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Project Runway Episode 8 Recap: Camelot/Camel Toe

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Previously on: In exchange for doing a boring resort wear challenge, Tim got everyone drunk and Michael Kors gave out free sunglasses. But mimosas and swag could not prepare the designers for the wrath of the velvet bag, which divided them into teams of two and forced them to sew each other's looks. A seamless collaboration with Christopher resulted in a first-time win for April, while Michael Drummond struggled with Ivy's design (and crazy-making micromanagement). In the end, though, Casanova's grandma-inspired outfit sent him back to Astoria to continue playing with New York's balls.

It's morning at the Atlas apartments, and everyone, it seems, is tweezing his or her eyebrows. "Is it quieter in here?" Chris wonders aloud, and if you listen very carefully, drowning out the soft drone of Andy's airbrush makeup machine and the snap of elastics as April perfects her Pebbles Flintstone bun and the clatter of Michael C's eyes rolling around in his head, you can almost hear Casanova whisper "Exxxxxaaaaaaactly."

"The work room will be less fun without Casanova," Michael D. interviews. And, well, yeah. Once the sluts and the old ladies have left the party, who's worth talking to?

I think Michael Costello and Andy are in an apartment by themselves now, which is unfortunate because Andy clearly loathes Michael C. Every scene consists of Michael C. yapping away about something and Andy gazing up through his man-bangs with an unmistakable look of thinly-veiled contempt. In this instance, MC is explaining how he got called out during judging for bad-mouthing Ivy. Over in the ladies' bunker, Val asks Ivy how she's feeling. "Yesterday was yesterday," Ivy says bluntly, adding in a talking head that people have told her before that she'll never make it and that she can't listen to those idiots.

One of those idiots is, apparently, Michael D., who tells Chris and Mondo that he thinks Ivy "really needs to prove why she's here and step it up." He cites her monochromatic palette as a drawback, observing dryly that "opaque is not a color." Ooooooh, Michael, them's fightin' words. Color you badd, girl.

At Parsons, Heidi emerges (bagless!) onto the runway. "For this challenge," she tells the designers, "You will be looking to the past to secure your future." Gretchen, who is dressed like some cross between Liesl von Trapp and a Grateful Dead roadie, says that stepping back in time could mean anything, and that all she knows is that she doesn't want to be forced to make a corset. She says this while making a pronounced stankface, which leads me to believe that Gretchen is not a big fan of boning.

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The gang arrives at something identified onscreen as "Capsule Studio" to find Tim standing in front of a big white sheet upon which images of Jackie Kennedy are projected. Welcome, friends, to the most ghetto challenge intro in Project Runway history.

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"No, I'm totally serious. Lifetime has run out of money. Your challenge this week is to run the slide projector while I go get tanked with the cast of Army Wives."

They don't even have a pretend special guest who works for one of the show's sponsors (we all know Collier Strong could rock a Chanel suit). They don't even have a gimmicky location (JFK airport, anyone?). Tim is just kind of like, "Jacqueline Kennedy represents how the world perceives classic American sportswear, so, um, make something like that."

(Here I should mention that I have a bias against this challenge because I do not and never will understand what "sportswear" is supposed to mean. It sounds like it means exercise clothes, or sport-specific attire like the saddlebag-baring nylon short shorts I was forced to wear at high school track meets. That's what Wikipedia thinks it means, too, but in fashion, apparently, "sportswear" just means anything you wouldn't go to a cocktail party in. A trench coat can be sportswear, as can pants as can skirts as can dresses. If it's made of wool or cotton, it qualifies. Which, in my opinion, is too vague to make for a decent challenge, especially on the heels of the resort wear week, which was also boring and vague but which at least trotted out a cruise ship and a dramatic twist to distract us.)

At Mood, Mondo reveals a special pathetic fallacy: apparently, he can commune with fabric. "The bolts have voices," he tells us. "They say, come over and pick me up." Tim tells Gretchen to remember that she's a leader -- as if she needs the reminder; Gretchen's ego is more inflated than Heidi Montag's boobs these days. Ivy says that she has no clear vision but has chosen her colors: white and black or white and navy. (WOAH, Higa. Let's not get crazy now.) Michael Drummond second-guesses his choices at the cash register...

...and continues to do so back in the workroom. "This will either be really good, or really bad," he muses. "I don't like sportswear." Meanwhile, no sooner has Mondo draped some fabric on a mannequin than Gretchen becomes concerned about his look. "I feel he might not be hitting the nail on the head with this one," she interviews. Aaaaaaaaaaagggggggggghhhh, no one asked you, Gretchen. Well, okay, fine, the producers probably asked you, but don't you have more important things to do, like hand-cut some chevron patterns or style your lady mullet?

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Business in the front, petty in the back. Hey-o!

I know I'm being bitchy this week. Forgive me -- I'm hormonal and I'm halfway through a liter of Diet Coke. Also I'm wearing my husband's boxer briefs and a shirt that says "Snackers do it between meals" as I prepare to judge the clothing of others. Wait, what am I saying? Pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain! (Also, in my defense, I got the shirt for free. The only slogan tees I purchase have obscure LL Cool J lyrics on them. I am nothing if not discerning.)

Where was I? Oh. Michael Drummond is entertaining the work room with his one-liners. "For this challenge I decided to channel the earliest Americans -- the Puritans!" he crows, working on a prairie-like skirt. Valerie once again compares herself to Susan Lucci and bemoans her failure to win a challenge after coming so close so many times. Mondo interviews that people are psyching themselves out, and that the group is now so small that if you even screw up once you're going home.

Michael C. is ensuring he doesn't go home by making approximately 200 different dresses. "This looks too flight attendant/stewardess, right?" he asks Andy, who glances over through his man-bangs and says, "Kind of," in a voice that implies, "Go fuck yourself." Forget Austin and Santino, these two need their own show. Meanwhile, Val and Gretchen make fun of the parachute pants Andy is crafting. "I'm kind of worried about Andy's pants," Valerie says. "I kind of hope he keeps going with it." I just love me some schadenfreude.

Tim comes to check in. He starts with Christopher, who is making a gray cocktail dress that might best be described as "stately." ("No one is gonna want to see that at Fashion Week," April interviews. "It looks like my grandmother's clothes.") Tim is troubled by Michael Drummond's skirt, likening it to Annie Get Your Gun. "I also don't want her to look like she has a ruler and beats children," MD jokes, which cracks Tim up. Next up is Valerie, who's making a fitted black pant that Tim finds "vulgar." Valerie asks what she should do and Tim tells her she has to make the choices. Michael D. interviews that Val doesn't want to make design decisions on her own. Faring better under the Gunn is Mondo, whose fabric choice -- an oversized herringbone print in black, white, and purple -- makes Tim giddy. "If you took Jackie Kennedy to the desert and gave her some mescaline to eat, then you would have Jackie Kennedy in Mondo," says Michael Drummond. And now I think we know why Mondo can hear fabric talking to him.

The models arrive. Mondo's model says that the outfit reminds her of the First Lady, and Mondo mumbles, "First Tranny." (That's right, birthers -- you've been so focused on finding Barack's secret Kenyan documents that you've completely overlooked the REAL coup: Michelle is a DUDE.) As Andy fits his pants on his model, April interviews that Jackie K. would not wear them no matter what the time period, adding that the fit "was, like, goin' up her ass!"

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Unwittingly, April makes a pitch-perfect "up the butt" face.

In keeping with the kinky theme, Andy ties a piece of lace around Michael D's eyes, leading Gretchen to declare MD's workspace "the Prairie Home Sex Shop."

The day of the runway show (OR IS IT??? <--foreshadowing, I rock at it), April says she thinks all of the girls are in the clear, and that Andy's outfit is more like "Jackie Yo!" than Jackie O. Over in the boys' room, Michael C. sucks up to Andy and says that Jackie would totes wear the parachute pants because she was a risk-taker. Michael Drummond and Chris tell Mondo that he looks kind of like Jackie, if she came back as a tranny.

At Parsons, Tim comes in to announce that it is NOT, in fact, a runway day (!!!). Instead, the designers will have the afternoon to create a piece of outerwear to complement their existing looks. Michael D. is excited because, as he explains, "I'm a knitwear designer by trade -- I am Captain Outerwear." (Incidentally, Captain Outerwear was one of Marvel Comics' least successful franchises, as a musclebound man wearing nothing but a codpiece, tights, and a trench coat was deemed potentially inappropriate for children).

Michael C., on the other hand, is less than enthused with the twist. "I'm from Palm Springs," he says. "I don't do outerwear." Valerie already made a jacket as part of her look, and asks Tim if it counts. Tim says no and snaps that he "was surprised to see you had created a jacket." Okay. Y'all know I don't usually take issue with Tim, but first of all, contestants make jackets all the time, and there was no reason for Valerie to think she couldn't make a jacket as part of this incredibly vague "American sportswear" challenge. Secondly, why does Tim hate Valerie? Sure, she can be annoying, but she's no villain like Emilio. And yet there is clear, one-sided animosity there. Anyone have any insights? Or is Tim just on the rag like me?

Everyone goes back to Mood, which is uneventful except for this little gift from the editors, an Everybody Hates Gretchen short. Michael C. is looking for a soft stretch wool and sees a bolt sticking out. But when he goes to take it...

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You're not grabbing that, actually. You're ten feet away.

Granted, Gretchen may have pulled the bolt out from the wall before Michael came along, but the point is that the editors want her to look like an asshole. "I could have been a bitch about it, but I rise above it," says Michael C., unconvincingly.

Back (yet again!) in the work room, Val is heartbroken over the challenge, because she is an outerwear designer but got tripped up by the twist seeing as she already had a jacket made. Meanwhile, Chris struggles with the long, nappy fur on the incredibly unattractive hide he has purchased.

Michael C. made a beige jacket but it looks like a terrycloth towel. Gretchen interviews that during every challenge, MC "creates multiple things and then waits for Tim to tell him what to do." Michael C. knows that people are talking about him and wondering how he could have won two challenges, but decides that "if you're gonna hate on me... then step up your game and win a fucking challenge." Touche.

Tim comes back--again!--for critiques. This is mostly notable because it's when he says the best line of the episode, to Andy: "Jackie Kennedy would not have camel toe." Camelot? Yes. Camel toe? No.

The next morning, at Atlas, Michael Drummond thinks he is going home. And Mondo thinks, apparently, that he is starring as the emcee in the Lollipop Guild's production of Cabaret.

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Either that or he's the lesbian love child of Dora the Explorer and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes.

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In the sewing room, Valerie tells Gretchen that she's on the fence about Michael C.'s dress, and Gretchen replies that she's not into it. "Will the judges overlook that it's a knockoff?" Val wonders, and Gretchen says that they have every other time. Michael Drummond interviews that some people are not into Michael C. because they're elitist and have big heads. The editors cut to Gretchen, which I'm sure is just a coincidence.

Christopher loves his dress, but his shrug? Not so much. (And with good reason: It looks like fresh roadkill.) At the eleventh hour, the zipper on Mondo's skirt breaks and he nearly has a heart attack. Michael D. is still sewing his jacket two minutes before runway time. As they head out the door, Gretchen feels compelled to share that she's nervous for 50 percent of the room. "Andy's doesn't read Jacqueline," she interviews. "Michael C.'s is just a cocktail dress with a jacket over it. Christopher's is just odd!" She can't even fathom who will be in the bottom three because she thinks there might be more than three in the bottom. Oh, shut it, Gretchen.

Guess who's guest-judging this week? Betty Draper! I look forward to many affectless stares.

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Here we go:

_________

CHRISTOPHER

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Let's put aside for a moment the fact that the shrug makes it seem like Chris' model is getting felt up by the Crypt Keeper from behind. The dress is pretty but underwhelming, and the belt looks like something from a kid's Power Rangers costume. But the shrug is the worst. It's like she's carrying around her dessicated pupal skin. How you doin', sixth grade biology?

APRIL

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We didn't get to see any of April's construction process, so I actually don't know precisely what this is. I know it's, um, black. And probably inspired by a morgue, or mental institution. Maybe it's just my eyes (I've almost drained the liter of Diet Coke by now, and have been staring at my computer screen for almost 6 hours), but to me this looks like most of April's other work: a vaguely punky, black mishmosh.

IVY

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I do like this, but I don't love it. First of all, it's Ivy's, and I don't like her. So there's that. It also strikes me as very safe in certain ways: Jackie O. has worn outfits quite similar to this one and the model is styled to resemble her. I have reservations about the pants from this angle. But I love the asymmetrical neckline and the sheer organza coat. So, begrudgingly, I will say: Well played, Ivy. Well played.

MICHAEL C.

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Meh. This looks like an outfit some fictional harlot would wear to school on one of those C-list teen dramas like One Tree Hill.

GRETCHEN

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This is Robin Hood by way of Anthropologie. It's Maid Marian after a spree at Urban Outfitters (and a trip back in time to my closet in 1996 to steal the sweet brown halter top I bought from Contempo Casuals with my birthday money from grandma). As much as I dislike Gretchen on the show, I can usually concede that she's one of the better designers. But this is just ugly.

MICHAEL D.

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Dear Jessica Wakefield,

Just because you have a perfect size six figure doesn't mean you look good in everything.

Love,
Una

Sorry, I have a long-standing beef with J-Dubs. Anyway, listen: the skirt is fugly and needs to die. I don't know what he was thinking. The tops are... weird. The jacket is cute but doesn't go with the rest of it, and isn't cute enough to save the rest of it.

VAL

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I've been avoiding making the following observation because it has nothing to do with the clothes, but... does Val's model look a little bit... world-weary to anyone else? I just want her to lie down and take a nap. Anyway, the outfit is not helping. It's not a total eyesore, but it's frumpy. Something about the fit and the proportions are just not chic. And the skirt looks really cheap. I think Val would have been better off sticking with the original pants.

ANDY

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The hair and the boots make me think this is one of those American Girl dolls -- specifically, Felicity, the spunky Colonial-era equestrian. But the pants make me think of a lesser-known American Girl, Baggy McBunchyCrotch, a Scottish immigrant living in squalor in a New York City tenement whose mother made clothes from sooty bedsheets. Unsurprisingly, that doll was discontinued due to poor sales.

MONDO

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[The heavens open]

"Dreamweaver" starts playing, and not just because Mondo's model kind of looks like Tia Carrere.

Now this is some sportswear I can get behind.

Sure, it's a little Jackie Yo! Gabba Gabba, but that's Mondo. And that's why I love him.

_________

Back on the runway, Heidi calls forward Michael C., April, and Gretchen, all of whom are safe. As they enter the designers' lounge, Michael C. says he thought he was going home for sure. Gretchen is also shocked, but for different reasons. "I thought mine looked like the modern spirit of what sportswear is," she says, shaking her head in disbelief. Michael C. immediately agrees with her, and then interviews that what he said was total bullshit. And I kind of love him for giving Gretchen the same fake, patronizing encouragement she gives so routinely to everyone else.

The judges critique Valerie first. Heidi makes a big deal over the fact that Val has two pieces of outerwear, and I wonder why they don't let her explain that she had already made the original jacket when the twist was announced. This whole challenge seems really unfair to Valerie for that reason, but the judges don't cut her any slack. Michael Kors calls the whole thing sad. "The ankle boot confuses me with that length of skirt," says January Jones, which strikes me as unintentionally hilarious. Nina points out that every time Valerie makes a design reference it's pleating and zippers. The judges are bitchy this week!

They spare Christopher much of their venom, heaping praise on his dress. But as for the shrug... "It looks like a dirty old rug," Heidi says flatly. Everyone agrees that the dress looks much better without it.

Michael Kors takes umbrage at Michael Drummond's "schizophrenic Jackie" (perhaps Parker Posey in The House of Yes?). "This is a woman who, quite frankly, looked fabulous for four decades, and now she's in a mall!" MK says, "And the fact that you think what you've made has anything to do with American sportswear... I'm insulted." Nina also invokes Jackie's iconic status, as though making a drop-waist skirt is tantamount to taking a crap on her grave. Heidi thinks the top doesn't fit. "It looks sloppy," says Betty Draper, who is probably drunk.

Mondo says that he has a photo of Jackie in his kitchen, and drew inspiration from the images of her running from paparrazi. Heidi thinks it looks sharp, and while the print is loud it's something Jackie might wear. Heidi also loves the purple lining of the jacket. MK thinks the striped tee is fabulous and well-tailored. Nina says that the mix of prints is very clever, and that the overall outfit is fun yet still elegant and chic.

Ivy wanted to create something timeless that played with shapes. MK says that it's intrinsically elegant, noting that the styling is very Jackie O. He likes the neckline and the architectural quality of the top and jacket. Heidi disagrees, saying that there's too much design in the top, and citing the too-small jacket's "boob hole." Nina thinks it was smart to keep it black and white.

The judges have been pretty nice for a few minutes, which means they have a stockpile of vitriol to vomit all over poor Andy. And really, it gets ugly. Heidi says she wanted to crack up when she saw the look. January Jones says that she doesn't really see American sportswear in the clothes, and when Andy says that he he struggled with it because he doesn't necessarily see himself as an American sportswear designer, MK snaps, "So what are you, a grand couturier? Did I miss something?" He goes on to describe the ensemble as "MC Hammer meets the Beverly Hillbillies grandmother." Heidi is still cackling over the pants, and taunts Andy, asking if he wants to come down and look at them from another angle. Then Nina goes in for the kill, attacking the vest and the shirt, and calling the overall look "a train wreck." It's like they're mean drunks.

Backstage, everyone agrees that the judges were unusually tough. "They basically laughed at me," Andy says. "That was hard to take." Michael Drummond says that the whole Jackie O. style icon for the ages thing put too much pressure on everyone. Valerie thinks she's going home.

The designers reconvene on the runway. Heidi announces that Mondo was the clear winner of the challenge--yay! Mondo absolutely deserves this one. Christopher is also safe, followed by Ivy. Despite being so thoroughly shit upon, Andy is also safe. Which leaves Season 8's comic relief duo, Val and Michael D., in the bottom two. They look at each other and sigh.

Heidi lowers the boom: Valerie created inexpensive, badly executed mall wear. Michael's look was an unfortunate mis-match that was bulky and unflattering.

"Valerie... you're in."

Which means Michael D. is out.

Ah, well. It was his time. I would have been more upset if Val had gone home; even though she needs to get her groove back, I think she's the better designer. And hey, at least now I can stop using an initial after the name Michael. Tim comes in, visibly distraught, and bids adieu to Michael (D. -- last time!), who skips off to look up "Waterloo" and return home to his giant electric loom.

Next week: The winner of what looks to be the L'Oreal-sponsored challenge gets some unprecedented prize that gets everyone excited. Valerie considers forfeiting and cries in the bathroom. Tim makes a big announcement that spooks him so badly he's shaking. And Heidi tells someone that they have to choose between boobs or legs (it's unclear if she's serving poultry at the time).

Phew! As always, if you like these recaps, check out my blog or become a fan on Facebook.