The designers have to create a look based on a work of art, with the winners getting a show during Fashion Week; Rami survives despite doing what he always does
Project Runway

”Project Runway” recap: On to Fashion Week!

There was a shocking elimination last night onProject Runway, TV Watchers. Yes, yes. And the upset lasted a whole two seconds!

I am referring, of course, to Heidi’s announcement that Chris was in, which we were supposed to take to mean that Rami was out. My jaw dropped. Wow! The judges managed to make a bold choice and were penalizing Rami for his stubbornness. It made sense, really. Guest judge Roberto Cavalli had turned up his nose at Rami’s garment, deeming it “too normal.” The others noted that he never took any risks. But these thoughts barely had time to form in my excited little head before Mrs. Seal announced that Rami also was in, and that the two dudes would have to face off one last time by presenting the three strongest pieces from their final collection for Fashion Week. I’m sure the producers were patting themselves on the back for this move, applauding themselves for mixin’ it all up in season 4. But it all felt so calculated. And there was other fishy business. At the top of the hour, when Heidi told the designers that two people would be eliminated this round — a Runway first, therefore kind of a big deal — none of them seemed the least bit surprised. Huh?

The episode found the designers taking a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Going all highbrow Art with a capital A after last week’s down-and-dirty rumble in the wrestling ring was a bit of a jolt, but hey, I’ll take it. The Runway folks seemed to have the Met to themselves, which leads me to think that someone at Bravo is a mighty generous donor. Or maybe it was all the magical, mystical doing of that miracle worker Collier Strong, from the L’Oréal Paris hair and makeup room — not to be confused with the TRESemmé hair salon or the accessories wall! Last night wasn’t the first time Tim Gunn invited the Strong man to the workroom as a special guest. “I know who he is!” Sweet P said when he walked in. Great, girl, ’cause no one at home does — nor do we care! The increasingly egregious product placement on this show makes me fear that it’s but one plug away from turning into some bastardized American Idol-Apprentice spawn in which the contestants are forced to make god-awful Coke commercials before they get their Mood allowance. When Christian declared, “It’s all about L’Oréal” right as the camera lingered on the company’s logo, I thought I might just barf up my dinner.

But back to business. As soon as Tim waltzed into the Met’s Greek and Roman gallery, I was already bored with Rami. Like, presumably, all of you, I knew he’d be going all drippy for draping. He even proclaimed an Aphrodite statue to be his “soul mate.” It made me want to make like Chris in the break room and snooooooooore as loud as I could. (By the way, this is the second time we’ve caught Chris sawing logs in the lounge.) From then on, everything that came out of Rami’s mouth was some sort of defense of his one-track vision. “I’m not here to make noise; I’m here to make beautiful clothes.” “It’s not always about who’s the loudest.” “I’m passionate about draping.” (He repeated this last chestnut at least once more before the credits rolled.) Even allowing for crafty editing on Bravo’s part, the proliferation of Rami’s comments suggested that he knew he was being predictable (and, let’s face it, arrogant), but he was determined to do whatever the hell he wanted anyway. The worst part is, the dress he made was one of his weakest ones yet. The shimmering purple fabric was lovely, yes. But the cut was just weird. Those nudie back and side portions came out of nowhere, and the way the bodice flowed to the waist made the rail-thin model look hippy. Man, if the thing made a size zero look ripe for childbearing, then what hope is there for me and my fellow everyday women?

While Mr. What Is Prom? hunkered down with his headless muse, the rest of the gang found their bliss in various European paintings. With typical bravado, Christian whipped up a gender-bending, five-piece ensemble inspired by a 17th-century Spanish painting. What these people are able to accomplish in no time at all impresses me every week, but what Christian pulled off last night — five pieces in two days! — just knocked my socks off. Some kind of whacked-out amalgamation of the Three Musketeers, a matador, and the world’s hippest pilgrim, his look was a stunner. (I’m sure many of you will gripe about his affinity for tailored jackets. Have at it. Meanwhile, the ”fierce” count stands at 19.) Jillian, perhaps in response to Christian telling her, “Eww, don’t be so bitchy!” called his billowy white blouse “marshmallow-y.” If it was, the judges must love them some s’mores, because they fell over themselves lavishing praise on the little guy. His ability to imbue his clothes with emotion (whoa! Elisa-speak alert!) really wowed them, and they rewarded him with victory. Though I couldn’t tell if he’d successfully whisked off Nina Gah-see-ah‘s shoes, as Tim had encouraged them all to do.

NEXT: Going off half-peacocked

As speedy as Christian was at the sewing machine, his fingers weren’t the nimblest this week. Chris managed to knock out his “Cinderella couture” gown with nap time to spare. Yet Tim wondered if the frock was polished enough, and Christian snickered that it was both costumey and too similar to the avant-garde dress they’d made together a few weeks before. I had the same thought myself — as did Heidi, Michael, and Nina. Lucky for Chris, Cavalli hadn’t been around for that challenge, and he went gaga for the iridescent design. It was worthy of the Paris haute couture shows! It was the only piece that truly felt like art! It had drama! Of course, it took me a minute to realize Cavalli was actually saying all these kind words in English. When the subtitles popped up, for a moment there I felt like I was watching some Dieter-like European talk show where those not wearing black turtlenecks are tarred and feather boa-ed.

Cavalli also dug Jillian — enough to practically offer her a job right there during the elimination round. (Hey, girl, go for it. If glam is your game, Cavalli’s a step up from Ralph Lauren.) When he told her, “I-a like-a vedy much-a,” I was praying she’d ditch the meekness and for once go all nutty with a reply along the lines of, “Oh, a-thank-a you-a, signore! I am-a e-such a e-huge-a fan of a-you-a! Thanks-a to you-a and your-a e-big a-mouth-a, we all a-knew-a that a-J. Lo was a-with a-child-a!

Jillian’s goal in designing her gold mini-dress and black jacket was to show an edgy side. But clearly, she had Heidi at hello, what with all those shiny things. “I was like, woooo!” said Frau Klum. Oh, Heidi. Sometimes you make it too easy to make model jokes.

As for Sweet P, I was surprised the judges didn’t enact a more vicious takedown. Her design was supposed to be inspired by peacock feathers, but the only bird I saw was sitting on the model’s head. The dress, a silky number with a distracting orange landing-strip panel cutting through the center, had no drama, no vision, no showmanship. It was simply a nice enough dress for the commercial market. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, Nina insisted.) And so the judges gave her the boot. It was an obvious and deserved ouster. But I felt sorry for our resident biker babe when the remaining contestants came together in a hug-huddle and she just stood there tearily, on the outside of the circle for good.

A final thought before signing off. Is there not a certain bogusness to all the talk of which contestants are going to Bryant Park and which aren’t? By now, most of you know who presented collections last week. (If you don’t know and want to, here’s my report.) I wonder, aside from the possibility of winning the money, the Saturn, and all that other stuff promised to the victor, is there really much of a difference between showing as a true finalist and as a decoy? Strictly in terms of exposure, my hunch is, there is not.

Other questions: How do you feel about the decision to keep both Rami and Chris? Do you agree with Heidi when she says Jillian “has balls”? And did you enjoy Chris’ bon mot about the ancient Temple of Dendur: “Look! Joan Rivers carved her initials in here when she was a little girl”?

More Project Runway: See Jessica Shaw’s exit Q&A with Sweet P

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Project Runway

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

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