Season Premiere July 24 at 9/8c
"A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock N Roll"…that’s the name of this episode, but it easily could also have been titled "A Little Messy, A Little 80s, Little Self-Confidence and LOTS of Miranda Lambert’s Boobies"! When we last left our designers, Tim Gunn had made an announcement as he waved adieu to bespectacled cat sweater-lovin' Joe, saying that there was still "some business to be taken care of." I fantasized that maybe there would be a revolt of angry cats outside of Parsons, or better yet, someone had cheated and put extra fertilizer spray on their flower creations. Alas, none of that…
No More Teams!
As the designers gather at the foot of the runway stage, Tim and Heidi come out with the dreaded button bag. They announce that there will be no more teams (cue the SCREAMS of delight!). Instead, each designer will be paired up. Samantha chooses Daniel; Richard goes with Stanley; Patricia picks Layana; Matthew is with Michelle; Kate goes for Tu and finally Amanda and Benjamin are left as the last couple standing. With that, it’s back to the Atlas apartments to get some sleep.
Line Dancin' & Tequila Shots (NOT!)
The following day, the coupled designers make their way to Johnny Utah’s Bar, a Country & Western establishment. Tim is waiting and again, in my fantasy episode, he’s there to teach the designers how to line dance and down tequila shots. But no, he's there to announce their next challenge: to design for country music star Miranda Lambert. Each two-designer team must design 2 looksa performance look and a red carpet ensemble. With that, they’re off to Mood with a whopping $400 per team ($200 each) to gather supplies for their looks. PS: I am now officially really envious of all the money they are getting as compared to what we got back when the show had NO MONEY!
Now, speaking of money, some of the designers didn’t even NEED all that money. Benjamin comes in way under budget when he goes to check out at Mood. Then there's "Team Richard and Stanley" who again, had money left over and (wisely as it turns out) decide to buy "Thank You Mood" t-shirts. Back in the workroom, after several hours of designing, Tim finally returns from his Boot-Scootin'-Boogie Line Dancing Class at Johnny Utah’s (my fantasy bonus episode), to make his visit. One designer from each pairing takes the "Performance" look while the other takes the "Red Carpet" and all of them discuss with Tim what they are creating.
Gaga for Tu
There's lots of leather, denim, some lace and curiously enough, a "Fringe Virus" attacking the workroom. Amanda, who lucky enough lives in Nashville, is hand-cutting jersey fringe for her "performance" look and Richard is also making a fringed "Tina Turner"-looking creation. Of note, little Tu is getting a lot of airtime this week with his cute Thai-accented comments as well as his Lady Gaga-inspired creation. Mr. Gunn is NOT having any of it. Here's a little DISH: Tim is not a fan of people-especially young upstart designers-using Lady Gaga as their muse. You should see his face when we are at the castings and we hear designer after designer, exclaiming in adulation, "Lady Gaga" when Tim asks who or what inspires them: he takes off his glasses and gets hot under his Brooks Brothers collar! Tim wisely advises Tu to tone it down and make it a bit less "Gaga."
A Pleated Skirt???
Day of the Runway Show and some of the designers are having issues: Richard has no lining for his fringed creation. In a perfect Make it Work moment, he remembers his Mood t-shirt, cuts it up and sews a tube-dress lining. And then there's Matthew. He's partnered up with Michelle and he's in way over his head; he's got about an hour before the runway show and doesn't have a bottom to his look. Really?!? I am sure that he is a sweet, sweet person, however...When you come on "Project Runway," you should arrive with your "ammunition", i.e. knowledge of quick draping, pattern making and sewing skills. In a simple challenge like this, he should have been able to go on "Design Auto Pilot" and pull out something creative from his bag of tricks. But stalling, going through the I-can't-believe-it's-Runway-Day-and-I-don't-have-a-bottom is amateur hour. At the last minute, he went for the "I'll make a pleated skirt" and well, as you know, the end result wasn't so creative-or good.
Thank You Mood
Heidi, Nina, Zac and Miranda Lambert, are present to judge. Miranda is va-va voom in a very cleavage-revealing black ensemble. All I could focus on were her "sisters." She wasn't lying when she said she embraces her curves! On the runway one of the best coupled teams were Amanda and Benjamin. Amanda's performance look was fun and very performance-appropriate, while Benjamin's red carpet strapless gown was slithery and sexy. I wasn't a fan of the one-breast sequin fringe; it was distracting and trust me, it would get a no-no from red carpet commentators. Nevertheless, the judges ADORED it. Richard and Stanley's looks were my favorite. I actually thought Stanley's red carpet plunging neckline gown was a definite YES!, even with the full gathered skirt section. But it was Richard who got the win for his fringed dress-with lining. Thank You Mood!
Thank You Zac Posen
And now for the not-so-good. Team Daniel and Samantha were in the bottom, along with Matthew and Michelle. First up, Daniel: his design was tragic and tacky. He was so proud of the leather "soutache"-like detail he created, yet it looked like a crumpled-up Hefty bag. Nina called it, "Bad, bad, bad." Ayyy dios mio! Zac Posen, interestingly enough, called him on his inclination for being referential. Thank God somebody (other than me) said it. In the first challenge I said his winning design looked very similar to what Raf Simons did for his first Dior Haute Couture collection. Then last week's design reminded me of Giambattista Valli Fall/Winter 2012 Haute Couture.
Bad Luck Michelle and Sad Matthew
But in the judges eyes, the worst of all were Matthew and Michelle. Poor Michelle, she is like the Season 11 bad luck charm. Not sure why. I love her personality and I actually think she's pretty great as a designer. But somehow, she's always on the losing team. I actually liked her design this week. Yes, that necklace was a bit much but the rest was directional and well-made. The problem is that it was a design that reflected Michelle's cool aesthetic but had nothing to do with Miranda Lambert. But I do think they were a little too hard on her. I'm glad Michelle stood up for her design and her love of Rock of Ages and AC/DC. Her coupled partner, however, did not stand up for his (lack of) design. Matthew's creation of a strapless pointed hem bustier and basic pleated skirt had zero performance appeal and no sparkle that someone in the "nose bleed" section could see. They looked like separates a teenager could have bought on sale at Forever 21. You could tell that he knew it was bad, and it reflected in his ability to barely stand up for himself on the runway. With that, he got the boot-scoot. Next week, we go from country and western fringe to...elderly Couture? Yikes!