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Rhymes With Mackie

By CaitlinBergmann Fri., Oct. 16, 2009 ,4:30 am EDT

Bob Mackie introducing the challenge for episode 9 of Project Runway Season six There was a lot of screaming at the television at my house this week, both joyful and frightened. First, let me get my undying love, admiration and gratitude for Bob Mackie out of the way. Like many kids my age, we grew up with the weekly hour of nirvana titled "The Carol Burnett Show." I have often said that when Bob Mackie's incredible costumes would come on, I would lick the screen. OK, I don't do that anymore. But you must realize my excitement at the prospect of a Bob Mackie Challenge on episode nine of "Project Runway." Oh how I wish it had been on Season 4! I would have died! I have met him several times in my career, and he is one of the most lovely, generous and encouraging people you will ever meet. And then, after moving to New York in 2001, I was nominated for a Drama Desk award for Outstanding Costume Design in the same category with — you guessed it — Bob Mackie. What an insane honor!

Carol Burnett, Cher, RuPaul, Ann-Margret, Pink (yes, Pink!) — think of all the amazing people Bob Mackie has designed for, and the amazing things he has designed. Enough inspiration to blow your circuits. And how did the designers respond to this challenge? Just OK, I thought. It almost seemed like they couldn't connect with the concept of a stage-worthy costume ... but shouldn't they have some idea? Even relating it to extreme couture could have been one way to go about it. I guess I have to remember that I grew up in a world full of the "Cher" show, "Let's Make a Deal," "H.R. Pufnstuf," "Saturday Night Live" and the Muppets. Outrageousness was everywhere — look how I turned out!

So the designers had $300 and two days to come up with a performance look for one of Mr. Mackie's fabulous clients, Christina Aguilera. Finally, enough money and time to hit it out of the park. I blame part of this week's lackluster designs on the fact that they still don't seem to be taking all of this very seriously. Even when Christopher realizes, "There's only four challenges left!" he puts so little effort above and beyond what's necessary to get things done that it's disappointing ... and it shows on the runway. Everyone seems to be hating on Shirin, complaining that she is the one designer left who doesn't belong. She's whiny and untalented, and everyone is giving her the stink eye. She's in trouble, because she made the biggest mistake possible on "Project Runway" ... she went to Mood unprepared, bought a bunch of stuff and said she'd figure it out later. Uh-oh.

Shirin Askari in the workroom for episode 9 of Project Runway Season six

I see some promising things happening in the workroom. Althea is doing a long silver crisscross sequin gown that is so Bob Mackie I don't think she even realizes it (he uses that technique often). Nicolas, who should be peeing in his pants with glee over this challenge, is making a nice silver and white dress. Again. Carol Hannah has accidentally come up with a mishmash of black sequins, black matte fabric and black iridescent feathers that is actually stunning. She doesn't even know how she stumbled onto it.

Shirin is making a mess of so many different things, and Tim calls it "student work." She is confused to the point of starting over but then going back and making the original even more of a mess. (See photo.) Christopher, still dumb as a bag of dirt, has created his own challenge for his own celebrity, pretending that Miss Aguilera will be wearing his outfit singing a Cyndi Lauper song, so he designs it for her instead. It's a trainwreck no matter WHO wears it. And Logan (who seemed to swing back Carol Hannah's way this week) is truly a straight man lost in the fabulousness of gay beads, feathers and sequins. He is trying to make a "punk look" (as outrageous as he can get) but ends up making something Wilma Flintstone would wear to a sex club. He's going to have to feature full frontal nudity to keep from getting eliminated on this week's runway.

• Althea: Silver sequin gown slit up to here, with a train down to there. Pretty and stunning, with black ostrich-feather wrap.

• Logan: Zebra sequin Wilma dress with a torn piece of fur and three chains. He'd better leave his zipper undone if he hopes to make it.

• Shirin: Super-ugly dress for Elvira's bridesmaids.

• Christopher: Pouf-skirt breakaway dress with a third-rate Pussycat Dolls costume underneath. But he loves it!

• Nicolas: A perfectly fine and lovely dress. In fact, it's so fine and lovely that we've seen it before — on Renée Zellweger in "Chicago." Colleen Atwood would like her design back. Carol Hannah Whitfield's winning design on episode 9 of Project Runway Season six

• Gordana: OMG!!! Her Eastern-bloc superpowers let her down this week with this atrocious cream beaded and satin sack. Thank goodness she had immunity!

• Irina: Some sort of black satin coat over black sequin lingerie. Yawn.

• Carol Hannah: Accidentally gorgeous black-on-black-on-black gown. Bob Mackie is stealing this idea already. Very couture! (See photo.)

The judges are "the Mackie," Nina Garcia and Christina Aguilera herself. They call out Irina as safe, and Gordana gets a scolding for her sad, bad beaded dress, but is safe with immunity (whew!). Rightfully, they love Carol Hannah Whitfield's's black beauty, and give her the win.

Luckily for Christopher and Logan, Shirin' Askari's Gothic disaster is too much for the judges to excuse, and she gets the auffing. Logan zips up and leaves the runway, safe again.

To close, I would like to quote Mr. Mackie, who had one of the funniest lines in "PR" history: "You put diamonds on the crotch and you're home free!" My sentiments exactly.

See ya soon,