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Project Runway: There’s a Pattern Here

Mondo wins for a third week in a row.

This week the producers brought back the HP challenge from last year and the designers had to create their own fabric motifs and use them in their garments. I absolutely adore this challenge and watching them all sketch out their designs on the touch-screen computers was incredibly inspiring.

For inspiration for their textile patterns, the designers were instructed to pull from their own lives and make the print personal. To help them get into the mood of reminiscing and self reflection, they each got surprise visits from family members–and then the tears began to flow. Some designers were thrown off track by the visit, while others seemed energized and inspired.

Each of the fabric prints were very beautiful in their own way. It seemed like those that had the most personal connections with their patterns came out on top. Mondo’s was by far the most intimate by putting something very private on display in vibrant colors (his positive HIV status which was previously unknown by the other cast members and his family.) Of course he was the clear winner again, making his personal journey even more significant and rewarding by walking away with this week’s prize. Go Mondo!!

Valerie was sent home this week because her dress was too similar to her napkin dress from the party challenge, but not before many more tears were shed. I think this may have been the most emotional episode yet, and the drama didn’t come from the contestants being mean to each other for once or from anyone having a stress meltdown. At the end of the episode, I even called my mom to say hello (she lives in Texas, me in Brooklyn, NY).

Check out the Lifetime website to see the fabric designs and even download them onto your computer. And while you’re there, you can also dress up the contestants in their hilarious make over game with ridiculous hats, wigs, and make up.


Andy South


Gretchen Jones

Michael Costello


Christopher Collins


April Johnston

Mondo Guerra


Valerie Mayen



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  1. Cherlyn | | #1

    Iam really liking Mondo's mixes of pattern. He is a very interesting designer and his reveal was very touching. It was nice to see all the designers rally around him and be so supportive instead of the usual selfishness.

    This is the first time in weeks that I have liked anything Gretchen has designed. For once, this would be something I would like to wear ---- just don't have that kind of figure anymore :) I loved her print and the accent trim on the pants! Also, I loved April's print with the tree and hearts, but I wan't crazy about her design.

    I really didn't care for Michael C's dress this week. It was very drab! Christopher's was just okay, nothing I couldn't make myself. And finally, I want to celebrate,Valerie is off the show. The twisted, frowny mouth thing she does and poor designs will not be missed!

  2. sews4fun | | #2

    Funny, I for one will miss Valerie, I think she was funny, self deprecating and an all around good egg. I think her farewell speech to the other designers was profound and heartfelt and I feel that her designs were good at first but she just lost her way or ran out of ideas. I think a lot of the malice left with Ivy, she kept the "pot stirred" pretty much all of the time with her crappy attitude and lack of talent. I didn't care much for Gretchen's pants, I thought the back looked like a diaper somehow, I liked her print but would have liked to have seen it smaller or various sizes but I wasnt crazy about her blouse. I sure feel sorry for the other designers, I think if I were in their shoes, I would feel the handwriting is pretty much on the wall with a talent like Mondo to go up against. I'm sure they will inject a little drama into the Mondo storyline but he will win hands down in the end, no one else is even in his league. I said before he was the tortured artist type and now I know why. I hope coming out with his illness gives him some peace and that a weight has been lifted. But I do have to say, his design this week was similar to the jackie O look last week, except with pants this time IMHO. I know I would look HORRIBLE in high waisted pants but if you are skinny and young and gorgeous then those are the pants for you! I think Christopher will be the next to go, his pants and top were BORING! Funny about Andy's blouse, if he had nixed the shorts and vest and changed the collar and made that blouse go all the way down into a little swing dress, he may have had something there. I don't think the blouse looked sad, I think the shorts and vest dragged it down. I have to wonder if Andy is getting discouraged with Mondo's consistant wins and maybe thats what makes him think he really wants to go home. I think none of them hold anything against Mondo, its just that he is in a league of his own. I even felt a pang for Gretchen as she talked about how hard life is for her and her family, I hope this show gives her a big jump start in the industry and she ends up in a better place. Hopefully a little less bossy though. As far as the cheating episode coming up, I hope its not Michael C. My husband says there is something very shady about Michael C and he comes across as a poser. I disagree but I am a horrible judge of character. Still, I hope its not him.

  3. Ceeayche | | #3

    I enjoyed this challenge. Each time they do the design your fabric challenge, it sparks my creative juices. Interestingly, I find the designers do more wearable clothing during this challenge. I thought Mondo's design was the most well designed.

    I am realllly ready for Gretchen to leave. Her mean-spirited, negative comments smack of 4th grade "mean girl" behavior. They have no place in a professional competition, where the participants are competiting for the opportunity of a lifetime.

  4. Auralee | | #4

    I'm glad I don't have to wear any of these. They are way too extreme--and where would you wear things like these. UGH!!!!!

  5. Marilyn679 | | #5

    What an emotional week, my heart went out to Mondo and I'm so glad he's found release from his secrets. He simply LOVES what he does, what a creative spirit. I can only imagine his work getting even better now that he's cleared his traumas, admitted them, and now owns them.

    My personal fave this week was April! I'm looking to make a dress for a wedding next June. I cut out my head and taped it to a chopstick, then I hold it up to all the Vogue patterns on-line. Not one is appropriate for me, but April's works! I would need it longer, and I could lose the frills, but that fabric she designed and incorporated into the black was phenomenal to me.

    Must've missed the preview about the cheating. Hmmmm......

  6. nanastern | | #6

    Gretchen is a one show pony- Everything she does looks alike--she can not do color--Glad Ivy left-her designs are from the 50's. Christen had no new ideas and only makes basic items- Go Mondo and Michael G

  7. Karma2 | | #7

    I liked Michael C's dress. Gretchens top looked like she was putting a target over each of her poor models breast. Would someone please explain the silly exposed zippers to me? Do they really not know how to insert a zipper? Most zippers are far too unattractive to be any sort of design statement. Whenever I see something like this, it reminds me of the story of the emperors new clothes. If you say "oh" "ah" often enough, people will think it's fashion rather than sloppy workmanship.

  8. msewwhat | | #8

    Is it just me or what. It looks as though the back of those high waisted slacks has a mismatched pattern as does the waistband.
    Other than that, I love the style.

  9. triciab1212 | | #9

    I think April keeps getting robbed. I love Mondo and his's work but, to me, it wasn't all that "new". Especially if they're looking back to previous stuff. Just mixing patterns. Woo hoo. he's done that before with the same bold then b&w prints.
    I love Valerie. She's so sweet and real.I'm glad she represented Cleveland so well (I'm from Cleve too). But, I knew she was next on the axe-list. I do agree with Sew4fun that Christopher will be next.
    I do not understand what they seen in Gretchen. I agree with everything she says, she's got good advice, she means well, she's a good leader, she's a good person but it's tvland that makes her look mean. After saying all this, I don't get her clothes. At all. They think she's a good designer. I just don't see it.
    I really hope next week's clothes that they spit out aren't as boring as this weeks (except April's and Valerie's weren't boring. Sure, Val has done hers before, but it ain't boring ;) )

  10. nancyc | | #10

    I also noticed that Mondo's waistband doesn't match. What I really noticed was how the crotch is ill fitting and yet the judges praised the fit of the pants. Am I missing something?
    Is the crotch suppose to buckle between the legs?

  11. LaForge | | #11

    I do not understand the judges love affair with Gretchen. Last week looked as if it came straight from the sixties, and this week the pants look as if they have a fanny pack attached.

  12. Quasisewdoe | | #12

    Last week was emotional and disappointing.
    Mondo's pants were hideous, mismatched waist band. He used his emotional "outing" of his "secret" as his ace in the hole to win the challenge, disappointing.
    Gretchen's was ordinary, not runway material by a long shot. Overall her work always looks the same, drapey and boring. All of it looks like something for aging hippies.

    I didn't care that Valerie's was reminiscent of the napkin dress it was chic! April's was the only other OK one, the front was fine, the back was not flattering.
    I understand they have to keep up the drama but a little goes a long way.
    It costs nothing to be kind and some of us watchers would appreciate a little less cattiness.

  13. User avater
    Kate_W | | #13

    For this challenge, I thought all the fabric designs were solid. I liked April's fabric the best and Mondo's design best ... his design would just work better in my wardrobe.

    I did not understand Gretchen's larger print on a halter top -- full swirly skirt, yeah. Early on, Valerie was one of my pick's for the final three with her Audrey Hepburn vibe. It's too bad she fell apart and I'm sorry to see her go.

    OK. Marilyn679, if you riff on April's look and you're so inclined, please post pictures. That would be very kewl and I'd love to see the results!

  14. deemail | | #14

    I agree with several of the previous comments about the judges being in love with gretchen for no good reason. Michael Kors wanted the print manipulated, but after all, she designed it and it's scale, she should have used it appropriately. the full skirt mentioned by another member here would have been the right scale for the print as it existed. the top had no style, period. It didn't fit at the bust, something they blast everyone else for, why not gretchen? the print was a very small percentage of the total outfit, that was the point of the challenge, right? and mondo keeps winning the top or near top positions because his color sense and cutting and fitting are superior to most of the other designers. Andy has done some wonderful stuff, but where is his confidence, and his competitiveness? the good work of other designers, like mondo and michael c. should be sparking him on, just as his last fabulous high fashion look should have set them on a creative spree. working with other artists is usually a road to new, better product for everyone. work at it andy, keep going mondo, and michael, quit whining about the other designers loving or hating you...show them with the clothes. michael kors was wrong about this week's outfit. the faux lapels, tie and quasi-cumberbund were imaginitative and done well. the print was what it was, subtle and trimmed beautifully. the shoes...too matchy-matchy? when heidi starts to dress herself, we'll worry about her opinion. her clothes are free and they are styled by someone else. Why don't we invite them to be a judge?

  15. knittingirl | | #15

    Whoa! What a show! I guess when you ask an artist to recall things from their childhood, you run the risk of opening an emotional Pandora's box. Unfortunately, the judges can be brutal. I thought Valerie's dress was better than Andy's shorts. I think the family distraction derailed both of them. I liked Gretchen's top and fabric design. However, I don't see her standing a chance against Mondo. He had the most emotional issues and once again, he created the most beautiful outfit.

    Am I the only one who thinks we don't really get a good look at these designs? First off, a big square with the designers name covers a quarter of the screen during the runway. I really think some of the designs do not translate well to the TV. April's design did not come across as spectacular as the judges stated. Maybe black just doesn't show up that well. I would say the same about Gretchen's velvet design from last week. I would really like a closer look!

  16. User avater
    BarbaraSki | | #16

    Karma2 - my sister and I have said the same thing! What's with the exposed zipper teeth on everything? A simple invisible zipper would look so much better! They have these light fabrics & designs and this honking metal zipper! And none of the judges comments?!?! Gretchen remarked last week after she was safe and backstage "Mondo is my biggest competition" - I had to chuckle. Seriously? Gretchen YOU are no competition to Mondo. Her blouse was so ill-fitting - she has no idea how to cut an armhole so there's no boobage showing. These young models can go braless, but anyone else would have serious exposure. Christopher has the most marketable/wearable designs - and he'll probably get a job with a mass merchandiser.....I'd love to see his clothes at Kohls.

  17. Bother | | #17

    I would probably not buy a print like Mondo's, at least in part because I don't generally have a use for any shade of yellow, but Mondo's outfit was the only one presented (besides April's) that had serious style to it. Mondo absolutely deserved the win without his story behind it. April's dress was OK, but there are colors other than black out there.

    I just had a thought: what the show ought to do for the final, pick the final three episode: By now, they have seen what the designers can do really well. April loves black. Mondo loves prints. Gretchen loves Gretchen. So each designer should be told to design something that keeps them from using their usual bag of tricks: no black for April, solid color only for Mondo, and Gretchen has to design something for someone other than Gretchen. Tie one hand behind each designer's back and see what they can do.

  18. rkr4cds1 | | #18

    Did I miss 'class' when this announcement was made - or does everyone else understand this except me?

    - No Model-talk this year? When was that decided to be cut out, though I also appreciate that cattiness being cut, there's too much of it among the designers.

    - When was it decided to mic the designers while their designs cat-walked? Their self-promoting comments are atrocious to hear - so self-serving!!
    And do they need to put their words on-screen,too? As if we can't already hear them loud enough?

    - The hair and make-up are just awful this year; are there too few cosmetologists and make-up artists or given too little time? Example: many of the models last just had messy pony tails or stringy looking hair, as if they'd done their own, and nothing outstanding in make-up. I don't see anything 'Special' here at all any more'!!

    -I agree about the cattiness of the judges - NO constructive Criticism being given, not that they should need to at this level of designer professionalism. What help is that? - out-of-presence laughing about the personalities of the designers is about as mean-spirited as what the designers have been doing: don't they realize that it will be viewed by those same designers?
    How disheartening for them - - and courageous to face the judges again a few days later.

    And most of the comments about the designers below are 100% valid as well.

    This is the weirdest year yet - have they run out of a pool of sewers or design ideas? I'm so tired of bias-draped (lazy) swathes being called necklines or those horrendous armscyes that Gretchen sewed (?) last week .....

    Bring back Seth Aaron's type of work! - even Irina vs Carol Ann vs Althea - now those designers could sew AND design!!!

  19. User avater
    Soli | | #19

    You can sort of see how some of the designers are losing steam about here. Andy started out so exuberant, and I was sort of surprised how blah this entry looked, even if I did like his print. @Bother, there's no point in saying what they should do next as the shows have been in the can for quite awhile. They started shooting in July on a 30/31 day schedule so that the finalists get 8 weeks off to have their collections ready in time for the September shows in NYC. It's a pressure cooker environment, and I haven't even bothered searching the internet this season for photos of the collections that went down the runway for the finalists, as I don't find anyone particularly inspiring. Wasn't impressed by Gretchen, Christoper, Valerie, or Michael C this week. April has an interesting little goth girl POV, and I think still think Mondo will be the big winner this year. I like the way he uses co-ordinating prints for his linings, I like his use of pattern and bright, and regardless of his HIV status, I still think he's brilliant with or without the tortured artist vibe. I think that Gretchen is this season's Emilio, only a hair less presumptuous ego. I had no idea why Emilio stayed challenge after challenge and I feel the same about Gretchen. I really don't care about the personal drama, I just don't like her style and can't see anyone getting excited about it in the stores. Michael C is the Palm Springs resort-wear guy. I think his business will probably be stronger, even if he doesn't make the top three. You can see his style at Cache, even if you don't go for that look. Valerie is a nice person, but I think the writing's been on the wall for awhile. Christopher looks like he's next up on the chopping block. My husband thinks that Gretchen is going to accuse Michael C of cheating. She's had it out for him all season. Didn't like her print, don't like her or her aesthetic. I wish they'd chop her already and let the finalists be Mondo, Andy, and April.

  20. fabriclover007 | | #20

    Actually I disagree about Emilio from a past season. His clothes were wearable and even the judges agreed you could take his collection and sell it to any major chain. They were the type of clothes I would wear. Seth Aaron's clothes on the other hand, were too avant-garde for my tastes and although I might have admired the "out there" aspect of it, it wouldn't be anything I would dream of buying in a million years. and no, I;m not relatd to Emilio (LOL). I'm a 60 year old grandmother who likes the little twists and my favorite brand at Macy's is INC. INC is their slightly more edgy brand as opposed to Alfani which is more for mature women with a career like myself. Unfortuantely a lot of what INC has isn't suitable for my life, figure and career but I buy what I can of it and incorporate it into my wardrobe.

    And isn't that what's it's ultimately about? What is saleable. As the judges and Tim Gunn said, few designers can make a living based on the high end fantasy stuff. The bread and butter stuff is the mass-merchandise stuff. If that weren't so, Michael Kors wouldn't have a collection in Macy's (which by the way I think is boring as heck and I've never been intrigued by it. As I said earlier, perhaps instead of being so snarky he should pay more attention to his own clothing line.

    But I don't think there is much of a challenge this year between the talent. At least with Seth Aaron and Emilio you had something to choose from depending on your taste and the judges had to decide which way they wanted to go. Much of what I've seen this year is just unwearable, completely puffed up egos with no talent to match (Ivy and Gretchen). Someone interviewed her recently and obviously they are forbidden about talking about who won since the show is still airing but the writer speculated that Gretchen was not the winner (no surprise) because she tearfully talked about it being a journey of self-discovey. Let's hope the discovery was you don't have to be nasty to succeed and the realization that whatever she thought of her skills, others dont necessarily recognize it which hopefully she will learn from and challenge herself to find out where she fits in the industry. I just don[t think it's as a designer. Kors is right in that fashion is a tough business as the recession has forced many young, aspiring designers to close.

  21. Skymom | | #21

    I haven't much liked anything Gretchen has designed so far, but I did watch her audition video, and I thought her work was pretty good. It hung together as a collection, and she had some nice dyed effects that were sort of elegant hippie. Everything that would look good on a tall, skinny person, but not necessarily something I'd wear! Simple, flowing, muted colors (but not all neutrals)--overall quite tasteful and attractive. But not high fashion, in my book.

    That's why I've been liking Mondo's designs so far. He really approaches fashion design as an art, and he seems to have a mastery of all the important elements: color, pattern, proportion, detail, and fit, as well as an understanding of current trends and how to tweak them to say something new. And he's always come off as a decent, nice person, while having that amazing personal style that amuses me every week.

    I'm apparently not conversant in goth girl, because everything April makes looks more or less the same to me. Probably someone who like that look appreciates all the nuances, but since I'd never wear a fluttery anything over hot pants, it's lost on me. Also, I can't figure out those black stockings she wears, with the dark black bands. I guess if you're 21...

  22. AnnieLaurie | | #22

    Where's the talent? It certainly seems to wax and wane. One week you see something that is amazing and the next hte same designer bombs. I can only imagine how stressful they are to execute in such short time frames and all the other pressures. But I also think some of the challenges are truly ridiculous, scraping the bottom of the idea barrel. All of these contestants obviously want to develop a career in the design field, and challenging their creative thought processes is a good idea, but the pressure-cooker atmosphere is not exactly conducive to creative thought or activity.

    And I totally agree with some other posters about the judges comments. Constructive criticism that helps a designer move forward would be much better for the contestants and for us viewers. Maybe these judges should be taking a week in each cycle to MENTOR these contestants. Maybe they should be bringing people in to lecture and demonstrate on various facets. I went to Rhode Island Institute for Design DECADES ago and teaching and mentoring were critical parts of our learning. What good would that experience have been if they just kept throwing me in the fire?

    I think America's Next Top Model is a pretty wacko show (I watch only the last 15 minutes so I can see the fabulous photos), but at least they seem to be trying to teach the girls some skills!


  23. Swatch | | #23

    The thing that gives me pause on this show is there taste level. The contestants seem to sew and construct very fast, however, they don't understand what is appropriate, there parents never taught them. I don't know how any of these people dress anyone who makes over 100K. They seem to only understand the junior market.

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