Project Runway Recap: Expanding the Definition of “Work-Appropriate”

“Who wants to work in groups? No one? Great, let’s do that.” This is the internal, twisted logic of team challenges. It gives us some great moments (Elena screaming) but also some painful designs (Elena’s blouse for clowns in mourning). 

The eleven remaining designers were divided into two teams to create looks for Marie Claire At Work, and they also had to direct a photo shoot of their designs. The winning photos would be featured in an upcoming issue of said paying sponsor/magazine.

Team 5: Nathan, Christopher, Gunnar, Fabio, and Ven
These guys kept it together. Their collection felt like a collection (in the very literal… lets all use the exact same fabric sense), but their photo shoot had models sitting behind desks and pointing at papers. A stock photo, basically.


If you were just joining the episode at the runway show, you might think were having a sleepwear challenge. Or you have a lot of formal, corporate sleepovers at you job and this is totes normal.

The top is fine; the pants failed by incorporating this odd “skirt-inspired” fold across the crotch.


Top 3
He’s already revisiting his bag of tricks—this is the same type of distressing he did in the first challenge.

It’s fine! Just we’ve seen this before.


Bottom 2
After years of being a Victoria Secret model, the breast-obsessed Heidi Klum will attack chest issues with the fierceness of a rabid horned owl. So yes, she hate-latched onto these floating soufflé boobs. And she latched on hard.

But Gunnar and his sass were saved from elimination, quipping a well-timed, “Thanks for the heart attack” as he trotted off the runway.


Top 2 and Queerty Fave
I’ve never really understood Fabio that well until this challenge, but now I feel like I’m starting to make sense of him. The judges were obsessed with this look… I liked it. Yes, the headband was controversial (as much as a headband can be), but it actually looked like something someone would wear to work, which was still surprisingly hard for designers this challenge.


I could close my eyes and be able to tell when a dress by Ven walked by. It would sound crisp, light, and monotone. So congrats for being consistent, but I’d really like to see something different. After a while, even perfection makes a person yawn.

Team 6: Melissa, Elena, Alicia, Raul, Sonjia, and Dmitry
This group focused more on individual pieces instead of completely entire looks, which allowed Sonjia’s skirts to be ruined by Raul’s tops. And while neither team was deemed a winner with regards to their runway looks, Team 6 did have their photos chosen for the magazine… perhaps because they were useable.

Oh, and obligatory mention of how Elena would not stop yelling. Whatever she lacks in design sense, she makes up for in excessive shouting.


At first, this dress made me angry: Where do you work where this is appropriate? And you’re not allowed to say “in a art gallery, photography studio or magazine,” because those careers only exist in New York stereotypes. If I saw someone wearing this on the morning subway commute, I’d assume she was wearing the same outfit from the night before. Misplaced anger aside, I love it. And even though Melissa didn’t use black, it still feels like she used black. There will always be a darkness to Melissa’s work, which is interesting.


Elena/ Alicia
Wow, Elena make a top without bulbous shoulders. She should do that more often. Alicia made pants that were… pants.


Raul / Sonjia
Oh sweet baby Jesus. Where do you begin with this top? You can’t. I can’t. I’m sorry. Sonjia’s blue skirt is so crisp that it would have just been better for the model to wear a plain white t-shirt.


Elena / Alicia
Elena, Bottom 3
Joanna Coles, icy editor-in-chief of Marie Claire, had this to say about the blouse: “I could see lots of people in finance or law wearing that.” Whaaat? I’m sorry, the only way that works is if they’re Eastern-European lawyers from a ’80s movie set in 2054. In 2012, licenses to practice law would be revoked for wearing this ridiculousness to client meetings.

Alicia’s pants? They’re good pants.


Yes. Yes. Yes. And fourth yes. Color blocking that doesn’t smack me too much. It’s got beautiful construction and a little sexiness in the back. (Maybe a bit too much for some, but it wouldn’t merit a call from HR about corporate dress code). Sold.


Raul / Sonjia
Raul eliminated
Sonjia’s skirts are amazing, but they can’t undo all of the plainness of Raul’s top.



Jason Sweeten is a contributing writer for Queerty. He wishes he could work in the office inside Joanna Coles’ mind.

Photos: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

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  • sidewalk

    Gunnar, a screechy whine like nails across a chalkboard. He makes RuPaul sound butch. One of the most unlikeable contestants on this show ever.

    That said, most of them seem to not know much about the real world that most women live, work and play in. Full out ruffles as office wear? A blouse that encourages jiggles/bounces with every step? Really?

  • Cam

    What they make is irrelevant.

    Last year the producers decided Anya made better TV, and so annointed her the winner. Even going so far as to put in a last min. addition that gave her extra money to get additional material when it looked like she might get knocked out.

    So just watch to figure out who the producers like and not who is making the best clothing.

  • Jack

    @sidewalk: Thank goodness you said that! Gunnar is just unpleasant to watch. Elena is a total bitch of an asshole, but she’s at least enjoyable to watch. Gunnar is just annoying on every level. He’s not someone I love to hate, he’s someone that I just want off the show. What were the producers thinking?!

    @Cam: All reality TV is what the producers want, get over it. We aren’t watching the show to turn around and buy the clothing they make. It’s also why Gunnar being on the show is such a disappointment: not only are his designs not up to par yet, he isn’t at all what we want to watch. I mean, seriously, when did someone fool gay guys into thinking that being cunts was an adorable trait?

  • N

    I liked Anya and I thought her clothes were effortless and sexy. Gunnar….ugh. I dont know. Insainly annoying and yes, the talent this season isnt impressive. Sadly. All stars was great. Im a little upset season 10 is so awful thus far.

  • Big D

    I’m not very impressed with this season’s crop of designers. There’s certainly no standout star like a few from past years. Ven seems like a good designer and everything he does is always clear and cleanly done, but he seems like he actually has only a very narrow way that he will make things. Unless he can show he has a broader range, I doubt he’ll be nothing more than a runner up. About Gunner, I didn’t like him in the first episode, but I’ve begun to warm up to him. He seems to be able to size up people well even when though he’s often unable to remove a certain amount of self centerednesss, but i susupect that will go down as he gets older and i think he may mature into someone with something to say thats worth hearing. however, for now, he doesnt seem to be putting himself out very much and seems to not be just giving it everything, he seems so young that he doesnt realize what he’s holding back is his very talent. he needs to learn to let go and be really good. he needs to practice that. Mellissa is clearly starting to show us she may have potential. i bet she’s in the top three. Christopher seems to be someone who can design, but i think his personality is too soft, he doesnt seem to entirely belive he can win. otherwise i think he’d have a better chance. Finaly, Sonjja is the last one i think is worth watching. None of the other players seem to have much really show us. I think it will come down to Ven, Christopher, Melissa and Sonjja. Gunner will probably not be able to realize he could have won if he’d have tried harder.

  • cam

    @Big D:

    I agree wit hyou on Ven. Somebody compared him to Rami, where he could do one thing beautifully, but was he a one note?

  • rachel

    I totally agree with what you said about Melissa’s dress. It is stunning outside of the workplace, but my boss at Dish would think I lost my mind if I walked into the office wearing that! Otherwise, I liked the rest of the collection, with the exception of Raul of course. I’m so glad I didn’t miss the episode where they finally dismissed him for good. Luckily, we upgraded our DVR to the Hopper just in time, which lets us watch or record up to six things at once, or else I would’ve been stuck watching preseason football with my boyfriend instead. Now that Raul is gone, who do you guys think will be eliminated next?

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