Project Runway Recap: Sons of the Beach


There was a Project Runway episode last night, right? Between those speedy edits and that lightning-fast runway show? I want to be sure, because it may have been an over-caffeinated MC Hammer video remixed with shots of Tim Gunn staring at his flip-flops and exclaiming, "Designers, you don't even notice these plebeian clogs because Mitchell sucks so much! I'm beside myself! Next week if he's still here, I'll turn cartwheels in Zubaz." Let's sort through this poorly cut hour of television and drag up the actual delights within -- and bemoan how FORGOTTEN our Gordana was!

Now that Malvin and his stork costume have been shot to death, Heidi struts down to the runway without fear of avian attack. "Designers," she deadpans, "That turkey was not so jive, no?" She doesn't actually say that, but Gordana laughs at my joke anyway, because we are telekinetic lovers.

With fourteen designers left, Heidi declares it's time for a field trip to "the heart of Los Angeles." Christopher cups his mouth like Miss Universe because he has no character otherwise, and most of the male designers exchange glances and erroneously agree they're all getting laid in West Hollywood. Epperson and Logan silently play Centipede on their TI-83 calculators.

Golden-tinged shots of beaches pop before us like a National Geographic tribute to Annette Funicello, and suddenly, Tim Gunn appears on Santa Monica Beach wearing flip-flops. As the designers approach him on the shore, he dispenses with a thoughtful monologue about how beach fashion has been democratized, which brings him to the challenge: Design "avant-garde" surf-wear, and do it with a partner. So much for West Hollywood, guys. A panic sets in among the contestants, particularly Irina, who also wanted to recite a monologue from Three Sisters for the hell of it. Tim orders last challenge's winner, Shirin, to pick her partner first, and she chooses Carol-Hannah. That's a shrewd choice, since if you cannot harmonize high-pitched giggles with your partner, Nina Garcia assumes you are petrified and releases a Black Mamba onto the runway for fun.

The rest of the contestants team up in twos. While most pairings produce hard work and diplomacy, Qristyl and Epperson bicker almost immediately. She's loud, opinionated, and used to getting her way, and Epperson is quiet, deliberate, and even more used to getting his way. Qristyl seems right when she confesses that Epperson acts like a condescending mentor. "I'm not no damn student!" she screeches, slapping her own ass out of frame. But for all of her legitimate concerns, she also wanted a scathing neon green fabric, and Epperson was correct to want anything but. We'll come back to their Fred-and-Ethel antics later.

Another strange pairing is Mitchell and Ra'mon. Quoth Mitchell himself when choosing his collaborator: "I chose to work with Ra'mon. I wanted to work with someone that could carry me on this challenge." You see, Mitchell wasn't content with the "Kick Me" sign Tim Gunn had taped to his back, and wants you not just to pity, but ABHOR him. Now every time he enters the workroom and sits down to not work, I hear "Hate Me Now" by Nas feat. P. Diddy, which is arguably better to hear than Mitchell himself.

Tim Gunn reemerges in the workroom well after the designers' shopping trip at Mood is over. He has an announcement. "We're raising the stakes!" he says. "Each team must produce a second look! Haha! Wasn't that predictable? I know. Still a pisser though! That's what's important." He then flees the workroom and spends a minute raising the roof, because ultimately those announcements are fun.

After another trip to Mood, it seems like every team is producing something horrifying. Gordana and Nicolas are constructing a puke-blue tie-dye macrame bikini top with gigantic white pants. It reminds me of Chernobyl, and the vague pain in my Gordana's eyes. Everyone from Carol-Hannah to Christopher is making a ball gown of sorts, which is not 1) avant-garde, 2) at all related to surf-wear, and 3) sewn correctly. Everyone's a mess, and Heidi hasn't even called anyone an unlovable, fat jackass yet.

Mitchell admits at some point that he is not working on either of his team's designs at all. Tim Gunn storms the workroom before the runway show to find Mitchell's partner Ra'mon on the floor, waiting to die. "What are you doing preparing for a tornado down there?" asks Tim, peering at him. "Produce something!" Ra'mon heeds Tim's wisdom, scraps his second design entirely, and whips up a basic green neoprene dress that he dyes himself. At this point, the editing starts getting so choppy and fast that it's hard to figure out what's going on. Another huge problem: This Garnier Fructis hairstylist dude keeps appearing and interrupting with his fucking "insights" about what will look best on the runway. No one cares, Vidal! Who's this asshole in the blazer who keeps having a "vision"?


My furor will continue during the fastest runway show ever, where I force myself not to blink so I can catch every design and maybe childlike grins from guest-judges Max Azria and (wait for it) Rachel Bilson.

Speaking of the runway, let's jump to the highlights of the show:

· Qristyl and Epperson produce two totally dissimilar looks. Epperson's is a leaf-print dress with a bikini-ish top. Qristyl's is a freakishly tight brown one-piece that makes a nearly assless model look like she has several asses. The looks are eyesores, but honestly, at least they look beach-related.

· Johnny and Irina produce drab brown garments full of poofs and straps and stupidity. They are inexplicably chosen as high scorers, which gives Irina some time to elucidate on her looks' concepts, which I call: "Olga Wants To Visit Moscow, But These Awful Brown Clouds And The Stagnancy Of The Human Condition Prevent Her And Her Family From Ever Fulfilling Their Desires, And There's a Fire in Act III."

· Gordana and Nicolas make gross things, and I don't want to talk about them. One is still that pukey blue bikini top, and another is a puffy white thing with lacy, blue, Poison Ivy leggings. She looks like Candyland's Queen Frostine, except sex-craving and evil.

The judges commend Ra'mon for his passable work, but Heidi quickly sniffs out that Mitchell has never heard of sewing. In fact, he works at Subway and walked into the wrong building during an Ecstasy blitz, and now he's a television star. A shame, really. Epperson and Qristyl's pisspoor showing force them into fighting so quickly that I assume they will throw pies. But again, the editing cuts so frigging fast that you're not quite sure what's going on.

Here's what I figured out: Ra'mon wins the challenge and his own partner Mitchell is kicked off. Heidi sends him off with the line, "Three strikes and you're out." Then she mutters, "Of life. Honestly, my muscle-bound husband is going to break you over his knee like a fatality sequence from Mortal Kombat. I will be the one to yell 'Finish him.'" This was the correct decision, but I can't help but feel sorry for how badly Mitchell performed. Season two's Marla should give him a call and the number of a decent shrink.

And that's that! Tune in next week when Michael Kors hopefully returns to the judging panel and whips these underlings back into shape: "I'll iron your face into a permanent frown the way Karl Lagerfeld did to me in 1987!" Until then: Hang ten, losers.


  • emberglance says:

    I was overcome by the suspicion last night that Epperson is in fact Harry Shearer in comedic "blackface".

  • JB says:

    I couldn't believe Ra'mon won with those hideous dresses. And the judges were all going nuts over that neoprine thing. Ugh.
    It looked like my cat ate a whole box of blue raspberry popsicles, jumped on my time-machine treadmill and accidentally activated it with his tail-of-destruction, went back to the 80's, barfed on a neon-green wetsuit, then was so ashamed he brought it back to the present in his little kitty mouth, tore it to shreds with his hind claws (he has no front claws), and stuffed it under the couch where the corn syrup in the barf transmogrified to a crude glue and stuck the shreds together in the form of a haphazardly thrown-together abomination of an outfit.
    But man, that Shirin is a cutie.

  • stolidog says:

    De-Clawing = Murder.

  • Pamela Strangeways says:

    I loved Max's comment about Bobby McFerron and Qristyl Qarrington: "She was weak and he took advantage of her." A perfect summation. For all of Qa'ristyl's sass, she really doesn't have a lot of follow-through. While I liked seeing her in the bottom two, however, the creepy Mitchell deserved to go home. I mean, he was worse than that Martha Stewart queen on Top Design, which I hope they bring back.

  • Louis Virtel says:

    I can't decide if I want "Top Design" to come back. If I'm not mistaken, it was not on Bravo's list of renewals. We have to arrange for Jonathan Adler to wear sweaters at smirk at things in some other format.

  • Louis Virtel says:

    Also, I meant to say "wear sweaters AND smirk at things." Writerz: They make typos just like us.

  • Sarah Bean says:

    I don't give a flying fuck about Project Runway this season and honestly, Louis, you made it look interesting. I know I should probably comment on Tim Gunn's odd footwear decision or Rachel Bilson's uselessness, but I would much rather compliment you greatly on the witty recap that I found much more exciting than the episode itself. Thanks.

  • PastaBaby says:

    It was clever to use neoprene considering it was a surf challenge. I'm surprised no one else thought of it. Loved the dress.