Episode 4 Recap: How Many Licks Does It Take?
On Episode 4, we begin at Flatotel, where dreams are made and Anthony Williams fans himself with the plastic lid of a food-to-go container. Surely there will be other contenders, but just a few seconds in, that is my favorite shot of the episode. (Spoiler alert: It’ll soon be rivaled by a quick camera glance at Rami’s tank top muscles. I had to Google “arm muscles” to make sure, but I think triceps are my favorite in general!)
With the über-sweet influence of Gordana no longer with us, I was hoping for more of a bitch session at the dinner table, but these Gracious Guses just cheer for Michael’s Miss Piggy win and we’re back to the runway, where Angela Lindvall introduces us to our new challenge, which is “all about taste.” The All Stars have to create a look inspired by a gelato flavor, and Ange says “L’Arte de Gelato” with an accent my half-Italian mother, who pronounces America's national treasure Guy Fieri's surname as “Feeeyeearrrrrriiiieeee,” would most likely approve of.
First, the designers must choose their scoop muse and force each other to feel uncomfortable and squirmy like they’re back in junior high gym class wondering if they’ll be picked last for dodgeball teams or if Stephen P. is going to circle yes or no. As the previous challenge winner, Michael gets to go first and pick who goes next. Rami lets at least one claw out when he scoffs that he knows “which way the cookie will crumble,” as in, “Duh! Michael will choose his bestie Mondo.”
He's right! Michael chooses grapefruit and, as suspected, Mondo for next up. Kara is the last one, so she gets chocolate with cayenne pepper flavor. I realize I would do poorly at this challenge, because knowing that we get to actually eat our chosen flavor, I would be like, “Do you have cookie dough with peanut butter swirls and rainbow sprinkles?” So my first instinct is to cheer Kara up by telling her, “Girl, you got the best-tasting flavor!!” but she is sad to be saddled with the inevitable task of making a chocolaty-brown dress. This doesn’t seem insurmountable, considering that a supermodel stands before her WEARING A BROWN DRESS.
Diane von Furstenberg (who’s wearing a part brown-ish dress, I might add) joins Angela to share the news that the designers have only six hours the shortest time in “Project Runway” history to complete their challenge. Plus, she’ll be guest-judging, so the All Stars know they’ll have to really werq it out.
After a truncated fabric-shopping trip (how precious is “Mini Mood” all decked out in the sherbet-y colors that I would happily wear every day!), and during an equally whirlwind visit from Joanna Coles, the designers are shown sewing, ripping, sweating and generally freaking out. They all fare very differently, given the time constraints: Anthony says this challenge has more to do with being a fast seamstress than a talented designer; Kara sews like it’s her last dress ever; Austin slaps himself on the wrist for using a glue gun; April realizes too late that she doesn’t have enough fabric; Michael drapes a beautiful silhouette on his model and pretty much has his dress done; Jerell digs him for it.
Let’s pause here for a sec. I’m confused when Michael’s speedy construction and sewing skills are brought up, so help me work through this, “PRAS” fans. Ms. Coles tells Michael he’s the envy of the other All Stars because of how quick he is in the workroom. Michael says his secret is that he’s been sewing since he was a wee lad. But that’s not his secret to being a great designer. It’s not that which makes this challenge easier than another or his designs desirable, right? His sewing skills were a huge point of contention during Season 8 he spent the first seven episodes being accused of having no skills by the other designers and using fashion tape to construct a dress, and even a since-reformed Mondo did not at first want to be his partner for a team challenge. (Upon finding out the two were paired, Mondo deadpanned to the cameras: “I’m so pissed. I can’t stand it. I feel like I want to scream.”) What I see, in this particular challenge and in most of Michael’s work, is not enviable embroidery. It’s a deep understanding of fabric, of all types of women’s bodies and of how fabric should drape over said bodies in a way that makes both woman and dress look beautiful. But what do I know?
In the final three hours, the designers reach a new level of unhinged, fueled only by the two servings of their designated gelato flavors and fear of falling under Austin’s death stare.
Scissors at your side
don’t stab Kara sewing, but
your eyes pierce my heart.
Each week I’m a little more stumped by the judges’ choices for Top 3 and Bottom 3. I’ll give them credit that they’re tasked with ranking exceptional talent and so might be choosing six looks they want to talk more about, rather than choosing the definitive best and worst three, but, y’all, that’s confusing! So here are my top, bottom and middle:
My Top: Jerell, Mondo, Michael, Austin
I couldn’t choose a winner (to reference my indecisiveness, please revisit the discussion of my favorite ice cream flavor above), but I thought Austin’s “rich lady on resort” should have been in the top for capturing the creamy, dreamy, mildly exotic flavors of his gelato.
I have eyeballs and a decent memory, so I’m aware that each week, Jerell does a different version of a dress he has already shown Dresses 2 and 3 were from the same collection, and Dress 4 is plucked from Dress 1’s line. But even so, his Fruit of the Forest frock was so on point with the fabric, the organic objects detailing the trim, all the way down to the hippie-chic styling. It was Katniss Everdeen realness, minus all of “The Hunger Games’” dystopian blah blah blah. And I kinda loved it.
If you don’t know what cantaloupes look like, Google “cantaloupe” (but not “cantaloupe deaths”) IMMEDIATELY and try to tell me that Mondo’s canta-caftan wasn’t a big ol’ honey “do.” If it was shorter, I would move somewhere fabulous and tropical just to wear it every day to tan myself beside my lover’s infinity pool. Very Mondo, very cool, literal but literally awesome.
Isaac didn’t think Michael’s grapefruit dress was as tart as the flavor itself is, but I wouldn’t exactly file full-on cleavage like that in the “sweet” category. Michael takes home his second win in a row for being able to create (in six hours) a sumptuous, sexy dress that makes Diane von Furstenberg purr and will happily clothe a supermodel at an “industry event.” After she’s done breastfeeding.
My Middle: Mila, Anthony and Kenley
Mila’s sour-cherries dress would have benefited the most from more time and nicer fabric. It was cute but looked like a cheap dress that you wear to da club and throw out the next day because it smells like an ashtray and someone (you) spilled Watermelon Pucker on it so you certainly can’t return it.
Some people might emphasize the passion in passion fruit, but Kenley goes the opposite route and sticks to her aesthetic in a punchy, fruity palette. I think the judges would have put her in the bottom if not for April and Kara’s mishaps, but the dress is adorable “adorkable” even! She should be Zooey Deschanel’s personal costume designer and stylist on “New Girl.”
The more you look at Anthony’s dress, the better it really is. The silhouette is not flattering, but it looks like a scoop of ice cream melting on a sugar cone in the prettiest way possible. I’m not sure if he meant it to, but even the folding of the fabric at the bodice looked like origami, similar to Andy South’s final collection, ultimately evoking the “green tea” flavor of his pick.
My Bottom: Rami, April and Kara
Rami’s creation was an eye-assaulting kiwi explosion in dress form. Thank god he shelved the fuzzy brown jacket, right? But I think sweet, passionate, misguided Kara and her pregnant cupcake dress should have been the designer sent packing this week. To quote Jerell, “That’s not the business.”
I’m a big April fan and didn’t want her to go home. Or cry. April, you will be missed! I look forward to following your career, you’re going to do big things, girl!
Posted in: episode 4 recap