Thursday night, on episode 11 of Project Runway season 13, the two contestants with Native heritage fared very differently. For Korina Emmerich, Puyallup, an impressive run on the show came to an end in a flurry of drama, venom and tears.
Emmerich has been a polarizing figure on the show: Many viewers have said they are put off by her cockiness, yet there's no question that she was among the show's best designers. She exits with two wins and two "high" finishes, although she would have been out sooner for flopping on the "Rainway" (episode 8) had she not earned immunity.
For the challenge, "Highest Bidder," designers were paired up and had to bid on storage containers filled with random objects. After Emmerich and her partner, Emily Payne, picked what seemed to be the two best containers, they set to work with numerous options and strong ideas. The collection of three outfits they presented, though, met with harsh disapproval from judge Nina Garcia, who criticized Emmerich for presenting a dated look and for revisiting the Native American style she had used before. Despite the criticism, Emmerich felt confident that her work was better than dresses designed by Char Glover and Sean Kelly, if for no other reason than Glover and Kelly's models were having great difficulty walking in them. It was also clear that Kelly had done the lion's share of the work.
Moments later, Emmerich was flabbergasted to find herself on the runway with Glover, facing elimination. Glover had previously been eliminated from the show, but was brought back by mentor Tim Gunn—a fact Emmerich brought up numerous times. Emmerich also said she did not respect Glover as a designer. Judges decided on one a one-hour tiebreaker between Glover and Emmerich, which Emmerich lost. Defiant to the end, Emmerich asked the others "Who called that one? Did anybody think I'd be going home today?" and questioned Glover's legitimacy, saying "You were out. You were eliminated."
It was a little hard to watch, but it made for good TV. And whether you like Emmerich or not, she wasn't wrong when she pointed out that the other team's models couldn't really walk in the dresses. While Garcia was fairly merciless in her criticism of Emmerich's work, the other judges were less harsh. Emmerich left—however impolitely—feeling she'd been blindsided, and with good reason. Was the playoff punishment for Emmerich's consistent bad attitude? Possibly.
Over on the Project Runway Facebook page, the viewer reaction is pretty clear: Ding, dong, the witch is dead. Well, maybe not dead: A brief preview that ran at the end of episode 11 showed that Emmerich will be back next week, in some capacity.
Meanwhile, the other Native designer, Kini Zamora, won the challenge despite having almost nothing to work with. He and his partner, Amanda Valentine, had won just one of the storage crates, and its contents were not exactly fashion-friendly. Case in point: Zamora made a cocktail dress by deconstructing a few soccer balls and sewing the hexagons and pentagons together. The improbable garment that resulted was hailed as the best creation, and Zamora was again picked as the winner. He's now won three out of the last four competitions, and had four "high" finishes to just one "low." From the stats and the comments made by other contestants, he's clearly the designer to beat going into the home stretch.
In other competition-show news, Winnipegger Jackie Pierson, from the Sagkeeng First Nation, survived another week on The Biggest Loser. Pierson's fate was largely out of her hands in Thursday's episode, as teammate Damien Woody's progress at the weigh-in counted for the whole team. Woody lost 14 pounds, or 3.9% of his body weight, and saved his teammates from elimination.