The Runway Rundown
1. With only five contestants left, and a limp challenge receding into the distance (Andy’s winning Lululemon knockoff was immediately co-opted without pay by Heidi Klum for Grey and Listless Athletic Wear), this week’s Project Runway challenge is a welcome return to two seasons ago. We’ll let Mayor Bloomberg take it from here…
2. Yep, Mr. Mayor guest-stars in this episode. He greets the contestants and Tim Gunn on at their standard place for conducting important business–a sweeping, windy terrace–and announces the mission for this episode. “You are to draw inspiration from something that really means the most to me:
Ground Zero mosques New York itself,” he says.
3.The five competitors race out into our great, complex, mercurial island to find the most obvious inspirations fathomable. Michael C. stares at the Statue of Liberty – “what a beautiful draped dress!” exclaims a contestant who has produced nothing but boring Grecian folds, and should have been eliminated six episodes ago. Gretchen feels under-inspired, as she spends the entire afternoon looking in a mirror (surely this happened but was edited for time). April stares at the water, thinking emo thoughts.
4. Andy saunters off to Central Park and studies the pathways and branches in sunlight. Mondo peers majestically over the Brooklyn Bridge, so inspired that he falls asleep in the workroom for an hour and a half instead of starting the resulting garment.
5. “I gave birth to a Chinese prostitute!” exclaims Andy, staring at his warrior-chic black leather dress with modified Mandarin collar. The back is a deep scoop, which he modifies with strips of black to beautifully mimic the park crossroads. But still, this is a hilarious summation. 6. Tim Gunn appears for his ritual critique, which doesn’t reveal much other than his distaste for lemon sequins. Luckily, Mondo has decided to throw these out, as they don’t represent the cabs on the bridge so much as a trainwreck on the body. Gretchen stares woozily at Tim: “It’s been an honor,” she croaks to the man who efficiently shut down her Lady MacBeth power play. He grips her forearm awkwardly. It is painful to witness.
7. Throughout this episode, April keeps stressing that she’s only 21. Because Runway editing has all the subtlety of a Heatherette prom dress, this means she’s either winning or getting eliminated. We sense the latter when the guest judge is revealed for the runway show: past winner Christian Siriano, who was also barely legal when he won and has gone on to be the most far-and-away successful designer in the show’s entire run. Now that’s how you turn 21, slackers.
8. On the runway, Michael C.’s black, shapeless halter is boring and mumsy. The judges, of course, love it. Of course they do; the man can’t sew, has no ideas, and turns out hideous pregnancy halters, and they love him. Is this entire show an offshoot of Candid Camera? It’s pretty infuriating that he’s a finalist. Gretchen’s pink skirt and mod leather jacket are the only separates but are, in Siriano’s deliberate wording, “off the rack,” meaning cheap and hideous. “I think you really lost your steam,” says Michael Kors. Gretchen says she’s sick of the challenges and fitting into cookie-cutter molds, which is exactly what you should say when you’re facing elimination by the people who had a hand in conceiving the tasks.
9. April’s black, sheer dress is criticized roundly for being expected. (So how does this not apply to Michael C.’s draping coma?) Nina Garcia calls it a “missed opportunity” and questions if she has any range. Mondo’s black, white, and grey mixed-media dress is fantastic, with a bit of bold houndstooth against demure tweed, and Kors says, “You prove that color is not your crutch.” Heidi Klum and Siriano love it. They all love Andy’s tough leather form-fitter but don’t see Central Park in it; still, that doesn’t mar their impressed feedback.
10. Four finalists are announced to create whole lines for Fashion Week; one will still be eliminated anyway. Michael C., Mondo, and Andy make the first cut. April and Gretchen wait anxiously in the bottom two; Heidi calls Gretchen’s name, and April is sent packing. Until Fashion Week, when she’s a ringer, but anyway…caveat emptor, and see you next week.