It seems hard to believe that there are only two more episodes—tonight’s and next week’s finale—before the end of this season of PR. On one hand, it seems like ages ago when that first girl—whom I can barely remember—was voted off, but on the other hand I think I could watch about another month’s worth of episodes as long as Chris and Christian were on. Who knows, if this doesn’t work out for them, maybe they can appear on Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style to jazz things up a bit. In any event, tonight is the big showdown between Rami and Chris to see who advances, but first we have to see what these four finalists (or almost finalists) have been up to since the end of the museum inspiration challenge.
Before the designers are sent off to make their collections, however, they have one final meeting with Heidi on the runway. Thankfully, she glosses over the whole model-picking thing, as they’ve all stuck with their usual models. Perhaps she was just holding the velvet bag as a fashion accessory. Heidi tells them that they will have five months to create twelve looks on an $8,000 budget. Of course, Christian and Jillian are guaranteed to show at Bryant Park, but Rami and Chris still will have to battle it out with the usual cadre of judges. Before they head out into the world, Tim comes out on the runway and gives them words of scary encouragement, noting that they will be showing their collections to the largest and most influential audience possible. With that, the designers, Heidi and Tim head to the roof of the apartment building to have a final champagne toast which results in the final four strutting around on the roof like the models they dress. And, what would be a final sendoff without Christian exclaiming that he’s amazing, has come so far for his 21 years and fierce! Drink, people, drink! With that, the designers pack their enormous bags and head home.
Three and a half months later, with only six weeks before Fashion Week, Tim sets off in his Saturn to visit Christian. Christian is in NYC, so I don’t worry about Tim’s car breaking down like mine does every three months. Christian lives in the tiniest apartment ever; it’s a good thing he’s such a small guy. His studio is also in his apartment and his bedroom, if you can call it that, is really a hallway where he puts a little bed every night. He’s pulled off making a ton of garments in this matchbox, some of which he shows Tim. First he shows a fitted, constructed jacket made of dark material and a multi-tiered floofy thing that is to go under the jacket and come up across the model’s face. Tim makes a point of telling him to ask himself if he really needs all the elements he’s making. Christian also shows Tim a pair of feather pants, which Tim finds extremely costumey. Just the thought of feather pants made me sneeze. Of course, we also get a bit of Christian’s background: he was raised in Annapolis, Maryland and started working in hair salons at 13 because it was an industry that was more edgy and accepting. Christian again brings up his nearly three years in London at fashion school and thinks that was the best thing he could have done. Before departing, Tim again admonishes Christian to bring an editing eye to his collection.
Tim next heads out to visit Jillian, who is also in New York. It’s now five and a half weeks until Fashion Week. Jillian lives in a much larger and posher space than Christian; she hasn’t gone back to work at Ralph Lauren since the show ended. She shows her collection to Tim and says that she was really inspired by the last challenge and kept on researching 15th Century armor and military looks, but wants to bring a feminine edge to them. She shows him a highly constructed jacket, which is still a work in progress, which Tim loves, saying it shows femininity and strength. He worries the palette is too dark—like a cloudy day—but other than that, he doesn’t say much. They then head to Long Island where, Jillian says, all the great American designers are from: Michael Kors, Donna Karan, and Jillian Lewis. Out on Long Island, Tim has dinner with Jillian’s family; they are a fun bunch, all very proud of Jillian. Her mom has a bit of an odd back-story; she says that before she had kids a clairvoyant woman told her that one of her three kids would be famous, and she’s always told this to her kids. Jillian, as a result, has always been driven to succeed and credits her mother with supporting her. Most charming, however, is Jillian’s dad, who says that a visit from Tim Gunn is better than a visit from Santa Claus.
Tim then heads across the country to visit with Rami in Los Angeles. It’s only five weeks until Fashion Week and Rami is excited to see Tim. He has a couple of friends over at his house when Tim shows up and they have a nosh and a visit. Rami gets the chance to fill us in a bit more on his life story; his mom was a beauty queen back in the day, but, unfortunately, she died when Rami was only five. His dad remarried when Rami was seven, and he really likes his stepmother too; nevertheless, he credits his mom for his love of fashion. As a kid, he liked to sketch but hid his fashion inclination from others because it wasn’t seen to be all that manly. One day, his brother caught him sketching, grabbed the drawings and ran to their parents. They loved his drawings and saw talent and have been encouraging ever since. After the visit, Tim and Rami head to Rami’s studio which is quite huge and professional looking. His inspiration is Joan of Arc and wants to bring the fighting gear look she is usually portrayed with into a modern look. He shows a structured black cape that comes off, and under it is a draped silken fuchsia blouse. It’s very pretty, but the rest of the pieces strike Tim as overly structured, heavy, and have a hammered and nailed look.
Finally, Tim is back in New York to visit Chris four and a half weeks before Fashion Week. Chris misses Tim and is glad to see him. Chris’ apartment also offers a nice space for him to design; Chris is worried about going to Fashion Week coming from a costume background. He still wants the collection to be him but a high-fashion reflection of himself. Chris first shows Tim a svelte, tailored dress of dark, perhaps velvet, material with a crochet pin design. He then shows Tim a series of fitted jackets with trim made of human hair. Tim nearly gags at the sight and tells Chris a little tale about a monkey house. See, once you enter a monkey house, you think “God, this stinks!” then, after a while, you think, “It’s smelly but it isn’t that bad.” Even later, you don’t notice the smell at all (unfortunately Tim doesn’t bust out the term “olfactory fatigue” like I expect) but anyone else who comes in to the monkey house is back to “This stinks!” Chris, Tim says, has been living in the monkey house. That, my friends, is pretty harsh. Chris then takes Tim to his friend’s apartment where Tim can meet Chris’ New York family. The guy who owns the apartment has been there thirty years and has built the interior to look like, as Tim says, Versailles and the Sistine Chapel combined. It truly is ornate and shows great craftsmanship, but I don’t think the guy has an “editing” bone in his body. Chris shares that he was raised in the Bay Area and is the youngest of four brothers who aren’t surprised that he’s on television because he’s always been the wacky little brother. He got into costume design after winning a San Francisco costume contest and has since wanted to segue into fashion. A couple other friends of Chris are there, and they have a fun little time, where Chris tells the story that he was standing around and a guy came up to him with something in his hand. Chris thought the guy was going to ask him for directions, but he flipped open the thing he was carrying and it was a badge. The cop then said, “You’re under arrest! For being the best designer on Project Runway!” Of course, it wouldn’t be a Chris visit without one of his trademark giggles to close out his segment.
Finally, a walk-off of some kind.
There are only five days left until Fashion Week and the designers regroup in New York. Bravo has sprung for two hotel rooms—one with three beds that houses Jillian and Christian and whomever gets the third spot. The other room is for Chris and Rami; apparently the budget is tight because that room probably will only be used for one night. I know NYC hotel rooms are on the high price side, but c’mon! Rami is the first to arrive; he’s excited and nervous, particularly because he isn’t really “in” yet. Chris shows up soon enough and he has similar concerns about their three-piece walk-off. However, Chris and Rami greet each other warmly, with a big hug. It’s not so warm-fuzzy over in Jillian and Christian’s room. Jillian, knowing Christian has never been her biggest fan, asks Christian if he’s going to be nice to her. Christian isn’t any worse than usual, if not actually more calm, and then all four gather in that room to have beers and catch up. Chris says that, despite their sometimes-squabbling, they really all do like each other and get along.
The next day brings the fashion show-down. The producers hadn’t really clued Rami and Chris into when this was actually going to happen and they were sitting around waiting for that particular stiletto to drop. All of the designers head to Parsons to prep for the show; there are only three tables set up, forcing Rami and Chris to share. Rami and Chris have pretty much picked out what three designs they are going to show but there is still model fitting, hair and make-up to get done. Tim arrives and tells them that their models are already chosen and, since Christian and Jillian don’t have anything to do yet, they will help Rami and Chris get the girls ready. Chris and Christian work together while Jillian helps Rami out. Before leaving them to it, Tim gathers them all around again and says he is extraordinarily proud of both Rami and Chris and they both need to knock the judges’ socks off. We’ve just got to have our trademarked Tim Gunnisms, now don’t we?
Chris readies his three looks; he’s going for three black dresses because he wants to choose from the same color category. Rami picks three garment that show different elements—structure, ethereal, and dramatic. Christian can’t help but comment on Chris’ designs, noting that they are “interesting” (a loaded word, ever there were one) and innovative but he was a bit thrown by Chris’ use of human hair and his request of Christian to brush the dress. Time quickly runs down and it is time to start the show.
Heidi arrives on the runway looking like Tyra Banks got a hold of her and convinced her to let her bangs get so long they threaten to eat her face to be more like TyTy. Oh, Heidi, why did you listen to that crazy woman? Heidi expresses again the great confidence she and the judges—Michael and Nina—have in Rami and Chris and the show starts. It just flies by really fast, causing my pause button to get a work out.
First up are Rami’s three looks. The first one is a shiny black dress, draped but fitted, which is hardly featured because it is covered by an enormously over-structured dark teal blue coat. It’s got sleeves that really belong on a Chris-Christian creation but even they would edit them down. The collar is high and there’s something odd about it. The color is pretty, though. The second dress is also a fitted yet draped knee-length dress. It isn’t draped in a Grecian fashion at all; it is very structured, strapless, and made out of a black and white material that seems to be tiny polka dots, though it is kind of hard to make out. It is topped with a black jersey wrap; all in all, it’s very wearable. The third look is a black floor-length gown made out of tiny layers or square scales; not those big, scalloped scales like on Marion Cotillard’s Oscar dress, but tiny ones that gradually get bigger (and remain squared off) as they go further down the skirt of the dress. Maybe it looks more like lizard skin or something because there is a reflection to it. The only weirdness is that while the layers go horizontally down the dress, from the fitted bodice to the fishtail train, there are these big ovals of that pattern on the hips of the model. It works if you’re a zero or less, but any girl with curves—even the slightest ones—would have to think long and hard before drawing attention to that area.
Chris’ three looks are also dark; his first look is fitted below-the-knee-length skirt detailed with precisely placed dark metal safety pins in rows all around the skirt. The look is topped by a lovely tailored jacket trimmed out at the collar and the hem by black human hair. The jacket may be of a velvet material or something similarly textured. The second dress has a just below-the-knee straight skirt of made of the hair and starts just below the hipbone. The top of the dress is made with a nude-colored fabric decorated in a black beading pattern of flowers and comes up to form a choker around the neck; it is sleeveless. It kind of reminds me of a flapper dress on a diet. The model also is wearing black leather gloves, which seems weird. If you’re not worried about your shoulders getting cold, you’re not worried about your hands either. The third look is an extremely narrow column dress made of black velvet; it was so narrow the model could barely walk. There is a crocheted detail on the front, but, truth be told, it’s so dark you can’t really make it out. The dress also came with a skinny, long wrap.
Dark dresses and tough decisions.
Chris faces the judges first. His inspiration is a dark, glamour goth and incorporates unusual materials such as human hair, which he admits is a little creepy. Michael notices the black chrome safety pins on the first dress and finds the craftsmanship wonderful but thinks it may be a bit over-designed. He also comments the column dress is something of a black velvet condom. Look out Trojan and Durex—Kors Kondoms will be on the market this spring! Nina thinks the looks—even the hair—are good but maybe a bit overboard. Heidi asks why he picked these three designs and Chris again says he wanted to stay in one color category for the show. He thought the black ones were the most dramatic. Heidi comments that these are all things she hasn’t seen before and are very creative. She then asks Chris why he should be the one to go to Fashion Week and he says that it’d be nice to have someone show who is from outside the fashion world.
Rami says his inspiration was to show that he is able to construct and to find a balance between draping and constructing and hopes that that came through. Nina appreciates seeing the more tailored looks, especially the second dress. Michael says that it looks effortless and wonderful. Nina has issues with the coat—the capelet sleeve and the pleating on the sleeve, especially. Heidi loved the gown but Michael had an issue with the hip design. Nina didn’t have that issue because it is a fantasy dress; she then comments that both Chris and Rami have very dark inspirations and she doesn’t know why. Heidi then asks Rami why he should be the one to go to Fashion Week and he says that fashion is his calling, who he is, and what he’s wanted to do since he was six years old. Going to Fashion Week would be a wonderful opportunity to showcase his work and open new doors.
The designers and models leave so the judges can deliberate…or pick whom they’ve predetermined would be the winner, if you’re a conspiracy theorist. Nina again comments that both sets of designs were very dark; Michael notes that they were both dramatic and showed a lot of craftsmanship and ingenuity, but maybe went over the top a bit. He notes that Rami’s second dress was perfect and shows a certain commercial viability. The gown’s hip design still gives Michael and Heidi pause but Nina loved it. She had issues with the coat but, overall, they were glad he didn’t make three Grecian dresses. As for Chris, Michael loved his use of creative materials but still found the designs to be a bit costumey. Nina, however, points out that many fantastic designers got their start as costume designers who have built successful businesses.
After the decision is made and Rami and Chris have reappeared on the runway, Heidi says the decision was tough and their criticism has been the same for both of them: the designs were dark and felt a bit overworked. But, on a positive note, Chris showed how incredibly creative he is and Rami showed something different and a refined point of view. Then Rami is congratulated for being in and going to New York Fashion Week. He’s excited and happy and hugs Chris, who is getting teary-eyed. Chris stops on his exit to say that he was thrilled to make it that far and had an incredible time.
Back in the waiting area, Jillian and Christian learn that Rami is showing at Fashion Week and it’s hugs all around. Rami is thrilled to be going to Bryant Park, but Chris gets some sugar from Tim Gunn and notes he’s been booted before, so not all is bad. Chris even admits in his final interview that he’d do it again if he had the chance. To close the episode, the magical elves treat us to one final endearing resounding giggle from Chris.