Project Runway Recap: Freaks and Sneaks

It was pretty obvious there wouldn’t be a whole lot of memorable fashion on this week’s Project Runway when Heidi Klum forced the remaining designers into gym clothes, demanded they compete in a foot race, and then asked them to create “basics with a twist” to complement her line of New Balance sneakers. (Somewhere on a Manhattan soundstage, you could just imagine Nina Garcia gasping “Sneakers?!” as Michael Kors somberly shook his head.)

But what the episode lacked in memorable frocks it more than made up for in good old-fashioned bitchery. I suspected it was about to get all 1-800-Major-Dramz when producers treated Cecilia’s voluntary exit from the competition with all the significance of Swatch yipping goodbye at Mood. The minute the sullen designer shared her decision with Tim and Heidi, you could see a lightbulb pop up over the head of our German headmistress, illuminating the idea of bringing adorable Josh C back to the competition.

And then the race was on. Joshua proved his feet were as quick as his tongue and earned himself the first of four team-leader positions, followed by Bryce, Anthony, and Viktor. Olivier, meanwhile, tumbled heavily to the ground, almost hard enough to knock the fake European accent out of him. Granted, his bruised and swollen knee was uglier than his ombré dog-bed skirt, but his claim of having a subsequent panic attack was as ludicrous as that outfit’s Best in Show status in the pet-store challenge.

“They’re dropping like flies on Project Runway,” exclaimed The Talented Mr. Gunn, as Heidi jauntily sprinted in deadly heels alongside sour Bert for the final few yards.

Perhaps physical exertion brings out the vicious in fashion types, but as soon as teams were chosen — Joshua with Anya and Becky; Bryce with Kimbelry and Danielle; Anthony with Laura and Bert; Viktor with Olivier and Josh C — the levels of dismissiveness, derisiveness, and disgust began to rise precipitously. Joshua started reacting to Becky’s every suggestion — leggings! ruching! — as if she’d taken steaming piles of dog feces and hurled them in his face. Laura got a case of the vapors when Bert suggested pairing panty hose with tennis shoes. Bert found Anthony so insignificant he started referring to him as Henry.

Then Tim and Heidi visited the workroom to respectively check out the unfinished frocks and fill everyone with nameless dread. Bryce’s cowlneck hoodie was deemed an abject failure. Olivier’s Amish skirt and Viktor’s leather jacket were deemed incompatible. (“Auntie Em’s not gonna get onto a motorcycle,” mused Tim.) “A Grecian goddess high-waisted skirt?” Heidi sniffed when viewing Laura and Anthony’s collaboration.

Heidi’s guns of harsh truth left the designers bleeding vitriol — particularly Joshua, who decided Becky should be used strictly a seamstress. “I don’t really need Becky to be thinking too much and designing really anything at all,” he confessionalized, as Becky was locked in the castle attic to complete her sewing, surrounded by her whistling animated forest friends. When Becky finally piped up that, um, perhaps, maybe she should have some input on the design side, Joshua wasn’t having it. “Becky, you do dowdy dresses, you know that,” Joshua hissed, before realizing he sounded like a monster and trying to spin his comment as a positive. “How is dowdy a good word in any situation?” Becky asked incredulously.

Before it was all said and done, Joshua had delivered one of my favorite put-downs in recent Project Runway memory (“Her demographic is 40 to death!”), Becky was reduced to tears in the ladies room, and then Joshua, Anya, and Becky hugged it out in a bathroom stall.

Bert, for his part, continued to antagonize not only his teammates, but his competitors as well. When Joshua attempted to lift his leg and mark a particular sewing machine as his territory, another verbal dogfight began:

Bert: Drop dead!
Joshua: Drop dead? Bert, you’re closer to death than I am, so I would be careful what you say.
Bert: Death might be a blessing with you around!

It was like an extremely dark, incredibly campy Bette Davis-Joan Crawford vehicle, only gayer.

Then it was time for the runway, where Heidi paired sequins and sneakers to dismal effect.

The judges, who seemed to have put down their hallucinogenics for a minute, correctly heaped praise on Bryce’s chic, darted minidress, Anya’s fetching, flattering maxidress (with a lovely pop of color suggested by Joshua), and Viktor’s luxe-looking Michelin Man motorcycle jacket.

But who would go home? Would it be Anthony, for a drab gray garment that reminded me of the pair of bedraggled sweatshorts everyone has in the back of their dresser drawer, the pair of indeterminate origin that’s so hideous you might wear them for, perhaps, painting a room or unclogging a drain, but probably not even to bed. Michael noted that Anthony had done the impossible — giving his model “cameltoe in big shorts.” Guest judge Erin Wasson summed it up thusly: “That poor girl! The way her crotch was looking!”

Or would it be Danielle, whose teal silk tanktop with a strange black jersey lining had Wasson wondering if there was a bra peeping out. “The turquoise silk rag tank is just terrible,” announced Michael. “The blouse is just like a souffle that flopped!”

Or would it be Olivier, whose beast of a skirt had Michael imaging pretzels in the beer garden, and Heidi noting it looked “very farm”? (No, sillies, it would not be Olivier! His faux fauxness is bound to keep our panel hypnotized at least through mid-September, no?)

In the end, Heidi wanted to boot Anthony, because in her mind, judging should be a week-to-week affair. “One day you’re in, and the next you’re out,” she argued. But Nina and Michael felt that Anthony’s body of work should save him. “Do you remember anything Danielle has done that you liked,” Nina asked, in the one moment this season I didn’t want to douse her with dishwater and watch her melt into the floorboards.

And so it was Danielle who got auf’d — “Even if Becky the Queen of Sewing helped her out, it would still be a rag,” reasoned Michael — while Anthony, who called Bert a “f****** liar” on the runway, will live to fight another day.

What did you think of this week’s Project Runway? Did the right person go home? Were you happy with the co-victories by Viktor and Joshua? Did Anya get the short end of the stick when her dress was chosen to be manufactured, but her team leader got the immunity? Were you happy to see Josh C return? And was it just me or were the judges overly kind to his “backpack holsters”? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!