Project Runway Recap: Harried, With Children

This week’s Project Runway — in which our intrepid designers paired up with students from the Harlem School of the Arts to create paintings that would inspire their avant-garde designs — was filled with wisdom from the mouths of babes: “Failure is opportunity in disguise,” pint-sized Kai told Laura. “I like the movement of water…the color is very clean, and it’s not busy. It’s not a forced look, it’s more of a natural flowing look,” mused 12-year-old Skyy, while summing up Viktor’s garment for Tim Gunn. “Silence is the most powerful voice,” mumbled Ohio native Olivier, in his forced accent of indeterminate origin.

And then, of course there was Heidi Klum, merrily declaring: “I’m gonna be a hooker for Halloween!” But how did the week’s losing design inspire our hostess’ streetwalking reverie? Let’s recap the action from the start.

My notes from the episode seem to indicate things kicked off with a horrific visual of Joshua sporting shorts with sock garters, but then my brain went all CTRL+ALT+DEL, and when I regained consciousness, the designers were already at work with their student partners. Viktor wished aloud that he had a cocktail to get through the experience, and interestingly enough, got paired up with Skyy, a bright young lady whose name also happens to be a brand of Vodka. Joshua flinched at his teenage muse painting an organic forestscape, explaining with a sly smile that he preferred fake things to organic ones. (Really? With that hairstyle and spraytan? You don’t say!) And in the midst of it all, I started daydreaming that I might be able to get my hands on that pop-eyed ghoulie painted by Bryce’s student. (Call me crazy, but I like my art a little on the dark side.)

Certainly, there was no shortage of awesomeness in the kids’ artwork, but our designers seemed a little troubled over the true meaning of avant-garde. “Go weird or go home,” said Becky, while Laura mused that perhaps they should be striving to make things that couldn’t be worn in real life. Nobody wanted to make a costume, which proved to be a problem for Josh C, who decided to turn his student’s totally amazing sketch of a wolf into a fur-trimmed, “Grandma, what big teeth you have?” wardrobe piece. Let’s break down the judges’ picks for best and worst designs, as well as a couple of looks that inexplicably landed in the middle of the pack:

Anthony: At first glance, I’d have rated Anthony’s paintbrush-stroke concoction as best in show — the fact that the guy is color blind made his criss-cross of blues and blacks and grays and yellows all the more breathtaking — but Kenneth Cole was absolutely right that, upon closer examination, the garment had an unfortunate “homemade” quality complete with frayed edges and questionable technique. How come nobody listened to our guest judge’s lament?

Joshua: Dude may have some contro-ver-see-aaahhhl personal styling habits, but over the past several weeks he’s proven adept at turning out a variety of flattering silhouettes in a bold array of colors. That woodgrain-painted circle skirt (pictured, right) was both stunning and original, and I really wish we’d gotten an extended closeup of that ribbon-flame orange blouse. La Kors was right that Joshua overdid it with his model’s styling — the windswept black veil kind of looked like a witch’s hat — but I kind of felt like this look should’ve won him the week’s gold medal.

Laura: I’m not sure Laura’s “dusted fairy” with corset boning and an overlay of organza ripples (pictured, center) was exactly avant-garde, but it was certainly red-carpet ready, as far as I’m concerned. (Dakota Fanning, hit this woman up the next time you’re headed to an awards show!) As Heidi noted, the complicated gown really proved Laura is a whiz in the time-management department, and when you consider she created the entire ensemble with a mere $300 worth of material, you could easily make the case that Laura deserved top prize, too.

Bert: I understood Michael Kors’ point that Bert’s derriere-quadrupling pantsuit looked like something a Teletubby would wear to a party, but as Viktor and Heidi noted during the course of the episode, at least it was fun to look at. As for Nina Garcia sub Zanna Roberts Rassi arguing that it’s not a garment a woman would wear, was that really the point of an avant-garde challenge?

Olivier: I knew the fake-accented automaton would be safe the moment Michael Kors began praising the construction of half of his bodice, but which half did our quip-spewing judge adore? The stiff cream panels that puckered and protruded in a way that added 40 lbs. to the model’s torso? Or the limp and lifeless blue portion that the designer was attempting to glue to his model’s bosom only seconds before the runway show? (Loved how Tim shut that nonsense down by noting that “a construction issue cannot be mitigated by glue!”) I was psyched to hear Heidi begin the narrative about Olivier that “everything he does is gray and sad,” but Michael’s instruction that the guy shouldn’t be afraid to be powerful (insert side-eye with double eye-roll here) tells me we’re looking at another contestant who’ll ride the inexplicable fancy of two-thirds of the judges panel all the way to the finale.

Josh C: Josh’s original look — complete with red-tinged parka fur — was awfully cotumey, but it was a hecukva lot more promising than his finished product, which looked like it was designed for a vampire extra from Blade IV. Josh C seems like a sweet guy, but as Anthony noted, his design sense wasn’t quite refined enough for the competition, and that meant his sole purpose was (once again) to inspire bitchy sound bites from the panel. “I’m gonna be a hooker for Halloween!” giggled Heidi. “She looks like a Victorian cocktail waitress in Vegas,” said Michael (who, honestly, should be the source of a Runway-branded fashion-grading app). Ah well, at least Josh said his second ouster this season was easier than the first.

Becky: ¡Ay caramba! The woman hears “avant garde” and decides to make a one-shouldered, asymmetrical denim mess (pictured, left) that looks like a child’s solar-system mobile fell onto it? Absolutely atroshe!

Gun to head, I’d have elevated Viktor’s rippling blue and white gown over Anthony’s brushstrokes just for the opportunity to hear some banter between Kors and Skyy.

“You want to avoid giving Michael Kors the opportunity to talk about a Hiawatha moment.” –Tim Gunn, warning Kimberly about excessive use of feathers

What did you think of this week’s Runway? Did the right designer go home? Did Anthony deserve top prize? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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