Witchy vs. Bitchy
Gretchen should have been OUT. There, I said it. But she wasn't. I knew she was going to be in the "Final Four" since … well, since she uttered her first "I think EVERYONE ELSE'S designs SUCK!" critique. PLEASE, I'm too jaded. But still … What the heck did I just witness last night?: An uninspiring, off-the-rack outfit got put through by the judges, on "Project Runway." Do I sound frustrated? Yes. That's because I am. Last night's episode and challenge had such potential, yet I was to quote Michael Kors underwhelmed (by all the black) and unusually mad! What were the judges thinking? Well, let's find out …
The Atlas Apartments … NOT!
Last week, the "Mean Girls" of Season 8 were back and their Queen Bee, Ivy, was in fine form as she accused Michael C. of cheating and sabotage. To everyone's dismay (not mine!) he was cleared of any ("Project Runway") fashion crime. This week, we are starting anew and with no Mean Girls in sight (except for Gretchen) as Heidi congratulates the Top Five for being such great reality-TV-show characters ooops, I mean, for making it this far in the competition. As a reward, they are allowed a respite from working: The designers get to leave their pedestrian Atlas Apartment digs in exchange for a one-night stay at the Mandarin Oriental. There was faux bonding time for the cameras, where the designers were all "I am SO happy to be here with all of you …" yet you know they really just wanted to get more free champagne and go home!
Big Apple Fashion
After a good night's rest in a plush bed and some in-room cappuccino, the designers meet up with Tim Gunn and New York City's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, on the rooftop of what seems to be the aforementioned luxe hotel. I was waiting for Heidi, Michael and Nina to arrive via helicopter. Mayor Bloomberg announced that for this almost-final Challenge, the city of New York was their "muse": They were to design a look inspired by a New York City landmark of their choosing. They have two days and $500 for this challenge. Tim tells them to A) design hard, B) conceptualize thoughtfully and strategically and C) execute superbly. I would have just said "Y'all better BRING IT!"
Lady Liberty Meets a Hipster Bridge
The five remaining designers went on their own to their Inspirational Landmarks. Michael Costello decided on the Statue of Liberty, while April Johnston and Mondo Guerra went to the Brooklyn Bridge; Andy South hung out in Central Park, while Gretchen chose the Lower East Side. After the kids return from Mood, they work on their Manhattan-inspired creations, act silly (this surreal roller-coaster ride is finally hitting them and making them a bit loopy), and of course, Gretchen talks smack, to their faces and behind their backs.
Tim and Gretchen Make Up, Workroom Naps and Idiot Savants
The next day, Tim makes his entrance and begins his "my-glasses-are-about-to-fall-off-my-nose" analyzing. Mondo tells him that he is ditching the neon sequin fabric he bought because he didn't realize how difficult sequins are to work with. Tim tells Andy to step away and edit his "Bai Ling Happy Ending" dress, and finally, Gretchen has a "moment" with Tim. I want to feel like it's sincere. But somehow I feel NOTHING is sincere about Gretchen. And she does nothing to alter my feelings for her when she subsequently describes Michael Costello as being either an "idiot or an idiot savant." Real classy, Gretchen. Punctuating this day, the designers have a meeting with sexy Peter Butler, Consulting Stylist with Garnier, and later, exhausted Mondo takes a long nap. Not surprisingly, no one feels the need to wake his skinny butt up. Why would they? It's a COMPETITION!
Fierce Funeral Challenge?
It's Runway Day, and for some strange reason, the designers still have to describe their hair looks to the stylists. Didn't Peter Butler leave them photos before he took off to have drinks at the The Boom Boom Room? Season 4 winner Christian Siriano is there to offer his expertise. The designs come out, and … it's A LOT of BLACK. I realize EVERYONE in The Big Apple wears black; however, I have a feeling this is NOT how Mayor Bloomberg envisioned a NYC-inspired fashion show. And also, let's not forget that most of the designs had NO resemblance to their Landmark Inspirations. None. This could have been the "Dress for a Very Chic Funeral" Challenge, for goodness' sake!
The Best of the Black Brigade
The judges felt that one of the best was Mondo's sheath dress. I thought it was good, but not extraordinary. It's an interesting dress with houndstooth and patent-leather details, which surprises no one. Kors deemed Andy's dress "very Blade Runner-meets-Robert Palmer Girl." Twenty-three-year-old Andy probably had NO IDEA what those references meant, bless his heart. But it was one of my favorites. His dress was, to quote Christian Siriano, fierce.
Go Back to Textile Class
But it was Michael C. who led the "Project Runway" Black Color Brigade with a halter-neck, VERY LOW-back gown. I just about spit out my Diet Coke when he acknowledged that he didn't even know what fabric it was made of! It's JERSEY, darling. How do you even call yourself a fashion designer and not know your textiles? (Sorry, the FIDM Instructor in me is coming out.) He certainly allows the "fabrics to speak to him," as Kors stated, but you can't run a fashion business and call up a fabric vendor on the phone asking for "the stretchy one." The judges disregard his lack of textiles training and give him the "win" for this week, calling his gown a "showstopper." Well, I might have not gone that far, but … compared to the rest of the designs, maybe.
Two Days and $500, and You Made That?
On the bottom were April and Gretchen. April was criticized for doing same-old April: black, Gothic and somewhat "witchy." It was very Givenchy by Ricardo Tisci, and I kind of liked it. The judges, however, said they'd seen this dress one too many times before, and Kors added that it looked like a "nine-months-pregnant-witch dress." Speaking of witches, I absolutely did not like Gretchen's. My first thought (when it came out) was "You had TWO DAYS and $500, and THIS is what you made?" The skirt was way too tight, the blouse was from Forever 21, and the jacket I could find at a yard sale in San Francisco. The judges ripped her to shreds, yet the entire time, I kept thinking, She'll be in.
No Bitchy or Witchy
Well, the judges did not prove me wrong, and Bitchy won over Witchy. The judges somehow found a way to keep Gretchen in by inserting the "Oh well, at least she did sportswear" and "There's taste in her designs" comments. Really? Not in this outfit. Again, I disagreed with the judges. Once back in the "waiting lounge" after making the Final Four cut, Gretchen was still her typical ungracious self and put in a dig, saying to the rest of the designers, "I'm just so relieved they gave me the second chance that you guys all got." Oh Gretchen, keep telling yourself that. Honestly, your outfit was a mess, and the reason you're still there is because you are not a very nice person and reality TV loves that. But I digress. It's time to move on and let these designers go home, take lots of Advil, get some rest, watch themselves on TV and tell everyone how they were "edited" badly … and hopefully create some fabulous collections. And please: No Witchy and no Bitchy. Just lots of FIERCE-Y.