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Finally the days have ticked down on the little Bravo clock in the corner of my television screen, and it is time for the real Project Runway fun to begin. The opening credits roll, and we’re already somewhat familiar with the new contestants, because of the previous hour’s introductory show.

If one more person says fashion is their passion, I’ll auf them myself.

It is moving-in day at Atlas, the apartment high rise abode of the designers. Malan, Michael, Bradley and Robert share one room, which could prove to be interesting: think Barbie Versus Dracula and relish the possibilities. Laura, Angela, Stacey, and Alison share another apartment; Laura and Angela start in on a city versus country discussion, which may play out in more dramatic terms later in the season. Kayne, Jeffrey, Vincent, and Keith are roommates, and finally, Uli, Bonnie and Katherine take the final apartment. For some reason, there are only 15 contestants this year, when there were 16 last year, if I recall correctly.

The designers find a note that directs them to the roof of Atlas, where they are greeted by Tim and Heidi. Champagne and conversation flow, and before you know it, Robert is dishing on working for Isaac Mizrahi, but we don’t learn any juicy details. Laura and Stacey individually profess that fashion is her passion to the camera. What next: if the gloves don’t fit, you must acquit?!?!

At last Heidi, in a Trump-like shout, announces it is time to begin the first challenge. Tim explains that the designers are to go back to their apartments and find on each bed a black box containing scissors, pliers, and a laundry bag. The first person to go into New Jersey and kill a guy for the mafia wins. OK, no, that’s just where I thought Tim was going with it. In stead, they have 15 minutes to go back to their apartments and gather whatever materials they may find that fits in the bags to use to make their first garment. The challenge is about innovation and expressing who each designer is as an individual and the winner will have immunity from elimination in the next challenge.

The drunken group tears off, in a most uncivilized manner, according to Malan, and pillages the apartments. What one would actually do with the wooden slats of the bed, and how the slats would fit into the laundry bag, is beyond me. During the process, we gain insight into Robert, as he becomes quite put out that Bradley took his personal, brought-from-home pillow and pillow case.

Hanging plants don’t make it on the runway for a good reason.

After the supplies are gathered, the group heads to the Parsons workspace. Tim says they have until 1 a.m. to finish their garments. He again reminds them to be innovative and show who they are as a designer through their garment. The models have been assigned and their measurements were provided. Tim also reminds them that whomever wins will have immunity in the next challenge.

Then it’s the usual first challenge jitters. Angela freaks out over the time constraint. Kayne notes that he doesn’t usually work with rubber doormats in his design. [I bet he would if they were sequined.] Keith, in a moment of odd hubris, nearly boasts that, as a menswear designer, he has never made a dress before. I find that tough to believe, but he is self-taught, sp it could be true. Jeffrey, in typical foreshadowing mode, says he is the best in the room at construction. And, as in years past, issues with the sewing machines arise, and Stacey abandons the machine for hand sewing. Since it takes me about 3 hours to do a handful of buttons, I can’t imagine hand sewing a dress within the time limit of the show.

These guys are nothing but a bunch of remedial intermediates.

Tim Gunn visits the workroom, first stopping at Vincent’s space. Vincent has made a very simple, straight sheath dress with a thin halter top tie. It looks like something even I could make. He’s put on two pockets, made out of perhaps rattan, and the pockets are decorated with what looks like throat lozenges, but later prove to be parts of a chandelier. Tim is concerned that the pockets are too cartoon-y. Then Vincent pulls out this straw basket and wants to use it as a hat. Tim suggests that the hat is uninspired, and Vincent takes that to mean “attach random bits of chain to it”. However, he is so jazzed by his hat creation, he could light up the NYC power grid.

Tim also stops by Jeffrey’s area, where he’s making a long jacket and a dress, both in a deconstructed style. Tim thinks the dress competes too much with the jacket, but Jeff doesn’t care. Tim notices Stacey’s hand sewing; she doesn’t quite get his clues but does pick up that he is not thrilled with her design. Tim also visits with Keith, and frets that Keith’s design is not as innovative as the judges might anticipate. Keith’s material is a bed sheet, which is awfully close to fabric, and Tim suggest using some other scavenged material. Keith does for a time use a placemat and some chain, but ultimately comes back to his original vision.

Finally, it is 1 a.m. and everyone heads home to find that the apartments are still ripped up, the beds and bedding have not been replaced, and they are in for one uncomfortable night.

Who knew high fashion involved a glue gun?

On the day of the runway show, the designers rush to put the finishing touches on their creations. As Laura works on her long fur-trimmed coat, she is complemented by Malan, and sets about hot gluing round, reflective bits on the bottom of the coat. Angela, at the suggestion of Kayne, similarly grabs a hot glue gun to finish her design. I doubt Yves Saint Laurent would approve, Miss O-Hi-O.

The models come in and find their designers and head off to makeup and hair. Vincent spends far too much time worrying his basket hat and giant Lindsey Lohan-meets-the-Fly sunglasses. Neither Bonnie nor Uli like the hat and privately say so, but no one will confront Vincent in his hat glee and talk him off that ledge.

Finally, it is time for the runway show. The designers and judges, Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, and Kate Spade, are assembled as Heidi comes out dressed in thigh-high black boots and some blousy pirate shirt looking thing that makes her look chunky. Heidi Klum is not chunky, not even when she was pregnant, so I don’t know what was up with the outfit nor why Michael or Nina didn’t stop the tragedy.

Watch out for the bird flu: the feathers are flying.

The looks as they came down the runway were as follows:

Laura sent down a long, dressy, coat with a fur collar and fur cuffs, made from a fur rug and parts of a chandelier, modeled by Katie. The coat is something that would be flattering on most anyone, provided it was proportionally tailored.

A dress and wrap designed by Bradley and modeled by Camilla came next. It was a shift dress, with hardly any tailoring and looked very much like a comforter stapled up the back of the girl. The wrap was made out of that insulation stuff in your mattress/box springs. The wrap was an odd shape, but more offensive was the texture of the material.

Keith showed a pretty blue wrap dress made out of a bed sheet, accompanied by a chunky bead necklace made from a wall hanging, all modeled by Nazri.

A leather skirt, made from the chaise lounge cover, and an almost-wide-open blouse made from bed sheets was constructed by Angela. As Clarissa modeled the look, she carried large flowers over her shoulder. At some angles, it looked like the flowers were connected to the back of the blouse, but in the end, I concluded she just held them. I could be wrong.

Next came another typical sleeveless Project Runway dress (strapless, kind of empire-waist-ish) made by Kayne out of a bath mat, feathers, the top of a vinyl stool and a bed sheet, modeled by Jia. The dress was pretty good, the back detailing nice, but that’s about it.

Malan also came out with a simple dress and wrap made out of the ottoman cover. It was fairly plain, but I noted the single inverted pleat up each side of the fitted skirt. That detail made the skirt look more form fitting than it was, allowing better leg mobility by his model, Moon. I very much liked this detail, but the rest of the outfit was average.

Bonnie made a strapless dress that she had to double-stick tape to Toni in order to avoid any wardrobe malfunction. The dress was made from a duvet cover and sheets. The color was nice, and the detailing around the waist harkened to traditional Japanese kimono wrapping.

Using a comforter and a bunch of blue plastic bags, Katherine made a sleeveless, long, hoodie wrap to cover the blue dress worn by Candice. While you could still tell the wrap was a comforter, it was a better design than Bradley’s attempt.

My personal favorite was Michael’s coffee filter creation worn by Alexandra. It did remind me a bit of Chloe’s garden party dress from last season, but it was simple, elegant, and, provided it didn’t rain, strangely wearable.

Vincent’s poor model Lindsay walked down the runway with her dress made out of a sheet and parts of a lamp, wearing a basket with silver chain dangling and cataract patient sunglasses.

Alison made a simple dress out of a bed sheet, with a loosely gathered hem and collar. It had cap sleeves, and we all know how unusual sleeves of any kind are in a Project Runway design. Amanda’s neck was adorned by part of a beaded curtain quite effectively.

The hand sewn dress Stacey designed came next. The top was another one of those high-waisted sleeveless, bra-like tops, made out of a sheet, and the bottom was layers of the sheer shower curtain. Stacey made Marilinda a boy short panty to go underneath, and it was visible through the layers of skirt.

Robert sent down a cute little dress made out of a duvet cover. He made the straps out of part of a silver bead wall hanging; the beads draped down the front of Danielle’s neck like a necklace, but the back revealed the beads were also used as straps. The straps were gathered together at some points by some red bows, which I feel are just a tad too precious.

Uli used beads and curtains to make a dress with a deep V accented by the yellow beads. It worked on Katina, but felt familiar.

For the final look, and in a display of drama, Javi came out modeling Jeffrey’s design and shot feathers all over the runway. His deconstructed coat and dress were made of felt, vinyl, towels and bed sheets. And quite possibly the kitchen sink.

After the show, the designers are called back on the runway, and Heidi dismisses Alison, Bradley, Angela, Kayne, Malan, Bonnie, Katherine, Michael, and Uli, saying they are in and can leave the runway. The remaining six are, as always, the three highest and three lowest scores.

Also true to form, the pre-judging questions give everyone a pretty good indication who is “highest” and who is “lowest”. Laura’s coat draws the comment that it is chic and wearable, if not a bit noisy and Michael likes it very much. Keith’s blue wrap dress is found to be not a joke and very believable as a dress by the judges. Robert’s dress with the beads and bows strikes Michael as charming. Conversely, Vincent is questioned about the hat, as it distracted the judges from the “cute” dress. [Kate Spade thought the dress was cute. I say it’s a knock-off of an Old Navy dress I got years ago. Tomato, tomahto.] The judges point out that Stacey’s dress is ill-fitting on the top and the visible underwear is just not cool. Finally, the judges chastise Jeffrey for having too much going on with his dress and jacket combination, and say the feather flying thing was just over the top. The designers are sent away and the judges deliberate.

Apparently, you can have it both ways.

After deliberation, Heidi tells Laura she is in and is dismissed. Keith, for his sheet wrap dress, wins the challenge and gets immunity. Maybe he has beginner’s luck on his first dress, but I just didn’t see the innovation of taking a bed sheet and making a dress. I am fairly certain this goes on at fraternity toga parties on an annual basis. Sure it was pretty, but it was, as Tim Gunn said, pretty gosh darn close to fabric to start with. Also, Robert and, much to my surprise, Vincent are both in.

The bottom two are Jeffrey, for his coat and dress combo, and Stacey, for her sheer panty-showing floaty white dress. Heidi tells Jeffrey that he had too much going on, it was distracting, and the pieces did not go together. She then tells Stacey that she not only did not use innovative materials, but she had bad execution, and Stacey is out. What I want to know is where was this criteria of “good construction” and “properly fitting top” when Santino was a contestant. And I also want to know why I have to look at Jeffrey’s nasty neck tattoo for another week.

As a final note, I was so keyed up for Tim Gunn asking someone to leave this week. From the previews, it looked like it was going to happen in the very first episode, but, alas, it did not. I thought Bravo was above insulting the viewers like a Burnett show would.