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Project Runway – Earth, Air, Fire, and Water

This week on Project Runway, the show started by highlighting the friendships of the contestants, and the bonds they’ve created with one another thus far. This hint of sentimentatility permeated the show. The challenge this week was to create a garment based on one of the four natural elements. With just 9 contestants left, the competition is heating up and the designers all felt the pressure to take on ambitious designs and really stand out.

I thought all of the designers’ concepts for this challenge were super creative and highlighted each of their talents. Here’s the rundown of their concepts and designs:

Jay, Emilio and Anthony were safe this week.

Jay, who had immunity from last week, chose air. His design concept was a tornado and he used layers of sheer fabrics accented with bold stripes to create a force of nature on the runway. His look was an interesting mix of flowing layers, but I didn’t love the stripe that continued into the hair. What did you think?

Jay Nicolas Sario


Anthony went for a very different take on fire, drawing inspiration from smoke and ash and working in dark grays and black to create a long flowing dress with a deep side slit. The dress moved and showed well on the runway. While I think it was clever, I was really hoping to see something amazing in red. But, perhaps I am thinking too literally.

Anthony Williams


Emilio, who was in the bottom two last week, chose earth. And, he created a safe, but lovely design in rich browns and greens with an interesting texture at the front of the skirt. I would love to get a closer look at this detail to see how he crafted it.

Emilio Sosa

The judges top picks were Seth Aaron, Maya, and Jonathan.

Seth Aaron stuck to his signature style to create a New York midnight sky in black leather to convey air. I loved this very distinct and different take on air and it was so true to his style. He created a a head to toe look, with a skinny metallic denim pant, and huge sculpted leather jacket that swirled around the model, accented with hardware.

Seth Aaron Henderson


When thinking about water, Maya channeled the sirens to create a chic, long sleeve minidress with a beautiful cowl at the back and long fluttering strips along the arms and along one side to create a fluttering, flowing effect. The judges liked the look, but Nina worried that Maya was being too referential in always being inspired by other designers. She’s been challenged to create her own look, and find out who she really is. I, too, will be interested to see what she creates for next week.

Maya Luz


Jonathan was given air and said that he wanted to show everyone that he was a real contender to win. With that, his concept was to envelop his model in a swirl of uncontrollable laughter by creating a textile and cutting into the layers to create an airiness. Jonathan said, “I wanted this garment to give you pure joy when you looked at it, and I think I achieved that.” I agree. The draping was gorgeous, the blush color playing off the model’s complexion was stunning, and it truly did convey his creative concept. I was thrilled when the judges agreed as well, calling it “perfection” and “poetic” and giving him the win for this challenge. Guest judge Roland Mouret called it pure romance.

Jonathan Peters

The least favorite of the judges were Mila, Amy, and Ben.

Mila got earth. She used the texture and color of her fabrics to convey her mineral and metal inspiration. She made a 3 piece ensemble including a vest with her signature piecing, a turtleneck and a pant. The judges appreciated her signature geometric style and the intricacy of the vest, but Michael called her a “one-trick pony” and overall they felt the look was boring.

Mila Hermanovski


Amy, chose fire. Her design concept was to create a contained explosion. While the concept was intriguing, her misstep was using hair to create the chaos and in the end, the judges found she got too hung up on her concept. The judges thought it just looked weird, and that it just made the model look like she had a hairy chest. Very odd, indeed to see a dress full of hair. Maybe something smoldering in red underneath would have worked?

Amy Sarabi

For Ben, his choice of water led him to create a look inspired by a great white shark. Again, his interesting concept went awry as he decided to make a metallic pantsuit, with sleek, sharp lines. Instead, he created a suit that appeared ill-fitting on the runway, and his use of seaming along the crotch area created an unfortunate “jock-strap look”. The judges also did not appreciate the literal use of the shark teeth along the sleeves.

Ben Chmura


Between Ben and Amy, it was another tough choice as to who should go home. The judges decided that this week it would be Ben. Amidst many tears, Ben said his goodbye’s and despite his win, Jonathan, too, shed a tear for Ben.

To echo what some of you mentioned last week, we also appreciate the talent of all the designers and always remark on how difficult it would be to design something and create it in such a short amount of time. While we discuss the highs and lows of the show, those of us here at Threads respect all of the designers for putting themselves out there and going for it every week.

Next week, the designers work in teams, and with no more immunity for the winners, it will be exciting to see how they handle the match ups. Until then…tell us what you thought of last night’s show.

If you can’t get enough Project Runway, hear more of the judges commentary, and check out even more detail on this week’s garments.


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  1. Skymom | | #1

    I, too, was hoping for something a little "warmer" in the fire designs, although I did like Anthony's dress a lot anyway. Amy is a favorite of mine for her willingness to innovate, and I really wanted to see where she could go with her concept, but I'm not sure she quite got where she was hoping. What I found funny was that she referred to the garment as a "dress."

    I loved Seth-Aaron's outfit, though his, like others, had what I'd consider a pretty tenuous relationship to the "inspiration element." I'm glad the judges weren't all that literal--I mean, how did Jonathan get from "air" to "uncontrollable laughter"?! I was waiting for an explanation about that, but in the end, his dress really had an airy quality, no matter what he called it.

    Credit should be given to Ben, Seth-Aaron, and Mila for making multi-piece outfits, with sleeves. These super-short, one-day challenges practically force the designers to create some version of a strapless dress if they want to have time to add any embellishment, so I applaud the ambition of anyone who managed to execute 2 or more pieces.

    There's sometimes an inconsistency in how the judges view these garments--one week a dress will be "perfectly proportioned," and the next week, a very similar silhouette is "too short and too tight." Sometimes they call a designer out on the fit of the garment, other times they let them get away with what we sewers might consider fit murder. Is it good to have a recognizable "point of view" and signature style, or are you going to be called a one-trick pony? I'm glad I'm not up against them!

  2. User avater
    Kate_W | | #2

    I also love that Amy innovates. When she was describing the fire contained concept, I thought of the Olympic torch (which would have fit with the shape of the outfit). But all that hair ... oh my!

    I give kudos to Holly, her model, who in the last two weeks has walked the runway nearly naked, and as Rapunzel in search of a tower to throw her hair out so someone can save her ...

    Jonathan's design was a delightful surprise! I would like to know how he layers the fabrics and does the cutouts.

    I agree with Skymom that the designs had a tenuous link to the element of inspiration. I expected to see a lot more color in this challenge and was surprised to see so much black and grey and bleh ... meh.

  3. User avater
    Soli | | #3

    I was mostly underwhelmed by the proffered garments. I really don't understand why Jonathan won - the judges slammed Maya for referencing Nina Ricci, but they didn't say a word about Jonathan's shoulder treatment looking a lot like the team challenge dress from Christian Siriano and Chris March. Guess it's o.k. if the contestants gack previous PR contestants. I was also disappointed that almost everyone chose neutrals, especially in terms of fire and water. I would have loved to have seen some really strong color for those powerful elements. Maybe they were worried about creating cliches, but if they were so strong, why didn't they overcome that threshold? I thought Anthony's dress was awful. It was obviously not fire, but it didn't flow in an ethereal way to reference smoke either. Maybe it was more like a clunky, carbonized remainder from a firestorm - not pretty at all... Jay's dress was pretty, but might have been more successful without the stripes or whacky hat. It did flow beautifully like air. I didn't much care for the dress that Maya created. The hard edged hem and cowl didn't speak to me of the mutable qualities of water, although the ruffled sleeves did have a very pretty effect. Seth's leather suit was indeed very him; the tailoring was impeccable, although it's not my favorite look that he's created. Emilio's dress was o.k. - not great. I admit he had about the only real shot of color in the entries, but the styling was just fugly. I'm beginning to think that Amy needs to get Aufed. I understood the concept, but even if her model's hair had been flame red, a human torch wasn't exactly a winning look. It's sort of like modern art - it's very intellectual, and once the concept is explained it makes sense, but clothes don't really need to be all that conceptual. They're meant to flatter and make the wearer feel good. (Is it obvious that I'm not a fan of Viktor & Rolf or Comme des Garçons?). I'm rooting for Mila, because I love seeing any woman over 35 switch gears and suceed. I would have worn this outfit she made, but as Heidi said, you could have bought her trousers and top in any mall. I don't quite remember the judges being so snarky about Rami when they used to chastise him over his goddess gowns. They can't chastise Mila over her technique, because it's flawless. Instead they praise and reward mediocrity.

  4. sews4fun | | #4

    I was AMAZED at how Jonathan's dress complimented his models skin tone, I was apalled at how sloppy the top looked and the haphazard sling on the back. As far as Jay goes, someone down at the UPS store needs to keep that guy out of the packing area! His model looked like she stepped into a mess of brown packing paper and and tape and just twirled herself up in it. Am I the only one who thinks Anthony's dress looks pretty much like his Heidi dress? I have to give Mila credit for trying to think outside the box on her stuff, Koors was so snarky about it that I wanted to shank him a good one! No, it wasnt particularly creative but I see from next weeks previews that she has already gone running back to color block land, better safe than sorry I guess. Then there's Amy, I STILL think Amy has talent, but shes taking far too many risks and this last one was a full blown 4 alarm hot mess! I would like to see her calm down SOME but I still think the judges are not fair to her. As far as everyone doing an amazing job in the short time alloted, I think thats a given. Its understood before you try out for P.R. that this is the format of the show, if they werent talented, they wouldnt have made it on the show. There is NO ONE who doesnt deserve a medal for what they crank out in record time but its all part of the game. The blogs give us "armchair P.R.contestants" a chance to critique and think what we might have done differently if we were in that same situation. I dont think anyone means disrespect to the contestants, its all in fun and thats what makes a blog interesting.

  5. Cherlyn | | #5

    I liked Jonathon's dress because it was the only one that appeared to symbolize what it was supposed to and it did compliment the model.

    I have no idea what Amy was thinking, but she should have known that all that hair was not going to be successful based on the sling outfit from last show.

    Ben's pants were awful! I am amazed at how many cannot design nor sew jackets and pants! Don't they teach these garments in design school?

    Mila stayed with the darks this time, but she cannot seem to break away from geometrics. I give her a few weeks and she'll be out.

    Seth is a costume designer more than a designer of women's clothing. He should seek a job doing costumes for movies---sci fi to be specific. My fav outfit was the mother daughter----only think I have like by him.

    Jay's dress was much like another one he designed, so he stayed safe!

    Ho Hum----I am ready to see something different.

  6. fiberann | | #6

    I agree that the judging sometimes seems inconsistent. It's also interesting that Tim Gunn (in his blog) frequently does not agree with them.

    Things were indeed a bit too dark this week. It is hard to see details on dark material. Emilio's dress looked interesting, but I couldn't really see what was going on with it.

    I liked Mila's outfit. It's something I would definitely wear. The main piece was the vest, and the other pieces showed it off perfectly. I think the judges were way too snarky about it.

    It looked like Jonathan's dress was some kind of reverse applique, a la Alabama Chanin. Was all the stitching around the motifs done by hand?

    Seth's tayloring is pretty amazing, but I too think it more theater than wearable.

    I think we are now down to those who really can sew and fit well and quickly. I'm looking for the real creativity next!

  7. User avater
    Mrs4Him | | #7

    It is interesting to see the designers buckle down more in the workroom this time. The atmosphere seemed much more focused.

    Have to say I loved Jonathan's dress and that he pulled it off. I listened to his explanation of the air concept with interest--and always hoping when I hear a very creative, rather deep concept explanation that the designer's interpretation will bring forth good results. His did, definitely. He got lucky with a model with such a fair complexion that the fabrics he chose blended beautifully. It was wispy and fun. I would have worn it.

    Also have to say that Amy's was appalling. And like one of the judges said--weird. It's like you just know that when the model steps onto the runway with all the hair tucked in like a 'womb' that the designer is going to get blasted. For one thing, why would you think that hair could enhance or take the place of fabric as part of an outfit? It didn't work for Chris March.

    I actually got what Anthony was trying to do and thought it rather clever---thinking to the other spectrum of what is inclusive about fire. Although, I am tired of seeing gray and black--to me, it was better than seeing red (too predictable). Maybe blue would have been a good choice since it's the hottest part of the flame.

    Seth-Aaron's looked just like him. I think he would have a fan base beyond costume design which he would also do well in. But, I think a rock n' roll customer could go for his looks. At least he (and the judges appear to) knows what his trademark style is as a designer. That seems to be an important part to the finale or pre-finale show when the top 3 are chosen to move on. I've heard that repeated a lot by Nina.

    I liked Maya's ruffles. Don't care what Nina said.

    Mila's was ho-hum to me. At least she didn't go the color-block graphic route. Bet she will next time, though. The judges seem to not be sure if Mila knows who she is as a designer. I have to agree with what Emilio once said about her maybe being a one-trick pony.

    Ben's suit was just sad. He should not have picked pants if he had never made them before. I think pants are one of the most difficult items to make--so much adjusting. And the colors were blah.

    Wish the designers would break out into color more. The black and gray thing is boring.

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