After the solid premiere of Project Runway, we knew the show would “stay the course” and remain strong throughout its second season. They threw a few slightly concerning elements our way last week but still managed to rise above the reality fray. Sure we were bludgeoned by product placement, but that’s so ingrained into the reality landscape now we can hardly complain. The show also cleared up the new model elimination process confusion I had last week – and I like their revamped methodology. Can this show do anything wrong?The episode opened with a small spat between roomies Kara Janx the South African and Guadalupe, who appeared far less loopy this week. They both accused each other of being too nervous for each other’s tastes. Hmmm, on the Real World roommates accuse each other of being “F’in c-word bitches,” but here they make polite digs at each other’s energy levels. And you know what Bunim-Murray? IT’S OKAY. That said, the show is rapidly creating a villain of sorts; Santino the bass-throated lanky dude who never met a ruffle he didn’t like. Though personally, at this point in the show, I was still digging him. After all, he made ample fun of Andrae for his crying jag on the runway and bet the others beer that he’d fall apart again. No one took him up on his wager – not because they thought he wouldn’t cry, but probably because the prize was beer instead of espresso martinis or Midori sours.
The designers met with Heidi Klum (I caught the UPN rerun of the “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” this week and seeing Heidi in lingerie scant months after giving birth is inspiring. So ladies, all you need are perfect genes, a few personal trainers, a couple nannies, a wet nurse, a personal chef, a home gym, a multi-million dollar contract, and no job other than slimming down – how hard is that?) As I was saying, Heidi Klum greeted the crew with a soothing, “You gonna like dis challenge!” But first, last week’s winner Chloe had some business to take care of.
This season, the winner of the previous challenge got to retain either the model she won with, select the model whose designer was booted, or change to any of the other models. I’m not sure what happens in that last instance, but it didn’t matter this week as Chloe chose to stick with the redheaded Grace – and Grace’s schnozz. Good, I’m glad to see the models still had a little opportunity for infighting in the weeks to come. Preferably bra and panties infighting, but I digress. I’ll admit up front that I’ve chosen some odd screencaps this week – like this one. Just look at the weird forced perspective of the person on the lower left. This is the stupid shit that cracks me up:
And notice our little Eng showing some lower back skin!
Giant Heidi was purposefully cryptic in her description of the task. They would all be designing for an unnamed “Fashion icon” whom they would meet in New York City. This created a buzz among the challengers; “Linda Evangelista?” “Grace Slick?” “Gwyneth Paltrow?” “Elegant Elliot Offen?” Only time would tell. Later, my man Tim Gunn appeared and led the group uptown from Parsons to Times Square. There he continued the mystery as he would only offer up how, “Very thrilling” the challenge would be for everyone. Then, with an understated flourish, Tim pointed the way to Toys R Us and said they’d meet the icon inside. “Awesome,” I thought, “I’ve never seen haute couture for giraffes before.”
Alas, once inside the gang was introduced to the fashion icon by Lily Martinez from Mattel: “Miocene Barbie.” This challenge would test the designers’ creative vision, and the dolls would serve as their muse. They would need to design an outfit befitting the Miocene Epoch. Hmmm, if my biology degree serves me well, I do believe the Miocene Epoch fell between the Pliocene and the Oligocene, towards the end of the Tertiary Period. This was all about five to twenty million years ago – no more dinosaurs, (mammals existed) and the most exciting development was a warming climate and the emergence of grasslands in central Asia and Africa. Hmmm, how would Barbie fit into that primitive pre-homo world?
What? Come again? It’s the “My Scene Barbie?” Oh… Damn. Yes, the My Scene Barbie would test the designers – so no animal skins or grass skirts needed. Each designer was to grab a doll and be on their way. For some odd reason, a few of the designers thought they had to design based on the particular Barbie they grabbed, so a few of them made mad dashes for no reason. Chloe, who is quickly emerging as one of my faves, mentioned that they were all being idiots for doing that. But the biggest idiot was Kara Janx – you see, her particular Barbie wore a cowboy hat and that hat fell off behind the escalators at the store and for some unknown reason, Kara really needed that damn hat. In fact, she stayed back at the store and had security stop the escalator in order to retrieve the stupid doll hat – for no reason!
Back at Parsons, Tim outlined the task – they each had 30 minutes to sketch their dress, then $150 and 45 minutes to choose the fabric, and then two days to put it all together. With sketches in hand, everyone made the field trip down to the fabric store and bought what they needed. Then the show delved into the dark world of sewing-talk and I had no idea what was going on. So as I stopped listening to the words, I focused more on the action – especially when Santino was explaining something about his bobbins or tulle or whatever while in the background Kara used her dress as a giant tissue. I’m sure her model will be very happy to see this:
Model: “So that’s where that flu came from.”
Tim showed up to check on everyones progress as he always does. He was pretty tightlipped; only reminding everyone of the time crunch. The next morning, the Mattel designer showed up with Tim and dropped a bomb on them: Each designer would have to create a matching little Barbie doll dress to go along with their full size creations. Damn, that can’t be easy – but it would be worth it as the winner would have his or her winning creation sold as a special edition Barbie! Squeals of delight all around. We were then treated to more sewing scenes, including the “Daniel Franco Shuffle.” Mr. Nerves, Daniel, has an odd habit of walking to and fro with respect to his dress form. Over and over and over again, apparently, like he was a telephoto lens that some greater power was controlling. For some reason, this really annoyed his fellow competitors, but I found it pretty funny.
Tim made his rounds again, but this time he was far more forthcoming with the critiques. He essentially told Nick that his design was terrible and then pulled Andrae aside to discuss last week’s runway breakdown. Tim called the crying “contrived” and expressed concern that Andrae’s fragile psyche will be his downfall. Andrae seemed to listen to Tim and left the tête-à-tête with a smile on his face. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention his 1978 tangerine jogging outfit made famous by the “Bosom Buddies” opening montage.
As per usual, Daniel Franco was frantic. Someone left elastic bobbin on his machine! He had so much left to do and no time to do it! Aaaarrrgghh! It’s funny that the other Daniel, Daniel V, is so calm and silent. From now on, it’s Daniel Frantic and Daniel Valium. The designers finished up as the minutes ticked down – all except Daniel Frantic. With the deadline nigh, he was secreted away stitching up a last piece on his model. Tsk-tsk, Daniel F., don’t you know Tim Gunn sees all? He was caught and reprimanded and everyone made their way to the runway show.
On the runway, the luminous Ms. Heidi Klum waddled out and greeted the designers. (EdHill was over at the house last night and referred to her newborn as, “a lizard.” That cracked me up.) The judges were joined by Lily Martinez this week, the Mattel designer. Each designer had his or her little My scene Barbie with them – but of course our girl Diana Eng attached hers to her shoulder. Sure, you or I would have used some strong Velcro or even tape, but something tells me that the Engster used some sort of space-age polymer resin that causes the doll to vibrate when the wearer becomes excited.
There are still too many designers to really keep track of things, but Chloe’s flowing skirt caught me eye with its gravity defying look. No one really stood out to me other than Raymundo’s moonshiner garb. His model wore a burlap jacket for some reason and the whole outfit looked like Ma Joad on her way to California. My word it was awful. The show also made sure we didn’t like Marla’s design either – she apparently can’t sew or do any of the last minute trickery to put outfits together physically.
Six designers were told to stay on the runway – Santino, Nick, Kara, Andrae, Raymundo, and Marla – representing the best and the worst of the designs. I just love how they aren’t made aware of which is which. Some comments were that Marla’s colors were all wrong; sad and too serious for the challenge. Andrae had another interesting turn in the spotlight, as the judges wondered aloud why he didn’t put the blond wig on his model. Andrae was prepared for this line of questioning and gave his answer about how his “beautiful” African American model would look stupid in a blonde wig. Although the judges didn’t understand his logic, I must say that I did. He felt the wig would have distracted from the outfit – as it would have looked ridiculous on a black model with an afro. Andrae did get a little hyper, prompting Michael Kors to tell him to, “Lighten up.” At that, Andrae went into full drama queen mode (again), tossed his hands about and said, “Wow! I disagree!” I thought he was about to say one of my favorite reality show judging quotes, (“Who are YOU to judge ME?”) but he shut up and took his lumps. And besides, with Raymundo and Marla in the mix, he was safe anyway.
In fact, the judges came up with a few gems to describe Raymundo’s mess: “Barefoot Appalachia L’il Abner Barbie.” Nice! After a short deliberation, it was time to make the decisions. Andrae was EEN and then it was on to Santino. Of course, for Santino, at least HE knows he’s one of the best. Especially after the lady from Mattel said how much she loved his dress – he just knew he’d won. But alas… He hadn’t. He was EEN, but not the winner. Santino then put on such a sour puss (is that term still even used? My mom used to say that to me all the time) and sulked off the runway. What a baby.
The winner was… Nick and his brightly colored flowing fun dress. I like Nick – relatively quiet and unassuming, but still with a dark edge. He took his win graciously and passed Santino backstage who was fuming in a corner; “I can’t believe that shit.” Dude needs to chill. If I recall correctly, Jay didn’t win many challenges last year at all and still wound up the overall winner. The judges have loved his stuff all three challenges now… Be content with that. Then again, if I looked like Donald Sutherland meets Roller Derby meets Heroin chic meets Cuban Freedom fighter, I’d be pissed too.
Chloe’s (my fave) left and the Raymundo’s RayBlunder on the right
With Kara EEN as well, the final two on the chopping block were Marla and Raymundo. I mean, come on… Even despite Marla’s ineptitude, the choice was obvious. Time Ma Joad Barbie to go. As a denouement, the ousted Raymundo told us that he had, “Balls of steel.” Uh, gee, Ray-Ray… Is that why you were crying while saying that?
Or maybe he really does have steel testicles – I’d imagine that kind of hurts, no?