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Episode 9: "Runway" State of Mind

By CaitlinBergmann Fri., Mar. 19, 2010 ,5:05 am EDT

Heidi sashays onto the runway to tell the eight designers who are left that they need to get into a "New York state of mind." They meet with Tim and L'Oreal makeup consultant Collier Strong to find out that the "makeup" challenge is on, as well as some other sticky details. Not only do they have to work in teams of two (again), but also their looks must be inspired by one of four New York neighborhoods: Chinatown, the East Village, the Upper East Side and Harlem. On top of all that, EACH designer must make a look — one for day and and one for evening. Confusing? Yes ... and the results show on the runway. This challenge tested the focus and tenacity of each designer to be part of a team without losing their own identity. With $300 per team and only one day to complete the challenge (I thought for sure they would get two days!), they scramble to finish some pretty crazy garments.

Teams and themes are chosen, with the first member as the leader:

Anthony and Maya / Chinatown
Amy and Jonathan / Upper East Side
Emilio and Seth / Harlem
Jay and Mila / East Village

Everyone is loving the fact that Jay and Mila got stuck with each other, since they get along like Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell. Everyone except Jay and Mila, that is. They head out into their neighborhoods to gain inspiration, and here is where a lot of bad decisions were made. Anthony and Maya can't get away from windows full of cheap, red and gold paper dragon party decorations. Yeah, that's what I want to wear. Maya is more smartly drawn to the architecture and fire escapes and wrought iron. Amy and Jonathan seem to have no idea what the Upper East Side is about: fashion, luxury, and the richest, most spoiled people on earth living the high life. They instead go for the inspiration of the bricks and railings. Good luck. Emilio and Seth are all about Harlem's denim looks and the Cotton Club/Billie Holiday vibe of the past. Good choice, but I hate what they did with it. Jay and Mila are getting along the best they can, and decide on the obvious graffiti/punk vibe of the East Village. This could have been the first time in reality-TV history where one person literally threw another one under the bus. They do not love each other.

My impressions of the workroom? Scattered, and it shows ... Jonathan is working on what looks like a disastrous new version of Gwyneth Paltrow's all-time Worst Dressed Oscar see-through outfit, Amy is throwing up some sort of sunset pastel maternity outfit and Mila is doing another black and white color-blocked jacket, but Seth seems to be making another cool jacket. They seem to be distracted by their makeup consultations, since they are all strapped for time. The runway day is fast approaching; this episode has the designers at their wit's end, with the least done and the most desperation and doubt about their final looks. Let's be the judge, and meet the judges:

Francisco Costa (no Michael Kors? He must be stuck in a tanning bed somewhere in Orange County), Nina Garcia and model/actress Molly Sims.

CHINATOWN

Maya (Day): Fabulous architectural jacket with angular striping details, paired with a cool black skirt with red peekaboo inserts. My winner.

Anthony (Evening): Simple black tank dress with childish paper-dragon fabric origami barfed onto the front. This piece would get you kicked out of fashion school.

EAST VILLAGE

Jay (Day): Hideous saddlebag pants that would end up on any clearance rack, paired with a tragic red and black throwaway tank top. I don't know about you, but I think saddlebags are best left on the horse.

Mila (Evening): I have figured it out!! Mila is color-blind. She made yet another black and white color-blocked jacket, with a black and white and black and white and black and white dress, and (ooooh!) red leggings. The color-blind designing for the color-blind.

UPPER EAST SIDE

Amy (Day): Now, here's a gal who is not afraid to make a fool of herself — (fish-scale pants, armpit hair-bowl jumpsuit) — and she sticks with a theme by making this pallor-inducing, jaundiced, overly pleated baggy shirt "dress" with a belt and black leggings. She is out there on a limb; I think it's about to break.

Jonathan (Evening): He goes on and on about his "techniques" as if he invented scissors. He should have learned how to use them before he made this messy mess of mesh cutouts that couldn't have been less flattering. It's almost as if he's goading the judges to throw him out.

HARLEM

Seth (Day): In one of the strangest looks I have ever seen, Seth manages to make a grown model look like a tacky Jon-Benet Ramsey–type beauty contestant in this weird denim playsuit with an even weirder hat. I felt like photos of this girl could get you in trouble with the police. Harlem? More like a runner-up at the "Little Miss Perfect" pageant.

Emilio (Evening): OK, he says he was inspired by the Cotton Club and Billie Holiday. So he made a long black, wrinkly (people who know how to sew will recognize this as an improperly fitted lining) evening gown out of cheap cotton lined with a gold fabric. Oh, and don't forget the "innovative" gold zipper up the front that makes this dress practically unwearable. Billie Holiday? What holiday? Halloween? Sorry, I hated this.

In what I consider to be the most "whack" judging in a long time, they chose Emilio and Seth to both be winners, a first in "Project Runway" history. Even after they praised Maya's outfit to the heavens, they had these two guys actually win, instead of what would have been an appropriate double elimination. Obviously, poor Amy couldn't help herself with any defense of her schleppy UES look, and got booted to Brooklyn by Heidi and the gang. Maybe they all missed Michael Kors so much they were confused ... and made really whacky decisions. I hope he's back next week ...

See ya soon,

Chris

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