The competition gets fiercer as the designers are challenged to cut up Levis and sew them into an iconic look

By Kate Ward
Updated January 24, 2008 at 04:12 PM EST
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Project Runway

S4 E9
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  • TV Show

”Project Runway” recap: The knives come out

Huh? Pinch me, TV Watchers, because I must be dreaming (and not because of this week’s uninspired challenge was so snooze-worthy).Ricky came out on top this week? Ricky, our weepy lingerie designer, who would likely drown all of Manhattan after one viewing of Terms of Endearment? (Speaking of sad things, your regular Project Runway watcher, Missy Schwartz, is busy reporting at the Sundance Film Festival this week. She’ll be back to cover next Wednesday’s episode). Not that Ricky didn’t do a stellar job — I expected much worse from him, especially considering the dude wears those heinous calf-length jean shorts. But let’s face it: Last night’s winning garment was supposed to be an innovative take on an iconic look, and the only icon I saw in Ricky’s dress was the worst of them all: Paris Hilton. Michael Kors might have compared his model to Amy Winehouse, but everything about Ricky’s frilly tube dress just screamed hotel socialite to me. But seeing as season 2 devoted an entire challenge to a Hilton, I suppose that’s not a bad thing in Project Runway World. But it looks like Ricky will continue cementing his status as this year’s Vincent for now, though I’m thankful he has yet to be as sexually aroused by his designs as his season 3 doppelgänger.

To give the show credit, however, last night’s episode was one of the least predictable of the season. Not only was Ricky’s victory unexpected, but Victorya’s ouster didn’t seem imminent until the episode’s final minutes. I, for one, expected Rami to go home, à la Elisa, as soon as the producers began to delve into his background as a young boy sketching designs while bored in Israel. Then Sweet P seemed destined to be auf’d when she told cameras about her intention to make a denim wedding dress (not such a good idea). Finally, I was convinced that it was time for Chris to leave after he refused to take Tim’s advice (basically, a cardinal sin). But it turns out the competition proved too much for the hit-or-miss Victorya, who was sent home with little fanfare.

But let’s back up a little to the beginning of the episode. Once Heidi announced that Tim would be taking the designers on a field trip, it seemed we were finally going to get a challenge as good as last season’s awesome recycling challenge. What materials would our designers be using? Food? Plant life? Perhaps objects fished out of the East River? (I’m convinced at least one of our designers could concoct a fierce garment out of an old boot, a beer bottle, and algae.) Nope. Turns out the material for this week’s challenge was…denim. Ugh. Seriously, Project Runway? After three seasons of oh my God, how can they possibly do that? challenges like ”Clothes off Your Back,” ”Garden Party,” and ”Postmen,” you drop on us a whole episode devoted to one of the least colorful and exciting fabrics? I mean, even Rami came up with a better concept for a challenge in mere seconds during his confessional interview. (Take note, season 5: A challenge to make a wedding dress out of garbage is a must).

Considering that the designers were working with a type of fabric that’s supposed to define relaxation, the workroom this week was anything but calm. Yes, the claws came out this week, TV Watchers, and they were sharp as Michael Kors’ wit. We saw several face-offs last night — Christian vs. Chris, Chris vs. Jillian, and Jillian vs. Victorya — and this wasn’t even a team challenge, people! The competition seems to really be getting to our designers, who used this week as an opportunity to rip on each other behind the scenes. Most of the arguments were petty, yes, but thankfully Project Runway‘s big personalities managed to transform minor scuffles into moments of TV hilarity. (Case in point, Chris’ biting answer to Christian’s nasty behavior: “It’s so cute to see youth.”)

In particular, this week’s challenge was hard on Jillian, who broke down while trying to sew her jacket within the allotted time frame. (Come on, Jillian! There’s no crying in Project Runway! Ricky just didn’t get the memo.) Though her coat showed early signs of her patented quirky brilliance, the result seemed less fierce than a Little Red Riding Hood reject. But seeing as this is Jillian’s first misstep, the designer still seems destined for Bryant Park, thanks to her unique style and increasingly watchable freak-outs. (That’s the sound of a producer cheering.)

Speaking of contestants likely to make it to the final three, Rami thankfully belied his Uli 2.0 label this week and delivered a cocktail dress more than worth the judges’ praises. His zipper outline and flowing collar impressed Heidi & Co. and proved he could excel at more than just draping. Pair that with his reacquired positive attitude this week, and it’s seems surprising that Rami didn’t claim yet another victory.

But my money this week was on Christian, whose Kate Moss-esque motocross jean look was both daring and chic. Of course, we normal non-model folk would look like a wrapped sausage sporting those skinny jeans and that form-fitting short jacket (say it with me, Michael: “That crotch is insane!), but hey, if I were a size 0, I would be all over Christian’s look.

NEXT: Copycat walk

If only Christian’s teammate from last week had been as innovative. From the get-go, it seemed Chris had a slight disadvantage. Forcing our contestants to run several yards to get their material? What is this — The Biggest Loser? Then Chris’ fate really came into question when Tim probed him about those frayed hems on his dress. But, alas, Chris chose to stick with his ragged halter design, landing in the bottom three and earning a snippy Michael Kors quote: “It’s very Joan Cusack in Working Girl.”

For more evidence as to why one should alwayslisten to Tim, look no further than our little Sweet P, who seems to be emerging further out of her pod and into her comfort zone with the passing of each week. Last Wednesday she bested Rami with her oh-so-cute party number, and this week she delivered an adorable, patchy ensemble that I was ready to tear off the model right then. (Gotta love that “slimming voodoo,” as Michael calls it.) And how much did you love her wedding photo with husband Serge, who could easily compete with Laura Bennett’s hubby, a.k.a. Professor Magoo, in a battle of the mustaches?

And now onto this week’s loser. Oh, Victorya. After nine weeks of gum chewing, assertions of your competitiveness, and general unpleasantness, you finally met your maker with a seemingly simple challenge. And if I may channel catty Christian for a second here, Victorya’s coat made me want to die of barfness. It was obvious the girl didn’t have enough fabric to work with, but her simple, mismatched trench coat was so elementary that my five-year-old cousin could probably produce a more professional-looking jacket using elbow macaroni, glitter, and a gluestick. (Take note once again, Project Runway season 5). Not that we were particularly rooting for the designer during the episode. As soon as Jillian expressed concern that Victorya was copying her concept for a denim jacket — which is especially damning afterInternet gossip sites remarked on the resemblance of Victorya’s prom dress to a garment designed by season 3’s Michael Knight for an episode of My Super Sweet 16 — it only seemed right to auf the designer.

What do you think, TV Watchers? Have you seen that much denim since the early ’90s? Are you happy that Victorya is gone? Are you still hoping that Ricky will be auf’d? Were you underwhelmed with this week’s challenge? And finally, am I the only one who thought Ricky looked like one of the seven dwarfs (Leaky, naturally) next to his model?

Episode Recaps

Project Runway

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

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