Recap: 'Project Runway' - The groundbreaking show returns
It’s back! It’s back! And I don’t even care that now I have to confess that yes, I am actually watching a show on Lifetime, because I have missed my Project Runway so damn much I’ve been thinking of taking a pair of scissors to wardrobe and channeling Christian Siriano by saying everything’s a hot mess and maybe even getting that awful, spiky Kate Gosselin haircut he wears. Am I too excited? Yes, yes I am. But if it’s wrong to say I need me some Tim Gunn, then hell, I don’t want to be right.
Okay, even though I’m a little sad Korto Momolu didn’t win the Project Runway All-Star Challenge (she is so not the number two girl of Project Runway in my book), I think tonight will be PR at its best, and that might be true just because I’ve had lots of time to forget the show’s cliches and now they’re just nostalgic and cute. The painfully drawn out reveals, the auf weidershens, the “work with it” directive from Tim, oh, it all makes my heart go pity pat this week. Ask me by the time they’re down to final four if I think any of that crap is cute, well, probably not, but let’s cross that bridge when I get to it.
First off, we meet Ra’mon Lawrence from Minneapolis. He’s a very ambitious person, because he dropped out of med school to snip patterns, which is surely making his parents want to kill themselves on a daily basis. But for someone from freakin’ Minneapolis he has a whole lot of snobby attitude, which makes me hope someone accidentally on purpose pours coffee on his next design.
Logan Neitzel from Seattle tells us he’s definitely different from a normal fashion designer, which I think is his way of telling us he’s straight. He can also fix cars. So, really straight.
Jonny Sakalis of West Hollywood is a short fireplug of a guy who lets us know right up front that he’s tried out three times, but he didn’t get on the show prior to now because of a pesky crystal meth addiction. Which tells us up front he actually has brain damage. I watch my Intervention, I know these things, people. And his teeth, probably not so good. Just keep an eye on this one, because I know where they’re filming this show and it’s walking distance from crack alley. And if Jonny’s from WeHo, he knows he’s walking distance from crack alley. Producers, give this guy a security guard!
Then, we meet Gordana Gehlhausen of Charleston by way of Yugoslavia, so she’s in this for all the girls out there with big dreams but who are starting with small steps, which sounds more impressive when the person saying it sounds like Natasha from the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons.
Then, some quick hits, because there are too many designers to fit in before the first commercial break.
Malvin Vien of New York walks in looking like a plaid 80s nightmare, while Carol Hannah Whitfield of Charleston looks like a blond nothing, but hey, so did last year’s winner, so whatever. Qristyl (and no, that is NOT a typo) Frazer of New York is a plus-sexy designer, which means she makes clothes for big, sassy girls. Shirin Askari of Richardson, Texas (Shirin means sweet in Farsi!) works with things that function as more than one thing, which basically means she makes things that are a little ugly but they have a bonus cape attached.
And then it’s time to bust out the crazy, because we meet the Feather Prince, Nicolas Putvinki of New York. Anyone who tells you that “people in New York know me as the Feather Prince” is one step away from saying “people in New York know me as the guy with a tin foil hat who takes baths in McDonald’s restrooms and often smells like pee.” But until that day comes, he likes chiffon and plans to win.
Mitchell Hall of Savannah is working in the business side of fashion, so he knows what sells. Epperson of New York looks like he’s from a 70s R&B cover band. Then there’s Christopher Straub of Shakopee, Minnesota, which sounds like an unfortunate place to be from. He also looks like he could be in a band, but sadly, I think that band would be Bare Naked Ladies or Hootie and the Blowfish.
Ari Fish of Kansas City, Missouri likes to talk to fabric and ask it what it would like to be. She’d like to make clothing that could also be a tent and purify your water. I think she may be living in a tent next to the Feather Prince once all of this is over, but hey, good on you, girl.
Then it’s Athea Harper of Dayton, Ohio, who looks like she’s from Dayton, which means she’s about 10 years behind the current trends. Plus, she has prom queen hair, so I think her days are numbered.
Irina Shabayeva of New York says her dog Princess is the inspiration for every purse she makes, because her ugly little ratdog likes to be carried, and I automatically hate her because anyone who carries a dog in a purse should really be euthanized. Sorry, but it’s true. Then, we swing back to Epperson, who reveals his oldest kid is about the same age as the other contestants, which has got to suck for him, but I say, hey, diversity! Go Oldie McOlderson! I am now totally rooting for him.
Then, it’s toast time on the roof to enjoy the beautiful weather which Heidi cheerfully points out the designers will never see again until they’re eliminated or literally climb out of a window. Oh, and everyone meets Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum. You know, I keep forgetting Tim has a day job running Liz Claiborne, and it makes me want to buy some Liz Claiborne, but then I remember it’s Liz Claiborne and I don’t. We learn they’ll be working at FIDM (The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising if you want to drag it out), which means they’re stuck downtown, which pretty much is like going to New York and staying in Buffalo instead of Manhattan, but welcome to my city, designers!
Oh, and we have another designer to meet. Louise Black of Dallas tells us she likes vintage, which accounts for the bad Louise Brooks haircut and the unflattering make-up. She is ready for her close-up, to which I say, if you’re really ready for your close-up, you need a kinder shade of foundation unless you’re auditioning for a zombie movie.
Then, Malvin tells us he’s androgynous. To which I say, really? The hair didn’t give that away at all.
There are a few other moments with the new cast that flitter by so fast you’d better have TiVo, but I’ll try to pick out a few memorable ones. I noticed Althea is working a Farrah thing, very blonde and smiley, and who knows, this is L.A., it could take her far. Christopher says he couldn’t go to design school because of a death in his family, but he’s been doing it himself and that’s just fine. But really, this isn’t a good sign. It’s sort of like saying, hey, I wanted to go to dental school, but I discovered you can pretty much fix your own teeth if you have a good two-way mirror and a tolerance for pain, and that may be true, but um, let’s not give you an office right away.
Jonny reveals to his roommates that he’s worried about the challenge, and his stomach is tied up, and I’m thinking, great, he’s going to walk down 6th Avenue and bam, he’ll be dancing naked on the roof and crying while pulling out his own molars. But I will say that would make great television for at least one episode, so I’m not totally down on the idea.
Then, our designers are dragged to the 60th Annual Emmy Award red carpet, where Tim tells them they must do a red carpet look for their first challenge. The winner, as usual, will get immunity next week. Then, it’s off to FIDM, which looks pretty much exactly like FIT. Why are they even bothering to do this in L.A.?
The go to Mood, they buy stuff. C’mon, if you’ve seen the show, you know the drill. Because even in L.A., they go to the same damn store. They shop, they run around like frantic chickens, they spend money, it’s all good.
Back at FIDM, Ari reveals that she doesn’t sketch. She just meditates on the garment, then decides. Oh ma God. She is so going home it’s not even funny. She even flops around the room contemplating her garment while everyone else is sketching to drive home the point that she operates on some bizarro plane where little angels and pixies float down from the ether to pepper her with good ideas. What the F?
Mitchell informs us that he loves pressure. Which is good, because I’ll just give you a hint. He’s going to be under a lot of pressure. Like Barney Frank at a town hall meeting filled with Lyndon Larouche supporters pressure.
Ra’mon gets weepy thinking about someone wearing one of his designs on the red carpet, but that doesn’t make me like him. I’m telling you, the guy’s got a bitchy vibe going. Which probably means he’s super talented. So he could have done brain surgery or design dresses. Figures.
Jonny starts getting nervous. And says he needs his support structure. He feels lost and overwhelmed. I’m waiting for him to steal someone’s wallet and go hunting for meth. Boy’s jonesing, hardcore. Of course, seeing an addict actually break down in front of them makes everyone worry about Jonny, if only because he looks like he’s going to do something crazy and stupid and he’s very close to sewing needles and scissors as well as the dresses they’re working on, and we all know Project Runway doesn’t cut you any slack if your stuff gets messed up. Ra’mon sits with Jonny for a while, so maybe he’s not all bad, or maybe he just needed to sit down.
Then, Tim sits down with Johnny to give him some fashion therapy. The Great One asks Johnny, “Are you being too hard on you?” and I think I would totally go to Tim for therapy, because he’s all avuncular and stuff and those glasses make him look wicked smart. Johnny says he’s emotionally obliterated, but Tim says he can do it and they hug it out. Which apparently works, because he calls Tim Gunn a god and instantly gets to work.
Carol is working on a corded bodice. Mavin’s dress is ineffable. Ari’s dress looks like it will be crap that bears a surprising resemblance to EPCOT.
The next morning, Johnny tells us he woke up happier and more confident, and Jesus, I think Tim is actually magic. Why didn’t we send him to North Korea?
At FIDM, Christopher reveals he doesn’t know what smocking is. He doesn’t know a lot of designer terms it turns out, having skipped that all-important design school phase. He says this doesn’t matter, but come on, I know what smocking is and I can’t even sew on a button. Don’t be smug, Christopher.
Then, it’s time for Tim to drop by and give everyone his semi-honest opinion, which usually entails him holding his chin and staring over his glasses and asking designers if they really like what they’re doing, which causes half of them to get defensive and the other half to break down in tears. He does have powers, I’m telling you. Tim looks at Christopher’s dress and says it’s not styled correctly. He calls Ari’s halter dress a halter diaper, but she isn’t worried. Ra’mon is doing architectural elements, which might result in a big butt and Tim gets all puntastic and says the big butt is a big but. Mitchell’s dress is Victorian. Finally, he won’t give Qristal a straight answer about her dress. But I will. Qristal, it looks like you dress drag queens in Miami. That shiny-ass K-mart special you’re working on is plain UGLY.
Four hours remaining...
So, the designers are closing in on the finish line, and of course they’re peeping at the competition. Qristal thinks Ari’s dress is interesting, but unless it’s all about flashing vag, it needs pants. Which Ari only seems to realize, um, at the last minute. Mitchell discovers that his measurements were a little off. As in five inches off. So he essentially has to throw out his dress and start over. Hey, he said he liked pressure!
Two hours remaining...
Mitchell tells his model he has to stitch her into her dress. Christopher is sympathetic, but Ra’mon is all snotty about Mitchell’s bad luck, telling us that the poor guy’s got to send a naked model down the runway. I told you, he’s got some bitch in him, that Ra’mon.
Mitchell is very worried about his naked model.
Finally, it’s to the runway. Michael Kors is back, Nina Garcia is back and tonight we have a guest judge... someone who has spent a lot of time on the red carpet. And it’s... Lindsay Lohan? Seriously? I mean, to call her a designer of her own line is like saying she formulated the chemical mixture of her spray-on tan crap. She designs leggings, people. Leggings.
So let’s get to it.
She busts out a silver, shiny old Hollywood dress, which is kinda boring but not bad.
Her dress is more interesting than Althea’s, but the ruffle around the bodice is not wowing me. Too much volume.
His dress looks like something you wear to a job interview. Nice detailing and elegant, but not fancy enough for red carpet.
Okay, she’s naked. In a sheer nightie. But maybe he can sell this to Victoria’s Secret. It’s sad, because the original dress he designed was interesting, if a little Victorian for my taste.
Her dress is a two-tone hot mess. I blame the lighting on the runway, which makes the contrasting color look like a mistake.
For someone who never went to design school, this isn’t half bad.
Very sedate, very sophisticated, very Angelina Jolie.
Her dress is... okay
Go Epperson! This is dramatic and the neckline is totally high fashion, but the fake fur around the hem, ugh.
It is indeed a halter diaper.
Hey, Meth Head pulled it out! This is actually a very pretty, different look for red carpet.
Honey, Hedda Lettuce called, she says one of the girls in her drag queen review needs her dress back.
His dress isn’t bad, but it’s a little dull in grey on grey.
His dress is sexy and has some nice detailing, but it’s too short.
The judges make their decisions. Shirin, Epperson, Jordana, Carol, Logan, Althea, Nicolas, Irina, Melvin and Louise are all safe. Then, it’s time for the best of the best and the worst of the worst.
Qristal is, no surprise, in the latter category. She says Miley Cyrus would wear her dress to the Emmys. And I say, only if she gets a head injury. Nina says the seam looks crooked, Michael says it looks schizophrenic, and I say, I expected nothing less from someone who spells Cristal with a Q.
Christopher says his ideal model is going to the VMA Awards. Heidi thinks his dress is hip and young. Michael thinks it’s cute and edgy. Nina likes the dark romance of it all. Lindsay would like fewer ruffles, but she likes it. Hey, maybe you don’t need design school after all! But I’m not changing my mind about dental school.
Then, it’s Ra’mon’s turn. Michael likes his dress and thinks it’s well made. Lindsay really likes it, but says it’s safe. Heidi thinks it looks expensive.
Ari wants her model to wear her dress to the VMAs. In 2080. Before collecting her Nobel Peace Prize. Did she go off her medication? Just curious. Michael says the model looks like a disco soccer ball. Nina generously says it’s a little out there, which is a huge understatement, and I’m wondering why the judges are being so nice. Lindsay says Ari should make sure someone will buy her crazypants stuff, and there has to be an awareness of what’s too out there.
When it comes to Jonny’s dress, Nina says it’s seductive and not overly sexy. Lindsay says the low back and V in the front is sexy. Michael says the dress is so interesting he didn’t need an interesting color, which makes sense to everyone but I don’t know, I like the red.
Mitchell explains his horrible nightgown mistake to the judges, but Heidi says models lie about their age and height and everything else, which I guess he was supposed to know through some sort of psychic e-mail system, and Heidi points out PR rules show no mercy in a chipper voice that makes me think Seal has his work cut out for him. Nina says the dress is completely sheer and unwearable, but she likes the attitude. Michael says it looks whipped together, and it’s a cool nightgown, but not right for the red carpet.
Then, the judges confer.
Nina says he needs confidence, but Lindsay says it was the closest to making sense on the red carpet.
Michael thinks the shape is cool. And it is, truthfully, the most interesting dress from a design standpoint.
Heidi says she’d wear his dress, which is probably the biggest compliment he’s going to get.
Michael was not okay with the taste level. And honestly, anyone who does not frequent Wal-Mart would agree.
Nina doesn’t know if she’s serious or not, but Michael almost likes her intense spaciness. Why, why are these judges tiptoeing around?
Michael says no one could wear it. But I still don’t think he’s going home.
And the winner is... Christopher! Who knew? The guy who doesn’t even know how to smock, go figure! He cries like a little girl about it, but it’s almost sweet. Maybe he’s just relieved not to be in Minnesota.
Then, it’s down to Ari and Mitchell for elimination. Really? They keep Qristal? Come on!
The first to be eliminated, which has got to suck...Ari. Which is okay, because now she can get the mental help she so clearly needs. Even so, I’m a little surprised. Ari’s halter diaper also showed an impressive amount of detail and artistry, even if it didn’t cover the crotch, and I was curious to see what weird ass crap she’d churn out next week. I mean, if you look at a lot of designers (Viktor & Rolf did some scary stuff with burlap to create real-life Russian stacking dolls, and let's not forget the actual hunchback pads by Rei Karakubo for Commes des Garcons -- I mean, seriously, they both made Qristal look good), they bring some hella crazy to the runway, then churn out some nice perfumes and sunglasses and all is forgiven.
Ari, sniffling, says taking risks can be a good thing, but she’s learned you have to take risks responsibly, which is the first and last coherent thing she says.
So, PR is back and I’m thrilled. Judges need to let loose a little, but Tim’s still Tim and L.A. looks just like NYC, so all’s well that ends well. And next week, I think they’re designing a dress for Heidi’s baby bump and it seems like the judges let their claws out, so I’m hopeful PR will truly return to form. Even if it is on the girly network.
What did you think of Project Runway’s return? Who do you think is the stand-out? Do you think Ari deserved to be eliminated?