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Project Runway — Welcome to the Circus

Emilio's hot streak continues and sends him directly to Bryant Park.

This week on Project Runway, the challenge was to create a high-end look inspired by the circus (the key being high-end). So off they went to Brooklyn for a private showing of the Barnum & Bailey’s circus complete with swirling trapeze artists, bumbling clowns, death-defying tricks, a brilliant, blinged-out ringmaster and more. One could quickly see how easily this inspiration could turn costumey, and Tim reminded the designers to “Think Fashion” as they got to work.

Emilio was the winner of this week’s challenge and he will show in Bryant Park. His dress was hands-down the favorite of all the judges, and of me too! Although his smug attitude throughout the show made me not want him to win, I couldn’t help but love his dress. It was sophisticated and whimsical all at the same time without being garish. The mix of fabrics and prints was brilliant and I, too, was glad he added some color. It worked beautifully.

Emilio Sosa


Seth Aaron will also show at Bryant Park. His design consisted of a way-out-there long coat in a thick black and white stripe, a white shirt with an exaggerated collar, and fire-engine red pleather jodphurs. Seth Aaron has a distinct look, but I found this look completely unwearable and costumey. However, Seth Aaron puts on a great show and for that I really enjoy seeing what he will make each week. I can’t wait to see his collection at Bryant Park.

Seth Aaron Henderson

Anthony, who was inspired by the trapeze artists, chose to make a long blue gown in what he thought was silk crepe de chine, but ended up being polyester which hung terribly and distracted from the overall design. The dress was reminiscent of those we’ve seen before from Anthony, and not of his better designs. While the oversize ruffles at the neckline were over-the-top, the dress was ho-hum overall. And, Anthony is out.

Anthony Williams


Jay created a Michael-Jackson-esque cropped jacket inspired by the ringmaster. I thought it looked well made and I appreciated the details that fit the inspiration well. I particularly liked the addition of fringe at the shoulders. The voluminous pants were a signature Jay piece, and while they are stunning, they didn’t have much of an impact on the runway with their subtle color and texture.

Jay Nicolas Sario


Mila was also inspired by the ringmaster and created a long coat in a black shiny material with a black and white collar, accompanied by a bright pink satin pant and a neon yellow bodice. The judges found the design somewhat appealing but did not like the overabundance of shiny fabrics.

Mila Hermanovski


Jay and Mila will both create collections, but will have to duke it out over who will actually get to show at Bryant Park.

Next week Tim travels to each of the designers’ homes to get a sneak peek at what they’re up to. I can’t wait to catch a glimpse of what they’re making! As for the winner this season, I like Emilio and think his designs are very strong. He has created some beautiful garments this season. But, I love Seth Aaron as well and appreciate his unique style.

Did you agree that Emilio was the clear winner this week? Who are you rooting for? Tell us in the comments below.



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  1. User avater
    Soli | | #1

    Truth be told I wasn't crazy about any of the looks this week, but then again, I'm not much of a circus fan.

    Emilio: 1980's Christian Lacroix redux. Lacroix did better shaping in his puffball skirts.

    Seth Aaron: I love this guy, but I agree with the Tim Burton comments elsewhere. I almost imagine the snake heads from "Beetlejuice" emerging from the sleeves. It is totally him, though, completely original. He's maintained a consistent p.o.v. from start to finish. I hope he wins overall.

    Anthony: Poor guy.

    Jay: Nothing special. I still have a bolero jacket in my closet from 1991 that looks something like this.

    Mila: I love her tailoring, but this was too busy between the shiny and the stripe. I wish I could have better seen the chevron effect in the rear vent/kick pleats.

    If you want to see some honest sputtering, check out Chris March's blog on this episode over on the official PR site.

  2. Skymom | | #2

    I agree--Emilio's dress was hands down the best in show, and the only one that could even pretend not to be mostly costume. Great silhouette and wonderful use of patterns. But his arrogance is wearing very, very thin. When he won the challenge and said "I'm humbled," it made me roll my eyes.

    The rest came out looking as I'd have expected. I wish Jay's jacket hadn't been quite so Sgt. Pepper/Michael Jackson (maybe skip the gold braid?)--a bit too literal, and it made the pants, which really were a nice statement in modern design, look ho-hum. That said, his was the only outfit besides Emilio's that I could imagine anyone actually wanting to wear as clothing.

    In the Jay vs. Mila tie-breaker, I'm looking forward to seeing how these designers stretch themselves. Mila's looks are often quite good, but in the context of this show, I feel as if she's run out of innovative ideas. Let's hope that as she's left to her own devices she can recharge and come up with some new inspiration. She mentioned last night that she's eager to work without the restrictions of the challenges, and I think that might go in her favor. She's been so extremely directed, and needs to let go a little.

    Jay's got real potential and lots of room for growth--I can't wait to see what he does for his collection. I suspect he might have more trouble than Mila in focusing on a unified theme, but on the other hand, his work is quite modern and reflects a youthful sensibility that I've gotten to like. Also, I like the fact that he can go from a frilly cocktail dress (wide hips or not!) to a cool pair of pants and well-tailored jacket. There's something appealing in his willingness to wander a bit...but it could be his downfall.

    And of course I'm sad to see Anthony go, because he was such a delightfully amusing presence. However, I'm pleased on his behalf that his dress is on the Marie Claire cover right now, and the b/w one will be worn somewhere by Jessica Alba. That's a great start--beyond what he even said his goals were at the very beginning of the season. Good for him!

  3. sews4fun | | #3

    Frankly, I wouldnt be caught dead in any of these get-ups. Put a powdered white wig on Seth Aarons model and George Washington would be on the cat walk. Mila's looked like Beetle Juice clothes while Jay was Michael Jackson all over agin. Anthonys was Scarlet Ohara and Emillio's was her cousin Mellie. Maybe its me but I DO NOT see how Emillio's dress was such a hit. I would not wear such an eyesore to even a circus. I guess Im more subtle than that. The red material on the bodice was confusing while the bottom looked like pure can can girl to me. I did like the way he began the stripes as one solid color and then had them spread out lower down the dress. I liked the kick pleat in the back of Mila's costume and I liked Jays pants. I like Anthony but that dress was pure pollyanna. I see some interesting stuff coming from Jay but one thing I don't see is a cohesive collection, hes too "out there" as far as focus for that. With Maya gone, I think Mila will edge him out. I believe Emillio will win although I dont see why hes so smug, he's already an established designer, its just more of the same for him and a win will be just another day. I would like to see some real home sewers on the show and no one whos already established, that takes away the element of surprise for me. Anyway, I wish them all luck, they all work very hard and deserve all the high fives they can get.

  4. fiberann | | #4

    I'm with you who really didn't like most of these looks. But trying to make a wearable look from circus inspiration is hard.

    I really have a bad reaction to Emilio-- I didn't like this look, and I think he has a vastly overrated opinion of his work. Particularly since he's been designing for many decades and has had lots of time and opportunity to explore design ideas. I agree with Sews4fun--give us up-and-comers, not established designers. I read a recent Emilio interview where he was asked why he entered, given that he was an established designer, and he said, "for the money". Obviously, money is important, but I thought the idea was money to get a newby established, not someone who has an already established business. I think this part of it sours me on the whole thing. I did read Chris's blog after soli recommended it, and I would have to agree with most of his rant.

    I also wonder about the judging--Michael Kors is particularly getting irritating. This is the first season I've watched the Runway episodes and it may be the last!

    On other notes: it will be interesting to see what both Jay and Mila do. They both have their strong points. Seth and Mila probably have the most identifiable aesthetic, love 'em or not. I particularly admire Seth's tailoring--pretty amazing!

    I'll hang in to the last of the season, but I'm not sure I'll bother next....

  5. User avater
    LokisRomance | | #5

    I actually wasn't a big fan of Emilio's dress. I liked the bodice and the train in the back but the front was a little too bizarre for me. I'd have to say I liked Jay's the best but I think it was too safe and predictable- it's something that a person without a design background would have thought of first with the Circus as inspiration.

  6. Flanerie | | #6

    I thought Emilio's dress was nicely constructed, but the color palette he chose didn't do anything for me. IMO he deserved to win this week, but only because the other choices were awful.

    Costumey in the extreme! The collar on Mila's was a fright. Even though I personally am not a fan of the circus, the possibilities for inspiration from it were much greater than what they came up with. I know they have limited time, so you have to cut some slack for that, but when I saw what the inspiration theme was, I expected more than a trio of stiff ringmaster jackets.

    Anthony's personality is fun, and makes for good tv, but his design was deservedly dismissed. I think Mila will edge out Jay (I haven't liked much of anything he produced, actually)I think Seth Aaron will win in the end, because of his superb tailoring (I loved that black and white striped jacket he produced for the mom in the mother-child episode) and because his aesthetic is both interesting and unique enough to appeal to the judges as a signature style. His aesthetic lends itself to the theatrics of a runway show, but has elements that can be toned down when the line is produced for the market.

  7. User avater
    kkegeland | | #7

    I love the looks Jay and Emilio made.
    Everything else I could have done without.

  8. Cherlyn | | #8

    I loved Emilo's dress! He is the only one that took the challenge and interpreted it the way it should have been interpreted!
    I was so disappointed with Anthony. He could have been in the final three.
    Mila is taking lessons from Seth. Her look is starting to copy his but he is much better at it---he has so much talent with garment construction. His ideas are not something I would wear with one exception, the mother daughter look, I loved that look!
    Frankly, I was surprised to see that jay got the chance to go forward. I didn't care for his look at all. It wasn't very creative. Just appeared to be another version of someone elses' idea.

    I'm looking forward to the final show. I think it will come down to Seth and Emilo. Which one will walk away with the grand prize?

  9. marthaq | | #9

    That striping was home economics class in the 60's for me, please. Seen it for decades. Novel? No! Agree that it's a Lacroix ripoff.

    Seth Aaron:
    One of his weaker.

    Anthony: Grey armpits? ouch

    My fave for actual clothing. Not so hot on the runway. Did no one notice the marc jacobs and balenciaga drum majorette jacket ripoff going on?

    The best episodes are when Tim goes to the designer's homes and studios so this week should be good.

    Carry on!

  10. User avater
    judithann | | #10

    Oh my!

    I was so looking forward to their designs, and I was incredibly disappointed.

    Seth Allen, shesh, even for run way couture...NO! Although I agree with the poster before me, maybe Tim Burton would hire him for his next film which wouldnt be a bad job at all.

    Jay, shesh ode to michael jackson ( although I did like the pants his think with accentuating the butt is killing me )

    Mila, let me yawn now....

    I am sad Anthony left because his personality was the best blast of fresh air. I agree though with the judges, too inexperienced now for a show.

    So, I am still feeling emilio will win this, he tailors beautifully and for the most part I really like his clothes and his asthetic. I dont think "smug" prevents anyone from being a good designer, in fact I bet its a prerequisite!

    Take care

  11. User avater
    natsnasus | | #11

    I think Emilio's gown was what the judges were wanting, like it or not design wise. But they ALL could've been a costume out of the Beetlejuice movie! Just put Michael Keaton into Seth Aaron's Dr. Suess coat!! It looked like the part of the movie where he becomes the striped long arm monster! Why did almost everyone not get this concept? Everything was going on pretty well as far as trying to weed out designers who understood the expectations and then at crunch time, quite a few CHOKED!

    But in all fairness, I've seen some very weird stuff on runways! Weird hair designs as well as very costumey fashions, so who's to say they weren't actually on target, either!!
    Like I said before, Seth Aaron showed up in Portland, Oregon last month on a local TV show, what's up with that?

  12. debio | | #12

    I don't think the point of this challenge was necessarily to make something wearable. But this might have been a better challenge if It was avant garde. It was too easy to go costume, like they did.
    It seems almost every season the designers drop the ball on the final challenge. The most talented designers of previous seasons didn't do too great right before BP.
    I did not like emilios dress at all and was not thrilled with the rest of the designers either. It seems like Maya would have been a contender had she remained, cuz the rest underwhelmed.
    How can we get the producers of this show to actually show the clothes and quit cutting over to the face of the judges. It's pretty aggravating. It'd be nice even if they put extended runway shows on the DVD sets.
    Looking forward to Thursday! Still love the creative process that happens.

  13. Lasata | | #13

    I thought Emilio would win from day one of the competition. Yes, he is a bit full of himself -- but the guy has talent and skill, so why not? Seth Allen's garments are beautifully executed and full of style, but they tend to be a bit "costumie". Meila is a one trick pony with the color blocking and lacks any real aesthetic sense. Not sure about Jay. I think he is still looking for his niche. The real competition will be between Emilio and Sean Allen. Emilio's "circus gown" was positively jaw dropping. I would wear it in a heart beat!

  14. sk27 | | #14

    Emilio's dress bodice was nice, but the rest of it would be unflattering on anyone. The front reminds me of a grossly obese person with lots of excess baggage hanging down in front.

    The other creations, especially seth's, looked like escapees from an extremely bad cartoon.

  15. User avater
    Mrs4Him | | #15

    I actually really liked Emilio's dress. Thought it was the best of the group. I liked the fact that he added the red/black/white stripe fabric to the bodice before calling it done. That decision enhanced it. I do wish he were more humble as do most people here.

    I really like Seth Aaron and thought he might pull off a look without being too costumey. And even though he told the camera that was what Tim said, he still managed to go too far and circusy. When I saw his model from the back as she walked out of the workroom to the runway--I thought, OMG, it is way too out there and looks like a ring-leader. You just knew already what the judges would say. In all, he is the one that has a stand-out viewpoint. One immediately knows his work which is a huge plus for him. And he tailors really well.

    Something about Mila just rubs me the wrong way and I don't know why. I do think she doesn't have much up her sleeve. And she will have to work very hard to overcome SA's talent and Emilio's.

    Not impressed at all with Jay's jacket. Too predictable as several thought. Not thrilled with him as a designer.

    Way disappointed in Anthony's dress. And for him to not realize the fabric content and how it behaves was a poor reflection on his knowledge base. And his gown was really boring and did not look inspired by the cirus. I love his personality though and will miss his wit.

    Having watched ALL seasons, I think that the designers became way too confident before their runway shows regarding their creations. They can't be objective enough which would be extremely difficult to do anyway. It's a passionate field with passionate people. And sometimes the way they talk to the camera about their looks is almost as if they are trying to convince themselves they are the best or whatever. And some seem horribly blind to the fact their looks are terrible.

  16. Skymom | | #16

    I've been pondering this season's work over the past few days, and went back to review the pieces each of the four finalists has made. What I noticed--which I hadn't really processed so far--is that Emilio has done nothing but dresses, and the majority of them are strapless or with simple straps. There was one dress (ugly pink mother/daughter number) with short sleeves, and the black jacket that went with the "design your own print" dress. That's it. Not a single other actual sleeve. And don't you think women want sleeves?! Ultimately, plenty of nice garments, but very little variety.

    We've been increasingly hard on Mila and her color-blocking, but she's designed a lot of garments, many of which are quite OK and wearable. Maybe not runway-exciting, but she probably has some serious commercial potential. People could actually wear her designs in real life.

    Seth Aaron has been strong with his tailored looks, and has managed to produce quite a few well-made, signature pieces. You can almost never say his work looks shoddily made or uninspired, even if they lean toward the costumey. He's not too great at dresses--so I guess he's the perfect complement to Emilio.

    Jay has gone from wins with frothy little dresses to romantic, billowing gowns, to super-hip, detailed pants and tailored jackets. Always modern, young, and unique.

    So, although my initial feeling was that Emilio has probably earned a win, with Seth Aaron a close 2d, I'm beginning to have high hopes for Jay and Mila. In terms of breadth of inspiration, Jay's probably ahead of the pack...but as I mentioned below, I think editing that to a coherent collection might be where he needs to focus.

    I can't wait for the studio visits with Tim Gunn. It's so much fun to see the designers in their own environment.

  17. User avater
    NinaC | | #17

    I don't know about anyone else, but I for one have found this season a total yawn and lacking in color. The judges, I believe, have lost their job description and are more interested in sound bites then in fashion design. Maybe it all has to do with the "runway" rather then fashion?

    I wish there were more sewing room shots with more of the designer's thought process into their design and fabric choices (while off the runway). Maybe in a video blog? I am less interested in their desire to win or who they don't get along with. I guess it's all about ratings and less to do about actual fashion design.

    I did like Emilio's gown.

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