Remember when we said we didn’t want to recap this episode? We meant it. Oh sure, we tried, but that devolved into a conversation about the best/worst challenges ever and then fellow YKYLF staffer Bethany came up with this list. Trust us, it’s infinitely more enjoyable than anything we could possibly say about this last episode.
1. Metropolitan Art Challenge (Season 4, Episode 11)
The Challenge: Christian Siriano, Jillian Lewis, Rami Kashou, Sweet P and Chris March take a field trip to the Met, where they’re inspired by the art and create one of the best runway shows in the show’s history. Christian’s modern Spanish nobleman separates wow the judges to near speechlessness, and he wins the challenge. Jillian comes in a close second with her gorgeous gold dress and black tailored coat inspired by the story of the Argonauts. Sweet P, a PR fan favorite, gets cut this episode with her half-hearted peacock replica.
The Why: Plain and simple, Season 4 had one of the deepest talent pools that I can remember. Not only could Christian, Jillian, Rami and Chris March sew like crazy, they created beautiful fashion–and this episode is the perfect example of that. I would cut someone for Jillian’s Argonaut coat with its flashy gold lining and structured shoulders.
2. Light Challenge (All Stars, Episode 9)
The Challenge: Probably one of the most unique challenges on PR, excluding the insane unconventional material challenges. Designers had to construct a look with lighting technology, and the runway took place under black lights. Pharrell Williams judged, and Austin Scarlett’s romantic Starry Night ballgown won the honor of being featured in one of his music videos. Jerell left, his tribal look bulky and the styling all wrong. Those glasses, right?
The Why: It doesn’t get more original than this, folks. The difficulty of the lighting devices and incorporating them into their couture pushed a lot of designers beyond their comfort zone, and if not everything was runway-worthy, it was at least interesting.
3. Grocery Store Challenge (Season 1, Episode 1)
The Challenge: It was the very first episode of Project Runway, nobody knew what to expect, and the designers definitely didn’t expect to be taken to a grocery store and told they had $50 to construct a garment out of materials found in the store. Austin Scarlett won with one of the most memorable dresses made entirely out of corn husks. Wendy Pepper’s “outfit” was similarly memorable, but for opposite reasons.
The Why: See above. The very first Project Runway challenge, and the very first unconventional material challenge.
4. Drag Queen Challenge (Season 5, Episode 6)
The Challenge: Each designer was assigned a drag queen they had to design an outfit for. Straight Joe won with his flamboyantly pink sequined catsuit with a nautical twist. Daniel’s uninspired sherbet gown was the final nail in his coffin.
The Why: Um, hello. Drag queens + Chris March as a Viking + RuPaul. Do I need to add anything else?
5. Design Your Own Fabric Challenge (Season 8, Episode 10)
The Challenge: The remaining designers were asked to design their own patterned fabric, and then use it in one of their designs. Naturally, there was a twist that the fabric had to be representative of a profound or important moment in their lives. Mondo Guerra, already a fan favorite, cements his status as a frontrunner with a heartfelt confession that he is HIV positive. His patterned fabric, incorporating this, blows the competition away.
The Why: Mondo is one of the most talented designers ever to be featured on Project Runway. His talent, coupled with his unassuming and sweet personality, created an undeniable combination that was showcased most profoundly in this episode. Plus, his outfit rocked.
Worst (in no particular order):
1. The Menswear Challenge (Season 4, Episode 3)
The Challenge: Create a menswear outfit for retired football player Tiki Barber to wear on The Today Show. I believe this is one the only menswear challenges Project Runway has ever unveiled, for good reason. Nobody could do it, and the runway show was pretty ugly.
The Why: Frankly, the inability for nearly anyone to create menswear was pretty entertaining television. Plus, who can forget that Carmen Webber draped a length of fabric on her model in lieu of a shirt?
2. The Wrestling Challenge (Season 4, Episode 10)
The Challenge: The designers were challenged (literally) to create an outfit for one of the WWE divas to wear during a wrestling match. Chris March won this one with his awesome leopard hoody. Jillian came a so close second with her killer girl-next-door tomboy outfit.
The Why: As Chris March said, “of course, I won the tackiest challenge.” It was undeniably tacky, and maybe not the right venue for the WWE divas but they were definitely fun to watch. Besides, watching Rami, the King of Tasteful Draping, struggle with his candy pink conglomeration of everything that is not tasteful, was too awesome for words.
3. Jackie Kennedy Sportswear Challenge (Season 8, Episode 8)
The Challenge: From beginning to end, everything about this challenge was FAIL. The designers were asked to create a look inspired by classic American sportswear, but that could have been worn by Jackie Kennedy today. The reason for this vague, confusing directive seems to be the tie-in to the Kennedys show that never got off the ground. Tim Gunn later ranted about the unfairness of this entire challenge, but hey, regardless, it made for dramatic television. AKA nobody knew what to do. Oh, and then they had to make an additional piece of outerwear. Nevermind that some of the designers had already made a piece of outerwear.
The Why: It was a hot mess. Plain and simple. Mondo won the challenge for the sheer reason he made something that anybody, nevermind Jackie Kennedy, would want to wear.
4. The Stilts Challenge (Season 9, Episode 3)
The Challenge: Paired into teams, the designers had to create outfits for professional stiltwalkers. Um okay. I’m not sure what kind of real-life application this challenge would ever have, but in the end, the least ridiculous moment of the episode was having Kim Kardashian be the guest judge. Laura won the challenge with Anthony-Ryan’s help, and their red Spanish inspired outfit was definitely the most pleasing, though it was definitely a case of the best of the worst. Fallene went home and she and Bryce were hopelessly overmatched and created an ugly and plain black tutu and pants. Even Fallene’s sad little hairpiece couldn’t salvage the outfit.
The Why: Bizarre challenge that didn’t translate well to anything a designer would normally create, plus teams. Teams = bad drama.
5. The Big Group Challenge (Season 10, Episode 5)
The Challenge: The designers were grouped into two large teams and told to create a collection for Marie Claire at Work. Both teams had serious issues, with one team (Melissa, Elena, Raul, Sonjia, Alicia, Dmitry) arguing over everything from fabric to colors to design to the photoshoot. The other team (Ven, Nathan, Christopher, Gunnar, Fabio) got along fairly well, but used a bizarre color palette and designed most of their clothes with silk chiffon as the main fabric. Melissa won for her modern and interesting blue dress, and Raul went home (again) for his ruffled blouse. And THEN he unleashed his opinions in the stew room, flat-out dissing Elena HARD. Sure, she was insufferable, but did she really deserve such a public tongue-lashing?
The Why: We love Project Runway best when it’s about fashion. Not drama.
What’d you think of this last episode? Does it deserve a place in the “Worst Ever” category?