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Baby, Baby, Baby, Oh!
Babies! They are the best, but also the worst. They're cute, but they can't hold a conversation; they wobble around adorably, but also spill stuff on themselves. But one thing's for sure: when you're watching them from the other side of a TV screen, they make for great entertainment.
The designers were herded into Babies"R"Us this week, where Heidi and Tim introduced the challenge: create a look for Heidi's new kidswear line, Truly Scrumptious. Christopher, Elena and Melissa designed for the girls while Fabio, Dmitry, and Sonjia created looks for the boys.
I am admittedly not much of a kid person, but seeing all those wide-eyed babies in their strollers melted my cold heart. Tiny feet! Chubby cheeks! Even the designers who seemed apprehensive at the initial challenge, like Elena and Dmitry, warmed up quickly to their teensy adorable clients.
Dmitry noted that "Heidi has like 105 kids." Sounds legit! (She has four.) But it highlighted an interesting point: Heidi designed a line for children based on her own real-life experiences raising and dressing her brood. The remaining "Runway" designers don't have a single child between them. We all know how Heidi loves to throw wrenches in the designers' plans, so it was no surprise that she decided to send a bunch of fake babies to the workroom to help bridge the designers' knowledge gap.
This sounded fine in theory, but immediately backfired when the fake kids wouldn't. Stop. Crying. The looks of total panic and exhasperation on the designers' faces were probably my favorite part of the episode. There are few things funnier than watching a group of already tired people hilariously grapple with sudden faux parenthood. Dmitry swinging his baby around nonchalantly; Fabio coo-ing like his was a real boy; Elena rolling her eyes and naming her kid "a**hole"; the whole group carting the kids off to Mood in slings...it was all great.
And Christopher gets my pick for best oneliner of the season so far: "Now I know why Judy went off the deep end with Liza." A+ work, Christopher.
Tim Gunn swooped in to babysit on Day 2, leaving the designers with a quiet workroom to finish their looks for the babies and the moms. Further proof (as if we needed it!) that Tim is a saint. I hope he and the babies enjoyed the imaginary afternoon play date I envisioned for them.
The runway show came off well for everyone involved, I think. The cute factor of the baby models certainly helped, but all the looks were solid, and I really enjoyed Hilary Duff's contributions to the judging panel (Though half the time I was yelling at the TV in denial, "Lizzie McGuire doesn't have kids!"). Even the last-minute twist of having the designers create a look for the toddlers' moms didn't trip anyone up. And I don't think I can recall Nina and Michael looking as relaxed and happy as they did watching the kids storm the runway. Babies are magical that way.
This was one of the first weeks that I actually agreed with the outcome! Sonjia's casual suit (Worn by the RIDICULOUSLY adorable and smiley Jude) deservedly won the day on the boys' side, and Christopher's understated occasion dress was easily the best girls' look.
On the not-so-great end, Melissa's flawed sheath dress was saved, barely, by an adorable vest. Elena's multi-colored look was inoffensive I would totally dress my hypothetical future daughter in something like that for a romp around the park but definitely the weakest of the lot, and way too busy to fit in with the rest of Heidi's line. I thought her elimination was fair.
But I also have to give Elena major props for really pushing herself out of her comfort zone over the course of the season. I don't think the Elena of the Times Square runway show could have - or would have - designed the look we saw last night, and that willingness to evolve is one of those marks of a good designer that we don't usually get the chance to celebrate on "Runway."