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Nick Verreos Blog
Category: "episode recaps"
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.
Hello, "Project Runway" kiddies: I am in the midst of finishing up my NIKOLAKI Spring 2011 Collection, which along with my design partner David Paul we will debut at tonight's fabulous 3rd Annual Style Week Orange County. But even all the alterations, fittings and last-minute craziness couldn't stop me from watching this week's "Project Runway"!
Get the Kleenex Out
Well, hope you had the box of Kleenex out, because this was a MAJAH tearjerker of an episode. Amongst all the usual "Project Runway" shenanigans: a new challenge, surprise guests and more Gretchen "Two Cents" critiques, we had a HUGE revelation from one of the contestants, my little darling Latin Urkel, Mondo Guerra. So shall we just get started?
There are seven designers left, and Heidi Klum lets them know that they will be "starting from scratch" for their next challenge. Ummm, OK. Can you tell me more? Nope. But Tim Gunn will. Back at the Parsons Workroom, the designers find that there are HP computers set up with childhood photos of themselves. Monsieur Gunn is there with Executive Director of HP Global Marketing, Traci Tracta (she's kind of fabulous!), who tells the contestants that for this challenge, they will be designing their own fabric to make their next Runway Creation: Yes, they have brought back the HP Design-Your-Own-Fabric Challenge, Tim reminds them. I am not a fan of the let's-rehash-old-challenges, but…I am fine with this one because really, it's kinda cool (did I just sound like a 15-year-old Justin Bieber fan?).
Mondo Comes Out
The contestants begin to work with their HP TouchSmart Technology Computers while viewing old photos, which brings back personal pain, struggles and inner issues. Nicole Bobek April talks about her parents' divorce, Gretchen is influenced by her Southwest upbringing, Christopher has San Francisco on his mind, and Mondo, well, he tells us about his difficult coming-out story and that he has been holding a secret for 10 years; he is HIV-positive. Say what? Yep. Oh dear, you just know what's coming after a few commercials (get that box o' Kleenex ready!).
Mommy and Boyfriend Heaven
Cut to Tim Gunn returning to the workroom, saying that he has some "special guests": The designers' MOMs! Gretchen was scared that her mom would not be able to show up since she said she was rather incapacitated and had no "means" to get to NYC. But of course, she was there. Also there was Michael Costello's son, who looked like a "Mini-Me" of him along with Mommy Costello. Cutie Christopher was the only one who was "Mom-less": His partner came in lieu of Mommy Christopher, who was not available for the "will-you-fly-from-SF-to-NY-Economy-Class-for-your-son-to-be-on-TV" request, I guess. Thanks, Lifetime, for keeping that man-on-man kiss. Well, of course, the tears of joy began flowing like a monsoon in Bangladesh. Tim tells the designers that he will suspend the workday so they can spend quality (TV) time with their loved ones.
Sorry to sound like such a jaded "Reality Show" been-there-done-that contestant, but ... of course they gave them the day off: The fabric company needed that time to produce the darn fabric that they just created the print for! One-day turnaround is REALLY CRAZY. Trust me. It is UNHEARD of! I wonder if they actually got to spend more than just an afternoon with their loved ones. If it was truly just an afternoon, I need to get the name and address of that printing company, ASAP!!!
Gretchen's Critique Corner Is BAAACK!
The following day (I think!), Tim makes his visit and surveys the designers: April tells Tim that her print is divorce-ridden, and he suggests to "step away from the emotions," and Andy South is in a "Memory Bubble," struggling to focus (uh-oh!). In addition to Tim, we also have Miss Gretchen and her "Critique Corner" telling us what else is wrong with everyone's creations. Gotta love her (not so much!).
Latin Urkel Wins Again!
It's Runway Day, and the GORGEOUS Rachel Roy is on hand. I just LOVE Rachel Roy. I host TONS of Macy's events and I just can't get enough of her line: She has that Contemporary market NAILED. On the good end of the runway show are April, Gretchen and Mondo. During the judging, Nina Garcia tries to push Mondo to ESSSPLAIN what the story behind his print was (I have a feeling she knew!). He finally "comes out" and admits to being HIV-positive to everyone, which leads to the designers (and myself) succumbing to a hyperventilating flow of tears. He wins (of course!) with his oh-so-flawless pants that mitering of the "positive" print, as well as the fit, was impeccable! Even without his "coming out" story, the minute I saw his look come out on the runway, I knew he HAD to be the winner! Congrats, Miss Mondo! Once again. Can you say "Finalist"!!!
Bye, Andy … Oooops, I'm Wrong Again!
And now to the bottom: Christopher's was BA-BA-Boring and dated-looking. When your outfit looks like something Barbara Walters might wear on "The View," it is time to reassess your design strategy. But Valerie's and Andy's were definitely worse. Andy's gray print was not fashion-forward, and the entire styling/ensemble reminded me of a tacky girl at 2 am on Hollywood Boulevard. He should have gone home! But the judges chose Valerie and her (as Michael Kors described) "bad ice-skating costume" as the one to be sent home. Well, once again, I disagree with the judges. It should have been Andy. I know that they say that, for each challenge, the judges look at the outfit in front of them and NOT their past creations, but I doubt it. Because this is the SECOND time Andy gets away with a REAL mess of an outfit (hello, remember those cameltoe pants!?). I just wish the judges would "play fair" and be a little more consistent and, heck, truthful.
In the end, the superb taste of Mondo's "Coming Out" scene overrides the Why-Is-Andy-Not-Gone Argument. This was a great episode it was so "For Your Consideration, Emmy Voters" and yes, a major Get-Your-Kleenex-Out Moment. For a hot fashionable minute it made me forget all the unnecessary drama. Uncle Nick "hearts" you, Mondo. I did back at the casting and I still do now.
OK, let me just get this out of the way: I am still NOT over those nasty pants from I'm-the-new-Alexander-Wang Andy South's "Jackie Kennedy American Sportswear" ensemble. I actually had draping nightmares over it. Before last Thursday, I remembered Jackie O as an oversized-sunglasses-and-Oleg Cassini-wearing DIVA who loved the Greek Isles (and a few other things, thanks to my fellow recap blogger Laura Bennett!). Now, I can only think of BAD-pants-Jackie O: from Camelot to Cameltoe in one hot minute. Darn you, Miss Andy! Oh well, let's progress to nicer thoughts: A New Roommate Situation (no, not that loser with two left feet from "Dancing with the Stars"!) and a New Challenge.
Chain-smoking Grandma Goes to Vegas
When the episode opens, we find Cutie Christopher (the official "Floater" of Season 8) and Mondo dressed like a loopy, chain-smoking, slot-machine-playing grandma in Vegas getting ready to change rooms at the Atlas. They will be joining Andy and Michael Costello. Andy is happy, saying that "it's nice to have people that I can trust" (a slam on Michael C., I presume?).
Make the Sponsors Happy
Afterward, all the contestants meet up with Tim at the Parsons Workroom for their next Challenge. Joining him is L'Oreal Makeup Consulting Expert Collier Strong, who tells them that it's the "L'Oreal Paris Challenge," where they are to create a high-fashion look worthy of Paris Couture Week. And the winner will get $20,000 (Hello!!), and they and their winning look will appear in an advertorial in Marie Claire. In addition (sit down, there's more!), they need to incorporate one of the eye shadows in the L'Oreal Studio Secrets makeup line. The designers then choose from a "preselected" theme: Crystal, Metallic, Velvet, Bright or Matte. Tim tells the designers that unless they are adept at working with Velvet, they shouldn't! Miss Gretchen chooses Velvet, of course. Something tells me she'll do just fine (I am so old-hat now with predicting the editing!).
Drinkin' Money for Mondo Lohan
They get two full days and $300, which leads Nicole Bobek April to use her "loud voice" and talk about how many designers will waste their time away. The designers get to work on their creations and during their "breaks" ponder the fact that they are all BROKE and really would D.I.E. if they had an extra $20,000 in their Non-Sufficient Fundsengulfed checking accounts and in Mondo's case, he would LOVE the "drinkin' money." Ummm, OK, hunny. This just in: Latin Urkel just turned into Mondo Lohan.
Oh No, Not Another Twist
After a full day of design and sewing in which several designers have worries about biting off a bit more than they can chew, the kids have returned to the workroom, and Tim is BAAACK! And yes, there's a twist: They have to create a second, more Ready-to-Wear Look, to accompany their "Paris High Fashion" design. Haven't they done this challenge before … in several seasons? Come on, can't we come up with more original challenges? Because of this new "twist," the designers are stressed but making it work all except for poor Valerie. Girl has done gone and lost her way! After a bathroom breakdown in which Ivy and Gretchen (of course!) give her a very half-hearted pep talk, Valerie is back to work, and in the end she states that she is just happy to have completed garments walking down the runway. Yikes, not a good sign!
My Runway Day Two Cents
Mumbai-born American designer Naeem Khan, who's famous for creating Michelle Obama's First State Dinner Dress, is the Guest Judge on Runway Day and is ready to offer his expertise on Haute Couture creations and their Ready-to-Wear counterparts. Here's what I thought: "Floater" Christopher's was a mess! After seeing his designs at the L.A. castings, Tim turned to me and said, "We have our Season 8 winner!" Not after seeing this dress. I didn't like Gretchen's and therefore was surprised to see her in the "Top." This was not "Paris High Fashion," and the accompanying lowbrow design was something I wouldn't pick up at Macy's! I totally disagreed with the judges about the makeup: It was so boring. If I was a makeup rep, nothing about that look would make me stop the boardroom meeting and declare that this is the one for our new advertorial. It was sooo 2 pm in the mall.
Likey-Likey, and the BevMo Gift Certificate Goes To …
I LOVED Andy's twosome. From the out-there makeup (you'd think L'Oreal would like that!) to the all-in-one pants-and-shoes creation, it was very editorial. But was it ad-worthy? Nope. Hawaiian homeboy needed COLOR! Well, let's turn to Mondo for that! Latin Urkel delivered color in spades, and the judges awarded him the unparalleled $20,000 prize! Time to go to BevMo and get you some drinks on!
Ouch, That Train Just Hit Me in the Face!
The least favorites in the judges' minds and mine were Michael C., Ivy and Valerie. Michael Costello's Bordeaux-colored gown was too over-the-top. I think that train almost hit poor Naeem! As Michael Kors said, "She's got all the curtains from Tara ripped off the wall and put on one dress." Yep, that pretty much sums it up. And his "mini me" was REALLY mini Heidi Mini!
Miss Guatemala Gown Competition
Valerie's white one-shoulder concoction wasn't so bad, but Nina HATED IT. She compared it to a gown for Miss Guatemala. Oh no she didn't! Now, may I just say, I made one little comment about "looking like a preCold War Polish secretary" back in Season 6 when I was a guest judge and got about 10,000 e-mails from everyone and their Polish grandma. I sure hope that every Guatemalan e-mails Miss Nina and is as mean to her as those people of Polish descent were to me. Just sayin'. In the end, it was Ivy and her turquoise blue "High Fashion" Bridesmaid-Pageant Gown catastrophe as well as her strapless "Ready-to-Wear" cocktail dress for a "Mean Girl" at her 10-year high school reunion, who was sent home. Now, I'll let you get back to that Nina hate mail …
I just arrived in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico to host a fabulous Macy's event ("Don't Cry for Me, San Juan!") and had visions of last week's Resort Wear Challenge and how maybe they should have brought the designers here but somehow I don't think a trip to Puerto Rico would be in the show's budget! Upon arriving at my hotel, I got "good and ready," turned on the flat-screen TV and began watching this week's new "Project Runway" episode to see:
A. What Challenge these kids would not understand;
B. If Gretchen would continue her critiquing; and
C. If maybe, just maybe, Mondo figured out how to take his tacky Vegas Resort Roller Disco Girl (from last week) to a higher level … I would soon find out.
The Queen of Effortless Chic
Still Shag-a-delic Heidi Klum greets the designers by telling them that they are to meet up with Tim, where they will be "stepping back in time." At a "Capsule Studio" in Manhattan, Tim Gunn with a wall of fabulous Jacqueline Kennedy photographs projected behind him tells the remaining designers that for their next Challenge, they will create a look that defines THEIR point of view on American Sportswear and use fashion icon Jackie O as their muse. For me, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis represents Timeless International Chic; part American Sportswear and part European Couture. For my NIKOLAKI line, I design mainly cocktail and evening gowns; so of course, I would know EXACTLY what to do if I were ever "challenged" to use the late first lady as my inspiration to do sportswear. Every designer should know. Let's see what these designers thought …
Who's Jackie O?
Immediately, Christopher was excited for this Challenge, since, according to him, Classic American Sportswear is what he does. To be honest, even at Episode 8, I really didn't know what Christopher's forte was, so I was happy he told me. My favorite of last week, Andy, was at first not too happy with the Challenge, because it contradicted his un-American and more Asian aesthetic, but then said he would create a more "risk-taking" Jackie Kennedy look. Uh-oh, I thought. With all that, I was just glad that these kids even KNEW who Jackie O was! I am always shocked when I reference an Icon like Jackie Kennedy in one of my classes and I am looked back at with blank stares!
Annie Oakley Skirts, and Gretchen's "Critique Corner" Is BACK!
Back in the workroom, the designers are busy homing in on what their take on American Sportswear is. Tim checks in. "The Other Michael" is doing a cartridge-pleated skirt that reminds Monsieur Gunn of "Annie Get Your Gun." (Bernadette Peters would be proud!) P.S: This is NOT the Challenge to be doing something that reminds Tim of that. He loves Mondo's exaggerated herringbone fabric and compliments Andy's draped pants. I have no idea why. To me, even at a quick glance, those baggy pants do not say American Sportswear or Jackie Kennedy. Not cute. And that crotch looks a mess. More on that soon … But for now, Miss Gretchen who's been quiet (on the Gretchen annoying scale) these last few challenges returns in full "Tim Gunn Jr." mode, giving her infamous "Gretchen Two Cents" whether she's asked or not. I said it once and I'll say it again: Why do these designers even ask her for advice??!!
It's Runway Day … No, It's Not!
The following day, the designers think it's Runway Day, but I-Want-a-Mint-Julep Seersucker-Suited Tim Gunn walks in to tell them of a twist: They are to create an additional outerwear piece that should coordinate nicely with the rest of their already-made look.
After more Mood shopping and some time to create, Seersucker Tim is back to review. He revisits Michael Drummond, and that not-so-modern skirt hasn't changed. Michael C. has made like EIGHTEEN dresses and jackets and basically just wants "Daddy Tim" to tell him which one he likes the best. Tim advises Mondo to give his dolman-sleeve jacket some shape, and finally (thank God!), he notices that nasty crotch on Andy's pants and reminds him that "Jackie Kennedy would NOT have cameltoe!" Attagirl!
A Fun, Whimsical 2010 Jackie Kennedy
Finally, IT IS Runway Day, and actress and newly minted Fashionista and Red-Carpet Girl du Jour January Jones is on hand for the judging. January loves Christopher's one-shoulder dress, minus his "dirty dishrag" of a shrug. Ivy does an elegant pant ensemble that is very polished and screams "Jackie O shopping for expensive art." But the best was Mondo's: It was whimsical, sleek and sharp. He perfectly matched American Sportswear, Jackie Kennedy and his definite "kooky" Mondo point of view. He wins, and it is well deserved. It is the antithesis of his "Roller Disco Vegas" girl.
Drummond Triple Threat: An Old Lady, a Cheerleader AND a Figure Skater
The "Would-Jackie-Kennedy-Really-Wear-That" bottom 3 designers were Valerie, Michael Drummond and "Cameltoe" Andy. The judges were uninspired by Valerie's jacket-over-a-jacket boring ensemble, and they really did not like Michael Drummond's as well. It wasn't "American Sportswear"; it was "Poor and Sad Sportswear." One-liner Master Michael Kors said it was "an old lady on top and a cheerleader, figure skater on the bottom." He really should have listened to Tim Gunn and thrown that skirt under the table and started anew or borrowed one of Michael C.'s 55 dresses and coats he made!
Bad Crotch vs. Bad Skirt
However, the worst outfit for me was Andy's Cameltoe Pants ensemble. Nina Garcia was correct when she deemed it a "train wreck." Amen. How on earth did he think that outfit said "American Sportswear" or Jackie Kennedy? He should have done an elegant version of his "Asian-inspired" aesthetic. Maybe a modern obi wrap over a fitted blouson jacket and matching pencil skirt. Come on, Andy! Somehow he still made it through and inexplicably was still really pleased with his Nasty Crotch, poorly draped and poorly styled ensemble for Jackie FUGLY. So, it was poor Michael Drummond and his Annie Oakley skirt that was sent back to the farm. It was your time to go.