On ''Project Runway,'' the designers are challenged to design a gown for Miss USA, but the men compete to be the most disturbing
Project Runway
Credit: Project Runway: Mark Abrahams

”Project Runway”: Boys gone weird

You’ve got to hand it to Project Runway. Just one week into the show’s third season, they’ve already come up with a big surprise: At the end of a contest to design an evening gown for current Miss USA (and tough customer) Tara Conner, we had to say goodbye to the silky, purring, deliciously accented Malan (I’d have given him another week just to hear him say ”lllllllluminescent” again), who was sent packing for what — in fairness to the judges — was a profoundly fugly pageant dress, the top of which looked like a huge chocolate bar to which someone had taken a meat-ax, and the hem of which appeared to have been attacked by a furious Chihuahua. The dress was also faulted because ”one was bigger than the other.”

One what, you ask? That would be one boob. For the second straight week, the losing designer made the huge mistake of treating breasts as an inconvenience. Malan, we hardly knew ye! And just last week, we kinda hated ye! And this week, when you told us that terrible story about how your own mom trashed your designs when you were just a wee coquette, we were suddenly rooting for ye! And then ye were gone. Also gone: model Candice, in the deeply unsuspenseful model elimination. I can’t believe it was just a week ago that I had no idea which one she was, and now, I never will.

Reality-competition TV is a bitch, as, it seems, are many of this season’s male competitors, who were busily engaged in their own contest: Who’s the Creepiest of Them All? Let’s tally the results:

Third place goes to Jeffrey (the tattoo-necked guy), who’s lucky he caught a break from the judges, since the dress he sent down the runway had such a massive, heavy, lumbering skirt that I was sure it was designed to hide Little Man. Speaking of little men, Jeffrey seemed like quite the shrinkydink when he crassly referred to Angela as a ”feminazi.” And when he remarked, ”The word ‘pageant’ to me has weird connotations, you know, i.e., JonBenet Ramsey,” something in me wanted to run screaming from the room.

Second place in the Creepstakes goes to Keith. This has not been a good week for the elfin menswear designer: He was busted all over the blogosphere for submitting unoriginal designs in his audition portfolio (I’d reprint his explanation here, but it was incomprehensible), and in this episode, coasting on his immunity from last week, he revealed himself to be a male Heather: a kid for whom being popular isn’t really fun unless you can make someone else miserable or announce that you’re better than everyone else. Be nice, Keith: Smugness will only carry you as far as August.

And the winner is…Vincent. Dear God, what is this man still doing on the show? Teamed with Angela (this week’s competitors were divided into seven pairs), he completely locked her out of the design process while he pulled together a green dress that offered a solution to a dilemma every woman faces: What if I want to look good but need something to conceal the small, sharp bat wings protruding horizontally from my shoulders? Even the understated Tim Gunn said he was ”disappointed,” which is the Project Runway equivalent of your doctor telling you he is ”disappointed” in your chest X-ray.

At one point, Vincent ordered noodgy, sour Angela to ”move three feet away” from his fitting dummy. Vincent, I wanted to move three feet away from that Tom Jones shirt you should have buttoned up about ten years ago, and three feet more just in case a nipple decided to fly out. Vincent is such a drama queen that on the runway he described working with Angela, to whom he barely spoke, as ”the nightmare of my life,” causing Heidi’s eyes to widen. (At least I think they did — it’s hard to tell.)

Meanwhile, a tip of the hat to those contestants who kept it together this week. Jabbery flibbertigibbet Kayne, who seems like he’s spent a lot of time studying Suzanne Sugarbaker on Designing Women reruns, won immunity by teaming with Barbie designer Robert for a jeweled, fitted prom dress that would look good in a beauty pageant. (In real life, the overelaborate bottom would get dragged through a puddle and caught in the car door.) Laura and Michael, who got little airtime this week, sailed through with an elegant, handsome gown that was probably way too tasteful for a Miss Universe telecast but bodes well for them as competitors. And Uli nailed an impressively sharp, unusual design that was described as ”very modern” by guest judge Vera Wang, who filled in for Michael Kors. (Michael, come back! I’ll never compare you to Paul Lynde again, I promise.)

What do you think? Did Vincent or Angela deserve to go instead of Malan? How long will we have to wait until Tim loses it? And who lives in apartment 28E?

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Project Runway

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

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