Actual Title: The Art of the Matter
After last week's BitchFest starring Joshua M. and Bertzilla, this week's episode was on the, shall we say, vanilla side. However, since it was the Avant-Garde Challenge, there were plenty of interesting twists and turns to take note of. Have at thee, Designers!
I decided this week to examine the (kind of new) show open under the microscope that my DVR provides. Spoken cameos are provided only by the Fab Four (Heidi, Tim, Nina, MK) and there are not many close-ups of this season's competitors. Laura strikes a pose with Rafael in the background; Viktor and Kimberly are both backgrounders; Anya gets a big albeit quick close-up shot as does Josh M. and Anthony; and the entire group can only be seen together once in the background at the end. Is this intended to provide any hints as to which three end up at Bryant Park? In which case it could be hinting at Anya, Anthony, and Josh M. Love to hear everyone's thoughts on this.
By the way I also counted how many times the HP/Intel commercial instructing us on what ombre is was played during the show's 90 minutes -- five, count 'em, five times. This does not bode well for this season (I know I wasn't counting commercials last year, just sayin').
We rejoin our heroes (kidding) at 6:15am in the morning in their Atlas digs. Can't you just hear the production staff giving direction; yes I know it's 6am but just drink the damn coffee and start being dramatic, already. Becky has moved in with the other girls since she lost both roomies Danielle and Cecilia. Anya says it's a clean slate but no one seems to like Becky. She's the Bertzilla of the girls only I'm not sure why, she's not even half as obnoxious.
As for Bert Z., he and Anthony Ryan have apparently called a truce after last week's ugliness. Bert shares that he's just worried about what he has to do today, and "to try not to be an asshole to anybody and not have to make amends tomorrow when I wake up." What? Is this the same guy who didn't think it was worth learning anyone else's name last week?
This week's challenge, informs La Klum cheerfully, has to do with going back to school to further their education. She tells the group that Tim and some special guests will be meeting them to impart the scoop, gives the royal wave, and swans off to QVC or someplace. The designers meet Uncle Tim at the Harlem School of the Arts, to find out that they'll be working with art students and will each have their very own muse/collaborator. The work they come up with will then serve as the inspiration for an avant-garde look, and they'll have two days to complete this garment.
Time to Collaborate!
"Working with children, how cute is that," says Viktor facetiously to the camera while horror movie music plays in the background. Anya meanwhile is thrilled because her parents apparently have a foundation that deals with kids and the arts.
In the studio, they're all paired with a student ranging in age from 11 to 17. Viktor's partner is a feisty 12-year-old girl named Skyy who has plenty of opinions and is not afraid to make them known. She knows exactly what she wants and Viktor seems to be a little scared of her, admitting he wishes he had a cocktail in order to deal better with this scenario (Me, I'm hoping Skyy gets her own TV show, she's that fierce).
Everyone seems to be getting along just fine with their art student except perhaps Bert, who has a monosyllabic 16-year-old named Antonio who creates a drawing of geometric shapes. Antonio clearly cannot wait to get back to class. Bert says they're getting along because Antonio is very quiet.
Olivier's partner is Tonyalee, a 17-year-old girl who asks him if he listens to music while he works. Olivier says he does, "I like really depressing music" (Is anyone surprised?). Kai, aged 11, is Laura Kathleen's partner. Laura tells her about how tough the last challenge was. "Failure is opportunity in disguise," says Kai sagely, after which LK calls her a little Dalai Lama and wants to exchange phone numbers for coaching purposes in the future.
After the students leave, the designers have 30 minutes to sketch and then go to Mood to buy fabric with a $300 budget. Viktor tells the others he's never having kids. Olivier does some soul-searching to the camera, sharing how when he started out he was in a good place and won the second challenge, then he "sort of got lost" and is now more confused than ever. At Mood he selects chiffon, which he's never worked with before, hoping this will translate to an avant-garde garment. Clearly he was not paying any attention to Danielle the Chiffon Addict and her travails before she was sent packing.
Josh C. is plenty stressed out because he has not been to Mood before, and he's only spent half of the allotted budget. Somehow he knows this is not a good sign. He also dares to purchase some outrageous fake fur after which Swatch seems to be giving him the hairy eyeball. Swatch also has a cameo with Tim chasing him around the store, which is a sure sign that the show should be an hour and not 90 minutes.
Is that faux fur or real?
Tim gives chase
Back in the workroom Viktor loses no time skewering the others' fabric choices and decides that Anya, Bryce and Kimberly will be in the bottom based on that alone. Tim tells them they have until 10pm that night and then all day tomorrow and he'll check in with them mañana.
Apropos of Nothing, there's a quick shot of the Naked Cowboy in the interstitial after the commercial.
After a panic attack earlier not knowing how he'll translate the art work to his garment, Josh M. is working on a circle skirt which he is hand painting to look like wood having been in a forest fire. He plans to add a heart with his initials and his mom's, who died a couple years ago of ovarian cancer.
Similarly, we learn that Bertzilla actually has a heart as well. Laura comes right out and asks him what team he's batting for. Upon learning that he's gay she wants to know if he's married. "I'm widowed," says Bert. "Was it sudden?" asks Laura, which I think is more than a little rude, although God only knows how much these people actually really say and how much they're prodded to say in so-called reality show situations. Bert says his husband died of AIDS and it was love at first sight when they met. We then get to eavesdrop on his video chat with his family and watch him baby talk to his dog.
BTW, I'm more and more impressed every week by both Kimberly and Laura. For her garment, Laura's cutting out ruffles of raw silk organza and then burning the edges so they won't fray (She also mentions that it smells like when she used to burn her Barbie dolls. Qu'est que c'est?!).
This chiffon makes me want to do a musical or something, says Viktor
Josh C. prances around with the faux fur but it's clear he's struggling with the whole challenge. He didn't want to do anything too literal but he's practically making a Halloween wolf costume. Olivier also is completely lost with this entire thing. He has serious time management issues, though most of the others think he is a gifted designer. And then there's Bert...who has taken the geometric designs of Antonio's drawing and made them into three-dimensional inflatables and stuck them onto a gauzy top and weird grey jodhpur clown pants.
Where's Alcide when you need him?
Josh M. comes over to check out Becky's design. Ego firmly intact, he thinks it was his direction in last week's team challenge that is helping her "focus her energies" and "think outside the box" this week (Yeah, right. And don't forget how empowering it is to be told your work is dowdy).
Viktor is a little concerned that his garment might end up looking like a House of Deréon concoction but hastens to add that he loves Beyoncé. The next day when Tim comes in with the art students so they can check on things, he's less than pleased to see Skyy but says "I just put on a happy face." Skyy tells him, completely seriously, that if she found a dress like the one he's making and it was "for really cheap," she would definitely buy it. Viktor warms up to her more after she staunchly defends his garment to Tim.
Tim is a bit perturbed with Kimberly's fringed sleeve. "You want to avoid giving Michael Kors the chance to talk about a Hiawatha Moment," he warns her. "You don't want him to have this look say, take me to Geronimo." Meanwhile, there is some concern evinced by La Gunn about the black and green cubes festooning Becky's frock. Tim thinks this is veering too close to looking like a "craft project." Viktor shares snarkily to the camera, "Who does a gown out of denim and then all these little boxes over here like Fedex just shipped them and left them there?"
Tim's also worried that Olivier is not taking the avant-garde challenge far enough. Olivier starts babbling that he went somewhere he wouldn't normally go -- working with chiffon. Tim chides that the fabric doesn't matter, avant-garde means to lead and the look has to say that.
Josh C. is told that his outfit may be too literal of an interpretation of the artwork. Hmm, maybe because at this point there's a fur headdress and what looks like big choppers, plus a red ornament on the chest? The whole thing looks like something Alcide's girlfriend Debbie might wear to a pack party on TrueBlood. Viktor says it looks like Carmen Miranda and a vampire. Josh wipes away a tear as he shares to the camera that he doesn't want to blow the second chance he's been given. But this, too, is an unspoken Project Runway rule: if they bring you back for a second time, you're pretty much doomed to go home.
Morning of the Runway Show, Tim comes in to give the product placement hair and makeup spiel. "Work like there's no tomorrow, because for one of you there won't be," he warns and apologizes for sounding strident.
Olivier is flailing around gasping for air (No he's not -- I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention. But he actually might as well be). He asks Bert if he can borrow his glue gun, to which Bert says sure, everything I have is yours. Olivier then proceeds to try to glue the dress onto his model's skin, which causes Tim to swoop in and sternly tell him this is against the rules, "you can't glue the top to your model." Becky thinks Laura's dress looks like a bad prom dress, or something you'd put on a roll of toilet paper. Ouch! Josh M. thinks it's time for Bryce to pack his bags, as do I.
Josh sprays hairspray over his hair pomade. Anya: Like you need that.
And before you know it, it's runway time. This time the gang are joined by their art student muse/collaborators. The judges are introduced by Heidi. Nina's not there and is replaced this week by Marie Claire Senior Fashion Editor Zanna Roberts Rassi. The special guest judge is Kenneth Cole, who is certainly fab in his own right, but not exactly Mr. Avant-Garde, n'est-ce pas? Methinks Lady Gaga would have been a better choice.
Note Skyy's expression when Kenneth Cole is introduced. She's so adorable!
Kimberly, Viktor, Becky, Bryce and Anya are safe and dismissed to the green room. Viktor (and this makes me seriously question his taste) thinks Bert will win. Kimberly thinks the top three will be Laura, Josh M. and Anthony or Bert.
Josh M. explains his concept to the judges. They're all quite impressed with the fact that he painted the fabric of the skirt. MK thinks the styling makes the whole thing "a little Tim Burton-y," and advises that we don't always the need the crutch of styling, "Let the garment shine."
Josh C. is next. He's raked over the coals by every one of the judges. MK doesn't think it's avant-garde and concludes it's not even fashion, "She looks like a cocktail waitress in Las Vegas, she's got the Faster Pussycat Kill boots on." Heidi references a Halloween hooker costume. Kenneth Cole finds it awkward and dominatrix-y.
Bert's garment, which to me looks like something from a 1980's Tom Petty video (don't come around here no more, Bert), doesn't fare much better. MK says the girl looks like she has a misshapen body with some stuff glued on her. KC thinks it's too outside the box. Heidi, however, likes it, "this is not sad, this has a point of view," though she does allow that it's "koo-koo." During the judges' chat, MK states that it looks like something a Teletubby would wear to a party.
They're all quite taken with Laura's yellow fairy dress. They love the hard and the soft (one of this season's big themes). Not so much, though, for Olivier. Heidi thinks it looks sad (this being one of the worst adjectives the judges have in their arsenal). MK advises Olivier that he can't be afraid to push the boundaries especially in an avant-garde challenge. During the Lil' Chat, MK calls Olivier's garments Valium Clothes, "they kind of make you fall asleep."
Anthony scores big with his garment. Heidi is especially impressed with his use of color since he is admittedly color blind. MK even likes the undone hem, which he says goes with the concept. The only judge who isn't raving about it is KC, who says he does like it a lot but it feels almost homemade -- not quite there.
After the Lil' Chat, during which MK reveals once more his strange fetish about cleaning women by pointing out that the geometric attachments on Bert's garment looked like sponges that attached themselves to the fabric ("Oh! I'm cleaning my kitchen -- bing!"), the designers come back out to the runway.
Anthony is named the winner, completely vindicated after being in the bottom two last week and breaking down in tears on the runway. He skips back to the green room, declaring he's finally a bride, no longer a bridesmaid. Josh M. (whose expression shows him to be, big surprise, a sore loser) is second runner up, followed by Laura.
Bert is safe, though only because Heidi was his champion (It's getting embarrassing, this Bert-Mania. People -- okay, me -- are starting to talk). Josh C. and Olivier are the bottom two. Josh C. is told that they didn't think his look was avant-garde at all, "just bad," and that he failed to live up to the work of art which was so powerful. Olivier is advised that his construction was a mess, "and the look was sad and blah -- you bored us."
Josh C. ends up being eliminated for the second (and final) time and goes off to clean up his space and Olivier lives to design another day (while listening to the Smiths, no doubt). And sew it goes.
Next week: Two teams of five each! Josh M. and Bertzilla at each other's throats! A textile gives Tim the hives! Who is the weakest link?
Project Runway airs Thursdays at 9pm on Lifetime TV.
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