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Finale Episode Recap: An Angry Mentor, a Fashion Doyenne and a NY Warrior Princess

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 4:50am GMT

Althea fixes modelWell, kiddies, this is REALLY the end: Last night was the finale episode of “Project Runway” Season 6, which therefore also means that this is my final recap of the season (at least pretend you’re sad!). A sick girl, an angry mentor, a fashion doyenne with an updo to end all updo’s and Warrior Fashion Princesses who love the Big Apple. Yep, it’s the “Project Runway” Season Finale.

We Need More DayQuil on the Set!
When we last left our three ladies, they had been given the “Make It Work” last-minute twist to make a 13th look and received the aid of fellow “Project Runway” Season 6 alumni to assist them. Carol Hannah Whitfield got sick (did Irina put something in her Starbucks?), and there was A LOT of black and gray coming from them. As the episode begins, Carol Hannah is still sick (in fact, worse), and yes, there’s STILL lots of black and gray on the racks.

Makeup Copycatter
L’Oreal makeup and Garnier hair consultations follow, as well as last-minute model fittings, and Tim makes a visit to check on the girls’ 13th looks. Not only did Althea Harper (allegedly) copy Irina’s oversized chunky sweaters, but now she seems to be using the same makeup inspiration. Lord, someone might need to put blinders on Miss Althea. Like yesterday! Bryant Park is still a day away, but just from the quick shots of the models trying on their looks during their fittings, I already would have given Irina the “Project Runway” crown. Now it’s up to Carol Hannah or Althea to rip one of Irina’s zippers or accidentally spray bleach on her clothes … My guess is that it isn’t going to happen.

Don’t Mess With Tim
Finally the day of the Bryant Park Runway Show has arrived, and Carol Hannah finally got her DayQuil, because she seems to be feeling better. Even Irina Shabayeva seems to be acting nicer. All the girls are getting along — no bitching, man-stealing, or accusations of copying. As the hour is approaching, guests are arriving and models are getting dressed. It’s almost starting time, and no one is where they should be, and Headmistress Tim Gunn isn’t happy. He progressively gets angrier and angrier. The normally pinkish flush of his face grows more Cabernet Red. Not a good sign.

Carol Hannah at judgingAlthea’s UGGs
Heidi, Michael and Nina finally take their seats, along with guest judge and fashion DIVA Suzy Menkes, editor of the International Herald Tribune. Althea comes out onto the runway and she is wearing … wait for it … UGGs! In front of Suzy Godmother-of-Fashion Menkes? Oh, the travesty. I know that because it was Season 6, a lot of this was shot without an audience (to keep the secrecy), but did Althea forget she was going to be on national television? Her collection finally goes down the runway. Her theme is Sci-Fi Heroine. There are chunky sweaters, and lots of black leather and harem pants. Judge Suzy Menkes didn’t see much futurism in Althea’s collection, and frankly, neither did I. There was a lot of wearable sportswear, which Kors applauded her for. It was all very Zara or H&M, which can be a good thing, but maybe not for a Bryant Park runway show.

Carol Hannah’s Cowl-Draped Architecture
Carol Hannah is next. She explains that her collection is about architecture, yet for the most part it seemed more Grecian Goddess to me. She’s got great draping skill, which showed up in dress after dress. Nina Garcia liked the first look, and I, along with Suzy, loved the teal jersey gown — her 13th look — which Amanda Fields (model from Season 3) wore. However, there were SO MANY ideas, as Heidi suggested — enough for FIVE collections. She needs more time and experience to know that for a collection, especially a 13-piece “capsule,” she only needed to have about three strong ideas and not 14.

Irina on runwayQueena Irina
From the first two looks out, I knew this was BY FAR the best collection of the three. Irina’s theme was a Warrior Princess living, surviving and shielding herself in the Big Apple. I really liked it. The fit was spot-on, and so was the styling. As Michael and Nina concurred, her collection had such a strong sense of showmanship. From those fabulous equestrian-meets-Sparta hats to the purses and shoes. Also, the clothes looked as if they were made well; no hanging threads or puckered seams in sight. Kudos to Gordana for helping her finish it to perfection. If I saw one of Irina’s girls walk into a room, I would want to know who she was, where she was from and how I could have some of her fabulousness! But Nina was right: There was too much black. I understand it’s a Fall/Winter collection, but a shot of plum or violet or metallic would have broken it up. A girl — even in New York — can’t live on black alone.

Season 6 Redemption
But in the end, Irina’s was the best collection. I was happy to see that Miss Irina “brought it”! She stepped up to the plate and hit a fashion home run. It was on par with other great “Project Runway” finale collections like those of Christian Siriano, Rami Kashou, Jay McCarroll and Leanne Marshall. In a season where so many people discredited the contestants as being so uninspiring or lacking talent, her tough, modern and effortlessly chic collection proved naysayers wrong. Congratulations, Miss Irina — now take your $100,000, invest it in getting a great work studio, and go to Paris and take your much-deserved vacation with your dog, Princess.

See you in January for another fun and fashionable season of “Project Runway”!


Episode 13: Dirty Dancing, Return to the Big Apple and Cootie Kisses

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 5:40am GMT

The Final Three have been decided on Season 6 of “Project Runway,” and Althea, Carol Hannah and Irina emerge as the leaders. Last week, Christopher was out, as well as Gordana. It was the elimination “heard ’round the blogosphere.” The fans weren’t too happy with Gordana’s elimination (“She left TOOOO soon ... she was ROBBED!”). Justified or not, the show must go on!

Dirty Dancin’ Tim
Last night’s episode begins with Heidi giving the ladies their real FINAL challenge: to create a 12-piece collection for NY Fashion Week with $9,000 (the retail price of ONE Michael Kors gown!). Making a guest appearance on the runway, Tim Gunn then tells the designers that he will visit them in a few months to see their progress. With that, Tim and Heidi dirty dance away — yes, DIRTY DANCE — behind the “Project Runway” scrim. I thought I had seen EVERYTHNG when I saw “Flip-Flop Tim,” but “Dirty Dancing Tim”? Was he bootie-bumping Heidi? Please say it isn’t so ...

Carol Hannah and Tim Gunn on Long IslandTim’s Biscuits & Gravy
First up on “Tim’s American Snow Tour” is Carol Hannah. She has moved from South Carolina to the suburbs of New York to be more inspired (by the frozen tundra?). On a visit to Duke University, she was moved by the whimsical architecture, which became her theme. On display is gray, gray and more gray. Carol Hannah first shows Tim a tutu-like dress with a tie-neck bodice. She wants to add a beaded waist trim, but luckily, Tim advises her against it. She’s a trim away from Michelle Kwan territory. She’s also proud to show Tim that she made pants, shock of all shocks! Soon it is dinner time, and they go downstairs to an episode of “Meet the Whitfields,” Southern-cooking style. Tim quickly dons an apron and proceeds to make biscuits. Part of me would have loved to have seen him Shake ‘n Bake a bag of Southern fried chicken too!

Georgia, NY
After leaving Carol Hannah’s house in his snowmobile, Tim heads back to Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he checks in on Irina. He is greeted by her barking dog, Princess. I love how even her dog has a Bitchy McBitch attitude. Irina’s collection is inspired by Coney Island as well as a celebration of New York. On the racks are lots of chunky handmade sweaters and plenty of fur, as well as a sea of black. She also has some screen-printed T-shirts showing iconic Coney Island images. The requisite “family and friends” lunch follows, where we get more insight on Irina’s very supportive “Follow your dream” mom (it’s always the moms!) and “Marry a nice Georgian boy and cook for him!” father.

Tim Gunn visits Althea in OhioAlthea in Dayton, Ohio
Finally, Tim heads to cold and snowy Dayton, Ohio, to visit Althea. Althea seems to live in a loft formerly occupied by the Ohio chapter of the Midwest Mafia, by the looks of the rickety elevator and sketchy “turn left in the alley” surroundings. However, once inside, it is all “safe and sound.” Her theme involves sci-fi movies and their heroines. There are chunky sweater knits and lots of black. Wait, isn’t this Irina’s collection? Tim liked the sweaters but questioned a “Wild West” costume-y coat. I was happy to see some color, though. There’s a pretty raspberry-colored dress that seems to shout at the TV, saying, “Release me from this gray and all-black fashion jail!”

Cooties and Crickets: Return to the Big Apple
Five days before their Bryant Park show, and only two of the girls have arrived at their Manhattan Grand Hyatt suite. Carol Hannah has the stomach flu. The other two try to pass the time having very awkward, cricket-inducing forced conversation. The next day, they move into their cheerfully decorated New York workroom (which coincidentally looks just like the one they left behind back at FIDM). Carol Hannah finally shows up — two Theraflus later but still sick.

Ding-Dong, You Have Visitors!
Soon it becomes “A Christmas Carol: The ‘Project Runway’ Edition,” with one too many visits. First up, “Ghost of Runway Present” Tim arrives at the workroom to check the collections. Tim questions Irina’s black leather pants (chaps much?); but from what I can see, even among a sea of black, Irina looks like she has the strongest collection by miles. Tim then wonders who Althea and Carol Hannah’s customers are, since their collections seem a bit disjointed. To me, as a viewer, their collections looked very blah. Nothing excited me. I would take a pair of leather chaps over an Althea “Hillary Clinton” suit any day.

Season 6 finalists get help from Christopher, Gordana and LoganLook Who Showed Up
Then, “Ghosts of Runway Yet to Come” Nina I-OOZE-CHIC Garcia and Michael Kors visit to dish out advice to the girls. Amid all the counseling, somehow both Nina and Michael forgot to add: “And if we see one more GRAY look from you guys, we might SCREAM!” followed by a record-skipping sound effect. That would have been my “Uncle Nicky” advice.

Season 2 Redux: Lucky Number 13
Finally, Tim and Heidi, the “Ghosts of Runway Past,” visit the designers to tell them that there’s a twist: They must create a 13th look. In addition, they tell them that they will have help from their fellow Season 6 designers (SOOO Season 2!!). Centerfold Logan is picked by Althea, Momma Gordana goes to Irina, and Odd Duck Christopher winds up helping cootie-ridden Carol Hannah.

You Gotta Work … for That Round-Trip Economy Class Ticket to New York
I wonder if these three “helpers” knew what they were coming back to. I bet they thought “Oh fun, it’s the Reunion Episode: Let’s go drinking!” Not so much, darlings; time to Make It Work. You don’t get a free round-trip economy-class ticket to New York for nothing! Will Christopher make a poufy prom dress for Carol Hannah? Will Gordana find some gray pleated-and-tucked fabric and make a suit for Irina? Or will Logan add a touch of Judy Jetson to the mix? Tune in next week, when all will be revealed ...


Episode 12: Roadkill, Stalactites and Stiletto Fantasies

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 4:27am GMT

Project Runway Season Six Episode 12

Previously on “Project Runway” … The remaining designers were asked to make a companion piece for one of their previous winning looks. I was a guest-judge, along with actress Kerry Washington. We concluded that it was Logan who missed the mark. I deemed it a bit “Judy Jetson” and Miss Heidi said it was “too tricked out.” I also got slammed for my “She looks like an office worker from Poland” and now have half of that nation against me. Oh, and there were accusations of copycatters. Yes, more DRAMA on Season 6!

This Is It!
But it’s a new week with episode 12: This Is It! No, not the Michael Jackson concert documentary, it’s the final challenge. Only five remain to duke it out for Bryant Park. Heidi tells the designers they are to join Tim Gunn in a location that will be rich in culture and have priceless views. Are they going to Heidi Klum’s Malibu estate? Nope, they end up at the J. Paul Getty Center and Museum, where Tim is joined by the Honorable Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of L.A. I have met Mayor Villaraigosa several times, and he’s a big champion of Los Angeles fashion.

Use the 405 Freeway as Your Inspiration?
They announce that for this very important last challenge, the designers are to create a design using the Getty Center as inspiration. Yes, yet another “inspiration challenge.” Tim points out the “galleries filled with riches,” the “staggering architecture” and the “lush garden landscape.” Somehow he missed adding “and the PAIN-INDUCING 405 Freeway (the most congested freeway in the nation) traffic down below!” A gown made out of little toy cars, inspired by that freeway, would be HOT!

Don’t Let Christopher Near THAT Bed!
As the designers are joined by their “Models of the Runway” muses, they tour the museum for inspiration. Althea goes right for the architecture, since that’s “her thing.” Gordana gets emotional at a very gray Monet painting (quelle surprise). Irina also chooses a painting, Godward’s “Mischief and Repose.” Carol Hannah loves this immense Baroque bed and its drapery, and Christopher (I’m surprised he didn’t go straight for THAT bed!) decides on the Center’s “rock fountain. Althea Harper on Project Runway Season Six Episode 12

Mood Roadkill and Stalactite Fantasies
After their last Mood L.A. trip (bye, Mood, we’ll miss you!), the designers return to their FIDM workroom to create what should be their most “wow” piece of the entire season. Or so you would think. There is lots of tension in the room, of course (“Mean Girls” are at it again!). Tim makes his workroom visit to see who was paying attention to the museum tour and who was stuck in the back of the line. Self-described “odd duck” Christopher is making a gray dress (THE color of the season!). Tim is quixotic about some stalactite shapes Christopher is creating and advises him to “keep an editing eye.” Carol Hannah is told not to lose the sophistication, and Irina is warned that the rabbit fur she bought (to go along with her chiffons) is looking like roadkill (attagirl, Tim!). Althea’s architecture-inspired skirt (see photo) is looking like a building that is about to be demolished. There is unsightly puckering, making Tim want to recheck his eyeglass prescription. Finally, Gordana seems to be doing the best of all of them, making a garment which even at this stage resembles her inspirational painting.

Where Are Zoe and Zanna?
It is the final Runway Day and the last time the designers can enjoy their fabulous FIDM digs. Thank goodness for those colorful interiors — as it turned out, they were THE ONLY COLOR we would see this season! As the designers are leaving for the runway, Tim Gunn warns that they better knock the stilettos off of Nina’s feet. We’ll be the judge of that. Speaking of judges, since this was the last challenge, I was expecting an all-star panel of Nina and Michael replacements, especially the Marie Claire “Z Girls”: Zoe Glassner and Zanna Roberts. But no, it was designer Cynthia Rowley and the “OMG-she-looks-AMAZING” Cindy Crawford. Heidi then announces (surprise!) that TWO designers will be out. The looks come down the runway, and Nina Garcia’s stilettos are still on her feet, unfortunately. It’s all rather “middle of the road,” and you can tell by the judges’ comments.

Good … But Not Great
Althea’s look was confusing. The skirt looked sloppy and was still puckering. I felt bad for her, because she’s better than that. I loved Carol Hannah’s for her simplicity and quiet elegance, but that look did not belong in THAT ornate, over-the-top bed. On the other hand, the diaphanous shape of Irina’s dress looked like one of the nymphs in her painting, but I agreed with Nina and Cindy: The length was dowdy, and it suffered from over-styling. Maybe she was the drag queen missing from the painting!

“Miss World” Meets Rock Fountain Prom
I actually really liked Gordana’s strapless organza gown. After this is all said and done, she needs to contact a textile manufacturer who will produce Gordana Fabrics, recreating her amazing pleating and pin-tucking — but not in GRAY! Her model, Matar, looked like (wait for it) a GORGEOUS Miss World from Eastern Europe. Now, on to Christopher: Cynthia Rowley liked the top (a shirred halter top is not the sign of the new Marc Jacobs, however), but all the judges agreed that the skirt and the waist-cinching corset were too heavy and dated. So who would go?

Project Runway Season Six Episode 12 final designers

Girls’ Night In
Irina is In. So is Carol Hannah. Christopher Straub is Out, and it’s down to Althea and Gordana. Even though her architectural look was deemed a “mess” by Heidi, I believe the judges rewarded Althea for having a consistent vision and saw potential for growth. She was In. Gordana Gehlhausen was, shockingly, Out. It is a bit perplexing, since her gown was great and so closely resembled the Monet painting, but Nina felt Gordana’s biggest flaw was that she didn’t know who she was as a designer. It’s an All-Girl Final Three: Irina, Althea and Carol Hannah. Bryant Park will resemble a set of “Charlie’s Angels,” but with Tim as Bosley! [Editor's Note: Funny that both Andrae Gonzalo and Nick called the final three "Charlie's Angels" in their blogs!] Let’s hope there is more Girl Power and less “Mean Girls.”


Copycatter Dirty Ratter: A Story of Wrap Sweaters & Substituting for Michael Kors

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 4:41am GMT

The judges including past designer Nick Verreos in episode eleven of Project Runway season six

First off, there was nothing wrong with your TV set. Michael Kors did not all of a sudden grow a beard, step out of his all-black jacket-and-T-shirt uniform and decide to throw in a bit of color into his wardrobe — and have a new penchant for hankies. Yes, that was yours truly on episode eleven of “Project Runway.” But we will get to that a little later …

Boys vs. Girls
For now, there are two boys and four girls left. That’s what it has come down to on Season 6. The boys and girls of “Project Runway” are still living in separate lofts, for fear that Carol Hannah and Logan might consummate their love for each other and fall into “Real World” get-in-a-hot-tub territory. But there’s no time for that; it’s time for the next challenge.

Turn Around!
On the runway judging stage, the designers are asked to sit with their backs to the runway. Heidi Klum then beckons them to turn around, and jaws drop: Their “Best of the Best” designs are displayed on model forms. For this penultimate challenge, they are to create a companion piece for one of their past winning looks. Cutie Logan is perplexed, since he doesn’t have a winning design but is nonetheless happy to see his silver and black one-shoulder gown, very wrinkled, I might add (were there no steamers in the back?). I think this is a great challenge, since this is what true designers do: create groups of garments that, as a whole, tell a story; they are similar but NOT the same, offering a hint of “this is all from the same designer and from the same collection.”

Poufy Gowns for Dowdy Mothers
Back in the FIDM workroom, Tim Gunn visits, and Logan’s girlfriend, Carol Hannah, says that her own design is looking like a “big scary mess.” Tim agrees. Irina is making a dress out of tapestry fabric that matches her prior winning design really well. Tim is excited about Logan’s design, pronouncing that it could easily go into the “wow” category. Althea is constructing high-waisted of-the-moment pants, but they are verging on looking like “Adult Diaper Couture.” Still stuck in 1983, Christopher is on his way to making yet ANOTHER poufy gown. Tim proclaims it the “dowdy mother” to Christopher’s younger, much sexier winning cocktail dress.

Irina Shabayeva and Althea Harper's designs in episode eleven of Project Runway season six

Mean Girls
Meanwhile, in the lounge, drama is a-brewin’: Irina and Althea are being very “Mean Girls,” trash-talking Logan and his use of multiple zippers on his collar, accusing it of being very similar to one of Althea’s previous designs. “Meana-Irina” then takes it up another notch by dissing her supposed BFF, saying Althea is also copying her! (See photo.) Listen, I know that when it gets down to only five or six designers, the tension in the “Project Runway” workroom goes to stratospheric levels. Insecurities are heightened, and eyes may “wander.” I was there.

Substitute Teacher …
It’s Runway Day, and why am I sitting in Michael Kors’ seat? A week prior to the shoot, I received a call asking me if I would sub for Michael Kors and be a guest judge on one of the final challenges. In addition to being an instructor and spokesperson for the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, I have also judged the last five seasons’ castings of the show. I therefore felt comfortable sitting in between Heidi and Nina Garcia (oh, the joy!). When I found out that actress Kerry Washington would also be there: more joy! I was honored, excited and verklempt, to say the least. Now, let me tell you, as an insider: The judging day is TENSE! What you see in 20 minutes actually takes FOUR HOURS! (Check out some extended judging Project Runway video clips from episode eleven to see more!) It is nerve-racking to know that the future of these designers is in your hands. I, for one, wanted to comfort them and give them an “Uncle Nick” hug.

Which Sweater Wrap Came First?
My first impression of the designs as they came out was, “Why the somberness and lack of color?” I was also expecting more “wow” moments, especially knowing these were the Final Six. I still, however, liked Carol Hannah’s ’50s-inspired cocktail dress and Irina’s “Millionaire Trophy Wife” ensemble. I spotted the similarity in Althea and Irina’s sweater wraps, and, trust me, we spent a long time discussing it, but we all agreed that our favorite was Althea Harper’s and all loved those draped jodhpur pants. No adult diapers in sight!

East Berlin Office Worker vs. Judy Jetson
There was also no disagreement about who would be in the bottom: We did not like Gordana’s look. It reminded me of an office worker in East Berlin circa 1972. It did nothing to complement her winning dress. Christopher’s silver petal ball gown was very Carnival Float-Meets-a-Duvet-Cover. There was a pretty gown in there, but with all the other stuff, it got lost. Then there was Logan’s minidress with a zippered collar. He had such a wonderful quiet demeanor, but the truth was this fussy, poufy design had nothing to do with the clean lines of his one-shoulder original. Nick Verreos and Logan Neitzel after the airing of Project Runway season six We seriously deliberated for over two hours on this one, and in the end it was Logan Neitzel who was sent home. For days, I felt so bad over it!

Postscript: Logan=Class
Cut to several months ago: I was visiting Seattle to host an event, and there he was: Logan. I shook in my skinny jeans, thinking, “Oh dear, he’s going to slap me in the face.” Before letting me speak, he said to me, “No hard feelings — you are the best, Nick!” and proceeded to give me a gift: a custom-made Logan Neitzel wallet! Now, that’s class. I now feel I might have to fight with Carol Hannah over Logan the next time I see her! And, by the way, I love Judy Jetson!


Episode 10: Greece...Is Not The Word

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 2:30am GMT

Michael Kors in episode ten of Project Runway season six

It is getting down to the “Project Runway” wire. Out of 16 designers, only seven remain. There are some who are talented and, arguably, some who are not so talented. There are definitely a few in the bunch who probably shouldn’t have made it through so far. After the last “Sequin and Feathers” Christina Aguilera/Bob Mackie Challenge, it was probably time to bring it down one or two sequin notches, or so they thought. With that in mind, Heidi Klum tells the remaining designers they are to take a little trip to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, where Tim Gunn would await them.

Shakopee Trading Post to Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills
Shakopee, Minnesota native and token “Podunk-er of Season 6” Christopher got excited at the prospect of going to Rodeo Drive, admitting that “there are no Guccis or Yves Saint Laurents in my mall …” That might be his problem. Maybe it’s time to get on a United Airlines flight and get thee to Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue or find a cheap flight to Paris to see that there are other designers and stores besides the Shakopee Trading Post. But I digress. With this challenge, the producers of “Project Runway” are doing their part in exposing little ol’ Christopher to a brand new world of fashion, and at least it’s a start.

Paris Hilton in Mykonos
The designers arrive at the Rodeo Drive West Coast Flagship of Michael Kors. Surprisingly, Kors was actually there: For a second I thought he might be at the store via SKYPE! He explains how many of his collections are inspired by his travels around the globe, to places such as Santa Fe, St. Tropez, Palm Beach and Greece. It is fitting, then, when he introduces the next challenge for episode ten: to create a look inspired by a fabulous locale. As a designer myself, I am always influenced by international locations, whether or not I have been there. But the whole point is that it provides me with a point of design inspiration. Sometimes too much so, as witnessed back in my season, when I kept referring to the outfits I created each week as “Paris Hilton in Mykonos” or “Diva in Capri.” Curiously enough, Michael Kors chastised me for doing that, which seems odd since that’s what he is all about.

Gordana Gehlhausen design in episode 10 of season six of Project Runway

Put Down the Necklace and Make a Dress
With that, the designers get their locales and are back at the FIDM workroom, post Mood shopping, to see who was actually paying attention in their geography classes back in high school — and who may need a new Eurail Pass. Tim makes his visit and first checks in on Gordana, who picked Park Avenue/Manhattan. She’s used up all her time making a beaded necklace (see photo), and Tim says he’s nervous to leave her without seeing an actual dress. Irina, who chose Aspen, looks as if she’s almost done. That girl is OUT OF CONTROL; she is Bitchy McBitch and Speedy Gonzalez all rolled up into one!

Carole Cook Palm Beach Caftan Fantasy
Althea’s inspiration is St. Tropez, and she is doing separates for a girl heading out to brunch on the French Riviera. Mall rat Christopher is working on a Santa Fe, New Mexico, look, which immediately makes me squirm. However, Tim is somewhat liking the Navajo-looking leather belt. Carol Hannah is going to Palm Beach, but stressed she may not have enough of her leaf-printed fabric. At one point, her drape was looking like a Carole Cook (look her up, kiddies!) caftan, and I was LOVING IT! Nicolas, who got my favorite locale, Greece, is inexplicably doing something that doesn’t look very Greece-inspired. He boasts about never having been to Greece, and Tim looks a bit worried. Soon he’s in the confessional saying that he doesn’t want to go home or be in the bottom three. That’s the moment I say, “Oh, Nicolas is SO GONE!”

Ukrainian Arms Dealer Trophy Wife Goes to Aspen
It’s Runway Day and, as usual, the kids are in a panic. Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and guest judge model/actress/designer Milla Jovovich are all on hand to see the “Project Runway” World Inspiration Tour. Carol Hannah’s sundress looks fabulous (I still secretly wish she would have done a caftan!), and she is praised for it by Jovovich, who says she would “live in that dress.” Gordana did get to make something to attach to her beaded necklace, and the judges liked it. It looked very uptown and classic, but I was yawning over her repeated use of gray. Irina Shabayeva’s après-ski look ended up being the winner. It looked luxe, and at least the girl had a vision — from head to toe! It was very “trophy wife of a Ukrainian mafia arms dealer.”

Logan Neitzel in episode ten of Project Runway season six

New Mexico Circa 1983
The bottom group was a Testosterone Fest: Logan, Christopher and Nicolas. Logan created a cute yet uninspired ensemble for his Hollywood locale. (See photo.) Logan frustrates me. Why he didn’t just go ahead and make a rockin’ hipster female version of himself is beyond me. Logan is more stylish than his own designs! Christopher’s Santa Fe creation was the opposite of Irina’s: It lacked vision. Heidi even said it was “sad and ugly.” But Milla liked the belt, saying it was very 1983. That would have been a compliment, if only the ENTIRE OUTFIT wasn’t so 1983! His look was something a (58-year-old) proprietor of a New Mexico turquoise shop would wear.

Athens, Afghanistan?
But it was Nicolas Putvinski who really “missed the ferry” from downtown L.A. to Patras, Greece, during this Fabulous Locale Challenge. His look had nothing reminding anyone of the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea and blue-capped buildings of the Greek isles. Sad, ill-fitting gray pants and a white cotton surplice-wrap top? Nicolas: It’s Greece, not AFGHANISTAN! With that, Heidi waved goodbye and gave him a gift certificate to the nearest gyro restaurant. Yassou, Nicolas!


Episode 8: Divorzillas at the Hofbrau

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 5:00am GMT

Divorced women who are the models on episode eight, the wedding dress challenge, of Last week we witnessed what one can do with a shower loofah and a bridesmaid dress, and it wasn’t pretty. We also saw the unfortunate marriage of a Disco Pumpkin and Ronald McDonald. On “Project Runway,” there’s always this unfortunate hope to see the fashion train wreck evolve and then make its way in front of Michael Kors. It’s part of the fun of watching the show. With every new episode, we secretly hope for those “oh no she didn’t” moments and, of course, to see glorious and inspiring fashions all on the same runway.

Keep Away From Matches
This week was no different in episode eight. The episode begins with Irina, bitching about how all the other designers must hate and be jealous of her (she’s won twice), and therefore building some sort of story arc that I am certain will play out in upcoming episodes. Heidi enters the runway and tells the designers that they have “new models.”

Suddenly nine women appear in the tackiest of wedding dresses. It looks like a going-out-of-business sale at Filene’s! Miss Klum then tells the designers that these women are divorcees and that they are wearing their old wedding gowns. I shriek at the thought that any of them actually had the impudence — I don’t care if it was FIFTEEN YEARS AGO — to choose such tasteless visions of acetate and tulle.

Divorzillas Get a Makeover
The challenge Heidi then gives them is to convert an old wedding dress into a fashionable new look. The designers choose their models. Irina, being first, picks the divorcee with the biggest “Gone With the Wind” gown (smart girl), while last-in-the-velvet-bag Persian Princess Shirin gets stuck with a client whose simple shift dress consists of maybe 1 1/2 yards of fabric. This challenge was to “test” the designers’ ability to work with a client who wasn’t 5'10" and a size 2.

It was about listening to the client, their wants and needs, as well as injecting your own design aesthetic. In past “Project Runway” client-designer challenges (the “Prom Challenge,” the “Mother Challenge,” etc.), the “real-life” clients were of varying body types. However, I noticed that for the most part, these divorcees were all consistently the same size. I feel that this was certainly to the designers’ advantage. It would have been nice to see more size diversity.

The designers meet their clients. Shirin is already having issues with her “model,” Charlie. You see, Shirin’s client wants to look like Cher — peacock feathers and all — and Shirin, rightfully, does not want to go there. They are off to Mood, where they are given $25 to purchase 2 yards of “other” fabric, and wouldn’t you know it, Shirin buys peacock feathers for her Cher-fabulous ensemble. (Don’t do it!)

Shirin Askari crying on episode eight, the wedding dress challenge, of season six of Project Runway Lost in Translation
The designers return to the FIDM workroom and begin constructing their looks. Tim visits and quickly has his patented “I’m perplexed” look. I love that the first reaction upon seeing Christopher’s design is “What is this?” That might not be a good start. Epperson tells Tim that he may have misunderstood the challenge, since he thought the task was to use “as little as possible” of the wedding dress fabric. Logan also seems confused and is using more of his purchased Mood fabric as opposed to the original wedding gown material. Is there a Berlitz translator who can help confused “Project Runway” contestants?

The Eastern Bloc contingency, Gordana and Irina, have both dyed their combustible fabrics and seem to be creating nice pieces. In another corner of the room, Shirin is having a meltdown, torn between wanting to make her client Cher-fabulous — and knowing it might end up like a train wreck ready for a Kors Teardown! Tim gives her a shoulder to cry on. Before heading off for his late-afternoon cocktail, Tim also reminds all the designers that the old tacky wedding dress MUST BE the core of their look. We’ll see if Epperson and Logan listen.

Fans, Rejoice: Michael Kors Has Not Left the Building
It’s Runway Day, and back at the judges’ chairs are Michael Kors (doves and hearts around his head), Marie Claire Fashion Editor Zanna Roberts, and Tamara Mellon, the chic founder of the Jimmy Choo empire and a member of the board of Halston. The designs come down, and Irina and Gordana’s are the best. Irina’s antique gold lace kimono-sleeved dress was age-appropriate and elegant. The gunmetal-gray dress deesigned by Gordana Gehlhausen was innovative and modern, and was made exquisitely. She wins as a result and gets the last “Project Runway” Immunity Idol.

Epperson and Logan's designs on episode eight, the wedding dress challenge, of Project Runway Season Six Luck Be a (Bad Dress) Lady Tonight
Now to the bad divorcees who got a lucky break: I CRIED with laughter as Nicolas confessed, "This is the most HIDEOUS thing I've ever made." (He was right!) Persian Princess Shirin changed her dress at the last minute, adding black contrasting topstitching. I was on the fence about her divorcee look and actually secretly wished she would have done a Cher-at-the-Oscars look instead of this "Oh so cute and safe" design! Michael Kors did not suffer fools with his critique of Christopher's metallic Hefty bag of a dress. Christopher's taste level seems to be dropping by the minute. Maybe he just needs "time out" in that gorgeous FIDM Hope Park.

Hofbrau Sisters
Logan and Epperson were at the bottom, however. Logan’s three-piece outfit was all over the place, and the client looked like a hostess at a Hofbrauhaus. I’m afraid he “bit off more than he could chew,” and if anyone knows about this, it’s me (remember the fully lined jacket, pants, dress shirt and scarf I made for Daniel Vosovic?). Epperson’s outfit was also another Oktoberfest waitress. Coincidence? (See photo of both designs.) Eventually, it was Epperson’s waitress from Heidi’s Hofbrau Restaurant that was sent home. She may be divorced, but she can cook a mean bratwurst in this dress!


Episode Six: Ice Ice Baby!

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 5:00am GMT

Famous costume designers, from Adrian to Edith Head, once ruled the style and look of Hollywood. They dictated the hemlines and silhouettes of their era and, at one point, influenced fashion more than the Paris couturiers. However, a costume designer does not always make a good fashion designer, and vice versa. With that backdrop, we are on to the next challenge!

Epperson on episode six of Project Runway season six

Costume Designers of Downtown L.A.
The remaining contestants were transported from their downtown L.A. FIDM “set” to a real Hollywood soundstage where Tim Gunn and L’Oreal Paris Consultant Collier Strong were waiting. For their next challenge, they were to create a look inspired by a movie genre and to invent a character that lives there. With only ONE DAY to do it, each designer chose their genre, save for we-never-hear-a-peep-out-of-you Epperson, who ended up being given his. The genres were Action Adventure (Logan, Carol Hannah), Film Noir (Irina, Louise, Althea), Science Fiction (Nicolas, Ra’mon), Period Piece (Christopher, Gordana) and Western (Shirin, Epperson).

Trick or Treat?
Once the designers returned to their workrooms, they were off and running. No time to waste — and NO Johnny or Mitchell to assist in wasting it! Tim enters the FIDM workroom to see if their costumes are worthy of an Oscar or should be relegated to the Halloween sale rack. Christopher decides to do an 1800s Period Piece, designing a bustle skirt-gown with a sleeveless blouse. Tim quickly notes that sleeveless doesn’t sound so Victorian. The resident “go-to boy” for bitchy commentary, Nicolas, creates a Cosmic Queen character who likes white stretchy gowns with lots of feather appliqué. Tim tells him to “queen out” his Ice Queen even more! Uh-oh, this might look like a Eurovision Contest Part Deux!

Ramon-Lawrence Coleman's design on episode six of Project Runway season six

Ra’mon is making a green outfit with ill-placed crocodile-skin leather patches. Tim rightly says it might end up looking like a ‘big hot mess.” With only two hours before the workroom doors close, he decides to scrap his Kermit the Frog jumpsuit and start anew. Not a good idea, Ra’mon! (See photo.)

Meet the Woman Who Makes Madonna Look FIERCE!
It’s Runway Show Day, and the sewing and pattern workrooms are swathed with lots of nervous tension and last-minute madness. Time’s up, and they are off to meet their fate — and see if Michael Kors and Nina Garcia are back. They’re not. In their absence, we have Zoe Glassner from Marie Claire (she’s an old pro at this now), menswear designer John Varvatos and Academy Award–nominated costume designer (“Walk the Line”) Arianne Phillips. In case you didn’t know, Arianne is also Madonna’s one and only stylist, and has styled some of the FIERCEST Vogue Italia photo shoots known to gay men. In other words: She’s a “Fashion God.”

Uncle Nick Is Confused
The designs come down the runway, and I’m confused: confused by some of the designs as well as the judges’ observations. I disliked most of what the judges LOVED and liked several of the ones they didn’t. Were the contestants asked to make costumes — or contemporary fashion with a “costume” subtext? The challenge was to “create a character and a look inspired by a movie.” OK, I get that. And even Tim, back in the workroom, told the designers that normally he tries to have the contestants move away from looking “too costumey,” but for this challenge THAT was the point. So was there a miscommunication? Were the judges told something different? Throughout time many people have confused the job of fashion designers and costume designers. They are two very different jobs. In very simplistic terms, a fashion designer creates contemporary clothing to be worn and purchased. A costume designer creates clothing to aid in the development and enhancement of a character. What role were these contestants asked to play?

Charles Worth Is Turning in His Grave
First, I really thought Christopher’s was a mess. It was neither a costume nor fashionable (sorry Christopher, I still love you!). I thought he was going for 1800s Victoriana, but he missed it. A white 1990s-looking halter top? And the skirt was not any better. I realize you can’t really make an 1800s bustled petticoat in addition to an entire gown in such a short time, but that skirt was more 1980s Versace than a vision from 1850s couturier Charles Worth. And the judges just LOVED it! I was confused. I agree that Gordana’s 1920s-style flapper dress was a tad unimaginative in terms of design, but there was no denying who the character was and from what genre. I could totally see her doing the Charleston! Epperson’s look — and the subsequent positive judges’ critique — also left me dumbfounded. It looked Western, but I actually thought Shirin’s Saloon Girl was much better.

Ice Ice Baby
But where I did concur with the judges was in their assessment of Nicolas Putvinski’s white feathered Ice Queen. Nicolas and Ra'mon's final sci-fi designs side by side from episode six of Project Runway hspace= It was entrance-making and had all the drama of a costume. Her makeup and hair were fabulous. Nicolas knows how to do costumes. After all, he’s been making the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show designs for years. Also, his story was by far the most creative. No surprise, then, when he was given the “Project Runway” Best Costume Design Award.

Cougar Godzilla for Halloween?
Like the judges, I was disappointed with Louise and how boring her Film Noir girl was. I echoed Zoe Glassner’s assessment: It was truly a snoozefest. If I was a client and wanted to make an impression, I probably would not go to “Louise’s Boutique of Snoozeland.” The dress Louise was wearing was better than the one she designed. Not a good sign. I couldn’t believe that finally, after six challenges, Louise gets to stay on the runway stage, but for being in the bottom! Fortunately for her, dear Ra’mon and his reptilian nightmare were more of a mess. Her hair and makeup were very Miss Estonia Universe, and the dress looked like it came from the porn version of a bad Godzilla movie. His “cougar” Godzilla movie unfortunately had a sad ending, and Ra’mon-Lawrence Coleman was sent home. And where do you suppose his design will end up? Check the costume sale rack this Halloween!


Episode Five: The Fairy Tale Of The Spewing Steamer

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 3:53pm GMT

Last night was all about fairy tales: fairy tales involving steaming, newspapers and origami. It was also about how fairy tales can catch up to you — on national TV! With that, we begin our “Project Runway” tale on a runway stage, somewhere in Los Angeles, as our storyteller, Heidi “I’m a German Sailor Boy” Klum, greets the remaining designers.

Group shot of designers and Tim Gunn from the newspaper challenge, episode five, of Project Runway Don’t Read the Newspaper, Make a Dress From It!
Like Little Red Riding Hood on her way to Grandma’s house, Tim Gunn and the designers begin their fairy tale journey through the resort-like, palm tree–lined FIDM surroundings and head off to the gritty Los Angeles Times headquarters. There, Los Angeles Times Fashion Critic Booth Moore awaits them, announcing that for their next challenge they are to create a design using newspapers as fabric. And this, my children, is where, for some, the fairy tale begins to turn into a nightmare.

Origami Flu Disease
Dragging their newspaper-filled Hefty bags, the designers make their way back to the workroom. Tim tells them that they will have the aid of dyes, brushes, markers and muslin. As the designers begin working, it quickly becomes apparent that a lot have caught the “Origami Bug.” Here’s a brief lesson from Instructor Nick: Origami (Oru meaning folding, gami meaning paper) is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, and these kids went right to it!

Woeful Origami Bleeding Birds
Tim returns — after his lunch break at the local downtown L.A. Ralph’s Supermarket salad bar — and surveys the room to see how much the origami flu has infected them, or not. He praises Gordana for not using muslin to create her shape and then warns Nicolas not to get too “costumey” with his punk design. Irina nixes her original idea and instead goes right into making a shawl-collared coat. Johnny’s origami-inspired dress is quickly looking like a Hitchcock Movie Gone Wrong, faux birds and faux blood included. Thesaurus King Gunn is “woeful” about his design. Johnny quickly balls up his bad preschool craft project and starts all over again … kind of.

The Spewing Steamer
As the models file in for their fittings, Johnny is seen relaxing during one of his many breaks in the modern FIDM lounge. There he begins his convoluted story about how he had to start from scratch because the iron-steamer spewed water on his original dress (say what?). Back in the apartment, Johnny continues his “Project Runway” Fairy Tale Tour as he tries to make his roommates Logan (no shirtless shot this time, sorry!) and Ra’mon believe his spattering-water tale.

Gaga for Eva
The following morning (runway day), the models can barely get their dresses on because of how stiff they are. I keep thinking: Oh dear, this is not going to turn out good! I’m having bad memories of my stiff flower dress from Season 2 but know that in the end they will “make it work,” as I did. Heidi introduces the judges, and it’s obvious now that the producers have sent Nina Garcia on a search in the Caribbean to look for Michael Kors.

Irina Shabayeva's trench coat from the newspaper challenge, episode five, of Project Runway In their place are Marie Claire Senior Editor Zoe Glassner and designer Tommy Hilfiger. The kids go gaga with thunderous applause when “Desperate Housewives” actress Eva Longoria Parker is introduced as the special guest judge. Let’s see how they feel after she tears them a new side seam!

A Headline-Making Trench Coat
On the runway, most of the creations are outstanding. Althea’s strapless architectural dress looks sexy and well-done, and makes the model’s bum look good! Sexy bum=success! Ra’mon’s origami (yeah, he caught the “bug”) techniques pay off with an interesting folded design. Carol Hannah’s rust-colored gown doesn’t even look like it’s made of newspaper, but more like a Carolina Herrera gown. Louise’s cone-shape skirt is playful and original, and I loved the “jeweled” neckline. But of course, the winner is Irina Shabayeva with her ingenious though simple trench coat. (See photo.) The crushed-newspaper collar and sleeve cuffs were flawless. Those pockets won it for me.

Dior Not
Nicolas and Johnny’s designs were a mess, especially when placed next to the other designers’ creations. It’s no surprise that these central characters of the episode ended up in the bottom. Johnny’s dress looked as if he made it in five minutes, and his “Steam Fairy Tale” was believed by no one. You got to give the kid points for having the chutzpah to call his original design “Dior-like.” I’ve read every Dior retrospective book and know almost every design of the master, and I have NEVER seen the Dior origami bird-and-blood dress, not even from John Galliano. Nicolas calls him on it, in front of the judges, reminding him of what Tim Gunn had said in the workroom. Oh Snap! If you’re keeping score: It’s 10 points for Nicolas, two for Johnny.

Johnny Sakalis leaving the show without getting a hug from Tim Gunn in the newspaper challenge, episode five, of Project Runway

The Last Word, According to Tim
Nicolas’ “insect” design wasn’t any better. It was more cockroach than punk club kid. The way the episode was going, I was positive he was going home. I figured they would keep Johnny since he might be “better TV”; however, Johnny-the-Liar Sakalis was sent packing. But kids, it didn’t end there: For the first time in “Project Runway” history (or as far back as I can remember), Tim Gunn did not give a designer the requisite goodbye hug, but rather looked at him with disdain and contempt. Not wanting to end this episode (and challenge) with the world believing Johnny’s lies, Tim finished with words that will most likely go down in “Project Runway” history: “I am incredulous at the utterly preposterous spewing of fiction Johnny did on the runway.”

Enough said. End of Johnny’s fairy tale.


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?