Project Runway recap: If It Ain't Brooke...
The designers try to create looks that will be worn on TV by the businesswoman character played by the week's guest judge, Brooke Shields
And so we’ve arrived. We’re at the point in theProject Runway season where the judges start aggravating us with their inexplicable choices. I wouldn’t say they managed to infuriate me last night — not to worry, the fist-pumping, screaming-at-the-television phase will come soon enough — but I am ticked off and disappointed. Kelli leaves and Blayne stays. What kind of effed-up parallel universe is this?
On one side, there’s Kelli, who won the first challenge with her wildly innovative Gristedes dress and has not been in the bottom since. On the other, there’s Blayne, who landed in the bottom in episode 1 with his hideous Playboy Pampers and has since failed to create a single garment that one could ever call sophisticated, chic, or particularly well made. While Kelli’s body-hugging, leopard-print-trimmed suit was far from classy — it kinda made you think of thatother kind of working girl — Blayne’s outfit was inappropriately casual, too juvenile, and, overall, nothing a high-powered exec would ever be caught dead wearing to the office. And come on! Those walking shorts looked tight enough to cut off the poor model’s circulation. I swear they were worthy of a ”that crotch is insane” from Kors. Or at the very least, a ”those pockets are bat-s—!”
I’m not surprised by the outcome, mind you. As soon as Nina brought up the question of taste — her pet topic — I knew Kelli was toast. ”Slutty, slutty, slutty!” chirped Kors. And when Heidi summed up the judges’ critiques and told Blayne, ”We wonder if you can ever step out of yourself as a designer,” which was really just code for ”You are a pain in the ass with moderate talent, but at least you didn’t make an outfit for the Fall 2008 Heidi Fleiss Collection,” there was no question in my mind that Kelli and her tattoos were goners. Still, it irks me that contestants who have nothing to offer but Big Personality continue to enjoy the comfort of the safety zone while others who screw up once but have more raw talent get the boot. And let’s not forget that the judges had never called out Kelli for her supposed lack of taste before. To that I say, Boo! Booooooooooo!
Faaaaahhhwooomp! Ouch. I just fell off my soapbox. (Or did someone push me?) Okay, okay, let’s get on with it. Last night’s episode was exactly what we’d been told it would be: The designers had to make a garment for a glamorous professional woman. I’m not sure why the producers even bothered to try to drum up any suspense in the workroom before the big reveal when we all knew perfectly well that the guest judge was Brooke Shields. Giving away those kinds of surprises does hurt the show, and I’m beginning to wonder if the conspiracy theorists are right that Bravo is trying to sabotage Runway before it moves to Lifetime in November. Yet their strategy — if it is one — has not prevented Bravo from embracing NBC tie-ins: the Olympics last week and Lipstick Jungle this week. (It seems we’ll be getting a reprieve from the corporate synergy next week, unless the Peacock has a new drag-queen show launching in the fall that I’m not aware of.)
After a 30-minute sketch period, Shields evaluated the designers individually, then chose six to lead groups of two. Wearing a leopard-print shirt herself, Kelli pitched a leopard-themed design, to which Shields said, ”It is the jungle!” The actress wisely avoided choosing Stella, looking dubious as she pointed out to Lady Leathah that her Jungle character, Wendy Healy, ”still has to go to work in this.” (”This” translating to ”your skank gear.”) Yet shockingly, Shields did decide to go with Blayne. (Who, by the way, had bragged earlier that he had a leg up on the competition because some of his friends are married to musicians, just like Shields’ Jungle character! Nice logic, Blayne. Let’s see….My sister’s girlfriend is a lawyer. I guess that means I’d know what kind of underwear she likes!) Choosing Blayne was against your better judgment, right, Brookie?
NEXT: Threads of violence
The teams had barely started cutting out their patterns before the quarreling began. Kenley didn’t like Keith’s design, and Keith said Kenley had such strong opinions that ”it was almost insulting.” Kelli didn’t appreciate Daniel’s ruching only half the skirt. Korto wished Joe had spoken up about the voluminousness of her orange coat before Tim Gunn said it ”looked like a giant sweet potato.” But the most wickedly wonderful bickering occurred between Terri and Suede. After Blue Fauxhawk got all uppity about draping and cutting, he seemed to be lost at the sewing machine, where Terri hovered over him like a weary parent convinced her kid is about to screw up his science project. Ah, but Terri’s no mom. In the most hilarious confessional moment yet this season, she told us, ”I don’t know what he’s packing, balls or vajayjay, but he needs to work that out.” (At this point, I had to pause the DVR, I was laughing so hard.) ”I ain’t got no babies, ain’t nobody sucking on my t–ties, so please, man up.” TV Watchers, I am still laughing as I type this.
The tough love ended up paying off, as Terri and Suede turned the ”janked up” shirt into a colorful off-the-shoulder blouse that they paired with simple black pants. It wasn’t a be-all, end-all outfit, but it was solid enough to qualify them for the next round. Korto and Joe’s editing also earned them a shoo-through. (Korto did have immunity, of course.) Jerell had exhibited a rare moment of self-awareness at the top of the hour, telling the camera that he needed to actually listen to the challenge parameters this week. Wise move, pal. Although it seemed as if he and Stella were headed for an unqualified mess — especially after we were treated to shots of Stella hammering away at some mustard yellow leathah — the duo managed to work well together. Their champagne-colored camisole, cinched leather waistband, and full, patterned skirt inspired all sorts of giddy cooing from Nina, Michael, and Heidi. But Shields wasn’t wild about the busy belt-on-belt action. And so, the getup that topped the Runway audience poll took second place.
It was Keith who emerged the victor with his fluttering chocolate brown skirt and flowy, colorful chiffon top. Nina wondered if it was too cocktail for the workplace, but Shields clearly loved it. I loved the ensemble, thought it was incredibly chic and innovative, so I guess I should be happy that the judges got it half right last night.
Which brings us back to the bottom two. Daniel successfully defended himself from the Runway guillotine by saying that he, unlike his partner Kelli, had ”high-end taste.” (I giggled right along with Kenley when he said this.) Leanne, too, made the cut, even if the judges wondered where oh where her vision had gone. (She did come off like a big old bore last night.) Blayne’s attempt to argue with Brooke Shields about the appropriateness of his outfit for her character was appalling. Dude, no one wants to hear you spew some blah-blah about where Wendy might go this season. Shields called him ”bratty.” Well, that’s one way of putting it. The other ways are not fit for print on EW.com.
What did you think? Did the judges do right by Keith? Did they send the right person home? Do you wish Kelli had been given another chance, despite her ”hoochie mama” misstep? How on earth do Keith and Daniel have time to work out? And are you as excited as I am that Chris March is back next week?