Monday, July 31, 2006


Going to the Dogs

Previously on Project Runway: Miss USA requested a gown. Angela wasn't inspired by Vincent. Vincent wanted Angela to stand three feet away from him. Malan's gown was wooden. Runway show. Vincent had a horrific experience; Angela didn't like the dress. Miss USA gave the win to Kayne. Malan got the boot.

Hey! Who took Tim out of the credits? Put him back right now!

Morning. Kayne comes perilously close to showing us whether he sleeps in the nude. He's thrilled to have immunity because he can send anything down the runway, but of course he's not going to pass up any opportunity to make something fabulous. Robert tells Bradley how he's really becoming aware now that someone will be gone every few days. He thinks Malan was a good roomie. Katherine doesn't think Malan deserved the boot, but she wasn't responsible for the dress.

Heidi still has her hair parted to the side. I wish she'd stop that; it's freaking me out. The next challenge involves designing an outfit "inspired by one of fashion's hottest accessories." Tim will provide the details in the morning. Hey, model selection is gone! Kayne stays with Katia, because he's no dummy, so Moon is out. Like hell this is a competition for the models. A competition means your performance has some influence on the outcome. Moon didn't even model the dress that got Malan auf'ed. I bet one of the designers would have been happy to snap her up. Boo!

Back at the apartments, Kayne tries to get his roomies to guess the accessory. Bonnie interviews that everyone was trying to figure it out. Uli suggests a belt or shoes. It looks like Uli, Katherine and Bonnie are hanging out in Kayne's apartment, while Alison is visiting Michael and Bradley. Michael hopes the challenge will really let them strut their stuff. Bradley thinks the judges want to see some versatility. Michael is eager to get to it.

Morning again. It's six in the morning, and Laura finds a note slipped under the door. Robert reads instructions from Tim to meet him in Central Park. Laura reads the directions to the park. She guesses they'll be working with horses, although she doesn't quite see them as fashion accessories. Nonetheless, she's wearing riding boots and pants as they head out. Laura gets a merit badge for packing. I bet if she were invited to a state dinner followed by a hoe down, she'd have the right outfit. Kayne and Vincent interview about the general uncertainty. Uli was hoping for a nice brunch with Tim. Cool idea. No such luck.

Everybody stands around waiting in the cold. Finally Tim arrives, wrangling a small herd of adorable little dogs with as much aplomb as can be managed under the circumstances. Bradley, Kayne and Jeffrey are all delighted. Tim presents the group with their inspirations. Each dog is wearing a blanket with its name; the designers can choose whichever ones they want. Laura is less than thrilled; she doesn't have the emotional energy to invest in an animal (what with five kids and all). Uli is delighted with her little pug Einstein. If she were a dog, that's what she'd be. Jeffrey thinks everyone picked their canine counterparts, especially Keith, who interviews that he's into rarity, so a rare dog was the thing for him. Bradley tells Alison that he's really not a poodle person. Fortunately, Alison is, and Stanley the terrier looks more like a Bradley dog. So they swap. Laura has her dog in a handbag -- "So I don't have to touch it," she confesses to Tim. She didn't actually pick her dog, she just got the one that was left over. But hers is so cute and happy-looking. I guess they were all pretty darn cute. Tim rounds everyone up for the walk back to Parsons.

Workroom. Tim lays out the details of the challenge: Use the dog as an inspiration for a story about its (female) owner -- who she is, what she's up to -- and design outfits for both owner and dog. They have 2 days and $150 to work with, and there's a half-hour sketching period. And go!

Robert tries to get Chanel to sit still long enough to take a picture. Sophia keeps standing on Laura's sketch paper. Bradley studies Stanley. Alison's idea for Pepito's owner is a fashionable world traveler. She's clearly getting into the whole narrative part of the challenge. Robert wrangles Chanel some more. Angela tries to get Pattycake's attention for a picture. Angela describes her owner as the British headmistress of an art camp in Paris named "Jubilee Jumbles" (how do you say that in French?) and she's throwing a birthday party for Pattycake. Angela's wearing a plaid cap. If only she had worn it while working with Vincent, perhaps they would have gotten along better. Perhaps he would have made the hat his inspiration for the pageant gown. Robert wrestles Chanel some more. Keith's dog is hairless and elegant; he doesn't want to dress her in anything more than a collar. "Please don't make me make something stupid for Morgan," he whines. I think the "stupid" part is entirely under his control. Laura slides Sophia off her paper. Robert tries to snap a picture. Vincent is fitting a bracelet crown on Lil' A's head; the terrier growls. Katherine gets a high-five from Tallulah.

Tim summons everyone to go shopping. The people at Mood are delighted that "everyone" does not include the dogs. Which would have been hilarious, but then they'd never be able to shop there again. Alison goes for linen, silk and leather. Uli wants colorful prints. Kayne scores a Missoni print with giant, flowing ribbons of color. He shows it off to Laura and Robert. Robert displays a pink plaid tweed "like Jackie Kennedy and Barbie all rolled into one." Laura says her tan tweed is so "tasteful" compared to theirs, and Robert sighs, "Oh, Laura, always mistaking taste and style." She laughs. I think she meant "tasteful" in the sense of "quietly classic," as it's used by the "don't draw attention to yourself" crowd. Kayne interviews that he was miffed about the taste comment; he told her, "Yours is vanilla and mine is Rocky Road." Not Tutti Frutti? That Missoni print is so not chocolate.

Back in the workroom, they have six hours until quitting time. Katherine says she's never done a dress like this; most of her work is sportswear. Well, why not make sportswear? Tallulah looks like she's up for something active. Katherine feels the need to prove herself. Angela got silk taffeta in a spring color because Pattycake was born in the spring. This story of hers is very detailed. I think she's waiting for someone to ask her if she writes children's stories, so she can be all "modest" about her "talent." Robert's story is that the owner is a "Park Avenue princess" who needs someone to care for her dog while she's in rehab. "I have this thing about stories: I hate them. I think they're stupid." Go, Robert!

Workety work work work. Keith is worried about Bradley's time management. Bradley's original idea had construction issues, so he's adjusting. Then he decides to just start over. He tells Alison that the next day will be busy, but he'll manage.

Yet another morning montage. Michael compliments Bradley's eyewear. Vincent expects work to continue until the last minute, as usual. Jeffrey thinks designing for a dog is no different than designing for a person -- you just come up with something that suits the client. All the designers have their own styles; he just likes his the best. That's certainly more temperate than his previous "remedial BS" verdict.

Vincent chortles with Jeffrey over his dog outfit, which includes a little white cap. It's nice that Vincent enjoys his work. I think all the other designers are making sure they have a clear path to the exit, just in case he finally snaps. Vincent thinks most people aren't paying enough attention to the dog outfit part of the challenge; the two outfits have to go together. In the sewing room, Katherine asks Bradley how it's going with the rethink. He expects to be okay if there aren't any problems. Vincent announces that Bradley's birthday is the next day. Jeffrey wonders if he'll get booted on his birthday. "That's all I'm saying," he weasels. Vincent figures Bradley will have a party somewhere else. He and Jeffrey find this obvious observation amusing. Keith hopes Bradley won't be out, but he's taking far too much time. Keith figures even his original, flawed vision couldn't be any worse than what Angela's doing. It's like "a big bag of Skittles."

Keith goes around looking for a sewing machine. Laura interviews that she's been having problems with Keith for a while. She and Michael talk about Keith using a machine which they've apparently configured. They go see Keith. Laura doesn't need the machine but Michael does. Keith thought Michael was okay. Laura says, "I'm just trying to protect my man." Well, maybe your man should stand up for himself a bit. Laura interviews that Keith's starting to get mean. Keith walks out of the sewing room, not wanting to hear any more about it. He interviews that Laura is a "bad mommy" and he had a "good mommy." Why is Keith suddenly three years old this challenge? Bradley interviews that "there's some spiciness going on." He's just trying to stay out of it so he can finish.

Tim comes through with 2 hours to go. He visit Katherine, who is going to make a little hoodie for Tallulah that coordinates with her dress. Tim is worried that her dress is too simple. Katherine proposes making a hoodie jacket, so the model will match Tallulah. Tim likes it. Next is Uli. Tim was worried about her fabric choices at Mood, but now he's reassured. Alison has Pepito's jacket ready. Tim is tickled that she used the same closures for both dog and model. Tim praises Keith's dress, but is worried that he's just making spats for Morgan. Keith says he has such a clear picture of this woman in his head, and she doesn't dress up her dog. Because Keith doesn't want her to. Tim's worried that he's not completing the challenge. Keith thinks that part of the challenge is "lame." Too bad. Suck it up. Angela has spent time foofing up the inside of her vest. Tim thinks it's going over the top. Tim is a master of understatement. Uli is worried about Angela's outfit, too. Bradley shows Tim what he's gotten done. Tim's brow furrows. So not a good sign. He confesses to Bradley that he doesn't "get it." Bradley explains that the top is reflecting Stanley's shagginess, but Tim thinks the artistic intent won't matter if it doesn't look good. He thinks it needs to be redone. Bradley is deflated.

Tim leaves with an hour to go. Alison interviews that there was a frenzy of work. Uli appliques the words "Hi Ladies" to Einstein's outfit as a message to the judges. Keith advises Bradley to just knock out an A-line dress. Bradley is feeling some stress. Vincent interviews that Bradley "likes to jump off bridges and find things as he falls." Bradley moans to Keith that his outfit is horrible. Keith thinks the skirt is fine. Bradley raises the possibility of not finishing, but Keith says he can't. I'd be happier about Keith's display of camaraderie if I didn't think it was mostly motivated by the desire to see Angela booted. Bradley interviews that he'd rather forfeit than show something he didn't like. Bradley is fried. It's his birthday and he's planning on quitting. In the workroom, he wraps a tape measure around his neck and feigns hanging himself. "That sucks."

Oh, for heaven's sake, this is the fourth friggin' montage of people waking up. Enough already. Keith is still worried about Bradley, who figures he's probably screwed. Katherine and Bonnie agree that they don't want Bradley getting the boot on his birthday.

In the workroom, Tim announces that the models will arrive in an hour, and then they'll have two hours to get everything done. He wishes Bradley a happy birthday and asks how it's going. Bradley is scrambling. Tim doesn't want to ask about "poor little Stanley," but he does. Stanley has nothing to wear. Tim leaves Bradley to work. Robert interviews that Bradley is rushing around as we see Bradley rush around. More predictions of doom.

The models arrive. Clarissa skips over to Bradley, who gives her the bad news that she might not walk. She says, "I really don't want to go home." Bradley realizes that he's not the only one with something at stake, and that motivates him to push through. Hair and makeup happen. Alison voiceovers that she really wants to win because she's passionate about the challenge. And it does seem right up her alley. Clarissa whispers to the makeup guy that her designer isn't finished.

Tim announces that the other models are arriving. The human models (most of them already dressed) walk in with the dog models. The designers cheer. Einstein rests his head on Uli's chest. I'd say they've bonded. Uli's feeling pretty confident. She's mixed two wild patterns, which is what she does at home, and she's happy with it. Javi strolls with her dog. Laura coos over Sophia as she and Katie try to dress her. Laura interviews that Sophia was actually very patient about getting dressed. Oh, look, it's Laura's rib bones again. Vincent is ecstatic with the hat on his little dog. Keith thinks his chances are good because both his dog and his model are stunning, and he's talented. Katherine interviews that she worked on a jacket for her outfit, but she needed to finish the dog jacket and ran out of time. She tells Tim, "I don't think it needed it." Bradley uses the blouse he already had, but with a lining, and manages to whip up a collar for Stanley. He says "I'm happy with it" with almost no expression. He's interested in the judges' comments. Tim summons everyone to the runway.

Heidi does the in/out spiel and recaps the challenge. The judges are Vera Wang (subbing for Michael Kors again), Nina Garcia and Ivanka Trump. I'm not sure how they picked her for this challenge, except that she probably knows a lot of women with purse dogs. I'm sure she'll make a fine judge, but "make an outfit for the modern businesswoman" seems like a better fit.

Lots of updated classics in the line-up and several examples of excellent tailoring. I guess the doggies were quite inspiring. There aren't a lot of bad outfits to choose from, and easily half-a-dozen contenders for the top spot.

Heidi summons: Alison, Bradley, Keith, Angela, Katherine, Uli. As soon as Heidi called Alison, I knew this was the top/bottom group. Thanks for giving it away, ham-fisted editors. Kayne, Robert, Bonnie, Michael, Vincent, Laura and Jeffrey are safe. Alison is the only one of the remaining six who looks confident.

Heidi asks Uli about her story. Uli's woman isn't afraid of color. She went to a party last night; today, she got up at noon and now she's going to meet her friends for lunch and then shopping for more "fabulous clothes." Ivanka gets the story; I suspect it describes most of her high school class. Heidi approves of the fit and the mix of patterns. Vera Wang observes that pugs tend to come across as butch, so she likes the twist of a feminine dress. The judges ask to see it without the jacket and admire the back. Nina calls it playful.

Heidi asks Katherine for her story. There's not much narrative, just a modern, sporty woman who dresses up on occasion, such as brunch with friends. Heidi likes Tallulah's outfit better than Amanda's. Ivanka calls the dress wearable but thinks she spent more time on the doggie hoodie. Katherine says she was going for clean and simple, but Heidi thinks a designer should try to wow people. Nina asks about the hem, which looks layered but a little uneven. She thinks the execution was lacking. Insert shot of Tallulah whining dejectedly.

Alison's client is an Oriental woman who travels "religiously" with her dog, and is in New York as a buyer at Fashion Week. There's a shot of the dress without the jacket. The collar is a V-shape meeting a band that circles under the arms. I still can't see how the bodice connects at the waist. Vera Wang asks about the model's hair, which echoes the poodle's poof, and Alison confirms it was intentional. Ivanka and Vera Wang appreciate the effort that went into the presentation. Heidi finds the whole look modern and chic.

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Heidi comments that Angela's model must be going the same place as Angela (they're both wearing balloon skirts). Angela lays out the art camp/puppy party story. Heidi asks the ages of the students; Angela picks six to twelve years old. Heidi thinks the outfit is awfully revealing for someone working with kids. Nina's not getting the whole story. That's because Angela left out an important plot point -- she's wearing an outfit her students designed for her! Honestly, what artsy six-year-old wouldn't love that skirt? Vera Wang appreciates the draping of the skirt, but thinks style is a problem.

Bradley's turn. Stanley is fussing and Heidi scolds him. It's seriously hot. TiVos around the world prepare to get very tired of replaying those three seconds. Bradley scoops Stanley up and explains that his client is an architect who "appreciates simplicity and structure." He sounds like he's making it up, but I think it's just his delivery. Vera Wang loves the color combination. Nina likes "the play of volume." She asks to see a profile view. The back sags lower than the front, so it looks sloppy, but Nina loves it and could imagine putting it in her magazine. Okay, not that Bradley's outfit doesn't have its good points, but I really have to wonder if the judges know it's his birthday.

Keith's woman is "modern, sophisticated and elegant" and doesn't dress up her rare dog in "baby doll clothes". That doesn't tell us where she's going or what she's up to. So much for having such a clear picture. Heidi gets into the lack of a dog outfit. A whole line of designers and models look a little pleased to see Keith called out. Keith protests that the dog has been styled, but Heidi reframes the work as "accessorized." Nina loves the dress, but she's disappointed about the dog. Keith claims to have made "many, many" outfits and to have struggled with the decision -- again, so much for his "I have such a clear picture" claim. Heidi asks how they're supposed to judge an incomplete. Keith says he made the sash. Heidi gets up to examine it -- Morgan is wearing a bracelet and Keith made a fabric sash to hold it closed. So technically, the dog is wearing something he made. Keith claims to have spent a lot of time on "that." I hope he means the dress, or that's just sad.

The designers are sent away while the judges deliberate. Heidi starts with Bradley. Nina liked the silhouette, and Ivanka finds it the most original. We see Bradley looking like he's on cloud nine. Heidi and Nina both like Uli's use of color and pattern. Ivanka observes that she really thought about the dog. As for Alison, Ivanka says she's the only one who had the whole look. Nina agrees that the styling was great. Heidi thinks she showed vision. Vera Wang thinks they all love Katherine's doggie hoodie, but not the dress. Nina doesn't see creativity and Vera Wang would have liked better sewing. Nina hates Angela's outfit. Vera Wang appreciates the construction but the styling was bad. Ivanka sums it up -- her model looked like a streetwalker. Heidi thinks Keith was "standoffish." Ivanka wants to call his bluff on making four outfits for Morgan. Nina grants that his clothes are impeccable and well-presented.

The designers return. Heidi announces the winner off the top: Uli gets immunity. She thinks that's the best part of winning. Alison looks pissed, in a soft, pretty way. She's safe, too. Bradley is safe. Heidi tells Keith he might have won if he had done a dog outfit. He's safe. He can't understand why he didn't win, since no one else had any kind of execution. Well, except for Kayne and Michael and Laura, and that's just for starters. Shut up, Keith. Katherine is scolded for lack of inspiration and poor execution; Angela has poor taste. Angela is safe. Katherine is out.

She's a little shocked with the results. This dress had the most inspiration of all the things she has done. But it's best to go out on a high point. Well, as high as a loss can get.

What does Angela have to do to get booted? She was a crappy partner and now she created a crappy outfit all by her lonesome. So why isn't she already gone? And Keith didn't complete the challenge and was an ass to the judges. Meanwhile, Katherine created a nice (if ordinary) dress, and she outclassed the field with her doggie outfit. Don't tell me that had no inspiration. And why wasn't Vincent up before the judges? If we're going to boot people for uninspired outfits, I'd put his well before Katherine's. That dress had absolutely nothing going on. I just don't get it. I never expected Katherine to do better than mid-field, but she didn't suck. And the first rule of judging, at least in my book, is to get rid of the sucky people first. So, between this week and last week's boot of Malan, I am most displeased.

Did the judges get the win right? There are many excellent candidates for the top three and the win. Sadly, Bradley does not number among them, although his outfit had good points, but Alison and Uli were both top contenders. It could easily have gone either way, and either way I'd be okay with it.

Overall, though, a pretty sucky episode: no Tim in the credits, Moon gets booted for no good reason, too many wakey-wakey montages, it's hard to see the clothes on the runway, Vincent gets another free pass and Angela lives to create another ugly outfit. It's a darn good thing they had all those cute little doggies or I'd have been throwing stuff at the screen.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Make Yourself a Home

Welcome to the Big Apple! The contestants cab it to a brownstone somewhere in the city.

The first to arrive is Vanessa (26, designer/business owner), the design world's skunk-haired answer to Rachel Ray. I have a sinking feeling she's going to be in this thing right to the bitter end. As she enters the house, we see that it's empty. Nice wood floors, though.

Next is David (32, artist/designer), who freely admits to using his looks to get ahead, but claims the talent to back it up. And since he isn't smug about it, I'm willing to believe him. (Arrogant, sure, but not smug.) He and Vanessa figure they're all going to have to remedy the emptiness of the brownstone.

Third is Donna (49, designer/flight attendant). If she's married to a man in the oil business, it's a Texas trifecta. She has been a designer for 20 years, but since she's still a flight attendant, she can't be doing all that well at it.

Teman (26, architect/designer) admits to graduating from Harvard without apologizing. Yay, smart people! He thinks talent is one thing, but being able to think on your feet is another.

As they wait, Vanessa quizzes the current group on their styles. Donna is "European/Old World," David is "contemporary" and Teman likes to mix it up. Vanessa says her style is "glamalistic, by the way," as if the whole point of asking the question wasn't to create an opportunity to talk up her wonderful innovation of mixing glamour with minimalism. The others do not encourage her to go into details.

Ramona (50, found-object artist) describes herself as a "Renaissance woman." My childhood hero was Leonardo da Vinci, so I have pretty high standards when it comes to that kind of claim. I don't see Ramona making the cut. She carries a tiny dog in a purse. Gah.

Alice (31, designer/business owner) is another Texan. She doesn't mind if the best person wins, but she doesn't want the most obnoxious person winning. Cut to Vanessa shouting, "Welcome!" Bless you, editors.

Tym (46, artist/entrepreneur) thinks his biggest strength is his inventiveness. His only fears are "not winning and the regret of not winning." Kinda makes me wonder what will happen if he doesn't win.

Joseph (41, architect/business owner) is extremely aware that he's risking everything he's built so far to give this a shot. "Nerves of steel" is not the phrase that leaps to mind.

Temple (30, design enthusiast) is self-taught. Instead of credentials, she brings a backstory -- she was Miss Utah in the Miss USA pageant system, and now she's a single mother. I get ready to hear a lot about both.

The last to arrive is Teran (26, architect/designer) so they can spring on everyone the twist that he and Teman are twins. Handy how-to-tell-them-apart tip: Teman has the little dreadlocks. They're interested in the same things and work together, but they're competing against each other. Teman points out the disadvantage of competing against someone who can predict what you're going to do.

Now that everyone is assembled, it's time to bring in the host: Clive Pearse, who has a positive genius for turning formulaic interviews into amiable chitchat on Designed to Sell. He's sort of a human version of the Geico gecko. The competitors are all delighted to see him, because he knows people at HGTV and can help them advance their television careers. Also, I suspect they were coached.

Clive rallies the troops for the first challenge. The brownstone will be their home, and they have to complete five rooms: two bedrooms up, two living spaces down, and an outdoor patio. They have a combined budget of $7500 and a total of 24 hours to work. The first decision: Who will handle the money? Donna goes for it. Joseph interviews that he figured the money was a ticking bomb, and he didn't want to go near the responsibility. Clive wishes them luck and leaves them to it.

Alice is surprised that the first challenge isn't a little warm-up exercise. Donna teases the others that she's taking all the money. David thinks the first thing to do is divide up the spaces amongst the group. Everyone tours the house. Tym thought they were going to get to live in a cool place, and now it turns out they have to design the cool place.

Down in the basement, they discover a stash of tools and then a workroom with worktables for everyone. At this point, they've managed to spend two hours wandering around the house and such. Joseph tells everyone he's excited to be a part of all this. Vanessa wants to contribute to the creative process, rather than do things like paint, and she wants to get her "insert stupid name that I'm not going to repeat" style into at least one room. The other designers have been around the block a time or two, and they recognize "You guys do all the work and I'll take all the credit" when they hear it. Donna suggests figuring out who wants to work alone and who wants to work in teams. Alice points out that everyone has different strengths; she's not excited by tools, but she can handle a sewing machine. Ramona wants to paint a mural on one of the walls in the back living space. Donna thinks everyone should have some input about an element like that, and Ramona should give them sketches of her ideas. Someone mentions the need to coordinate with furniture and such, and Ramona lectures that matching artwork to rugs and such is bad. But then you still need sketches, so you can avoid matching, no? Plus, although no one mentions this, sketches can tell you if the mural is going to look like crap. Joseph expresses interest in the patio space.

People spread out to start claiming spaces. At this point, they've chewed up four hours of work time and have nothing to show for it. Temple, Teman, Donna and Alice all want to work on the living spaces. They split into teams of two -- Temple & Alice in back, Donna & Teman in front -- to simplify decision-making. Joseph and Tym pair up to work on the patio. It's a concrete pad surrounded by a chain link fence with extensive views of concrete walls. Talk about a clean slate. David, Teran and Vanessa take charge of the bedrooms. They already have beds, except they need to be fully assembled, and mattresses, which are 4" thick foam slabs wrapped in ticking. Comfy. Instead of wood floors, they have brown carpet.

Donna interviews that time was ticking away as they all talked and someone needed to take control. Not that she did, of course, because heaven forbid she should be forceful. Everyone is gathered around the fan of paint colors and now there are 19 hours left on the clock. Dave interviews that his team -- himself, Vanessa and "T2" (Teran) -- chose their colors together. Donna interviews that she grabbed the money like a wedding bouquet, so that kinda made her the boss. Temple is ready to stop talking and start doing. She requisitions some money to get started. Vanessa interviews that they should have worked out a budget, either per room or per square foot. Donna gives $300 to Temple and $400 to Vanessa. Joseph interviews that Donna never set up a budget.

Upstairs, Teran asks David if they're making the bedrooms boys and girls. David observes three beds in the smaller room and seven in the larger (two combined into a bunk bed), so that's how he's dividing things. Vanessa measures and charts out the rooms. She thinks the people in the larger room are going to get piled together. Since they're on the spot, the upstairs team claims the smaller room for themselves.

Teman and Donna are treating the front room as a parlor. They want to make it fun and designer-y.

Alice interviews that Ramona wanted to do a mural and they agreed. So their palette will be more neutral and they'll get their color from the mural.

Out on the patio, Tym reviews with Joseph that they'll do horizontal strips across the fence. Tym talks about extending the living space, and that they'll have to create the space almost entirely from scratch. (They do have a barbeque grill, so that's a start.)

At the paint store, Ramona looks through colors while Temple and Alice worry about budget. Ramona has no idea what she'll paint; she's just going to wait until inspiration strikes. It will come eventually. Preferably before the time limit expires. She asks Temple about the Miss Utah thing, and Temple explains the difference between Miss America (scholarship) and Miss USA (looks and interview). Ramona gets clarification that Miss USA doesn't require a talent. Ramona is not dragging her little dog around. I feel sorry for whomever gets stuck dog-sitting.

Donna interviews that she went shopping with "Temain? Temone?" (It's te-MAHN. And te-RAHN.) David should let her know she's working with "T1". They ask about the best price on a brown sofa, which they wind up purchasing.

Vanessa acts out this pillow grabbing her attention and speaking to her. It's a starburst-like flower in an orange-and-brown color scheme, and they already picked blue. But she takes a picture of it.

Donna observes to Teman that they've spent a lot of money, and he says they'll just have to convince the others that it was worth it. Somehow, I don't really see that happening.

Joseph is out measuring the patio with 16 hours left on the clock. He interviews that Donna went out and left them without any money. Tym says they used the time to plan, but they just lost a day of work.

Cut to Donna waving around a sheaf of bills. She says they'll have to make the money stretch for the rest of the project.

Temple, Alice and Ramona go shopping. Temple says they're in a thrift store because you can find really interesting things for a good price. She and Alice talk something over. Ramona holds up a giant candy dish-shaped thing in beaten metal, and they act like cheerleaders confronted with a math geek. Temple interviews that Ramona wasn't on the same page, design-wise. Ramona tries on a hat like a bird's nest of black tulle, and talks about a wall of hats. Cheerleaders. Math geek.

Vanessa returns with some shopping bags and some news. The guys, busy painting the large room an acid yellow, want the bad news first. She didn't have enough money. Well, no big surprise. The good news is actually maybe bad news, since she fell in love with the pillow and it's a different color scheme. She shows the guys the picture and they get on board with the change.

Teman and Donna return with stuff. She asks Joseph and Tym if they found great stuff, too, and they point out that they didn't have any money. Donna and Teman do the "oh, no" act. Tym interviews that yeah, he blames them.

Paint, paint, paint. David takes his shirt off. He should do that more often. Ramona rolls blue paint into the area that Temple is painting taupe. Yeah, not a lot of teamwork there. David would like to be farther along. They'll have a whole day to work tomorrow, but it doesn't necessarily look good.

Morning. 14 hours left on the clock. People start waking up. Donna was hoping for a hotel, or at least more bedrooms. Alice interviews that she's bunked under "Temone" and this is her first experience sharing a bedroom with a bunch of people. I hope they have more than two bathrooms. Five people per bathroom is not a good ratio. Teran didn't sleep well; he's too anxious about everything left to be done.

It looks like they have a fully furnished and decorated kitchen and dining area. Tym gripes to Temple and Alice that he didn't have any money and he needs to know what's left. Tym interviews that he doesn't think Donna knew what she was getting into when she grabbed the money. Donna starts parceling out the big bucks. Temple and Alice get $1900 for the family room; Tym and Joseph get $1300 for the patio; the bedrooms get $1900. (This means the front parlor winds up with $2400.) David interviews that Donna should have divvied up the money earlier. Donna is doing calculations on a sheet of paper; she's not sure yet how much money is left.

Clive arrives. He tells them that he was expecting to see a show house and was confronted with a "no house." He tries to scare them with the fact that they're ten hours into the project. Then he asks about Donna's banking skills. Everyone who's happy, raise a hand. Nobody moves.

Clive asks for a tour. They start with the bedrooms. The brown and orange room is only half-painted. In the brown and green room, Clive begins to think of fruit names like "Scary Lime." The walls are very bright. Vanessa said they wanted to do something completely different than the rest of the house. Clive assures them that they have.

Out on the patio, Clive says the space reminds him of his poodle's quarantine quarters. It's still quite stark. Joseph lays out the plan -- they're going to build up the far wall and paint it to make it more of a focal point.

In the family room, Clive asks how the mural will tie into everything. Temple and Alice are curious about that, too. Ramona still doesn't know what she's going to paint. Alice explains that they want to keep the rest of the room serene and get their color from the mural.

In the front room, Donna explains how they're going arrange all their stuff. Clive observes that they have more stuff than everybody else, and Donna was the one with the cash. Teman points out that they scored the couch for only $500, which is a steal. Clive doesn't remember anyone else having $500.

Ramona scavenges stuff that was left out on the street. She doesn't like the word "garbage" because it implies that something has reached its end. She returns with a vacuum cleaner and something that looks like a complicated microphone stand, and she's wearing a box on her head. Temple and Alice return (6 hours left on the clock) to find Ramona covering the vacuum with spackle. Temple interviews she was shocked to see no progress on the mural. I think the vacuum cleaner was something of a jolt, too. Ramona explains that she's making sculptures; Alice isn't clear if they're for indoors or outdoors and Ramona doesn't clarify. Alice interviews that the sculptures didn't look suitable for any of the rooms. Very tactful of her.

The clock reads 3.5 hours when Ramona summons everyone for a quick house meeting so they can review her sketches. The first shows Temple reclining in her Miss Utah sash. Temple looks less than flattered; the others look less than wowed. The other option is a deliberately childish abstract of lines. Temple votes for option 2. Alice interviews that no one liked either, but everybody votes for option 2.

David and Teran paint and find ways to describe Ramona's insanity. Tym and Joseph are making progress. Temple interviews that she didn't want to spend lots of money on furniture (the fact that she didn't have lots of money might have factored into this preference), so luckily she found some inexpensive things at a thrift store and she'll antique some of them. She sprays an armoire with black paint, then timidly whacks it with a chain, then gouges the surface with a screwdriver. "Distressing" perfectly good new furniture is one of those things that just gets on my nerves. Taking the shine off something that's gleaming new, I understand. Trying to make it look like you have hand-me-down furniture is pretentious. (With any luck, I'll now be boycotted by all the decorating magazines and they'll stop trying to get me to subscribe.) Ramona finally starts to paint. She's happy with the results.

Morning again. The project clock has 2 hours left. After everyone is up and dressed and fed (and in the case of Donna, hairsprayed), it's time to finish up. While everyone else is painting and carting around furniture, Ramona is breaking bottles on the sidewalk to make -- something. I hope she cleans up all that glass. Teran interviews that his team functioned beautifully. Temple wants to take out some of the color, but Alice is against last-minute changes because they might snowball. Donna interviews that they went down to the wire, which she expected. Alice continues to persuade Temple about the turquoise through-line of their design. Donna announces the 10 minute mark. Ramona is using the broken bottle as a vase for the patio. Teman needs nails to hang paintings. He interviews that it has to look finished, even if it isn't. Everyone runs around.

Clive shows up and puts an end to the work. He tells them to think about how they're going to justify their efforts to three very tough judges.

The Studio. It's a big, dark room. You can see purple walls where pot lights shine down and the floor is a shiny black. The three judges sit at a long table and the contestants line up across from them. Arranged on one side wall are two large screens in the corners and then small screens between, each with a picture of a contestant. Clive explains that the small screens represent their potential shows; as they're booted, their screens will be turned off. I kinda like the idea, but overall, I don't find the space very appealing.

Clive introduces the judges:

I think they should have let the judges design the judging space; it just feels really awkward. Maybe the effect is intentional, at least in regards to the contestants. Clive explains that the judges will review the before and after of each space. But first, the money issue. Donna thinks she did "very well" handling the money. In terms of not losing it or spending it all on pedicures, sure. Clive asks for comments from the competitors. Ramona (with little dog in tow) would have liked more planning. Why? She didn't spend anything on her materials, so what does she care about the money management? Tym's team lost a day because they didn't have any money to spend. Clive asks Donna if she would jump for the money again. "Definitely not."

Parlor ($2400): Donna and Teman step forward. The original space is long and narrow, with the stairways to one side. The main feature of the finished room is a tall curtain screening off the stairways; it's an icy green satin-y fabric that kind of billows. The walls are now taupe with a white chair rail. The window in front has dark blue and brown print curtains; a table, chair and ottoman sit before it. The back half of the room holds a brown sofa that has been angled away from the wall, paired with a covered side table. They have handmade artwork in brown, yellow and fuschia.

The judges all react to the narrowness of the room; it was maybe 10 feet wide. Martha asks about their plan to deal with the space. Teman answers that they were trying to make it "fun and cheeky," which doesn't really address the space issue. Vern is not happy with the sofa on an angle, which makes the room more narrow (the sofa juts into the traffic area), or the "explosion" of fabric, but he likes the mix of styles. Cynthia thinks there's a lot of stuff; Vern calls it "tchotchke-ville."

With a room that narrow, I wouldn't have bothered with a sofa. The room seems to call for groupings of chairs anchored by rugs to break up the length while leaving room to navigate. The staircase wasn't too bad-looking, so I don't know if I'd have bothered with the curtain. But better to use a fabric that hangs straighter so it doesn't impinge on the traffic pattern. As for all the decorative items, I think they suffered from having all that money available. A tighter budget would have forced them to edit.

Family room ($1900): Alice, Temple and Ramona step forward. The original room is long and less narrow, with French doors leading to the patio. Now the walls are the same taupe as the front room, except for the wall of the mural. Which is of a reclining woman wearing only high heels, fishnet stockings and a sash. I think Ramona has a different idea of the whole Miss Utah experience; I don't recall Temple talking about posing for Playboy. The black armoire is across from the mural. A linen-colored sofa faces the French doors; across from it are a coffee table and two black ottomans. Two chairs sit across from the armoire; it looks like they're slipcovered with fabric similar to the wall color. There's a black sideboard behind the sofa. To the side of the entry, there's a pair of black chairs with turquoise pillows, and a corner space that looks like a desk.

Clive gets right to the mural. Martha asks about the inspiration. Ramona says Temple was Miss Utah and she wanted to reference their work together. Temple's body language says she would rather not be having any part of this mural. Clive points out that the design came up rather late in the process; did they collaborate or were they "a group divided"? Ramona says somewhat huffily that they collaborated by dividing. Vern says he's perplexed. He looks pained. The furniture arrangement is a little too much in the center of the room and he'd like some fabric on the floor or windows, but really he's wondering if Miss Utah is what they want for a focal point. Ramona says everyone liked her Miss Utah sketch. Everyone immediately denies it. I can't tell if she's a brass-faced liar or just off in her own version of reality. Cynthia really likes the little chairs with the blue pillows (go, Alice!). She asks where they shopped and Alice reports that all the furniture came from thrift shops.

I'm on the same page as the judges in this room -- basically pretty good except for the mural, which really needs to be eradicated as soon as possible. If this is the TV room (as the armoire suggests), I'd prefer two couches for seating so people can stretch out or snuggle up, as moods permit. But I'm inclined to think they won't have much time for TV.

Bedrooms ($1900): The smaller room has chocolate brown walls at the front and rear, orange to the right and taupe to the left. Two beds are on the orange wall with two horizontal canvases making a joint headboard; the top canvas echoes the flower from the inspiration pillow. The third bed is lengthwise along the taupe wall and has three square orange canvases with small white flowers above. The sheets are all chocolate brown and the comforters are white; the pillows have starburst-shaped flowers in the colors of the room. The larger room has three beds and a bunk bed arranged along one wall; the remaining two beds are lengthwise head-to-head on the other wall. The bed walls are "scary lime" green; the front and back walls are white. The trim has been painted chocolate brown. The five beds on one wall have white sheets and patchwork comforters that mix the colors; they have brown canvases serving as headboards. The lengthwise beds have brown sheets and patchwork pillows; there's a shorter brown headboard between them and canvases along the wall beside them.

Martha likes. She asks who was in control. Vanessa yaps that she had a hand in every possible project phase known to man, except the artwork. Teran thinks about squashing her. Martha asks if they had the artwork made. Vanessa says David was an artist, so she was fortunate. The rest of her team is not feeling quite so fortunate. Cynthia thought the larger room "could have easily ended up looking like a flop house" and Vanessa "I know!"s with her whole body. Cynthia likes the organization. Vern gives them an A+ and praises the modern color schemes. Martha asks how it's going with everyone sleeping in those two rooms. Everyone answers at once; David wins with his contention that no one has been sleeping. With those mattresses, I can see why.

These rooms are clearly the most cohesive in design, and the canvas headboards are an inexpensive way to delineate smaller pods of space within the larger rooms. I wonder if they'll be removing beds as people leave. If so, there shouldn't be any problem rearranging things. I like design with flexibility.

Patio ($1300): Tym, Joseph and Ramona step forward. The far wall is now a grassy green; the side "walls" of chain link fence have been covered with wooden slats (about 10" high). There's a bench along the far wall and another in the center. They both have silvery tops and skinny legs. The benches are accessorized with a few plants. There's a stick-figure-looking sculpture in a far corner; by the entry is the spackled vacuum cleaner and a bouquet of flowers. The grill is on the left wall near the French doors.

Vern really likes the wood and the color. He thinks perhaps the vacuum cleaner gave its life in vain. Ramona protests that it's a sculpture. Vern likes the idea of putting sculpture out there; he just doesn't like the idea of those sculptures. Ramona says it's a matter of personal taste. Clive asks Joseph and Tym what they thought of the sculptures; Tym non-answers that it was a compromise. Clive throws it to the judges: how do you "tactfully but forcefully" exclude someone else's ideas, since collaboration is important? Martha answers that collaboration doesn't mean letting someone do something just because they want to. Vern puns that "you don't operate in a vacuum."

I think Tym and Joseph did a great job creating visual impact. The benches look good but I'm concerned they wouldn't make for comfortable seating. The pot-bellied sculpture in the back corner seems okay (I didn't get a really good look at it), but the ghastly vacuum cleaner needs to be consigned back to the sidewalk. I'm sure the trash collectors will appreciate the laugh.

Clive sends the contestants to the green room to await the judges' deliberations. In the green room, someone (Alice?) declares that the bedroom team will be safe. Cynthia thinks Ramona has passion, which is important. Donna tells Ramona that she didn't work with her team. Vern thinks the parlor was poorly executed. Teran thinks they need to take the lessons learned to the next task. Vern expects that the contestants will realize they're going to have to "step it up" as the competition continues.

The designers return. Clive names Alice, Tym, Joseph, Temple and Teman. They're all safe; they can wait in the green room. The remaining designers "represent the best and the worst." Somebody's been watching Project Runway. David and Teran are summoned forward. They were among the best and pass to the next round. Vanessa wins and gets sent to the green room. Donna and Ramona are on the chopping block -- Donna for budget and execution, Ramona for teamwork and design style. Ramona is cancelled; she and her little dog have to leave the studio. Donna takes a warning shot across the bow and joins the others in the green room.

Outside, Ramona interviews that the judges just "didn't get it." They just rejected her work because it was ugly. Well, she sniffs, people said that about the work of Vincent Van Gogh when he was alive. They also said it about the work of a lot of unknown artists whose names have deservedly been lost in the sands of time. What were the judges supposed to get? She didn't describe what she was trying to convey; she just claimed that her work was art. Even if everything is art if you just look at it the right way (which it isn't, and if it were, why would we need artists?), the point of the show is not to curate a collection. The point of the show is to create a space suited to the people who will inhabit it. Ramona got the boot because she was self-indulgent, doing whatever she wanted without regard to the input of her clients, let alone her teammates. And because she's a fruitcake.

In the green room, everyone hugs Donna because she's not Ramona. She interviews that she's sure she can do awesome things; she's just glad that this is over and tomorrow is another day.

Did Vanessa deserve the win? Sure, she found the pillow, but it's hard to say how much of the design was hers and how much came from her teammates. They seemed to work very well together and I'm sure they elevated each other's games. But I'm also sure that everyone is going to be leery of working with Little Miss It's All About Me in the future.


Friday, July 21, 2006


Team USA

Previously on Project Runway: Heidi handed out the first assignment. Designers trashed their apartments. Keith had never made a dress before. Jeffrey was unimpressed with everyone else's work. Vincent fell in love with a basket. Runway show. Keith won the challenge and immunity. Jeffrey was in; Stacey was out.

Angela misses Stacey a little, but resigns herself. Keith doesn't care about immunity because he's going to rock every challenge. Malan wakes up on the right side of the bed. He claims to like all the designers -- I'm sure he likes Laura, I have my doubts about some of the others -- and is happy to be part of it all. See, he's not dark and creepy; he's sweet and sunny. Off to Parsons.

Model choice is back!

Candice -- Katherine's model -- is out. I thought she did a good job handling the clothes, but her jaw is rather strong. The models have a group hug in the back. Oddly enough, we don't see Michael or Robert choose their models. What's up with that? It takes all of two seconds to say somebody's name, so it's not like they had to be cut for time.

Challenge: Heidi says they'll be "designing for an icon of American beauty." It's Tara Conner, Miss USA, whom I will be calling Miss USA because she worked hard for that title, dammit. She's decked out in tiara, sash and evening gown. The assignment is to design her dress for the Miss Universe evening gown competition. Well, that's certainly a big risk for her -- although I'm sure she'll be able to get someone to do gown surgery if necessary. Kayne is psyched, because this is what he does. Keith is excited by the prospect of all that publicity.

In the workroom, Miss USA has changed out of the gown and into a day suit with a mini skirt. See, pageants do adapt to changing standards; twenty years ago, that skirt length would have been scandalous. But she doesn't look trashy at all, because she's good at her job. Tim welcomes her and invites her to explain her needs. Miss USA tells the designers that she's the second-shortest girl (pageant competitors are always "girls" -- pageants don't adapt themselves to all changing standards) in the Miss Universe competition, so she needs a gown that will make her look taller. For color, she likes earth tones or something monochromatic. (Her intro gown was beige and bronze; her day suit has brown skirt, peach top, oatmeal jacket. So she does like the browns.) She doesn't want a plunging neckline because she wants the judges to pay attention to her and not just her boobs. (She doesn't say boobs; she's good at her job.) You'd think that maybe a girl would want the judges to pay attention to her boobs, but there's something like 80 girls in a pageant, so it's hard for just boobs to stand out. Plus, we need to pretend that the competition isn't just about boobs, or any of those other body parts.

Tim drops the twist: it's a team competition, so they'll have to pair up. Angela worries that she's never done a gown before, so she needs a partner who understands construction, like Kayne. Waddaya mean, you've never done a gown before? All those clothes mistaken for Yves St. Laurent and not one of them was a gown? Tim gives them 30 minutes to sketch. They'll pitch to Miss USA and she'll pick her top seven. Much sketching ensues. Jeffrey is concerned because he associates pageants with Jon-Benet Ramsey, and that's not what he does. Malan interviews that a pageant gown should stand out. He wants to create the illusion of an hourglass shape and height. I'm not sure how well "hourglass" plays in the international pageant scene; are hips good or bad? Angela lobbies Kayne about how she'd be a good partner because he knows the pageant world so well, he needs someone to question his entrenched mindset. Kayne interviews that she's assuming he'd win, and he's not (assuming, that is). Jeffrey interviews that she was looking for a "free ride."

Sketching time is up. Time to pitch:

Back in the workroom, Miss USA announces her choices:

It was a little mean to string poor Kayne along like that, but I think she saved him for last so she could tease him about his pageant connections. Tim congratulates the team leaders and sends Miss USA on her way. She'll be back for the runway show, of course.

The seven team leaders line up behind a worktable. Tim will draw names at random and they'll pick partners from the remaining designers. Teamwork will be one of the judging criteria. Uli is worried because she has never worked as part of a team. Vincent talks about the importance of choosing the right personality. The results:

Time to go shopping at Mood. They get $300, which is big for this show and piddly for a pageant. Malan is excited because he does evening gowns. Kayne reports that he found a beautiful, non-earth tone organza, so he hopes Miss USA will be happy with his choice. Jeffrey thinks Kayne should follow directions instead of venturing into sherbet tones. Vincent and Angela are sitting at a table with some selections. Angela nags that they have 14 minutes left; Vincent asks her not to do a countdown because it's making him nervous. Angela's worried about not having fabric. Vincent reports on the incident and complains that he can't be responsible for soothing her nerves. But he just made Angela responsible for not making him nervous, so clearly there are perks to being the team leader. Angela isn't feeling inspired by his vision. How can she tell what his vision is?

Back at Parsons, they have 9 hours to work. Robert interviews that he and Kayne were cracking each other up. We see Michael offering an opinion to Laura. She chose him because she thought he would question her usual approach -- which speaks well of Laura, but also speaks well of Michael's professionalism. Try bringing Jeffrey or Vincent on board to question your work.

Bonnie and Uli spread muslin on a table. Bonnie interviews that there's speculation about the elimination: one person or two? She'd hate to lose two people. She tells Uli she wants to see people fighting, like that would be fun. We now know that Bonnie does not come from a dysfunctional family. Unless she's overcompensating.

Angela offers to help Vincent drape, but he rebuffs her. Vincent interviews that he feels weird about not giving Angela work, but he wanted to get stuff done. Angela interviews that everyone else is working in teams, and she's shut out of the process. She wanders off to the break room. Naturally, that's when Vincent decides he needs her for something.

Bradley wants Keith to reassure him that the dress will still be elegant, and Keith is all, "Trust me." He interviews that maybe Bradley was worried about him slacking because he can, with his immunity, but Bradley should trust his talent after he won the last challenge. Keith promises he won't get Bradley booted.

Malan tells Katherine that the best approach is to be organized. She's pleased to work with someone who has had so much experience with gowns; she's learning a lot. Malan is self-taught and has done the fashion thing without support. He did some sketches as a youngster, but when he showed them to his mother, she totally dismissed him. So this is a chance to prove her wrong.

Time ticks. People work. Keith tells Bradley something is just what he wants. Bradley fakes an Oriental accent and says, "I so happy. I so happy I almost cry." He's -- implying that Keith is a sweatshop slave driver? Referencing a movie I haven't seen? Basically a doofus?

Angela tells Vincent that the dress looks like something she made in college. But she never made a gown before. So the college dress wasn't a gown? Vincent can't talk because he has to figure out how to drape the back. She suggests making a different cut. Vincent interviews that Angela had concerns about what "we were trying to achieve." "We"? Since Vincent is the team leader, it's his place to have concerns, not Angela's. I so don't ever want to work for Vincent. He decides that she has to stay three feet away from him. She isn't cooperating and Vincent gripes that she's killing him. The ideas are flowing now, and he can't deal with her negativity. Dude, she can still offer criticism or feedback (whichever you prefer) from three feet away. Vincent is just not cut out for teamwork, and Angela is not cut out for teaming with Vincent.

Uli is relieved when quitting time rolls around, so she can sleep.

The next day, Tim strolls through the workroom. The clock says 9:08, but I can't tell if it's morning or night. From the amount of work done, I'd say night, but that's leaving it awfully late for feedback. First stop is Uli and Bonnie. Tim loves the idea, but it needs perfect execution. Uli is happy with the dress and thinks it will satisfy the client.

Next stop, Kayne and Robert (the Glamour Twins). Tim isn't happy with a detail in the ruching; he thinks the folds should hide the work. Kayne wants Tim to be all excited about it. Tim says he will be tomorrow.

Next, Vincent and Angela. Tim tells Vincent he's disappointed and Vincent blithely replies, "Oh, that's okay." No, Vincent, it is not okay to disappoint Tim Gunn. He's a dean of Parsons; you put a basket on your model's head. Get a clue. Angela is pleased to have someone else criticize Vincent for a change. But then Tim asks her how she feels about the dress, and she says she wouldn't want her name attached to it as a "professional designer." Vincent interviews that he was a little hurt by the way she "turned her back" on him, but he's not going to freak out because that's just who she is. So, he doesn't care what Angela thinks and he doesn't care what Tim thinks, but he cares if Angela tells Tim what she thinks. Still not ever wanting to work for Vincent.

Tim visits Malan and Katherine. They feel they're doing okay; they just have to work out the bottom. Tim looks concerned. A rear shot of the dress shows a whole heap of wadding, and I have an unfortunate flashback to Guadalupe's Nicki Hilton dress. I, too, look concerned. Tim finally delivers an opinion -- it's heavy-looking, "like it's carved out of a big log." He urges them to be objective.

Keith and Angela are at a long table in a break room with snack food. Keith asks her about getting along with Vincent. Angela says they're relating well, and Keith disagrees. Angela doesn't care what he thinks about it. Vincent has made it clear that he's the designer and it's his dress. Keith agrees with Vincent's position, and leaves. I have to wonder what Keith's opinion would be if he weren't a team leader, too. Granted, Angela's being a pill about the whole situation, but I don't think Keith would do all that much better as Vincent's subordinate. It's just that Keith would feel his resentment about being shut out was justified, because he's talented, while he thinks Angela's resentment is unjustified, because she's not.

Malan and Katherine are studying the dress. Katherine thinks "there's just too much fabric." She wants to change a diagonal piece, but it's what Malan wants. Katherine interviews that she became increasingly concerned about the dress over the day. She tells Malan that he'll have to defend the design when it gets questioned.

Work, work, work. Laura tells Michael that something has to change position or "she'll look like she's pooping." I so wish we had a shot of the dress at that point. Keith is not happy with something. Kayne and Robert cheerfully snark at each other about their rhinestones. Kayne says they have tons and they'll apply them "until our fingernails bleed." Robert retorts, "She's a beauty queen, not a disco ball."

Angela tells Vincent not to say they ran out of time. Vincent protests that she has already disclaimed all responsibility for the dress. Even if it wins, she'll still have no responsibility for it. He's happy with it, and he's team leader. He gives her a big, phony grin that says, "I have all the power and you have none." If anybody out there is working for Vincent, please run for your life.

Midnight rolls around and everyone gets to go home. Angela tells Laura and Alison that Vincent is totally behind the dress. Laura drawls, "I've seen him defend crap on the runway before." Angela decides she'll just defend herself if they're in the bottom three; the words "will just come right out." Off in another apartment, Keith pronounces Angela "transparent as glass." Vincent agrees that she'll backstab him -- just smile and backstab him. Well, no. If someone states her opinion to your face, it's not backstabbing to state that opinion to anyone else. I'm sure Vincent feels entitled to her support simply by virtue of being team leader, but I'm also sure Vincent feels entitled to all kinds of things that he hasn't actually earned. Kayne looks like he's wondering if these people will ever let him get to sleep. Jeffrey leans his naked torso around the corner, and I so hope those folds at the bend of his waist are a towel, and says he has one word: "Feminazi." I wonder how long he lurked around the corner, waiting for the right moment to jump in with his mot juste. Too bad it's not in the least apropos.

Runway day. Tim tells the designers that he's sending in the models, and they have two hours to do the hair and makeup and prep stuff. And look, there are models. And then there are half-dressed models. Kayne is pleased that his dress fits his model perfectly. Uli and Bonnie like the way the dress looks on their model, too. Malan and Katherine are not so happy. Katherine interviews that the gown was several inches too short. She doesn't want to get booted for something that wasn't her idea. Vincent asks Angela to find out when the deadline is. She says it's 12:15, but someone across the room says it's 12:30. Vincent is pissed because he asked her four times to find out for sure, and she didn't. He whines that he didn't help her. And whose fault was that? (Okay, both of them.)

Hair. Makeup. Tim summons everyone to the show. Malan is worried about the too-short skirt, but they just don't have time to fix it.

Heidi seems to be channeling Gwyneth Paltrow with the side part and the bun. I don't like it. She recaps the challenge. The judges are Nina Garcia, Miss USA, and Vera Wang (subbing for Michael Kors). Showtime!

The judges ponder, the designers line up. Heidi calls Kayne & Robert, Malan & Katherine, Uli & Bonnie, Vincent & Angela. The remaining designers -- Jeffrey, Alison, Keith, Bradley, Laura and Michael -- are safe, so they're dismissed. Heidi reveals that only one designer will be eliminated. The models come stand by their designers.

Uli and Bonnie get to go first. Miss USA loves the way it flows. Heidi praises the back and Miss USA concurs. Heidi asks Bonnie for her opinion. Bonnie loves the dress and enjoyed the team experience. Vera Wang finds it very modern and loves the layering of the colors.

Kayne and Robert are next. Robert is wearing purple sunglasses on the runway, but I'm inclined to forgive him. Miss USA loves the sweetheart neckline. The color took a little getting used to, but she now she's totally into it. Kayne thought it was a good compromise of her request for earth tones and her need to shine at Miss Universe. Nina praises his initiative in making his own color choice. Robert chimes in that he was intially worried it would be too much, but Kayne brought it all together. Miss USA has trouble coming up with any negatives.

Malan and Katherine come under scrutiny. Vera Wang thinks the ruching is too busy. Heidi likes all the gathering and texture, but overall it's too much and one side is poofier than the other. Miss USA says the shape is cofusing. Nina asks what happened with the bodice. Malan explains that the real pageant dress would have a flatter construction, but they built out the bust to give the model a fuller shape, similar to Miss USA. Nina observes that Miss USA wanted to look less busty. Heidi points out the unfinished hem. Malan explains that his model is longer in the torso, which he hadn't realized. Vera Wang advises always leaving extra length. Heidi asks Katherine what she thinks of the design. Katherine non-answers that she thought it was Malan's design. This is where I realized that Katherine has no neck. Maybe she's just not standing up straight, but I really think it's a lack of neck. Heidi asks who should get the boot if they're the worst, and Katherine picks Malan because the dress wasn't her idea. Malan agrees that he would have to go, since it's his design. I think it pretty much kills him to say it, but he does.

Nina asks Angela and Vincent if they worked well together. Vincent says he put in an "astronomical" amount of work, ripping out Angela's mistakes (Angela got the chance to make mistakes?) and doing everything himself. Heidi asks Angela what she thinks of the dress. Angela deems it too simple and mentions her college dress again. Nina asks to see the back and all the judges admire it. Vera Wang dings the sleeves and Miss USA calls them "space cadet." Vera Wang likes the idea and the minimalism. Angela says it didn't seem like designer work and it wouldn't stand out. I really hope they're putting together pieces of the longer back-and-forth, because disagreeing with Vera Wang about the merits of the dress is not a winning strategy. Miss USA thinks the dress would stand out. She thinks maybe Angela was trying to lead. Vincent asks the judges what they would do if someone said they had no ideas about a gown. Like Vincent would have listened to Angela's ideas if she'd had any. Heidi asks Vincent who would go. He says that Angela put him through a "horrific" experience. Heidi asks for Angela's response, which is shock. Perhaps that's why the words are not tumbling from her mouth. So far, she's done a pretty poor job of calling out Vincent's failures as a team player. Vincent adds, "This was the nightmare of my life." Worse than dropping out of the fashion business because it almost killed you?This is where Angela needs to pull out a violin and go to town, but she's a total dud up there.

Heidi sends them away so the judges can talk. They start with Vincent and Angela. Miss USA thinks the gown is classic if you just simplify the sleeves. So, it wasn't one of the bottom two? It was one of the top three? I'm so confused. Heidi asks about Angela's teamwork, and the others all rag on her. Nina thinks she should have been able to work as part of a team. I'd like to see Nina work as a team with Vincent. The criticism of Angela is justified; the problem is the lack of criticism of Vincent. But it was Angela's job to report his failings, since the judges weren't there. (This is the problem with challenges that judge things the judges weren't around to see.)

Everybody likes Uli's dress. Nina declares it "perfectly beautiful." Well, if you have no chest, maybe. But I mostly agree.

Kayne's dress also gets praise. Miss USA loves the bling and Heidi could see her wowing the judges in it.

Miss USA doesn't know what happened with Malan's dress. She wanted something that would show off the woman, and she couldn't see the model. Nina doesn't like the unfinished hem.

The ladies reach a decision and summon the designers. Robert is safe. Bonnie is safe. Miss USA gives the win to Kayne; she loves the dress and she's going to work it. He has immunity. Kayne interviews that it's a huge step in his career. Uli is safe. Katherine is safe. She and Malan hug. Vincent is safe. I'm glad they made him dangle a bit. Malan failed in the design element from color choice to execution. Angela failed in teamwork and let down her teammate. Angela is in "but just barely." Heidi sounds pissed. Malan and Angela hug. Heidi sounds sad as she auf wiedersehns Malan.

Malan is stunned. He stops behind the screen to collect himself. He interviews that he felt ashamed for losing. Saying goodbye to people has not gotten easier with practice. He enjoyed being a part of the group. But he's not going to let the loss discourage him. Which is good, because I do think he has talent. And I'd much rather have kept him than Angela or Vincent. Or Jeffrey, for that matter. Why wasn't Jeffrey up before the judges?

If only Malan and Katherine had managed to fix that raggedy-ass hem, they might have squeaked ahead of Jeffrey and Alison. Malan's design just wasn't right for Miss USA, but I think it had more going for it than Jeffrey's same-old "deconstructed" shtick. And personality-wise, Malan had more going for him than Jeffrey's same-old "I'm so radical" shtick. I found him more amusing than creepy, especially with the laugh. I enjoyed his budding friendship with Laura and I liked his fundamental kindness with Katherine. He seemed to approach their partnership as mentor/student rather than genius/gofer. I think his basic personality is pretty nice, which makes him not annoying, and on top of that, he has a performer's willingness to entertain, which makes him fun. So it's sad that he won't be around any more.

On the other hand, I'm thrilled that Kayne won, because it meant so much to him. I like how he was careful to avoid overconfidence and approached the whole process with professionalism. His pitch to Miss USA showed how well he understood pageant girls, who have to stand up in front of the world and get judged on their appearances (no matter how many scholarships they give out). His attitude was not "I'm a great designer" but "I want to make you look fabulous," so Miss USA felt like she had an ally instead of someone who was in it for himself. He had the sense to pick a partner who could balance him and then listened to his partner's feedback, even when they disagreed. Overall, I think he has a good head on his shoulders. I hope he takes the opportunity to move in with Robert, Michael and Bradley; somehow, I don't think he's entirely simpatico with Jeffrey, Keith and Vincent.

I think I figured out the top and bottom: The judging criteria were design and teamwork. Vincent and Angela were the only dysfunctional team, so that's what landed them in the bottom, not the dress. But that means the judges had to take the producers' word about the teamwork thing, since they chose the bottom two before talking to the teams. So they can't really judge the teams on teamwork. And who cares if they're ready to scratch each other's eyes out, if the dress is a thing of beauty? If the judges can't get an accurate assessment of something from the runway show, they shouldn't try to judge it. Angela at least tried to be part of a team; Vincent's attitude was "I'm the leader, so I don't have to listen to you." I think his teamwork was far worse than Angela's, but Vincent seemed to get a free pass.

I disagree with Jeffrey's assessment that Angela wanted a "free ride" -- I think she was willing to do the work. Unfortunately, she wasn't willing to take any risks. Basically, she panicked; what she wanted was a security blanket. And then she wound up with the partner least likely to induce feelings of security, and completely lost perspective. She got so caught up in her sense of impending doom that she couldn't step back and work out a way to deal constructively with the situation. She couldn't even wrap her mind around a defense in front of the judges. Vincent gave her lots of ammunition on the teamwork front; even when her own teamwork was being criticized, all we saw her talk about was the design.

One of the biggest knocks against Angela is that she didn't even bother to pitch her own design. Lack of experience is no excuse. Katherine didn't have much experience with gowns, either, but she applied herself to the problem. So Angela should have at least come up with something. But I didn't see Vincent pitch much of a design, either. His sketches didn't give a clear sense of what he wanted to produce. Vincent couldn't use Angela's help implementing the design because he still had to come up with the design. And by that time, Angela was radiating negative vibes and Vincent couldn't handle the distraction.

The one good thing about Malan getting the boot instead of Angela is that it will annoy Vincent, Keith and Jeffrey, all of whom deserve to be annoyed.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Unbreak My Bed

All new credits -- including Tim! Because that's why we watch, really. Otherwise, I think I like last year's credits better. Time to meet the new crop of aspiring hopefuls:

It's worth noting that the apartments seem a little over-decorated with random stuff.

A note in each room invites the designers up to the rooftop for some socializing. Robert jokingly reads, "You have all been voted off." Heidi and Tim greet them on the roof with much product placement for the apartments and the champagne. Heidi has some complicated braids keeping her hair from blowing around. There's a choreographed toast.

Intro to Vincent: He had a go at the fashion business years back, stopped after he was nearly done in by the stress, and now feels ready to get back into it. I suspect he should have waited a bit longer. Financial planners are aghast to hear that he's cashed out his 401(k) to finance his comeback attempt. I'm aghast. (I'm not a financial planner, but I read Money magazine every month.) He seems like a nice enough guy, so if he winds up homeless and brain-fried, it's just not going to be entertaining.

Intro to Robert: Started out as an assistant to Isaac Mizrahi, then escaped to work for Barbie, who was far less demanding. He seems really comfortable with himself and has a sense of humor about things. I like him. He's probably going to get heartbreakingly close to the final three and then crash and burn. Not that I'm cynical or anything.

Intro to Stacey: Stanford degree, Harvard MBA, started various companies, one was a dot com. I hear undertones of "I cashed in and now I can do whatever I want." And now she wants to follow her true calling, which is fashion.

Heidi does the "gather around for an announcement" thing and hands out the first assignment: use the materials in their apartments to make their first looks, which must express their personalities as designers. Angela is shocked. Alison is thrilled; this is something she would have loved to do as a kid. Malan is irked about having to work with sub-standard fabrics. Tim explains the tools they have to work with -- scissors, pliers and a laundry bag. Heidi tells them they have fifteen minutes to load up their laundry bags with stuff. And we're off!

So, it's an orgy of destruction. Malan compares his fellow contestants to cattle at a feeding trough. Keith interviews that he knew everything that was in the apartment, so he knew what he wanted to grab. Laura goes for "the fur and the sparkles." Angela strips the brown leather off the chaise longue. Stacey describes the "offensive" strategy -- get what you need -- and the "defensive" strategy -- keep others from getting stuff. Laura jokes that Angela looks like she's been to a yard sale; her laundry bag is about to explode from all sorts of objects (including, I think, a fake plant). Katherine surveys the apartment with Bonnie, feeling she's missed something. Well, they've left a rug on the floor. Bradley is psyched to find a pillow still in its pillowcase. Robert protests that it's his pillow. Bradley asks if he touched it first and Robert says no, he brought it from home. It looks like Bradley takes the pillow, too, which is against the rules. The stuff the contestants brought is off-limits, which was probably intended to keep them from using their clothes. Bradley's moving out of the "nonentity" column into the "putz" column. Malan is disgusted by the boorish behavior of the others. We see Bradley and Vincent breaking up furniture and accessories.

The fifteen minutes are up and the apartments are wrecked. Mission accomplished, I guess.

At the workroom, everyone unloads their laundry bags. Robert observes that now it's time to edit their materials. Tim comes in and gives them eight hours to work. They each have been assigned a model for the first round. The winner will get immunity. Yay, immunity's back! Maybe we'll see some model-switching, too.

Angela is worried about the time limit. Kayne is used to working with more cloth-like materials in his pageant gowns. Keith has never made a woman's dress before, but he knows construction and thinks his taste is tops in the group, so he's confident. Jeffrey is also confident in his construction skills. He sticks pins into a person-shaped cushion, which currently is without an identity. I suspect his competitors are going to want voodoo dolls of their own sometime. Feathers are flying as Katherine empties out her down comforter. She jokes that she's trying to take out all the contestants with feather allergies. I knew I should keep an eye on her. Bradley is also playing with a comforter. Stacey doesn't know how to use the industrial sewing machines, and Keith is unsympathetic. Stacey switches to hand-sewing. That might work out tactically, but strategically, she better learn how to use the machines.

Two hours short of the deadline, Tim walks through. I think that's leaving the advice stage a little late in the game; there's not a lot of time left to fix things. He's concerned about Vincent's pockets, but Vincent likes the way they work with this basket that he's set on using as a hat. Jeffrey interviews that Vincent is clearly nuts, and I think Jeffrey can be counted on to know what nuts is. Tim comments that the basket doesn't work on its own as a hat, so Vincent is inspired to dress it up with some chain. Tim decides to shut up.

Jeffrey wants to be both different and better than the others. He finished a jacket and now he's working on a dress. Tim thinks the pieces are in competition with each other.

Stacey is piecing things together for Tim so he can see how it fits together. He questions some metal bits on the hem. Stacey tries incorporating them into the sash. She thinks the effect is "quite special." In the "let's not insult anyone" sense of "special," perhaps. Tim warns her about using stuff just to use stuff.

Tim is concerned that Keith's dress from a bed sheet isn't showing enough innovation. Keith interviews that he isn't impressed with the style of some of the judges, and maybe he'll just ignore their criticism. Tim asks him to at least try mixing it up.

Tim urges everyone to finish the bulk of their work tonight and leaves them to it.

Jeffrey is not impressed with the work of his competitors. Robert thinks Jeffrey is trying to do too much, not editing to focus on his strengths. Stacey would like to add another layer to her skirt, but mostly she needs to have a finished garment that she can send down the runway. And time is up.

Laura interviews that this was the first grueling day in the workshop, and they were all ready to lie down. So, when they get back to their apartments -- everything is still trashed. No shoemakers' elves for them. Everyone is dismayed, but there's nothing they can do but grin and bear it. And then go to sleep wherever they can.

Morning. Everyone gets ready. Jeffrey is sure he's safe; he's looking forward to meeting his model. Vincent is confident in his style. They head out to the workroom. Keith tried out some things, as Tim suggested, but after sleeping on it, he wants to take all the extra stuff off. So he does. Malan compliments Laura's look, referencing Clara Bow. Laura interviews that her style is very New York. Robert advises Angela to hot-glue something. Stacey still needs to finish her dress. Kayne and Michael agree that coffee is gross, but Kayne thinks Michael's coffee-filter dress "looks soft and like it would smell like Febreeze." That's just too good to be a product placement.

Tim arrives to give them the plan for the morning. They're three hours from showtime; they have to go to hair and makeup. The models are coming in now and will find their designers. Which they do. Fittings start. Bonnie is having bodice problems; her model proposes lots of double-sided tape. Modeling is so glamorous. Stacey's skirt is way too sheer, so she makes some lacy underwear to add modesty. Vincent is going gaga over his hat. Bonnie thinks his model looks like she's going to be "beamed up to Mars." If only the chains were made of tinfoil. Uli interviews that she wanted to say something about the hat just ruining the look, but Vincent was so proud of it. He contemplates adding more crap to the hat.

Makeup. Hair. Fitting. Walking. Tim summons everyone to the runway show. Heidi greets the designers. She's wearing a low-belted tunic dress and I'm guessing thigh-high boots, since it's leather all the way up the leg and I don't see a break at the ankle, but you can't see the boot tops, either, so it looks like pants. Heidi does the usual spiel about in and out, and describes the challenge again. She introduces the judges: Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and guest judge Kate Spade. And on with the show.

The judges tally their scores. Alison, Bradley, Angela, Kayne, Malan, Bonnie, Katherine, Michael and Uli are all safe. That leaves Jeffrey, Keith, Laura, Robert, Stacey and Vincent.

Kate asks Laura about her materials. Laura confirms that the cuffs and collar come from a rug. Michael thinks it's chic and wearable, if a bit noisy. Laura agrees that it's not for a wallflower. Note to future contestants: See how she didn't apologize for it being noisy? That's how you turn a possible negative into a positive.

Heidi tells Vincent that she would have done it without the hat, and asks to see the look without it. Kate says the hat distracted her from the dress, but now she can see how cute it is. Nina asks if he thought using the hat was innovative. Vincent says his style is clean and classic, but he wanted to keep things interesting. Michael thinks the hat makes her look drunk. Vincent "confesses" that he was questioning the hat and babbles a bit. They mercifully move on.

Heidi asks Keith what his dress is made of. Keith describes it as bed sheets and home accessories. Clearly anticipating some innovation criticism, he says his laundry bag was full of stuff, but then he pictured two images: Gone with the Wind and the Carol Burnett show. If you haven't seen them, in GWTW, an impoverished Scarlett needs a killer dress, so she pulls down some curtains for material. In the classic spoof, Carol Burnett does the same thing -- but she also wears the curtain rod across her shoulders, like the world's biggest shoulder pads. Nina asks about the buttons in the back; she thinks they're cute. I think they look rather haphazardly squeezed in. Kate and Michael agree that it's very creditable and not at all gimmicky.

Nina asks Stacey about her aesthetic. She likes things to be sensual, and so that's why she did the panty. There's a debate about whether see-through clothing is really wearable. Michael thinks she ran out of time. Kate likes the idea, but not the messy execution. Michael finds the top unflattering.

Heidi asks Robert about his materials. Up close, the skirt has a subtle print. He thinks it's like Maria from West Side Story, if she had metallic wall hangings. The judges all admire the back. Heidi likes that it doesn't need any jewelry. Michael says it's charming.

Heidi asks Jeffrey to describe his look. He's not sure where to start and the judges all immediately comment on how much is going on. Michael mentions the feathers, and Jeffrey says he likes shows from when he was a production designer. The judges found them distracting. Jeffrey started out in the business doing jackets, so he did that, and then he wanted to do a dress. Kate thinks the two together were messy. Heidi doesn't like the various hem lengths. Jeffrey mentions being inspired by animation, which is why he has his model's hair in a mohawk, and I don't know what that has to do with hem lengths. Michael warns him about doing too much.

Heidi sends them away so the judges can talk. She likes Keith and Robert. They like the modernity and the fit of Robert's frock. They love Keith's presentation with the Afro and the beads. Laura's was very thoughtful and very her. Vincent was torpedoed by the hat. Kate likes Stacey's idea but not the execution. Nina doesn't see much innovation. Michael doesn't like the panty. As for Jeffrey, Heidi had a Santino flashback with all the deconstruction and shredding. She and Kate don't like the long-in-front, short-in-back thing. Kate thought it was just messy.

The designers come back in. Laura is safe. Keith gets the win, and immunity. He and Laura look friendly backstage. He interviews that he won with the first dress he ever made, and solicits props. Robert is safe. Vincent is safe. Jeffrey is having a reality check. Heidi criticizes him for trying to do too much. Stacey didn't have either innovation or execution. Jeffrey is safe; Stacey is out.

Stacey feels she was true to herself. She doesn't know what is next, but every experience leads to the next. Yeah, that would be the basic nature of time.

Was Stacey the right choice to be auf'd? Doing too much is better than not being able to pull anything off, so Jeffrey deserved to stay. I'm not entirely sure why Vincent was safe. Without the hat, his dress was cute but not all that impressive. He really needs to take a deep breath and focus. But without technical experience, Stacey was doomed. Sooner is less painful than later.

Was Keith the right choice for the win? I like the dress, but I suspect the win had more to do with presentation than design or execution. I'm not too bothered by the bed sheet business; almost everybody used some kind of bedding or upholstery as their main fabric source. I just don't think he's that far ahead of everyone else. In addition to the top three, I liked Kayne, Michael and Uli. Michael was clearly the winner in the innovation category (dude: coffee filters), and Kayne and Uli had great movement. I have to rule out Kayne because of that weird loop thing sticking up from the back. Michael's was interesting but not necessarily flattering to the body. I don't mind Uli's strong color palette, but that's a matter of taste. I might have given the win to Robert if I had been in the mood for cute; otherwise, I'd probably give it to Laura for the clean lines. But Keith is a creditable winner. I just think it needs a little more "wow" to merit immunity.

So, how long with the apartments stay trashed? If they have to live like that and compete in a reality show, it's just too cruel. You can't get good creative work out of people living in those conditions. Of course, now the producers don't have to offer immunity; the designers will all compete their little hearts out for housewares. But I expect to see things back to normal, or at least habitable, within the next few days.

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