Project Runway Recap: S9 E13

I hope you’re ready for a true bitch fest, dear readers, because this Diva sure as hell is.

As if we needed further proof that Project Runway Season 9 was rigged from the start to ensure that the beauty queen with the sex scandal made it to the top, this week’s episode was a disappointment to all of us stupid enough to still have faith in the show. Instead of pretending that we’re going to stop watching the show, which is an empty threat after all these seasons of increasing bullshit, let’s spend this time telling the producers everything they did wrong. Because we know better, don’t we, dear readers?

So let’s break this down from best to worst – in my opinion, not that of the judges. The word of the Diva may not be law (not yet, anyway), but at least Lifetime isn’t whoring me out to say whatever will make them the most money – the same obviously can’t be said for Michael, Nina, and Heidi.


Photo: Barbra Nitke/Lifetime via Tom & Lorenzo

The print, designed by Viktor, is interesting and used well. The color fade from that delicious blue to white is gorgeous. While I agree that the dress is more wearable without the leather paneled skirt, I think the skirt gives it that extra pump of volume that the judges were looking for. I think the judges love to forget that head-to-toe runway looks are almost never worn off the runway – even if you buy every piece of a collection, you’ll almost never wear it the same way it was worn on the runway, unless it’s a one-piece outfit. So rather than taking away from the dress, I think the leather skirt showed that Viktor’s got a streak of badass and a more interesting point of view than we might have originally expected. My main complaint is that there’s literally no styling happening here – black pumps, a half-pony and inexplicable sunglasses do not count as styling. Of course, our simple-minded judges would have railed against Viktor for daring to accessorize. I’m not saying there aren’t good designers who go minimal in terms of styling – but I am saying that many, many, many of the greatest designers are all about the accessories, and “clean” does not necessarily equal “good.”

Photo: Barbra Nitke/Lifetime via Tom & Lorenzo

Each piece is individually beautiful, but the combination of that top with those pants isn’t necessarily working for me. I think the print on those pants is absolutely stunning, and except for those unflattering white patches covering her pelvis, the print is utilized and executed expertly. The sheer tank with the metal embellishments is cool, modern, and sharp. Like most of Viktor’s jackets, the blazer is chic and well-constructed. It wouldn’t look out of place in any stylish woman’s closet. I’m underwhelmed by the styling again, and those clog-looking shoes are hideous, but he’s showing some range, and I appreciate that.

Photo: Barbra Nitke/Lifetime via Tom & Lorenzo

I hate calling anything the best in Project Runway history, but there’s no denying that this jacket is one of the best garments we’ve ever seen on the show. Heidi would certainly agree – I think I saw drool coming out of her German mouth when this jacket worked its fabulous way down the runway. The dress incorporates a lot of my most loathed fashion faux pas: mullet skirts (short in the front, long in the back, disastrous from any direction), sheer dresses over diapers (Gretchen, anyone?), etc. But in spite of that, I still thought it was a beautiful and dramatic piece. It was draped well, it moved beautifully, and the colors again show that beautiful fade from white to a sort of greyish eggplant. And I’d like to disagree strongly with the judges’ contention that this jacket should have been paired with black pants and a black tank on the runway. Of course that’s what it should be paired with for street wear, but when you only have ten looks to show, why would you split one fierce outfit into two less-fierce outfits? Everyone knows you can wear the dress and the jacket separately – showing them together on the runway doesn’t force the audience to see them as inseparable pieces.

Photo: Lifetime via New York Magazine

Overall, Viktor’s mini-collection was cohesive, impeccably constructed, and intriguing. It left me curious to see what other tricks he’s got up his sleeve. And although his styling is virtually nonexistent and he could use some improvements in the details, he shows a distinct point of view, a unique color palette, a range of silhouettes and fabrics, and more attitude than I would have expected. In the last few years of the show, each season has had only one designer who seemed like he or she could have actually competed against the early seasons’ incredible talent – last year it was Mondo, and this year it’s Viktor. I don’t want to do too much comparison, because a Mondo comparison begs the question of whether Viktor will also be rebuffed in the final episode for someone far less talented. But I think Viktor has shown throughout the season that he’s unmatched by his competitors in terms of range, wearability, intrigue and construction.


Photo: Barbra Nitke/Lifetime via Tom & Lorenzo

I need to start by talking about the accessories. They’re not even remotely my style, but I’m not small-minded enough to say that because they’re not my style, they don’t belong on the runway. I think that regardless of who your audience is, the hair and the earrings combined is a huge distraction. But although the giant, colorful bags and bracelets aren’t me, Kimberly knows who she’s selling to. More so than any other designer, everything she makes revolves around her customer, the funky urban Brooklyn girl (and we’re talking 1980s, maybe 1990s Brooklyn, not the hipster-ridden Brooklyn of the 21st century). And I’m not afraid to say it – I think the judges were extraordinarily narrow-minded, bordering on racist, in their refusal to accept the fact that there are women who don’t dress like the skinny white rich bitches on the Upper East Side. If Kimberly’s client were rich suburban moms or twenty-something wide-eyed starlets, this styling could be a disaster. But Kimberly knows who she’s designing for, and she knows much better than Michael, Heidi or Nina what her customer wants to wear. Kimberly could lose some accessories and the clothes might pop more, but to say that she really needs to make a 180 to a Viktor-like non-styling collection is offensive.

That being said, the blouse is delicious, and defies culture in terms of who would wear it. The pants are not my favorite color, and I wish the shoes didn’t match them perfectly, but they’ve got pockets and personality, and they seem to be made pretty well. I’m comforted to know that when given a reasonable amount of time, Kimberly knows how to make a pair of pants (unlike some of her fellow competitors).

Photo: Barbra Nitke/Lifetime via Tom & Lorenzo

This skirt definitely had its share of technical problems – I mean, that fabric is just so unforgiving, every puckering seam shows – and from the back, it made her model’s ass look gigantic. That’s not necessarily enough to make me hate it, but there are clothes that play around with traditional concepts of volume, shape, and proportion, and there are clothes that make your ass look fat. For this look to work, Kimberly needs to stay in that former category, but this veered into the latter. However, I think the colors are fun, urban, and youthful, if too matchy-matchy. And if you squint so you can’t see the puckered seams, the shape and style of that skirt looks pretty fucking fierce from the front.

Photo: Barbra Nitke/Lifetime via Tom & Lorenzo

I was not a big fan of this gown when it walked the runway; I thought it would grow on me, but I’m not sure it has. My concern is that this is a cheap-looking fabric (I mean, it looks like Joshua picked it, which is never a good sign) and I’m not sure it shows any originality whatsoever. That being said, I could easily name half a dozen celebrities who would totally wear this on the red carpet, including Heidi. It’s not my taste, but I’ll be damned if it’s not glam as hell and red carpet-ready.

Photo: Lifetime via New York Magazine

It’s pretty cohesive for three looks, and those ugly blue shoes are a little too cohesive. They’re not terrible with the middle look, but if every garment is paired with that over-saturated blue suede shoe, I might go nuts. The dress might look a little random, but the way it’s draped shows a lot of cohesion with the top in the first look and the skirt in the middle look. She’s not close to Viktor in terms of execution and overall taste level, but she’s got a strong point of view and a lot to say about fashion.


Photo: Barbra Nitke/Lifetime via Tom & Lorenzo

This is a little bit of a nightmare, because the sum of the outfit’s parts is like nine thousand times tackier than any individual piece. First to go should be the shoes and the glasses, which do nothing but distract from the clothes and make the audience question the already doubtful taste level of the designer. The print of that tank is kind of awful, with the childish drawings and the almost absurdly drab, mismatched colors. The seatbelt around her waist is so fashion-student, I’m surprised Tim Gunn didn’t rip it right off the model when he saw it. The idea of the jacket is awesome, but I think it has some fatal flaws – first, it’s impossible to see how nice that jacket really is when there’s so much clutter up top, with the fugly tank and hideous belt. Second, the proportions are kind of nightmarish. The shoulder cut-outs aren’t the same size, and the jacket should be fitted better under her armpits so that her arms don’t look so short and wide. I’m never all about a slightly cropped non-skinny pant, but I actually think that’s an awesome color for a pant, if it weren’t for all the awful-colored crap surround them.

Photo: Barbra Nitke/Lifetime via Tom & Lorenzo

Some might view an LBD as mandatory; I say, if you’ve only got ten looks, your LBD better be fucking magical, otherwise it’s a total waste of a look. And this, dear readers, is far from magical. On the runway, you could see just how ill-fitting the bust was – she’d have had a nip slip if that runway walk were any longer. The little strip under her boobs looks tacked-on, like Joshua didn’t realize how low-cut the dress was until it was too late. I’m not sure what kind of shape he wanted those sleeves to be, but I’m not a fan. It’s clear that Joshua has a tough time finding a middle ground between the overwhelming first look and the underwhelming second look.

Photo: Barbra Nitke/Lifetime via Tom & Lorenzo

Not amazing, but definitely the strongest piece of Joshua’s mini-collection. His use of plastic at the top is really interesting, and I love the colors and patterns on that plastic. The top of the dress looks like it’s draped very nicely, but things start to get a little messy further down. Is it tapered around her legs at the bottom? If so, that’s simply disastrous, particularly with those combat boots she appears to be wearing. If this is his show piece, his finale gown, then he’s got a lot of work to do before it’s wow-worthy.

Photo: Lifetime via New York Magazine

Not as cohesive as the first two collections, and not particularly impressive as a whole. He doesn’t have a great handle on how to fit his garments, and although we’ve seen tackier clothes than this from him, these garments don’t exactly leave me excited to see what the rest of his collection looks like.


Photo: Barbra Nitke/Lifetime via Tom & Lorenzo

Adorable, wearable dress in a great print? Yes. But if she were literally any other competitor, the judges would have said, “We’ve known since your audition that you can make this dress. Can you do anything else?” Instead, the judges kissed the ground she walked on for having the genius, the inspiration, the creativity to make … well, the only thing she knows how to make. And that extra few inches on the back of the skirt looks uneven and tacked-on. But consider that this is Anya’s wow piece.  If a basic belted cocktail dress is the most incredible thing you can make … well, are you really someone who should be considered a contender for “America’s next great fashion designer”?

Photo: Barbra Nitke/Lifetime via Tom & Lorenzo

For all her shtick to Tim about how the water is her inspiration and how she’s not the same person when she’s away from the water, you’d think she’d know how to make a swimsuit. But of course, Anya’s whole problem is that she can conceptualize anything and execute virtually nothing. The bustline on this bathing suit is disastrous. It comes down miles beneath the model’s actual breasts. And were this anyone larger than a model, her tits would be physically incapable of popping out of that top. That zipper goes way too far down – a model should not need to be worried that her vagina is going to get caught in a zipper. And this “coverup” is pathetic. It looks like Mood made a rush delivery backstage, cut a few yards of fabric, and threw it on the model the moment before she stepped onto the runway. We’ve seen designers get eliminated for shit like this when there’s still well over a dozen competitors left – the fact that this is considered acceptable, and worthy of New York Fashion Week, shows one of two things: Either Michael, Nina, and Heidi know virtually nothing about the industries that have employed them for decades, or they’re all completely full of shit.

Photo: Barbra Nitke/Lifetime via Tom & Lorenzo

This photo can’t do justice to how ugly this gown really is. On the runway, you could see every mistake, every puckered seem, every unfinished hem – I’m shocked we didn’t see any pins dropping onto the runway, so shoddily held together was this nightmare of a dress. It also shows no originality whatsoever – she took the hideous white gown she made last week and dipped it in gold, then plagiarized her own work again by copying the shoulder embellishment from the blouse she also made last week. And the so-called draping, which was more like bunching and wrinkling, could not be less flattering. It has no rhythm, rhyme or reason to it – it’s careless and sloppy, shows no originality and no point of view worth seeing. Add satin to the endless list of things Anya doesn’t know how to sew – but give her a spot at Fashion Week nonetheless, because apparently that once-golden opportunity means absolutely nothing anymore.

Photo: Lifetime via New York Magazine

Read it and weep, dear readers. The apocalypse has arrived. When garbage like this is permitted to move onto fashion week, that’s how you know we live in a world void of reason, logic, and good taste.

Need more Runway? You got it!

Special thanks to Tom & Lorenzo and NYMag’s The Cut for the photos.

© Democracy Diva, 2011.
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2 responses to Project Runway Recap: S9 E13

  1. mary

    I’ve been creeping toward Team Viktor for a couple of weeks now, ever since he made that beautiful black rorshach gown for the print challenge, and now I am there 110%.

    Unfortunately I am absolutely dreading a repeat of what happened to Mondo.

  2. I agree with Mary. Viktor has been the most consistent of the contestants, one of the few with real tailoring skills. However, I see the setup for Anya to win the season. In previous years, she would have been one of the first two or three out. I also either don’t believe the four months’ sewing (though results she’s done herself show little quality sewing) or, if the garments are well made in her collection, that someone else did them. Sorry, I just don’t like her aesthetic or her attitude. I don’t like Josh, but Anya revealed her true character when she would not share fabric after all the help in design, being given fabric and money when she lost hers, and construction of garments.


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