Project Runway recap: Cover Story
The designers get a shot a Marie Claire cover featuring Heidi and colors rule the day
Officially, the name of this week’s episode was ”Run For Cover,” but surely that’s the edited-for-television version of the original working title: ”Run Over Mila’s Ego Repeatedly (With Your Special Issue Project Runway Brother Sewing Machine) Until the Cocky Beyotch Finally Gets Her Comeuppance.”
Mila really did get it from all sides last night — from Jay (”There’s something about her that’s fake”), from Emilio (”She’s a one-note wonder”), and from the cameraman who caught her nearly taking a digger down the stairs at Mood. Her fellow designers did seem to be against her. We were barely five minutes into the episode when She of the Severe Black Bob remarked that none of her colleagues had congratulated her for coming in second on the last challenge. ”Top two! Top two!” she sang as she waved dual victory salutes. In turn, her competitors greeted her with stone-faced looks and cold silence.
That Mila seems to have been branded the Villain of season 7 strikes me as rather preposterous, frankly. She doesn’t lack confidence, I’ll agree with that. But neither does Seth ”If they put my suit on the front of Marie Claire… I’ll guarantee you they sell more copies” Aaron. And uh, just about every other cast member whose name doesn’t rhyme with Schmanna or Schmaneane. So until Mila starts rolling her eyes at Tim Gunn, stabbing her colleagues in the neck with her seam-ripper, or throwing a cat at an ex-boyfriend (hiss, hiss, Kenley Collins!), I’m not buying the she’s-the-villain narrative. Not me.
A better candidate for that distinction would be Marie Claire editor in chief Joanna Coles, who sure did bring the nasty while serving as guest judge. We first met the editrix in the mezzanine of the Hearst building, where she and Tim Gunn informed the group that they’d be designing an outfit for Heidi Klum to wear on the cover of the April issue of the mag that is apparently pronounced MARY Claire. Oooh! Ahh! A cover! With Heidi! The stakes! They are so very high! Jaws went slack and eyes bugged out. The challenge, Tim explained, was ”one of the biggest in the history of Project Runway.” You may have noticed that later in the episode, he amended his assessment: ”This is the biggest challenge in the history of Project Runway!” Who needs pesky little things like qualifiers when we’re talking about Marie Claire and Heidi Klum, people?!
For sure, having an international supermodel show off your design on the cover of a celebrated fashion publication is a big deal — momentous enough to make everyone shut the hell up in the workroom for once. Everyone, that is, except Seth Aaron, who sang, danced, snapped his fingers, talked to himself, and generally acted like a shameless, attention-seeking reality show contestant who knows that mouthy, ”kooky” cast members get the most screen time. His colleagues weren’t impressed. ”Seth Aaron is very immature…. Just shut up!” grumbled Jay. ”Did you smoke anything besides a cigarette when you went outside?” Anthony asked. Hee-hee.
NEXT: Janeane psyches herself out
While most of the group chugged along, fueled by a-okay feelings of self-assurance about where their designs were headed, Anna and Janeane stalled out before they even made contact with the presser foot. Anna fretted about taking on three pieces — i.e. instead of yet another girly-girl dress. Janeane was even more of a wreck. (ABC foreshadowing!) By mid-episode she had managed to totally psyche herself out. ”I should have a point of view. And I just feel like I don’t. I’m probably going to screw myself.” Yikes. This here gal sure is prone to doomsday scenarios. Remember how last week she grumbled something along the lines of ”I’m Janeane! Bad things happen to me!” after her dress fell in a bucket of water? Somebody get her a Wellbutrin patch, stat.
At least Janeane wasn’t so freaked out that she couldn’t see the forest for the big ole pile of poo that was barreling her way like a Mac truck driven by a bad guy in a Michael Bay movie. She worried that her colors were too bridal. (Bingo!) The next day, she surmised that she and Anna ”completely missed the mark on this one” and that they’d find themselves twin inhabitants of The Fiery Pits of Hell — also known as, Being the Last Two to Stand Under Those Skin-Singeing Lights While Heidi Drags Out the Verdict. By the time Tim herded them off to the runway show, she was wishing she could start over.
Of the six designers who qualified to move on to the next round, only one surprised me. Seth Aaron’s (pl)leather black suit was tackedy-tack-tack tacky as usual and about as reflective of Heidi Klum’s personal style as a stiff, itchy wool pilgrim dress. But it wasn’t coming apart at the seams or anything, so whatevs. Amy turned out a colorful handkerchief frock (plus she had immunity), Jesse had a pretty bit of weaving along the tummy of his tight blue micro mini, Maya crafted a better version of a Mila dress, and Jay made a flowy mini-gown (with train!) that had more romance than a Fabio book cover. But Jonathan… woah, dude. That tie-dyed silk romper looked like something he pulled from Tanya Roberts’ Beastmasterwardrobe. And that thing was just seconds away from full-on camel toe. How it inspired Michael Kors to make his I-just-walked-into-a-gas-station-restroom face and still got a pass remains a mystery as puzzling as the notion that people know who any of the Kardashians are.
I was also surprised that the judges were such fans of Emilio’s design. The guy can sew, no doubt about that, and his silk jersey red number was perfectly cute… on top. But come on, that micro garment was a negligee, not a dress! Even he knew it was too short.
Heretofore on-the-sidelines Ben finally got to interact with the judges, who praised his ”Madama Butterfly on acid” concoction that had concerned Tim earlier. Ben’s creation was certainly bold, and I’m always a fan of some daring color blocking (so sue me, Emilio!), but I just wasn’t nuts about this particular color palette.
NEXT: Anna’s separates get her separated from the herd
So it was up to Anthony to blow away the judges with his vibrant little dress with all its vibrant little flirty folds. Earlier, he’d said his plan was to make a ”form-fitting, short, but not slutty” dress. Well, bravo to young Anthony for a mission accomplished. I’m guessing that like me, readers, you were as gleefully stunned as Anthony was when the judges made it clear on which side of the divide they’d ranked him. ”Jee-ZUS,” he sighed incredulously, trying to catch his breath. If Anthony has in fact been taking the Holy Trinity’s critiques seriously and has been mindful of polishing his sometimes shaky taste level, then we might just have a nifty designer and fabulous personality on our hands here. What a coup for him. And how heartening to see his competitors react to his win with the kind of warmth and excitement they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, muster for Mila.
What Anthony mastered in his dress was color and texture — the tools for creating an image that pops off a magazine cover on a crowded newsstand. It’s a fairly straightforward concept. So how did the bottom three ladies fail to grasp it so spectacularly? (Maybe Janeane and Mila shared an affliction brought on by similar shirts with bold prints in black, yellow, and white?) From afar, I liked Mila’s dress okay, but the close-ups did it no favors whatsoever. That dirty Band-Aid color was ick, the seams all puckered worse than a toothless old lady sucking on a lemon, and as Nina suggested, the color-blocked arrows silently screamed ”Private parts this way!”
Let’s be honest, as massive a strike-out as Mila’s look was, there was no way the judges were going to send her home when Anna and Janeane both whiffed worse than a batter with two broken arms. But which of the two brown-haired gals skuzzed harder? Tough choice. On the one hand, Anna’s separates were too teenager-y cutesy for the twenty-/thirty-something Marie Claire demographic. But I give her props for overcoming some gnarly construction snafus with those shorts. And compared to the insult to fashion she sicked on us last time, this week’s number was Italian couture. But the judges weren’t having it, especially not the icy Joanna Coles, who dribbled this verbal poison on poor, sweet Anna: ”It’s like three ingredients in a dish that leave you feeling slightly nauseous.”
That was slightly meaner than the barb she threw at Mila: ”The main color of the dress was the color of hospital food.” (Two food-related comments. What, did she wish she’d been called by Top Chef? Maybe she was just hungry.) But neither was as painfully labored as her critique of Janeane’s sea-inspired, Venus-on-a-crap-shell bridesmaid gown: ”I’m not getting the beach and the sea reference, unless it’s a sort of polluted sea with plastic bottles in it.” (And… bang! went the ominous piano key.) Well, Janeane, you did say you wanted to meet the judges, right?
Based on their two looks, I would have sent Janeane home faster than you can say ”Kleenex.” (Yes, she was crying by now.) Whereas Anna’s look had its own cute (albeit too young) appeal, Janeane’s just missed the fashion mark altogether. But poor Anna’s previous failures had to count for something. So as Janeane got reacquainted with her true ABC (that’s Always Be Crying) self, Anna said auf Wiedersehenfor good.
What did you think of the outcome? Did Anthony deserve to win? Did you yelp and clap along with him? Will he celebrate by giving Jay some free Bible-study sessions? What did you think of Emilio whipping out his scissors on the runway and hacking off ”the whole damn strap”? And — ugh — are you fearful of next week’s Project Runway: Juniors installment? Designing for tots — wha???