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Rubbernecking: Project Runway Episode 4, "Hats Off To You"

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Alternate Titles (feel free to join in):
Donna Karan 1988
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Matchy-Matchy
Spank Me

Please forgive me for the delay this week. Real life intervened - an out of town trip, work deadlines, and all that other stuff that so annoyingly can cut into what's really important in life: recapping Project Runway. So here I be - finally.

We rejoin our intrepid gang in Episode 4 as Ivy is rushed to the hospital after collapsing from what turns out to be dehydration. After a few hours she's brought back to atlas in the wee hours to crawl into bed. By the next morning she's totally bounced back, and apparently she got inspiration for the next challenge from the curtains in the hospital room she was in, so it's all good (Ivy's definitely a turn-that-frown-upside-down type). Here's where I must say, I've been to a few hospitals and have never seen anything inspiring in the décor, but then I'm not the star of The Ivy Show - she is.

La Klum meets the group back on the runway where their models are trotted out but this time there's a twist; each is wearing an incredible Phillip Treacy hat perched on their noggin. The challenge this week is to design a look around said chapeau. It's the first time the designers get to pick their models since the start of Season 8 and, unsurprisingly, they all stick with the models they were given the first week (even Peach, whom everyone seems to agree has a problem model). Michael C is positively kvelling: "To have your dress being worn with one of his hats - that's like the Holy Grail, dude, that's big time."

Mondo, meanwhile, is wearing turquoise glasses. I'd like to propose a new show, Inside Mondo's Suitcase. You just know it's all crazy up in there. I can't wait to see his outfits and accessories week to week and dammit it all, I want to see him at Fashion Week. Please Mondo, make it work all the way to the finale!

Back at the workroom, Tim's all grade-school-teacher excited at the new challenge: "Hello everybody! How excited are you!" and they sit down to do some sketching before their trip to Mood. At which point Valerie has now completely won me over after she admits to being a huge Bowie fan. At Mood, Mondo tells the camera he hears voices from the fabrics talking to him. Who said this wasn't going to be a good season?

Back in the Brother Sewing Room, Casanova confides in his charming Casanova-speak, "I'm thinking seriously to quit." He knows in the next challenge he has to "cho my taste" to the judges. Kristin's totally stymied by her model's hat - a gigantic and very sexual-looking orchid. She eventually gets inspired by thinking about her husband and their wedding and decides that "flowers have both male and female organs so it's like walking sex." At this point a very weird exchange ensues where Casanova slaps her on the ass playfully because she's getting so turned on, turning her on even further. (I feel like we shouldn't be watching this). As an aside, Kristin posted on her own blog: "...Cassanova (sic) may not be an innovative designer but he's great at spankings!;-)"

Tim Time! La Gunn makes his rounds, clucking here and there over everyone's creations. He tells Valerie to edit and not do the white leather jacket over the red dress, which she completely ignores. Michael D is told not to play it safe (which he apparently takes to heart). To A.J., who's making a polka dot dress, he advises that the woman who can afford that hat can afford a dress where the polka dots line up. Mondo's working on some multi-piece concoction, to which Tim says, "It's a lotta look." Mondo: "Right. Hello. But it's what I do." Michael C is basically told to start over completely, which turns out to be the best advice he's ever gotten. When Tim gets to Casanova, he looks askance and says, "haven't we all seen this dress a hundred times before...to me it says Donna Karan 1988." Casanova had been feeling quite confident he was finally on the right track and now he's not so sure. Meanwhile, April is working away at what may be the biggest bad taste outfit of all time, which everyone apparently sees except her. Tim tells her that the quilted white hot pants she wants to do look like a diaper.

Meanwhile Gretchen's giving the folks at home the benefit of her opinions. She feels Kristin is "really sloppy and not very thoughtful." April's stuff "still looks like student work" and is "too costumy." Even though I've kind of had it up to here with her, I gotta admit that she's absolutely spot on with both of these observations.

The next morning, Casanova's roommates poke fun at the green face masque he is applying. This kind of thing (along with having to do all your personal calls using a speakerphone) is what kind of completely ensures that I will never be on a reality TV show. The usual morning-of-runway-show madness ensues with everyone running around like a crazy person. Mondo has the makeup people paint a mustache on his model because her outfit is menswear. In my crystal ball, I see other reality TV shows in his future, who's with me?

Phillip Treacy himself places the hats on the models once they are dressed and ready to go onto the runway. He of course is the guest judge this week, and La Klum is wearing one of his creations - a big flower growing out of the front of her head with a stem sticking straight up in the air. It's not the best look for her. "One of you will be named the winner," Heidi intones (cut to Gretchen's self satisfied face, which has so much makeup on she looks like a clown), "and one of you will be out" (cut to Kristin...hmmm).

RUNWAY SHOW

Michael C couldn't be more thrilled with his dress. That hat is so bizarre... it looks like a tick all swelled up. Sorry, but it does. I think the dress looks like something you might wear to a toga party. Casanova nailed it earlier: "Every girl from Puerto Rico have the same dress in the closet."

2010-08-23-MichaelC.jpg

Andy - one word - fuschia. And why does the model look like she has a stomachache?

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Ivy's back to her old self, thrilled with her model's kind of, it has to be said, pedestrian look: "I need to get over myself." (yes, you do, because there's really not that much going on here)

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April's outfit - well, just take a look and see it here. All I could think was, you're going down. There can't be a worse outfit. Tonight or in the history of the world, perhaps. Phillip Treacy looks constipated.

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Peach - the dress doesn't match the hat and is it me or is she sort of making the same dress every week with the exact same color palette? I know everyone thinks I'm hating on Peach too much so that's all I'm going to say.

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Casanova thinks he'll be safe with his look, which is okay, but nothing special.

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Mondo's whipped up another incredible ensemble and the model with the mustache is an interesting (ahem) touch. Everyone is astounded. Christopher speaks for us all when he says, "I don't know what planet you came from."

2010-08-23-Mondo.jpg

Michael D's outfit, well I have to come right out and say, looks like cardboard on the top. How about some cleavage?

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A.J.'s navy polka-dotted number turned out to be quite fetching but I can't see it wowing the judges.

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I'm not completely down with Valerie's outfit this time, but I do like the dress. The model looks like she just came from shooting a scene in Eyes Wide Shut with that mask.

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Kristin's dress is ...well... a hot mess. The black part looks shapeless, and this pink bubbling around and through it...well, um, no. She complained that she was tired of being in "the middle no feedback zone" earlier - a classic case of be careful what you wish for.

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Christopher's outfit looked a lot better in the workroom. It's all over the place and the belt is best left undescribed.

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I'm not quite sure why Gretchen gets away with this atrocity; the model looks like Peter Pan on acid.

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The judges decree Gretchen, Casanova, A.J., Peach, Mondo, and Andy safe and send them back to what I am now calling the dishing area. They all decide Christopher has it in the bag - that his look is sophisticated, edgy, and sexy - and Michael C will be in the bottom. Peach thinks April will be in the top (yes, you heard me) and Gretchen thinks Valerie will be in the bottom.

Held back for having the highest and lowest scores are: April, Michael D, Christopher, Valerie, Kristin, and Michael C. Evisceration time starts with Michael D. He tells the judges he was reminded of both a warrior and a farmer by the hat, to which Phillip Treacy listens politely but you just know he's all excuse me, a farmer? Heidi is impressed by the skirt, which was a crinkled tube he pressed with an iron. Nina says the open back complements the hat beautifully.

MK tells Kristin that there is "no harmony" to her dress and Nina says it looks like she didn't have a plan. The model is wearing flowered black pumps, which they're all horrified is so "matchy matchy." Phillip Treacy, who seems like a kind, diplomatic sort, says the hat "needed something more fragile."

Christopher is so pumped up by his colleagues all thinking his dress is so wonderful, so it's almost physically deflating to him when Heidi says she didn't respond well to it: "too dark" - "could have been a little happier" - "seemed sad to me." MK on the grey satin leggings: "even a model can't wear that legging" and there's "no romance here at all." Nina calls the dress stiff and overly designed. Phillip Treacy just plain does not see the connection to the hat, full stop.

Then there's Michael C. The judges gush over his dress, which I just don't get, but I'm not top-designer-Michael-Kors or fashion-director-of-Marie-ClaireMagazine-Nina-Garcia. MK says, "This is what harmony looks like" and "She's kind of a goddess of the sea, without it being a costume." Heidi thinks the dress stands on its own very well, without the hat. Phillip Treacy says Michael C did an exceptional job.

April's next. MK is horrified by the ill fitting triple panty look and the big black zipper in the back. Nina says it looks like April ran out of time or ideas. Phillip Treacy says rather diplomatically that the look is "a little bit weak."

Valerie is last and everyone except Phillip Treacy is rather impressed by her work. Heidi:
"It's beautiful, one of my favorites" - "really well made." MK likes the "handkerchief Stevie Nicks kind of hem." I don't see anything remotely Bowie in this, by the way.

As the judges reconnoiter for their final decisions, the group goes back to join their colleagues in the dishing area. The others are frankly surprised to learn that Michael C. was praised and Christopher dissed. April is teary eyed because the design she made was "so me" which leads me to seriously doubt she will be around much longer.

The winner turns out to be Michael C, who has impressed the judges by pulling the whole look together without it being matchy matchy. He's a cryer on the runway. I'm happy he won since he was so thrilled in the beginning by even the idea of a dress with a Phillip Treacy hat. Gretchen looks truly unpleased that someone other than herself won and tells the camera he's a replicator, not a visionary.

Michael D is safe. The cardboard looking top is called "simple but complicated." Phillip Treacy thinks his originality is impressive. Valerie is also safe, everyone except Phillip Treacy liked her outfit which he called "not offensive but not the most stylish of combinations." MK calls it polished, well made, tailored. Heidi digs the white leather bolero jacket, which she says "gave it that little pop of happiness." There's a lot of talk about happy in this show for some reason.

Bottom three: Christopher, Kristin, April. Christopher's look per Nina is dated, stiff, overly designed, and in bad taste. He's safe though and advises the others, "don't use taffeta!" April is also squeaking through. They like that she didn't go for the safe way out, and think the jacket is not that bad. It frightens me how much April believes in this design.

Kristin's the one sent home this time, due to the dress being "disappointing" and having an "unflattering fit." Heidi thought the dress "didn't look happy" and MK claims it was "not joyous." She tells camera she is happy to get back to the real world and relieved it's her time to go. A goodbye hug from Tim and she's off to clean up her space. Everyone is secretly shocked about Michael C's win. Michael D complains that the dress was just two handkerchiefs ruched on a piece of cord and wrapped around, which I have to agree with.

And then there were twelve. Next episode: two teams of six each. The plot thickens!

Project Runway airs Thursdays at 9PM on Lifetime TV