Much Ado About Nothing!
Will it ever end? This episode, I mean. Those of us who write blogs about the show are sent commercial-free DVDs of each episode. Usually I appreciate that little perk, but part way through this episode I was missing the diversion a commercial would bring. Sorry! All the previous episodes were, for the most part, fast-paced, intriguing and amusing, and presented some interesting fashion. What happened?
Heidi opens the show on the runway looking sleek and modern in a black top dusted with crystals worn with slim black pants. Please enjoy this look. It is about the only fashion you will see for most of this episode. Mr. Gunn joins her on the runway and is at a loss for words about how proud he is of the four remaining designers. This is exactly when this episode slips into Dullsville. Mr. Gunn and "loss for words" in the same sentence?
Each of the designers are given $9,000 and five weeks (the same as Season 9) to create their collections. The "twist" is that the four designers are not guaranteed a spot at Fashion Week. Don’t worry. Wait and see. Their collections are almost all so humdrum that it would be pointless to eliminate just one.
Mr. Gunn tells the designers to "skedaddle" home and get to work right away. Okay, kiddies, get to "skedaddling.”
The first home visit is with Christopher in Massapequa, NY, a rural "Family Guy" sort of town. Christopher's work space appears to be in his parents’ family room. Cozy and convenient. "Mom, can I get a sandwich and a glass of milk, please?” My only comment is that this may not be the most inspiring environment in which to create a collection destined for New York Fashion Week. Christopher's inspiration comes from an X-ray of his mother’s back taken after reconstruction following a "little car accident.” Christopher says, "I wanted something haunting and alluring at the same time.” Well, you got the haunting part for sure! Now where's the allure? With a print like that I would expect a very edgy and forward collection. Didn't happen. A sweetheart neckline bustier in black leather does not read anything but lack of imagination. I do like his belted black trench coat, though; very sharp. Mr. Gunn flips over Christopher's bleach effect on black leather, but I’m not sure how strong an impact this detail will have on the runway.
Back in Manhattan, we drop in on Fabio, who has the use of a friend’s beautiful and airy loft on lower Fifth Avenue. Nice friends! Fabio's initial direction should please the judges. Finally someone has discovered COLOR! His collection is named "Cosmic Tribalism,” and it’s sort of an Avatar resort look. Mr. Gunn appears to be mystified by a particular pant. I know, it must be shocking to FINALLY see something creative and different after a season like this. Maybe it will grow on him? He suggests an organza pant - that's just not going to happen. Fabio apparently has a direction for this look and it's not organza! Whew! Mr. Gunn continues to sort of nitpick over several pieces, the shoes, details, etc. I always feel a critique should focus on the initial impact of a collection. Leave the fine tuning to the talent! Mr. Gunn exits the critique "baffled and confused.”
After a short trip across the Hudson River to Jersey City, NJ, we meet up with Dmitry. He also has a fabulous space loaned by a well-heeled friend. Yay for rich friends! Dmitry mentions the hardships designers experience by being on “Project Runway.” He has had to resign from his job due to dedicating 10-12 weeks to being on the show. Without any income, Dmitry has also had to give up his apartment. This type of sacrifice is typical of most designers that come on “Project Runway.” There is only one winner who will receive a monetary award and products. My reaction when a designer is "aufed" due to a producer's whim or a judge’s fancy is this: If you are going to play games with the designers, at least give them some financial incentive for being part of your show! On to the critique. Dmitry’s inspiration is "organic architecture.” I see the architectural point of view, but I’m not sure where the “organic” comes in. One thing is evident: He is a master at clean, minimal construction. All his looks are sharp and have a lightness about them. In Mr. Gunn's best critique so far, he asks is there enough newness and surprise in this collection to impress the judges.
Melissa greets Mr. Gunn in her San Francisco apartment. This overly sweet reunion makes me yearn for another sponsored commercial break. Yuk! Melissa has apparently not heeded any of the numerous past critiques concerning her fixation on black and its variations, grey and taupes. She shows a "summer" long black dress, to be worn under a heavy crackled cowhide long-sleeved high-necked jacket (like we’ve seen from her sooo many times before). Sure doesn't say summer to me! There appears to be a red garment on the racks. I hope it's part of the collection. Mr. Gunn is impressed. He sees an aura about her. Maybe it's her almost Satanic color scheme! Has she bewitched him? And here’s another painful family moment on a noisy boat ride in San Francisco Bay! Where's that commercial?
Finally, we are back in New York. After a shriek, hug-and-kiss reunion fest with all four designers in their hotel suite, the designers toast to what tomorrow will bring! The next day at their new workroom in 1407 Broadway, the designers unpack their collections. The "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" time arrives. I can see Melissa's fascination with Fabio's looks. Yes, dear, this is what color looks like. Imagine the possibilities! Christopher catches what Mr. Gunn did not: The repetitiveness of Melissa’s shapes, especially the black and white jacket, which has spawned a clone in crinkled pigskin. I’m not really sure what Dmitry mumbled while looking at Christopher's looks, but it sounded a lot like slutty. MEOW! He is next to be scrutinized by his fellow designers. Apparently seeing all of the other designers work has shaken some of the confidence in their own collections. Honey, you’re not in San Fran or Massapequa anymore!
Mr. Gunn enters and announces that they will be presenting three looks each to the judges to decide who moves forward. He suggests they each pick their best looks. Makes sense to me. They are given until 11 p.m…to do what? Aren't the collections completely done at this point? Except for hems and a few details, they should have all been completed at home. Dmitry's looks complete, but as for the others I'm not so sure. Oh well.
The next day, Melissa can't believe there is only one day to pick the three looks to show the judges. Maybe she would like a week? Christopher has no clue which looks to show. Is this drama for drama’s sake or is he for real? Apparently Dmitry did indeed say “slutty” in reference to Christopher's collection. He is totally underwhelmed by all of Christopher’s looks and feels Christopher’s collection “doesn't really flow". Mr. Gunn enters. Fabio is critiqued first. After a few comments or questions from Mr. Gunn, who still seems to have a hard time getting Fabio's vibe, Fabio just exclaims with a great sigh "Well Tim, that's life.” I love his confidence and commitment to stand behind his collection. My hat is off to him for that.
Mr. Gunn continues to love Christopher's bleached black leather. What's that all about? Christopher still has no idea which three looks he is showing. YAWN! Melissa is torn between which of those FRIGGING jackets to show. How about NONE? She is holding off on letting the world see her gown. God forbid we see anything new.
Dmitry is next. I'm on board with two of his looks. I love the white dress with illusion seaming. The sheer black top with the white pants is definitely pushing, it but I see his point in merchandising it this way. The one-shouldered dress, I'm afraid, falls into an Ivana Trump moment of the 1980's. A definite niet! I have to hand it to him for his great attitude. He is very focused and calm, and is able to maintain his charming sense of humor through the whole process. I love it when he says he has "gooze bumps!”
Mr. Gunn reiterates that the designers should show their best pieces and not hold back. Do they listen? Nooooo!
RUNWAY DAY ARRIVES. Thank you. Jesus! Three hours left and the nerves of a few (Christopher and Melissa) are just a bit fried. The models arrive. Christopher and Dmitry appear to have fitting problems. Hair and makeup are done, the clock ticks, and voila: They are ready to WOW the judges. Or are they?
Heidi starts the runway show with her famous quote. "One day you’re in, the next day you’re out!" Let’s see who could possibly not be out in a line up like this.
Dmitry's white dress is first. It looks sharp, clean and modern, but not that young. If he shortened it just a tad that would do the trick. Next is his pant and top. Two nice pieces, but put together? Last is his fringe jacket, sheer top and black satin skirt. Again, all nice pieces, but not together.
Snoozefest arrives with Christopher's trio of dull and repetitive looks. Really? You are showing Nina Garcia two looks comprised of basically the same black shorts? I remember in Season 9, Josh C. was almost voted off for showing a pair of shorts. And that was in the FIRST EPISODE, not one step from Fashion Week! Christopher may not win the fashion show, but he's definitely in line for the Lamest Edit award. Listening to him justify his choices, you begin to think he is somewhat delusional or something. (Shades of the long-departed Ven).
Fabio's color palatte hits the runway. Pale blue, pink and violet are refreshing after all the black and white. The silhouettes are organic and new. The only piece I did not feel was the side-zippered skirt. A person will either love this collection or hate it, and I love it. His accessories enhance the tribal vibes in a non-cliche way.
Melissa's black-and-white pieces, while more impressive than Christopher's, are just more of what we have seen from her before. Her umpteenth version of her now-famous jacket is nice, but I'm beginning to wonder if there’s anything else. Her other repeat is an almost line-for-line copy of her "condom dress.” Ms. Garcia does NOT look amused.
Fabio does well with his critique, as he should. He is really the only designer that did anything new or experimental. Heidi is impressed. MK feels Fabio’s colors work well, and likes his Ying and Yang vibe, along with the "demented shoes.” Nina is also pleased. She loves it but wants his looks to appear more luxurious. She feels making it more polished along with better editing are his keys to success.
Dmitry also fares well. Nina feels his collection looks glamorous and expensive. The white dress is a hit. She sees a few styling issues. MK also sees the styling holding it back: The collection needs to read fresher and younger. The biggest complaint is the bra blouse under the fringe jacket. Separate, they work. Together, no way! Less is more. Keep it simple!
Christopher explains that he took his inspiration for what is supposed to be a Spring collection from his mother's broken bones, metal screws and X-rays. I'm not exactly feeling Easter Sunday in this description. Actually, all we’re seeing are two pairs of very basic black shorts, one bustier, and some other "stuff.” Not much design at all. Heidi feels the print is a tad creepy, and says she was hoping for some WOW pieces. Nina wants to make sure Christopher has what it takes for a runway show. He assures them he does…he just didn't want show them just yet?
Melissa is in the same boat. Heidi says there wasn't a doubt in her mind about who designed these three looks. I guess not, since we have seen them from her so many times before. Melissa was also saving her surprise looks for later. MK and Heidi imply there may not be a later. Nina asks if it’s ALL black and white. Almost! I am amazed none of the judges rip her a new one for repeating two of her previous designs, especially that jacket, which she has done over and over all season.
Nina sort of lets it fly for all the designers to hear. This is the LAST STOP before fashion week. Five weeks’ worth of work and this is the best they have to show? Not good. Maybe it's not too late to cancel the episode? We can blame it on an outbreak of influenza amongst the designers or something!
The judges are clearly appalled at all the excuses from Christopher and Melissa. Dmitry's styling and combinations are dragged across the coals. Luckily, his pieces stand on their own. Styling is his big issue.
Fabio flies through, pastels and all. Christopher passes even though his designs couldn't have been less interesting. Thank God for his mom’s X-ray.
I am beginning to see where the producers are taking us when the judges start talking about Melissa's vibe and this and that…blah, blah blah. It’s pretty clear that she and the other three designers are all going to show at Fashion Week. No one is eliminated! Let’s just hope that the “secret" designs that we haven’t yet been privy to will tip the scales in some of the designers’ favors! I doubt it, but time will tell.