Stuck with eco-friendly but unappealing fabric chosen by their models, the designers attempt to impress guest judge Natalie Portman

”Shiny, tight, and short is the quickest way to look cheap.” So spake Nina Garcia, who really should consider printing this concise little nugget of wisdom on billboards around the country — if not the world. ‘Cause Lord knows our little globe is chock-full of fashion victims who live by the rule ”When in doubt, bust the slutty on out.”

Of course, overly sexy did not seem to be the motivation for poor young Wesley last night onProject Runway. We hardly got to know the guy, but his penchant for schoolboy shorts is not exactly the mark of a man in touch with sexiness — male or female. No, the fatal flaw of his shiny choco minidress was the shoddy execution. Bumpily seamed, poorly fitting, and adorned with an out-of-place prim bowtie, the thing got its ass kicked by the sewing machine.

In an episode that was a bit of a snoozer, the challenge was to create a cocktail dress made of green materials. Leanne ate it up, explaining that she already works with eco stuff — ironic, considering she narrowly escaped getting the boot with her overly designed brown dress covered in floppety-flop thingies and pockets. In a Project Runway FIRST! the models did the shopping, which meant we were treated to more face time than usual with the ladies, who offered such searing insight as ”I’m looking for, like, color.” I’m guessing that Mood’s selection of organic fabric is pretty slim pickin’s — otherwise, brown with a blinding sheen is the new black among tall, skinny young women dreaming of a career on the catwalk. Three designers were stuck with the same damn material, and another three with the champagne variation. Way to be original, ladies.

Not surprisingly, few of the designers were thrilled with what the models brought back to the workroom, proud as cats returning from the prowl with dead mice in their jaws. Some understandably raised an eyebrow at the choice of jersey, while Stella, of course, immediately started griping about having to work with something other than leather. After reminding us that she’s ”urban,” ”tough,” and fond of ”form-fitting stuff,” she recited a litany of things she could do with a nice piece o’ hide (grommets, studs, you know the drill). We were meant to think that the Hard Rockin’ Queen of Queens was on the verge of another meltdown — memories of her whining about her ”fabric” last week still crack me up — or, at the very least, a face-off with Blayne, who called her ”ridiculous.” But we got neither, really. Just a jokey encounter wrapped up with Blayne’s tone-deaf jab ”I love your leather face.” Stella pulled through, whipping up a silky, off-the-shoulder minidress that the judges praised for reflecting her biker-babe chic — but that guest judge Natalie Portman clearly did not care for. Portman may be an Oscar-nominated actress, but she ain’t got a poker face to save her life. ”I’m really not into asymmetrical stuff,” she said, barely stifling a gag. And considering that Portman is a vegan who eschews all animal by-products, Stella should be thanking her lucky studs and grommets that there was no leather in sight this week. (Incidentally, Portman’s footwear collection is cruelty-free, but hardly green, as Joe claimed. The $200-plus shoes are made of plastic.)

NEXT: Natalie plays nice

Portman did do her best to offer each designer at least one positive comment, leaving the real teardowns to Garcia, Michael Kors, and Heidi Klum. Discussing Korto’s bizarre frock, which seemed to have mated with Nemo during the commercial break, Portman skipped over the unflattering, oceanic outside darts and went straight for the pretty neckline. The other three judges, however, laid right into her. ”I love a curvy girl,” said Kors, ”but even curvy girls don’t want fins.” Poor Korto. She cried and cried, likely wondering how she ended up with exactly what Tim Gunn told her to avoid: ”a hot mess.” It was kind of a bust, but whoa! Did all four of the judges share in a collective minute-long blink when Jerell’s hideous, hairy, blue peacock thing waltzed by? That was one fugly piece of clothing. Perhaps it was the result of his feeling ”salty!” earlier, whatever that means. But if that’s what ”young, glamorous women” are wearing to cocktail parties, I think I’ll stay at home in my pajamas, thanks.

The judges seemed to give the award for most improved to Stella this week, but I’d make an argument for Blayne, who demonstrated he can produce something that, you know, human beings might wear. His pink garment was cute, if not the classiest or most original cocktail dress. But man oh man, the guy is not winning me over in the personality department. The –licious crapola is already bordering on unbearable, and calling Heidi Darth Vader/Darth Licious because outside she’s all put together but ”inside she’s crazy” was the lamest attempt at wit I’ve seen on five seasons of Runway. Blayne, you are notChristian. Give it a rest.

For the second week in a row, Daniel delivered, this time with a lovely variation on the little black dress. I thought he might have a shot at the winner’s circle, but the contenders for the top spot this time were Kenley and Suede, who each produced garments sitting squarely on opposites ends of the fashion spectrum. Kenley’s dress was sophisticated and clean, with a blossoming collar that reminded me ofDaniel Vosovic’s two-piece ensemble from season 2. It was the most grown-up of the bunch, and it seemed to please Portman, who gave its maker a thumbs-up for evoking a ”broad out of the ’40s.” Suede, on the other hand, made what at first looked like a cheap tutu covered in masking tape but turned out to be an eye-catching, edgy party frock. I can appreciate that there’s an audience for this kind of thing, but unlike Heidi, even ten years ago, I never would have attempted to pull that sucker off. (Though come to think of it, my sophomore year of high school, I did wear an old-fashioned, ruffle-skirted bathing suit with some polka-dot leggings and Doc Martens. Probably not my finest moment, in retrospect.) The man with an increasingly irritating fondness for the third person (”Suede is a bisexual Sagittarius!”) won, proving that the so-called spoilers leaked on Wikipedia last week were indeed a hoax. (The false intel had Suede down for the count this week.) The triumph inspired him to crow, ”Suede f—ing rocked it!” Which made me want to rewind the DVR to his competitor’s comment that ”Leanne likes Suede, but Suede needs to stop talking about himself in the third person.” I agree, Leanne. But at least he didn’t repeat the guns-a-blazing, pow! pow! hand gesture that accompanied his first I’m awesome! declaration last night.

Now to you. Have you had it with the Blayne’s atroc-alicious-ness? Are you feeling this season’s crop of competitors yet? Did you catch the arithmetic mistake in the commercial-break poll? And are you as relieved as I am that Leanne did not, in fact, pee her pants at the sight of Natalie Portman?

Episode Recaps

Project Runway

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

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