08/25/2010 02:13 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Project Runway Episode 4 Recap: That Darn Hat

I know, I know. I said Tuesday morning. Can we say I'm just fashionably late? The truth is that it took me like six hours just to make screen grabs of all the amazing reaction faces when ________ won the challenge. Yes, I'm a horrible tease.

OK, so, previously on: With two wins under her belt, Gretchen turned into a sanctimonious asshole and spent the whole episode talking over people and extolling the virtues of hand-cutting garlands into a chevron pattern. A party store challenge inspired Andy, psyched out AJ, confused Casanova, and made Tim Gunn crack ball jokes. In the end Andy's edgy, intricate woven ribbon dress cut Gretchen's winning streak short, and Sarah, who couldn't make a plastic palm tree work as a garment, got sent back to her Tom Jones shrine in the Valley.

The episode begins dramatically with ambulances outside of Atlas! Ivy's lying on the floor! OMG! Oh, wait, It's the same footage from the end of last week.

In their room, Valerie and Gretchen worry that Ivy didn't take good care of herself. Apparently she didn't really eat, choosing instead to pound Diet Coke and chain-smoke all day. Oh, Ivy. Sigh. We can't all be Taylor Momsen.

But she's OK, folks. At 3:20 am Ivy creeps back into the apartment and climbs in bed. The doctors told her she was just dehydrated, and she's embarrassed that she got carted off to the ER on national television. However, there is an upside: Ivy says she was inspired by her hospital room (and, Lifetime, there's your next "unconventional challenge." I bet AJ would go nuts with a handful of catheters and some Jell-O).

Out on the runway the next morning, Heidi emerges carrying MY FAVORITE BAG OF ALL TIME. I like how I wrote that, like I have a top ten list of all-time favorite bags*.

*Um, challenge accepted, self!

10. Airbag
9. Tea bag
8. Paper bag
7. Bagger Vance
6. Bagpipe
5. Bag End, home of Bilbo Baggins
4. The brown LeSportsac bag I bought in high school and managed not to vomit in
3. Santa's bag of toys
2. Sleeping bag
1. The Project Runway velvet bag for choosing the order of choosing things (See? Told you it was my favorite.)

Anyway, I am overly excited by the bag of names and Heidi is overly excited by this challenge. Why? Because:


YESSSSSSSSSSSSS. It is crazy hat day on Project Runway, y'all. (Let's hope it ends better than crazy hat day did recently at my friend Amy's daughter's school, when all of the kindergartners exchanged head lice.) I don't want to blow my wad before the episode really gets underway, but I will tell you that my favorites off the bat are the ones that look like a giant butt and what the Cat in the Hat might wear to a rice paddy, respectively.

Heidi introduces Philip Treacy, the British milliner responsible for all of this head plumage. Treacy in person is like a genetic hybrid of the Mad Hatter and the dormouse. He tells the designers to think in terms of volume and proportion. "Matching is old hat!" he warns. Oh, Philip Treacy. YOU SO PUNNY.


Since Andy won last week's challenge (and has immunity this week), he gets to pick first. Not only are the contestants picking hats, they're picking the models wearing the hats. And that last rule kind of ruins the fun of the velvet bag, because every single designer chooses to stay with their model even though few of them clearly don't want to (Peach says her model has a bad attitude and Valerie doesn't like the hat/mask her model has on). Kristin is picked last and gets stuck with a giant orchid hat. "Damn," she says, "It's so in your face!"

Back at Parsons, April says that her hat reminds her of "something you'd wear in the future, to some kind of island." Which I agree with -- if you are Cindy Lou Who and you are going to the Philippines for spring break with Judy Jetson. Andy, whose hat resembles a quill stuck to a satellite dish, sees it as being worn by a member of the royal family. He says he's lucky that he's immune, but that he has "a good chance of winning again." Woah, winning challenges this season is like doing ego whippets. What happened to good, old-fashioned self-doubt? (Interestingly, BTW, the Gretchen-bashing of last episode is nowhere to be seen. Girl barely has a talking head this week.)

Valerie interviews that she is a huge David Bowie fan and that, thanks to her Philip Treacy lace masquerade mask, she's inspired by the movie Labyrinth. I didn't think it was possible for me to love Val more than when she introduced us to her NKOTB fridge magnet set, but this makes my heart grow three sizes. Also, the Garnier Fructis dudes have their work cut out for them -- Bowie's hair in that movie looks like a Fraggle mated with Kate Gosselin.

Michael Drummond says that his hat "speaks of a warrior." (The twelve year-old inside me whispers, Yeah, a butt warrior.) Kristin is still not feeling her orchid hat. "Back home I'm inspired by my garden," she says. "But having a flower as a hat? This is going to be tough." I was going to call Kristin out for being unimaginitive, but having a flower as a hat is rough, girl. Just ask Blossom. Or me, circa 1993:


In the words of Joey Russo, WOAH.

In the sewing room, Casanova says, "I'm thinking seriously to quit," complaining that he doesn't know if he can take any further criticism. Ivy interviews that Casanova is being a diva, but that "it's expected coming from a queen." Snap! In other news, Ivy really was inspired by her hospital room -- she's making an outfit based on the curtains. (I can't wait for MK to weigh in: "God, it looks like a tipsy hooker tore the window treatments off an Appalachian free clinic!")

Out in the work room, Kristin is finally getting inspired by her hat. "I got married with orchids in my hair," she says. "Flowers have both male and female organs so it's walking sex! It's just a big vagina!" I love how seeing the hat as a giant vagina makes it easier to design an outfit for it. Someone (Casanova?) smacks Kristin on the ass and it's obvious it's all she can do to restrain herself from mounting one of the Brother sewing machines. "I needed that!" she moans.

And then, out of nowhere, Michael C. says, "I hope I get to talk to my son today." Here's what my notes say: WHAAAAAAAAAAAT? MC is not gay??? I am literally shocked. I'm, like, knocking on my rusty gaydar -- Is this thing on? And yes, of course I know that gay men can have children, but it doesn't seem like that is what is going on in this particular scenario. I am pretty sure Michael C. put his penis in some woman's orchid, if you know what I'm saying.

Tim checks in, and just in time, since who knows where the above paragraph could have gone if left unchecked. Valerie is making a jacket out of white faux leather with zippers on the chest. Tim worries that the zippers don't have a purpose, but the zippers are Val's favorite part. April is working on a pair of booty shorts (!) made out of quilted (!) white (!) fabric. "For me, the cut and color of the short says diaper," Tim says. April is undeterred. Oh, well. I guess it...ahem...Depends on your point of view.

Michael D. is using an interesting pleated fabric for his top. "I'm afraid it could turn into sci-fi fantasy," Michael worries, but Tim urges him to "walk the precipice." Meanwhile, Kristin's raging hormones have led her to simply dump fabric on her mannequin in messy, labial folds. (Here, Gretchen interviews that she doesn't like Kristin's work, calling it "very sloppy and not very thoughtful.") When Kristin tells Tim she's thinking of making a shrug, he literally jumps away in horror.

Peach tells Papa Gunn that she's making a short-skirted dress. How short? "15, 16 inches," she says. "Not up to show the good china." THE GOOD CHINA. Thank you, Peach. I now have a new favorite euphemism for my ladyparts. Casanova is feeling confident until Tim comes by his work station. "Havent we all seen this dress before?" Tim asks, answering his own question with, "Donna Karan 1988." Casanova is put out by this remark. "I cannot make more mistakes!" he interviews. "I'm not a cat with 7 lives!"

Michael C. is agonizing over his gown, which isn't turning out the way he envisioned it. Tim agrees that he should be concerned, and MC interviews that he should "fucking pack my bags." Michael D. thinks that Michael C. has a lot to learn. "He didn't bring a ruler!" Michael D. tells us. "There are many ways to skin a cat, but you should probably bring a knife." For about five seconds that is the best line of the night, but then Casanova says of Kristin: "She have a lot of idea how to make big mess around the body of the model. But it is not design."

Day 1 ends and the gang heads back to Atlas. "Did any of you get to see anybody else's work?" Michael D. asks his roommates. "Can we trash talk for a little bit?" Um, I officially love Michael D. As for trash talking goes, though, it's pretty tame. Gretchen thinks that Casanova "has no idea what's modern and fresh." AJ, Andy, and Michael C. think Michael D.'s top looks kind of like a cardboard box. Gretchen thinks Peach, Kristin, and April (who are, hilariously, roommates -- poor, Jager-loving April adrift in the land of menopause!) will be the bottom three.

The next morning, AJ moisturizes and Andy puts on earrings. Michael C. is afraid for April because she made a shitty diaper (see what I did there?). Kristin, clearly delusional, tells Peach and April that she thinks she could be in the top two. Casanova applies a green face mask and Michael D. asks, "Are you going as the Hulk today?" You know, I never thought I would be so charmed by someone wearing overalls.

At Parsons, last-minute runway preparations are chaotic as usual. Mondo wants the L'Oreal Paris makeup room to draw a mustache on his model. (Like Liz Lemon, I wouldn't need eyeliner for that, just a few days in a coma or trapped under something heavy with my Nair out of reach). Casanova doesn't expect Michael C. to do well at judging -- "Every girl from Puerto Rico has the same dress hanging in her closet." Christopher says that everyone loved his look and that he might have a chance at winning. April feels confident, noting that shorts are trendy right now.

Another excerpt from the notes: NUH-UH! Heidi comes out to "Kiss From a Rose" wearing rose hat!


Translated, that means that Heidi makes her runway show entrance to the unintelligible but nonetheless romantic Batman soundtrack offering by her now-hubby Seal...wearing a giant upside-down rose hat by Philip Treacy. I KNOW. It's like Paris is Burning up in here. She probably introduces the judges but I'm too busy trying to decipher those seductive lyrics ("Did you know that when it snows, my eyes become large and the light that you shine can be seen" -- is he talking about cocaine?)

Anyway, let's start the show:




Now this is some Ascot Gavotte shit. I love this. However, I should admit that I have a Peach-like weakness for polka dots, and also for models that look like Denise Huxtable giving me bedroom eyes, so I'm biased.



I wish I could use an 80s power bitch as an antenna. Instead of NPR it would be all, "Nobody takes me to bed and to the cleaners in one night!"



Oh, April. Where to start? I'm not even going to touch the hat, because I've used up all of my Dr. Seuss jokes and also because we have more important things to discuss. Like how, during the runway show, you said, "As I watch my model come down the runway it really looks like she's going to..." and I yelled "THE POTTY!" Because, really, that could not look more like a diaper. And why is it on top of those black and pink booty shorts? And even if we are in some futuristic resort universe in which Muppet babies and Pussycat Dolls become one, that doesn't excuse the peep-toe Mary Janes, which only serve to make the whole ensemble more discordant and bizarre.



Well-made, but so boring. If this hadn't been tailored perfectly, I think the judges would have had an excuse to throw him into the bottom just for lack of ambition and originality. Funnily enough, I think the basic black dress makes the hat look all the more silly -- you?



While I have some reservations about the print -- I could easily see myself lunging for that vest at a Filene's sale and then deciding, a few days or weeks or (let's face it) years later, that it was too weird to actually wear anyplace -- I really like the aesthetic. Gray is the color of the moment, and the hat, leggings, and boots give a bit if an edge to what might otherwise look like upholstery fabric.



This looks like a Robin Hood costume sold by American Apparel. Not pictured: assless chaps; migrant workers. But it does go with the hat.



My problem with this is that the top and bottom halves look like they're from different outfits. The hat and cream-colored jacket are very upper 5th Avenue, while the skirt and ankle boots are more downtown. Everything looks good, technically, but I don't get the connection between the various pieces. However, since Ivy was hospitalized when she had this idea, I will chalk it up to dehydration.



Ugh. The black is so heavy, the pink is so messy, and the hat is so delicate and pretty (like GOOD CHINA). It pains me to agree with Gretchen, but Kristin is sloppy. For the first few challenges I thought she might be Ping-like, and just into playing with volume and abstract shapes. But no -- this is just a badly-designed dress.



I've been staring at this screen grab for hours and I still can't decide exactly how I feel about it. One minute I think it looks like a costume from The Little Mermaid On Ice, the next I think it looks kind of OK. Half the time I want to reach out and loosen the straps binding the model's boobs, the other half of the time I want to go mix myself a martini and forget about the whole thing. I should mention it's 2 am right now, so mostly I want to go to sleep and allow the rest of the recap to write itself.



I think this is one of the strongest looks of the episode. I really like the corrugated cardboard effect of the pleated top, and the texture and color of the skirt is phenomenal. Bonus points to the model for walking the runway despite having her head stuck inside a giant fortune cookie.



There's something so fun and Dada about this look. Would I ever wear it? No. Do I kind of love it? Yeah. I think Mondo is one to watch this season. He's a dark horse.



This is the only instance in which the hat truly looks comical to me, which is saying a lot considering Michael D.'s Butt Warrior. But hear me out -- because the dress and that hat have no connection whatsoever, it just looks like a woman trying on a funny hat. I have nothing against the dress per se, but Peach failed the challenge as far as I'm concerned.



I love that the model looks like a pissed-off hostess at an orgy. She's all, "Fidelio my ass, I'd rather be slinging Fribbles at Friendly's." Without the "hat," this is a supercute outfit that I covet (Val -- call me!). The tailoring is exceptional. With the hat, it's a Diane Arbus photo. Not that there's anything wrong with that.


Heidi calls the following designers forward: April, the two Michaels, Christopher, Valerie, and Kristin. All of the others are safe. In the green room, they decide that Christopher is definitely a frontrunner and that Michael C. will be in the botton two. Gretchen thinks that Valerie's in the bottom, and that she messed up this week.

But they are so, so wrong! Ladies and gentlemen, your top three:

Michael Drummond -- Philip Treacy loves the architechtural shoulders. MK really likes the texture on the skirt. Nina thinks the whole thing works well, and loves the open back.

Michael Costello -- "This is what harmony looks like," MK coos. He loves that it's not matchy-matchy and that it manages to be "goddess of the sea" without veering into costume territory. Nina thinks the colors are perfect together, and Philip Treacy loves that Michael picked up the iridescence of the hat in the dress material.

Valerie -- Heidi thinks it's beautiful. MK says it was not expected, in a good way. Nina thinks the mischievous, coquettish mask translates to spirit of dress. PT acknowledges that the dress is beautiful, but doesn't understand where it's coming from.

And now for the bottom three:

Kristin -- MK starts off by saying that the orchid is an incredibly beautiful and sexy flower, but that he sees "no correlation between two except pink accents." The black satin, he says, was the wrong fabric choice. Nina feels like Kristin had no plan. PT thinks the hat needed something more fragile.

Christopher -- Ouch. This one is so sad to watch because you can tell he really thought he was going to win this challenge. Heidi says she did not respond well to it. MK feels no romance (and doesn't like the leggings). Nina thinks it feels stiff and over-designed. PT says that there's "nothing day wear" about the hat.

April -- Amazingly, no one says the word "diaper." Instead, MK coins the phrase "triple panty," as in a woman who has layered her underpants for the weekend and keeps peeling them off day after day. First of all, in that analogy you'd be wearing the same undies for three days no matter how many layers you stripped away (I am so good at math, you guys.) Secondly, there is also a back zipper on the diaper shorts. Upon seeing this, MK sighs, "Oh, no!" and if you listen closely you can hear a little piece of his soul slipping away.

The designers hang out backstage awaiting their fates. Everyone is shocked that judges didn't like Christopher's look. April, anticipating an aufing, cries. Michael C. is cocky as usual.

Back out on runway, Valerie is the first one safe. And the challenge winner is... Michael Costello.




That is some bullshit.


Mondo can't even look at him, so great is his contempt.

Michael Drummond, the preferred challenge winner to most of the other designers, is also safe. Christopher is next (everyone cheers when he comes in the door -- awww), leaving Kristin and April on the chopping block. Heidi chides Kristin for making a dress that was "not complimentary to the joyful spirit of the hat" and tells April, "Your triple panty confused us." But much like there can only be one Highlander, there can only be one auf wiedersehen. And that honor tonight goes to .... Kristin.

April returns safely backstage and everyone is relieved. Casanova points out that he and April have each been in the bottom two twice, and that they cannot do it anymore. And then Kristin comes in and OH MY GOD THE BACKSTAGE ENTRANCES BY AUFED CONTESTANTS ARE SO AWKWARD. Everyone just looks kind of uncomfortable and the aufed person is always trying to act super cool and nonchalant (well, unless that person is Nicholas).

Back at Atlas, things have shifted. Gretchen's thorny crown of chevron garlands has been passed to Michael C. and now everyone hates him instead. April and Peach -- the only ones left from their original four person apartment -- bond over how surprised they were that he won. Michael D. doesn't like his aesthetic, and Mondo groans that now everyone will have to hear about the challenge win for days.

Next week: Two teams of six! Egos everywhere! Someone's going down. We hear Heidi ask, "Who was the weakest designer on your team?" Oh so it's like that now, is it, Klum? (I don't know why I'm feigning offense. Bring on the back-stabbing bitches!)

Hey! If you like these recaps, check back Sunday night for my Emmy Awards live-blog (starting at 6pm EST for the red carpet arrivals, the best part of any awards show).