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The Project Runway Blog

Keep Your Money Close and Your Fashion Books Closer

By CaitlinBergmann Fri., Sep. 30, 2011 ,11:01 am EDT

Bert Keeter's '70s inspired skimp dress As I was born in the early 1980s, my sensibility for what makes or breaks a great 1970s outfit is not the best, but I can tell you when a heinous garment walks down a runway, so I can still write this post with some qualifications. When this challenge was first issued to the designers, I wanted to throw down the yellow flag. Did you not see last week's episode, people?! This is not the reference or decade ... again! But, given this was back to designing for women, I figured we could all give them the benefit of the doubt. For now.

The words "SOPHISTICATED" and "MODERN" were reassuring to me, and I was instilled with hope that Pocahontas would be gone. For now.

CUE THE DISCO MUZAK, and we're off to Mood!

In a true "Project Runway" first, Anya not only loses her entire shopping budget, she's also forced to either beg her fellow designers for the nickels and dimes left in their pockets or create a look with the wonders of muslin. I don't know what's worse, really.

However, this is an interesting time if you're into personalities and what really makes a person tick on this show. This is the time when we see whose mantra is "But this is a competition!" versus "We don't want you to go out like this" when someone's down on their luck.

Little did you know, but Anthony Ryan actually left behind buttons and other notions with Anya in mind before he hit the register so that she would have some money to buy something with his balance. Let's hear it for Southern gentlemen! Some (I'm passive-aggressively referring to you, Viktor!) were not so thoughtful.

Bert was like a whole new man in this episode. The guy we met at the beginning of the season wouldn't even hang out with the Studio 54, velvet-rope guy from Episode 10. He was also a wealth of information for his fellow designers to use both for the history of the time period and for unbelievable disco stories from back in the day. (Did anyone else catch that "balcony third row" comment? Bert! You saucy minx!)

Speaking of which, the other interesting part of this challenge is what I like to call the History Channel Showdown. Bert, without question, knows the aesthetic of the '70s. Carry on. Laura asserts herself as being very familiar with the time period because she's "wearing vintage clothing right now" (clearly), and claims that Kimberly is off the mark on the reference and is designing "JC Penney's" pants. (Incidentally, JC Penney's was established in 1902, so it's totally possible.) Meanwhile, Josh claims that since he was born in the '80s, he couldn't possibly be familiar with the decade, which offends, curiously, Viktor.

Viktor, if you recall, was the one who got schooled on references by (then mean) Bert during the stilt walker challenge. Yes, the same man who was confusing Elizabethan with Victorian and and nearly caused Bert's head to explode in a fit of fashion history rage. Did he do some Wiki cram-studying since Episode 3? Check that browser history!

Although it didn't make it into the episode in full (that's what we're here for!), Joshua actually goes on to nearly break down on the specific reasons as to why he was robbed of the experience of knowing fashion references. (Watch this exclusive video blog to see the whole slightly awkward scene unfold. Yow.)

Laura Kathleen's '70s inspired dressHistory duels aside, when it came to the second look, you can see who it served well (Laura Kathleen, Bert, Anya) and who it did a disservice to (Anthony Ryan, Joshua). Laura Kathleen's first look had such clashing patterns on the top and bottom, they almost looked like a marriage of two completely different looks sewn together and hidden with a belt. Her second look may not have photographed well, as Nina pointed out, but was much more refined.

Bert's second look (the skimp) grew on me throughout the judging. It really has an effortless ease and simplicity that a lot of women would love. Although his first look was kind of bananas, it was fun and seriously inspired by the time. Perhaps a bit too vintage-looking, but it had a certain joy in it that was missing from the previous week overall. Anya's wheelhouse certainly seems to be creating resort wear with a relaxed vibe. Both winning looks could be in the same woman's suitcase.

If we've learned anything in this episode, it's never to stuff your money envelope in your bra. I don't care how much underwire you're rocking, your money for your reality-competition TV show will fall out. We also learned that you can make fashion with $11 and that even though the nice guy went home, he's still a class act.