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'Project Runway' recap: 'Here she is, boys!'

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Project-Runway-Heidi

Image Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime TelevisionWhat a positively ka-ka-karazy episode we got last night, Runway friends. A shocking departure, a heroic return, a model’s exit, a workroom flashing of mammaries, a trouble-comes-in-threes design snafu, an abundance of Tim Gunn, a double win, a sad elimination — Jeezwow, was it ever a night of action. It was like the old Runway of yesteryear. And I loved every minute of it. You won’t find me griping à la Mila that all the workroom commotion was just a big ole pain in the rear. Oh no, it’s a distraction to my recapping art! Hardly. Not even the fake-out silliness with Heidi turning out to be the “difficult” celebrity client dulled my buzz.

Which is not to say I was jumping on the couch in ecstasy for the entire hour. The promos for tonight’s episode, combined with the widespread knowledge that Maya did not show at Bryant Park with the rest of the top 10, had pretty much negated the surprise! element of this week’s episode. (That and all the unsubtle close-ups of her abandoned dress-form, accompanied by a sad-jazzy score. They might as well have flashed MAYA = M.I.A. WHAT COULD IT ALL MEAN? across the screen.) But I was still bummed to see the hugely talented gal jump ship. “I’ve decided to leave the competition,” she explained with characteristic soft-spokenness. “I just feel like I’m not really ready to go all the way yet.” We then saw her explaining to Tim that she was still developing her point of view, which of course the editors used as an opportunity to remind us that Nina thinks Maya is “too referential” in her designs. (Fair? Unfair? See what Maya had to say about that bit of tricky editing and her controversial decision in general in my Q&A with her.) And OF COURSE big-hearted Emilio couldn’t refrain from boarding the Badmouth Express. “That’s a cop-out,” he sniffed to the confessional camera — not, mind you, to Maya’s face. “Don’t quit. Quitters never win.”  You know what, ES♥SA? I’ve got another adage that’s just as handy as yours: Karma is a bitch.

Seth Aaron, on the other hand, stuck up for his colleague. After acknowledging how freeeeekin’ exhausting it is to make it through challenge after challenge, he said: “Anyone sitting at home saying, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe Maya quit’ — you know what? F— off. You have no clue. Don’t judge.” I’d like to think SA was really addressing that eff-you to Emilio, but either way, in that moment of fashionista solidarity, he won me over. SA works hard (and fast! cause he’s a self-described “spastic”), doesn’t make up lame-o excuses like Emilio, and refrains from gratuitous bitchery. When his model leaves Runway for a Donna Karan gig, does he whine and moan? Hells no. He adjusts his measurements, digs in his motorcycle-boot heels, and gets back to work. I’m about the farthest thing from his target client, but I have come to dig this guy.

And now, for the comeback moment of the week:

“Here she is, boys!”

Again, there was little doubt as to which lucky auf-ee would get to make a glorious (re)entrance into Planet Parsons (hey, do you think it’ll be Janeane?!), but that didn’t make the moment any less delicious. The look of joy on Anthony “the Ambassador of Second Chances” Williams’ beaming face made my heart sing. Everything was right in the Runway world again. ‘Twas the greatest triumph since Chris March’s return in season four. I swear I heard birds chirping.

But soon enough, it was back to work and the “difficult” celebrity herself appeared in the workroom with Tim. That freaked ’em all out, but no one more so than poor Jonathan. After the bludgeoning he took last week, he was already psyching himself out. So he was understandably devastated when Heidi compared his filigree work — the fabric he’d toiled over for 8 hours — to curtains. And if that weren’t pain enough for the guy, she then blithely suggested he ditch the custom-made fabric altogether. Which he did, bless his heart. And that was the beginning of the end for him.

Jay was also in for a bit of a surprise from Frau Klum. She questioned the cleavage-gap he’d made in the bodice. He said it was normal. She begged to differ. To prove her point, she pulled down her purple top and invited him to “have a quick look.” Will Jay ever again question the braledge (that’s bra knowledge) of a Victoria’s Secret model? Certainly not one as mammary-obsessed as Mrs. Seal. Or as singularly fixated on ridding the earth of DBBI, a.k.a. Dreaded Big Butt Illusion. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Come runway time, only half of the six so-called “red-carpet” dresses were actually floor-length. And guess which ones earned the highest scores? That said, I’m not sure the judges actually had three solid favorites. SA delivered another flawlessly constructed garment, but because it was more Morticia Addams than Heidi “the cleavage must look glorious” Klum, the judges deemed it merely meh. Nina said it was appropriate for a funeral, which made me wonder what the hell kind of kinky burials she attends in her spare time.

There were, however, two clear front-runners in Emilio and (blessed victory!) Anthony. Emilio made the most traditionally red-carpet look of the bunch with a sparkly, copper/gold figure-hugger whose tailoring was irreproachable. And he did the entire thing in a day! As soon as I saw it, I knew it was gonna earn ES♥SA his third consecutive win for a grand stinkin’ total of four. Emilio, say hello to Bryant Park. Unless you sick another jank string-theory bikini on us, you are going to be in the final three.

What I didn’t see coming was the Comeback Kid winning as well. But how could the judges not formally applaud such a return to form? Anthony’s black and white dress might not have been a feat of fashion engineering, but it had such gorgeous movement I thought I might float off the couch just looking at it. And the old-fashioned glamour it exuded! Guest judge Jessica Alba was the biggest fan, so please join me in thanking the “fashion icon” for bestowing a much-deserved dual-win on our Steel Magnolia.

As for the bottom three, for the fourth week in a row, Mad for Mod Mila hit the skids. Her short, ill-conceived frock was about as red-carpet as the outfit I’m wearing as we speak. And guess what? I don’t recap in ball-gown couture! I was such a fan of Mila’s early work and continue to believe she’s got the chops, but boy, take her out of her black-and-white, color-blocking comfort zone and she is kinda the pits. The neckline was a bulging hot mess, while the gold racing stripes reminded me of Ra’mon’s lamentable bowling-ball bag pregnancy dress from last season. Taking a dig at the folks on the other side of the Holland Tunnel, Nina smirked, “It looks like something the Housewives of New Jersey would wear.”

The Joisey dress should have landed Mila in the bottom two, but once again, through a miraculous celestial intervention because the judges are determined to send her to the finals, she squeaked through to safety, while the double J’s performed the sad under-scorers’ pas de deux.

Let’s start with Jay. His silvery-gray, fluttery-panel mini dress had its problems (namely, a busted bust), but I hardly see how it merited a) lower marks than Mila; and b) all this “It makes her butt look HUGE!” mumbo-jumbo. Now, Jay admitted he likes big butts (and he cannot lie), but the way Kors and Klum went on and on about it, you’d think that Jay had fastened a big red caboose to Brittany’s rear and shouted “All aboard!” as she turned the corner. And when Kors argued that “there isn’t a woman on the planet” who wants a “fat butt,” all I could think was, Lucky Kors. Clearly he’s never heard of the 600-lb. woman with the goal weight of 1,000 lbs.

There was just no way Jay’s adventures in gluteus maximizing were gonna matter next to Jonathan’s failed advertisement for Making the Most of Your Remnants! Inc. It pains me to rag on the guy because I really like him — not to mention his LOL imitation of Heidi. But… ooof. That dress — the third in a series of frustrating misfires in a single day — was just fuggin’ fug. The first veritable Runway catastrophe in ages, it was proof that draping is not everyone’s forte — and that Rami parodies are unwearable. The back had some interesting draping action, but the front? It looked a three-year-old had taken over the sewing machine during mom’s coffee break. The fabric was sewn all willy-nilly, with not a care in the world for the hideous bunching and puckering. It was too short, the color was off, and the fit… well, there really was no fit. Is it any wonder it immediately earned Kors’ Metamucil and then got Jonathan the ax?

True to form, Jonathan was the picture of graciousness following his auf. He admitted that what he threw together in two hours could never compete with Emilio’s and Anthony’s gowns. And with that, he was gone. (Be sure to check back here later today for my exit interview with Jonathan.)

As we inch ever closer to the April 22 finale — ONLY! THREE! EPISODES! LEFT! — it’s become pretty clear who’s gonna make the Bryant Park Top Three. If I had to guess today, my picks would be be Seth Aaron, Mila, and Emilio. Jay’s been too inconsistent of late. I’m betting Anthony makes it to fourth place.

Who are your choices?

And here’s some other food for thought: What did you think of this week’s action-packed episode? Did Maya make a brave choice by bowing out or do you agree with Emilio that she’s a “quitter”? Did Anthony’s return make your week? Did you notice how ill-fitting the top of Jessica Alba’s dress was? Did you chuckle when Heidi pulled a Far Side “School for the Gifted” moment as she tried to exit the workroom?