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Season 9 Parallel Universe

By CaitlinBergmann Fri., Sep. 2, 2011 ,5:01 am EDT

Viktor with Harlem School of the Arts student in the avant-garde challengeThose of you who hate the drama and watch "Project Runway" for the fashion got your wish this week. There was absolutely no drama. The designers seemed so intent on being nice to each other that they went out of their way to compliment contestants they have spent the last four episodes smack-talking. Viktor likes Bert's outfit? Joshua thinks Becky's design is nice? It's a "Project Runway" parallel universe.

In lieu of any athletic races, playground dodgeball-team-picking drama, rule breaking or general badmouthing to speak of, I am going to go straight to the runway.

First on the runway was Kimberly's Phoenix rising from the ashes — or angry parrot. Either way, the outfit was successful. The asymmetry didn't look forced and seemed to flow from the feather embellishment, which looked well integrated — not tacked on. The styling was sleek and minimal and was the perfect backdrop for the feathered pleather.

Next up was Becky. I liked the painting much more than the garment it inspired. For some reason she chose to use just one of the colors zooming through the painting's solar system, and I think the scattered idea would have benefited from more color. The embellishments, which looked totally tacked on, went from over-constructed cubes to under-constructed squares of fabric to holes. Unlike on Kimberly's garment, Becky's asymmetrical hem just kind of hung there and didn't seem to have a resolution or stem from the design idea. Conceptually, Becky and Kimberly's entries were very similar, with Kimberly's being the clear front-runner.

Olivier has a very clear aesthetic and a strong point of view. In order to please the judges or meet the criteria of the challenge, he tried to expand his horizons and got really lost. The painting he was working from was vibrant and colorful, and I'm not sure how he would have interpreted its use of color into his palette, but the result was dismal. It was as if he thought that a lack of structure equaled vibrant color, and the result was not nearly as successful as the painting.

Avant-garde challengeJoshua M.
I liked the overall silhouette of Joshua's burning/dying tree, and I definitely think he improved on the rather dismal inspiration painting. The proportions were perfection. I wasn't as crazy as the judges were for his hand-painted neoprene tree bark fabric or the cutesy carved initials. I found them both to be too literal and too crafty, and would have preferred he found a fabric to convey the tree bark vibe. I think Joshua has serious taste issues, but he does seem to be able to walk the line between interesting and tacky just enough to keep himself out of trouble with the judges.

This outfit was my least favorite. His sketch was so much better than his final garment. The pants needed to be soft to work, not that I am ever going to admit that MC Hammer pants "work." The embellishment was a nightmare, completely tacked-on and just ugly. The colors were ugly, the fabrics were ugly, and even the construction of the pieces with the contrasting serged edges was just ugly. He wasn't able to achieve the proportions of his sketch and instead came up with some strange maternity jumpsuit covered in puffy pillows. Oh Bert, you have let us down.

Viktor seems to be a bit all over the place. I don't question that he has taste, it's just that after six episodes I don't know where he's coming from. His dress this week was fine, but haven't we seen it before? Like, many times? And what does this flowing woven ruched number have to do with the strictly tailored top and skirt he made for Nina (which, by the way, I have also seen before)? At the moment, what we have in Viktor are sewing and interpretive skills, not a clear design voice. He needs to pick a direction and stick with it.

The judges were crazy about Laura's floral interpretation in organza, but I wasn't buying it. How many seasons ago was Christian Siriano on? Or Leanne Marshall? How can that loose wavy ruffle technique still be considered avant-garde when it's been around "Project Runway" for five seasons? Heidi fell hook, line and sinker for the "hard and soft exposed structure" bit, but again, it was nothing new to me. Laura's color choice has been unsophisticated from the very first challenge, and this dress in this fabric and color, cut short, belongs in a mall.

Josh C with Harlem School of the Arts student in the avant-garde challengeBryce
I have yet to see anything Bryce does that doesn't belong firmly in the middle or in the flat-out bottom. I think he was on to a good idea with the straight jacket to convey the haunted feeling in his inspiration painting, but his execution had none of the tortured qualities. The color seemed a choice out of left field, and I will never get my head around why he chose to make the bottom of a flamenco dress. Boy needs to head to the workroom and pack his things.

Josh C.
It didn't really matter what Josh C sent down the runway, he was going to be sent home. It's the unwritten rule of "Project Runway": He who gets eliminated and then returns is eliminated at the very next aufing. I did like the way he had the hairstylist do his model's hair.

Anthony's dress was my favorite of the episode, but it wasn't without its problems. The concept was simple and elegant — always the most successful kind. I had a bit of a problem with the execution. I felt the applied "brushstrokes" looked like felt pieces cut out for a Halloween costume. They didn't have the handmade, high-end feel that they could have. I understand that in two days you can't do a week's worth of hand work, and based on the concept and color choice alone, I agree that he deserved the win.

Last out on the runway was Anya. I did like her outfit. I found the skirt volume to be interesting, and her choice of varied fabrics all worked well together. The use of the feather trim was a bit expected, but overall I think she did a great job constructing a garment that is trickier to make than it looks, and it was a great interpretation of the painting.

Posted in: episode 6