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Project Runway: Race to the Finish

Mondo wins $20,000 and an advertorial.

The designers were challenged to create a high fashion garment to be featured in an advertorial. The winner would also win $20,000. This week, each designer had to choose a finish (velvet, matte, bright, or crystal) and were given the makeup to complete their look. With two days for the challenge, of course there was an added twist. The designers were asked to create a second ready-to-wear look.

There was less drama than usual this week. Gretchen was unhappy with Michael’s color choice, but in the end Gretchen found herself in the top three, while Michael was left to talk his way out of elimination. Ivy had trouble fitting her model, and generally floundered throughout the challenge. Valerie also had some trouble and rounded out the bottom three. The judges agreed Michael’s garments were well constructed, even if he missed the mark, and so he was safe. Deciding to send home Ivy over Valerie was a difficult choice for the judges, as they thought both were equally terrible. Ivy is eliminated this week.

Mondo found himself at the top again this week, winning this challenge with his bright kaleidoscope dresses. Andy joined Gretchen and Mondo at the top with his amazing details and well constructed pants.

Do you agree that Mondo is the best designer of the season so far? Did the judges get this week’s elimination right?


Andy South



Gretchen Jones



Ivy Higa


Michael Costello



Christopher Collins


April Johnston



Mondo Guerra



Valerie Mayen




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  1. sews4fun | | #1

    Im thinking about putting my sewing machine away and forgetting about it all. I honestly don't know what coture is, I can see that right now. I am surprised to find that I liked Aprils looks the best. I thought Mondo's dress looked like something out of Alice in wonderland although the ready-to-wear was very nice. How does that translate into something you can actually wear? Andy's "ensemble" looked like the creature from the black lagoon goes disco, and his ready-to-wear has been seen before. Gretchens robe thinggy was very dated and old looking to me. She looked like a haggard hausfrau on her way to the market IMO.
    I was NOT impressed with her ready-to-wear either, seen it! I guess I better keep my day-time job and continue to count beans because I didnt think any of them had anything remotely coture but apparantly, I am wrong. Ivy was no surprise and I did not think Valerie's was that bad. Ivys was the same dress only one was long and the other short. Both poorly made and ill fitting. Ivy should have gone home long ago, she is no designer. What happened to Valerie? She was so confident and creative at the beginning of the show and the first few episodes and now, she is this sniveling mess who doesnt have enough confidence in her little finger to carry on with the challenges. I still think Michael C. might surprise us all. He may be in the top three after all. Hes not the tortured artist soul Mondo is but his stuff is still kind of cute. I know Mondo is going to win but I've seen some cute things from Michael C and I think his workmanship is pretty darn good. Even if you COULD make three more dresses out of that ridiculously long train of his. The judges laughing at the designers behind their scorecards was inexcusable and it belittles THEM not the designers. They make fools of THEMSELVES when they pull tricks like that and no one is impressed with their obvious lack of tact or grace.

  2. Cherlyn | | #2

    I liked Mondo's evening look to a degree, but there was just a little too much going on for me. He did a good job of capturing what the challenge was about. I'm liking Mondo more and more. I also am liking Andy more.l I liked his look, but I thought he just had a little too much detail and I'm not a fan of those really high boots. Michael C had a nice looking dress for both, just too much train on the evening look and I didn't care for the wire. Valarie's white dress wasn't too bad, but that other one was terrible. April should design for Fredrick's! I didn't care for Ivy's dresses at all! Poorly made on both. Chris' two dresses were really nice. He has designed some pretty clothes, but he doesn't get recognized. He is just in the middle. I think Gretchen is running out of creative steam! Those two dresses were awful. The day look probably saved her from being on the bottom.

  3. SewLucky09 | | #3

    I think I liked the ready to wear looks more than the "high fashion" looks. Except for Gretchen....I don't like anything she does or says, I wish she would go home. I liked Ivy's colors, despite what the judges said. I thought the blues would stand out in a magazine, she just didn't execute well enough, but I liked her idea. I think Valerie should have gone home instead, she complains and talks too much and made horrible outfits; they were far worse than Ivy's and honestly Val's ready to wear didn't go with the couture dress at all.

  4. User avater
    Soli | | #4

    I have a feeling Mondo is going to win the season overall. He's talented, and when he's doing sportswear, a la the Jackie O challenge, his work is a fresh take on classics. However, when you get into the realm of couture, his work isn't that different than Jeffrey, Seth Aaron, or Emilio. They're all channeling Lacroix to some degree. There are American designers like Carolina Herrera and Donna Karan who do beautiful eveningwear that isn't as formal as the over-the-top French references that the winning designers seem to pull from. I didn't much care for Christopher's design, as the organza around the hips seemed too springy, rather than draping gracefully. Andy's was just too costumey in my opinion, his need to reference Asian elements outweighing his taste. Valarie is repeating the same basic piece over and over again, the torso hugging dress/jacket with the curved piecing over the hips meeting in the back, and if that's all she knows how to do or insists on making that her signature, I don't think she'll be around much longer. I'm glad Ivy is gone because her ego was bigger than her talent. Gretchen also has ego and she's stuck in a 70's timewarp, even if she's too young to have experienced it. I think that her dress could have been hippie-chic a la Talitha Getty in the late 60's, but she didn't put enough time into decorating the front. The dress looked half finished, and her companion piece reminded me of things I used to wear in high school in the 70's. Gretchen's designs just come off as frumpy to me, and when fashion is starting to trend toward minimalism again, as in what was seen in the 90's after grunge, I don't think she's a good choice to go much further in the competition either. Michael C - I liked his r-t-w look, even if it was a little dated. I could have seen myself wearing something like that in the early 90's. His couture looks was a bit too exuberant - I think it might have worked better if he'd edited down - no horsehair in the hem, remove some of the bows/flanges, and it might have been Belville-Sassoon. At least the other contestants finally figured out that he can sew and design.

  5. Skymom | | #5

    I really liked both of Mondo's pieces--he showed he can do "More is better" and "Less is more" equally well.

    Michael did need some editing, and the RTW proportions seemed way off to me. Not too sure about that peplum thingy! I guess Ivy was the right choice for the auf, and Valerie did fall apart (though her white gown moved nicely on the runway), but the one I disliked the most by far was Christopher's. To coin a Kors-ism: It looks like Oksana Bayul on top of "Whipped Cream and other delights" on top of Miss Pageant Runner-up 1998. As disjointed a dress as I've ever seen, and none of the parts was particularly successful. Of course, he's a total cutie and a nice guy, so I'm glad he's still around.

    April and Gretchen don't do much for me (former: too edgy; latter: too shapeless and droopy), but you have to admit they've each established their point of view and are sticking to it. Andy, too, for the most part. Overall, though, I'm shocked to find myself thinking that if I could hire one of these contestants to design for me, it would be Mondo.

  6. Marilyn679 | | #6

    OHMYGOODNESS, I just LOVE how MONDO came alive with the Jackie O challenge and now this one. FINALLY, a winner whose creative juices are flowing. Sometimes I think they should leave everyone on the set for at least five weeks until we see their blockages cleared. His tailoring looks superb, and that is what differentiates him from the rest--they are all working within the same time frame but he is CREATING and some of the others are merely complaining. Andy and Michael, also well executed. Ivy? She spends more time spinning wheels and making excuses for what she did NOT do, it leads me to believe that she is just not comfortable in this role and I'm glad she's gone. Valerie, if she doesn't just resign (which would bring Ivy back) will be the next to go. Bridesmaid dresses, both of them. April is two generations below me, but has anyone else noticed that "hot pants" seem to be her thing? What I wore in the early 70s? I was a little offended with the focus on the left breast of Christopher's couture, and Gretchen is totally 60s, and that is withOUT an update. I could not believe that Heidi said she would wear that, it looked like it needed a lint shaver. I predict Mondo, Andy, and Gretchen for the final three but I sure would prefer Michael to Gretchen, I just don't see what they like in her.

  7. Cherlyn | | #7

    I love Marilyn's comment that it looked like Grethcen's robe looked like it needed a lint shaver!

    I think just about all of us must be from the 70's back when home ec still taught sewing and our mother's or someone in our family helped us at home learn as much about sewing as we could. Now, teens want to learn about sewing again and so many schools just don't teach this art like it should be taught. It saddens me to see this art get the shaft. I kep hoping that with programs like this on TV that more students will desire to learn and hopefully schools pick it up from the point of view there are students out there that are interested in designing clothes.

  8. cjbauman464 | | #8

    I love Mondo's work. I think he is the top designer this season.

  9. tennknitter | | #9

    I was totally bemused this week. I did think Mondo was the clear winner but it would have been between Christopher and Gretchen to get 'aufed' in my book - and I'd have been inclined to send them both home.

  10. Bother | | #10

    I do not agree with Mondo winning. His dress was striking, but I thought Andy's was much, much more interesting and inventive. I do agree that Ivy should have been out - that dress looked so sad. But I am eternally mystified by the judges' love for Gretchen. I find her work boring, and this week's entry was just awful. It was a 1970s housecoat for a frump. How that got into the top 3 will forever be beyond me.

  11. nobias | | #11

    I agree that the top two were Mondo and Andy. When consideration is given to the idea that the designers are supposed to be "fashion forward," creative, think out of the box and produce something unique and exciting Mondo and Andy did exactly that for this runway competition.

    I disagree that Mondo was the clear winner. His design had the same feeling as Jeffrey Cibelias Paris design but Jeffreys was softer and more wearable. His day dress was good and well thought out as a companion to the couture dress. But.....what's so fashion forward about a gown?

    Andy did a great job and was definately unique and "out of the box" for the challenge. His day dress was a much better "off the rack" dress when you consider the number of women that would be able to wear it therefore purchase it.

    Overall, I feel this whole group is lacking. In the past the designers have been of a higher quality and ability and I am very weary of the snide comments, back biting and the overall bad treatment of each other. Tim Gunn has been justified in showing his frustration with this group. They all need to grow up face the task at hand!

  12. User avater
    RevDi | | #12

    I guess I'm truly too old for haute couture. My husband and I both thought Gretchen was headed for the bottom three. Her outfits looked like something out of the seventies home-made boutique. I suppose the fact she worked with feathers worked some kind of voodoo on the judges but honestly the lines were old and boring, and the hairdressing was some kind of pre-Raphaelite princess which made me think of my daughter dressing up like a princess when she was three years old. The overall effect was about the same. We thought Andy would be the winner - his day dress was far more exciting. We didn't really care for his couture look, but it was certainly on task, and he achieved his goal. But perhaps it wasn't colorful enough for an "advertorial." (My, the lines of journalism and advertising are blurring!).
    I did love Mondo's couture look, and only he could pull it together. But I thought his day dress, while flattering, was a bit pedestrian.
    I didn't think Michael C's was irredeemable. He did seem to go a bit over the edge, but then they do tell people to go "outside the box!" I didn't mind the wired hem, but he should have tamed the train, or at least cut off the caboose! Ivy's couture dress, particularly the bodice, was a nightmare - it looked like she glued random pieces of fabric on it. The day look managed to look a model look fat. I thought the deep blue was lovely, but it didn't look so beautiful on those dresses. Poor Valerie seems to be getting out of their depths. I don't what's happening to Valerie - I had such high hopes for her. I hope she gets back her self-confidence, and develops a wider color palette. And I do hope there's a challenge where April is forbidden to use black, and Gretchen is forbidden to use black or camel (and is forbidden to play mini-Tim Gunn and critique everyone else in the room. Since Michael C and Mondo have also won two each, and far more recently than she, I don't think they need her help. And do we really need her opinions so frequently during the show?)
    I would also love to see a challenge where Heidi, Nina and Michael had to whip something up under Project Runway conditions (maybe Nina and Heidi could have a seamstress but Michael would have to do his own sewing) and send it down the runway with snide, rude judges a la themselves. I grew disenchanted with Nina and Michael some time ago, and their rude manners are rubbing off on Heidi. I am rapidly growing disenchanted with the bloated show on Lifetime, where we have added an extra half-hour for more commercials, more personalities, and less construction and design.

  13. Ceeayche | | #13

    I enjoyed this challenge. I'm okay with Mondo's win. I do agree with a previous post that indicated he's beginning to hit his stride. Clearly I'm missing something with Gretchen's last offering-- maybe you have to see it up close to appreciate the workmanship. IMHO, it was a hot mess, droopy, bland and unfocused. I thought she was on the chopping block for sure. Another yawn is the judge's fascination with dark or bland colors. While I agreed with some of the construction criticism, I thought the color was a refreshing departure from the black, white, taupe, repeat.

  14. eflesher | | #14

    I love Mondo's look and he is clearly the winner. Gretchen is so boring and I can't wait for her to go.

  15. User avater
    Kukana | | #15

    Well, what a week! Valerie's evening look was not that bad, aside from the shoulder thingy. But the other dress was just bad. I'm not a fan of April, and agree that she should design for Fredericks. I thought for sure Christopher would be the one going home - there just was nothing redeeming in the evening gown. His day look was cute tho. Ivy's colors were great, her concept was great, but the execution was not there, I find it ironic that she was booted for her sewing skills when she was critical of Michael D.'s abilities. I did not like Gretchen's feather duster, and her day look was something a grandmother would wear to hide her chubbiness. Loved Andy's jacket and really thought he would win. Mondo's evening look was darn cute, except it didn't fit in the top. Maybe that's how it's suppose to look - not sure, maybe if the model had breasts.....? I love the "out there" stuff and think it is really interesting to see how they create it. I would like to see more of the process rather than the drama, but after all - it is reality TV.

  16. eardleygirl | | #16

    If we can all see the difference between Mondo and the rest of the "designers" how hard can it be for the judges. This hasn't been much of a contest for weeks now. The rest of this group don't seem to get the difference between having a "signature style" and doing the same thing over and over with different fabric. This is by far the least talented and over extended group of "designers" ever to come on the show. What orifice did Gretchen pull this hairy caftan out of? It's awful. Even Ivy's badly made and badly fitted offering trumped it in my mind. One more beige, frumpy, tent and I think she needs to get her walking papers. It seems that the judges are desperately looking for something redeemable every week just so there's still a show, otherwise Mondo would likely be the only contestant left.

  17. fabriclover007 | | #17

    I think they keep Gretchen just for her snarkiness. Nothing else. I am relieved that Ivy left. I haven't one seen thing that either Ivy nor Gretchen have made that made me go "ooh". Has Gretchen ever won a challenge? I can't think of another reason she would still be on there other than they have someone willing to parade her opinions even though she ends up looking stupid when she doesn't win. One of her earlier comments "it's disappointing that craftmanship isn't as widely acknowledged as I had hoped". Someone can beautifully tailor a jacket or pair of pants but supposedly what Project Runway is all about is the "wow" factor. Well made is nice, but doesn't translate to "wow". Just seeing her makes me almost not want to watch the show.

    Actually I agree with an earlier poster. This group more or less lacks any real undiscovered talent for the most part. Some of the earlier groups had designers that made things that you eagerly awaited. Now it's just another parade of fashions, kind of like watching QVC.

    Who knows, this may not be on much longer if they don't do a better job of selection next go round. It would be a shame but it seems they've gotten away from their roots.

  18. Karen6925 | | #18

    I could not see anything good in Gretchins designs. That feather dress was awful.I think she was there for her drama. She was very disrespectful to Heidi.Mondo had some good designs but it has all been done before.The mix of prints is almost getting old.I love Project Runway but they need to take more time finding designers.Why was Mondo able to show the same dress in the finalie,seems the older episodes had way more work in their final pieces.

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