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You Ain't No Waif Yourself

By kim_messina Fri., Aug. 24, 2012 ,4:47 am EDT

On almost every season of "Project Runway" there is the "Dress A Real Person Challenge." In past seasons, designers have had to work with moms, bratty teenagers, and even on my season, we had to make over our fellow designers. Don't remind me the outcome of that one. Moving on... It's the challenge that both furthers the stereotype that (some) fashion designers are body dysmorphic creatures who worship and idolize the size 0, 6 foot tall, super human creatures (models), and at the same time, can show that we do care about a "real size" woman. It's an intelligent designer who can be successful at the latter, which is of course the most important factor, since most women are NOT a size 0, 2 or even an 8 for that matter. In actuality the average american woman is a size 14. So with that in mind, let's start this week's recap:

I Have Style ... But My Friend Doesn't

Heidi waltzes onto the "Runway" stage and announces that "for your next challenge, we have some new clients for you." Ten men and women enter and flank Miss Klum. Before the remaining 10 designers can whisper in disgust a, "Are we creating something for them?!" Heidi adds, "Well, these aren't your new clients ... you'll be creating looks for their FRIENDS." It's the L'Oreal Hair Challenge of Making Over a Friend. OK, now you can cut to the designers giving looks of "We have to dress REAL PEOPLE!?" Even Heidi noticed the "Oh no" looks as she tries to remind the designers that "this might be a lot of fun..." The operative word here is MIGHT. Even Heidi wasn't buying what she was selling — knowing there is bound to be designer/client drama. They all head to the Parsons workroom where Tim awaits with L'Oreal consulting hair stylist Johnny Lavoy, who will help in creating the friend makeover transformations.

Meet Your Clients

Time to meet each of the designers' "real life clients" who were (supposedly) chosen for each designer at random: Sonjia gets Amanda, a sweat pant-loving tomboy who hates to shop. Elena is handed Jenna, who is "bubbly" and loves color. Christopher gets Kate, who is hoping for a trendy jacket. Dmitry is paired with Angela who likes chunky jewelry and contrast. Alicia gets Martina, who wants men to marry her and women to BE her (at-a-girl!). And finally, Melissa gets Kannace who likes dresses.

Sexy with Swag and the Brawny Paper Towel (Wo)man

Nathan is paired with Liana — an Eastern European-sounding beauty who wants to be a pop/R&B singer. She wants something "Sexy with Swag." Fabio gets someone named Ko-Reply Pi who at first I thought was a boy, but then realized not-so-mucheey. She's afraid of wearing anything that might "sexualize" her — and she achieved that with her "Brawny Paper Towel Man" ensemble. Gunnar gets Kim, who is very excited at the prospect of being made over, and Ven? He gets a lovely woman by the name of Terri who works in finance and loves her t-shirts and 10-year-old jeans. She also happens to be one of the "larger ladies" in the room. Mon Dieu.

Plus Size Basher

As soon as you can say "Jenny Craig," Ven goes into "plus size bashing mode" disrespecting his client and basically all non-size 4 women in America. He says some doozies on his "direct-to-camera" interviews that would make anyone within earshot want to through some carb-filled Fettuccini Alfredo at him. Among other foot-in-mouth statements, he says that he was "shocked and disappointed" that he has to work with a real person and not a model. Then when Tim makes his workroom visit, he tells him that his client has no sense of style, isn't fashion forward, doesn't have any shape and oh, the pièce de résistance: that her "before" photo is "definitely a NIGHTMARE." In addition, he goes on to demean Terri (his client) to her face by saying that the belt he wants her to wear is "too small for her" and that he was "shocked" at how beautiful her transformation was after the haircut and color makeover. Wow Ven, you get the "Contemptuous and Discourteous Behavior Toward a Client" Trophy for Season 10.

You Ain't No Waif

Here we go: I'm just surprised that NO ONE — especially Terri his client or her friend Theo — turned around and said, "Huneyyyyy! You Ain't No Waif Yourself" (sorry for the bad double negative grammar). For someone like Ven, who is no Size Small himself, to have a complete disregard for his client’s sensitivity toward size-ism is just jaw-dropping. I would expect those types of things to be coming from say, waifish Gunnar (my UBER skinny gays can be so mean sometimes!), but lo and behold, Miss Gunnar was a complete and utter gentleman with his client who was basically the same dress size as Ven's client. If you're counting, it's ten points for Gunnar. Zero for Ven.

Bye Bye Brawny, Hello Chic Artist

It's Runway Day and the stage is set for "Will Ven be at the bottom for being so mean?" Alongside Nina, Michael and Heidi, is British fashion designer Alice Temperley of Temperley London, who counts Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge as a client. Let's do the good first: Gunnar, Fabio and Dmitry. First of all, Gunnar's client ROCKED the runway. I almost got up from my sofa and started clapping, hootin' and hollerin' as she was sashaying down the runway. Kim should get a "Lifetime Runway Award" come reunion show time. The judges also loved what she was wearing by the way (Me, not so much, to be honest). Dmitry made his client look edgy and cool. But it was Fabio who took the prize this week for creating such an original color-blocked dress for his plaid shirt-loving client. Nina described it as "phenomenal." A Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci Haute Couture gown is phenomenal, so I wouldn't go as far as that, but it was very good.

Hoochie Momma Bye

Now, back to Ven. No surprise that he was in the bottom along with Nathan and Sonjia. Sonjia's jersey twisted knot front dress was way too short and well, we've seen it before ... at every department store across the US. On a good note: she gets points for making her sweats-loving client look feminine and so different. Ven's creation reflected his unharmonious designer/client working relationship. The look didn't know whether it was going for cocktails (the shiny turquoise batwing top) or a job interview (black skirt with diagonal metal zipper). Ven never took the time to find out what his client really liked and wanted. Instead he verbally bashed Terri and went ahead creating something that wasn't her. It was Ven's way or the Jenny Craig Highway. As a result, he was where he should be, which is at the bottom. While Ven took complete control and failed, Nathan on the other hand, gave up control and allowed his client to dictate the entire look, making Nathan her private seamstress and not her designer. His client was all things Hoochie Momma. When I saw the illusion sides, I just about wondered out loud if we were in Vegas and it was 3 am! So with that, the judges said bye bye to Nathan.

A Note to Ven

You are a very talented designer and have a great chic style aesthetic but ... good luck getting ANYONE to buy your clothes when you're done with this. A public apology to the MILLIONS of average American size 14 women might be in your future plans.