As the designers tackle athletic wear for client Heidi Klum, a villain returns to the workroom with cheating accusations
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Project Runway Gretchen
Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime Television

Even when she’s no longer a contestant, she still stinks up the place. Poison Ivy. The Ivy Tower of Babble. Ivy the Terrible. Call her what you will, but the Weapon of Mass Destruction returned to the show last night and, with a few choice machinations, confirmed her ranking in the pantheon of Project Runway’s Most Dastardly Villains. Wendy Pepper, your throne has been usurped.

Speaking of things that are deadly, let’s get to this week’s challenge: Designing three looks for Heidi’s line of activewear for New Balance. Zzzzzzzz. I’m not saying that this type of sportswear can’t be fashion-forward. Guest judge Norma Kamali did a cool line for Everlast recently. But the five sample looks that Frau Klum presented, with great pride, were boredom incarnate. Just a bunch of drab jersey. And you know the judges would have ripped into any contestant who tried to send such duds (pun intended) down the catwalk. Why the rainy-day palette? Can’t you be active and colorful at the same time? New Balance makes pink sneakers, don’t they?

Given the doldrums we were faced with right off the bat, I suppose we should be grateful that Gives Me Hivies (sorry) returned and spread her lethal venom for our entertainment. If her goal was to maximize her screentime by spitting out dispatches from Crazy Town, then mission accomplished. Ivy — who, with five other auf’d contestants, came back as a helper last night — barely made it through the door before making a beeline for Michael C.’s jugular. Like a stealth predator sizing up her prey, she started off asking him how it felt to still be in the competition. He replied that he couldn’t believe he was still there. And she said:

“Why, because you cheated?”


We knew Ivy had an inexhaustible reserve of bile for Michael C. We’ve seen her rag on his skills. We watched her accuse him of sabotage during the fashion expo. But she’d never made a cheating accusation before. Her claim? That he used double-sided tape to keep his model’s mammaries from spilling out of the dress he made for the Jackie Kennedy challenge. (Ahhh! Unwanted flashback to Models of the Runway!) He denied it, saying that his model has always worn falsies, which helps to keep everything in place. He countered with this zinger: “How does it feel to be eliminated for a crappy design?” Dingdingdingdingding!

Michael C. then asked Ivy why she was “f—ing” with him over stuff that happened weeks ago. This inspired Ivy to bust out an even more ridiculous charge: “The language that Michael Costello decided to use with me was completely low-class and it just shows what a despicable person he is,” she told the cameras. Clean-up on Aisle Hypocrite! Ivy, may I remind you that you yourself have used the f-word during your pathetic stint on the show? And just last night, you uttered another curse word a few moments after your holier-than-thou speech.

NEXT: Wait? You think he’s going to be reduced to a fetal-position of shame at his Project Runway viewing parties?

Poison Ivy desperately blathered on, accusing her archenemy of “playing the game” and of sabotaging “everyone” on the show. Unwilling — or more likely, unable — to give examples of his supposed sabotage, she tried to defend herself in her video diary by griping that Michael C. is taking up a spot that could have been Valerie’s (improbable), Michael D.’s (not a chance), or hers (rubber-room delusion). To his face, she sniped that she hoped his “children” weren’t watching because it would be an embarrassment to him as a father. Yes, it’s perfectly reasonable to wager that the guy who’s behaved graciously and won two challenges will look back on his time on Project Runway with humiliation, while the petty, bitter schemer who began her steady descent into the bowels of creativity from the very first episode will walk away with her head held high. Sure.

I’ve just about had it writing about Poison Ivy, but I can’t not mention how she boasted about her interaction with Michael C. “I just took one for the team,” she told (a thankfully uninterested) Valerie. Uh…what team? The team to which you don’t belong because you’re no longer on the show? Does her delusion know no bounds? Ah, but there was that glorious bit of serendipitous editing that made everything right with the world. “I think Michael C. deserves to be disqualified,” she told the cameras. “The world will give him what he deserves. I definitely believe in karma.” Cut to: Ivy at the sewing machine, getting hit in the eye by lord knows what and yelping, “Holy sh–!” (Swearing! Tsk-tsk.) Project Runway editor, you have your Emmy submission episode!

Of course it took the cool breeze that is Tim Gunn to put out this raging fire. Gathering the designers around (“Ivy! I need you too.”), he calmly stated that it was too late to bring up a weeks-old accusation and pointed out that no one saw anything, there was no evidence, and so, no malfeasance. “This is a case of a non-case. End of story,” he said, while bringing a Sherlock Holmesian pipe to his lips. Or did I just imagine that last part?

Compared to Ivy’s level of dastardliness, Gretchen almost, almost came off as — dare I say it — sympathetic last night. Or at least that was what I scribbled down when she called basta on the Michael-C.-is-Satan mumbo jumbo and just wanted to get on with it already. And I’d cracked up back at the top of the hour, when she and April were commenting on the sudden lack of Valerie and Ivy chatter at the apartment, and Gretchen said, “It was always about what was going on in [Valerie’s] head. I need to focus on me sometimes too.” Hilarious! Gretchen is so wrapped up in the myth of her own greatness that at this point, I’m beginning to enjoy her absurd proclamations. Her slapping a “HATER” sign on her shirt after a tense, self-important interaction with Heidi wasn’t bad, either.

NEXT: April ventures outside of her black-and-white comfort zone with some daring…gray!

Anyhoo, with all the sturm und drang raging in the workroom, I almost forgot there were, you know, clothes to discuss. Though Mondo got off to a rocky start — being deprived of his beloved colorful prints, getting snippy with Heidi after she dissed his initial design — he soon rebounded. No surprise. This guy is a champ. His three looks offered the rare bit of color and even infused some Mondoian whimsy via those blocky headbands. The circle jacket of the second look was divine. I adore this guy. Even when he’s cranky.

April landed in the top three again this week. I gotta say, it’s getting harder for me to like this frowny-faced young’un — especially when she does things like congratulate Ivy for the whole Michael C. incident. And I’ve lost all patience forher inability to venture outside the black-and-white color spectrum. Gray this week? Oh, yipee. The trapeze-y dress thingie of her third look was sort of interesting, but I didn’t get how it fit into Heidi’s collection. (“Active? Definitely not, unless your activity is going to a party,” quipped MK.) Meanwhile, her shapelessly unflattering first look had major chest coverage issues and the second look, with its sheer boudoir top and hoochie-mama hot pants, were ghastly. You know there’s a problem when Heidi “I like it shiny and short” Klum says she’d be afraid to wear such short shorts.

At least April didn’t win. That honor went to Andy. Overall, I liked the mod-ish route he took with his pieces, and I appreciated that he squelched his Insane Jester Posse aesthetic that screamed at the top of its lunatic lungs during Jackie O week. I dug the stripe-y pants from the first look and the vaguely skeleton Halloween-y dress of the third (though I thought I spotted some puckering). But how did the judges not call him out for copying the Lululemon logo in the middle of his hoodie? I was shocked, friends. Shocked. Lululemon emblazons all their sweatshirts with the exact same swirly arch. See for yourself. Congratulations, New Balance! You get to hawk a logo ripped off from a competitor!

To no one’s surprise but her own (snakeskin, really?), Gretchen da hatah found herself in the bottom three this week, thanks to the “hosh-kaposh” (i.e. hodge-podge, for those who don’t speak Klum) of bunk designs she put together. Over-layering her pieces like a blizzard of bad taste was on the way, she created three pieces that were washed-out stankiness. (Except for the top in the third look. That was interesting.) And nothing was more offensive than those hideous, unflattering bike shorts she shoved under a ruched mini skirt. (Actually, scratch that. The ridiculous boots Gretchen was swimming in on the runway were the greatest sin of all.) Even her partner Casanova tried to warn her about those damn shorts.

NEXT: Down to the bottom two.

You’d think that some of Casanova’s love for all things slutty might have translated into something mildly sexy in Gretchen’s designs. Nope. The judges hated pretty much every last stitch of her garments and felt even less affection for her atrocious styling. The best moment came when Nina called out Gretchen’s arrogance. Telling Heidi her collection was lacking in transitional pieces with true glamour? Not a good move, Gretch. And here’s what you get as payback: Heidi doing a convincing imitation of the crossed-armed scowl you wear while getting critiqued. Were we talking about who’s going to be embarrassed when the show airs…?

After Gretchen escaped to safety, it was down to Michael C. and Christopher. Though the object of Ivy’s wrath dished up some pretty woeful duds in some seriously suspect colors — praise Casanova for his Jack-o-lantern/gobble-gobble Thanksgiving turkey remarks — it was as evident as Ivy’s inflated sense of self-worth that Christopher’s time was up. “I’ve never designed athletic wear. I’m nervous,” he said at the start of the episode. “It’s hard to distinguish good and bad at this point.” Bingo! Your time is up, Cutie. Christopher’s output has been positively stultifying the past few weeks (I can barely remember a single design) and last night, it’s like he phoned it in on Gordon Gekko’s 1987 cell phone. (Having Ivy as a partner surely didn’t help, either.) And what happened to his sense of taste and refinement? Sweatpants? With an oddly placed front slit? And that red tee-shirt peeking out from under the out-of-place jacket? Atrocious. Bargain-basement cheap-looking. “It’s like a pajama party,” said Nina. “At a retirement village,” added Sir Quips A Lot. “[It’s] like a big bowl of sawdust!”

And so Christopher took his beautiful self and went back to his sweet boyfriend J.J. They are probably snuggling and being all adorable together as we speak.

What did you think of the episode? Has Ivy convinced you she’s a resident of a parallel universe? Do you believe there’s any truth to her (bonkers) accusation? What did you think of Mondo sassing Heidi? Is Gretchen’s mythomania starting to entertain you? Is there any way Michael C. won’t be eliminated next week? Who are your picks for Fashion Week? Mondo (obvs), April, and Andy, or Mondo, April, and Gretchen? Are any of you going to buy any of this Heidi Klum for New Balance stuff on Amazontoday? Raise your hand if you were delighted to see Casanova back on your screen. Gobble gobble!

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