Project Runway Season 9, Episode 4: All About Nina

“All about Nina.” The new mantra for Project Runway. I never had any problem with Nina until she went all Gretchen last season. Now it seems it’s all anyone’s interested in: will Nina put it in her magazine. And if nothing else, this episode decreased my already-low level of respect for fashion magazines. Because Nina’s boss is a piece of work. I just can’t wait until All Stars when she shows up to mentor and uses it as a twelve-week opportunity to show the world how cleverly she can out-Simon Simon. What, is this some kind of belated revenge for 1776?

In the casual-apartment-conversation-while-the-videocam-guy-is-standing-over-us-pointing-cameras-in-our-faces candid segment, and the talking-heads-between-episodes segments:

Cecilia is more confident. Uh oh, you know what that means.
Bryce thinks he’s in their sights. I think he’s right. And I think that’s where he deserves to be.
There’s a note on the chalkboard in one of the rooms: “Bring the bald guy back!” Someone misses Mormon Josh. I’m guessing Joshua. That’s sweet.

Heidi comes out on the runway and tells them they’ll be dressing a very important client who knows a lot about fashion. Of course, it’s Nina. Bryce immediately thinks, “Oh #@&%.” I’m not even sure what the expletive is, it could be any one of a number of things. Becky is worried because she is Alternative and Nina is Classic. Danielle is comfortable.

Nina says: classic with an edge, streamlined, clean, tailored. No pleats, nothing voluminous, no loud patterns or colors. Later, Tim says Nina told him she does not want to see a runway full of grey. That’s right, folks. Include navy blue, black, and brown! Because as we’ll see, yellow and green and orange are out. The prize is a Marie Claire ad on NYC taxis (which Anya finds cloyingly magnificent), and of course bragging rights: “Nina wore my dress!” Later, Nina announces there will also be an editorial in Marie Claire. I wonder why the delay – maybe she wanted to get a look at what they were coming up with before committing to this? The designers will sketch, and Nina will consult with them before they go shopping. Then she’ll do a walk-by while they’re working. Laura has immunity. The guest judge is Nina’s Boss, Joanna Coles. The what-do-you-mean-we-have-a-second-guest-judge is Kerry Washington, Actress and Arts Advocate. Maybe she was supposed to be on last time but she missed her plane?

Anya: She feels an affinity for Nina’s neutral tones and muted colors. She shows Nina a sketch for a jumpsuit, and Nina warns her about the degree of difficulty. In Mood, Anya finds a very mustardy printed silk, and frets with Tim, “It’s a risk.” He agrees, it is a risk. She takes the risk. When Nina does her workroom walkthrough, she asks Anya, “Is there a Plan B?” No, not really. Tim advises her that since she’s made the commitment, she must own it and make a spectacular garment. Over the course of things, Joshua asks Anya if she could dye the fabric. She goes through the “I’ve never dyed anything except the first challenge” (she gets a lot of mileage out of those “excepts”) so he helps her; I don’t know where the dye came from. Then Anthony introduces Anya to his fiance who might come to NY to get married since gay marriage is now legal there. The boys do love the beauty queen. Then Laura gets worried that Anya is struggling – at the two hour warning, there’s no collar, and it’s in two pieces – so Laura jumps in to help. In the end, a decent brown jumpsuit goes down the runway. First thing I noticed was the belt, which is great. The legs are capri length, and they are cut so it looks like they’re riding up on the inseams. The model has a slight wedgie, but I guess you could call it well-defined buttock cleavage. I can’t see Nina in this in a million years, but everyone loves it and Anya is in the top three. Viktor’s a little catty about her getting help (it’s a pretty common occurrence), and Becky thinks her lack of sewing skill is going to show eventually – but not today.

Kimberly: Because she’s feeling confident, she wants to do something besides pants. Nina wants pants. She specifically wants Kimberly’s tailored pants. So Kimberly decides to do navy pants. Smart girl! She picks a kind of glittery gold fabric for the top which, I don’t know, it seems a little gaudy to me, especially for someone who was so definite about no bright colors or loud prints, and a little glitzy for the office, though I suppose a fashion magazine office is different from the offices I worked in. It’s kind of tweedy, not real lame, so it’s not as in-your-face as it could be. Cecilia is worried about too much blue, but Nina’s fine with it. On the runway, she sends out a wide legged pant with a gold sort of surplice top, she used her original dress sketch and turned it into a top. She’s in the top three.

Viktor: He is thinking futuristic, dramatic but conservative. We don’t see Nina’s reaction to his sketch. On her workroom walkthrough, Tim worries about the napkin front of the skirt, but Nina likes the roundness in the hip area. It’s two piece but it looks like a Little Black Dress. On the runway, it’s definitely a LBD with a really nice boxy cap sleeve and bell skirt. Very plain, though. He’s in the top three.

Becky: I love her earrings, I kept thinking she had small bits of hair we’d never seen before, or extensions or something. She finds this mud-spattered print that’s pretty cool, an ombre look. Anthony Ryan picked the same fabric; we never figure out who picked it first. She puts the dark part at the hem and has diagonal insets running over the dress, it’s very nice. It’s my favorite, I think; at least it’s one of my favorites.

Anthony Ryan: He’s going to show Becky how to use their splatter fabric properly. He tells Nina it’s a modern ombre. At the model fitting, he tells his model she needs a padded bra, and she points out it’s already padded. Oops. He sends down a spatter jacket over a solid skirt. It’s quite nice, I like it a lot, but it’s probably considered very ordinary.

Bryce: He shows Nina a sketch of a cowl neck, and she hates it. He calls his look a mini, and she asks just how mini that is. He has a plunging neckline. Nina is worried. Hey, wasn’t she such a fan of Laura Bennet? He has trouble with fitting, it’s too big and it looks worse the more he takes it in. In the end, the runway shows a grey dress with a navy center inset and long sleeves. It’s awful. It looks very ordinary. And it looks like it’s made from poly doubleknit. He’s worried about the hem, I think the whole thing looks like something I’d make in home ec from a Butterick pattern. And it still doesn’t fit his model.

Joshua: His main question for Nina is: do you wear bras? Now, Joshua has turned out some decent stuff in the past, so I’m wondering if he was doing too much work for Anya because he sends out an orange dress with what looks like the lead apron they put on you when you get your teeth x-rayed. The bright orange and silvery grey also brought to mind traffic cones or hunting vests with duct tape repairs. Pretty simple dress for all that. Kind of reminds me of Mila if it was in more muted colors. I was wondering what was going on with all the people using orange, then TLo reminded me that Nina was wearing an orange blouse when she did the sketch critiques.

Laura: During her workroom walkthrough, Nina wonders about Lauren’s Christmas green fabric. Laura worries, maybe she’ll opt for the little black dress. It is awfully green. Shiny green. Thing is, I really like the design. The sleeve (I would’ve liked the bands to be a little drapier), the skirt, it’s all pretty cool, but the shiny green, eww.

Bert: Bert makes a sleeveless little black dress with plunging front and back and center slit. It’s about as template as you can get. I think he’s saving himself for the real competition, after all the slackers go home. Either that, or he really doesn’t have any ideas.

Olivier: Olivier makes pants with a weird vest that looks like two semicircles at the waist. It’s somewhere between meh and odd. Maybe he’s saving himself, too.

Cecilia: She feels good about tailoring, she likes to tailor, wants to make a jacket and simple sheath dress. Nina is concerned the jacket feels dated, very Dynasty. Cecilia looks blank. Maybe she wasn’t in the States absorbing TV culture in the 80’s? She focuses on the dress because she can’t convince Nina of anything for the jacket. At Mood, all the fabrics she wants are too expensive. She bought something she thought was purple but it turns out to be grey. I don’t quite understand that kind of mistake. If the lighting at Mood is really that bad, I’d think they’d get a lot of complaints. On walkthrough, Nina says the fabric is sad and mousy. Cecilia interviews she appreciates blunt and takes the criticism and keeps working but she doesn’t have a plan B. Her model hates the garment, and Cecilia doesn’t blame her. Later, back at the apartment, Cecilia complains her model has gigantic nipples. I thought I’d misheard this, but that’s exactly what she said. I think Cecilia is running out of things to complain about. She sends out a tan one-shouldered dress with grey panels on the side and grey-and-tan diagonally striped trim at the neckline. I love the trim, all 1.5 inches of it, but I don’t understand wearing a one-shouldered dress to work, and the two colors don’t go together. Plus there’s some weird stuff on the dress, it just looks rumpled. Cecilia is in the bottom three.

Julie: She wants to make a simple, clean coat dress. She’s aware she’s running out of chances. Nina likes the sketch, and Julie thinks she understands her style. She thought PR would be a cruise because she went to fashion school. What? Didn’t you ever see the show? How many times have they talked about the stress, the short time allowances, the overwork, the lack of sleep, the pressure? Cecilia thinks Julie is very different, she’s a real artist and a wonderful companion, always making people laugh. And she probably is a very good designer and can make wonderful things, just not under the time and material constraints here. On the walkthrough, Nina says the collar is too big, it should be more dainty. Tim mentions Julie always feels confident then falls apart. She admits she doesn’t sew every day and she’s overwhelmed. Cecilia helps her with finish the arms and gluing the hem. Nobody seems to complain about that. I guess because it’s so awful it’s clear she’s not a threat. It’s a beige, grey and orange coat dress with a bizarrely splayed collar. The closure looks like it’s pulling Very sloppy. She’s in the bottom three.

Danielle: She sketched a silk organza jacket and pants, but Nina preferred a pant with a beautiful blouse, so she went with that. She gets another awful bright green fabric. On walkthrough, Nina says she liked the hard-and-soft of the sketch but this is just soft and soft, like looking at a reflection. Danielle suggests stitching in back. Nina says no. Danielle suggests something else. Nina says no. Nina is being a real pain in the ass here. I’d hand her the fabric and tell her to make her own damn outfit. She sends out a garish green blouse and black pants. She’s in the bottom three, which was pre-ordained with all those no’s, I think.

So we have Danielle, Kimberly, Anya, Viktor, Julie, and Cecilia on the runway. I honestly had no idea who was in the top or the bottom. I thought Viktor was probably in the top, but I thought everyone else was in the bottom. Silly me! I should’ve remembered Nina’s a pushover for a jumpsuit.

In the lounge, with the Chosen Six on the runway, they try to figure out who’s top and who’s bottom. Bert makes some kind of comment about Olivier. I didn’t quite catch if he was saying he was out, or he won – Bert has proclaimed Olivier is some kind of genius prior to this, but it sounded to me like he said he was out – but then someone points out Olivier is sitting over there and that’s kind of embarrassing. Bert could use some embarrassment.

The Inquisition

Viktor‘s LBD goes over well. Simple, lots of structure, elegant. Heidi says you can’t go wrong with little black dress, Nina says great job. And it has the option of separates. He paid attention to the client. MK likes the shoulder and tailoring. Kerry says it’s really different, there’s youth in shape of skirt. Joanna thinks it’s a nice suit, does day to night easily, it’s elegant and beautiful.

Julie doesn’t do so well. MK calls it a housecoat, the kind you clean in with a bunch of kleenex in the pocket. It’s sad. Heidi doesn’t think it looks like Nina (I think it might if it were made well and with better colors, why did everyone pick the orange and grey this week?), and it looks like it was already worn on a twelve hour plane ride. Julie still likes it. Joanna proclaims it unwearable; if Nina came to work in this, she’d be asking to be fired.

Cecilia had the wrong fabrics, but finished as well as she could. She says she didn’t have any dye, which is interesting – too bad she doesn’t have Joshua looking out for her. Not that it would’ve helped, it was still a one-shouldered boring dress. She knows her client wasn’t happy. Her model’s nipples did not appear to be a factor. Joanna gets really nasty – what would the fashion department say? They’d all avoid her and gather together to talk about her, what is she wearing? If that’s how your employees behave, I think you should be over there doing something about it. MK hates the fabric and colors. Kerry says it’s not an office look at all. Nina says it’s already creased and looks sad. Cecilia pretty much agrees with them.

Kimberly is a different story. Nina loves it. Heidi loves the look. Your look doesn’t need accessories to sing and dance. What? MK loves separates and praises Kimberly for getting the modern working woman. Joanna loves the shirt, it transforms how you feel.

Anya explains how she knew Nina wasn’t happy with the color so she dyed the fabric. She never mentions it was Joshua’s suggestion, nor that he helped her. Nina is amazed at the transformation and at the quick thinking, because it was originally a lot of mustard. Now, remember, Anya loved the original color and only changed it because Nina sneered at it. Heidi loves it, loves the back, and goes into the whole “I can’t believe you’ve only been sewing for four months.” Anya says something about being a quick learner, never mentioning Laura putting on the collar. Joanna loves the shape and it works with the big life Nina leads. Kerry and MK again praise her for dyeing the fabric. I’m undecided. Anya didn’t have a clue anything was wrong with the color until Nina said, “Hold the mustard,” and then didn’t know what to do about it until Joshua said, “Hey, I have some dye and I’ll help you” and it was in pieces without a nicely draped collar until Laura said “I’ll help you.” Anya gets by with a lot of help from her friends, and she thanks them back in the lounge, but the judges are completely unaware of it (at least, they are if it’s true they don’t know what goes on in the workroom). Thing is, she doesn’t do the helpless damsel in distress routine. She’s nice, and that sure inspires a lot of people to be very eager to help her beat them. Because Joshua and Laura weren’t on the runway, were they? Like I said, I’m undecided. Does Anya really know how to play the game, or is she a really nice, talented neophyte who happens upon strokes of luck at the most opportune moments? I’ll let you know.

Danielle wishes she’d gotten sheerer fabric. Not sure it would’ve helped. MK calls it pedestrian, the blouse an aunt would’ve worn in the 80’s. Nina says she was too ambitious so she ran short and had to improvise. Kerry doesn’t hate it, but it’s not for Nina. And Joanna insults women everywhere by saying it’s the sort of thing she could see someone wearing to make pureed squash for the baby, not for someone like Nina. What? Most women wear jeans and t-shirts, or sweats, or just chinos and sweaters or blouses, not silk organza, to puree squash. And never green, it clashes with the squash. I love how these people have all these stock characters, the aunt, the housewife, like they’re never encountered a real person in their lives, just the rarified fashionistas. Joanna thinks Danielle is depressed. If Nina wore I to work, she’d think she was ill. I think Joanna needs to stop trying out her clever shots in prep for All Stars and just talk about the clothes.

Kimberly wins.
Julie goes home.

In the lounge, Cecilia feels bad and says she knew Julie wanted to be there, and she didn’t really care at this point, and someone asks, “Did you say that?” Well, of course not! Now Cecilia is on my shit list.

Kimberly goes to Nina’s office and sees her wearing her outfit. I wonder if Kimberly did the fitting on that? I mean, fitting pants can get kind of intimate. Then she goes out to see the cab sign with her design on it. Whee!

Next week: Someone collapses on the track. Looks like lots of drama there and in the workroom, but they gave no hint about what the challenge would be. Presumably, something sports-related. Maybe more activewear for Heidi’s line, because that went over so well last time.

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