Project Runway Season 17, Episode 8 Recap: Sound and Color


Woo-hoo, honey, put on your sunglasses before you watch this episode because it is bright. There is so much color popping off the screen this week; it’s like the exact opposite of the Battle of Winterfell. The Frolic of Summerfell? I don’t know; I’m working on it.

In related news, we start off the episode with a colorful exchange between a few of our top contestants. Bishme and Renee are grabbing breakfast in the kitchen, talking about the Elegance challenge. Bishme says that he felt like someone else, namely Tessa, should have been in the bottom three with him. He notes that the strap on Tessa’s mom-inspired top kept falling down and Renee adds, “It looked like it wasn’t completed.” Tessa’s so shewk that she spills her frosted mini-wheats, which is exactly the way I respond to surprising information. Later, she talks about it with Lela and Lela says Bishme was just a sore loser. Will this moment of drama come back to color the challenge later on? You betcha.

The challenge

Stylist Marni Senofonte is back. “No matter where you go, you’re on display,” she says as she talks about her work with her celebrity clients and conceiving of a coherent collection. The challenge this week is to work in teams of three to create a mini-collection of three looks for Morena Baccarin’s upcoming Rio vacation. Baccarin says she needs beachwear, a chic daytime look, and a fabulous night look.

Karlie randomly selects designers’ names out of the trusty clear purse to pick their other two collaborators. First up is Tessa, who chooses Sebastian (smart choice), and Lela (hmm, I have questions about this pairing). Second picker is Hester; her first choice is Garo (makes sense conceptually based on their approaches and outsider status but Garo isn’t too tickled), and Bishme (sure, I’ll allow it). The third team is Renee, Venny, and Jamall (I believe in this team deeply).

On Team Hester, Garo wants eveningwear, Hester chooses beachwear (wild! I am already psyched and shewk. My shredded mini-wheats are all over the counter). Bishme gets daywear.

On Team The Rest of the People, Renee wants daywear, Venny takes eveningwear, and Jamall gets the beach.

On Team Tessa, Lela chooses to do eveningwear, and Tessa chooses the day look, which is interesting as Tessa so often works in earth tones and black. This leaves Sebastian with the beachwear design.

Side note: Sebastian says that in Colombia he used to design his own Speedos.

The workroom

Marni enters and encourages everyone to be very clear about what the story is for the collection. Conceptual cohesion is key here and a lot of the designers need a little encouragement to get there rather than focusing simply on their individual design moments. Initially only Lela is getting it, pitching a “Roman Holiday” theme.

Team Hester, meanwhile, decides that Morena is a “disco queen” (honey, what?!) coming back to Rio to throw a party for her friends and family. Shredded mini-wheats skittering across the floor.



Tessa and Lela discover that they’re both very Type-A and they’re used running their own companies. There seem to be intimations of drama but what we see, however, are two people with strong ideas speaking clearly and definitively to each other, which is refreshing.

Also refreshing is the way that Team The Rest of the People are working together. Renee’s last team challenge was with Kovid and Frankie; she monologues that she took a step back during that challenge, to their detriment as they ended up in the bottom three. This time, Renee, Jamall, and Venny have a closer professional relationship and are able to communicate and compromise quickly and easily.

Meanwhile at Team Hester, Garo says that Hester is in charge, but that he is the one of who secretly in charge. Garo is the Dick Cheney of Team Disco Queen.

The runway

Okay, everyone has gone H.A.M. on bright colors and patterns. It’s all pinks and corals and turquoises, which are fun individually, but all together look like the chorus from a 70s-set Golden Girls origin story musical. Call it Mamma Sophia: Here We Go Again.

Also: when you start to see these designs on the models, everyone starts to look like Lisa Turtle from Saved By the Bell and it’s giving me a Zach Attack.

Elaine, who is filling in for Karlie on the runway this week, says that the there’s some confusion as all the collections look basically the same. Tessa, Sebastian and Lela are safe, leaving Hester, Bishme, and Garo as the top team and Renee, Venny, and Jamall as the bottom team.

Hester presents a pink halter top bathing suit with yellow lacing on the sides and on the back. Morena identifies this as her favorite look, although the color is too much for her. Hester points out that it’s a reversible bathing suit with a black alternate. Clever! In private conference, the judges are in love with how well it’s constructed.

Bishme’s look is white pants and a coral tailored bustier top with flowy sleeves. Brandon says the pants are a breath of fresh air in this color saturated runway. Garo presents a turquoise dress that’s cut like a jumpsuit and screams Bea Arthur in the best way. It also has a cape. It’s like Bea Arthur meets Guinan from Star Trek. Dorothy in space.

Hester ends up winning for a third time! “Dammit,” she says, “I wanted it to be Bishme.”

Backstage, Hester and Bishme join the other safe designers. Tessa, apropos of nothing, says “We love you but I do not love your look.” Wow. Even the shredded mini-wheats are like, “WTF?”

What is Tessa’s deal? We were really set up to root for her this season and she’s a good designer, but this weird antagonism is so appalling. Bishme calls her out, pointing out that she had a very strong reaction to him voicing his opinion about her. “Just let Hester enjoy her win,” he says. Hester’s sanguine, “I don’t care either way, honestly.” With three wins, I’d say she doesn’t have to.

Meanwhile, Team The Rest of the People is at the bottom.

It’s clear that Jamall has one of the two least-liked looks but he has immunity this week after winning last week’s challenge. He presents a turquoise bathing suit top that has a long-ish skirt and a patterned bottom underneath. It’s paired with sneakers so she looks like Flo-Jo tbh. Brandon is so confused by the construction. Elaine says it’s a bad ice skater uniform. Morena says she couldn’t swim in it (which is true). In private conference, she says she has a visceral reaction to this look. However, Marni gets it but she doesn’t think it’s right for Morena.

Renee presents unintentionally baggy high-waisted yellow pants and a very blousy turquoise patterned top. Brandon’s biggest point of contention: “The mall-walking, drop-crotch, cotton-satine, genie in Rio, pale banana yellow pant.” Morena says she doesn’t know a single female who would look good in a high-waisted yellow pant. Yikes! My frosted mini-wheats are in space!

And the best way for me to describe Venny’s look is Anita from a high school production of West Side Story but in fuschia. Morena confuses it for the daytime look and says she would dress her daughter in it, which is quite a read. In private conference, Marni makes the small adjustment of pulling the straps down off the model’s shoulders and everyone loves it so much more. But is it enough to save him? Particularly since he wasn’t the one to figure out the adjustment?


Venny works on his design.


Turns out it is. Renee is cut, which is truly tragic. Venny’s crying hard, I’m crying, Renee is surprisingly chill about this. However, as she noted earlier, this will allow her to go back home and get married, since she had to postpone her wedding to be on the show. “I just wanted to prove that it’s okay to make a decision later in your life to do something you always dreamed about doing,” Renee says.

Who I’m rooting for this week

The competition might be Hester’s to lose, so I’m rooting for her. And Bishme as usual. And also Morena Baccarin who is a hoot and a half! Also, after this ocular assault of fuchsia designs, I must confess I don’t even think that pink is Morena Borrecin’s color. So, let’s work on that. Enjoy Rio!


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