This week’s episode opens with a brief glimpse into the Atlas unit shared by Laura, Angela and Alison. The bedroom seems to have new sheets and mattresses--at least Laura and Alison were not sleeping on the floor. Straight away, we are treated to three potentially portentous comments: Angela, speaking about Stacey’s elimination, says, “We all have to go sometime.” Next, we get a shot of Keith saying he doesn’t care about his immunity. And finally, Malan shares that he is going to have a great day and is happy to be a part of Project Runway. What do these clue mean? Has Angela sealed her fate, and will be the next to go? Will Keith lose his immunity and be aufed anyway? Will Malan have a bad day and that annoying song get stuck in my head? (Fie on you, Daniel Powter.)
There she is, Miss Ameri....errr, USA
The designers assemble along side the runway to chose their models. The models come out in their usual black chemises and, embarrassingly, bare feet. This group looks younger and goofier to me than prior batches of models. Keith gets to pick first, since he won last time and he sticks with Nazri. The rest of the designers make their picks, and Candice is out.
Heidi then announces this week’s challenge: the designers will have to make a gown for Miss USA, Tara Conner, to wear in the evening gown competition in the Miss Universe pageant. Tara Conner herself then walks out on the runway, wearing a poofy meringue-ish dress, ten tons of makeup, and three cans of Aqua Net. She tells the designers that the evening gown competition is very important, accounting for one third of her total score. Tara looks gravely serious about the whole affair, though I doubt she’s all that bound to wear the winning dress, were it to be a total disaster.
The designers go to the workroom, where Tim and a now more casual Tara meet to provide more details about the challenge. Tara says that she is the second shortest girl in the Miss Universe pageant, so she wants a design that elongates her frame. She prefers earth tones and wants to avoid white. She also wants to avoid plunging necklines because she wants the design to be about her, not about her breasts. The designers will have thirty minutes to sketch a design; they will then pitch the designs to Tara, and she will pick seven she likes. Then the designers will work in pairs to complete the chosen designs.
She’s got legs, and she knows how to use them
Thirteen designers start sketching, working to come up with a pageant dress that is more red carpet than not. The fourteenth, Angela, is busy bugging the crap out of Kayne. Angela says she’s never made a gown, and that she will need help so she targets Kayne, the professional pageant gown designer. He’s trying to sketch and she’s in his face, trying to sell him on pairing up with her. As Jeffrey said in the private interview shot, Angela was just looking for a free ride.
Tara then gets to listen to the designers’ gown plans. Most of the pitches seem to go fairly well, but the creepiest, most uncomfortable pitch—even worse than Daniel Franco’s pitch to Heidi last season—was Keith’s presentation. He not only cops a feel but leers at Tara, then looks deep into her eyes and says, “I want to see your leeegggss.” Was he trying to hypnotize the girl? I don’t know, but it gave me the willies.
Angela’s pitch was a tad unusual as well. She comes in, carrying her sketch pad as a prop. She’s got nothing on it, because she doesn’t sketch. As I recall, last year’s winner, Chloe, wasn’t a big sketcher, but when asked to sketch, she put pen to paper. So Angela comes off as a bit lame and/or foolishly arrogant. She wants to ask Tara a series of questions to come up with the design. The first is, “Do you like umpire waists?” Now, I know good & well that it is “empire waist” but I replayed the tape four times, and I’ll swear on a stack of bibles the girl said “umpire.” The question is met with a resounding “no.” Angela then asks what Tara thinks about long-line gloves, and that’s met with an eye roll and a silent plea for help, much as I did when I had to wear them at a god-awful redneck wedding.
After the pitches, Tara picks the seven designs she wants to see executed. She first picks Keith’s design for its line (and possibly because he hypnotized her...I’m still not ruling that out). Tara then picks: Uli’s design because she’s intrigued by the potential of multiple diaphanous layers of earth tone fabric; Vincent’s design because it shows her, not the dress; Laura’s dress, because she thought about how it would look on stage; Malan’s design because it promises a sharp hourglass figure; and Jeffrey’s warrior-woman design because he got that she is a strong independent woman. (Or at least her hair is strong. Seriously, are pageant folks that concerned about wind gusts?!?!) For the final design, she chose the now-apoplectic Kayne because she liked the built-in jewelry aspect and he’s a pageant freak.
Tara takes her leave, and the designers now have to pick their teammates. Laura picks Michael; Uli takes Bonnie; Malan chooses Katherine; Jeffrey picks Alison; and Kayne decides on Robert, so that he’ll be dialed down from über pageantry. Keith is second-to-last to chose, and the two remaining potential teammates are Angela and Bradley. Keith says that, despite Bradley having a completely different work aesthetic, it was no contest in picking Bradley. Vincent is left with Angela, whom he welcomes to his team by saying, “I will be happy to work with Alison.” He probably would be happier to work with Alison, but it is Angela who he gets.
Armed with $300, the designers set off with Tim to Mood to buy their materials. They have two days to complete the challenge. The scene at Mood is fairly collaborative in the designer couplets. Kayne goes a bit wild and picks an iridescent purple organza that is derided by other contestants, as it is not exactly an earth tone. Angela, channeling Ross Gellar in that annoyingly ubiquitous Friends episode shot in real time, is counting down the minutes that Vincent has to make a fabric decision. Vincent is dawdling and apparently unwilling to make a commitment on a fabric, but the NASA-style countdown is a bit irritating.
It’s Construction Time Again
Back in the workroom, Bonnie says she wants to see people start fighting, and her wish is soon granted. Vincent and Angela are not getting along any better now that they actually have fabric. Vincent is on his high horse, saying it is his design and he has to do it his way. Angela asks him to give her something to do, but he is dismissive and has to figure out everything himself.
Keith thinks Bradley is a bit nervous working with him, since he has immunity and may not have to care as much about the challenge as Bradley does. Keith weakly reassures Bradley that all will be well, as Keith walks out for a smoke break. Katherine and Malan seem to be working well together. She is less experienced at making gowns than he is, and is hoping to learn something as she goes.
Tim, as usual, pops in for a look-see. He is pleased with Uli and Bonnie’s progress. He has concerns with the bottom third of the skirt on Kayne and Robert’s gown. The skirt is a fitted column with fabric poofing from about the knee down in ruffles, attached to the column. Tim worries that you’ll see seams or however it is attached. I’m worried that my Barbie from 1984 will be missing her dress.
Tim visits with Angela and Vincent, and is disappointed in their failure as a team. Vincent dismisses Tim’s input on the garment itself, demonstrating he’s got no sense. Tim is very concerned with Malan and Katherine’s dress, which is really Malan’s dress. He comments that the ruching on corset top looks heavy. Katherine, by this point, is less enthused with the direction the top is taking, and comments that she would not want to wear a dress that makes a girl look heavy or bulky.
In the lunchroom, Keith tells Angela that Angela has a horrible relationship with Vincent. Angela says thought they were getting along o.k. and that she doesn’t value Keith’s opinion. Personally, this entire exchange seemed weird, awkward and staged. I don’t know what it shows other than (1) Keith is a pot-stirrer and (2) Angela is either clueless or very bad at sarcasm.
Back in the work room, Robert and Kayne are furiously adding rhinestones to the dress, as it has a halter neckline that is bejeweled, giving it a choker effect. Robert and Kayne have a good time working together, and I suspect they were a lot sillier and joked around more than we actually got to see.
At the end of the second night, Angela has had it with Vincent and does not want anything to do with the dress. This leads Vincent, later that night in his apartment, to complain how Angela is going to knife him in the back on the runway. Vincent, here’s a word of advice: stop designing crap and you’ll not have to face the judges so much. Look into it. Keith maintains that Angela’s motives are transparent, and Jeffrey inexplicably calls her a feminazi. First, I have issues with this word because it reminds me of my Parasitology professor in college, which, in turn, has me mumbling about furcocercous cercariae in a twangy Mississippi accent for the rest of the day. Secondly, Angela may have been being an utter blame-dodger, but that’s not even close to what Limbaugh meant by the term he popularized.
If I could turn back time, I could find a hem.
We arrive at the day of the runway show. Malan and Katherine are behind in finishing the skirt, and somehow it is now much too short for the model. The hem will go out unsewn, with all manner of strings dangling from it. Vincent and Angela are still going at it, arguing over how much time there is until they must show.
At long last, we are now ready for the runway. Heidi comes out, wearing what appears to be Laura’s lipstick and rejects from Samantha Jones’ wardrobe, and announces the judges are Vera Wang sitting in for Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, and Tara Conner. Finally the show starts:
· Jeffrey and Alison’s gown is first, modeled by Toni. The chocolate/champagne colored gown has a full-ish dark brown skirt, made of only one kind of fabric, but seamed together in pieces. The fitted bodice of the dress is made of a shimmery champagne colored material, except for the one portion that covers one breast and shoulder, which is a more sheer beige color. The top doesn’t seem all that well fitted, but it’s o.k. The gown itself is alright, but doesn’t seem to be a pageant look that would fit Tara’s style.
· Keith and Bradley’s gown is next, modeled by Nazri. It has the Santino™ brand bodice—small covering over the boobies and an empire waist—and flows down from there, reminding me of the cover of the instruction book Mom has with her old, 1960’s vintage Futura sewing machine. The fabric looks lavender on the runway, but it was more “earthy” in the workroom.
· Vincent and Angela, the disastrous duo, send out their design on Jia. It is a sage green column dress, with a deep V neckline, fitted waist, and odd epaulets on the sleeves. The fit was good and at least there was no hat.
· Kayne and Robert show their iridescent purple dress on the lovely Katina. The built-in bejeweled halter/choker looks a whole lot nicer than I expected: it actually does look like jewelry, rather than a home crafts version of a necklace. The dress has a sweetheart neckline and that frothy train thing Tim was worried about. It looks very pageant and not very red carpet, which causes me to worry about Kayne.
· Malan and Katherine make Amanda walk out in the dark brown, overly ruched, unhemmed dress. The rushing is uneven, in that it makes one side of her chest look larger and lumpier than the other side. No girl would ever willingly look for that feature in a dress. The skirt was simple and straight, and would have been alright had it actually been long enough and hemmed.
· Uli and Bonnie send Lindsay down the runway in Uli’s gown. The halter top presents a plunging V neckline, which offering absolutely no cleavage support so Linday’s breasts look like they are rolling around. The and the back is cut low and has a detailing which frames the back nicely. The skirt is indeed about five tissue-thin layers of various tones of brownish, champagne colored fabric, that kind of fly open from the midpoint when Lindsay walks. It could be a very pretty dress if the top fit better, like when Austin Scarlett showed it in a different color in Season One’s Grammy challenge.
· Finally, Laura and Michael show their beautiful white fitted gown on Katie. The construction and tailoring is impeccable. The neckline is almost square, and the back plunges deeply. The plain white dress is broken up by either silver reflective bits or large-ish rhinestones on the bottom of the skirt, evocative of a starscape.
After the show, the designers are called on the runway and Jeffrey, Alison, Keith, Bradley, Laura, and Michael are all dismissed because they have scored high enough to go to the next challenge. The remaining eight designers represent the top two and bottom two designs. Heidi tells us that Tara will pick the winner and the one person will out.
Purple mountains for her Majesty.
The judges critique the four remaining looks. As for Uli’s gown, Tara liked the flow, Vera loved the color, and Nina thought it was very modern. Tara particularly loved Kayne’s dress, and was taken with the sweetheart neckline. She pointed out she won Miss USA with a sweetheart neckline dress, and I’ll book it that Kayne knew so going in to the contest. Nina thought it was great Kayne took the initiative to go out on a limb with the purple fabric, and I’d also book it that her tune would have been far different if Tara didn’t like the dress.
The reviews weren’t so rosy with Malan’s dress. No one like the rushing, finding it oddly distributed, lumpy, and not flattering. The judges asked Katherine who should go home, and she said she didn’t think she should since it wasn’t her vision. Malan agreed, owing up to the fact that it was his design. Earlier Malan shared a sob story about how his mother dismissed his 13-year-old self when he showed her his early fashion drawings, and I didn’t necessarily buy his tale. But by stepping up at this moment, even if it was for a strategic reason, I started to really like him.
Similarly uncomfortable was the dialog concerning Vincent’s dress. Nina asks if the pair got along. Vincent, never one to pass a chance at hyperbole, said he had an astronomical amount of work to do to fix Angela’s mistakes and the experience was the nightmare of his life. If two days of tense work with Angela is his “uuuge” nightmare, I want his life. For her part, Angela says the dress was too simple, looked like something she did in college, and won’t work as a pageant dress. Nina loves the back, and gushes over it. Vera, thank god, points out the epaulet sleeves are “hard to wear”, and Tara says it looks like a space cadet outfit with the sleeves, but, other than that, it would stand out at a pageant because it is so simple.
The designers are dismissed, and the judges deliberate. Tara thinks Vincent’s gown is classic, save for the sleeves. Nina thought Angela was out of line and thought Uli’s dress was modern, beautiful and that Uli really listened to her client. I get that she did with the earth tones, but Tara also said she didn’t want huge cleavage, so I’m not sure how a plunging V neck with no support accomplishes the “don’t look at my chest, look at my face” intent. Tara was over the moon for Kayne’s obviously pageanty gown, and I have to say, I could see her in it. No one liked Malan’s dress at all.
The eight designers are called back in. Robert and Bonnie are in and Kayne is announced the winner. Uli, Katherine, and Vincent are all in as well, leaving the judges with Malan and Angela. Heidi tells Malan that he failed the design from color choice to execution. She tells Angela that she failed as a teammate, and part of the challenge was teamwork. After the suspense inducing pause we’ve all grown to love, Heidi announces that Angela is in, but just barely. Malan is out and is sent to pack up.
In his tearful exit interview, Malan says he is ashamed that he got out so early, before he could really bond with the other contestants and he will miss them because he, in the short time he’d been there, really felt like he was a part of something. It was kind of sweet, and now I’m going to miss the weird little vampire boy.
Next week, the designers have to design around a fashion accessory. My bet is on the hair scrunchy.