Friday, September 4, 2009

Surf’s Down: The Project Runway recap

I hate to break the news to the Project Runway casting team, but they didn’t exactly field a group of mensas this season.

To wit: Heidi’s anvil-like clues about the site of the next challenge had them momentarily stumped.

“It’s a place you can’t leave California without seeing,” she said. “And here’s a hint: Bring your sunscreen!”

The designers all stared at each other, befuddled. A few tentatively mumbled, “The beach?” Others were afraid to make such a bold prediction.

Johnny looked pleased as punch with himself when they did, indeed, roll up to the beach (in a short bus?). “The first thing that popped into my mind was the beach!” he crowed. Complex atom theory is clearly the next thing that will pop into his mind.

But hey, any excuse to see Tim Gunn in flip-flops (“only for the beach!” he scolded—and somewhere, that group of school girls who visited the White House in flip-flops reddened) works for me.

The one big FAIL of the beach scene? No hot surfer dudes. I realize that Project Runway is all about female fashion, but could they throw in a token lifeguard or something, just as a prop? This is the kind of thing Bravo would never screw up.

The whole "Garnier Elimination Challenge"—to make a fashionable surf look and pair it with a super-awesome Garnier hairdo—was extra infomercially, even by Project Runway standards. (Any episode now, Tim Gunn is going to start having advertising patches sewn onto his blazer, like a car from NASCAR).

So it’s the first team challenge of the season, always good for a little drama.
I won’t tell you all the partners, because some were, quite frankly, dull.

Here’s all you need to know:

Johnny was paired with Irina, and I only mention this because it was pretty much the first time I ever heard her speak and she just kept saying, “hippie” over and over again: “It’s super hippie!” “It’s so hippie!” “It’s, like, hippie.” (At the end of her little hippie outburst I wasn’t sure if she—or I— actually knew the definition of the word.)

Mitchell was his team leader and he picked Ra’mon. And this is what he said, I swear to God: “I wanted to pick someone who can carry me.” Refreshing honesty? Or alarming insecurity?

Qristyl was team leader and she picked Epperson—and I'm pretty sure I saw some romantic sparks between those crazy kids. (Just kidding. They hated each other.)

And here’s how it went down. Ra’mon didn’t want to be the team leader, but Mitchell gave him no choice, because he pretty much just sat there, watching Ra’mon work.

At one point, Mitchell did come up with this hilarious bon mot: “Auf wiedersehen, bitches!”—a turn of phrase so witty, so slyly naughty, so delicious to his fellow contestants, he had to say it twice. (I told you this cast was dull. They make little “design-licious” Blayne from last season seem like Noel Coward.)

Meanwhile, Qristyl (an aside: can you imagine her having to make reservations over the phone: “That’s Qristyl with a Q . . and an I . . . and an inexplicable Y crammed between the T and the L”) wanted to be her team’s leader, but Epperson wouldn’t let her. He was actually pretty patronizing, giving her rudimentary sewing tips and shooting down all of her ideas. The funny thing is, Epperson isn’t exactly a powerful, dynamic figure. Indeed, he reminds me of those Slowsky turtles on the Comcast high-speed Internet commercials. But in his own mellow, low-fi way, he’s pretty intimidating. Qristyl with a Q and an and I and a Y didn’t have a chance.

I figured that making a surf outfit wasn’t going to be the last word on the challenge, and I was right. Tim Gunn came into the studio and announced that the designers had to make an avant-garde look that was inspired by their surf look.

Upon hearing this news, the designers all looked like bad actors indicating “concerned”—with their mouths hanging open (even more than usual).

Ra’mon got the not-so-great idea to do a rubberized catsuit. Tim Gunn was not impressed. Ra’mon freaked out. Mitchell looked up briefly, thought, “So glad this isn’t my problem” and went back to doing nothing.

Then, at the last minute, Ra’mon decided to completely change his look. Instead of Creature from the Black Lagoon chic, he decided to make a (let’s face it, way-too-wearable to be truly avant-garde) chartreuse dress with a hand-dyed gray color splash. And when I say last minute, I mean last minute—I’m not sure the dye had dried by the time they hit the runway.

Michael Kors is absent, again! Unacceptable. (As Tim Gunn might say, “I can’t want this more than you do, Michael Kors!”). In his place, the extremely cuddly Max Azaria. This week’s celebrity pimping a fashion line I didn’t even know she had? Rachel Bilson. I must say, that girl is adorbs.

So down they march—the Roxy collection in the year 2093.

Then a most remarkable thing occurred: Ra’mon and Mitchell were in the top four.
Heidi asked Mitchell to point out what he did for the challenge. “I made the bathing suit,” he said. What bathing suit, you might ask? Exactly. The damn thing was covered up by the dress. (I’m not even convinced there was a bathing suit—and we may never know. This is the like the Project Runway version of the Loch Ness monster.)

“Did you help with either of the dresses?” Heidi prodded.
Not really.
“Who picked the patterns?”
“Who came up with the concept?”
“Who’s your daddy?”
Well, you get the point.

Despite Mitchell’s expertise at standing around doing nothing—Ra’mon manages to actually win the challenge.

But fresh on the heels of Michael I. being both a winner and a loser on last night’s Top Chef (see my recap below), Mitchell is now asked to remain in the bottom 3. Yikes!

His fellow denizens of Loserville? No surprise here: Epperson and Qristyl.

I’ll put everyone out of their misery: Mitchell goes home.

He cries a little, says he should’ve “tried harder” (ya think?), and heads home to strategize his next move—and by "strategize his next move" I mean lie on his bed and eat bon bons.

Hilarious Lifetime programming I won’t be watching this week ™: September Secrets.


Cliff O'Neill said...

Cracking up at the prospect of hearing Qrystil making restaurant reservations!! Thanks for the imagery!

RJ Flamingo said...

And ya know? Despite the fact that this was the Garnier Challenge, did you notice that the models' hair looked any different or special? Cool drawings, though. Epperson is revealing himself to be quite the control freak, isn't he?