Project Runway's Designers Try To Make Some Paper (Cups) With A Dixie Cup Print Challenge

Lifetime's latest baffling product placement underwrites the season's 'real women' challenge, which also comes with a $25,000 prize for the winner. Whose prints charm? Your editors discuss!

Our Players

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

The Talk

I don't know why I thought the resolution to Twinderdome wouldn't be a big nothing, but of course it was: of course Shawn had a meltdown and decided to step out (after what felt like four days of over-enunciated dramatics). It's probably unsporting of me to observe that she was bound to lose anyway, but...that's how it looked to me based on what each twin had (or hadn't) gotten onto the dress forms by that point. And then that isn't even the end of Buitendrama!

Sarah, my god, the LAYERS in this episode! First, I couldn't believe the editors included footage of designers essentially shitting on the judges by saying they didn't think the judges would even notice that Claire was a ripoff artist...but then I guess they had to given Michael's PROTEST WALK-OFF WHEN CLAIRE IS ANNOUNCED AS THE WINNER. I wish the editors had included more footage of Michael and Margarita discussing whatever Claire was doing in the bathroom with pants and a tape measure, because I thought I missed something and backed it up ten minutes to re-watch, but whatever it was and what made it cheating was not clear to me.

I didn't get that either, and I was a bit distracted at the end by my irritation at Margarita's passive-aggressive "I wasn't raised to throw people under the bus" -- like, you just did, basically, so egg up and rat Claire to the judges if you think she's cheating. But I'm not sure she is cheating based on the hearsay we got; how is it against the rules to model a pair of pants off of ones you own?

My favourite thing about that hair-splitting comment from Margarita was that in addition to the live-action Vaguebooking -- clearly, you only say that shit because you're DYING for the follow-up question -- is how much basically all our permanent judges, especially Heidi, were then slavering to hear all about the messy drama.


I've never felt so close to them! As for copying her own pants to make her model's, I agree with you: being unable to build her own pattern from scratch may be strong proof that Claire doesn't deserve to be in the competition, but that's not the same as cheating; you can't exactly plagiarize a pair of plain cigarette pants. Margarita had a better point when Claire's top was originally going to have a diagonal vent, but after she changed it on Tim's advice, I kind of thought Margarita's grounds for pissiness were nullified.


I could see that Margarita was not satisfied that Tim called Claire out on having seen that design idea from her before; Margarita clearly wanted Tim to accuse Claire of stealing it from Margarita, and this profoundly petty apple-polisher felt her on that tbh. With all of THAT said, for a $25,000 challenge, I think you should have to do better than Claire's Topshop separates, executed fairly or not.

We've already said that basically everything about the twins' participation in this show has seemed producer-driven, but Claire getting the win immediately after the bottom-two showdown was so clearly for the sake of a storyline. How can you put Claire's basic basics up against Kentaro's vibrant, striking look and say hers is better unless you're grading on a serious curve or...trying to get other designers to go on strike?


I mean, the pleated capelet in the back? That he sewed in the Dixie label? But then, a lot of the judging puzzled me this week. I love Kenya and her lady-mance with her client was sweet, but wth with that Suzanne Sugarbaker peplum up around the bazooms? Michele and I have exactly the same build and I couldn't even look at that top -- and what's worse, the pleating and the print were really cute! Total waste, IMO.


Yeah, it's always tough when the regular-person client is feeling the look super-hard but you, as a viewer, are not. Heidi was right on that one -- the peplum on the top started way too high -- and repeating the shape with the tulip skirt was a terrible call. I know she got criticized last week for that boring pencil skirt so she may not have wanted to redo it, but this week it would have at least made more sense for the silhouette. Speaking of the prints, despite her stank attitude, Margarita was my victor. I probably wouldn't have given her the win overall, but her dye solution to the fabric's apparent cheapness was smart, and I actually liked her look (and would have liked it better without the jacket). Not everyone can wear a dress that shapeless, but her client could, and looked like she could be the most stylish older lady at your 4th of July cookout -- which is not so far out of line when it's A DIXIE CUP CHALLENGE.


...Ugh, I would go on a rant about how irrelevantly down-market that sponsor is, but what's the point (and it's still not as weird as Red Robin ["yummmm"]). Instead, I'll crab about the beating Margarita's look took. You know I'm not going to drag it, because 1) pocket and 2) I look great in that color, but I really didn't get where the judges were coming from on that one. Maybe it's a little young for the client color-wise? Maybe the jacket fabric doesn't really dovetail with the dress? But there was way worse shit on that runway. Not to mention a few looks that got passed through without comment, to my confusion. Amy finally makes a super-fun look I would consider wearing, and they have nothing to say?


I know! Poor Amy! I guess I'm glad she's remaining safe while the rest of the chaff is getting separated. Like: Batani, who ignored both the brief and her client with that farmer's market knockoff Eileen Fisher mess.


That was reeeeally not good. The cushions on the lanai in the Golden Girls would like a word, girl. What did you think of Brandon's? I wasn't hugely shocked that they waved him through, but his look struck me as a photocopy of better earlier looks from him. Lazy and student-y.


I was into the print, and I thought he was lucky to get a client who could pull off that much volume in a skirt, but I didn't think his look was better than Ayana's, and she didn't get a critique either. I liked the subtlety of her print; her client looked so pretty and happy; and the high hemline showed versatility and a willingness to part from her trademark modesty when the situation warrants it.


I adored that hemline. It looked expensive, like couture. I kind of wanted to see the print with more contrast -- like a gold thread set into a marine blue -- but it's just as well, because then I would have wanted to buy it and been forced to settle for a Dixie cup. (Which I have to say Claire's print is well suited for, however you'd like to interpret that.) I did agree with the judges on Michael's look, though. Everything piling around her "waist" like that was not working -- but if he'd had another day to edit, there were some good ideas in there.


I believe this observation was attributed to Christine Friar on a recent episode of the Who Weekly podcast: that when you go to Forever 21, you expect to see all the trends in a single garment. It's mesh AND off-the-shoulder AND metallic lurex AND etc etc. And that's how I felt about Michael's top: the print was busy enough to have worked on a simpler design, without sleeve slits, and putting the barmaid apron around her waist just made it seem like he didn't know how to tailor pants for a larger client. So here's the question: how much is his storm-off on principle, and how much is he trying to forestall getting eliminated by quitting in protest?

I was going to ask you the same thing! It did not seem to me like he was going to get eliminated, because the judges like him, and while I think they like Batani fine too, she hasn't done nearly as much to impress them as Michael. I have to imagine it feels different up on the runway, though, and he may have thought, it's one thing for me to go home but for Claire to also win is an auf too far. But please tell me your impressions, and then whether you think Michael and Margarita have known Claire was pushing the boundaries of the rules the whole time and the editors just buried the footage until it came up, or they just discovered it now.

As you know quite well, dear wife, I am not someone who is great at swallowing anger or, uh, contempt, so I can imagine that if Michael is similarly emotional, his rage at Claire's win was real and not calculated -- that he was like, "If I stay, I'm going to say some shit." I agree with you that Batani was probably more likely to get cut this week, and we'll see whether the cliffhanger payoff is that Michael really is quitting, so that the decision ends up being to let her hang on for another week for the sake of the numbers. Whatever the case, I don't think Michael was necessarily headed for a win this season, but I do think this move has clinched him a spot in the next All Stars class. As for whether he and Margarita have talked a lot, prior to this point, about how sneaky at least Claire and maybe both of the twins are, I bet you're right, and I hope his stomp-off means some of that footage is going to come to light now.

You're so right about All Stars. And I share all your hopes -- as well as one more, to wit: Claire is in violation of the rules, or at least is melodramatic enough to "resign" in a cloud of martyrdom and popped Ts. She doesn't belong here either.

Come on, Lifetime. You break the format for a cliffhanger like this, you HAVE to resolve it with maximum scandal.

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