On ''Project Runway,'' each designer has to create a look for a rival's mother or sister, and Jeffrey shows his uglier side

By Mark Harris
Updated August 24, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT
Project Runway: Mark Abrahams

Project Runway

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”Project Runway”: Mothers’ (and sisters’) day

Well, shut my mouth. Just a week after my one millionth plea for the judges on Project Runway to give Vincent the heave-ho so he can finally find a more appropriate venue for his ongoing self-realization (I’m thinking maybe a permanent spot on Dr. Phil), the guy goes and ruins my argument by (a) winning a challenge, (b) designing a pretty dress, and (c) acting normal.

What a blog wrecker of an episode this was. I look forward to hauling my nasty-bastard A-game out of cold storage next week, but what am I supposed to do after last night’s show — make fun of how people’s sisters look? Make nasty remarks about somebody’s mother? What kind of person would even consider doing something like that? (Hint: Jeffrey.)

The latest installment of summer’s best reality show swiped a shrewd move from the Survivor playbook: Just when the contestants are beginning to seem a little less than bearable, bring in a bunch of family members and let the tears and revelations start flowing. But the arrival of six mothers and two sisters did more than warm up the episode; it allowed for a canny commentary on the artifice that usually defines this show, as well as an editorial swipe at the fact that most designers never give a second thought to women with large butts, wide hips, short waists, neck rolls, big boobs, and other actual human features. This week, they were forced to do just that. To paraphrase the philosopher Mo’Nique, it was time to hate on the skinny bitches and design for everyone else.

Before we get to how the players met that challenge, let us count the great tidbits of information that were imparted to us.

Fourth best tidbit: Michael Kors has a mother. And they have matching tans.

Third best tidbit: Laura is pregnant with her sixth child (old news over the Internet back fence, but fresh info to viewers, and apparently to her own mother). This announcement allowed the expectant mom to utter the greatest line about parenthood since the glory days of Roseanne: ”Five, six, seven — it doesn’t make that big of a difference. I’ll just throw it on the pile with the other ones.” ”It.” How sweet that she’s already picked out a name!

Second best tidbit: Jeffrey used to be an alcoholic suicidal junkie living on the street. (Not sure which street, but it was near a tattoo parlor.) Some of you have noted that I’ve been very hard on Jeffrey, so let me at least say that he has what appears to be a very nice mother who probably had to log a lot of playground time having to gently ”explain” Jeffrey to the other mothers. I really wanted to give him the best-revelation prize, but he’ll have to settle for runner-up status and a $20,000 scholarship, because the tiara goes to…

Kayne! Why? Because Kayne lost 110 pounds. That’s right — he lost an entire supermodel, plus a second supermodel’s leg and head. And in the land of Project Runway, anyone can be a reformed substance abuser, but it takes a big man to admit you were…a big man.

Bravo, Mr. Former Huskypants. In consideration of your accomplishment, I’m going to forgive you for putting Michael’s elegant mother in a pair of wrinkly old Bermuda shorts that looked like an 18-hour girdle after a football game. And while I’m handing out absolution, Laura, I guess you’re off the hook for that high-waisted, trap-door, diaper-front skirt you stuck on Jeff’s mom. As for the best dresses, other than Vincent’s simple, sharp black silhouette for Uli’s mother, Uli, with her great eye for fabrics, came through with a snazzy, breeze-blown chiffon that Kayne’s mom worked like she owned the place.

That left Jeffrey, Angela, and Robert in the bottom three, and Robert, after weeks of underperformance, was sadly but deservedly sent home for putting Vincent’s sister in exactly the kind of outfit that women who don’t look like Barbie dolls get stuck wearing when they don’t know what else to put on — a big wet sigh of a black dress with a vast swollen-ankle-colored top that was the visual manifestation of a howl of defeat. [Read Jessica Shaw’s interview with Robert]. Robert’s departure allowed the only fair ending to the bad-behavior contest between Jeffrey and Angela: a draw. Jeffrey, you insulted Angela’s mom. You said you didn’t ”appreciate” her standing next to you. And you referred to her as a ”crazy bitch.” To sum up: Have fun in hell. And Angela, you urged your grouchy mother to trash-talk Jeffrey’s blobular dress on the runway to sabotage him. Remember: All the rosettes and bubble skirts in the world will not hide a conniving heart.

What a delight, however, that the two evildoers will fight it out again next week. And now, in the tradition of the Macy’s Accessory Wall, the L’Oréal Paris Makeup Room, and the TRESemmé whatever, let me end with my own product placement: Project Runway fans, trust me: You will not want to miss the next cover of Entertainment Weekly.

What did you think? Weren’t you shocked that Jeffrey cried when Robert left? Putting aside the fact that we love Michael, do women really want to wear reversible dresses any more than men want to wear reversible pants? And when Vincent said, ”Uli’s mom has this European air about her,” do you think it occurred to him that she is, in fact, European?

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Project Runway

Karlie Kloss and Christian Siriano guide undiscovered designers through the harrowing rites of fashion.

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