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!”
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.
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.
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.
Yes you are, pal. Yes you are.