Project Runway Blog

Avant-Done Already

By Tracy_Goldenberg 09/02/2011 05:01AM GMT

Viktor with Harlem School of the Arts sttudent in the avant-garde challenge Based on the Harlem School of the Arts painting session pairings, I was totally taken back to Season 4's prom dress challenge. Would Viktor's student Skyy become akin to Christian Siriano's prom tweenmate? For his sanity's sake, I hope not!

While receiving Dalai Lama–esque life lessons and avoiding House of Deréon inspiration, the designers all did their best to wrap their heads around the definition of "avant-garde." So that we're all on the same page, here it is:

avant-garde |?avänt ?gärd; ?avä n |
noun (usu. the avant-garde) new and unusual or experimental ideas, esp. in the arts.

I watched this episode three times in the hopes that something "new" and "unusual" would slap me across the face that I didn't notice the first two times. And finally, during the third replay, it did: EVERYONE IS NICE TO EACH OTHER NOW!

What a relief! Perhaps now that everyone is humming "Kumbaya" in 11-part harmony, we'll see some truly inspired avant-garde fashion:

Olivier, as much as we want to protect him like a tiny kitten, needs to ROAR already. His winning pet-challenge look was far and away more avant-garde than this look. This one was too safe. And just because he had some chiffon available (presumably because Danielle is no longer hoarding it and calling it her "Precious" in a corner somewhere), does not an avant-garde look make.

Bert, although half-harlequin and half-whatever crazy geometric thing Katy Perry wore to the VMAs, got the "unusual" part right, but it was too unflattering a fit to be a legitimate contender. Litmus test: If you make a model look like she has a saggy butt and the world's shortest torso, you're in trouble for the rest of us.

Josh C. spent so much time toying around with that ghastly red faux fur and his throwback to the sassy X-rated version of "Bram Stoker's Dracula" that he just couldn't get past the fact that it wasn't good. Painting or no painting! What's sadder still is that he had one of the cooler paintings to work with. His tweenmate — who, incidentally, could have passed as his kid sister — should have let him know.

Laura Kathleen's hard-meets-soft rose concoction had potential, but the combination of the green boning and the yellow organza just bothered me. I couldn't see past it. And apparently, neither could the judges for as much as they liked it. (Watch it again and take note of the number of times they applaud her for hard and soft ... and not much else.)

Anya avant-garde challenge Joshua M. did a nice job of giving his skirt some texture with his paint application, but remove that belt in your mind and ponder how the top transitioned to the bottom. That wasn't using an accessory to accessorize; that was a foot of mystery in the middle. (Prove me wrong by removing the belt and I'll rescind my comment!)

Anya, for as much flak as she gets, really put together a great look this week. I'm surprised it didn't resonate with the judges more than just being safe. The shape she achieved in that skirt really set her apart from the rest of the pack. She, as always, seemed to be spot-on with the styling. Her model's hair? Genius.

Bryce's look had lot of potential too, but the fit was way off. Gaga would be all over that thing if it was done right. And she'd wear the sleeves tied behind her on the red carpet and have her minions speak for her using only index cards transcribed in German.

Anthony Ryan's look, I really loved it, but it was love I already had for his second challenge dress ... because that's what it was. Same neckline. Same silhouette, just longer and not covered in birdseed. Maybe it was a blessing that Nina wasn't there to remind Michael and Heidi of this?

If it sounds like I'm being harsh on the designers in this episode, I am. We're down to 11 designers. I want to see something spectacular. Spectacular Spectacular! I didn't expect them to, you know, throw Swatch the Mood mascot dog on someone's head as a hat and label it "avant-garde," but it certainly would have piqued my interest.