Happy Times ...
Last night, on Season 9 “Project Runway,” the contestants were done with their bitchfest of last week, and as those introductory scenes from their Atlas Apartments proved, it was all “Kumbaya”/happy times/let’s just all get along with each other. As Queen Mean Girl said, “I’m done bitching, now I’m going to be nice.” Yes, GURL, you keep telling yourself that. Even Bert “I-Can’t-Stand-All-These-Kids Keeter wants to make amends ...We’ll see how long that will last.
Art Class Is in Session
They all meet Monsieur Gunn at the Harlem School of the Arts to get their next challenge: to create an avant-garde look inspired by artwork from students of the school. Go Nicki Minaj at the MTV VMA’s or GO HOME. The “Project Runway” contestants meet their student artists and have a design “powwow” where the young kids (the Harlem School of the Arts students, in case you were confused) draw a painting that the designers will be inspired by. The one thing I got out of this was that somehow these young kids can DRAW better than the fashion designers on this season’s “Project Runway”! As an instructor of sketching (as well as draping and pattern-making), I am bit embarrassed that most (save for Bert) of these season’s contestants can barely sketch a proper croquis! Yes, I know it’s not a requirement to know how to draw as a fashion designer, but being that it is one of the more essential tools to communicate your vision, it seems absurd to not develop that skill.
Too Much Workroom
Afterward, they head to Mood Fabrics to shop, and then its back to the Parsons workroom. Speaking of the workroom; those segments were WAAAY too long for me this week. I know that they got extra time, but there wasn’t much going on, really. Miss Josh “I-Get-a-Second-Chance” Christensen picked faux fur (his student’s artwork featured a wolf) at Mood but is thinking twice about using it. Becky is having problems making little fabric-covered cubes reminiscent of a Jean-Charles de Castelbajac creation I’ve seen before. Olivier thinks that by using chiffon a fabric he’s not accustomed to it will instantly translate the garment into something avant-garde. Not so much! He’s also having time management issues. And we get a glimpse that Josh M. actually has a heart in that the editors conveniently (after such a HATEFUL Josh M. episode last week) decide to tell us about his mother passing away from ovarian cancer not too long ago and how he’s been inspired by her. Oh, and the other thing I notice is that several of these designers LOVE the glue gun. If you are given two days for a challenge, you should NOT be using a glue gun. I think this says something about the level of talent.
Runway Day ... Almost
Let’s just get to Runway Day, because the Parsons workroom was a snoozefest and the everyone-is-getting-along and PLEASE-feel-bad-for-Josh M. thing is really getting on my last FASHION reality show editing nerve! Before the actual runway/judging, Tim walks in and “schools” Olivier, who seems to be GLUEING his model into his design. He is, but he tells Tim in his faux Ohio-British accent that since the glue didn’t actually stick to her skin, he’s not. Somehow, it’s all OK. Should it be?
Kenneth Cole for Avant-Garde?
Now, on to the runway. Kors and Klum are there, and Nina is missing. But the lovely Zanna Roberts Rossi (my L.A. casting co-judge) was on hand as her replacement. Kenneth Cole is the Guest Judge. At first, I said to myself: “Kenneth Cole for an Avant-Garde Challenge?” He subsequently proves me wrong, in that his insightful comments are actually very good. His multi-billion-dollar brand of clothing, shoes, accessories may be “basic” (by fashionista standards), but his marketing strategy has always been far from it.
The Top 3: Joshua M. did a FAB ensemble featuring a hand-painted skirt as well as a “Fire Blazing” blouse, and Laura hot-glued her way into a structured-and-soft gown that was WAAAY too close to a Christian Siriano knockoff. But my favorite was Anthony Ryan, who was able to mesh the art with the fashion together the best, with a gown that featured “brushstroke” appliqué. With one eye on his students’ artwork and the other on his dress, you could see the connection, in a very “fashion” way. Judge Kenneth Cole thought it was a bit sloppy in terms of its execution, and there definitely was no denying that sloppy, raw hem. Also, I have to say, this gown as much as I liked it was still very much like his “Bird Seed Dress” from the Make a Dress From the Pet Store Challenge. In other words, he took a very basic base, and piled stuff on top of it. But he still won, after being in the Top 3 so many times.
Valium Clothes vs. Hooker in a Mall?
The Worst and NOT-so-Avant-Garde included Olivier, who is majorly FAILING for me. His students’ artwork was full of life and vibrant with color. His design, alas, was not. As Michael Kors said, “They’re like Valium clothes.” Gray and sad, kind of like the designer himself. La Kors also called Bert’s design which was very Dior Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2011 “something a Teletubby would wear to a party.” Cole said it was too “outside the box,” yet Miss Klum kind of liked it, and so did I. He was safe. Unfortunately, it was Josh C. who was once again sent packing, with his Hooker in a Mall/Victorian Cocktail Waitress creation that was far from avant-garde. The Project Runway Lesson of the Day: If you get a second chance, better go BIG or go home!!! Auf Wiedersehen, Joshy!
Five things I learned from watching last night's episode:
1) Joshua M. is mean. OK, he's downright CRUEL.
2) Bert is also mean, but in a Bitchy Old Queen sort of way
3) Mean and bitchy gets you places … at least on "Project Runway"
4) Reality shows LOVE a villain ... or two!
5) A basic tank maxi dress can win in a fashion design competition! Who knew?
Running With Pattern Shears
After last week's "Dress Nina la Diva" episode, the remaining contestants woke up only to find boxes in their Atlas Apartments. I started to get the shakes, as this reminded me of my Season 2 "Figure Skating/Make a Costume for Sasha Cohen" Challenge, when we received boxes of snap-on body suits and leggings to wear during our ice skating outing. Oh happy times! No figure skating for these kids; they were going to the New Balance Track and Field Center at the Armory. Heidi and Tim were there to tell them that they would be working in four teams of three. They all had to do a lap around the field, and the fastest four would be the captains/team leaders.
Before H & T said "Go!", "Death-Warmed-Over" Cecilia was DONE: She decided to quit. Fab one less person to write about! Bah-bye. BTW, can we have those shiny new HK New Balance sneakers back? Sans Cecilia, the remaining contestants do their lap. Olivier falls and passes out (will a PA please get him some Craft Service! Stat!), Heidi helps "old" Bert make it to the end (in 6-inch heels!) and then we find out the captains: Joshua, Bryce, Anthony Ryan and Viktor. Yes, kids, The Gays can do sports!
The Heidi Challenge
The captains then choose their team members: Joshua picks Anya and Becky; Bryce is with Kimberly and Danielle; Viktor picks Olivier, and Anthony Ryan and Laura Kathleen are left with Bert (uh-oh!). Since Viktor has only one companion, they bring back Joshua C. to even it all out (lucky him!). Heidi then finally announces this week's Challenge: create 3 cohesive looks for her HK New Balance sneakers. "Think fashion," "Think 'basic with a twist,'" she tells them. The prize: The winning look will be sold and manufactured online on Amazon.com as part of Heidi's line.
Joshua: "Mean Girls" Queen
Back at the Parsons Workroom, the "Mean Girls" captain, Joshua, begins his needless cruelty by belittling Becky's design ability and basically making her his seamstress. He continues this throughout their entire time together, saying that she's someone who "does dowdy dresses" and not someone he would consider a "style icon." Ouch. He also gets WAAAY too close to copying my fellow Season 2 veteran Zulema Griffin's quote of "I don't care if you gotta cry and cut, but CRY and CUT. Don't stop and cry!" Let's discuss Joshua for a second: There are times that I just want to say some of the cruel things he said last night (to people who shall remain nameless), but I happen to have a filter/edit mechanism in my brain especially when there's a camera 10 feet away from me which stops me from being so cruel (also, my mom taught me better!). In addition, it's the WAY he says it, his intonation. It's actually quite disgusting. I'm done with Joshua.
Anthony Ryan and Laura join Joshua as members of "Mean Girls": The Parsons Edition by being quite dismissive of poor ol' Bert. But as it turns out, Bert is not helping matters by being incredibly uncooperative and sour and making condescending statements under his breath basically, just being a bitchy old queen. He also cannot remember his own team players' names (Henry?? No, Bert, its Anthony Ryan). Bert seems to be forming his own chapter of the Mean Girls Club! Ah, Bert: Sometimes after nine hours of teaching 19-year-olds at a fashion institute and grading, draping and correcting pattern assignments for another 12 hours, well, I feel like being a "Bitchy Old Queen" and snapping at an unsuspecting student. But I do not; I know better. Also, what part of "You will have to work with people who are NOT from your generation and who do not have your background and expertise" did you NOT understand when you signed up for "Project Runway"? Instead of being a condescending sourpuss, it might behoove you to be cordial, be a team player, and later after you finish filming and return to your home in L.A. bitch with your "girlfriends" over a Liza Minnelli Tribute at some piano bar in the Valley! Trust me, that's what I did!!
Motorcycle Ridin' With a "Generic" Tank Dress
OK, let's discuss the Runway Day and the results. Heidi, Michael, Nina and the guest judge, the sublimely gorgeous model Erin Wasson, were there to see the results from "Mean Girls": The HK New Balance Sneakers fashion show. It was a mixed bag, naturally, considering all the dysfunctional behavior happening among some of the teams. The judges were all over the place with their comments and who they liked and did not like. There were two "best," according to Heidi (since, after all, it was HER Challenge): Viktor's gray dress and black motorcycle jacket was the winner, and "Joshua's Team" with "their" maxi dress (created by Anya, by the way) also won. I loved Viktor's, and that win was well-deserved. I understood the salability of "Team Joshua's" maxi dress, but seriously, that gets commended in a DESIGN competition? It's a two-piece tank dress!
A First: Camel-Toe Romper
At the very bottom was Danielle and her green top and skirt (yes, she did ANOTHER chiffon green top!) and Anthony Ryan's diapers-looking romper. Poor Anthony Ryan's design was the worst (in my eyes). Even Michael Kors told him, "You've achieved the impossible: Your shorts are big and tight at the same time. She has camel toe in big shorts." But he's too cute to go away well, in "TV Land," anyway! In the end, it was mousy Leanne Marshall I mean, Danielle who went home for her "Chiffon Addiction." If I were Danielle, I'd be happy to just be away from that "Mean Girls" environment once and for all. Now, what shall we do about Bitchy Bert and Cruel Joshua? Unfortunately, they're still in the show. Oh, yes, lest we forget, reality TV loves a villain ... or two. Mean Girls rule!!! (I hope not).
Designing for a client: a rite of passage every fashion designer amateur or established must go through. The circus is gone (thank goodness), and this week it's all about designing for a REAL client: Nina Garcia. The Legend. The Diva. Born in Colombia to a wealthy importer (Wikipedia!). Attended an exclusive boarding school for girls in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Holds TWO bachelor's degrees, from Boston University and FIT, and (if that's not enough), she also attended the Ecole Supérieure de la Mode in Paris. Oh, and did I mention the woman has enough style and class to fill two football fields in Texas?
Heidi announces that creating an Office-to-Fashion Event outfit for La Nina is the Challenge for this week. The prize: She will wear your creation, and it will be shot for a Marie Claire editorial, as well as featured on top of NYC taxicabs for one of the magazine's ads. "DEEEEEEsigners: Imagine arriving on your transcontinental flight from L.A. to NYC for that dreaded 'Project Runway' Reunion Episode, tired from being in 36D way back in Coach, only to wait in a 50+ person line for a taxi at JFK, and then seeing your outfit on top of one of those cabs!!! Just imagine! Well, this could be you!" Heidi tells them. Well, she doesn't really say that, it's just what I'm thinking in my jaded little head. Nina, in a polished black-and-white ensemble, then tells the contestants what she likes and doesn't like: classic with an edge, streamlined, clean silhouettes, NO loud patterns or bright colors. NO voluminous clothes. NO pleats … and most of all, NO WIRE HANGERS!!!
Half an hour later the designers get a consultation with Nina, who has now ditched her white wide-lapeled jacket and black pants and is wearing a completely DIFFERENT look. Only Nina can do outfit changes in half-hour intervals. She's now featuring a black-and-silver beaded top with bright salmon-colored sleeves. (Side note: I thought she didn't like bright colors?) At the consultation, she doesn't hold back: "No Cowl, Bryce!" "Do Pants, Kimberly!" "Too 'Dynasty,' Cecilia!" And this continues when she later visits them to check in on their progress. I love the moments when Miss Nina asks several of the designers if they have a Plan B. And of course, they do not.
Bored and Uninspired
Many of them are having fabric and color issues with what they chose for Nina: Uninspired Cecilia is not happy with her boring gray fabric (which she cannot change). Just-Learned-How-to-Sew Anya chooses a not-so-Nina mustard yellow printed silk, which she decides to dye with the help of her Best Gay Boyfriend, Anthony Ryan. And speaking of Anthony Ryan, he and Grew-Up-in-a-Cult Becky somehow pick the SAME fabric at Mood. There are THOUSANDS of different fabrics at Mood and you had to pick the SAME one? I'm also concerned from looking at some of the creations how (save for TWO) NONE of them look very Nina Garcia to me. Since when does Nina Garcia wear dresses with back cutouts (Joshua)? Or plunging necklines (Bert)? Or tricky coatdresses (Julie)? No.
Step Over, Michael and Nina, We Have a New DIVA in Town!
Cut to Runway Day, and there are LOTS of judges: Heidi, Michael, Nina (of course!), plus Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief of Marie Claire (who, incidentally, gets an A+ in Bitchy Commentary for this "dress rehearsal" of her new position as "The Nina" for the upcoming "Project Runway All Stars") AND actress Kerry Washington, who was also a judge on Season 6 when I subbed for Michael Kors on one challenge. Sorry to be a "Negative Ninny" yet again this week, but: I was so bored and uninspired by the clothes that came down the runway. If I were Nina, I would have screamed, "Is there a Plan C?" I was really surprised Bryce wasn't in the "bottom" group. His wonky-hemmed dress looked like a first-semester Fashion School creation. He definitely has got some Lucky Fairy Dust around him, as he RAN to the "Safe" waiting room as fast as he could, hoping the judges wouldn't change their minds.
Work That Gold Top, Miss Nina
There were really only two good outfits this week. Yes, Anya's was there, but seriously, a mud-colored jumpsuit with a 1990s low-slung belt for Nina? No. Viktor and Kimberly's were the obvious best. Viktor's was chic, very Fashion Editor Diva, and SCREAMED "New York City" in its all-black sensibility. The only problem for me: the black! You couldn't see any of the details. If you can't see the details on TV, this dress AIN'T going to work on top of a NYC taxicab. Kimberly's look, on the other hand besides those well-cut black trousers included a FAB metallic gold top with directional seaming and styling. This outfit can stand out in an ad and on a NYC cab rooftop. It also looked very Nina and could easily work from the office to front row of a Jason Wu Spring 2012 Runway Show. She wins.
A Flight Attendant Serves Drinks to a St. Paddy's Day Party Guest
But now, the worst: Mousy-girl Leanne Marshall I mean Danielle had a green chiffon blouse look that Kors deemed "pedestrian" and something one would wear to a Joan Crawford St. Paddy's Day party (his comment writers are getting better and better every season). No-Makeup Julie created a coatdress that looked like a rejected flight-attendant uniform for low-cost airline easyJet. How on earth did she ever think her creation was suitable for Nina? However, the worst I thought was Cecilia's: a one-shoulder gray cocktail dress. A) We all know that Nina Garcia would never be caught dead in a one-shoulder dress, and B) A silk jacquard cocktail dress for 10 am meetings in the Hearst Building? So, obviously Cecilia was OUT, right? Nope, she was IN! At this point I was so bored and uninspired with ALL OF IT that I didn't even care.
Bye, Julie take your coatdress and book yourself an easyJet flight from Madrid to Croatia. Oh, and don't be surprised if you have to show the passengers where the emergency exits are.
Off the Bat ...
I know that I will risk sounding like a big ol’ “Negative Ninny” right off the bat (I promise, just this week!), but ... boy, were these outfits AWFUL! Just awful! Good, I had to get that off my trimmed yet still hairy chest. Oh, and let me add the following while I am on a roll: I am all for Team Bert in this Viktor vs. Bert History of Fashion Terminology Lesson. Don’t say “Elizabethan” or “Victorian” or “Gothic” when you haven’t a CLUE what those terms refer to. Go buy François Boucher’s “20,000 Years of Fashion: The History of Costume and Personal Adornment” and then talk to me. Don’t use the incorrect terminology and not expect to be clocked on it. OK, I am done for now. Let’s discuss this week’s Circus on the Runway Challenge.
Miss Heidi walks out in front of the designers, wearing stilts, and announces that this week they are to create an outfit for a stilt walker, and in teams of two. Whoever came up with this idea A) must have just been to the circus and thought, “Gee, this might be a fun challenge filled with TACKY outfits that have nothing to do with being the Next Great American Designer” or B) was smoking something that’s only legal in certain “cafes” in Amsterdam. Well, at least it will make for a fun and very “visual” fashion show. After “picking” the teams from a bag (OK, no one believes these pairings are random anymore, who are we kidding?), la Klum tells them that this will be the FIRST OUTSIDE Runway Show in “Project Runway” history and sends the designers away with a “Think BIG ... really big!” adieu.
Two Bitchy Queens
The contestants make their first Mood Fabrics visit and return to the Parsons Workroom. As soon as their microphone pouches — with a fresh set of batteries — are on, the DRAMA and couples fighting ensue, primarily with “Bert-zilla” and his partner Viktor. Seeing them bicker and argue is like watching two old catty queens at a piano bar debate on whether Barbra or Liza is the better diva. This continues on right through to Tim’s visit, where he just sits and stares at them, probably thinking, “These two queens need to stop!” Speaking of queens, Joshua M. and Julie think they are creating a Toreador Duquesa, but something tells me that it’s one Bedazzler away from Tacky-land.
Hairstylist-turned-designer Fallene and “Bottom Two” Bryce are also having issues. Fallene can’t cut a top on the correct grain of the fabric, which is one of THE FIRST things you learn in design school. Alas, she didn’t go to school and was “self-taught.” “Well, how’s that working out for you?” I want to ask her. Bryce has to take charge and try to correct her lack of expertise. P.S.: I’m kind of tired of these contestants using the “I’m Self-Taught” epithet as a badge of honor, especially when they should be embarrassed by it. It’s one thing being self-taught and being AMAZING, but it’s another thing not even knowing the correct grain to cut a garment in.
The rest of the bunch is doing just fine, trying to stay as far away from the Couples Counseling Rehab situation that is surrounding them. I’m a bit surprised that Anya — whose team member is Olivier — never once reminds him that he better not slack off (he seems to be) because he has immunity and therefore risk her being eliminated. I guess, when she looked around at the Ringling Bros. messes, she knew she would be OK. And speaking of that: Why are most of these teams doing such unfashionable, costume-like creations? I can’t help but think that if I got this challenge, I would have thought, “Just do a fabulous, directional and chic look, but EXTEND it by 10 feet!” Done and done. Ignore the stilts and any references to the circus or how RIDICULOUS the challenge even is. Just move on! As Tim said, “Think couture,” not costume-y or tacky.
The Circus Comes to Battery Park
The next day, it’s time for the FIRST-EVER OUTDOORS Runway in “Project Runway” HISTORY (it bears repeating!), and Tim, the designers and their stilt-walker models are transported to Battery Park, where a stunning Robert Palmer Girl–esque Heidi awaits in an Alexander Wang one-shoulder dress and Jimmy Choo pumps. Kim Kardashian is also on hand as the guest judge — as well as an audience of onlookers, press and fans. The show starts and, as I began this blog recap saying, it was one awful costume creation after another.
Leg-o’-Mutton, Meet The Stepford Wife
Back in the Parsons Deliberation and Runway Room, the designers are hearing their fate. The Best include Daniella and Cecilia’s chiffon ensemble topped off with a bouffant hair-DON’T. The blouse and palazzo pants were well done (kudos for making the chiffon look flawless), but it did seem like the model was straight out of “The Stepford Wives” or “Valley of the Dolls.” Kimberly and Becky’s ensemble was great in its tailoring, but a one-shoulder striped jacket with a leg-o’-mutton sleeve and upturned asymmetrical collar? It was so “Fashion School Graduate Collection,” as my dear Tim Gunn would probably say. The clear winner was Anthony Ryan and Laura’s outfit. Laura was given the win, while A.R. got scolded for being too referential (read: knockoff!). I was left wondering why he was chastised, while she got the win. This will undoubtedly be his story arc.
Fallene’s Pas de Deux
The Bottom Bunch included Josh and Julie, whose red look was far from Toreador and more Circus Elephant Ringleader. The Dueling Ladies (a.k.a. Bert and Viktor) also ended up in the bottom, with their oh-so-tacky and costume-y dress that looked as if it was made with curtains and wallpaper from a 1970’s banquet hall. And poor Fallene and Bryce — they tried to do a “Black Swan”/Punk Princess but failed. As judge Nina Garcia said, “It had no effort, no creativity, nothing.” Kim K. mused that the top looked like something she sleeps in! It was “Self-Taught” Fallene’s time to say “bye-bye” to the Project Runway Circus and go straight to a store to buy a book on fabric cutting (one hopes). Again, lucky Bryce gets one more chance. I say have another Team Challenge and put him with Bert next week! More queens bitching!! I can’t wait!
Last week, Season 9 of "Project Runway" began with a Pajama Party BANG, as the 16 contestants designed looks from their sleepwear and a bed sheet. For some reason, most of the designers drank the "Ugly Crotch Kool-Aid" and decided that somehow we would be impressed with the results. Not so much. Hoochie-mama-too-tight-leggings designer Rafael was sent home, and I was left with one too many bad camel-toe nightmares. But, it's a new week, and new nightmares. This time involving puppies and pee-pee!
As this week's episode begins, I am struck by the new "Intro" showcasing Miss Heidi, Nina, Michael and our beloved Tim. It was a cute twist on previous season's intros, but I kind of miss the old style in which each designer was introduced with a "catch phrase." It always helped us identify who's who and would give us an amuse bouche of their personalities.
"Unleash your creativity," Heidi tells the designers as they sit and wonder if this will somehow be an S&M challenge. (Nope! Kids, it's Lifetime! Hello!) Cut to Tim Gunn in front of Petland Discounts as he announces the next challenge. Secretly, I wished that 15 puppies were about to come out and that they were going to have to design "Doggie Couture." Instead, they are to design an outfit using pet store supplies. Yep, welcome to the classic "Project Runway" favorite: the Unconventional Challenge.
Immediately, Monsieur Gunn reminds the fashion novices to NOT use the "conventional" fabrics (dog clothing, umbrella fabric, dog beds) from the pet store, and instead go for the unconventional.
Well, it's not my first time at the "Project Runway" rodeo, so I knew that SOMEONE would NOT get the memo and, of course, use CONVENTIONAL FABRICS... and then face the "Runway" guillotine as a result.
Clean Up on Aisle Parsons
Lots of leashes, puppy chow, doggie plastic neck protectors, bird food, and one-too-many "wee-wee" pads later, and the designers are back in the Parsons' workroom, trying to contend with what the heck they were going to come up with out of all that mess. The workroom looked like the day after a 90% off sale at a going-out-of-business pet store.
Most of the designers have no clue of what to do. I felt for them, reminding me of the "Flower Power" challenge when I had to create a dress using fresh flowers back in my season. I must have stood in front of my flower-filled pattern table for FOUR HOURS without a clue of where to start.
Classy not Assy
Soon enough, these contestants begin cutting, gluing and dumping dog and bird food and "making it work". Tim visits and we see that several of them are doing Depends dresses using those aforementioned potty training pads (Viktor and Bryce) and Miss "Real Housewives of St. Louis" Laura Kathleen, is trying to keep it classy not "assy." She soon realizes it's looking more like the latter, so she decides to change her "unconventional fabrication." (Good idea.) And the rest, well, are hot gluing their way till Parsons workroom closing time.
Haute Pet Runway
It's the day of the runway and judges Heidi, Michael and Nina are present as well as "Alice + Olivia" designer Stacey Bendet. (Love her, BTW! Sassy, fun and stylish!) The show gets under way, and as usual: lots of hot puppy messes and some "Is that a dress from Balenciaga Resort 2012?" beauties.
Incidentally, Miss Trinidad and Tobago Universe Anya continues to do FAB work, and creates a cute outfit. (Now we know she can actually sew AND glue as well!) On the other hand, last week's winner Bert I-have-immunity-so-y'all-can-eat-it Keeter does a dress perfect for a retired Playboy Bunny living in Palm Springs, using what Tim said he shouldn't: conventional fabrics. He got the "memo," he just decided to not read it, I guess.
Conventional Fabric Wins (Say What?)
The judges' favorites are my favorites: "Southern Belle" Anthony does a very chic dress using bird seed. It was Heidi's most beloved. The neckline detail of sunflower seeds is DIVINE. Olivier's was the other favorite. His look made out of hamster and dog bedding was elegant and very editorial. The judges were ebullient with their adulation.
Olivier Side Note No. 1: His design was straight off the pages of "Vogue Italia," but didn't he use "conventional fabric" with his dog bedding top? And wasn't that a judge no-no?
Olivier Side Note No. 2: I just have a question about him and that accent. He says he's from Ohio and hadn't moved to London until he was 16, six years ago (he's only 22) but yet, he still sounds like Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge?! I just went to London and didn't come home with an accent! Oh well, pretentious accent or no accent, Olivier still won (against Heidi's wishes) and did it even while using conventional fabrics.
Going Pee Pee or Going to Señor Frog's
At the bottom were Bryce's neon blue hamster bedding and wee-wee pad ensemble and "the Other Josh" Christensen's doggie umbrella '90s dress. For Bryce's critique, Nina says it looks like part of the "Blue Man Group." I personally think it looked more like a reject from "Priscilla Queen of the Desert."
Michael Kors wants to puke from seeing it, and Heidi wants to pee on it. (Oh lord!) But it wasn't Bryce's wee-wee pad dress that went home. It was Josh No. 2 who got the "poo poo" this week.
Using doggie-printed umbrella fabric, he made a dress perfect for a girl attending a Spring Break party at Señor Frog's... in 1996! With that, he kissed his bromance boyfriend Josh No. 1 adieu and had a tearful goodbye with Tim and the entire cast... good thing there were plenty of extra pee-pads to dry those tears!
Fashion Grand-Daddy Is BACK!
Gather your friends, uncork the red wine, get some crudités and put your best skinny jeans on. Why? HELLO: Season 9 of "Project Runway" is finally upon us! (Gosh, we missed you, Tim!) When we last left the "Grand-daddy" of Fashion Reality Shows, there was MAJAH drama: In case you forgot, the favorite of last season, Mondo Guerra, didn't win and instead the crown went to Gretchen Jones, who quickly gained the moniker of “America's Most Despised Woman on Reality TV."
Before you knew it, there were rioters with pattern shears demonstrating in front of Parsons and the Lifetime headquarters. OK, not so much. (I love to exaggerate!) Cut to nine months later, and the anger has subsided, and now, we're moving forward. New season and (I'm sure) new "characters" to love and hate. Oh, and yeah, there's the FASHION!
16: In 4: Out
We begin the season with TWENTY contestants brought to NYC (OK, some took a cab from blocks away!) to "prove themselves" for one final judging: A Season 9 twist already? Less than a minute into the show, Fräulein Heidi Klum and Mentor Emperor Tim Gunn, tell the 20 that the casting process isn't over. Only 16 will actually get to compete, and therefore 4 will be out after La Klum and Le Gunn -- as well as Judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia -- do one final "assessment." This part of bringing 20 contestants, but quickly eliminating four, was a bit perplexing, especially without even having an actual Challenge. 16, 20 ... really, what's the difference? Let them all in, have them compete in a challenge and then eliminate FIVE. I didn't understand the point. But I digress…
You Get to Stay … For Now
During this painful "final interview" section of the premiere, we get brief glimpses of the 20 "semi-finalists" and their design aesthetic. Off the bat, I wonder how some even got to the top 20, and then there are some I can almost immediately pinpoint as finalists. There was uncomfortable banter and disagreement between Heidi, Tim, Michael and Nina, especially when it came to one particular designer, Anya Ayoung-Chee -- a former Miss Trinidad and Tobago, Miss Universe -- who had just learned how to sew -- FOUR months ago!
In the end, Miss Heidi won (don't mess with Heidi!), and Anya made it (of course she did), as well as 15 others, including Julie Tierney, who makes wonderfully creative looking outerwear; Anthony Ryan Auld, a color-blind testicular cancer survivor; Rafael Cox, a flat iron-haired boy from Atlanta, Georgia who thinks Nina Garcia is talking "sex" with him; Laura Kathleen, an obnoxious, self-proclaimed "girl who comes from privilege," and two who made it from the L.A. castings I judged (Yay!): "102 year-old" Bert Keeter, who worked with Bill Blass, Arnold Scassi, and Halston; and Josh Christensen, an Advanced Fashion Design Student from my Alma Mater, the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising/FIDM.
Should Have Slept In a Floor-Length Kimono Gown:
After finally "making it," the Top 16 head to the Atlas Apartments (oh, the memories!) to get some rest. But as I know too well, you can never get to comfortable on "Project Runway." Soon enough -- at 5 AM -- Tim swings by and wakes all the designers up, telling them to "Come As You Are," in their pajamas/boxers/whatever they slept in, and to bring one bed sheet. After making a very early morning trek through Times Square, they arrive at the Parsons New School of Design, where Tim tells them that for their first challenge they are to create a look from their sleep attire and, yes, that sheet they dragged from their Atlas bed! Oh, dear.
First Day Workroom:
The first day of the "Project Runway" workroom is always a cluster you-know-what of a MESS: too many designers, too many fragile egos and too many "I interned for McQueen in London. What have you done?" banter. Let's get to work, kids!
Tim Gunn visits them (after hopefully getting a quick nap and a Croque Monsieur from Pastis!) and surveys all 20 designers. Highlights: Anya (Miss Beauty Pageant Girl Who-Just-Learned- How-to-Sew) is having construction problems. She has never sewn pants before but she is … making pants?! Speaking of pants, for some reason EVERY OTHER designer is making pants. Seriously, pants are one of the most difficult garments to do. It takes YEARS to perfect the right fit and pattern. What. Are. They. Thinking?
"Grandpa" Bert is already FINISHED as the rest of the kids are still deciding whether to dye or not to dye their bed sheets. The designers soon meet their models, and some are having fitting problems. Oh, these kids. Do they EVER learn? If the model's card says 34" hips, it really means 36-37"!
Next day, it's Runway time. There's much anticipation. Heidi, Nina and Michael are there, as well as guest judge, actress Christina Ricci. The re-worked boxers, PJs, sleepwear and bed sheets come out, and three things immediately come to mind: 1. Is this challenge sanitary?
2. Do these models know they are wearing someone's boxers on their breasts?
The best, worst and the "you got through" are announced, and I am surprised, no, shocked, that some of my "worst" squeaked by to the next round. Particularly, Cecilia Motwani's. That MICRO-mini was way too short and way too tight. Even Heidi was laughing as the modeled sauntered down the runway. I also didn't understand the "OMG, we ARE AMAZED!" reaction to one of the judges' top favorites, Anya's palazzo pant and top. OK, she can (somewhat) sew, but, seriously, those pants were not that good! I guess it's the "Instructor Nick" in me, but I could spot about FIVE fit issues with that crotch and, yes, even the back of that pant of hers. But she didn't win. Instead, the title went to Bert and that chic and very feminine dress he created out of his boxers, t-shirt and bed sheet. It was definitely my favorite. And P.S. … 57 is not that old, honey!
Flinstones Pouch vs. Insane Crotch
The bottom designs were Rafael's too-tight top, "Flintstones Disco Pouch" necklace and hip-enlarging leggings, and Josh's badly fitting shorts and awkwardly pieced together tank top. Josh wondered out loud as to "why, oh why" he was in the bottom. To that, Miss Diva Garcia schooled him, saying, "You are in a competition of DEEEESIGN! You are going to show me a pair of white shorts and a tank top? I need to see something creative, exciting; imaginative!"
In the end, however, Rafael's Too-Tight Jeggings Hoochie Mama was worse. His Pajama Party was over. Ah, well. On the positive end, at least he won’t have anymore 5 am wake up calls by Mr. Gunn!
"Project Runway" Season 8 ended last night with a THUMP: Mondo Did Not Win. Pause for dramatic effect. Let it sink in. Let me repeat: Mondo is NOT the winner of "Project Runway." The winner, instead, was Gretchen. Yes, Granola-Crunch-Whole-Foods-Hipster-Chick Gretchen, the Most Hated (by Internet standards) Contestant of the Season. For a hot minute, I thought, I'm going to totally shock everyone and say how Gretchen is the deserved winner, the judges were right and "Yeaaaaay!" I'll get 22,568 Hate Comments and be the most-read blogger in myLifetime.com history! And then I remembered how I had to live with myself tomorrow. So I decided to tell you the truth: I was NUMB. I-Need-to-Have-a-Stiff-Drink Numb. What happened? Well, let's figure it all out ...
Class It Up, No Costumes and Find Some Heels!
When we last left the designers, the remaining four finalists had to be narrowed down to the Final Three. Michael C. was eliminated, stood speechless for, like, FIVE HOURS, punched a wall and then cried A LOT. He then became the National Spokesperson for "It Gets Better America" and lived Happily Ever After. In the meantime, we are left with Andy, Gretchen and Mondo. At the end of the episode the judges left them with warnings: Andy was told to "class it up"; Mondo needed to be "less costume-y"; and Gretchen somehow had to find a bunch of FIERCE high heels ASAP.
The Ambien-Infused Reunion
The Top Three were invited back to Parsons "to see some friends." In other words: Put down the Hilton Continental Breakfast, pay your In-Room Dining Tab and get dressed; we have a Reunion Episode to Film! The Reunion portion of this final episode was completely and utterly uneventful. It was all too "OMG, we all LOOOOVE each other." I expected claws. Instead we got manicured nails and robotic faces. There were hints of all the Michael C. hatin' and some rolled eyes toward Gretchen, but why on earth did Heidi not force these kids to be more forthcoming? Gosh, I miss those liquor-infused Reunions of Season 1 and 2: Those were the good ol' days. Finally, this waste of 30 minutes was over and we got down to real business: The Day of The Show.
It's Show Time
After getting their "finale outfits" on (Mondo, you SLAY me with your looks!), they head to Lincoln Center, site of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. There's a fake group hug, Gretchen throws herself on the runway and they head backstage to get workin'. It's Show Time! Runway Ringmaster Heidi welcomes everyone, including the star guest judge, Jessica Simpson in Michael Kors, of course.
Whole Foods Hipster Girls Go to Happy Hour
Gretchen is up first. Her Theme is "Running Through Thunder," but it should have been "Running Through the Same Damn Print Over and Over Again." It was VERY monotonous. I wondered what the judges were going to say, since the previous week, they had eliminated Michael C. for being, yes, MONOTONOUS. In addition, I felt as if I'd seen her collection before in several of Diane von Furstenberg's past collections, in fact. But at least she gave it a little runway "Umph!" (the makeup, styling, heels). Her "Whole Foods Sales Girls at their Boss's Sobriety Party" of last week decided to go to Happy Hour!
Buddha Shantung Bar
Andy South was up next, with his Buddha-inspired collection, and yet again, I was underwhelmed: a lot of silver and gray. Oh, and there's that apple-green shantung that all the judges just LOOOOVE! (Not I.) Like Gretchen's collection, it was repetitive. It also needed finesse. It reminded me of a Fashion School Student Graduation Show. It's not good when HIS own outfit was better than most of his collection.
Mami, Why Are You in the Third Row?
Mondo finished the show with a fun, sassy and colorful "Day of The Dead"inspired collection. From the pompom shoes to the polka-dot prints to the hair accents, he thought of the whole look. There was color and print variation. Two questions, though: Was that really his music? Because it had NOTHING to do with Mexico City Circuses or Day of The Dead. And why were his parents sitting in the THIRD ROW?? Someone should have been fired for that snafu. Just sayin'.
Celestial Headpieces Be Gone
Now on to the judging: After the requisite "You ALL Deserve to Win" disclaimer, the judges told them how they REALLY feel. The judges felt that Andy's collection needed diversity and was narrow in focus (I told you so!). Nina also wondered what had happened to Hard & Edgy Andy (I told you so, LAST WEEK!). As a result, Andy and his kooky celestial headpiece-wearing Buddha Girls were out.
Drinkin' the Gretchen Kool-Aid
Now it was on to Gretchen and Mondo. The judges went back and forth, praising and criticizing both of them, comparing them to Salt (Gretchen) vs. Sugar (Mondo). They agreed that Mondo has incredible talent and created a cohesive, very "Runway," collection, but disagreed on the polka-dot gown and thought he might be too theatrical. For Gretchen, they all somehow drank the Kool-Aid and said she did a fantastic job. Heidi even went as far as to say that she would wear a lot of her clothes. I began to shake at the thought of what was happening: Gretchen might actually win! As the judges argued more and more toward a Gretchen win, I also found myself shouting at the TV screen: "Did we just see the same collection?" Now, I get it: It is one thing seeing a runway show on TV as opposed to being there LIVE. There are nuances you miss. But I spoke to MANY people who WERE there, and they all told me that Gretchen's collection was repetitive, kind of boring, and certainly far from being the winner. Boy, were they wrong.
Don't Argue With Nina and Michael!
After much debate, the judges were split into two camps: Team Gretchen (Nina and Michael) and Team Mondo (Heidi and Jessica). Do you want something that's already at Urban Outfitters and Barney's CoOp OR something fresh and NEW? In the end, Heidi I'm-Just-a-Multi-Million-Dollar-Model Klum and Jessica I'm-Just-a-Multi-Million-Dollar-Singer Simpson caved to the actual Fashion Industry Authorities. In other words: Don't mess with Marie Claire Fashion Director Nina Garcia and CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Michael Kors. Gretchen Jones of Portland, Oregon, was crowned the Season 8 Winner of "Project Runway." Salt won over Sugar. (Side note: First Leanne Marshall, then Seth Aaron and now Gretchen Jones all from the Pacific Northwest. There must be something in the water.)
Yes, the one person that fans across the nation despise has now won the $100,000 Grand Prize! Let the blogosphere hatin' begin! I might not agree with the judges' decisions and frankly I didn't agree with A LOT of what they had to say this season but in a weird, twisted way, having Gretchen win has been a positive: The fans' mutual hatred and distaste of her has awoken them from a deep "Project Runway" Fan Slumber and made them involved in watching the show again. In a way, Gretchen has now (almost) singularly revived the "Project Runway" brand. So see, there is a positive. Now, Lifetime: Send her a huge bouquet of flowers! Congrats, Gretchen. And don't fret, Mondo somehow I have a feeling you will be part of the "Illustrious Runner-Up Club" right alongside Clay Aiken and Adam Lambert. Love me some sugar.
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…
Not 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!
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.
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.
They 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.
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.
Oh Lordy: I just knew that after a solemn and genuinely emotional TEARJERKER of an episode and I would be remiss not to mention HOW TIMELY it was with all these sad gay suicides occurring in our country that it would be followed by DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA! I'm not talking the good, Joan Crawford, DIVA kind. I'm talking about the silly, bitchy, bitter kind. Yep, it seems that the producers saw the drama fading away as soon as the "mean girls" were eliminated, and thought to themselves, "Hmmm, how can we recapture that Jersey Shore level of fighting again?! I know! Let's bring back the bitter, angry eliminated designers! Yeah! Problem solved!" But I digress … let's start from the top.
Model Be Gone!
At the beginning of this episode, three-in-a-row winner Mondo is feeling good, and suddenly Heidi announces to the designers that they will have to change models. And not only does Mondo have to lose his model (the BEST ONE of the ENTIRE season, BTW), but she is the one that is eliminated. Heidi then announces that for this challenge, the designers will create an entire head-to-toe look for her exclusive line for New Balance that will be sold exclusively on Amazon.com. Yep, we're talking Active Wear. Of course, the kids are feigning excitement, since I'm sure that NONE of them want to be making sweats or hoodies. But hey, buck up: It's for Heidi and for Amazon.com. Hello!
Attitude Check for Mondo
Post Mood shopping and getting back to the Parsons Workroom, we find out that Mondo's fabulously exotic model is back because another model had to leave the show. Miss Klum their client walks in with Tim to see what they have in mind for her and her new line. Christopher is nervous, naturally, since we have now become aware that his style is more Barbara Walters and much less Heidi Klum. We-Love-You-So-Much Mondo has turned into I'm-About-to-Slap-You-Upside-Your-Head Mondo as he gets rather defensive with Heidi in regard to her comments, even rolling his eyes like a bitchy QUEEN. Uh-oh, thank goodness I wasn't in the workroom, because as nice as I am, I might have pulled him aside and told him a thing or two.
And the Drama Queen Prize Goes to … Gretchen!
He isn't the only one disrespecting La Heidi: Gretchen, of course, isn't taking her constructive criticism well and even throws fabric away in a drama-filled flurry, saying that she hates "everything about this challenge." I think it's time SOMEONE reminds these kids that Heidi Klum is the EXECUTIVE PRODUCER of the show, a judge, AND their client, and if they need to be nice to someone, it might be HER! Finally Michael Costello tells Heidi that he is making something simple and seems worried. Say what? Michael C. and simple are not words that belong together in a sentence. I'd be worried, too.
Guess Who Is BAAAACK!!!
Well, to add salt to their worry wounds, Heidi announces that they must create TWO additional looks and that they will be getting help. Well, you know what "help" means in "Project Runway" Language. Let me tell you, it doesn't mean a seamstress named Rosa! It means that the "auf'ed" designers are BACK. The designers choose their assistants as Tim calls out their names from that dreaded velvet bag. NO ONE wants to be Michael C.'s assistant, and in less time than you can say "Make it work," they begin to revisit the Michael-Costello-can't-sew-drape-make-patterns hatin' talk.
Cheater, Cheater, Double-Stick …
Half of the designers are working while the other half are making fun of Michael and his design, calling it a Turkey in a Thanksgiving Day Parade. Nice. Bitter Party-of-One Ivy then takes the Michael C. Hatin' to a whole other level by accusing him of CHEATING. She tells him in front of all the other designers, who by the way, are just quietly agreeing with her that she "knows he cheated and sabotaged" others by using double-stick tape in his look for the Jackie Kennedy Challenge.
Glue, Glue Gun and Staples Are OK … but Double-Stick Tape Is Not?
OK, here we go (hit pause on the DVR remote): Since when is using double-stick tape against the rules? EVERYONE uses double-stick tape on runways, fashion shoots and even at the Academy Awards red carpet on the A-list actresses. Back in Season 2, there was NOTHING stopping us from using double-stick tape. I'm assuming the rules changed, as things do (we weren't even allowed pattern paper in my season!), but I still do not agree with them! How in the world can they use glue, glue guns and even staples, but NOT double-stick tape? Need I remind you that Santino's jumpsuit for Kara Janx, back in my season, was glued, taped and stapled! 85 percent of it. And somehow that was OK. But double-stick is not. Call me crazy.
Tim Gunn's Court
Well, maybe I wasn't so crazy, because soon after I hit "Play," Tim walks in to find out what the commotion is all about. He listens to Ivy's accusations and then deems it a "non-case." Thank you, Father Tim. Case closed … but of course, Miss Ivy had to get in her last roll of the eyes as Tim was finishing his final judgment. Classy, Ivy, real classy.
Are the Judges Blind?
Finally it's Runway Day, and the divine Norma Kamali is on hand as guest judge. I really do hope the designers know who she is, because they NEED TO: She is a Fashion Icon and the inventor of the sleeping bag coat and multi-purpose "packable clothing," and popularized the use of jersey for daywear and not just athletics.
The designs three per designer come out, and it's a mixed bag. In the Best category are Grumpy-pants Mondo, Shorty-Shorts-Loving April and Love-Me-Some-Black Andy South. Now, here we go again: I totally disagree with the judges. I actually thought Andy's creations should have been in the bottom. They really did look like Halloween skeleton costumes to me. Even Nina seemed a little doubtful of liking his pieces after they stood in front of her for a while (pause on that look of hers!), but Heidi "liked the looks A LOT" and she is the client, so therefore Andy was the winner. Even though Mondo needed an attitude adjustment, I still think his was the best, yet again.
'80s Biker Shorts, Pajama Parties and Some BAD Styling
In the bottom were Michael Costello, Christopher and Gretchen. Norma K. liked Michael C.'s cropped cargos, but judge Michael Kors questioned his taste level. Gretchen's was a mess. Those asymmetrical biker shorts were straight out of an Olivia Newton-John "Physical" video, and not in a good way. Heidi even said that Gretchen's looks hurt her eyes (ouch!). But Christopher's "Pajama Party at a Retirement Village" was really the worst. Poor Christopher, he just has an older aesthetic. I'm sure he'll do well with the Nob Hill Ladies-Who-Lunch, but in terms of being the Next Great American Designer with the Freshest and Most Forward Ideas … maybe not so much. He's so cute, though. The Hottie of Season 8 has just left the building. Bye, Christopher, we'll miss you.