Project Runway Recap: No Wrinkles, No Time

project runway judges haydenThis week’s installment of Project Runway began with a trip to Michael Kors’ “flagship lifestyle store” — where black blazers (paired with black t-shirts) are always in fashion, and insane crotches are strictly verboten.

I’m not exactly sure what this bit of product placement had to do with the challenge — creating a day-to-night look for an on-the-go woman on a budget of $150 (with no wrinkles, please) — but I was happy that it wasn’t a team effort, and delighted that Tim Gunn stressed the finished product needed to reflect each designer’s point of view.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, Andrea never returned from her nighttime excursion at the end of last week’s episode. “We have every reason to believe she’s safe,” noted Tim, although I still wonder if Nina Garcia had the competition’s elder stateswoman sent to the fashion gulag for that dot-candy smock she made a few weeks back. (Cue Nina shouting to her flying monkeys: “No hideous garment goes unpunished!”) And then Kooan, too, fled the competition with tears and a few giggles. Maybe the dropout duo just realized they were outclassed and wanted to save themselves any further embarrassment? That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

Anyhow, as Tim might say, the show just had to “carry on,” and so Raul was brought back from elimination, the better to ensure a full season of episodes, aufs, and taste levels for Nina to question.

Workroom drama was kept to a minimum. Ven huffed (probably correctly) that Raul had no POV and was basically a mess as a designer. Christopher served up a plate of unsolicited advice to Buffi, and she sent it back to the kitchen with a side of “honey, please.” And Fabio arrived at the runway show in Norma Desmond drag of colorful turban and ostentacious rope necklaces.

Anyhow, let’s review the best and worst of the week (with special kudos going out to opinionated, thoughtful guest judges Hayden Panettiere and Rachel Roy):

Judges’ Top 3
SONJIA: For once, a Top 3 and a challenge winner with which I have no quibbles! Hurrah! Heidi pointed out that Sonjia”manipulated the fabric in an interesting way,” and I fully agreed: The criss-crossed back, the scarfy belty thingie, and the peekaboo shoulder detail were all really subtle and sexy. As Rachel noted, Sonjia “really curated and thought out the design.” I just wish she had been a little more excited about Hayden’s request to wear the frock to a red-carpet event. Isn’t that a vital part of any budding designer’s promotional protocol?

DMITRY: At long last, the judges showed a little love for the season’s most underappreciated talent. The bodice reminded me a little of a pie top, but that might imply the little black dress was something less than sleek and meticulous. The open back was a hot touch, and Dmitry’s model worked the hell out of it, especially with her patented David Caruso shades-off at the end of the runway. I’m not sure how Dmitry’s look was deemed “too safe” in comparison to Christopher and Sonjia, but at least the Lady Roy had the decency to note that “in this case, safe is also beautiful and exquisite.”

CHRISTOPHER: Christopher’s much-agonized-over design was, to me, the least daring of the Top 3, but dang did it look pricey. Let’s turn things over to Nina, shall we? “Polished, easy, comfortable, glamorous, and sexy.” Correct!

Judges’ Bottom 3
BUFFI: Michael was right that the sheer salmon top looked like a hairdresser’s smock, but I think Buffi’s biggest crime was insisting to Nina that she hadn’t designed it simply to cover up the shoddily made zerba-print dress underneath. “That’s even more tragic!” howled Nina, incredulous. (That would be a good title for her eventual autobiography, no? Nina, Incredulous.) And as Rachel Roy so expertly added, one’s entire design cannot hinge on the help of a belt from the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall.

FABIO: This should’ve been the winner — if the challenge was to design a $20 frock for Forever 21. As Heidi noted, with the way short hemline and the teensy jacket, it appeared that the entire look had shrunk in the dryer.

RAUL: Where to even begin? The uneven back pockets? The catastrophic leather patch to cover the four-inch gap at the hip?  The hideous tapestry top that made the model look like a child trying on her dad’s smoking jacket (if her dad was Liberace)? And as Hayden noted, the crotch looked “a little scrunchy.” When you’ve got multiple judges dissing the crotch, maybe you shouldn’t be spared from the Bottom 2? Just a thought.

SURPRISE OF THE WEEK
I actually felt like the five-person panel correctly I.D.’d the Top 3, the Bottom 3, the winner, and the auf’d contestant — the first time I can remember such an event in recent Runway history. Let’s hope it’s the start of a trend, yes?

Anyhow, now it’s your turn. What did you think of last night’s Project Runway? Use the comments section thoughtfully to express yourself!