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!