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So I have good news and bad news. The bad news: In this week’s Halloween-themed Project Runway challenge, none of the designers had the foresight to craft a haute frock for Winifred Sanderson or—come on, folks—Mortricia Addams. You’re telling me no one wanted to give this iconic robe a couture upgrade? But, alas, the good news: Someone did design a garment fit for Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, so I suppose I shan’t complain too much.
To introduce episode 3’s challenge, Christian leans gleefully into the camp of it all, popping out of the shadows in a Dracula cape and attempting, several times, to pull off the ubiquitous villain cackle. Everyone—myself included—is a little unsure what to do with this. Mercifully, the multi-millionaire-turned-museum acquisition pulls the theatrics back long enough to set the scene: Our designers will spend the night in a haunted house, where they’ll sniff around for inspiration before selecting chic-yet-chilling fabrics the next morning. Once in the workroom, they’ll have two days to mold the perfect evening gown, one that’s both “haunting” and fit for a masquerade.
The competitors are shuttled via van to an initially undisclosed location, which turns out to be the 175-year-old Bartow-Pell Mansion in the Bronx. Christian claims it’s one of “New York’s most haunted places,” yet the overnight stay is one big yawn. Apart from a few flickering lights and a creepy doll in a crib, the most unnerving sight at the Bartow-Pell is Darren, on a deranged mission to end his tenure as a single man. We already know he’s hoping to catch Christian’s eye, but episode 3 Darren has widened his prospects to…the undead, I guess? Apparently, not only can he “see dead people—that’s not a lie,” but he’s willing and eager to date one. As he barges through the house, he exclaims (supposedly to the ghosts), “Excuse me, we’re going through your home. Also, I’m single!” and, upon stumbling into a mannequin dressed in a man’s clothing, announces, “That’s my boyfriend; no one touches him!”
The rest of the crew finds their inspirations in decidedly more orthodox details: an ornate gold frame, a snake sculpture, a patterned carpet. After surviving the night with zero supernatural encounters, they head to Mood, where Christian gives them 30 minutes and $500 to pick rich, elegant fabrics that still scream “Edward Scissorhands could wear this,” maybe.
Practically everyone opts for red or black fabric, which makes Christian want to vomit, but Darren’s too busy fantasizing about his inspiration—a woman bathed in blood and sacrificed to Satan—to reconsider his design. Before long, everyone’s back in the workroom, and Christian’s stalking around like a panther ready to strike.
He doesn’t suss out many victims initially, but once he settles on Katie, he pounces quick. “It’s Popeye goes west, honey,” he proclaims her horizontal-striped muslin. (On the verge of a breakdown, she strips her mannequin and torches her initial design.) Christian moves on to Zayden, who’s slicing up a crisp red fabric that creases and rolls when it moves. Kenneth, at his station, shoves armfuls of green fabric over a funky polka-dotted mesh. Both looks receive the signature Siriano side-eye. You know the one: It’s the words “God help you,” but in gesture form. Much scarier than Dracula.
After everyone took up arms in the Battle of Meg and Prajje last week, the designers are apparently eager for some quiet time, and they each make it to the runway without dropping a crumb of interpersonal drama. Enjoy the peace while it lasts; Bravo won’t let it remain. For now, the jaw-droppers made it to the catwalk. Allow us to assess.
- First is Coral’s Day of the Dead-inspired mermaid gown, finished off with a poofy tulle hem and a black fringe cape. Although I’d have loved to see her lean more heavily into her source material, the look remains simple but effective.
- This week, Prajje’s model is in a crimson off-the-shoulder a-line gown with a stunning mesh headpiece decked out in glitter and feathers. I’m not sure what’s “haunting” about it, but I’m too delighted by the mask to care.
- Shantall’s look is a shimmery curve-hugging dress in silver, accented with jagged cut-outs along the skirt. Reminiscent of a spider web, the garment is stylish but eerie enough to satisfy the theme.
- Next, Octavio presents the first ballgown he’s ever created: a ballooning black dress that cinches at the knees, creating what Elaine later calls an “architectural quality.” The judges fall over themselves with praise, but I’m less convinced. While I adore the eye-catching silhouette and feel it encapsulates Octavio’s aesthetic, the actual garment feels like something we’ve seen before.
- A design that makes everyone in the audience gasp, Bones’s one-shoulder metallic gold top is paired with a liquid-like green skirt that features a side slit lined with fringe. It’s a lot of look, but I’d happily sport that skirt to take out the garbage.
- From the second she starts down the runway, it’s clear Zayden’s model can’t walk. Just as Christian predicted, the fabric of his strapless red gown crumples and bunches, which means, sadly, the dress looks cheap.
- Kristina sends out a scoop-neck black ballgown with a rectangular patch of multicolored sequins adorning the bodice. However, the best part of this look isn’t the dress but the “mask”: a pair of tiny sunglasses lined with dangling crystals. Y2K, but make it spooky.
- I’m not a big fan of Sabrina’s look. (In my notes, I wrote “it’s giving butterfly-meets-witch,” which in retrospect makes zero sense.) With sharp, pronounced shoulders draped in black netting, her model is swallowed amidst the fabric, but it’s not enough of a disaster to merit a spot in the bottom.
- Another one-shoulder dress! Aaron, finally, gives us a glimmer of color: There’s purple beneath all that black! However, the fit reminds me strongly of a gown you’d wear to a Renaissance fair. It’s not a bad look, but it’s not exactly elegant.
- Kenneth’s model is in an olive-colored satin that drapes her shoulders, meets in a knot at her waist, then flares out again into a train. The rest of her body—including her face—is coated in that unflattering dotted mesh. Overall, this garment looks like it could have been cool, but the execution is a jumbled mess.
- Darren stops ogling Christian long enough to send out his piece, a creepy spin on Red Riding Hood that features a metallic red deep-v bodice and ruffled tulle skirt.
- Katie’s dress looks a bit like someone tried to drape a mummy in black ribbon instead of bandages, but somehow the effect is…cool? The striped top and skirt, paired with a “blood”-splattered white fabric wrapped around the waist, is a huge risk that pays off.
- Next, Chastity reveals the crown jewel of the bunch: a black floral-lace column gown with pleated mesh gauze shaped into twin fans on the front and back of the bodice. It’s haunting; it’s avant-garde; it’s gorgeous. 10/10.
- Finally, my girl Anna brings up the rear with her heart-stopping corpse-bride ensemble. Draped in a transparent veil-cum-robe, her model throws off the top to reveal a corseted strapless gown. Sexy and sophisticated, the dress earns one of the best compliments of the night from guest judge Taraji P. Henson: “It’s so Gaga!”
After the judges tally scores, they place Octavio, Anna and Chastity in the top, with Zayden, Bones and Kenneth in the bottom. While Chastity takes home the gold—her look is “hot sex on a platter,” per Henson—the panel has a harder time honing in on the loser. Zayden’s was poorly constructed; Bones’s gave off “showgirl” vibes, or so Nina posits; and Kenneth’s was a confusing, costume-y garble. Ultimately, darling baby-boy Kenneth is sent packing, a development made even more heartbreaking after witnessing him crumple before Meg’s sharp tongue last week. But the blow is eased by Chastity’s emotional celebration; after narrowly avoiding a departure in week one, she’s climbed the ladder with unerring vision. Plus, now she has a Halloween costume that’s won Nina Garcia’s stamp of approval!
Next week, we’re ditching the graveyard motifs for bold, boisterous florals, and let me tell y’all—I have thoughts on florals. Let’s just hope Christian doesn’t dress up as a geranium, shall we?
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