This episode proved definitively that the heyday of Project Runway is behind us. Everything about this week’s episode, from the overly dramatic, scripted soundbites to the illogical and unreasonable judging, reeked of producer influence and behind-the-scenes pressure. Either that, or the judges are hitting their crackpipes harder than Amy Winehouse. But regardless, this was an episode full of disappointments. Let’s start the sad, sad show.
ANDY (Inspiration: Central Park)
Compared to the garbage on the runway, this wasn’t a bad entry from Andy. But it wasn’t what I consider worthy of the penultimate challenge. Andy has done this dominatrix, mixed-black fabric and a single black glove thing repeatedly through out the season but somehow he gets applauded for his strong point of view and interesting use of black-on-black, while April is lauded as a one-note. Really, judges? Why is Andy allowed to recycle his ideas, but not April?
Furthermore, what the hell about this dress evokes Central Park, exactly? I’m not sure how he got to this dress from that inspiration. If I were in the judge’s circle, Andy would have snagged the #3 spot based on his entire body of work this season, and maybe #2 based on this challenge alone. But that’s just proof of the lackluster designs in this episode and this season overall. I think Andy is a decent designer, but not a great one, so he scores a spot in the finals from me only by relative talent.
Oh, and kudos to Michael Kors for his totally spot-on Robert Palmer music video reference!
APRIL (Inspiration: Brooklyn Bridge) – Eliminated
Did this look like some of April’s other work? Yes. But aside from the use of black and a general dark princess vibe, the only look of April’s that this garment really looked like was her resort look for episode 7. The rest of her designs could probably be in the same collection as this, but they don’t actually look significantly similar to this. Even her resort wear is only similar in the use of cutouts, not in the silhouette. I don’t think this is the most wearable or flattering gown, but I respect April for doing her own dark version of a ball gown, and I think she had some beautiful ideas. She’s been my second favorite designer throughout much of the season, and I think she’s an incredibly talented woman. You can see her creativity and unique vision shine through this garment, and that’s much more than I can say for some of the finalists. For this challenge, she’d have taken my #3 spot – and I would have only let three on to Fashion Week, because I’m a bitch like that.
GRETCHEN (Inspiration: Lower East Side)
It was a pleasant surprise to hear the judges finally critique Gretchen instead of blindly praising her, but of course she still made it to the finals in spite of this bullshit outfit. This looks better in photographs than it did on television, but as one of the judges put it, this garment reeks of off-the-rack. It’s just inappropriate for what is allegedly a design competition (though I’d argue that it stopped being one when the show left Bravo for Lifetime) – it’s boring, cheap-looking separates that lack cohesion and vision. To put it simply, it’s clothes, not fashion.
I’ve never hid my hatred for Gretchen and her hippie-disco-granola aesthetic, but this was laughably bad, even for her. And most glaringly, this has literally nothing to do with the Lower East Side. This is further from the LES than Andy was from Central Park. Gretchen ranks #4 out of 5 on my list – no Fashion Week for you in Diva Headquarters, Gretchen.
MICHAEL C (Inspiration: The Statue of Liberty)
I prayed that this would look better in photographs than it did on television. I prayed that it was a mistake, or a prank, or I went temporarily blind while this look went down the runway. But my prayers have gone unanswered, because this is still the textbook definition of a hot disaster.
Let’s begin with the slit. If I can see the curvature of your ass, your slit is too high. I’m sure you could see this model’s fire-crotch from a certain angle. And the back? My friends and I literally gasped with horror when she turned around. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a model’s back look that ugly before. I didn’t even KNOW a dress could make your back look fat until I saw this look. But leave it to Michael to know absolutely nothing about what’s tasteful or what looks good on a woman. Furthermore, you’re doing a high slit, backless, and borderline ass cleavage? How is this a brilliant design when far more modest looks have been deemed “slutty, slutty, slutty” by Princess Kors? And can I add that there is nothing more cliche than a) taking your inspiration from the one New York landmark that IS ALREADY WEARING A DRESS and b) designing a solid-color, plain draped dress “inspired by” (re: copied from) Lady Liberty’s toga. Seriously, this was the best idea in your bag, Michael? Are you kidding?
Is the draping aesthetically pleasing? Sure. But is this dress in any way complex, creative, original, thought-provoking, daring, or high fashion? Not even close. And if this show is going to reward barely skilled copycats over designers with talent, vision and originality, then my days of recapping, and my years of devotion to Project Runway, may be over.
MONDO (Inspiration: Brooklyn Bridge)
Another adorable and chic entry from Mondo, who would have taken my #1 spot. But honestly? This disappointed me a little. If anybody stayed in their comfort zone and stuck to their own aesthetic on this challenge, it was Mondo. He just can’t get in trouble for it because what he does really always does feel fresh and new and exciting. But this resembles more of Mondo’s past work than April’s dress resembled her past work. No doubt that this dress is totally fierce, but I wanted Mondo to surprise me and show us something he’s never done before. I wanted him to show the judges that he wasn’t resting on his laurels and his three consecutive wins and generally favored status to get him through this challenge – I wanted him to pull out all the stops, and he didn’t. But the boy knows how to mix prints and how to style, and he’s got his finger on the pulse of what’s modern and stylish. And for that, he deserves to show at Fashion Week.
So now it’s your turn to decide who’s in and who’s out!
© Democracy Diva, 2010.