Last week on Project Runway: Designers are visited by their mommies and other people close to them so they can be well and truly emotionally frayed as they design their own fabrics. There’s far too much human plumbing in the workroom. Dmitry wins the day by creating an amazing jacket with floating panels to pop his print underneath, Gunnar is sent home for making a scary/depressing print and making a throwaway outfit with it. Ven is told that one more rose will get him axed… and I find myself praying he finds another way to work the dratted thing in.
What happened this week? Follow me to find out!
Morning at Atlas. Dmitry and Fabio mourn the loss of Gunnar as a roommate. Fabio admits he slept in Gunnar’s bed. That’s oddly touching. Christopher and Ven pack up and move in with Dmitry and Fabio. Since Fabio is missing morning person Gunnar, I almost hope he winds up sharing a room with Ven. Christopher is many excellent things, but a morning person is definitely not one of them. Christopher is talking at great length about how much he doesn’t want to be in the bottom again.
Ven interviews that clearly the judges just didn’t get what his print meant to him and that’s why he was on the bottom. No, the judges didn’t hate your look because they don’t understand your Special Snowflake inspiration, Ven. They hated it because you took an idea that could have made a fabulous print and churned out something dull with it, and then made it into one of the crappiest dresses ever to disgrace that runway… and I say that with a full horrific memory of Santino’s molting turkey skating costume and his Von Trapp Family Cat House Lingerie Collection. And Jerry’s shower curtain raincoat for axe murderers.
But I digress.
Meanwhile in the girls’ room, Sonjia is counting how many times each designer left has won a challenge. Hmmm… seems Elena is the only one left who hasn’t won a single challenge. Don’t worry, Elena. Jay McCarroll won all the marbles without a single win along the way. Of course he didn’t spend quite so much time being in the bottom three, either.
Elena interviews that she needs to step out of her comfort zone, use fabrics and colors she normally wouldn’t, and get her stress under control. I wish her luck with this. No, really, I do.
The designers head out into the morning to meet Tim at ‘an unknown location’ which just happens to turn out to be Radio City Music Hall. All seven designers are incandescent with delight, and I suddenly realize I must be the only person in America to have absolutely no ambition to ever see a show there. I mean, I expected Christopher to be thrilled, and assumed this might be up Dmitry’s alley, what with him being a former professional ballroom dancer and all. But it would never have occurred to me that Fabio and Melissa would be so excited about this one.
And on the stage stand the world famous Rockettes in glittery red dresses… and my beloved Tim Gunn in his blue pinstriped suit. He introduces the Rockettes who do a little number. At the end, the curtain rises and out steps Heidi in the same little sequined dress only in green. She kicks her heels up with the Rockettes, and does a pretty darn credible job of it, too.
Heidi goes on to do Tim’s job of introducing the challenge: make a costume for the Rockettes. The prize is pretty amazing. The winning designer’s look will be produced for and worn by the Rockettes in a future production. Tim introduces the director and choreographer of the Rockettes, Linda Haberman. Before she did this job, she apparently was assistant choreographer to Bob Fosse. Linda Haberman explains that in addition to the famous Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall (and one day I will share the story of the time my brother the Medieval Historian got dragged to that against his will), the Rockettes do a number of events throughout the year. The designers need to create a costume for those special events. It needs to be something that can be worn at any time of the year in nearly any place. Heidi reminds the designers to think about the audience members in the back and make something that will look good all the way to the second balcony. In other words, this cannot be subtle. Hint, hint.
As Heidi and the Rockettes file offstage, Tim tells the designers to take a good look at the five mannequins with costumes on them to get a good idea of construction and design that will work. They have thirty minutes to sketch and then he’s taking them to MOOD.
Dmitry was a professional ballroom dancer from the age of six to eighteen (imagine retiring at eighteen from a twelve-year career!), so he’s on solid ground. He wants to make something a little sexier than they usually wear, but also athletic. He’s got a one-sleeved dress with cut outs and an asymmetric fringed skirt on his sketchpad that looks very like a ballroom dance costume. Still, it would move nicely and be something the Rockettes haven’t worn before. Also, it’s a very good ballroom dance costume.
Ven wants to take them to ‘the next level’ but his sketch seems a little unambitious to me. We’ll see what happens when he buys fabric.
Melissa wants to do sort of an ode to the Radio City Music Hall in her costume. It’s going to be shocking pink and black, which is a combination I’m excited about for this purpose. It’s a classic and it will read really well in the back rows.
Fabio wants to use some sheer panels. His sketch shows some potentially really interesting ideas, but I worry about his trademark subtlety in this challenge.
Christopher has a flat out brilliant idea that could just get him a chance to have his outfit made: he wants to do the New York City skyline across the bodice of his dress. How absolutely perfect an idea is that? You couldn’t come up with a better inspiration for the challenge. If the execution comes off well, he’s just left the rest of the room in the dust.
At MOOD, Sonjia is completely lost. She settles for purple feathers. This is not a good sign. Ven can’t find the geometric crystals he’d envisioned for his design, so he settles for something that looks like a sparkly blue mosquito net. Elena can’t find anything she likes and winds up with glittery royal blue, dull bronze, and a lot of gold trim. I fear for her.
At the register, Elena discovers she has spent $399.54 of her $250.00 budget. She has to figure out a lot of stuff to put back.
Back in the workroom, Tim tells the designers they have until seven thirty to work on their designs. After that, they’re going out to a nice dinner. Christopher, who has clearly never watched the show and does not see disaster looming in that gift horse’s mouth, starts clapping for joy. I wonder what the producers have in store for our little band. Whatever it is, it can’t be good.
In the sewing room, Elena asks Ven what he’s going to do with his fabric. He says he’s decided the key is not to over embellish. Elena pricelessly asks: “Are you sure?” Yes, he’s sure. He’s decided that the key to dressing the Rockettes is to not glue beads and sequins and sparkly things to the outfit, but to keep the lines clean and simple. Trust me, Ven, you’re on the wrong track.
Sonjia has also made a rookie mistake in deciding to make her entire skirt of feathers. Feathers – unless you are dressing Papageno and Papagena – are a really bad idea on stage. They molt and can’t be laundered easily. And unless they’re placed and attached very carefully, they don’t move, either.
Melissa is busy cutting out pattern piece after pattern piece. She’s over complicated the construction and it could get her into trouble.
Seven thirty comes and the designers head off innocently into the night to the lurking trap that awaits.
Wait a minute… what’s happening here? When designers on this show are given a treat, they’re also given a trick. It’s the law. It’s been that way since season one, challenge one. But this… they were just allowed to have a really nice meal complete with plenty of wine, and Tim didn’t show up to heap more insane challenge parameters on their heads!
I feel so very betrayed.
Under the influence of good food, wine, and a bit of a respite, though, something amazing happens: Elena apologizes to Dmitry for some of her behavior toward him. Ven actually talks about why he’s so solitary and closed off. It seems that he was the youngest in the family by a margin of some ten years or so, and he never had anyone to play with or interact with on a peer level, so he got used to not talking to or working with anyone else. Interesting, and it might even shed some light on some of his behavior, but dude, you weren’t raised by wolves. There had to be some other kids somewhere around. And it really doesn’t explain why you were such a spork to your model in the makeover challenge.
Day two, workroom. Christopher – as is so often the case – thinks everyone else is making total crud. He doesn’t have any idea who’s going to be on the bottom. From the unfortunate item cluttering up her mannequin, I’m going to have to go with Elena as a major possible bottom three. It’s taking on an unmistakable whiff of drum majorette.
Tim enters fabulously to do his consult. He heads straight for Sonjia. She’s not looking like she’s in a good space and he wants to know what’s up. He asks what the neckline is going to be like. She doesn’t know. He tells her to get cutting and put something on that poor girl’s top.
Speaking of bad spaces, Elena is staring in horror at her design with her mouth open in disbelief. Or possibly it’s turned her to stone. Tim reminds her that she looked in her bag at MOOD and told him there was a band uniform in there. He gestures to the mannequin. “Is this a self-fulfilling prophecy?” He tells her she needs to go to the accessory wall and see if there’s a baton. When he asks to see the back his reaction is: “Well at least it’s a 360 degree experience.” He advises her to go back to staring until she figures a way out.
The one piece of advice Tim has for Dmitry is to build up his skirt with more fringe.
Fabio has been cutting up his silver sequined fabric and placing it in stripes along the grey illusion of his bodice. Tim asks to see what it would look like if the fabric were left whole. Fabio agrees it’s much nicer.
Tim is wildly concerned about the ‘crotch exposing’ length of Christopher’s skirt. He suggests the problem might be the way he’s cut the fabric into strips for fringe effect. On a less panicky note, he suggests adding some stars to the skyline. Christopher wishes he had bought more crystals to glue on.
Melissa swears she has sparkly things to add, but is worried about time. She’s got a lot of hand sewing left to do. She’s not sure she’s going to have enough sparkly stuff.
Tim asks Ven if he’s considered keeping the seam allowance just as a design detail, because the sheerness of it is pretty and a little contrast to an otherwise very dull dress.
I nearly faint when Tim announces that they are – for the first time in Project Runway history – adding another $100.00 to the budget and sending the designers back to MOOD to shop some more! First a dinner with no knockout punch added, and now this? Who gave the producers a transfusion of the milk of human kindness?
Fabio raises his hand and asks if he has to go on the field trip. He’s happy with what he’s got and would rather just keep working. Tim says, yes, he can do that if he wants to. Does anyone else want to stay? Dmitry and Ven decide they, too, will stay behind and sew. The other four have really hilarious ‘are you insane or just high?’ expressions on their little faces.
MOOD. Sonjia still can’t find anything she likes. Elena panics and grabs for more sparkles, much to her self-disgust. Melissa is hunting for black sequined fabric that she both likes and can afford. They’re all too expensive. Christopher knew exactly what he needed and already bought it… and has fifty dollars left over. He generously lets Melissa have it. That was really sweet.
After model fittings, Sonjia gets a chance to go Skype with her boyfriend. He’s a bit of a hottie and deliciously supportive. Sonjia’s lucky. And talking to him energizes her.
Runway Day. There’s a lot of last minute stuff going on. Ven actually comes over to Melissa and asks if he can help with some of her hand work. Whoa. I did not see that coming. She’s grateful and not sure it’s going to get her out of trouble.
Models arrive. Melissa has a disaster with her zipper. Sonjia, Fabio, and Christopher all take a turn helping her with it. Sonjia nearly breaks her model getting her dressed. Elena’s model is molting crystals. Tim calls time.
Runway. The guest judge for this challenge is Debra Messing. I kind of wish it had been Linda Haberman. She’s the one who has to choreograph a dance around whatever is chosen, after all.
The show starts with a bang with Dmitry’s dress. It’s in navy blue sequins trimmed with piping of black sequins and a skirt of black bead fringe. There’s a long, straight sleeve on the right and a bare shoulder on the left, with a high mock turtleneck. There’s a large triangular bite out of the left side of the bodice neatly above the cleavage line, and another on the right across the belly. From the hip line, there are strips of the black beads set horizontally all the way around. Navy and black is not my favorite combination. Not enough contrast for me, usually. In this case, though, I think it works. The piece has movement, drama, and sex appeal without actually revealing anything that might be too much for the kiddies. All in all, I think he’s nailed the brief nicely.
Melissa is next and frankly it’s a little odd. Her hot pink and black palette was one of the smarter choices made in that workroom… but things went a little pear shaped after that. The dress is cut in a princess line with one of her stiff, jutting collar pieces across the shoulder line. There are little black spaghetti straps. A variety of angular shapes in the black sequins festoon the dress randomly. They create a number 1 center front, which it turns out was not something she really thought she had done until it came down the runway. Worn with a jaunty little black sequined pillbox hat tilted to the side, I’m getting a whiff of either a roller skating waitress at the drive in diner or possibly a Busby Berkeley chorus line of girl bellhops. There’s no movement to the piece, which doesn’t help. I’m not sure the good-natured sense of humor it displays will be enough to get Melissa through to the next round.
Then again, seeing what Ven has wrought, I decide that Melissa is probably safe. It’s a light steel blue sleeveless dress with a halter top in front and a racer back. The beaded mosquito net overlay sparkles a bit and the skirt has nice movement. On the other hand, there’s nothing interesting about it. The hem is seriously wonky. This dress is a cure for insomnia. Oh, and it makes the model look frumpy.
Speaking of train wrecks, here’s Elena’s royal blue sparkly cheerleader uniform. The skirt has a handkerchief hem, and the top is mostly cut outs held together with more sparkles. I don’t even have words to describe it further.
Christopher, on the other hand, has not made a train wreck. In fact, he’s made something kind of fabulous. On a background of illusion netting, Christopher has created the New York skyline. To do it, he took silver fabric with paillettes, cut it into strips, sewed them onto the illusion, outlined them in pale gold beads, and dotted the illusion with rhinestones. The skirt is the paillettes set ninety degrees. The skyline is continued in the back. It’s the perfect combination of form, function, and mild jimgoism that is absolutely perfect for the Rockettes. I think the only thing I would consider changing is maybe using a dark blue illusion instead of white so that it would look like the night skyline and pop a little more.
I’m betting Sonjia is wishing she could just start all over again at this point. Her design features a purple skirt composed entirely of feathers, a rather shapeless jewel-necked bodice of a purple and blue shiny beaded fabric cut on the bias, and a pair of purple feather epaulettes. It’s stiff, it’s almost Amish in its lack of visible sexuality, it’s going to be tragic on any woman who has breasts, and it’s wildly impractical for performance needs. The best thing I can say for it is that it’s more memorable than Ven’s and slightly less tasteless than Elena’s. In the face of those two, I’m kind of hoping Sonjia will squeak through. Sonjia did show some smarts in the styling, adding some of the feathers to the hair and choosing a pair of shoes that look like something the Rockettes would wear on stage.
While I doubt it’s sending him home, I knew this was not Fabio’s challenge right from the start and this design is bearing out my assumptions. There’s grey illusion from a fairly high vee neck in the silver sequins going up into a mock turtleneck. Both necklines are overlaid with a black trim that appears to have silver chainmail rings laid on it. I’m kind of in love with the trim, actually. As for the main dress, it’s a solid mass of silver sequins that zigzag in a cool but far too subtle way. For the skirt, he’s cut the sequins into vertical strips and left the ends pointed. On the right hip there’s a wildly unexpected and frankly delicious strip of grey tweed peeking out. It’s definitely not drum majorette, but what I am feeling from it is Roman Centurian. Maybe if they need something for the Easter show….
Fabio is declared safe and released from the runway. Heidi tells the others they have the highest and lowest scores. As she says that one will be the winner, Ven allows himself a smug little smile that tells me he has no clue what’s coming to him.
Sonjia is the first to take her turn on the rotisserie. When Heidi asks if the skirt moves, Sonjia thinks she’s asked if a dancer can move in the skirt, which is really not the same thing. Heidi calls the look ‘boxy’ and sees no sex appeal or drama in it. Nina mentions the impracticality of feathers on dancers. Sonjia protests that a dancer can kick in the dress, but Nina explains she’s talking about the fragility of the material. Debra Messing and Heidi mention the molting issue. Michael Kors says there’s no movement and it comes off ‘more cocktail than costume.’
On to Dmitry. He explains his sexy/glam/athletic concept for the costume. Heidi loves it. She thinks it’s ‘edgy’ and very different from anything the Rockettes have worn before. She likes the color combination and is crazy about beaded fringe because it moves. Michael Kors says it’s polished and impeccably made, and it still looks like a Dmitry design. He’s excited about the attention to detail. Nina continues heaping praise on Dmitry. She’s pleased that a look that bare doesn’t come off as inappropriate. Debra Messing thinks the look is glamorous, but worries that it shows too much skin for ‘little, little ones.’ I disagree with her. You’d see a lot more skin at a public pool or the beach without anyone questioning the appropriateness of it. Still, she’s definitely impressed.
Ven talks about wanting to do a strong look that would read well from far, far away with lots of great details. Heidi likes the bead and sequin netting… but that’s about all she likes. She says the dress is boring. “The dress also has to sing and dance on its own. It doesn’t tell a story. It’s just a dress. That sparkles.” Heidi asks Ven what he bought on his second trip to MOOD. He says he didn’t go. Michael Kors says it looks like Ven chopped down an evening dress. Nina says she would have liked more drama. Debra Messing is the one odd voice out. She thinks the simplicity is nice, and the piece moves well. On the other hand, she’s bothered by the wonky hem. Michael Kors agrees the hem is ‘not great.’
Heidi calls Melissa’s dress ‘definitely a show stopper’ but it doesn’t sound like she means that in a good way. She loves the color combination, but thinks the dress is too short. And when Heidi Klum says your dress is too short, that’s scary. Heidi asks what Melissa bought in the second MOOD trip. She thinks the black sequins and rhinestone trim were smart choices. Michael Kors thinks you’d definitely see this one in the back row. He likes the colors and the choice of trims. On the other hand, he thinks it looks like a chopped down cocktail dress. He loves how she styled the look, but the big sequined one is driving him up a wall. Nina loves the colors and the ‘cigarette girl’ vibe… but other than that, she hates this one. Debra Messing finds the look confusing and points out how awkward the neckline would be for dancers. But she does love the fact that there were plenty of sparkles.
Christopher explains that he wanted to make a ‘celebration’ of New York. Heidi nearly sighs as she says she loves this one. She’s blown away by the imagination it shows and thinks the Rockettes would look fabulous in it to a woman. Nina gushes that she loves it. Michael Kors says that if he hadn’t carried out his great idea well, it would be hideous. Fortunately for Christopher, he did it ‘impeccably.’ He calls it “a Bob Mackie moment.” And that, my friends, is exactly what the judges were looking for. Debra Messing calls it ‘celebratory’ and ‘dignified.’ She loves it. Christopher gushes “Thank you, Debra Messing.” Yes, Heidi teases him for that. It was such a geektastic moment.
Elena sheepishly explains that movement was the most important thing and visibility was a close second. She also wanted to work in a color she doesn’t normally use because she’s listening to the judges. Michael Kors shakes his head sadly and pronounces the look ‘Las Vegas cheerleader.’ He calls it tacky and gaudy… which pretty much sums it up unless you want to add ‘not very well made’ what with the way the bodice is drooping oddly at the nipple line. Debra Messing tries to soften the blow by calling it a beautiful costume… for the circus. Ouch. Nina points out that where Elena went wrong was in her original choice of fabric. It was just bad. Then she tried to match everything perfectly to the bad fabric choice and made it worse. Heidi calls the look cheesy. And cheap. And not sophisticated. And ‘not very Elena.’ Elena tries hard to hold back the tears as she insists that she was trying really hard to make more wearable designs and expand her horizons. Heidi says she appreciates that. She’s glad Elena is pushing herself. It just didn’t work.
Before she sends the designers backstage, Heidi tells them all that they should know that the decisions they make will not be made lightly. Now go away so we can decide whose booty to bounce out of here.
Okay, she didn’t use those words. Still, it was implicit.
As soon as they get back to the greenroom, Ven tells Fabio that Debra Messing thought his design was the second best. Maybe that happened in a bit that wasn’t televised. I know she liked it a lot more than the other judges, but it’s a long way from there to ‘second favorite out of seven.’ Still, whatever gets you through the night, Ven. As per usual, that would appear to be a great big warm glass of denial. Sonjia sadly tells Fabio that they called her outfit a bird. Elena says she’s sure she’s going home “because they just went off on me” and starts to cry. Ven actually puts an arm around her to comfort her.
Judges deliberate. For those as confused as I was, Melissa was in the top three. In discussing Ven, Michael Kors thinks that if you take away his ‘origami rose’ there’s nothing left. But he does think Ven should consider the drag name Origami Rose. Again, take away Origami Rose, and what’s left?
The designers are brought back out.
Melissa is the first to be released from the runway. When she gets to the greenroom, she hugs a delighted Fabio and tells him she didn’t know whether she was top or bottom until that moment.
Unsurprisingly, your ode to New York in sparkles is just what the Rockettes are looking for. As Christopher leaves the runway, Dmitry gives him a little low five. I like that he can be that gracious.
In the green room, Fabio tells Christopher to send him a ticket when the show opens.
Back on the runway, Dmitry is praised for his excellent work and sent backstage.
When Sonjia is released from the runway, she actually starts crying a little. Backstage everyone hugs her and makes a fuss over her.
And so it’s down to Ven and Elena. I can see the writing on the wall as soon as Heidi tells Elena that even though her costume was horrible, the judges appreciate that she was trying to do something new. Ven, meanwhile, is told that the judges wonder if he has any range. I’m already popping the champagne, despite the fact that this show has broken my heart so many times.
And so it’s Ven going home. America cheers. Elena bursts into tears and hugs Ven. She heads backstage, where she’s hugged and petted and generally appreciated.
Ven takes things in his stoic way on the outside, but inside he’s disappointed and sad. He knows he could have put on a great finale show had he only been given the opportunity. I would respectfully submit that he was given the opportunity, but refused to use it.
Backstage Elena hurls herself into Ven’s arms and weeps and apologizes. Elena, it could so easily have gone the other way, but it wasn’t up to you. It was up to the judges who decided that as bad as your design was, at least you’re listening and trying and have proved yourself capable of more than one thing. If Ven had one more trick up his sleeve, it might have gone the other way.
Tim enters fabulously and tells the designers this should be ‘a wake up call’ because he’s sure none of them imagined Ven would be going home at this point. Tim gives Ven a handshake and a perfunctory hug and sends him off to clean up his space. As he turns off his light, Ven assures us that he never gives up. Sadly, I don’t think he ever analyzes the problem to find a better path, either.
Next week: it’s the Heidi’s got a new line of baby clothes product placement challenge! Designers deal with Sex Ed baby dolls created to scare teenagers out of having sex! Ever! A teeny tiny piece of me is almost sorry Ven won’t be there. Almost.
Join me for the tears and recriminations!