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Episode Four: Tigers, Smurfs and a Cougar Judge, Oh My!

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 5:00am GMT

Model Clients
It seems the producers had a conundrum (Hi, Tim Gunn!): How do we inject “Models of the Runway” into the show and have a challenge where the designers and the models are together most of the time? Make the models their clients! So, for this challenge, the designers had to create an eye-catching look for their models to wear at an industry event.

Recycled Challenge
In case you don’t realize it, it’s “Recycled Challenge” time. Back in Season 1, the designers had to create a wedding dress for their models. The episode focused on designer Jay McCarroll and his manic and unstable model, Morgan, a.k.a. “MORGANZAAAAA.” So as Tim Gunn and the models greeted their designers back at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, we were all waiting, with bated breath, for some model-designer DRAMA! Was there a “Morgan of Season 6” in the room? Or was it going to be all “model peachy”?

Qristyl in episode four of Project Runway Tiger Meets Smurf
After a quick trip to a new Mood Downtown L.A. “outpost” at the California Market Center, the designers return to begin working. Tim checks in to see if the designers are translating their clients’ design wishes. “Peaches and Herb” doppelganger Epperson has been trying to make sense of his model, Matar’s, desire to have the most multi-hyphenate dress ever created. Tim likes what he sees. On the other hand, he suggests that Qristyl’s jersey concoction looks messy. (See photo.) As a result, Qristyl starts all over again. Finally, while visiting Logan, Tim questions his use of fabric and styling, and agrees with Logan’s own assessment that it looks like a “Smurf prom dress.” Uh-oh, Logan’s in trouble.

Don’t Tell Me What to Do
As the models have their fittings, my hopes for a bitchy model-designer catfight are heightened as Johnny “I love necklaces from Burning Man” Sakalis and his model Emarie have a moment. He snaps at her, saying, “Don’t tell me what to do … because I don’t tell you …” My first thoughts were “No he didn’t!” and “Girl, you need to slap him!” But he quickly catches himself, realizing that he actually does tell her what to do and how to walk … and how to eat, and how to wear her hair and what color lipstick she should be wearing … But, all in all, there were basically NO model meltdowns. Maybe it’s the bright and airy FIDM workrooms that are keeping everyone in such high spirits!

Time for a Shirtless Logan Commercial Break
Johnny Sakalis in episode four of Project Runway The next morning, Johnny takes a break from telling his model what to do and instead is having trouble getting out of bed as he longingly stares at Logan’s super-skinny silver jeans and shirtless torso. Thanks to the producers, all of America is also treated to another shot of our favorite “Project Runway” Centerfold.

Nina and Michael are BOTH in St. Barths?
Back on the runway, and once again Michael Kors is M.I.A. In his place is designer Marc Bouwer. I know I have joked about how Michael Kors has either been stuck at the St. Barths Airport without a flight or has been trapped in a tanning bed. In truth, I realize that it must be difficult to run his New York–based fashion empire and be filming “Project Runway” 3,000 miles away AT THE SAME TIME. You can’t check on fittings, fabric choices or concur with your patternmakers via Skype. Sometimes you have to physically be there.

Michael was not the only one missing this week, as Zoe Glassner, a Marie Claire editor, filled in for Nina Garcia. I have actually judged several seasons of the “Project Runway” castings with Zoe, and she’s great! Rounding out last night’s guest panel is Angelina Jolie’s stylist, Jennifer Rade, someone else I admire and have worked with while doing my red-carpet “Fashion Wraps” for the TV Guide Network. If only they would have added another chair and dragged Lisa Rinna into the mix, then it really would have been FABULOUS!

Tanisha Walks It Like Her Rent Is Due!
The fashion show begins, and I am surprised at how much I like Christopher’s apple-green tulip-pleated cocktail dress. It’s very Oscar de la Renta model-who-lunches. Another surprising standout is Epperson’s stretch Devore mini dress. Somehow he married all his model’s desires into one dress. But the winner for this challenge was Althea Harper, whose design I really didn’t think was “all that.” I understand making three items in one day is a major undertaking, and I loved the Phillip Lim–looking skirt, but that unfinished, almost see-through top looked a bit sloppy. However, the ensemble was definitely well-merchandised. It also helped that Althea's model, Tanisha, worked it like the rent was due! Go, Miss Tanisha!

Johnny Sakalis in episode four of Project Runway “Project Runway” Cougar: Jennifer Rade Loves Logan
In terms of the not-so-good: I personally thought Johnny’s was the worst of the week. It was an uncreative bridesmaid dress that seriously belonged on the David’s Bridal sale rack. (See photo.) But in the minds of the four judges, there were worse creations. There was Qristyl’s one-shoulder black-and-boring number, which, according to Heidi, aged her model, Valerie. And cutie Logan’s taffeta and lace prom dress looked as if it came directly from Goodwill. After some overt flirting between guest judge Jennifer Rade and Logan, we all knew it was Qristyl’s time to go. Tune in next week, when Logan sneaks off for a midnight rendezvous with stylist and newly crowned “Project Runway” Cougar Jennifer Rade … and Qristyl Frazier joins the “Project Runway” Halfway House. Ari, guess who’s coming to your yoga class?


Episode Three: Surf and (Not-So-Avant-Garde) Turf

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 1:38pm GMT

Tim Gunn in flip flops on episode three of Project Runway

Postpartum Field Trip
After last week’s “Pregnancy Chic” episode, I had one postpartum thought: When will they get rid of Mitchell and why the heck was he still on the show? I’m sure some of the remaining designers are also thinking this as Heidi tells them that for this week’s challenge, they get to go on a field trip. When anyone mentions “Project Runway Field Trip,” all I can think of is “Oh no, an ice skating rink in New Jersey?” since that was my Season 2 field trip; it was a fun challenge, minus the HEINOUS leotards we were forced to wear. But for Season 6, “Project Runway” is in Southern California, and this time they go to the beach!

Tim Gunn Mani-Pedi
As the designers sink their toes into the warm Venice Beach sand, Tim Gunn is waiting in a blazer, khakis and … wait for it ... FLIP-FLOPS! Now, these are four words I thought I would never mutter: “Tim Gunn” and “flip-flops.” Along with Tim, Garnier Celebrity Stylist Philip Carreon was on hand to introduce the “Garnier Challenge”: to create a fun and fashionable surf-wear look.

Random Team Captains?
Surprise, kids! This is also the dreaded Team Challenge. After reaching into his velvet bag, Tim begins “randomly” calling out the team captains. I hardly think those captains were chosen at random, however: Shirin (last week’s winner), Mitchell (of course!), Nicolas (bitchy drama?), Qristyl (hoochie meltdown?), Johnny (hopes for a crying relapse?), Althea and Logan (the cuties). The design captains then pick their teammates and convene with a group of six “surf chicks.” A short visit to Mood (not long enough for Qristyl to cause too much destruction) and the designers were back at their fabulous Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising headquarters. I hope someone oiled up that overlock machine, because they’re going to be using it.

Two for Two
Tim, sans flip-flops, arrives and has news from Heidi (and by Heidi, he means the producers have decided to throw a curveball): They are to make a second outfit, an “avant-garde look” that corresponds to their swimsuit creation. I’m now dubbing it the Surf and Turf Challenge. The next day it was time for Mr. Gunn to see if he needed to do some “couples counseling.

Qristyl and Epperson as a team episode three of Project RunwayCouple Trouble
Most of the teams this week seem to be working swimmingly (pun intended), save for the usual subjects. Although Mood Destroyer and Spell-Check Victim Qristyl is the team captain, Epperson has clearly taken over and, much to my surprise and amazement, he SPEAKS! Epperson seems to have come out of the self-induced “Project Runway” coma he has been in the last two weeks, and is ready for a “Jerry Springer” fight with Qristyl. Button-nosed Mitchell and Ra’mon are also having a few issues working together. It didn’t take long for Ra’mon to have the epiphany of how useless Mitchell was going to be, and therefore he took over on both designs. Tim’s “What is that?” reaction to their Marvel Comics chocolate scuba jumpsuit echoed mine. As a result, Ra’mon decides to scrap it and somehow finds neon-yellow fabric to create another dress. Ra’mon must have really been “neoprene happy” back at Mood!

Gaga for Neoprene
Time for the Surf and Turf runway show, and Michael Kors still can’t get a flight out of St. Barths (someone should check the airports!!). Max Azria, designer and founder of BCBG, Max Azria Group and owner of Hervé Léger (he’s got more jobs than me!) is sitting in his place alongside Nina Garcia and actress Rachel Bilson. When the designs came down the runway, I couldn’t help but think that the entire show was a bit of a mishmash. There were nice elements to many outfits, but the good outfits were definitely in the minority. I liked Epperson’s (I’m guessing that was his) leaf-printed, Bali-inspired swimsuit and blouson pareo, and Shirin and Carol Hannah’s bikini look was nice. Ra’mon’s dyed neoprene dress was questionable, but, as Rachel Bilson pointed out, with a couple of changes it could be cute. Much to his surprise, Ra’mon was given the top prize.

Christian Siriano and Chris March: We Need You!
For some reason, these designers just didn’t “get it” when it came time to make an avant-garde look. I hate saying this, but none of them were outstanding in my eyes. The entire time, I kept thinking of the sublime elegance of the avant-garde gown made by Season 4’s Christian Siriano and Chris March. It is so difficult not to compare, since their look was so spectacular. (See Chris March’s comment on the same challenge.)

Nicolas Putvinski's design on episode three of Project Runway

Eurovision Contest Meets “Paris Is Burning”
Johnny and Irina’s brown-colored interwoven one-shoulder dress had no rhyme or reason and looked a tad bit sloppy. Qristyl’s (you KNOW that was Qristyl’s design) second outfit was something a drag queen from “Paris Is Burning” would have worn — back in 1987!! “Boris and Natasha’s” (AKA Nicolas and Gordana’s) outfits were straight out of a Eurovision singing contest. The stretch lilac lace chaps combined with a white lace and organza minidress screamed “hooker in Kazakhstan.” Even Logan and Christopher’s first outfit was a Laguna Beach housewife after one too many Bloody Marys. And that tulle explosion of a gown with a peplum vest had “first-year fashion school student” written all over it. It was beyond tickety-tacky.

No Prize for Whining and Ironing
The worst offender, however, was Mitchell Hall, for just being useless. He relinquished his team captain position and admitted that Ra’mon did most of the work. What did Mitchell do the entire time? Iron? Heidi doesn’t give prizes for ironing, and therefore he was FINALLY sent packing. Mitchell was not ready for “Project Runway” Primetime. You really do need to know how to sew, make patterns, drape and sketch for my little show — not just stand there whining and ironing. Somehow Mitchell didn’t get that memo. I’m sure he gets it now.


Who Laid the Golden Egg Dress?

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 3:17pm GMT

Last week, Samantha Ronson look-alike and Disco Soccer Ball lover Ari was given the Heidi "drop and kick" and sent home. Who would replace her as the weird one of the group? We would soon find out. But first, I introduce to you the six-pack abs of Logan Neitzel.

Gratuitous Logan Torso Shot
Logan Neitzel shirtlessWhen this episode begins, the designers are waking up to a new day, lamenting what they need to do to stay on the show. For Logan, it seems he decided that walking around shirtless might not be such a bad idea. I want to make a suggestion right here and now to the producers and editors of the show: Please show Logan’s six-pack abs and shirtless torso at the beginning of EACH EPISODE. Most of Gay America — and lots of 18-year-old girls — will thank you!

Project Runway” Gets Knocked Up
But I digress. What was this week’s episode about again? Oh, yes, “Cheetah Girl” Heidi Klum saunters onto the runway and introduces the very pregnant actress and former model Rebecca Romijn. It quickly becomes apparent what the next challenge is: To Design a Chic Pregnancy Look for Rebecca. Something with a beautiful silhouette that would celebrate her figure, she tells them.

The Part of “Kooky” Ari Will Be Played by Malvin
After making a mess at Mood L.A. (I’m talking to you, Qristyl!), the designers returned to work on their designs. The designers walk over to their Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising workrooms (I’m not over the colorful walls and fun interiors!) and find “gifts” on their tables. They have been given a “pregnancy pad” to help them with this challenge. Most of the male designers didn’t know if they should put them on their heads or wear them as “man bags.” The only mom of the group, I-was-a-former-KGB-spy Gordana, quickly rushed to their aid, explaining the precise position of those padded pregnancy “bumps.” Tim Gunn is later brought in to do his walk-through. Louise tells Tim that her dress is looking a bit like a nightgown! Vocabulary God Tim mouths a fabulous “Tim-ism” when he tells her, “If your viscus [though Tim pronounced it more like “vicerous”] says ‘Uh-oh,’ then it’s probably true.” Say what? A high school diploma, two college degrees and I still had to look it up! Well, by the sound of the kooky music that came next, my viscus tells me Malvin Vien is making a mess! Malvin is trying to describe to Monsieur Gunn that his design is inspired by a chicken and its egg.

Malvin Vien with Tim GunnAnd if that isn’t bad enough, he wants to give his “pregnant” model jodhpurs shaped like chicken thighs! Uh, No! Poor Malvin. I venture to guess he’s one of those designers who have no real concept of how to design for a specific client — other than maybe a size 0 editor of an avant-garde Japanese fashion magazine.

Models then come in for fittings and get to try on their pregnancy bumps. We see Johnny has worked out all his “Hot Tranny Meth” addictions and taken up runway coaching. Miss J from “American’s Next Top Model” better watch out! If designing doesn’t work out, maybe Johnny could get a job there!

Is Michael Kors Back in St. Barths?
The runway show is about to begin, and — wait, where is Michael Kors? Is he in drag and now has suddenly turned into a red carpet gown designer by the name of Monique Lhuillier? Well, of course not; it IS Monique Lhuillier filling in for Mr. Kors! Heidi gives the designers a sly warning by telling them that each and every one of the judges has been pregnant before — in other words: “Don’t mess this up!”

Liz Lange: Are You Watching?
As the designs come down the runway, I am loving some, and just grimacing at others, mirroring the judges’ responses. Qristyl somehow found class in that sass of hers and created a pretty copper jersey one-shouldered dress. One of my favorites, Irina’s flirty blue dress, wasn’t even chosen as one of the top. Althea made one of the best “red carpet” pregnancy gowns, but I thought that it was just shy of being an Hervé Léger knockoff. Shirin’s wine-colored dress and coat were splendid and appropriate, therefore garnering the honors as best choice for pregnant Rebecca and winner of this challenge. Safe and pretty can go a long way sometimes on “Project Runway.”  Rarely, but sometimes.

Who Laid the Golden Egg?
I wasn’t a fan of Epperson’s jumpsuit (a jumpsuit for a pregnant woman?), but I did like the top section. Poor Ra’mon; his fitted anti-Goddess vision was a bad jigsaw puzzle of a dress. The contrasting pattern pieces were ill-placed, as judge Nina Garcia said, pointing awkwardly to the pregnant belly. But it was down to Mitchell and Malvin to fight it out for the most unflattering of maternity designs.

Mitchell Hall in the pregnancy challenge Mitchell’s looked like a trailer trash pregnant girl going to Vegas for a weekend! He even completed the look with an askew pigtail hairstyle. All that was missing was a cigarette from her mouth and a bottle of liquor in her hand. Those shorts were sewn so badly that even my first-quarter FIDM students have done better work!

But we all knew from the first sound of that kooky music back in the workroom that this would not be Malvin’s night. His hen-carrying-an-egg design ended up looking like a bizarre papoose as opposed to a conceptually chic ensemble. With that, he was sent home. Malvin tried to get the last word by saying he was “too conceptual for America.” Honey, keep telling yourself that, but I have a feeling that even in the hippest section of Tokyo, Berlin or Amsterdam, no pregnant girl would get this. But we will miss kooky Malvin and his unique creations.



First Episode Recap: For the Love of Bai Ling!

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 2:01pm GMT

"Project Runway" Glows with L.A. Sunshine
"Project Runway" fans, rejoice! Our little show is BACK! And it looks EXACTLY the same as when we last left it, albeit with a few “cosmetic” liftings. Goodbye, New York, hello, Los Angeles! This is a brighter, shinier, more glowing "Project Runway."

Fourth Time Is the Charm
When we first meet the designers, they are arriving at their new digs, the Title Guarantee Building Lofts in downtown L.A. The 16 designers are a diverse group, hailing from all parts of the U.S. Age-wise, some are mature, but most are quite young. After the fourth 24-year-old was introduced, I almost felt like collecting my Social Security and retiring to Palm Springs. There were also several with intriguing Eastern European "Boris and Natasha" accents. Several tell us how "this is the fourth time that I've tried out for the show," and I make a mental note how I would NEVER go back for abuse a second, third or fourth time! Talk about perseverance.

FIDM where Project Runway is filmed

Who Are You Wearing?
Tim Gunn and the designers eventually gather at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, the home of the Grammys, Emmys and other award shows. Before you could say “Joan and Melissa,” you knew this was going to be a Red Carpet Challenge. Indeed, the first challenge was to create a red-carpet look that represents the designers’ point of view and shows true innovation. Next stop: their new L.A. workroom at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising/FIDM, the premier fashion design institution on the West Coast. Now, since I am an instructor at FIDM, I may be a bit biased, but their new design studios are FABULOUS! What a change from gray Parsons to the colorful, bright FIDM. It’s like Parsons with a moisturizing chemical peel!

A Brief Lesson in Fashion 101, Kids
We soon get a taste of who are this week’s "featured characters" when Missouri native Ari Fish declares that she does not know how to sketch. Tim Gunn just gives her the "Are you kidding me?" look. Young designer Christopher Straub then explains that he doesn’t know what smocking or a godet is. Maybe it’s time to give these kids a brief “refresher” course in fashion terminology BEFORE they apply to “Project Runway”? In the workroom, we find one designer, FIDM alum Johnny Sakalis, having a major breakdown as he second-guesses himself and then tells all of America that he was a crystal meth addict (TMI, by the way). If he’s “emotionally obliterated” now, honey, how is he going to handle the rest of the challenges? Of course, he eventually snaps out of it and goes on to make a very pretty design. (I knew he would, you gotta love those editors!).

Tired Excuse # 101: My Model Is Too Fat
The models arrive for their fittings. One designer, Mitchell, wants to create a Victorian-inspired gown but encounters a snafu: His dress doesn’t fit his model, Yozusi. He blames it on her, saying the measurements on the card didn’t match her real measurements. Lesson #101: Every designer knows that the measurements on those model cards rarely match the models’ actual measurements. Agencies make those cards up and say ALL their models are 34"- 24"-34", when in fact, most are 33"- 26"-37". Obviously, Mitchell didn’t get that memo, so now he has to remake his entire gown. And the result isn’t pretty.

Paparazzi Alert: It’s Lindsay Lohan!
As the runway show is about to begin, Heidi introduces the one and only Lindsay Lohan as this season’s first Guest Judge. Miss Lindsay almost trips off the stage as she realizes that her on-again, off-again paramour, Samantha Ronson, ISN’T really sitting among the designers; it’s just her doppelganger, Ari. Judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia are back, looking "refreshed" (those St. Barths vacations do them good!). As the creations come down the runway, I am instantly drawn to Ra’mon’s design. It was the closest to a real red-carpet stunner. Even though I was afraid at first when Christopher was creating his design in the workroom (Hefty Bag alert!), he actually pulled it off. It was very Leighton Meester at the Teen Choice Awards. As a result, he wins and gets immunity.

Bai Ling Would Love It!
Now on to the messes: Qristyl’s design was something straight out of the BET Awards, and that’s not a good thing. My-Model-Is-Too-Fat Mitchell ended up creating a sheer caftan/nightgown, TAPED onto the model. I love me some caftans (they’re all the rage for Resort 2010), but this was tragic. Finally, Ari created a space-age silver padded garment reminiscent of a “Disco Soccer Ball.” Only someone like Worst Dressed Hall of Famer Bai Ling would wear such a thing. Ari said she was creating something for the 2080 Video Music Awards. But I have a feeling that even in the 2080 VMAs, her outfit would have ended up on the Worst Dressed List. With that, Ari went into the Wikipedia record books as getting the first “auf Wiedersehen” of Season 6. Bye, Ari, see you at Lindsay’s house — or maybe at a Bai Ling red-carpet event — in 2080.


Welcome Back, "Project Runway"!!!!

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 4:52pm GMT

Last month, I traveled to Europe to do a speaking engagement in Florence, Italy. Florence, Italy! Hello! Upon my return, I reflected on how humbled and lucky I have been and, particularly, how good “Project Runway” has been to me. I probably would not have been flown to Europe and been asked to speak if I were just “Nick Verreos, fashion designer and instructor.” I’m thinking being a “Project Runway” alumnus may have had something to do with it!

Just as the lovely memories of Limoncello and the Uffizi Gallery began to fade from my memory, I got a fun call: The “digital gods” at myLifetime.com asked if I could blog season 6 of “Project Runway.” Well, of course, I jumped for “Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn joy”! I have continually followed “Project Runway” (of course!), and back in Season 3, I wrote the show’s recaps for People.com and have also detailed every season on my own lovely nickverreos.com blog. But I am thrilled to be part of the Lifetime family and share my thoughts on the new season!

As most of you know, I was on the second season of "Project Runway," which filmed over four years ago (I know, it seems like yesterday!). Since appearing on the show, besides continuing to design my line, NIKOLAKI, and teaching at my alma mater, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising/FIDM, I’ve also had an unexpected turn in my career, and it involves being back on camera — covering award-show fashions for the TV Guide Network, E! and others. One of my proudest accomplishments came last year, when I starred in the Sears holiday ad campaign — along with Vanessa Hudgens ("High School Musical"), Ty Pennington (“Extreme Home Makeover”) and LL Cool J. Finally, I recently finished shooting a pilot for another network and I’m feverishly working on my upcoming Spring 2010 line. (Check out this photo below to see one of my previous designs being worn by Lisa, one of the “Models of the Runway” competitors this season.) In case you were wondering, yep, I don’t sleep!

But back to "Runway" … I am so excited for the return of the show and I — along with millions of fans — can’t wait for this new season. Everywhere I go, people ask me, “When is ‘Project Runway’ coming back?” Well, kids, the wait is over! I can’t wait for Tim Gunn to put his clenched fist to his jaw as he surveys the new designers’ creations and state "I’m very DUBIOUS about this design." I am dying to see what Miss Heidi will wear (we want to see LEGS!!!) and if judge — and Marie Claire Fashion Director — Nina Garcia will bring back that signature look of hers, the one that says, “Something doesn’t smell right” as she looks at the finished designs. Of course, I will also be counting on Michael Kors for his stinging bitchy, yet funny remarks. Most of all, I am looking forward to the new batch of "Project Runway" designers — some of whom I have met (more on that later, kiddies!). Here’s my message to them: Make Uncle Nicky — and the rest of America — proud!