inside the ‘belk-way’


Welcome to the Project Runway ‘weekly windup’ – and this season’s 111th sponsored episode. Dictating the looks on the runway this week was Belk, the inimitable department store of the South. Would the episode be peppered with ‘Gone with the Wind’ quotes? I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.

Our episode begins with a quick runway-side meet with Heidi, who told the designers that they ‘had the morning off’. None of them believed her. But they gamely played along and were whisked off for a brunch at the lovely ‘Juliette’. The small talk ensued. Comments were made about winning. And losing. And how much French toast Kate was eating. Then Tim walked in – and you could have taken it all back to the kitchen; no one would eat another bite.

This challenge, Tim explained would be to ‘create a day or evening look for a modern Southern woman’.

Immediately, confidences were running falsely high or stunningly low. On the one hand, Dom and Ken were sure this challenge was made for one of them to win. Dom’s mother is from NOLA and Ken ‘is around this type of woman everyday’. On the other, Alexandria and Helen were certain they were going to struggle, thinking their lives were over. That nothing would ever happen to them anymore. But they got on with it. They all did, sketching for the requisite 30 minutes and then heading to Mood.

Fast-forwarding to the runway, my untrained eye is as bored as Nina looks. Some of the looks got an eye-quirk here or there from Zac. Or smiles from Heidi and guest judge Stacy Keibler. But despite the profusion of color and print, Belk EVP John Thomas remained stoic throughout, looking as if he didn’t give a damn.

As the designers stepped forward, Alexandria, Helen, and Justin were ‘safe’, leaving 6 behind to face their fate, including Dom and Ken, who were still thinking that they’re the cutest trick in shoe leather.

But they weren’t. Dom, Ken, and Jeremy were in the bottom 3. Here are their looks:

Safe, boring, and uninspired. And ‘madame – but not in a good way,’ says Zac.

The bottom 3 are left to chill – or glare icily at Heidi – while the top 3 are discussed. And here are the 3 top looks:

As expected, there was much eye-rolling from Ken as the judges lauded the top 3. Ken believes that the ‘modern Southern woman’ doesn’t wear plaid. John Thomas – and the other judges – disagreed. And gave the win to Bradon for his smart recreation of a country club look.

After deliberations and examining the looks, when the sharks judges circled back to the bottom 3, Heidi had a surprise: go back to the workroom and try again. For the 1st time in PR history, the designers were getting a do-over. How fickle is woman! They had 1 hour – and could enlist the help of another designer. They would’t have to go into the area alone. Dom chose Helen; Jeremy chose Alexander; and Ken grabbed Kate.

An hour later, here’s what walked:

Much better all around! Less boring, less safe, and more mademoiselle. The judges were impressed. So impressed that Dom’s look was commissioned by Belk, too. It’s available for sale – along with Bradon’s – in stores and at And that left Jeremy and Ken. In my naivete, I thought Ken would be out. As God is my witness, I didn’t think they would prove me wrong; I didn’t think they would lick me. But I was wrong. Terribly wrong. And Jeremy was ‘out’. Fiddle-dee-dee.

I never heard of such bad taste. But it tends to be dreams, dreams, dreams with me, never common sense. And Ken lives to design again. After all, tomorrow is another day.

Catch the new episode tonight on Lifetime at 9pm Eastern.


PS: did you catch the GwtW quotes/references in the post? There are a baker’s dozen of them. I couldn’t work my favorite in – and I tried. Desperately. But I just couldn’t find an opening for ‘needing to be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how’.

What do you think?