I’m just going to come right out and say this before we get started with this week’s Project Runway recap: All women are real women. Models may come from an amazingly restricted end of the gene pool, but they are real women. Everyday women in the street may not be models, but they deserve every chance to dress in ways that make them feel beautiful and comfortable. Any clothing designer who forgets either of these things makes us all suffer with his or her severe case of cranial rectosis.
And now, on with the show.
I’ll skip the waking up vignette because nothing really happens in it. Well, not of import. I will, however, note that I am never, ever, ever waking Christopher up. He wears a sleep mask, kicks, and whines for coffee. I want my coffee, too, but I cannot deal with whining first thing in the morning.
So. Runway. Heidi tells the designers she has new clients for them, and out march a group of random people of both standard issue genders. Elena interviews that these people don’t look like they have anything to do with fashion. Her eyes are bugging out amusingly. Then Heidi says these aren’t exactly the new clients. The designers register emotions running the gamut from confusion to despair. All except Ven who has yet to register an actual emotion on his face all season. Okay, maybe he’s registered disinterest, haughtiness, and even a dash of stoic contempt, but that’s about it.
At this point, Heidi says that all these people standing with her have friends in need of makeovers. Yes, it’s the dreaded Real Woman challenge. It’s also the L’Oreal Product Placement Extravaganza of Hair Products! Whee! Heidi asks her temporary companions if it’s true their friends need makeovers. They all enthusiastically say yes! Are the designers ready to help them? Well… amidst the cricket chirps, Dmitry asks “Do we have a choice?” Yeah, I love seeing people so excited about their work.
Unlike former seasons where the Velvet Bag of Doom has determined the order in which designers will choose their clients, or the grand experiment of season three where the clients were shown the portfolios of the designers and chose for themselves, this time the pairings have been randomly chosen and everyone is completely stuck. Everyone heads to the workrooms where they will meet their clients and the friends who brought them here.
Back in the workroom, Tim introduces us to Johnny Lavoy of L’Oreal Paris… because the designers already seem to know him. Apparently the designers have to come up with a hair concept for Lavoy to create as well as the outfit. And yes, every one of these women will have their hair colored in some way. This is, after all, the L’Oreal challenge.
Tim sends in the clients.
Most of the designers do settle down and go about this in a positive way now that they’re in the thick of it. They’ll ask the friend what it is that prompted them to bring their friend to the show, then ask the client about her life, her needs, her tastes, and her frustrations with clothes shopping. Christopher is delighted that his client loves jackets, since he loves to make them. Elena is genuinely nice and friendly to her client. This is the first moment in about two episodes where I haven’t absolutely loathed her as a human being. Gunnar falls in love with his client’s huge personality and can’t wait to give her an outfit that reflects her inner diva. She’s in tears of joy for this chance to see a new her. It’s a delight to watch. Dmitry can’t wait to prove to his client that comfort can look as good as it feels. Alicia is less in her comfort zone with a very girly girl, but she’s eager to help said girly girl look and feel great. Nathan is a little at sea with a budding R&B starlet who wants very specific things done. All the same, he’s going to do his best. Melissa looks a little uncertain about her client’s love of mix and match, but she has immunity and she’s listening, so she’ll at least survive. And it does look like she wants to do well, too. Fabio has a woman who must be his dream makeover client. She’s an artist who wants to change up her plaid flannel shirts and ripped blue jeans, but fears being sexualized.
And then there’s Ven.
He does actually ask his client about two or three questions, mostly about what she wears now. Then he spends the rest of the consultation ignoring her completely. He never asks her about her life, her tastes, her dreams, her reasons for wanting a makeover, he just basically decides it’s beneath him to dress a woman who isn’t model-sized and twenty, and gets his panties in a stoic wad. He interwhines that he’s been treated unfairly by being given the biggest, oldest woman in the room. Yeah, because forty and size fourteen is unworthy of nice clothing (/sarcasm).
Ven, I’ve got news for you: I’ll celebrate half a century of Twistie goodness next month, I wear a size 18/20, I stand a whole 5’2 1/2″, and I damn well deserve nice clothes. I don’t care if the woman standing in front of you is eighty-five and wears a size 56, she still deserves nice clothes. Why? Because she’s a human being, and that’s enough to earn her decent treatment at a minimum.
Oh, and Gunnar’s client might wear one size smaller, and isn’t exactly twenty anymore, either. But look at how he’s interacting with her. He’s telling her she’s great, he’s hugging her – but only after asking permission to do so, he’s listening to her and laughing at her jokes, and generally acting like she’s a person. Which makes sense, since she is one. He’s seriously delighted to be dressing her, because he understands that fashion design isn’t just about fabulous fantasy creations on the runway; it’s also about putting clothes on the backs of people living their lives. And he gets that those people come in different sizes and all ages, too.
So.MOOD. Tim pointedly tells the designers that the challenge can be won or lost right here in this store. The camera pans immediately to Nathan, so we know his choice is going to be either brilliant or disastrous. I’m guessing disastrous, since he seems to think he has to give his client everything on her laundry list, and the designer who does that is usually the designer to go home for capitulating and becoming a dressmaker rather than a designer.
While Fabio chooses shades of grey and Alicia goes for pink(!), Ven interwhines some more about how having a plus sized woman means he can’t do any of his favorite techniques because they won’t work on her body. I call horse hockey. A fabulous detail of fabric manipulation is something a larger woman can actually carry off better than a smaller one can, as often as not. We don’t tend to get lost under a big hunk of fabric. Think carefully about where it goes, match it to her personality… oh, wait, you didn’t bother to find out if she had one, let alone what it was. You just looked at a woman who dresses in double digits and headed straight for black to make her look smaller. Her problem, though, sartorially, is that she wears clothes that make her disappear. This isn’t going to help.
Designers and clients consult with Johnny Lavoy, who product placements them which L’Oreal hair color products he will use. Each one is accepted without question by both designer and client. Oh, and they discuss how to cut the client’s hair, too. Melissa thinks her girl would look hot with red hair, Dmitry thinks his client needs to brighten her blonde locks and open up her face with a good cut. Ven… yeah, the first thing he noticed about his client was that her hair is really flat. Her friend bites her lip in shock, horror, and a clear desire to beat Ven senseless with a flat iron. The good news is that won’t take long, because he doesn’t even notice that his clients are getting royally honked off with him. He wants to cut her hair short. At this point, the client pipes up and says she doesn’t want it too short, and Johnny Levoy agrees with her. I like him better already.
Fabio sees his client in an asymmetric bob. Right now it’s pretty long and in a pony tail. Johnny Lavoy says there’s no point in doing the color he has in mind while the hair is this much longer than it’s going to end up. He picks up the scissors and holds up her pony tail. At this point, her friend asks if he can do the honors. Yes, her friend takes the first cut right then and there. She smiles even at the look of her pony tail being cut off, leaving her hair almost shoulder length.
Back in the workroom, Tim tells the designers that their clients will be brought in soon for a fitting and they have until eleven o’clock to work on their designs.
And Ven interwhines again about how unfair it is that he got the fat girl. Sonjia, meanwhile, interviews that while she’s used to dressing smaller women (ie:runway models), she has a sister and a mother who are not model sized. She wants to do well because most women are not built like models.
On the subject of sisters, Sonjia asks who else in the room has siblings. Dmitry has a brother who is a professional hockey player. Gunnar has a brother who is ‘in the military.’ I love how nobody specifies a branch, anymore. It used to be that people would say their brother, father, uncle, second-cousin, or step-sister was in the navy, or in the army. Now it’s all one undifferentiated ‘military.’ But I digress. Gunnar misses his family.
Fabio gets a skype session with his boyfriend, Jason, who is cuter than a lot of buttons I’ve met. They have a cat. There’s a lot of love. Fabio says talking to Jason energized him.
Tim does his tour of the workroom starting with Nathan. Oh, this is not looking good. When Nathan tells Tim his client’s original wish was for a two-piece look with a bare midriff, Tim recoils and yells ‘NO!’ He immediately apologizes, but clearly he couldn’t help himself. Nathan says not to worry, he’s doing mesh panels on the sides out of something he calls ‘not regular hooker mesh.’ Tim ribs that he hates regular hooker mesh. Basically, we’re looking at very tight royal blue satin with panels of black illusion netting. It’s very short, and it’s painfully tacky thus far. I mentally pack Nathan’s bags. Tim suggests shapewear. Yeah, I don’t think Spanx are the answer, Tim. They aren’t going to improve the design, and she’ll just wind up with a muffin top where the Spanx end, whether that’s the waist or the bustline.
Christopher is working on a grey jersey dress his client can wear with her favorite blazers and a jacket she could pair with her favorite jeans… which also happen to look good together. The jacket is looking like a classic Chanel hip-length jacket with elbow-length sleeeves in a grey tweed. The jacket is something I would definitely wear, but the dress is mostly a hunk of jersey draped over a mannequin at this point. Still, I like the color, and I like what I can see of the design.
Tim is concerned that Elena is making a high-waisted skirt for her short client, until she assures him the high waist will be covered by a longer blouse worn on the outside. I’m not sure what the point of high-waisted is, then, but maybe it’s her idea of built-in shapewear? Not clear. Tim holds up a hank of grey chiffon and says that if it works out like she’s describing it, Elena’s really onto something.
Gunnar shows Tim the range of fabrics he was originally planning to use to get an ombre effect. Tim says using them all would result in a ‘pinata.’ Funny, I’ve never seen a pinata in black, deep wine red, and burgundy before. Still, Gunnar agrees it ‘did look pinata for a second.’ He’s decided to ditch the colors and go all black. What he’s got on the mannequin is looking kind of spectacular, though. He’s got fluttery little bits of black chiffon on top of a straight skirt, and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished piece.
Fabio is in a good space mentally, and I’m loving what I’m seeing on his mannequin. He’s done carefully random color blocking in shades of grey. The silhouette is a slightly relaxed version of Dior’s New Look. It’s an hourglass, but not aggressively so. There’s a shallow vee neck that Tim isn’t sure about. He thinks making it larger would make the look more youthful. Fabio explains that his client doesn’t like cleavage. This is clearly a foreign concept to Tim. I’ll happily explain women who don’t want to be sexualized in the workplace to you over scones, Tim.
Sonjia has chosen a very pretty medium shade of blue jersey for her dress. Unfortunately, she has gone the ‘what can I do to hide that she’s not a size zero’ route rather than really thinking about what will bring out the best in her client, who might wear a size six. Maybe. And is short. There’s this huge knot of fabric directly under the bustline that may well swallow up such a petite girl. She’s wondering how short to cut things. Tim tells her to be careful of proportion.
Ven basically has a tight tube of black fabric on the bottom half of his mannequin and a sail of sky blue on top. Frankly, if I was dressing his client, I would do the whole thing in that gorgeous blue… only maybe not such a shiny fabric. Ven begins the conversation by telling Tim he was ‘in shock’ when he met his model because he’s never worked with a plus sized woman before. Tim asks what size the lady wears. Ven rolls his eyes and says she must be about a size fourteen. Tim entirely misses the point by saying that’s ‘on the cusp.’ Tim, I love you dearly and long to feed you homemade scones, but THE SIZE TAG IS NOT THE POINT. The point is that Ven is going out of his way to make sure his client knows it’s a huge imposition to him to be forced to dress her because she’s not a runway model.
Ven goes on to say that his client ‘has no shape’ and isn’t fashion-forward. Tim asks what he’s doing to bring her forward, which is a lot closer to the point. Fabio interviews that Ven’s client is ‘beautiful and curvy’ and he’s clearly annoyed that Ven refuses to see that or care about the challenge of dressing ordinary women to make them feel beautiful. Ven goes on to say that ‘the before picture is a nightmare’ and he’s going to fix that. The hard stares of everyone else in the room speak volumes for me. Elena interviews that she lost respect for Ven in that moment. I would say me, too, except that that would indicate that I’d ever had respect for Ven as a person. He proved himself a giant douchenozzle in episode one and has done nothing but slip in my estimation ever since.
Tim explains to Ven that well cut clothes can give an optical illusion of shape and finally gets properly horrified when Ven says that forty is too old for him to dress. He tells Ven that forty is ‘just coming into her own’ and that his job is to ‘give her an epiphany about who she can be.’ See, the rest of the room didn’t need that explained to them. Some are doing better at it than others, but they all understood the concept right off the bat.
Tim is surprised to find Alicia up to her elbows in baby pink textiles. Alicia explains that this is both about pleasing the client and showing the judges that she has more range. I hope this works out for her.
Dmitry may have the same fabric as Sonjia. It’s that pretty medium blue jersey, only here it’s being used to better advantage and more thoughtfully. The dress he’s making is his signature simple elegance with a few gorgeous details. In this case, it’s a row of tiny, far-spaced out diagonal tucks in the bodice. Tim is concerned that this might not read young enough. Dmitry assures him that with her new, shorter hair and the accessories he’s going to choose the dress needs to be more refined so it will still read professional.
Clients arrive for fittings complete with their new hair. Gunnar loves how Kim’s hair moves now, and she’s grinning from ear to ear. Ko-Rely invites Fabio to play with her choppy new bob, which she clearly adores. She gasps in wonder at the dress on the form. She blurts out ‘I love it!’ clearly shocked that someone has made a dress she would even consider wearing, let alone one she wants to wear. Elena can’t help hugging Jenna when she shows up with her unruly curls sleeked down. Christopher loves how Kate’s hair looks. She’s not impressed with the chunky choker he holds up against her. Alicia is happy with her pale pink very short girly dress. Martina asks if it will have more lace. Yes, there are pink lace panels at the waistline. Liana is delighted with the colors and fabrics Nathan chose for her. When Kim has a moment about being ‘a full-figured woman’ Gunnar assures her ‘the whole country is full-figured’ and she’s going to look great.
Poor Terri actually seems happy with her new haircut. It’s a pretty bob with swooping bangs and a little length to it. I like it, too. It frames her face beautifully. Of course the first words out of Ven’s mouth are about how he chose black for her because it’s ‘slimming.’ And with those words, all the light is sucked out of Terri. For some reason, he’s draping matte black fabric over her, even though she was already wearing a very dark charcoal grey tank top and the top of the dress on the form is shiny and blue. It’s like he needs to humiliate her. He has her try on a belt from the accessory wall. When it doesn’t fit, he says he guesses it’s too small and he’ll order a bigger one. Across the room, Christopher is frantically giving the ‘cut’ signal, drawing his hand across his throat, but Ven would have to look up to see that. Undaunted, Ven tries on several more belts before realizing that they’re all the same size. He could have figured that out by simply looking, but he needed to put each one on Terri and then announce it’s too small for her.
The next morning, designers discuss who’s in trouble. Ven is still carrying on about how some people got clients who aren’t much bigger than models, but he got stuck with the biggest girl in the room and that just isn’t fair. Waah, waah, waah. Nathan knows he’s in trouble, because he’s aware that he’s made something rather vulgar.
In the workroom, Tim says that for this challenge, the designers get three hours instead of the usual two for hair, makeup, and final adjustments. This is good, because there are several looks that are seriously in need of major sewing, including Nathan’s.
Ven starts in again on Terri about how slimming his dress is on her and how she’s going to look great because he made this wonderful thing to cover up her horrible body. Okay, he actually stops at she’s going to look great, but the rest is strongly implied, and has been from the moment they met. Terri has had enough and finally stands up for herself. She tells Ven the dress is fine, but it has nothing to do with her. And she’s right. Well, about it having nothing to do with her. From what I’m seeing, I’m not impressed with the dress at all. It’s kind of random, doesn’t seem like it goes with itself, and ultimately is shapeless. This woman may be larger than the ones he’s used to dressing, but she’s got a fabulous figure and great coloring. Imagine what he might have done had he been forced to dress a round, short, basketball of a person like me! And baby, I can rock good clothes to the freaking rafters.
Terri asks about the belt, and Ven once again says that the belts were all too small, so he had to order a bigger one which he hopes will arrive in time. Terri tells him that the way he’s talking about that is embarrassing. Ven interwhines that Terri is telling him that he’s saying she’s fat, and of course he would never have said something like that. She’s Just Plain Wrong… except that he’s done nothing all episode long but whine and pout and complain that his girl is too big. Also? You don’t need to say the words to get across the message of ‘I loathe you, you huge, fat, unworthy bovine of a creature.’ It’s been implicit in every single word he’s said to
Terri, and even moreso in the words he didn’t say when he met her, you know, when he couldn’t be bothered to ask her a single question about her life, her preferences, or her needs.
By the time she’s back in her civvies so Ven can do the last few touches on his creation, Terri is in tears. Kim comes over and comforts her. Theo, Terri’s friend, goes over and takes Ven to task for his bad attitude. She talks about the all black, and the constant digs about how Terri can’t fit the belts provided. Ven says that he used the blue and he wants Terri to feel special. Of course he can’t be bothered to communicate that to Terri directly or to treat her in a way that might make it clear.
So Ven tells Terri that they just need to finish the dress, but with hair and makeup and his dress she’s going to be beautiful. After all, he was surprised when she walked in yesterday, because she was so beautiful. Yeah, so beautiful that he’s spent the past twenty-four hours complaining about how he got the old, ugly, fat girl and it isn’t fair. Yeah, Terri and Theo aren’t buying what he’s selling, either.
Clients are primped, final stitches are taken, and it’s off to the runway.
The guest judge this week is British designer Alice Temperley of Temperley, London.
First down the runway is Liana in Nathan’s creation. It’s short, it’s tight, it’s royal blue satin and black illusion, it’s got arrows pointing to her breasts… okay, not really, but it does have those sheer stripes down both sides. At least he didn’t give her the bare midriff, too, but then it might have read more stage costume than this. Her long, dark hair has been given Veronica Lake bangs and a slight touch of highlights, but that’s about it. Still, I do have to say she seems happy with her new look. There’s a definite strut going on.
Jenna, whose friend wanted her to look more sophisticated is next in Elena’s design. It’s a black, knee-length pencil skirt topped with a shell pink sleeveless tunic top with a bit of fitting through the waist and a flippy, uneven hem. Her curly hair has been sleeked into submission in a long, asymmetric bob. She looks happy and walks well, but I do wish the top had been in a brighter color, because Jenna is all about color. Still, the silhouette is great, and the colors aren’t bad on her. I just don’t think they’re her.
Kandace is up next in the little black dress Mellisa wrought for her. Her hair has been given a bit neater shape and gone from a sort of not-quite-bright-enough-to-be-dishwater color to a vibrant red that suits her skintone really well. As for the dress, I can’t really see it because Kandace is carrying the huge, black and white shawl she’s wearing sort of like she’s wrapped in brown paper. What I can see looks fine, but it’s impossible to tell if it’s any better or worse than that. The just above the knee length, though looks nice on her and the jutting triangle at the neckline looks very Melissa. Kandace does almost a little dance step as she parades back up the runway that makes me love her.
Speaking of strutting stuff, Kim arrives in Gunnar’s little black dress and gives a full blown performance of walking it down the runway. It’s a dress worthy of such treatment, too. The bodice is empire-waisted and sleeveless with a modest u-neck and a restrained pair of vertical ruffles between the breasts. The skirt is straight and knee-length with these amazing flutters of chiffon he tacked down one by one. The look shows off (without being vulgar) Kim’s great bosom and clearly makes her feel like a million bucks. Her hair is now nicely shaped and brightened with some mahogony highlights, but the makeup has been kept very simple and restrained. She looks like herself, but a herself she’s excited about being. When she turns around, there’s a tiny, demure keyhole feature just below the neckline. Heidi is delighted with how Kim is walking.
Well, not every one of these can be completely successful, as illustrated by Martina in Alicia’s little girl pink dress. It’s very short, has spaghetti straps, features a plunging neckline, and then there are those matching lace panels on the sides. The color is great for Martina, but it looks somewhere between a cocktail dress, a tennis dress, and hookerwear without managing to be any of them. All I can say for Alicia is that she’s lucky Nathan and Ven are in this show.
Kate comes out in Christopher’s design, and it’s clearly a Christopher original. There’s the cute jacket worn over a heavily draped dress. Unfortunately, the jacket is the best part and as soon as Kate is properly on the runway, she takes it off and holds it in a little ball in her hand the rest of the time. The dress is a pewter grey sleeveless number with a crossover neckline and a hem that hits directly below the knee. It looks good until Kate turns to walk back and I see one section of hem that’s waaaay higher than the rest, but doesn’t look like it’s that way on purpose. I want to yank it down there. Still, the color is good on Kate, her hair looks pretty, and she looks happy with at least the dress.
I want to cry when Terri comes down the runway in Ven’s design. There’s a tight, knee-length black skirt with a huge zipper in it that’s undone halfway so she won’t actually be hobbled. Over this is the sky blue, but the fabric is shiny and looks almost like swimsuit material and it’s fashioned into a shapeless kimono cut top that isn’t doing anything to show that Terri actually has a nice figure. Oh, and Ven finally found a belt big enough. It’s really wide and it’s black patent leather and it’s got a gigantic buckle. So Terri is now shapeless on top, truncated at the waist, put in a skirt she can’t move in without exposing half her thigh, and told she should be grateful for it. I mentally hand her a cast iron skillet and instruct her that Ven’s head could use a little flattening. Oh, and everyone else was given heels, but Terri is put in flats that make me think of bedroom slippers. I love a good flat, don’t get me wrong. I live my life in flats, but these… yeah, they’re not helping the look at all.
Things perk up dramatically when Angela walks out in Dmitry’s dress. The pretty medium blue is a great color for her, the cut of the dress is great on her, the low-thigh length shows off her great legs without looking potentially trashy, and her brightened blonde bob with swooping bangs shows off her fabulous cheekbones. He’s given her cat’s eye liner, the studded clutch bag, and a pair of edgy little botties to wear with it. The look is great on her, and Angela looks delighted with it.
From strength to strength, we next see Ko-Rely in Fabio’s shades of grey dress. The transformation is really amazing here, but she still looks entirely herself. She’s just a more confident self who won’t get ignored in a corner, now. I love that Fabio has her walk in her glasses, too, because I don’t think she’d look like her without them. The dress now has a jewel collar instead of the tiny vee, which I think is a good choice. The look is edgy and artsy and feminine without being overtly sexy, which is, I think, what the client was looking for. Her new haircut is one I hope she’ll stick with, because it’s just fabulous on her. I love the funky silver pendant and chunky-heeled booties he paired the look with, but kind of wish he’d left off the orange looped belt at her waistline. Then again, that’s the only detail I would change. Everything else is a revelation, to Ko-Rely more than anyone, I believe.
Oh dear. Sonjia has taken Amanda and… let’s just say the poor girl is now one fake tan away from being Snookie. The little blue dress is too short, has too much random fabric at the bustline, and is paired with leopard stilettos. She got on huge silver earrings and is carrying a black clutch the size of Passaic. It’s a bad idea poorly carried out and finished off with all the wrong accessories. It’s also a trap that designers fall for every time there’s a ‘woman in the streets’ kind of challenge: they get so obsessed with covering up the fact that this woman doesn’t have washboard abs that they forget there’s a whole body around that belly.
Melissa, Christopher, Alicia, and Elena are declared safe. Back in the greenroom, Christopher is relieved. He’d picked himself, Elena, and Alicia for the bottom three. the only one of them I had picked as a potential bottom three was Alicia… and I do think there was worse on that runway. Sad, but true.
The top three are, unsurprisingly enough, Gunnar, Fabio, and Dmitry. The bottom three are, also unsurprisingly, Nathan, Ven, and Sonjia. Frankly, I think it was a toss up whether Sonjia or Alicia did a worse job. The judges went with Sonjia, and I’m certainly not going to argue that one. One will win, and one – or more – will be out.
The judges start with the higher scored designers. The other three go back to the greenroom. Nathan says flat out he knew he was going to be bottom three. Ven, once again, blames his failure on his client. Alicia tells him it’s not about her size. Good on her.
Back to the happy stuff. Dmitry explains that he’s come up with a ‘structural’ dress that won’t wrinkle for Angela, who is a graphic designer. Angela says she didn’t think she had ‘the right figure or the right features’ for pretty dresses, but now she’s realizing she can break out of her shell and wear more feminine things. She’s practically bubbling as she says this. Heidi says she could see how happy Angela was walking the runway. She likes that the dress is ‘sexy but not slutty.’ Nina praises the color choice and styling of the look. Michael Kors is also happy with the fabric choice and styling. Alice Temperley would have liked to see a slightly lower neckline, but is otherwise quite impressed.
Fabio talks about how Ko-Rely is a film student. He wanted to give her a feminine silhouette but with angular pieces that show her strength. Ko-Rely says she hates to wear dresses, because tapping into her feminine side makes her feel weak. This dress, though, makes her feel strong. Heidi gets a good giggle from the fact that Ko-Rely is standing there in a dress talking ‘like she’s from the ‘hood.’ She’s delighted at how happy Ko-Rely looks in her new dress. Nina says she looks like a professional. “With an edge,” Ko-Rely adds. Nina agrees. Heidi loves the construction and says that if she met Ko-Rely somewhere and she was wearing this, Heidi would know right away that she’s artistic. Alice Tepperley agrees with everything people have said… but she points out that unfortunate belt choice and says she would rather not have seen it cluttering up the dress. It’s not even that I dislike the belt, per se. It’s more that I think it doesn’t work with the dress, and Alice Tepperley agrees with me, so there. Michael Kors is pleased that ‘it’s a transformation, but it’s still her.’ He says:”It took a boy in a dress to get you into a dress!” Fabio nearly doubles over laughing, in his little black dress.
Gunnar talks about how he wanted to dress Kim’s ‘great spirit.’ He talks, too, about his technique of cutting up squares of chiffon and sewing them on, lining the dress in jersey so it will be comfortable to wear. Kim says when she was asked what she was looking for, she says that when she walks down the red carpet, she wants to be able to tell them she’s wearing Gunnar. Heidi tells Kim she loved her walk. Michael Kors tells her ‘you could teach Giselle how to move.’ Michael cannot praise the look enough. He says it’s flirty without being childish, has great movement, and really brings out a wonderful personality. Alice Temperley says Gunnar did a good job emphasizing the best aspects of Kim’s figure. Nina’s only quibble is that she wishes the neckline were lower. “If you have them, why not show them?”
And we go from the love fest to the firing squad. It’s time to talk to the designers on the chopping block.
Sonjia says Amanda wanted a dress she could wear to go out in. She wanted to use comfortable fabric because Amanda is a sporty kind of woman and needs something she feels good in. Amanda says she thinks Sonjia took her needs and priorities into account in designing her dress. Heidi says she doesn’t think the knot was a bad idea in and of itself, but she doesn’t think it worked. She also thinks the dress is too short. She hints that it’s hookerwear. Alice Temperley feels the proportions are all wrong. Michael Kors is wondering how we got from ‘sporty’ to ‘draped cocktail dress.’ He thinks there ought to have been a stop in between. Because sporty people don’t drink cocktails? I’m not sure. Nina muses that Sonjia doesn’t seem to have looked at Amanda and ‘worked with the best that she has.’ I think Nina has hit the nail square on the head. I think Sonjia looked at what she felt was wrong with Amanda’s figure and spent all her time trying to cover that up, rather than looking for ways to emphasize what’s best about her.
Ven starts off by telling the judges he’s never worked with ‘real sized women’ before. Heidi asks Terri how she likes her look. She doesn’t come right out and say she’s not happy now, but she does say that she wasn’t happy with the first look she got, and she wasn’t happy this morning, and the one thing she says made her happy was when her friend, Theo, stood up for her. Theo steps in and says she thinks that Ven’s design winds up emphasizing Terri’s waist, which was just what she didn’t want emphasized. Ven again starts defending himself with how he’s never been forced to work with a ‘real woman’ before, and some of the other designers were lucky… and this is where Heidi stops him cold. She’s amazed every time this sort of challenge comes up and one designer says ‘I never had to work with a real woman before’ “Who is not real?” Funny, Ven doesn’t seem to have an answer for that one.
Heidi goes on to tell Terri this outfit doesn’t look like ‘a hipper version’ of her, but rather ‘like somebody stuck something on you.’ Michael Kors berates Ven for ‘chopping her in half’ visually. Alice Temperley doesn’t find the shiny fabric office-appropriate and says the outfit doesn’t look comfortable. Heidi posits that Terri and Ven didn’t have ‘a whole lovefest.’ Michael Kors says that if he had to change things up at the last minute, it was because Ven didn’t communicate well with his client in the first place. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Give that man a cigar!
Theo damn near bursts into tears talking about how Ven didn’t ask Terri a single question about her life or her needs in the consultation. She speaks movingly about how hard Terri works, how her four hour daily commute means she doesn’t get to spend enough time with her husband and four kids, and how she puts everyone ahead of herself. The friends hug one another.
Heidi and Nina agree that the top and the bottom of the outfit don’t go together at all. Michael brings things back on track by telling Ven it sounds like he didn’t want to know who his client was or what she needed. Heidi tells Terri that she has a ‘very special friend’ and if only she’d gotten a different designer things might have been a lot different. “Ven, it’s your fault.” Wow. Ven can make an expression. He apparently thinks Heidi was being funny. Trust me, she didn’t mean to be. “We like Terri, but we don’t love your outfit.” I love Heidi. Just thought I’d mention that.
Nathan explains that he was making a stage outfit for Liana, which is news to the judges. Liina likes the dress a lot, but wishes it were tighter. Heidi feels the dress looks cheap and ‘sends a certain message.’ Heidi says she looks like a Hootchie Mama, which Michael Kors translates to ‘tart’ for Alice Tepperley. Nina calls the look ‘this mess of a dress with this unfortunate shiny color.’ Nathan says he can’t impose his style on his client. Nina asks him if his client chose the fabric. No, she did not. Nina goes on to tell Nathan it’s not the client’s responsibility to design the dress, it’s the designer’s. When Alice Tepperley tells Nathan that he needs to find out what makes a client comfortable, he says ‘comfort wasn’t an issue.’ Once again, Michael Kors plays translator and explains she meant ‘comfortable in her own skin.’ Michael can’t hate on this dress enough. It’s painful. Nathan knows he’s history.
Judges consult. I won’t bother going into it. Designers are brought back out.
And the winner is Fabio!
Frankly, I’m glad it wasn’t up to me to decide between the three top looks, because I don’t know which one I would have chosen. All three were great looks that fit the clients, both body and soul, and made them see themselves in wonderful new ways. That said, I am fond of Fabio, so I’m happy to see him get a win. Then again, I think in this case I would have been just as happy had it been Dmitry, or if it had been Gunnar. So yay! all three of the top three.
I do love Fabio’s attitude, though. He considers the best prize the fact that his client is happy and sees herself in a new way. Can’t argue with that.
So it’s down to the bottom three. One or more may be out, so all three are still standing on the stage.
Nathan is out.
Farewell, Nathan, you adorkable guy, you. Unfortunately, you committed the ultimate PR sin: you let your client dictate the look. I knew you were toast the first time you said you had to do exactly what the client wanted… and when I saw that shiny satin.
He returns to the greenroom and tells everyone he’s leaving. When everyone protests, he says that the judges made the right decision. It should be him. He knows Sonjia will be okay.
Sonjia is in. She heaves a sigh of relief and leaves the runway.
And so it’s down to Ven and the spotlight. Heidi tells him the judges wonder if he has flexibility. I would say the answer is a big no.
In the end, though, Ven is declared in and allowed to leave the runway. On his return to the greenroom, Ven endears himself yet further to everyone by saying he shouldn’t have been the last one on the runway waiting to find out if he was gone, because there were ‘some weak looks.’ What? Unlike yours? Alicia’s sneer of disbelief speaks volumes for me.
Tim tells Nathan that in losing him, they’re losing not only a good designer, but ‘an individual who has profound qualities of character.’ Melissa and Christopher both wipe tears away in the exact same way, which is sort of hilariously awesome.
As Nathan cleans up his space, he interviews that he’s looking forward to a bright future. I sincerely hope it’s everything he wants it to be.
Next time: Designs going into production! Is it time for the Lord&Taylor challenge already? Or is it about time?