Season 3, Episode 6: In Marge We Trust
Deceptively simple challenges are my favorite part of "Project Runway," and I got the mother of all deceptively simple challenges this week, in every sense of the phrase.
Marge Simpson herself, matriarch of arguably the most influential TV family of all time on Fox's "The Simpsons," pops up on a TV screen to introduce the challenge to our remaining designers. The gang has to create a dress for Marge to wear on a special dinner date with Homer. The only real rule? No green -- she's worn enough green to last multiple animated lifetimes. Because it wouldn't be a "Simpsons" challenge without a sassy dig, she reminds the designers to take advantage of the accessories on the "Whoever's Sponsoring the Wall Now wall." High-five, Marge.
This task can be boiled down into one directive -- "Design a dress for Marge Simpson" -- but there's a lot at play. The design has to work on a real human model but it must also work with Marge's yellow skin and blue hair. It's gotta be fashion-forward while remaining appropriate for a middle-aged woman on a dinner date. It has to have runway appeal but it also has to translate into 2D animation. See? Deceptively simple. I love it.
Interestingly (or maybe not), the men seem to have the biggest issue in the workroom this week. While Korto, Irina, and Elena quickly settle into a groove with their designs, Seth Aaron, Jeffrey, and Christopher struggle to conceptualize an appropriate garment for a middle-aged woman to wear at a romantic anniversary celebration. Zanna has to talk Seth Aaron down from using polka dots, which sends him on a downward spiral in which he drapes FIVE potential gowns, all of them boring. Viktor, meanwhile, is creating a look that screams "safe" from the beginning: Acceptable and well made but definitely not worthy of a win. He's still stinging from landing in the bottom last week, I think.
Actress Abigail Breslin and alice + olivia founder and designer Stacey Bendet are our guest judges. Onward:
Irina - A royal purple strapless fitted cocktail dress with tea-length chiffon paneling draped from the bustline. Early in the episode Jeffrey calls it a "giant purple nightie" but it walks elegantly down the runway. Stacey thinks it's the most creative, Alyssa compliments the color choice, and the panel is impressed by the different silhouette. Irina wins her first challenge of the season, yay!
Elena - A red gown with a plunging back paired with a quilted black blazer. The dress is beautiful and red is a smart color choice for a character with yellow skin, but the jacket looks oddly bulky, and all of it is, again, so similar to things Elena has already created for this competition. The more the judges over-praise Elena's fine but unexciting work the more I reflexively dislike everything she makes.
Korto - A black one-shoulder dress accented by sheer panels at the shoulders. The fabric has an attractive muted shimmer to it. Everyone likes this dress, especially the sheer panel at the shoulder and the hemline, but it's not exciting enough (and not Marge-enough) to warrant a win. Korto's safe.
Christopher - A floral print strapless belted cocktail dress that Christopher compares to a '50s housewife ensemble but Alyssa compares to a sarong. No one likes the belt and Isaac nitpicks the bubbling at the waist. Stacey's a fan of the print. Christopher's safe.
Seth Aaron - A (yawn-worthy) billowy belted magenta gown. Seth Aaron talks a big game about it but none of the judges are buying it. Their adjectives include "boring" and "lazy" and "rushed." Isaac doesn't like when Seth Aaron insinuates that midwestern housewives deserve boring clothes. "That's the dress of fear, to me," he says of Seth Aaron's gown, arguing that a character like Marge could rise to any fashion occasion.
Jeffrey - A shimmery purple gown with wide pink lapels at the v-neck and a slit up the side, paired with a pearl necklace. Stacey thinks the dress has a "Boardwalk Empire" vibe but something about the pearls and the pastel tone reminds me of both "The Flintstones" and mermaids, for some reason. Jeffrey's choice of shoe is also deeply misguided. "You can't tell me that smart man doesn't know better," Alyssa smirks about the design. After weeks of inconsistency, the judges and Jeffrey have reached an impasse. Jeffrey's out.
Jeffrey and Seth Aaron share a tearful farewell, and that's the end of the road for our third-season champ. I've been disappointed by Jeffrey's output this season so it's sort of a relief to finally see him go.
Do you agree that it was Jeffrey's time to head out? Were you as impressed with Irina's silhouette as the judges were? Do you find Elena's work as repetitive as I do? Let me know in the comments.