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Project Runway Episode 9 Recap: They'll Take Manhattan

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I'm just going to be up front about something: This is going to be a shorter recap than usual. This is going to be like the Tom Cruise of recaps; it's going to wear lifts and stand on boxes to look taller, and then it's going to freak everyone out and jump on couches and buy its own sonogram machine and impregnate Joey Potter (much to Dawson's chagrin) and then it's going to tell you that you're being glib (Matt Lauer, I am looking at YOU).

No, but seriously, I have been working nonstop and I need to not stay up until 3 am writing this. I thought about maybe posting this Saturday instead to give myself more time, but fuck that; I want to spend tomorrow night sleeping. I have been burning the candle at both ends, by which I mean both my hair and my ass are on fire. Like, metaphorically.

OK, so here goes. Let's see if I am capable of being concise.

It's morning at the Atlas apartments. Amy and Mila are both feeling like they have something to prove, having been in the bottom three last week. (Oops, I forgot the "previously on" part. I am both concise AND negligent! Anyway, if you care, Ben got kicked off.) Maya complains that everyone except her has won a challenge.

Out on the runway, Heidi is STILL sporting sex hair. That is not a pregnancy glow, people. Anyway, for this challenge, she tells the designers that they have to get in a "New York state of mind" ("You must make a costume out of singer Billy Joel!" my husband cries. Ha!) and that Tim will meet them in "the designer's lounge." Wait, since when is there a designer's lounge? Is that code for the backstage limbo couches that everyone cries and chews their cuticles on during deliberations?

Tim is waiting with Collier Strong from L'Oreal, or as I like to call him, Gay John Locke. So I guess this is the L'Oreal sponsored challenge. Wake me up when the awkward product placement is over.

Tim tells the designers that they must use New York City as a point of departure for their designs this week, and that they'll be working with four very distinctive neighborhoods: Greenpoint, Bed-Stuy, Kew Gardens, and Stuyvesant Town. No, haha, just kidding. Really the neighborhoods are Chinatown, The East Village, The Upper East Side, and Harlem. What I wouldn't give to see an outfit based on Bay Ridge, or the Hasidic section of Williamsburg. But that is for another show, in another life, in another recap when I am not trying to reign myself in from tangents about payot or acrylic nails.

The challenge will be to create two looks--a daytime and a nighttime--in teams of two. Emilio immediately prays not to get Mila as a partner. Tim's Velvet Bag O' Drama is used to select the following team leaders: Anthony, Amy, Emilio, and Jay. In that order, the leaders pick their partners. Anthony picks Maya, Amy chooses Jonathan, and Emilio gleefully takes Seth, leaving Jay with Mila. "I can't breathe!" Jay interviews. Mila just kind of smiles tightly, making big "WTF" eyes. Apparently Jay and Mila do not get along.

Emilio and Seth pick Harlem as their inspiration, and traipse around the neighborhood fawning over mosaics and denim ("Harlem is all about churches, liquor stores, and fried chicken spots," Emilio observes. I am starting to kind of love Emilio.) Seth, it should be noted, is wearing tight, hot pink jeans. I had those exact pants in 1991. This troubles me.

Anthony and Maya have Chinatown, and have an adventure in which they see origami, fire escapes, and glistening duck carcasses. Two of these things will serve as inspiration for their looks.

Jonathan and Amy wander around the Upper East Side looking confused, but decide to use the boring, static, Botox-y aesthetic of the nabe as the basis for their outfits. Jonathan is also inspired by wrought iron gates and decides to do some cutouts.

Team Haterade, aka Jay and Maya, are both drawn to the grafitti covering much of the East Village. Mila thinks Jay is kind of disorganized, and Jay wears a neck scarf and calls Mila a bitch. Fun!

They go to Mood, bicker over fabrics, and get to work. Anthony thinks Maya's being controlling, while Mila's letting Jay lead even though she doesn't like his ideas. Emilio and Seth get along great, but Emilio says that Seth works fast and doesn't sketch so he has to keep an eye on him. (Great moment: Emilio says to Seth, "I don't know about the solid yellow," WHILE HE IS WEARING A SOLID YELLOW SHIRT. Pot, kettle. Chiquita, banana.) Jonathan and Amy are both obsessed with painstaking detail work, and Jonathan acknowledges that they might not be able to finish even though they've just started.

Tim brings back Gay Locke to save the island do his little L'Oreal infomercial. Blah, blah, boring. Then Tim comes back to check in for real and not for some bullshit filler. He urges Seth and Emilio to "keep the urban edge going." He likes the origami work on Anthony and Maya's evening look but questions the fabric choice for the day look (which they later change). Tim worries about the weird pants Jay is making and thinks that Jonathan and Amy are overdesigning their pieces. He peaces out with a weak "Make it work." Tim is so over this season; you can totally tell.

Everyone is concerned about time. Seth works super quickly but ends up cutting the sleeves of his jean jacket wrong so the model's tiny stick arms can't get in past the elbow (he then performs a hasty denim amputation). Anthony is doing a shit-ton of hand-detailing on his dress. Mila's worried that Jay hasn't started making the top part of the day look, while Emilio is highly amused by the Jay-Mila pairing and can't stop giggling about it.

On the morning of the runway show, everyone is exhausted. Maya and Anthony are questioning each other's pieces (Maya thinks the evening dress isn't colorful enough; Anthony thinks the day look is too formal) and Mila hates the tank top Jay made, saying it's ill-fitting. (And it IS. It looks drunk, like my husband and I were when we filled out our census forms the other night. Good times.) Emilio says "What the hell are Jonathan and Amy building in that corner?" There is a lot of salmon going on over there. Jay worries that Mila will throw him under the bus. When Tim comes to get them, Amy and Jonathan are still sewing. "It was the most horrifying experience of my life," Jonathan says. This coming from someone who has milked a goat on camera while yodeling.

A pregnant zebra comes out to greet the designers on the runway--no, wait, that's Heidi. Sitting in for Michael Kors this week is Francisco Costa, the creative director of Calvin Klein, who looks kind of like a middle-aged Brazilian Ross Geller. Nina, of course, is there looking nonplussed as always, and rounding out the panel is "fashionable model and actress" Molly Sims, who, according to Wikipedia, appeared in a music video for a song titled "Jizz in My Pants." And with that, let's start the show.

MAYA
(Chinatown day look)

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I like this, basically. The jacket is clearly Asian-inspired without being heavy-handed. Her thighs look like she got gored by an escaped panda, but... forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.

ANTHONY
(Chinatown evening look)

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I love Anthony, and I love the silhouette and overall concept of this dress, but all I could think when she walked out was, OMG, someone killed Tetris and is wearing it as a sash!

AMY
(Upper East Side day look)

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I know I make too many references to Rainbow Brite and the Color Kids, but if this isn't Canary Yellow as reimagined by Gossip Girl then I don't know what. I do not hate the top, but I also do not so much like the top. It seems kind of like a bright tunic you wear on a fat day to try to cheer yourself up, and the fabric looks cheap, like it's a Forever 21 purchase you wear for one season and then burn out of shame. Unrelated but awesome: on the Internet I discovered that Canary Yellow can play both the flute and the oboe. Judging by her footwear she also clog dances.

JONATHAN
(Upper East Side evening look)

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I LOVE the idea of this. I love the burnt sugar hue. I even love the execution from the neck to the waist, and on the sides. It's the stained glass genital windows that get me; it's like a cut-out Erector Set. Genitals, erector... stop me before I just devolve into dick jokes. Bottom line: one detail too many turns this into a hot--if fancy--mess.

JAY
(East Village day look)

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Oh, Jay. Oh God. You're usually so good; I guess you suck with the same intensity. You know something's amiss when my biggest beef with this outfit is NOT the deflated testicle-looking skinny pants. That tank top... MY EYES. It's so ill-fitting, it makes her probably perfect boobs look saggy, and the slight asymmetry just adds to the disheveled look. Not to mention that the pattern is jarring and kind of random. I would not buy this from the dollar bin at Target. Why would I, when I could get a cheese plate shaped like a jalapeno pepper? (Which, by the way, I totally own, and it's awesome and I would rather wear it from a string around my neck than this top.)

MILA
(East Village evening look)

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I've decided that all of Mila's outfits can be described using the phrase "Lydia Deetz goes to _______________." In this case, judging by the hand gesture, I guess she's at a UT football game? Hook 'em horns, girl, and yell young, hot Alec Baldwin I say hi.

SETH
(Harlem day look)

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You know what this reminds me of? When Kenley tried to make Leanne all ghetto hip-hop in season five.

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Right?

Except this is obviously a lot better, plaid snood notwithstanding. I think this, better than any of the other looks, day or night, really does capture the style and general spirit of the neighborhood. While I would not wear this myself (Texas tuxedos have not been good to me in the past), I kind of heart it.

EMILIO
(Harlem night look)

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I love everything Brandeis wears; she always rocks it. (Yes, I know, I learned one of the model's real names. You may shun me.) But I really do love this. The color and cut is classic glamour, but the zipper and yellow lining make it modern.

The designers come out onto the runway and Heidi calls Jay, Mila, Amy, and Jonathan. These teams, apparently, have the lowest scores. While the losers await their fates in the designer's lounge, the judges roundly praise the other teams' looks. Emilio and Seth seem to get the highest marks (although Nina is not overly wowed by the evening dress).

The bottom two teams re-emerge for their public flogging, but all in all it's not so bad. The judges mostly love Mila's outfit but bash Jay's silly pants and saggy tank top. As for Amy and Jonathan, they seem to agree that the day look is unpolished and tacky, while the nighttime look is overdesigned and too busy. No one gets into a fight or throws anyone under the bus and it's all very disappointing. Where is Shitty LeNoir when you need him? (Oh, right, probably back on the Matterhorn.)

The designers line back up on the runway to find out who will be the winner and who will be OUT. Emilio... is the winner! This seems kind of unfair, since Seth's work was what really wowed the judges, until... Seth wins too! Double win! They man-hug and Seth slaps everyone's hands as he runs off-stage. I know I talked a lot of Rufus Humphrey smack early on, but I'm beginning to love Seth.

Next, Anthony and Maya are in, followed by Jonathan and Mila, leaving Jay and Amy on the chopping block. Crap. I really like both of them and (tiny spoiler?) I thought both of their collections at Bryant Park were really strong, among the best of the bunch. I felt sure that Jonathan or Maya or Emilio would have been jettisoned before Jay or Amy. But alas, it is not to be. The person going home this week is...

Amy.

So sad! Jonathan cries, and when he does so he resembles a brunette, bearded version of Ralphie from A Christmas Story. Amy packs her things and tells us that even though she lost, she took risks and she's proud of herself. Aw. I'll miss her.

Next week: Another vague-sounding challenge, designers freaking out, and Michael Kors using the word "disco" as part of an insult. Ah, the ol' ProjRun formula!

And now for this week's caption contest winner:

Congratulations... Lewis!

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"Well, now you need to shrink to get through the little door. There's a box marked EAT ME."

Hahaha... giantess.

I'm tired of captions... I need to take a week off to think of something awesome. Leave me ideas for new contests in the comments!

Thanks guys. See you next week. And, as always, if you like these recaps, check out my blog, The Sassy Curmudgeon.