Last week on Project Runway: the designers make costumes for the Rockettes, no word on whether Heidi will be guesting with them at showtime. Christopher wins with a prim yet sexy and slightly jingoistic ode to New York City, and Ven goes home for making… a mildly sparkly cut off mother of the bride dress. My heart goes pitter-pat for joy.
What will happen this week? Read on, my friends, to find out.
Morning at Atlas: Sonjia and her Flashdance headband are shocked at Ven’s auffing. Melissa interviews that things are now serious… which is pretty much what every designer says right before going into the next challenge. Of course now that there are only six designers left, there’s only the top and the bottom left to be in. Nobody will be declared safe on this one. Sonjia says she needs to buckle down and work harder. Elena interviews that she must ‘claw her way’ through the next couple challenges to get to Fashion Week. Ouch!
While the women fret about it, Christopher and Dmitry seem to think all they need to do is hang on and do what they’ve been doing. Then again, since what they’ve been doing all along is pleasing the judges and staying mostly out of the bottom three, maybe they do have a point. It’s a pity where Dmitry is going to put his point later (Spoiler!) in the episode.
Christopher breathes that it’s going to be so great when he gets to Fashion Week.
Now that’s what I call a positive attitude.
Designers head out the doors of their apartments. Instead of heading to the runway for Heidi to taunt them and send them off to Tim, they are sent to a Babies R Us store. Heidi, Tim, and their most evil grins await our poor contestants. Yes, it’s the Heidi Designed a Line of Children’s Clothes Product Placement challenge. Dmitry slightly overestimates the number of children Heidi has as a hundred and five. In reality, Heidi says she has only four. She has designed the line Truly Scrumptious for Babies R Us because babies are scrumptious. Somebody pass me the mustard, please. Oh! She means that metaphorically! Not in a Dexter kind of way.
The designers must create a head to toe look for toddlers for her collection. The upside of this is that two designers will win, one with a boy’s look and one with a girl’s look. The winning designs will be produced and sold in the Truly Scrumptious line. This is a really great prize. Oh, and one designer will be booted out into oblivion.
Six women arrive on the scene pushing strollers with their little bundles of joy – aged twelve to eighteen months – over to the variously nervous, horrified, and delighted designers. These toddlers will be the models for the challenge. I am frankly relieved that I won’t have to see grown women in Huggies and onesies trudging down the catwalk in stiletto heels.
Just to keep things fair, the designers are called up one by one to pick a baby’s name out of the Velvet Bag of Doom.
Elena will be designing for baby Lumi. Melissa is dressing Giuliana who looks like she crawled right out of a Victorian ode to hearth and home. Sonjia will be dressing little Jude, na-na-na-nana-na-na, nana-na-na, Hey Jude! (What? Like you thought I could pass up a gimme like that!) Fabio is making an outfit for Bobby. Dmitry is paired with Edgar who is painfully cute and completely asleep. This probably works for Dmitry who thinks making clothes for babies is like making clothes for cats. Not. Even. Close. Cats will fight you a lot harder than babies. I have the scars to prove it. Last but not least, Christopher gets to dress little Nile and her rather spectacular cheetah print hightops.
The designers are given half an hour to consult with the moms about what they look for in children’s clothing, and all fabrics and notions will be provided by Truly Scrumptious so the outfits go with what Heidi has already wrought. They have one day to complete the work.
Lumi’s mom tells Elena that if she sees a blazer in her daughter’s size, she’s going to buy it. Clearly this is a match made in Elena’s version of Heaven. She’s going to make a jacket. Melissa sees that she’s probably going to have to think pink. Not her comfort zone, but she’s game. Edgar wants to help Dmitry draw. Jude’s mom talks about things that are easy to get on and off the child, which is, I think more the sort of thing Heidi and Tim hoped the designers would elicit from the moms. Bobby thoughtfully gnaws on his sneaker as his mother informs Fabio that her son has a big head. Fabio (whose first job in the City was babysitting and who feels a natural affinity for children) plans to go retro with the little shorts with the built in suspenders that were being phased out around the time I was born. Fabio offers Bobby the chance to sketch on his HP notepad, but Bobby runs off with the stylus. You’d think an experience babysitter would see that one coming.
Nile’s mother seems to be laboring under the misapprehension that she’s the one designing the look and Christopher is there to be dressmaker to the baby. Unfortunately, Christopher seems to be laboring under the same confusion. Christopher? Being dressmaker to the Mommy is only going to land your cute little rumpus on the Island of Misfit Toys in a New York minute.
As they gather before heading back to Parsons, Heidi taunts the designers that there will be a dossier and a ‘special surprise’ for them back in the workroom. Tim is barely holding back his Evil Overlord laugh. I have the sudden sickening feeling that the designers are about to get the overdue trick for their special treats from last week.
Boy, am I ever right! At each designer’s station, there stands a toddler-sized mannequin, which is good. There is also at each station a baby carrier complete with sex ed ‘this will staple your thighs together forever’ baby doll. You know, the ones that cry incessantly until you have fed, changed, and rocked them for several eons. Each doll has a note pinned to it saying the designer has to care for it… and they’re already starting to cry.
You can tell immediately who has held a baby before and who hasn’t. Fabio quietly and happily picks his baby up and gets rocking and shushing it like a very happy pro. Christopher is willing – albeit confused – but his technique might lead to a broken neck on a real infant. Sonjia looks at the doll like it’s a particularly graphic prop from Criminal Minds. Hitchcock and Poe working in tandem would have difficulty inspiring that much sheer terror. Tim arrives fabulously to tell the designers that, yes, they have to take care of the baby dolls. He says Elena looks like she’s ready to “run for the hills.” But, he warns her, she will have to take the baby with her.
As they try to work, the dolls keep bursting into recorded tears and screaming if left unattended when they start crying. Dmitry tells his baby to shut up because he has work to do. Sonjia looks like she’s going to burst into real tears. Elena christens her baby doll a name that cannot be uttered on television sans a bleep… unless you’re on HBO or USA, I guess, where these words are pretty commonplace.
Fabio has Nurturing Dad written all over his being straight out to his aura as he cuddles his baby and talks to it. He interviews that since he’s an only child, his mother was really disappointed when he came out because she thought that meant there would be no grandchildren for her. Fabio, however, does hope to have children. Watching him with the doll, I can only say I think this is a great idea. Dmitry, on the other hand, says he doesn’t think he’ll be a daddy anytime soon.
Remember what I said earlier about Christopher and the potential broken baby neck? Yeah, while carrying his baby mannequin from Point A to Point B, the head falls straight off. I kind of hope that if there are babies in his future, they will arrive well after he takes a couple parenting classes.
Somehow, in spite of the dolls, the designers do start getting some serious work done and get down to the important weekly ritual of trash talking one another. Just with more diaper changing and baby jiggling than usual.
Fabio’s baby must have colic… or serious separation anxiety issues. He screams every time Fabio puts him down, and once he gets screaming, so is every other baby in the room. It’s bad. This is too cruel even in retaliation for a nice, twist-free dinner and extra budget. I believe the producers have finally managed to violate the Geneva Convention. Christopher now understands Judy Garland a bit better. I sincerely hope he doesn’t start channeling his inner Joan Crawford.
Tim arrives fabulously to do his rounds and asks the designers how they’re doing. Christopher cries from the heart that he needs a drink. The babies all suddenly go quiet as Heidi arrives to do the rounds with Tim.
First stop, Elena. She’s working on a really adorable denim jacket with a big ruffled collar. Elena, forget the kiddies. Just make one in my size, please. The neckline is very low and there are flower appliques going on. It has a tiny ruffled peplum to go with the collar. There are no shoulder pads. Tim says that must have taken a lot of discipline. Heidi fixes Elena with her laser eyes and awesome decadent eyeliner and tells her not to screw up whatever goes underneath that cute jacket.
Heidi doesn’t look as impressed with what Fabio is doing. I don’t blame her. It’s looking dull, colorless, and kind of odd right now, like backwards shortalls in darkwash denim over a royal blue tank top. He shows Heidi where he’s used some of her super-cute monster print to line the suspender straps and the pockets. Heidi points out that nobody can see the cute print there and asks what would happen if he edged the straps in the monsters. It’s an improvement. Tim tells him to add whimsey.
Dmitry is working on what looks like a little kids’ hooded bath towel/robe, but he swears it’s a jumpsuit and Dmitry usually has a pretty good idea of what he’s up to. The hood comes to a Conehead point about a mile above the kid’s scalp, and the whole thing is in bright red with black trim. Perhaps it’s a demonic Smurf. Heidi, however, sees potential in it.
Sonjia is on a good path, I think. Her little grey suit jacket out of sweatsuit material has navy lapels, patch pockets, and elbow patches. It’s pretty adorable. She tells Heidi and Tim there will be matching pants that will walk the same line between suit and sweats. They warn her not to make it look like one of Tim’s suits. I have no fear of that.
Christopher explains how demanding and exacting his model’s mom is and how she basically designed his jacket. He shows Heidi and Tim some little white daisies he’s made on snaps to add texture and detail to some yet-to-be-determined spot on the jacket. Heidi asks why not a skirt of the daisies. And the penny drops as Christopher figures out that no matter what he’s making to go on what baby, ultimately Heidi is the buyer, so Heidi is the client. About. Time. He decides to make the daisy skirt.
Melissa, alas, is completely floundering. She has wrought a pair of quite ordinary leggings in a pink and nazvy zebra stripe and the start of an indigo denim jacket. Heidi says she’s already got a pair of leggings just like these in the collection, only in turquoise. She doesn’t see the ‘fun factor’ in the jacket. Clearly it is time to re-think the entire look.
Just before Heidi leaves, she heaps one more smoldering coal on the designer’s heads: they get more time to work, BUT, they must also make a coordinating outfit for the moms to wear down the catwalk as they show off their spawn in their spiffy designer duds. They have fifteen minutes to sketch, then they will head off to MOOD to shop… and they must bring the babies with them. Because nothing will make the staff of MOOD happier than six deranged designers trying to shop and change nappies at the same time.As Heidi and Tim waft off, the babies start crying again, mirroring the inner turmoil of the designers.
Elena interviews that she just wants someone to shoot her. Right now.
MOOD: Tim reminds the designers not to put too much concern into the mom look, but concentrate on the baby clothes. Oh, and don’t worry about pleasing the moms, because they aren’t the clients. So there.
Christopher falls in love with a silk Oscar de la Renta floral print. Sonjia’s baby won’t stop crying. Elena wants Swatch to be her baby. Hey! I get dibs before you! Okay, I’ll let you have Swatch. I’d make a crap dog mommy, and Jake the cat doesn’t like to share me even with Mr. Twistie. He’d never survive a dog in the house.
Back in the workroom, Melissa has decided to make a shift dress in white denim for her toddler. I send her Danger, Will Robinson signals, but she doesn’t listen. Shift dresses are great, but even adult women spend a lot of time adjusting them because if you move, they’re out of alignment. Toddlers have puffy diapers and wide-legged little proto-walks that make shift dresses impossible to negotiate. There’s a reason most children’s lines don’t feature a lot of shift dresses.
Elena, meanwhile, has at least thought about practicality and the way children move in choosing to make bloomer pants for under her jacket. A kid can move in bloomers.
The day finally ends and the designers head back to Atlas with their babies in tow.
As the next morning dawns, the babies greet the day with screams and wails, waking their exhausted and potentially homicidal ‘parents’ in the process. In one of the best moments ever in Project Runway history, we watch Christopher brush Fabio’s teeth for him so that he (Fabio) can calm his baby at the same time. What a perfect combination of teamwork and multitasking!
When the designers arrive in the workroom, Tim arrives fabulously and announces he’s taking the babies off to ‘daycare’. The designers all jump and cheer for joy, as they simultaneously make a note to look into permanent contraceptive methods as soon as the show is over.
Now the designers can really buckle down to work, and buckle they do.
Eventually mothers arrive with their little ones for the fitting. Melissa has nothing even started for the mom, and her dress for Giuliana is too tight and too constricting. Nile’s mom takes one look at what Christopher is making and falls madly in hate with it all. She thinks the dress for Nile is ridiculous and the print he chose for her dress looks like a tablecloth. But don’t hold back, tell us what you really think. He takes a moment to be depressed about it all. Sonjia reminds him that this client challenge isn’t about the client, it’s about Heidi. She tells him not to worry about what ‘Mary J. Blige’ thinks of it… which is funny, because I’d been trying to figure out who Nile’s mom reminded me of and Sonjia hit it smack on the head.
As the day ends, the designers file out and head for a (hopefully!) more restful night at Atlas.
Runway day! In the workroom, Melissa is horribly behind and panicking.
Moms and babies arrive and the first thing Nile’s mom does is apologize to Christopher. To his credit, Christopher has decided that he needs to let go of any hurt and just move on and do his best to get his looks on the runway with as happy a client as he can produce. See? It is possible to mature. He’s actually come a long way over the past few weeks.
Moms are primped, babies and moms are dressed, Melissa asks her mom to sew a button on the baby’s dress as she rushes around trying to make sure mother and daughter both have something to wear down the catwalk. Tim calls time, but Melissa is still in the sewing room. He has to hunt her down there and inform her she cannot sew anymore. She gets up and mumbles under her breath that she had to go sometime. I bleed for her.
During the commercial break, we get our first glimpse of the cast of the next season of Project Runway All Stars. Dear merciful kumquats, I’m going to have to deal with Wendy Pepper and Poison Ivy on my television at the same time! On the upside, I’m really looking forward to seeing what Andrae comes up with. And while I don’t foresee Casanova making it to the end, I do find him kind of an entertaining character I won’t mind spending more time with. Here’s hoping that Acetate… er… I mean Suede has finally either gotten past the whole third person thing (preference) or at least learned to do it consistently. As for Uli… oh I love Uli! funnily enough, I’d completely forgotten Althea and Season Nine Laura. I can’t even remember whether or not I liked anything they made. I was just wondering whether Kayne’s taste had evolved at all when he referenced Donna Summer, so I’m guessing not much. Rounding out the group are: Cancer Surviver Anthony, Emilio, Peach, and Joshua. Did I miss someone? Hmmm… I can’t tell.
All in all, the bloodbath should be interesting at times.
But let’s get back to the season and show at hand.
Heidi introduces the judges. The guest judge this week is actress and new mom Hilary Duff.
First up is Fabio’s design for Bobby. It’s a completely different outfit than it started out to be. Now it’s kind of a modern take on a sailor suit. It’s a one-piece outfit that looks like two pieces. The main fabric is navy blue with white and grey piping at the end of the elbow length sleeve, the bottoms of the capri length pants, and the waistband. On the front there’s a patch pocket in the cute monster print also piped with white all around except the top which is edged in the grey. The slight funnel neck is banded with a strip of the monster print. There’s a row of decorative buttons down the front, but it closes with velcro. On the back, there’s a big patch pocket of the monster print. Also, there’s a little matching grey and white baseball cap with a triangle of the monster print front and center. Gotta love hats! Mom wears a simple dress in a pattern of big grey flowers on a white background with a hem that dips lower in the back. It’s a cute dress, but that baby outfit is a great combination of style and practicality. Bobby is moving easily in it and it looks simple to care for.
Giuliana looks cute as a button, but not because of Melissa’s outfit for her. The white denim sheath dress just isn’t working at all. Every time Giuliana moves, it rides up to expose her diaper. On the upside, the denim jacket has become a denim vest with a cool appliqued monster face with googly eyes on the back. Mom wears a badly wrinkled pair of ill-fitting black linen shorts with a matching sleeveless top and a dusty rose vest that hangs almost to her knees. The concept of the mom outfit is good, but the execution is terrible. Also, the concept of her baby outfit is bad from the get go. She’s in trouble.
Next up is Edgar in Dmitry’s demonic Smurf suit. It’s a bright red jumpsuit with the huge hood edged with three stripes of black piping that remind me of a Crayola crayon. On the front of the jumpsuit there’s a reverse applique detail of a car in the middle of a square, which I bet a little boy would love. The pants part goes to just below the knees like a pair of knickers. Under the sleeveless jumpsuit, there’s a blue tee shirt with darker blue long sleeves. I’m giving Dmitry grief about Smurfs and crayons, but the fact is… it’s weirdly cute and terribly European. What’s more, Edgar is clearly comfortable and unrestricted in his movements. Also? He’s cuter than any button I’ve ever seen. This is an entirely practical outfit… but I’m not sure I see it doing well in the American market. As for Edgar’s mom, she looks cute in a grey dress lined in red. The top is blousoned and the skirt is tight and hits about halfway to the knee. On top it features batwing sleeves and a cowl neckline lined in red. I make a mental note to tackle Edgar’s mom for it.
As little Jude comes eagerly zooming down the catwalk, I love his look. The jacket is as described earlier. It closes with snaps. The pants have hems that are all business, but there’s a sweatpant waistline in navy complete with drawstring. There are navy patch pockets at the rear, too. Under the jacket, Jude wears a low cut tank top in the monster print. In short there are three extremely wearable, nonconstrictive wardrobe pieces that can be worn together or separately, that read completely ‘boy’ and that are absolutely easy care. For Jude’s mom, Sonjia has made a mauve maxi dress with some cute draping to one hip topped with a dark grey asymmetric cropped jacket with elbow-length sleeves. They look styling together, and this is another mom outfit I would love to own.
Nile is clearly going to a formal party, Easter brunch, or wedding where she will be flower girl. Her a-line dress as created by Christopher is covered in the daisies and pale green leaves in a fluttery, 3-D effect. It’s topped with the asymmetric white denim jacket with three-quarter sleeves and a big collar. in her hair, Nile wears a headband decorated with the daisies. This is the sort of outfit you buy your toddler for a single grand occasion and then toss because by the end of the day it’s stained and at least three of those daisies have disappeared, never to be seen again. In short it’s super cute, but it’s in no way practical. But once you’ve got the family portrait taken or the petals strewn for the bride, who cares? Her mother is dressed in a simple knee-length sleeveless dress that would be perfect for Easter brunch or that wedding. It’s simple, all the drama is in the print, but it would look very much at home for any semi-formal occasion.
Now it’s Lumi’s turn to march down the catwalk in Elena’s outfit. I still want the jacket in my size, but it isn’t sitting correctly on Lumi. Under it, she’s wearing a Pepto Bismal pink tee shirt with sequins. On the bottom are the pull up pants in pale green. They’re all things I could see moms putting on babies, but they don’t add up to an outfit, somehow. The shirt and pants are both kind of afterthoughts to the jacket and it shows. Her mom is wearing a black knee-length pencil skirt and a grey sleeveless top with a long hanging panel in the back. I just wish the child looked as put together as the mom.
In a smart move, the babies are brought out by their moms one at a time for the critique. Michael Kors grins like an idiot and can’t stop waving at Jude. I love that he’s having this great big dork moment. There are no negative comments for Sonjia. She nailed the brief beautifully.
Melissa is not so lucky. Everybody hates the way Giuliana’s diaper is on display, the exposed zipper against her baby skin, and the general messiness of mom’s linen shorts. Heidi does love the vest and Michael Kors feels the biggest mistakes were in choosing the wrong fabrics, for both looks. But he, too, loves the vest and thinks Melissa’s concept for the mother was a smart one.
On a happier note, Bobby’s outfit by Fabio gets a lot of praise for both style and comfort. He’s done well and is suitably petted.
When it comes to Elena’s outfit for Yumi, Michael Kors loves the jacket, but feels there’s too much going on in the outfit at once overall. He says it looks like a baby sample sale. Heidi, too, loves the jacket. On the other hand, she’s noticed the pants have fit issues and doesn’t feel there’s anything special about them. Hilary Duff also gives a thumbs up to the jacket. Nina, to be contrary, says she feels the jacket is the problem. I disagree with her. I think the jacket is what’s right with the outfit and if Elena had made a little denim dress to go with it, she might well be home free. The problem is that both pieces underneath are complete throwaways.
Edgar’s mom brings him out conked out on her shoulder. That kid is way too adorable for words. As Edgar dreams his dreamy dreams, Dmitry demonstrates that the hood has a zipper. When pulled down, the Smurf hood turns into a two-piece instant super hero cape. Michael Kors doesn’t get the look. He thinks the cape is weird. Heidi, Nina, and Hilary who are all moms inform him that this is a thing and it’s actually well-represented on the market. I’m as surprised as Michael Kors. Then again, like him, I’m not a mom. Hilary Duff calls the look borderline costume, but says that’s something she likes.
Christopher explains that his design for Nile is a special occasion dress. Nina loves the 3-D effect of the daisies, though she questions the practicality of the look. Heidi says it’s the special occasion look for a line. Michael Kors isn’t wild about the jacket, but he loves both dresses.
Designers are released, judges deliberate, and we’re back.
For the boys’ design, Sonjia wins!
Really, I don’t think they could have gone seriously wrong on the boy side. All three designs are things I could see belonging in a modern toddler’s wardrobe, all three were well made, and they all summed up different points of view.
All the same, Congratulations, Sonjia! Great job!
On the girls’ side, Christopher wins!
Of course the competition wasn’t as stiff. Still, a job well done, so long as you don’t expect something wash and wear.
Fabio and Dmitry are released from the runway.
And so it comes down to Melissa and Elena. I saw this coming from a mile away, but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant.
She says that getting eliminated ‘sucks’ but for once finds a shiny silver lining in that she won’t have to wake up to another challenge. Back in the greenroom the other designers tell her she’s a great designer and she says she’s going to keep right on plugging away and doing her own thing. I think that’s great. I don’t think she was well adapted to working in the challenge atmosphere, but I remember being blown away by her portfolio when she first arrived.
Tim and a positively quivering lower lip arrive to tell Elena she has to go clean up her space. He mournfully asks her what they’re going to do without her in the workroom saying… well, from the angle he’s being filmed at all I can see is that his jaw is moving. And from the editing, all I can hear is bleeps. Everyone, Elena included, has a good laugh. She actually leaves with a smile on her face and interview footage saying she’s content with what she did.
Best of luck to you, Elena. If you ever do an All Stars season, I bet I won’t have forgotten your work.
Next week: Designers must make avant garde designs! Mannequin down! Tim informs Melissa that she isn’t working up to her potential!
Join me here for all the drama and zippers!