Heidi meets them one last time on the runway and gives them the specifics: Joshua, Viktor, Kimberly, and Anya will compete for three spots. They have $9,000 and five weeks to make a ten-piece collection. She and Tim Gunn do an adorable dance in silhouette. I love Tim Gunn.
Three weeks later, Tim does home visits. And Day of the Dead, PR style, begins. Seriously, I think it’s a requirement on competitive reality shows that you have a dead relative inspiring you from the grave. There’s been a running joke on TWoP that if someone from your family is going to be on Chopped, you’d better check your life insurance: one guy announced his dad died the day before, and another said her mother was in the ICU following a car accident the day before. Two contestants on Food Network Star (Susie and Herb, IIRC) regularly invoked their dead parent while planning, preparing or presenting their meals. I wonder if there’s some connection between Food Network and Lifetime, since they seem to subscribe to the same theory that viewers are more interested in the contestants’ families, especially deceased ones, than in their abilities. And to be clear: I’m not making fun of people for being sad about departed loved ones. I’m making fun of them, and reality tv, for exploiting it.
Kimberly in Maryland is first up. She talks about growing up in pre-gentrified Brooklyn, how she’s embraced what it was then and what it is now. Her theme is urban girl, transformed. Tim thinks the collection looks like her, and tells her to take some risks and wow them. Kimberly agrees she does not want to bore Nina. Then they have dinner with her sister and a couple of close friends. She got her fashion sense from her now-departed mom. She would love to be the first African American to win PR, and fashion needs more black voices.
Anya is in Trinidad. Maybe Tim has been hoping for Anya to make it to the semi-finals so he could visit her there. He shows up in a grey suit and tie and makes one of his sweetly self-deprecating remarks about how he thought about dressing more casually but then she wouldn’t have recognized him. Have I mentioned I love Tim Gunn? They have lunch with two of her brothers; she had a third brother who died at age 18, and her line is named Pilar after him. She only has fabrics to show Tim, she’s not clear on actual shapes or garments, she hasn’t been able to draw any new shapes yet; she’s been learning to scuba dive over in Tobago. Tim tells her to get moving. And he specifies she can’t have any help on regular construction (implying that specialty items, as always, can be outsourced if that fits in the budget). I’ve been wondering if that was going to be an issue at some point (it isn’t).
Viktor in New York is next. His vision is Urban Coast. He went to Mexico on the anniversary of his brother’s death and used some photographs for his fabrics. Tim calls it a wow collection. They visit Viktor’s boyfriend (“we met the old-fashioned way, in a bar” which is a joke out of Miss Manners). I’m kind of an idiot – I’ve been thinking all along Viktor was Eastern European, I didn’t realize until tonight he was Mexican. I’ve never known his last name, and still don’t for that matter. I just wonder if they’re stupid enough to screw a Mexican two seasons in a row (yes, I know Viktor and Mondo are Mexican-Americans, but that messes up the rhythm of the sentence).
Joshua is also in New York. He and his sister meet Tim in a restaurant to chat; she talks about Josh’s athletic career as a track star. There’s a picture of him hurdling which is pretty cool. He got a bunch of scholarships but he knew he wanted to come to New York so he left that behind as “part of the Midwest” which is kind of sad. He doesn’t have as much of his collection done as he’d like, but it will show the direction. Tim questions some of the colors and textiles. One of the textiles Tim doesn’t like is a vintage print that I’m crazy about, even though it’s in colors I wouldn’t ordinarily be attracted to. Tim wonders where the sex is, the collection looks like the Farmer in the Dell, like he’s trying too hard. Josh absorbs this. He’s worried about the print since it’s the basis of most of his collection so far.
And then it’s Fashion Week. They gather at the hotel. Tim visits. They will each present three looks, and only three will move forward.
In the workroom, they unveil their stuff. They all do some sniping in interviews. But Josh is in awe of a white jacket with pearls that Viktor made (it is pretty amazing). Joshua is feeling he missed the mark. They talk to Tim about which look to show, etc etc. He encourages Kimberly to center herself and pick pieces to get the judges to understand the edgy Brooklynite. He’s disappointed that Anya has retreated into her comfort zone. Yeah, yeah. We’ve all heard it before, she’s in trouble, everything’s a mess, and then they fall all over her on the runway. I’m tired of it. And this isn’t Anya’s fault; it’s how the show has been edited, how the judges have overlooked her flaws.
They start again in the morning. Josh looks damn sharp – he’s wearing a flower pin and his mom’s pin. Just in case anyone forgot his mom died two years ago and he was too busy working in a bar to go visit her and now he wants credit for feeling bad about that.
Heidi is in rock ‘n roll mode, all black, skinny pants. Is she wearing a Mondo t-shirt, with the skull? You know, I think that’s made me gasp more than anything this entire season, seeing a t-shirt possibly from last season’s runner-up. Maybe it’s just in honor of the Day of the Dead theme.
– Leather zipper-pleated skirt, blue photographic print top, nice. But I admire more the idea than the actual look. Still, it’s clever, and shows a mind at work. The mirror-image print of the top brings to mind the Rorschach prints.
– Print pants, mirrored sheer top, blazer with squared tails. Nice. Except: I’ll tell you the truth, when I first saw those pants at Tim’s visit, I wrote in my notes, “bleeding pants.” I wrote it again when they walked down the runway. They look like the day after an accident where the model did first aid for the guy who needed stitches. Yeah, it also looks like she forgot to change her tampon, but I’m not going there. At some point I realized it was a photograph, but they look like… bleeding pants. Still, the mirrored top with mirrored prints is very clever, again, a mind at work. In the absence of greatness, I’ll go for the mind at work every time.
– White pearled jacket, ombre flowy dress. The jacket is striking. Viktor could make a lot of money doing jackets. The dress is a little like the one he did for the sneaker collection, only sheerer. The jacket doesn’t really go with the dress – one is sharp and sporty, the other is flowy and elegant. But they’re both nice.
– Print dress with plunging neck and that sort of bird tail skirt; it’s pretty. But sloppy on close-up. She shouldn’t have spent two weeks scuba diving.
– Black zippered maillot bathing suit with beige cover up. Huh?
– Gold satin gown. Ok, the way the top has the folded-back effect, and the grommet at the shoulder (just like Bert did for her on her pantsuit in the prior challenge) has possibilities. But it looks like a mess, mostly because it’s satin. What happened to Anya? It’s like she decided, people will hate me if I win so I’m going to throw it. I know the judges are going to love her stuff, but two of these pieces are not good at all. And it isn’t a little thing here or there, they are terrible. It might be the worst showing at a pre-finale ever. I wonder if Anya’s ever seen the show, if she realizes people step it up for the finale, they bring better stuff than they’ve made on the show. Or… maybe she doesn’t have any better stuff. Aha!
– Casual striped top, blue pants. The top is really cool; the pants look too sweatpant-y to me, but maybe they’re supposed to be sweat pants, I can’t see them very well.
– Blue shell, purple satin skirt with a huge butt. The skirt is all puckery at the seams; in a different fabric it might be interesting, but here it looks like it shrunk in the wash.
– Black sparkly turtleneck gown, very pretty. But it’s anybody’s sparkly gown; no gasp factor.
– Bright pink pants, black and grey jacket. I like the design of the jacket. I like the print shell under it (it looks like he switched out his vintage fabric for something similar but more muted), though I think something solid would be better. I think the pants are way too bright for that jacket, but I’m definitely more rust than pink. There’s something about the look altogether that doesn’t work at all for me; it’s very Josh, though.
– Black dress, he says it’s neoprene. Eww. Why? But it looks good, mostly because I can’t tell it’s neoprene.
– Black gown with shiny plastic print top piece, then in the back it’s what he calls a “fitting jumper.” Looks like a catsuit, which I guess is what a fitting jumper is. It’s an interesting idea, a dress from the front and pants from the back – wait, it’s a mullet, elegance in the front, trash in the back. but I’m not sure about the pants part, they’re too tight. I’m getting a yeast infection just looking at it.
To me, Viktor has it, hands down. Not that his stuff is great, mind you; but a lot of it is pretty, and some of it is very nice. Everyone else has something good and a lot bad. I’m stunned at Anya’s looks; the bathing suit is something you could get anywhere, and the gown is gaudy and looks like a mess. I’m sure the judges will love it.
Think back. Remember other seasons? Not the winners, not Mondo. Remember people like Wendy Pepper. Wendy Pepper’s collection blew away everything that was sent down the runway tonight. Did you hear that? Even Viktor’s jacket and Anya’s first dress (my favorite pieces) would’ve been knocked off the runway by Wendy Pepper. And when you think about other old-timers: Kara Saun. Santino. Ulli. Jillian. Rami. Chris (the three looks we saw). Kenley. Emilio. Even Mila, even The Season 6 Blondes. Think about the collections they put together. Then (painfully) think about what you just saw here. A new low for Project Runway.
Somewhere, a Magical Elf weeps.
They start with Anya. Nina loves the first dress, a hybrid between her last black dress and her Caribbean looks. Heidi only liked that one look. Wow. Pick me up off the floor. Heidi says the bathing suit isn’t flattering and the cover up is drab. The gown looks like something done very quickly, it’s not made well, has no flow. MK calls it tortured. Holy cow. MK doesn’t like the styling either. Needs to be beachier, younger, Caribbean glamour. Nina agrees with styling criticism, what makes Anya different is her pov, she needs to embrace what she’s good at. I’m stunned. Maybe they realized they couldn’t get away with it this time. Or maybe it’s time for the Last Minute Redemption plot: she’s going to make a whole new collection in two days and win. Or maybe they just Mondo’d her. I really can’t decide. And I really don’t care.
Kimberly: MK loves that he knows they are her clothes. He likes how she handled sexiness; they are all covered up in front, but it’s full of color, full of sex appeal. He doesn’t like the styling, but likes that it has her vibe. Nina also thinks accessorizing is an issue. Heidi thinks the biggest problem is the purple skirt with the bubble butt, it looks like a cartoon. MK thinks maybe it shouldn’t be so arced in the hem and that would ease it out. She had an ivory jacket that she didn’t send out because it’s too big and she didn’t have time to fit it properly; Heidi thinks that was a mistake. Except, Heidi, be honest, if she’d sent it out and it didn’t fit, you’d be complaining about that. They only had two hours to fit and style three looks, remember.
Viktor: MK loves his jacket and pants, the tailoring is impeccable. Heidi loves the sheer top with mirrors. They shift some things around: the white jacket is terrific (Heidi tries it on) and the dress looks so much better without it. The zipper skirt is a piece over a dress, they take of the skirt and the dress is adorable. MK says all the pieces are great but not together. I think Viktor wanted to send everything out and that’s the only way he could.
Joshua: Heidi liked a lot of the designs, they’re modern and forward. She complains about some styling. Focus on the jacket. MK says it’s a rollercoaster. The jacket is great, loves back of neoprene dress. Heidi finds it simple but nice; MK doesn’t like “modesty tab.” MK loves the gown/jumper from the front, hates it from the back – “no woman wants to wear Olivia Newton John leggings.” Sure they do! But it does look a little vulgar. He finds the collection has a consistency with geometry, whatever that means. Nina’s impressed, the styling is better, they’re clean and polished. She pronounces him a very good designer, at which point half of America falls down. MK wants him to have consistency and focus.
From this, it sounds like Anya would be out, but that can’t be right. In the lounge, Anya thinks it’s between her and Kimberly for the auf. There’s this Josh-Anya lovefest going on. They’ve been hugging since they got back to NY. It’s really disgusting.
The judges chat. Heidi says the boys did well, the girls are in trouble. Viktor has special pieces, they have to find a way to go together better. They call Josh‘s catsuit a halloween costume. Nina’s surprised he did the best job of styling. MK says they all put forward something distinctively theirs. Heidi asks, “Even Anya?” they criticize her evening gown, MK says it’s that she isnt’ used to making evening dresses and doesn’t really know how. Two out of three looks were not great. Nina, ever the Marie Claire interest, points out there were others who had two out of three problem looks, too. Like Kimberly, and Nina harps on the styling again. If the only complaint is the styling, they should shut up. MK says the girls choked. Heidi agrees, they were equally bad.
Well, it took all season, but they finally see what I see.
The boys are in.
I’m thinking, this can’t be happening. And of course, it isn’t. Anya’s in, too. Let me guess, she’s going to re-do her collection and win. Actually, I don’t think so. I think the Anyafest is over. They’ve used her up and now they’re going to throw her out. But not just yet. Not until they’ve squeezed the last rating out of her.
Joshua gets pissy in interview; neither Anya nor Kimberly should be going to Fashion Week. In person he tells Anya, “If you weren’t this beautiful I’d be pissed off.” and that may be the most profound thing said on PR this season. You never see a fat girl with a big nose given the benefit of the doubt.
After the Runway seems to be replacing the Reunion show; Anthony Ryan joins them. And here’s where the surprise comes in. They’re talking about fans, how surprised they are that people seem to think they’re famous and want pictures, and Anya brings up her sex tape. I’m positive she’s gotten some professional advice about this (damage control: acknowledge it, play the victim, control the conversation – I learned all this from The West Wing, thank you Aaron Sorkin). It’s kind of a relief to me. It’s a bit of snark I haven’t wanted to use, partly because it’s irrelevant to her design ability, and partly because it wasn’t on the show. It still isn’t relevant, but it’s now on the show and she put it into play.
She makes it sound like someone did this to her and her boyfriend. It’s all well and good to look sad about how embarrassing it was, but maybe you should’ve thought of that before you said, “Hey, I know, let’s make a video!” And if you’re going to go on a TV reality show after that, well, you’re not all that embarrassed, because you know it’s going to come up. I have to admire that she isn’t hiding in a corner for the rest of her life. I don’t hold the tape against her – it’s in the “oh, really? Who cares” category. When you’ve got Congressmen sending tweets of their erections to college girls, a beauty queen making a sex tape isn’t such a big deal. But I sure don’t feel sorry for her (for the record, I loved Anthony Weiner and his occasional rants, and he broke my heart with that nonsense, not to mention taking an important voice out of the public discussion).
Wow did I get off topic. See why they hated me on TWoP?
Laura Bennet comes on (full disclosure: I can’t stand her) and talks about how Josh‘s snit about Anya getting a slot isn’t as bitchy as it sounds, and oh by the way defends herself for a remark she made about Anthony Ryan: “I was so annoyed I wanted to slap him so hard he’d be rocking none.” I don’t know the context, except that it was after the pet store challenge. It doesn’t sound that outrageous to me, and I wonder why not. Anthony Ryan doesn’t seem all that upset about it. Apparently she got a lot of reader flak; either that, or she’s just trying to make herself seem more important than she is, which wouldn’t surprise me at all. It turns into a discussion of Anthony Ryan‘s work with Make A Wish and possible future projects involving PR alums, and that’s a good thing. Oh, and Anthony Ryan isn’t all that color blind (he recognized pink and red), in spite of having both kinds of color blindness. I don’t quite understand.
Next week, this horrible season gets put out of its misery.