Monday, September 18, 2006


And Red All Over

Previously on Project Runway: Catherine Malandrino told the designers they had to make a couture gown in two days. Laura worried about Kayne, but Jeffrey didn't care. Vincent glued. Boat runway show. Runway runway show. Michael Kors saw Laura's gown and thought "French maid." Jeffrey won. Marilinda rocked it. Vincent was finally out. A grateful nation rejoiced.

The guys dwell on the fact that Vincent is gone. They don't look like they're rejoicing, but they don't look like they're mourning, either. They're happy about getting this far, though. Kayne interviews that the final five includes the most talented designers. Laura recaps to Uli that she almost got booted. Uli reassures her that they'd never have kept Vincent, but Laura is unimpressed. She interviews that the judges' comments were "scathing" but she's proud to have gotten this far. She just has to "plow through" the next two challenges. And off to Parsons they all go.

Heidi seems to be wearing a mini-Uli dress. A vote of German solidarity? She asks if they're ready to get their next challenge, and then denies them. I think she enjoys being mean to them sometimes. They'll get their assignment at a sponsored party tonight. All Heidi will say is that she has invited some "special guests." Jeffrey demonstrates that he can learn from experience by interviewing that the party is sure to be a trap.

Kayne interviews that they got to party at a club called The Pink Elephant. They open some champagne. Michael recaps the events, because the producers are sure we all have short-term memory issues. The designers toast and speculate about the special guests. Laura interviews that they thought of celebrities or maybe a rock band (I wonder who suggested that one). Kayne is voting for Destiny's Child. Heidi gathers the designers and brings out the two "special guests." The first is Vincent, who looks ready to party. Michael interviews that there was much confusion amongst the final five. Laura says they knew something was "really wrong here." With the setup. We'll just take it as a given there's something wrong with Vincent. He wants to know what's up, but Heidi refuses to spill, since she has another guest to introduce: Angela, who looks like she's expecting tar and feathers. Jeffrey interviews that Angela really is "special" (as in "special ed") because he has the mind of an eight-year-old where she's involved.

Heidi explains that this is the benefit to winning that she has been teasing us with -- anyone who won a challenge gets to come back for another try. Kayne, Uli, Michael and Jeffrey would have gotten the same chance. Kayne chugs his champagne and interviews, "Are you <bleep>in' kidding me? These bitches get to come back? It's like cockroaches -- you step on 'em once and they just still keep crawling around." Uli finds the twist "shocking" and a real party pooper. Heidi tells Vincent and Angela that they have to win to stay. Three designers will be eliminated after the challenge. Two of them will be Angela and Vincent. Seriously, there's no way they're going to out-design and out-execute all five of the final five.

Angela interviews that this second chance is just "gravy" and there's nothing to do but "run with it in a positive direction." Vincent is "excited" to have a second chance; he hopes he doesn't get booted yet again. At least the opportunity isn't turning him on. Heidi tells the returnees to party with the previously final five and all their models. Yeah, that's not going to be awkward.

Finally, the challenge: they must make a cocktail party outfit in black and white only. Her work here done, Heidi motors. The models come in and I suspect there's some serious drinking going on. Michael recaps what we just saw, because the twist is so shocking that we can't be trusted to have absorbed it all yet. Uli tells Lindsay that it would be "embarrassing" to get booted before Angela. Jeffrey interviews that "The good news is -- uh." Yep, that covers it. Clarissa and Angela toast their second chances.

The next morning, Kayne pats Vincent on the shoulder and asks if he's excited to be back. Vincent must still be half-asleep, because he doesn't really sound all that excited. But he seems to be looking forward to the challenge. Angela relates that she really cares now, and she really wants to be in the final three. Laura points out that her win was a team win, and her return "doesn't seem quite as fair." Naturally, Angela disagrees. Laura explains that she didn't earn the win all by herself. Angela protests that it's the design that matters, not the construction. Helpful flashback to Angela wanting to fleurchon the hell out of her pants, and Laura proposing a much more reasonable compromise. Thanks, editors! What happened to the Angela who so enjoyed the collaboration with her team? Laura interviews that, having been on Angela's team, she's quite sure the team members "carried a hell of a lot of weight" in that challenge. Angela worries that meanies like Jeffrey will be thinking that; Laura assures her that "people" will be thinking that. It's not very kind of Laura to harsh Angela's buzz, but it's not very realistic for Angela to pretend that Laura and Michael had nothing to do with her win. Off to Parsons.

Tim helpfully explains that "they" want to be sure they have the right people in the final three, which is why the auf'd winners are getting a second chance. So they just have to prove themselves worthy yet again. As for the challenge, since they're all using the same color palette, the focus will be on the design and on the styling. They will have 15 sketching minutes, $100 and 1 day. Angela asks for clarification: black and white, or black or white? Tim says they have to use both.

Sketching happens. Kayne plans a "very edited" dress. Laura tries to skew "youthful" so the judges won't be mean to her again. She's feeling some self-doubt. Tim returns and drops another bomb: they have to use all the fabric they purchase, even the scraps. Laura interviews that buying extra fabric would be bad. This twist is actually kind of interesting, in combination with the black and white requirement. Designers might have considered using a black and white print to meet the requirement, but you often have to buy extra fabric to match print patterns. So this skews their choices towards mixing solid black and white fabrics.

Off to Mood. Kayne recaps the challenge, because we can't be trusted to remember things over the commercial break. Jeffrey explains how they normally buy extra fabric in case of mistakes, so now they have to be careful. Michael doesn't want any extra fabric, because he (unlike we easily-distracted viewers) has been paying attention. Vincent trusts that he will come up with something, between his sketches and his fabric. Laura measures her fabric with a tape measure. Angela changes something to ivory. Uli finds a great print for her "hippie, beach party cocktail dress."

Back to Parsons. Kayne interviews, "Heidi said it was going to get hard and boy, was she not kidding. Because she allowed two heifers to come back, three designers will go home." Thanks, I was still trying to understand how this shocking twist would play out. Michael describes his design, which we see a picture of, but the shock of the twist has probably rendered us blind, too. He's using jersey, since he knows he can make a great dress with it. Angela describes her leather shrug. She thinks she's taking some "admirable" risks while staying within her point of view. I think her interview stylings are starting to drive me batty. She can't just say what she thinks; she has to construct a narrative. Jeffrey is adapting an idea for a longer dress into a mini. He wants to win a third challenge because he knows it annoys people. (Presumably the other designers. If he's already anticipating the audience reaction before the show airs -- ugh.) Vincent discovers he has too much fabric -- the clerk gave him more than he asked for. He interviews that there's "no way" he can use it all. He hopes he can come up with something. Standing in the field waiting to be hit by lightning is no way to go through life.

Work work work. Jeffrey makes sure everyone knows how unhappy he is to see Angela back. Because -- why, again? Seriously, he's acting like they had a one night stand and now she won't leave him alone, except she seems to be ignoring him and he's the one who can't shut up about her. A bad case of unrequited lust does seem to be the best explanation. Ick. Vincent observes that he's seeing more and more of people's true natures as the contest progresses, and it's getting "ugly." Laura asks if he thinks they're being mean to him because he's back, and he just reiterates that it's getting ugly. But hey, it's just this challenge and possibly the one after to get through. He interviews that the mood in the workroom is "sticky." Michael visits Kayne, who picks up on some concerns. Michael hints that Kayne's choices are heading into Hookerville, although he doesn't actually say that. He wants to make sure that Kayne doesn't go over the top.

Tim announces that they're getting a fitting with the models, who are arriving now. Fitting happens. Laura explains to Camilla how she's exhausted and now there are more people to compete with. They discuss how to make the look younger. Laura interviews that Camilla was probably shocked by the criticism, too, and she's trying to be helpful. Laura will just have to keep doing what she does, but she doesn't know what the judges will think of it.

Tim gathers everyone around to meet Collier Strong, the consulting makeup artist for the product-placed makeup room. Their only opportunity to use color will be in the makeup. Everyone gets a consultation to work out their look.

Tim does his run-through. He likes the frog fastening on Uli's dress, but he's worried about her excess fabric. She plans to wad it up and make a necklace. Tim warns her not to let the necklace overpower the dress. Vincent reports his problem with extra fabric; he thinks a shawl might be too simple a solution. Tim points out that he might have to go with simple, since he needs a solution. Jeffrey is happy with his progress. Tim worries that his proposed tights "dress it down." Kayne's turn. Tim wonders where the white is and Kayne asks if the trims count. Tim's response is a heartfelt, "Oh, Jesus!" If all Kayne has is trim, he needs to make it work. Kayne is "bankin' on Jesus at this point." Michael is trying to give his wide belt "a 3D effect." Tim is concerned that the belt looks unfinished and the dress fabric is too translucent. We don't see Michael's usual "think for three seconds and propose a solution," so now I'm a little worried he's losing his edge. Angela wants to ruche the sides of her dress, but Tim is worried about time. He advises her to focus on what needs to be done. Laura tells Tim that her spirit was broken and she can't exhaust herself "designing for the Olsen twins" and she just has to be happy with her work. Unsuccessfully holding back tears, she interviews that she was "blindsided" by the negative reaction in the last challenge and now she's doubting herself. She was hoping to make a career change, but now she's just so tired. Tim expresses his faith in her. Laura's interview continues: she does like her current dress, and she's just concentrating on getting through the challenge. Before leaving, Tim warns them that the runway show will be early. Vincent winds up making the shawl to use his fabric.

Morning. Laura's spirits are lifted by a well-timed video message from her husband on a product-placed phone. She interviews that two challenges are too much to worry about, so she'll just worry about one. Kayne worries that he "dropped the ball a little bit" but he still loves his dress.

At Parsons, Tim delivers the schedule. Also, any scrap of fabric postcard-sized or larger must be used. Vincent gets bad news: Jia was in an accident. He asks if she'll be all right and Tim says that she will be. Not the most reassuring answer. Vincent is worried about her. (It turns out she was seriously injured in an accident, but has recovered sufficiently to model during Fashion Week. Yay, Jia!) Vincent will have Javi as his model instead. Jeffrey explains that Javi was his first model. Now Vincent is worried because he has no seam allowance. Why not? He had plenty of fabric, after all. Tim urges them to give it their all, since three people are going home. He sends in the models.

Kayne makes some Amanda-approved adjustments to the back of his dress. Uli interviews that she isn't ready to get booted. (Not that anyone ever is.) Jeffrey is confident that he has a "fresh idea" for a cocktail dress but Kayne finds it "costumey and cheap." Laura interviews that her design was for someone other than herself, and she likes it. Vincent is having problems; Javi has a bigger build, so she broke the zipper on the dress. Not that Javi is big or anything, but she has a lot more muscle than willowy Jia. Makeup. Hair. Laura interviews that the makeup was going to be a youthful pink to counteract her tendency to skew old. Vincent sews Javi into her dress while she's getting her hair done. He's careful not to stick her and basically tells her to sing out if he does. If only his consideration toward his models extended to dressing them in more attractive clothes.

Tim goes around for scrap inspection. Michael used them to line the bag. Kayne trimmed out a bag and stuffed it with the remaining scraps to give it fullness. Uli made a loooooooong necklace. Angela is stuffing her scraps in her purse to "give it volume." Tim sounds dubious, but it's time to usher everyone off to the runway.

Heidi has a black suit with a sparkly skirt and a too-tight, too-busy jacket. She handles the usual business. The guest judge today is Zac Posen. Showtime!

Quiz time. Michael chose white and fancied it up with the belt. Zac likes the simplicity and the asymmetry. Nina is impressed with the styling. Heidi thinks it's modern. Michael Kors asks about his extra fabric; Michael just kept lining the interior of his bag until he used it all up.

Vincent used cotton fabrics. The black is an eyelet fabric with maybe 1/2 inch circle cutouts, which adds interest close up. Nina doesn't like the proportions. It's too short. Michael doesn't like the shawl. Vincent explains about the extra material. Zac asks Javi to hold the shawl up in front of the skirt, showing how the shape would be improved with a knee-length skirt. It does look much nicer long.

Uli couldn't use wild colors, so she went with a wild print. She admits the dress is probably more suitable for warmer climates, like Saint Tropez. Zac likes the dress, but asks to see it without the necklace. Michael finds the necklace far too reminiscent of "pool floats." Nina doesn't like the length of the sleeves. Uli wanted them to end at hem level, but Nina thinks that's "heavy." When Uli hikes up the sleeve, the judges are all happier.

Angela loves the neckline and the "grace" of her proportions. She explains that she always stuffs handbags with muslin, so that's what she did with her scraps. Zac and Michael find the look costumey and Zac thinks the fabrication in the back "doesn't look rich." They ask if she made the bag (which is red) -- no, she didn't. Nina observes that the bag would hold its shape without being stuffed; Heidi doesn't approve of disposing of the scraps like that.

Jeffrey was inspired by the last few cocktail parties he went to in Los Angeles. How long has he been off the party circuit -- decades? Michael finds it somewhat cheap-looking. Jeffrey says he deliberately dressed it down, but Zac and Michael want their edgy clothes to be chic, too. Nina would like to see something other than the rocker aesthetic.

Laura added detail to the bottom and made an envelope purse out of her remnants. Michael pronounces it chic but youthful. Laura beams with relief. Zac thinks a store would snap it right up. Heidi likes the light sprinkling of sparkles along the hem. Nina is happy that Laura stretched her boundaries.

Kayne wanted to show an edited dress, to prove he could do it. Zac likes the front, but the back bothers him. Nina is pleased that he tried something different, but there's not enough white.

Heidi sends them off so the judges can talk. Michael calls Angela's shrug "vampire." Heidi observes that there are some nice bolero jackets, but they're made by people who know what they're doing. Michael Kors likes Michael Knight's styling. Everybody hates the proportions of Vincent's dress. Heidi thought Jeffrey's dress was loud. Nina wants to see a "luxury" element and Michael wants to see something other than Gwen Stefani. No way would Gwen wear that dress, dude. Zac likes the easiness of Uli's dress, but Nina is ready to see something new. Michael puts on a German accent to imitate Uli's usual hot weather spiel. Heidi thinks about killing him, but then she'd have to find another judge. Nina appreciates that Kayne listened to the judges, but he's not quite there yet. Michael is grateful that the spirit of Elvis was not invoked once more. Finally, it's Laura's turn. Michael thinks she kept her perspective but "moved it forward." Zac finds it rich-looking. Nina thinks she designed for someone other than herself.

The designers return. Heidi gets right to the winner: Laura. Happy happy joy joy! No immunity for her, though. Michael congratulates her as she leaves and she says, "Thanks, honey." Laura interviews that she went from "the lowest low to the highest high" and now she has her confidence back. Well, I should hope so. Since they didn't win, Angela and Vincent are out. Angela interviews that she "loved and hated" the experience, and now she's "ready, willing and able to become part of the fashion community." It's not like you were drafted, Angela. Vincent interviews that he'll continue to "make beautiful music" because he does it "so damn well." He modestly shrugs, "It's a gift." If you have a receipt, exchange it. Michael is safe. Uli is safe. Kayne is slapped for not including white; they're still wondering about his taste. Jeffrey's outfit was cheap and once again "all edge, but not much elegance." Kayne is out. Jeffrey is in. He gives Kayne a hug on his way past, and then flips off all the other designers when he gets to the waiting room. Uli gives him a congratulatory hug. Kayne thanks the judges for the opportunity as he gets his auf wiedersehn.

Much hugging in the back. Jeffrey calls it an "honor" to have worked with Kayne. Tim gives him a big hug and Uli calls him their "sunshine." Kayne interviews that he only plays a bitch on TV. I didn't think he was a bitch. Sure, he snarks the hell out of things, but I think true bitchery is far more hard-edged than he has generally managed. He finishes by saying he's ready to kick his career into gear.

Oh, Kayne. Why couldn't you have used white? It would have been awfully hard to justify keeping Jeffrey's mess if you had made a halfway decent black and white dress. So either I would have gotten the pleasure of seeing Jeffrey booted and you at Fashion Week, or I would have had the amusement of watching the judges trying to explain their decision to keep Jeffrey over you. Sigh. Oh, well, Kayne's going to be just fine. People are going to be lining up for his fabulous gowns.

Speaking of fabulous -- Laura won! I loved her little dress and Camilla sashayed in it perfectly. I'm glad Laura got over her crisis of confidence. The stress and lack of sleep on top of a pregnancy must have her knocked for a loop, so it's not terribly surprising that she finally cracked. I don't think she has a problem taking criticism -- at least, not when she thinks it's deserved. What threw her is getting criticism when she didn't expect it. Given her past performances and comments, I think her self-confidence is merited. I'm glad she has it back, and just in time for the finals.

So, Vincent and Angela returned. The "second bite at the apple" twist is an interesting idea, especially if they really are judging each challenge as a stand-alone. The premise -- that a good designer can have an off day -- is sound. Unfortunately, what we got were two designers whose bad days outnumbered their good ones. Perhaps they should find a way to factor overall performance instead of just wins. But that would probably involve far too much math. I'm glad they at least required the returning designers to win in order to continue. However, since the bootees have generally had a chance to rest and recharge, I'd find ways to discombobulate them, like making them switch models around.

But here's the thing -- If you really believe that some designers deserve a second chance, that should be how you do things. Not as a "twist" but as a basic principle. I think the producers are just so enamored with their own cleverness, they've forgotten about things like principles. Which is too bad, because principles are the kind of things that you don't really miss until the day you discover how badly you need them, and then it's too late.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


And the Winner Is ...

Welcome to the season finale, or, as I like to call it, 59 minutes of filler followed by a declarative sentence. We're in a sound stage with the same ugly purple on the walls -- seriously, it's maybe suitable for a tacky Halloween fun house, and that's it. The space is much bigger, because we now have a few bleachers with cheering relatives and friends, perhaps a hundred all told. There's a big, shiny black circular stage with chairs for everybody, and a smaller shiny black circle closer to the audience.

Clive bounds through some nice blue curtains to the applause of the suitably coached audience. Blah blah welcome blah blah Bryant Park blah blah winner. Hmm, this episode is going to be easier to recap than I thought. But first, let's rehash the entire season. Clive introduces the returning bootees. They sit in two curving rows at the far end of the big circular stage. In the back row are Ramona (who makes a big "nyah, nyah" face, because she's actually an eight-year-old with really bad skin), Teman, Teran and Joseph. In the front row are Donna, Vanessa, Tym and Temple. Clive observes that two designers are missing. Since they're the finalists, I'm guessing people have noticed their absence. But you can't just have them sitting on stage like everyone else; their entrance has to be a big production. So let's get on with it. Clive brings out Alice first. She's wearing a pink printed sundress and looks really tanned. David wears are tight brown short-sleeved shirt, jeans and an even darker tan. Well, they are both from the south, and it's early summer. But I'm willing to bet it's just really bad makeup and lighting (perhaps due to the scary purple walls), because everyone looks pretty orange. Even Clive. And he's English, so you know that can't be natural.

Alice and David settle into their hard plastic chairs, positioned inside the curves of the other contestants' rows. Clive is off to the side in a comfier blue chair, because he's not the one being kept on pins and needles. Clive asks David about "life in the spotlight." He reports the craziness at the airport, with people asking him who won. "Aren't you voting?" he asks them. Alice explains that she's the big news in her small town, and when people talk about her, she isn't sure if she has toilet paper on her shoe. Clive promises to tell us the winner -- but first, let's revisit the whole show!

Down in the workroom, Joseph tells the others he's excited to be a part of this. Various shots dealing with the sleeping arrangements -- Ramona volunteers to sleep in the bathtub. Grooming shots, including both Donna and Tym applying hairspray. Down in the kitchen, dishes are piled in the sink and it looks like there's egg yolk on the counter. Donna wonders if they have maid service. Temple and David frolic in the hot fudge sauce. Ramona's little dog was a stuffed animal, which is just weird. Various people use "crap" as an opinion. Temple pounces on Donna for shopping a lot. We revisit the whole Donna/Temple clash. Temple is tired of women being mean to her just because she's cuter than they are. Vanessa's "before and after" theory gets some editing support. I'm thinking it's not coincidental that Donna and Temple are at opposite ends of a row. But they laugh and smile at each other at the end of the clip show.

Clive asks them how they're getting along and Donna says, "Well, right now, we're doing very well." Temple says they're fine as long as they're not competing. Clive asks the others what it was like being around them. David volunteers that they're both "wonderful" but they "just didn't work well together" and should not be put on teams together "ever again." Clive asks Alice how it was to share space with people. She talks about how she got stuck with the lower bunk, and Teman would step on her mattress to climb up. "It was crazy," she sums up. Clive asks Vanessa how she wound up in the relative luxury of the smaller bedroom. She relates how her team claimed it.

Clive talks about people making an impression right away. Vanessa gets teased about her "glamalistic" style, which she takes with a lot of humor. Clive says they had "forensic design people" count, and she said it 21 times in the first episode. Seems low to me. Clive asks Ramona about her cape and the sparkly U on her chest. She explains that she came as UberDesigner. Clive thinks it's "U B Careful Designer." And that is all we hear from Ramona tonight, so I hope you enjoyed it, or at least didn't feel inclined to throw up. Donna gets teased about her intensive grooming schedule with a clip show. Clive compliments her on her appearance tonight. Donna mentions the lack of mirrors in the brownstone. Vanessa reports that Donna brought a whole styling salon with her. Joseph recounts waking up in the night to hear Donna rustling around, looking for hairspray. Clive congratulates Donna on having her hair take up so much time on national TV. (As filler goes, that was pretty cute.)

Now it's Temple's turn as "does not play well with others" girl. After her clip show, Clive asks her to tell him "in two seconds" if she has any regrets. Temple says that she wondered how she was going to get people to believe in her as their leader when she didn't have any experience, so she just reacted by instinct. Clive throws it to Tym, who recaps the whole "two minutes" difference of opinion. Temple says that the countertops really did take just a minute to cut. Alice points out that they weren't attached. David praises her hard work in the finale and Alice agrees she has "endless energy." And it's true. New motto for Temple: Worky, no talky.

Clive talks about intensity and emotion. Clip show of everybody crying. Clive wonders how people can cry so openly and yet truthfully on camera. Alice talks about the emotional journey, and getting close with everyone, and it hurts when their dreams are dashed. Teman adds that the only thing they could do outside of the challenges was get to know each other, so that really bonded them, and they saw what everyone could contribute. Vanessa was surprised to find herself caring about people in such a short time. Teran mentions that they didn't get to say goodbye when someone was eliminated. Clive wants to revisit Josephs' boot, when his teammates were holding his hands. He really appreciates the way Alice stood up for him, since he couldn't have said anything. Alice saw him as a sacrificial lamb.

Time to revisit the judging. Clip show of harsh comments. Clive brings out Martha and Vern. Cynthia sent a video message; she's busy preparing for her runway show at Fashion Week, but she wishes Alice and David the best of luck. Clive asks what surprised the judges. Vern relates how they judged the design, so the interpersonal stuff surprised them. Martha adds that they were looking at collaboration, but only based on what they saw in the results in the studio. Clive asks the designers for their opinions of the judges. Vanessa brings up the booting of Joseph as team leader, when other team leaders (that is to say, Temple) didn't get booted. Vern answers that Joseph didn't lead the team in the design element. Martha agrees that other team efforts had strong design directions. Clive introduces a clip show of the judges being impressed. Clive prods the judges to praise the designers some more. Martha is astonished at what they managed to do with such tight time limits. Vern says they were asked to do things that top designers couldn't have pulled off (probably because top designers have people to do the implementation for them).

Clive introduces the outtakes, mistakes and silly moments. Tym thinks it was great to relive that fun. Everyone had so much passion. David explains that they really did bond. Teman says the silly stuff was what the designers carried away with them. Clive asks David about all the shirtlessness. He explains that he sweats when he works, and it's just natural to be shirtless down in Miami.

Time to get down to business. Clive brings up the Bryant Park challenge. David thought it was really hard to deal with both the interior and exterior perspective. Alice agrees. She had spent the break brushing up on various techniques, none of which helped with a glass room. We see the final rooms again. Clive asks the judges to comment again. Vern praises both of them. He was relieved no one painted the glass. David's approach was intellectual and Alice showed sophistication. Martha loved the challenge. Alice's colors looked great on camera and David created a whole new environment that "transported" her.

When we return from commercials, Alice and David are standing in front of short pedestals. Clive asks about their respective cheering sections. David brought family members and friends to cheer; Alice has parents, step-parents and in-laws, plus friends. Clive brings out a couple of paint cans. Alice and David do not seem thrilled to see them again. Clive thinks they'll like these paint cans, for a change. They open their cans and each finds a key. Clive tells them they've both won a brand-new product-placed vehicle. Much clapping ensues as we hear about the product-placed vehicles.

So it's time for another commercial break. When we return, Alice and David are once again standing up. But we still have time to fill, so now we get a clip show of their mutual admiration society. Alice reports that she's shaky but excited; she appreciates every vote she got. David is also nervous, but he'd be happy to lose to Alice. Clive brings out Judy Girard, the president of HGTV. She thanks all the contestants for their contributions, and tells the finalists that they love them both. But there's only one contract in the envelope. She hands it over to Clive, who extracts the results and studies them carefully. Finally, Clive announces: "David, you are HGTV's new Design Star!" A giant bucket of confetti pours down on him and there is much rejoicing. And we're done.

Anyone surprised? Me neither. Alice will do fine; I'm sure she'll have many new opportunities. Now what I really want to know is, what is David's show going to be like?

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Tour d'Awful

Previously on Project Runway: The designers got to dress "hip, international jet setters" -- themselves. Angela threw a party at the news but then got stumped because she didn't know any jet setters. Runway show! And a trip to Paris! And Catherine Malandrino! Jeffrey bedazzled his crotch and bedazzled the judges into giving him the win. Kayne was "reedeecoolous" but Angela got ze boot.

Happy accordion music -- we're still in Paris. In fact, we're still in the Parsons Paris workroom. Tim congratulates Jeffrey and confers immunity on him. Catherine Malandrino announces the next challenge: since they're in the home of couture fashion, they will be making a couture gown. Uli speaks for the other designers when she says, "Ooof." Tim handles the academic background info on couture: the government of France licenses the only true couture designers; it can take "hundreds of hours for six to eight people" to create a couture gown. The designers should use "couture techniques" for their gowns, such as hand-sewn hems, embroidery and beading. And instead of hundreds of hours, they're getting two days. Catherine will host a party Sunday evening where the gowns will be shown. Tim thanks Catherine and dismisses her. He then announces that he's going to take them all out to dinner after a stop at the hotel. Happy designers cheer.

Kayne and Michael stand on what looks to be a rooftop terrace, enjoying the view. Kayne interviews that he's rooming with Jeffrey, Vincent and Michael in a top floor room that's "incredible." Laura and Uli have their own room. Presumably not a rooftop one, since Uli is looking out a window. Laura interviews that they were all adjusting to the new location. Uli enjoys being "home" again in Europe. Jeffrey interviews that while he's happy to be in Paris, he's even happier that Angela isn't. Good grief. How did she wind up being such a thorn in his side if we never saw her do anything to him? Well, other than win the Macy's challenge that he wanted, although Keith had the design credit on that challenge. He's such a sensitive little sourpuss, our Jeffrey. Tim arrives at the guy's room. After expressing his admiration of their quarters, he asks if they're "revived" after their trip. Jeffrey replies that while they aren't revived, they are at least "refreshed." So time to go to dinner.

The designers and Tim walk through Paris on the way to the restaurant. I wonder how Laura's feet are holding up now? Michael interviews that the scenery definitely inspired him. Laura narrates as they walk through the courtyard of the Louvre and off the the restaurant. She describes the occasion as their first "relaxing" dinner together, instead of the usual grab-and-go meals. Tim proposes a toast to their trip and the challenge; Kayne adds a toast to Jeffrey's first win.

Morning. More wakey-wakey shots. Did we see the designers in the previous seasons rolling around in bed even half so much? Does somebody have a sheet fetish? Laura interviews that the stakes are high because the remaining designers are all talented. Tim finds the guys sketching. He fetches everyone and herds them into the Metro station. On the train, someone asks Jeffrey if he's a musician. He's less impressed to learn that Jeffrey works with clothes. 'Cause musicians run around with bedazzled crotches, but designers don't.

Much climbing of stairs. Jeffrey interviews that they had another lovely walk through the city, absorbing the inspiration. Tim announces that they've reached their destination: Sacre Coeur, the "heart of Paris." They can sketch for half an hour, and then it's time to shop. The designers scatter. Michael and Jeffrey sit on the grass; Jeffrey has his shoes off. Kayne is also on the grass. Laura and Uli sit on a low wall by the steps. Michael interviews that he didn't want anything too "avant-garde" because couture work is new to him. Vincent also sits in the grass. He interviews that he has trained in couture dressmaking and it "just turns me on." Dude, find another way to say "I really like it." Making a couture gown in Paris is "a dream come true" for him. Sketching. Kayne shows Vincent his sketch and Vincent pronounces it "couture."

Time to shop! Instead of Mood, they're at Reine. They have a budget of $375 and an hour to shop. Laura calls shopping "a little spooky" because they're starting all over again after getting used to Mood. Uli interviews that she's sticking with what she knows and making it more couture so that she can get it done. See, it's not that she doesn't have other ideas; she's just playing it safe. Ridiculous time limits tend to force these kinds of decisions. Vincent compliments a clerk for finding what he likes. Tim approves Jeffrey's fabric choice of yellow plaids; it's unexpected, and the designers were asked to take risks. Jeffrey interviews that he wants to make a happy gown, and his starting point is the Statue of Liberty. He also wants to be the first designer to win a challenge while having immunity. It's not clear if he means first ever or first this season; I don't have the Season 1 DVDs (what kind of fan am I?), but it's possible Kara Saun did it with the futuristic collection and postal challenges. But apparently, being the first designer to win immunity with a bedazzled crotch isn't enough for him.

Back in the workroom, they find cards on their tables with their Paris models' information. Tim reminds them they'll have to refit the gowns onto their regular New York models, too. Right there, that tells you they're not really making couture gowns. Real couture gowns are not just hand-made, they're custom-made for a particular client. Their challenge is to make an evening gown with lots of couture-like handwork. Tim tells them, "Débrouillez-vous!" They have 8 hours until midnight to work. Uli recaps the challenge and explains that the time constraints didn't leave room for futzing around, so she just started draping. But she didn't use any prints or crazy colors, which is quite the achievement for her. So she's listening to the judges. But if she were listening to the fans, she'd do something with sleeves. Even little cap sleeves would do it, I think. Laura was inspired by the classic black dress with white cuffs, but she's going to "really vamp it up." If she were listening to the fans, she'd do a halter dress. Michael explains that he wants to keep the base of the dress simple and then add his by-hand details on top. If he were listening to the fans, he'd be too busy getting married and fathering children to ever design again.

Work work work. Kayne tells the sewing room that he's going to "love this dress" when he's done. It's a dress he'd make for one of his "favorite pageant girls." Laura warns him about the judges, but Kayne assures her that it will be couture instead of pageant. Laura interviews that Kayne has a tendency to go all Las Vegas with his designs, and his gold mesh is looking like a pageant gown. I wish someone would explain exactly what the difference is, other than "taste" and maybe "too much sparkly stuff." Jeffrey thinks it's a prom gown. See? Is it a Vegas prom gown? I need definitions. Kayne says it will be "fun," but it will also be a "miracle" if he can get the mesh to behave the way he wants it to.

One hour to go. Vincent interviews that the pattern will demonstrate his level of couture work. I thought the dress was supposed to do that. Laura interviews, "Vincent is a legend in his own mind;" he spends a lot of time admiring his pattern and getting the other designers to come over and offer admiring opinions. Vincent asks Kayne if he likes it; Kayne says he "honestly" loves it, which means he's lying. Vincent says, "Matte reverse," which I just don't understand at all. Kayne nods his head, so maybe it means something to him. Laura asks Michael if he'll be able to pull off all his planned scallop work; he's going to try.

Morning again. Jeffrey pulls out his electric razor. Still bundled up in bed, Vincent grumps, "What's wrong with you? You see me sleeping here. What's wrong with you?" You want a complete list, or just the short version? But Jeffrey goes out on the balcony to shower the streets of Paris with his chin fuzz.

In the workroom, Tim comes through for a checkup. Michael explains his plan of detail over a basic shape; he and Tim are both worried about time. Laura's basic dress is finished and she's working on the collar. Tim asks how far she's planning to take it, and Laura explains that it's the only way she has to make an impression. Tim thinks it should be "exuberant" and completely overshadow the dress. Laura agrees. I have this picture in my mind based on Tim's advice, and I think the fabric in Laura's hands needs to be a lot bigger. Kayne's bodice is causing Tim some concerns. He doesn't like seeing the boning through the mesh. Kayne interviews that Tim "hates" his dress but Kayne is in love with it. Which is fine, unless love is blind. He hopes Tim will see that when he's finished with it. Did Kayne ever go to design school? Because one would think he'd be a little better dealing with constructive criticism if he had. Although the spanking he got for his Elvis outfit was a little unfair, so I can see how he might be feeling defensive.

Jeffrey has a manic fit, laughing hysterically as he compares designing a couture gown in 2 days to making an "atom bomb" in 2 days. Laura is worried that Kayne "is going to have his head handed to him on a reedeecoolous plate tomorrow." She doesn't want to see him get hurt. Ever the humanitarian, Jeffrey wonders, "Who cares if he gets hurt?" Laura, for one. She just said so. Duh! Jeffrey continues that no one would buy Kayne's dress "unless it's Halloween." I think people sitting in the midst of a plaid explosion are not in the best position to throw pumpkins. Kayne relates that Tim is worried about the corset, but he'll just have to do what he can. Laura interviews that her dress needs to demonstrate "that couture thing goin' on" and she was doing that with the collar. She has a sign at her table:



In the sewing room, Vincent tells Jeffrey, "Laura made a Creature from the Black Lagoon dress." Jeffrey knows. Vincent is stunned by the collar; the dress is horrible. Hmm, I seem to recall someone else making a basic black dress with an exaggerated collar. Jeffrey calls it "boring." He interviews that Laura doesn't understand couture and she only knows how to do one thing. This from the guy who has made only one dress that didn't involve vertical strips of fabric, and that dress used horizontal tiers of vertically pleated fabric. Meanwhile, Laura has made a coat, a scoop-necked gown, a suit, a cropped short-sleeve jacket, pants, a mini dress, a collared button shirt and pencil skirt, and a cocktail dress. Jeffrey has shown range by bedazzling his crotch. Shut up, Jeffrey.

The clock ticks down to four hours. Vincent comes over to inspect Michael's handiwork. He interviews that the dress is poorly made, "unfortunately." He advises Michael to hide the threadwork. Michael explains that the whole bodice will have hand-sewn ruching, which is something he's never done. While eating chicken (in the workroom? Get your greasy fingers outta there!), Jeffrey opines that Michael is doing what Malan was attempting in his Miss USA dress. Michael guesses that's a compliment, and Jeffrey confirms. Vincent explains that he's crunched for time. Let that be a lesson to you -- less time admiring, more time sewing. As he sews, Kayne proclaims, "Sometimes you just gotta take a risk." Vincent(?) replies, "How about I couture your face?" and then cackles with laughter. Work work work. Uli stiches the bodice by hand. She interviews that she's pleased; her dress is recognizably "an Uli dress" but it's also a couture gown.

Jeffrey announces that he's the only one doing an actual couture gown, since his is "85%" hand sewn. If it's only 85%, it's not actual couture. Laura argues that it just has to "look handmade." Jeffrey tells her she doesn't have anything handmade, and she points out that she just spent a day making the collar by hand. Jeffrey announces that he doesn't have any glue on his dress. I think they're all just too tired to throw him out the window, so they have to humor him. More work.

Midnight arrives. They get to take the Metro back to the hotel. Laura explains that they'll be presenting their gowns the next day, and they're all pooped. On the train, Jeffrey says, "I've never been this delirious." Oh, is that how he's explaining his behavior? Laura explains that it's harder for her, with the pregnancy, and her feet and ankles are giving out. Back at the hotel, Laura goes to lie down while the others decompress. Kayne relates that Tim is down on his gown, but he "looooves" his dress. Vincent and Michael turn in.

In the morning, Uli and Laura come up to the guys' room before they're ready. Jeffrey has just gotten his pants on and Uli has to urge "Mr. Kayne" to get out of bed. As we watch him groom, Kayne explains that everyone is very serious and focused on what needs to get done.

Off to Parsons Paris. They have 3 hours until the party. Jeffrey wonders what Catherine expects. Uli interviews that Vincent hasn't finished the dress and the fabric for the skirt "looks a little bit like a sofa." Whoa, is he cutting out the skirt now? That's just insane. (Yes, I know, it's Vincent. Still.) Michael needs to finish the bodice. He's not entirely happy with it, but he's trying to make it look couture. Tim arrives and delivers the standard prep-the-models message. Laura asks if they have a runway presentation, but Tim "can't say." Which could mean "I don't know" or "I'm not allowed to tell you."

Uli meets her model. She interviews that Ida is "tall and pale," which will help set off her dress. Vincent is stretched out of the floor, pinning the hem, when Tim asks him what he's doing. Vincent gives him the literal answer. Tim asks if he'll have time to hand-sew the hem and Vincent says, "Yes, of course." Tim's like, "Of course?" and Vincent's like, "I have to" and Tim's like, "Whatever, crazy dude." Vincent adds ribbon to the waist of the gown. Michael explains that his model (Amandine?) is four sizes smaller than what he was expecting (which makes her about a size -3, I'm guessing), and now he's stressing over the adjustments. Laura warns her poor model that the dress is going to be really hot, since it's a long-sleeved wool gown. In June? Ouch. The poor model says, "Yeah, but it's really nice." So at least she'll be uncomfortable in service of something she likes. Kayne laces his model into the gown. Vincent assures the model that she won't get dripped on as he tacks things with glue. However, the dress is off the model when Tim finds him gluing the ribbon trim at the waist. Vincent explains that he wanted this final "treatment" and he didn't have time to sew. Tim ascertains that he also glued the hem; Vincent blames the clock. Tim thinks it's a shame he had to resort to gluing because that "discounts" the rest of his work. Vincent is like, "Yeah, yeah, whatever." Tim finally says, "Just keep gluing the hell out of it" and goes away before he's forced to do violence to either Vincent or the gown, take your pick. Vincent interviews that he doesn't have time to make a couture gown. Or even a well-made gown, apparently. Tim gives them the five-minute alarm. Laura interviews that they don't know anything about where they're going, they just know it's a party and they'll present the gowns to Catherine. Michael tells his model that the dress sucks, so she'll just have to fake it and sell it as best she can. And everyone is shooed out the door.

Jeffrey interviews about the whole "we don't know where we're going" thing. They walk along a street (in couture gowns?) to a landing for a bateau mouche (a river boat) on the Seine. Vincent recaps the venue and says it will be beautiful. "What else more could you ask for?" Eggs! Some joker up on his balcony tosses raw eggs at the festive party. They scurry aboard. Michael's dress got splattered. He recaps the events, in case we forgot what we just saw. He needs champagne.

Up top, Tim greets Catherine and presents the designers with their models. Catherine commiserates that the challenge was "extremely difficult" but she's impressed on first view. Time for a toast. Kayne, wearing a beret and some silly painted-on facial hair, does a bad French recap of the party scenario, in case we forgot what we just saw again. What's up with the Short Attention Span Theater?

Catherine asks Jeffrey to decipher his neck tattoo because it's hard to read. He points out his son's name and then the (bad) Italian for "the love of my life." Catherine asks about his gown's inspiration and Jeffrey names the Statue of Liberty. Yeah, not seeing it. Catherine takes a look at the back. She thinks it's quite "audacious" to make an evening gown from cotton. It's audacious to make an evening gown that reveals your model's underwear, too.

She finds it "interesting" that Laura's dress covers the arms, and Laura explains that she's always cold. Yes, that would be why most people cover their chests with fabric.

Kayne explains that he wanted a structured corset and he used the lacing to adjust the fit. Catherine thinks the lacing is "brave" and the fit is perfect; that's difficult to achieve. Kayne interviews that she gave him "great compliments" on his gown, so he felt optimistic.

Catherine tells Michael that a couture is "all about the detail" and being able to admire the detail from up close. You can just see Michael thinking, "No, don't get close!" She asks about the construction, and he talks about molding the ruching by hand. He interviews that the dress is just "horrible," but he tells Catherine that the model "wears it well."

Catherine tells Vincent it's been "a long time" since she's seen an evening gown with shoulder pads. She asks about his inspiration; Vincent doesn't know, but he likes the dress. He doesn't know what inspired him? This is like when Tim asked him what he'd made for the recycling challenge and Vincent had no idea. How can you expect to succeed in a creative field if you can't understand, let alone control, your own creative process? "I'm just winging it" is not a sound basis for a business. "It turns me on" is a sound basis for business only if you're dealing in porn. Speaking of obscene, Vincent starts fawning over Catherine. He finishes by asking if she's wearing her own (designed) shoes; she disclaims. He asks her to tell him -- honestly -- if his dress is too much of "a throwback" or if it's modern. She calls it "interesting."

Catherine asks to see the dresses move, so they have an impromptu runway. Tim provides Catherine with score cards, which he will take back to New York to be added to the scores there. Business over, it's time to party. Jeffrey interviews that it was nice to be able to relax in Paris. Uli asks Catherine if she likes her gown, and Catherine calls it "light" and "effortless." Kayne compliments a couple of the French models; American models are very good but they are "superb." There's a shot of an al fresco tango class along the river. Michael doesn't want the evening to end. But they need to go home and get on with the competition. He kisses Catherine's hand as he thanks her for the evening. Laura shows how her fringe shimmies as she voiceovers basically the same thing Michael said. Socializing, socializing, socializing.

New York. Laura interviews that it was nice to work in Paris, but she's eager to show their work to the judges in New York and see who will be in. Up in the workroom, Tim announces that the models are imminent and they have two hours to get ready. Kayne explains the two-model challenge to Amanda. He interviews that his Paris model was 3" smaller all around, so he has some adjusting. Marilinda barks as Jeffrey fits his dress; I don't think she's calling it a dog, though. Vincent explains to Jia, as he glues some more, that only a few designers are left. Laura's ruffles have been flattened in travel, so she's trying to revive them. Hair. Makeup. Time to go.

Heidi is wearing a decent, if uninspired, strapless little black dress. She asks if they enjoyed their Paris detour and everyone of course says they did. Michael also says, "Thank you." Manners are good. Heidi does the usual housekeeping. When Heidi says they were asked to "pay special attention to hand sewing, construction and detail," the camera shifts to Vincent. Ah, those crafty editors. The guest judge is Richard Tyler, who designed the product-placed flight attendant uniforms from the last episode. Heidi teases some more about future benefits which will accrue to winning, and it's showtime!

Quiz time! Uli goes first. She wanted show hand details but hide the seams. Heidi likes how she toned down her usual style. Michael calls it "elevated" and definitely not suitable for flipflops. Richard Tyler loves it; he thinks it's unfinished, but the color and cut are great.

Kayne wanted something with visible structure, so he used a gold mesh with boning. The handwork came in cutting out the beaded lace and sewing it on as appliqués, and also with the ribbon detail. Richard Tyler finds it busy. Nina thinks he throws in too many details (Kayne has a look on his face like "Here we go again") and he should restrain himself a little. Michael praises his construction and he loves the ombre chiffon, but it got overpowered. The comments are kind of harsh but the tone is restrained, so I don't think they're saying they absolutely hate it.

Heidi calls on Jeffrey and he looks like he's waking from a nap. Or a daydream: "If Angela were here, I'd be all In your face! And she'd be all, Why are you so mean to me? and I'd be all, 'Cause you SUCK! Ha ha ha! And then she'd be all crying, and I'd -- Oh, hey, that's my name. Heidi wants me bad." He talks about being ambushed by the fabrics; he loves the color. It was mostly handmade. Nina applauds his creative risk-taking. Michael explains how people might think Jeffrey is all dark and goth, but here he's using color in a way that still true to his aesthetic (which Michael pegged before as ugly/beautiful). Richard Tyler asks to see the back again. Marilinda almost takes out Jeffrey and Vincent while spinning around; those straps are not OSHA-certified. Richard Tyler says it's not perfect -- and how could it be? -- but the model "obviously loves wearing it."

Heidi asks Vincent what he did by hand and Vincent says, "So, I used very expensive fabric." Oh, there's a convincing dodge. He talks about the sleeve detail; the dress is "soft and feminine and I like it." Michael doesn't care for the sleeve, but if you're going to do something like that, it should fit. Vincent shrugs that he "took a chance." Vincent is the king of non sequiturs today. Nina finds the top confusing; she'd rather see the back as the front, because the front doesn't fit. Vincent mumbles he "knew it" about the front. Richard Tyler hates the glued-on flower.

Michael's inspiration was the architecture of Paris. The bodice is done with his first-ever attempt at hand-ruching. Nina doesn't care for the execution. Michael Kors thinks it looks like a returned loaner. Michael explains how they were ambushed by an egg thrower. Heidi doesn't like the "bunny ears" sticking up from the neckline over the bust. Richard Tyler "really" hates them. Heidi asks him to tuck them in, and the judges are all much happier.

Laura wanted something really dramatic. Richard Tyler is bothered by the collar. The judges want it to be livelier. Nina thinks it looks like old Yves Saint Laurent (so Angela is not alone in having her clothes taken for his). Michael says that a shorter skirt and a feather duster would turn Camilla into a French maid. To the delight of many viewers, perhaps, but that doesn't help Laura.

Heidi sends them off so the judges can confer. Catherine loved Uli's dress, and Heidi thinks it's the one she'd wear. Michael says it was three-dimensional and showed "a lot of handwork." Jeffrey got stars and a "magnifique" from Catherine. Michael thinks he did a great job; the model hit the runway with lots of energy and the look was youthful. Richard Tyler calls it "really, really cute." Yeah, I don't think "cute" is really the right word. "Impressive," maybe, but it's too shapeless for "cute." Catherine panned Michael and his "heavy draping." Richard Tyler blames Michael for letting his dress get egged. That's just ridiculous. When is he showing next, and what's the best way to smuggle eggs? Kayne gets compliments for the bustier, but Catherine finds it "old." Well, so much for it being a prom dress, then. The judges beat up on him for being "tacky." Okay, needing definitions again. They complained about it being busy, not tacky. Nina worries that he just doesn't have taste. Michael thinks poor Jia was "basically topless" and the sleeves were weird. Richard Tyler doesn't get the sleeves, either. Michael also pans the flower. Catherine's comments: "No. No, no, no." Nina thought Laura's dress was obvious and old. Michael and Richard Tyler say it was just dead. We don't get to hear Catherine's thoughts.

The designers return. Straight to the win. Jeffrey takes it. I'm not terribly surprised. I'm not thrilled, but I'm not surprised. However, he does not have immunity. Uli smiles and Michael congratulates him as he passes. He has a little party in the waiting room by himself. He interviews that it feels amazing and whatever else happens, he has his two in a row. He must be feeling good -- not a word about Angela. We'll see how long that lasts. Uli is in. Michael is in. Kayne is in. He wishes Laura luck as he passes; the safe designers welcome him. Vincent is spanked for the lack of finishing and detail; the fit was bad and it was confusing. Laura's dress was old and predictable; she has done better. So now I'm praying that Laura stays, because I want to see her collection. Plus, if they keep Vincent yet again, I'm going to have an aneurysm. I'm pretty sure they're going to boot Vincent, especially if they ever bothered to inspect the gown, but you can't be sure. Laura is in. Vincent is out. Yay! Laura gets hugs from Uli and Michael. Heidi looks sad as she gives Vincent his auf wiedersehn. She always had a soft spot for him. I really don't know why.

Vincent tells his fellow designers that he had fun. He interviews that he's sad to be out "for whatever reason;" he really wanted to show a collection. Tim manages to sound suitably regretful in sending Vincent to clear out his space, and gives him a hug. Then he runs home and busts out the champagne. Once again, we hear about the cashing in of the 401(k). Vincent is happy he took this chance, because the show put him in a good place. He finishes with another reference to "getting off." And off he has been gotten. It's about damn time.

All in all, that was a whole lot of bad on the runway. I can see why the judges were so interested in Jeffrey's gown, and it isn't just Marilinda (although I give her a lot of credit for that walk). It was an ambitious undertaking, and they had to respect that. I don't think it's a particularly attractive dress, but what were the alternatives? Uli's dress was lovely, but it didn't have a lot of impact. If she had used a stronger color, like Michael's blue, maybe it would have been more striking. But I think she wanted something softer to contrast with her print dresses, so that's a fair choice. Kayne's dress had the beautiful skirt, but the corset overpowered it. Think back to the first challenge, when the combination of Jeffrey's jacket with Jeffrey's dress was just too much. It's essentially the same thing. If Kayne really wanted to work with the idea of visible structure, he should have worked the mesh into the skirt as well. So he had ambitions, but not quite enough. Michael was also saved by his ambition; although his bodice was a mess, he made an attempt in the spirit of the challenge. As did Laura. Her collar fell flat, but when it worked, it looked pretty good. Given Catherine's scorecard and the length of the judging session, I suspect the judges realized that it showed better in Paris. I suspect they wanted to fire a warning shot across Laura's bow, just as they did with Uli last episode. So we'll have to see what happens in the next challenge.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


No Stones, Please

Previously on Design Star: Everything. David, Alice and Tym scattered across the country to create dream rooms for three contest winners. Cynthia thought everyone was talented. Tym got the boot. David and Alice hugged. And previews of stuff that I'm going to wind up describing anyway, so why duplicate effort?

Clive is in Bryant Park, where two glass houses have been constructed in a stone plaza by a fountain. He urges "America" to watch and vote both at the HGTV web site and by text message. They have confusingly designated the letter "A" for David and the letter "B" for Alice. Why on earth wouldn't you use A for Alice? Seriously, what were they thinking? Here I've been watching this show all these weeks, and I've had some questions about things here and there, but I assumed that the people in charge were reasonably intelligent and had some idea of what they were doing, and now I find out they're really morons. It's disappointing.

Anyway, Alice and David have had a chance to go home and repair their sleep deficits. But now they're returning to New York and they have no idea what awaits them. David gets off a product-placed plane and walks through the airport. He interviews that he feels the pressure but he's not going to let it freak him out. Alice has her product-placed arrival. She interviews that the rest has done them good, and now they're recharged and ready to get to it. As he rides in a non-product-placed van, David explains that you can't prepare for a challenge when you have no idea what it is, so you just have to rely on your instincts. He arrives at a product-placed hotel. In her non-product-placed van, Alice recognizes that this last challenge could be "life-changing" and she's had a lot of anxiety, wondering what it will be. She also arrives at the product-placed hotel, whose lobby is entirely too red for me.

Upstairs, David finds a fancy-shmancy suite. He interviews that he really wants to win. Alice arrives and they hug and rock. She interviews that it's an "honor" to compete against David. They laugh at the suite's artwork, which was apparently transported from the brownstone's parlor. Alice interviews that she respects his talents, and that pushes her to step up her game. They talk about what might be in store. David doesn't want a makeover. Alice doesn't want a kitchen. David interviews that they've become close, even though they're so different. Alice interviews that she'll be happy for David if he wins. She wants it, but she wants it for him, too. They both say they'll be okay with losing to the other. They toast.

Morning. They're having tea in their bathrobes when Clive arrives (not wearing a bathrobe). David interviews about wondering just to drag out the suspense. Clive delivers the challenge parameters: individual spaces, 26 hours to work, shopping, access to tools. He'll meet them at the challenge location.

Now dressed, Alice and David ride in a big, black limo. (David opens the door for Alice because he's a gentleman.) In the car, they both wish Clive had been just a tad more forthcoming. They like having an even playing field. The limo arrives at the park and they get their first glimpse of the glass houses. David interviews that he was expecting something crazy, but not this. Bystanders cheer. Alice interviews that her reaction to the glass houses was, "Oh, my." Clive welcomes them. He reveals that they can create any room they want. The clock starts ticking. Alice and David marvel that they can do anything. They wish each other luck and get to work.

Alice interviews that this is the hardest challenge -- "the dilemma of choice." If you can do anything, how do you choose? David interviews that his brain hurts from thinking about everything, not just the view from the inside but the view from the outside. He's having a hard time grappling with it all. After taking measurements, they emerge from their respective houses and spot Jay McCarroll from season 1 of Project Runway, which is the model for this show. He doesn't flee at their approach, so they get to talk to him. Jay's advice is, "Have it represent you. This is not the time to pull out some kind of like surprise statement. But don't play it safe, either." (By the way, the closed captions suck.) He wishes them luck. That was pretty cool. Best of luck at Fashion Week, Jay!

Next stop is a product-placed flooring trailer. Alice selects a bamboo floor in a natural finish. David has a "stunning" hand-carved teak. Now they're free to run around and go shopping. This is a prospecting trip rather than a buying trip. David interviews that they wanted to hit as many stores as possible to get information. Alice interviews about the inside/outside perspective on the room.

David gets back to the hotel first and looks pooped, but gets to work on his design. Alice comes back and they talk things over. She interviews that she feels worried about time; she needs to shop some more, and that means nothing will be happening on the room. David interviews that a carpenter would be really nice.

Another morning. David interviews that he worked out the concept -- Japanese -- but he needs more time. Alice has decided on a child's room. They're both worried about time. They arrive at the park to find "the dreaded paint cans." Clive recaps the voting procedure. The clock has 21 hours on it. Clive announces that he's "brought some friends" to help out. Temple and Tym climb out of a cab. Hugs all around. Tym cut his hair! I like it better; he's not so fluffy-looking. Clive explains the process: one paint can has a star. That person picks who they'll work with today. They'll switch on the second day. So that evens things out pretty well. David has the star. He picks Tym to handle the building while he shops.

The designers take their helpers into the space and review the plans. David has a big headboard. He tells Tym that Alice is doing a children's room, which is funny because that's what David does professionally. Alice talks about her colors and a hanging lantern. They all head out. Alice relates that she has shopped with Temple before, and she "makes great suggestions," so it should be a good team effort. The floors are installed in their absence. David and Tym are at the lumberyard; David wants to let Tym get to work on the bed. David is happy with his labor strategy. Alice picks out some furniture. David consults about fabric to drape his bed and buys stuff. Tym builds. Buy, buy, buy. Alice still needs to find beds and still needs time. Back at Bryant Square, Tym builds and someone wishes him luck. He interviews about all the nice people who came by to watch. He even signs some autographs. Hey, slacker, shouldn't you be working? Alice returns to find a family from New Jersey brandishing a supportive poster. She tells them she'll try not to disappoint them.

Tym unveils the completed headboard. He and David manage to squeeze it through the doors (Tym measured -- accurately, thank goodness). Alice and Temple work on art. Alice is glad they're not rushing through it last minute and just slapping it on. At the end of the day, Clive arrives with pizza. The teams have a little pizza picnic and discuss their progress. Alice is still worried about time and finding everything. She interviews that the others assured her she'd be fine, but what else could they say? David tells Temple and Tym that he and Alice are so happy to have their help, because they were freaking out about time. They share a toast. It's nice to see them all together, getting along so well. Not many reality shows would have this kind of camaraderie amongst the final four.

The next day, we skip the wakey-wakey shots and get right to the park. Temple and Tym are waiting as Alice and David arrive. David reviews the plan with Temple. She interviews that David knows how hard she can work. Alice shows Tym pictures of some of her items. David wants to make a shoji screen. Alice discusses her headboard plan with Tym. They go out shopping while Temple and David build. David gets Temple started on the vellum shoji effect on the back wall and heads out. Alice finds a rug that she likes and some drapes that she's not crazy about, but she needs something. On returning, David is happy that Temple is burning through her list of chores. Work work work. David is creating an indoor/outdoor box. He tells Temple that he's nervous because he knows Alice will do something great. Tym and Alice hang her light fixture. She says she loves it, but perhaps she's too tired to work up any real enthusiasm.

Clive arrives in the rain to announce three visitors: the (former) judges. Alice interviews that she was surprised to see all three; one or two dropping by was all she expected. Hugs. David interviews that he was worried about their feedback. His room goes first. He explains that he's doing a Zen bedroom inspired by all the glass. Vern likes that he's doing fewer things, but on a bolder scale. Martha asks about color; David says it will be minimal. Vern would like even just a pop of color. Cynthia asks about schedule and David tells them that Temple is the hardest worker amongst the four. Temple interviews that it was nice to be praised like that. The judges decide to leave before David kicks them out so he can get back to work.

Over in Alice's room, she says her inspiration came from the park, and it seemed natural to do a child's room. Vern likes the glass dots on the upper walls; he and Martha want more of them for a bigger statement. Alice is fresh out but she might be able to get more. Cynthia worries that the curtains in the corners are "obvious." Martha thinks the curtains are too "rooted in reality" for a fantasy room. Cynthia wants "bigger and bolder strokes" and something soft for the floor. Alice tells them about her rug; they all seem dumbfounded by the proposed yellow color. Vern urges her to follow her instincts but go bolder.

Alice interviews that she appreciated the judges' advice but it made her nervous. She reviews that they didn't like the curtains, they didn't like the rug. Tym asks her what America will like, and that calms her down. She goes out shopping again, making some adjustments. Work work shop work. Alice returns with more glass dots. Tym interviews that she had a plan worked out when she came back.

As darkness falls, Clive arrives to stop the work. They'll have one hour to finish everything tomorrow. Alice interviews that she still has a lot left to do. Clive explains that they'll do on-camera presentations of their rooms. David interviews that he's nervous about that part, because he hasn't done well before. Clive recaps the voting instructions yet again and sends Temple and Tym away. Alice is bummed; she could use the help.

Ah, the wakey-wakey shots are back. It's early in the morning, still dark. Also, still rainy. At Bryant Park, the designers wish each other luck and charge into the last hour. Alice has to rush through a lot of last-minute stuff, like making the beds. David is shirtless again. It seems to be his typical response to stress. Work work rush work. They pass countdown ticks back and forth. Clive calls time. David puts on a shirt. Clive reviews the contest and it's time for the presentations. The judges will be on hand to watch and critique, but the decision is no longer theirs.

See Alice's room at

Alice interviews that the judges had her a little worried, but she felt fine on camera. She calls her room an "Alice in Wonderland Through the Looking Glass-inspired children's bedroom." I like the name, but I don't think it really comes out in the room. You need flamingos and playing cards and grinning cats and a tea party for that name. Vern thinks the colors are "really popping on camera." Alice describes using color, functionality, shapes and graphic images. Martha is impressed with her presence. Alice advises parents to include pick some grown-up pieces instead of sticking only to kids furniture.

The judges love the presentation; now it's time to see the room up close. Alice, David and Clive stand outside and watch. The judges all call it "cute." Martha would like to see more references to the Alice in Wonderland theme, like maybe mirrors. Vern would like the beds facing the park instead of the street. Alice is trying to suss out what they're saying. So am I. Cynthia says something about the twin beds with dresser between; it seems disapproving, but I can't make it out and the stupid captions don't include it. Vern thinks Alice is being true to her femininity. Martha likes the rug, but maybe not for this room. Vern likes the mix of child and adult in the furniture. Cynthia tries out the polar bear rocker. Clive is pretty sure that's a good sign. Martha doesn't get the artwork. Vern likes the messages, but Martha and Cynthia would rather see them spelled out in the room rather than literally spelled out. But overall, they give her a lot of credit for pulling it all together in the allotted time.

I think it's a room with some interesting elements that didn't cohere into a single statement. I like that it's colorful, but I don't see the method behind the color choices. Also, the two canvases bother me; it just seem strange to have something that solid hanging on the glass walls. I think she should have used colored window plastic to dress up the walls and ceiling. Initially, I didn't much care for the yellow rug, but now I wonder if she wanted it to blend in with the bamboo floors. I'm not impressed with the headboards; I think they could have made more impact with color, but that would require choosing specific colors to highlight rather than working with a kaleidoscope. Vern has a point about arranging the beds to see the view, but I think that would cut down on the space available for playing. I do like how she worked in some storage pieces; the locker storage unit is a good choice for a kid's room.

See David's room at

Now it's David's turn. He takes a minute to pray and collect himself. The first feature he describes is the indoor/outdoor box. The judges think his presentation style has improved. He talks about some of the elements in the room, including the lighting, with which he's obsessed. But first, check out the floors. While his manner has improved, his presentation content isn't nearly as polished as Alice's; he jumps around a lot. Vern thinks he's "Mr. Smooth." He talks about the sculpture and the lighting. Vern loves the lights.

The judges go in to inspect. Vern finds the room "sophisticated." More attempts to deduce the judges' opinions by David, Alice and Clive. Too bad none of 'em know how to lip read. Martha wants the pebble rug he put outside the door. Vern longs for just a spot of color. Martha guesses he didn't want to take their advice. Cynthia figures it's a confident room, so he doesn't care what they think. David tells Alice and Clive about the judges' color suggestion. Martha and Vern agree it's serene. They all stretch out on the bed and marvel at the view. Then they test out the chairs. The view into the room is good, too. Martha calls it "transporting."

This room makes a much stronger and more coherent visual statement than Alice's, but is it a room that could be lived in? I don't like the placement of a tall lamp on one side of the bed; that's just asking for an accident. There's no storage, although there's room on the bed platform to set down a book. I don't know why anyone would need three chairs in a bedroom -- does the middle one serve as an occasional table for the outer two? -- and the chairs don't look all that comfy. I do, however, love the indoor/outdoor box, the headboard and the drapes over the bed. Now, if he had just added a nice green pillow in the middle of the bed, Vern and I would both be so happy.

Vern sums it up that the judges are proud of all of them and they both deserve to be there. Hugs!

Under a big umbrella, Clive kicks off a recap of each designer. Lots of happy stuff. Yay, designers! We see Alice's room again and then David's. Clive recaps the voting thing yet again, and we're done.

If only I knew how to vote....

This challenge didn't change my mind about anything. David has a very strong visual sense and experience has improved his presentation style, but he needs a writer. As a designer, Alice is less artistic and more functional; as a presenter, she's smoother and more organized. They both have their strong points. As for who would be best suited for a show, it depends on the show. Either one could do well with the right format. So this whole final challenge was kind of a waste of time. The main problem is that it once again squashed the design process into a very unreasonable timeframe. This makes for good television (presumably) but the design suffers for it. If you really want to see what designers can do, give them a couple of weeks to put a room together and let them shop from the resources they're already familiar with, instead of dumping them in the middle of a strange city and yelling, "Go!" Or let them present a few rooms from their existing body of work, so we can see their range. Either way, we'd learn more about the contestants abilities. We've already had six shows to see how they respond to a time limit, so the final should show us something else.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Ready, Set, Jet!

Previously on Project Runway: Heidi challenged them to design for an everyday woman. Angela spazzed out. Laura saw her mom standing next to Heidi. Robert was terrified. Vincent was sane. Darlene objected to Jeffrey's treatment of her; Jeffrey played dumb. Angela declared Jeffrey the ass. Jeffrey didn't want Darlene even standing at his table. She went away and was upset. Moms and sisters on the runway! Vincent won. (Strangely, the world continued to spin in the same direction.) Robert was boring again and got the boot.

Kayne mourns the departure of his snark partner, but he's happy to still be in it. Vincent interviews that the win was a nice boost. Uli tells Laura she can really see the pregnancy now. Laura asks, "So you don't think I'm just making it up to get attention?" Jeffrey must be so jealous he can't work that particular angle. Uli teases that she used to think it was just attention-seeking, but now she knows better. This is not the kind of attention Laura is really looking for. Laura interviews that her herd of children have never held her back in the past, so another child isn't going to hold her back now. She's confident she belongs in the final three.

Vincent appears to be packing. Maybe unpacking. Who knows, maybe he's looking for something to gag Jeffrey with. Jeffrey is griping that he's not going to let Angela come down and smoke while he's trying to sleep, which happened to Michael. Like Angela wants to be any closer to Jeffrey than she absolutely has to be. I suspect she'd rather give up smoking. Jeffrey interviews that he's happy to have survived the nightmarish experience of the previous challenge, wherein Angela tried to get him booted. Aw, did the big, mean hippie dippie give the poor widdle badass rawk star a hard time? Angela recaps that Jeffrey was a big poopie-head to her mom.

Challenge time. But first, model time. But first, Heidi has scary bangs now. Everybody stays with her or his current model. It's interesting that Uli doesn't steal Nazri from Michael, even though she has the chance. Kayne, with the final choice, stays with Amanda because she really works the runway. None of the other models congratulate her on her survival. Lindsay interviews that Amanda has a misplaced sense of entitlement. Danielle and Alexandra are out. Poor Danielle, she lost her Robert. But I'll miss Alexandra more; I like her style. The models hug their departing compatriots.

Heidi delivers the challenge: designing for a hip international jet setter. Jeffrey interviews, "The first thing I thought about was me." When is that not the first thing he thinks about? Kayne guesses Tara Reid, who "always took off her tops and showed her boobies" on her travel show. Please be wrong. Even if it means another Hilton. (Actually, Nicky was pretty decent, given my lowered expectations.) Heidi passes them on to Tim for the details. But before they go, she drops the hint that winning will have future benefits.

In the workroom, Tim explains that the hip international jet setters are the designers themselves. Angela spazzes out. Almost everyone else looks pleased -- Uli cheerfully interviews that she's already "an international, trendy jet setter" so that works for her -- but Vincent is bummed about having to do his first men's clothing. The designers will model their outfits on the runway. They have $75 for materials, 1 day for construction and 15 minutes to sketch.

Angela interviews that a jet setter is someone with lots of money who can just fly around the world. Michael names Paris Hilton; Jeffrey mentions "rock stars." Kayne says a jet setter is "always on the go." Vincent thinks they'd need clothes that don't wrinkle. Kayne lists the requirements as "comfortable, breathable, something that's going to travel well." Angela interviews that she lives in isolated rurality, so she can't grasp flying around the world "just to go to parties." Living on a farm kills off your imagination? Is it the methane from the cows or what? Laura draws a cocktail dress, of course, because she doesn't want to run out of time. Vincent tells Jeffrey about his lack of menswear experience. Jeffrey thinks the challenge is tailor-made for him. He's doing a blazer, a T-shirt and pants; his only problem will be executing it all. Well, if he's really worried about time, he can just whip up an ugly patchwork sack dress; he knows he can get that done in a day.

Shopping at Mood. Vincent holds up some fabric in a mirror. Kayne drapes some fabric over a clerk's back. (I hope he's a clerk and not some poor, unsuspecting customer.) Kayne relates how he found a "gorgeous Versace silk burnout fabric" to decorate the back of a black shirt. Jeffrey interviews that Kayne is tacky and "Liberace/Vegas." He himself has found a waxed purple wool which is "really pretty." Why no, he wasn't sarcastic. Tim checks up on Angela and reminds her to be hip. Is it still hip to be square? That's pretty much Angela's only hope at this point. Michael describes his outfit as "Hamptons meets the 'hood." I hope the 'hood has money or it's going to get snubbed.

Back in the workroom, Uli lays out her selection of prints. Laura puts on a Germanic accent to exclaim, "Wow, it's an Uli explosion!" Uli interviews how she takes her "party dresses" with her when she travels to exotic locations. They work "even if you get vasted." Is that wise? An Uli dress could be a psychedelic experience when you're drunk. Angela doesn't know any international jet setters. There's her cousin Jack, who travels around the world hunting; his sister calls him the "Hillbilly Jet Setter." Probably not what the judges have in mind. The luxurious European lifestyle is "foreign" to her. Yes, we got that from the Jubilee Jumbles story. Vincent gleefully makes a pattern for pants from his own pants, which means he's standing around in his boxers. He interviews that he'd like to work in his boxers every day; maybe it will become a trend. Hey, if pajama bottoms can become daywear, why not boxers? [Insert standard geezer rant on declining standards of decency.]

Time passes. Work happens. In the sewing room, Jeffrey announces that it would be okay to get booted with an outfit he loved, because that would mean that the judges just didn't get him, but getting booted with a horrible outfit would be horrible. Which contradicts his statement last week that it would have been okay to get booted on the Moms challenge, because while making clothes out of trash and dressing a dog are perfectly reasonable requests, no one could expect him to be prepared to dress a dumpy, middle-aged Midwesterner. But it turns out both statements mean the same thing: it's okay for Jeffrey to get booted as long as he can believe that the booting is not his fault. Jeffrey interviews that he made the "ugliest garment" of his life for "probably one of the most difficult people" he's ever had to work with. Yeah, yeah, the dumpy, middle-aged Midwesterner just kicked your ass around the workroom, poor thing. He brags that "it's quite an accomplishment to send something like that down the runway and still be here." Yeah, yeah, it's a testament to your "mad skillz" that Robert was boring once again.

Angela is tired of Jeffrey's wallowing. Jeffrey studies Angela while she works. Angela finally turns around and tells him to just look at her if he wants to talk to her. Jeffrey replies, "I'm so <bleep>ing frightened when I look at you." Angela didn't quite get that. Jeffrey mumbles that he doesn't want to talk to her. Angela explains that her mom is a "sensitive subject," like Jeffrey doesn't know and could care. Jeffrey claims that it was "just the nature of the challenge" that gave him a hard time and he's sorry that she's taking it personally. Whereas if she weren't taking it personally, he'd be seriously miffed at all that effort gone to waste.

Laura interviews that Jeffrey can't "let go" of his Darlene-inspired issues, but then "Jeffrey's often being an asshole." Jeffrey asks Angela why she's so annoyed; is it because he had a hard time or because she and Darlene didn't manage to get him booted with their trash-talking about the dress he so gleefully admitted was the ugliest thing he's ever done? Angela sighs and tries to reason with him that the dress sucked, but Jeffrey interrupts, "Don't give me those weird, sad eyes." Ohmigaw, y'all, he noticed her eyes! If Jeffrey isn't doing the "she makes me feel all funny inside, so she must have cooties" juvenile courtship dance, it's an excellent imitation.

Angela interviews that Jeffrey's accusations are "ridiculous" because that dress was all Jeffrey. Who says, "Angela's calculating, and she knows what she's doing, so as far as I'm concerned, she's fair game." Hang on, does Jeffrey seriously believe that Angela is some kind of strategic mastermind? Angela? Has she been kicking people's butts at chess during their downtime? Dude, if she knew what she was doing, she would have already handed you your ass on a platter, because you are just not that much of a challenge. If someone looks you straight in the eye and calls you on your crap, you fold.

Angela interviews that she wanted to rip his hair out, but she couldn't spare the time from her garment. Also, she's just not that badass. Laura is happy to be out of it; there's no time on a one-day challenge to "dick around with everyone's personal problems." Jeffrey chortles, "The madder she gets, the better I feel." Not that he's calculating or anything. Angela interviews unconvincingly that she doesn't care about Jeffrey's nastiness. As she leaves the workroom, Jeffrey chortles some more: "She's feeling the pressure." It's a good thing the workroom doesn't have windows, because I'd be tempted to dangle Jeffrey out one of them. Does he never shut up? People are trying to work!

With 7 hours to go, Kayne recaps the challenge. Vincent interviews that it's hard to make two clothing items in one day, so you just have to rush and trust your instincts. He shows his newly-made pants to Jeffrey, who thinks they look good. Vincent says he's "never made a man's thing" in his life. Guess the old dog learned a new trick.

Tim time! Jeffrey's doing "good." The pants are done and he's mocking up the blazer. Tim thinks it's "rock 'n' roll," "not boring" and completely Jeffrey. I wish we had seen Jeffrey tell Tim how the blazer fabric was "really pretty."

Laura is also trying not to be boring; I guess Robert was not aufed in vain. She thinks this dress is a bit of a departure for her, which Tim approves of. She interviews that she likes the dress, but then she liked her previous dress, too, and the judges didn't. But she's trying to respond to the judges' comments and keep it fresh.

Tim is surprised that Kayne's shirt is done, but it's not done -- he needs to add the Versace print to the back and around a sleeve. Tim worries that it's looking very Elvis, but Kayne has already noticed that. I guess that's what he wants, then.

Michael describes the meeting of breezy and urban. Tim asks what he plans to wear under the motorcycle-style jacket. Michael's proposed T-shirt gives Tim some concern. Michael figures it's about the same amount of work to turn the jacket into a short-sleeved shirt. Tim approves. Michael interviews that he had to change things around, and now he's nervous about time.

Angela has cut out her pants but she needs to assemble them, which is still a lot of work. Tim worries that the top looks "junior" and "Holly Hobbie." Angela likes Holly Hobbie. But do the judges? Angela pouts to Tim that she's worried about time.

Tim warns everyone that the morning will be "crazy" so they need to finish tonight. He leaves them with, "Carry on. I'm carrying myself on."

Only 2 hours to deadline. Work work work. Kayne decides something is wrong and rips it out. Vincent admires himself in the mirror while Jeffrey disses his outfit as "drab and conservative" and Kayne's as "Liberace." Kayne is convinced he has a winner. Angela holds up her pants. Not only are they assembled, they're decorated. Laura interviews, "Angela is clearly a talented designer, but anywhere she could stick a rosette, she did." Michael describes the two "big ones" on the butt, complete with sound effects. The camera zooms in on the seat of the pants. Each back pocket has a center rosette surrounded by a circle of attendant rosettes; another rosette is centered between the pockets; the crotch area has been somehow crinkle-textured. Well, no wonder she was worried about time.

In the sewing room, Uli frets over her dress taking so long. Jeffrey teases that hers is simple. "You couldn't even put colors together like that," she retorts. "It would be a clown's costume." Jeffrey is impressed that he's "pulling this off." He announces that he's finished, and the others have a "contender" to deal with. Angela looks doubtful. And time is up.

Outside on the patio, Michael shows Kayne his runway walk. Kayne interviews that Michael gave him some tips. Michael doesn't think just turning around is "cool," so he works a turn into a couple of steps back. Kayne admires the move. Michael interviews that he's done some modeling, and you need a sense of self. He shows Kayne how to walk "like you mean it" and Kayne tries. He says, "It's easier when you're from the ghetto. I'm from white trash." Aw, c'mon, Kayne. Britney is doing her best to make white trash hip, but she can't do it all by herself.

Morning. Wakey-wakey time. Gah! What the HELL is Angela wearing for a nightgown? I only caught a glimpse of it during the icon challenge before the camera focused on the far more pleasing sight of Alison in her leopard nightie. It looks like it has been cut down from a bedspread. I don't know if the flowers are needlepoint or applique. There's fringe. I can't think about it any more. Blech! Angela interviews that she needs to finish her top. Laura's belly is bustin' out. She's going to need a new wardrobe. Laura interviews that the stakes increase as the field shrinks and the competition gets tougher. She'd rather not get booted just yet.

At Parsons, Tim gives them just an hour for hair, makeup and fittings. Lots of finishing work. Good grief, it's only 6:15! And they finished at midnight, so they're lucky if they got 5 hours of sleep. Man, I could never be on this show. And it's even more surprising that they haven't duct-taped Jeffrey's yap already; I know I get crankier when I'm tired and I've been wanting to duct-tape him for weeks now. Jeffrey can't wait to "rock" down the runway. He asks the makeup people to fix his green tone. Sorry, dude, envy goes down to the bone. Angela has a team of stylists blowing out her hair. Uli begs for help putting on jewelry. She and Laura get styled. Michael doesn't bother with hair and makeup; he finishes his shirt and it turns out great. Kayne sews while shirtless. Not the best idea. He interviews that he just needs a little more time to achieve perfection. Jeffrey interviews that he was "a little afraid of Kayne's outfit" and calls it a "bungle." Laura interviews, "Personally, I love Kayne, but he just has this tackiness that just doesn't translate to high fashion." Tim summons the designers to the runway.

Heidi addresses her remarks to the judges this time, since the designers are elsewhere. The bangs have been parted and incorporated into a shag-like do and she's wearing a fairly cute little dress. I'm not keen on the boots, though. The guest judge is Francisco Costa, creative director of Calvin Klein. Heidi recaps the challenge and kicks off the runway show.

Heidi formally introduces the judges.

Uli's up first. She describes how she lives in Miami and gets invited to parties. She can wear the dress with flip-flops or put on high heels and go directly to the party from the plane, although the party often starts on the plane. Michael wants to be invited. Francisco finds it a "bit over the top." Michael thinks the style will work in Miami, the Caribbean, LA, south of France -- but that's kind of it. Nina throws in Hawaii. Uli protests that those are the places she usually goes. Michael sums it up as, they've seen her in similar dresses, they know this is her signature, and now they want to see something else. Well, then, don't ask her to design for herself. I agree that Uli has gone to this well far too often, but the time to nail her for that was during the icon challenge, if not sooner.

Angela has silk linen short pants and a loose top, and she added her "Angela details." She turns to show them the back and Michael just shakes his head at the sheer wrongness. He thinks linen is the worst possible choice for travel and Francisco agrees. Michael explains, "You're a mess just standing. So, I mean, traveling, you're gonna just be like a homeless person."

Laura sees a jet setter as someone who, instead of just hitting the local parties, travels to parties all over the world. So she made a party dress. Francisco thinks the knot it the back would be uncomfortable when sitting for hours on a plane, but he and Michael agree that it could be wrapped around to the front. Nina thinks the dress would be chic in all sorts of places.

Heidi asks Jeffrey where he's going and he asks, "Is it not apparent?" He pretends he's an actual rock star who'd freak out a planeload of people. He explains his background designing for people whose images make them successful (that's the music business -- talent optional as long as you have the look) and they're jet setters. Francisco loves the personality and fabric choices and color. Heidi calls it expensive; he looks like a rock star. Although, if you cover up the neck tattoo, is it rock star or wannabe? I have my suspicions. Nina finds it very current. (Psst, Michael, perhaps you haven't noticed because you can't help averting your eyes, but -- bedazzled crotch! Is that insane or what?)

Vincent likes comfort, so the pants are cotton stretch and the top is jersey. He's into minimalism, so this outfit expresses him. Heidi thinks it's really safe. Francisco likes it; this is a lifestyle, too. That would probably be the Calvin Klein lifestyle he's thinking of. Nina says it should be impeccable, and this isn't. Michael is reminded of the pajamas handed out in first class. He doesn't see any "twist." "I'm the twist," proclaims Vincent. Nina and Michael aren't buying it.

Michael imagined himself going to the Hamptons to hang with P. Diddy. He has a little bling, since he's a member of the "hip-hop generation." The seersucker is because he loves American design and American fabrics. Francisco finds it "quite smart." Nina gets it. Michael thinks seersucker is a great choice for travel, with the pre-wrinkling, and the pants are "cool."

Kayne figures he would be famous and chased by paparazzi, so he wanted to be fabulous. Nina sees Elvis. Well, Elvis was pretty fabulous. Michael likes the fit and the construction, but it's too much of a costume. As opposed to a bedazzled skull and crossbones? It's a pity the Macy's accessory wall doesn't have cowboy boots, ten gallon hats and six string guitars. I guess country music isn't as "hip" as rock music, but that's Kayne's vernacular and I can see it working for him, with a few tweaks. But Michael thinks it's the lead for "What Were You Thinking?". Unlike the bedazzled crotch.

Heidi does the usual "one of you will be named the winner and one of you will be out" speech -- and adds, "But not tonight." They want to see how well the outfits travel, so the designers are going on a trip. Angela spazzes out. They have one hour to pack, so they'd better get moving! I love it when Heidi gets all bossy and stern. It's not because she's German, either; Uli's German, too, but I can't see her pulling it off so well. The designers all scoot.

They race up to the workroom. Uli and Vincent recap the big twist. Everyone packs their design kits. Laura interviews that no one knew what to bring or how many days they'd be gone. They hike back to the apartments in the rain and pack some more. Kayne interviews that the tickets didn't show the destination, so he didn't know if it was "Iceland or Australia." Jeffrey interviews that he tried to imagine various scenarios, but who knows what it will be? Vincent would like Budapest or Istanbul. Everyone wheels out luggage. In the van, Uli hopes it won't be a 16-hour flight. They could all probably use 16 hours of sleep. Vincent thinks they wouldn't all survive a 16-hour flight. Uli's thinking a European fashion capital like London or Milan. Vincent interviews that they had to use a kiosk to find out the destination. One of the product-placed airline employees helps. Michael helps rev the suspense with an interview about his excitement. And their destination is -- Paris! There is much rejoicing. Kayne is excited because he's never been outside of the US. Jeffrey is wearing a big Eiffel Tower charm on a necklace. He interviews that most of them are inspired by European designers. Laura guesses from the seat number that it's first class. The airline person confirms it and now Laura's excited. She has already been to Paris "several" times and doesn't like flying all that much, so first class makes her happy.

Everyone is seated in the strangely capacious first class area and receives a flute of champagne. In strolls Tim. The designers are happy some more. Jeffrey interviews, "I don't know what I'm going to do after this if I can't have Tim pop up in my life every once in a while." Well, figure it out soon. Tim checks the entertainment options for Project Runway and Michael says he already checked; they don't have it. Tim thinks that needs fixing. Laura is comfortable in her dress, although she did shift the knot to the front.

Paris! Happy tourist comments in the van. Laura interviews that Paris in person is "always more beautiful" than Paris in pictures. Vincent interviews that he is wrinkle-free, except perhaps for the furrowed brow as he wonders what's up with the Paris trip. The van arrives at Parsons Paris. Michael interviews he had no idea there was a Parsons in Paris. Tim welcomes them and escorts them to their new workroom. Angela is delighted to see windows. Uli wonders why there are only six tables, and Jeffrey deduces that someone will be going home toute suite. Michael interviews that he had to steel himself for the impending boot. Everyone looks nervous. Kayne interviews that he wants to make the final "group" (I don't know if that's four or three) so he would "not be a happy camper" if he got the boot now.

Tim introduces their host judge, Catherine Malandrino. Angela interviews that she totally admires her and her line. Jeffrey is also impressed. Tim tells everyone that someone will be getting the boot in just a few minutes. Laura interviews that it's cruel to fly someone over to Paris just to boot them. Tim has the scores from the New York runway show. Catherine will score the outfit based on how it traveled and the total scores will determine the results. Everyone has to walk the "runway" again.

Tim sorts the results. Laura is in. Vincent is in. Tim has Catherine announce the winner. It's a tight race between Michael's hip-hop star and Jeffrey's rock star. Jeffrey wins. Rats! I wanted to see if his head would explode from frustration. Michael smiles and claps, because he's a nice boy. Jeffrey interviews that it felt good to finally win after having been stiffed at least once already, because he can find something to whine about in any situation. It's a gift. He figures God has finally gotten over his hangover and is back to making Jeffrey the center of the universe. Michael is in. Uli is in. Catherine spanks Kayne for looking like a "fake pop star" while Angela is "not a jet setter." Quick, Angela, tell her you're an Olsen twin! Too late. Angela is out; Kayne is safe.

Tim tells Angela she has to clean out her workspace. Did she even get a workspace? Jeffrey is thrilled and calls her an "artsy-craftsy macaroni gluer" instead of a real designer. Who nonetheless managed to win a challenge long before he did, so what does that make him? Michael interviews that he'll miss Angela for her spirit and her smile -- "there's so much about her that's really, really good." Everyone waves goodbye and Tim gives her a nice hug. Angela interviews that she's sad, but she has learned a lot. She's very open to all the possibilities the future will bring. How about the possibility of burning those pants?

Did Angela deserve the boot? Her outfit was a mess, but it was a mess with her point of view, and that always worked for Santino. Meanwhile, Vincent's outfit was boring, boring, boring. And last week, "boring" lost out to "crappy, but with a discernible point of view." This week? Angela might have squeaked through if not for the linen. That was a terrible choice for an outfit that needed to travel. What made it worse is that everyone else came through unwrinkled, so hers was the only functional failure. I can't argue with that decision. Not that I want to. Angela was never destined for the final four. She's capable of elegance, but her instincts take her over the top. Her best hope for success is with children's clothes, where all that frou-frou is darling instead of tacky.

As for the win, it comes down to taste. I don't care for Jeffrey's outfit, but it was a reasonable entry. Well, except for the bedazzled crotch. That will never stop being snicker-worthy. I'd rather they had given Laura her first win; perhaps a stronger color would have put her over the top. And I'm totally in love with the hip-hop cargo pants made out of seersucker, which is such an unhip fabric. So I disagree with the decision, but it's not a total miscarriage of justice.

Overall, the challenge needed better parameters. Uli and Kayne got beat up for being themselves, which isn't cool when they were supposed to be themselves. Uli was dinged for suiting limited destinations, but Michael's outfit was also quite beachy. Kayne was criticized for wearing a costume, but Jeffrey wasn't. At least in Uli's case, they managed to provide some constructive criticism ("we want to see something different"). I suppose what they were trying to tell Kayne was that he needed a more modern silhouette, but I think that got lost in translation.

At this point, I'm worried about the final collections. Michael could conceivably still get booted, like if he fell down the stairs and hit his head and forgot how to sew, but at this point, a serious misstep seems unlikely. Laura has a very specific style, but she has made a variety of pieces and she's loosening up a bit. I would really like to see a collection from her. If Vincent has a style, it involves dressing up the fronts of basic black garments with exaggerated details. Not interested in seeing more of that. Jeffrey and Uli have both been very limited, Jeffrey with his strips of fabric assembled into garments and Uli with her halter dresses in wild prints. I'm not interested in twelve more variations of the same. Uli at least showed some flexibility in the Mom challenge, so we'll have to see what she does next. I've liked a lot of Kayne's dresses -- his apartment dress (one unfortunate feature but otherwise quite good), his pageant gown, his doggie owner outfit, his Marilyn gown -- so at this point, he's my pick for third. Unfortunately, he's falling out of the judges' graces. I think Alison could have done an interesting collection; I'd much rather have her in the mix instead of Vincent. Malan seemed to have a strong point of view, but I didn't get to see enough of it to tell what kind of a collection he'd produce. The only other possible contender would be Keith, and I'm not interested in bringing him back. He would probably have just gotten Alison to do his collection anyway.

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