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''Project Runway'': The biggest losers return

On ”Project Runway,” recent losers Vincent and Angela get a second chance on a black-and-white challenge, and hormonal Laura wins for the first time

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Project Runway
Project Runway: Mark Abrahams

”Project Runway”: The biggest losers return

Just when I thought I had lost my last opportunity to make snide jokes involving rosettes and/or straitjackets, the good people at Project Runway handed me a pair of beautiful presents wrapped in an excess of black and white fabric: the unexpected, terrifying, and blessedly temporary return of Vincent and Angela, each of whom was given one more chance to show exactly the kind of specialness that got them run out of TV Land once already. Forget the silly ”everyone who won a challenge gets a second chance” rationale (they conveniently neglected to mention Keith, who won the very first challenge this season): This was really an excuse to inject a booster shot of crazy into a final fivesome that was beginning to look a little sedate.

And did the demented duo let us down? They did not. Given a smart challenge — to design a cocktail dress in black and white, using every square inch of cloth you purchased — Vincent and Angela’s comeback quickly turned into a go-away-again. Why? Because Angela designed a ”shrug” (that’s fashionspeak for ”bizarrely tiny doggie jacket that real humans don’t wear”) that made her model look like Little Bo Peep — that is, if Little Bo Peep had slaughtered a lamb, skinned it, buried it, and worn the little furry pelt to its funeral. And because Vincent made a sticky-looking black skirt that rode up his model’s backside like underwear on a cross-country Greyhound trip, and solved the fact that he bought enough black fabric to outfit the Flying Nun by simply dumping the bolt over his model’s shoulders. Bye again, guys! Seriously: Show up one more time, and I’m calling an exorcist.

The Vincent-and-Angela revolving door (without even a kiss from Heidi this time — she looked ready to throw a knockwurst at them) still meant that one designer had to go. Now, last week, I got a stern lecture from many of you about my poor understanding of couture, specifically regarding the virtues of Jeffrey’s immense yellow clown outfit. So, people, bring it on again. Explain to me the kind of cocktail party to which it’s appropriate to wear thigh-high Our Lady of the Truck Stop leggings, a Daisy Mae top, and approximately 8,000 polka dots in between. That wasn’t couture, and despite the judges’ bizarre insistence on the term, it was ”rock & roll” only to those who believed Donny Osmond’s claim that he was a little bit rock & roll.

As Kayne aptly said, Jeffrey’s dress wasn’t something that ”if I was a girl, I would wear to a cocktail party.” (Whaddaya mean, ”if”?)

Nevertheless, after two straight wins, the Neck would have had to turn into a gigantic vampire bat and attack the judges to get himself kicked off. This was destined to be either Kayne’s or Laura’s week to go — and while Laura got a fairy-tale ending (she cried, she hormoned, she got advice on how to make her dress look younger from her fairy godmodel, and she finally won her first challenge), Kayne wasn’t so lucky. The judges — Nina, Michael, and sharp-dressing and thoughtful guest panelist Zac Posen — busted him for cumulative lack of taste, ironically in a week when he didn’t have a rhinestone, a sequin, or a glue gun to call his own. Kayne departed gracefully (well, perhaps ”gracefully” is a mite generous, given that he called his competitors ”bitches,” ”heifers,” and ”cockroaches”) and vowed not to continue life as a ”seamstress.” Have no fear, Kayne — as long as awards telecasts have red-carpet preshows on E! and starlets need dresses that say boobs, Botox, and Mystic Tan, your hands will never be idle — and you’ll be able to pay people to get on their knees and sew those hems for you.

[Read Jessica Shaw’s interview with Kayne.]

So now there are four — one of whom will go home, and three of whom will stay in New York for Fashion Week. (Though the results won’t air for a while, the finalists will show their collections in New York this Friday.) And suddenly Michael isn’t looking merely like a contender but like a front-runner. His white cocktail dress with a carefully patterned black cummerbund and lots of intriguing, not-quite-horizontal lines was a stunner — well thought out and sensitive to his model. (It was especially nice to hear him talk about designing specifically for dark skin, a theme that the show, with its array of models of color, ought to explore more.) On top of that, his dress was, as always, dead sexy.

By contrast, Jeffrey and Uli both got mild tongue-lashings from the judges for going to the same well once too often — Jeffrey for his manic horror-show style, and Uli for an addiction to wild prints, loose silhouettes, and ropy straps. (Tip for next week: When you make a dress so busy that it looks like an astigmatism test, don’t compound the felony by throwing a seaweedy noose around your model’s neck.)

What did you think? Have you ever heard anything more despairing than Tim Gunn’s ”Oh, Jesus” when he saw Kayne’s dress? Didn’t this week’s bloated sponsor-smooching L’Oréal segment stray a little too much into ”Ford Focus on the Contestants” territory? And next week, who’s going to be cleaning out his or her workspace and cursing Nina Garcia’s name?