Last week on Project Runway: the Lord&Taylor challenge brought out the best in several designers, and the strange in others. Christopher won with a dress that three women in America have the figure and coloring simultaneously to pull off but that will look fabulous in a window, and… nobody is sent home. Not even Gunnar who designed a dress seventy-three million women in America already have in their closets and the rest have rejected as too ho-hum to wear.
What happened last night? Follow the bouncing cut line to find out.
Morning at Atlas. Designers wake up. Christopher throws a minor hissey fit about the fact that Gunnar is still in the game. He wants Nathan to still be in the game, so why couldn’t they have chosen that challenge to keep everyone? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the design Nathan went out on was a piece of crap actually designed by his client rather than him, while Gunnar made a dress that’s already in half the closets in the country, but did it extremely well? Oh, and Christopher? When Ven agrees with you about something, it’s probably time to rethink the matter. I’m just saying.
Runway: Heidi tells the designers they will need their negotiation skills for this challenge. Who’s a good negotiator? Let’s see… Christopher, Dmitri, Sonjia, Melissa, Fabio, Gunnar, and Ven all think they rock negotiating skills. Hilariously enough, Alicia and Elena are the only two who don’t. I think there are a couple people who put themselves in Group A who really belong in Group B.
Still, Heidi doesn’t question it and sends our little social experiment pool to meet Tim who will explain the challenge to them.
In the workroom, Tim Greets everyone with a huge excrement imbibing grin, tables filled to the gills with craft supplies, and the Velvet Bag of Doom. This bodes ill for all involved.
As usual, it’s amusing to see how people react to the curve balls. Melissa is thrilled to see glitter, glue, and poster paint everywhere. Elena, on the other hand, bursts into mock tears on Gunnar’s shoulder. Christopher, as he so often does, looks confused and rather deer-in-the-headlightish.
This is where Tim tells them they will not be given a budget for MOOD. Oh no, they will be doing a fund raising project. Yes, all the craft supplies on the tables are there for them to make things to sell in the streets of New York to get money to go to MOOD and shop for their looks. There are tee shirts and tote bags to embellish, yes, but they can sell anything they like, up to and including random fashion advice to strange New Yorkers. Yeah, I think I would probably stick to tee shirts, too.
Best of all, this is a team challenge. Yes, they will have to work together to create random crafts, and then work together to sell them, and then work together to create the items required by the challenge. Melissa interviews that she’s praying not to work with Elena again. Ven doesn’t want to work with anyone at all. Gunnar doesn’t want to work with Christopher because “… I don’t like Christopher, and secondly I can’t stand the sound of his voice.” But don’t hold back, tell us what you really think.
So, team one consists of Christopher, Sonjia, and (drum roll, please) Gunnar! Yeah, Christopher is about as happy to be working with Gunnar as Gunnar is to be working with Christopher. Sonjia’s mouth smiles, but her eyes are saying ‘no, no, a thousand times no!’ loud and clear.
Team two turns out to be Dmity, Elena, and Alicia. Dmitry and Elena are about as happy to be working together as Christopher and Gunnar are. Alicia looks less than thrilled to be working with either of them, let alone both.
And that means that team three is Melissa, Fabio, and Ven. Well, at least Melissa and Fabio seem to like one another’s company and have styles that should work pretty well together. Ven is clearly odd man out, here. We’ll see how this works, but I think if Ven can be channeled properly, it might turn out kind of good.
Three hours of crafting start right away. Team one and team three seem to be starting from a good place, no matter what drama may or may not ensue. Team one is doing stenciled shirts and line drawn self portrait shirts. The stencils are things like sewing shears, buttons, and cut outs of people. I want one of the shears and buttons ones. Christopher is still fretting over whether or not Gunnar is being sincere, but Gunnar seems to just be doing his thing and trying to get along. Sincere or no, the team is gelling nicely. Over at team three, Melissa is painting tote bags, Fabio is working on ombre painted tee shirts, and Ven is creating a cool cuff bracelet with gold coin trim dangling from it. They’re all in their own spaces, but they seem contented.
Of course, team two is composed of people who not only don’t get along, but kind of look down on crafty stuff. They’ve opted to randomly hurl paint at tee shirts. Yeah, but Jackson Pollock didn’t work in spray paint on poly cotton blend, so it’s not coming out quite like I think Elena was expecting… or maybe it is. It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Alicia has painted some dripping hearts on other shirts, which is… yeah, it needed a little more to be interesting. It just kind of looks messy and half-hearted. Dmitry hates everything they’ve done and wants to sew glittery fleur de lys to some of the shirts. In the back. At the neckline. I don’t get it, either. Sonjia describes team two’s offerings as ‘the most homeless looking tee shirts I’ve ever seen.’ I can neither argue with nor top that.
Tim comes fabulously into the room to call time and herd the designers out onto the streets to sell random stuff.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. Christopher is holding a sign explaining the need for money to sew on a TV show ‘no need for food.’ He, Gunnar, and Sonjia, though, do have the gift of gab and more drama than you can shake a fist at between them. Fabio is carrying a sign that reads ‘Save Fashion Please Donate.’ A guy comes up and asks him what giving people money will do to save fashion. Well, it is a conversation starter, at any rate. Elena bluntly tells a man they’re trying to sell ‘crappy tee shirts’ which doesn’t seem like much of a pitch to me. Then again, neither Dmitry nor Alicia seems to be saying anything at all… not that it’s easy to get a word in edgewise while Elena is in panic mode. People walk by in droves.
Fabio thinks it would be just as easy to sell umbrellas in the desert. Sonjia starts doing a little dance singing ‘we need money for fabric’ in a crosswalk.
Eventually, two women give team three a donation, mostly, I think so they’ll stop blocking their progress. Whatever works. Someone actually gives Elena twenty bucks for a particularly crappy tee shirt. I boggle. When someone tries to get one tee shirt from team one for five lousy bucks, Sonjia offers a song instead. Sure. She extemporizes about wanting a drink. It’s heartfelt. Also, she has kind of a nice singing voice. The floodgates are officially open and all the teams are selling stuff. All the teams are standing there in the middle of New York City counting out wads of cash. It’s a good thing any muggers would be caught by the camera crew. Tim fabulously arrives and tells everyone to go back to Atlas and he’ll see them in the morning in the workroom.
In said morning in said workroom, the teams give their final cash count. Team three has raised $800.48. Tim asks where the change came from. Apparently someone gave them some spare change. Team one has raised $684.00. No spare change, here. Team two got $500.00 exactly.
Now that everyone has a budget, Tim reveals the challenge. Each team must create two looks for fall, including at least one piece of outerwear. You know that Elena and Christopher are both happy about that outerwear bit. Sonjia looks excited about that, too. I wonder if Dmitry will add sleeves to his same little dress. Thirty minutes to sketch, then they’ll go shopping at MOOD, where Tim tells them to spend ‘every single dime’ they raised. Oh, and winners will not get immunity from this point on.
Christopher wants to do a trench coat. Ven is doing a skirt with his Alien rose. Elena announces she’s doing a coat and Dmitry’s doing a dress. I guess that leaves Alicia whatever’s left over.
MOOD: Elena is looking for shades of grey for her coat. Christopher moans that he’s going to have legs ‘like a Hungarian shotput’ by the end of the season from climbing all the stairs. Funny, I didn’t think shotputs had legs, no matter what country they hail from. Oh! He means the shotputter. Not the equipment, the athlete. Yeah, they tend to be sturdy in the pins, regardless of country of origin.
Halfway through the shopping period, team one doesn’t have anything cut, and they don’t have any notions. They decide to split up, each take responsibility for different kinds of materials, and sort it all out in the workroom. Gunnar scrambles for notions and away they go.
Tim calls time, says goodbye to Swatch, the MOOD store dog, who is an adorable Boston terrier, and everyone heads back to the workroom.
Back in said workroom, Elena bends over Dmitry’s table to nitpick his design. Christopher gets ever so slightly back into my good graces by saying they remind him of Boris and Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle. I think it’s mostly the Pottsylvanian accents, but it does prove that someone took the time along the way to teach him about some of the finer things in life.
Tim arrives to do his consultation. He asks how things are going. Several half-hearted voices tell him it’s fine. Tim is not fooled. He’s heard those sounds of dejection before.
Tim starts with team two who say they’re doing ‘good.’ “That’s it? Speak to me, please.” They have a dress, a coat, a pair of pants, and a knit top going on. The dress is black, the coat is in shades of grey and black, the pants are black, and we can’t see the shirt yet. So Elena picked the palette, yes? Because Dmitry and Alicia both usually work with more color than this. Tim doesn’t like Elena’s idea of colorblocking the coat sleeves. I’m with Tim. He warns Alicia to watch the fit in the crotch area of her pants, because even ‘static’ it’s looking ‘rumply’ around there. Tim is frankly horrified at Dmitry’s ‘exposed darts’ on his dress. I join Tim in horror. Darts are used to smooth things out, not add bulk. I honestly don’t see the point. “So they’re like buttresses.” Dmitry agrees with that. I don’t want buttresses on my butt… or any other part of my body. Tim diplomatically says that it’s ‘a point of view.’ I say the view is of an alley full of rotting garbage, but, hey, that’s still a view.
At team three’s table, Ven explains they wanted to keep fall ‘light’ rather than going heavy. Their color palette is medium grey, cream, and a slightly bluish light pink. I’m bored already. Melissa and Fabio have some very flowy pieces on their mannequins and then BOOM! there’s Ven’s Alien rose skirt sticking out like a sore thumb from the rest of the collection. Tim asks whether the same woman would wear both that skirt and that coat. Fabio thinks she might. But as Tim tells them it’s a great idea but it doesn’t look like it goes with anything else, Fabio is brought around and begins to think the skirt is ‘too sophisticated’ to go with a leather jacket. I don’t think sophistication is the problem here. You want to keep the whole thing sophisticated, really, but you want it to look like it goes together. The problem is that skirt looks like the one Halston in the Issey Miyake collection… not that I’m seeing a lot of Issey Miyake going on here. I’m wondering where that eight hundred bucks went to, and that’s a clear sign that Heidi and Nina will wonder the same thing.
Team one has fabrics that ‘spoke’ to them. There’s a nice fall feel with cream, camel, charcoal, and hunter green wools and a dash of brown leather. Gunnar is making the two dresses, Christopher is making a camel coat that he insists is a form of trench coat, though I don’t see that. Sonjia is working on a hunter green jacket that I’m already liking a lot. It’s got a very cool bulky oversized collar going on that’s the sort of detail I live for. Tim advises her not to do the sleeves in leather. I agree with him, because I think it could go kind of Anime Robin Hood at that point. Christopher’s coat is looking very odd to me, but Gunnar’s dresses hold some promise. I like the charcoal one with the leather hourglass panel down the front.
Melissa and Fabio have seen the obvious and they want Ven to change his skirt to something that goes with everything else. Ven is honked off, but goes with it. We’ll see what happens when he doesn’t have his roses to fall back on.
Elena is micromanaging her team to death, as one might expect. Alicia feels that she only gets six inches to show her point of view, so she’s getting resentful. Dmitry, meanwhile, is making a fringed shawl to go with his dress. I’m not feeling it. Elena tells Alicia that the coat is going out fully closed… yeah, so nobody can see what’s underneath and Alicia gets her tush handed to her for not doing anything. So thoughtful.
In the morning, adjustments are made, models are prepped, and we head off to the runway. This week’s guest judge is designer Anna Sui.
Team two is the first to walk the runway. Dmitry has made a dress in his usual style only with sleeves. It’s black, features a claw-like cut out at the right shoulder and the buttressed exposed darts. There’s a blink and you’ll miss it tiny triangular hem point over the left knee. This almost looks like a mistake, it’s so apologetic. Over the dress, he has flung a charcoal grey fringed shawl lined in a light grey. Make it purple and it looks like a triangular version of the comfy lap blanket my friend made me for Christmas last year. This is the least successful Dmitry dress thus far, though it does show that he can make sleeves, and the shawl is heinous.
Look two doesn’t improve matters. Elena’s light grey coat with angular charcoal panels hangs oddly limp. The stand up collar doesn’t stand up well at all. The whole garment gives an impression of a small child swamped in mommy’s old coat for dress up, despite the fact that it has tight, fitted sleeves. Oh, and we can see from the knees down that there are pants underneath. They’re very skinny and black and that’s all we can see. At the end of the runway, the model opens the coat to reveal… not very much. The knit top underneath is in shell pink, has long sleeves, and for some unknown reason has a little Frankenseam low on the belly. The neckline is low and wide. That’s about all you can say for Alicia’s contribution.
Team one arrives on the runway with Sonjia’s little green jacket over Gunnar’s first dress. The jacket comes to points on both hips, both front and back, and features a draped collar with some ruching on the right shoulder. The sleeves are three-quarter length and fitted. I would live in this jacket. The dress underneath is knee-length with long sleeves and a tight skirt. It’s cream jersey with side panels of charcoal grey and an aggressive cream cowl neck. There are silver buttons on the charcoal grey sleeves. I’m in love. I would take that outfit right off the model and wear it down the street.
I’m far less enthused about Christopher’s ‘trench coat.’ It’s done in camel wool with no sleeves, no buttons, and the single lapel (the only detail I really do like) wrapping around into a standing collar. It’s belted at the waist and hangs down to a kind of odd uneven hem that looks to me more like it didn’t get cut properly than like it was a design feature. The upper reaches of the hem are at the knee while the lower hits midcalf. A long swath of left leg is left unprotected from the cold… but then so are the entire arms, which kind of doesn’t make sense with a heavy wool coat. There’s an inescapable air of bathrobe about it. I appreciate the fact that Christopher has done something very different from his usual range, but that doesn’t mean I think he’s been successful.
Gunnar’s dress underneath is just plain cool. It’s midcalf length with long sleeves in charcoal with an hourglass panel of dark brown leather down the front, and another matching one in back. He’s added a pair of matching leather gauntlets that really bring the editorial edge into the look without being utterly ridiculous. Gunnar has excelled himself.
Oh dear. Team three is on the scene with a bunch of separates that frankly look like they were fished out of a bargain bin. Ven, denied his beloved exploding roses, has wrought a sad, floppy grey dirndl skirt. We had much better made skirts of similar length and fullness in my high school production of Bye Bye Birdie. They were sewn by the mothers of the girls who wore them. Over this is a pale pink knit top with long tight sleeves, a slouchy turtleneck that looks mostly like it’s melting, and – the only cool bit of the entire outfit – a sharp little white leather cropped jacket with a standing collar. The jacket isn’t really that much of a much, but it’s so much better than the rest that it looks droolworthy by comparison.
Things actually manage to get worse with the second look because, alas!, there is no redeeming feature anywhere on the outfit. A medium grey tweed mohair coat with three-quarter sleeves hangs limply over a pair of poorly constructed purple-brown skinny jeans that look like she’s packing something extra for a girl and a sad pale pink knit top that’s surprisingly sheer. The neckline features an asymmetric point to the left while the hemline features one to the right. The coat looks like a reject from a rummage sale and the model’s bra is clearly visible through the shirt. I wince.
Oh, and since Ven’s contribution to the final looks were a sloppy skirt and a pair of pants that Melissa designed that are made rather poorly, I think we have an answer to the question of whether Ven can do anything but those endless exploding Alien roses.
Yeah, there’s no question. Christopher, Sonjia, and Gunnar are the winning team. I’d be checking the judges for fever if this were not the case. Besides, Nina wants to have Christopher’s virtual internet babies. He could send a model naked down the runway and I swear she would say it was editorial.
In fact, Nina is definitely pumping for Christopher to win. She keeps calling the bizarre bathrobe he made – you guessed it! – editorial. Then again, she loves Sonjia’s jacket, too. She just thinks Christopher’s coat would photograph better. You keep telling yourself that, honey. Anna Sui is sure she can tell the emotions of the team from the success – or lack thereof – of their work… but she can only seem to tell after she sees how the designers interact in the critique.
Look, this is one painful runway. I’m just going to tell you that none of the judges seem to notice Dmitry’s exposed darts, but they cannot hate on his shawl enough. Oh, and Nina has seen enough little dresses from Dmitry and bulky coats from Elena. They can’t see any point to Alicia’s outfit other than to put something under Elena’s craptastic coat. Everybody thinks Melissa did a nice jacket so she’s not in danger, but Ven and Fabio both need to be slapped for their contributions to the disaster. Nobody can figure out where team three spent eight hundred smackers. Hookers and blow, maybe? It sure as hell didn’t go into the clothes.
The winning team is asked who should win. Christopher shocks me by saying Gunnar, not – I hasten to add – because I don’t think Gunnar deserves a win on this, but because these two have been at each other’s throats from day one and it’s kind of awesome to see them lay that aside at long last and in such a great way. Gunnar also thinks Gunnar should win. Sonjia is apologetic for choosing herself, but she really loves her jacket. So do I. Don’t apologize for thinking you’ve done a good job, Sonjia. Say it out loud and proud.
The losing teams are asked who should go home. Elena thinks Dmitry hogged an entire look, so he should go home. Dmitry thinks Elena’s screaming and cursing and refusal to listen to anyone else made it impossible to work as a team, so Elena should go home. Alicia respects Elena’s design chops more, so she says Dmitry should be auffed. On the other team, all three are painfully loathe to answer the question, but Ven is finally prompted to say he thinks the coat is the weakest link in the collection, and, well, the judges conclude that was Fabio’s work ergo Ven is saying Fabio should go. Fabio can’t decide based on the work(!) but he likes Melissa better as a person, so he thinks Ven should go home. I think Ven’s skirt and pants are great reasons for him to go home, whereas Melissa did the only things the judges liked: the jacket and the matching envelope clutches. Melissa hates being put on the spot, but finally decides the combination of the coat and the rotten shirts is worse than the skirt and the mangling of her pants pattern and says Fabio is the weakest link.
Mind you, as much as I love him usually, I’m in no way trying to argue that Fabio didn’t entirely lose the plot on this one and churn out pure, unadulterated crap. He did. There are no two ways around it. I just think that Ven needs to spend his moment under the magnifying glass and be found wanting, too. He made two pieces. They both sucked. There’s a damn good case for both these guys to go home on this one, but I frankly think that Fabio has shown more range as a designer than Ven. The instant Ven is out of his painfully limited comfort zone, he apparently can’t sew.
Back in the greenroom, Elena and Dmitry take another opportunity to wrangle. They remind me of Matt Groening’s Life In Hell strip about the nine types of romantic relationships. There was one called ‘Cobra and Mongoose.’ Under advantages he listed: The thrill of victory. Under disadvantages: The agony of a toaster hurled in your face. Once this show is over, I sincerely hope these two never have to inhabit the same hemisphere for even a day again.
The judges consult, and they bring out the teams.
The winner is Sonjia!
The judges loved her jacket to tears and I don’t blame them. Sonjia? I’d really like one of those, please.
Do I think the judges picked right? Yes, I do. I know Gunnar made more clothes and made them extremely well and I would wear both those dresses in a heartbeat. But I think Sonjia’s jacket was more original than both put together. Again, I wouldn’t have felt bad if Gunnar had won, but I think Sonjia deserves this one.
The final chopping block comes down to Alicia and Fabio.
In the end, it is Alicia and her white girl dreads that wind up on the last train to Auffsville.
Again, I have to say I think this is the right decision. Alicia has been on the bottom, and she’s been in the middle, and she’s never really gotten her point of view across. When she works with someone else, she entirely loses her design voice. I’ll miss her mercifully drama-free commentary but I already can’t remember most of the clothes she made here.
Best of luck, Alicia, and remember to make your voice heard.
Next week: MONDO!!! MONDO’S COMING FOR A VISIT!!! Take me to the drive in and prove you love me! Oh. Sorry. I got a little carried away, there. Ahem. It’s the design your own fabric challenge and Tim calls one ‘an homage to a menstrual cycle.’ And Michael Kors says one is a case of ‘Pacman eating her crotch.’ In short, we’ve got a lot of gay men thinking scarily about women’s bits.
I can’t wait.