The Project Runway Blog
Category: "episode 2"
Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon co-owns a New York-based table tennis club called SPiN. It sounds like the start of a weird joke, but it's totally true. Fresh off their first elimination in a team-based season, the "Project Runway" designers get to spend a few hours working in the bar/ping-pong lounge/restaurant before they're tasked with their next big challenge. The goal: create cohesive, fashionable, upbeat new uniforms for SPiN's coed serving staff and ball boys. The designers have taken relatively quickly to the concept of working in teams, and they get started right away on divvying up responsibility and figuring out their collective visions for the uniforms.
I liked this episode a lot, and not just because it could easily be turned into a drinking game. Take a shot every time someone says "balls"! Take a shot every time Patricia says "leggins"! Take a shot every time Matthew talks about his personal creativity! Boom, you're drunk.
One good thing about the team setup is that it makes trips to Mood far more interesting. There's a lot of collaboration during the fabric-finding process, notably between Cindy and Benjamin, who are paired together to create a look despite the fact that they don't get along and have wildly different aesthetics. James, worried about the negative impact his team's advice had on his look last week, makes every effort to close himself off from the group by taking on the creation of a full look himself. (Foreshadowing! Ahem.) And in the workroom, Layana and Daniel work adorably together while Benjamin and Cindy continue to clash. Matthew and Patricia separately try to figure out how to best incorporate their specific aesthetics into basic (but necessary) pieces for their teams.
The runway show is judged by Heidi, Nina, Zac Posen (who definitely steps up his game this weeKgo Zac!), and the incredible Ms. Sarandon herself.
Team Keeping It Real - Top Three
Daniel/Layana - The utility of the skort is really smart, and in a nice athletic touch, the black-and-white combo and the cut of the vest echos a referee's uniform. Casual, theme-appropriate, sexy but not over-the-top. An easy win. One caveat: The asymmtery on the back strap is great, but the same effect on the lapel is too floral-looking for my taste.
Stanley - Making a drop-crotch pant look good isn't easy for the designer or the wearer, but in this case it came off extremely well. The easy, clean cut of the top (good fabric choice!) complemented the pants nicely.
Joseph/Richard - I didn't love this look. The harness for the ball-catching contraption was super smart and the judges were good to acknowledge it, but the typographic treatment on the pockets and chest made my eyes bleed (I blame that terrible boxy font). On a separate note, I really liked watching Joe and Richard work together and I hope they do so more in the future. Something about their laid-back personalities and good humor made me smile.
Dream Team - Bottom Three (Again! Womp womp)
James - The vaguely alarmed look on Nina's face as James exposited about this look said it all. This isn't a bad look, per se, but not for a food service employee (no sleeves = no go) and not for an indoor club-type atmosphere.
Benjamin/Cindy - Again, not a terrible look overall, but absolutely not appropriate for the setting. The puff sleeves and short-cropped torso on the jacket looked very "lady ringmaster at the circus" to me.
Benjamin/Matthew - I understand why this look doesn't work visually (and why it wouldn't work for SPiN's purposes) and yeah, that screen printed crotch overlay was tasteless, but Matthew gets many many bonus points in my book for going with his gut and making a kilt instead of standard jeans. Had the other parts of the look been stronger I think the judges would have responded to this a lot more favorably, if not for the ball boy than perhaps for a server or host.
Dream Team carried a lot of negatives this week, but Cindy's lame jacket, Benjamin's below-average contributions and Matthew's borderline-annoying kilt were no match for the utter blandness of James' look. He seems like a chill, talented guy, but a little too chill and not quite talented enough to move forward in the competition.
Next week: More shenanigans! And a Heidi-focused challenge, which is always fun. Until then, holler back in the comments about your thoughts on the episode. What's the most important quality for a restaurant/bar uniform to have? Which team presented the best collection of looks? If you were Susan Sarandon, which look would you have chosen for your employees? How quickly do you think the animosity between Cindy and Benjamin will devolve into a knock-down drag-out fight?
Also, are you any good at ping-pong? Because I am terrible.
Let's just get this out of the way the white elephant in the room, if you will. TIM. GUNN. CURSED. THIS. EPISODE. I never knew I would hear such language out of the man who defies the epitome class. Tim said, wait for it, "So this is a glue the s&*! out of it moment." Let's take a moment, let it all set in ... I know. But let's be honest, even when Tim Gunn says s&*! it sounds classy.
And boy, did the designers have to glue the s&*! out of this week's designs. Sigh ... the unconventional challenge: what the designers dread the most and what fans anticipate the most, including yours truly. I'm not a designer by any means (I struggled making pilgrim vests out of brown paper bags for Thanksgiving when I was a kid), so I can't really put myself inside their heads when they're told to create an outfit made of candy. But come on you got to raid Dylan's Candy Bar! Suck it up! It's not like they had to get materials from a pet store like in Season 9. At least a candy store smells better.
(Sidebar: Dear Christopher, Hey I just met you and this is crazy. But let's go pick up chocolate boyfriends together. So call me, maybe?)
Besides Tim Gunn cursing like a sailor (Okay, okay, I know I'm being dramatic), my favorite moments of the episode were the ones when the designers decided to turn their brains off, leaving the audience thinking, "Did that really just happen?!" For example, when Kooan and Buffi's cotton candy disintegrated. Did you ever go to the circus as kids?! That stuff is gone in 2.5 seconds once it hits any kind of moisture. Duh. And poor, poor Elena. News flash: hot glue is hot. I think you're cool and all, but your shorts were totes inapprops.
To me, the final looks fell into two very clear categories: sweet and sour. Let's start with the sweet:
Ven - Flawless
Dmitry - I would literally wear that dress.
Melissa - I get it, you like black. But I do dig the two-piece look.
Sonjia - Love the color palette.
Fabio - The dress doesn't even look like it's made out of candy.
Raul - I enjoy a good cutout.
Christopher - The dress is similar to the style of your previous episode outfits, but it works. I get it. Please wow me in Episode 3.
Gunnar - The pattern was a little too checkerboard for me, but the craftmanship was impressive.
And now, the sour:
Andrea - Remember how when you eat dots, there's always that awful-tasting coating of paper on the back? I got that taste in my mouth when I saw your apron. However, I do appreciate the symmetry of your dots. (I'm a little OCD about that kind of stuff.)
Alicia - I have no opinion on this outfit. It just fell flat for me.
Buffi - CARRIE BRADSHAW WOULD NEVER WEAR THIS. The "Sex and the City" fan girl in me is sobbing.
Nathan - Your model had to literally hold her dress as she walked the runway. No bueno.
Elena - No more strong shoulders, please. And you had an entire candy store and you chose cream-colored licorice?! Willy Wonka is freaking out right now.
Kooan - Nothing surprised me about your design, it's just not my taste. (Is it anyones?!) I'm still obsessed with you, though.
Lantie - If the challenge was make a dress out of an umbrella, you would have won, hands down. But it wasn't. After last week, you really needed to be on your A game to secure a spot in Episode 3.
And then there were 14. I know I harped on this in my last blog, but you do not want to miss Episode 3 there is a cliffhanger that will leave you speechless!
Do you think Lantie deserved to go home?
It's true, Tim Gunn: I've never heard the words "Wee-Wee Pads" used as often as in last night's episode. Sponsorship opportunity next year, guys?! (I kid.)
This unconventional challenge was a fun one. Besides the aforementioned overuse of the words "wee" and pet puns, we got to peel back the layers a bit and see everyone's true spots. (I needed to get that last pun out of my system.)
In the pet store, some designers are considering purchasing perishable dog food, and I can only wonder why, considering the smell. But, more important, Josh M.'s first thoughts on the challenge are not that it involves pets, but that it perhaps involves S&M ("I like it, like it!"). Keep the leashes away from that guy!
As the contestants survey their final purchases, as I always say, they mirror some fine moments in "Runway" history:
• Anthony Ryan is playing the role of Chloe in the Season 2 plant challenge. He's taking 98 bird feeders' worth of seed and is going to glue on every stinking one of those things until every inch of muslin is covered. The collar he created was a nice touch to what could have just been a "construction paper covered in glue and sparkles" project, and gave it an immediate look of sophistication. As for the "too short" note from Nina, yeah, it probably could have used another two inches, but it was still impeccably made.
• Bert is playing the role of Daniel V. in the Season 2 makeover challenge: the person who has immunity and fails to rise to the occasion. Bert. Buddy. Pal. You just came off of an Episode 1 win and you approach the second challenge by phoning it in? It was clear that he didn't want to work with these types of materials, and was going to use whatever was the most fabric-like to get the job done. He would have been in some serious trouble without that immunity.
• Fallene is Gretchen in the Season 8 team challenge. She acts as if she's completely in love with her materials and her final end product, but throws herself under the bus when it comes to a bottom placement in judging. This woman has no fight! Stick up for yourself and DEFEND your garment!
• Bryce is every contestant in every season who ever made a dress that resembled a napkin. The top was kind of cute if you had one contact lens in one eye, but he made it through only because there was some joy there. It wasn't boring.
Zzz ... zzz ...
I just fell asleep thinking about Josh C.'s design. Although it looks like he and his model finally hugged out their "fit" issues, it really was kind of a snoozer. Sorry that I will not be seeing any more of the newly formed Josh-Squared bromance that was blossoming. Sigh.
• Josh M. provided the shot of fashion triple espresso I needed with that fantastic crop top and the wacky parrot mirror. It looks like Josh M. is the type of designer who has problems editing, and if he's not careful, he could have the potential to have really beautiful work fade into the background because jazz hands and bells and whistles are drowning it out on the runway.
• Laura Kathleen is Zulema/Ping in their respective challenges when they had WAY too much of their model's booty exposed, but at least she had the wherewithal to call a spade a spade (or a butt a butt) and create a new, more modest skirt before the judges saw it.
• Although my Magician Award went to Anya last week (and she seemed to pull it out of the hat again last night), this week it goes to Viktor. "Oh my Lord of the Rings!" is right! He took the beloved Wee-Wee Pad and transformed not only the color but the texture to create something completely unrecognizable. Nice job.
• Olivier is playing the role of ... well, himself. He may have the Malan accent, but he's certainly a unique character. (Also, I've known enough people from the state of Ohio to know that they do not sound like that. Even if they did a very long study-abroad program, they would not have returned saying things like, well, everything he says.) But we move on. Everything from his color palette to the textures he chose to play with gave his design a very luxe feel. The thin clear-plastic belt was a chic touch.
A well-deserved win, even if I do believe that Anthony Ryan's garment was better executed. Speaking of which, who else was waiting for Heidi to slap Michael or Nina in the face, exclaiming, "This one's for Mondo!" and Jessica Simpson to stage-dive into the mix for backup? ... OK, so I may have been alone there.
As for poor Josh C. leaving us this week, the only comfort is that when recapping these episodes every week, I will not have to indicate which Joshua I am referring to.
Here's to Josh M., a.k.a. the only Josh standing.