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“Carrie” Comes to “Project Runway”

By CaitlinBergmann Fri., Oct. 22, 2010 ,6:00 am EDT

In previous seasons, we have seen two designers sent home to make a final collection knowing that they are still competing for a spot in the finals, but this season, all of the spaces are up for grabs, so the stress/torture level is at DEFCON 10. No one is feeling secure, and the joy that we usually see with Tim's home visits is lacking from this episode. We are not treated to Tim on a trampoline.

The first visit is to Andy in Hawaii. Someone must have given Tim a heads up regarding Andy's environs, because he packed his Wellies. When I hear "Hawaii," I think "pineapple-based drinks on the lanai," not "catfish farm." I was instantly reminded of Jay McCarroll and his small town in Pennsylvania. It's intriguing to find out that Andy's hard-edged, urban looks come from this rural setting.

It may not be much to look at from the outside, but Andy has carved himself out quite a studio space on the farm, and he and Tim get down to business. The problem is, there's no "there" there. Andy has nothing but a few fabrigami details on a dress form and some headgear. Tim can't be of much help.

By contrast, Michael C. is up to his usual modus operandi, making two garments for every one that he needs. He has two racks of clothes, looking a lot like his work from the season. Having more time to work is yielding more garments, not necessarily better garments. Tim advises him to edit.

Tim is off to Denver to meet with Mondo, who is melding "The Day of the Dead" with the circus, which for anybody else would give us dead clowns, but Mondo can do this and his collection looks fine. Very Mondo. Very expected.

Gretchen's hippy has gone global. To sum it up, no surprises.

Watch the full episode onlineThe designers return to New York where they gather at the HILTON. The HILTON has provided them with a swanky suite. The HILTON has also offered all four designers a trip for two at the HILTON of their choice. HILTON.

They learn from Tim how this thing is going to go down. Each designer will show a mini-collection consisting of two existing outfits from their collection and one new one. Michael C. is planning to make another one of his effortless dresses. There seems to be a fine line between effortless and no effort. The dress looks fine, a one-shoulder draped number, but we have seen it before and before, and he is supposed to be bringing it. Tim leaves the workroom with a cryptic "Don't choke."

The runway show proceeds and it's pretty clear that Mondo has no competition. He is in and will be showing at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. (Much easier for me to say than "Lincoln Center.") Gretchen is in, with a huge warning from the judges. Apparently all that is missing are the Birkenstocks, and if she is going to put on a show, she needs to step up the styling. This is a fashion show, not a street fair, and the way she has her garments styled at the moment, they look exactly like the type of clothing you can buy when they close down a few blocks of Third Avenue and set up booths.

Rate the runway designs hereAndy and Michael are in trouble. Andy has made some bad choices for his mini collection. We have seen some great bathing suits on "Project Runway," but his is not one of them. To make matters worse, he has also chosen to show shiny shorts with his new green fabrigami. Fabric manipulation is so over, but the judges like his pleated lizard number, so he is in. From the very first episode, Andy was a favorite of mine, but I have to say he has steadily lost his mojo throughout this competition, so I wasn't surprised to see him in trouble.

Michael C. is out. I feel like we are all part of a cruel setup, like a bucket of pig blood is going to pour all over his head right there on the runway. He showed exactly the type of clothing he showed during the season — which won him challenges. Granted, I always felt that his clothes were done before with a capital D, and his wins were usually a product of being the least offensive garment on the runway, but it almost seems cruel that he was able to go as far as he did in the competition. He was sideswiped. And it doesn't help that he doesn't seem to have the emotional maturity to handle the let down. It was painful to see him broken, hunched over, standing on the runway. I'm not saying he wasn't the right one to go, it's just that it feels dirty.