Project Runway Recap: Tall Order

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This week’s Project Runway featured Heidi Klum challenging the 14 remaining designers to deliver outfits that were “eye-catching, imaginative, and truly larger than life,” and Tim Gunn following up with the instruction that everyone should think “Paris couture.” Naturally, I started imaging outfits with outrageous shapes, outsized volume, and possibly even ornamental appendages.

Instead, we ended up with several pretty pantsuits, a walking piece of chair upholstery, and a tank top that reminded guest judge Kim Kardashian of something she’d wear to bed. (My god, if one was looking for the perfect antonym to “Paris couture,” wouldn’t “something Kim Kardashian wears to bed” be perfect?)

Okay, to be fair, all seven pairs of contestants were designing for stilts-walking clients, so perhaps Heidi’s mention of “larger than life” was more a case of whimsical wordplay than an actual design direction. But seriously, if the good folks at Lifetime want us to fall truly, madly, and deeply in love with the Season 9 cast, maybe they should allow for more two- and three-day challenges that allow our designers to spread their fashion wings and fly out of the ready-to-wear ghetto, no?

Anyhow, the whole sad affair left me with all the enthusiasm of Bert operating with immunity, so I’m gonna break it on down with a list of questions and observations.

* How in the hell did “dream team” Anya and Olivier escape the bottom three? Look, I know something about the latter contestant — his pretentiousness? his fake accent? his straw-in-bathwater hair color? — has caught Nina’s vicious eye, but come on. The dynamic duo’s frock (pictured, left) looked like one of Maude’s ’70s muumuus covered with scraps of torn gray fabric. Hideous!

* I’ll say this much for Nina, Michael, Heidi, and that chick who does ads for Skechers Shape-Ups, they made the right choice giving the win to Laura and Anthony’s chic red number (pictured, center). The feathery shoulder pads were a nice touch, to be sure, but the trump card was that sensational flow of the skirt as it billowed in the wind. The only way the look could’ve made me more excited would’ve been if a particularly strong gust had created a parachute effect and swept Laura and Anthony’s model into the Manhattan skyline.

* I can’t say I know a whole lot about working with chiffon — although it’s a word that pops up in one of my favorite AbFab quotes about “terra cotta pots and white chiffon” — but did anyone else find Danielle and Cecilia’s turquoise blouse and tan slacks (pictured, right) a little matronly? Combined with the abysmal, pumpkin-shaped hairdo, the whole look kind of read “suspect’s wife in a gritty ’70s-set BBC crime procedural” moreso than hardcore couture. Maybe I’m alone on this one? Please advise.

* Bert may be right that Mae West “never wore pants in her entire life,” but I found it thoroughly obnoxious the way he took a literal interpretation of every design inspiration that Viktor referenced. Plus, Sour McSourpants absolutely chose that “tacky catering hall” curtain fabric, but seemed more than happy to skirt responsibility on the runway. Granted, Viktor was no innocent kitten either, but his biggest crime was doing an abysmal job of defending himself in front of the judges.

* Quote of the week: Joshua’s “Anything in life can be pleated!” I’m really starting to love this guy, and I won’t lie: I loved his matador pants, too, even if the shiny red top and arm-shrinking jacket did the look no favors.

* My heart broke for Fallene when she said she thought she might’ve misplaced her soul at some point in the competition. Her red-feather hat was cute enough, but honestly, I thought she was the only choice for elimination this week, no matter how disgusting Bryce’s bunchy tutu looked flapping out there in the New York City breeze.

What did you think of this week’s episode of Project Runway? Did the right person go home? Are you Team Viktor or Team Bert? And wouldn’t you like to see more two- and three-day challenges? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments (45)

  • This was one CREEPY episode, from start to finish. I could hardly keep watching! Ick. However, I guess if I ever decide to become a stiltwalker I’ll know that it is possible to get some designers to drum up some ensembles for me…

    Comment by kayk – August 12, 2011 01:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I TOTALLY agree with what you said about Cecilia/Danielle. I didn’t get that.

    Plus, Joshua/Julie ending up in the B3 over Anya/Oliver is just baffling. Ridiculous.

    And Bert is soooo annoying. I can’t stand that guy.

    Comment by Chmarin – August 12, 2011 01:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I guess we disagree on all counts then.

      Comment by D – August 12, 2011 02:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Slezak, you are not alone in your dislike of the chiffon getup. Fug indeed. And I’m loving Mr. Makeup “More is More” Joshua too. Julie never quite got that he didn’t like her, did she? The two of them were actually a scream together and I like that Julie doesn’t care what people think about her. Their outfit had kind of a Mondo thing going. I would have given them the win.

    Comment by Karen – August 12, 2011 01:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yes the pants were so Mondo! I did not get the love for the matronly house wife even if she was all in chiffon. It did seem like Tim and Heidi mislead every one with their instructions to be “larger than life” and couture. The judges obviously were looking for wearable fashion.

      Comment by Sookie – August 15, 2011 08:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think Bryce should have been the one to go. At least Fallene created the cute headband, Bryce created nothing cute or interesting…but once again, Nina got her way.

    And I really think Anya/Oliver should have been in the bottom three, with Anya potentially auf’ed (maybe one of the two left at the end). That was a depressing, un-pretty look. But those two seem to be the judges’ darlings and will probably get placed in the middle or top no matter what they make just to make sure they get to the final 4, at least. Now it is just a matter of who joins them, it’s obvious already.

    Laura and Anthony’s was nice, but as Nina pointed out, it was referential and shouldn’t have won for that reason alone–not to mention that it was just Anthony gluing yet again. I liked Becky’s pairings pants/jacket the best. And I liked the “matador” pants very much as they were in the circus spirit–if you are doing a stilt walker challenge, the judges should expect costumes, not ready to wear.

    As to Viktor/Bert, I found Viktor more annoying. He went into the challenge with a poor attitude, I was kinda hoping he’d be gone last night after the tantrums he threw. He does need to read some books.

    Comment by Gretchen – August 12, 2011 01:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Michael, you are so great! Agree with absolutely everything! Danielle and Cecilia’s outfit was matronly! And Joshua’s pants looked really fantastic!

    Comment by ana – August 12, 2011 01:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • My grandmother used to wear the same blouse/pants look and had nearly the exact same hairdo! I absolutely couldn’t believe that they put that in the top 3!

      Comment by Dawn – August 12, 2011 02:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Apparently your grandma was super fashion forward.

        Comment by Meg – August 13, 2011 10:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I agree with the winning design and I think poor Fallene was in over her head.

    Comment by jef – August 12, 2011 02:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Team Bert.

    Comment by D – August 12, 2011 02:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Bert was definitely not his best in this episode, but his hostility was no surprise given Viktor’s very public distress when his name was pulled as Bert’s partner. Groan inwardly when you get a partner you don’t like, or whisper to a friend how bummed out you are, but *don’t* pull a long face and begin muttering in front of everybody! That’s tacky–and hurtful–behavior.

    Comment by susela – August 12, 2011 02:53 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree. Bert was cranky as could be, but Viktor “started it.” Viktor is also either a two-faced liar, or doesn’t pay attention to himself when he speaks. I didn’t say that, I didn’t do that. Yes you did. Own That, why don’tcha?

      Comment by Abby – August 12, 2011 03:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Viktor obviously didn’t watch last season’s pairing of Mondo & Anthony! Mondo had a similar initiative reaction but learned quickly not to judge based on false impressions.

      Comment by Lyndsey – August 12, 2011 08:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • you mean michael costello

        Comment by abbott – August 13, 2011 01:53 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I figured early on that Bert was going to be a massive tool this season as he’s the “artiste” with his career. Then, in all of week two he bitched about having to make an outfit with pet products and then barely used them. This guy just thinks he’s so far above anyone else and I would’ve groaned aloud if I got him too.

      Comment by KevyB – August 13, 2011 01:06 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Thank you for voicing everything I thought! WTF? Favorites already? Can’t stand Bert so….

    Comment by Safroniamay – August 12, 2011 03:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The judging on Project Runway continues to tell me that I either 1) have no taste or idea as to what couture is or 2) they don’t have taste and I do. Or maybe I just know what I like and what I don’t and what I didn’t like was that chiffon thing. Matronly is a kind word for it. Though I did laugh out loud as to the pumpkin hairstyle.

    The only reason I can think that Olivier (he with the superfluous I in their name) and Anya got the pass is simply because he has immunity and they just assume give them both then deal with having on one of the partners eligible for “aufing”.

    Joshua is growing on me. Over the top….heck yeah. But he knows it and doesn’t hide it.

    Neither Viktor or Bert were endearing last night though Viktor’s obvious disgust with having Bert as a partner certainly didn’t build a foundation for a solid partnership from the get go. BTW does the transit authority get a heads up with all of the under the bus throwing that goes on on PR? Just curious

    Comment by CA – August 12, 2011 03:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • “but did anyone else find Danielle and Cecilia’s turquoise blouse and tan slacks (pictured, right) a little matronly?”

    YES! And more than a little.

    Comment by DotDotDot – August 12, 2011 03:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • When I saw Danielle and Cecilia’s finished look, I could not help but hear Laura Bennett’s voice saying,”There’s some serious ugly in this room.” If that is what considered couture, I’m happy to rock Target fashion every day.

    Comment by No Fashionista – August 12, 2011 05:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Something else caught my attention, the fact that Bryce complained about Fallene sewing skills to Anya. Isn’t it interesting that someone that just learned how to sew three months ago and is not classically trained was so appalled about the whole “cut off grain” incident?

    Comment by ana – August 12, 2011 06:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I was totally thinking the same thing. I’m new to sewing myself (probably about three months, actually), and I had no idea that you had to cut something a certain way. I guess sometimes the fabric makes it obvious, but I never really thought about it. So I call BS on the three months of experience thing.

      Comment by Amber – August 13, 2011 06:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I kind of thought Anya was looking at him like “I have no idea what you are talking about”.

      Comment by Sookie – August 15, 2011 01:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • There was some serious ugly going on in this episode. Michael, you are so right on with the chiffon assessment. The blue blouse/tan pants combo was awful. Loved the outfit that won because that was the only outfit that had any personality or style. I hope that we aren’t in for a season of blah colors and middling designers.

    Comment by P – August 12, 2011 06:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Seriously, who the hell came up with this challenge to begin with?? It was dumb. You can’t really penalize a team fir doing a costume when what they are making is…. A costume! I thought the matador pants were perfect- the perfect mix of pretty and whimsy. I just don’t see how anyone should have to make stilt walkers couture. Next they’ll ask them to make a “paris couture” ensemble for magicians.

    Comment by Shay – August 12, 2011 07:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Mime couture.

      Comment by Gretchen – August 12, 2011 07:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • According to stereotypes, there are mimes in Paris. Mime couture fits.

        Comment by Drei – August 12, 2011 11:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Joshua has quickly become my favorite! He’s just a hoot & the kind of guy you would want to work with as he doesn’t take himself so seriously.

    I tend to love Anya’s design aesthetic. The bottom half of her dress had a beautiful flow to it…it was just the top part that was bad (Oliver’s fault?). But I thought Anthony & Laura’s deserved to win.

    I would have been thrilled to see both Bryce & Viktor go home. They both had horrible attitudes & their incessant whining drove me nuts! And you know it’s a bad relationship when even Tim Gunn is speechless at the acrimony between Bert & Viktor.

    Comment by Lyndsey – August 12, 2011 08:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I agree that the whole show seemed creepy, from the models and the way they moved, to the hair, and clothes.

    Yes, I know the models were on stilts, but their movements were often grotesque.

    I don’t know what other people saw in the winning red number, unless they perceived it as less hideous than the rest. The matador pants ensemble was horrid.

    I hated this entire show, and if it keeps up like this, I won’t be finishing the season. Not one of the designers has made a positive impact on me.

    Comment by muti – August 12, 2011 09:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Back when we’d just seen the auditions and nothing else, I thought I was going to root for Bert and felt some scorn for the audacity of Anya thinking she could do this after just six weeks sewing experience (that still shocks me!) But it’s turning out that Bert is totally obnoxious, rigid and self-absorbed. I especially hate that he didn’t take responsibility for the fabric choice the judges reviled. I think so far he has the judges snowed. Anya on the other hand has turned out to be upbeat and generous-spirited and truly creative, even though her & Oliver’s piece turned out to be meh this time. I did like the flow of the fabric and thought the bottom was fine, but the upper part was a problem, which I believe is attributable to Olivier. I was kind of surprised to see Danielle and Cecilia in the top three. The hairdo was a big mistake, but it was allowed to take too much of the blame for the matronly effect of the overall ensemble. Although I did love the rich color combination, everything about it screamed frumpy, and I especially detested the tacky-looking collar. It seemed the judges were just so overwhelmed with the pair’s ability to tailor well with chiffon that they got carried away. I actually liked Josh and Julia’s piece better. Okay it’s costumey. Hello-o! These models are wearing STILTS!!! Costumey is appropriate. The designers were supposed to stick to what the fashionable stilt-walker wears to a cocktail party? Bryce is a jerk and needs to go soon. He was supposedly a member of a team, and he saw Fallene struggling with cutting the top because she didn’t know about cutting with the grain. Okay–on a team, if you have a strength the other doesn’t, you offer to take over that task and let the other person do something out. Six weeks out of design school and he thinks he’s the king of couture. I hope he goes soon. Fallene was out of he depth and I think she’d come to realize it, but she was a sweetie and I’ll miss her. Agreed with the judges that Laura & Anthony Ryan’s and Becky & Kimberly’s were the two standouts. I especially liked how the latter pair found a way to use the tattoo to set off their design to advantage. I liked the two outfits equally, but if the red affair was indeed “referential” (sounds like a kind euphemism for “copying”), I’d have given the win to the others. Anthony Ryan does seem to be a really nice guy, though.

    Comment by Claire – August 12, 2011 10:56 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree. If the red dress was referential then go with the original design by Becky and what’s-her-name; the pants were gorgeous. Also, I LOVED Joshua’s pants, they were fun and in the spirit of the challenge. I think Julie’s coat is what killed the look, that and the tacky sparkle shirt. I want to like Bert, but finding it increasingly hard to see any charm in him. As for Oliver with the extra I, I don’t get the love for him at all. The Sherpa shirt from last week and now this mess??? Yuck.

      Comment by Becky – August 13, 2011 09:16 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I must have been the only one that saw Viktor try repeatedly to be mature and get off on better ground. Yes, he started by being a twit, but when they both kept clashing Viktor was trying to get them refocused or find middle ground, but Bert is a stubborn narrow-minded jerk. In the end Bert chose the worst of the fabric and also was responsible for most of the design. He should have been in the bottom and honestly after how awful he did last week as well I would have been happy to see him go.

    Comment by Christina – August 12, 2011 11:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I also noticed Viktor returning and trying to make a fresh start with Bert, but Bert(the bigger baby) just continued with his negativity. They both were immature, but Bert was worse.

      I’m finding Joshua fun to watch. I also have great respect for Anthony Ryan. When he gave his partner the credit, allowing her to win, I was impressed. Finally, a designer who isn’t completely self absorbed.

      Comment by nodak – August 14, 2011 09:48 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Yeah, every now and then, I am shocked at the JUDGES horrible taste. I thought for sure that the Chiffon disaster was going to have them spitting vitriol at whatsherface and whatsherface. Instead, Heidi says, “I really like thees look.” WTF…sometimes I think they are screwing with me. That was clearly the most hideous outfit of the bunch. I didn’t mind the Matador thing because at least they took a huge risk.

    Comment by joeG – August 12, 2011 11:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I thought Danielle/Cecilia’s look was one of the fugliest things I have ever seen. Those 2 colors together – oy. Horrifying.

    Comment by stevenjaba – August 13, 2011 05:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • They should all have been in the bottom three-but it wasn’t their fault.This was the worst concept for a challenge in the history of the show.Probably the worst misstep was making it a public runway show with amateur models that came across as very lanky car-crash victims.

    Comment by RD – August 13, 2011 08:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I was really confused by this episode. You have them design an outfit for stilt walkers but “poo poo” costume or circus. Then you give them direction of Paris couture in 1 day. Why would you want to dress a stilt walker in ready to wear (Joshua)? I thought the idea of a stilt walker was to wow and be visually stunning. If I was putting on a show with stilt walkers I would choose Joshua’s and Laura’s outfits and the rest of them I would put on the burn pile. Stilt walkers have no place being in a fashion contest.

    Comment by debbie – August 13, 2011 10:04 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I did not like this challenge. It was silly. I felt all the outfits were costume. Please start designing with real outfits for models and even some for normal size people.

    Comment by fela – August 13, 2011 09:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I was confused by this challenge as well. Are stilt walking models used in fashion shows or were these ladies circus performers? were they supposed to design clothes for regular women but make them long or were they supposed to design clothes for circus performers?
    Also the whole giant women thing was very creepy!

    Comment by Sookie – August 15, 2011 08:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I was confused too. I was amazed to see so many 20-somethings trained in stilt walking. Where does one find this skill in the real world?

      Comment by Katie – August 15, 2011 12:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • i think at least one recap this season should be dedicated to discussing how smokin hot anthony ryan is. just once.

    Comment by kate – August 15, 2011 08:41 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Poor Fallene. I was rooting for her and Bryce was so mean. I was talking to my TV: “Uh Bryce, you made the most hideous teal dress out of wee wee pads last week. ” I think they were doomed from the start because of Bryce’s attitude and Fallene’s lack of confidence. Would rather Bryce left, but Fallene was in over her head!

    Comment by Katie – August 15, 2011 12:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Now that you mention it the tutu looked a lot like the wee wee pads skirt.

      Comment by Sookie – August 15, 2011 01:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I would like to see a runway show in which the judges have no idea which designers designed what. I often feel that judges’ favorites get a free pass, and I’d love to see who gets the top scores and the bottom scores when the judges have no idea which designer was behind the look.

    If they had done that last week we probably would have seen a different bottom three (ahem, Anya and Olivier).

    Comment by Sonia – August 15, 2011 03:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • We haven’t had more than 1-day challenges since this show moved from Bravo to Lifetime. I don’t expect them to start now. I don’t know why, maybe they are trying to save money on the apartments by keeping them for a shorter amount of time? Considering it’s yet another of the show’s 18945 product placements, I can’t think that’s the reason, but maybe…

    Comment by Stephanie – August 16, 2011 11:07 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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