Crafty Manolo » And Then There Were Five

And Then There Were Five

By Twistie

Last week on Project Runway: Heidi product placements her children’s line of clothing, demonic baby dolls from the depths of perdition, Christopher and Sonjia win for making adorable itty bitty gender reinforcing outfits while Elena is sent to the Eastern Front… I mean home for making a baby rummage sale all in one outfit.

What will happen this week? Tune in below to find out.

Morning at Atlas. The guys pat one another and themselves on the back for being in the final challenge. Melissa decides that since they’ve each won one challenge like she has, Dmitry and Fabio are her competition. The ‘Sonjia and Chris are obviously going because you both won so many challenges’ is silent. So is Sonjia as she spreads jam on her toast.

Designers head out into the morning.

Runway. Heidi in a truly bizarre little dress that defies description but has ancient Roman and modern streetlamp holder upper influences, marvels at how much chaff has gone away and what sort of wheat is left. This final challenge, she tells them, will determine who goes to Fashion Week and who will angle for a spot in the All Stars two seasons from now. She sends the designers to meet Tim and ‘a special guest’ somewhere ‘far, far away.’ If they’re designing new costumes for characters in Shrek the Musical, I’m going to cry.

As it turns out, far, far away translates out to Oheka Castle in Long Island. The place is pretty spectacular. If it were still a private residence and I ever won a really gigantic lottery jackpot, yeah, this is what I would buy… and move it brick by brick and plant by plant to California because I don’t live where it snows. Ever.

The special guest, it turns out is Billy B., consulting make up artist from L’Oreal Paris. Yes, it’s the ‘L’Oreal makes make up, too, you know’ product placement challenge. L’oreal has come out with a new limited line of coordinated make up products (eyeshadow, lipstick, lip gloss, blush, nail polish, and nail decals) called Electric Fantasie. Each set is based on a ‘leading lady.’ There’s the Enchanted Queen, which features a lot of black and berry reds, the Seductive Temptress, which leans toward green and gold, the Wise Mystic who is all about violet and blue, and the Artsy Muse whose palette has a lot of coral and teal.

The designers will each have to use one of these make up sets in combination with the idyllic surroundings of Oheka Castle to inspire them in making an avant-garde look.

Tim holds in his hand the Velvet Bag of Doom. As he calls each designer’s name, he will pick a button from the bag to determine which Leading Lady they are designing for.

Fabio is paired with the Enchanted Queen. Sonjia gets the Seductive Temptress. Dmitry snags the Wise Mystic who just happens to wear the colors he most loves to work in. Melissa gets the Artsy Muse.

Oops! Out of Leading Ladies! What will Christopher do? Well, as it turns out, the lucky little creature gets to pick which palette he prefers to work with. He grabs for the Enchanted Queen, because, he says, you know he’s going to choose black! Funny, I actually didn’t know that about him.

They have forty-five minutes to sketch, then they will head to MOOD where their budget is $400 and they will have two days to work. It’s generous by Project Runway standards, but it’s still a low budget and an insanely short timeframe for what they’re being asked to do. Then again, Project Runway is all about what you can do with nothing in no time under insane conditions.

As the designers sketch, they each approach things in their own way. Dmitry is painting on his paper with the actual makeup and putting nail decals in the windows of his sketch of the castle. He wants to make a structured suit for his Wise Mystic. Funny, I rarely think of architectural structure with mysticism, but Dmitry doesn’t do flowy, does he? Melissa is bummed that she didn’t get the Enchanted Queen because she adores black. Still, she’s exploring the possibilities of the coral and teal. Sonjia thinks the seductress will be… sexy and seductive. That’s a good start, anyway. Christopher wants to pad the hips of his model for that ‘evil hourglass’ shape. I wasn’t aware that hourglasses in and of themselves were evil. Shows what I know. Fabio wants an Enchanted Queen who is strong on the outside, but ‘frail’ on the inside. He is planning a strong, dramatic coat over a sheer dress. I’m not feeling the sketch, but I’m willing to wait and see where he takes me.

MOOD. Designers panic, Swatch is freaking adorable, Fabio likes feathers but Christopher is using them so he rejects them and moves on to other ideas. Sonjia likes a heavy green moire satin, a black sheer fabric with slugs of green and gold across it, and a gold fabric. She gets some of each and figures she’ll decide what she’s making later. Melissa is still unhappy she didn’t get the Enchanted Queen. Tim calls time and everyone heads back to Parsons.

In the workroom, Tim reminds everyone to be ambitious and think bold. He’ll be back later to see how they’re all doing. As soon as he’s gone, Sonjia makes a horrifying discovery: she left the gold lame behind at MOOD. Hoo boy! It was five yards of material.

She decides to play with her other fabrics and see where they take her.

With five hours left in the day, Tim fabulously arrives in the workroom to give his consultation.

Melissa is already losing track of time. She hopes her high round blue collar and use of coral red with a white on black print will be avant-garde enough. I worry that it might need more.

Christopher explains his hip padding to Tim who looks thoughtful yet slightly dubious. Fabio interviews that he loves what Christopher is doing.

Tim is dubious out loud to Dmitry. Dmitry thinks the shape of his sleeve is the great avant-garde element of his suit. Tim thinks it needs more.

Fabio shows Tim his heavy, long dull berry red coat and heavily pleated sheer black dress. He intends the skirt of the dress to wind up as palazzo pants… with boy shorts underneath, since the pants will be very sheer. And we get a tutorial in the Tim Gunn Stages of Silence. There’s the hand on the chin, followed by the crossed arms, the squinting head tilt… and you know when he breaks the silence after all of that silence that nothing happy is coming out of his mouth. Fabio is right. Not only does Tim find the coat costumy and reminiscent of the past, he also finds the entire outfit sad looking. As in looking at it makes him sad. He considers it ‘dreary’ and ‘flat.’ And with that note of encouragement, he’s on his way.

Tim is concerned that Sonjia is standing around staring at two different draped options on her two mannequins. She tells him she’s not really stuck, but she can’t decide what to do. Well, as long as she’s not stuck. Tim tells her he knows she’s won three challenges, but he thinks she’s still not living up to her potential as a designer. He thinks there’s a lot more in her ‘and you’ve gotta get it out.’ Sonjia sighs and says he’s right. He gives her an awkward little pat on the shoulder and a warm smile.

As Tim leaves the room, Christopher pretends to slash his own throat with a ruler and Melissa mimes hanging herself. I could see myself hanging out with such morbid people, you know.

Designers work, designers panic, but eventually the day ends and they have to leave their work as it is for the time being.

Morning at Atlas. All the designers look and sound deflated. I don’t blame them. They’ve been in a constant uproar for weeks without a real break, with minimal contact with their families and friends, constantly asked to do the impossible in the blink of an eye with next to nothing all while being filmed at all times except when they’re showering or using the toilet. It’s got to take a huge psychological toll. For all I make light of it most of the time, it’s not a situation for the weak.

Aaannd they’re off and running again.

Sonjia has finally found a direction this morning. We’ll see if it’s a good enough one to get her to Fashion Week.

Fabio has figured out an answer to his coat dilemma. When he was in college, he says he used to wear his button down shirts upside down as pants. You know, like skantz. He’s decided to turn his coat upside down and see what happens. He knows that this is something people will either love or hate, but he knows they’ll look, and isn’t that the point of avant-garde? In the end, the coat is reversible… as in you can wear it with either end up rather than as in you can turn it inside out and wear it that way, too. Now it looks a lot less old fashioned, and far more intriguing.

Tim fabulously enters the room bringing Billy B. with him to begin the make up consultations. Most of the consultations boil down to Billy B. telling us how pretty the colors are and asking which nail stickers the designers want to use. Yeah, that was instructive.

With three hours to go, Tim does another set of rounds, starting with Fabio.

Tim takes one look and says that Fabio has clearly had an epiphany. “How did you take that heavy, flat coat and turn it into something that’s buoyant and sculptural?” Fabio explains the upside down move and the reversibility. Tim is ‘crazy’ about it. I, too, love where he’s gone with the coat, but I’m unconvinced by what’s underneath it.

Melissa goes down the list of what she has left to do. Tim is concerned that she’s going to run out of time. She assures him she has a list. Tim looks dubiously at her mannequin which is currently wearing… a long skirt in the white squiggly lines on black fabric. He leaves her to work on her list.

Sonjia has not much more than Melissa on her mannequin, but it’s all on the top. It’s all green moire satin and nude illusion. I find the effect so far heavy, a bit tortured, and not terribly ambitious. Tim warns her to make sure it doesn’t look like a student project when she’s done. I’m seeing that danger lurking close at hand.

Christopher’s black gown with the padded hips, heavily beaded overlay, and high feather collar makes Tim think of the eighteen nineties. Since the sleeves are not leg of mutton and the main emphasis is hips, I’m going to have to go a decade earlier. Still, point well taken. Tim asks wherein lies the avant-gardeness. Christopher says that since no woman wants to pad her hips, that’s the avant-garde touch. Tim asks if making something nobody wants to wear is avant-garde or just a mistake. Christopher is sure it’s avant-garde. Really. Tim does say it’s beautifully made. Ouch.

Again, Tim is impressed with Dmitry’s construction. He calls the suit ‘exquisitely made.’ And again he is befuddled about what makes it avant-garde. Dmitry says it’s like nothing he’s ever made before. Tim says that’s nice, but have the judges seen it before? Then he goes on to deliver the death blow that if this were a ready to wear challenge, he’d be thrilled with what Dmitry has done. This is not what Dmitry was hoping to hear… but I think it might be what he needs to hear.

With two hours to go, the models arrive for a fitting. Dmitry thinks maybe Tim was right. Fabio is thrilled that everything he has made fits Hannah just right. I wasn’t feeling the palazzo pants before, but now I’m almost in pain looking at them. Sonjia does have a skirt on her model now, but the top is still held together entirely with pins. Also, the nude illusion is about three shades lighter than the model’s skin, which takes it out of nude and makes it a color. Melissa is putting together her top part and I’m intrigued. There seem to be multiple layers including the coral, the teal, and the black. I’m looking forward to seeing how this one goes together.

And day two is officially over.

Morning at Atlas. Melissa asks Sonjia if she needs a cup of coffee. Sonjia says ‘sure.’ I think at this point I would be snapping “Do I need to breathe, dimwit?” Sonjia is clearly a better and more mellow… and possibly less caffeine-dependent person than I.

And we’re off to Parsons.

As the designers scurry around doing last minute handwork and pressing things madly, Tim arrives fabulously to remind them that this final challenge determines who is and is not going to Fashion Week. Like they needed reminding of that. How crappy would it be to get to this point only to be eliminated on this challenge? Heidi has already said one or more will be out. And I have to say, I think all five designers are pretty well matched in terms of talent and drive at this point. It’s going to come down to a matter of taste, and that’s probably the single most frustrating reason to be auffed.

On the upside, they get an unidentified extra amount of time in hair and make up since it’s a L’Oreal challenge. Don’t ask me to come up with the right word. My coffee isn’t brewed yet.

Models arrive. Fabio puts a really odd crown in an X shape of black beads on Hannah’s head. I’m not feeling it. Last minute fittings happen, hair and make up happens, there are lots of close ups of the make up which all features the name Project Runway prominently on the cases. Yes, we’re product placing the product placement and it’s all getting entirely too self-referential. With fifteen minutes to go, Melissa has at least two hours of hand stitching left to do. I hope she can make it.

Tim fabulously calls time. As per usual, Melissa is the last one out the door.

Runway. Heidi arrives and taunts the designers with the fact that at least one – and quite possibly two – of them will be out on their heinies after this runway show. She introduces the judges. The guest judge this week is the gorgeous and talented Zoe Saldana. In an interesting side note, Fabio is now wearing his own jewel crown. It looks better on him than it did on Hannah.

Let the bloodbath begin.

Unlike the order leaving the workroom, Melissa starts this week’s show. Her design features a long skirt in white squiggly lines on a black background. It flows nicely, and has a diagonal slit on the left to just over the knee. The skirt is lined in bright coral which looks really exciting popping out like that. On top, there are three layers. The first is a coral shell next to the skin. You can only see tiny flashes of it. Over that is a black leather top that has a diagonal vee neckline to expose that tiny flash of coral. Over that is a cropped leather vest with a huge standup collar in a shade of teal very like the nail polish. The look is finished with a pair of black leather gauntlets. It’s very Melissa. It’s spare but layered, with a hard rocking edge that’s still got a real grace to it. I love the bold colors used as flashes on black. I think the entire look altogether is avant-garde, but I could see ordinary women lining up around the block to get individual pieces, too. That’s one of the things I love about Melissa: even her edgiest pieces feel believable to me. For the record, I crave that vest.

Next up is Fabio who is more of a mixed bag to me in this design. I love the berry suede coat that can be worn either way. At the start of the catwalk, it’s being worn with the rounder end up and the more angular side down. Unfortunately, what it’s being worn over is just ugly and tortured. It’s sheer black ribbons of fabric sewn into other bands of black over a berry colored jewel neck shell and boy shorts in jersey. It’s shapeless, drab, and ugly. I get where he was trying to go. I even think that with more time and a little more Timly encouragement he might have found a way to make his vision work. But this… just no. Still, the coat is an actual work of genius. As Hannah walks the runway, she takes the coat off and reverses it. I think I like it even better with the more angular end up.

Dmitry is happy with how structured his violet suit looks. It’s definitely structured, and it’s got some really cool details. I’m not sure at first how avant-garde it is, but it’s certainly pretty. The jacket features a lowish vee neckline with angular scallops edged in bright navy piping. This is echoed in the hem of the very slightly cropped jacket in front. There are some gorgeous and subtle shaped seams going up to the shoulders which feature somewhat exaggerated shoulder pads… like the ones that were popular in the eighties, but not hugely overdone. The long sleeves still feature the triangular cut at the elbows that he started out with. There’s a separate high standing classic shirt collar in the violet lined with navy and some black beading. It does frame his model’s face nicely. In back, the vee neckline dips dangerously low. That’s when you see that the jacket is an illusion and this is a dress. That’s a clever touch for the Mystic. The skirt hangs just shy of the knees in front. It dips to just the bottoms of the knees in back… except that the back divides into almost a tailcoat effect, just below the crotch line. I wish that had happened about an inch lower than it did, because vulgar is a term I never have to use with Dmitry and it hurts to start now. There are sheer panels on the hips and some black netting at the hem in front. All in all, it’s a very Dmitry piece: beautifully constructed, elegantly conceived, and more conservative in appearance than it actually is.

I don’t think Sonjia’s piece looks like a student project at this point. I think it looks more like a woman being engulfed by table linens at a wedding. The skirt is a beautifully constructed long trumpet. It fits impeccably. It moves better than I thought the fabric would. Alas! On top it’s all napkins thrown at the model to cover her nakedness in a truly haphazard way. Her left breast covering emerges from the waistband of the skirt and more or less clings to her breast in a lumpy way with one tiny sad flap at the top hanging down. The one on the right breast covers her shoulder and fans around her throat, then flows loosely down and has another awkward flap of unanchored fabric flapping upwards. The illusion netting is the wrong shade of nude for the model, as I mentioned before, and is all there is to see from the jewel neckline to the hipline where the skirt begins in back. She was going for floating panels,I get that. Unfortunately, the fabric is far too heavy to float that way, and the construction of the top leaves that poor girl looking like she doesn’t have breasts at all. I don’t get ‘seductress’ so much as ‘cover my shame in napkins.’ Literally the only thing I like about it is the color. Okay, and that skirt is brilliantly constructed.

You cannot say that Christopher doesn’t try. His Enchanted Queen is all in black, and there are so many elements the model is slightly drowned in them all. There’s the matte black strapless gown with the padded hips. Over that, there’s a sheer black overlay with heavy black beading through the bodice down to the knees, where it becomes trailing black tulle all by itself that turns into a sweep train. There’s the stand up collar that extends to the shoulders composed entirely of black feathers. Oh, and there are long, black feather gauntlets. It’s a complete costume, and with all the padding at the hips, he’s completely forgotten about her breasts. They’re even more lost than the ones on Sonjia’s poor model. On the upside, it’s exquisitely made. And I do think with some editing and more work, this could turn into something quite spectacular. It’s just it’s got a long way to go before it gets as spectacular as it could be. When the model turns around, we get a moment of that spectacular in the construction of the back.  The upper back is mostly bare with an elegant dip of the feather collar. The actual dress has a deep u back and is slightly sheer. The bejeweled bit falls in an even deeper vee that would create a not-so-fabulous plumber’s crack situation, if it were not for the corset closure to the sheer bit. It’s one of those moments when you can really see how good Christopher can be. Yes, there’s still a hell of a lot going on, but it’s all going in a good direction back there.

We’re talking to everyone this time, of course, with that few left to go. Sadly the judges don’t seem able to agree on a single design for good or for ill. Heidi loves Sonjia’s dress… but she’s the only one who sees anything of worth in it. The rest of the judges adore Fabio’s coat, but Heidi thinks it’s hideous and sad. At least everyone can agree that what’s underneath that coat is a complete train wreck. The judges do seem to agree that Christopher had an idea that got weighted down in too many details and too much costume. Heidi and Zoe both adore the back as much as I do. Heidi and Zoe both adore Dmitry’s ‘suit.’ Zoe loves the sleeves and Heidi is seeing cool angles she hasn’t seen before. Michael Kors isn’t wild about the shoulder pads or the extra collar. Suddenly everyone hates the collar. Zoe goes so far as to say it ‘cheapens’ the look. I don’t know about any of them, but I actually really like it. I think the upper regions would look just a tidge unfinished without something there. Michael Kors and Nina both love Melissa’s outfit, though Nina would shorten the skirt. Heidi, however, can’t decide whether she hates this one or Fabio’s more. Zoe considers the look to be Art.

This is weird. An entire runway critique, and I didn’t agree with Heidi in any of the controversies. That just doesn’t happen.

The models are released from the runway so the judges can talk to the designers. This is that awkward moment of the season when the judges ask ‘why should you go to Fashion Week, and who should go with you.’ The reason why in every case is ‘because I want it so badly’ so that’s not going to get you far. But the question of who should go with you can cause major resentment, so that’s always a good one to ask.

Melissa wants Sonjia and Fabio with her at Fashion Week. Fabio thinks it would be nice to show with Melissa and Christopher. Dmitry wants an all boy show with Fabio and Christopher. Christopher is also a member of the boys only club and wants Dmitry and Fabio to show with him. Sonjia would like to take Melissa and Dmitry with her.

The designers are sent back to the green room.

Heidi says since they can’t agree on today’s runway show, they should base their decision about who goes on and who goes home on their overall performance in the competition and the judges’ sense of each designer’s potential. There’s a lot of backing and forthing, but I do begin to see some clear ideas of who might be going home.

The designers are brought back to the runway to face the firing squad… er… judges.

Christopher is… going to Fashion Week! He gushes his thanks to the judges with outstretched arms like he’s trying to hug them from twelve feet away. It’s a futile, but kind of awesome gesture.

Dmitry is… going to Fashion Week! Oh, and he’s the winner of this challenge, too, by the by. He thanks the judges with dignity. As he leaves the runway, he gives a little caress on the forearm to both Fabio and Melissa. I like that.

Melissa is… going to Fashion Week! She giddily thanks the judges and heads backstage.

And now it is down to Fabio and Sonjia. I hate to see either go. I would be miserable to see them both gone now. Ultimately, I would rather see both go to Fashion Week, but I know that isn’t in the cards. Someone will go home. I really hope it’s only one of them.

Fabio is… going to Fashion Week!

And that means…

Sonjia is out. The blow that took her out wasn’t even her napkin avant-garde look. What made the final difference between her and Fabio is that the judges understand Fabio’s style. They can recognize it when they see it. They still -after all these challenges and all her wins – don’t immediately recognize a Sonjia original when it starts down the runway.

And really, I have to agree with the judges here. I love Sonjia. I think she’s got all kinds of talent. But I don’t think she’s truly found her voice. I think Tim is right and she’s got so much more inside her that she hasn’t figured out how to express yet.

When she finds her voice, world watch out! Because this lady has all kinds of skills and plenty of drive. I really hope somebody who’s been watching this season carefully gives her a chance and a bit of mentoring to help her reach her full potential.

All the same, this is a real blow. Sonjia puts a good face on it and assures the others that she’s very proud of herself and all she’s done in New York. And well she should be. All the others hug Sonjia and are miserable she won’t be showing with them at Fashion Week.

Tim fabulously arrives and tells Sonjia she has to go clean out her space. As they hug, she calls him ‘Uncle Tim’ and he tells her “You’re a doll.” He’s sure the world hasn’t heard the last of Sonjia. I tend to agree.

Next week: Heidi drops the bomb that nobody is guaranteed a spot in the final show yet, Tim visits designers and hates on what they’re doing, Dmitry has fit issues, Melissa is frazzled, Michael Kors calls someone’s work ‘crazy ugly’ and everyone looks generally miserable.

Join me next week for all the fun and games!

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