No Fashion, No Drama, No Thanks
To be entertaining, "Project Runway" has to deliver either great fashion, or drama, but this week's episode offered neither and was basically a snoozefest. Like last week's episode of "Glee," it started with so much potential (what's not to love about a grilled cheesus?) but just never took off. We are at a critical point in the competition this challenge will determine who the finalists are but instead the contestants' exhaustion was oozing through the satellite signal, and practically put me to sleep.
In an attempt to perk things up, the designers get to move from their substandard, IKEA-decorated quarters into a swanky suite where they drink champagne and wax poetic on why they are there. Gretchen has vision. April is representing America's youth. This is Mondo's last chance. Michael C. is still in shock that he's not universally loved. Andy needs more champagne. Snooze. At one point I found myself praying Ivy would come busting through the door in full ninja regalia and start kicking Michael C.'s ass just for entertainment.
They drag their half-asleep zombie bodies to the roof of their hotel, where they find the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg (just hanging out, with no major metropolitan city or television network to run or anything), who tells them that he is opening up the city for them. New York is their inspiration for this challenge. They can go anywhere they want, hang out, soak in the vibes and get inspired. I would have asked to be escorted by motorcade to his private billionaire residence. So where do they want to go? A grimy bridge, a grimy neighborhood, a tourist trap and a park all places they could have gone without a personal invitation from the mayor.
They also learn that they have two days and $500. Having that much money is no gift. Give a contestant a hundred bucks, or even better, 50, and the judges will be all, "That looks so great. I can't believe it only costs 50 bucks." Which is totally not true, because a garment that costs 50 in fabric will end up retailing for $400. But if they have 500 to spend, the judges are going to say, "But you had $500 to spend! Why does it look so cheap?" so no thanks on the five Benjamins. Two days for one garment is no picnic either, because if the producers don't surprise you with the added task of designing enough additional garments to dress a small army, the judges will slam you for having so much time and only coming up with "this."
After some boring footage of designers being pensive, they go to Mood, where they have an unprecedented 45 minutes to shop. Again, they are given every opportunity to do something fabulous, yet they disappoint. April saw WitchiePoo heading to Brooklyn. Andy saw hookers in the park. Gretchen saw bricks on the Lower East Side, Michael C. saw a dress on the Statue of Liberty, and Mondo saw his outfit on a mannequin from a few challenges ago. Snooze.
Hairdressers are consulted, models are fitted, naps are taken, contestants are not awakened from said naps, and it's off to the runway, where Princess Puffy Sleeves himself, a.k.a. Christian Siriano, is the guest judge.
Michael Kors, in a moment of clarity, calls April out for sending a slightly different version of the same outfit out on the runway for every challenge. It's black. It's chiffon. It's asymmetrical. Hello! At least her model isn't wearing panties this week.
Michael C. wins and makes it to the finals with a just OK jersey dress. Nothing special, but the judges are fawning all over it. Maybe there was some great effect in person that was elusive and unable to be captured on film, but I think it's more likely that it was the least crappy of the crap.
Christian Siriano is not convinced about Mondo's houndstooth bridge translation, but the other judges have seen his entire body of work, so he is in. The judges like Andy's Asian hooker because she looks wet, so he's in. I don't even know how to comment on that one.
April and Gretchen are in trouble. It's a tough choice between Wiccan maternity wear and lace-covered bricks, but the bricks win out, and Gretchen can go home and make a collection for Lincoln Center. (It's going to take me a few years to get used to that.)
The four finalists are sent home with the caveat that only three of them will be actual finalists. They had all better start looking real hard at their grilled cheese sandwiches.