Project Runway Recap: Auto Immunity

project runway lexus challengeIf too many cooks can spoil the soup, then it follows that too many “twists and turns” can reduce a Project Runway challenge into something of a muddled mess. This week, the 14 remaining designers were split into seven teams of two, paired with a client who happened to be a former Runway contestant and a Lexus vehicle that would provide a “color inspiration,” and then asked to create a red-carpet look for said client for the 2012 Emmys. (Why not just make everybody jump through a flaming hoop for good measure?)

Things in the workroom got fairly ridiculous — as is usually the case during team challenges. Gunnar wondered with thudding cultural cluelessness if Kooan had ever seen the Emmys, apparently oblivious to the fact that Japan is a developed nation with access to international broadcasts and red-carpet events of its own. (Ugh.) Alicia and Raul — nether of whom had ever made a gown before and both of whom had expressed a general fear of prints — naturally gravitated to making a gown with a print fabric. And in what I should’ve realized was an ominous sign (but didn’t), Christopher expressed how “honored” he felt to team up with/learn from elder stateswoman Andrea.

Adding a little extra tension to the process, the show brought back some of its, um, stronger personalities as clients. (Alas, though, Gretchen Jones was not there to bring her Blair Witch/damp wool aesthetic to the mix.) Gunnar, adding a desire to hit a woman to his list of charms, blathered about wanting to “slap” Season 6 champ Irina Shabayeva for having an opinion. Tim Gunn and Mila Hermanovski, meanwhile, cast a dubious eye on Raul and Alicia’s work in progress: When Mila noted their chosen fabric had a “daytime” vibe, Tim chimed in that “you don’t want her to look like she just came from a pool party.” (That might’ve been preferable to the final product, though.) In another ominous sign, Andrea began searching for scraps of fabric in the trashcan so that she and Christopher could make their gown a little more modest. And then Elena began a scaryfaced meltdown/dramatic cigarette-smoking interlude over time-management and partner Buffi’s tailoring skills. “The weak don’t survive” in Ukraine, she huffed, probably envisioning Buffi being ejected from fashion school and forced to work on an assembly line in a chicken-processing plant.

Anyhow, let’s review the best and worst of the week in Lexus/Emmy red carpet/former contestant couture-:

Judges’ Top 2
VEN & FABIO: No doubt, the draping across the bodice and skirt (pictured far left) was masterfully executed, but I couldn’t shake Sonjia’s spot-on assessment: “She could go to church in that dress and no one would think twice.” Alas, how this frock won a red-carpet Emmy challenge is one of those Project Runway mysteries understandable only to those who use “on trend” in daily casual conversations. And no, Nina’s rave — “it’s appropriate!” — didn’t justify the win in my book.

GUNNAR & KOOAN: Possibly my favorite moment of the episode was watching Irina crack open a bottle of 100-proof bitchery as she examined the nasty bunching at the back of the gown (pictued second from left) that Gunnar and Kooan designed for her. “Do you not wanna fix this?” she said, incredulous. “I seem to be the only one concerned.” By the time she started barking out orders — “get some needles!” — I half-expected her to slip out of her garment and remedy its issues herself. Still, while the hem looked a little wonky to me, and the only special detail appeared to be a necklace from the Lord & Taylor accessory wall, the dress won first runner-up.

Judges’ Bottom 3
RAOUL & ALICIA: Raul huffed that he hated “every single second” of the red-carpet challenge, and boy did it show in the haphazard waistline and atrocious bust of this basic black dress. “Not one piece of sex appeal,” gasped Heidi, who does like a bit of sex appeal in her clothing. “There’s a horse somewhere missing its tail!” squealed Michael, noticing the ghastly extension the contestants had attached to Mila’s head. Later, though, he summed up the dress’s issues better than I ever could: “The skirt was a piece of fabric. It literally just gathered at the waist, crooked hemline, with that ugly red belt at the wrong place.” But how did he really feel? When Alicia finally spilled the beans that Raul was the one who began the sketching process, you knew the dude was about to get auf’d.

CHRISTOPHER & ANDREA: I felt kind of skittish watching Christopher and Andrea turn on each other on the runway, but it seemed like the kid had a point that his more experienced partner had wasted too much time cutting her pattern, and that she seemed a tad blasé about the entire Runway experience. (Granted, with age comes the wisdom to know that a reality competition crown isn’t the most important thing in life, but that doesn’t mean you giggle through your sewing errors, either.) As Heidi noted, the hooks on the sports-bra back were plainly visible, and the hem was “a bit on the slopey-slope.” Luckily for Christopher and Andrea, Raul and Alicia’s garment relegated it to a Silver medal in fuggery.

Should’ve Been in the Top
DMITRY & MELISSA, ELENA & BUFFI Clearly, the judges have some vendetta against Dmitry, leaving him midpack for the second week running despite cranking out a silver charmeuse gown (pictured second from right) with his partner Melissa that looked extemely expensive and featured interesting details like a mid-arm sleeve and a groovy neckline. Buffi and Elena, meanwhile, despite all their workroom drama, cranked out a sexy yet classy black gown with a delicately pleated bust and poofy little sleeve (pictured far right) that would’ve actually been right at home under the glaring spotlight of Ryan Seacrest’s “Who are you wearing?” ridiculousness.

Whay did you think of last night’s Project Runway? Use the comments section thoughtfully to express yourself!