Project Runway Recap: And Then There Were 4...

We’ve reached the point in the Project Runway season where Nina Garcia has stopped firing insulting buckshot directly into contestants’ faces, choosing instead to slip them sweet and subtle poison. “That gown has a lot of potential,” she said to this week’s auf’d designer, leaving out her mental note that it would take a month in Badgley Mischka’s workshop to bring said potential to the surface. Or take the way she cooed this vague compliment — “she knows how to make clothes in her sleep” — subtly playing up Michael Kors’ previous comment that one of the designer’s dresses looked like a pillow case with a ribbon around the waist. We hear you, Nina, and we can see your half-arched eyebrow, too! We will not be fooled!

This week’s challenge — the final one before the remaining contestants create full-fledged collections and bring them to New York City for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week — randomly plunked the Final 5 onto New York’s Governor’s Island for “inspiration,” then asked them to create three looks (showing a range of skills) in two days, using $500 and an assistant plucked from the previous five Season 9 evictees.

This, of course, meant the unwelcome return of Olivier, who likened his unpaid work as Viktor’s scullery maid to slavery (yes, slavery!), expressed his horror at having to fit a strapless gown over a set of human breasts that did not strictly follow the dimensions of a dress form, and mumbled how he didn’t like Viktor at first, but then he did, and yeah you know well it’s okay and fashion gray drab boring boopity boop blah blah CTRL+ALT+DEL.

Other pre-runway bitchery involved Joshua still whining that it was unfair he didn’t defeat Anya in last week’s high-stakes L’Oreal bird challenge (“I just had $20,000 swept away from me by a beauty queen!”); Kimberly secretly chanting to encourage Joshua to keep adding hideous plastic to his designs (“do it! do it!”); and Bert declaring that Joshua’s bizarro studded tank and bulky silver skirt was “so s***** looking! She needs a baton and a parade.”

Still, the foreshadowing was on the dress form the minute Laura started second-guessing herself and noting “I hate that I’m like, ‘What are [the judges] going to say?'” Because at the end of the day, even if your aesthetic is a giant swath of cheap silver tablecloth fabric half-draped over a sheer black tank dress, you still have to own it, embrace it, and be ready to defend it. When the verdict came down that Laura’s mini-collection was a bit of a mess, all she had was “But I really wanted to show at Fashion Week!” (Sorry, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.)

Let’s run through the week’s looks in order from best to worst:

Anya: I agreed with fab guest judge Zoe Saldana that there was something almost “futuristic” about the cut of Anya’s three graments this week. That little black dress was deceptively simple, but it’s not every day you can have a dress longer in the front and shorter in the back and have it look so sensationally chic and sexy. It’s telling that all four of Anya’s competitors named her as one of the two people they felt deserved to go to Fashion Week. (Sorry, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.) But someone needs to call her out on the runway if her final collection contains items that “if made commercially would need a set of instructions” (as Tim noted).

Viktor: Sure, there was a slight hint of the secretarial in Viktor’s garments this week — but Zoe was right that the draping of that skirt elevated the look from a simple 9-to-5. Dude may be a little smug, but he’s been ultra-consistent all season, and I for one am kinda stoked about an Anya-Viktor showdown at the finale.

Kimberly: I’d have put Kimberly at No. 3 this week, despite agreeing with Nina that it appeared she was dressing three different women with her collection: a hot girl, an exchange student from Holland, and a crazy girl partying in Vegas. Honestly, I thought that third look deserved more derision — especially the peekaboo teardrop cutout that looked like the negative view of a third breast, and that skirt that looked like it was made using those cushioned mats moving companies use to protect wood floors. Still, the brocade dress was a thing of complex beauty (even if we’ve kind of seen that before in the Nina Garcia and Client’s Girlfriend challenges).

Joshua: I wish someone would take Nina up on her comment that, individually, she could take the pieces from Joshua’s three looks and shoot them for the pages of Marie Claire. Really, sister? That dumpy silver skirt that looks like it was hiding three loaves of bread? The tragic take on The Statue of Frederick’s of Liberty? Let’s see you make them “fashion” and still have a job the next month. Plus, Joshua’s double-breasted pink blazer with exposed chest and black leather flower was almost reason enough to DQ him from fashion week altogether, no?

Laura: Everybody likes circles, but there was something really heavy and ancient about the black overlay Laura put on two out of her three garments. The best of her looks — the floor-length gown — was reminiscent of the finale dress that should have carried Mondo to a Season 8 victory. But Michael Kors was right, her jacket was “momish,” and the skirt was nothing but a slip. I felt for Laura, getting so close to the dream and just falling short, but she was the right choice for elimination.

What did you think of this week’s Runway? Which designer are you hoping will win it all? 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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  1. sad for laura says:

    I think Nina would weep in her sleep for making the wrong choice. Laura’s Fashion Week metallic collection was Glam-ahzing!

  2. Karen's says:

    Laura’s dress reminiscent of Mondo’s? Oh, honey, NO. Mondo’s work was head and shoulders above barbie’s.

  3. Jenks says:

    There are really only two viable contenders for the finale: Viktor and Anya. They are so far beyond the other two, they would have to send flour sacks down the runway not to win. (Then again, there was the Mondo/Gretchen travesty of last year, so who can be sure?) Left to his own devices, Joshua is sure to stud and/or Bedazzle everything, and Kimberly is just out of her league. I’m really sorry that Anthony Ryan collapsed mid-season. I thought he had a lot of potential early on.

  4. Janine says:

    God knows Josh can be annoying and I think the beauty queen thing is a weak, jealous insult BUT I completely agree (and suspect Tim would) that Anya should have been questioned at some point about the repeated whip sewing of her models into their gowns and her inability to do some basics on her own.

    I like Anya a lot and def think she should have been first (or second behind Viktor) to be safe based on her design eye but given how tough Michael and Nina can be on having the full skill set, I can’t believe they let Anya slide all season.

    Frankly I think it’s because she has relatively weak competition – Viktor has the skill but no original vision. Joshua just isn’t there yet in his aesthetic sense. But many past competitors have had BOTH basic construction skills and a distinctive, fresh style. They would have eaten Anya’s lunch frankly. I’ve enjoyed the season but am expecting blah final collections.

    (Not bothering to comment on Laura. And Kim really has no business presenting at fashion week. Boring, never wow. And too many repeats of the “I have overcome so many obstacles” speech. (What about Olivier trapped in Ohio with his strange accent, fear of loud noises and breasts? Kim hasn’t seen tough.)

    Good season in terms of personalities but one of the weakest in terms of talent. Still love PR though!

    • Jenks says:

      Totally agree with your assessment of the season. I really enjoyed watching the shows — Olivier alone was worth the price of admission — but the design talent was very weak. If you stacked this season’s contestants up against most any of the contestants the season Christian Siriano won, not one would have made it past the first show.

      • Gretchen says:

        No one from this season–or the past 3 seasons can stand up to anyone from the first 4 seasons.

        I deleted this season from my TiVo last week, tired of the infantile drama, but I am looking forward to Project Runway All Stars.

        • CA says:

          Right there with you Gretchen. I knew I was going to have issues with this season when the judges bestowed a win to Olivier for that horrid walking carpet (made from a dog bed) he claimed was a dress and judges called sophisticated.

          • Gretchen says:

            This season has been the worst (IMO) with the judges changing the rules to suit whom they want to move on–“don’t use fabric!”: Olivier wins using fabric etc. and not living up to the “one day you’re in, the next day you’re out” tagline–keeping Josh, Anya, even Laura in when they did horrible designs.

            And Josh is verbally abusive. The producers shouldn’t reward that with wins and keeping him around. I also stopped watching Top Chef Just Desserts last season when they kept that unstable guy around, seemingly for ratings, rather than removing him. Not everyone wants nonstop drama. PR and Top Chef used to be about talent.

        • Kate says:

          umm, yeah. Project Runway just hasn’t been the same since it moved to Lifetime. I miss the old Bravo days.

          • Jenks says:

            That is so true. The show has definitely gone downhill since moving to Lifetime. I don’t know if the new producers are influencing who gets on the show (in a bad way) or if the show simply isn’t attracting enough talented people. Also, all the one-day challenges, which have to be Lifetime going on the cheap, make everybody look bad.

          • Gretchen says:

            Not just the one-day challenges, which can be good (remember in Season 1 when they had 5 HOURS to make a swimsuit/cover up? Amazing results). There are too many team challenges, and the challenges aren’t as creative, plus they seem to cater to drama over good creative challenges.

            Can anyone imagine anyone in the past 2 or 3 seasons creating the amazing designs from the flower challenge in Season 2? Or the Hershey challenge from Season 4? Even the worst of those challenges beats the best Anya or Viktor can create! Anya’s such a one-note. OK, two-note: long flowy dress or a jumper.

          • sandee says:

            seems the same…what does the channel difference have to do with anything???

  5. Beth T says:

    I am so glad Olivier was back – just to get a good laugh from Michael S’s recap!!!
    I hated Joshua’s gown, but really liked his little white dress – probably the first piece of his I’ve ever liked. I actually liked Laura’s blazer. And I really appreciated Zoe’s note that on the gown Laura put the circles in the right places. :D I think Kimberly’s stuff had as many problems as Laura’s – but I guess overall she has shown more creativity. I felt kinda bad that none of her fellow designers selected her as one of the final three. Just for that I hope she edges out Joshua!

  6. D says:

    I thought it was funny how Bert made a joke about him being “paid by the hour”, whereas Olivier was referring to their work as slave labor. Gotta figure they got paid something for being in the episode.

  7. buffy522 says:

    I just started watching PR when Adam Lambert was a judge. My first favorite, Anthony Ryan was ditched (love his vibe and accent). Since that first ep, I thought Kimberly was weak. She was always flustered and unfinished and her stuff look mostly bad. I like Laura, but her plans sounded good but she didn’t really deliver. Kim should have gone home too.

    My biggest, and most pleasant surprise, was Tim Gunn. I thought he was supposed to be the meanie of the show (I’ve seen him on talk shows). But he is so nurturing and sweet. He seems to try to guide the designers in a positive way and they all seem to respect him.

    • CA says:

      Tim Gunn as the meanie? Interesting. I’ve watched PR since it’s inception and I would never think to call him a meanie. He is direct and he will bluntly question a designer’s thought process but I don’t recall him ever being what I would define as mean. He is the mentor to the designers and they do respect him. He has a pretty substantial design pedigree to back up his critiques. If I had to name a meanie…it would easily be Nina Garcia…no one does the stink eye like she can!

      • Janine says:

        Hey now! First, I too love Adam Lambert and wish he’d gotten a better theme week (and even a better season) to guest as he was great and I’d like to hear more from him BUT you have been very misinformed about Tim Gunn.
        If I’ve learned anything watching all PR seasons, Tim comes across as the best guy in reality tv by far. He gives thoughtful, direct feedback to contestants w/out trying to grab camera time and will warn them about pitfalls w/various judges. He’s almost always dead on in his guidance. And he cares – he holds them to high standards but will comfort someone genuinely down/upset and is often choked up when someone leaves. Yes, I love Tim Gunn – and would like him to be my rl friend – I need that soothing voice and good advice in my life:)

        I actually don’t think any of the judges are mean – they come up with some biting comments about the clothes but always seem sincere and are generous w/praise – often looking for elements of the outfit to compliment even when it doesn’t work as a whole. (And given how vicious the fashion industry is they are actually very nice.)

        Michael and Nina don’t always agree and that’s interesting. Nina seems to value editorial fashion slightly more whereas Michael does to but has a strong interet in marketable ready to wear. (I don’t count Heidi – in the past she usually would just comment on whether it looked ‘cheap’ or not. But she’s getting a bit better.)

        The more I think about it – the more boring I realize these guys (this season) have been in terms of their looks. Even Josh for all the criticism isn’t really OTT in a fun way – when he errs it’s just tacky. (Sorry Joshua)
        Not at all a fan of Bert but I’m suddenly sorry he’s not going to Fashion Week – esp over Kim. While his dresses had the dated thing going on – he also had great skills and maybe could have taken his design up in terms of edge & fresh w/some time to create collection. (I just can’t forgive him for his hostility to the poor bird (parrot?) I don’t think a bird should be constantly blamed because you don’t like that he’s bright green lol.)

    • MichelleR says:

      Tim Gunn wrote a book about the importance of manners and kindness — no meanie there.

  8. Jo says:

    Wait…no one, including Michael, has commented on the hideous shorts that Joshua was wearing at the beginning of the show?!! Come on…that was prime comedy material.

  9. CA says:

    Or his hideous neon pink, double breasted blazer he wore during the runway part. Or as I wanted to called it “the run a way part”

  10. nodak says:

    If I had to pick a favorite at this point, it would be Viktor. I think that the judges are enamored with Anya, and have let her put out a bad creation or two because they like her. I feel that this is the weakest year of PR, and I think they’ve been promoting the drama instead of the design work. I just looked at some of the creations from past years, and this year just cannot compare.

  11. sarcasmo says:

    “despite agreeing with Nina that it appeared she was dressing three different women with her collection: a hot girl, an exchange student from Holland, and a crazy girl partying in Vegas.” I thought Heidi was the one who made this comment?

  12. Joline says:

    Question – so does Kimberly compete on the same level in the same way as the others or does he have to “present” a collection to earn a spot to show? In the past they have had the lowest two designers compete for the last spot and the way they worded it to Kimberly sounded confusing. I believe they said she would have the chance to make a collection for fashion week (but not necessarily show.) Does anybody know??

    • Ellie says:

      I think Kimberly’s definitely in. In the past, they’ve made it clear at this point who is safe and which two will be competing for final spot for fashion week.

    • cathiecat says:

      If they do it as in previous years, all four will do collections and they choose the final three to actually show their work. Otherwise, why else would Kimberly be working?

      • Joline says:

        Yeah, I knew she would be putting together a collection – just wasn’t sure if she would be in the final running for the fashion week show or if they would do as Ellie said above and just have the top 3 compete.

  13. Russ says:

    Did anyone else think that the model wearing Kim’s two piece skirt and top look like Lisa from ANTM?

  14. Joseph says:

    I think the judges made the right decision , Laura all season had the weakest designs , and even if she had 1 1/2 well designed items that 3rd look which was just a slip was horrible.
    This was probably the strongest week that Laura had and she should be proud of what she was able to do.

    Then there is Kimberly who has done a few things okay but she mostly reissues the same basic elements in most of her design and for that reason I would not have taken here to fashion week either.

  15. H says:

    I wish Bert was still in. I hate listening to Joshua M. & Viktor whine about the other contestants. I don’t really like any of the contestants (I mean Anya can’t really sew & Kimberly is weak) so I don’t really care who wins & who doesn’t anyway. But can Viktor & Joshua get off their high horses & just focus on themselves?

    • Sarah says:

      I just checked out all the collection on the Elle site (b/c like 9 people really show, not just the 4 they pick) and Bert’s was BY FAR my favorite. The other 4… well, I won’t comment to make any spoilers, but the only 2 I correctly predicted before they showed the designer were Anya and Joshua.

      • dvmom says:

        I too was surprised by how much I liked Bert’s collection. Anya was the only one I recognized before the reveal of the designer. Oliver’s was my least favorite.

  16. larry says:

    I don’t care who wins as long as it’s not Joshua. He thinks he’s so superior to everyone else, it’s just pathetic. Thinking you’re good is one thing, but he thinks he’s a fashion GOD, always right. Bye Bye Joshua….I hope !!

  17. *lg* says:

    Like a good portion of you, I couldn’t stand Olivier, especially after he made those comments about not wanting to dress “fat people”. And some people in the comments section here after he was eliminated mentioned that he could be autistic. From pointing out specific traits about him I started to agree, and now I definitely think he is after watching “After the Runway”. (if you don’t watch it, you should ) He said his problem with DD boobs was that they didn’t make sense. There is no double B or double C, why doesn’t it go down to E? He seriously looked perplexed and wanted an answer. So I definitely get a feeling that something is going on.

  18. topsyturvy says:

    The MAJOR problem with this episode: Not enough Anthony Ryan!

  19. Elise says:

    I wonder if Oliver saw the premier of South Park this season. Someone should check him for “assburgers”.