Season Premiere July 24 at 9/8c
Laura Bennett Blog
Category: "project runway season 8 episode 8"
This week the designers are asked to design an outfit for a modern-day version of style icon Jackie Kennedy. Like the previous "redesign an ugly bridesmaid dress" or "make a dress from the party store," it almost doesn't seem possible that this challenge hasn't been done before. This entire season is starting to feel like an only slightly altered version of what we have seen before. Of course, if the producers threw some completely wacky and totally un"Project Runway" challenges my way, like "make a dress out of raw meat," I would complain about that too.
All the designers begin babbling about how honored they are and what a risk-taker Jackie was, but I disagree. In a time of Paco Rabanne chain-mail dresses and Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian minis, she wore Chanel and Cardin lady suits. Not so risky, really, but iconic enough, so let's go shopping at Mood.
Tim reminds the designers to think quality, taste, style, sophistication and expensive, so one of the designers immediately goes for a zebra print, which basically says none of those things. You can lead a designer to Mood but you can't make her stay away from animal prints. Ivy says she's lost, and Mondo has no plan, so he is waiting for the fabric to speak to him. A giant purple, black and ivory houndstooth tweed calls out to him from the bottom of aisle five on the second floor, and before nary a form is draped, I tell Uli (who is still staying with me) that he is the winner.
My psychic fashion powers aside, I actually have two logical reasons to rush to this conclusion. For one, Jackie's clothes, while not risky, were crisp and classic. Many designers proclaim that they do "classic with a twist" (it's right up there with "Hollywood glamour"), but few really do. An overscaled purple houndstooth tweed really is classic with a twist. At this point Mondo could wrap the fabric around his model and secure it with a safety pin (left behind by Bowler Boy) and he will have met the parameters of the challenge.
My second reason is a bit more complicated, so stay with me. Last week here in New York it was Fashion Week. You know, the one Heidi always mentions, that used to be in Bryant Park and is now in Lincoln Center. Because Fashion Week is a public event, and the producers don't want anyone to know who the finalists are, every designer who hasn't been eliminated up until now gets to show a collection. This way, collections come out one after another and the audience has no idea if the designer is an actual finalist or just what they call a decoy. Of course, through the magic of editing, only the finalists' collections are shown on TV. This lengthy explanation of how reality TV really works is relevant because in Mondo's Fashion Week collection (remember, I have no idea whether or not he is a finalist; see explanation above) he used a giant houndstooth tweed. Designers on "Project Runway" have a history of reusing a fabric in their final collection that they were successful with on a challenge. Uli, for example, who is sitting right next to me.
So Bam! Classic with a twist/repeat performance, I say Mondo wins and we can all call it quits and go channel surfing for a "House" marathon (or "Housewives" I'm not judging), but no one listens to me and the designers are sent to the workroom, where they are given the added task of adding an outerwear piece to the outfit. They are also given added money and an added trip to Mood, so again, the producers fail to adequately torture the contestants. This twist does provide us with a genius bit of editing when Christopher is weirded out by his own choice of animal fur for his outerwear and the camera cuts to Swatch, the incredibly chill dog that hangs out at Mood. This dog is so chill that when the store is slow the employees make costumes for him out of trim and photograph him. These pictures alone are worth a trip to Mood.
Back in the workroom, my boy Andy South is having a bad day. Apparently inspired by Heidi's belted satin harem pants, he is working on a pair of his own. A very wrong pair. Not that even a right pair of harem pants would be right for Jackie. His first big clue to bail should have come when Tim grabbed his chin in that concerned way that he does and said, "Jackie O would not have cameltoe." Which is actually camel-butt, if we want to be accurate here. (At this point my husband is now watching with Uli, and I have to explain to him what cameltoe is.) I love me some M.C. Hammer, but I've never seen anything in any of his videos, legit or otherwise, that remotely reminds me of any first lady. Or second or third, for that matter.
Valerie is having a bad day, too. Not only is she the only designer not to benefit from the outerwear addition, because she already did an outerwear piece and now she has to add outerwear to outerwear, but she has chosen some seriously somber colors, charcoal gray and deep purple. Uli says (feel free to insert a German accent here), "Her model looks like ein trummer frau." For those of you who are now looking at Uli with their head cocked to the side like me, trummer fraus are the women who cleaned up the debris from fallen buildings during WWII because there were no men around to do the job. It's always educational to have Uli around.
It's runway day, and Mondo gets out his Sunday best. Wearing eyeliner, knee socks and what appear to be tiny little lederhosen, he looks adorable and, sure enough, ends up in the top. Also in the top are Ivy with a very chic look (but I may just think that because I'm nearly 50) and Christopher with a dress that the judges like, but his animal-fur outerwear piece looks like a ShamWow after it has been used to wash the car. Heidi asks Mondo to tell the judges about his outfit, and after his explanation of his model's look, she says, "No, I meant YOUR outfit." This joke is so good that I have trouble believing she came up with it herself, but I am going to leave it at that because any more would require another lengthy explanation of the realities of reality TV. Mondo, in all his cuteness, wins the challenge.
Left on the runway are Valerie, Andy and Michael Drummond. Valerie can stay because someone needs to clean up the war debris. Andy can stay because he took a risk and didn't bore Nina. Michael Drummond has to go because his outfit looks like mall-wear, and Jackie O might have been a bulimic chain-smoker with a cheating husband who married a shipping tycoon for money and then lived with another married man until the end of her life, but she would NEVER be caught dead in a mall.