Project Runway Season 9 Episode 7: “Can’t We Just All Get Along?”

Art: Myaka, "Chaos vs Order"

In case you weren’t sure… the answer is, “No.”

Heidi brings The Evil Velvet Bag to the runway. The challenge will involve two teams of five. Lots of sighs, including mine. There will be no team leaders. As winner last week, Anthony Ryan gets to chose a team member first. Heidi picks a button from the velvet bag: Josh starts off the other team.

So it goes:
Anthony Ryan picks Anya picks Viktor pics Olivier picks Bryce. Instead of Bert, Olivier picks Bryce. That’s gotta hurt. It also speaks volumes. Olivier is perhaps the only person Bert has said something nice about, and Olivier picked Bryce over Bert.
Josh picks Laura picks Kimberly picks Becky and Bert ends up with them. Heidi feels bad for Bert that he’s last again. Interesting she doesn’t think, I wonder why? Bert reiterates there’s not a group of people he would enjoy working with. Which is fine, since there isn’t a group of people who would enjoy working with him.

In the workroom, Tim explains the challenge. It’s the create-your-own-fabric challenge. Anthony Ryan is really happy, he used to be in graphic design so he’s “all shits and giggles.” I think I’ve been subconsciously lumping Anthony Ryan and Joshua together because they look alike (to me; but to me, everyone looks alike), and that isn’t fair to Anthony Ryan, he’s kind of a sweet ol’ country boy.

They also have to shoot a video to be shown during the fashion show and pick music (which isn’t addressed at all, we hear the same thing we always hear), and produce a fashion show containing five looks, at least three of which must contain prominent use of the new textile. They have two days, and get a special adviser: Betsey Johnson, whose special advisory role seems to be to show videos she used for her fashion show and act all crazy and goofy in case anyone forgot she’s the crazy goofy one. Lauren is very excited since she considers herself the love child of Betsey Johnson and Oscar de la Renta. I haven’t seen that in her work, and it sounds like a bizarre combination, but ok. Betsey shows the video and talks about starting with the girl, who is she, tough, sexy, all that, and then going on to design the fabric and collection. Her collection includes a t-shirt with an x-ray design that reminds me of the flayed wolf painting. I wonder if exposed bones are in this year. She advises them that being cooperative and strong is the key, throw away the me-me-me. Then Betsey disappears and we never see her again. Kind of a waste of Betsey Johnson. Maybe she didn’t want to guest judge? She just wanted to show off her line?

They have 30 minutes to huddle and then 45 minutes at the computers to design the fabrics. The exact specifications were pretty much skipped over in the show, but it looks like they had to come up with three fabrics for each team. It seems like maybe they had to use black and white prints, but I saw people drawing with color but only black and white was printed out. I wonder if this was a technical glitch? Of course, since this was the technologically sponsored challenge (no, I will not do product placement the dignity of naming the perhaps defective products), nothing was said. Maybe ten people just all thought black and white. Since Betsey Johnson introduced the challenge, I mean; she’s all about black and white, right? Like Kenneth Cole is all about avant garde.

Anthony Ryan talks about an ink blot test. Anya says it’s what she was thinking exactly, but he has something visual. I don’t know what she means by that. I’m very suspicious of Anya. I think she’s got everyone from Heidi to the guy who sweeps the floors wrapped around her finger, without appearing to manipulate anyone at all. In any other season, her designs would be mediocre, but she’s achieved mythological status this time. It’s a pretty impressive display of groupthink. Political operatives should be taking notes. Viktor suggests Chaos for a team name. Bryce interviews he feels they’re looking at him like they’re worried he can’t design. Uh, Bryce…? Sorry to tell you, man, but… yeah, that’s about the size of it. You’re the guy they keep around so if it comes down to Anya and Anthony Ryan doing crap designs in the same week, they can send you home instead. They end up with three b/w graphics: blocks of three lines, alternating between horizontal and vertical (the verticals look like a stylized M and the horizontals like a stylized E so you’ve got ME ME ME fabric, stick that in your inkblot and smoke it), angled doodles (looks like wire hangers to me), and what I’ll call leopard paisley. I don’t see any ink blots. Someone (Bryce?) did say something about sticking to B&W, so maybe it was intentional.

Laura talks about an aquatic amoeba, and Josh suggests The Village People, which convinces me that black and white was not part of the challenge specs. Maybe that’s why the drama got such screentime, to distract us from wondering why ten designers came up with six black and white prints. They go off on a tangent and all play Name the Village People – the construction worker, the cop, the Indian… Laura keeps insisting there was a fireman and Josh gets mad at her. This is the subtle way we are clued in that Josh is on the edge, because he never has been before, see. Laura interviews there are two people who bring nothing to the table (I think she means Becky and Bert) and Josh who snaps at everyone. Then she and Kimberly do the work. Somehow they end up with clocks and time as a theme. Laura doesn’t get it. Their team name is Nuts and Bolts; if they’re using clocks, shouldn’t it be Gears and Springs? They print out fabric designs to pick between them.

Bert’s fabric design isn’t printing out, so he gets frustrated and mutters, “So much for the friggin’ clocks” and clarifies on request with a more pointed word. Josh goes off the deep end, and starts screaming at Bert: “Is this what it’s going to be like? Because I WILL NOT HAVE IT.” And that goes on a while, throwing in that he hates vulgarity (he interviews that people who swear aren’t intelligent… Forgive me, but like some of the people at TWoP, I have an urge to run up to Josh and say: “Fucking Fireman, Fucking Fireman!” for as long as I can keep from laughing). It isn’t even an interesting fight. When you show a fight every week, how can they stay interesting? Bert finds all the drama amateurish and beneath him. Hey, buddy, you’ve caused your share of drama. I’m not forgetting your history. But in this case, Bert really wasn’t causing any trouble (he was upset about the printer, not complaining about what people were doing) and got unfairly dumped on in horrific fashion, and he handled it pretty well, though he went back to his passive-aggressive fallback by insisting he didn’t use any swear words. There’s a very interesting physical element, when Bert approaches and Josh says, “You need to back up” but I’m not going to ponder that here. Josh stomps off, Laura goes off because she “knows how to handle him” (I just hate people who handle other people). Their prints are time-related: Becky comes up with gears, Josh does graffiti (“cancelled” and “delayed”), and someone else (Laura?) contributes numbers. I still remember Melissa’s Japanese number coat from thirtysomething which was, what, thirty-something years ago? I loved that coat. It was so Melissa. I loved Melissa. She was so Melissa. She was Betsey Johnson done honestly. I wish Melissa was on this season of Project Runway. Not Melanie Mayron. Melissa. Though Melanie Mayron would be fine, too. I’m digressing… that’s what Project Runway has become, something to get distracted from.

Becky interviews that she is aware Josh recently lost his mother. I find it interesting that Becky, whose designs Josh scorns, knows this, but Laura has no clue, or isn’t saying. They decide Laura and Josh will go out and make the video (Laura getting out of a cab wearing different shoes – a girl on the go, in a hurry – and clocks in an antique store) while Kimberly, Becky and Bert go to Mood.

On Team Chaos – remember the other team, the one that isn’t fighting? – Viktor and Bryce shoot the video (Times Square, lots of people, chaos) and Anya, Olivier and Anthony Ryan go to Mood. Back in the workroom, they all review the video and Anya comes up with the idea of a kaleidoscope that will go with the inkblots they don’t have. I guess this is chaos. They keep looking at the other team and expressing undying gratitude they are not there. Often, this kind of setup goes bad, and the disaster team ends up winning. God help us.

At the end of the day Josh makes a Public Service Announcement, especially to Bert: his apology. He’s getting quite good at apologizing. Bert thinks it’s grandstanding (oh, it is) but he did it and that’s the important thing. No, not really. The important thing is to stop creating situations requiring apologies.

And the next day they start to work with their new fabrics. Kimberly isn’t using them because she doesn’t like them, and they only have to use them on three looks. Viktor is making his own inkblots on fabric – aha! Inkblots at last! – and worries because it could come out looking like cow instead of inkblot. Becky uses the number fabric for a skirt; Laura interviews that Becky claims she does rockabilly but it’s Judy Jetson with a vacuum cleaner. Laura has some very incoherent images at times. Becky walks in on Laura and Anya having a little chat in the lounge over lunch, and gets a little worried she’s being thrown under the bus. Becky, I like you, I really do – you were the first person I recognized, you’re maybe the only person on the show I wouldn’t hate to be caught in an elevator with – but you consistently crawl under the bus. Your diagonal slashes dress was pretty cool, but that’s about it.

Tim’s Walkthrough:

Viktor shows him Team Chaos has square and square-ish backs. Tim thinks it’s cohesive; he can see by their body language they’re working as a group. Tim reminds them the fabric will move when worn by a person. That’s about it for Team Chaos. They’re low-drama, after all.

Team Nuts and Bolts, on the other hand, gets a prayer meeting. After Tim gets troubled by the clocks, and by Laura’s blue charmeuse jumpsuit, and Bert’s weirdly seamed dress, and Becky’s skirt, and Kimberly’s skirt in faux poodle, and Josh putting a goofy textile under a sleek jacket, and Josh won’t tell him where the girl wearing the jacket is going because it’s against his principles to worry about that sort of thing. Tim tells them many good things are happening but they have to be together. He has them join hands and vow to communicate and be honest. I’m not so sure those are two things they need. Anthony Ryan cracks wise about how Tim is holding a prayer meeting and that’s a PR first. Afterwards, Josh is dismayed; he’s never had a critique with Tim that went that bad. Then he does a teary interview about his mom; it’s her birthday. She died two years ago (I wonder if Becky considers that “recently” or if Josh made it sound more recent) and he was too busy working in a bar pursuing his dream to go home and see her much. He talks to his father on the phone. I’m sorry, but I’m so over rude people crying about the tragedies in their lives and using them as an excuse for their inexcusable behavior. And I haven’t been on Josh’s back until now. But it’s getting to be a weekly thing: how will Josh freak out this week, and I’m sick of it. Other people need to get their turns to freak out, too.

Anya is worried about Bryce. Becky is cutting her third skirt. Anthony Ryan nags Olivier to get going on his pants instead of working so obsessively on his jacket. And like that, until Tim calls them for the runway.

This is as good a place to note the irony that the team named Chaos is the orderly team, and the team named Nuts and Bolts was chaotic. I live for stuff like that.

The Runway:

The guest judges are actress Rose Byrne (shrug) and designer Rachel Roy. Not to be confused with Rachael Ray, though I think they could have Rachael Ray as a judge and this season it really wouldn’t matter. It’s been a Rachael Ray kind of season. One person from winning team will be winner, one person from losing team will be out.

Team Nuts and Bolts:
Josh: loose graffiti print pants, horribly fit, with awful pockets on the sides, a black and white blazer with a meshing-gear closure that could be amazing except it’s over an electric blue shell that dilutes the impact. The back of the blazer is cool. But overall, it’s a no.
Becky: a black jacket with ¾ cuffed sleeves and horizontal elbow slits, a yellow/chartreuse shell, and a graffiti print narrow skirt. The jacket has some interesting detail. It’s one step up from meh. Sort of thing I’d wear, if it wasn’t chartreuse. That isn’t a good thing, btw. I’m all about comfort and frugality, so I wear thermal knit tees over jersey skirts most of the time.
Bert: a one-shoulder dress in the gear print with a diagonal front zipper across the top and an interesting back strap. It’s mid-calf. You can hear Anya say “The length is awful” as the model comes down the runway. It is. It’s that impossible length, the one you’re never ever supposed to wear. I give him credit for the zipper and the strap. The fit is sloppy, though. It’s one step up from meh.
Kimberly: a nondescript yellow/chartreuse short-sleeved top with a deep V back, a short ballooning skirt (I don’t know what it’s called, it has a sweatshirt-hem to push it up and make it puffy) in what someone calls “faux poodle” textured taupe fabric, and an electric blue belt with triangles and trapezoids hanging off it. No use of the created fabrics at all. I think it’s pretty wretched. I hate that kind of skirt, the blue and chartreuse make my eyes hurt, the belt is sloppy. It’s a No, No! ETA: The more I look at this, the more I like it (much to my surprise). In fact, I’m beginning to think it’s my favorite look on this team. Which isn’t saying much, but it does have a certain impact.
Laura sends out a hideous bright blue jumpsuit with a belt in the graffiti fabric. For some reason it isn’t on the PR site (maybe it crashed the technology? Or they didn’t want it out there so everyone could see what a stupid decision they made eliminating a meh outfit and keeping this horror because they liked last week’s prom dress), so I’ll have to wait until TLo shows it to enumerate why I hate it so much. Mostly, I hate jumpsuits, and this one is so gnawingly bright it adds the the horror. Then, the belt is ridiculous, it looks like a sweatband that fell down. My loser for this team. ETA: it’s now on the PR site, and it’s just as bad as I thought it was. The straps are attached badly; the bodice in general is a mess. I’m perplexed how discussion of this garment was excluded – it’s like the mystery of the all black and white fabrics, someone thinks, “If we don’t say anything, no one will notice.” Wrong.

Team Chaos:
Anya: a print dress with short black sleeves and a deep back and a narrow twisted black belt.. She used two of the prints, the leopard paisley in symmetrical patterns, and the scratches as side panels. She’s not Mondo. They keep playing her up like she is, but she just isn’t. She’s not even Uli. And while I’m glad she finally made sleeves (which Viktor helped her with) I don’t like them in black. It’s one step up from meh.
Bryce: an orange slightly-cropped tee with a nicely draped deep back opening, and print shorts in the leopard paisley shorts with graphic black outlined pockets in the triple-line fabric. Meh.
Anthony Ryan: a white slightly ballooning skirt with ink blots towards the sides, a gold or tan waistband or belt , a sleeveless collared shirt in the three-lines-h-and-v print, and an orange tie at the buttoned-up neck. It’s quite nice.
Olivier: a longish grey jacket with black lapels and a generous peplum. It’s open down to the waist in a way that a size-0 breastless model can almost wear it without a blouse (though her boobs will bounce around a lot), and pants in the doodle print. I hate it. The jacket reminds me of the one Giordana made that got called a Polish office worker (I’ll admit, it’s not nearly as bad, but overall it does bring it to mind), and the pants do not go with it at all. I’m amused that Anya helped him with the pants, since Anya claims to have made pants only four times now. My loser for this team.
Viktor: a gown with an inkblot print bodice, sheer black yoke and back, and black skirt with center slit. It’s the only thing I’ve actually liked all evening. It’s very sharp. My winner for this team.

Team Chaos is the winning team. Team Nuts and Bolts go back to the lounge to wait, and they bicker some more because they don’t have much time left. Kimberly kicks Josh, Josh kicks Becky. It’s a cute little abusive chain.

The Interrogation:

Heidi tells Team Chaos they got a lot done and did a great runway show, she likes every outfit and all three prints. They’re prints she hasn’t seen before, and it’s hard for her to pick the best one. Oh, come on. Does she think we’re that stupid? MK says some pieces are more sophisticated than others. The tailoring on Olivier’s jacket is the strongest tailoring ever. I think the hyperbole is the most we’ve ever seen, too. The video had the urban kaleidoscope of nervous energy, and the collection represents attitude. Viktor’s evening gown is very chic and sophisticated. But with Bryce’s shorts and t-shirt, the urban sophisticate got lost and went to the mall. I like how they phrased that. But don’t even urban sophisticates need something from the Gap sometimes? Nina wants Olivier’s jacket, and she too loves the evening dress. The only criticism is the hair and makeup could be more polished. Heidi asks who should be the winner. Everyone claims they worked as a team, blah blah. So she picks on them one by one: Olivier? Who should be the winner? He answers, “If I have to choose I … mumble mumble…” laugh. What? MK says, “Did you say yourself? What, you think you can’t have an ego in fashion? Good luck!” and Heidi thinks it’s hilarious he can’t even say it out loud. So they make him say it again. Olivier thinks he should be the winner. They go down the line and everyone picks themselves except Bryce who thinks Anya should win for who knows why, he doesn’t give a reason. He doesn’t have to give a reason – because she’s Anya, this season’s anointed. And he’s Bryce. He knows he can’t win, he knows he won’t be going home, so why not curry favor with royalty, bask a little in her glow. Reality TV sure has made me cynical.

Team Nuts and Bolts gets their turn. Kimberly explains the concept: a girl running out of time, busy, clocks. Heidi thinks it’s all so busy. Well, success! No, not really… MK thinks the theme is too literal; the video looks like a hooker convention with legs and high heels getting out of the cabs. But the hair and makeup was cohesive. MK thinks Kimberly was smart to not use the prints: “Not a lot of people want to have ‘cancelled’ on their crotch.” For Becky, except for the jacket her look was nothing, nondescript top and skirt in an awful print. Hey, just like Olivier! Bert knows how to cut clothes even if it does look awful in that print. Isn’t the point of the challenge to do something with the print that looks good? Heidi asks about working together, and Bert talks about the altercation and the apology. Heidi remembers an apology with Becky. Take that, Josh. But, Heidi, do you remember you thought Victor was the evil force in his skirmish with Bert, and Anthony Ryan in his, and both of them just worked together, along with three other people (one of whom is clearly not anywhere near their league and one of whom is marginally incomprehensible) and got along terrifically? Josh says, “Look at the design.” After all, he made three impeccable pieces. Gee, Josh, what do you think this is, a design show? I’m not sure his design was all that, actually, but I agree it is the thing to look at. Heidi asks who was the weakest link: predictably, Bert says Josh. Laura says Bet because of all his “under the rug comments.” Under the rug? Is that “under his breath” plus “under the bus” plus something subconscious about a rug, like maybe she’d like to murder him and wrap his body up in one and dump it in the river? “Under the rug”? Josh says Becky, because he doesn’t see much design, her foundation isn’t there yet. Becky, poor Becky, wedges herself securely under the bus by saying, “Well, everyone kept telling me they didn’t like the skirt, and I redid it three times, but no one told me what to do about it.” Shades of Mormon Josh way back in episode 1: “I can’t believe no one told me it was that bad!” Kimberly thinks Becky is also the weakest link, and tries to soften it: “but only because her style is a little simpler, and it’s a different aesthetic.” I still don’t understand why Laura’s hideous jumpsuit escapes comment. Oh, wait – because Lifetime is for Women and they’ve already used up their woman-criticizing-leeway on Becky.

The judges have their little chat. MK raves over Olivier’s tailoring again. Heidi loves Viktor’s dress, it was a cool idea, and Anya did a beautiful dress. Nina says Anya has a wonderful eye for prints; MK agrees she mixed prints in a way that worked. Hey, Bryce mixed prints, and his shorts were stupid but the mixing of the prints worked fine. Of the losers, MK is bored by Becky’s outfit, and Nina saw no design; MK says she can sew, but it isn’t Project Seamstress. No, it certainly isn’t. He doesn’t think Becky has a voice. Heidi thinks Becky has too little voice and Josh has too much, she’s worried about his taste level. Where was his taste level last week when you loved the tree, Heidi? Nina says he came up with the worst print. MK thinks he’s a bit of a bully. Nina notes Bert doesn’t have nay friends. MK thinks his dress would be ok in a different print, but he’s definitely not a team player. No one mentions the electric blue jumpsuit in the room. There’s something about jumpsuits they all love. I don’t get it.

Inexplicably, Anya wins. Oh, forgive me, of course it’s explicable: she’s Anya, and she hasn’t won a challenge yet while Viktor and Olivier have each won one, so she has to be put on the same level, and she used two different product placement fabrics. Anya knows how to play the game. See what I mean about cynical? I still don’t like the black sleeves, and I still say it’s just a dress.

Becky’s out. I’m sad. Becky, it doesn’t mean you’re not a good designer, and don’t ever think of yourself as dowdy; this just wasn’t the format for you. I’ve seen pics of the Fashion Week collection, and trust me, Becky, you wouldn’t have had any trouble making a collection to fit right in there.

So endeth one of the least satisfying episodes of PR ever, in what’s turning out to be the least enjoyable season ever.

Next week, the designers work with husbands/boyfriends to create a look for their wives/girlfriends. Olivier tries to figure out how to talk about breasts. Despite his accents and his tendency to mumble, he can say “ginormous” without any trouble.

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2 responses to “Project Runway Season 9 Episode 7: “Can’t We Just All Get Along?”

  1. Wondering if you figured out the black & white issue (tech glitch) – from what I recall of the brief glimpse we got, Bert’s print had some blue in it. Maybe the tech glitch made it difficult to print in color, partly explaining why Bert’s design just wouldn’t print out…

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