Friday, October 29, 2010

Heidi's Choice: The Project Runway Finale recap

Don't you just love a happy ending? Me too. Too bad we'll apparently have to watch The Fairy Jobmother to get one.

Okay, okay, it's not that I begrudge Gretchen her win. She ran through thunder and she captured lightening in a thimble and she won fair and square—if you consider receiving half the vote fair and square—it's just that I wanted Mondo to win so bad.
We all did.

What happened?
Mondo was steamrolling to the finale. His win seemed like a foregone conclusion. He was unstoppable.

Except . . .
I had a nagging feeling that Mondo had a Seth Aaron problem. Not that I stated it anywhere public, like, uh, this blog. But I told my sister!

Here's proof:

Dear readers of Hey, I’m maxthegirl,

Yeah, she totally said that.

Max's sister

p.s. Can I have my five bucks now?

You see, the problem is that Seth Aaron (last year's winner, for the newbies) and Mondo both work in bold prints with lots of plaid and both favor bright colors. Mondo's work is more feminine and charming. (Seth Aaron had that whole decidedly uncharming Third Reich thing going for him.) But they both have a larger-than-life, costumey quality to their designs.

And there was another factor against Mondo:
While Gretchen wielded the mighty power of Michael Kors and Nina Garcia, Fashion Director of Marie Claire magazine,
Mondo wielded the mighty power of Heidi Klum and. . .Jessica Simpson?

Jessica Simpson? For reals? Was Snookie not available?
Seriously, can you imagine if your fate as a designer—your very future—was in the hands of Jessica Simpson? I know that the girl has a clothing line (full disclosure: I've picked up a pair of Jessica Simpson shoes in the store, thought they were fetching, saw the label, and walked away in shame). But it's not like she's known for her fashion flair. She’s mostly known thinking that Buffalo wings are made from actual buffalos and for wearing one very unfortunate pair of high rise mom jeans:

So while Heidi is trying to make a case for Mondo as the winner, Jessica Simpson is saying things like, “I love polka dots!”
Bastard never had a chance.

Anyway, since we have two whopping hours for this finale, Lifetime decides to start things off with an impromptu reunion show.

There they all are. . .including Mrs. Redundant herself, poor, robbed, mute McKell.

On these reunion shows, the people voted off in the first few weeks tend to fall into two distinct categories: There are those who pretend to have all sorts of anecdotes and insight based on their 2 whole days on set. They laugh a little too loudly, say things like “That is sooo like you, Mondo!” and answer questions that were never asked of them.

And then there are those—like McKell—who sit there looking miserable, staring at their feet, clearly wanting the whole misbegotten ordeal to be over as soon as possible.

So the reunion inevitably turns into the “We Hate Gretchen” show, with everyone talking about what a colossal bitch she is.

“I guess what I’m supposed to say is, ‘I’m not a bitch, I just play one on TV,’” says Gretchen sadly. Her heart really isn’t in it. Heidi, meanwhile, laughs and laughs and laughs at that line and is SO going to use it for herself.

After Gretchen says that, Ivy rolls her eyes, as Ivy is wont to do. (Actually, just to save time, let’s assume Ivy is rolling her eyes unless clearly stated otherwise).

And Tim Gunn, forgetting that he’s not supposed to hate Gretchen anymore, says, “Is that even accurate?”
(Not sure what he was questioning here: That Gretchen is a bitch? Or that she only plays one on TV?)

So Ivy and April talk about how two-faced Gretchen is and Mondo and Michael C defend her (wonder if this was before Michael C knew she referred to him as an idiot?) and Mondo gives Gretchen a comforting little squeeze of the knee, which is just darling.

Then there’s a quickie montage of the season and Tim Gunn says things that only Tim Gunn can get away with like, “You all have personalities to beat the band!” and “You’re 17 rare hot house flowers!” and “22 Skidoo!”

Then they show Tim Gunn cracking up over Kristen’s wooly balls, which will never get old.

Finally, a montage of crying, that conspicuously didn’t include Michael C’s epic crying/hyperventilating/convulsing jag, because some things are just too awkward to re-live.

Now fun and game time is over and the Top 3 need to get back to the studio and go to work.

Mondo considers adding a black evening dress to his mix, but Tim Gunn kinda talks him out of it? (Bad Tim, bad!).
Mondo decides he’s going to be true to himself.
“I’m going to give them a show!” he promises.
He’s even going to end with the controversial polka dot evening dress. Bold move.

Meanwhile, Andy has designed a bathing suit that, according to Tim, looks like “hair growing out of a crotch.”
Andy backs away to get a new perspective. “I don’t see it,” he says. Really? Cause it totally does. But not just hair, like gross hair that gets clogged in the drain. Or maybe one of McKell’s dreadlocks. (You see that McKell? I made you relevant!)

Tim Gunn moseys to Gretchen’s station and likes what he sees.
“I’m learning how to pump up the drama,” she says. Say you what you will about Gretchen, but she is no dummy. Michael Kors and Nina Garcia wanted more volume and volume is what she is giving them.

Back at the hotel, the 3 designers sit around the hotel, reminiscing. For some reason, Gretchen chooses to wear a cropped, cream-colored Wookie jacket during this time of reflection.

In an unrelated note, every time Gretchen talks about how "humbling" this experience has been, I seriously want to hurl.

Runway day!
All the designers look quite fly, especially Mondo, who is sporting the slickest Mondo’s Mondolicious Look of the Day ™ of them all: A slim cut dark gray sharkskin suit, skinny tie with a micro polka dot, and a picture-perfect pompadour.
Today’s ab-fab look gets a Mondoriffic rating of: 5 stars.

Mondo is flustered backstage, because not all of his models have arrived, and the stage manager has the cue cards wrong. He seems overwhelmed.
Gretchen, as organized as Martha Stewart’s cupboard, is concerned.


Heidi comes onto stage wearing a tomato-red pants suit that she must’ve borrowed from Jessica Simpson.
I have no words. . .

Gretchen is first.
Her show is called “Running Through Thunder”—which is dumb, because thunder is a sound. (She may as well have called it, “Sleeping Through My Alarm Clock.”)

The collection is pretty cool. It’s Gretchen—only with a little more bling and some oversized felt hats. It’s definitely too desert cowgirly for my taste, but I get it.

Next Andy: He’s very sweet and dedicates his collection to his mom, but he’s not there yet. Lots of chartreuse and gray, a few nice pieces, but no wow factor.

Finally Mondo: I absolutely love his black and white plaid strapless balloon dress—it’s my favorite piece of the whole show.
Not feeling the block-print shift dress that everyone else seems to love . . .
All in all, the collection is very Mondo—playful and bold, but impeccable, filled with surprising little Mondoriffic details.
It seems to me, that based on the previous judging, Mondo is a lock for the win. . .


A few celebrities in the audience weigh in.
(By the way, I see you, pretty girl—Maya?—who dropped out of last year’s competition under mysterious circumstances. Will we ever get your real story?)
First there’s Jay Manuel from ANTM, which makes my head explode. This is sooo like that time Taylor Momsen from Gossip Girl showed up on an episode the (sorely missed) reality show NYC Prep. I get so confused when my favorite shows cross pollinate.
Anyway, Mr. Jay is on Team Gretchen: “Airy, flowy, magical,” he says.

Vibrant, fun, kitschy and colorful Betsy Johnson likes vibrant, fun, kitschy and colorful Mondo. Color me shocked.

Joanna Coles, editor of Marie Claire likes Andy’s bolero jacket.
“I wanted to reach out and grab it from the model!” she exclaims. And throw it at a fat person? (Google it.)

Judgment time.
First the opening praise: They’re all great, everyone is blown away, everyone stayed true to their point-of-view, everyone’s a star. Bravo, bravo, blahdy, blahdy, blah. . .

Now onto the individual critiques.

All agreed that Andy had some nice individual pieces, but that he didn’t quite go for the gusto. His looks were a little bland.
Also, “You went overboard with the Orientalism,” says Nina Garcia, Fashion Director of Marie Claire magazine.

“I don’t see any rugs!” says Jessica Simpson. (Well, I’m assuming she said that— they probably edited it out.)

My question: Can you be accused of Orientalism when you are actually from Asia? Discuss among yourselves.

Next Gretchen:
They liked it. She ran through thunder and they thought she captured rainbows. Or something like that.

“It was a complete ready-to-wear collection,” announces Nina.

“I like the vibe of the girl,” says Michael Kors. “I get her. It looks easy. And it’s not so easy to look easy.”

“That makes no sense!” giggles Jessica Simpson. “You’re funny!” (Again, presumably edited out.)

Kors thinks Gretchen’s slick, techy-blingy details are out of character, but all loves her fabricated jewelry.
Heidi also loves all the jewelry.

Finally Mondo:
“You gave us molto Mondo!” says Michael Kors.
“It was great!” says Heidi.
Nina Garcia found the looks creative and cohesive and loved his use of color. . .but “it began to look very young.” Ruh-ro.
“Never lose the drama and the theater,” says Michael Kors. “Just don’t verge into costume territory.” Double ruh-ro.

“We’re going to have a BIG chat,” says Heidi (I see what you did there, Heidi.)
And backstage the designers go.

As the panel deliberates, Andy is dismissed so hastily, it’s like he never even existed.

It comes down to Mondo vs. Gretchen, in the most epic finale battle EVER.
This thing totally needs a “Thrilla in Manilla”-type nickname.
“The Fender Bender in Lincoln Center?”
“The Throw Down in Mid-Town?”
“The Mondo Massacre?”

On Team Mondo: Heidi and the useless Jessica “I love polka dots!” Simpson.

On Team Gretchen: Michael Kors and Nina Garcia, Fashion Director of Marie Claire magazine.

So, basically, with all due respect to Jessica Simpson (not really), Heidi is on her own.

She fights, valiantly, for Mondo. She says that he’s more creative, more special than Gretchen.

But Nina and Michael say that Gretchen’s clothing is the future of fashion. (Really? Because it all seems very Gloria Steinem circa 1974 to me.)

“If I was buying for a department store, I’d look at Gretchen’s,” says Nina.
“Because it’s safer,” says Heidi. (Score one: Team Mondo.)

“It’s a fashion show not a circus show,” says Nina. (Two points, Team Gretchen.)

And here’s where Nina drops the bomb: “Seth Aaron had the cousin collection.” (Minus 25 points, Team Mondo.)

“Gretchen’s girl is where fashion is going—easy, sexy,” says Michael Kors.
“All loose?” says Jessica Simpson. (Actual thought: “Can I haz cheezburger?”)
“Hello? Read a magazine!” snipes Michael Kors.

It’s really getting juicy. Everyone is staying civil, but voices are strained. Michael Kors is beginning to squeak!

“Did we not tape a show last week?” he squawks. (He’s talking about Mondo’s polka dot gown.) “I told him to cut the arms off that dress! She looks like a polka dot barber’s poll.”

“But we have two people here who would WEAR that dress!” argues Heidi.

She sighs. “Somebody hand me my boxing gloves, please.”

Jessica Simpson is excited. She thinks there’s really going to be a fight.

And then they go to a commercial break and I have no freakin clue who’s going to win.

Back on stage, they unceremoniously ditch Andy. He’s about as relevant as McKell at this point.

“This was the toughest decision in Project Runway history,” says Heidi. I’m trying to read her face, to figure out if she’s upset or not.

"And congratulations. . .Gretchen. You’re the winner."

One word in my notes: Wowsa.

Heidi gives Mondo a meaningful hug. And I want to comfort him, too. But he’s on TV.

Gretchen’s extensive network of support—i.e, her mom and sis—come out and give her a diffident hug.

“This is most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me,” she says.
Tim Gunn staggers onto stage, looking stricken.
“Wow,” he keeps saying. “Wow. Wow. Wow.” (THIS from one of the most articulate guys on the planet.)

Well, congratulations Gretchen. But I must say, I’m concerned about your ability to translate this reality TV win into real world success. Deeply, deeply concerned.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tears of a Clown: The Project Runway recap

I guess the days of Tim Out of Water ™ are over: Used to be, the home visits were good for a shot of Tim on a bicycle built for two, or with his pants legs rolled up on the beach searching for metal, or on a picnic blanket with a grimy 2-year-old crawling all over him.
This year? Not so much.
Yes, we did get a good old fashioned “eek!” and a melodramatic recoil when Tim saw the Hawaiian catfish, but that was it.
How the producers didn’t get Tim on a pair of skis in Denver is beyond me.

So Andy’s up first.
He lives, yes, on a catfish farm (who knew?) in Hawaii. His mom seems to have cleared up her own “situation” (scary painted on eyebrows) that almost cost her son the competition a few episodes back.
He also has a pretty BFF who looms silently, as all the best pretty BFFs do.
It’s interesting to see Andy on his farm—he whacked the head off that coconut like champ. He’s a long way from New York City.

Andy’s collection is unfinished, to say the least. He’s got some headpieces. . . and that’s it.
That is so the kind of thing I would do: Be given 6 weeks for a project and then do everything at the last minute. In Andy’s defense, he actually ordered some fabric from Laos that just arrived. (On the other hand, I don’t know much about the reliability of the Laos postal industry . . . maybe that wasn’t the best idea?)
Anyway, Tim can’t really say much. Because, again, no clothes.
So they just stand there awkwardly.

Next up, Michael C.
There must be some sort of rule that all of Michael C’s friends, including his boyfriend Richard, have to look like him—stocky young men with neatly groomed hair. They congregate around the kitchen table.
Michael C’s gloomy son Giovanni is there, too, sipping morosely on a straw. (Is that kid a ray of sunshine, or what?)
Richard is badmouthing Michael C’s family, claiming that they are famewhores, who only got interested in their son’s career when he got on the show.
Frankly, I think Richard is just pissed that Christopher’s partner got to come to New York on family day while he had to sit home and watch Wheel of Fortune reruns on TV.

As for Michael C’s collection: Tim is concerned that Michael C has design diarrhea.
“Stop designing!” he commands. “Edit!”

Mondo’s next.
His home, indeed, is very Mondolicious: Checkered floors and hot pink walls.
Mondo’s influences for his collection are a bit all over the map: Mexican vintage circuses and Day of the Dead parades.
“Is it one or the other?” ask Tim, trying to help.
“Both,” says Mondo.
Alrighty then.

Tim has lunch with Mondo’s family and discovers that they tried to make Mondo “macho” and forced him to play shortstop when all he really wanted to do was play piano and dream of houndstooth skirts, sad harlequins, and hot pink rooms.

Mondo plays a little ditty for us on the piano and gives a kind of impromptu version of an It Gets Better video:

“You might think that you’re not cool because you draw or you paint and you don’t play baseball. You are cool . . .it just might take a little while,” he says. Damn right.

(By the way, have you seen Tim Gunn’s real It Gets Better ad? I was moved.)

Finally, Portland, where Gretchen came home to country song: A failed relationship, an empty bank account, and an empty house. . .
“I’m broke and busted,” she says. But at least she has her faithful horse. Oh wait, wrong song.

Tim cheers Gretchen up by talking about a devastating breakup that he endured—it’s what ultimately brought him to New York.

“I really missed Tim,” says Gretchen truthfully, and it’s possible that Tim actually missed her (a little), too.

In keeping with a theme, Gretchen’s collection is a little too country and western for Tim’s taste.
“It’s looking costumey. All she needs is a lot of turquoise jewelry and a headband,” he groans. “Reconceive!” (I love a Tim Gunn’s one-word pep talks. Can you imagine a coach yelling at his team in the locker room: “Reconceive!”)

Back in NYC.
Mondo tries to jump out from behind the bed to scare Michael C, which fails miserably. He doesn’t even jump.
(Those who have “Michael C is a Robot” in the office pool have a little fodder now. )

Everyone has their pre-taping haircut, except for Andy, whose hair has grown to “Pocahontas meets Naomi Campbell” proportions. Either it’s the best weave I’ve ever seen, or they are putting some crazy growth hormones in that catfish.
Tim Gunn arrives, carrying the velvet bag of doom. But today it’s the velvet bag of glory, because it contains expense paid trips for 2 to one of several Hilton resorts.

Of course, they will have to make a last minute look, which is kind of to-be-expected at this point—but Mondo actually seems surprised. (We’re in Season 8, buddy. Time to catch on.)
He feels that his collection is perfect as it is. Still, he manages to persevere.

Tim Gunn comes to the workroom to check on their progress. As he leaves, this is what he says:

“Mondo, Andy, and Gretchen: Keep on in this fabulous direction! . . . Michael C: Don’t choke.”

If I were Michael C, I would pretty much just curl up into a fetal position at this point.

Runway day. The special guest is. . .nobody. That’s how important today’s vote is. They don’t even want pretend to take another person’s opinion into consideration.

The looks are a big pile of meh, if you ask me. Not one look really wowed me.

The judges start with Mondo. They like his collection, but fear that he can lean a little on the wacky or costumey side.
Heidi loves his (crazy) skin-tight polka dot dress, but Nina thinks it’s a bit over-the-top. (Ya think?)
“You have to temper it with clothes that speak to an audience,” she cautions.

Next up Andy. They like his last minute pleated dress best (so do I), which happens every single year. But they worry that his collection doesn’t show enough variety.

“My question was: Do I give you all the goodies now?” asks Andy.
“Well, yeah!” say Heidi and Michael K in unison
“Today is the day!” adds Michael K, shaking his head in disbelief. Kids today!

Next Michael C:
First the good news: Michael does separates! And pants!
Now the bad news: He seems to think that using one color (copper) is enough to make a collection cohesive.

“It looks like she’s going to a party where there’s not a dress code, but a color code,” says Heidi.

Finally, Gretchen.
Nina’s interest was not peaked. “It feels very crunchy granola,” she says. “There needs to be a sense of drama and polish.”
She even evokes the dreaded B-word: Birkenstocks.

But Heidi defends Gretchen’s collection: “Nothing wrong with granola,” she says. “It just has to be fashion granola.”

(Not that anyone asked, but I actually liked Gretchen’s collection best. There, I said it. Her last minute sport-dress is pictured.)

They decide that Mondo’s collection is too dramatic and Gretchen’s isn’t dramatic enough. If only they could be magically morphed into Gretcho: The fabulous short gay bitchy hippie!

By the way, no Mondo’s Awesomely Mondolicious Look of the Day ™ today. I mean, he wore lots of his normal uniform of schoolboy shorts and striped tops and kneesocks, but it was all pretty standard (albeit adorable) Mondo fare.

The judges deliberate and they’re back on stage.

Mondo is . . .in!
Gretchen is . . in!
So it comes down to Andy vs. Michael C.

I was clueless.

And Andy C is . . .in.

Michael C stands there on stage, paralyzed. I do believe he’s the first contestant on Project Runway who was too distraught to lean down to get Euro-kissed by Heidi. She has to come to him.

He sleepwalks off stage and comes into the green room and . . . breaks down. He’s not just weeping. He’s convulsing.
I mean, if Michael C were in acting class and his scene was: Your entire family just died in a car accident—this would still be overdoing it.

He seems to feel that coming one collection shy of Fashion Week (when we all know that he’ll be presenting there as a decoy anyway) will lead to his parents telling him he’s a failure and demanding that he return home, abandon the fashion world, start working for the family business, and get remarried.
Get a grip, man.

Anyway, just when I was feeling really sorry for what a hot mess Michael C is, Gretchen cheered me up with her standard Gretchen line:
“The way Michael C is reacting. . .worries me.”
(Oh Gretchen, never change.)

So Tim comes and gives Michael C a comforting hug and reminds him how far he came. (Implied message: It’s a miracle you weren’t cut in the 3rd week.)

Our final shot is Michael C, finally getting it, grinning at the camera and saying triumphantly: “I’m effortless chic!”
Yes you are, pal. Yes you are.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Out With a Bang: The Project Runway recap

As I envision it, the heads of the 5 Reality TV families—Heidi Klum, Tom Colicchio, Tyra Banks, Donald Trump, and Ryan Seacrest—all got together in a room and had the following conversation:

Donald: At some point, when we tell them they’re getting the night off, we need to actually give them the night off.

Heidi: Why? They are here to suffer, not eat bonbons and read popular magazines.

Tom: This is Top Chef, not Top Relaxation Time.

Tyra: Smize, everyone! Smize!

Donald (ignoring her): Because, although we have fooled our contestants 347 times, one day they are going to catch onto the fact that they never actually get the night off!

Tom (chuckling): Usually, they’re not attending the dinner—they’re cooking the dinner!

Heidi (snorting): They’re not sleeping in the fancy hotel room—they’re raiding it for fabric!

Tyra (chortling): They’re not watching the fashion show—they’re IN the fashion show.

Ryan: What am I doing here again?

Donald: You’re fired!

And. . .scene.

So apparently, Heidi drew the short straw and, as such, Project Runway became the first show in the history of reality television to promise a night off —an evening in the Mandarin Hotel’s Presidential Suite—and actually deliver it.

Of course, this being the final elimination before Lincoln Center (which, in case you hadn’t heard, is infested with bed bugs!), nerves are raw, emotions are running high, and tears flow at the drop of the hat. It’s the perfect time to have the designers reflect on the season , which I’m sure is a totally spontaneous thing and not the result of some producer saying: Now I want you to all sit around and reflect on the season.

April cries because she is only 21 and really proud of herself. Also, this episode? Everybody cries.

Gretchen, who is rocking some sort of unfortunate Princess Leia braid, talks about how awesome Gretchen is.

Andy kind of counters with: Uh, we’re all awesome. So there.

Michael C says something as benign and platitudinous as everybody else, and yet they all stare at him like he has leprosy.

Mondo says that the show has been a journey to set him free and gives such a cute little Mondo smile, I forgive him for his use of the word “journey.”

Next day, it’s the real challenge and Mayor Bloomberg is on the roof to make it all official. (Heidi is still wondering why he didn’t proclaim it Heidi Klum Day and give her the key to the city, but she thinks maybe it’s a surprise for the finale.)

Michael C considers showing the Mayor his “I Love New York” tattoo but wisely thinks better of it.

“Make it work!” says Mayor Bloomberg, thus proving that there is not a single person on this planet who does not do a Tim Gunn impression.

The challenge is, of course, to design a look that is inspired by a New York landmark.

Michael C chooses the staggeringly obvious Statue of Liberty, because he’s just that creative.

April chooses the Brooklyn Bridge.

Mondo, uh, also chooses the Brooklyn Bridge. (Hey, it’s a big city, guys. Lots of options.)

Andy chooses Central Park, which is kind of hilarious, because Central Park is enormous. I mean if you’re not going to get any more specific than Central Park, you may as well say that your inspiration is “being outside.”

Gretchen chooses the Lower East Side, which is not a landmark. Her explanation for her choice? “I just want to make something that’s me.” So Gretchen’s New York landmark? Gretchen.

At Mood, Tim Gunn tells Michael C that he doesn’t have to be so literal-minded in his approach to his drapey dress inspired by Lady Liberty. This falls upon deaf ears.

Swatch the Mood dog is wearing a fun little black felt hat. Vying for the Mondolicious Look of the Week, are we? Sorry, it doesn’t work that way, pooch.

Back at the studio, April says that she wants to “go out with a bang.” (Not sure if she understands the implication of that idiom.. . .or does she?) (Cue ominous music.)

Andy has apparently given birth to a Chinese prostitute.

Michael C, as always, has two designs going—one good, one unspeakably bad. He will eventually scrap the bad one.

Mondo takes a Rip-Van-Winkle-style nap and no one bothers to wake him up because they’re all sure he meant to lose two and a half hours of design time. (In fairness, Michael C was going to wake him up, but was talked out of it.)

So Tim Gunn comes by and doles out his criticism.

Gretchen tells him that it’s been an honor to get to know him and then is so moved by her own words, she begins to cry.
Tim has no choice but to give her a little half-hearted hug.

The models come and Michael C is really loving his dress.
I mean really loving it. “She looks stunning,” he says. “I’d take her out, I’d be a cheap date, she’d get some.”

Sorry folks. Some things, once heard, can not be unheard.

Gretchen, discussing the mystery that is Michael C with April, says: “I’m not sure if he’s an idiot savant or just an idiot.”

It’s Runway Day, and Mondo does, indeed, deliver his Mondo’s Awesomely Mondolicious Look of the Day ™: a checkerboard bike cap, black bow tie, suspenders, white vinyl belt, white tux shirt, skinny jeans, and striped socks. (Later he will add a black hoodie, with a black and white plaid fashion draw string to the mix.)
Today’s Mondoriffic rating: 4. (You show Swatch how it’s done, son!)

Today’s special guest judge: The original reality TV fierce pocket gay (sorry Mondo): Christian Soriano! Love that wee man!

The looks come down the runway.

And here’s how the judges feel:
Michael Kors and Nina love his black dress with houndstooth and patent leather accents, but Heidi is a little over the whole houndstooth thing. (Is it sacrilegious to say that I agree?).
Christian thinks the dress is really chic, but the styling is a bit too much.

Michael Kors calls Andy out for designing a dress that in no conceivable way evokes Central Park—true!—but likes his craftsmanship and his beautiful fit all the same.
Christian loves it and calls the styling “stunning.”

Everyone is confused by her unfortunate plum-colored skirt, which looks very off the rack at TJ Maxx, and her uncool leather jacket.
“I don’t think it looks downtown, I don’t think it looks uptown,” says Michael Kors. “I think it looks. . .midtown.”
“What happened?” asks Nina Garcia.
Gretchen basically admits that she’s over the whole competition and the stupid little challenges and the incredibly annoying judging, which I’m not sure is the best strategy at this point, but the damage is done.

Christian, at least, appreciates that her look is “wearable.”

The judges feel that she’s become a one-trick pony: And not a cute little miniature pony, either. An angry, goth teenage pony who only wears black
“The sameness is numbing,” says Michael Kors.

And finally Michael C:
He explains that he was trying to create a showstopper with his dress.
“You wanted a showstopper,” says Michael Kors, pausing dramatically—and I have to admit that, at this point, I have no idea what the man is going to say. I mean, the dress is okay, but it’s kinda simple and literal minded, right?
(Plus, again with the drapey dress?)
“You wanted a show stopper and you . . . got a showstopper,” Kors finishes.
Well, I’ll be damned.
“It’s beautifully cut and beautifully draped.”

Christian calls the dress “effortless old Hollywood glamour” and Heidi says that she would “love to wear it.”

Then Kors asks Michael C what fabric he used— “is it jersey or chiffon?” —and Michael C gives an answer that I’m sure will haunt his fellow competitors to their dying day: “I don’t know.”

Gretchen, the answer to your question? Idiot savant.

Next up, the highlight of every season: The “which 2 designers would you take with you?” portion of our runway critique.

Michael picks Andy and Mondo.

Gretchen picks Gretchen and Gretchen, but then is told she can’t pick herself. So she picks Mondo and April.

Andy picks Mondo and is torn between April and Gretchen, but picks April.

Mondo picks Michael C (!) and April.

April picks Mondo and Gretchen.

Backstage, everybody cries (again).

After the judges have their little chat, where Michael Kors defends Michael C’s fabric ignorance (“he may not know what it is, but he knows how to use it”), the designers are summoned back on stage.

They come shuffling on stage together in a little group hug. It’s all very, very presh.

So Michael C is . . . in.
He immediately commences a rather unseemly weeping jag.

Mondo is . . .out. (Just checking to see if you were paying attention. Of COURSE, he’s in.)

Andy is . . . in, but needs to stop with the warrior woman schtick, pronto.

And it comes down to April vs. Gretchen.

Here’s the weird thing: I found myself rooting for Gretchen. I actually like April better, both as a human being and as a designer. But there is something so desperate in Gretchen’s need to show at Lincoln Center—her neediness is positively feral.
April is, after all, 21 and judging by her mom’s appearance and her guileless love of miniature ponies, comes from money. Her time will come. Gretchen’s time is now.

And Gretchen is . . .IN. (Whew.)

Backstage, Gretchen says that she’s “relieved they gave me the second chance that each of you guys got.”

Yes, she actually said that. Not, “I’m so relieved they gave ME a second chance” or “I’m so glad they believed in me” but, essentially, “Everyone’s had a bad week and mine just happened to come the week of final elimination, but don’t think that you’re better than me just because you sailed by and I barely squeaked in.”
Classic Gretchen.

Is it too late for a recount?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Deeply Concerned: The Project Runway recap

Today’s challenge was to go to Heidi Klum’s Manhattan apartment and scrub down her toilet and vacuum her curtains and spray for bedbugs.
Okay, not quite.
But it was to design fashion sportswear for her New Balance sports line, using only fabrics that she already has in bulk and only designs that she can sell for profit on

It’s reality TV as free labor. Genius.

Also, Heidi has decided that the designers have gotten too comfortable with their models and she makes them switch up. (Wait? There are models on this show? I had almost forgotten.) No drama except for the fact that no one picks Mondo’s model, Ann, which strikes me as odd, what with her winning the last three challenges and all.

But because Christopher seems to repel models—didn’t his bridesmaid model also bite the dust?—he ends up with Ann anyway, after his model has to leave to deal with a “family emergency.” Likely story.

Unrelated to his model switcheroo, Gretchen drops her catch phrase (almost as reliable as Christian’s “fierce” or Tim Gunn’s “make it work”): “I’m a little concerned for Christopher.” You see, she thinks his designs show no imagination.
She screws up her face into its default concerned mode. Gretchen believes that Gretchen is one very caring individual.

Heidi comes to the workroom and Tim Gunn has to swallow a little throw-up in his mouth and say, “This is quite an honor.”

Heidi circles the workroom like a (statuesque) vulture. She really can be peerlessly bitchy when she puts her mind to it, huh?

Her first victim, fresh off his big vulnerable confession and emotional win last week, is Mondo.

She tries on his ultra cropped warm-up jacket.

“Do you see me shopping in this?” she asks Mondo.

“Sure, why not?” says Mondo, bracing himself.

“You see me picking up the kids in this?” she says sarcastically.

“Sure, why not? I would.” Now he’s getting defensive.

“And what about this undergarment, this see through tunic. …what does she wear under this? A bra?”

Flustered: “I. . .well. . .I . . .”

Heidi is turning his top upside down, pondering its tiny neck hole.
“You go into this hole?” she asks, pointing to the narrow opening. She’s absolutely killing him at this point.

“I haven’t done a fitting yet. Would you like to try that on as well?” he says through gritted teeth.

Tim Gunn takes note. Is concerned.
Gretchen stares from across the workroom. Also, deeply, deeply concerned.

“Why not, I’m here?” Heidi says, with a kind of faux breeziness. As if she doesn’t realize this situation is about to boil over.

Mondo rolls his eyes. In many ways, Mondo, while being a grown man, is in fact an emo teenage boy.

“Are you rolling your eyeballs?” she says, the idiom just slightly, hilariously off.

She attempts to pull the tunic over her head. It gets stuck.

“Maybe a Yorkie will fit through that hole,” she snipes.
(Note to self: Don’t ever get in an argument with Heidi. She will destroy you and make you cry.)

“Maybe I’ll give it to my dog when I get home,” Mondo mumbles.

“There’s no reason to be rude,” Heidi replies. None whatsover.

“I’m not being rude. . . I’m being hurt,” says Mondo. There has to be a My Chemical Romance song that sums up his feelings on this matter.

With that, he wanders off to the Casanova couch of despair. He needs a timeout. Christopher comes over to comfort him.
“You could actually win this thing,” he says to Mondo, which is obviously true, but maybe Mondo needs to actually hear it out loud.

“This is so much harder than it looks on TV,” says Mondo. (Which is also why I’ve never signed up to be a contestant on Jeopardy! by the way. . .)

Heidi’s next victim? Gretchen. And with good reason. You see, Gretchen is—say it with me—concerned about Heidi’s collection. She thinks the fabric choice is too limited. She thinks there needs to be more transitional, sophisticated pieces.
She thinks Heidi’s collection needs to be saved.
By her.

Heidi is having none of it. “What part of free labor using the materials I already bought in bulk in China don’t you understand?” she asks Gretchen (well, not in so many words).

Gretchen is also testy over Heidi’s criticism, but tries to keep her poker face. She makes an extravagant display of hurtling her fabric off the table, which she thinks is compliance, but just makes her come across like, well, an angry teenage girl. (I see a theme emerging.)
“Get out of here!” she says to the offending fabric. (Also, to her mom. From her imaginary bedroom.)

Heidi has another announcement to make: This whole free labor thing is working out really well, so she wants the designers to make 2 more designs for her New Balance collection, now available at

“Make it work!” she growls in a deep baritone, thus doing the worst Tim Gunn impression in the history of the show, and possibly the universe.

Because there are still 45 minutes left in the show (and, uh, because the designers will need assistance with their two new looks)—they bring in help: Yep, the 6 most recently jettisoned designers. That should be smooth sailing.

Michael C looks on despondently: “Oh God. Not again,” he says. “Here they come. The past. The people who all hate me.”
Yup, that pretty much sums it up.

The teams are fairly irrelevant, but here they are, for what it’s worth:

Mondo and Valerie
Christopher and Ivy
Gretchen and Casanova
April and Peach
Michael C and AJ
Andy and Michael D.

Almost immediately, Ivy begins her sniping.

“So Michael, how does it feel to be so close to the finals?” she asks Michael C.

“I’m in shock that I’m still here,” he replies innocently. If he’s expecting an ambush, he doesn’t show it. Or maybe his poker face is just much better than Gretchen’s.

“Why, because you cheated?” says Ivy. She was setting him up the whole time.

Turns out, there was some sort of accusation about Michael C. using illegal fabric tape to make his Jackie Kennedy dress—and turns out, Ivy is convinced that Michael’s use of this fabric tape is the reason her designs sucked. Or something like that.

“How does it feel to be eliminated for crappy design?” says Michael C to Ivy.
It’s a definite “you go, boy!” moment, although it’s clear his heart is not in it.

“It’s a TV show,” says Ivy. “You can say what you want.”

To which Michael C responds. . .well, I don’t know WHAT he says. It involves a bad word. I can only assume it’s the c-word—that’s the only word that would piss me off that much—but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how he said it.
Here’s what I heard:
“So why are you [BLEEP] me for it?”
You go ahead and try to work the c-word into that sentence. Please report back.

This takes Ivy over the deep end. It’s as if Michael C had viciously attacked her for no apparent reason.
There she was, just sitting there, minding her own business, accusing him of cheating—and he suddenly, inexplicably, lashes out.

“The language that Michael C chose to use was completely low class,” Ivy says. “Just shows me what a despicable person he is.”

Anyway, this is the part of the show where Lifetime pulled a fast one on us. If you watched the previews last week, it seemed like somebody was going home, right? And that somebody was quite possibly Michael C, right?
“You will not be returning to the show,” Tim Gunn said in the promo.

In fact, it went down in a much less dramatic way.
Ivy made her accusation boldly in front of Tim and Tim was all like, “You lost, boo hoo. Get over it.” Again, not in so many words—if you must know, he used the word malfeasance—but it was implied.
Which is why I love Tim Gunn. (The Lifetime promotions team? Not so much.) (Again, if anyone remembers Tim Gunn uttering the phrase, “You will not be returning to the show,” please tell me the context.)

Runway time. Guest judge: Norma Kamali.

No Mondo’s Awesomely Mondolicious Look of the Day ™ this week—perhaps the events of last week were simply too draining for him to put forth the proper sartorial effort—but Andy does have a glorious, Sanjaya-esque faux hawk to almost make up for it.

Lots of really boring, flowy sportswear makes its way down the runway.

Out of everything, April had one dress I liked (the charcoal gray dress with the eggplant-colored bib detail and the cropped black jacket), but mostly it was just like a bad trip at a Curves health club for women.

In particular, Michael C’s stuff uses the colors of some hideous earthen wreath—lots of pumpkin and “turkey-feather brown” as Mondo put it. Gag.

Christopher’s stuff looks like relics from the Olivia Newton John "Let's Get Physical 2Today!" collection, as found on e-Bay.

Top 3:
Mondo, who totally switched over his looks, and introduced a fun circle, square, triangle concept into the equation.

Who had the aforementioned dress, and another semi cute one-shouldered cover-up with a cool armband, but also had a third look—a sheer black top over tiny boy shorts and a bandeau top—that looked like, well, every other thing April has made.

They also liked Andy’s adventures in geometry, although I found them gimmicky and ugly and loud. And did I mention ugly?

Bottom 3:
Christopher, Gretchen (who is shocked! shocked, I tell you!), and Michael C.

Gretchen tries to explain to Heidi that she was only trying to help.

Heidi will have none of it.

“It’s too . . . hoshkaposh?” she turns to Michael Kors, to make sure she has the word right.

“Hodgepodge,” says Michael Kors, somehow managing to keep a straight face.

The designers are dismissed and the judges have a little chat.

“She does have a bit of an ego,” says Nina, of Gretchen.

“Does she have an ego!” agrees Heidi.

“She tried to fix your collection,” says Nina. Heh.

So April is in. And it comes down to Mondo and Andy for the win. Could Mondo win for an unprecedented fourth time in a row?

“Andy—congratulations, you’re the winner,” says Heidi. (Yes, that is one of the winning garments pictured above. Winning, I said.)

Then Heidi goes on to say that, while the prize had originally been the honor of having just ONE of your looks produced by Heidi’s sweat shop workers—I mean, uh, seamstresses—she liked Andy’s looks so much, she was going to reproduce all three!
And, while she was at it, she would probably reproduce all 3 of April’s looks, 2 of Mondo’s looks plus the headbands, 2 of Gretchen’s, 1 of Michael C’s, and none of Christopher’s. (Again, she didn’t say it, but it was implied.)

So Gretchen is. . .safe, but not without a little smack from Heidi: “Let me give you some advice. Constructive criticism is not your enemy.”
Has one Project Runway contestant ever been dressed down as much as Gretchen? It’s . . .awesome!

Final two standing: Michael C and Christopher.

And. . . Christopher is out.

Which means Michael C has to skulk backstage and deal with the death stares as he reports that the beloved Christopher is gone and he, once again, is staying.

Somehow, and I’m not totally sure how, it’s all Michael C’s fault.
(Also, the economy, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, the sudden rise to fame of Justin Bieber, and the cancellation of Lone Star. . .I'm still working out the exact details.)