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Project Runway: Hat’s Off to You

Michael C. is giving immunity for next week's challenge with this win.

The challenge this week on Project Runway was to design a garment inspired by the work of hat designer Philip Treacy. The designers played it safe and let the hats make the statement. Do you agree that going with a ready-to-wear garment was the way to go? Should they have taken more chances this week, with such a fun challenge? Our top three were Michael D., Micheal C., and Valerie. Michael C. earned immunity for next week with his garment, although the designers did not agree that he was the best choice. The bottom three included Kristin, Christopher, and April, with Kristin headed home. She seemed relieved to be leaving the competition after so much stress.

What did you think of the designs this week? Do you agree with the judges decisions?


A.J. Thouvenot


Andy South


April Johnston




Christopher Collins


Gretchen Jones

Ivy Higa


Kristin Haskins Simms


Michael Costello


Michael Drummond

Mondo Guerra

Peach Carr


Valerie Mayen



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  1. sews4fun | | #1

    You know, I know Michael C's dress was no miracle of inspiration but that hat! Looked like a giant upside down cockroach on the model's head! I was very angry to see Ivy and Mondo's poor attitudes when Michael C won. WHO DOES IVY THINK SHE IS? You can buy her uninspired looks off the rack at any J.C. Penneys yet she went on and on about Michael C's dress! This girl REALLY needs to get over herself! I disagreed with the judges on Christoper's jacket and thought it went very nicely with the hat. The leggings were a bad idea but I liked the jacket. Maybe if he had added some black tulle for a bottom to the jacket and nixed the leggings and had some nice heels, he might have placed high. I DO agree that Kristin needed to go home, not only was her stuff sloppy and unattractive, it was not well made. I don't know HOW Kristen even got on the show in the first place. Now, I'm going to show my age here, I REALLY LIKED Cassanova's dress! I thought it was a classic and yes, I've seen it before but it sure beats the snores Ivy sends down the runway. I hate to admit it, but, Gretchen's ensemble went well with her hat. I would never wear it but I'm sure there are thousands who would. I really was not a fan of very many of the hats, a few maybe but not all. I thought Heidi looked totally ridiculous with a gigantic cabbage rose on her head, an upside down cabbage rose to boot. I did feel sorry for Kristen getting the orchid hat she got, I think the best place for that hat was the garbage can but still, Kristin needed to go home.

  2. Cherlyn | | #2

    I understood why Michael C won this week with that fabric picking up the sparkle from the hat, but I have to agree with sew4fun's comment about the hat. I was not a big fan of that one either. I love red, but that hat! Kristne didn't have a clue what she was doing. I would have perfered to see spring color with her hate, even though this hat is not something I would wear either. Valorie's dress wasn't anything special, but I did agree with the judges that the dress and the mask really didn't go together. Peach's dress looked like a familiar spin-off of another one she designed and I didn't particularly care for that dress and hat combo. A tribal look would have been fun with that hat, not necessarily a dress. I thought Mondo's was cute---the first hat that I would wear. His outfit and hat didn't really go together, but he made it fun. Michael D's outfit was really cute and the hat did go with it, but again, that hat is not something I would wear. It reminded me of the Dutch wooden shoes. I though Ivy did well with her design and hat combo. While Christoper's fabric was interesting, I did understand and agreed with the judges that the fabric was too heavy for the look of the hat. AJ and Andy also did a good job creating looks that complimented their hats. I liked April's top, but those shorts were ugly. I didn't think she did a very good job with the challenge and really thought she would be the one going home. I did agree that Kristen's sewing looked pretty bad. She wasn't inspired with this challenge and I don't think she could get her heart into creating something ---- she appeared releaved to be going. Then there is Gretchen, already exploding with too much confidence. Her design and hat went well together, but she doesn't know how to keep comments to herself and she doesn't mind her own business. She is not a favorite. I have a feeling she will be around to the end; may even win this season.

  3. User avater
    thesearethebesttimes | | #3

    I liked Micheal C's dress, and wasn't a fan of the hat either. Kristin's work was a sloppy mess and I felt like she would be going. April's multicolor Depend took away from a cute top. I knew the judges would ripe that one to shreds. (Not much to rip since we got a little butt cleavage on the runway.) Again, I don't get Mondo (a mustache really), but people seem to like his style. I loved Grethen's work once again. She is ruthless with her comments, but for me her work backs up her talk. I can see her winning this season. I loved Micheal D's top, but I wish he had did a pant with that. The skirt was lovely I just wish it was with something else. Christopher's top was cute I wish it was shorter (more of a vest) minus the belt and leggings with a hot skirt. The color of Andy's outfit was striking and a nice contrast to the hat, but something just didn't do it for me. Ivy's work was just ok to me. I also liked Cassanova's dress, but friends disagreed. All in all I'm not a big fan of hats, I have big head :)! Although some of them were beautiful.

  4. User avater
    Kate_W | | #4

    Note to Threads: The link to Casanova's design is last weeks' ...

    OK, so Cassanova's dress/hat design combo was my favorite. Full disclosure: I sewed myself the referenced Donna Karan dress back in 1988 or '89 -- my first exposure to underarm gussets, sticker shock and denied when I went to purchase the big suede belt. Loved that dress, still have the pattern.

    Michael C.'s win didn't bother me. The dress he sent down the runway was lovely, the hat reminded me of the Chinese flag and was not my favorite. I understood and liked April's concept (futuristic beach wear) but the execution was a shame. The hats were so beautiful and sculptural on their own, this challenge seemed to be about designing the right pedestal to put them on.

    Mondo and Valerie and Andy are my favs so far although Valerie might be stuck in all-Audrey Hepburn-all-the-time (which might not be a bad thing). Gretchen's designs are solid and seem to me to be very commercial. Snore.

  5. User avater
    Kate_W | | #5

    Doh! The hat Michael C. was tasked with reminds me of the Japanese flag. Not Chinese. Double-knot Doh!

  6. Skymom | | #6

    I completely agreed with the judges in sending Kristen home. Her dress looked really badly made and just seemed to be fashion from nowhere--and I'm pretty open to some weird references! I loved Mondo's crazy look, and while I would not have put a mustache on the model, I totally understood the surrealism involved, and thought it worked well with the spiral hat. Michael D's outfit successfully combined novelty, with the corrugated-cardboard top, with wearability, but I found it strange that the judges were so impressed with his broomstick skirt. Sure, it was a nice bottom for the ensemble, but didn't we all make, or at least wear, broomstick skirts at some point? Are these designers so young they don't remember that?!

    Gretchen's outfit was my favorite of all her work, the first one that hasn't looked hackneyed or overly mall-ish to me. She did a fine job of staying with the vibe of the hat and within her own style. I'm starting to feel sorry for her that the editors have been so hard on her, unless she really is as arrogant as they make her out to be.

    As for Michael C's dress, I thought it was really pretty, and looked great with the very difficult hat-mask he had to work with. Yeah, it wasn't super-original, but really, since this challenge seems to have been about making a look that was harmonious with, and set off to best effect, a rather striking accessory, he acquitted himself just fine. Of course, you could say the same of Casanova--equally unoriginal, equally tasteful and attractive (I was probably too young to wear that dress the first time around, and too saddle-baggy this time, but I appreciate the classic elegance of it). I guess falling back on black might have taken him out of the running.

    And can anyone explain to me when the concept "matchy-matchy" became so hideously abhorrent? I understand that matching too much is dull--that goes without saying--but the scorn with which the phrase is uttered seems out of proportion with the actual crime. I guess it's this season's "dubious taste level." It's all much too subtle for me: Why, for example, was Gretchen's outfit not "matchy-matchy," even though all the colors and textures seem to have been taken directly from the hat, and Kristen's model's blue toenails were "too matchy-matchy," when I don't see any blue elsewhere in the ensemble. I wish the judges were more articulate in their criticism.

  7. User avater
    Soli | | #7

    Full disclosure; I am NOT a Phillip Treacy fan. I think about 1/4 of his hats are wearable, and the rest are more like art pieces. I think I might have been stumped if I'd had to participate in this sort of challenge. A lot of the featured headgear was the sort of weird stuff you see of Ladies Day at Royal Ascot, so I feel like Andy and Ivy's instincts were spot on, going for a suited look. I did like Christopher's main piece, although I think it might have been more successful if he'd gone for a '47 New Look vibe or contrasted the coat with a skinny skirt. I could see the pirate connotation. I like Valerie's ensemble, but didn't get the zippers. Yes, the zipper in the back was somewhat functional, but they just didn't strike me as being beautiful as a decorative element. Peach - more of the same little dress. When is she getting Auf'd? She could have had so much fun coming up with some sort of voluminous extravaganza to set off that hat. *grumble* Don't get me started on her one trick. Mondo's ensemble was cute and youthful - again. I was surprised none of the judges called Cassanova to his face on his blatent DK homage. I would still wear those dresses from the 80's - shame on me. I wasn't that impressed with Gretchen's ensemble. Reminded me of stuff you see at Nordstrom in the overpriced young designer section. Not new, not exciting, but I don't care much for her aesthetic either. Or her ego. Thought Michael D's top was innovative, echoing the lines of his fortune cookie hat. Not so much for the skirt. I loved Michael C's dress and am glad he won with it. I can see that, sans hat, at a country club or yacht club summer gala. I don't think that the losing designers had anything constructive to say. The only thing I've noticed about the episodes now showing them gabbing in the green room while waiting for the judges to talk to best/worst is that they're always wrong in picking the winner. Kristen. She really seemed to go for a Japanese deconstructionist vibe in all her entries and this one really failed her. She could have used silk organza or silk crepe de chine and maybe played with some lettuce edged accents to play off the petals and this dress was so heavy. From what I understand off of Tim Gunn's vlogs is that the shooting schedule is only 30 days between the time they start and the time they determine the three finalists who are going to fashion week. So seeing that this episode was shot working on a Sunday, on Father's Day, it sort of gives you an idea of the brutal nature of the challenges. It's just one after the other with very little time to recoup in between. No wonder Kristen was ready to go.

  8. Flanerie | | #8

    Really disappointed in this week's efforts. . . I thought very few of the garments had even the slightest correlation with the hat they were meant to reference, including the winner. The judges all praised Michael C. for bringing in an iridescent sheen to tie the hat to the outfit, but to me that was the only commonality. The colors of the dress and hat together were so off-putting that I couldn't believe the judges praised the combination, and the shape of the hat wasn't echoed anywhere in the garment.

    A lot of comments get made about the wearability of the outfits presented by the designers, but in this case I think the challenge was all about theatricality and artistic statement. The hats are obviously over the top, meant to be perceived as 'wearable art' for only the most select situation - in a runway show to add drama, or worn by a diva on a red carpet for effect. I expected to see 'art to wear' to match the hats.

    It seems to me elementary design class that when you are supposed to relate one thing to another you find the thing they have in common - Peach was given a confection of feathers, and could have come up with something light and airy, something with a circular movement to it, similar to the movement in the hat. Mondo was given one of the more wearable hats, and that spiralling motion could have been really played with in his garment, but instead he sent out an outfit that had absolutely nothing to do with the hat. Color choice was mystifying to me, as well. . .

    Same thing with Ivy - what the heck does that outfit have to do with the hat she had, either in color, design, or texture? The hats are so theatrical that the designers' first instinct shouldn't have been to calm the hat's impact down, but to play off of it (especially with Philip Treacy there to judge!)

    Michael D. was one of the only designers to see that he could echo the opening on his hat, and I thought the most successful designer was the much reviled Gretchen, who thoroughly tied her entire look together, and even made something wearable. I would have given her the prize hands down, not because I want to dress like Diana the Huntress, but because her outfit was a complete expression of her own style tied throughly into the hat she had to work with in color, texture and design. It was also the theatrical runway version of an outfit that could be wearable when brought to market.

  9. Flanerie | | #9

    One more thing. . .although Kristen's was awful, April's diaper/men's underwear design was far, far worse and I was completely surprised that she didn't get sent home for that.

  10. River_Dawn | | #10

    OK, I really liked Michael C's dress. The pumpkin dress with the red hat are together on the hot side of the color wheel, so I felt it matched.

    As far as matchy-matchy, I understand this to mean it lacks an element of surprise to make it interesting. Like a cotton made to add perfect contrast to the main design fabric. Professional quilters suggest throwing in a totally unexpected splash of fabric to spice up a quilt. (Easier done with quilts than apparel, most likely.)

    Since his dress did not have any red in it, that was thinking out side the box. Most designers would have used black, white, red.

    I would wear that dress in a heartbeat (but not the hat, ha ha).

    Michael Drummond's clever architectural outfit should have won, in my opinion.

    Kristin's orchid dress was hideous. That hat needed something delicate and floating, don't you think?

    It's been great fun to read the comments. Project runway is the most fun to be had on TV!

  11. Skymom | | #11

    River Dawn, thanks for the definition of matchy-matchy. I guess I think it's more informative when the judges simply say "it's boring"--picking on the fact that elements "match" is a weird way of saying something is dull. One person's "harmonious" might well be another person's "matchy-matchy," after all, whereas "it's boring" conveys the fact that nothing really captures the viewer's imagination. And I agree that it's a lot harder to tread the fine line between boring and tastefully interesting in clothing than in quilts. That's where accessories come in, for most of us. Use the Piperlime.com (or is it Bluefly? Macy's?) accessories wall thoughtfully!

  12. jbfjcmo | | #12

    Does anyone else think Ivy's dress would have gone better with the orchid hat?

  13. jbfjcmo | | #13

    forgot to add, it seemed like she had it in her head that she wanted to use her inspiration from the emergency room, and didn't really think about whether it went with her hat, but I think it would have complemented the orchid much better than Kristin's black and pink creation.

  14. User avater
    Kukana | | #14

    yes to jbfjcmo....definitely. And maybe Kristin's dress should have gone with the mask!

    Mike D - My favorite look this week. Love the pleating and the way it goes with the hat.
    Mondo - What can I say? I know people that would wear it. It's original & fun, but a mustache????
    Peach - Looks like my Mom's couch - what was she thinking?
    Valerie - Not terribly original, don't like the mask at all. I'd have changed models (and made enemies I'm sure)
    Casanova - Wrong dress is posted. His look was nice, elegant, expected.
    AJ - Adorable dress, but did not go with the straw-color on the hat. Loved the look but the fabric of the dress & hat color were so off that it didn't work.
    Andy - Again, nice outfit but having nothing to do with the hat - wrong fabric.
    April - I loved this hat. I saw oriental and would have gone with some kind of modified kimono look. Panties? Really? Ugh!
    Mike C - Nice dress. Winner? Not so sure.
    Christopher - Loved the jacket and thought the outfit went well w/the hat. Maybe a puffy skirt w/tulle peeking out would've been more appealing.
    Gretchen - Loved it! To me this was her best effort to date! And it went with the hat!
    Ivy - Yawn
    Kristin - What was she thinking? I'd have picked that hat first - I love orchids and this could have been fabulous! Losing look? you bet!

  15. MerrySunshine | | #15

    I loved the look of most of the hats and kept having an expectation of 'My Fair Lady' type garments. But alas...
    As for April's outfit, the shorts would have been okay with me if they would have looked like shorts instead of underwear, because, afterall, the hat did look like it came from the rice fields.
    Favorites: Michael C and Michael D

  16. Sewsie | | #16

    Just what is the point of Project Runway? Are these supposed to be real clothes that real people would wear or is it a contest to see who can come up with the most outlandish costume?

    I don't have TV and have never seen the show--just the photos on the website. Based on the photos alone I just don't "get" the appeal.

  17. User avater
    RevDi | | #17

    While I really have trouble with Gretchen's ego and her appointing herself substitute Tim, I did like the fabric she used for her top. However, it was very matchy-matchy, and her outfit was a bit too Diana the huntress for me. It was worth it just to see she didn't make the top three for once!!

    I was happy to see Michael C win, but I really felt Michael D had the superior outfit with sculptural quality of his pleated top (particularly the neckline) mirroring the shape of the hat. And while the technique of the skirt wasn't groundbreaking (although perhaps it was for Project Runway), the silhouette was gorgeous.

    I loved Christopher's jacket - the fabric, the shape, the neckline. Perhaps a pencil skirt would have been a better idea? Poor Valerie - always the bridesmaid. While I love her work, I wasn't sure about this week's tying into the challenge. But I loved it anyway.

    As for April, why is she still here? Her first week she didn't even sew. She turned a tuxedo jacket inside out and cut off the collar and sleeves - wow! This week she gave us triple layer panties with a quilted outer layer - very unflattering. I agree Kristen's dress was a disaster. She talked sensuality while she was making it, but where was it? Another fabric in another color, and I might have seen it. Bt this wasn't April's first visit to the bottom three and her ensemble looked a mess.

    But then I've decided I have no idea what the judges are looking for. I guess I'm out there in left field with Tim!

  18. River_Dawn | | #18

    HI Sewsie,

    These clothes are runway fashions that are typically over-the-top. Celebrities may wear them as is, but most of us would look odd wearing them. The original ideas get modified for the general public.

    Does this sound correct to others following this topic?

    The show PROJECT RUNWAY is fascinating as it follows the designers in every phase of design and production. Their personalities are unique, and things in the workroom or apartments do disintegrate into petty gossip.

    About matchy, matchy, Episode One of this season, the very talented designer who went home- McKell (?)- made an innovative dress from a blue shirt, but was criticized for choosing a hot pink purse. OKay, the purse definitely wasn't matchy-matchy, and it got criticized for not matching. The judges are not perfect and seem to make decisions based on their own taste. Fashion design is not a science, more the opinions of those in high places.

    Me? I just want to make clothing that looks well on me and pushes my itty-bitty fashion envelope!

  19. User avater
    Soli | | #19

    @Sewsie, the tag line used to be that they're searching for the next "great American designer." IMO, the winners have almost always been on the extreme end of the fashion curve. They're not going for wearable, they're going for couture. I think we all realize that no one walks down the street looking like an image out of the Vogue editorial pages, with extreme styling and make-up, so consider the winning looks inspiration rather than realistic. Even Jay, the first winner, sort of went for the extreme edge of a crafty boho look.

  20. Carolebarrel | | #20

    Michael Drummond's shows design sensitivity. The others show technical elan but too much of a good thing--froufrou, uncomfortable to wear, distractions galore. Michael's shows repetition of line, color compatibility and other design elements (balance, proportion etc. that the others avoid just to show their technical efforts even though they are commendable, not very practical. After all, art like music and writing should be about communication, fashion should be wearable and comfortable like jewelry must be comfortable, hang and move right on the wearer. These basic elements, not only craft, should be followed first off in my opinion.

  21. rhaazz | | #21

    I thought the orchid hat really called for something voluminous yet structured, airy, architectural, precise, like the flower itself. Think what one could have done with organdy + stiffened French seams. The gal whgot the orchid hat and was auf'd for her non-dress was nice, but I agreed with the judges.

  22. memawphd | | #22

    I very old so I don't trust my ideas much in terms of what the modern young lady would want but I thought the orchid hat was delicious. I would have made an outfit with the basic dress very slim fitting and soft green, probably moire taffeta or maybe watermarked satin. Then over it in several shades of pale green lots of floating panels like Michael Costello's creation only adding a jacket with the same floating panels.....you know, to look like the stalk and leaves of the flower.....memawphd

  23. bakertoo | | #23

    I often am confused by the judges choices, because I think I am out of the range and loop of what is hot and wearable in the fashion world! Jeans and fleece is what I depend on. But this weeks competition was really fascinating, and I found myself, for the first time, in agreement with the final call. I thought it was remarkable that Michael C. started with the most boring and uninspired dresses, to being the winner, after his interview with Tim Gunn, and also talking to his son, and getting all fired up to go back and create something worthy of recognition. The dress itself was pretty and feminine, but the winning aspect was the balance he brought to the whole thing with texture of the fabric sparkle, which was the beauty of that remarkable hat. And I was really amused by the reactions-profound disbelief by Valerie and Gretchen!! They were speechless, which takes a lot for Gretchen to be rendered speechless! Anyway, I loved all those hats, and was so interested in what Philip Treacy was going to say and feel about setting all those hat creations free into the hands of virtual beginners, and whether or not they lived up to the beauty of them. I have to say I was impressed with all the designers for their enthusiasm. That's the spirit!

  24. River_Dawn | | #24

    To memawphd,

    Absolutely, you have a great idea!!! The green would mimic a stem, and make the floral hat soar! Anyway, I would wear yours, in a photo shoot, in my twenties...

    Now I'm trying to out how to find comments from last night's show. Bet everyone has a LOT to say!

  25. indifly | | #25

    I think what the judges were trying to say was that the dress should compliment the hat not compete for the attention, though all the designs were creatively done they found beauty in the effortlessness of Michael C. I think they underestimate him because of his lack of skill, but the underdog has prevailed on more than one occasion.
    It definitely was a challenge as you had to work with someone else's vision and try to make your vision coincide with theirs. To be quite honest it was a little unfair but it is a show and they have to come up with a new spin. The judges decisions this season are surprisingly unexpected.
    I'm finding myself gravitating toward Mondo, Michael D and Christopher in each episode as they go unnoticed. They may rise to the occasion in the end.

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