Project Runway 4: Handicapping Episode 3

>> Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm on the road this week with school visits all day and an end-of-the-month deadline for a Something Wicked revision to work on in the evenings, so this week's fearless prediction won't be as long as last week's. There's also less to go on this week, but that won't keep me from speculating.

Last week I was right about the challenge (and pretty close on my guess for how much they could spend at Mood!), right about Sarah Jessica Parker being the guest judge, and right about who was auf'd: Marion. The only thing I got wrong was the most important thing: I chose Jack to win, and it was Victorya who took home the top spot last week.

And once again, before I begin, a disclaimer: I have no insider information. Nor have I sought, or read, any spoilers on the interweb. My speculations are based solely on non-spoiler discussions on blogs like Blogging Project Runway, and on official promotional videos and what I know of the contestants and their skills. So, on with the fearless predictions!

This week we have two pieces of video evidence. The first is the teaser at the end of episode 2, in which we are learn a) that this is a challenge the producers have wanted to do for a long time, b) that this challenge will be among the most difficult ever faced by Project Runway contestants, c) they have a day and a half to complete the assignment, and d) next episode we will see many contestants mercilessly ripping their own sewn garments apart at the seams. All these are valuable, if obscure, clues.

We also have the requisite scenes of the judges being critical and people on the runway sweating it out, but these clips are often deliberately misleading, pairing withering criticism with designers who are often not the actual subjects of that criticism. The producers love to do this to ramp up the tension, but it's like the boy who cried wolf--I just don't believe any of it anymore.

At first, seeing all the seam ripping led me to think this would be a recycle challenge--one perhaps where instead of Mood the contestants would be taken to Goodwill, and be told to create a new look from old clothes. We had seen a challenge like this--Season Two's "The Clothes Off Your Back" challenge--but never anything where the designers could make deliberate choices about color and fabric.

Then mid-week Bravo released the promo videos for this week's episode, and we get more distinct clues:

It's a short clip, but the most important thing here is the controversy over Jack's shorts. (And no, I don't mean the hullabaloo caused by that shot of him in his underwear last episode!) In the clip, Jack takes off his shorts, and he and two of the other contestants--Victorya and Carmen--collaborate on taking them apart and making a pattern out of them.

Right away this defines the challenge: menswear. It fits with what we were told in the teaser last week, too--this will be a VERY difficult challenge for the designers, as almost all of them entered as women's wear designers. Exclusively. In that sense I think it's unfair. I'd hate to see a very talented fashion designer go because he or she couldn't design menswear, especially since the show is a contest for women's wear designers. And I'm worried too that this will be the second week in a row with ho-hum designs on the runway; last week because the designers were bound by the constraints of an existing clothing line's colors and silhouettes, and this week because menswear is often very mundane.

But back to the predictions. We also learn from another promo video that the challenge will be handed down at 10 Rockefeller Plaza, and we see the designers back at the workroom with 30 minutes to sketch and . . . nothing being drawn. Many of the designers are totally stumped, which again points to this being the new territory, for most of them, of menswear.

So what is in 10 Rockefeller Plaza? Well, first and most notably, that's where The Today Show is filmed. Bravo is owned by NBC, so some sort of Today Show connection might seem likely. Again though, what would the challenge be, to design a suit for an on-air personality? I say no. I don't think this will be the challenge. We've just come off a "design for a big name" challenge, and I just don't see Project Runway turning around and going right back to designing for a client.

The other tenant with a 10 Rock address is . . . The Nintendo Store! I kid you not. And though we see just a hint of something purple from Kevin on the runway in that teaser, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say he's not designing a new jump suit for Waluigi:

Of course, 10 Rock is a tall building, and those are just the things on the ground floor. Far more likely, methinks, is that there is a menswear designer or retailer in 10 Rock, and that person will be this week's judge. I doubt we'll have another "we'll sell your design" competition, but the field trip may be so that these designers--most of whom, again, don't know where to start with men's clothes--have some chance to actually examine some menswear fashions before being told to create something new.

Intriguingly, Christie's Auction house has a presence in 20 Rockefeller Plaza, in the same building as The Today Show and The Nintendo Store. Heidi would have to have gotten her address wrong--or perhaps used 10 Rock because it's a more famous address--but I did think it would be a fun challenge to have to create clothing that would then be auctioned off to the highest bidder, with the weekly winner being the designer whose outfit earned the highest bid. Again though, I don't see Christie's necessarily being paired with a menswear challenge, so I think that option is out.

So. A menswear challenge. Who among the contestants has experience with menswear? Jillian worked as a designer for Ralph Lauren's Rugby line, which features fashion for men and women. Jack has worked as a menswear designer for Tommy Hilfiger, Levi's, and Weatherproof Active Wear. Kevin has designed jeans and won a "Menswear Designer of the Year" grant at New York City's Fashion Institute of Technology. That's all I can find--only three designers out of the thirteen left claim some kind of experience making men's clothes.

So why not pick a winner from those three? I'll pass on Jillian this time--I think she's going to be around for a while, and will pick up a win, but not here. Jack is the easy choice here--he actually does this kind of thing for a living! But partially because I chose Jack last week, and partially just to be contrary, I'm going for Kevin and that "Menswear Designer of the Year" grant he won back in school. Add to that that we do know one thing about Kevin from that red-herring teaser--he will end up on the runway defending his design! (Along with Ricky and Sweet P.) That either means he's a contender, or in the bottom two or three. I choose to believe he'll contend, and I predict Kevin will win the menswear challenge in Week 3.

And now to choose a loser. Ouch. This is tough. First off, does Victorya have immunity from last week's win? Im'm not sure they ever said. Regardless, I'm not picking her in the bottom three. We do know from that teaser that Ricky and Sweet P are on the runway defending their work, for better or worse. There have to be others there too. With thirteen left, there will undoubtedly be one of those "you, you, you, you, you, you and you are all in. You may leave the runway," moments. I think seven contestants will be safe, and six will be left to discuss their work. I'll put Jack, Kevin, and . . . oh heck, Carmen, in the top three, and I'll say Sweet P, Ricky, and . . . let's say Steven, in the bottom three. (Now I'm really going out on a limb!) I think those are the three weakest contestants in the field right now though. I want to say Ricky, I'm very tempted to say Ricky . . . but I'm going to say Sweet P instead. P won big points with me last week for making things work with Elisa, but I predict Sweet P will lose the menswear challenge in Week 3.

Now let's just hope I can find a television somewhere in Birmingham, Alabama where I can watch the episode!


Laura K November 28, 2007 at 10:54 AM  

I think you are right about menswear, but I am definitely picking Jack for the win. He has some mad skillz.

If it is menswear, I assume male models and then the "best hair" pick is difficult.

The Scarlett says she is just picking Chris every week for best hair and eventually she will be right!

Alan November 28, 2007 at 2:21 PM  

This week I too chose Chris for best hair. It's completely random anyway!

And I too like Jack's chances - and this challenge certainly seems tailor made for him. I just think that there is always a wild card in there somewhere, and since I know Kevin has the background here too I'm going out on a limb with him.

And yes, part of it is because I chose Jack to win last week, and I didn't want to sound like a broken record. Now watch him win!

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