Project Runway Recap: Fair Feathered Friends

When it comes to Project Runway, one day you’re in, the next day you’re out — and that mantra applies as unflinchingly to human contestants as it does to innocent birds.

Indeed, on this week’s episode, Tim Gunn brought L’Oreal honcho Collier Strong to the workroom along with a “soft, romantic” Cockatoo named Fortune, a “seductive, stoic” raven named Phoenix, a “bold, playful” Amazon parrot named Sweetie, and an owl that didn’t get its name drawn from a bag and was dismissed without so much as a double air-kiss from Heidi Klum or a zinger from Michael Kors about her drab, brown plumage.

“If this had happened a few weeks ago,” mused Bert, “one of us would have killed a bird.” But while the level of designer rancor had decidedly dipped, I think there may have been a subliminal idea planted into Bert’s sound bite — via the words “kill” and “bird.” Indeed, Season 9’s elder statesman was looking at Sweetie and didn’t like what he saw. “This parrot doesn’t inspire me at all,” groaned Bert, decrying its “dime-store” green and yellow coloring. Good thing Olivier was already booted, or he’d have gone and told Sweetie that her figure was totally different from the dress form, and therefore she was a total fattie.

This week’s challenge brought with it a few interesting twists. Designers were paired up in head-to-head matchups — Anya vs. Laura with the raven; Bert vs. Joshua with the parrot; and Kimberly vs. Viktor with the cockatoo — in which one would be the winner, and one would be at risk of being auf’d. Oh, and the week’s top-scoring designer would get a $20,000 cash prize.

After a shopping trip to Mood, Tim returned to announce each contestant would have to make a second look, sent ‘em all back to buy more fabric, watched ‘em sew themselves into a frenzy for two straight days, then returned to the workroom with a final twist. “You may want to put those scissors down, Laura,” squeaked our mentor, before telling the Top 6 that they had to discard one garment each and send only what they thought was their best design down the runway.

Most of this week’s pre-judging drama focused on Kimberly, who had a sewing-machine needle go through her finger, a hot-glue gun burn through her dress, and a giant cosmic chasm appear in the middle of her psyche. How adorable was it when Tim, sensing Kimberly’s crushed morale, began to head to her side of the worktable by announcing, “I’m coming around. You need a hug!”?

Oh, and we also had Joshua bringing more ugly — and I’m not just talking about that green-and-yellow catastrophe that looked like a pile of knotted, dyed garbage bags. Nope, Season 9’s most polarizing contestant took multiple shots at Anya’s lack of sewing experience. And while I get his frustration that none of the judges were bothered by the fact that Anya’s model had to be cut out of her garment at the end of the show, it’s clear that Joshua’s main issue is that a relative fashion neophyte keeps outdesigning him week after runway-strutting week.

And now a few thoughts on this week’s designs:

* At first glance, Viktor’s shredded-organza “feathers” looked luxe and ethereal, but I agreed with the judges that there was something imbalanced about the gown as a whole. The underskirt had an unfortunate bloomer-like quality, and the silhouette made his model look a little bottom-heavy. That said, I still liked it a wee bit better than Kimberly’s peekaboob gown with a sensationally daring slit; I found the saggy pearl trim to be a bit sad, and frankly, she shouldn’t have been overscored just because time-management crises only left her with three hours to design.

* I agreed with the judges giving the win to Anya’s structured black minidress with vest-like front and Star Trek-y shoulders. I had some issues with the bulky back end, but the garment was still a little more flattering than Laura’s skin-tight satin pants. The latter designer’s violet-and-black “feathered” jacket, on the other hand, was kind of fabulous, from where I was sitting. Nina, as usual, let her anti-Laura bias inform her critique, complimenting the “very dramatic” look and then proceeding to insult both the pants and the jacket. What exactly did La Garcia like? The hair and makeup?

* What was the deal with that mother-of-the-bride corsage on Joshua’s simple but striking orange dress? Slicky McEyebrows is definitely his own worst enemy, but that said, I’m glad he wasn’t rewarded for the win for a dress that looked a little too off-the-rack for a “high-fashion” challenge. Bert, meanwhile, was the obvious choice for auf-ing courtesy of a tawdry reptile neckline and a belt that I may or may not have recognized from my mother’s closet (circa 1989). Kudos to Bert for a classy exit, turning to the judges with a smile and agreeing with his elimination: “You made the right choice,.”

Agree with Bert? Was he the right choice for elimination this week? Who’s design was your favorite? And which of the Final 5 are you hoping will win it all? (I’ve got to say my loyalties probably lie with Viktor, though Anya’s been pretty solid this season, too.) Sound off in the comments, 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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49 Comments
  1. Logistics says:

    I think I’m the only one, but Burt is my favorite contestant! I love his sarcasm and occasional self-loathing. I was sad to see him go. I would have kept him over Laura, though. Laura’s designs are constantly drab, boring, and uninspired.

  2. Cyndee says:

    I like Bert, maybe because he’s old and old contestants clearly have a disadvantage on that show. I liked the peek a boo colors in the skirt, although must agree the top lacked credible design. I think (hope) he left with confidence he seemed to be lacking at the beginning. Viktor and Anya … Obvious top two. Who can argue that?

  3. Mary says:

    Last night’s episode disclosed the designers’ mistakes of going literal once again. Bert clearly was the loser, which he could not and did not defend. I only wish that Anya would give credit when credit is due when she gets help from others. Nevertheless, I’m guessing she has won the whole season (wasn’t the final runway show in September?) and will hire a staff to do the sewing while she does the designing. Her designs really are very beautiful.

  4. VG says:

    I feel a little bad for Josh. Some of his frustrations (and other designers’) with Anya isn’t just about the sowing at this point, it’s also that she didn’t help a designer in need when they’ve all helped her in the past. Remember, the interviews are done after the challenge is completed, so some of that attitude is coming from Anya’s refusal to give Josh some fabric. As the after show proved, several of the designers feel the same way. Laura literally sowed Anya’s top in one challenge, for ex, and has continued to get advice on sowing techniques. Even Bert gave her advice up into this episode so it seemed strange she wouldn’t offer her own help, however small. Josh’s attitude in the past was terrible, but I can’t fault him for what he did in this episode.

    • bob says:

      i agree. while i find joshua completely loathsome and self-entitled on most occasions, he was kind of right about anya in last nights episode. she has gotten by most episodes by the skin on her teeth and with some assistance from other designers (i too remember the episode when laura helped her finish her garment once she completed her own). i understand that this is a design competition and not a sewing competition, but the judges always send contestants home for poor constructions. i personally thought anya’s outfit was worse than laura’s–it was somewhat derivative of fashions from last season, and it didn’t fit the model correctly. i would have, oddly enough, given the win to kimberly, whose design i thought was beautiful, if a bit rough around the edges (quite literally, those hems appeared frayed).

    • Grammar Queen says:

      Sewed. One sews fabric. One sows fields.

  5. Laurel says:

    Joshua is annoying as all get out BUT I have to agree with him this week.
    If you can’t design a dress with a zipper or a button for the model to get in & out of it then you shouldn’t be rewarded with $20,000.

    I’m so over Anya.
    The Judges have been more lenient on her because of the sewing story.
    Last night Nina & Micheal crucified Laura’s design for “being too literal”
    But Anaya’s design was black like a raven had wings for sleeves and the back hem was elongated like a tail.
    The Judges said NOTHING !

    Anya’s dress was too literal and it was impossible to wear because you couldn’t get into it.
    And the lack of a zipper was not due to time constraints because it has happened on several challenges.
    Joshua should of won the challenge IMHO.

    • HG says:

      I guess you never watched any other season of Project Runway. Not that Anya was my favorite, but if you watched Christian’s season where Christian & Chris always designed clothes that no one could wear. Yet Christian won it all, while Rami & Jillian usually designed more clothes that were more wearable.

  6. Dave in Alamitos Beach says:

    I admit I was a little worried for Viktor when his dress came out. The “feathers” was fine in my book, but the basic structure of the dress was a little fug. But Bert’s truly was the worst and the judges got it right this time.

    I really hope that Viktor goes all the way, but the judges sure seem to love Anya. Is it because she’s so pretty?

  7. tuppy says:

    Definitely rooting for a Viktor-Anya final showdown and would likely throw Josh into the threesome to keep the runway (and backstage drama) interesting. Neither Laura or Kimberly has made or done anything particularly memorable so far.

  8. Deb says:

    Anya is getting pretty anoying. Helping her is okay, but her helping others isn’t. Do I smell hipocracy? My 180 on Viktor started a few weeks ago…hoping he wins now that Burt is gone.

  9. nodak says:

    Anya seems so nice to everyone, and so when she’s in trouble, they all rush in to help her. Now, when someone else needs her help, her true colors show. She came off as a taker, not a giver. I guess it doesn’t matter if you don’t want to give help, advice, or fabric; but when others have given you help in the past, it looks bad to turn them down. It seems that she is more competitive then she wants everyone to know she is.

  10. lc says:

    Joshua is a sore loser! he has no taste and neither does Laura. I’m not sure why she is still there. I would have kept Burt and sent Laura packing.

    • D says:

      I was very disappointed that she outlasted Bert in the competition. At least she was shaken up at the end. She knew it was very close.

  11. Mikaela says:

    You know all five of them are going to fashion week though. They do that to keep the final three a secret. Based on when these are taped in relation to when fashion week is the top five all have a showing. So it really doesn’t matter who the winner is because they all get a chance to show.

  12. Laladee says:

    I personally wasn’t really a fan of any part of Laura’s outfit, besides maybe the construction of the jacket. I actually did like Bert’s outfit – I loved the burst of color under the gray.

    Also, I thought the slit in Kimberly’s top was just bad. :/ I didn’t think Viktor’s was the greatest thing he’d ever done, obviously, but I liked it more than Kimberly’s.

    • silkrose says:

      I liked Viktor’s dress. I think he should have called out Kimberly on copying his dress especially after she blamed him for burning her dress. That wasn’t his fault

      • D says:

        The dresses that went down the runway looked nothing the same. The judges knew she did hers in the last 3 hours and did not penalize her for copying. If there were any allegations of copying, it would have been obvious who copied whom.

        • Summer says:

          Honestly, the only things the dresses had in common were the one shoulder silhouette, and the colour – but if you think about it, they were working off the same bird.

          And Viktor is NOT the first person to do a one shoulder gown in a light colour, so really, he needs to get off his high horse a little bit there.

  13. Kate says:

    I love reading your idol recaps, but reading these is hard because it almost seems like you’re not watching the whole episode. First of all, Josh was bitching about Anya because she wouldn’t give him her extra fabric, which you conveniently didn’t mention. You also didn’t mention that Anyas “clear winner” of a look was a direct ripoff of what viktor did for the Nina challenge. And again, ninas “obvious distaste” for Laura? Then how do you justify michaels and heidis similarly scathing critiques? I’m not even saying this as a project runway Stan; just someone who casually watches.

    • wastedtalent says:

      why the hell does viktor and every other fan of him think that everyone is COPYING him ? i just googled his dress. It was black and it was structured. so what ? her dress clearly had more details and elements in it which make them different LBDs. also, if she really copied the dress a zipper would have been added.

      sidenote: nina is only one of many judges. heidi has had to let go of designers she liked because she was outvoted. if your only casually watching the show take into account how they edit. the majority didn’t like her outfit when compared with her competition. it was literal and the pants looked ill.

  14. Ziamp says:

    Anya for the win! Viktor crafts impeccably, but only Anya’s designs are consistently stunning, challenging, and unexpected. What that girl can do with $11 and no formal training is the difference between inspirational (yet always strangely wearable, lack of zippers noted) art, and a well tailored suit. Unfortunately, Viktor’s creations, even his ‘winning looks’, well very well made often bore me to tears. Viktor needs to do the sewing work for Anya, then they would be unstoppable.

    • wastedtalent says:

      haha, i highly doubt viktor would “lower himself” to those standards as he clearly thinks very highly of himself. designers on the show think that she doesn’t have the passion for it because she hasn’t been sewing as long but if she sucked or didn’t care for fashion she would have quit or would always be struggling in the bottom. the judges recognize her talent, the wonders that girl could do when her technical skills catch up to her creativity!

      sidenote: i don’t know what to think about how she’s not quick to help out other designers who have consistently helped her out in the past. not a good look

      • D says:

        IMO, those designers took on that risk when they helped her in the first place. It says something good about her that she can get people on board with her. She’s likable, unlike prickly Josh.

        • zac says:

          I dont get the Anya hate…every designer helped her after completing ther own look…she simply stated the same to joshua ..to let her complete her look and then she can give her what fabric is left…also this was the only challange involving money …so no one was keen on helping anyone else… even though I do love victors designs but both the jackets for which he won the challanges Ive seen in a versace factory outlet a year or so ago…I remember as I wanted to buy them both but dint have the cash on me

  15. Tess says:

    I would take Viktor’s dress over Anya’s any day. I find her way too overrated by the judges'; maybe that is clouding my judgement of her. I get Josh’s frustrations with the way she is treated and I didn’t fault him for it at all though his attitude usually does great on my nerves. At this point I would be shocked if the final 3 wasn’t Anya, Josh, and Viktor. I don’t see Nina backing down on her dislike of Laura (I would’ve sent her home myself just for the bad pants alone) and I think Kim’s hit or miss. They are clearly in love with Anya so she’s gonna make it for sure; Josh is good tv so he’ll be there too; Viktor does excellent, intricate sewing and has won more than Kim so I would guess he’s a better shot for the final than her. I liked Bert but I knew it was only a matter of time before they cut him…they’ve been waiting for the last few episodes but he managed to make the top tier in those challenges so they couldn’t cut him. I do think it would have been more fair for them to get to pick their bird rather than just be assigned one to be inspired by.

    Side note: Anyone else get a Friends’ “Phoebe Buffay hiding the hummus stain with a Xmas ornament” feel from Josh’s dress?

  16. Claire says:

    Wow–top to bottom, Anya-Josh-Kimberly-Viktor-Laura-Bert – for once, I think the judges got the order exactly 100% right. When has that ever happened?!? I’d wear Anya’s dress in a heartbeat, and I’d tear that ugly corsage off Josh’s frock and wear that one, too! I thought either Anthony Ryan or Bert was going to be in the top three for sure (along with Anya and Viktor) but Bert was right that he blew it this week. I’m guessing no. 3 will be Josh now.

  17. Leila says:

    I like Anya as a person as well as a designer. She has helped others plenty of times in the past. But I do understand her reasoning that as you get down to the final six, the stakes are higher and you need to look out for yourself. Just because she’s a sweet, kind individual doesn’t mean she should be a doormat.

    • D says:

      Anya has very good people skills. It will serve her well in the future. Viktor comes across as somewhat strange. Not as strange as Olivier, but still a little bit strange. I think Kim has good people skills as well.

  18. Drew Melbourne says:

    I thought Viktor was a shoe-in to win, but then his model came out and someone had peed all over her dress! They should have laws about that.

  19. LauraHolt says:

    The British are so adept at these companion talkshows that air following their competition shows. I love watching The Apprentice Your Fired, Strictly Come dancing It Takes Two and the two Big Brother Companion talkshows.

    I’ve longed for the day when our networks would create these charming companion talkshows, so I was super excited to watch After the Runway.

    It’s such a shame that After The Runway was EVERYTHING that I hate about Reality TV. It was contentious, negative and revealed very little growth from the contestants. Yes it was nice to see a couple of them stick up for each other but when all was said and done it opened more wounds then it healed.

    I’ve often said that the reason why UK Reality and UK Competition TV is so much more palatable then our Reality & Competition shows TV is because they make their contestants go on these companion talkshows and they become much more self aware as a result. When you’re facing a live audience and at the end of the night they hold up a sign to say FIRED or HIRED, you learn to edit yourself.

    No matter how obnoxious & ignorant they may be during the show run, nearly EVERY contestant is able to come off as apologetic, genuine, human, and dare I say, charming?

    That’s the payoff I need from our US shows.

    After the Runway was completely unproductive. Way TOO much drama & discord. It’s emotionally draining to get worked up over some douche on TV who your never going to have to see again. I tell myself that but I still get terribly vexed.

    I hope they scrap After the Runway. It was negative, contentious, and ugly. No one redeemed themselves and nothing was resolved. Uggggh

    • kayk says:

      Agreed. After the Runway felt too Jerry Springers-ish for me. Bring back Models of the Runway! I don’t think I could pick any of this season’s models out of a lineup since we don’t get to “know” them as much as we did the ladies on Models of the Runway!

  20. Leo says:

    Am I missing something? Anya has been willing to offer her design opinions. She has lent fabric in the past. And last week, half of the designers made it clear they wouldn’t lend her money whether they had it or not. I don’t know why she’s the villain all of a sudden considering she is just acting the way she was treated the week before. If It had been Laura, I could understand the controversy but Josh just needs to get over himself. He would have won if he had actual taste.

  21. Tim says:

    I don’t get what they liked about Josh’s dress. It looked like a shower curtain. Guess I’ll never be a fashion critic.

  22. Aliandra says:

    I thought Joshua’s dresses were both awful. I stood up during the show, took a throw off my couch, and was able to replicate the expert draping of Joshua’s dress. Fug.

    I’m going to miss Bert, but I agree that some of his looks were dated and dull. A few designers who have left were decidedly better than the ones that have gotten to stay. And that’s annoying because some weeks, the judges make a decision based on the body of work, and others (like Anthony Ryan) get auf’ed based on one runway show. Make up your minds!

  23. Melissa says:

    I am so glad Viktor didn’t win, he has been getting on my nerves. also i Kimberly gets annoying esspeically when she lied how her dress got burnt to get sympathy for her 3 hour dress, she burnt it on a hot glue gun, not an iron… i wish both of them would have gone.
    i liked Anya’s, Laura’s and Joshua’s… i think if anya would have made Laura’s the review would have been much better. the color of Josh’s dress looked so amasing! but i do think there should be some accountablity for Anya forcing her model to get cut of all of her clothes…
    i miss Anthony Ryan, i liked his clothes, and i knew it was a matter of time for Bert.

  24. mika says:

    Not a fan of Josh, but he was right about how Anya is sliding by on her skills. She’s clearly getting the wunderkid edit. And as a while this isn’t project seamstress, as a designer she has to create something that can actually be sewn together. Without sewing skills she can’t do that. Anya’s dress was so unflattering. With that stiff fabric that didn’t drape well at all, it actually managed to make her model look like she was BOTH pregnant and had a huge bubble butt. And topped of with those those silly little peter pan type sleeves in the different fabric? Ugh. Overall it looked like an “Evil Space Girl” costume from an Ed Woods movie.