If you haven't watched the episode yet, you may want to before reading this. It's not that last night's "Project Runway" was all that exciting (in fact, it was a little dull), but that the elimination was actually shocking. Thus, I proceed, but I'm starting with spoilers. Consider yourself warned.
I hadn't considered this might be a double elimination challenge until the designers started tossing it around as a possibility. Of course, the designers worry about everything and rarely get it right, which is how craptastic designs like Alexander's cake-nun outfit go strutting down the runway as he oozes confidence. Seriously, the guy actually told the judges he made his poor model look like a brown "Blade Runner" quilted cult leader because, hey, his last name is Pope, and pope plus cake equals crazy ugly! No, it seemed unrealistic to think that after Alexander got the boot anyone else would be going home, as the worst design -- by Alexandria -- had only landed her safely in the middle of the pack. Apparently looking like you've been recently mugged and beaten is SO 2014.
Actually, that might be unfair. As much of a ratty, bag lady mess as Alexandria's outfit was, Kate's was worse. What was odd was how completely Kate, who has been one of the strongest designers this season, so completely whiffed the ball -- and seemed utterly unaware she had. When she spoke of her textile concept -- using binary code to create a floral pattern -- it sounded incredible. The fact that she barely used any of the textile seemed like a beginner's mistake, and certainly not a move we'd expect from someone who's now done two seasons on the show. The fact that it was a crazypants, exploding Kleenex box mess, and she was just thrilled when she saw it on the runway just boggles the mind.
Yes, Kate deserved to go home for her baby blue disaster, but it still came as a shock, at least to me. While the judges always yap about one bad week is enough to send anyone packing, even I have to question whether it was wise to give the boot to someone who seemed poised to actually win the whole thing. In the past, it's been pretty clear that judges have preferred to give the best designers a pass when they really screw up, knowing that it was probably just an off week and what they bring to Fashion Week will be so, so much better.
I was looking forward to seeing Kate's collection. The idea that we get so-so stuff from Justin instead is just depressing. I had to wonder if Tim Gunn regretted using his save so early to bring Justin back when he could have salvaged Kate instead. Since he was initially cut from the show, he's had some nice designs but not many that really popped. In a Kate/Justin run-off, Kate would be (to my mind) the obvious winner.
I'm surprised I've become so much of a Kate supporter, given that the first time she was on the show I dismissed her as a brittle, bitchy designer who seemed destined to design old lady pantsuits for Chico's. But in her time away from the show, she clearly worked hard to extend her range, and some of her designs were unexpected, fresh and, hell, I'd buy them. I have yet to see anything of Justin's that seemed as exciting. Yes, it's cool to turn a signature into an embroidered design. Is it groundbreaking, especially when it's slapped on a plain black dress? Not really.
While this episode made it painfully clear "Project Runway" never EVER needed to become an hour-and-a-half (let's plug HP! And meet the inspirations for these designs! And spend lots of time in the L'Oreal hair and make-up room! Wheee!), it also helped me to understand something Tim Gunn said before the season started. He commented that this was the most "collegial" group they've had on the show, and it was pretty low-drama. Given that Sandro and Ken were on the show, this seemed like plain crazy talk to me. But after the nutjobs and drama queens were kicked off, we were left with a whole bunch of designers who liked to play nice and help one another out. Thus, more time for product plugging, I guess.
What was disturbing in this episode was the revelation that Helen is a neurotic mess. We've seen shades of that previously, yes, but the idea she actually won't stop peppering the other designers with questions about what she should do next was disappointing. Given that she seems like the front runner to win this thing (especially now that Kate's gone), I would hope she'd realize her own opinion is probably the best. Bradon, on the other hand, seems to have more confidence each week in what he's doing -- and that may ultimately be what lands him the win. Come on, Helen, I don't think Michael Kors is crying into his purse wondering whether or not to go with short sleeves or long on any given outfit!
Do you think Kate deserved to go? Are you surprised Helen's such a mess? Who do you think will win?
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