Sorry I'm late this week, guys! I was at a four-day wedding extravaganza that involved a choreographed flash mob musical number. Really. Plus I was writing an article for my day job on Christian Siriano. So I was kind of thinking about Project Runway. And the good news is, no more weddings for the rest of the year, so recaps should be up Mondays for the remainder of the season. I'll still be doing choreographed flash mob musical numbers, obviously, any chance I get.
Anyway, previously on: SHIT. WENT. DOWN. Team Superego/Grammy Hall and Team Desperately Seeking Sergeant Susan faced off in a runway battle more fierce than Zoolander and Hansel's underpants-removing walk-off. When the scrappy Bad News Bears came out on top (with Casanova finally scoring a win), the A-Team basically imploded. Everyone crapped all over Michael C. and Gretchen went rogue, turning on her entire team. AJ went home for making an ugly shirtdress. It looked like it was all over... but then Timmy Gumms came backstage and put the smackdown on Gretchen! It was epic! Shakespeare and M. Night Shyamalan combined* could not have crafted a better tragedy with a shocking twist ending.
*Note to genetic scientists: Do not do this.
We open on Lady Liberty, quietly shepherding the wretched refuse of her teeming shores toward the Atlas apartments. Michael Drummond, wearing--what else?--a kerchief, wakes up like one of those flower Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz, only slightly less cheerful. "Oh, good morning!" he cries, throwing open the curtain. "It's like being trapped in hell." Welcome to this episode, friends. Brought to you by HP, Piperlime, and Satan.
Everyone is still reeling from last week's drama. "That was one mighty ugly runway," Peach s(ch)nap(p)s. "If Michael Costello wasn't safe he would have gone home," April says. "And he deserves to because he can't fucking sew." Ivy and Val agree that Michael C. will be the next to go. Poor Michael C. Sure, he's kind of a big baby and his clothes can be lackluster, but the other designers seem unnecessarily cruel. As reader John wrote to me in an email:
What on earth did Michael C. ever do to make them all hate him so much? When he came backstage and announced he had won, everyone just sat there with faces like they were sucking on a sour pickle. Maybe it was done by editing, but what a bunch of jerks. I would give anything for Michael C. to be the final winner, just to piss those nasty assholes off.
Gretchen is still deeply wounded that Tim said she was manipulative, but in a moment of delicious schadenfreude, Ivy and Val whisper that the Gunn fire was good for Gretchen, and that it might bring her back to reality (meaning, I think, real reality, not the reality of reality television, in which--as we all know--mouthy bitches tend to dominate).
In other news, guess whose favorite prop gets carted onto the runway, AGAIN?
Nothing excites me like seeing Heidi Klum half in the bag.
Heidi tells the gang that they have new models and quite a task ahead of them, and sure enough out come 11 women in hideous satin gowns. "I'm shitting my pants right now," Andy overshares.
The women are, of course, wearing former bridesmaids dresses. "All were told 'You can totally wear this again!'" laughs Heidi. The designers must each choose a model and gown and create a new look that sucks less than the original.
"I don't know why every bride wants her bridesmaids to look so bad, but they do," Christopher interviews. Ha, it's so true. I made mine wear fat suits and cornrows.
The maids of dishonor introduce themselves. Most just say their name, but a sassy one named Kim adds, "I don't know if you notice, but I have a huge vertical bow on my chest." This joke kills, so the next woman, Lena, also decides to go for it. "I think my dress might have been inspired by a giant Jolly Rancher," she says. The polite laughter that follows is painful.
Since he won last week and has immunity, Casanova has dibs. He picks a woman named Julia wearing a not-entirely-vomitous blue gown, but interviews that he didn't even pick her based on the dress; he picked her because she's "striking" and skinny, aka the modeliest.
The velvet bag delivers its magical judgment: April's name gets picked first, and she chooses a silver pleated gown that's kind of kicky and retro. Peach loves green, so she selects a dress the color of day-old bile. Ivy goes with a white gown with a bateau neck, and... can we just stop for a second and talk about what kind of horrifying sociopath that bride must have been to dress her bridesmaids in floor-length white gowns? With bateau necks?!? Michael Costello (who, it should be noted, is the first designer to request a model by name), picks Brooke, in a black and white number. Andy scores feisty Kim with the giant vertical chest bow, and Christopher picks someone named Nana, which is a good enough reason for me. Mondo chooses Amanda, who is wearing a girly pink strapless gown with some kind of floral embroidered border on the bust. It looks salvageable... until she turns around to reveal a white, skunky stripe running down the back! Girl looks like Dance Magic Barbie after being run over by a paint striping machine, and Mondo is not amused.
Gretchen picks a model named Latifah in very busy burgundy concotion and Valerie chooses Lena the Jolly Rancher, leaving Michael Drummond with the last dress standing, a Pepto Bismol pink number worn by a curvy woman named Jacqueline. Her dress is not the worst of the bunch (that honor, I think we can agree, goes to Dance Magic Amanda), so it's pretty clear she didn't get picked first because she's plus-sized. First, that's sad. And second, as The Jersey Shore's Angelina would say, um, hello!! The bigger gal, the bigger the yardage you get to work with. I would have thought that was a plus.
The designers arrive at Parsons to find their bridesmaids' gowns waiting for them on dress forms like headless, tasteless party guests. Tim comes in to tell them that they have some time to sketch and consult with their models and then have $50 at Mood to buy up to two yards of additional fabric. But mostly, he comes to tell Christopher that Nana has gotten cold feet and pulled out of the challenge (sing it with me now: Nana, Nana! Nana, Nana! Hey-ey-ey. Gooooodbye!). So Christopher gets a new model... and a new dress.
To paraphrase what Saved By the Bell taught us during that Very Special Episode, there's no hope with taupe.
Christopher, obviously, is fucked. Tim's face says it all.
Quick cuts: Mondo wants to make one-sleeved cocktail dress. April's model is super picky. Michael Drummond interviews that, when you're designing for a woman who's a little more "volumshuous," it can go really wrong. (It can also go very wrong when your designer is a man in a kerchief who can't pronounce a 'pt' sound.) You know, Michael Drummond is getting an awful lot of screen time, y'all. Plus he has a tiny Virgin Mary at his work table. This does not bode well, because this either means he needs divine intervention or is smuggling heroin out of Nigeria like on Lost. And then, at Mood, he decides to buy UPHOLSTERY FABRIC. For a PLUS-SIZED MODEL. LIKE SHE IS A COUCH. No way that can backfire, Aunt Jemima.
Back in the work room, Peach sighs, "Oh, Mondo help me with my butt." Michael C's dress is looking good, and Val announces to the sewing circle that she is pissed that MC probably won't go home and that the judges can't see his shortcomings. Meanwhile, Gretchen Skypes with her mom while wearing a fedora. If this is an attempt to get me to like her more, it's not working.
Tim comes back to check in. Things are a little tense between him and Gretchen, but Gretchen interviews that she needs Tim to critique her work, not to be an emotional mentor. Gretchen has made some kind of ombre shirt that looks like it recently caught fire but has since been put out. Tim loves it but thinks it may be looking too athletic.
Michael C. is hard at work on a black cocktail dress, but Tim is taken aback. "Your model asked for lace with a puff sleeve?" he says. "Talk her out of it!" The other Michael, meanwhile, is busy upholstering his volumshuous dress form. The thing is, he's only upholstering the boobies. Tim thinks it looks like a "great big oversize bra." Casanova, in a rare moment of astute commentary, observes that Michael D. basically just put a lace overlay on the dress and cut it short but didn't transform it.
Mondo is doing a Mod-style 60s pink and black cocktail dress that Tim adores. Peach, on the other hand, is working with some truly heinous fabric; it's like if Neopolitan ice cream was made of paisley, flowers and BrickBreaker. Christopher has already made his unfortunate second dress look ten times better, but Tim warns him to watch the proportions. Ivy's client wants to show so much skin that Tim quips, "Make her a thong and call it a day." On the flip side, needing more sex appeal is Valerie, who is working on what looks like a very fetching tennis outfit. "This is looking about as far away from fashion as you can possibly get," Tim warns. "This is looking more like... clothes." Ouch.
Done with the critiques, Tim announces that he has a surprise. Tomorrow will not be a runway day, but rather a fashion expo in which all of the models stand around while regular folks that Lifetime lures in off the street throw buttons in fishbowls to vote for their favorites. YES.
The next morning at Atlas, Valerie is feeling insecure, but Gretchen and Ivy make her feel better by hating on Peach instead. Peach admits to April that she thinks she'll be in the bottom but isn't sure her dress is the worst.
At the public showcase, the bridesmaids find that wearing their hideous wedding castoffs on national TV is not, in fact, the most demeaning thing they've signed up for:
Tim encourages the designers to interact with the crowds ("really seduce them") and actively try to win buttons. It's like some kind of elementary school counting game crossed with a slave auction, and it's riveting. Mondo and Michael C. do very well, while Peach and Michael D. can barely rustle up a pity vote. Meanwhile, Ivy hears that Michael C. has been trying to sabotage her, telling everyone she's "the bitch of the show." And while I certainly wouldn't put it past Michael C. to do something vindictive and bitchy like that, if the cameras had caught it don't you think they'd show us? Later, at Atlas, Andy asks Michael if the rumor is true and Michael denies it. "I would never do that," he interviews, "Because I know how hard we all work." Hmmm... liar?
Anyway, let's leave that be for a second, because we need to talk about this:
When did this show become The Sisterhood of the Traveling Do-Rags? And when did Andy surpass April in the Pebbles Flintstone lookalike contest?
Anyway, on the day of the real show, Peach is still struggling to finish a skirt that doesn't fit right due to a cutting error and Michael D. is still telling himself and whoever else who will listen that his giant couch bra is actually really cute. Michael C. tells Ivy in the sewing room that he didn't try to affect the outcome the Great Button Caper, but she doesn't believe him and neither does anyone else. Good times!
Out on the runway, Heidi introduces the judges: MK, Nina, and Cynthia Rowley, who is wearing ankle socks with open-toed shoes. (It's just a hop, skip, and a few beers to Tevas and sweat socks, people. We must be vigilant!)
So many things. The top--fine. I'll accept it. It looks like Spanx, or an Herve Leger knockoff, but fine. The bottoms, however, A) don't go with the top; B) HAVE CHAINS GOING INTO HER LABIA*; and C) are part of a troubling and relatively recent trend of "formal shorts," which I do not accept.
*Name ONE WOMAN (other than Paris Hilton) who keeps her wallet in her vagina.
I really like this--it manages to be casual and dressy, interesting but not over-the-top, and just really pretty. The silver accent is my favorite part.
I can get behind the concept for this look--the shape of the top complements the tightness of the pants and the boots go really well; I like the styling. But there is too much shiny fabric going on, no? I wish the top had been matte or gauzy or something to make this outfit look less cheap. And, for the record (I will also go on the record below--ahem, Ivy), shiny sausage-casing capri pants are not even the boniest girl's best friend.
Shockingly even to me, this was my favorite dress on the runway. When I first saw the original dress, I actually recoiled, so it is a testament to Christopher that I would almost consider wearing this. I really love the draping on top, and the way the bodice underneath pops out (I KNOW. I am praising an errant beige peek-a-boob. Maybe there IS hope with taupe after all...)
I don't know, guys, this just looks dirty and burned to me, kind of like Sigourney Weaver near the end of Ghostbusters: "There is no Latifah, only Zuul!"
Also, Gretchen: Those boots don't go with everything.
I am personally of the opinion that shiny white capri pants are no one's friend. No disrespect to this model, but she proves my point: Even a slender woman is done no favors by these, especially in the hip and thigh area. I will say that I can easily picture this model sipping cocktails on a yacht, so the look as a whole works, even if the parts (hello, high-necked, see-through orange blouse!) are questionable.
I don't know about this. There is a lot going on, what with the lace and the satin and the velvet and the frou-frou draping. I feel like you find a dress like this--likely last worn to a 1987 prom--in every vintage shop. It's not ugly, but it's certainly not modern.
I'm going to go on record as saying that I don't actually think (minor spoiler alert) that this dress is worse than the original, as the judges said. I think it's just equally bad. The full skirt and jacket are a terrible combination, since the skirt widens her hips and the jacket cuts her off and hides her waist. Even her hairdo makes her look rounder than she is. And I won't even get into the cheap overlay. All I will say is that much as you don't go around carrying change in your vag, you don't upholster a human being. It just isn't done.
This is cute and quirky and makes me crave Neopolitan ice cream of the non-Peach variety. I'd love to see the model with a slicked-back bun, though, because I think this has the potential to be much more chic than a high ponytail allows. This also reminds me that I need to catch up on my GTL.
Oof. I mean, damn. That is just ugly. It's like Anne of Green Gables went blind and stumbled into a Mandee's during a fire sale. And those green saddlebags... I can't even. Wait, yes I can: Anne of Green Saddlebags! Full circle!
I feel like this is what Minnie Mouse would wear to waitress at a beer garden. I can't believe Valerie made this--it's such a departure from her other work in terms of quality. The straps are like a suspension bridge spanning from breast to breast and the front bow looks sloppy and amateur. But the most confusing aspect are the two black panels that are not quite on the sides and not quite on the front. They look like those bars slapped over the eyes of people wearing acid-washed thong bikinis in Glamour's Dos & Don'ts section. So I guess her side boobs and ribcage declined to participate in this charade.
After the show, Heidi calls the following people forward: April, Andy, Gretchen, Ivy, Casanova. They are safe, and return to the green room to place bets on who's a top and who's a bottom.
The remaining six defend their looks. The judges love:
CHRISTOPHER, who made the long, brown, embroidered monstrosity he was saddled with into a short, sexy outfit. Cynthia Rowley is excited because it looks "like you took a bridesmaid's dress, ripped it up, put it back together and repurposed it." Yup, pretty much. Has someone not been paying attention to the obvious expository narrative that follows each commercial break?
MONDO, who not only won the button election but who also turned a frothy pink gown into a cute, edgy look with interesting lines and feminine details.
MICHAEL C., whose short black cocktail dress wins raves for its proportion and tailoring.
The judges give their collective stinkeye to:
PEACH, who took an ugly green polyester dress and turned it into... that. MK does a nice little psych-out: "I think her hair looks gorgeous." [pause] "But that's the only thing I think is gorgeous." He calls out the "avocado dinner napkins*" on the hips and the "bedskirt ruffle" in the back. Heidi says it's just not good. Nina is bored. C-Ro thinks fashion should be effortless but that Peach's dress looks uptight. "I got lost," Peach admits.
*He later amends this to "avocado goiter," but I think he's reaching. THIS was a goiter.
MICHAEL D., who wanted to make a fun, flirty cocktail dress but ended up with curtains and cleavage. MK thought the other, brighter color looked better on the model, and Heidi says the whole dress looked better before the transformation.
VALERIE, whose color-blocking efforts went horribly awry. "It's like you turned her into some nursing grandmother chest!" MK says--and no, he does not mean nursing home, he means nursing bra. Because apparenty all the grannies out there are lactating.
The judges deliberate. They love the irony of Michael C.'s victory on the heels of Team Awesome throwing him under the bus. MK calls Mondo's model's hair and makeup "Snooki and the Flintstones."
Backstage, everyone is silently seething that Michael C. got high marks. As soon as the top and bottom six leave again, Gretchen bursts out with "What show are we fucking on? I mean, I feel like I shouldn't even be here, man."
So, it's very late and my brain is functioning solely on a bag of Reese's Pieces that my husband forced me to eat to keep from passing out, but I want to take a second to examine the Curious Case of Michael C. Clearly, everyone hates him. I think this is at least partially because he comes off as kind of obnoxious, insincere, and smarmy, but they've also been very vocal about the fact that his talent level is not up to par. From a viewer's perspective, I think Michael has been inconsistent, but no more so than some of the others. I mean, Valerie has shown herself to be a fantastic seamstress in weeks past, but this dress was a hot mess. It didn't even look like--to borrow a favorite phrase of Gretchen's--"student work." It looked like a homemade Halloween costume. So. To echo John's earlier point, what is the cast seeing that we're not? Is it possible that Michael's skill level really is that low and that he just gets lucky occasionally? Or are they a bunch of bullies?
Anyway, guess what? Michael C. wins the challenge. And when he tells the designers backstage, they look at him like he just took a shit in their Cheerios.
Species: Assholus majorus.
"Of course you did," Ivy snaps unkindly. I guess I can give her a pass, since she and MC have button beef, but then again a friend of mine told me this weekend that he used to work with Ivy and that she is indeed a nasty bitch.
Gretchen interviews that she feels that craftsmanship isn't as rewarded as she had hoped (could this have something to do with her not having won a challenge for three weeks?)
To his credit, Casanova is gracious, saying that he respects Michael C. and thinks he is very humble. (Okay, let's maybe not go that far.)
Out on the runway, Mondo and Christopher are in, followed by Val, thank goodness. Which leaves Michael D. and Peach, who have knowing smiles on their faces--I think they both realized from early on in the challenge that they were screwed.
Heidi tells Peach that she made her model's bridesmaid's dress worse, and that the green ruffles added insult to injury. With Michael she is even more blunt: he made an ugly dress uglier.
But Michael D. and his kerchief are in. Which means that Peach is out.
"Thank you," she tells the judges. "I've had the time of my life." She then performs the entire routine from Dirty Dancing's climactic scene (in loafers, no less), leaping off of the runway only to have Michael Kors catch her in a perfect lift!!!! And Heidi just stands there smiling blankly like the slutty sister who let Robbie the waiter get to second base.
OK, no. But in my dreams.
As she says her very sweet goodbyes to her fellow designers, it is revealed that Peach is known among the cast as "the fairy drag-mother." (Um, editors, why is this the first time we are hearing of this?) I really will miss Peach. She grew on me, even if her clothes did not. Reader PD wrote me to say that s/he thought Peach got aufed because of her "failure to offer one even remotely snarky comment in six weeks." That may be, but Peach had a great sense of humor, something far more valuable (in my opinion) than pretentious snark from people who otherwise exhibit the personality of a piece of cardboard (Andy, Christopher--I am looking at you.)
Next week: Michael Kors sends the gang out on a boat to get inspired for a resort wear challenge but, sadly, no one falls overboard. In a twist that's not fully revealed, designers have to work in pairs, and Mondo gets angry enough that he confronts Michael C. At judging, there is yet more talk of throwing someone under a bus. Again, sadly not literal. Wow, I'm violent today!