Pliers, criers and unconventional conflict in episode three of Project Runway New Zealand

15 October 2018

This week on Project Runway New Zealand, designers completed their first challenge in pairs.

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A few pans across the city reminiscent of an episode of The Hills and we’re back at the Swiss-Belsuites Victoria Park where the designers are mourning the loss of Lenon in last week’s episode.

Rattled about the outcome, the designers have a b**ch and moan about what the judges really want, to which Benjamin responds (to us, not the fellow designers) “I think they’re all just being sour pusses, really.”

Woah, shots fired.

Interestingly, Benjamin’s raising of the topic ‘sour pusses’ becomes an integral theme in this week’s episode, particularly for designer Matt. You know deep, dark, moody, symbolic Matt? He is nothing but a sour puss in this episode once learning the nature of this week’s challenge. Now, TVNZ hasn’t specified what kind of nursery work Matt does outside of the competition, but my guess is as good as yours as to where he’s adopted this behaviour. (Probably not plants, yeah?)

The once quiet rugby-playing-underdog Massey transitions into a loud, forever distracted nuisance with a win – and consequently, immunity – in the back pocket of his dark tan chinos.  Loud in a talks-a lot-but-doesn’t-say-much-at-all kind of way, quote Jess. Looks like the designers aren’t the only ones having their patience tested tonight.

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Massey and Jess during the challenge.

Cut to the runway and Georgia Fowler swans in wearing her hair dead straight before instructing the designers on where to meet Andreas for their next challenge. Turns out, being a supermodel doesn’t give you immunity from the wrath that is growing out curtain bangs. I’d know. It’s been months. Nothing. Georgia, call me?

Deep in the industrial area of south Auckland, designers are met by silvering fox Andreas surrounded by old electrical goods.


This is the designers first unconventional materials challenge where they’re required to integrate outdated technology into a two piece look.

It has to sit within a fashion context, it isn’t a wearable art project. It has to be fashion.

One aspect is creating fabric out of the materials, and the second is that they’ll be working in teams of two… Dun, dun, dunnnnnn.

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Andreas briefs the designers on their challenge for week three.

Andreas elects who is paired with who. We have Beth & Misty, Matt & Beau, Kerry & Judy, Massey & Jess, Peni & Camille, and Benjamin & Caitlin.

For some, it’s written all over their faces as to how they really feel about their partner, for others it takes place later in a piece to camera:


“She’s quirky, she’s an oddball, but that’s what the judges are looking for and I’m going to eat that up,” says Peni. You go Peni.

“I was f**king over the moon when I got Caitlin,” says Benjamin. Wearing a black t-shirt, shoulder-length curly brown hair, small hoop earrings – he’s a vision and I want to be him. Is that weird?

“I have to take 100% of the pressure for our team. I have to listen to what he says but ultimately I’m going to take the reigns on this project,” says Jess on her untouchable teammate Massey.

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Caitlin and Benjamin during the unconventional materials challenge.

Cut to the workroom and designers put their manicures to the test cracking motherboards, splitting open cables, popping keyboards and created outfits that drew on the teams’ strengths. Some better than others.

Matt and Beau’s relationship is particularly toxic. Beau resigns his technical expertise and flair for the female form as Matt chops and changes his mind sending out negative vibes left, right and centre. Now, I get that Matt’s a sensitive guy with plenty to offer, but describing his muse as a ninja, jujitsu, hacker, goth girl that’s futuristic and empowered, it’s no wonder Beau is left in the dark. He has no choice but to step back and create a skirt allowing Matt to meltdown without any consideration to his talent, input or feelings. It’s a painful watch.

Where’s Camilla from Love Island Season Three and her bomb detonating skills when you need her?

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Matt and Beau get to work on their design concept.

Okay, so Camilla mightn’t have responded to my SOS, but thankfully Karma did. ‘Cause Beau’s skirt was divine, using VHS tape in a criss-cross design over black organza with keyboard keys for another dimension, and Matt’s “top” was a half-ass attempt at the brief and not high fashion.

“Putting bubble wrap in a panel isn’t exactly a brain stretch,” says Kerry.

You said it, Kerry.

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Benjamin feat. Sanyo Pinkalicious and Caitlin.

Two hours to runway and Caitlin and Benjamin are fitting their model in their leatherette fitted dress made from rubber cable casing (#Creative) before the zipper abruptly blows. This is a designer’s worst nightmare and I’m lowkey stressing for them.

However, the stress is shortlived upon a startling discovery…

As Caitlin and Benjamin take to the camera to recall their experience, Benjamin reaches one arm behind his head to reveal… A Sanyo Pinkalicious mobile phone tucked into his trousers. OMG, what!? How does he have one of these still? And more importantly, how has he got it to work in 2018? That phone peaked in ’07 when push-to-talk and Telecom Boost Monster Text were sooo fetch. Does this mean Benjamin is existing in a non-smartphone world?

Note to self: On the next trip to Palmerston North, must find original Pinkalicious hidden deep in the teenage archives beneath my scrapbooks, Zac Efron posters and clip-in hair extensions. Holla!

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From left to right: Stephen Tilley, Benny Castles, Sally-Ann Mullin and Georgia Fowler.


Judging this week’s unconventional materials runway is Fashion Quarterly magazine editor Sally-Ann Mullin, WORLD director and designer Benny Castles, supermodel and host Georgia Fowler and guest judge international photographer Stephen Tilley.

Stephen was a great addition to the panel; thinking about how the garments would move – or wouldn’t move – in a photo shoot. Given that the winner of Project Runway New Zealand includes a six page editorial in Fashion Quarterly, it’s imperative the designer’s work, well, works as well on paper as it does in person.

Teams Jess & Massey and Benjamin & Caitlin have scored highly, meaning they’re off backstage to await the fates of their fellow designers. Now, in front of the judges, the remaining teams are instructed to explain their garment and how they found working in a team. And sheesh kebab, it is saucy.

Beth & Misty bounce off one another; they’re convincing when they say it was a 100% collaboration. And, if I’m being completely honest, they’re actually really admirable; complimenting one another on what one another’s strengths were. Who knew you could integrate Maori symbolism with ‘50s pinup so seamlessly?

Kerry kicked off the chat for him and teammate Judy. Despite their differences and skill levels, Kerry has been nothing but enthusiastic and favourable of Judy’s work. He could have been a d**k about it because let’s face it, Judy’s last runway look was honking. But instead, he played to her strengths as she did him and it paid off. Kerry & Judy in the top three.

All the wheels fall off for team Matt & Beau. Matt does all the talking and is frankly quite dismissive about Beau’s skirt. Once the judges start asking more, Beau makes a mad dash to appear in unison. TG for Beau. He’s even ditched his usual preppy sweater tied around his shoulders for a black draped long sleeve top. Could this be part of his outreach to Matt, or is he dressing for his Project Runway funeral? Either way, their team is not – I repeat – not safe.

Next up, Peni & Camille. Bless. Though their design is polarising and heavily skewing towards wearable art oppose to fashion, Camille speaks to the construction while Peni saves the day by adding the context in which this design was for.

And this week’s challenge winner is… Kerry! The judges thought Kerry & Judy’s design was unanimously loved by all. However, having spoken to Andreas, Kerry was more responsible for the coat that saw their team win. It’s about time, Kezza. Woop, woop.

Next to leave the runway is Beth & Misty followed by Peni & Camille. Which leaves… Beau & Matt.

As for who walks…

Only one from team Beau & Matt will walk and – this just in – it’s not Beau. Phew. He has talent that is yet to be seen in this competition, IMO. For Matt, however, this means the end of the road.

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Georgia wishes Matt on his way.

“I have doubted myself quite a lot,” admits Matt. “I’m not going to quit. I can only get better from here. If you are passionate about something and you believe in it, just go for it.”

Matt’s journey on Project Runway may have been short-lived, but it’s undeniable that there is talent and creativity there and I think, in keeping with Andreas comments, that Matt’s approach about not playing the game is a strong one. Just goes to show how powerful one’s mindset has on an outcome.

Scroll for the final runway looks below from week three: 

Meet the Project Runway New Zealand contestants here.

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