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In the last installment of Project Runway, Michael won with his reinvention of the Foxy Brown look of Pam Grier. Poor little un-coiffed Bradley was out because he did not have a clue about Cher. How he could escape the infamous “If I Could Turn Back Time” is beyond me But, nonetheless, he is gone, and Michael is a winner without immunity, due to the big Tresemme photo shoot reward.

On the morning after his runway win, everyone is getting ready to go back to Parsons to learn what the next challenge will be from Heidi. Michael is still pleased as punch that he has gotten through five challenges and finally won one and is even more motivated to win the next one. Vincent tries convince himself that the judging can go either way, and that he has the construction skills to get him far. He reiterates for those who may have forgotten that he’s quit his job and cashed in his IRA to go on Project Runway. I’m thinking he should fire his financial advisor. Alison, meanwhile, is really beginning to feel the stress and has been popping some kind of stress pills.

Garden State

The designers head to Parsons to the runway room, and Heidi brings out Katie, Bradley’s model, and Nazri, Michael’s model. Michael wisely chooses to remain with Nazri, and Katie is out. Gone is yet another girl I really can’t tell from the other gaggle of tall girls who walk like they’re stomping grapes in an invisible vineyard.

After the uneventful model choosing ceremony, Heidi begins to tell the designers what the next challenge will be. She says that, compared to the previous season, the designers have had it really easy so far this season, hence the next three challenges are going to be extra tough. She concludes by saying that they will learn more the next morning about the new challenge.

Sure enough, at 5 a.m. the next day, Tim Gunn is creeping along the hallways of Atlas. Of course, Tim is impeccably dressed, perfectly groomed, and professional as always. I wonder how early he had to get up to get in that condition. Me, I’d have had to just stay up all night. Tim tells each apartment that they have one hour to get ready and to be sure to not wear open-toed shoes. For a fleeting second, I though maybe he’d come ‘round to my way of thinking that open-toed shoes are vulgar and best left for the beach, but we’ll soon find that was not his intent, and my one-woman quest must continue to be a solitary endeavor.

The designers groggily get dressed and head downstairs. Laura is again dressed in a riding outfit. Either she always expects horses (and frankly, who wouldn’t?) or it’s laundry day. Alison snarkily says that it’s a good think Laura is dressed in her riding outfit, because it could be horses. I didn’t know Alison had it in her!

Everyone gets into a van and they head out on the highway, away from the city to a land known as Newark, New Jersey. It is a mysterious land, full of warehouses and cause Alison to recall the theme song to “The Sopranos”, which is not too far off the mark after all. The designers exit the van in front of an unmarked overhead door to a warehouse. The door opens, and the scene revealed: mounds and mounds of paper recycling, which will be the materials for the next designs. The designers are forced to wear bright yellow vests and yellow hardhats, under the Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth Reality Television Safety Act of 2004. They are introduced to Matthew Coz of Waste Management Recycle America, for seemingly no reason beyond assuring the designers and the viewing public that garbage pickup is not, in fact, controlled by the mafia.

Tim allows each designer three green recycling bins to fill with materials to construct their outfits. They will also have the opportunity to go to the art supply store to get additional materials for the design. He says the key to this challenge is innovation and creativity. They will have thirty minutes to scavenge for materials then they have to get back in the van and head to Manhattan to go to the art supply store. Personally, I think Tim will wither and die if he’s in New Jersey too long, so he knows he has to get out of there. I can identify; four years was long enough for me.

The Trash Heap Has Spoken

The group has at the giant trash piles. Laura is enamored with a big white bag that says “For Peanuts Only” across it. Kayne reminisces about dumpster diving with his sister, while removing plastic caps from bottles and throwing the caps in his bin. Vincent says he is wants to make something contradictory to trash: he wants to make art.

Most of the designers grab some plain paper, some magazines, and pretty much everyone gets some mylar that lying around. I did not know mylar was recyclable, so it turns out that PR is quite educational tonight, at least for me.

Soon the thirty minutes are up, and the designers prepare to leave. Then there was this odd little clip of Laura attempting to “beat box” like a rapper, and Michael laughing at her. I’m not sure what significance that holds, other than we see that she and Michael still get along.

As the last portion of the planning and gathering materials portion of the challenge, the designers get fifteen minutes and $25 at an art supply store. Jeffrey gets some paints because he wants to do some kind of painted newspaper thing. Jeffrey sounds like he has a plan, meanwhile, everyone else seems a bit random at the art store. Finally, as the last blow for this challenge, the designers find out that they will only have the remainder of that day to complete their looks for the runway show—a full day less than they’ve had in their previous challenges.

Trash Talkin’

It’s 2:15 on the day of the challenge, and the designers have arrived back at Parsons after their field trips. They have less than ten hours to complete their designs. Angela is using the color printed paper she found at the recycling plant to make some kind of crafty patchwork/mosaic thing. She says she’s just doing what she knows how to do; I suppose this is the case, because we really don’t see or hear from her again until the runway show. Laura is pleating her “For Peanuts Only” sack to make a skirt that says “For Nuts Only.” Michael says he’s allowing his materials speak to him and form the shape of the garment organically. Vincent is apparently passing inspiration like a kidney stone because he constantly has a pained expression on his face as he tries to come up with his idea. Laura comments in an interview session that she thinks Vincent is mentally unstable and weird. Laura says this every week. We get the point already, Bravo. Everybody thinks Vinnie is a kook; we don’t need it pointed out every week.

With seven hours remaining, Kayne and Robert take a bit of a dinner break and decide to participate in the time-honored cafeteria tradition of talking crap about your fellow castmates. Kayne says he may be going home, and Robert pleads with him not to lose, lest he have to face Laura alone. Kayne helpfully suggest that Robert shoot himself in the face, were that to occur, and Robert counters that Laura will likely do it for him. Kayne then says that Laura’s dress is cute. Robert says it looks like a straight jacket, so she must be sewing for herself again. Kayne says Laura gave him a kiss on the cheek earlier, and Robert warns that he may now come down with a rash. Meee-ow!

Kayne and Robert don’t like Laura and Jeffrey is no different. (Maybe Michael is the only one who likes her.) He calls her dress boring and comments it uses the same old high-wasted skirt her other stuff has. Perhaps she’s just taking the recycling to a new level.

Lime green is always a huge mistake.

The clock is down to five hours until quitting time. Alison is mid-freak out, and has tried different materials to make her outfit. She tried sewing together colorful strips of paper, but that didn’t work out, and she now is on to solid sheets of blue and yellow paper.

Kayne pinpoints the real issue: up until now, they’ve had two days to complete each challenge and they are all feeling the pinch of a one-day deadline. He is having trouble with the skirt to his gown. He’s taken a giant piece of paper, painted a big blue and green flower on it, and made it the skirt. He’s also attached a bunch of the plastic bottle caps to it, the insides of which he has painted green. It looks ridiculous, and he knows it: the lime green was a mistake and it looks like a “toad exploded” on it. Everyone kind of just looks at it with a questioning expression and a bit of pity. Laura manages to carry this look off while flossing her teeth. This is the first of a handful of times that I spy Laura with one of those little plastic & string tooth flossing devices in her hand. That’s just gross, Laura. Go to the bathroom or something.

Foreshadowing? Or Just Rivalry?

Jeffrey is working with newsprint, something he has done before. He has pleated some newsprint together to make the bodice of his dress and he uses the paints he got from the art store to dye the skirt portion. He is extremely excited about this challenge and feels he is completely in his element, and, hence, he must win the challenge. As soon as anyone says they are going to win, I immediately conclude they will be booted that very day, and so I do with Jeffrey.

Then Michael goes over to pin his name on his winning design from the last challenge. He tells the camera in his one-on-one that he tried out for Season 2 but did not make it on, so he wrote a mantra on a piece of paper that he will make it on PR and that he will win. He just found that paper again in his wallet that very day. Well, this just smacks of foreshadowing, so I also immediately think that Michael is sure to be booted next. I’ve got conflicting messages, and don’t know what to make of either! Argh!!!! Someone is not complying with the rules of reality television!

Vincent does Paris Hilton

Vincent has his dress pretty much done: it is, as Laura points out, a basic column dress with some straps. It is made with the giant packing peanut sacks, so it’s kind of off-white, like canvas. Vincent thinks of the dress as a blank canvas, and wants to embellish it with other bits he has pulled from the recycling piles to create Art. He ends up attaching all manner of refuse on the dress, and proclaims it art, when in fact it looks like scrap paper glued to a dress. He says he know he is going to go forward because his dress is “hot”. Yeah, “hot” like a steaming pile.

Tim Gunn: Vocabulary Instructor

Tim arrives at 10:35, looking as fresh as ever. He either has had a nap, or the guy has a stash of No-Doz in his office, because he would have been up since about 4 a.m. He first goes to check on Uli. Oh, look, Uli....where has she been? We haven’t seen her since the recycling plant. She’s woven mylar strips with either paper or muslin to create a slightly poofy skirt beneath a white strapless bodice. Tim likes it. Similarly, Tim likes Jeffrey’s treatment of the newspaper, finding the color quite stunning.

Visiting Vincent, Tim is either perplexed or amused or both at the fact that Vincent has put all these geegaws on the front of dress, but nothing on the back. Vincent sets about decorating the back of his crazy dress.

Michael shows Tim his woven gold mylar bustier, wrap made of clear plastic tarp, and a plain white skirt. Tim likes it, but thinks the skirt needs something.

Alison has, by this time, made some outfit out of just the stiff yellow paper. It looks to be a top and a skirt, and the top is made of a bunch of different pieces of paper. The outfit is very stiff. Tim says that she needs to consider that she has a zaftig model. Alison clearly doesn’t know what the term “zaftig” means. Alison clearly did not have a high verbal SAT score. Tim clarifies and says that her model, Alexandra, is one of the biggest girls out there and she’ll look bulky in the outfit. They begin to talk about Alexandra like she’s 300 pounds and seven feet tall.

Finally, Tim visits Kayne and his crazy toad explosion dress. Tim is not delicate at all, and tells Kayne that the skirt looks like a high school crafts project, the prom backdrop, and that he needs to completely redo the skirt. Kayne is not happy, but he knows Tim is right so he gets rid of the monstrous skirt and starts again, with about one hour to go.

Crunch Time

There is only one hour left until midnight, when all the little designers will turn back into field mice. Kayne is busy making a whole new skirt, and only has the silver mylar left. Vincent is busy throwing confetti at his dress to give the back side the same “arty” treatment he gave the front. Alison knows that the judges want something youthful and well constructed, but is still struggling with her dress.

Finally, time is up and the designers head back to Atlas. Kayne wishes Tim had come in earlier. He knows he’ll be in the bottom three at the very least, and doesn’t have a chance of getting a free pass, unless the judges are smoking crack. Which I think they have been known to do, otherwise Angela would have been booted in Bonnie’s place.

Pre-runway randomness

On the morning of the runway show, Laura magically wills herself out of bed to turn on the coffeemaker. Curiously, she’s still dressed in her white button down shirt and riding pants from the day before. Later on, after she’s dressed, she tells the interview camera that she has a good dress and is not going home. After all, her dress has a joke on the ass, which is really what I look for when buying my dresses.

At Parsons, Tim sends the models in right away and they have the traditional two hours for hair and makeup. The clothes aren’t fitting as well as they do normally because the materials are stiffer than fabric. Kayne has his model made up with more of that nasty lime green he’s been using on his outfit. And, equally insane is Alison’s choice to have her model’s blonde hair tied up into a big bow on the top of her head.

Laura asks Kayne why he went with the green, and he says, “Stress.” She says she wonders about his and Alison’s style choices and Kayne says he wonders about Laura’s character. At this point, I’ve about had it with this constant bitchy attitude toward Laura and really can’t figure out the motivation for it. Yeah, she’s kind of loud and speaks her mind, but she’s no more obnoxious than any of the other wackadoos on the show.

Alison tries her best to cinch in the waste of her dress on the model (she needed a Gap “girl” to help her there) and Vincent hems with scissors his “art” dress on his model and admires her walk from the floor.

Finally, they’re going to show us what Uli, Robert, and Angela made.

At the runway show, Heidi comes out wearing the first normal looking outfit she’s worn to a runway show all season. Last season, she got a pass because she was heavily pregnant. This year, she gets no such pass. Today, it’s simple skinny jeans, one of those ubiquitous jersey shirts that tie around the hips, and a tacky plastic belt buckle on the tie. The judges are the usual Nina Garcia and Michael Kors and the guest judge is some chick named Rachel Zoe who professes to be a celebrity stylist.

The long-absent Uli is first, and she’s made a mylar and muslin braided skirt and a strapless, slightly sweet-heart-necklined white bodice, made of maybe paper or muslin.

Angela, another MIA contestant, has made a bandeau top out of shiny silver mylar. Over it is a kind of jumper thing that ends up being the skirt. I can’t really describe it well because the 4.2 seconds it was on the screen did not do it justice. The front had some kind of mosaic/patchwork made out of a print, and the colors looked very nice together.

Michael’s outfit hadn’t changed much from what he showed Tim—it was still a wrap out of the clear plastic sheeting, a woven gold mylar bustier, and a white skirt made from a peanut sack. He may have texturized the skirt to some degree.

Vincent’s column dress with various pieces of waste attached to it came out next. His model could barely make it down the steps without ripping the dress.

Robert’s dress was next. We’d seen Robert being catty earlier, but we never saw what he was working on. He made a cutesy little party dress with a tiny bow for a belt. It was all silver mylar. Yawn...I need some of Tim’s No Doz.

Jeffrey, whom I find terribly obnoxious, sent down a fabulous dress made of newspaper. True to his word, he stained the paper with the paints to make this yellow and blue color that was unusual but very pretty. The bodice of the dress made with the folded paper had stunning detail. It was my favorite, hands down.

Laura’s ass joke dress came out next. It had the deep V that we’re used to seeing on her and her clothes. The front looked normal: basic white dress with a think black belt and a little flower on the waste line. The back was V’d further apart and right across the bum of the skirt it said “For Nuts Only.”

Alison’s puffy yellow paper outfit came out next. It looked very stiff on her model, but at least she could walk in it.

Finally, Kayne sent out his dress. He’d long since gotten rid of his hand-painted grade school poster skirt and made something out of the mylar—what he’d earlier called a fairy skirt, which is about accurate.

The designers are called to the runway, and Heidi calls Alison, Kayne, Laura, Vincent, Michael, and Jeffrey forward. Not surprisingly, Angela, Uli, and Robert are safe. Any idiot would have guessed as much, seeing as how they were barely present for the majority of the episode.

This whole thing has become an inelegant joke.

The designers remaining on stage are questioned about their designs. Michael explains that he thought of each element as a different kind of fabric: the plastic was organza, the gold mylar was taffeta and the sack was maybe linen. The judges love the design, proclaiming it clever, simply chic, and wearable.

Vincent gets called on his model’s inability to walk in the dress, and the judges suggest that a minidress might have been a better option. Vincent gets defensive, and says his dress turned him on and he finds it artsy. He’s at the point of being belligerent, so Nina, the most easily baited judge, tersely says the whole thing is bizarre. Heidi claims that the dress is innovative. If you call a tube made of butcher paper with crap glued on it innovative, then she is right.

Laura’s dress with her butt message is loved by all. She says the “For Nuts Only” is an “elegant joke.” I say it’s gimmicky, but I’m clearly in the minority. The judges are in love with her tailoring and detail.

Kayne freely admits his is a mess, which seems to win him a softer blow from the judges. He knows he screwed up, so he’s not going to try to sell them on bad story. He does take his lumps, especially from Kors who says Kayne went beyond the boundary of taste, especially in the over the top styling of his model.

Jeffrey’s newspaper print dress is a hit. The judges comment that his is the only dress that moved like fabric. They especially like his choice of colors and the trompe l'oeil belt. Kors declares Jeffrey’s aesthetic is “ugly/beautiful” and seemingly means it as a compliment. Jeffrey looks happy and I find he looks to be a fairly pleasant guy when he’s not scowling in the corner pouting over not winning anything yet.

Finally, Alison’s stiff yellow paper outfit it critiqued. The judges hate it, and can’t believe a woman designer would do such a thing to her model. After all, Heidi says, she now looks like a *gasp* plus model! As though this is the worst thing in the world. Alison’s outfit did have a bad fit, but instead of focusing on how the tailoring was off, the texturizing was not effective, and the color choice was bland, they go off on how the model looks fat. They do also deride the bow-hair choice, which really was just awful.

The designers are dismissed, and the judges deliberate. They like Laura’s dress, loved how Michael really thought each piece through and explained it to them well, hated Kayne’s serious lapse of taste, although Kors pointed out Kayne can construct well. They also loved Jeffrey’s newspaper dress. They hated Vincent’s stiff, refrigerator-box like dress, and thought Alison’s was an nightmare.

Someone please get Kitty Carryall ready.

After the deliberation, the six designers return to the stage. Laura is in, and Michael is named the winner. Jeffrey is in, and Heidi tells him he came up just short for being the winner. Jeffrey is, of course, pissed off and calls Michael’s outfit “diabetic food clothes,” meaning they have no flavor. Nah, Jeff, that’s northern food clothes. Diabetics can use spice.

Kayne is also in, but just barely, Heidi says. Just barely?!?! There are 2 people still on stage. It clearly wasn’t THAT “barely” otherwise, he’d still be up there. So, it’s down to Vincent and Alison. The judges found Vincent’s outfit to be creative, but stiff, over the top, and crossing the fine line between innovation and insanity. They thought that Alison’s was all wrong, from the silhouette, to the unflattering styling, and they couldn’t believe that a female designer could be so careless with the female form. So, Alison is out.

Alison goes back to say goodbye to everyone, and gather her things. She’s tearfully bidding them adieu, and Laura starts shouting at Vincent that his model couldn’t walk. I didn’t catch everything she said because I was distracted by the possibility of a wardrobe malfunction occurring at any moment. Luckily for Laura, she is fairly flat-chested, lest one of her girls would have escaped. Then Vincent tells Laura to shove some Harry Winstons up her nose. Why anyone would respond to “Hey, your model can’t walk in your dress.” with “Go shove diamonds up your nose.” is beyond me. Maybe there’s some slang I’m missing out on. Then Kayne butts into their little tiff and asks them to consider that Alison is trying to say goodbye.

Finally, Alison is off, and says that she will continue designing. Goodbye, little Cindy Brady. We will miss your gentle lisp.