At the flagship stop, Lord & Taylor president Bonnie Brooks stands with Tim as they reveal that the designers will need to create a cocktail or evening dress that will fit in with a collection which consists of pieces from past seasons of the show. The winning dress will go into production and be sold at the shop and online, and will also be featured in the store window. Sweet deal.
The dresses will need to be able to be produced for between $200 - $300 to fit within Lord & Taylor's price range, and they'll have one day to get this challenge together. In addition, there's no budget or trip to mood. Instead, the company which produces the dresses for the store has provided fabrics and notions that the designers can choose from.
Everyone settles down to begin sketching, looking at the past designs to hopefully inspire them. Christopher immediately thinks up making a ballet pink gown, while Dmitry insists that he'll go for something "simple", which will show off his technical skill. Elena is "uncomfortable" with this aesthetic as she's used to making more elaborate textures and pieces. However, she vows to make it look clean and commercial.
Melissa wonders how she can make something edgy while still classic that fits into the other nine designs in the collection, and Sonjia's confidence is shaken from having fallen into the bottom last week. But alas, there's not much time to think about it, as they've got to head back to Parsons to get started!
In the workroom...
The work space at Parsons is chock full of fabrics and materials from JS Collections and the designers immediately start picking out their materials, before Tim arrives to let them know that they've got until 11pm to get it all done. Sounds like fun!
Elena is already frustrated as her sketch was something that the available fabrics just won't allow her to do. However, the general mood in the room is pretty positive to start with, as the designers excitedly discuss the possibility of seeing their designs sold in stores and worn by everyday women.
Alicia is trying to do a dress with a lower waist - considering she prefers more masculine womenswear pieces, this should be an interesting choice for her. Ven (grumble) says that this challenge isn't about him - surprise! - and that he's really thinking of the customer. Meanwhile, Dmitry plans to make a "clean, sharp, beautiful dress" because that's what he does. Gunnar is pretty excited with this challenge, which Elena remarks is because it seems like the past few weeks have been "written for [him]". He tells her just to make sure she puts a lot of herself into the design, and she vows to try.
The guys are having a great time this week, with Sonjia remarking that the male designers seem more girly than the actual women. Never missing an opportunity to be a jerk, Ven says that men are generally stronger designers. Ugh, get him out. In the sewing room, Christopher is sewing together some chiffon and charmeuse - shredding it, in fact - which the other designers point out is a bit similar to what he's done in past weeks.
Tim's here! He wants to check in on everyone's progress. Chris gets good feedback, although Alicia's dress seems a bit "Joan of Arc" to Tim, considering she's put box pleats over the crotch and butt area. Uh oh. Tim thinks that Fabio's dress will make the judges "swoon" if he can pull it off, as it's quite fitted and elegant. Talking to Elena, Tim likes the idea, but he worries about the economy of such a one-of-a-kind dress with panels covering the back cut-out. Elena breaks down into tears, proclaiming that this isn't the way she works as she's used to making unique pieces that aren't generally mass produced. Tim is comforting and urges her to think about how to deliver herself to a major retailer.
Ven has created a focal point for his dress with a flower in the centre of the chest. While Tim thinks it's a good way to think, he also doesn't want Ven to bank his entire look on that one aspect. Christopher's gown - one of only two - is encouraged by Tim, though he doesn't have too much to go on as the design is still in the beginning stages. Melissa has made a mistake with her fabric choice as it shows too much of the seam, but Tim has no words of wisdom when she reveals that the other choices in black aren't right either.
There are only three hours left in the day, and it's time for the model fitting! Gunnar's design fits his model perfectly right off the bat, and the others are having a similarly positive experience. Melissa's dress isn't sitting right because of the fabric style, so she decides to scrap it and cut an entirely new dress, putting her a bit behind. At the end of the night, she's still nowhere near finished.
The next morning, it's a race to the finish as there are just a few short hours before the runway show. Tim comes to reveal that once the models arrive, there are only two hours left to get them into their gowns and through hair and make-up. It's not going well for the women, as they've not done their designs and the sewing is going wrong repeatedly. Melissa in particular is going crazy as she runs back and forth trying to get her dress together. There are only ten minutes left and everyone's having a meltdown - Sonjia starts crying hysterically when her dress is too tight on the model, Melissa is crying because she's not finishing in time... it's a bit intense. But time's up!
The runway show
Heidi's decked out in a glittery pink dress for the panel, and she's joined by the usual Michael Kors and Nina Garcia, as well as Lord & Taylor president Bonnie Brook, who we met earlier. After seeing all the looks, Ven, Dmitry and Sonjia are deemed safe and allowed to leave the runway. Four of the remaining six contestants have high score, and two are clearly the lowest. But let's hear a bit of feedback first.
Fabio created a "classic" dress, with Heidi revealing he had one of the higher scores as the dress is versatile and he did a good job with it. Michael thinks that asymmetrical dresses can look costumey and like you're in Camelot, but he thinks Fabio made a well-cut and polished gown. Bonnie says that the dress is for a customer with good taste and she would wear it herself, a feeling Nina agrees with, appreciating that he gave a little black dress a bit of a twist.
Christopher's gown - black on the bottom and his regular shirred ballet pink top - also got one of the higher scores. Heidi thinks it's "beautiful" because of the way it fits the model's skin colour. Michael likes that it's a gown that looks like separates and is well-made and crafted, though he admits the shredding technique is a bit too expected. Bonnie likes the lightness of it and that it still seems strong. Nina calls it "sophisticated" but says that it wouldn't work on too many people.
Melissa's gown (which actually came out quite lovely) also got one of the higher scores. Michael likes the bronze accents in the black fabric and also appreciates the unique strapless boat neck. However, he doesn't really appreciate the severe asymmetry in the bottom. Heidi thinks it's "stunning" and "a showstopper", while Nina responds to the fabric choice. Bonnie loves the neckline and calls it a "winning dress".
Gunnar's matte sequined dress is "very expected" to Nina, who admits that while he's done it beautifully, it's something she's seen plenty of times. Michael agrees, saying it seems like a dress the store probably already carries and can turn "a little Mother of the Bride". Heidi praises the construction, though Bonnie thinks that the fabric lacks a bit of fluidity and becomes a bit stiff because of it. He had one of the lower scores, if that wasn't obvious.
Elena's dress - a short black mini-dress with a fitted centerpiece - is also one of the higher scores and brings her to tears on the runway. Heidi thinks it's a very "sellable" dress and that the silhouette will be very attractive to a lot of women. Nina calls it a "very nice dress", while Bonnie says that it's very French and very fun, and that it has a very particular costumer base. Michael appreciates that she found a great balance between commercial and artistic.
Alicia's drop-waist dress is, of course, on the bottom - and honestly, I can see why. It's a bit sloppy, and even the model seems unimpressed. Heidi thinks it's quite pretty and simple, though she would have dropped the top a bit. Bonnie thinks it's lost between an office dress and a cocktail dress, while Nina remarks that she tried to deliver something sophisticated but it came off as dowdy and too mature. Michael "gets" what she was going for, but compares it to a field hockey uniform as the neckline is too high and it didn't go far enough in any one direction.
After discussing the contestants, it's revealed that Christopher is the winner of this week's challenge. Fabio, Elena and Melissa are also safe. That means it's down to Alicia and Gunnar as to who will be going home. Alicia's in, but Gunnar is, as well - no-one's going home this week! Everyone will get a chance to move forward with the competition.
Project Runway airs Thursdays at 9/8c on Lifetime