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Road to Therapy (I mean NY Fashion Week!)

By CaitlinBergmann Fri., Oct. 22, 2010 ,5:00 am EDT

I cannot believe it's almost OVER! We are in the last lap of this season's "Project Runway" and it's been a KRAZEE marathon! This episode left me shaken. To be honest, immediately after watching, all I could focus on was that I may need to re-think my recap and instead write an open letter to all parents entitled "How Not to Mess Up Your Children's Lives." But then I wouldn't be able to discuss this last DRAMATIC (and oh-so-fashion-boring) penultimate episode. So here we go…

Watch the designers' video blogsNot Over Yet
When we last left our designers, Andy, Gretchen, Michael and Mondo, Tim warns them that "It's not over yet!" After congratulating the final four, Heidi tells them that each designer will get $9,000 (hello!) and only six weeks to create a 10-piece collection, but that eventually only three will get to compete at NY Fashion Week. At last, they get to go home. Bye, Atlas Apartments and hello, "Oh, dear! That's what I look like on TV?!" and "Those producers EDITED the episode to make me look bad!" Not!

Buddha Fish
A month later, Tim goes on the road to visit them at home. First up: Andy in Hawaii. After receiving a warm "Aloha," Monsieur Gunn put on his Wellies (Leis are so five years ago!) and arrives at Andy's family farm. After caressing a catfish or two, Tim discusses Andy's progress. There wasn't much. Andy has just received his fabrics and was on his way to actually beginning his Laos-and-Buddha-themed collection. There were headpieces and some accessories, but no clothing. This worried Tim. It would worry me, too.

Desert Daddy and Denver Circuses
Next, Tim is off to Palm Springs, California to visit Michael Costello. Michael has OVER designed and created 18 looks! (Note to Michael: set up a contractor sewing service, like NOW!) Tim advises Michael to use a "critical eye" and start editing. We soon get a hint of what's to come after we meet Michael's partner, Richard, who breaks it down and tells Tim that Michael's parents are NOT coming to Fashion Week since, essentially, they are not welcome there. Alrighty then!

Tim is now off to Denver, Colorado to join Mondo. My little Latin Urkel tells Tim that he is inspired by Mexico City vintage circuses, as well as "The Day of the Dead." Why am I not surprised? The only highlight here is more Mommy-Daddy issues as we see Mondo's dear mom confess that she wished her son was "more butch." Pobrecita.

Sophisticated Diapers?
Finally, Tim heads to Portland, Oregon to check in on Gretchen. As luck would have it, she has had none: She's broke, boyfriendless and almost homeless. She confesses to being in a raw state. I have a feeling we are about to witness the beginning of a sweeter depiction of Gretchen. She keeps telling herself that her finale collection is a "more sophisticated" Gretchen, yet by the sight of a pair of white knit diaper shorts, sophisticated would not be an adjective I would use. This is clothing for a vegetarian twenty-something who does NOT want to get LAID!

Pick a Look, Any Look!
Six weeks have passed and the kids are back in NYC. They have been upgraded to a suite at the Hilton and, in addition, they receive a special gift from the lovely folks there: vacations to Barbados, Costa Rica and (sorry, Andy) Hawaii. Tim — fresh from making it into the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Program — tells the four designers that in order to narrow them down to the Top 3, they will have to present three looks, two of which will be from their collection and one, a new creation. After a day of work, Tim checks in on their new look — as well as what they will be showing the judges. Mondo scraps a "very junior-looking" dress and decides to get more "Mondo Uptown," which Tim loves. Tim tells Gretchen her choices are cohesive and is impressed with Andy's pleating. But there's trouble-a-brewin' with Michael: he has no idea which two looks from his collection he wants to pick. That ain't good, and Tim tells him so.

"Gretchen Critique Hour" Has Been Cancelled
During this work time, I also notice a BIG change: what happened to the "Gretchen Critique Corner?" Did someone go home, watch themselves and think "Oh, no I didn't?" This is definitely a kindler and gentler Gretchen. No bitching and no "I'm better than everyone else." Frankly, the Gretchen "Kumbaya! I just love everyone!" is disconcerting.

Circus Joke and Whole Foods Employee Fashionista
It's (finally) runway time, and Nina, Michael and Heidi (sans bangs!) are there. I am THOROUGHLY bored and uninspired by most of the mini-collections (save for Mondo's). What happened? These are the top? Seriously?

During the critiques, the judges had both positives and negatives to say about ALL of them. Nina loved Mondo's boldness, but all the judges warned him that he was two prints away from being considered a joke. I didn't agree. I thought it looked Lacroix for 2010! When his three looks came out, I finally woke up! They were TEN TIMES better than all the others. It was a no-brainer for me.

Consequently, they deemed Gretchen's a "Granola Festival" (true) and I agreed with Heidi's suggestion of giving high heels to her models because, really, they all looked like Whole Foods employees going to their boss' "Five Year Sobriety" party. Mondo and Gretchen were in.

Bikini Cocktail vs. New Jersey Housewives Effortless Chic
So it was down to Andy and Michael. I was so surprised with Andy, and not in a good way. What happened to his warrior, all-black divas? Did he leave them at Parsons before going home? This seems to happen often to "Project Runway" finalists. They design AMAZINGLY while on the show and then after they go home, it's like, "What the hell?"

Michael Kors (to my amazement) loved it, but I though that apple-green shantung dress was something a slutty Imelda Marcos would wear. The skirt was too short and the overall style was not directional. And I'm not even mentioning that bikini thing! But it was Michael C. and his monochromatic group that really hit a sour note with the judges.

Watch Michael Costello's Best MomentsThey loved (and so did I) the one copper gown he created. The rest bordered on a collection better suited for the Real Housewives of New Jersey rather than Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Heidi broke the news to Michael that he was not "In."

It's Just The Beginning
Then came the BREAKDOWN that will be seen on YouTube for YEARS. (OK, maybe months!) He stood there on the stage-for what seemed like hours-as Heidi and the judges wondered if they should shake him or let him disintegrate in front of all America. He then retreats to the Designers' Lounge and before the goodbye hugs, he decides to punch the wall and begin a very emotional admission of how he thinks he let his parents down and will now have a reason to call him a failure.

I sat there on my sofa, the same way the other designers did, wondering if I should just find the number of a good therapist and give it to him! It was sad. Really sad to see the results of bad parenting occur like that on TV. This wasn't cute. Hopefully Michael will be stronger from this and realize that he doesn't need their support to be happy and successful. Take it from me, not showing at NY Fashion Week and not making it to the finals is NOT the end of the world, it's just the beginning.