Oh, Mondo. I had joked about your oversharing future autobiography entires — walking around in your underwear, leaving Colorado with only $14, etc. But now it’s serious.
On “Project Runway” Season 8 Episode 10, “There’s a Pattern Here,” the seven remaining designers were challenged to create their own textiles. (Just like last season; Emilio Sosa won that challenge.)
Their garment design could be anything, but the textile design had to be something very personal. All the contestants were shown photos from their youth.
Mondo Guerra was raised Catholic. He came out to his mom at age 17 and she wanted to keep that a secret. He explained that his textile was based on a plus sign that represents his HIV positive status.
He’s held the secret for 10 years of his life. That’s amazing. He’s 32.
Mondo: “This has been so hard to keep a secret from my parents because I feel guilt and I feel shame. I feel like if they knew, I don’t know if they’d know how to deal with it and I’ve just realized that I can’t live that way anymore. I can’t hide anything because I am such a better person than just being a coward.”
Mondo’s mom showed up for the day — along with everyone else’s family members, and Christopher’s hot boyfriend, JJ — and he didn’t tell her about his HIV status. He wanted to, but he knows when she finds out it’s going to hurt and he didn’t want to ruin her first trip to New York.
Bravo, Mondo, for your bravery in coming out publicly like this and for being able to use a difficult personal secret as an opportunity for artistic catharsis. I have not always (or even often) been Team Mondo in terms of his designs, but I will always be Team Mondo when it comes to Mondo as a person. He has proven himself to be kind to everyone — especially the bullied Michael Costello — and he deserves the bright future “Runway” will give him.
(Guess what! Mondo and Michael Costello just co-hosted a benefit earlier tonight for Colorado AIDS Project and Rainbow Alley.)
(But what’s this about Mondo being “rude” to Heidi Klum — who is making herself the client again — in the previews for next week’s episode? Or is that more manipulative editing?)
I do think this is just further proof that Mondo will win Season 8. Not only is he the judges’s favorite designer, he has proven that he can work with the difficulties in his life and let them propel him instead of stopping him. (Like Andy? Poor Andy. I still love him.)
So we have the secret mentioned in the previews. Now we have to find out who is accused of cheating…
… but I guess we’re going to get to that next week, or sometime later before the finale.
**** ON THE RUNWAY ****
“There’s a Pattern Here”
Gretchen Jones — Hate the design of the top, but I do love the print. Judges: Heidi Klum loves the print. Michael Kors likes the pants, but not how the print is placed. It’s like “fried egg on the boob.” Nina Garcia likes the print, but she’s disappointed in the outfit. She expected more from Gretchen. Guest judge Rachel Roy says it’s “almost” there.
April Johnston — Black and white again, but I like it. It’s creative and edgy. My favorite. Judges: As soon as the model turned the corner MK got the friction and pulling she was going for. He very much likes the bodice and the idea of the print but the scraps don’t work for him. Nina thinks it’s a charming print and she likes the silhouette. This is Rachel’s favorite print. It has the most unique voice. It’s also Heidi’s favorite print. She doesn’t like the “poofiness,” though.
Andy South — Boring. He wishes he could start over. Me too. Andy, I love you but even I can’t defend this. Judges: Rachel likes the print. She says it has a painterly feel, but the outfit itself is “odd and confusing and upsetting.” It’s not sexy. The print makes Nina sad. She is disappointed in him because she’s seen things from him that are interesting. “What happened?” He blames his mom, basically. MK likes the print too but he’s dumbed himself down. MK sees a face in the clothes. A sad face. Heidi thinks it’s “unwearable.”
Mondo Guerra — Very Mondo. The designers all said “whoa!” They love it. Judges: Nina wants to know what the story is. But she calls it “fantastic” and “phenomenal.” MK loves the way he mixes prints. He thinks she looks fabulous without the jacket too. Rachel says it’s something she would love to wear. Rachel wants to know the inspiration. She thinks the print looks too perfect?
Why were all of the judges asking so much about Mondo’s inspiration, in particular? They didn’t seem to push as hard for the other designers. Were they told to try to tease out the secret? Smells like a set up. (I do know that in real time these runway critiques take hours, it just feels a bit false to me for the editing to focus so much on the judges happening to question Mondo over and over about his inspiration, before he decided to share.)
Mondo felt like that was the moment to share his experience. He told Nina the pluses referred to his status as HIV positive. “I’ve been HIV positive for 10 years. And when I saw these pictures of my family it brought back a lot of emotion and so I wanted to pool from the past, but I also wanted to give something back of who I am now and that I’ve been so scared of and hiding from and that’s the story.” Afterward he said he felt a lot better. “I feel free.” In the workroom, he talked to his fellow designers about it. They were all supportive. “I feel so good. I feel so good.”
Valerie Mayen — Meh. No. Judges: Heidi said it looked familiar because there are more napkins. This looks nothing like the party store napkin dress, which was actually gorgeous. MK thinks it’s an odd choice of fabrics to layer. There’s nothing appealing about it. Nina said the overall effect of the design is very heavy.
Michael Costello — What is with the napkin boob trend? Blech. Judges: MK said she literally looks like she’s wearing a men’s old-fashioned tie that got cut off. It looks funny like a joke. Heidi likes that, she thinks it makes it look cool. No one seems to actually like the print. Nina wanted better styling. MK called it “Annie Hall” at the country club.
Christopher Collins — It reminds me of Casanova’s look that was declared too old. But I like it, as I liked his other look. Judges: Rachel doesn’t see the water in the print. Nina thinks they’re fine clothes, but they’re not fashion. She wants to see outstanding clothes. “I want to see fashion here!” Heidi wrote “nice, safe, boring.”
*WINNER & LOSER*
Mondo won his third challenge in a row. This whole season has been a personal roller coaster for the guy. I think he wins even if he doesn’t technically win. (But I’m pretty darn sure he will win.)
It came down to Andy vs. Valerie. It was not a good week for Andy, but he has more potential than Valerie. Valerie has been going downhill for a very long time.
Bye Valerie! At least she honored her father, in her fashion. And she said goodbye to everyone in such a sweet, open-hearted, emotional way. Hugs for Valerie!
Catch up on my “Project Runway” recaps, spoilers and other stories in this archive. I still have hope that Tim Gunn will eventually decide to go back to doing his vlogs.