So, last week Ivy was the latest designer to hit the pavement, and even her onetime bud Gwetchen wasn’t too broken up about it, as Ivy was long on attitude but a wee bit short on creativity. Which, ultimately, is kind of a problem on this show. However, that little flaw of sucking was not enough to turn off Valerie’s loyalty switch. Valerie wants to claw her way back to the top in Ivy’s memory. Which is very noble and heartwarming, except that I think Valerie believes she was better friends with Ivy than Ivy did, which makes it kind of sad and pathetic, too. Oh, Valerie.
 
[Full recap of Thursday's (Sept. 30) "Project Runway" after the break...]
 
Gwetchen sees Mondo as her greatest competition. Oddly enough, Mondo sees Andy as his greatest competition. As Mondo doesn’t really think he’s competing with someone who keeps making drab outfits in camel and bordeaux.
 
The designers filter into the workroom to find that childhood pictures of themselves have been uploaded onto big ass computer monitors. This makes many of the designers homesick and viewers at home simply sick, as no one needed to see a chubby, pre-adolescent Michael C. in his underwear.
 
Tim walks in to introduce some chick from HP and announces that the show is bringing back the HP challenge from last year, which allows the designers to create their own textile design. Oh, and the textile has to be inspired by each designer’s past. Thus, the kiddie pictures. Then, the lady from HP starts prattling on about computers and printers and how great HP is and I fall asleep.
 
Oh, wait, the shameless plug is over!  Everyone starts designing their fabrics and telling stories about their childhoods. Valerie thought her dad was Superman. Andy loves his mom. And Michael C. recounts a memorable event which sounds kind of traumatic to me, during which his mom ripped off a skirt he was wearing and took a picture of him in his underpants. But he loves his family. And they all wear creepy little red string bracelets featuring an evil eye. Ooookay, Michael C. You just do your thing and hope that you can save up for therapy someday.
 
Gwetchen decides to make a hideous Southwestern design of a squash blossom or a sunbonnet or something that looks like it would be hanging in a gift shop next to a Kokopelli wind chime. April is making a darkly romantic print symbolizing her parents’ divorce. Why does that sound EXACTLY like something April would do?
 
Mondo reveals that he came out to his mother when he was 17, and she told him not to tell the rest of the family. Because they’d never guess that a guy who dresses like an extra from “Cabaret” would be gay?
 
But that’s not Mondo’s real secret. Mondo creates a print of a giant plus sign. Because he’s HIV positive. And has been for ten years. And his family doesn’t know. Crap, crap, crap.  
 
After a trip to Mood, Tim announces that some “special guests” will be visiting the workroom. And, of course, it’s a fleet of designer moms and other assorted family members.

Gwetchen notes that everyone else is “crying like a bunch of babies.” Because she assumes her mom won’t make it, as she has to take care of her wheelchair-bound stepdad. But, of course, her mom arrives, and Gwetchen cries like a big old baby herself. At least she admits it, though.

Michael C. sobs all over his kid. Actually, everyone sobs all over their respective family members. Then, Tim comes in, and for the first time in “PR” history, he actually has a good surprise for the designers – he’s suspending the work day and letting them hang with their visitors. Which, I’m sure, is happening because the producers know that Mondo’s going to have a very emotional, possibly dramatic visit with his mom.
 
Although it doesn’t turn out that way. Mondo, wisely, tries to just enjoy his visit with his mom and doesn’t want to cause her great emotional pain by revealing his HIV status to her. In front of a camera. To be viewed by millions of people. Yeah, that may be something you’d want to do during a private moment.
 
It’s Tim time! He tells April that, as much as he respects the emotional baggage, I mean background, that went into her print, the judges won’t give a crap and she needs to be a little more clear headed about her design. Tim likes Michael C.’s outfit. Tim doesn’t love Christopher’s pants. Gwetchen thinks Christopher’s design is a C+. Because Gwetchen’s grading scale matters. Andy is such an emotional mess thanks to his visit from his mom, he can’t even tell Tim what the hell he’s doing. Get it together, Andy! You can spend all the time you want with your mom once you’ve gotten eliminated, but I wouldn’t try to speed that up.
 
Tim doesn’t gag when he sees Gwetchen’s print, which I guess is a thumbs up. He warns Valerie not to create a pu-pu platter of design details, which makes me really, really want a spare rib.
 
Mondo doesn’t tell Tim about the motivation behind his print, but Tim loves it anyway. And I’m guessing, as it’s a giant plus sign, Tim probably has a good guess as to what it means. Especially since he gets choked up as he’s leaving the work room. Yes, that could be creative editing, but it still makes me want to cry. Sometimes I just want to shrink Tim down to doll-size so I can keep him in my pocket and feed him Tic-Tacs and honey-coated almonds.  
 
Then, we have a Michael C. montage. Andy admits Michael’s grown on him. Mondo thinks he rocks. It seems that Michael C. has become accepted by his fellow designers. Except for Gwetchen, who thinks his outfit is witchy. Of course, Gwetchen has something crappy to say about pretty much everyone in the workroom, so she may actually like Michael C. as much as anyone.
 
So, the judges are Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Rachel Roy. Heidi informs us that Rachel has designed stuff for Michelle Obama. She’s also in those terrible Macy’s commercials, plugging her Rachel line. But it’s all about designing for a First Lady this season, for some reason. I know that everyone wants to turn Michelle Obama into the next Jackie O, but come on, people, she’s fine but she looks like she buys off the rack from J. Crew. Which is a good thing during a recession, really, but let’s not go completely nuts.
 
April
I do like April’s work, I do. But it’s getting awfully samey-samey with the monochrome palette. Still, I love the sleeve she made in her “divorce” fabric, and I might be able to forgive the chicken feather-looking skirt.
 
Andy
I know, his head wasn’t in the game this week. But what is this? A maternity top and hot pants?
 
Mondo
If you’d told me high waisted pants in a purple, black and yellow print would look amazing, I’d tell you you were lying. But these are amazing. Mondo rocks again. And now I want to cry.
 
Valerie
It’s actually hard to see her fabric, which is a shame, as I love the design. The top looks saggy, and the skirt looks like she made it out of little paper mache birds. This is bad. And she thought she’d win with this? Really?
 
Gwetchen
Um, it’s a sleeveless top with bland black pants. I could not be more bored by this.
 
Michael C.
I kind of like the piping, and this dress does fit well. But the drawback with all of these black-backed fabrics is it’s hard to see them on the runway. If I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t think this was a print at all.
 
Christopher
This isn’t amazing. Very off the rack. Not loving the zipper down her ass crack, either.
 
Everyone’s on the block today.
 
Gwetchen is first. Heidi liked it. Michael loves the pants. Nina liked the print, but she thought the outfit was disappointing. Finally! Michael agrees, it’s not her best work. Because they have such high standards for Gwetchen. Why, I don’t know, but they do. Rachel loves how organic the outfit is. If you shop at truck stops and tourist traps, sure. Why oh why is every crappy thing Gwetchen sends down the runway given a pass?
 
Next up, Michael C. Michael Kors thinks his model looks like she’s wearing a men’s tie, but in a bad way. Heidi likes it, but she doesn’t like the matchy-matchy shoes. Nina thinks the outfit needs proper styling. Okay, I’ll give the judges the shoes, but it’s a well-made dress.
 
Christopher tries to sell his beach idea. Rachel isn’t buying, and Nina thinks it isn’t fashion. Heidi thinks it’s boring. Michael wishes it was more. I agree – if the whole thing cost more than $150, I’d think it was overpriced.
 
Rachel likes Andy’s print, but she hates the outfit. Nina thinks the whole thing is sad. Michael likes the print, but feels Andy dumbed himself down. Heidi thinks it’s unwearable.
 
April tells her divorce story, which seems really lame given Mondo’s revelation. Michael likes the bodice, but thinks the skirt is a little random. Nina likes it and thinks it’s interesting. Rachel chooses April’s print as her favorite. Heidi also loves the print and hates the skirt.
 
Valerie tries to explain her weird skirt. Heidi says it looks like napkins, which is what she designed for the party store challenge. Michael agrees. Nina thinks it looks heavy. Rachel likes it, but doesn’t dig the fabric layers.
 
Mondo, Mondo, Mondo. Mondo reveals the fabric is personal and tells a story. Nina wishes she knew what the story was, but she loves it anyway. Michael thinks there’s a sharpness to it and it has joy. Rachel loves it and would love to wear the outfit. But she thought the print was too perfect. Shut up, Rachel. Heidi thinks it makes a statement. Nina wants to shoot it. For an editorial, not like a moose.

Then, Mondo tells Nina his secret. I think Michael C. is going to cry. Valerie is definitely going to cry. But Mondo seems fully relieved to get this off his chest, so maybe no one should cry. Backstage, he says he feels free. And that maybe he’ll start being nicer.
 
There is some very tiny part of me that cynically thinks, well, Mondo is definitely going to win now. Because how can you not give the win to someone who reveals a secret like that? But I will now take a bat and squash that little cynical part of me, because one, Mondo is a great designer who doesn’t even need a secret to win, and two, because he sincerely seemed to be struggling with this. And maybe I’m a sucker, maybe this was all set up before the show even started filming, but I really don’t care.
 
Rachel selects Andy’s outfit as the worst. Michael hated Valerie’s. And no one liked Christopher’s outfit. Michael C. was also a thumbs down.
 
At the top, Gwetchen, April and Mondo. Everyone loves Mondo’s message, of finding joy in difficulty. C’mon, give the win to Mondo! I know, three in a row is unheard of, but those pants are something else.
 
April is… in. Mondo is… the winner! Now he’s going to cry. Gwetchen is, of course, in.
 
Michael C. is… in. Christopher is… in. It’s down to Andy and Valerie. Andy is… in. Bye, Valerie. So much for fighting on in Ivy’s memory.
 
It’s sad to see Valerie go, given that she started out strong and just fell apart a little more week after week – plus, she seemed like such a nice girl and a welcome antidote to Gwetchen’s witchiness. So backstage, it’s a little hard to see her start crying before she goes all Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” by telling everyone how great they are, one by one (and YOU were a wonderful, wonderful scarecrow who thought you didn’t have a brain! But you had one all along!). Oh, Valerie. You were great, but paper mache chickens, yeah, that was pretty unforgivable.
 
After Valerie’s sent packing, Tim tells Mondo how proud he is of him, and there’s hugging and I think everyone wants to cry all over again. I know, I know, HIV is not the death sentence it used to be, and Mondo’s found joy in telling his secret, but he has been bottling this up for ten damn years, and you know telling his family is going to be hard on him, and, well, everyone on the show looked all teary-eyed and emotional so it’s not just me. Although, granted, the designers are teary-eyed because they can’t find their seam rippers and their coffee is cold and they haven’t slept well for weeks and they are certain they’re going to die if the judges call their latest design an old moldy housecoat, though that’s more likely than not on this show. So yeah, maybe I should just say, go Mondo! And leave it at that.
 
What did you think of Mondo’s print? Do you think Valerie deserved to go? Do you think Mondo made the right decision to tell his secret?