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Project Runway Finale Part One Recap

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Previously on: I missed the kick-ass circus challenge because I was busy sipping rum out of coconuts in Emilio's homeland. Anthony got aufed, Emilio and Seth Aaron got golden tickets to Bryant Park, and Mila and Jay were given a four month stay of execution, seeing as the judges wanted to prolong the drama couldn't decide who to send packing.

We start on the runway at Parsons. Heidi is wearing a giant animal-print caftan, as is -- as we have seen this season -- her pregnant wont to do. She reminds Seth and Emilio, in case they had forgotten, that they are headed to Bryant Park, and Seth begins crumping in celebration. Heidi tells the gang that they will all receive $9K and will have four months to complete a 10-piece collection. Since Mila and Jay are battling for the third finalist spot, they will each have to present three pieces of their collection to be judged upon their return to New York, and one of them will eventually be out.

Tim comes out onto the runway and tells the designers how proud he is. Emilio looks kind of freaked out, probably because Tim hates him and could turn the full power of the pink tie on him at any time (I like to think that Tim can do something like an evil Care Bare Stare from his cravat if he really focuses). Speaking of His Gunnness, I finally got around to reading his blog this week, and Owen was right -- he straight up cannot stand Mr. Sosa. Check it:

"In case it has not been evident, I have a difficult time engaging with Emilio, and vice versa; the editing of the show has been kind to both of us. I find Emilio to be stubborn, an indifferent listener and extremely arrogant about the quality of his work."


"Winning is what I want for all of the designers (well, almost all ...)."


The designers go back to the Atlas apartments to pack, and Seth playfully shoves Jay into a closet. Oh, Seth. No more roughhousing; it's time for your nap, and then we can finger paint! Mila and Jay do some generally polite shit-talking about how each will wipe the runway with the other. And then we leap forward in time three months: It's time for the home visits!

Tim's first stop is Vancouver, Washington to meet Seth Aaron, the Hendersons, and Harry, their Sasquatch. Perhaps aided by certain attention-deficit disorder drugs, Seth has created more pieces than any finalist in the history of Project Runway: he has 20 looks finished already, when he only needs 10 for Bryant Park. Tim praises the work but worries that there are no surprises in the collection, and basically tells Seth to rethink the whole thing. Seth looks like he's about to cry, and I don't blame him, but don't worry -- a soul-soothing family game of Pictionary awaits. As Seth's daughter draws on a whiteboard, Tim cries out "Eyeglasses! Balloon! Fallopian tube!" I sort of wish all of his critiques were just shouted nouns, don't you?

Next, Seth and his son usher Tim out to a large backyard trampoline. YESSSSSSSSSSSSS. The Tim-on-a-trampoline scenario is made even better when Seth declares, "Papa Gunn's on the tramp!" That definitely has to be a song title in my reconceptualized Wild West musical Annie Get Your Gunn, the tale of a backwoods seamstress making her way to New York to audition for season 8 (Other numbers include "Sewin' What Comes Natur'lly," "I Got Lost In My Hem," and "Mood-shine Lullaby." Yes, I have thought this through. I've actually been talking about it since last season.)


Papa Gunn is on the tramp, y'all! (In Annie Get Your Gunn, this song will involve a bar brawl with a hobo.)

Tim's next stop is to see his arch-nemesis Emilio in NYC. My friends and I noted that, unlike every other home visit, Emilio's does not begin with the opening of the front door. We suspect that this is because the front door scene involved a dramatic, seething face-off, possibly even with Tim knocking the Kangol cap off Sosa's head. Anyway, Tim and Emilio take a walk in a park and meet Emilio's brothers. Growing up in the South Bronx, Emilio says, he "saw beauty in the ruins." He takes Tim back to his workspace and shows his collection, which was inspired by color--there's a lot of pea green, electric blue, and cherry red.. He also has a camouflage print with initials similar to the textile he made in the HP challenge, along with a kind of spray-painted brocade. Tim is not impressed, and what follows is the most heated exchange I have ever seen on this show. They are practically yelling at each other. Emilio is all, "Last time I checked Tim didn't wear women's clothing," and Tim calls the collection "old" and "lacking sophistication." Here, let's just let Tim lay the smackdown himself. From his blog:

"Indeed, the rack held his collection: about six completed looks, but for some finishing details, and several more in progress. The finished pieces -- three dresses, a coat, some separates -- were so basic that had he presented them at the auditions, I would never have been in support of him joining the show. What happened? I saw no semblance of the youthfulness and sexiness of the looks he created during the season. I saw matronly, dowdy looks that said "old." Composing myself, I said to him, "These looks are so basic. The judges are looking for innovation. Where is it?" He responded, "The color." The color? I know that responses to color are subjective, but these colors looked so tacky and tasteless. I promise all of you that I was searching and searching within myself to try to be positive and supportive, but that doesn't mean that I must subscribe to delusion.
So, I probed, "Tell me what's innovative about the color." He said, "Just that: color." Huh? I don't understand. Color, in and of itself, isn't innovative. Emilio was angry that I was challenging him and practically shouted, "Itis if the other people [he won't use the word "designer" to describe his peers] aren't using color!" Why would he assume that? Furthermore, I still didn't understand why, in his mind, that factor would make his work innovative. I mean, if the other designers were all parading cropped pants and jackets down the runway and he presented a shift, does that mean that the shift is innovative? Of course not. I was feeling flummoxed for where to steer our conversation. It only became worse."


OMG, this is more tense than when Brenda confronted Kelly about sleeping with Dylan on 90210!

Interestingly, I sat down with all three finalists on Friday (I'll be posting the interview early next week) and when I asked Emilio about Tim he played off the tension like it was nothing. Hmmm...

Tim's next stop is to see Mila in LA. She lives in a black and white apartment with her black and white dog, Ziggy, and her pair of black and white boyfriends. JK, she only has one boyfriend (white, if you care), who seems nice. Mila tells Tim that her collection was inspired by shadows and the various forms they can take. The pieces she has finished so far are mainly black and white -- coats, dresses, very reflective of her signature sportswear pieces and aesthetic. Tim is concerned that they come off as too matronly and thinks the judges need to see more of a stretch. Then they hang with Mila's parents and BF and we get to see some choice 80s photos of Mila with feathered hair (Lifetime cruelly does not have this on their site.) "I do not want to lose to that little f***!" Mila interviews when asked about Jay.

Of course Tim's next stop is to see the little f***, I mean, Jay, in San Francisco. Jay tells Tim that we was inspired by Japanese samurai and geisha, and shows him structured dresses and jackets with a sort of futuristic military vibe. Tim likes a lot of it, but holds up a weird sleeve, asking "qu'est-ce que c'est?" When Tim says that some of Jay's designs are "cuckoo," Jay responds "Cuckoo Chanel." Ha. In his talking head interview, Jay says he thinks he has "the ball on my side" in his sartorial standoff with Mila. Tim meets Jay's Filipino family and his partner Renaldo and they all sit down for a meal. Jay gets verklempt thinking about how hard his parents worked to give him the opportunity to succeed. I like to think that every time Jay cries, a mannequin (remember his audition video?) comes to life and bones Andrew McCarthy.

About a month later, we're back in NYC, and Mila is the first to arrive at the designers' new digs, the Westin hotel (which obviously paid Lifetime, as Tim woodenly compliments the suite's "heavenly beds" in a later scene). The next to show up is Jay, which is awkward. To cut the tension Jay and Mila have a kind of intense conversation about their relationship, in which the hatchet -- if not buried -- is at least cast aside for the moment. Seth and Emilio show up, followed by Tim, WHO HUGS EVERY SINGLE PERSON EXCEPT FOR EMILIO. I don't know why this open hostility gets me so excited. It's just kind of thrilling to see Tim stop being polite and start getting real. (Also, Lifetime: awesome idea for a Real World competitor show where reality show mentors all have to live together and maybe work at the Gap by day. Tim Gunn, the Bachelor rose guy, Jay Alexander, Ryan Seacrest, and that scary chick from So You Think You Can Dance who freakishly looks exactly like Marie Osmond... go.)

The next day the designers head to their new workroom at "the Bluefly workspace," where Mila and Jay find they have to share a table. We don't get to glimpse Seth or Emilio's work, but Tim comes in to tell J & M that they have to present their three looks to the judges in three hours. Much freaking out ensues. Jay finds that a pair of "shin guards" he has created won't zip all the way up his model's legs, while Mila worries that Jay's colorful collection will take points away from her black and white palette.

Out on the runway, Heidi is suddenly un-pregnant! Michael Kors starts speaking in Yiddish tongues (seriously, he uses the word "ongepotchket")! I know some of you will protest, but I'm not going to post photos of the looks Jay and Mila showed, mostly because I don't want to spoil my recap next week of Mila's final collection. You can see Jay's Bryant Park looks (he still went, remember?) here. Suffice to say Mila's were black and white and Mod all over and Jay's, while beautiful, involved SHIN GARTERS, which we must not allow to become a thing. Can we all agree on that?

The judges like pretty much everything they see, and the debate comes down to whether Mila is too retro. The edits make it seem like Jay is going to Fashion Week but it's an upset! Mila moves on and Jay is out.

I thought both Jay and Mila made Fashion Week-worthy collections, but I have to admit that I was surprised by the outcome. When I saw the show at Bryant Park, Jay was so excited and confident (and his collection was so strong) that I felt certain he made it to the finals. That said, I really like Mila as a counterpoint to Emilio's colorful bravado and Seth's goth-punk spastic energy. She's calm and focused and has a very clear point of view. I'm interested to see how the final episode plays out -- more interested than last year, anyway.

Sorry, was that not pumped enough? I think I need more of Papa Gunn on the tramp:


Check back next week for the final finale recap and my interview with the three finalists. In the mean time, if you like these recaps, check out my blog, The Sassy Curmudgeon, or become a fan on Facebook.