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.

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