Project Runway Recap: Rockette Science

project runway rockettesIs it worse to have 36 beautiful women in the same super-boring dress, or to put them all in bedazzled blue band costumes from hell? And would it make a difference if the super-boring dress was designed by the dude who showed an open disdain for working with a “real-sized woman” just a few weeks back?

Those were the questions facing the Project Runway judges (including a fab Debra Messing) as the seven remaining designers competed to make a modern yet classic costume that would be produced and worn by the Radio City Rockettes. (Side note: Was the whole challenge simply an excuse to let Heidi Klum don a skimpy sequined dress and join the famed troupe for their legendary chorus line? I’m fine with it either way, really.)

There was, as always, some drama in the workroom. Elena went way over her budget on fabric, yet still ended up with “50 shades of band uniform” that she admitted she hated. Melissa got crazy ambitious and planned on a pattern with 18 separate pieces and hand beading. Sonjia struggled to get inspired. And Ven secretly sat there thinking a few of those Rockettes could probably stand to lose a few pounds (or so I like to imagine).

The designers got treated to a night out at dinner, which produced another deadpan Dmitry moment: “Elena, well, she actually apologized to me,” he said. “Even Ven is opening up. I think it’s wine. Wine is working.”

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The Tim Gunn Judgment Hour produced several great punch lines, too, from Tim suggesting Elena head to the Lord & Taylor accessory wall “to look for a baton” to his instruction to Fabio on how to deal with his tricky fabric. “Bitch-slap that bitch!”


As the runway show approached, Melissa struggled with time. Ven shockingly pitched in and did some hand stitching for her, but only after personally measuring her waist and confirming she really was a Size 4. (Okay, we didn’t see that last part happening, but it’s not that hard to imagine, is it?)

Anyway, let’s dish the judges’ picks for best and worst. (Fabio somehow was sent to safety despite making a costume that looked like it fell out of the dumpster behind the set of Spartacus: Vengeance.)

Christopher: The most obvious challenge winner in Project Runway history? Hell, yeah. On paper, the idea of his “NYC skyline” bustline sounded kind of jank, but in practice (pictured, second from right) it was a thing of elegant, art-deco beauty. As La Kors noted, Christopher had himself a “Bob Mackie moment.”

Dmitry: The beaded fringe skirt indeed had great movement, but I agreed with Christopher that the zig-zag cutout top was a not-terribly-interesting riff on a basic dance-team design. Still, the tailoring and exection — in classic Dmitry style — were terrific.

Melissa: A distant third-place, as the judges noted that the outfit looked worse the more they examined it. Even the designer herself found new flaws once the cigarette-girl homage hit the runway. “How did I not see that I had colorblocked in black sequins a No. 1 across her chest?” she asked. Also, Ms. Messing was right in pointing out the floating neckline wasn’t really Rockette-friendly.

Ven: What is there to say about Ven, other than the fact that he’s pretty much (to quote Dmitry) a “one-way monkey.” When he’s not doing his folded fan effect, his garments are basic and dreary, as was this silver minidress (pictured, second from left) that looked bulky and heavy and not at all dancer-friendly. Elena’s outfit was uglier, but I wasn’t sorry to see Ven get auf’d. Let’s leave with this parting shot from MK: “That could be his drag name: Origami Rose.”

Elena: Elena’s choice of blue, shiny fabric (pictured, right) looked super cheap, and the design itself was like a home-sewn skater’s costume. All of the cutouts and rhinestone trim seemed to pucker in the most unflattering way, and the crystal neckpiece was an eyesore beneath the lights. As Heidi noted, “It’s, like, 2012. It’s very hard to look at.”

Sonjia: I’m going to just quote the judges on this mess (pictured left), since their comments were a thing of bitchy beauty. Heidi: “She looks very boxy.” La Kors: “It’s disco turkey! I don’t know what else it could be?” Ms. Messing: “A molting group of Rockettes is not really something that would be great.” I second those motions!

What did you think of this week’s Project Runway? Use the comments section thoughtfully!