Mike Yarish/Lifetime
March 12, 2010 12:00 AM

Welcome to the wonderful world of Garnier. What makes this different than other challenges? Well, not much honestly, except that your precious worktime is interrupted for a special “consultation” with Phillip (who, by the way, is super nice) … also known as a commercial. Can I tell you how much Garnier product is still in my household? Between Althea, Malvinand myself there is no end of green bottles. We all smell fresh and fruity. 🙂 The challenge this week was to create a look inspired by one of the elements: earth, fire, water, or air — not to be confused with Earth, Wind, and Fire, the band, which I couldn’t stop thinking about while I watched the episode.

This challenge was interesting to me in that the parameters were so ambiguous. It’s fun to see what direction different designers take an idea. It’s also dangerous in terms of the competition because if you overthink your concept, the judges may not understand you and may say that you didn’t follow instructions. If you want to make a certain design badly enough, you may rationalize it into the inspiration. The challenge is open to interpretation, but the line between creative license and total freedom is a thin one.

My favorites this week were Jay, Seth Aaron and Jonathan. Amy got a big “huh?” and Ben and Mila just didn’t excite me. Ben gets points for attempting a full suit and top in one day, but suits are pretty risky on Project Runway. For those non-sewers out there, tailoring involves a whole other set of techniques that are both difficult and time consuming, so it’s not terribly surprising that Ben’s adventure in suiting didn’t end on a good note. I loved Jay’s use of stripes, which are rather concrete, to portray an inspiration as light as air. It actually worked. Jonathan did a great job this week. His dress was well made, well thought out, and took just the right amount of liberty with the original element. Seth Aaron’s was also impressive.

At this point in the competition, things take a turn for the stressful. The second half of the season has always been my favorite to watch because the personalities become more apparent. As someone who has been there, I can tell you that it takes a while for everyone to drop their walls a bit and trust that they can be friends with the designers working around them. Or not!

See you next week! –Carol Hannah Whitfield

Check out the PEOPLE StyleWatch pick!

Tell us: What did you think of the episode? What was your favorite design? And what are your questions for Carol Hannah?

Carol Hannah answers questions from last week’s comments:

From Jordan S.: Great episode, loved the challenge! Carol Hannah, Before the judges score the designs do they go over and see it up close? Cause I would think it s hard to see all the details from a far away distance when they re on the runway.Nope. They see it from about 10 feet away, which is close enough to see things but far enough that you are glad they aren’t closer.

From Kim: When you watch the show, do you imagine what you would make if you had their challenge? With the kids last episode and the hardware challenge this week what garments would you have made?Sometimes, yes, I think about what I would make. Other times, no — on purpose. It stresses me out!

From Ara: I really enjoy your recaps, Carol Hannah! You have a unique and refreshing perspective of the show. Here s my question: How much weight do you think the previous challenges (and designers success in those challenges) have on the judges decisions? For example, Emilio s garment tonight was not the quality he normally produces — do you think that his past work impacted the elimination? Or do you feel that each challenge stands alone?Thanks Ara! This is a good question, and one that my fellow cast mates and I have discussed in detail. Truth is, we don’t really know. It seems that sometimes your past work is taken into consideration, but not always. Obviously, at the last couple of challenges it seems to have more weight.

From Jon: My questions for Carol Hannah would be: Are you going to New York Fashion Week to see the final 3? Who do you think will win Season 7 of Project Runway? I thought the challenge was quite interesting! Yes&No, the right person did go home, but also, Emilio could ve gone home as well, what he made was horrible!I did indeed attend the finale show in February. I have an idea of who is going to win, but I’m not telling! No spoilers here.

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