Project Runway review: Dream dresses make the client feel special


Creating dream dresses had the Project Runway designers balancing the client’s vision with their own design preferences. Did someone compromise their vision?

Project Runway is reaching the end of the season 17. With just five designers remaining, the competition becomes more than creating a well-executed or pretty garment. This week’s challenge tackled a skill that successful designers need to hone, compromise.

This week’s Project Runway challenge gave five hard working New York City women a chance of a lifetime. Each of these women, who help to keep the city moving, would get their ultimate dream dress. But, was that dress truly the client’s dream or did the designers push them in the wrong direction?

The key to this week’s Project Runway challenge was compromise. While the client might want the Cinderella skirt and the bubblegum pink chiffon, those choices could be wrong for her. In a way, the designers weren’t tasked to create a look imagined by their client, they were to create a look that gave the client the confidence of that dream dress.

Even before the designers met their clients, Christian set the tone for the challenge. As the designers toured his space, The Curated, the topic of finding the inclusivity in fashion was discussed. Everyone, any size, shape or color, deserves to feel confident in a dream dress.

From the beginning it was very clear that some designers wanted to make their client’s dream come true. Garo, Bishme and even Sebastian have worked with private clients before. They understood that finding the compromise was key to success.

PROJECT RUNWAY – “New York City of Dreams” – Hester Sunshine, Garo Sparo, Jamall Osterholm, Bishme Cromartie, Tessa Clark. Photo by: Eric Liebowitz/Bravo

As the client meetings began, it was abundantly clear that Tessa was pushing her client to wear something that wasn’t her idea. When the client says that she loves pinks and girly designs and the designer gives her a boxy, fitted dress, there is an obvious communication issue.

While the designers need to find a way to push their client, the client needs to feel good about the dress. As Garo said, it is the designer’s job to find a way to blend his aesthetic with the client’s wishes. The goal is for the client to strut down the runway feeling confident and looking amazing.

Still, that moment of perfection takes a deft hand. The designer cannot completely stray from his core design vision. But, there is a way to blend the two worlds that is innovative and beautiful.

It was clear that three designers achieved that balance. Garo, Sebastian and Bishme were the top designs. The beaming smiles on their models’ faces showed that they were having their big moment and nothing would ever take that away.

Garo’s look was perfection for his model. It flattered her shape, it addressed what she wanted, and it reflected Garo’s signature look.

PROJECT RUNWAY — “New York City of Dreams” Episode 1711 — Pictured: Garo Sparo — (Photo by: Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo)

He found a way to advise his client to embrace something bigger. While it wasn’t necessarily the color she chose, he explained his choices to influence her perception of her dream dress. Although it wasn’t manipulating her, Garo was able to uncover what his model wanted without alienating her.

After last week’s bee-inspired mistake, Garo made a huge comeback. It will be curious to see if he can push himself as much as he pushed his client in next week’s challenge.

Sebastian struggled at first, but found his muse in this challenge. Again, he found the balance. His client wanted a retro, princess look, which is contrary to Sebastian’s signature style. Still, the final dress had a touch of Sebastian while paying homage to the retro, princess vibe.

PROJECT RUNWAY –  “New York City of Dreams” – Pictured: Designed by Sebastian Grey. Photo by: Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo

Truthfully, this dress was probably the most innovative. It blended two very different styles in a creative way. The architectural bow offset the full skirt. The play on themes made the dress quite successful.

Winning this week’s challenge was Sebastian. Hopefully his client can wear this dream dress to her (possible) engagement party.

Bishme had a top look, but it wasn’t discussed a lot. In some ways, that decision was a little disappointing. His dress had interesting details around the peplum, which gave his model a lovely defined waist.

PROJECT RUNWAY – “New York City of Dreams” – Pictured: Designed by Bishme Cromartie. Photo by: Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo

Additionally, the deep plunge offered an interesting shape. While the color was a little controversial, the dress looked lovely on his client. It would have been nice to see more discussion about this dress.

The same can be said about Hester’s look. This challenge was difficult for her. While she deserves credit for trying to give her client what she wanted, Hester lost sight of herself.

Although the color was vibrant, the playfulness that everyone expects from Hester was toned down too far. She needed to inject more of herself into this look. Again, the compromise fell too far toward the client.

PROJECT RUNWAY – “New York City of Dreams – Pictured: Jamall Osterholm. Photo by: Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo

To say that Jamal struggled in this challenge was an understatement. While he does deserve credit for trying to give his client her dream prom dress, the dress was poorly constructed. His poor model looked like she wanted to crawl under the runway versus strut down it.

In many ways, Jamal needs more time to mature as a designer. The execution issues were quite clear in this challenge. He didn’t understand how to provide support in a dress for a curvier woman. Instead of accentuating her curves, he did a disservice to her shape.

While Jamal does his puffer style well, he fully admitted that he could not defend his look. That statement took guts and should have been rewarded. Instead of talking back, he accepted the criticism and sought to learn and grow from it.

PROJECT RUNWAY – “New York City of Dreams” – Jamall Osterholm, Tessa Clark. Photo by: Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo

Tessa took the opposite tactic on the runway. Her constant denial back to Brendan Maxwell was almost rude. Granted, confidence is important, but arrogance isn’t appropriate, especially when the evidence is stacked against you.

From the beginning of this Project Runway challenge, it was clear that Tessa had a problem with this challenge. She didn’t want to design a dress (at first she made pants). The client specifically said that she liked pink and Tessa insisted that black was a better choice. She missed the whole point of this challenge, giving the client a dream dress and pushing herself as a designer.

It would have been nice for the judges to see the tape where the client asks for pink as Tessa makes up a story about how the client wanted black. Those statements showed Tessa’s unwillingness to compromise.

In addition, Tessa’s dress was poorly executed. She didn’t finish hems, she was cutting chiffon back stage and she copied a skirt from a previous challenge. Overall, this look was a huge miss.

It was quite surprising that the judges didn’t call her out on all the back-talking. Throughout the season, Tessa has been criticized for not finishing hems. Saying that everyone uses tape is an excuse, not a defense.

The judges had to decide between Tessa and Jamal for elimination. In the end, they chose Jamal to be sent home. The decision was based in the idea that Jamal needs more time to grow as a designer.

Given Tessa’s defensiveness and unwillingness to push herself, she should have gone home this week. The unwillingness to listen should be a red flag that she does not want to grow as a designer.

Venny Etienne is the fashion name that you need to learn. light. Related Story

What did you think of this week’s Project Runway episode? Did the judges send the right designer home?