Project Runway Recap: The Dog Days Are Over

Good news about the second episode of Project Runway‘s ninth season: There were a number of innovative, wearable looks among the 15 designs spun from muslin and pet-store merchandise. The show’s editors continued to do a much better job than they did in Season 8 at building a sense of suspense over who’d get auf’d and who’d get praised once the finished frocks came down the runway. And Tim Gunn got to drop the phrase “wee-wee pad” on multiple occasions.

The not-so-good news? Nina Garcia once again used her hypnotic evil eye to bend Heidi Klum’s will and reward a drab, ill-fitting outfit as the week’s top look. Yes, Thursday night’s episode threw shades of Season 8’s Gretchen-over-Mondo catastrophe, and it fills me with nameless dread that we’ll probably be seeing additional judging crimes committed in the weeks and months ahead. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves by predicting the continued celebration of wet wool, tree bark, and sadness by Nina and Michael Kors, and instead focus on this week’s “unconventional materials” challenge.

When Tim Gunn brought our merry band of contestants on a shopping spree at Petland, I started fretting that some avant-awful designer might get the brilliant idea to use crushed guppy paste or hide of hamster in his or her work. At the very moment the thought crossed my mind, our trusty mentor began to issue a warning — “The judges do not respond well to…” — and I incorrectly assumed he’d complete the sentence with a phrase like “the bludgeoning of innocent domesticated animals in the name of fashion” or “skinning a snake to make jaunty accessories.” But nope, Tim was merely warning the designers that they shouldn’t gravitate toward fabric or traditional-type materials. Finally, Bert raised the question if live animals were off limits, and you could see our Tim make a mental note to keep a close eye on store mascot Swatch when or if these competitors finally make a trip to Mood.

Before we talk about the judges’ favorites, the Bottom 3, and the two outfits I felt were criminally snubbed, can we pause for a second to discuss the painful pretentiousness of “Olivier”? In his own words, this dude was born and raised in Ohio, left home at 16 to move to London, then spent time in Milan and New York City. So apparently, we’re meant to believe that in a mere six years, he wound up with the most rapidly developed, clipped “Euro” accent this side of Michigan’s Madonna Ciccone? Designer, please. Even worse, every one of his monotone sound bites seems designed to convince us he’s some kind of walking art installation/performance piece. “I had rabbits when I was young,” claimed the One Who Cannot Relate to Such Mundane Places at Pet Stores, “but they all died.”
And later, as his look came down the runway, he burped out this zinger: “I almost feel emotional.” Perhaps by season’s end, “Olivier” will prove himself brave, truthful, and unselfish, and become a real boy just like Pinocchio!

OK, end of rant. Let’s move on to the judges’ picks for the three best and three worst designs:

* Since I’m already piling on “Olivier,” can I add that I was completely convinced he’d been kept behind on the runway to get a dressing down by the judges? Surely Nina, Michael, Heidi, and guest judges Stacey Bendet were going to point out the unflattering “muffin top” effect at the bottom of his doggie-bed blouse, the asymmetrical sleeves, the hip-expanding fit of his “ombré” wood-chip skirt, and the hideous styling of his model’s eyebrows. But nope, instead we got Nina praising its “simple yet dramatic shape” and saying she’d photograph it for Marie Claire in a minute. Only at the last possible — and after “Olivier” had left the runway — did Stacey point out the look was “a little dumpy” on top, which gave Michael the courage to defy Nina with a comment about a “busty Sherpa.” And yet, even though Heidi championed the vastly superior frock by Anthony, Nina’s favorite won the week — and precious immunity to boot.

* Runner-up for best-in-show was Anthony’s beaded birdseed minidress, with a sunflower seed collar that left me gasping with delight. Michael was right that the frock could have been worn directly to a party — provided there weren’t “a lot of birds nearby.” I can’t blame the designer himself for getting so excited that he whispered “Get it, girl!” as his model trotted past the judges, and while, yeah, the hemline was a tad daring, the degree of risk was quite high. As Anthony pointed out midway through the workday, “to go home over bird seed and hot glue would be devastating.”

* Third place for the week went to the increasingly charming Joshua, whose flirty aquarium-rock top and wispy circle skirt were as electric as his snappy sound bites. (Joshua’s best zinger this week: “A garment out of dog-food bags? If that’s out of the box, then put me back in!”) I loved that the guy was smart enough to alter his ambitious plans after a chat with Tim Gunn, and while it’s true that his model was overstyled into submission, at least you can’t accuse him of being boring. Bonus points to Joshua for his wacky remark to Nina about the chain-mirror accessory: “It’s for your parrot to look at itself.” Alrighty, then!

* The week’s losing look came from sweet, misguided Josh, who signaled trouble at the top of the episode with the one-two punch of declaring “I can only go up, hopefully” from his near elimination in Week 1, and then adding he was “not trying to win as much as trying to get by.” I didn’t loathe his sleeveless umbrella top and forgettable skirt as it came down the runway, but it began to look more tragic as the judges started picking it apart. Michael declared the top made the model look ready for “nursing triplets,” before Nina gave the most withering critique of all: “It’s not terrible, just okay.” Ouch, that burns.

* Is it crazy that I was a little confused why Fallene wound up in the Bottom 2 with Josh? Granted, the weird proportions of her brown top did do strange things to her model’s bust, but I rather liked the look of her simple orange skirt, adorned with textured aquarium plants. The judges had a conniption over the color palette — “She’s Miss Pumpkin!” squealed Michael — but I’d have rated her look above Olivier, Bert, Julie, Becky, Josh, Bryce, and maybe even Cecilia.

* Speaking of Bryce, his “wee-wee pad” extravaganza rounded out the Bottom 3, and I was sure he was a goner after Nina said the look reminded her of Blue Man Group and Heidi declared her desire to “pee all over” what she deemed the “worst outfit I’ve seen in a long time.” (I also liked Joshua’s questions about the garment’s end user: “Where is she going? Why is she going there? In that?”) Actually, how did this dude survive?

And finally, I’d just like to focus for a second on the two outfits I thought should’ve been heralded alongside Anthony and Joshua for their general chicness and innovation. Laura wisely ditched her “assy” doggie neck brace skirt and sewed cardboard strips into a feminine, tailored skirt that looked almost quilted on the runway. Even Better was Viktor’s skin-tight and gorgeously dyed orchid “wee-wee pad” dress, which didn’t have a hint of homespun and looked like it was made with materials bought at Mood. Viktor himself admitted his look wasn’t the loudest or “most design-y” but honestly, the shapes of “Olivier” and Anthony’s designs weren’t exactly unique, either. I’m not sure if he made that glittering purple necklace or thoughtfully pulled it off the Piperlime Accessory Wall, but either way, the completed look was a winner in my book.

What did you think of this week’s Runway? Were you confused by the judges’ praise of Olivier’s garment? Were there any outfits you thought got snubbed? And did the right person go home? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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50 Comments
  1. mrsm says:

    thank you michael for pointing out how obnoxious olivier’s accent is. he’s from OHIO! get over yourself!

    • Maryb889 says:

      I was so certain I didn’t hear the word “Ohio” that I had to rewind … but no, there it was. And then the win … a travesty.

      • Lyndsey says:

        See I missed the Ohio part too so there I was thinking he grew up somewhere that he was more exposed to an English accent. That’s why it didn’t bother me but he’s from OHIO???!!! Nothing annoys me more than Americans affected a British accent. It’s understandable to pick up slang, speech patterns, etc when you’re immersed in another culture & country but not the accent!
        I was not a fan of that outfit either! Nina Garcia has lost all credibility for me!

        • D says:

          Not true! I pick up an Irish inflection when I am in Ireland. It is really annoying to me and I don’t do it on purpose at all. My mother has an Irish accent though, so that could be a contributing factor.

          • jamie says:

            That may have been true but from Ohio he moved to milan and than to nyc so I still don’t get where the fake british accent comes from

          • Lyndsey says:

            Think it has much more to do with your mother’s Irish accent. We tend to pick up our parents’ accents. I’m from the Deep South yet, because our parents lost part of their Southern accents while travelling with the Army, my brother & I don’t have the same thick accents as you see in the area where I’m from. And I’ve noticed it with others, if the parents have thick, “country” accents then so will their kids…usually.

            Now, I’m a Medieval historian (primarily England) and, because I do much of my research in primary records & from British historians, I’ve been told by numerous professors that my writing usually takes on a British slant (in phrasing & such) so I do understand that but if it’s your first exposure to that accent then you really don’t normally pick it up by accident. :-/

          • Amit says:

            I think it depends on whether or not his parents have accents. I was born in India, but moved to the States when I was six months old. While I mostly have an American accent, there are some words that I use that come out distinctly Indian sounding.

    • jenna says:

      completely agree! And what got me more was that he said he only left ohio at 16! I was convinced he had to have left during his childhood or something. Kinda leaves a bitter taste in your mouth

  2. Paco says:

    Im glad Im not the only one that can see thru Oliviers crappola. I find him so obnoxious, for some weird reason. Anthony shouldve won.

  3. EDHWoman says:

    In Olivier’s defense, I have a friend who moved to Scotland and then New Zealand from California. She was 40 when she moved and she stayed for about 12 years. She has a pretty little Scottish brogue that still remains even after returning to California (for about 8 years now).

    • AtlMusic says:

      I agree with picking up accents, but Olivier was 16 when he moved to Milan, then he moved to NYC. He is only 22!!! There is no way to pick up a fake pretentious english cockney weird accent from Milan and NYC….

  4. CA says:

    Ok Olivier — pretentious much? I actually think he is faking whatever accent it is that he is trying is use!

    Raise your hand if you had a Season 8 “How in all that is good in this world did Gretchen Win” moment when you realized that Olivier and his sherpa look was going to win! Would someone please tell me how on earth what he created is in any way sophisticated? And isn’t carpet bedding, by definition, fabric?!! Anthony, you got ROBBED!!

    Considering how hard they were on Bryce, I thought he was outta there. The skirt really did look awful. But at least he used something other then fabric.

    I really liked Bert last time. This time….not so much. Dude, immunity or not, you gotta compete. That is why you are in a COMPETITION!!!

    • Theresa says:

      I totally agree with everything you said.

    • MDEP says:

      I agree about the doggie bed being fabric. He should not have won on just that account.

    • Nichole says:

      Not only did it give me a “Gretchen won” moment, but thanks to the color pallette, it actually looked like it came out Gretchen’s collection. Maybe that’s why the judges loved it so much. They alway overpraised her work too.

    • jenna says:

      I was shocked bryce wasn’t out, his look was definitely tragic. I agree about Bert as well, I mean what a cop out! He didn’t even try and his outfit was the definition of tacky

    • Trina says:

      Okay, so something I don’t understand. How come the judges dinged Josh for using the the umbrella fabric but not Oliver for using the dog bed fabric? They were both fabrics and in my opinion didn’t compare to Anthony’s gorgeous seeded dress with the amazing neckline or Viktor’s purple puppy pad dress. I also didn’t think Fallene’s dress was that bad. I love reading all of your reviews of my favorite t.v. shows Michael. Thank you for keeping me entertained!

    • Gretchen says:

      I wondered too about the dog bed being fabric–and the top he created wasn’t tailored or interesting, just folded to create sleeves. Inconsistency bugs me. If using fabric is bad, then it needs to be bad across the board.

      And if I were Heidi, I’d have smiled at Nina and said “hey, honey, this show was my idea and is still MINE.”

      I loved Anthony’s dress and the skirt that was second from the bottom. As a San Francisco Giants fan, I loved the color combo :)

    • nodak says:

      My hand is raised in agreement to everything that you said!!!!

  5. Katie says:

    I’m from Ohio and we’re not claiming Olivier…

  6. Meg says:

    Oliver’s outfit reminded me of Allison’s trash outfit in that it made the model look wider and hippier than she is. His outfit and styling were both horrible. I just don’t get it.

  7. loveslemons says:

    I liked Danielle’s skirt (or shorts?) and that lattice top – thought it was well done, interesting, and not a cocktail dress, which was a plus. she was pretty good last week and even better this week, even if she does come off a little crazy.

  8. stevenjaba says:

    Oliver didn’t make my favorite dress – I thought Anthony shoulda won. Still, I think you guys are being a little hard on him. I thought the contrasting textures of the top/bottom were quite interesting. I thought he belonged in the top 3. As far as his accent, I’m wondering about that too but so far suspending judgement because he seems like such a nice guy…

  9. Laurel says:

    I thought Oliver’s design broke the 1st law of Fashion.
    Don’t add 15lbs to your model/customer !
    I thought Anthony should of won this week.
    The neckline on his dress was fabulous.

    Check out the link below for a closer look at all of the designs.
    http://bloggingprojectrunway.blogspot.com/

  10. ana says:

    Agree with you in pretty much everything.

    I would only note that danielle’s outfit was really interesting and as loveslemons mentioned it was nice that she did something different than a cocktail dress.

  11. Kyle says:

    I am confused by the hypocrisy of the judging panel. They blast Josh for using the umbrella fabric in the “Unconventional Challenge” and then reward Olivier with a win when he used fabric from a dog bed! Nina Garcia and Michael Kors are working my last nerve.

  12. djm says:

    After insisting last year after Nina & Michael picked the wretched Gretchen as the winner that I would never watch again I finally caved and agreed to watch with my friend Julie who is recovering from foot surgery and is house-bound. After last nights show she was so peeved with Nina she looked at me and said “I completely understand if you don’t want to watch anymore”. Sorry, but someone needs to remove Ms. Garcia and her HORRIBLE taste from that show. Oh, and take that flaming orange dude sitting next to her too. I never in a million years would have thought that Heidi would ever be the voice of reason, but here we are…

  13. Karen says:

    I can understand why Ioliviereier’s (designer, please!) design might be interesting, but the execution was not. The girl looked huge! I would have given the win to Anthony or Joshua. I would have sent Bryce home.

  14. ana says:

    for me the top designers were, not necessarily in that order: anthony, josh m, laura, viktor, danielle, anya and cecilia.
    the ok designers were: Fallene, kimberly and olivier
    i thought the rest was not that good. And would have sent bryce home instead of josh c.

  15. Karen says:

    Heidi really needs to push herself more on them. There’s no way that Ohio boy should have won. She’s already letting them walk all over her just like they did last year when Gretchen won over Mondo — now that was a travesty!!

  16. Daisy says:

    I have to agree with you Mike–Fallene’s outfit was not that bad and compared to Bryce? Oy, how the heck did he make it through? After saying that his look was the worst one they had seen in a long time, I can’t believe he didn’t get the boot. He didn’t do anything to the skirt except sew a bunch of those ‘wee-wee pads’ together. WTH? Urg. I also agree with you that the birdseed dress deserved the win WAY over Olivier’s dress. The top wasn’t innovative–it was material AND it was ill-fitting to boot. I agree with you that some of the looks that I loved got overlooked, but then again this is the way it always is. Too, I would imagine that pretentious OlivIer, shouldn’t pronounce his name O-L-I-V-E-R with the extra ‘i’ in it. I would imagine that he would prefer to be called Oliveeay (as they say it in France) because the spelling is the same. I laughed out loud when I heard that he was born and raised in Ohio; I had expected him to say that he was from Thailand or something like that. Oh and if that model is Michael Kors’s idea of ‘busty’ then he hasn’t seen Pamela Anderson! Although the ill-fitting top and the fact that it was a heavy material certainly didn’t do his model any favors. Gretchen indeed!

  17. jef says:

    Anthony’s birdseed dress was fab and should have won. I did have a Hitchcock moment though. The wee wee pad skirt should have been the loser. I mean, good lord!

  18. lucy says:

    As they say in fashion one day you’re in the next you’re out Nina is definitely out of fashion that outfit was atrocious. The top looked dumpy and was made from a dog bed I thought you shouldn’t use pre-made fabric. Time for new judges project runway!

  19. wooster182 says:

    Glad to see I’m not the only one that thought the judges were insane last night. What happened to the Michael Kors of yesteryear that claimed “No woman in America wants to wear a dress that makes her *ss look bigger!”? How in the world did Oliver’s bed-dress win? How was cutting the bedding out of a dogbed more innovative than using umbrellas?

  20. The J-Man says:

    Two huge mistakes by a panel of judges I am perplexed by more and more. #1, keeping Bryce around. There wasn’t one redeeming quality of his design. #2, making Oliver the winner of this challenge. And am I the only confused by Heidi’s remark to Burt about being lucky he had immunity? Did that mean he would have been in the bottom 3 otherwise or was it just her way of acknowledging he’d put zero effort into the challenge? I love Falene’s personality, thought the woman from Trinidad should have been in the top 3 and like Victor’s designs but his catty comments are tiring.

  21. Jen says:

    THANK YOU for this review! I agree with every word. And now I plan to never buy another issue of Elle or Marie Claire magazines ever again because I can’t give money to organizations that would pay that idiot Nina Garcia to act as a fashion expert. Whatever groups pay her in the future will lose my business as well – I’m that sick of her (and the bad taste in fashion those publications have shown during the time they employed her – too snooty, blind, and clueless, it amazes me that the sheep who keep them in business can’t wake up, be revolted by the content, and stop buying those pathetic publications that mimic the taste of Nina). -sorry, end of rant-

  22. Jala says:

    I finished watching and instantly decided Gwetchen and Olivier should start a design shop together… Pallet is the same. Shape is the same. Lack of taste is the same. I bet Nina would be thrilled to have a wardrobe made by the 2 of them… I was soooo hoping he was in the bottom, but alas, I too was reminded of poor Mondo… *Sigh* This season does seem better though- less pettiness, more interesting designers :)

  23. Aims says:

    I always suspect them of subtle manipulation of ego and confidence. Since this win for Oliver was so blatantly hypocritical, I think they are setting him up to become cocky and be attacked by the other designers. I thoughht they did that with Gretchen too-had her win a lot in the beginning for false hopes, then were rough on her, but ultimately let her win, why? Good TV.

  24. barbara says:

    I liked Oliver’s outfit. Chic and cool and the dude knows how to mix textures. Solid win. But you’re so right that Viktor’s lovely purple dress should have been in the top. Bryce should have gone home.

    • Christa says:

      I agree that the outfit wasn’t as horrible as everyone here says it is. I liked the textures and its overall look. However, I disagree that it deserved to win. I personally preferred the birdseed dress, but I have disliked Nina for a while now. I was not very surprised that she manipulated the winner so easily.

  25. just a fan says:

    actually michael, joshua’s comment about the mirror accessory was not wacky at all… never had birds while you are growing up i see… though it should not have been restricted to a parrot… any bird loves to look at themselves.. that’s why the pet stores will sell you a mirror when you purchase a bird

  26. nodak says:

    While watching PR this week, I had several thoughts-
    *What do they see in “Olivier’s” outfit? I fit badly and was boring.
    *Why was “Olivier” using that British accent?
    *Why does Heidi let Nina have her way? (Just like last season)

    When I check your update, I find that I am not alone in my thoughts. It seems you along with many of other viewers agree. It’s time to lose Nina!!!!!!

  27. Mara says:

    Yeah, I did not understand why they loved Olivier’s dress so much? The top was so baggy.

    The beaded birdseed minidress was amazing!
    The sunflower seed neckline was.. incredible

  28. Karen says:

    I could not agree with you more about Olivier’s outfit – I thought her butt and hips looked way huge, and I HATED the top. Anthony’s dress was AMAZING! And he actually did explain why his dress was a little on the short side….

    And is it just me, or are there way to many really annoying contestants this season?! Usually there are just one or two, but this year, it’s pretty much the entire bunch, with the exception of a very few…

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