Project Runway Season 15 Recap: Real People, Real Families

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Image via Lifetime

Project Runway throws a new twist into the “real people” challenge when they make those people actual family members of the contestants.

Once again, we join our Top Nine in the Branded hotel, for they are still a Top Nine after the use of the Tim Gunn Save™ at the end of last week on Cornelius. A long time ago the contestants would have calmed down by now, as crossing into the Top Ten meant showing at Fashion Week no matter what, in the plethora of dummy collections. But now, with only the Top Six gaining those slots, these last few weeks are downright dog eat dog.

This challenge is introduced by a rep from AARP, who is dressed to match the walls of the workroom. So we already know this is an “Old People Challenge.” Which means the contestants will be working with real people. But the genuine shock as their moms walk in is a sight. There are a few whose mothers do not show up (Dexter and Roberi), and are rewarded with long time friends who are their adopted family. (Laurence has her daughter, not her mother, but considering the immigration issues and that Laurence is way older than she looks, that’s close enough.) Mah-Jing also apparently has estrangement issues, but she showed up, and that’s probably the most moving of the reunions.

Image via Lifetime

There’s an extra bonus prize for this challenge, other than the experience of dressing one’s mother on a reality show. $50,000 dollars, $25 to the designer and the other half to the parent or adopted family member. AARP must have ponied up a hell of a lot, because Lifetime even spent the money to send them out to one on one brunches with their loved one, and made it a two day challenge (well, one and a half after time is subtracted for the heart-to-heart brunches.)

After the tearful sketching sessions, and a trip to Mood with $250, and the reminder that this is a real people challenge as they widen out their dressforms to have things like hips and chests, Day One in the work room speeds by. Because of course Tim doesn’t come until Day Two, in order to ensure the minimum time possible to course correct on the bad ideas.

Image via Lifetime

Just to emphasize how little time they will have, there’s even a mom fitting before Tim’s walk through. This is so Tim can consult with whether or not mom likes what she’s being made to wear.

  • Cornelius: Because there’s no opinions about his terrible choice of rope print, Tim spends the time loudly proclaiming he’s mad at the judge’s for trying to send Cornelius hope last week, earning catty nervous glances from Dexter and Erin in her Dexter branded tee shirt.
  • Mah-Jing: He’s doing Japanese street wear with a hip hop twist. Tim calls it ambitious and walks away.
  • Jenni: Her mormon mom has no personality or opinions, which explains why Jenni’s outfit is the same. Both Tim and her mother hate on the outfit.
  • Laurence: For the first time, Tim questions Laurence’s jacket magic. It’s a shocker.
  • Roberi: His not-mom’s contacts scare me, but Roberi’s over-designing is what scares Tim.
  • Nathalia: She’s making her mother an entire wardrobe. Tim’s looks says that he thinks the girl has bitten off way more than she can handle in the time frame.
  • Erin: She claims she’s making a cocoon coat, but it looks just like the same shapeless weirdness that the judges loved at the beginning but everyone is now souring on, including him. The dress that’s underneath is made of what she calls “old lady lace” that is so preschool and horrifying Tim can’t believe her mom isn’t insulted.
  • Dexter: He’s made an actually interesting knit dress. Tim is not sure it’s cool, and by the time he’s done, neither is Dexter.
  • Rik: His mother is going to university to get a degree and a promotion, and the dress jacket he’s making for her looks divine.

Image via Lifetime

There’s not really time to change course and those who should are too hardheaded to do so anyway. Day Two ends with most in a good place, vis a vis being done. Well, everyone but Nathalia’s entire collection.

Day of runway, the Nathalia meltdown goes into full swing, espeically when Jenni’s threatened pants meltdown never materializes. Like, her mother is handed her clothes and told to dress as Tim calls everyone to head down to the runway. I suppose at least he didn’t hold ten minutes so she could finish.