Friday, August 25, 2006


Mama Said Knock It Off

Previous on Project Runway: Heidi threatened to get tough. Robert was forced work with trash. Laura saw some "serious ugly" in the workroom. Alison's design turned on her. Runway show! Michael got back-to-back wins. Alison got the boot.

Morning at the apartments. Jeffrey talks about the disappointment of having Alison go, since she was his best friend on the show. While he doesn't want to "harp" on Angela any more, she should have been in the bottom three. What, instead of Alison and her hair-bow of utter wrongness? Not likely. "Whatever," Jeffrey continues. "It's not summer camp." It's not even high school, dude. Talk about your eternal teenagers.

Robert tells Michael to take his time getting ready; a winner should get the chance to indulge himself. Michael interviews that he was so pleased with his second win, "I actually grinned myself a headache." Love him! But now I'm afraid that means he won't win, because it would be just perfect if he won and how often does perfect happen?

Over at Parsons, Heidi comes out in jeans, a decent tank top and the velvet bag of impending randomness. The challenge: designing for the "everyday woman." She promises more, but first it's model time. Michael interviews that they knew right away from the silhouettes that these weren't their usual models. The models begin to appear from behind the screen and the designers all start to freak out. Angela finally gives it away when she squeals, "Mom!" She interviews that she first thought these were just random people, but then she saw her mother and just lost it. Robert is astonished to see his sister, who was flown in from England. "Does she know the kind of humiliation she's going to be in for?" Apparently not. But it's nice to see that someone understands how this stuff works. Laura interviews that after all the stress, she "just started to cry" when she saw her mom. Jeff points out his mother and Laura teases, "I thought she'd have a Mohawk."

Heidi has the ladies introduce themselves. They are:

Heidi breaks the news that these are their muses and models. But of course, there's another twist: they can't pick their own relatives. Heidi kicks off the choosing with last week's winner.

Wait a second. They bring out all these nice relatives and everyone's happy and laughing, and then we have to revert to the schoolyard kickball team selection? Talk about your killjoys. Geez, just randomly assign models to designers. It's okay to pick on the designers, but leave the innocent bystanders alone.

Jeffrey interviews that he wound up with Angela's mom because "God got drunk today." Back at the runway, Angela looks worried, but Jeffrey smilingly tells Darlene, "We're going to have fun." Heidi will let Tim fill them in on the challenge details and marches the ladies out.

Over in the workroom, the ladies come in to find the designers. Hugs all around. Uli interviews that she was crying because she hadn't seen her mother in a year. Michael shows off his entries on the wall of fame; Pamela likes the Pam Grier hot pink. Michael interviews that his mom has always believed in him and 'fesses up to being a mama's boy. Kayne takes pictures.

Tim enters to announce a surprise: Their guest judge is hosting an event to which they have all been invited. And they're leaving now. Everyone strolls through New York to The Tavern on the Green. They're met by Michael Kors and his female doppelganger, mother Joan. She'll be the guest judge this time out. Michael interviews that there's a strong resemblance in the family Kors, and he thinks the other Michael is also a mama's boy. The other Michael talks about how his mom has been an influence on him, so he's interested to see what the designers will do.

Then there's champagne, which is good, because then there's the embarrassing childhood pictures. Kayne was a big kid. He's also a natural brunet. "Sometimes the past needs to say in the past," he says. He interviews that he had told everyone that he was a "fat, funny kid," so his mom brought "fat and funny" pictures of him. Robert marvels over how much weight Kayne lost -- 110 pounds. That's like a whole cheerleader. Pamela has an "adorable" school picture of Michael. Pam shows off one of Jeffrey's high school pictures; he has braces and bleached hair. Pam interviews that Jeffrey is a recovering alcoholic who has found success, so she's full of momly pride. Laura shows Michael and Joan pictures of clothes that her mother made for her. She was an only child; Michael was an only child, too. He got to accompany his mother when she went shopping, which is how he learned about style. He tells his mother (in tones of awe) that Laura has five children, and Laura adds that she's working on the sixth. Cut to Lorraine's face of gaping astonishment. Laura interviews that she discovered the pregnancy while filming, so she hadn't told her mother -- or even her husband. Lorraine interviews that she was shocked, "but that's Laura. You never know what tomorrow's going to bring, and that's been the delightful part of living with her."

Tim gathers up the designers and family. Hey, where's Tim's mom? How come he doesn't get a mom? It's time to go back to Parsons. Vincent interviews that this will be fun but nonetheless a "make you or break you challenge." There will be some "hidden things" involved. I suspect most challenges are like that for Vincent. Tim explains that their outfits must work for their models' everyday lives, but be fashion-forward and reflect their design sensibilities. They'll have 30 minutes for consultation and sketching, and one day to work. The designers all groan. I'm not too happy, either. Not only are their models not in the usual size, most of them aren't a standard size with nice, regular ratios of measurements. The only way for them to have decently fitting clothes is to give the designers time to fit them. It's okay to make the designers jump through hoops, but not at the expense of their perfectly nice relatives who have been kind enough to accomodate the producers in their dastardly schemes. Try getting any family or friends to come on your show ever again, you finks.

Robert consults with Patricia; he likes the vents on her skirt and wants to do them on the jacket, too. He interviews that "everyone is a little freaked out" because they can't just work from a dress form. Patricia says she likes the kimono; Robert says, "I do, too, then." He interviews that he told Patricia about his whole "boring" rut, so he's going to dress her in "head-to-toe zebra print with a sign that says Stop Picking on Robert," if that's okay with her.

Angela and Lorraine work on a couple of ideas. Angela interviews that Lorraine wants "casual elegance" in the style of Audrey Hepburn, and of course Angela has just done an Audrey Hepburn dress. Lorraine says she's open to pretty much anything. She interviews that she'd naturally like Laura to win, but she's not going to get in the way of Angela winning.

Kayne wants to make a cute top that doesn't look like it's off the rack. He interviews that he picked Michael's mom because she had the brightest outfit and rhinestones on her shoes, "so I know already that we're going to get along great." He asks Pamela if a certain kind of waistband would be "fun." In more interview, he talks about being 310 pounds and not finding any clothes that looked good. Pamela "isn't a size 2 or even a size 10, but she's gorgeous." They have a meeting of minds about rhinestones.

Vincent compliments Heidi's proportions. He interviews that she's a stylish woman with a "European air about her." Probaby because she's from Europe. Heidi points to a sketch and says she would wear it. Vincent interviews that he came up with a nice, modern dress and suggested black and tan for colors. Heidi nods that she likes it, and Vincent is all set. That probably didn't take long at all. Heidi gives him a hug and thumbs up. Vincent interviews that they're coping with the language barrier just fine.

Laura says something reassuring to Pam. She has just gotten back from a cruise and hasn't eaten for four days. I suspect that's a response to overindulgence at the buffet table, rather than the consequence of some strange form of landsickness. Laura tells her, "I love the whole cruise ship thing." She interviews that they decided on a cruisewear outfit with Pam's favorite colors. They wonder what is happening the next table over with Jeffrey and Darlene. Pam just hopes "he keeps her in mind."

Jeffrey is getting Darlene's measurements. She warns him that he'll want to add a little, but he needs the true measurement. Darlene interviews that she's traditional while her designer "stands out in a crowd," so they're quite the mix. Darlene likes the "simplicity of a long dress" and colors like "deep purples or deep greens." Jeffrey says they'll use darker colors, which is not exactly what Darlene was talking about, but since she's doing the cliché of a long dress, I can see how he'd assume she's thinking of dark colors. Jeffrey has a sketch of a V-neck bodice and a long skirt joined by a waist made of vertical strips. This is exactly how I would see his aesthetic translating to a plus-sized dress -- the waist would allow him to shape the dress. Then have the bodice in a lighter or brighter color to bring the attention to the face, and have the waist and probably the skirt in a darker color. Jeffrey interviews that this challenge is "so far out of my realm." Yeah, but isn't that the whole point of the show? Darlene suggests a jacket, but Jeffrey isn't up for it with a one-day challenge. Jeffrey recounts the conversation in an interview; I'm not sure why the duplication is necessary. Darlene asks him what his ideas are, and Jeffrey's stumped. Tim enters to fetch the designers. Jeffrey warns Darlene that a day goes by really quickly. She sort of wants "to cry" because she's afraid she's "limiting" him. No crying necessary; limitations are good for Jeffrey. Seriously, I think creativity often functions best in response to constraints. Jeffrey voiceovers that he's at a loss, but he hopes to come up with something good enough.

Shopping at Mood time! Kayne recaps the challenge in an interview. Robert interviews how he found out Patricia's favorite colors were red and black, and now he's in the boring column again. Red is boring? Uli goes for prints again. Jeffrey describes how he couldn't find any "dark green" but he did find a beautiful periwinkle to accent his navy and purple choices. I love periwinkle.

Back at Parsons, work begins. Laura interviews that a lot of designers are "stumped," especially the ones with plus-sized models. They've never done anything like this (which I find a real gap in fashion education, frankly) and have no idea what to do other than a "muumuu dress with a little colorful jacket on top." Jeffrey tells Robert that he thinks he'll be going home. Robert can't understand the proportions "on this kind of body" and Jeffrey can't either. Robert is terrified; he has no idea what to do. Vincent interviews that some designers are uncomfortable designing for women who don't have perfect figures, but you have to be able to design for real women because they wear the clothes. So Vincent is the voice of reason today. Models? Vastly outnumbered by non-models.

Michael describes his project as a "sexy shirtdress." He decides to make it reversible, since that would be "great for the everyday woman." I suspect he's just trying to make the challenge more interesting, because Michael could probably whip up a nice shirtdress by tea time. Workety work. Kayne holds up some pants and pronounces them "damn cute." More workety work.

In the afternoon, Tim sends in the models to check on the progress. Kayne shows a swirly coral fabric to Pamela. Judy likes Uli's choice of print. Uli interviews that she wanted something "flowy" and she's adding stripes to elongate the figure. Vincent tells Heidi to stay in front of the mirror. "Yes, I stay," she agrees. Vincent interviews that he's sure he'll make her look good, and he thinks Heidi knows that, too, because "she's very comfortable with me. In spirit." Uh, how about in person? He tries to get confirmation about something and she says she doesn't understand anything. Ha! But they do seem to be working well together.

Lorraine tells Angela that one of the fabric choices is too colorful for her taste, so Angela takes it off the table. Tim comments, "You're lucky to have a client with a point of view" but warns that Angela still needs to be Angela. Aw, Tim, how can you do that to Lorraine? She interviews that she might have intimidated Angela because she has "strong opinions."

Tim checks with Darlene about the project. He asks if she has any concerns; she's worried that the colors are "matronly." Colors are not matronly; designs are matronly. Darlene says she has never worn blue, let alone "powder blue." Seriously? Blue would look great with her coloring. Against fair skin, black is much harsher than navy. People can be weird about color. Tim asks if she has mentioned this to Jeffrey, but she says he doesn't know. But he's about to find out. Jeffrey comes over and Tim confesses that he took the opportunity to grill Darlene while Jeffrey was away. He reports the concerns about the colors. Darlene would kinda not like to be here right now. Jeffrey reviews that Darlene mentioned "dark purple and dark green, which didn't look good together." Jeffrey interviews that here half the day has past and Darlene is telling Tim that she doesn't like the dress. Well, she doesn't like the colors; we haven't seen a dress yet. Tim tells him to carry on.

Jeffrey interviews that Darlene was "setting him up." Well, no. She described what she liked, you picked something a little different, she's not sure she likes it. Now it's your job to convince her that the dress will look good, regardless. But instead, Jeffrey informs her that he's making the dress he's making; he hopes she likes it, but if she doesn't, he can't do anything about it. Darlene asks, "Well, then, if it's not what I expected, why am I being treated like this?" Because you haven't slapped him silly. He thinks he can push you around, so he will. Jeffrey replies that he doesn't even want her standing at his table. Darlene asks if he treats everyone this way. Jeffrey asks, "How am I treating you? You explain to me how I'm treating you." At the moment, you're treating her like a five-year-old. Darlene says she would have answered the same way if Jeffrey had been present. She tries to make nice, saying that she was excited to be working with him and he's very talented, but she knows what works for her. Jeffrey says maybe other people see beauty in her that she doesn't (good!) because of her insecurites (bad!). Darlene doesn't think having her own taste makes her insecure. Jeffrey excuses himself, which is the best idea he's had all day. Throughout, there are shots of other people reacting to the gathering storm -- in particular, Pam (who's working at the next table with Laura) and Angela. Jeffrey interviews that he "just let her know" that he didn't appreciate how she put him in a "really horrible situation." What horrible situation? She's not thrilled with the color choices. Even people who know what they want sometimes turn out not to want it when they see it. It happens to designers around the world every day. Suck it up, crybaby.

In the sewing room, he announces, "That crazy bitch is in there telling Tim, 'I don't like the colors.' It's very apropos -- I don't get along with her daughter, why should I get along with her?" Indeed, why should Jeffrey be put to the trouble of getting along with anyone? Let's just stick him on a deserted island somewhere so nobody will bug him, poor put-upon thing.

Off in another room with comfortable seating, Angela sits with Darlene, who is rather at a loss with all the drama. When she says, "Nobody talks to me that way," it's with a bewildered tone, not an "I'm not going to stand for it" tone. Angela tells her not to let the bastard grind her down. Darlene doesn't know how she's going to face him again -- "There's just so much hate in his voice." Okay, yeah, that would be disconcerting. It's one thing to have a disagreement; it's another to have a chinless, tattooed, faux-punk stranger actually hate you. I almost hope Angela wins another challenge over Jeffrey, just to see if he'll actually explode from sheer frustrated rage. Almost. The odds of Angela making something that I think deserves the win are pretty small, and shrinking weekly. Angela starts to rub her mom's back as Darlene laments how everything was so great until this happened. Angela assures Darlene that she'll still have a great experience. Angela interviews that this "is the absolute worst thing that could have happened." Well, I can think of worse things, but they tend to involve permanent physical scarring. On the general scale of human interactions, this is pretty sucky, all right. Angela's sense of being the underdog appears when she states that Jeffrey is the one being an ass, not her or her mom.

Vincent tells Jeffrey that Darlene is crying; he's surprised to hear it. "You broke her down, what can I tell you," says Vincent. Jeffrey protests that he was "just being honest." Like I'm sure you'd have no problem hearing an honest assessment of your behavior, wiener. "Just being honest" is just a weaselly excuse for making someone feel bad. Jeffrey continues with the self-justification: "Why should I be nice? You're not being nice." Oh, stop. She tried to be nice. In fact, you tried to be nice, too, so you clearly recognize the utility of it. Maybe if you practice more, you might actually pull it off some time. Vincent interviews that Jeffrey is "crybabying" about Darlene and now he's showing his true colors. He advises Jeffrey to try to work it out. What's going on here? Jeffrey has gone off the paranoid deep end and Vincent is the calm voice of reason. It's like there's only a certain amount of bonkers to go around and Jeffrey is hoarding it all.

Poor Pam has to explain to Darlene that "Jeffrey can get very emotional." I have the feeling she's had some practice with this speech. She rationalizes that he's under a lot of stress, because this means a lot to him. That's nice, but why should Darlene care? It means a lot to everyone else, but they're not fighting with their clients. Pam advises Darlene to just try to get through it, for her own sake and for Jeffrey's. Darlene sighs, possibly because she feels really sorry for Pam now. I know I do. Bad enough that your child (no matter what age) behaves badly, but she essentially admits that there's nothing she can do to straighten him out and so they'll all just have to put up with him. I suppose it's possible that she could straighten him out but she just doesn't want to, but I'm not getting that impression. I suspect tough love is not her strong suit.

Pam goes into the workroom to give Jeffrey a hug. He asks how it went, and she tearfully tells him it will be okay. He tells her not to cry, and she leaves while he gets back to work. Jeffrey interviews that "it breaks my heart" because his mom just can't believe that he was a gutter-dwelling, suicidal junkie, and now he's turned his life around through fashion. He thinks his mom would find it a waste if he didn't make it to the end of the show. I think his mom finds it a waste that he's picking fights with mild little Midwestern women instead of acting like a professional.

Angela recaps in an interview that Jeffrey was "a complete ass" to her mom, who was crying, and it was all just "awful." Now it's Angela and Jeffrey side-by-side in the sewing room. Angela starts out by saying she doesn't know exactly what happened. Jeffrey claims that Darlene went "out of her way" to make him look bad. She answered a direct question! She'd have to go out of her way not to make him look bad. Angela doubts Jeffrey's view of events. She doesn't even know how to respond to him. Jeffrey shrugs that Darlene's just an unhappy customer. Whom he made unhappy, mostly by fighting with her. The whole issue of his color choices has been completely obscured by his behavior toward her, which is probably just how Jeffrey likes it.

The clock is ticking; one hour left. Kayne interviews that he still has a lot of work to do. Sewing, sewing, sewing. Uli jinxes Michael by claiming he's going to go three in a row. He'd faint if that happened. At the end of the day, Jeffrey is pleased. He didn't want to "take a big square piece of chiffon and cut a hole in it and call it a poncho, like most people did." Cut to Robert working on a red top. He's going to have to skip some of the details he wanted. He interviews that he's not happy with it, but it's what Patricia wanted. He hopes it represents him. Robert, if you have to hope, that's not a good sign.

Back at the apartment, Uli breaks out some wine. Laura is surprised; she's tired and going to bed. "You're pregnant," responds Uli. "Oh, shut up," Laura tells her. She interviews, "I don't think anybody's really ready for their sixth child. But five, six, seven -- it doesn't make that big of a difference. I'll just throw it on the pile with the other ones." That? Is classic. She tells her roomies she's so tired of hearing about her pregnancy. Imagine how tired she'll be eight months from now.

Michael interviews that he's excited to see all the moms "bopping" down the runway. At Parsons, Tim gives them 1.5 hours for fittings, hair and makeup. They usually get at least 2 hours. If any challenge merited more time, rather than less, this is it. I don't know what's up with these people. Are they trying to make these poor women look bad?

The ladies arrive and there's more hugging. Patricia is pleased with Robert's work. Robert interviews that the whole situation of using relatives for models is "enough of a mind<bleep> to drive anyone crazy." Jeffrey has Darlene go change behind a screen; Angela helps her. Jeffrey lurks nearby and overhears Angela telling her mom to speak up to the judges if she doesn't like the outfit. Shut up, Angela; Darlene has been able to express herself just fine without your "help." Darlene emerges and Jeffrey gets ready to fit the shoulders. He's acting like they never fought. He interviews that he would be okay with getting booted on this challenge because it's not something he could be expected to be ready for. See, it wouldn't be his fault he got booted; it would be the challenge's fault. As long as nothing is Jeffrey's fault, he's okay with it. Vincent is using pigdin English with Heidi, but at least he's not speaking slowly and loudly.

In hair and makeup, Kayne wants Pamela to have a nice "beauty day." But in an hour. Judy interviews that every girl dreams of walking the runway. "Why not do it right? I'm gonna learn to catwalk like the models do, and I'm going to embarrass Kayne." You go, girl! Angela repeats "casual elegance" to Lorraine while putting the outfit together as Laura watches. Laura interviews that Angela's work is "inconsistent." She finds the outfit too basic and the styling too eclectic, "not in a good way." Tim summons everyone to the runway.

I don't hate Heidi's dress, but she has room for another two or three bumps under there. She recaps the challenge and introduces the judges: Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, Joan Kors. Everyone is on their best behavior. No immunity for this challenge. I guess we're getting down to the nitty gritty now.


Heidi calls Michael, Robert, Uli, Vincent and Kayne; Laura, Angela and Jeffrey leave the runway. On my second viewing, I realized they were grouping it so both the designer and the relative of each model were present.

Michael goes first. Teresa is a business consultant, so he thought of a shirtdress for a day-to-night look. He mentions that the dress is reversible. Heidi comments that she thought it was too conservative at first, but now that she knows it's reversible, she likes it. Which I get, but then why shouldn't a reversible dress be cute regardless? Joan likes the top and the collar and cuffs. Michael likes the concept but the belt is "matronly."

Uli describes how Judy loves color, so they used her favorites. She used the stripes to elongate the look. Michael finds it both understated and chic; the fabric hangs well. Nina asks Judy if she would wear it; Judy calls it a dinner outfit. Joan loves it. Nina thinks that it looks like Uli's work but it suits Judy.

Kayne wanted to give Pamela separates, but something she could still have fun with. Nina doesn't like the matchiness of the pearl necklace. This doesn't look like a pearl necklace outfit. Michael would like to see a little more skin at the neckline.

Vincent reports that he was honored to work with Uli's mom. The Heidis have a brief conversation in German. Judge Heidi reports that Model Heidi loves the dress. Joan loves it, too; it's flattering. Michael thinks it's a chic dress for an "adult." Nina agrees and Vincent thanks the judges. Model Heidi pats his arm.

Robert relates that Patricia's favorite colors are red and black. Nina thinks a tank dress is the easy way to go. And why not prints? Heidi also would like a print. Nina protests that Robert is a designer and he should have risen to the challenge. Robert responds that he thought it was about making the client comfortable. (Apparently, she would have refused to walk if she didn't like it, which kind of constrained Robert.) Patricia speaks up for him -- she loves the color because it reminds her of a favorite dress from her childhood. Heidi thinks Robert is responsible for knowing better. Michael calls the outfit a "great basic" but it needs more personality to suit Patricia.

Angela references "casual elegance" and "Audrey Hepburn" once again. Nina finds it a little too young. Joan doesn't see Audrey Hepburn. Michael thinks Audrey Hepburn had a crisper look and "this is more Stevie Nicks in black." With fewer scarves, though.

Laura mentions that Pam and her husband "like to take cruises," so she was going for a little sailor motif. Heidi likes the construction but finds it unflattering. She's too short on top and too long on bottom. Joan asks if Pam would wear it on a cruise; Pam would wear it to dinner. I don't think this is actual cruise wear but cruise-inspired wear. Still, a short-sleeved shirt or a long-sleeved T-shirt might have been easier to fit. Michael thinks all the sailor details are aging.

Jeffrey relates how Darlene works at the Salvation Army, but it's actually the Red Cross. He explains that she wore layered looks and talked about body consciousness. She's certainly looking conscious now. It looks like she has a blue collared shirt under the dress, which is mostly navy except for a patch of medium blue and a long stripe of purple down the front, and then there's the black vest on top. That's layers taken to an extreme. Heidi asks for Darlene's opinion. She explains that she and Jeffrey are "obviously different and there was a lot lost in translation." She finds it "matronly." Jeffrey protests that he really wanted to make her happy while still putting his stamp on it. Michael is not convinced that Jeffrey was really trying; the tension between their two viewpoints resulted in a "confused outfit." Heidi doesn't love it but she sees Jeffrey's "point of view" in it. She asks Angela for an opinion; Angela finds it unattractive and "embarrassing." I get where she's coming from, but that still seemed graceless. I mean, her mom's right there and she's talking about her appearance. She might want to spare a thought for Darlene's feelings.

Heidi sends them all away. She asks the judges, "Who do we love?" Uli gets some love. Michael and Heidi compliment her skill with prints. Michael is again cited for thinking about things. Nina also clicked to the "reversible" explanation. Michael calls it a "great-looking dress." Heidi compliments Vincent of a "chic" dress. Michael found it "classic" but still "spirited." The Kors agree that it was very appropriate.

Now, who do they hate? Heidi volunteers Angela. They all agree the outfit didn't suit Lorraine at all. Kayne gets smacked for making Pamela look older. The Kors both want a longer, narrower pant. The Kors both need to watch a few episodes of What Not to Wear; straight leg pants are the way to go. But short pants shouldn't hit at the widest part of the calf, so these should be a bit longer. And while I think Joan is great, Stacy and Clinton would have been marvelous judges for this challenge. I bet they could have sold the judges' conference on pay-per-view. If only they were on related networks, maybe we could get a WNTW special with them rating all the runways. Michael snores over Robert's outfit. Just no design. The silhouette was good, but still boring. Nina thinks Laura's outfit was too stiff for a cruise. Michael didn't find it glamorous, but it was perfectly tailored. Heidi brings up Jeffrey and Joan says, "So much fabric." Michael thinks the communication gap threw Jeffrey off his game. He calls it "Commes des Garcons goes to the Amish country."

The designers return. Michael has immunity; he's safe. Laura is safe. The win goes to Vincent for a chic outfit. Say what? Vincent interviews that he's happy; it feels like it did when he was in the fashion business in New York. That would be the experience that nearly killed him? Michael congratulates him on making the "Wall of Fame." Vincent is happy he can do this again, under a different set of guidelines. It's only one win, Vincent; don't call it a comeback. Uli is safe. Kayne is safe. Angela is safe. It's just Robert and Jeffrey now. I begin to sense that Robert is doomed. Heidi scolds Jeffrey for doing it his way when he got "mixed messages" from his client, and his outfit was a failure. Nobody liked it. Robert was boring again. No fashion, no point of view. Robert is out. Jeffrey is safe. He pats Robert on the shoulder as he leaves. Heidi looks a little sad after delivering her auf wiedersehn.

Lots of hugs. Robert interviews that he has learned a lot about himself and his limitations. Kayne tells Robert, "You brighten up my sunshine every morning." Jeffrey weeps while his mom comforts him. "They're not all good people and Robert is a good person," he explains. D'ya think this will inspire him to try to be a good person? Me neither. Tim expresses his regrets and sends Robert to clear out his work space. Everyone claps as he leaves. I suspect part of it is that the moms were there, so they were being a little nicer than usual, but I also think they genuinely like Robert. He interviews that he'll remember the experience fondly. He can't imagine anything will ever be like it. For his sake, I hope not. He's a good designer, but he just doesn't flourish in this kind of environment. I'm sure Barbie will be delighted to have him back.

Okay, I can deal with Vincent staying for another week because that was actually a decent outfit. But winning? Uli totally rocked it. Vincent had a chic, elegant model; he was going to succeed just by not screwing up. And he didn't screw up. But his dress, while good, was not great. The collar was too much and I didn't love the color; the rest of the dress was very basic and even boring. Also, Heidi's shoulders looked a little narrow. Meanwhile, Judy is a plus-sized woman who needs some help to look great. Uli's outfit inspired her to have fun on the runway. Granted, there are similar outfits in plus-sized stores, but this is definitely at the top of that class. And it just means that Uli was able to come up with the same good ideas as people who design for plus-sized women, without having had that experience.

For the same bad ideas of people who design for plus-sized women, see Robert's and Jeffrey's outfits. The problem with most plus-sized clothes is what I call the Undifferentiated Blob effect: if you put a large woman in a shapeless, solid-colored dress, she turns into a shapeless, undifferentiated blob. And it's not slimming to look like a big blob, even in a dark color. A big black blob is still a big blob. So Robert's dress was a big design dud. He would have been better off with the zebra print, poor thing. He at least tried something stylish with the jacket, but the scarf pieces should have been in a print or different color; the jacket was a smaller blob, but it was still an undifferentiated blob. Jeffrey's dress had a few (very few) details, but it was also basically shapeless. I'm a little disappointed that Michael and Laura both claimed the slimmer models; it would be interesting to see what they could come up with, given their construction skills. And I think the results overall would have been far more appealing if the designers had been given another day, or even half-day.

This started out looking like a really fun episode, and then it turned very sour. A lot of that is Jeffrey's fault, of course, but even the basic challenge parameters -- the modeling ambush, the picking of models, the lack of time -- were thoughtless and careless of the relatives. The problem is that they wanted to present the family members as guests, but they didn't want to make it too likely that the guests would be happy with their outfits. Once again, the tension of competing interests resulted in a confused mess.

And speaking of Jeffrey -- the good news is, no more speculation about the dastardly villain this season. The bad news is, Jeffrey. He's not entirely without merit, since he started out well. But once Darlene disagreed with him, it was all downhill. I can see how people might get the sense that Darlene was passive/aggressive, since I got that vibe as well, but when I went back and looked at it, she was mostly pretty straight with him, particularly when they really got into it. She has a meek little voice, but she spoke up for herself pretty cogently, so I don't think she was playing the victim card with him. And yes, she seemed rather self-pitying when Angela was comforting her, but you get to play the victim card sometimes if you're actually a victim. And that was the limit of her pity party. She cooperated with Jeffrey during the fitting, she looked happy and did her best during the runway show, and she framed their disagreement in tactful terms. The only times she "harmed" Jeffrey, she was answering direct questions about her opinion of his work. So I'm okay with Darlene. I'm less pleased with Angela's glumpish resentment; it was more sullen teenager than outraged adult. As for Jeffrey, well, I think it would have been nice to see him booted for picking a fight with a client. Not that it would teach him anything, because anything he doesn't like is always going to be someone else's fault, but it would have been appropriate. You can get away with being "difficult to work with" in the fashion industry if you're a genius -- for a while anyway. Jeffrey's no genius, and I doubt he'll ever be one. Geniuses develop their gifts by learning from their failures, and Jeffrey refuses to admit he has any.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Color Primary

Previously on Design Star: Teran's presentation was limp and he had to leave the house. Temple got to boss the others around. Donna turned into a zombie and got the boot.

Morning in the Big Apple. Tym applies hairspray to his patented mop o' curls while David laughs. I hope that's a tribute to the recently departed Hairspray Queen and not a normal part of his daily routine. Temple and Alice are applying makeup at the same big mirror when David strolls in. Temple announces that it's like Three's Company: she's Chrissie (of course she is), Alice is Janet and David is Jack. The others don't seem all that enthused about reinventing that wheel.

Back in the guy's room, David asks Tym how he feels about being in the final four. (We just miss the producer suggesting, "Hey, guys, why don't you have a candid conversation about being in the final four?") Tym thinks it's "wild" and David thinks it feels good. David interviews that this is what he wanted. "The better the competition, the better I get," he brags. I love the way he gets all boastful and yet doesn't come across as a total jerk. The trick is to be a fundamentally nice person underneath it all. That's the part that so many reality show contestants miss.

Over in the Scary Lime room, Temple and Alice are having their own candid conversation. Alice asks Temple if she's surprised to still be in it, and Temple agrees. Alice remembers feeling how everyone had so much talent when she met them. There was Donna with her 20 years of experience, while she has 4 years and Temple has 0 years. So the odds were against them. Temple's contribution: "I agree that my designs have been better, but at the same time I just felt bad, in a way." I have a feeling we missed some of that conversation. I hope so. Temple interviews that she thinks about one challenge at a time, because that's what you're supposed to say.

Clive arrives and summons the designers. In the family room are four paint cans on stools. Clive announces the challenge: They will be designing studio apartments. All the living spaces (except for the bathroom) will be in one room. It would be cool if they had those old apartments that have the giant bathtub in the middle of the kitchen, like Michelle Pfieffer got in Married to the Mob. Talk about your decorating challenge.

Since we can't just have the designers doing whatever they want without any interference, Clive announces that they will each be working with a color, which they can feature however and in whatever shade they want. They open the cans to find their colors. Temple has yellow, David red, Tym green and Alice blue. Alice is happy with her color. They have $2000, 24 hours and the assistance of a professional carpenter. Yes, in time-tested reality show fashion, those who have demonstrated that they don't need the services of a carpenter are now provided with the services of a carpenter.

They all head down to the workroom to sketch. Alice reports that she's "flattered and excited" to have gotten this far. Since it's a talented bunch, she's looking forward to everyone's designs. Temple has her desk at the end of the left row while Tym, Alice and David sit on the right. Temple jokes that she feels like the teacher. David teases that she's really at the bottom of the class. Temple fakes a laugh while Alice gently chides the "valedictorian." Tym reports that he's pleased with the challenge; everyone is excited to show some individual style.

No word on how much sketch time they have, but then it's into the van and off to a giant apartment building. The 24-hour work clock starts ticking as they head off to their respective apartments. Alice is pleased to find good wood floors and Dan, her "savior"/carpenter. Temple is working with Miles. David and Tym greet their carpenters. Tym looks around the apartment. It's pretty much brown and uninspired. Temple strolls around taking stock. Alice finds some oddly placed windows and a bad kitchen floor. David starts thinking about what to keep and what to toss. He interviews that the amount of work in the time they have is intimidating. And this is with a carpenter.

David has his carpenter start measuring out the room while he takes Polaroids. His design will be graphic with bold shapes and contrasting colors. He'll use red and add pink in a way that won't be too feminine. Tym lays out where his two shades of green will go, plus a sky blue to help bring the outdoors in. Alice is okay with the white kitchen cabinets, but they need a little fixing up. She interviews that she's not used to working with this kind of space -- while New Yorkers will have high design in small spaces, Texans with efficiency apartments usually don't call on decorators. She hopes she can rise to the challenge. Temple's going to paint her ugly cabinets. She interviews that she didn't know what to expect from the competition initially, but now that people's skills have been revealed through the challenges, she's not surprised to still be in the running.

Tym asks his carpenter to remove all the furniture except the bed. David needs the ceiling taped off for paint. Alice has given her carpenter a whole list of stuff he can do. Time to hit the generic Swedish home furnishings store. Dave asks if everyone wants to go around together; Temple is not interested. David asks Alice if she's overwhelmed yet. She's looking a little dazed. Her inspiration is "Tiffany box blue," which is a light turquoise. She's going for a serene feel. Her furniture choices are white; she'll add color with paint and fabric. Tym has some outdoorsy greens, so he's going for light and airy. Temple tries to find her aisle. She interviews that the competition is getting tougher and the judges have fewer people to focus on. David interviews that the shopping lasted 4 hours, which was kind of an overload, but way better than nothing.

Back at the apartments, most of the carpenters are busy at work. John, David's carpenter, got the ceiling taped off and now he's just sitting around waiting. This is why Mom says, "Always bring a book."

Checkout time. Tym racks up $1164.83 in cheap Swedish home furnishings. Temple: $1274.94. Alice: $995.60. Tym reports that people seemed to have different stuff, so the rooms should all turn out pretty different. David's total: $1269.41. He does a little happy dance.

It looks like all their purchases are being delivered, since there are no bags as they emerge from the van back at the apartment building. David is all happy with his carpenter, who basically hasn't done anything but tape.

15 hours left on the clock. Everyone starts painting. Alice asks Dan if he likes the color; he temporizes that he has to get used to it. David interviews that he's going to build a short wall to separate the bedroom and living room areas. It looks good in his head, but he can't tell if it will look as good in reality. Temple finds her paint color really bright. She interviews that yellow reminds her of the sun, so she's bringing in a lot of natural elements.

David drops in on Alice. (Producer: "Hey, David, why don't you have an impromptu visit with Alice?") She tells him about her carpenter's reaction to her color and David's like, "Yep, he hates it." Temple is having an impromptu visit with Tym. She likes his green. He points out that he's using two greens; Temple asks where the other is. David is back in his room, painting. He voiceovers that he needs to pick up the pace the next day. And the work day is over.

The contestants are excited to learn that they have the supplies for an ice cream party. David interviews that they were having a nice time relaxing, enjoying each other's company, and "Temple decides to get sassy." She slimes David with some chocolate sauce. (She so has a crush on him.) David reports that he grew up with sisters, so he grabs a handful of fudge sauce and chases her. They come back laughing. Temple has way more chocolate on her face and, as Alice tells her, it's all in her hair. So I guess David won.

Morning. Down at breakfast, David is confused; he thought Temple was upset with her room. No, she explains, it's just the wall color; the room is "overwhelmingly yellow." She can make it work, but she'd agree with the judges if they said she hated it. So, maybe she should have picked a different wall color? Just an idea.

Back to work with 12 hours on the clock. David interviews that the only other room he has seen is Alice's. Her carpenter made a lot of progress. He's curious about the other rooms, but he's not going to look around because he has so much to do in his own room. Temple is painting her cabinets. She reports that she's working on "way cool" space-saving ideas, like a bed that doubles as a sofa and a desk that doubles as a table. Sure, these are good ideas in a small space, but "way cool" is more like suspending a platform bed from the ceiling on pulleys so it can be lifted up out of the way during the day.

Clive drops in on Alice. She interviews that the room was painted, but it was too early for him to see anything else ready. He asks for a word picture of her design; Alice comes up with, "Light, gauzy, serene, calm, soothing." He lets her know of a "new, exciting twist" -- after the work is done, she'll do an on-camera tour of the place. Alice chirps, "Okay!" with the kind of frozen smile that hides incipient panic. She interviews that the whole presentation was just "one more thing" in an overloaded schedule.

Next is David's room. He lays out the floor plan for Clive, who teases him about needing to get work done when the loquacious host keeps going on. Clive gives him the news about the presentation. David is ready for it. He interviews that he's a little nervous, but excited for the opportunity.

Clive asks Temple if she's feeling confident and she says, "I love my theme." Clive takes in the tone of voice and calls that a "no." Temple clarifies that she's happy with everything but the walls. She interviews that either Clive's visit or the room was a "total disaster," I'm not sure which. She's not worried about the on-camera thing -- "That's natural to me." They kid around with a fake tulip.

In Tym's room, Clive asks for another word picture. Tym says he wants it to feel like Central Park. What, pigeon poop and crazy people? Clive tells him about the presentation. Tym interviews that he likes the challenge. It's what they're competing for, so they have to be comfortable in front of the camera. Clive wishes him luck.

10 hours on the clock and the carpenters show up. I guess there's a limit to the overtime budget. Alice reports that she finished the painting. They can go over some things, and then she'll be off to the hardware store. Tym talks to his guy about the trim and a partition. He interviews that he thinks he takes more risks than the others. David asks his carpenter to clean up a rusty-looking air vent, and there are some ottomans to assemble.

8 hours left and they go shopping again. This place looks fancier than the generic Swedish store. With 6.5 hours left, they stop at the hardware store. Tym interviews that he needed to spend more time shopping there, and now he won't be able to get some things done.

David gets back to work with 6 hours left. He interviews that he can smell/taste/feel his own show, but he has to focus on the challenge at hand or he'll get sidetracked.

Alice interviews that they're making progress. Since she has been gone all this time shopping, she would have nothing ready if the carpenter hadn't been working. She and Dan talk about the hardware for the cabinets. The store was out of all the ones she wanted, so she has spray paint to redo the original hardware.

Tym is painting the cabinet doors. He finds the insides are wet and peeling. Turns out he got the wrong primer. It raised the texture on the cabinet doors, so they're not as smooth as he would like. He mentions that he's a bit of a perfectionist, which I completely believe. Alice stops by on another "impromptu" visit. She admires the green. Tym tells her about the shellac-based primer error. Alice starts to assure him that you can't tell, but then she notices that you can. Oops.

Temple has apparently learned something from the last challenge, since she reviews a list of items to complete with her carpenter. She interviews that they have 4 hours to go and they still have to rebuild the bed and then start loading.

Alice's carpenter tells her that he'll need her help in a few minutes with the headboard. Temple drops in. She admires the shelving unit and wonders how she missed it at the store. She interviews that she gets excited about the other rooms but she can't really think about them or they'll psyche her out. Alice wishes her good luck as she leaves.

With 3 hours to go, David and carpenter start assembling the partition wall. Leaving things a little late, no? He interviews that everyone is his competition. Temple is a natural talent who learns fast. He didn't see much of Alice's room but he likes the stuff that she got for it. He and Tym are both builders. Tym comes by to ask him about a bundle of sticks; it seems Tym might have one of David's. Tym interviews that he likes David's space, but it's very different from his own. His space is airy while David's is "chunky and bold." He's interested to see what everyone comes up with. David tells his carpenter there's two hours left and asks how he feels about the time. The carpenter says they'll have to rush, but they'll make it. David is sure that's always how it works. He makes artwork in red and cream and pink. Everyone works and accessorizes.

Temple warns Clive that she have to keep working as they talk, but he's just there to deliver the 15-minute warning. Tym gets a 10-minute warning. More rushing. Alice protests that it's not quite time yet, but Clive is announcing the 5-minute warning. More rushing around and cleaning and polishing and accessorizing. Clive puts a stop to David's work. "Thank God, get me out of this place" is David's response.

The studio. Still ugly. It's looking a little brighter today, though. Same spiel about cancellation. Same judges. Another twist: the winner will get to "participate on set" at a photo shoot for In Style magazine. Everybody is excited. Clive recaps the challenge. Or challenges, since the judges will also be viewing their on-camera presentations.

See Alice's room at

Alice gets to go first. Martha likes the simplicity; it feels open. Vern has the mild criticism of unused space between the kitchen and the window. Overall, Cynthia likes it.

I like blue, so I'm already biased toward the room. The wall color definitely creates a serene mood. All the pale blue and white is a little cold, which is why the touches of brown and darker blue are particularly welcome. The mirrors behind the ceiling are a good thought: they expand the space, they add some height and they balance the oddly-placed window.

Clive asks how it felt to present to the camera. Alice says she was initially nervous, but got used to it by the third take. Clive announces that they're using her best take. She speaks well to the camera, describing the overall feel and the general layout. It's a good segment. Vern compliments her on her pigtails. She was comfortable and charming. Martha liked how her personality came out but the focus was on the room. Cynthia agrees that she looked "totally comfortable."

See Temple's room at

Temple is up. Vern would like a more creative use of color than just painting all the walls. Cynthia thinks it's an improvement over the old room. What wouldn't be? Martha can't deal with the rugs on an angle. Temple says that she was doing them at the last minute and when they were straight, she didn't like the flow. And then she couldn't lift the bed by herself, so she just stuck the rug at an angle. Martha can't believe what she's hearing.

I like the shade of yellow on the walls; it's similar to my house color. But overall, the room just blends together. The contrast between the yellow and the white and the light brown just isn't very strong. Baskets in a darker brown would work better. The bed doesn't look like it would make a particularly comfortable sofa. It's an okay room, but not the level of impact you'd expect from a professional designer. (Yes, I know Temple is not a professional designer. But the whole point of her being on this show is that she wants to be a professional designer.)

Time for Temple's segment. She doesn't look at the camera much and she says "um" a few times. She explains the feel and the function of the space. Cynthia thought she was comfortable but could use more personality. Martha's feeling a little picky about terminology. Vern thinks she "rocked it." Reaction shots of Alice, David and Tym looking worried. I'm really not sure what Vern was watching. (Feel free to venture a guess.) Yeah, she was coherent and everything, but that wasn't up to professional standards.

See Tym's room at

Tym's turn. Martha feels something is missing; it feels cold. Vern calls it "a really nice dorm or prison room." Uh, there's kind of a big difference. Cynthia doesn't like the way everyone is just putting color on the walls. She asks if he had any other color ideas. Tym explains that his approach wasn't just doing green, but bringing the outdoors inside.

I really don't like the bedspread; it's rather jarring. The blue rug ties into the sky blue accent color, so that's okay, but the grass green of the bedspread is just weird. And the room does have an unfinished quality. I think it's because there's really nothing on the walls. I suspect this could have been more impressive with another hour or two of work.

Clive asks how Tym feels about watching himself on TV. Tym enjoyed taping his presentation, so he hopes he likes it. He's more dynamic on camera than in real life. He points out a lot of features. Cynthia is thrilled to see him being all macho. Vern says he'd watch "the Tym show." He thought the explanation was good and he wound up liking the room more. Martha agrees, the explanation really helped her understand the room.

See David's room at

Finally, David. Martha likes the overall impression and the division of space. David replies that he lives in a studio and he likes a separation of spaces. He adds that painting the whole room red would be "crazy" and he just wanted splashes of color throughout. Vern compliments his restraint. Cynthia would prefer seeing the bedroom encased by the walls rather than the living area. Vern would prefer a partition that was softer or movable.

I suspect David's enclosure of the living space rather than the bedroom was a deliberate choice -- to have a sitting space that sheltered you from distractions -- but it's not a choice with broad appeal. I agree with the idea of creating spaces within the small apartment space, but three small spaces is too choppy in this room. Also, I'd like to see more storage. The room is more impressive as a visual exercise than as a living space.

David takes a deep breath as his presentation rolls. He's a little hyper, but he keeps it under control. He describes the layout and the movement of color. Vern wants him to slow down a little. Martha would like more explanation of his thought process. Cynthia is inclined to be understanding about the nervousness.

Clive sends them all away so the judges can caucus. David thinks his presentation was the worst. Martha was "a little disappointed" with him and she didn't love his work the way she usually does. Cynthia thinks he'll be fine if he just relaxes. Meanwhile, she thought Temple's room was just "regular." Vern thinks it looks like a reconstituted showroom. Cynthia thinks Alice's room has the same feel, but Vern disagrees. Tym teases that the others were all safe until he did his presentation. David thinks the judges picked on him the most. Martha likes Tym's ideas, but he never quite pulls them off. Vern agrees with Cynthia that he "thinks outside the box." For presentations, Martha likes Alice and Tym. Vern ranks Alice first, but Cynthia drools over Tym's regular-guy masculinity. Tym can't recall being called "macho" before, but David points out that Tym's being compared to two women and David. Given the reactions to David's frequent shirtlessness, I think he rates pretty high on the macho scale himself. Cynthia describes Temple as "interesting" in an ambiguous tone of voice. Martha observes that she was relaxed but didn't make a strong connection.

The contestants return. Judges' comments: Cynthia wants to see David's confidence on camera. Vern finds Temple's room "middle of the road." Martha likes the inspiration of Alice's room and the personality of her presentation. Vern wants Tym to communicate his ideas visually rather than through explanations. Clive emphasizes that this was a tough choice. Really? I've done the math and it's not that close. David is safe. Alice is the winner; she will get to work on the photo shoot. She's surprised and thrilled. Clive lets her escape. Martha tells Temple her design was "warm but not innovative" and her presentation was "self-conscious." Vern is disappointed that Tym hasn't fulfilled his design potential. Cynthia compliments his presentation. Clive emphasizes that both parts of the competition count. Temple is out. She hopes that she has proven herself to the other contestants, but now she's happy to go home to her kids. Tym gets dismissed to the green room. He always hopes that the judges like what he does, and so far he seems to be connecting. Alice and David are relieved to see him; they weren't sure he'd make the cut. Tym wasn't sure either.

The results? Not a big surprise. The top two rooms were Alice's and David's; the top two presentations were Alice's and Tym's. Temple wound up in the negative side of both challenges: her room was nice but ordinary; her presentation was competent but not engaging. So she's out. Thank goodness. She wasn't quite so annoying this time around, probably because she was off working by herself instead of having to get along with other people. But without the drama, she's just not that interesting. Did she win anyone's respect as a designer? I find it telling that people call her "talented" but they don't call her "good." What they're saying is that they think she could impress them in the future, with more training and/or experience. So they sort of respect her.

The challenge? A mixed bag. It was a good way to compare the designers, giving them the same spaces to work with. It's nice that they had carpenters, but that could have been offset with another 8 hours of work time -- which is about how much time they spent shopping. I suspect the point was to see how well they scheduled the extra resource. My problem has to do with the consumer aspects. I agree with Cynthia that they mostly just used color on their walls -- but think about where they got to shop. The generic Swedish home furnishings store is not famous for its color choices. I'm not sure where they went the second day, but you have to have your color palette established on the first day, and they just didn't have a lot to work with when it came to fabrics and furniture.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Garbage In

Previously on Project Runway: The designers had to modernize a fashion icon. The models exploded out of the gate. Nazri scored Pam Grier for Michael. Katie didn't score anything and got stuck with Cher, of whom Bradley was ignorant. Jeffrey and Angela argued. Jeffrey pouted about inexperienced contestants messing it up for the pros. Laura shut Jeffrey down. Heidi wore tablecloths. Runway show. Michael got the win and the TRESemmé ad, so no immunity for him. Great, we're not even through the previouslies and I'm once again worried about Michael getting booted. Bradley was out.

Morning. Michael makes sure Robert is awake. He's proud to have gotten through five challenges. Winning a challenge just makes him want to win another. Kinda like potato chips.

Over in the other guy apartment, Vincent mourns the departure of Bradley. Who, while fundamentally sane, still probably had the best chance of understanding what Vincent was talking about at any given moment. He interviews that the judging is subjective and therefore unpredictable. He reminds us about the cashing in of the 401(k) and the risk he's taking. But he feels good about making it to the final three, with his talent and skills. He doesn't mention his string of bottom three performances.

Alison shows Uli how much anti-stress stuff she has used. So Uli has moved in with the other women. At least she's bunked with Alison instead of Angela. And it's off to Parsons we go.

Heidi's dress today is made from a whole different era of tablecloths. Is this someone's idea for a collection? She brings out Nazri and Katie for Michael to choose between. Or, if he wants to switch it up, she'll bring out all the models. Michael naturally stays with Nazri, because she had the good sense to score Pam Grier instead of getting left holding Cher, so Katie is out. Laura is bummed. Heidi asks if they're ready for the next challenge. Angela is the only one who answers. I guess the others aren't ready. Heidi tells them they have had it easy so far, and again Angela is the only person talking. Michael interviews that it hasn't been easy. Heidi is sure that the previous season's designers had it harder. And yeah, this group has had nuthin' but 2-day challenges so far, so last season was harder. Alison interviews that they were all rolling their eyes. Heidi warns that the next few challenges are going to be tougher. Robert interviews that they're so stressed already, they just can't see how things can possibly get tougher. Guess again, designers. See these stress levels? They go to eleven.

Heidi goes away without providing any details, which kind of makes the whole "it's going to get tough" threat not quite so scary. Tim will provide the challenge details in the morning.

That would be at 5 o'clock in the morning, when Tim goes knocking on doors to collect the designers for a field trip. And no open-toed shoes, he warns. Vincent wonders if they'll have to dig something up. Alison tells Laura, "It's a good thing you have on your riding outfit, in case it's horses." She's so naturally sweet, you can barely even hear the snark. Downstairs they load up into a van and hit the road. Alison interviews that everyone was trying to see where they were going. Looks like New Jersey. Alison reports she was humming the opening theme from The Sopranos. Laura interviews that the weather stinks and "New Jersey looks as awful as it ever did." Which means that this matches the worst she has ever seen it. As opposed to "New Jersey looks as awful as it ever does," which would mean "New Jersey sucks." A gross slander, of course; only parts of New Jersey suck. Like this part.

They pull up in front of a big warehouse. Robert describes it all as a "strange nightmare." Laura narrates the trip onto the loading dock and up to the huge garage door that awaits them. Tim announces that the site of their new challenge is just inside. Everyone anticipates. The door rolls up and -- it's trash! Jeffrey is psyched. Kayne clarifies that the mounds are made of "recyclable materials." Whew! Much more sanitary. Robert reports that his reaction was, "Shut up! I don't want to work with [moue of distaste] trash."

Everyone is wearing yellow hard hats, yellow reflective vests and safety goggles. Even Tim. It's not quite as adorable as Tim being swarmed by a herd of little puppy dogs, but it's close. Tim announces that the next challenge involves creating a garment from the recyclable materials around them. He introduces Michael Coz of [sponsor] for the educational portion of the field trip, which I'm skipping because I got dragged to a sewage treatment plant on a grade school field trip and still kind of resent it. Otherwise, though, education is really good and you should totally have some.

Tim finishes with the challenge details. Michael uses "think outside the box" to describe the challenge, but I forgive him. And off they go. Uli hauls away at a never-ending strip of mylar. Laura thinks she can make a fur trim out of shredded documents. She interviews that the only stuff resembling fabric were giant plastic bags for peanuts. Jeffrey scores a Martha Stewart magazine. Kayne is collecting plastic caps. He explains that he "grew up white trash" and often went dumpster-diving with his sister. "Spent my whole life in the trash can," he beams. Uli guesses that "fashion people" don't recycle. Vincent plans to make art out of trash. What a novel idea. Alison is feeling inspired by the chance to work in something other than fabric. She liked the "ransack your apartment" challenge, too. I wonder how her friends feel about inviting her over now. I'd start to feel nervous if she admired any of my stuff.

Tim calls a halt and they all drag their bins over. Michael beatboxes as he waits to leave. Laura is inspired to roll with her homie until Michael begs her to stop. I want to see Project Michael 'n' Laura.

On the way home, they stop at an art supply store to get the stuff they need to turn trash into something wearable. Kayne explains the 15 minute and $25 limitations. Jeffrey gets acrylic paint for staining newspaper. Tim stands at the Information booth to summon the designers over the loudspeaker. He looks good there. They should do that every show. Actually, Tim should just go into random stores and make announcements over their loudspeakers. I bet people would shop more if there were a chance they'd get to hear him.

Back at Parsons, they have 10 hours to finish their garments. And finally the hammer has dropped! Angela interviews that it's going to be a "pressure cooker" of a challenge. Kayne lists all the various materials being worked; it will definitely be a challenge to get their creative juices flowing. Alison plans to make a skirt with striped paper. She explains that with a short challenge, you have to keep track of each step of the plan and there's no room for error. (Oh, hello, Foreshadowing. How've you been?) Angela is working in patchwork. Michael is letting his materials speak to him. In the creative sense. Not literally, the way Vincent does. Speaking of Vincent, he likes to let things evolve. "I don't own the future, I don't go there. I just let it come." Ah, the stand out in the field and wait to get hit by lightning approach to the creative process. He stands at his table and grimaces at his materials. I'm forced to wonder about his fiber intake. Now I hate the editors for making me think that. Laura worriedly interviews that Vincent is wacko and ready to crack. We see him grimace some more, and Laura grimaces in response. Her face does not make me think of fiber, thank goodness. Her face makes me think she'll be constructing a tasteful but sturdy straightjacket in her spare time, just in case.

Robert and Kayne have only "two seconds" to spare for dinner. They decide to "trash-talk" someone for entertainment. They wind up choosing Laura. Robert actually gets in most of the zingers. Refreshed, he heads back to work. Apparently it's beat up on Laura night, because now Jeffrey interviews that he's terribly bored by her dress and he hopes the judges "send her to the guillotine." See, it's not enough that they auf her now; there has to be actual bloodshed. "Another high-waisted skirt," he drones. Let me think -- coat, evening gown, suit with pencil skirt, Angela's pantsuit, Hepburn pants. Nope. He's confusing what she makes with what she wears.

Six hours to go. Everyone manufactures frantically. Alison describes how she was happy with her striped paper assemblies until she started to sew them, and they turned on her. Robert declares that he loves to recycle: "Plastics. Paper. Ex-boyfriends." Kayne interviews that everyone is worried about the deadline because they've always had longer challenges. Alison describes to Laura how she's changing gears. She had a "freak-out moment" when her striped paper idea went awry. We see her try it on as a skirt and it looks like a hamburger box. So now she's working with blue and cream paper, crinkling and sculpting. She interviews that she has to be done when the clock runs out. She has to be done because she needs to stay: "Designing clothes is my life."

Kayne fits a giant skirt around his bodice. It has a huge painted flower and lots of "decorative" bottle caps. Uli thinks he's crazy. Laura interviews that Kayne's dress was a "dog." And we know she's not fond of those. Kayne interviews that he just kept adding stuff and "it ended up looking like a toad exploded all over it." Kayne tells Michael and Laura that it's awful and Laura agrees. She interviews that Kayne is in danger of getting booted. Kayne tells the others he hopes he doesn't get the boot. I confess, I like Kayne's giant flower. It's like an enormous day-glo Georgia O'Keefe. That flower on a crisp white gown would be gorgeous. Of course, paired with trash, it's not so effective. And maybe it's not so much that flower I like so much as the idea of a ginormous flower all over a dress. Something to file away for the next challenge.

Jeffrey is excited for this challenge. He likes working with newspaper; he has newsprint on his pants. I'm pretty sure his pants aren't made out of newspaper, though. He interviews that he's sure he's going to win.

Michael posts his Pam Grier outfit in the winner's gallery while Laura and Angela cheer. He interviews that when he auditioned for season 2 (hello, panelists, what were you thinking?), he wrote a little affirmation on a slip of paper: "I will make Project Runway and I will win Project Runway." He found the paper today in his wallet, so he's fated to be there.

Vincent has made his dress and now it's time to decorate it with trash. The process is like painting a picture. Laura interviews that she doesn't care for Vincent's dress -- it's just a white strapless sheath with garbage glued to it. Vincent studies his dress; it reminds him of a party dress. He's sure he won't be out.

With 1.5 hours remaining, Tim does his rounds. He's usually a little earlier. Maybe he was taking a nap. Or announcing that the store will be closing in 15 minutes and shoppers should bring their final selections to the registers. He's knocked out by Uli's braidwork. Jeffrey also gets encouragement. Then there's Vincent. Tim asks what it is and Vincent says he doesn't know. Wait, he doesn't know what he made? Vincent says it looks like a happy party dress. He kinda likes how it's "avant-garde." Tim is making his frowny face. However, he manages to make a helpful comment, observing that the decoration is only on the front of the dress, so it's one-dimensional. Well, two-dimensional shape-wise, but in terms of inspiration, "one-dimensional" covers it. Sigh. It's very professional of him, but I'd really rather he let Vincent hang himself.

Michael explains the pieces of his outfit. Tim loves the corset but the skirt seems plain. Next stop, Alison. She has a sculptural dress in the cream-colored paper; she thinks it will look nice on her blonde model. Tim asks if she has the "zaftig" model and Alison clarifies that she has Alexandra. She's on the large side. Hang on. This is the same Alexandra that Michael put in a body-hugging tweed dress for the doggie challenge? This is what they consider a large woman? Alison explains that she and Tim were both trying to figure out how to cinch the waist and keep it modern-looking instead of matronly.

Kayne's dress has Tim a little freaked out. He apologetically calls it a craft project. Kayne absorbs the hit like he was expecting it. He proposes taking off the bottle cap circles. Tim agrees. Kayne goes on to ditch the entire skirt while Tim applauds. Robert interviews that he was worried about Kayne. At this point, Kayne is just trying to come up with something that won't get him booted. He has 1 hour to come up with something. All he has left is mylar. He shows the new skirt to Uli: "I've made a fairy costume."

Alison interviews that she's stressing. She explains that the judges want good construction. Right now she's just winging it.

And the day ends. The guys drag themselves home with their hard hats and vests. Michael and Robert complain about the paper detritus left in their footwear. Kayne is just hoping to escape the boot. He wishes Tim would have come around sooner. Dude, you knew it sucked before Tim got there. Why wait around for confirmation? He interviews that the only way he'll win is if the judges are on crack. Sometimes I wonder what the judges are smoking, so he has an outside chance. Michael tries turning out the light with the Clapper, but it hasn't been installed yet. It never hurts to make friends with the production crew.

Morning. Laura persuades herself to get out of bed with the promise of coffee. She's sleeping in her shirt, but the pants are not her riding pants. She's sure she's safe -- it's a well-made dress that will look cute on her model, plus there's the joke on the butt. More designers wake up. Vincent is sure he's safe, too. So now the editors have successfully muddied the oracular waters. Off to Parsons again.

Tim gives them the 2-hour warning; models are imminent. Uli wants to know if Alison has tried out the dress on Alexandra, but Alison knows it will fit. Designers wrestle with the problem of getting clothes made out of trash onto their models. Hard to put a zipper on one of those babies. Laura apologizes to Camilla about something. Danielle looks unhappy as Robert fiddles with the back of the dress. He interviews that working with non-traditional materials is a problem because not only are they lacking in give, but they don't hold up well. Everyone is hoping their clothes won't fall apart before the runway show.

Hair and makeup. Laura interviews that Kayne's and Alison's stylings were "painful." Amanda has wild hair and jade green eye paint randomly applied; Alexandra is sporting a giant Minnie Mouse bow made of lighter blonde hair. Laura calls it "frightening" and I'm inclined to agree. I blame massive sleep deficits. Amanda, Kayne, Camilla and Laura sit around waiting; Amanda isn't dressed yet but Camilla is wearing a jacket over her dress. Kayne is sure he's in the bottom three but he hopes he's not out. Laura asks how he chose the green for Amanda's makeup and he blames stress. Laura tells him she often worries/wonders about his choices. Considering they're on opposite sides of the aesthetic spectrum, I'm not surprised. Kayne snipes that he often worries about her character "and that's worse." Well, yeah, escalation is pretty much worse by definition. Robert would have just drawled something like "That's because you have no taste" instead of getting all personal. But Laura just laughs, because mere bitchery has no chance of even denting her deflector shields. Camilla's worried she might be in the midst of a slap fight. Kayne rehashes that he's won a challenge and he was in the top three last time. Laura compliments his Marilyn Monroe dress. Kayne says there's no reason to worry about him, and he's not going to put up with being "degraded" on camera. Dude, why sign up for a reality show?

Tim warns that they have five minutes to showtime. Much fussing with garments ensues. Alison explains that Alexandra has a straight torso with no waist -- okay, that I'll believe -- so it's difficult to get the dress to cinch in. She tapes it closed and warns Alexandra not to tear it. Vincent trims the excess length off the bottom of his dress and has Jia walk. He thinks it's a huge art canvas, which gets him off, and I don't want to think about any more of Vincent's bodily functions, especially in the workroom. He then likens the dress to a child's drawing. Okay, is it art or is it kid stuff? One or the other, it can't be both. And button your damn shirt. Just way too much of Vincent this week. Please boot him.

Heidi has normal clothes and giant, messy hair. She recaps the challenge and introduces the judges: Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and "celebrity stylist" Rachel Zoe. Okay, I see. Heidi wanted to have more hair than Rachel. I guess she's entitled. Showtime!

Heidi summons Alison, Kayne, Laura, Vincent, Michael and Jeffrey. Angela, Robert and Uli are safe. They go away and the remaining models come out.

Heidi starts with Michael. He explains that he imagined his materials as different types of fabrics. Rachel likes it -- chic and not too avant-garde. Nina loves it, too; she likes the plastic as a wrap. Michael thinks he took the right approach to innovation; he can imagine "a really cool girl" wearing it. Go, Michael! Of course, he won last week, so he's probably in second place.

Vincent describes his materials -- the plastic sack, the paper, the confetti. Michael is not happy that Jia couldn't walk. A mini-dress would have worked better. Vincent states that the dress "turns him on." Gah! MAKE HIM STOP SAYING THAT! He's proud of it. Michael and Nina exchange looks of disgust. Nina calls it bizarre; Vincent says that's what he likes. It's artsy. Crap, he's got that whole "turned on" voice going. Boot him, boot him, boot him! Nina calls him on the whole walking problem and Vincent 'fesses up in a normal tone of voice. Michael is like, it's great if it turns you on, but she has to be able to walk. Heidi chimes in that she appreciates his innovation and his fearlessness. Don't be nice to the crazies, Heidi! They just turn all Daniel Franco on you.

Thank goodness, we've moved on to Laura. She used a peanut sack, crate strapping and magazine paper. She mentions that she liked the words on the bag -- and here Camilla turns around without even being prompted -- so she pleated it to create an "elegant joke." For everyone who thinks Laura plays it safe all the time, I just want to point out that humor is risky. Rachel loves the dress. Heidi thinks she has a signature style. Michael loves the flower; her work is impeccable.

Kayne explains how he wasted his time with bottle caps and had to come up with a whole new skirt. His idea is that she just went through the recycling plant and has emerged from a bout of rolling around in a dumpster. Nina thinks it's a bad costume. Kayne admits to being short of time and just making a bad decision. Rachel throws him a bone by calling it very intricate, especially for last minute work, but he needed to restrain himself. The judges all join in condemning the over-the-top styling. Michael feels this has "stepped over the boundary of taste." Hey, Kayne, this would be a good time to tell them how you won't be degraded on camera.

Jeffrey describes how he used different types of paper. It moves, and Marilinda can move around while wearing it. Nina finds it innovative but still wearable. Rachel thinks it looks like fabric. Michael observes that it's the only dress that showed any movement on the runway. Well, other than a gentle swaying, yeah. He loves the silhouette and the trompe l'oeil belt. He describes it as "ugly/beautiful," which he sees as Jeffrey's aesthetic direction. Jeffrey agrees.

Alison explains how she sculpted the yellow paper on the dress form, letting it "do what it wanted to do." Maybe that's the problem: she should have bossed it around a little more. You're the designer; show that paper who's in charge! Heidi thinks she made Alexandra look "huge." She also gets a Minnie Mouse vibe from the hair bow. Alison says she was trying for a fun look. Fun, good; cartoon mouse, bad. Rachel advises that she has to think about making her model look good. Michael is surprised that a woman designer would make another woman look that bad. So, if a guy had presented this design, what? They'd figure he hated women and shrug it off? I'm not buying this "you've betrayed your fellow women" thing. Heidi asks to see the back again. She complains that she can't see any innovation; it's just "stuck together." Michael compares it to a crumpled dinner napkin and a paper brioche.

Heidi sends them all away. They start with Laura. Rachel says she loved it, but in a completely flat voice. Nina agrees. Heidi thinks Laura is chic and would wear the clothes that she makes; Michael agrees. Rachel and Nina have more enthusiasm for Michael's outfit; they're both ready to wear it. All the judges appreciate his thoughtful approach and explanations. Rachel calls Kayne's dress a pinata. Heidi has never seen such craziness. Nina comments on the sudden slide from last week. Michael hates it, but observes that Kayne does have good construction. Michael likes Jeffrey's paper-over-muslin draping; he and Rachel ooh over the belt. Heidi likes his bold colors. Rachel calls it "smart" in the sense of being intelligently made. Vincent's turn. Michael describes Jia as walking in a refrigerator carton. Nina calls it an explosion and a bad science project. Heidi points out that he likes to "push the envelope a little bit." Heidi, Vincent doesn't even know there's an envelope. Finally, Alison. The judges are almost at a loss for words. Michael calls it a "nightmare" from "head to toe." Heidi asks herself if she would rather look like "a fat Minnie Mouse" or "slim and long."

The designers return. Laura is safe. The win goes to Michael. Holy cow! He thanks the judges. Heidi tells him they were all impressed and dismisses him. He interviews that he didn't expect back-to-back wins. There's a little party in the waiting room when he announces his victory. Jeffrey just missed the win; he's safe. He interviews that Michael's clothes are "the equivalent of diabetic food -- there's no flavor." Thanks for saving me from feeling sorry for you, loser. Kayne squeaks in. He's vastly relieved, as are the other designers in the back. Vincent is thrown a bone for his "creativity," but his dress was "stiff and over the top." Heidi informs him that "there's a fine line between innovation and insanity." Alison's look was completely unflattering, and it's worse because she's a female herself. Alison gets the boot. Vincent sadly blows her a kiss before leaving. I think Alison is stunned. I'm stunned.

Uli gives Alison a great big hug. Laura goes after Vincent: "You call that a <bleep>in' walk?" I guess Vincent was describing Jia's motion as a walk rather than the feeble struggles of a trapped animal. He has moved from the chair beside the door to the corner of the couch, so something happened since Alison got back. Vincent wonders who "axed" Laura to open her mouth: "Why don't you put some Harry Winstons up your nose?" Good for you, Vincent; that almost made sense. Kayne chides them to put aside the bickering so they can enjoy Alison's last few minutes with them. She and Jeffrey have a big hug. Alison interviews that she won't fade away.

Short stuff first: Both Jeffrey and Michael had strong entries, so I could see it going either way. But Jeffrey sucks, so the way it turned out makes me happy. Uli could have just as easily been in the top three instead of Laura.

Now, then, on to the boot. I don't think you need to invoke a producer conspiracy to explain this one: Heidi had a powerful hate on for Alison's dress. And for some reason, she feels kindly inclined toward Vincent. Maybe he has threatened to sue them for discriminating against crazy people if they boot him. Maybe she's just sorry for him. Whatever. I think it's pretty clear that she led the charge to boot Alison.

I would have booted Vincent. While his dress was long and slim, it wasn't particularly figure-flattering. Also, I think he should get docked for the black halter; the bow at the neck definitely looked like fabric and I doubt that came from the accessory wall. Meanwhile, Alison had some interesting construction and the skirt was actually quite nice. I think the hair-bow really did her in; going for a "fun" look was a mistake. "Fun" and "cute" are just code words for "don't take me seriously." Also, she should have stuck with her plan of mixing the blue and cream paper; the different colors could have helped her create the illusion of shape.

How did Kayne escape the boot? I don't think he was saved for his colorful character and I don't think he was given credit for his past wins. I think his plan worked -- he squeaked by on the merits of his fit and construction. His dress fit much better than Vincent's or Alison's and he had some nice details. It was an ugly dress, but recognizably a dress.

So now Vincent has officially passed Angela in the What the Hell Are You Still Doing Here? sweepstakes. I don't know what I'll do if he makes the final four. I can't boycott the show, after all. I suppose I could threaten to boycott the sponsors, but I don't shop at Macy's anyway. Maybe a protest at the runway shows. Assuming anyone would notice amongst all the bustle. If they don't boot him next week, I am seriously going to need therapy.

The other bad news is that I had figured Alison for the top six, and now it looks like either Jeffrey or Angela will make it in. (Vincent now has to be considered a possibility, but it's just too depressing.) I'm not happy with Angela after her relapse of bad taste this week, but at least she doesn't suck.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


The Power of Positive Thinking

Previously on Design Star: Clive recaps everything since the beginning. Picking up where I left off: Vanessa and Teman got the boot, leaving Teran to forge on as a solo act.

Morning. Waking people. David comes to visit the Scary Lime room. Donna asks how Teran is doing. David reports that he's bummed, having lost both a roomie and a twin. Alice and Teran join the others; it looks like David has made tea. Teran interviews that he has to be more focused, but it's harder now.

Clive arrives and summons them to the family room. He gives them the next challenge, which will require both design and presentation skills. One designer will be eliminated after the presentations and another after the project is complete. Donna interviews that the rapid pace of dismissals is "gettin' kinda scary." The clients are Tom and Kelley, a couple who got suckered into entering an HGTV sweepstakes for a $10,000 room makeover. Naturally, they chose their kitchen. The submission video shows an ordinary Cape house in Stratford, Connecticut. I wonder how they would have handled it if the winning couple had been in, say, Alabama. They have bad linoleum and too many appliances (including washer and dryer) smushed into a smallish eat-in kitchen. The countertops are pink laminate with a silver trim. Kelly is hoping for granite counters, terracotta tile, stainless steel appliances (including the addition of a dishwasher) and Tuscan colors. David interviews that the kitchen was "horrible" and needed a lot of work. Clive gives them one day to come up with their designs, which they'll present to Tom and Kelley. One designer will get the boot. The remaining designers will travel to Connecticut and complete the winning design with 32 hours of work time. All the designers laugh at the time limit. Tym interviews that he has experience with kitchens and a major remodel just won't fit within the time limits. Everyone has an information packet, so it's off to their workroom to get designing. Temple interviews that the time limit is tight, but you just have to keep your eye on the goal and get it done.

Tym introduces a trip to a local kitchen/bath store to shop for ideas. Donna tells him that it's the biggest challenge yet. Tym recognizes the risk: you can win the first part of the challenge and then get booted for not delivering. Temple voiceovers that they could pick out samples of things like paint, flooring and fabric for their presentations.

Donna is right about the challenge: kitchens are the biggest deal to design. They're chock full of specialized equipment and finishes, plus they're highly functional (essentially domestic manufacturing spaces). In reality, if you want a kitchen remodel, you should find a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD) who specifically does kitchens and follows all the new products and knows what is cost-effective. At least find someone who does kitchens regularly.

Back in the work room, it's 10 pm. Tym announces to the group that budget is not the limiting factor; time is. He interviews that his pitch will be the "voice of reason." As they work, Tym tells Alice that no one's going to get any sleep, and Alice agrees. Her design will be warm and friendly, with the stainless steel providing a sleek element. At 4:26 am, we get our first shot of shirtless David (drink!) illustrating his design. He's feeling the pressure of higher expectations, but he has "technically" never done a kitchen before. At 5:30 am, people are still up, working on their boards. Donna figures she's had about 10 hours of sleep for the week. Temple goes into personal rah-rah mode, declaring that she's going to make a win happen. The clients will be happy if they choose her. David and Alice would like Temple to get off her own bandwagon.

The wee hours of morning turn into the not-so-wee hours. Tym comes downstairs to find Donna and Teran pulled an all-nighter. Donna is now "beyond tired." David interviews that everyone's nervous about the clients choosing who goes.

The clients arrive. Alice is first up. But instead of seeing the actual presentations, we get a montage. Way to let us see the designers' work, people. The designers greet the couple. Teran is having trouble keeping his boards on the easel. Tym explains how he sees time as the biggest constraint, even moreso than budget. Teran puts his boards on the coffee table. Temple has a view of the room from the entry, but it's too small to see well. Alice talks about how Tom does the cooking, so he needs convenience. She has the old design overlaid with her new design. Teran has a wall which folds around to hide the refrigerator. Tom asks why he put the refrigerator so far across from the sink and the stove; Teran promises that it will all make sense. David and Tym both show the stainless steel appliances in their budget. They look like the same set of stainless steel appliances (including a mixer). I detect the hand of a sponsor. David wants to talk about the problem areas, like the floor. He thinks tile is a problem with their time limit. Alice proposes getting the same look with vinyl. Tym has areas of slate. Donna proposes a travertine floor. Teran suggests a wooden floor with a dark, dark stain. Temple wants to install 1x8 pine planks as the floor; it's really inexpensive. David would love to do a black granite tile, but the time constraints might force him to use laminate. Alice is also talking laminate, but with a nice edge finish instead of silver strips. Teran thinks glass or even plexiglass would be interesting. Tym doesn't want to remove the cabinets. David proposes staining around the edges; Alice would add molding. Donna wants to reconfigure a section of cabinets. Temple wants to try to get them new cabinets. Tym has the dishwasher across from the sink, inside a pantry cabinet. Clive asks Donna about counterspace and she draws a blank. Tom gets Temple to confirm that she wants to replace all the kitchen cabinets. Downstairs, David joins Teran on the floor, stretching out to await a decision.

Kelley loves David's presentation; it's how she envisioned things. David is very nervous. Clive asks about Teran, and Kelley is stumped about the fridge location. Tom likes Alice because she spoke from experience. I catch a glimpse of the stupid mural behind Tom. Why has no one painted over that yet? I can understand the designers being too busy, but surely somebody on the crew could spare an hour. They have to be as tired of it as everyone else. Alice is feeling "okay" but still a little nervous. Tom likes Tym's pantry and the possibility of hiding the dishwasher. Tym wants to win, but his feelings about winning have changed since the beginning. Kelley also likes Temple's design, especially the way she angled the countertops at the ends of the cabinetry runs. She's not so fond of Donna's presentation, especially the cabinet reconfiguration. Donna is convinced she's going home. Temple tells her to "think positive."

I'm worried about the dishwasher across from the sink and the refrigerator across the room. There are two major philosophies of kitchen design. The work triangle places the sink, stove and refrigerator in a triangle with the sides adding up to between 9 and 22 feet, so you can move efficiently around the kitchen. The zone approach creates areas for specific activities like prep, cooking and clean-up. The dishwasher is part of the clean-up area, near the sink; you also want it near the cabinets that hold the dishes. The refrigerator is part of the prep zone and should be near a sink, as well. Beyond that, I didn't see enough of the designs to have any idea how they'll work, and that sucks. If you're going to the trouble and expense of a remodel, you should get a good, workable layout. I like Alice's idea of adding molding to the cabinets to dress them up. I'm not so sure about Donna's marble floor, since that would need sealing; I hope it's marble-look tile.

The designers return for the clients' decision. Kelley thanks them for all their hard work. Temple wins. Everyone claps. She interviews that this is unexpected; she only took a drafting class in high school. Clive tells her there's a lot of work ahead. David interviews that Temple was too ambitious and promised the clients too much. Teran is cancelled. Hugs all around. Alice interviews that she felt sad, because she likes him. Teran interviews that you have to be at your best, or you go home. Overall, it has been a rewarding experience. I'm not surprised he got the boot; architects are notorious for wacky kitchen designs. But that was pretty anticlimactic.

The next day(?), the designers arrive in Connecticut. Temple is excited; she knows the team will get the job done if they just stay positive. She goes over things with the team. They don't know what will be behind the backsplash. Tym warns that pulling out the moldings could damage the wall; she knows, but encourages positive thinking. (Are you starting to see a trend?) Alice is worried about all the work: "We're handy but we're not contractors." Temple encourages everyone to be open; she won't be offended. Tym interviews that it quickly became apparent that Temple had pitched more than they could manage.

Temple assigns Tym and David to start on the demolition while she takes Donna and Alice shopping so they can look over curtains. Okay, why do we need three people to go shopping? With 30 hours left, the guys start tearing out as the gals head out. At the store, Temple goes for cabinets. Donna worries that Temple and Alice will drop one on their heads, but they get it down safely. Donna and Alice load the boxes onto a hand truck.

With 28 hours left, David asks Tym what he thinks about Temple's plan to redo the upper cabinets. Tym's not behind it; it would be easier with "traditional" cabinets but that's not what they have. He interviews that he has hung cabinets before, and he thinks there's just not enough time to do everything promised. The womenfolk look at countertops. Temple is sure the "boys" are working away.

With 27 hours left, David and Tym discuss how they both had the dishwasher across the room because they were worried about fitting it in next to the sink. Now that he's in the space, David realizes his design would have worked beautifully. Tym "ahems" to point out he's not the only one. Donna asks Temple if they're going to fill in the knots of the pine floorboards; Temple just wants to sand them down for safety but keep them "imperfected." The guys are having trouble removing the cabinet next to the sink. Tym is reluctant to chop it up.

With 26 hours left, the ladies hit the paint store. Donna interviews that she had issues with the paint, because the clients asked for Tuscan colors. She warns Temple that her color choices are neutral, but they also have to think about the judges and introducing color somehow. Temple says she's only concerned with making the homeowners happy. Which doesn't explain why she's doing a mushroom kitchen for people who want Tuscany.

The females return to the house with 24 hours left. That's 6 hours of shopping and demolition. I find this worrisome. Demolition should go really fast -- my kitchen and bath were gutted within 2 hours -- and a total of 8 hours without getting anything started is just not a good thing with their schedule. Temple explains to the team that "all we have to do" is demo the old stuff out and install the new stuff. Well, that describes any remodel. She wants everything to go. The team rebels. Temple argues that the clients chose her, and she proposed new cabinets. She interviews that the team didn't think it could be done. So, Temple, you know how you're always saying that this is a wonderful opportunity to learn from people with more experience? Now would be a good time for that. Temple argues that she hasn't hung cabinets before, but she has hung heavy shelves. Tym and David argue that they're not the same thing. 23 hours on the clock. Tym interviews about the intricacies of hanging cabinets. And he's right, it's fiddly work. If you want it done fast, you need people who do it a lot. David would like to work with the existing cabinets. Temple reminds them that they have to replace the base cabinet where the dishwasher is going. She's sure she can get the cabinet out, even if she breaks it. Tym interviews that he and David already spent an hour on it. The cabinet is ancient and glued together. I see the problem -- with all the gluing, there's a risk of damaging the adjacent sink cabinet if you try to bash it out. Temple is all for ruining the base cabinet. Tym should just trust her. She interviews that the team doesn't believe in how much can be done; she can't change them and she can't do everything herself.

With 21 hours remaining, Tym pries the base cabinet away from the sink cabinet. Finally he gets it free. Temple interviews that they decided to refinish the cabinets. She applies a stain to a sanded door, but it looks just like the existing cabinets. The clock is at 18 hours. (That's 14 hours on site.) Temple wishes they had gone with the demolition. David and Tym remind her of the lack of time. Temple interviews that she has proved people wrong before when they said something couldn't be done. She wants Tym to see that he isn't giving himself enough credit. Temple proposes a creamy off-white paint with a tea-stain glaze. "Gorgeous," David approves. As she paints, Donna lists the things that the clients wanted but aren't getting -- so far, it's paint color and cabinets. Maybe this is not the best time to be bringing that up. Temple says if they don't like it, she'll be going home.

The next morning, Temple calls a pep rally. She interviews that she was unhappy with how things had gone and she wanted them all to believe in her. She passes out little notes for everyone. Everyone aws. David and Alice and Tym read from their letters. Donna just summarizes. Temple tells everyone they can make the kitchen "awesome" because the clients are excited and they're excited for the clients. Tym is touched. Temple sobs in an interview that she just wanted them all to know that she wasn't trying to drag them down. Donna cynically finds the notes a manipulative ploy, which, well, that's what pep rallies are. Morale is nice and all, but I'd be more inspired by a project plan. Temple goes around the room to make sure everyone has something to do that makes them feel good. As they scatter for their appointed tasks, Donna snots that maybe they'll get another note if they're good. Okay, not helpful.

Clive drops in for a tour. He asks for a quick update first. Temple tells him that everything in the plan has changed. Inside, they've started putting the wood floor down (that hasn't changed). The countertops are a granite-look laminate; only one section looks installed. The cabinets are primed and painted; they'll do molding if they have time. Clive starts to say that it would be an improvement even if they stopped now, but that isn't quite true. He warns them that they're about halfway through the schedule. He'll be back to put a stop to the work. Temple hopes they'll be finished. Clive is sure they will be, but then he spots a flock of pigs through the window. Everyone laughs, at least until he leaves.

With 11 hours on the clock, Donna hits the furniture stores to find a dinette set. Temple works on the floors. Tym tiles the backsplash. Donna naps in the van and then shops some more.

It's now dark and there are 5 hours left. David is putting the stain on the cabinets. It's coming out yellow; he thinks it's boring. Temple likes the white better. Donna returns with Tym's caulk. He wants latex but not clear. It's latex but clear. Donna says that's all the store had. Tym doesn't call her a liar, but he's "perplexed" because he shops there all the time.

Tym and David warn Temple that they still have a lot to do. She knows, but they still have two hours the next day. It shouldn't take all that long to hang the cabinet, right? Tym is like, okay, here we go again. He interviews that to Temple, everything "just takes a second." She says the countertops will be done in two minutes. Tym disagrees. Temple argues that you just measure it and cut it. I suspect there's some kind of adhesive involved as well, at least if you want them to stay attached to the cabinets. Tym wants a plan. Temple says they're not going to get done if everyone keeps being negative. Tym argues that not talking about things is not the same as making a plan. He explains what a plan is. Temple thinks they're "basically done." Tym disagrees. Temple asks for a list of what's left. Tym starts listing. Temple says "Okay" but Tym has barely started. He grumps that she asked him a question and then she's talking before she lets him answer. Temple cries in an interview that she doesn't mind being the leader (so why is she crying?) but it's hard to have people "looking at you and judging you completely." Sounds a lot like a beauty pageant to me.

Donna gripes that the cabinets "look like crap." Temple thinks the white is fine. Donna wonders why it wasn't a group decision. It was a group decision; if she had gotten back from shopping sooner, it would have been a larger group. Alice tells Donna to just work. Donna thinks Temple doesn't listen to anyone. Temple tells Donna that she needs to grow up. She cries some more in her interview that it's really hard to stay motivated, especially when the negativity comes from Donna. Why Donna especially? She doesn't even like Donna. Seems to me that it would hurt more to be dissed by someone she respects.

Morning again. They have 2 hours to wrap it up. Tym interviews that "everyone but Temple" knew they couldn't get it all finished. Tym grouts. Temple and David work on getting the refrigerator in while Alice and Donna hang window treatments. Tym comes out and reports that he's out of grout. Temple replies that the guy at the store said what they had would be plenty. Looks like store guy was wrong. David on-the-spot interviews that he doubts they'll get everything done. Temple interviews that they had to remove the refrigerator doors to get it in to the kitchen, and that took time. Probably more than just a second. They have 30 minutes to go. David and Temple slide in the dishwasher. 20 minutes to go. Temple asks Tym why he isn't doing the mortar and Tym says he's out. Temple is impressed that he finished so fast, and Tym repeats that there was only enough to do the tiles behind the stove. 10 minutes left. Donna paints a cabinet door. David works on door hardware. Temple looks for L-brackets to install the countertops. Tym is outside working at a trash barrel and the brackets are next to him. But when Temple asks the question, he's inside grouting the backsplash behind the stove. (Nice editing.) Tym reports that he recalls seeing the brackets but he doesn't remember where. Alice volunteers to look in the basement and Temple goes with her. She goes back into the kitchen to ask everyone there to think. Donna bets they're in the dining room. Tym reports that Temple is still trying to finish everything that got started. Temple tells the camera they'll have to do a cosmetic installation for now. As she checks the van, she gripes to Tym that she brings stuff right into the kitchen. He countercomplains about her lack of follow-through. 2 minutes left. Temple runs through the kitchen to set down a piece of countertop next to the fridge.

Clive arrives to stop the work. He says the room is completely different than the day before. Alice interviews that sure, it's beautiful, but you can see the subfloor through the cracks of the surface material. If you spill milk, it's going to seep through the cracks. "That's bad," she whispers in horror. Okay, rancid milk between the floorboards definitely qualifies as scary. Clive sends everyone off to get ready for the studio. Temple interviews that she is sure she has more at stake than the others.

The studio. Clive handles the usual housekeeping. Vern looks taken aback by the time limit for the challenge. Clive asks Temple about her design. She talks about having to merge all the things the couple had asked for. There's a "before" look at the kitchen. I wonder where the laundry machines wound up. I can't see having them in the kitchen if I had any other choice, so what happened? Now for the finished product. There's a shot of the finished kitchen and then some close-ups on some of the features. Temple beams. The walls are a dark greenish-brown neutral; the cabinets are white with bigger hardware. The countertops are laminate with the look of black granite and the backsplash is 2" tiles in a variety of earthy colors. The floor is pine planking with a tea-colored stain. The windows have tan and rust valances; the dinette is a dark brown. There's a new dishwasher next to the sink; across from that is the refrigerator flanked by two small counters. I can't see the cabinets well enough to tell how they've done blending new with old.

Cynthia thinks the floor and the backsplash made a big difference, as well as the new appliances. The one thing that didn't fit was the stark white of the cabinets -- not exactly Tuscan. Yes, but it's the only thing keeping the room from being completely cave-like. Vern damns the wall color with faint praise. He's happy they didn't mess with the original sink. (It's a huge, double-bowl porcelain farmhouse sink -- old-fashioned but highly functional.) Clive continues that it looked good on first impression, and David nods like he knows what's coming. The video shows Clive wandering around finding fault. Lots of missing switchplates, problems with cabinet doors, countertops aren't attached. Clive asks the judges if the time was sufficient. Vern thinks they could have done what Temple proposed but that requires a "good assessment" of the team's capabilities. Well, I think Vern could have done it, but he has experience planning for efficiency under time constraints. Temple tries to blame Tym for overselling himself, but he ain't having it. Tym once again explains about hanging cabinets, and Temple interrupts. She wants to say something, but Tym thinks she's had plenty to say. She protests that she hasn't gotten her own say about anything. Tym tells her to go, and informs the judges that this was a typical exchange. Temple starts to go into a for instance, but Vern cuts her off. (I love Vern.) He tells her that she has to be able to execute everything on her own if she has to. Martha asks what her plan was. Temple says she gave a pep talk. Martha wants to know about tasks. Temple says she went around the room to see what people wanted to work on. Vern is disappointed, because this is a house belonging to real people. Cynthia adds that kitchen, more than any other room, has to function, and this one didn't.

Clive reveals that HGTV sent in a clean-up squad of contractors to fix everything up before bringing in the homeowners. Next is footage of Tom and Kelley seeing their new kitchen. Of course they're freaking out, because it's not their ugly old kitchen. I want to see footage of them after they've used it for a week. Not that I feel sorry for them. Tym, Alice and David all talked about the time constraints, but they let their greed overrule their good sense. Temple starts crying as she tells everyone that she's proud of making the family happy and she's proud of what she did, and she thanks everyone for all their work. Clive asks David who he would boot if it were up to him. David hates the question, but Martha says they just want input. David finally offers up Donna. She worked as hard as anyone, but she would be the easiest to cover for. Alice volunteers Temple "because of inexperience, not because of talent." Temple of course picks Donna, for not coming to her looking for solutions as the others did. Tym picks Temple for "lack of planning and lack of listening." Donna of course picks Temple because the project was "chaotic."

Clive sends the designers away so the judges can talk. Vern thinks it's a tricky position -- happy to be chosen but worried about being a target. Martha was not pleased to hear about Temple's lack of experience; she considers that a negative. Vern thinks she has talent, so it's a matter of weighing what's important. Temple tells the others she had the plan in her head, and she just wanted to get things done. Maybe getting the plan out of her head would have helped. Cynthia thinks Temple's failings can be remedied, but Donna can't be trained in aesthetics. Martha's not convinced that organization and leadership can be taught, either. I'd say in both cases, you need a certain amount of natural aptitude or the training's not going to stick. Alice recalls that the team leader got booted the last time a team failed, and this team failed. Vern wonders, if you have a plan that can be executed but the design sucks, is that any better? He doesn't think so. Alice wonders if they'll look at cumulative performance. Nice segue to Cynthia asking at what point are they going to start judging cumulatively. Martha wants to focus on execution, but Cynthia wants to look at who was the least productive. Temple says, "If you have a leader, you don't question, you just go." Would that be the philosophy she used when Donna was the team leader? 'Cause I wasn't seeing it. Temple thinks that they might have finished the project. It would be really tempting to just shut up and do whatever Temple said and let her hang herself, but I think that would be a dangerous move with these judges. They're not going to let you out of your responsibility to the client just because your team leader can't plan. But it would have been really interesting to see how far they got.

The designers return for judgment. Cynthia reports that they almost had a hung jury. Vern warns them that they're doing cumulative judging. Clive summons Donna and Temple. Martha beats up Temple for her lack of execution and her inability to get along. Vern tells Donna that they appreciate her hard work, but she hasn't made her mark as a designer. Clive tells Temple that her design won, but only because she promised more than the others. Her leadership and decision-making put the project at risk. Donna could have made more progress and contributed more. She is cancelled. Donna and Temple hug, and Donna leaves. She feels she "never had the chance to shine" and she'd like to be known as something other than the "Tchotchke Queen." But she did learn from week to week, so it was a good experience. It was pretty clear from day one that Donna was out of her element, so it's kind of impressive that she hung on so long.

Clive tells the remaining designers that the remaining challenges will be individual efforts, so they'll have no one to blame but themselves. Temple interviews that she knew she deserved to stay over Donna, so she just had to trust in the judges. Okay, I'm officially tired of Temple. I'm sure she calls it "thinking positive" but it's starting to look like Vanessa's sense of entitlement, and I don't need any more of that. She wants to play the "inexperienced" card when she does well, so she looks more impressive, but she doesn't want her inexperience held against her when she messes up. If she wants to compete with the big dogs, she can't be shrugging to the judges that she's just a little dog and they can't expect her to be a big dog. If she can't step up and be a big dog, she doesn't belong. I'm sure Donna hasn't wielded a paintbrush in years, but we didn't see her whine to the judges that the challenges aren't what a real designer is used to and they can't expect her to be a contractor. If Temple were really interested in learning from Donna, that would be lesson one.

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