Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from an urban port
Aboard a tiny ship.
The mate wore a pinstripe suit and tie,
The skipper was spray-tanned.
Ten passengers set sail that day
To sketch and kvetch and plan.
The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted New York pier,
The Skipper too...
Sponsor swag and free drinks...
Casanova and nipple slips,
Here on GilliGunn's Isle.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Previously on: The gang turned hideous bridesmaids dresses into slightly less hideous daywear. Nearly everyone choked except for Mondo, Christopher, and Michael C., but Peach found herself especially in the pits (what? She's gone now and I won't be able to make any more fruit puns!) for a hideous ruffle detail that Michael Kors deemed "an avocado goiter." She took her aufing like a pro, though, and went out quoting the immortal--albeit lip-synched--words of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey: "I've had the time of my life."
At the Atlas apartments, April contemplates a Peach-less existence. She's sad, of course, that her makeshift mom has been sent out to pasture (or, at least, back to her repurposed horse stable), but she's especially bummed because now she has to move into the other apartment with Gretchen, Val, and Ivy. "I'm a strong girl and I don't deal with bullshit," she interviews. "So if I have a problem I'll voice it with them."
On the surface, at least, there's no tension. "Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" the Furies squeal as April kisses the air behind their ears. "We made you a sign!" Valerie cries, pointing to the chalboard where, in between the words "WELCOME" and "DESIGNERS" that have been there for weeks, someone has scrawled "April."
Um, A for (half-assed) effort, ladies.
Also, A for the scarlet (begonia) letter they leave on April's bed.
Meanwhile, in the boys' room, Andy asks Michael C. what it feels like to win twice. "Fabulous!" MC drawls. "I feel like Gretchen, only better." Michael C. then interviews that when he went back into the designer's lounge to announce his win, everyone looked at him like he was responsible for greenlighting Battlefield Earth. "There are so many haters," MC tells Andy. Andy is totally one of them, but tries to play it off. "My struggle with you, and I'm being honest," Andy says, lying, "Is I don't really know who you are. I don't know your aesthetic completely." Michael C. mumbles something about how he likes draping and pleating and that he developed his own sewing technique. "Well. I guess it's working," Andy says, gelling his mohawk or fluffing his man-cleavage or tending to his single dangly earring that distracts me in very scene because I'm convinced it will get caught on something and RIP HIS EARLOBE OFF because that TOTALLY HAPPENED to this girl I knew in middle school during a trip to Six Flags and, anyway, it's all very tense.
But hey! This week there is a very special guest to introduce the challenge: Katie Couric!
The bad news is that she's wearing silk harem pants, but the good news is that she's clutching the velvet bag.
Since Michael C. won the last challenge, he has immunity and cannot be eliminated (this elicits a HUGE eye roll from Gretchen). Apparently this challenge is about kicking back, relaxing, and having fun. To that end, Tim and "very special guest" are going to treat the gang to brunch. "Meet them at the marina and they'll fill you in!" says Katie brightly, making her exit (and, I might add, still clutching the velvet bag which she did not even open since she is such a cock tease).
And here's where the song comes in.
Sure enough, Timmy Gumms and Michael Kors are waiting at a marina to take the designers on a booze cruise to get them inspired for a resort wear challenge (because, really, nothing says luxury like being drunk on the Hudson River). Casanova is scared, saying that MK "is being so rude with me in critiques." Michael C. thinks he's got this in the bag, being from Palm Springs and all. But poor Mondo is unenthused. "I never go on vacation," he interviews. "I wake up late and I walk around my apartment in my underwear. That's resort wear to me." Mondo is my people. Everyone toasts with mimosas. "Chin, chin, bitches," says Valerie. "Let's pretend like we're rich!" giggles Michael D. Calgon, take them away!
When they return to dry land, they have 30 minutes and $150 to spend at Mood. Andy is planning a sexy one-piece bathing suit with a cover-up, Mondo envisions a boy-cut bikini with a windbreaker and a visor, and April's concept is a resort that doubles as an asylum. Which kind of makes me wonder about the Johnston family vacations: "Okay, April, honey, you're going to have such a great time at electro-shock therapy... camp. That's right, camp. We'll be back when the sedatives wear off! Make us some gimp keychains and try not to bite through your restraints!"
The designers have no sooner unpacked their fabric at Parsons when Tim returns carrying... the velvet bag! And even better, for the very first time the contestants acknowledge the power of the bag. "When Tim has the bag, it's trouble," says Val. (When Tim has the bag, it's like Christmas! Or Scrabble!) "Every time I see the velvet bag with the golden rope I get scared," says Casanova. (Every time I see the velvet bag with the golden rope I squeal like I've just seen John Krasinski drop his towel.) "I hate the bag," says Michael D. "I haaaaaaate the bag." (I love the bag. I looooooooooooooooove the bag.)
"As you might have guessed, I'm not pulling fucking marbles out of this thing," Tim says (basically; I'm paraphrasing). "There is another dimension to the challenge." The designers will have to work in teams of two, wearing two hats: one as designer and one as a one-person sample room. "You will be executing each other's designs," Tim says, pointing out that most successful designers do not actually sew their own work. And now for the bag o' destiny:
The first name drawn is Valerie, who is paired with Andy. They take it in stride. But the next name drawn is Michael C., and it's like all the testicles in the room retract at once. "I hope my name doesn't come up," April says. "Everyone is thinking, oh my God, oh my God, I do not want to be on his team," Mondo interviews. But Mondo IS on his team, and can barely contain his rage--I think we even catch a glimpse of a bobbing Adam's apple, which is basically Mondo's version of Hulking out.
April is paired with Christopher, which she seems happy about, and Casanova is paired with Gretchen. It's like one of those VH1 Divas Live! concerts, except instead of Cher and Tina Turner there's going to be chevron and turbans.
These screen grabs took place literally five seconds after the pairing was announced.
Everybody gets to work and seems to be getting along, except for Mondo and Michael C. "I'm not the fastest, best sewer and I don't know if you know but I don't do pants," Michael C. says by way of an ice-breaker. Mondo bristles. "Let me just say this," he says. "I'm not really excited about this because your construction is awful." It's like if The Odd Couple were tiny, bitchy gay men and OMG WHY HAS THAT NOT HAPPENED YET? Get on it, Hollywood!
Andy worries that Val has not worked with swimwear, and she admits in a talking head that she doesn't know what she's doing but lied about it to Andy. Meanwhile, Ivy is basically quizzing Michael D. on technical terminology while he implores her to stay calm. "It's difficult because I have to hand over what I do best to Ivy and she's handing over her neurosis to me," he says. "This is nothing against Michael D., but it's a challenge," Ivy sighs. "It is." sighs. Um, yeah, it's a challenge, bitch. That's the point.
Casanova interviews that Gretchen is very conscious of fact he doesn't speak English well, so she made giant sketches of what she wants. "I have no problem with my eyes!" he says. "Oh my gosh, she believe that I'm a retard." He shows Gretchen his fabric choices, which she deems too old. "You love the old lady," she says. "Fuck!" he cries. "Maybe it's because of my grandmother." (And judging by his Nomi Malone-inspired Fashion Week collection, his grandmother must have been an old lady... of the night.)
In other news, Mondo doesn't like to sketch, preferring to make notes about elastic, jumpers, and skinny dipping.
Over lunch, Mondo, Andy, and Val bitch about Michael C.'s inferior talent--"He doesn't even have a ruler!" someone says (and I mean, hey, at least he's not spit-marking things like that crazy lady from season 4 who looked like a more recently bathed version of Rousseau from Lost)--but within a few hours Mondo seems to come around. "After working with Michael C. I can tell that he's a good guy and he's willing to learn and willing to grow, and I was being a dick," Mondo says matter-of-factly. He apologizes, and Michael C. interviews that the partnership is going better than he thought it would.
Tim and MK arrive to check in. Nearly everyone is making a palazzo pant, and those who aren't are doing away with pants entirely. Ivy was going to do pants but "had to simplify," implying that Michael D. is useless. (Refreshingly, he sort of admits it: "I suck at sewing what Ivy's got, and I feel really terrible.") Michael Kors insults Valerie's color palette, leading her to wonder, "Why cant judges see value in what I do?" Sad. Then Valerie phones home (THE REALITY KISS OF DEATH! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!) and cries and says that if she doesn't make it to Fashion Week she feels like "everything's gonna die." And while I do believe we are in the End of Days (evidence: Bachelor Pad; Spencer Pratt; Subtle Butt), I don't really think one pair of ill-fitting palazzo pants is going to push us over the edge.
During the critique, MK specifically tells April to watch the length of her booty shorts--"No ass cheek!"--so April eyeballs her model for signs of protruding thuttocks*. Christopher has to add fabric to the shorts "to cover my model's ass... and my ass," says April.
*The "thuttocks" are that nebulous, problematic area where upper thigh meets butt cheek. Lacking the sexual charisma of its sister area, the underboob, the thuttocks should never under any circumstances be exposed to daylight.
Michael D. is happy with the look that Ivy created for him, which resembles a beach cover-up for Morticia Addams, but he is still not done sewing her look and only has 40 minutes left. Michael, obviously, must use this time to work, and Ivy chooses to use this time literally breathing down Michael's back and looking like she just crawled out of that well from The Ring.
"I can feel her crazy energy," Michael D. interviews, adding, "I would never do that to someone even if I was completely freaked out." Tim comes in to tell the designers that they can take possession of the garment they designed for ten minutes before the runway show, and Ivy practically leaps into the sewing chair, but it's too late. "My design looks fabulous, Ivy's design looks like shit, and I feel awful," says Michael D.
Out on the runway, Heidi is... kind of fugly, actually, in a brown beaded thing that kind of looks like that train wreck Rita Wilson wore to the Emmys. She reminds the contestants that the designers are responsible for their garments regardless of who sewed it, and then introduces the judges: Michael, Nina, and "stylish actress" Kristen Bell, who can be seen in this month's rollicking comedy You Again, not that she's only on the show to promote the movie or anything.
Anyway, let's get jump right into this strange sewing circle jerk:
MICHAEL C. (MADE BY MONDO)
So, yes, this kind of looks like Bianca Jagger wearing a jumper made from safari-print contact paper. But for all its garishness I don't completely hate it. It's very Miko, beautiful island friend of Barbie, goes to Studio 54.
MONDO (MADE BY MICHAEL C.)
I want to go on record as saying that I think the bathing suit is supercute. But the jacket and visor make the model look kind of like an effeminate teenage boy, and the whole ensemble is very Roxy Quicksilver. (To Michael C.'s credit, it looks very polished.)
MICHAEL D. (MADE BY IVY)
I don't know if it's the color or the garbage bag-like bunching that's going on in this photo or what, but I wasn't all that impressed by this. Even though it's black it's not very body-conscious and also not terribly flattering. Thoughts?
IVY (MADE BY MICHAEL D.)
Wow, this is so boring. The model looks like a Sibyl who wandered off the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to go shopping for something less dowdy.
CHRISTOPHER (MADE BY APRIL)
I thought it couldn't get worse than Peach's print from last week, but clearly I was wrong. This print is so hideous, I am seriously questioning Christopher's taste level. I mean, who goes into Macy's saying, "You know, polka dots are all well and good, but what I really want is something that manages to evoke both a cityscape and a windmill while also involving houndstooth in some way..." I also think the shorts are a few inches too long, but considering the hideous top, I'm willing to look the other way.
APRIL (MADE BY CHRISTOPHER)
Michael Kors told the designers earlier that resort wear can mean many things. And if you're staying at a resort for your honeymoon, or for some illicit tryst with an international man of mystery (which, typing that, I realize sounds like Austin Powers, but I was thinking more along the lines of James Bond), it means lingerie. Which is, let's face it, what this is. It's pretty lingerie. It's tailored lingerie. But it's lingerie. With granny panties (more on that later).
CASANOVA (MADE BY GRETCHEN)
With skinny jeans and loose hair, that top would be sexy (and even in this context I like it). But with that styling and those pants it turns old and chaste. Since, as Casanova himself has admitted, he only seems to design for two types of women, it's clear on which side the meter falls in this case:
GRETCHEN (MADE BY CASANOVA)
Wow, this is one baggy, giant-legged, camel toe-threatening jumpsuit. BUT. It is also the color of nougat and chocolate. And I have PMS. So it's a draw.
VALERIE (MADE BY ANDY)
The chevron-print shorts I could do without, especially since they create a visual vortex pointing straight at her, erm, "good china," but I like the top. It's cute and casual and sexy in a non-aggresssive way (ahem, vulva vortex).
ANDY (MADE BY VALERIE)
This is how I look in my beach fantasies: all long limbs and flowing fabric like Cyd Charisse in that scene from Singin' In the Rain. Of course, in reality I would probably tie the cover-up wrong and get it snagged on the crotch hardware of the bathing suit while I tried to do a cartwheel, and then have to try to fix it while someone held up a towel and end up exposing my thuttocks, or worse, to the rest of the resort community... but thank you, Andy, for the dream.
Back on the runway, Heidi calls Andy, Casanova, Mondo, April, Ivy, and Michael D. forward. The rest are safe. Right away she breaks it down: Andy, April, and Michael D. have the highest scores, while Mondo, Casanova, and Ivy are the bottom three. She dismisses the losers temporarily. (In addition to their models, the winning designers' partners join them onstage.) In the designer lounge, Mondo reiterates that his idea of resort wear is undies and a t-shirt. "Well, you kicked it up a notch from that!" Gretchen cheers patronizingly.
April tells the judges about the weird Shutter Island back story that led to the black teddy she designed. "It very much looks like you," MK says, calling it a "tough punk babydoll" aesthetic. Heidi thinks it looks super sexy, but not vulgar "because you put, like, a real big panty under it." You heard it here first, folks (and, ahem, my husband): "Real big" panties are smokin' hot. But it's actually shorts, Chris reminds the judges. Heidi asks to see them, so the teddy is lifted to reveal...
Yikes. As Carrie Bradshaw once said to Samantha Jones after a chemical peel gone awry: "Veil down, I think!"
But MK is all, "See? That's why they fit so well." And I am all, Kors, did some Mystic Tan shrapnel get in your eyes? Are you blind? Because those do not fit well. But overall I like April and I like her outfit so let's move on.
Everyone thinks Andy's look is gorgeous. Heidi says that it's very commercial and that tons of hot women would want to wear it. Nina calls it sophisticated and expensive-looking.
While Michael Drummond introduces his concept he compliments Ivy's construction a lot. And suspiciously, before the judges give their opinions, Heidi asks Ivy how it was working with Michael D. She admits that it was a challenge because "Michael doesn't know how garments go on and off." (Which, if true, is much more of a challenge for him, and also maybe explains why he seems to be wearing the same tank top in every single talking head clip.) Anyway, Michael concedes that he and Ivy "don't speak the same jargon," and that "she's very technical, she went to Parson's, while I'm self-taught." Anyway, they love his piece. MK says it's what you'd want to wear in the tropics. Kristen Bell calls it "effortless." Nina points out that it works for women of all ages.
The bottom three designers and their models/partners come out for judging.
Mondo is up first, and says that when Michael Kors announced the challenge "I almost peed in my trunks." He explains that he's never been to a resort and doesn't know what resortwear is, but that he wanted to play with color. Nina thinks it's dissapointing and looks inexpensive and "junior." She also thinks his excuses are a cop-out. MK thinks it looks like a "weird assemblage of clothes from Forever21 on sale rack." They ask Michael C. what it was like working with Mondo and he says that while the two weren't friends at the beginning they had a great time. Mondo jumps in and says that he is really proud of Michael and that he learned a lot about himself working in the team.
Enough cuteness; the judges want bloodshed. Ah, Ivy -- tell us about YOUR look.
Here's what she says, pretty much verbatim: "My color palette is reminiscent of ocean, and I wanted my garment to have the movement of ocean, but when I found out I was working with Michael, with his limitations of skill I had to edit down a lot. He didn't know how to execute a pant. I actually changed the skirt design twice because I was worried that he wasn't going to be able to finish in time."
Y'know, I once had a deodorant ad that I clipped from an early-90s magazine because it cracked me up. It featured Chuck Norris striking a karate pose and the slogan read: "The best defense is not to offend." I think Ivy could learn a thing or two from Walker, Texas Ranger and his Speed Stick, is all I'm saying.
Anyway, the judges give Michael D. a rebuttal and he doesn't lash out. He just explains that he did his best and that he didn't say he couldn't do pants, he's just not comfortable doing them.
MK chastises Ivy for buying so many fabrics and not enough of any of them and she talks back, as she is wont to do. Nina says that Ivy's work is very good technically but the question is, does she have good ideas. Ivy insists that Michael D. kept her from executing the look he way she wanted to, and Heidi notices that Michael C. is rolling his eyes.
"Working with her on previous challenge, I was terrified," the much-maligned Michael C. is only too happy to share. "I don't know if Michael D. was in the same boat. She can be very bossy, that's all."
There's a little more criticism and a lot more talking back on Ivy's part, and Heidi asks why Ivy is throwing Michael D. under the bus and she insists she's not etc. etc. Moving on.
Casanova claims to love his look, but then says he's been making stuff that reminds him of his grandmother. Heidi thinks the outfit "doesn't read vacation." MK quips that if the challenge was to make something for a 70 year-old woman to go sit in a mall, Casanova succeeded. Nina says that they've seen Casanova do extremely sexy or extremely matronly, but there's no middle ground.
Back in the designer lounge the bottom three exchange war stories with the safe people and Michael D. reveals that he told Ivy to throw him under the bus and all the while Mondo and Michael C. have their arms around each other in silent solidarity and OMG IT IS SO FUCKING PRECIOUS.
You guys, remember when Mondo couldn't make any friends and was crying in his leather bar outfit? And then Michael C. became such a sad pariah? And now they are BFF and no, I'm not crying. It's just raining... on my face.
All six designers gather on the runway. Michael D is the first one safe. "I'm so glad I didn't win the challenge," he admits once backstage. He feels guilty about Ivy, but interviews that while he made "the most poorly sewn garment I've done since I've been here," in hindsight he realizes that it was because Ivy didn't trust him.
And now for the winner of the challenge... April! Granny panties FTW! Andy looks a little bit pissed. He is obviously in.
Mondo, thank goodness, is also in, which leaves Ivy and Casanova on the chopping block. Heidi lowers the boom:
"Ivy, we heard lot of excuses and blame from you today, but you were responsible for your fabric choices and for dumbing down your design."
"Casanova, your look was matronly, not sexy. You said it was inspired by your grandma and it showed."
"Ivy... you're in."
Ivy comes into the designer lounge and Michael D. nearly has a heart attack from relief that he didn't cause her to get aufed. They hug, and all is well.
Of course, this means that Casanova is out. He comes backstage and pretends to hang himself from the door with his scarf, but he's in good spirits. "Sad, zero," he muses. "Disappointed, maybe a quart." I'm actually disappointed a gallon. Of course Casanova had to go, but I've grown fond of him. Presumably the editors have, too, because we get a highlight flashback reel, which so far no other designer has received upon their exit. We get to see him talk about grabbing New York's balls, and slapping Kristin's ass, and not understanding anyone when they talk to him. Good times!
"What are we going to do without you?" a visibly verklempt Tim Gunn asks. "I live very close from here," Casanova replies. And then he goes out with the best line in Project Runway history:
"I think I grabbed one ball of New York and New York grabbed one of mine."
Next week: Tim Gunn utters the phrase, "Jackie Kennedy would not have camel toe." That is all.
Follow Una LaMarche on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sassycurmudgeon