This week on Project Runway: Threads, three new teens competed for the chance to win a prize package totaling $25,000 and a chance to launch their design career. Host Vanessa Williams, a shoe and clothing design expert, is joined each week by Christian Siriano the youngest designer to win Project Runway, plus YouTube fashion guru Ingrid Nilsen and a special guest to judge the young designers’ clothes.
This week’s contestants are Aliyah, Grace and Grayson. Each have brought one of their own designs with them to show Vanessa and Ingrid in a called “Show us your style” challenge where each teen tries grab the early attention of judges while showcasing their personal style. The winner earns a special prize that will help advance them in the week’s challenge.
First up is Aliyah, 14, from Los Angeles. She’s made a red carpet gown that has shiny gold-colored roses covering the entire dress. This dress is definitely glam, which is Aliyah’s intent. She likes her looks to be elegant but sassy at the same time. She adds a signature “A” on all her designs so when people are asked who they are wearing, they’ll be able to say Aliyah Royal with confidence.
Her extreme obsession with fashion helps her express her flair for the dramatic, since she’s a self-proclaimed princess. She’s been sewing for the last two years and has brought along her mother Tanya to assist her. While Aliyah’s diva attitude may get in the way of her success, Tanya is nice enough to help her daughter along in the competition. Vanessa appreciates how sassy the dress is, but Ingrid advises Aliyah to showcase pieces other than red carpet. She wants her to make sure every girl can wear her designs, instead of only girls with red carpet lifestyles.
I agree with Ingrid because while I like the dress, I wouldn’t have even been able to wear that to prom.
Next up is Grayson who is also 14-years-old and from New Orleans, LA. He’s created a high-low style teal dress that shows a floral print underneath. The colors go so perfectly together that while the dress is simple, it’s still elegant and classy. Grayson says he wants people wearing his clothes to feel pretty while wearing them. He’s been designing for five years and has some of his work featured in New Orleans fashion week. He’s known for his creativity using colors and textures.
Here’s a tearjerker for you, but I promise it ends on a good note: Grayson has brought his grandmother, Sirje, to assist him because they’re helping each other get over the death of his father. Grayson lost his father died about five years ago to brain cancer and while it won’t ever get easy, Sirje and Grayson are able to feed off of each other’s energy to make the best of their days. Vanessa agrees that Grayson did a flawless job; however Ingrid tells him the opposite of what she told Aliyah. She wants Grayson to amp up the look a bit but not to the point where it’s too much and he loses the simplicity of his designs. Yeah Ingrid, that makes perfect sense … to no one.
Lastly is Grace who is 15-years-old and from La Cañada, California. She loves incorporating 50s styles into her designs and her first look shows exactly that. She has a mint green dress with white polka dots that looks like it came out of Grease, the movie. The only thing missing on this puffed out skirt is a poodle. She learned to sew way back in kindergarten (woah!) and loves designers like Galliano and Wang. Her signature go-to is mixing girly with glam.
Grace has brought her mom Peggy because they’re super close. Ingrid loves how girly the dress is but thinks Grace could make it more sophisticated by changing a small detail such as the color.
There was no doubt in my mind who the winner was going to be when I saw all the designs presented, but I wasn’t wrong and the winner was Aliyah. I wish she would’ve said how long that dress took to make because it looks like it took many months to create. In any case, Aliyah has the advantage in the week’s challenge which I think is a more creative one than last week’s.
The challenge for this week is to incorporate iconic pieces from the fashion capitals of New York, Paris and Tokyo. Since Aliyah is the winner, she gets first pick. She chooses Paris because she feels like she understands the style and could also learn more from the French sensibility. Grayson picks Tokyo because he likes the history of the city. That leaves Grace with New York, but she’s actually happy because it was her first pick. She already has a design in mind for using the Big Apple as her inspiration.
The designers get to work and Grace wants to make sure she takes the advice Ingrid gave her about making her look more sophisticated. Grace decides to use black for the dress versus her usual pastel pallette and will use the skyline as her inspiration. Aliyah decides to make a skintight skirt using a red stretchy material, along with a crop top. She wants to have a headpiece to tie the look all together, but Tanya isn’t feeling the furry red boa material Aliyah wants to use.
While Grace and Aliyah have already gotten started on their looks, Grayson and Sirje are still unsure about what to make. They don’t worry and instead collaborate on an incredible look to win over the judges. Grayson decides he’ll make a crop top that will have a kimono-style piece over the top to incorporate the signature look in Tokyo. He’ll finish it off by making a simpler straight skirt on the bottom.
As the designers are busy beating the clock, Vanessa comes in to let them know that they have a second challenge ahead of them in the “Surprise door twist.” They each have a suitcase to open with their designated city labeled on top. Once they open it, each teen has a message from a friend back home letting them know what’s ahead of them: The teens now have to create a second look that’s inspired by their hometowns, using the simple white dresses provided as a base. They don’t seem to panic much and quickly come up with ideas to pay homage to their hometowns.
Grace gets inspired by the botanical elements in her hometown and decides that she can put flowers all over the basic dress. Aliyah says that L.A. is all about the crop tops and short shorts so she’ll be using that look as a “girl’s night out” look for the competition. Tanya tries to help Aliyah with some ideas, but diva that she is, Aliyah doesn’t want to hear any of her mom’s ideas. Grayson opts to use Mardi Gras colors in his dress, taking the risk of dying the white dress yellow and adding green and purple layers onto the dress as a pop for the judges.
Vanessa is filled with surprises this episode as she comes back for the second time to give the teens a hard time. She gives them another challenge called “Be the boss” which includes giving each team a pair of walkie-talkies. She then tells the teens that they are going to have to go outside for 30 minutes while their assistants stay and finish the designs. The only way they can communicate is by using the radios. You can tell by the horror on each teen’s face that this challenge is the worst. As the contestants head outside to give instructions, it’s hilarious to see the adults take hold of the situation. You could really see how the roles were switched, because the adults weren’t exactly the greatest at taking the teens’ advice. I’m sure this sounds familiar to some parents.
Finally it’s the day of the fashion show and each teen seems to be having trouble with their looks. Aliyah accidentally cut the top to one of her designs, so now she’s forced to use a top that doesn’t fit the model well. Grace doesn’t like her second look as much as her first. It doesn’t help that the second look is way too big on the model. She’s drowning in the dress, leaving Grace to act quickly by simply putting a safety pin in it to hopefully hold the frock in place. Grayson says he hates his second look because he’s running out of time, forcing him to compromise his entire desgin. He’s forced to throw all the green and purple materials on the yellow dress as quickly as possible to accomplish the Mardi Gras look.
This week’s special guest judge is Seventeen Magazine’s senior fashion editor, Jasmine Snow. After the fashion show is over, each contestant is brought up in front of the judges with their looks to field some questions.
First up is Grace with her New York look and botanical California look. Ingrid likes her second floral dress but wished it was strapless versus the one shoulder strap. Jasmine credits Grace for how sleek and chic the first look is because it allows all the attention to go straight towards the bottom of the dress. However, she thinks the second dress has a bit too much texture going on. Christian somewhat agrees with Jasmine saying he wishes the second dress were flip-flopped, allowing the dress to have painted flowers flowing up the neck which would make it more flattering. Christian doesn’t hold back his feelings on her first dress by saying he could see it on the racks of Neiman Marcus today. I bet that blew Grace’s mind! Vanessa adds that she loves the crisscross detailing on the back of the first dress. I couldn’t agree more with what the judges said.
Grayson is next to be questioned about his designs. Christian says he especially loves how the purple material of the “kimono” in the first look is a sheer overlay because it allows you to see the underlay. Then he mentions exactly what I was thinking when I saw Grayson’s first look come down the runway: Where’s the actual kimono look? After Grayson’s explanation. Christian says he can understand it a bit more, but the inspiration isn’t very present and visible. Well said, Christian. He also loves how Grayson took the risk and dyed the second dress yellow. Ingrid likes how he tried to be a bit more dramatic in this round, but it’s still not cutting it for her.
I don’t really understand Ingrid at this point because she wants something simple but not THAT simple …just sort of simple. She also mentions how the bow on the second dress makes the front green material look like an apron, which Grayson did mention he didn’t like, either. Jasmine likes how he was able to incorporate beads into the Mardi Gras look in a more chic way.
Aliyah is the last to head up to the judges. Vanessa can see the Parisian look that she was going for and also likes the silhouette that Aliyah picked. Jasmine likes the use of feathers but would’ve only liked to see them in the headdress and not on the dress as well. I think this was a nicer way of saying it looks a bit like a tacky, girly Elmo. However, Aliyah redeemed herself in the second LA—inspired look. Jasmine even mentioned that it’s a look every girl would wear and it’s something they’d picture in Seventeen Magazine. Christian also likes how Aliyah was able to make the plain white dress into something completely different.
In the beginning of the competition I thought for sure Aliyah would emerge the winner. I guess you can’t always base things off first impressions, because by the end of the fashion show I thought Grace had this thing in the bag. After the judges reviewed everything they saw with one another, they chose Grace as the winner of this week’s Threads.
What were your thoughts on this episode? Do you like the way they incorporated a stronger idea and concept into the challenge this week versus last week? I like how they each had a different city because it was like a different mini challenge on top of the main challenge. It wasn’t like last week where they had more freedom to simply make any red carpet styled look. I also loved how they added in the friends to give them their other challenge. Did you think that the luggage with the video was a cute idea? Do you think it was fair that Vanessa kept coming in with different challenges? Last week they didn’t have as much but I think that’s what makes a competition show interesting. Who do you think should’ve won? Which piece was your favorite? I haven’t been to New York but I’d definitely buy Grace’s dress. Even though there wasn’t a strong kimono element in Grayson’s first look, I loved it so much that I want to buy it now! Those colors are perfect for Fall and I don’t have anything like that in my wardrobe. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Watch Project Runway: Threads Thursdays at 10:30pm ET/PT on Lifetime.
Photos: Bobby Quillard Copyright 2014