I am gonna go ahead and call it: last night’s episode was the best of the season. Not because it righted any of the wrongs that have plagued season 6 like a tenacious hairball (cough-hack-cough — shoddy judging! — hack-hack), but because instead of forcing us to watch ho-hum designs come into being, we got to spend almost a full hour with Tim Gunn. It’s a sign of how starved I’ve been for Gunn power that I beamed like an idiot at that shot of him doing a goofy booty-bump with Heidi behind the Project Runway screen. But that was a mere half-drop of serotonin compared to what came a few moments later: Mr. Gunn standing in Carol Hannah’s kitchen, wearing a flowered apron with red ties fastened about his chest (not waist) as he rolled out biscuit dough. Ah! The adorableness was just too much to bear! I rewound my DVR three times. Now I’m tempted to do a screen grab and send it in tocuteoverload.com. Argh! Adorable!
So. Ten weeks after bidding the finalists adieu in L.A., Tim embarked on his habitual tour to check in on the three ladies’ progress. First stop? Huntington, New York, which South Carolina native Carol Hannah now calls home. As she led Tim through an airy foyer and up the winding staircase to her workspace, I was taken aback by the spaciousness of her new digs.Woah, thought I. The little gal’s got some deep pockets of independent wealth if she’s moved into a house this size on a struggling designer’s budget. But then she explained that she was bunking with her friend Ellen. Ah. So perhaps not so filthy rich. Up in her studio, Carol Hannah (or CH as I’ve come to call her in my notes) explained that she’d stopped off at Duke University on her long drive to Yankee country and had been wowed by the ethereal beauty of the campus architecture lit up at night. So her collection would be heavy on the fairytale whimsy and, she promised, a showcase for greater versatility. Not just another series of evening gowns, but separates! pants! tops! Tim was digging it, except for the ”matronly” capelet that CH had paired with one of said gowns. Buh-bye. On to the reject pile with you, silky little grandma shrug. Don’t worry, you’ll soon be joined by a bizarro gold jacket in New York City.
Though it was snowing like mad, CH’s family left the warm climes of Charleston to meet Tim — would youpass up the chance? — and show him some Southern hospitality. Hence, the biscuits. Over shots of them all gathered at the dinner table (awww), CH explained that she was once an ”awkward kid” with ”long monkey arms,” braces and ”big, ugly glasses.” (Cue endearingly gangly photos. Who among us can’t relate?) She also said that she had no formal design training. Hmm… that rings a bell. Didn’t another recently auf’d contestant often use that as an explanation for his constant eff-ups? Anyway, the cozy meal gave way to CH walking Tim into the snowy yard, where they enacted a sweet goodbye that could have been a lovers’ farewell had it not been so obviously platonic. ”Love you,” Tim said, kissing her cheek. ”Love you, too,” she said, following it up with her usual nervous giggle. (Side note: Tim did not profess his love to Althea or Irina. Sneaky editing or a reflection of his real feelings?)
Next up was Irina who, it will come as a surprise to absolutely no one with a vague familiarity with the hierarchy of Manhattan neighborhoods or, you know, Gossip Girl, lives in the Upper East Side. Also not a shocker? That her itty-bitty dog is named Princess. For isn’t this season’s front-runner a bit of a princess herself? That said, the episode did reveal Irina in a more human light. She might live in a tony ‘hood now, but she was born in the former Soviet state of Georgia and grew up in Brooklyn. That borough’s most famous attraction, Coney Island, inspired her collection. We know that because she planned on using T-shirts of the iconic Cyclone ‘coaster. Or at least I think that’s why.
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