Project Runway Power Rankings, week six: Hell is other designers

In the sixth episode of Project Runway New Zealand, the designers had to make a high-fashion look inspired by wallpaper designs. Henry Oliver ranks the results.

Like a headmaster starting the assembly after some school-wide bad exam results, let me say up front how disappointed I am with the designers work this week.

Tut tut. Last week’s strong showing gave me confidence that I’d got it wrong early on. Maybe this was a fairly talented group of young designers, not just a good group of characters for some reality TV fun. But this week’s poor performance is a reversion to the mean. The best designers were still pretty good, but overall, this was baaaaad. Are they tired? Out of ideas? I don’t know, but I hope it’s temporary. If you can’t make a high-fashion look (which is such a wide style brief as to not really be a brief at all) out of a highly graphic inspiration, you’re not on the right show.

Tut tut.

9. Judy

Judy knew it. This was bad. Beyond bad. Worse than the bad Judy from the early episodes bad. It’s too short, too boring, too ‘low’. Plus, she used her cutout treatment from the other week but made it worse. Whatever she was making before she decided to make this in a couple of hours must have been better.

Judy’s failure was seeded early by Jess, who’s been a Judy truther for a while if I remember correctly. If Judy can’t do something good when she has a wide brief and immunity, when can she? Maybe she needs the pressure to do good work. She’ll have it next week.


8. Beth

Poor Beth. Just “here to have fun” but sent home on her birthday. While she’s “not exactly the most fashionable person” and “still stuck in the 50s, mate,” she is in a fashion competition and must be judged accordingly. (I’m still confused by her combination of ambition and disinterest in fashion – if she just wants to make vaguely gothy versions of 50s pin-ups, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.)

Anyway, this was none of that. Not high fashion, but not particularly Beth either. I mean, it’s not horrible. You can see someone wearing this IRL, but it’s just super boring. In her defence, she did get the boring wallpaper, but, then again, she chose that wallpaper, so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Still… unlucky that Judy had immunity, but thems the breaks.

7. Camille

Eesh. Restrained Camille is bad Camille and this was the worst Camille. There’s the beginning of an idea with that purple back-piece, but it just looked chucked on. Again, Camille is lucky to skate by seemingly unnoticed.


6. Peni

This was worse than the judges gave it credit for. Accidentally looking like something from Yeezy two or three years ago should not be rewarded. Sure, the middle octagon piece was bad bad bad, but it wasn’t the only thing wrong with this outfit. The coat was a cheap sci-fi costume. I hate it when judges say you shouldn’t make a woman look wider (that’s not only dumb and offensive but just stylistically wrong), but those side bits were just ugly. And the crotch? It managed to be both tight and baggy in all the wrong ways and places. “Did you think about making it flattering?” asked Sally-Anne, who also noted that it looked like a Teletubby.

I’m totally shocked this was in the top, which can only be attributed to poor performances across the board and perhaps by guest judge Marc Moore seemingly spending more time trying to hit on the models than thinking too much about the clothes (his critical appraisal was either “sexy” or “hot” and he always seemed like he was looking at the models and not what they were wearing). Anyway, I like Peni a lot, but not this. He got off lightly. He knew it.

5. Misty

Safe, middle, fine. I got nothing.


4. Kerry

This is peak Kerry: hyper-literal interpretation of the brief and a skilled execution of a boring design. There could be no mistaking this for anyone else’s work, which is a good thing if you like his designs, but it’s a bad thing for a contestant always safe in the middle. Every episode seems to start with Kerry complaining about either the judge’s interpretation of the challenge or their taste and no doubt next episode will be the same.

Okay, what about the design? It’s a not-so-good version of Karen Walker quirky. Like if a set from a Wes Anderson film of a Dr Seuss book got sewn into a jumpsuit and skivvy. And not in a good way. I really don’t like the collar/lapels and the way it meets in the bust to form a weird line down the middle to the crotch.

Still, it was a very good week for Kerry outside the show. Visiting royal Meghan Markle wore a Karen Walker coat he patterned. That must be worth way more than immunity in the next challenge.

(Oh, and: “Cows! Oh, no sheep! I’ve been in the city too long!” Actually LOL.)

3. Caitlin

This wasn’t great but I liked it better than the judges did. Jess raced and then fought for her inspiration, hugging the tree to get in between Jess and the gold wallpaper that what would be perfect for a fusion restaurant with racist cocktail names. (The show’s producers missed a trick by not replaying the by-a-hair finish in slow motion, including instead a shot of the contestants looking at a replay we could barely see.)

But, while she did take the challenge too literally, turning her wallpaper inspiration into nearly a one-for-one replica in pants form, at least this is a clear translation of her aesthetic into the challenge. A little safe, for sure, but I’m surprised to see this in the bottom three (and having this in my top three is a testament to how bad the work was this week).


2. Jess

Jess nailed it, actually talking inspiration from the wallpaper rather than incorporating elements of it. This is something I thought I’d like more than the judges, given its homeliness and apparent comfort, but everyone seems on the same page with this one (“Granny-chic”, “grandma hot” the judges said. I thought “grand-core”.) I just wish the shawl/coat thing was bigger. Way bigger. Like, almost Lenny Kravitz big.

She was lucky to be milliseconds too slow in her race with Caitlin, which was so funny even though the show dropped the ball on the drama (see above). I really really liked seeing Jess and Caitlin’s ironic competitiveness from previous episodes get very real.

1. Benjamin

At the risk of this weekly post being perceived as some kind of Benjamin stan account… Benjamin does it again! I’d prefer he wasn’t perpetually at the top of these rankings, but you know what they say: If you wanna be the man, you gotta beat the man (Wooo!).

Benjamin took his graffiti wallpaper (who the fuck buys Resene graffiti wallpaper? Probably someone who calls the council when they see graffiti!) and inverted it, to make some high fashion pyjamas. (In a good way.) It’s stylish, beautifully made and actually looks like the eye-watering expensive clothes you see in fancy magazines with a million ads before the contents page. And cool earrings too!



1. Those white Resene overalls are super cool;
2. I can’t believe no designers wore theirs on judging day; and
3. You’ll see someone on K Rd wearing them at some point this summer (trend alert!)

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