Mixing Old Fashioneds
Project Runway Recap: 8/2 Episode 304: Miracle on 34th Street
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Welcome, welcome to the recap of the most highly anticipated episode of Project Runway, this side of a finale. We all know someone is asked to leave. Who will it be? Will we care when it’s finally done? Will something even more outrageous happen before the end of the show? Let’s get started and find out!
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On the morning after Katherine was auf’d, we see Uli and Bonnie awakening in their room. They wonder if the roommates are going to have to consolidate, now that Katherine is gone. Uli wouldn’t mind moving in with someone else, and Bonnie wouldn’t either, unless that someone else is Angela. Angela says to the camera that this next challenge is about saving face with the other designers, and she is going to have to prove herself again. I wonder when she proved herself in the first place.
Independent of the Uli and Bonnie’s conversation, Jeffrey grouses that his lack of wins indicates that the judges don’t understand him. He says the judges love Keith, because the finest asset Keith possesses skill in disseminating male cow excrement. Hmmm, bitter much?
The designers are back along side the runway in their chairs and Heidi arrives to announce that the next challenge is designing for INC, International Concepts, which, if you hadn’t guessed by now, is one of Macy’s exclusive brands. Tim will later fill in the details on the challenge, but it is now time for a model mix up. She will pull the designers’ names out of the velvet bag and everyone will choose models again. Uli goes first, since she won last time, and picks Nazri. The rest of the model selections go like this: Kayne takes Amanda; Michael takes Katia; Bonnie chooses Marilinda; Keith picks Camilla; Angela chooses Clarissa; Laura picks Katie; Vincent stays with Jia; Jeffrey stays with Javi; Bradley picks Lindsay; Alison takes Alexandra; and Robert picks Danielle. That leaves Alison’s old model, Toni, as the odd girl out.
Back in the workroom at Parsons, Tim fills the designers in on the details of the challenge. He introduces Mehmet Tangoren, Macy’s Vice President of Contemporary Sportswear. Mehmet says that the challenge is to design a three piece look for INC. He describes the INC customer as an ageless, fashion forward woman who wants all the hot new looks. INC is the biggest brand that Macy’s carries nationally, and is the biggest moneymaker of their brands. I find that exceedingly hard to believe because as soon as an INC line comes out, you blink, and it’s on sale, but who am I to argue with Mehmet. Mehmet drops the bomb that this is another team challenge. Tim further exposits that the challenge is to be grounded in real world practice, meaning that each designer will have thirty minutes to sketch and then pitch the ideas to Mehmet, who will pick the four he likes the best. Each designer is given a dossier of INC’s upcoming styles to use in their sketching.
Montage No. 1
The designers set about sketching. Through commentary, Robert tells us his Barbie experience is a huge help in the challenge, because he’s learned to pitch big ideas. Keith says his brief experience in the menswear industry gives him an understanding of what he needs to do to win. Bonnie says that working for Nike taught her how to design for the masses and millions of people. Angela lamely says that since she can’t sketch, she’s having issues sketching. And the Captain Obvious award goes to Angela tonight.
A Visit to My Personal Happy Place
After sketching, the designers head over to the big flagship Macy’s on 34th Street. I love that store and go every single time I’m in New York. It’s got more stuff than I can look at in a day, the great Santaland that I can’t pass without thinking of David Sedaris even in the dead of summer, and, best of all, it’s got antique wooden escalators to take you between floors in the center of the store, where the Broadway building meets the Seventh Avenue building. But, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why the hell they had to go all the way to Macy’s when Mehmet was just there at Parsons, thirty minutes earlier.
Nevertheless, we are treated to the series of pitches, most of which involve either a cardigan or a jacket, pants or a skirt, and some kind of shirt. Bradley was pretty into the INC color scheme, declaring that the “nut is really nice.” I can say the same for you, my friend, I can say the same for you. Vincent tries to convince Mehmet that grey is the new brown, but Mehmet is skeptical. But, Vin, if brown was the new black, and now grey is the new brown, isn’t grey really the new black? Where does this leave brown? Oh, the foreshadowing is thick and obtuse!
Finally, Angela, our little loon, pitches an idea of a casual suit that is inspired by the Empire State Building, in its grey and black magnificence. Wait, she must not have gotten the Vincent memo, because we’ve just concluded grey is the new black. So, does this mean no black? Hmmm….maybe that’s more foreshadowing. But I also wonder exactly how much Ang studied up on Season 1. She may be trying to pull out a crazy win with the same inspiration that first put Jay on the top of the heap.
Mehmet picks out his four favorite designers: Robert, Bonnie, Keith and Angela. They will be the team leaders. Michael privately expresses his shock that Angela was picked. Kayne diplomatically says that Angela has not yet shown her great talent, which obviously assumes she has one.
Getting their exercise, the designers head back to Parson, where they will pick teams. Jeffrey expresses great fear that Angela will pick him. He says that worse than making something he doesn’t like is making something for someone he doesn’t like. No one is feeling the Angela love tonight.
As we head off to our first commercial break, Tim Gunn takes us on a little drive in his Saturn roadster to a place he likes to go when he wants to get away from the wickety-whack of the Project Runway scene: The Cloisters. I find not too many people know about the Cloisters, which is a shame. As Tim says, it’s very serene and offers sanctuary, inspiration, art, and nature. It’s part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and is at the very tip top of the island of Manhattan. You can learn about it here.
Kickball Choosies All Over Again
Back at Parsons, Tim pulls out the velvet bag again to determine the order in which the four designers will chose their teams. Angela picks Michael, who wasn’t exactly thrilled, and Laura. Robert picks Kayne and Vincent. Keith picks Alison and Jeffrey because they can sew and work independently. Bonnie picks Uli and is stuck with Bradley, whose time management issues she worries about. Bradley was sad that he was picked last. I’m beginning to have a soft spot for that fuzzy-faced little guy. He really does seem like that odd little kid on the playground.
Fake Dickies Don’t Please Anyone
Tim tells everyone that the winning design will be sold in Macy’s largest stores. They will be give two days and $100 to complete the challenge. They have fifteen minutes to talk amongst themselves before heading to Mood.
Robert talks to his group about making a deep V neck top with a fake dickie that comes up and is a tailored shirt. Vincent is less than thrilled at this prospect and looks visibly ill at the word “dickie.”
With her team, Angela again is talking about her inspiration being the sunrise over the Empire State Building. Laura is adamant, stamping her finger on the sketch for emphasis, that Angela bring her color palette to the design.
Keith starts delegating right away, assigning Jeffrey the pants and Alison the double-layered jersey top, apparently leaving the jacket for himself. Jeffrey and Alison, as well as most everyone else in the room, are aware that Keith has delegated the more difficult pieces to his teammates.
At Least It Wasn’t A Five-fingered Discount
Finally, we’re at Mood, and Bonnie has difficulty finding materials she wants within her price range. Angela’s team—Michael and Laura—are actually happy with Angela’s fabric choices. Michael enthuses with Angela over a print that is reminiscent of the illuminated art deco top of the Empire State Building. Laura, in a direct-to-camera conversation, says that she found the fabrics to be appropriate and not the “full tilt boogie Angela quilted extravaganza of puff.” Laura is not shy on full tilt boogie extravaganzas of words, that’s for sure.
Keith is clearly having difficulty staying under the $100 budget, and he talks the Mood folks into cutting him a deal. Keith says he likes to break the rules a little bit. Jeffrey is not exactly thrilled at Keith’s obvious attempt to get by with a bit more than he should at Mood. I figure Mood has gotten tons of free publicity off of Project Runway and should offer everyone a bit of a discount. Keith shouldn’t be punished for asking for a discount because the Mood people could tell him no and it’s not like he boosted a bolt of fabric or anything.
To Shave Or Not To Shave, That Is the Question
Back at Parsons, the design teams get to work. Laura comments to Angela that their team is really random, but Angela disagrees. Angela has Michael making the pants of the outfit, Laura making the jacket, and she is making the top. Since the pants and jacket have to match, it’s a good thing that Laura and Michael are working on those, since they seem to be on the same page about everything.
Bonnie is on Bradley’s ass to make the pants now Now NOW! Bradley says in his solo interview that maybe Bonnie doesn’t like his beard, maybe he should shave and just leave a moustache and she would lighten up. Then he giggles and has slyly smiles. Bradley is nut, but a very nice nut.
In Keith’s group, Alison and Jeffrey are doing the work. Keith is supposed to be making the jacket but Alison has to fix the armhole for him. As she works on draping the fabric, he looks up at her and whines, “Just make it look pretty.” I think he thinks he’s being cute. If I were Alison, I’d have slapped his eyes out. Jeffrey sees through Keith’s act and says privately that the only way Keith has gotten this far is through his simple design and ability to charm the judges. Kayne also feels compelled to comment on the situation in his interview segment. As we see Keith reclining on the work tables, Kayne says that Jeffrey and Alison are doing all of the work, but Keith will do anything to win because he is ruthless.
The Most Anticlimactic Moment of the Season Thus Far
Day 1 of the challenge is over, and the designers head back to Atlas. In Kayne and Vincent’s bedroom, they are each reclining on their own beds. Kayne looks troubled and Vincent is idly sketching on a drawing pad. Kayne, caught up in his thoughts, finally gets Vincent’s attention and quietly says “I saw some pattern making books in Keith’s room.” Vincent is put out, exclaiming, in other terms, that designers can’t have pattern making books at all.
Kayne explains to the audience in an interview segment that pattern making books help designers out in construction—how to piece together the perfect notch collar, for example—and that having such books would give an unfair advantage because the designer could just look up how to do it, rather than have to figure it out.
We get a shot of the offending books: there seem to be about five books, or maybe four books and a magazine. They look to be under Keith’s bed. The two titles I can make out are The Fashion Book and Fashion Production Terms. Personally, I wouldn’t mind having the second one to help me out in more properly describing the garments made on this show.
Back in Kayne and Vincent’s room, more guys are showing up in the shot discussing Keith’s possession of these books. Robert and Jeffrey are there, Michael shows up at some point, and Bradley is lurking about. All of the guys are incensed at Keith’s offense. Kayne wants to know what exactly is going on. Robert thinks the rules are explicit, and Michael says the contract is clear that this behavior will get you kicked out. Robert says it is to be left to the producers, so Kayne apparently alerts them.
At no point are two questions asked or answered. Of a lesser import, why were none of the women designers brought in to the discussion? They live in the same building, and they would be equally impacted as the men. But more importantly, no one ever asks nor does Kayne explain how he came to know of Keith’s stash of books or why he was in Keith’s room looking under the bed.
After the producers are called, they call in Tim who arrives at Altas with what appears to be the books in question in his hand. He confronts Keith and says that the rules are very clear: no fashion how-to books are allowed. Tim also mentions that Keith snuck off away from the production for several hours and used the internet, which is also an offense under the contract. Tim expresses regret, saying that Keith is so talented and it makes him sick that he was caught with the books, and Keith is asked to pack it up that very night and get out.
Keith, in an interview segment, expresses that he didn’t expect to be booted out for this. He claims he never used the books and thought he would have made it far, maybe even to the finale, because he still had a lot of tricks up his sleeve. Surely those tricks would have been equally as fair as keeping pattern making books lying around.
While he’s packing his gear up at Atlas, he gives an apology to the other guys, says that his image is tarnished forever, he’s kicked off the show, and he will be a laughing stock to his friends. Unlike typical reality TV, the other guys kinda/sorta confront him, but there is not one shouting match or chair thrown or tear shed. They let Keith know they’re pissed at him, but secretly I think they’re all glad he’s gone for whatever reason. But also, the whole set up of this story arc seemed contrived by the producers to give an on-screen dramatization of why Keith got booted. Why would the cast have to let the producers know about these books? Wouldn’t the guy who snuck under the bed with the camera also be beholden to tell the producers what he saw? Aren’t there interns and whatnot watching all the footage? Maybe not; it is still basic cable.
So, that was the big mystery. Bravo couldn’t have made it easier to guess who the villain was. Way to kill the suspense, guys.
Just The Two Of Us – We Can Make It If We Try
At the start of the second day at Parsons—or at least close to the start, since the designers are already working at their stations—Tim gathers everyone around and officially tells them that Keith was kicked out for having contraband, even though all the guys know and probably told all the women the reason Keith wasn’t there that morning. Tim makes a point of informing the designers that Project Runway needs to preserve its integrity and seriousness of purpose, so Keith had to go home.
As for Alison and Jeffrey, who were following Keith’s design, they will just have to carry on and make it work. Alison is shaken up by the sudden departure of Keith, though I can’t fathom why she’d care about him since he was such a tool. As she and Jeffrey were the two carrying the weight of the team anyway, I think they will be fine, and Jeffrey thinks so too.
A Horse Without A Stable, A Cat Without A Litterbox, A Dog Without A Bone, A Lizard Without A Leaf...I could go on for days
It is six hours before the end of Day 2, and we get happy, bobby music. Bonnie’s team is working together and getting along. Bradley announces he just finished adjusting the back of the brown pants he’s making, and is fretting the adjustment. Uli cheerfully says that if he’s wrong, he’ll go home; Bonnie lightheartedly tells him that if he’s wrong, she’ll bring him down. Such mirth in veiled threats, no? Bradley, in his one-on-camera, says his team experience has made him feel like he’s a “fish out of water, a squid with no ocean, an eagle with no sky...” Then again with the giggle and sly grin. Bradley sure has a weird sense of humor.
Much Loved Hyenas Have Good Taste?
Robert’s team is struggling with their three pieces. They have a navy V neck blouse with the white White WHITE dickie like a dress shirt sticking out of the top, and a navy skinny skirt. Kayne says it looks too American Airlines. Vincent says maybe they should try something to make the shirt look less bright, but Robert shoots him down. In his interview shot, Robert says that Vincent is entitled his own wrong opinion and that Kayne has the taste of a love-starved hyena. Robert is quite the quip master; I think he went into this competition with two goals, the primary of which is being quoted in every recap written across the globe. You win this round, Robert!
You Think It’s Funny Now, Wait Until You’re Standing On The %@*!ing Runway
Over at Team Angela, Michael tells us—in the runner up position for the Captain Obvious award—that Angela likes cutesy little details. She is making little black leather rosettes to put on the jacket and the pants. Michael thinks it is hilarious when he’s telling Laura about it in the sewing room, but Laura is clearly perturbed. She says it won’t be so much fun when they are on the runway defending granny circles to Nina Garcia, but Laura admits that she can’t stop Angela from hanging herself. Laura has a kind of salty vocabulary, for someone who looks so posh, and I really like that about her, as it saves her from having a stick too far up her backside.
Michael and Laura stage an intervention with Angela. Michael shrieks “Aaarrghh!! No rosettes!!!!” then rolls around, feigning pain on the worktable. Laura then has a stroke of brilliancy and suggests using the rosettes as the buttons on the jacket. Michael and Angela both go along with this, and the day is saved. Angela comments to the interviewing camera that they have had a really wonderful collaborative effort, just as she wanted.
Tim takes a look at Robert’s stewardess outfit and finds it matronly. At this point, they haven’t yet completed the jacket that goes over the skirt and blouse, so we don’t get a clear idea of what that is going to be. Vincent says that he was never all that keen on Robert’s design to start with.
When Tim visits Angela’s team, Laura tells him that she freaked out when she heard Angela was making more granny circles, but they’ve used the circles as buttons and are pleased. Tim agrees that they work, and Angela is over the moon that she turned everyone in favor of the rosettes. Also, this team is done, which I’ve noticed about both Laura and Michael—they do excellent work and get it done on time or early, traits I value greatly.
Tim has issues with the pants Bradley made for Bonnie’s team. He says they are diaper-y in the back and suggests steaming the pants. Uli says in her one-on-camera interview that the problem with the pants was more Bonnie’s design of a wide leg coming in to a narrow waist than Bradley’s construction. Uli isn’t worried, however, because she has immunity.
Tim asks Jeffrey and Alison how they are doing, and comments that everything looks great so far, especially the details on the pants Jeffrey is making. Alison and Jeffrey still hope to win the challenge and are pleased with their work.
Montage No. 2
We are treated to an end-of-day work burst montage, which is capped by everyone heading back to Atlas. In Kayne and Vincent’s room—which apparently is the big hang out scene—Bonnie is wearing a paper tiara on her head and wonders what Keith is up to. Kayne told the interview camera that even though Keith was asked to leave because he broke the rules, it is still sad that he is gone. Kayne, Bonnie, Vincent, and Uli speculate where Keith is, suggesting that he may be drunkenly partying naked whilst talking on his cell phone. Sounds reasonable to me.
Getting Ready to Runway
It is the morning of the runway show, and the models come in for their fitting, hair, and makeup. Tim advises everyone to use the Macy’s accessory wall, since this is a Macy’s challenge.
Robert’s skinny skirt has a back wrap slit which opens much higher than anyone expected. Bonnie is still worried about the pants. Alison is thrilled she and Jeffrey were able to get everything done and Jeffrey impresses himself with the excellent fit of the pants. I’m merely impressed that they are making pants this year instead of nothing but sleeveless gowns. Finally, Michael takes over the styling of the model for Angela’s team to ensure that image is young and fresh. In one of the biggest shockers of the entire episode, Laura admits that Angela was a good team leader.
Apparently The Short Diaper-y Look Is In
At long last, the runway show has arrived. Heidi comes out in a black tube top with gold trim and a white belt and poofy black shorts that look like a diaper even more than Bonnie’s pants. Seriously, Heidi, you ought to know better. Maybe this is what happens when Michael Kors is away for too long. We’re stuck with the dowdy Vera Wang, the waddle-ish Nina Garcia, and Mehmet is back from Macy’s. Maybe it is the lighting, but the judges all look kind of tired and sad this episode.
First down the runway is Angela’s look that she made with Michael and Laura. Since we’re not told in the graphic who the model is for each look, I can’t begin to hazard a guess who any of the girls are. The models still confuse me. Angela’s vision is a cropped grey jacket with three-quarters sleeves in a matte grey material, with detailing on the pockets and button rosettes in black leather. The pants are fitted and match the materials in the jacket. Under the jacket is a long sleeved thin jersey or similar pink shirt. The tailoring is perfect and it is overall very impressive and very INC.
Team Robert (Rob, Kayne and Vincent) is next. The back of the navy skirt still has slit problems, opening nearly to the model’s butt. The blouse is short and doesn’t always meet the top of the waistband on the skirt, exposing her stomach from time to time. That may look OK on a size 0-2 model, but beyond that, you’re gonna look funny at the office if your shirt can’t stay down. Over the whole ensemble is a ivory parka with drawstring detailing.
Bonnie’s designs are next. The model comes down with brown pants on, a big white or ivory coat closed up over the pants and blouse; you can only see the cowl neck of the blouse, which seems to be a pink color. The ivory coat is closed with a belt, and is car-coat length and has some swing to it. Bonnie, in her voice-over, says she wanted to play it fashionable but safe.
Finally, Alison and Jeffery’s collaboration comes out, which consists of perfectly tailored skinny black pants that have venting at the ankles and brass button detailing on the vents. There is also a long grey belted coat, worn open, and it has a lot of movement. The top is a fitted white turtleneck that has this curious effect of hanging down over the pants with big loops on each side, almost as if the bottom was made by an upside-down wifebeater shirt. I recall Keith saying something in his pitch to Mehmet about being able to make the shirt into a dress, but how that happens is never fully discussed.
Heidi Likes Expensive Things
After the judges do their scoring, Heidi calls Jeffrey & Alison and Angela’s team forward and tells them that they have the highest scores. The others are dismissed for now and the models sporting the high-scoring outfits come out.
The judges ask Angela what is on the flipped up underside of the back collar on her jacket. Why, it’s rosettes, of course. She hid a couple back there, but they are small and not so bad. Mehmet likes the mix of the matte grey fabric with the shiny leather detailing. Vera likes the feminine pink top with the masculine grey suiting. Vera apparently never saw my childhood drawings of elephants; she would have loved my creative use of pink and grey there as well. Angela again goes into her spiel about being inspired by the Empire State Building, and luckily Michael thinks to show the inside lining of the jacket; the lining was made by that cool print they were so excited by from the start. Heidi likes the outfit, commenting that it looks very expensive for $100.
Turning to Alison and Jeffrey, Heidi asks how they got along after losing Keith. Jeffrey says they worked very well together. I say it was a bonus not to have to drag that dead weight along for the challenge. Vera likes the skinny pants with the button detailed vents, and thinks they’re sexy, hip and youthful.
Heidi then says they will not announce the winner yet, but the two teams will have to head to 34th Street to check out the Macy’s windows the next morning. The winning design will be featured in a display. Unfortunately, this causes massive flashbacks of having to go to school to find out my grades. They posted them in the front windows, and it was always a dreaded feeling to find out whether you passed or failed in front of a crowd.
Who Are You Calling Cheap And Boring, Nina Garcia?!?!
After the two top scorers are dismissed, the bottom two come out. The judges first examine Bonnie’s design and ask that the model take off the overcoat to see what is underneath. It is a cowl neck, pink long tunic, that Bonnie says is reversible. I was hoping they’d reverse it into something that doesn’t make the model look like she’s hiding forty extra pounds. Nina is aghast that anyone would continue to use cowls and hates the brown wool crepe pants—the fit, the material, and the color. Heidi finds the outfit cheap-looking. Bonnie tries to explain her vision as going for a more classic look to fit a broader range of customers. Nina thinks the outfit would make anyone look old and Heidi thinks it’s more appropriate for when they do a That 70’s Challenge, not the INC challenge. Vera expected more creativity and personality from the group.
Turning to Robert’s stewardess get-up, Heidi asks if he was aiming for an older customer. He says he was aiming for a classic customer. I think that neither Bonnie nor Robert get the INC style vibe right; however, neither outfit is all that different from the sketch, so I really want someone to ask Mehmet why he picked those designs if he hated them so much. But, alas, it does not happen. Vera is put out that the back slit on the skirt nearly shows the model’s fanny and Nina proclaims the ensemble boring.
Now alone, the judges deliberate to pick the winner and the loser. With the two designs they liked, they felt Angela had the right vibe for the project, spotted the trends very well, and had the bonus feature of being able to buy one piece or all three. I don’t know why you couldn’t say the same for the other good design, but whatever. They did say Jeffrey and Alison’s design showed a good synergy and was cool.
As to the bottom two, the judges thought Bonnie’s was out of style, lacked a twist and/or personal style of the design team members, and Nina could not get past the cowl neck and ugly brown pants. The judges could not figure out why Robert had chosen a very sporty parka with drawstrings on it to go with this conservative navy blue skirt and blouse set. Vera thought it was discombobulated and Nina thought it was cheap.
Since the winner won’t be revealed until the next day, they just bring out the two low scoring teams. Everyone but Bonnie and Robert are dismissed and are in. Heidi then tells Robert his outfit was too conservative, had poor color choices and odd proportions and was boring. She tells Bonnie that her design was not fashion forward, also had bad colors, and the design was stale. Bonnie is out and Robert is in.
Bonnie holds it together pretty well on the runway but gets teary-eyed in the back room when she goes to pack up her things. She said she had a good time and liked everyone, and can’t believe she got the challenge so wrong.
Miracle on 34th Street
Angela, Laura, Michael, Jeffrey and Alison all head to Macy’s to check out what design is in the window. Angela explodes with excitement when she sees that her design won. She hopes this win validates her with the group. Angela’s win was more of a shocker than Keith’s booting by far. Jeffrey is again sullen that he didn’t win and wants to get back to Parsons right away to get started on the next challenge.
Next week Michael Kors is back, looking tanner than ever before and Vera Wang is Out!
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