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.

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