca Rocha was there, being photographed in one of Christian's rufled gowns, and Christian explained the task.

I thought it would be cruel for production to put the designers straight to work - as they'd just come off back-to-back challenges. But Christian said he'd see them at Mood the next day, and it was daylight outside, so hopefully the group had some time to relax and get their ideas thought out.

At Mood we had a lovely shot of Swatch, who is hangin' on in there, but just barely, from the look of him.

Coral chose the same fabric she's picked for the last few challenges - the same lace she used for Leah's dress and the outfit last week, only this time in bright yellow. It was hideous. Chasity is still on the Disney train, but this time wanting to make a Disney villain who used to be a princess. Girl, you do know Coco Rocha is a grown-up woman, don't you?

Kristina decided to make a medley of her greatest hits, including elements of all the things that had got her wins in previous challenges. She chose shiny blue fabric and what looked like green wrapping paper left over from Christmas.

Bones had an idea of a tornado, with all the movement at the top and, without a runway for Coco to walk down, constricted at the bottom. He chose an absolutely gorgeous deep blue fringed fabric, plus about half a mile of denim.

Shantall's fabric was red, and Christian stirred the pot a little by pointing out that Chasity was also buying red fabric.

The designers also had to choose a prop for their photoshoot. Chasity, as last week's winner, got to choose first. There was a giant fan, which would have been my first pick but she chose ... wooden pallets. WTF? Bones, next, picked poi balls, which are usually set on fire and twirled around. I thought this was a bizarre choice until Kristina, next to go, picked a fucking recycling bin, in the same shade of blue as her fabric. Finally, one of the designers had an ounce of sense - Coral - and picked the fan, which Shantall really, really wanted. But she also chose smartly, and selected the ladder.

There was just one fitting so only one chance to fix things if the outfit didn't work. Bones was making a massive denim coat/cape thing - which, when he tried it on himself, looked a-maz-ing - but which Christian wasn't keen on. He suggested Bones should stick to his gown in the stunning blue fabric.

Christian thought Coral's dress looked 'dressmakery' - ouch - and told her to take some risks. He thought Kristina was trying to do too much - she was making her usual multiple oversize layers. Shantall was creating her own textile (again), and had a lot of work to do. He was worried that Chasity's look lacked modernity - of which more later.

Back at the house, Shantall had a video call with her family, including her cute little boy who, we learned, has some difficulties with speech. But he said 'Mama' during the call and I almost cried for Shantall, she was so happy. Her husband, though, looks like the repellent Mau from Couples Therapy, so I took against him for entirely irrational reasons. DTMFA!!! In a TH Shantall explained that she doesn't really feel a part of the group of designers, and thinks she has a lot to prove.

But next morning she was like an unstoppable whirlwind of motivation and drive to get her gown finished. It was full-on to get everything done, and Chasity in particular seemed quite panicked.

Coral made a bright yellow flamenco dress with structured ruffles and a neck piece with a giant piece of chiffon. It was horrendous, but as she had the fan as her prop, I knew it would look dramatic if she could get the chiffon to blow in the breeze.

Bones finished his outfit early, including a Do-rag he made for Coco to wear. The dress looked stunning, it's hard to describe the fabric, it was a sort of silky fringe-y fur, but I wondered how it would translate into an editorial photo.

Chasity needed help finishing her outfit so, kindly, other designers rallied round. Then it was everyone over to the warehouse for the photos.

Coco chose her own hair and make-up and had to have something that went with everyone's look, so it was fairly neutral, a dramatic eyeliner and a sleek up-do.

Shantall's created textile didn't really show up in the photos, but the gown was dramatic and the choice of the ladder was a good one. Shantall gave good direction to Coco, about passion and emotion, and she chose a good photo.

Coral's flamenco dress - paired with chunky boots - photographed very well with the fan blowing out the huge chiffon scarf. But we are firmly in one-way monkey territory with Coral and I don't see anything original or interesting in her designs. But Coral seemed a bit lost during the shoot and didn't know how to let Coco know what she wanted.

Bones has previously worked as a photographer's assistant, and he completely took over the shoot, bossing everyone around. Thankfully the poi balls weren't set on fire (maybe they should have been ...) but had fabric wrapped round them which Coco had to twirl around her head. But she found the tight dress difficult to pose in, and was also unhappy about the way Bones had acted during the shoot - giving her far too much direction in a way that wasn't helpful.

Chasity's dress looked okay, a sort of see-through spiderweb boned red skirt, with a red and black sparkly top with a single sleeve. It was very costumey and I thought it would have been better for the ice-skating commentator challenge a few weeks back. The wooden pallets were an odd idea and didn't really work as a prop, but Coco did her best to incorporate them.

Kristina's outfit was a shiny clown suit with giant sleeves, a kind of bib front and these massive green foil paper pants. Surely she'd be going home for that monstrosity. Surely? Coco seemed embarrassed to wear it and also had difficulty trying to incorporate the bin into her poses.

At judging, the outfits were on mannequins, and the judges had the single photo the designers had chosen to highlight their design. Coco was the guest judge.

Brandon, rightly, pointed out that Chasity's dress was straight from his mother's wardrobe. I had a very, very similar dress in the late 80s, a Frank Usher, with a velvet top with sparkly beads and a taffeta skirt, and this had exactly that same vibe. All it needed was the Julia Roberts' huge hair and a clutch purse.

The judges loved Shantall's dress and the photo she chose highlighted it perfectly.

Somehow - I do not understand this - the judges also scored Coral's dress highly. Even though they might not have realised it from just seeing the photo, surely they would have noticed from the actual dress in front of them that it was the same fabric as the previous week. Why didn't they say anything. Nina, in particular, is usually quick to point out any one-way monkeys on the runway, so Coral getting a pass on this week after week is baffling.

Ultimately, Shantall's dress, her choice of photo and her direction of the shoot got her another win. I am glad. Out of all the designers, she seems to be the one who has got her shit together the most.

Coco liked working with Chasity, so despite the judges' criticism about the Disney story yet again, she was safe. But the costumey-ness of her dress was a problem, in my opinion, and I get the feeling Brandon is at the end of his patience with her.

The judges (mostly) absolutely adored Bones' gown seen on the mannequin, but nothing about the photoshoot worked. They weren't sure if Kristina's look was successful or if she just got lucky. But ultimately she got very lucky, because Bones' domineering attitude at the shoot, his choice of a dark fabric in an ill-lit warehouse and the fact that Coco couldn't move in her dress was his undoing.

Ah, Bones, The Lovely Bones. I will miss you, but as I predicted last week, I am the Kiss of Death. Maybe I should pick Kristina as my next favourite, so the Curse of Essexjan can pass to her.

There are photos of the outfits here. (If that link doesn't work, go to NBCU Media Village and search for the show.)

Next week the designers have to prove why they should go to Fashion Week by highlighting their "brand". I have a feeling Coral's look might involve lace and macramé ...
posted by essexjan (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Nice write-up, essexjan!

Bones' idea of the tornado was pretty good, but those whirling balls were a terrible choice. And I thought the fabric that was attached to them looked horrible with the dress. I think he could have had a good photo. There was no rule that "movement" had to be part of the pose, but still they all felt like they had to throw fabric around and whatnot. His actual dress was nice (not sure the do-rag was good or useful).

Even with Bones' missteps (and his horrible bossing people around), I am shocked Kristina is still in this thing. The blue bin. The terrible photo. The weird bad clothes. Ugh.

I did not hate Coral's dress as much as essexjan, but I agree that fabric she used several times is terrible. Coral also seemed friendly with Shantall at the apartment, so even though nobody helped her with her look, 1. she didn't need help, and 2. nobody seems to be going out of their way to isolate her, so I feel like the producers are just trying to drum up drama where there isn't much.

When Christian saved Shantall I felt like she would make the final because, at least with saves in the past, it seems like they want to prove the save was worthwhile (when to me sometimes it does not seem like it, though I can't think of an example offhand). But in this case, Shantall has been killing it and it was absolutely the right save. Her phone call with her son was really sweet. I'm glad they stopped showing family calls only with the designer who gets eliminated, which seems like it was a thing for a while. (I thought Chasity was definitely going home recently for that reason.)

Finally, I thought it was a little silly that the designers had to chose one photo. First, it would be the magazine editor or someone who would choose the photo, right? Why not let the designer choose a few photos in case they chose a terrible one? Or let them choose one, and also let the photographer or the model choose one? I mean, Kristina chose a terrible photo and apparently it didn't even matter that much.

Anyway, still enjoying this show. It's gotta be Shantall who takes it all but I am looking forward to collections. Maybe from all four if Kristina has another terrible day, as they seem committed to saving her no matter what she does.
posted by Glinn at 11:21 AM on January 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

ALSO! I thought the model was really cool. I thought she was very sweet to the designers, and tried to say something nice about each one.
posted by Glinn at 11:22 AM on January 23, 2022

I thought this was a great challenge and watching Coco Rocha work different poses was fascinating. (btw she was on PR years ago modeling the week's winning design, I think, on a Times Sq billboard).

In the aftershow, Christian picked what he considered the best photo and in all cases, it was different from the ones the designers chose and much better. They are posted here

For the first time I actually liked Bones' look--what was that fabric?? he called it fur at first and then some kind of brocade--and I really liked his concept of confined lower body and twisting upper body which was different from all the others. The denim wrap was bad in that it didn't coordinate at all with the blue fabric and that he thought he could combine them is bananas.

Kristina, ugh. This might have worked for the avant garde AKA volume challenge. The same-intensity color combo, the uninspiring prop, the effort to get the stiff fabric of the coat to billow out for the photo. But if you look at Christian's photo, what a difference, the pose was dynamic! and editorial as Nina said.

Still I'm not surprised that Bones was sent home. From early on, I thought this would be an all female finale four, especially as the last two winners have been men.

Chasity is really leaning in on her daughters' Disney Princess fantasies. Coral, props for the bright color but bored with lace and macrame. Whatever Shantall was doing with the layers of chiffon didn't come through in the photo or my screen, it was a flowy red gown and the inspiration was PASSION!!! Groundbreaking. It was ironic that she ended up with the best prop (vertical format, folks!!). I liked that she posed the model barefoot instead of the usual black boots.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:43 PM on January 23, 2022 [2 favorites]

In the aftershow, Christian picked what he considered the best photo and in all cases, it was different from the ones the designers chose and much better. They are posted here

Very interesting, thanks!
posted by praemunire at 10:16 PM on January 23, 2022

In other interesting links, I’d read that former contestant Nick Verreos had a blog but as a “consulting producer”? he had access to the workroom and final designs as modeled and wow, a camera and well-lit space. These photos are better than anything the producers have ever posted. Unfortunately he only worked on a couple episodes but the detail!

For instance, here is a gown that Kristina made for Dariana that was safe so we only got a glimpse of it but incredibly, she’s wearing a proper bra and the gown has a fitted waist so it IS possible to design for her size. The garment itself is not that interesting. In fact, I can see why the producers might discourage this kind of in depth reporting. There are close ups of the gorgeous fabrics but the very clear photos of the finished work also show all the flaws and designers/looks that I thought were great at the time don’t look so go in retrospect.

Kristina’s dress for Dariana

Nick’s blog
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:53 AM on January 24, 2022

Aaaarggh, Nick switched to Instagram so more recent episodes are posted there. Many many photos but mixed with other stuff and I don’t know how to link.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:12 AM on January 24, 2022

I think if Bones had chosen the same picture Christian did, he would have been safe. That photo shows the column of the dress, all straight, and then the twirling fabric. The one Bones picked had the line of the dress ruined by Coco's raised boot. It made me sad, I really liked him. Only Coral and Shantall picked better photos than Christian, in my opinion.

I can't take much more of Chasity's designs and I would have loved Shantall, Bones. Anna, and Aaron as the final four. I can't see Shantall losing unless something terrible happens.
posted by ceejaytee at 4:09 PM on January 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

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