By People Staff
Updated September 18, 2008 12:00 AM
Credit: Jay Sullivan/Bravo; Barbara Nitke/Bravo

It was ladies’ night Wednesday on Project Runway, with the designers asked to give recent female college graduates makeovers with a little help from their mothers.

Randomly paired with students, the designers had time to conference with their models and learn about them – their goals, aspirations and, of course, measurements. While some designers and their charges meshed well from the get-go–we’re thinking about Jerell and his self-described androgynous client and also Kenley and her smitten student (whom Heidi later termed her “mini-me”)–others had apparent communication issues. Joe especially hewed to his own vision. Problem was, it just wasn’t one that any self-respecting 20-something would desire. The designer whipped up a pinstriped business suit and blouse. Nevermind that his client is a graphic designer with dyed hair and hipster style. He seemed intent on jamming her into some “working girl” archetype–complete with a pocket square. (Was there no time to create a dickey, too?) Kenley couldn’t stifle her laughter at the thought of the pocket square and Jerell cracked up about the stodgy accessory. Still, Joe forged ahead, undeterred by anybody’s doubts.

Suede, too, had big problems. His client was a photographer who asked for something functional and fresh. She said she liked pants. So what did Suede create for her? A purple, patterned dress paired with a jacket spewing oversized ruffled sleeves. (Maybe that’s a good look for a Prince super-fan reunion?) It seemed Suede was missing another voice (and we’re not talking about the third-person Suede that Suede likes to refer to) to keep him in check.

As for the mothers, well, they had their own concerns. Largely, though, the designers listened to their clients – and let the older generation just advise from the sidelines. Still, Leanne‘s client, a schoolteacher, had an especially vocal mom who worried that the designer’s initial dress made her daughter look “flat-chested.” So, Leanne was forced to re-sew the garment and change up her design, adding a jacket and a different neckline.

When it came time for the runway show, it was a treat to see the coeds graduate to new hairstyles and working woman attire. Jerell’s model walked down the runway with panache, sparkling in her embellished blouse, paired with a pencil skirt and oversized cardigan. There was no doubt he would win (he did), thus breaking the (un)official female-dominance of the night. (Guest judge Cynthia Rowley added more lady-power to the proceedings, though.)

In the bottom stood Suede and Joe, both for obvious transgressions against taste and their clients’ wishes. The judges fretted that Joe aged his client 20 years with his blah pinstripe suit. And Nina Garcia could not even begin to enumerate her issues with Suede’s outfit. She griped about the jacket, then said that was simply the “tip of the iceberg.”

In the end Joe was sent home, incredulous, and still believing in his design. In his farewell, he dedicated his time on the show to his daughters, and said that he thinks he made them proud. Let’s just hope he doesn’t try to outfit them in pinstripes anytime soon. –Brian Orloff

Check back later for our exclusive Q&A with Joe.

Tell us: Which designer had your vote from last night’s challenge? Did Joe deserve to go home over Suede?

Jay Sullivan/Bravo; Barbara Nitke/Bravo