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Project Runway Takes Inspiration From Cancer-Survivor Warrior Women

Who leaves the field of battle victorious, and who's a casualty of war?

Our Players

Hello, I'm West Coast Editor Tara Ariano.
Hello, I'm East Coast Editor Sarah D. Bunting.

The Talk

I need to start with a comment, which is that the framing of this week's challenge -- that cancer survivors are "warrior women" -- is certainly well-meaning but possibly problematic. I am fortunate not to have lost loved ones to cancer or even had any diagnosed (which I know puts me vastly in the extremely lucky minority), but when Julia Louis-Dreyfus recently announced her cancer diagnosis, a friend of mine who lost her mother to the disease a few years ago noted that the "warrior"/"fight" language can feel oppressive to patients: people choose treatment, or not, for all kinds of reasons, and if someone doesn't survive her illness, it's not because she wasn't enough of "a fighter," you know? So while, again, I know that the show wants to celebrate this group of women who did, and that "warrior women" is an easy term around which to build a challenge...in our own lives, we should maybe think about not using the kind of language that can put pressure on people who are already dealing with enough.

Well put. I myself don't care for the selective gendering of the language that implies warriordom is otherwise unusual for women...or that, as you say, a possibly fatal disease automatically confers samurai status upon the sufferer whether s/he wants it or not. Not to mention that, with respect for Avon's contributions to the fight that has touched many of us, this is a reality show about clothes. It's a perfectly legitimate lane. Stay in it.

What a great segue to this week's winner, Brandon, who is so committed to his lane I'm pretty sure he's unaware that others exist? Pants and straps. How unexpected. [eye-roll]

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I mean...I kind of wanted him to go home just for the "Can I just win already?" talking-head towards the beginning, which did not come out as bitchily as that, or bitchily at all, but the problem is, he's...not wrong. And apparently can't be, per the judges, because the look is editorial, but from straps to layers to hoodie to color palette, it's sooooo saaaaamey! And it won? Okay, you don't have to call him out on the predictability, but to give that the win over Kenya's when it's literally come down the runway three times already?

ALSO, given the "warrior women" challenge brief, how do you make that bonnet and not come up with a bullshit story about how it's a reference to Amelia Earhart? I guess because you're Brandon and you know you don't need any narrative embellishment to clinch your victory. I could not agree with you more that Kenya was robbed: I've always thought she was skilled, but this week I believed for the first time that she was talented. The only thing I could think of that caused it to miss the win -- other than the boner the judges have for Brandon -- is that the monochromatic palette made it less editorial: the detail that made the petals so beautiful might not read in a magazine spread.

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Or it's, like, too wearable and not "challenging" enough. Or they graded her on a Liris curve (so to speak) because she can sell/save any garment, but...come on. Liris's butt in that look?

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Proof of God's grace. I loved the shoulders, and the subtlety of the armoring that was both soft and defended. AND IT HAD POCKETS.

At the wrong end of the subtlety spectrum: Kentaro's look, which supposedly had a samurai inspiration that didn't quite come across and which was the opposite of editorial. My feeling with him was that (a) he didn't really feel inspired by the challenge, and (b) he still hasn't gotten on board with the larger-sized models, so he just farted this out and figured he'd coast through based on past successes.

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I didn't understand why he didn't just recut the sweater contraption he initially had! He had plenty of time! Not that it would have worked any better, but to default to black seemed like it was almost inviting an auf, although I think your theory is solid as well. But what did you think of the judges' shading him for the look's similarities to Brandon's? I found it very annoying, since they've clearly influenced each other for weeks, and that isn't per se bad -- and Ayana basically sent a (slightly) less strappy Brandon Original out and nobody said shit about that. I really liked that look, but: honestly.

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Oh, that critique was bullshit for sure: Brandon and Kentaro have both been on the androgynous tip all season, and...like, Brandon didn't invent pants. Or cropping. I guess I'm really turning on Brandon, actually, because my response to your calling Ayana's look Brandonesque is to be insulted on her behalf: I don't think we've seen evidence yet that Brandon can actually tailor a garment at all, never mind as impeccably as Ayana's was, and with such an eye to detail. Even Zac was delighted by her perfectly lined-up pinstripes. Black and white with a pop of red is kind of played out, but this was a two-day look that took full advantage of the extra time.

Oh, like I said, I loved that look. That blouse would look like shit on Frontporch McChest over here, but I would still buy the hell out of it, because every detail on it -- ruching, a folded shawl collar, the buttonholes with contrast thread -- is something I adore. (And I don't know if you noticed HER pants on the runway, but whatever mariachi thing is happening there, I want in.) Ayana is really innovative; I didn't mean to imply that she was biting Brandon's shteez. But when their Venn circles overlapped this week, nobody clocked it. And speaking of clocking...oh, Margarita. So, so too literal.

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Yes, it really was, and her story of cancer being chaos and wanting to make a corset of support that contained it really sounded to me like she wanted to do Wonder Woman and had to make something up to cover that up, which, why bother, you can't. This may be the most obvious use of the Save for production reasons: after losing Batani and Amy the same week, someone was going to have to stay, and this was as good a time as any to Save a look that was corny but at least well made.

Was it, though? The corset kept dragging down in the front, but if it were hiked up, you could see the neoprene gap in the back.

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It did have gorgeous movement on the runway, but it's not editorial and didn't look like it took two days to do. I like Margarita fine and I'm not outraged by this, but I still say the Save should have gone to Michael. And if it's going to be used on this, don't make Tim say he likes that She-Ra Prom foolishness. It's unseemly.

Okay, fine: it looked all right from far away. And you're right about Tim's fake praise: that's the most I've cringed for him in a while and I've seen him shill Red Robin. That said, I do think Margarita's done good work in the past and that she can take this narrow escape to push herself next week. Kentaro is, I think, either burned out or too cocky and if he misses Fashion Week for it, I won't be shocked.

I think he's going to rally, and that Kenya's design "block" was an ill portent for next time. But let's face it, it all depends on who gets Liris as his/her model.

The fashion Illuminati needs to get an Orphan Black scheme going to clone Liris like yesterday.

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