STYLE

‘Project Runway' Recap: Season 9, Episode 11: For The Birds

10/07/2011 05:24 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2012

The remaining six season nine contestants must spread their design wings and use exotic birds as their muses. Naturally, some feathers are ruffled.

And sew it goes:

The Challenge: The designers are assigned specific birds including ravens, owls, parrots and cockatoos as points of reference and told to create two original high-fashion outfits inspired by their ornithological studies. Besides bragging rights, the winner will also get some bonus bird seed money: $20,000 and a Marie Claire advertorial paid for featuring this week’s obligatory product placement sponsor, L’Oreal.

The Making-it-Workroom Drama: Mentor Tim Gunn introduces the designers to their wild muses and breaks the remaining designers into teams of Anya-Ayoung Chee and Laura Kathleen; Bert Keeter and Joshua McKinley and Viktor Luna and Kimberly Goldson. The designers are happy with their pairings until Gunn adds that they actually will be competing up against their teammate in a head-to-head competition where one designer will earn a space in the top three and the other, the bottom.

The flock of contestants are not wild about their birds; especially Keeter who objects to the “dime store” yellow and green of his “dumpy” parrot muse, “Sweetie.”

There’s a lot of squawking when Gunn returns to announce the designers must create a second look.

The real entertainment begins when the birds are gone and a giant New York City cockroach invades the workroom. Kimberly Goldson shrieks and climbs on a table while Anya Ayoung-Chee does an excellent imitation of Laura Croft “Tomb Raider” and assassinates the critter. Things only get worse for bug-phobic Goldson: She sews through her own finger and burns a hole in her work-in-progress dress with a glue gun. She has three hours to make a new dress with leftover polyester lining material. If that’s not bad enough she recounts her personal story of losing her mom at 17-years-old and then, her stepfather and brother. The poor girl is an orphan. Stylelist needs a tissue.

Meanwhile, Ayoung-Chee (saved after she lost her fabric money at Mood last week with a loan from Anthony Ryan Auld) refuses to lend Joshua McKinley some fabric. What’s happening to the former Miss Trinidad and Tobago’s beauty pageant manners?

Gunn returns and gives the designers an impromptu lesson in editing: They must drop one of the two looks they created and show what they think is their best look.

The Runway Show: Takes flight with some truly beautiful garments; a flash of breast from Goldson’s quickie gown and Luna’s interpretation of the feather duster.

The Guest Judge: Francisco Costa of Calvin Klein joins the panel. The visiting jurist seems so glum and out of his element, we’re thinking his publicist forced this on him.

Who’s In: Ayoung-Chee, who only learned to sew four months ago, records her third win of the season. This achievement puts her in the ranks of such “Project Runway” all stars as Christian Siriano and Mondo Guerra. Her goth jet-black “raven” frock a complete departure from her expected beachy, hip style. The judges are thrilled with her ability to break type. Remarkably, Goldson knocks Viktor Luna off his perch and wins their face-off. With her McKinley beats Keeter.
After the verdict is rendered, McKinley doesn’t break type and rudely shuns Ayoung-Chee. He needed the cash.

Who’s Out: Keeter’s attempt at design rehabilitation ends just a few weeks shy of New York Fashion Week. The sometimes cantankerous, 57-year-old recovering alcoholic, who toiled in relative obscurity as a designer for Halston, Arnold Scaasi and others in the 1970s, was using the competition as a platform for a comeback. The judges seem reluctant to ‘auf him calling him a “true talent,” but his grey bustier-style “pageant” dress demonstrates he flew the coop for this challenge. “You made the right choice,” he tells Heidi Klum during their kiss-kiss goodbye. He demonstrates such humility, Stylelist will no longer apologize for prematurely tweeting him all our fan favorite votes after episode one.

After the Runway: Lifetime unveils the first episode of its new post-show talk fest, “After the Runway” hosted by Marie Claire’s Senior Fashion Editor chatty Brit Zanna Roberts Rossi. The former “Running in Heels” star takes on an Andy Cohen-style “Real Housewives”-reunion-show persona; dissecting the previous episode and debriefing the week’s ousted contestant. The most interesting revelation here is that Josh McKinley is furious with former “PR” season three contestant Laura Bennett who has apparently blogged that she finds his workroom tears about the recent death of his mother manipulative. Also: The usually gracious Ayoung-Chee comes off as a tad calculating and defensive; not exactly the always-cheerful pageant girl she plays on reality television. Stylelist’s verdict: This is slightly more interesting than Lifetime’s failed “Project Runway” spinoff, “Models of the Runway,” which was our own personal snooze button.

Photo Courtesy of Lifetime

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