Project Runway season premiere recap: Destination Unknown
One designer goes home after failing to understand how to represent a global hotspot
I see no better way of starting off this recap than by quoting Althea: ”If Christopher can put that garment down the runway and not get eliminated, then I don’t know what’s going on.”
Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Not that I’m crying for the one who did get eliminated. But still! What magical elixir of dumb luck has Christopher been slurping all season? And is he chasing it with a potion of profound delusion? To wit, these words: ”For most of the challenges, I found myself on the top.” Um, wrong. There have now been 10 challenges. You, Christopher, were in the top for exactly three of them. And three out of ten does not a majority make.
The best thing about last night’s episode was the restoration of our Holy Trinity of Judges. Hey, hey, the gang’s all here! Reunited and it feels so good! Not only was Sir Quips A Lot back after another absence (an appointment with the tanning bed repairman?), but ’twas he who gave the designers the challenge. The team shuttled over to the glitziest shopping district in all of L.A., Rodeo Drive, to meet Michael in his West Coast flagship shop. Before they arrived, Heidi hinted that they’d be meeting a ”top designer whose work is known around the world.” The tease got them all so excited (WHO! COULD! IT! BE?!) that they likely convinced themselves they’d be meeting the ghost of Coco Chanel. Surprise! It was just Michael Kors. You know, the guy who shoulda been judging them regularly all season. Wahn-wahn.
Sir Quips A Lot is a jet setter, see, so naturally the ”Michael Kors Challenge” was built around travel: Create a look inspired by one of seven of the guy’s favorite locales. They had one day and $150. The budget did not sit well with Irina, who selected Aspen. ”$150 is not enough to put a winter look together,” she griped. Huh? Since when do a Benjamin and a Grant not suffice to assemble a fab outfit that keeps your booty warm on the slopes? Does this womanever have anything positive to say? I shudder to imagine what’s going on in her head: a furious cacophony of wicked witch cackling and egomaniacal chanting: aheehahaheehaahaahee — I am the best, the rest can suck it — aheehahaheehaahaahee — I am the best, the rest can suck it — aheehahaheehaahaahee — I am the best…
Irina has become such an obvious villain that I’m guessing the producers don’t fret over finding footage to stitch together disparate scenes. Their motto? When in doubt, cut to Irina being a beyotch! Or even just looking like one! First she complained about the budget. Then she ragged on her colleagues for cracking jokes and enjoying themselves. And finally she berated their talent: ”I’m definitely surprised Christopher is still here. His dress looks like something an Amish woman would wear.” (Okay, fine, so also I’m surprised that Mr. I Don’t Have a Formal Fashion Education So I Cry A Lot On The Runway is still here. But the Amish dig? Not clever or witty. So demerits for that, Irina!) Taking down Christopher wasn’t satisfying enough for the Queen of Mean, so she beamed her deadly laser on the entire group: ”I look around the room, and the level of creativity and craftsmanship hasn’t increased in any way. They’re getting by on just doing the bare minimum and I try to top what I did the previous challenge. Cause I do like well-made clothes.” What?! Your rants are now filled with non-sequitors, you loon!
NEXT: Let’s not hear it for the boys
The other six designers are hip to Irina’s nastiness, what with Carol Hannah observing that the hyper-confident brunette is not here to make friends. (You don’t say.) Then, while Tim was telling Irina to watch out for proportions, the camera quickly cut to Nicolas smirking. Hey, they gotta take the schadenfreude where they can this season.
Tim had little to say about Althea’s short-shorts St. Tropez look, other than ”This is looking cute.” (And so are you, Tim. Always.) He was also positive on Carol Hannah’s Uli-ish, green Palm Beach maxi dress, though he warned her of steering clear of cliché. And he loved Gordana’s elaborate jeweled neckline, but lit a fire under Our Lady of Spoons’ buns to get crackin’ on the actual NYC dress. All in all, the girls were in good shape. Again.
But the boys? Blech. The three of them were all so wretched last night that the judges could have borrowed Tim’s velvet bag o’ buttons and selected the ejectee at random. Let’s start with Logan, whom I’m now positive was absent the day they covered Points of View in design school. I hate to rag on a guy who seems perfectly nice, but I’ve just about lost my patience with his consistently derivative snoozaramas. As the last designer to be picked from said velvet satchel, Logan had no choice but to go with Hollywood. Now, in this day and age, Hollywood is more an idea than the actual neighborhood situated on the eastern side of Los Angeles, but oh what an idea it is! It connotes fantasy, aspiration, and imagination. He, arguably more than anyone else, had carte blanche to let his mind run wild. So what does he do? A f—ing pair of white skinny jeans and a T-shirt. ”Young and comfortable” is how he described the silhouette. YAWN. And when he got in front of the judges, he name-dropped not stylish young actresses like Anne Hathaway or Zooey Deschanel, but — of all people! — Lindsay Lohan and Mary-Kate Olsen. FAIL.
Despite kicking off the episode with yet another misguided vow to get back in the winner’s circle, dammit!, Christopher once again boarded the train to Suckaroo with his Santa Fe getup: a dreary brown chiffon skirt paired with a run-of-the-mill blue fluttery blouse. Oh yes, and the all-important belt! ”The belt is hot,” Christopher boasted. Ah, but soon, even he realized that the piece of leather around the model’s waist didn’t help the rest of the outfit. He called it ”Little House on the Prairie.” To which I say: Dream on, dude. Nellie Olsen was quite a fashionista in Walnut Grove, and there’s no way she’d be caught dead in those sad duds. Christopher tried to fix the unfixable by lopping off 20 inches from the skirt. Terrific! Now we have dowdy masquerading as slutty! Surely a winning combo!
Nicolas chose Greece, which he inexplicably translated into grey trousers and a wrapped white top. It wasn’t long before things started going awry for him. He’d never worked with jersey before (really?!) and was having trouble manipulating it. He spoke of having a ”mental breakdown.” And by the time Tim herded the group off to the runway, Neek-oh-lass was in very bad shape indeed. ”I absolutely do not see Greece in it. But a person can wear it in Greece.” Great distinction, Nicky! Well, the guy may be a hack, but unlike Christopher, at least he acknowledges it when he tanks.
After another soporific runway show, Nina, Michael, Heidi, and guest judge Milla Jovovich sent Althea and her hot-hot-hot pants through to the next round. Fair enough. They all dug Gordana’s ”sexy, sophisticated, sleek dress” fit for a Park Avenue Princess, though Jovovich was disappointed that Lady G. apologized for doing another grey dress. (Buck up, Gordana!) But she was among the top three, along with Irina and Carol Hannah. Tellingly for a season that has been lacking in genius style moments, none of the outfits got unqualified praise from the judges. Though they all praised the Queen of Mean’s ski-bunny shebang, Michael pointed out that it had a ”literal, kind of ’80s Aspen thing” about it. And together, they wondered why she didn’t use color. (Translation: Why so much baby s— brown, beyotch?) Meanwhile, Nina raved about the gorgeous twisty-braiding on Carol Hannah’s frock, Michael concurred that she nailed Palm Beach chic, and Milla confessed, ”I would live in that dress. At-home glamour.” The only slightly negative comment came from Nina, who wished there was ”that little extra.”
NEXT: Logan’s lucky break
And so, silly me, I let myself hope that Carol Hannah would take home a second consecutive win. But it was Irina. Though it was too heavy on the camel tones for me, I didn’t hate her design. And at least she used faux fur and didn’t contribute to the slaughter of innocent animals. She’s already slaying every innocent human who dares come between her and her goal of world domination. That’s bloodshed enough.
If Christopher’s been coasting on Lucky Juice of late, then Logan has spiked Heidi’s Kool-Aid with some spellbinding concoction, ’cause for the second week in a row, Frau Klum has defended the guy with laughably flimsy praise. ”I have to say, I didn’t mind it that much,” she said of his utterly basic set of basics. She later reiterated the same phrase. Thank heavens Jovovich was brave enough to counter with this bit of verbal awesomeness: ”If this was called Project I Didn’t Mind It, then he would win.” Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding! We have a competent celebrity guest judge, folks!
Logan got a pass, leaving Christopher and Neek-oh-lass in the hot seat. None of the judges had anything but disgust for Christopher’s dumpy fairy costume that failed to evoke Georgia O’Keeffe, turquoise, or the arid beauty that are all synonymous with the American Southwest. Heidi called it ”unwearable.” But Jovovich probably singlehandedly prevented the guy from flinging himself off a Santa Fe cliff when she said, with freakish specificity, ”I like the belt. It’s got this 1983 kind of charm about it.” I have no idea why she stamped it that year, but perhaps that’s because in 1983, I was a second-grader wearing leg warmers and trying desperately to look like Olivia Newton-John.
As for Nicolas, he couldn’t have been surprised by the judges’ ruling, considering how half-heartedly he presented his own design. And for all his posturing, he has to know that he’s been running on smelly fumes pretty much since that Vanity 6 skankapalooza in week three. On stage, he blah-blahed about how Greece was a high-end place, but this woman was a little bit edgy. Then, obviously out of words to defend himself, he wrapped it up with a whimper: ”So that’s what I did.” All the while, his face screamed:Wow did I ever blow it. I have no chance in hell to escape the ax.
Michael immediately pounced. ”I think you got the wrong Greece,” he sniffed. ”I think you got Grease the movie.” Great line, Kors, but it didn’t make much sense. ONJ’s look was hot in that movie! Nina was her usual brilliantly blunt self: ”Where is the fantasy in this outfit? Why would I want to go into a store and spend my money on this?” Later, unable to resist a second go, Michael laughed, ”You walked into Mood and you were like, ‘Oooh! Grey menswear fabric! Oooh! That’s what’s talking to me! Nothing says Greece like grey menswear!”
And with that, little Nicky/Neek-oh-lass/Toby was gone. As Milla wiped away tears of compassion (”I don’t know how you guys do it every week!”), Nicolas and his unkempt hair bid Tim and the gang adieu. For all of his bitchery and lack of fabulousness this season, I give the guy props for exiting with a gracious attitude, joking that he was gonna go hide in various foreign countries before trying fashion again. Then he said: ”Because of my over-the-top style, it’s been very hard for me to break into the fashion industry.” And here’s where I refrain from making a single snarky comment about why success is really eluding him. Pleasure to meet you, High Road!
I’ll have the latest episode of Project Runway Talk up soon. (And yes, I’ll be wearing ruffles!) But for now, check out last week’s episode, featuring the adorable and talented Shirin (embedded below).
What did you think of the MK challenge? Did Irina deserve to win? If yes, how much does it pain you to say that? Who’s headed to the chopping block next: Logan, Christopher or, in an attempt to preserve this arbitrary gender balance, one of our gals? What did you think of Althea’s voluminous ’80s feathered hair? Did you roll your eyes and say ”yeah, right” when Irina hugged Nicolas and told him, ”I’m gonna miss you!”? And did you gag at the sight of Heidi’s black leather mini dress last night? Who picked that out, Stella Leathah?