Project Runway: Hard, but Not Rockin’


After last week’s rerun, Project Runway returns with a bang — from a hammer, naturally, as the designers’ challenge is to make unconventional garments and accessories out of hardware store materials. Good thing the Tin Man has a heart now, because his blood would definitely flow for this collection; half the creations look like futuristic robot porn. Wooof.

Introduced to the challenge by Michael Kors, “America’s favorite designer” (Heidi Klum’s words, not ours), the designers scramble to make rivets and sheet metal wearable. Seth Aaron, who won last ep’s Romper Room challenge, has immunity, but he and his rockabilly fauxhawk barely appear in this episode; the narrative focus is mostly on the other male contestants, and how amazingly they screw themselves by picking the (relatively) worst materials. “I had no idea what I was in for,” moans Ben, looking down at his copper-ravaged hands. “These materials are really starting to control me,” sighs Anthony, wrestling with rough overlay. Jesse likens his white gauzy material to a “large piece of tape,” and struggles in unintentional slapstick.

Meanwhile, the female designers, few as they are, mostly keep their heads down and barrel away. Mila worries that the judges will be tired by her repeated black and white palette, alternating metal plates into a mod, if boring, minidress. Maya makes a cheeky bib necklace from loose keys and open-weaves piping into a dramatic high collar.

Tim Gunn, in his usual inspection, is openly aghast by half the wackadoodle looks. “I feel like I’m in the Arms and Armor wing at the Met,” he says, eying Jesse’s “Elizabethan mini” with terror. He decides Anthony’s frilly frock looks “tortured” but is wowed by Jay’s design, a frankly stunning set of faux-leather pants and electrical tape-striped strapless top that was constructed from garbage bags, but could never be mistaken for them.

And Emilio… well, he goes for a brazen Rio bikini and ends up all wet. His mess of washers and scraggly pink strings is tasteless; as with Ping’s legendary mess, his model’s butt is exposed to God and country. It’s X-rated and horrifying.

On the runway, the guest judges are blunt; Isabel Toledo, most widely known for designing Michelle Obama’s canary inauguration dress, is impressed by Mila’s flippy retro feel, and jewelry designer Stephen Webster calls Emilio’s swim travesty a “bloody disaster.” Seth Aaron phones it in (darn that immunity) with a Judy Jetson hammered-tin mini, and Jesse’s silver and sweetheart-neckline bodice looks, in the words of Kors, like “a Hershey kiss.”

All the judges are universally impressed by Mila and also Jay’s Glad Bag separates — and under the bright presentation lights, Jay’s feat is all the more remarkable, as it truly looks like leather. He wins the challenge and howls euphorically; it’s his second victory this season. The bottom two comes down to Jesse and Emilio; shockingly, tragically, Emilio’s terrible bikini isn’t the dealbreaker, and Jesse is resentfully sent packing.


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