Project Runway Recap: Judge Dread
Were you scared that Project Runway couldn't be more boring this season, or that the 1,459 remaining designers couldn't produce another batch of bland, mall-ready clothing? I lost sleep over it, but press on nevertheless. During last night's episode, several Bethlehem-sized miracles occurred: Michael Kors and Nina Garcia took the day off to play badminton, the challenge was built around the ever-scintillating Models Of The Runway, and not one interesting design was produced by a designer. Did the episode even happen? Is that... the point? Is Project Runway's executive producer Samuel Beckett? Let us inspect.
After a brief glimpse inside the designers' apartments (where my Yugoslavian crush Gordana gets her first and near-only line of the episode: "YOU HAVE TO STAND UP FOR YOURSELF EARLY ENOUGH. IF NOT, THE FOREMAN AT THE LADLE FACTORY STOP CALLING AND YOU MISS OUT ON DRAMATIC SCHTUPPING BELOW OUTDOOR PLUMBING"), the designers trot to the runway, where Heidi -- get this -- has an evasive message about their challenge. "Your first challenge," Heidi coos, "Is to figure out why my hair is so shiny today. Takers? I'll just tell you: I collected Mitchell's tears in a basin and lathered in his self-destruction. I am this challenge's winner. Secondly: Go backstage where 13 women who know what they want await you." The contestants abide and meet Tim in the workroom, where he's surrounded by the 13 remaining models. Everyone is relieved that Heidi was not talking about pregnant women, prom attendees, or women who weigh more than your average border collie.
Tim's prompt is simple: Your model is your client. Make a dress that showcases her style. "They need to stand out and be noticed," Tim says. "And I assure you they won't be able to hack that with their intelligence." He announces they have one day to complete the challenge, probably for the hell of it, since he knows the home viewers are falling asleep. Epperson whines that his model has too many ideas and won't submit to his annoying aggression. She wants a dress that can be described as "sexy," "romantic," "chic," "short," and "tiger." Man. The last time I saw a romantic tiger was Rajah in Aladdin.
Shirin (the winner of the pregnancy challenge) also spars with her model, who wants a royal blue jumpsuit with gold rope on it. Shirin is understandably concerned that her model is trying to parachute out of the competition. Mind you, because she is an adult, Shirin reasons with her model and ultimately decides on a less dramatic, less Knievel look. I'm OK with her winning the entire competition, which is a distinct possibility.
The as-yet-unheard-from Logan is suddenly a fixture of the episode, as he and his model Koji decide on an "edgy" but "50s" look, which makes no sense. But it's too late for reason, as Logan's working this hard Skeet Ulrich persona and cannot be dissuaded. This is the extent of the workroom drama, honestly. It should give you a sense of how stagnant, bleak, hazy, and dull the whole thing was: like Yugoslavian home movies, except without Gordana's narration.
In fact, sometime around the first commercial break, I spent a good minute realizing what a stupid challenge this is. The models wear the clothes every episode, and they presumably wear designs that are suitable for public viewing. The reason no drama is occurring has more to do with the challenge's easy confines than overly sedate contestants. Hell, Santino Rice would be boring to watch during this season.
Eventually, Tim arrives back in the workroom and swoops around for consultation. "Christopher," he says, eying that designer's godforsaken kelly green dress, "it's a bold color." It's a bold dinner mint, actually. Bubbly contestant Althea then crows to Tim about making a "cigarette jacket." Tim laughs and murmurs something about how if a Parsons student said something like that, he'd dunk their limbs in scalding water. He also remarks that Althea's smoking jacket is coming along fine. Qristyl, on the other hand, is trying the world's patience with her multi-colored, wrinkly dress. "It looks like she's been rolling around in bed," Tim notes. Qristyl is clearly deflated from last challenge, where Epperson slapped her around while Nina Garcia administered a ten-hit-combo bicycle kick to her design. Logan and Tim are concerned about his "Smurf prom dress" while Carol Hannah's passable purple top might be, according to Tim, "robbing her model of her youth."
On to the runway, where Michael Kors and Nina Garcia are both missing and replaced with people I cannot be bothered to remember. Worst episode ever? I'm submitting a nomination and a stealth bomb. Let's analyze the high- and low-lights.
-Carol Hannah's pencil skirt looks glossy and cheap until they zero in on the detailing, which is a black, floral print. Fancy! Still, that top looks a little messy to me, and I could probably buy the whole thing at Ann Taylor Loft.
-Althea thinks her client deserves an Ann Taylor Loft look too, but this one isn't on the sale rack. Ooh, ahh, etc. It's a short blazer, a silver top, and a bubbly, far-too-short skirt.
-Qristyl, who was concerned that her look "might be a little too simple," turns in a dress that is seriously as interesting as the slips the model wear when being chosen on the runway. Same color, length, and dehumanizing nothingness.
-Epperson's chic tiger romance culminates in a tolerable, but very short brown dress teeming with straps. Heidi will point out that the model's breasts look lost in emotion, and she's right. Sadly, Michael Kors isn't around to make the appropriate remark, "I mean, she looks like a tragic, jungle-living, breastless Nadia Comaneci here. Zero points on the dismount, asshole."
--Logan's model comes out in a poofy blue skirt and metallic top. One of the nameless new judges refers to it as an 80s prom look, which is only three decades off from his original intention. Good work, or something! He's in the bottom three.
-Johnny produces a ruffly, but utterly basic maroon dress. As a curly-haired judge with caffeine coruscating from her pores announces, "The world doesn't need more of that dress! AHA! BAM! ZAP!"
Ultimately, Althea wins -- which is understandable, considering she made an entire blazer and the rest of the room practically made togas out of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bedsheets in comparison. Qristyl is eliminated, and here's her entire departing speech.
"It's a little too soon for me to have been eliminated, I feel. I have a lot more to show. A lot more to prove. And I didn't get that chance. Do I think I'm a great designer? I know I'm a great designer. I've been doing this for a long time. This is all I ever wanted to be."
In other words, like the episode itself, there was no shred of identity, originality, or interest to anything she said. Farewell, Q. Don't slip on the remaining trail of tears left by Mitchell, or Epperson (who misses his family! Aw! It's been three episodes), or me, who is certainly crying the most for divine intervention.