As Heidi Klum reminds us every week, the world of fashion is a brutal, ruthless industry. One second you’re in, the next - you’re out. Thankfully, the world of recapping is filled with sunshine and kittens. Lobeck, your faithful recapper, is not “out,” he’s just been called away to the recap mill known as American Idol. I hear he’s chained to his computer, churning them out at warp speed. I will do my best to fill his stylish (but surprisingly comfortable) shoes. *flexing toes appreciatively*
Last week saw the demise of Nora, the plucky little chickadee who surprised us all by wiring together lawn chairs to form a beautiful, albeit plastic, dress. Who will be the next to hear a German supermodel bluntly tell them, “you’re out”?
It Wouldn’t Be a Competition Without the Swimsuit Portion
The episode starts with a half-hearted stab at gravity. Kevin is reflecting on the absent Nora, and regrets having a public spat with her during the rockstar challenge. Kara Saun, who always seems to have something good to say about her fellow designers, notes that seeing the “extremely talented” Nora leave gives the rest of them a boost. It seems Nora made a tepid impression on her fellow designers. But enough about Nora, we’ve already wasted twenty seconds on her demise.
Heidi tells the remaining seven designers that their new challenge will be called, “Making a Splash.” The goal is to design a swimsuit in five hours that is sleek enough to swim laps in like a Navy SEAL but glamorous enough to wear to an exclusive fashion industry party. Once again, the meat is brought in for the designers to choose as their personal dress-up doll. What’s that? It’s not nice to refer to the young models as “meat?” All right, then. “Human stick figures” is more accurate anyway.
As a by-product of the designers’ competition, the models are also competing to remain on the show. The designers size up the girls and pick the one they think will carry their swimwear best. Heidi announces that Kara Saun will be the first to choose. (Have you noticed that Heidi never calls her just “Kara”? I do it too, I can’t help it. She just seems like a Kara Saun, not a Kara.)
Kara Saun chooses her model based on their good relationship the week prior (Jenny). Kevin goes with the girl he thinks will be the best party monster, Morganzilla. When you consider that she has let drama threaten to derail more than one designer in her five short weeks on the show, it’s a risky choice. Make that a ridiculously stupid choice. But Kevin thinks she will be different for him, what with his mild manner and finicky ways. Good luck with that, Kevin.
Jay is the unlucky designer who has to choose between the last two unchosen models: Julia and Joy. He’s never worked with Joy, so he chooses Julia, while Wendy (who used Joy the previous week) wipes away a sensitive tear. Joy says the experience has been like summer camp. Without all the humiliating communal showers and singing around the campfire, I hope.
Let’s Get Going!
With thirty minutes to shop, seventy-five dollars, and five hours total to create a swimsuit that can be worn as evening wear, the designers are let loose on Mood Designer Fabrics. Austin tells us that his inspiration will be the old-fashioned glamour of Esther Williams movies. Wendy is focused on her task, but is frustrated because she doesn’t know anything about making bathing suits. With a comment like that, she’ll surely lose. Donchya think?
We watch the meat of the Project Runway experience - stressed designers pinning, stitching and sewing at a frenetic pace. Voiceovers abound; Kara Saun says that there’s never enough time, but this time there’s really not enough time; Jay tells us he’s going for a “strappy” look; Kara Saun’s suit will be for a “society club”. Alexandra thinks that the three strongest designers in the competition are herself, Austin and Kara Saun. Hey, she does that Kara Saun thing too. Kevin calls his suit “avant garde classic.”
Alexandra is from Miami, where bathing suits abound, so she thinks she’s got the challenged sewed up. *rimshot* Seriously, she’s convinced that she’s got an edge. She thinks her suit is a mixture of Missoni and Michael Kors, somehow involving a lot of gold. Put a little bling on that string bikini, sister.
The pressure mounts as the hours pass quickly. Jay is worried that his suit is looking like a “gay man’s S&M costume,” but we’ll just have to imagine what that means for now, as Jay has gone through five sewing machines in quick succession, saying they all “suck ass.” Try repeating that with your finger under the needle, Jay. Didn’t think you would. Meanwhile, he takes the opportunity to complain that everyone around him seems to get machines that work. Eventually, he storms off to decompress for a few minutes. One cigarette later, Jay returns pumped, saying he knows exactly what he wants to do.
Kara Saun warns the others that there’s likely a twist to be announced at 5:00. Why would the Powers That Be be so adamant about the deadline if they didn’t have something else up their fashionable sleeves? The others scoff, but Kara Saun is proved right when Tim Gunn comes in to monitor the final fifteen minutes. Stitch! Pin! Drape with Extreme Prejudice! All too soon, the time is called.
Tim tells them that as they have probably guessed, they are headed for an exclusive fashion industry party hosted by Elle magazine. Pleased looks are traded among the designers. But Tim’s not done, noting that it’s important to get your name in the press. The object of the party is to gain the favorable attention of Richard Johnson, editor of the New York Post’s Page Six. The winner of the challenge will be written up in Richard Johnson’s column. Now the designers are looking excited. I can read their minds: my name...in bold letters...
The models file in to be dressed and primped. Jenny, Kara Saun’s model, is thrilled with the white bikini/sheer white jacket she will be wearing for the evening. Austin is breathing a sigh of relief that he chose Melissa, a girl who is very comfortable with her body. He describes her personality as “effervescent”, which will help her “work” the party. Darling little Melissa is only sixteen, by the way.
Suit Up, If You Can
Wendy has designed a “bird of paradise” -themed suit in bright orange and yellows. Low cut over her model’s ample bosom, the suit has crossed ties up the sides (half of Wendy’s designs on the show have had crossed ties somewhere on the garment) and drapes like a sarong. The fabric is sheer, and Martinique’s, um, assets are visible. Wendy has included a thong with the design, but there’s a problem. She’s never made a thong before, and the result must one-up the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction, as we’re not allowed to see it on the model. We get a glimpse of it being taken back to the scrap pile, and it’s nothing more than a long piece of yellow ribbon with a minuscule triangle of fabric. Luckily, Martinique has her own thong she can wear under the dress - oops, I mean swimsuit. Truly, there’s no way that sheer, see-through suit would be worn in a pool, unless that pool was at Hugh Hefner’s pad.
Alexandra is also encountering a fit problem. Her model, Erin, could not be thinner if she tried, and yet Alexandra has made a suit that’s too small for the whisper-thin model. She makes her wear it anyway, and the result is a lot of skin showing. A lot of skin, a ribcage, and an assortment of bony junctures.
Jay warns Julia that he will have to strap her into the suit he has designed. Morgan, peeking over to where Jay is starting to strap, tells Kevin that she’s thankful she’s not Jay’s model for this challenge. Kevin’s suit, in contrast, looks a lot more comfortable. In fact, it resembles a mini-skirt with a tucked-in white oxford shirt. How is that a bathing suit, Kevin? It may not matter, if the object is to get a powerful man’s attention. Kevin tells us that Morgan is his trump card, as long as she doesn’t get too drunk and go to pieces.
Just like that *snap* the party is on. Jenny and Kara Saun are the first to pounce on Richard Johnson. She appears to make a pleasant impression on the veep, who reminds me of Chris Noth with graying hair. Mr. Big seems happy to check out the models in their suits - he’s very happy, I’d say. Morgan pulls down her mini-skirt to show him just how much of a swimsuit her skirt and button-down is. I think Richard Johnson had a mini-hot flash at the sight. Morgan further impresses by telling the fashion mogul that Kevin’s her bitch. She got a genuine belly laugh with that one, but I’m not sure it works in Kevin’s favor.
Robert is the next to approach Mr. Johnson. After trading quips about liking to dress and undress women, Robert shares his inspiration for women’s clothing - classic sports cars. If a challenge were to create a dress from a stripped BMW, he’d be in creative heaven, I guess. Well, maybe the car angle will stick in the veep’s mind.
In sweeps Austin, champagne glass in hand. He tells Richard Johnson that he was inspired by the “Venus” that is Melissa, and was compelled to drape her in the winds, oceans, tides and stars or somesuch. I don’t think the fashion mogul cared what he was saying, as long as Melissa stood there smiling at him as he said it. Austin points out that Melissa is drinking ginger ale, as she is only sixteen. Now that will be remembered. From the up-and-down he gave the girl, I’m saying it will no doubt be a frequent and standout memory of the night.
Alexandra tells Mr. Johnson that she’s dreamed of being a designer since she was a little girl. She works in that she’s a young twenty-two, but doesn’t linger. Wendy introduces herself and her swimdress, then barges right in with an inappropriate question. She phrased it awkwardly, but it boiled down to this: what do you have to do to get written up in your column, mister? Richard Johnson looks mildly annoyed, and replies that he writes up people that deserve it, since it’s positive recognition. Ouch.
Jay (in flaming Jesus mode) is the last to introduce himself. He shows the lovely Julia in her tight “tie-me-up” black suit. He stays long enough to make comments about S&M, then asks the columnist if they’re done. It doesn’t come off rude, though; that Jay has a personable, life-of-the-party way about him, Jesus outfit and all.
Now that the night’s business is done, the group can get their groove on, and they do. The camera follows Austin in particular, writhing on the dance floor like an interpretive dancer extraordinaire. While the designers dance, Austin’s secret weapon goes to work...Melissa! That saucy little number parks her half-naked self next to the columnist and works it like the rent was due (to borrow a phrase from ANTM’s beloved Mrs. J). Soon the other designers are nudging their models to park their bony backsides next to Richard Johnson, who the camera catches laughing with someone that he had better not gape at the underaged Melissa. Austin blithely feels no guilt with Melissa’s campaign, saying that he was just “letting nature take its course.” We see Austin and Melissa both cozying up to the columnist; next, Richard Johnson asks them what Austin will do if Melissa becomes a star from the Project Runway experience and he doesn’t. “That won’t happen,” Austin replies, not missing a beat.
Eventually the party dwindles, and Morgan tells Kevin that she’s heading off to a club. Kevin wants her to change out of the swim outfit, but Morgan tells him to trust her. Kevin does. The next morning, Jay and Robert are incredulous at Kevin’s naivete. Jay quips that Morgan probably figured since she was wearing a swimsuit, she might as well hit the beach. “She’s probably halfway to Miami by now.” Jay and Robert agree that it was a poor judgement on Kevin’s part to let Morgan wear his entry all night.
Jay steps out for a cigarette, and who should he find entering the building but Morgan, with Kevin’s suit. She only ripped it in a couple of places - wait, what? She looks cute and makes an oopsie face, Morgan made a boo boo. Jay ponders Morgan, telling the camera that “She was planted by demons.” We see Jay consoling Morgan with a friendly hug, all the while mouthing OH MY GOD to the camera behind Morgan’s head.
Kevin is low key about the problem. He swears to Morgan that he’s not mad. (Is he nuts? She wears the outfit against his advice and tears it in two places, and he’s not mad?) To the camera, he admits that he shouldn’t have picked her - she was a gamble, and he gambled wrong. But to Morgan, he says that it’s a shame she wore the swimsuit all night. In a flash, Morgan loses her temper and dramatically declares that she should be eliminated. Wouldn’t it be funny if reality show contestants were ushered out from in front of the cameras the instant they made one of these self-serving dramatic statements? Since it’s not up to Kevin to eliminate her, she remains safely in the competition. But we all feel better knowing Morgan feels she has done nothing wrong.
While Kevin struggles to repair his suit, Jay struggles to get Julia back in the S&M mess, trying several times before he can figure out the way the ties work together. God forbid the woman has to go to the bathroom; she’d have to cut her way out.
The judges play musical chairs each week, and we’re back to Constance White, the eBay “style director,” whatever that is; Anne Slowey (Fashion News Director for Elle magazine; and Richard Johnson, head of the New York Post’s Page Six. And Heidi Klum, of course (looking oh-so-fabuloso in an intriguing silk scarf top with an embroidered Chinese dragon).
Also present at the event: Austin’s hair. Have you ever seen an astronaut give an interview from the space shuttle? Austin’s hair flies even higher, defying two immutable laws: gravity and social convention. Not everyone can pull off hair so big it has its own paragraph, but Austin looks cooly confident. And only a tad ridiculous.
The models traipse down the runway, and the suits hold up well. Unlike the bridal challenge, there’s no immediate upchuck factor at any of them. Kara Saun is dismissed first, since she is immune from winning the previous competition. When the judges ask questions, they are most critical of Kevin for designing a suit that looks like a shirt and skirt. Wendy also is called on the carpet for designing a swimsuit that looks like mini-dress. Wendy admits that her bottom piece did not work out, and the model wore her own thong.
Richard Johnson asks Robert to explain the “classic car” comments from the night before. Robert pours on the charm, describing women in terms of cars, and the eBay judge is visibly offended. (She should see the commercials for cotton running during the show - you know, the one where the women are always thinking about shopping for more clothes?) Jay tells the judges that his is a techno-bohemian look. When asked if his “flamboyant character” will fit into the business, Jay makes a joke about needing a booster seat so he can act like a child. None of the judges smile at the flippant comment.
Alexandra is quizzed on her design, and responds that she saw it as a mix of Missoni fabrics, and a “bikini that Michael Kors did.” She could have phrased that better, since it sounds like she’s admitting to copying someone else’s design. The eBay stylist tells her that her design could have been more creative. (Ouch!)
Austin is happy to explain his creation, and waxes poetic about water nymphs. But he works in that he made sure it was a wearable, workable suit. Meow! Heidi turns to Kevin and asks if his suit is at all wearable in the water. Kevin points out that the shirt is stretchy material, and the skirt is made of neoprene, like a wet suit. A wet suit that only covers your crotch...I foresee temperature issues with this strange swimming costume. Meanwhile, Wendy’s suit is criticized for not having a bottom. Hey, let’s get these two crazy people together and make one wacky but complete suit!
The designers are dismissed, and the judges want to know how they acted at the party. Richard Johnson shares that he was impressed by Austin’s personality. None of them like Robert’s “classic car” comments, and Alexandra’s suit is dismissed as showing “no creativity.” Heidi disliked Kevin’s design for looking nothing like a swimsuit, and Richard Johnson thinks Kevin didn’t present himself well at the party.
One More Surprise!
Heidi announces that since the challenge was to impress the columnist, the winner of the challenge will not be announced. Huh? Oh, what she means is that the winner will get a write-up on Page Six. We do get a hint, though; Jay and Austin were found to be the two best, and they will have to wait until the next morning to find out who is published in the column. They walk out elated, holding hands. To the camera, Jay has some pointed words about being true to himself, and not “whoring” like some of the other designers.
Quickly the designers are called out until Alexandra and Kevin are the last two standing, and Heidi cuts to the chase: “Kevin, you’re still in.” Alexandra is sent upstairs to pack up her scraps. But not to worry, she tells us, “things happen for a reason.” And that reason was you told the judges exactly whose suit you were trying to copy.
I Was Wrong, One More Surprise!
It’s the next morning. Jay and Austin walk in to a newsstand and excitedly pick up the paper. Who is the upcoming designer who gets a cool mention by a fashion columnist? Jay reads out Austin’s name, who instantly squeals like a giddy schoolgirl. Outside, Jay beats down Austin brutally, screaming that Austin didn’t deserve to win that f***ing thing! He did, really! Okay, it was with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but it was hilarious.
Next week, the remaining designers will have to work as a team. One of them is picked to lead, and Wendy whines about being an outsider. And there will be more hot sewing action! Sweet.
I’ll take the suit that requires the least amount of shaving. firstname.lastname@example.org