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!