My name is totoro, and I am reporting to you live from a display window at Banana Republic. It's 9am. It's 9pm. It's 9am again. Confused? Me too. Please join me as the designers of Project Runway vie to create a moderately priced ensemble that will take your run-of-the-mill office babe from photocopying to shaking what her mama gave her on the dancefloor. Can Zulema get in touch with the Banana Republic aesthetic? Will Kara stop crying long enough to get anything done? Can Marla design something original - at all? Let's find out!
The Story So Far
Last week, the 'other' Hilton joined the show as muse to the designers. Santino hit paydirt when he found the winning combination of extreme brown-nosing and braided trim, and won the challenge. This gives him the honor of choosing to switch models... which he does not. C'mon, producers. At this point, it ain't gonna happen, so just stop wasting our time.
Ah....Santino. One week he's up, the next he's down. One week he's insulting a judge, the next kissing guest judge bootie, and then back to insulting the judges again. Santino is many things, and it seems that UNTOUCHABLE is among them. How many times can he annihilate an otherwise beautiful garment with four tons of trim before he gets the chic-cheek kiss of death from Frau Heidi?
A Great Big Bunch of Ripe Bananas
Speaking of Heidi, she now announces the challenge du jour: design an outfit that easily transforms from day to evening for the Banana Republic spring line. No one looks especially surprised (or excited) at this. They are given a choice of Banana Republic-approved fabrics to choose from, and will have only until midnight to complete their design. Fabrics are chosen (with Santino carrying four or five bolts!) and the head to the work room. There, Tim Gunn drops a nasty twist on them: they must work in teams, designing only one garment. This means they must cooperate on the design, and choose which one of their model's will display it on the runway.
After an awkward pause, the teaming up begins: Santino and Nik pair up, although Nik was reluctant and preferred Chloe. But Santino says he refuses to be stuck with dead-weight like Emmett again and that he can't tolerate either Diane or Marla. Diane and Marla pair up, seeming to sense their lack of desirability to the others. Zulema and Kara have worked together well in the past, and Zulema hopes that Kara can make up for her personal lack of Banana-sensibility. Emmett and Chloe feel they can work agreeably together and Daniel and Andrae say the last time they worked together, they won. Duh...they will work together again. The meshing of design concepts begins.
Marla shows some backbone by immediately protesting against Diane's high-concept design, however agrees to go with it anyways. She just wants Diane to know she doesn't believe in it 100%. Wait...did I say "backbone" earlier? My bad. Similarly, Nik finds Santino has decided to focus on his own Asian-inspired design, and Nik resigns himself to "trim-patrol". He tells Santino that the design is not very Banana, and that when it comes time to defend it on the runway, he wants to be clear that he did not approve from the beginning. Santino flips and eyebrow and carries on anyways. He knows that his design is where Banana SHOULD be going... and they will realize it when they see his work. Chloe and Emmett mesh well and get right to work on a dress and reversible cropped jacket. Andrae and Daniel have a similar concept and are plugging away. Zulema notes that nearly everyone is using the same navy color in their designs, but Kara insists on sticking with it themselves. They tentatively start their design, despite Zulema's belief that the navy is wack. Tim Gunn arrives to further twist the already twisty twist: the losing team will see both members eliminated from the competition.
Some time later, Tim returns to critique the work in progress. He tells Andrae and Daniel that the jacket they've designed is a bit "precious" (not in a good way.) And I have this feeling that Tim knows "precious" when he sees it. They say that is the point: it should appear that the goody-two-shoes girl wearing it can whip it off at the nightclub and suddenly become the girl who will let you buy a drink for her....or something like that. Tim demurs, saying they've achieved their goal then. He wholeheartedly approves of Chloe and Emmett's get-up. Arriving at Diane/Marla's station, he wrinkles his precious little nose at Diane's overly complicated skirt, and sends them into their usual spiral of self-doubt. Arriving last to see Zulema and Kara's (horribly ugly) dress, he minces no words. He's not feeling it, and he's surprised that they would fail so miserably at this particular challenge. Kara starts crying, and Zulema makes the decision to completely scrap the monstrosity and start over. She grabs a nice patterned fabric (no more of that boring navy charmeuse!) and starts cutting, all the while admonishing Kara that if she must cry, then she needs to cut at the same time. She can't just stand still and cry - so get to work! Despite the short time remaining, they manage to work up a decent little dress with a vest jacket that can be finished quickly tomorrow. It's midnight, and everyone leaves...except Kara, who is still sitting at her table and crying piteously.
Is That a Banana In Your Window, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?
The next day, Tim does his spiel about there being only one hour left, models/hair/makeup/fittings blah blah blah. The hour quickly passes, and Tim announces a field trip, which takes them to a large Banana Republic store nearby. There, Tim explains that each team will have their own display window to design, and that their chosen model will act as a live mannequin. The general public will vote on the windows and the outfits seperately and ultimately decide the winners of this challenge. They have a half hour and $200 to shop for materials, and one short hour to design the windows...then the voting begins.
After a quick montage of the supply-shopping spree, we see the window designs begin to take form. Emmett is painting life-sized sketches of the day and evening looks of their design, and Tim applauds outside the window that "it is more fabulous than I can say!" And call me crazy, but I think Tim knows fabulous when he sees it. Daniel and Andrae are painting two clocks that display 9am and 9pm, with a line drawn between them. Their model will walk from one side to other, displaying how to switch the outfit from day to evening. I guess it's an easy and elegant solution, but the problem I have is that both clocks look exactly the same: short hand on 9 and long hand on 12. If it were me, I would have done one clock at 9 and the other at 5 or 6... but that's just me. I'm persnickety like that. Diane and Marla are creating an office, which amounts to a small desk and a whole bunch of wadded up paper which has overflowed from the waste can and is covering the entire floor of the window. Marla is a bit snippy with Diane at this point, maybe because Diane wouldn't let her buy "office supplies" for the desk while they were shopping. Kara and Zulema use construction paper to cut out a skyline and moon, and then use the circles and colors of their garment throughout the window....and in my opinion, it looks very nice and polished. Santino wants his model to look like a gallery owner, so he paints a couple of frames on the wall that enclose the words "Banana" and "Repub" (oopsie...they ran out of room for the whole word. Tim comes by and agrees: P-U. It looks shoddy and boring and just stinks in general. Santino must have used that $200 to buy a new vanity belt buckle.
The hour they've been alloted quickly passes, and the judging begins. All around the store front, passerby have stopped to look at each window, and then they fill out a rating card and drop it into a ballot box. Santino says he has been peeking into the box and does not see one card that selects his window as the best...and he can't understand how THAT could be. Well, Santino, it's like this: It. Blows. Chunks. Enough said. The other windows seem to be doing well, expect for maybe Marla and Diane's, where their model is having to shuffle through all of the wadded-up paper littering the floor. Time is up, and Tim clutches the ballot box and leads everyone to the runway for the final judging.
Banana In Your Tailpipe
Along with the usual judges (Michael Kors, Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia for those just tuning in), the guest judge tonight is Deborah Lloyd from Banana Republic. The models begin the runway show, while the judges make little ambiguous faces and jot down notes on their rating cards. All teams are asked to come onto the runway and stand alongside their model. Daniel and Andrae's design is roundly applauded. Kara and Zulema's last minute dress is called beautiful, but Deborah notices that it is still unfinished with threads hanging down. The cap-sleeved jacket they layered over it, however, is not appreciated. It just doesn't go with the dress and the sleeves are not cute. Diane and Marla's pencil skirt and bluse/jacket combo, although not horrid, is called boring and reminds Michael Kors of a stewardess... and not in that Austin Powers "sexy-stew" kind of way, either. Emmett and Chloe's design is very nice and the judges all love the reversible jacket, however it is more Bergdoff than Banana. None of the judges care for Santino's design (I'm not forgetting Nik... it's just not his design!) They are asked to explain it. Nik, true to his word, says he had resigned himself to taming the trim beast, and that Santino was largely responsible for the design. Oddly, Santino looks surprised to hear this, and says that he loved the idea that a gallery owner would wear something like this. Michael Kors interrupts and says that New York gallery owners ARE his clientele, and that none of them would wear that outfit. Santino snips back, “Your customers are old. Lots of women who know Banana Republic don’t know Michael Kors." To his credit, Kors just rolls his eyes and lets Santino have the last word.
Make Like a Banana (And Split)
In the end, Heidi announces that Andrae and Daniel won the popular vote of the Banana Republic customers. Their design will be incorporated into the upcoming Banana Republic clothing line, and will be available in stores and online this spring. In case you are looking for something "precious", now you know where to find it! Chloe and Emmett and Zulema and Kara are deemed safe and may leave the runway. This leaves a disbelieving Santino with his reluctant partner Nik, along with the duo of Dirty Diane and Marla, who I notice is wearing her lucky pair of Garanimals for the judging! We all know that Santino has luck on his side, so you won't be surprised to hear that Diane and Marla are OUT. But to my delight, the judges extended Santino's squirming as long as possible before letting him off the hook. Marla and Diane thank the judges for the opportunity, and head back stage to say their goodbyes. Tim cuts the love short by sending them off to clean up their workspace, and brings the show to a tidy close.
Next week, it seems that the challenge will be dressing Sasha Cohen (who is apparently a famous ice-skater? You learn something new everyday!) Clips promise that at least one of the outfits is skimpy enough to be declared obscene. Yippee!!
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