With only five designers left, we are in the home stretch of this season of Project Runway and the excitement is palpable. Either that or I’m shivering because it is cold in the house, which is equally likely given the cold front that blew in yesterday. The promos running all week have been promising a shocking event and a double elimination. That’s a lot to deliver in one hour; maybe it will also be the most exciting rose ceremony ever as well.
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Before heading out to Parsons to learn of their final challenge, the designers get dressed and talk about the state of the competition. Sweet P is surprised that Ricky was booted and is glad she dodged the bullet to design another day. Chris comments that the others are freaking out, what with the competition ticking down, but he’s used to crunch time in the design world. Rami waxes more poetically, saying he has wanted to be a designer since he was five years old and he feels passionately about design. If you want to pick a get-drunk-fast drinking game tonight, do a shot every time Rami says “passionately”. You’ll be drunker than a Hilton on the streets of LA by the time the show ends.
At Parsons in the runway auditorium, Heidi appears and, long story short, Chris keeps his model and Ricky’s is booted. I guess we’ll have to wait for PR5 to get the much-anticipated walk-off. Heidi doesn’t announce the next challenge but does warn that this is the last challenge, with three going on to Fashion Week and two getting the stiletto in the butt. Heidi then sends the designers to meet Tim for their final field trip and get the details of the last challenge.
The designers have to trek to 5th Avenue and 82nd Street to meet Tim; they wonder what fate will befall them on the Upper East Side. As it turns out, they arrive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and meet Tim on the steps. He takes them in and they go first to the Greek and Roman Galleries; there he explains that for the final challenge, the designers will pick a work of art from one of the larger galleries in the new Greek and Roman wing, the European Paintings section or the Temple of Dendur in the Egyptian wing as the inspiration for their final piece. Tim gives them all digital cameras to capture images to inspire them back in the workroom. What is even cooler is that the designers have the Met all to themselves. I’d love to have free run of the Temple of Dendur or the new Greek and Roman Galleries. As it was, I saw the Greek and Roman Galleries on the weekend the exhibit opened and it was packed…awesome, but packed. And the Temple of Dendur has one of my favorite sculptures of all time—a guy I affectionately call Bug Eyes. He’s fierce.
But I digress…the designers make use of their time well and capture loads of pictures. Predictably, Rami is enamored of the Greek sculptures of women, particularly an Aphrodite statue, who is wearing a draped Grecian dress. The others focus more on the European paintings because, as Chris notes, there are pictures of people with actual clothes on. They do have a fun time at the Temple, since you can actually get right up to it and can kind of walk into parts of it. Chris spies the carving of Joan River’s initials from when she was a young girl, and everyone has a laugh.
The designers’ time is up at the Met and they head back to the workroom. They will have an hour to sketch, thirty minutes at Mood where they can spend $300, and two days to complete the look. All of the workstations have photo printing docks, so the designers get to printing and choosing their inspirations. Christian loves a Spanish painting of a guy he deems “Zorro-like” from the painting Don Andrew de’ Andrade Y La Cal. He wants to make a menswear outfit for women inspired by the voluminous uniform-type outfit Don Andrew is sporting. Sweet P picks a painting of peacocks as her inspiration and Rami is sticking with the marble statue of Aphrodite for his inspiration.
Time for sketching ends, and it’s off to Mood for one last mad dash at fabric. Sweet P finds a print that reminds her of feathers, and some purple, teal and red fabrics that make her happy while Christian buys yards and yards of white fabric. He wants to really wow the judges and go larger-than-life. As quickly as they got to Mood, the designers return to Parsons, where they will have seven hours on the day to get working on their projects. Jillian is going to make a jacket and a dress inspired by the painting Scenes from the Story of the Argonauts; she wants to make the jacket edgy and have a look of armor. Chris takes his inspiration form an 18th Century portrait, Marie Francoise de la Cropte De St. Abre, Marquise D’Argence. (I’d like to see that monogrammed on a bathrobe.) The lady in the portrait has a dress on with a large silver grey bow in the front; he’s going to use that dress to create a super-modern couture version.
Seven hours is a long stretch of time to fill without someone getting a bit crabby, and, sure enough, it happens. Christian, the speed sewer, already has about thirty pieces done for his outfit and is prancing around like the imp that he is. He comments that Jillian is still steaming her fabric and she’s been steaming for hours and hours. Jillian snaps that she’s trying to make pleats and it takes time. She’s had it with the buzz buzz buzzing that is Christian. Christian snaps back that she doesn’t need to get bitchy, and Jillian calmly says that she’s just had enough of him. The first day then draws to a close and it’s back to the apartments for some rest.
Model drama, stressed sewing, and Collier Strong—what last competitions are made of.
The second day of sewing arrives, and everyone is back at work. Sweet P is still struggling to make her pattern and asks Jillian for advice on the neckline of the dress. Jillian defers, saying that at this point in the competition everyone needs to make their own choices. Sweet P knows Jillian is right and decides to lower the neckline. Tim then arrives with the models for the preliminary fitting. All the models are there, except for Sweet P’s who has had some kind of family emergency. Sweet P is understandably freaked out, since she is having design issues and anxiety about being eliminated.
The other designers try their clothes on their models. Christian has about four pieces, one of which is a white blouse with super-voluminous sleeves. His model loves it and they proclaim the design…fierce. Rami’s draped purple Grecian dress is pretty and is fitting well on the model. He opines that others *cough*Chris and Christian*cough* have gone “loud” with their designs but he is passionate about draping and wants to do what he does. Chris’ design is a couture dress made of an oyster colored stiff fabric that crinkles and drapes nicely. It has a large grey collar that Christian comments on, saying it looks a whole lot like the large collar they won with a couple of challenges ago. Jillian has her coat almost completed and it fits her model well. It has nice piping details and a little sequin bit on the back. She’s fairly pleased with the jacket but she still has a lot to do, namely the dress.
While the models are still there (save for Sweet P’s), Tim introduces their special guest of the day, Collier Strong, the L’Oreal makeup guy. He does a consultation for each of the designers and their models. They map out the products for the final runway show, and it’s back to the workroom.
Tim and the models are gone for now, and Chris determines that he is done with his dress and decides to take a nap. Christian thinks this is crazy—he’s about done too, but there are always little things to do, like clipping strings and making a hat. Christian shares that his three-year stint in London has given him a couture and European edge and he will, no doubt, come out on top. Nothing like being humble, is there?
Tim then arrives to check on the designers’ progress. He wonders where Chris is, and they direct him to the lounge, where Chris is snoozing away. Tim gets Chris up and reviews his gown. Tim doesn’t think Chris is done; he thinks more detail could be included on the corset bodice and worries that it is not a “wow” piece. Chris thinks it is fine as it is. Tim then takes a look at Christian’s outfit. It has a capelet draped on top of a vest over the white shirt with the huge sleeves. Tim worries that the capelet obfuscates the designs underneath, but Christian says he’s approaching the look as separates that could work independently of the whole design. Tim is a bit dubious.
Sweet P then chats with Tim; she is still piecing the dress together and her model still hasn’t shown up. He does express some concern, but hopes when she gets it on the model it will come together. Tim is pleased with Jillian’s coat but she rushes him off so she can finish the details and work on the rest of the dress; she only has the top of the dress done at this point. Finally, Tim takes a look at Rami’s purple Grecian dress and says that while it is beautiful, he worries that Nina will say that she’s seen this several times before. Of course, Rami being passionate about draping doesn’t want to change it.
Tim leaves and there are two hours remaining on the day. Christian rethinks the volume of his top and tones it down a bit; at least he’s got some editing ability. Finally, after much angst by Sweet P, her model shows up and the dress does fit her. Sweet P continues to be concerned that she won’t be able to finish the dress on time because she still has a lot of work to do. She doesn’t want to be eliminated based on not completing the garment. Time is then up on the day and Sweet P leaves the dress at the sewing machine for the next morning.
Last show, two to go.
The morning of the final runway challenge has arrived. Christian works the flat iron to make his hair “extra fierce” while Chris comments that no one in this season absolutely hated anyone else. That was kind of nice, wasn’t it? Aside from a lot of crying, at least the designers mostly acted their ages. Out the door they all head, and Sweet P runs to her sewing machine as soon as she gets to Parson. Jillian works on finishing the skirt to her dress; she wants to make it to Fashion Week and win because she doesn’t want to go back to the cubicle, designing for someone else.
Tim arrives on the scene with the models; they get sent down for hair and makeup, and it’s the usual mad dash to get everyone clothed properly. Jillian is still working on the hem of her dress, trying to make it even. She cuts it while the model is wearing the dress; she really wants to steam the skirt, but the steamer she’d been using crapped out. She finds another and nearly scalds the model, as she’s steaming the skirt while the model is wearing it.
Chris is happy with his design, saying that if he is eliminated, he’ll go out on a dress he loves. He is not counting on going to Bryant Park but isn’t counting it out just yet. Sweet P continues to work on her dress and finally gets it done with ten minutes to spare. Jillian is not feeling the love for Christian’s white puffy sleeves, noting that they look like giant marshmallows, which they kind of do. Chris, meanwhile, doesn’t get why Rami went with yet another draped dress when he’s been told to show something different. Speaking of Rami, the dress fits his model well and he gives her some advice on how to work it down the runway. And then they are out the door and heading to the runway.
As usual, Heidi greets them and reminds them that three will go to Fashion Week and two will be out after this challenge. She introduces Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, and the guest judge of the evening, Roberto Cavalli, who looks botoxed and face-lifted into another dimension. The fashion show then starts and we see:
Chris’ gown made from corset bodice to long train in an oyster colored fabric, with a large steel grey collar is up first. The fabric—I don’t know what kind it is—is some kind of crinkly fabric that really holds the shape well yet drapes nicely. The dress looks very couture, and I’ll give him a pass for using the hot glue gun due to the time constraints.
Christian’s outfit of many pieces is next. The bottom are black jodhpurs, and that is topped with the white puffy sleeve shirt, with a black, detailed vest on top of the shirt, which, in turn, is covered by the capelet. The kid can sew fast, that’s for sure. With his love for jodhpurs, he really ought to team up with Laura Bennet.
Rami’s purple Grecian draped dress is third. It goes to about knee-length and is draped so it opens up in a front kind of kick pleat, but isn’t hootchie. It’s a one-shoulder deal with a kind of odd bandeau type thing around the breast line. It’s nice, but it is sooo Rami.
Sweet P’s cocktail dress inspired by the Peacock painting is next. The dress is made up of several pieces of fabric. The center piece that goes from the bottom of the scoop of the neck to the center hem is a red fabric. On either side at the top of the dress are pieces made in the print that is supposed to look like feathers. The sides of the skirt are, on one side, teal, and the other, purple fabric. She says it looks like a peacock, but I say it looks more like a king cake, but it was Mardi Gras last week, so it could just be the usual sadness that comes with the close of king cake season.
Jillian’s black military-style short jacket, lined in gold fabric, over a dress made of the same gold lame’ fabric is last. The top of the dress is draped in a wrap fashion and the skirt is made of two layers of fabric—one shorter than the other—that seem to have pleats.
Awww, feel the love in the room!
Time for the judging to commence! The models and designers appear on the runway to face the challenge of understanding Roberto Cavalli’s accent. Luckily for us, they captioned his comments. I don’t think it was so much the non-English native tongue that made him nearly indecipherable, I think it was a side effect from the botox.
Christian faces the judges first; he explained that he used the male military-like outfit of the painting to design the womenswear looks as a play on the difference between masculine and feminine. He leaves out the fact that he really wanted to wear the outfit himself, as he told Tim Gunn earlier. Roberto loves the outfit and thinks the details are fabulous. Nina is bowled over, saying that Christian really thinks about the shows and the practicality of the design; the separates idea really did it for Nina. Michael just thought it was super-super-super chic.
Chris impressed Roberto, who thought the dress was the most artistic of any one on the runway. Roberto thought Chris could show in Paris and Chris nearly tears up with that thought. Michael tempered the Chris-love by saying that while it was dramatic, it was very reminiscent of the dress he did a couple of weeks ago. Nina echoed that sentiment, saying she knows he has more tricks up his sleeve and she wants to see them.
Jillian’s outfit was a hit with the judges, especially Nina who was taken by the details of the jacket and how Jillian continues to surprise her every challenge, and in a good way. Roberto would allow Jillian to work for him any time, but after her comment earlier about working in a cubicle, I doubt Jillian will be sending her resume any time soon. Heidi, ever the magpie, loved she shiny gold fabric on the inside of the jacket, and Michael similarly enjoyed the outfit.
Sweet P met with a more lukewarm response. Michael said that it was a good dress, very wearable and flattering, but he wanted to see “more”. Roberto agreed, noting that he wanted something more special. Michael did compliment her on her ability to make clothes that would appeal to a more commercial audience. It could be taken as a slam, but they all seemed like they were being positive.
Finally, Rami’s dress came up for discussion. Roberto—suddenly my hero—said it was just too normal. Rami again went on and on about how passionately he feels about draping and how he took the challenge they handed him which blatantly allowed him to go drape-wild. Michael commented that he knows Rami is talented and has great taste, but they want to see more. Heidi would wear it but admitted it was predicable. Nina just wants to get Rami out of his draping box. I don’t see that happening any time soon, due to all that passion he’s got goin’ on.
The judges clearly have some deciding to do, so they send the designers and models off to cool their heels for a while. One of their favorites was Jillian, especially for her jacket; Nina likes that while Jillian is soft-spoken, her pieces are not quiet at all. They also really like Christian’s outfit, noting that he really knows how to put on a show and make the outfit translatable to going to market. Sweet P isn’t at the top of the heap; while they are impressed with her ability to make things that are flattering and wearable, her designs are a bit too commercial and not so much fashion. Roberto champions Chris’ design, but the other judges can’t get past that this is the second time that they’ve seen the same collar. Finally, Rami is also seen as repetitive and playing it safe; his garment is technically good, but not innovative. After a beat, they all say they are in agreement and have coy little smiles on their faces. Ahh, these judges are up to something.
The fat lady hasn’t sung yet.
The decision made, the designers arrive on the runway to find out who will be going to Bryant Park and who will be the decoys. First Heidi announces Christian as the winner of the challenge for showing a strong point of view; she then says that Jillian is in as well. They both bounce around jubilantly backstage at the prospect of showing in Fashion Week. Heidi then brings the mood down and tells Sweet P she is out. Heidi says that they do believe in her talent and hate to see her go, but this is the end of the run for her. Sweet P leaves and, in the confessional, while crying she says she’ll be alright but she is upset right now. Sweet P pretty much ran out of money in her business and hoped Project Runway would boost her career.
Out on the runway, it is down to Rami and Chris. Heidi says that they had a difficult time making the decision. Rami was consistent, but consistently played it safe; they question if he can bring something new to his design. Chris, on the other hand, can bring drama but they were disappointed that he didn’t do anything new for this challenge.
Heidi then says Chris is in….and Rami is also in. Apparently the judges were deadlocked (thank you, Roberto Cavalli) and could not decide which one of them to boot. They will both go home to prepare lines for Fashion Week, but still only one will show. Prior to the Project Runway Fashion Week show, Rami and Chris will pick their three strongest looks to show the judges, and, on the strength of those pieces, the judges will decide who gets to show for real at Bryant Park.
We’ll have to wait two weeks to find out who gets to show, as next week is the reunion show. From the previews it looks to be good in at least one respect—so far I haven’t spotted Andy Cohen in any of the promos. Let’s hope it stays that way.