Click here for last week's preview of Project Runway.
TGIF, gentle readers. Are you ready for some Project Runway recapping? Let's do this thing!
Lifetime's Runwaypalooza commenced with a two-hour "All-Star Challenge" special that brought back past contestants to compete in a single runway show for a $100,000 prize. The "All-Star" title is kind of misleading, as the show featured only one actual winner (Jeffrey Sebelia of Season 3, who has grown himself an impressive handlebar mustache. My husband Jeff said it best: "He looks like... if Sonny Bono had a meth phase. Like, if Cher dumped him and he moved to Detroit." But I digress.)
I cannot believe that the producers didn't at least try to get other winners on the show, so I harbor suspicions that they just started calling everyone. One must wonder why Kenley Collins didn't make the cut. Is she still in jail for assaulting her boyfriend with a cat?
Anyway, the challenge was to make a mini-collection consisting of three looks, one of which would be a dress for a red-carpet premiere (that somehow involved the disembodied talking head of Nicole Kidman. I'm still confused). Later in the show the designers were also tasked with ripping the LA eatery, STK, to shreds in order to source material for a fourth outfit. The drama was nonexistent, I'm sorry to say. The featured designers fell into one of three categories: Extremely pissed that they had not won their respective season and out for revenge/glory (Santino of Season 2 and Korto of Season 5); Sap-tastically thankful for a second chance (Chris and Sweet P of Season 4); and oddly apathetic/affectless (Uli and Michael of Season 3). Two hours was way too long for this.
In the end, Daniel Vosovic (Season 2) won for creating outfits, seemingly, for a motley all-girl band of homeless rugby thugs. Bonus points for his "restaurant outfit," which featured a bodice made out of what looked like sticks of dynamite. (Good luck rocking that look on the NYC subway, ladies.)
Now, onto Season 6!
Meeting our designers on film gave me a brand new chance for first impressions. Ra'mon Lawrence Coleman used to be a med student before he succumbed to his passion for fashion. Johnny Sakalis used to be a meth addict, which should come up approximately 50 times between now and the end of the season (not that I'm not sympathetic, but you know they will beat that horse to death). Qristyl wore a Brooklyn T-shirt and my heart grew three sizes. Logan might actually be straight! Carol Hannah still looks kind of like she lives out of her car (but don't worry, honey, you make it work).
The designers all arrived at their apartments (segregated, as always, by gender. I wondered aloud whether this was because the producers didn't want the contestants to ho it up a la The Real World, but practically all of the men are gay, so that theory doesn't wash) and introductions were made. Everyone's in that first blush of "Oh my God I can't believe I'm here" and therefore on their best behavior. I suppose you have to be a real sociopath to be immediately rude to people you've never met, but that's what I was hoping for.
On the first morning, Tim escorts the designers to the Kodak theater, where a red carpet is in place because it is the morning of the 60th Emmy Awards (yes, we have traveled back in time to September '08, where we will be for the entire season, with the exception of Ari, who is from a different time -- more on that later). The challenge is to create a red-carpet gown, with the instruction that it should be innovative, should encapsulate each designer's point of view, and can be for any awards show, not just the Oscars/Emmys. This strikes me as kind of a lame first challenge, but excitement is in the air as the designers flock to Mood. Shirin is wearing the odd, bedazzled yarmulke that she sported in her audition video. Could this be the Kenley feather of Season 6?!
Since they are in LA, the workspace for this season is housed in FIDM, better known as the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (but perhaps best known as the place Lauren Conrad "studied" on The Hills in between her melancholy staring sessions). Tim makes a big deal of introducing the Brother sewing machines they'll be using, and thus it is no surprise when a commercial airs throughout the night for Brother label-makers (Side note: Who still uses label makers? In traveling back to 2008, did we cross over with 1995? And why do I still want one?)
Almost immediately, Johnny has a breakdown because he can't decide what to make and he doesn't want to fail, and somehow it reminds him of his meth past, but Tim comforts him and all is well within a matter of minutes. Tim surveys the designers as they work. Mitchell, bless his heart, has made an old-fashioned ombre nightie that leaves Tim stricken. It is really awful, which makes me sad because I had high hopes for Mitchell. Qristyl, another of my early favorites, is making something out of shiny satin in a print that recalls the sprinkles on the Carvel ice cream logo. (I actually said out loud, "Honey, no!" But she did not listen.) Ari, who is wearing a seizure-inducing psychedelic bodysuit, has spent the afternoon doing handstands and crafting something out of silver quilting that Tim likens to a "halter diaper." Which, I bet if Huggies introduced that it would sell like crazy. Even babies need to be fierce nowadays. They could be called Hugges.
Finally we make it to the runway. I have missed Michael Kors' smushy little face and Nina Garcia's thinly-veiled smile of contempt. Heidi tells the designers that the guest judge will be an actress who has spent plenty of time on the red carpet, and everyone freaks out when it is revealed to be Lindsay Lohan.
Now, as soon as I saw LiLo I cackled to myself (as I am wont to do), because it is so very easy to mock her. But I have to say that Lohan was an excellent guest judge. She sounds like she really knows fashion (her leggings brand 6126 notwithstanding) and, with the exception of her Sunny Delight-colored skin, looked relatively healthy.
As I said, I found the challenge to be kind of boring (I much prefer when they are forced to make jodhpurs out of table scraps or something), and as a result I didn't have strong feelings about too many of the garments. Let's dispense now with the ones I have nothing particularly bitchy to say about:
ALTHEA Pretty, although I myself am not a fan of molting boobage.
CAROL HANNAH I don't like how this fits the model (maybe she was designing a red carpet look for the SAG awards. Ha!). Extra fabric dripping from the nipple area is never good. But at least this is interesting.
CHRISTOPHER As Michael Kors said, it's cute and edgy. I really like the textures and styling.
EPPERSON A little heavy for my tastes, but I like his style.
GORDANA I like the overall look of this, even though the bodice looks like it was constructed out of those little paper fortune tellers that were all the rage in elementary school.
IRINA Very pretty, but I suspect that Irina's girly aesthetic will come back to bite her in the ass. Look for the judges to call her out for not having enough range in the later episodes.
JOHNNY This is a bad photo, but the flowy shape worked. The judges would have preferred it in a more neutral shade, but I love the red.
LOGAN I'm not a fan of the two-toned boobs. This is meh for me.
LOUISE Very Anthropologie. But not in a bad way.
MALVIN Malvin's model is 27, which is like 90 in fashion years. But the uber neutral dress looks good on her.
NIC I am digging the biker chick vibe, but that model needs some FrizzEase, stat!
RA'MON LAWRENCE Definitely the strongest evening gown in the bunch, if somewhat Zac Posen-y.
SHIRIN You know how I can tell this is Shirin's? Because she's wearing a twee little cape. Of course. Also, this model has come down with a case of Bitchface, but I know it's not her fault. It's rampant in Model-land.
And now, for the train wrecks:
ARI In the interest of full disclosure, I don't hate this. For what she was trying to do, it works (in her words, this model lives in the year 2080 and is accepting a Nobel Peace Prize. For reals.) I feel like I could see someone wearing something like this to the Grammys. They'd get on a bunch of Worst Dressed lists, but I could see it. However, the craftsmanship of the halter-diaper portion is troubling. It looks like a sleeping bag mated with those tin foil blankets marathon runners use. Plus, there are bunching issues.
MITCHELL Oh, Mitchell. Oh, honey. I went to the Waldorf school, too. Is that where you learned to make a neck brace out of corn husks? This actually is better than his original design, but the judges rightly took Mitchell to task for essentially sending a naked model draped in fabric down the runway.
QRISTYL I feel like this is the worst offense, since at least Ari's and Mitchell's were something you don't see every day. This monstrosity, on the other hand, I could easily see in a bargain bin at Daffy's, the kind of thing my sister or I would pick up and gesture to with a snicker before tossing it back on the pile. In her defense, I think it's the fabric choice that ruins this, not the design. If this were in black jersey I doubt I would hate it.
Immediately after the runway show, everyone but Ra'mon Lawrence, Christopher, Ari, Mitchell, Qristyl, and Johnny are safe. Johnny is in. Christopher is.... the winner of the challenge! He cries and it's cute and I love him even though my husband has taken to calling him "Chin-strap" due to the shape of his beard. R-L is, of course, in. Which leaves the relatively obvious Bottom Three.
After a good reaming from Kors and company, the axe finally falls. And it's a shocking upset! I was fairly sure that Mitchell or Qristyl would be going home, since at least Ari is kooky and out there, and that usually keeps designers afloat for at least a few episodes. When Qristyl was declared safe (Do better next week, girl. Do not do this to me again!), I steeled myself for poor Mitchell's auf-ing. I mean, he deserved it. His design was a hot mess from start to finish. And then, he was safe! And Ari was out! WHAT?
This seemed to make no sense. Ari had a more interesting point of view than Mitchell or Qristyl, and poor Mitchell basically sent a blot of fabric down the runway. But then it hit me: Lindsay Lohan, guest judge. Ari, Samantha Ronson doppelganger. Coincidence? I think not.
And now, a farewell haiku:
Handstands and diapers --
She had so much more to give
Lohan wronged you, Ari
Check back next week for Episode 2, in which the designers have to make something for a pregnant star! (Guesses on who? Has to be someone who was pregnant in the fall of '08).