It’s been a season of Project Runway firsts, some more exciting than others. There was the somewhat interesting “rainway,” which wasn’t very mind blowing in itself, though it did make for some incredible avant garde pieces. Then there was this week’s “real woman” challenge, which is a first because they all get to choose “real” ballet dancers and aspiring actors at “random.” Uh huh. Another first takes place this week when Tim Gunn all but demands that Alexander start over, saying his garment is the most hideous thing he’s ever seen. Jeez, Tim! Finally, the most interesting first of all – Tim puts all the designers in a sticky spot by asking them to give Char more time to finish her garment. If they say yes, they all get a little screwed; if they say no, they’re all jerks. Not really a great moment for anyone, but a first nonetheless.
The designers are sent to Washington Square Park to find a muse – a “real woman” who will serve as both inspiration and model. There is a Mary Kay sponsorship connection here, but I just don’t care enough to get into it. The designers have $200 and two days to complete the challenge. The winner and their “muse” will get a Mary Kay spread in Marie Claire magazine. Somehow, in the middle of Washington Square Park, the designers all manage to find somewhat tall, thin, good looking women with perfect skin and great personal style. Even the middle-aged preschool teacher looks like a yoga instructor. Interesting how that happened.
There is a considerable amount of drama this week. First we need to talk about Alexander. His muse is a very trendy looking girl with white-blonde hair and fabulous dark eyebrows. He chooses this teal and yellow set of houndstooth fabric, which isn’t the best thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s certainly not the worst. Then he decides to play with shapes and add these weird black fabric dots to the material as well. These choices do not help the situation. However, again, it’s not the worst I’ve ever seen on Project Runway. Hell, it’s not even the worst thing I’ve seen this season. NEVER FORGET THE PINK ONESIE, PEOPLE. And Tim just let that one go! But Alexander’s outfit? It’s “the most hideous thing [he’s] ever seen.” He goes on to say that it’s “butt ugly,” giving Alexander basically no choice other than to scrap the entire thing and start over. Why didn’t he try and rework what he had? Why was Tim so harsh on this particular garment when he let Sandhya make A PINK TELETUBBY ONESIE last week? I don’t like this new Tim Gunn, who just throws his hands up and fails to offer any type of helpful advice. Maybe he’s getting to tired of this game or something, but Alexander is only 22 years old. He could’ve maybe used some guidance, you know?
Meanwhile, Korina has been drinking a little too much Korina Koolaid. She’s gone from being a slightly smug brat to an unstoppable smirk machine. The ego on this one, my God. I never liked her much, but now I really cannot stand her. The middle of the episode is basically one long supercut of Korina sh*t-talking every one of her opponents. I mean like, every single one of them. And it’s not like she’s entirely wrong – I can’t say that I don’t agree with some of her observations. But I also want to smack that self-satisfied look off her dumb face.
Finally, the Char situation. Moments before it’s time for the runway show – and I mean literally, just a few moments – Char’s model busts the zipper on her shorts. The result leaves her entirely exposed. Yes, this could send Char home, but it also puts a non-professional model in an embarrassing situation. Tim insists that Char replace the zipper out of respect for her “real woman” muse – but only if the other designers agree. The designers are stuck between a rock and a hard place, but they agree to give Char more time. Naturally, they immediately regret this.
The best looks
Despite initially lacking inspiration and starting out with a white bib looking thing, Kini really pulls it together once he decides to go with denim. I agree with Heidi that it’s the best, most wearable transformation of the week – Emily’s dress is impressive from a structural perspective, and much more creative, but it didn’t seem to fit the challenge to me. Kini took a cute, sort of boho style girl and styled her up to become runway ready. I liked the two tones of denim together and the jacket was very flattering on her petite frame.
Speaking of Emily, she’s also on top this week. It’s a surprise, too. When Nina Garcia opens with one of her typical stupid one-liners – “origami flamenco” this time – I’m afraid they’re going to send her packing. However, once her muse explains that she wanted something a bit wild and avant garde to wear to a gallery opening, it makes more sense to the judges. Nina even praises the technical work as Emily’s best all season. I personally love this look, but again, I don’t know if it was appropriate to the challenge.
Finally, dumb jerkface Korina gets nothing but rave reviews. And…okay, here’s my issue with Korina’s outfit: I’ve seen it before. Not only have I seen it in stores, but I’ve seen it from her. I’ve seen it from other designers in the same competition. I’ve seen it in a Paula Abdul video, for God’s sake. Yes, the jacket is awesome. Biker jackets are usually awesome. That’s why the “cool kids” in all the 1980s movies wear them – because they look cool. But a biker jacket and a fringe skirt, at this stage of the competition, is very safe and predictable to me. But fine. FINE. She won. Stupid jerkface.
The worst looks
One of the worst looks of the week – and in my opinion, one far worse than Char’s – is Amanda’s. Her dress gives her trouble from the get-go and she overworks it and then overworks it again until it’s beat to death. It looks rough, and it wasn’t so cute to begin with. In addition to being poorly constructed, I hate the fabric and the vest is so mid-1990s, but not in a good way. Char’s look could’ve been great, if it weren’t for the peplum. Korina, in one of her endless moments of bitching, says that Char only makes peplum because it’s easier to construct. I don’t know if I agree with that, but I can’t say that I like peplum at all. In fact, I sort of hate it? In general, not just in this particular look. I also don’t like the solid red-on-red. It’s kind of boring. Of course, it’s nice that the shorts don’t have a gaping, open zipper.
Alexander’s look, though not as “butt ugly” as his first attempt, is not great. In fact, it looks like something I would buy at Forever 21, but mostly because everything at Forever 21 is really poorly constructed and fits almost no body type whatsoever. That’s what I see when I look at his garment. If you squint, it’s kind of cute, but then you realize it’s actually completely unflattering and all the lines are crooked. I do like the color, though. The skirt would benefit from some pockets. Never underestimate the cuteness power of some skirt pockets, guys.
It’s been a long time coming for middle-of-the-road Alexander to finally get sent packing. He’s never been very impressive or interesting, in my opinion, and the competition is winding down. It’s time to get rid of the dead weight. In my opinion, both garments were bad – perhaps equally bad. But Alexander’s mistake – having to start over entirely because his initial idea was so awful – is much worse than having a broken zipper. As Zac Posen says, zippers break. It happens! Alexander ended up in a pinch because he did a bad job, while Char ended up in a pinch because a zipper malfunctioned. This is why the decision ultimately sits well with me. Char stays, Alexander goes.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Char will have an easy time making friends now. What do you think?