Monday, February 18, 2008


Wherefore Art Thou

Previously on Project Runway: Lady wrestlers! Ricky went Wonder Woman. Christian agreed with Sweet P that her outfit was "hideous." Chris won. Yay! Sweet P's look was unfinished, but Ricky didn't make a costume, so he was out. Yay!

Sweet P is happily surprised that she escaped the axe. Chris is used to dealing with crunch time. Rami is determined to get to Fashion Week. Who isn't? Off to Parsons. Heidi brings out Marcia and Amanda. Chris remains loyal to Marcia, of course, so Amanda is out. She seems perfectly competent, but never really grabbed me. Heidi sends them off on another field trip with Tim. They walk the Upper East Side in the morning, arriving at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This should be good.

The designers have the place to themselves, since it's like 7 a.m. Tim tells them they'll choose a work of art to inspire their next look. Their sources are limited to the Greek & Roman sculpture courtyard, the European painting gallery and the Temple of Dendur exhibit. Of course, Rami is all over the Greek and Roman sculpture. Next up are the paintings. Christian says he's inspired by European art, a claim I find remarkable in its lack of specificity. Sweet P thinks she could have gotten away with actually touching a painting, since they were alone. Finally, the Temple of Dendur, which was plucked from its native habitat in Egypt and transplanted to New York. Chris jokes about finding Joan River's initials carved on the tomb wall, then stifles himself as his hearty laugh echoes in the gallery. Time's up! Back to Parsons.

The designers have an hour to select a photo of their inspiration and sketch. They'll get to spend $300 at Mood. Tim warns that "styling and makeup" will count. The designers choose:

Shopping! Everyone seems to be feeling the pressure of the last challenge. Back at Parsons, Tim gives them until midnight (7 hours) plus all of the next day to work. So they have ample resources (as challenges go) to realize their visions. Rami interviews that everyone was going over the top, trying to impress the judges. Jillian and Sweet P tease Christian about all the pieces he's creating. He's like, "I sew fast. They should sew fast, too." Jillian, who does not sew fast, tells him she's self-conscious enough about the time she's spent pleating without his comments. "Ew, don't get bitchy," pouts Christian, and Chris laughs at the irony.

Day 2. Sweet P asks Jillian if she should lower the neckline on her dress, and Jillian basically says that Sweet P needs to decide for herself. Sweet P confesses that she wants to win because her business is out of money. Tim sends in the models for a fitting, except Lea is having a family emergency, so Sweet P is discombobulated. Tim gathers up everyone and brings in Collier Strong, L'Oreal makeup artist. He'll help them develop the makeup for their looks. Consultations. Collier applies makeup to photocopied generic faces to record the decisions.

Back to work! Except Chris has already finished, so he toddles off to take a nap. Christian is astonished -- he has finished, too, but he's still fiddling with his things. He thinks he has "the most cohesive ideas" out of the group. Tim comes in for his look-sees and is surprised to hear Chris is napping. He goes off to find Chris and has him present his outfit for inspection. Tim thinks it needs more refinement, but Chris is confident. Christian is happy because his clothes look good on him. He's trying to create pieces that work as separates, but Tim is worried that one piece doesn't fit in. Tim isn't getting peacock from Sweet P's dress. As usual, Jillian is doing good work but needs to finish. Tim warns Rami that he needs to make his outfit "fresh" since he's been warned about draping. With two hours to go, Lea arrives for a fitting. Everyone encourages Sweet P in her push to the finish. More sewing, less moping -- that's my advice.

Morning. Christian primps for the judges. Chris marvels that they didn't have anyone at each other's throats, but Christian protests that he hated people. Back at Parsons, Sweet P runs back to work. Jillian has to finish her dress. She doesn't want to be a fashion drudge any more. Tim urges them all to "just blow the judges' socks off" before sending in the models one last time. Fittings. Makeup. Hair. Jillian needs to steam her dress but the steamer isn't working. She gets the dress on Lauren, fusses with the skirt and then resorts to steaming it while it's still on Lauren. Sadly, the poor girl won't get combat pay. Show time! The guest judge is Roberto Cavalli. This is why I laugh when people insist that the producers control the judging outcomes. Like Roberto Cavalli is going to let some badly-dressed Hollywood punk boss him around. He can get plenty of media exposure without risking his reputation, so what's his incentive to play along? Anyway, time for my favorite part of the show:

The designers get grilled. Christian explains his strategy of separates. Roberto sees how much love he put into his work. Nina likes the combination of showmanship and practicality. Roberto thinks Chris could do a couture show in Paris. However, the other judges have seen this trick before, so they're not as impressed. Nina likes the way Jillian surprises her. Roberto practially offers her a job. Heidi's all, "Whoo, shiny!" Michael thinks she avoided the costume trap. Michael and Roberto aren't getting a wow factor from Sweet P's dress; the judges already know she can nice little commercial dresses. Rami defends his choice of inspiration by declaring his passion for draping. Roberto doesn't get the wow factor from him, either. The judges want to see more.

The judges recap. Jillian changes things up and has impact. Christian presented something that worked as show and as clothing. Sweet P is commercial, but not fashion. Chris repeated himself, but it was a fabulous dress. He'd present a good show. Rami is talented but doesn't take risks.

The designers return. Christian takes the win and secures a spot at Bryant Park. Jillian is also in. Rami looks happy for her. Sweet P is out. She cries, of course, but takes it well. Rami is consistent but safe. Chris is dramatic but didn't give them anything new. Chris is in. (Yay!) But so is Rami. (Huh?) They will both create collections, but then show their three strongest looks for a chance to compete in the final three. Tim bids a fond farewell to Sweet P, who really wanted to show at Bryant Park. But then it turns out that she got to show a decoy collection, so that works out.

Right winners? Christian and Jillian have been very consistent throughout. Yes, Christian has repeated the ruffles and the puffy sleeves a lot, but he's managed enough variation that it's not the same outfit every time. Perhaps it's because he's so recently out of school, but he has done a good job of solving the various challenges like they're school exercises. Jillian has mixed it up more, but always presents a very neat, trim aesthetic. I'm not surprised that either one made it.

Right loser? Sweet P is a lovely woman, but she hasn't shown the kind of creativity I would expect from a finalist. I think she just doesn't thrive under the constraints of the challenges, and hasn't shown what she's truly capable of. Hopefully she'll be able to capitalize on her exposure. I'm glad she got a decoy show, but I'm really puzzled why they can't work out the airdates so the final challenge airs before Fashion Week starts. They have months to work it out.

Right up-in-the-airs? I was kind of hoping Chris would get the third slot outright, just to knock the wind out of Rami's sails; he's a little full of himself. The problem with Rami is not that he loves draping -- both the construction technique and the finished effect -- but that he doesn't want to see what else he can do with it. If he had taken his inspiration from the Temple of Dendur and showed something that involved a different style or approach to draping, he might have won. As for Chris, I think he might have been more successful working the bow motif instead of repeating a giant, curved element over one shoulder -- but it was a fabulous gown. I'm fairly certain the whole "you two have to compete for the final slot" twist was planned in advance; they have to budget for all these collections, after all. But it keeps Chris is the running, so I'm happy.


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