Crafty Manolo » The Sweet Life

The Sweet Life

By Twistie

Oh my dears, have I mentioned lately that Tim Gunn is totally my imaginary gay TV boyfriend? Because he is.

We had a Moment last night. Possibly two or three. And a bunch of other interesting stuff happened on Project Runway. So settle in with your favorite beverage (which you might do well to set down at one or six points in the proceedings) or snack (same counsel applies) or both (just have a new monitor at the ready), and follow me past the bouncing spoiler cut to learn more.

We start off with the traditional mourning of the ousted designer over coffee. Dmitry is the first to point out the painfully obvious fact that someone will be eliminated in every challenge. Yes, we know. That’s kind of the point. That doesn’t mean we can’t take a moment to remember a fallen warrior… even if she wasn’t all that fierce.

I much prefer Elena’s take. When one of the other women says Beatrice shouldn’t have been the first to go, she deadpans ‘No, she should have been the second.’ It’s funny because I think  it may be true.

With that out of the way, we head for the runway where Heidi (who is wearing a dress that would have been a perfect companion piece to Beatrice’s ‘sad’ efforts last episode, incidentally) tells the designers to go meet Tim. She pointedly emphasizes words like ‘sweet’ and ‘child’s play.’ No surprise then that the designers find Tim standing fabulously in front of a candy store. And not just any candy store! No, it’s Dylan’s Candy Bar owned by Dylan Lauren… daughter of Ralph Lauren.

Yes, it’s the unconventional materials challenge! Ecstatic rapture! I love the unconventional materials challenge, and have from day one. Of course not everyone is so enthusiastic about this challenge. Raul and Dmitry, in particular, are unhappy with this one.

They can’t be too unhappy with the budget, though. The show is giving them $250 each, which is a pretty high budget for PR to begin with, but it’s doubled when Dylan adds a 50% discount to the pot! Wow. Willy Wonka wouldn’t have been so nice. He probably would have had the Oompa Loompas feverishly doubling all the prices… no, actually, he would have had them changing the prices in bizarre and unpredictable ways.

Anyway, designers surge into the shop and begin grabbing everything within reach. Tim is amazed by the candy Legos. You can build with them and everything. I love Tim.

The editors, meanwhile, have fun with irony. As Buffi interviews that it’s best to go with things that aren’t actual fabric, Andrea is trying to decide whether she wants to use the yellow or the orange store logo tank top. Kooan interviews that it would be silly to use fabric when they have all this candy to work with… as Christopher buys a candy dot-motif pillow. Lantie, meanwhile, interviews that she isn’t as interested in the candy as she is the foundation that will hold the candy. Dear, there’s plenty of muslin back in the workroom and it doesn’t come out of your budget.

The candy store seems to bring out the saucier side of Christopher. He asks the workers how much a chocolate boyfriend would be and uses a candy whip literally on Buffi. Better get that boy out of there. He’s having a sugar contact high.

Back in the workroom, designers sketch and come to terms with all the random stuff they chose.

For some reason passing all understanding, Buffi thinks the best way to get the fabric off the umbrella she bought is with a hammer. Well okay, then. Next I’m going to ask her to cut down the mightiest tree in the forest with a herring. On the upside, Lantie now has a headache.

Andrea is making me sad. She’s taking sheets of candy dots and sewing them together. So far, that’s about it. She’s not transforming the materials at hand. What’s more, she’s making a literal costume for ‘a Victorian candy store clerk gone wild.’ Bad idea, Andrea. The judges don’t like costumes.

Kooan is more ambitious. He’s glueing Twizzlers end to end to make them long enough to weave with. It’s a cool idea, but it doesn’t seem to be working very well.

With eight hours to go, Tim comes to consult with the designers. He’s pleased with some designers, such as Christopher, Raul, Melissa, Ven, and Sonjia. I, too, adore what Sonjia is doing with gummi sharks and jelly beans. Dmitry worries Tim by saying he won’t start putting the candy on his outfit until he’s fitted it on his model. At this point that would leave him with a black halter neck top made from a tee shirt. Tim points out he doesn’t have time to wait. Dmitry isn’t sure this is a good idea, but he does start glueing. Always Listen to Tim. Tim is also concerned about Lantie’s time management skills, as well as her insistence on working mostly with laptop covers and rainboots. Everyone else has candy going on their outfits and she’s still draping muslin.

Then he checks out what Andrea is doing. Oh. Dear. Not only has she sewed sheets of candy dots together without altering them at all, she has done so crookedly. Let’s just quote Tim directly:

I don’t have the adequate words to tell you how completely underwhelmed I am by this.

He goes on to tell her he thinks she’s throwing the challenge and dissect the sloppiness of her work. Someone needed to do it. She’s unhappy, but she does start pulling apart her piece and reworking it. That doesn’t help the bad idea, but it might allow her to squeak through if someone else does worse.

With two hours to go before the end of the one day for the challenge, Lantie decides to change gears (not that the one she’s been using has gotten her far, since she still has nothing but unadorned muslin on her dress form) and use umbrellas instead of laptop covers. Somehow she seems to have gotten the fabric off the frames without the use of a hammer. Still, really, really bad idea. But she did have to do something.

Speaking of bad ideas, Kooan is madly glueing cotton candy to his dress, and Buffi is making a bird’s nest hat out of cotton candy. Cotton candy just isn’t substantial enough to work with. And it’s shelf life of half a nanosecond? Will not help.

Continuing the theme of equipment failure into a second week, everyone is burning themselves horribly with the glue guns. Elena, in particular, is wearing very short shorts and a glob of glue falls onto her finger, and then continues its journey to her thigh. Ouch! The medics check her out, but while she’s in a lot of pain, she’s okay to continue working.

The clock runs out and the designers head back to their rooms, leaving all that cotton candy to dissolve in the night.

When the designers return to the work room the next morning, Kooan and Buffi are horrified to discover that cotton candy doesn’t last well. I could have told them that and the last time I actually held cotton candy in my hand, I think I was about eight years old. It didn’t impress me then. All I could taste was sweetness, and it was so insubstantial. I tossed it and got me some peanut brittle instead. Kooan starts adding blue cotton candy where his pink melted. Buffi makes a new bird nest hat.

Time to prep models. Elena has a horrible time trying to get her dress off the form. Even with Fabio’s help, pina colada Twizzlers are dropping like flies. Yes, that’s the only candy she used. It’s got an air of rigatoni about it, sadly. And now it’s falling apart. More cow bells! Er… I mean more glue.

And so we come to the runway. In addition to having provided the materials, Dylan Lauren is the guest judge. I really wish they were sticking with the two guest judges vibe, but apparently not.

Again, too many designs with too much to say, so I’m just talking top and bottom here.

The top three were: Ven, Sonjia, and Gunnar. In reality it was the top two plus Gunnar. Everybody liked his design and it really was excellent work, but when it came time to talk potential winners, only Ven and Sonjia were mentioned.

The bottom three were: Buffi, Lantie, and Elena. When I tell you that Andrea’s stiff, ugly, costumy Victorian candy store clerk apron with the world’s most hideous bustle of umbrella did not make bottom three, and I wasn’t honked off about it… yeah, that tells you what I thought of the three designs that did make the bottom.

Buffi was going for a Carrie Bradshaw look. She wove striped strips of sour belts in pink and yellow into a strapless bodice that is now sagging badly out of shape and put that over a skirt made mostly of hot pink tissue paper with promotional green ribbons and bits of pink and yellow square candies glued to it in zigzags. Then there’s the bird nest hat which is dissolving again because she made it with cotton candy, bangle bracelets made of promotional ribbon in pink and yellow, and a great big all day sucker in her hand. And then there’s the accessory wall additions of a huge necklace in blue and green faux jewels of the fauxiest variety and a yellow clutch purse.

Heidi says it looks like a five year old going to a birthday party. Michael Kors says that she might have been going for Carrie Bradshaw, but she made Toddlers and Tiaras. Ouch. The judges do appreciate the technique of the woven bodice, but that’s the only thing they like… and they all note it didn’t work out well. Harsh, but fair. Buffi is not happy, of course, but she makes no excuses and keeps her cool.

Sonjia has made a frankly awesome dress. It’s got an aquatic theme in shades of turquoise and white, which is a quick and easy way to my heart. I love aquatic life and turquoise is one of my favorite colors. The sleeveless dress features pave jelly beans (turquoise down the front, white on the sides), a peplum of white gumballs edged in pale turquoise gumballs, rounded panels on both the front and back of the skirt covered in crushed turquoise rock candy, a white belt of Jordan almonds, and a spectacular deep neckline of gummi sharks molded into a fabulous, writhing mass. In the back, there’s a deep vee neck with lapels of white crushed rock candy. She spoils the effect slightly with a tiny, flattened bellboy’s cap of gumballs and jelly beans tied on with promotional ribbon in turquoise.

Heidi agrees with me about the pancake hat, but otherwise adores everything about Sonjia’s look. She praises the use of a wide variety of candy. Dylan is a fellow turquoise lover, and impressed with how pretty the dress looks from every angle. Nina thinks the whole thing has kind of a Judy Jetson/mermaid vibe, which she likes. She praises the range of candy used and the construction of the garment.

Lantie starts off by telling the judges this is her second attempt at a look, perhaps in hopes that they’ll take into consideration that she lost time by rethinking her entire concept… assuming there actually was one before she started this one. Unfortunately she has made a halter top out of one umbrella and a skirt out of another umbrella, and glued a few hard candies in swoopy, open flower shapes on the skirt, added a couple sad little blips of red hard candies to stripes on the top, and glued a few chocolate coins onto the neckline like a built in choker. When I say I think the chocolate coin choker is the single most imaginative aspect of the outfit, that tells you something. Oh, and she took a pair of the candy themed rainboots and cut them up so the tops are jagged and the fronts are open, and then tied strips of yet another umbrella on to held them in place. Oh, and glued chocolate coins to the sides.

Michael starts the ball rolling by pointing out this is exactly the sort of thing she did in the previous challenge that almost got her canned then. He calls her a ‘decorator.’ I can’t argue, but apparently Lantie can. In a really snarky tone she says ‘I don’t agree with you. Sorry.’ You know the tone; the one where there is no sorrow or remorse behind the sorry. She claims it’s the time factor that isn’t allowing her to show her creativity. There’s one in every season, and every season they are told the same thing Michael tells Lantie here. You know, that bit about how everyone else had the exact same amount of time as she did, and some of them created pure genius in the same time with the same access to the same materials. Nina says ‘at least it’s not atrocious.’ Faint praise, faint praise, damn, damn, damn! She says there’s a ‘dignity’ about it. On the other hand, everyone else got their act together and Lantie didn’t. Lantie rolls her eyes and says she would love to show the judges what she can do. Nina informs her that she’s running out of time.

Ven’s inspiration was stained glass, and he took that inspiration to eleven. He’s created a strapless cocktail dress with an asymmetrical neckline, emphasized the lines by outlining them in very thin strips of licorice, and filling in the negative spaces with crushed rock candy in shades of yellow, pink, white, and lavender. He’s created the pattern of a rosebud on the model’s left thigh. I’m blown away. Though I do feel compelled to note – as the judges will soon if he doesn’t change this up a little – that this is his second rosebud in as many challenges.

Heidi says it looks like a real dress, not candy. She says she would wear it. Nina pronounces it ‘sublime’ and ‘candy couture.’ She’s impressed that it’s on trend with the pastel colors. Michael is impressed that he didn’t know what sort of candy was used until Ven told him what it was. He loves that the model hasn’t been accessorized to death. He seems to want to praise it forever. Dylan voices the only negative, which is that she’s disappointed he only used two candies. On the other hand, she loves that he crushed the rock candy (which, I have to point out in all fairness, at least half a dozen designers did, too, including Sonjia), and thinks the result is gorgeous.

Elena starts the train wreck by noting that she doesn’t usually use a lot of color in her designs, so candy was not her preferred choice of materials. It doesn’t help that the entire time she’s been standing on the runway, bits of Twizzler have been dropping off her design until probably about a quarter of them are now festooning the floor rather than the dress. It doesn’t help that the dress is a blocky little short sleeved mini dress with shoulders that a linebacker would probably want to make a little less aggressive.

Heidi notes that she did know who designed the piece the instant she saw it… but then she also notes that it looks a lot like the sort of pasta art projects she does with her small children. Michael pronounces the look ‘rigatoni Mad Max.’ Gunnar laughs silently, but convulsively. Elena says she doesn’t think every woman wants to look ‘girly and pretty’ and says she won’t make excuses. She likes her design. Heidi says that she loves to wear strong styles, but ‘she looks like a dude.’ Not sure I’d go that far, but I’ve seen her model look better turned out. Dylan misses color. She thinks this looks sad. Nina chastises Elena that this was a candy challenge, and wonders if Elena belongs in the competition if she can’t step away from the monotone thing.

Gunnar has also used pina colada Twizzlers, as well as licorice ones. But he used them far better than Elena did. He cut them into short lengths and created a checkerboard pattern of them on his sleeveless mini dress. Then he took black foil wrappers and used them to make a peplum to break up the line of the dress a little. He piped the edges in licorice laces… and then he used the same licorice to make earrings, and threaded black gumballs into a chunky bead bracelet, and tied black promotional ribbons around the soles of the platform shoes he put on his model. The dress is good. But it’s the details that make it special. Every one of them has a purpose. Nothing is over done. In short, I’m very impressed.

So is Heidi. She calls the look chic and praises the creation of a pattern. Dylan says she would display this in the store window. Nina says it looks like he had fun doing it and calls the look cute. Michael likes that it’s a head to toe look, and says the dress looks like woven raffia… in a good way. Gunnar positively blushes.

The designers and models are released from the runway, and the judges confab about who will win and who will go home.

Everyone mentally pats Gunnar on the head and dismisses the idea that he could win this one. Michael calls Elena arrogant. Everyone is annoyed by Lantie’s excuses. And you know what? On Project Runway when there’s a choice between sending home someone who’s arrogant and someone who makes excuses… we already know who’s going home.

Anyway, the designers are brought back out.

Ven, unsurprisingly, is proclaimed the winner. I can’t say that he would have been my personal choice because Sonjia’s design really called to me. On the other hand, I cannot, will not, and don’t want to argue against Ven because what he made was truly lovely and absolutely believable. Well done, Ven!

Sonjia is praised for a good job and sent backstage. Gunnar is merely sent backstage. I thought he deserved a little more head patting, because he really did make something that seems more special when I look at it again. Still, top three is nothing to sneeze at.

Elena is sent backstage. What did I tell you about arrogance? It keeps you in the game on this show.

Equally unsurprisingly, it is Lantie who takes the next train to reality contestant oblivion and a chorus of ‘was she even on the show?’ in the reunion episode. Buffi’s outfit may have been a hot mess and an Australian’s nightmare, but it did show some understanding of the concept of using candy… even if it didn’t turn out particularly well. As I said last week, I felt it was a pretty moot point that Beatrice went home first because Lantie wouldn’t last long in her wake.

Yeah, I love it when I’m right.

Next time we get to see the designers make clothes for former contestants. Kenley and Irina with both be on my TV at the same time, plus it’s the first team challenge of the season. I suggest a regimen of heavy drinking.

One Response to “The Sweet Life”

  1. ZaftigWendy Says:

    You called it!

    Now we get to see whether Elena can pull herself up by her bootstraps. And whether Andrea can do anything that doesn’t look like a Hippy art project.

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