Project Runway Season 9 Episode 9 – Image is Everything

A Viking for Nina. Who knew?

I was bored. Even with Adam Lambert. But: tonight Anya slips off her pedastal and dents her crown, and that was kind of interesting.

Anya faces up to it: the remaining designers are her friends. But – friends are friends until there’s high stakes. See? There it is. They’ve changed the edit on Anya.

The Challenge:

Heidi meets the designers on the runway with the mantra: Image is Everything. She tells them to meet Tim at Rockwood Music Hall where they’ll find out what’s up. Anthony wonders if they’re doing something with images of old rock stars.

The hair guy is with Tim. Oh, this is the Pimp the Shampoo episode. An odd choice, since they’re designing for The Sheepdogs, a heretofore unsigned rock band composed of four men. They do all have long hair, so I suppose it kind of makes sense. Rolling Stone is going to put the band – sing it with me – on the cover of the Rolling Stone, which I am assuming is as big a deal now as it was back in the day. Tim tells the designers fashion and music are linked as profound forms of personal expression, so it is up to them to create an image for the band, keeping true to who they are as artists. The winning look will be in an advertorial in Rolling Stone and Marie Claire and will be worn at a live Rolling Stone event. I wonder how much Rolling Stone is paying for this. Do they really need the publicity? Rock isn’t what it used to be, and neither are magazines.

They’ll be working in randomly selected teams of four without any team leaders. Each team member will create a head-to-toe look for one band member. Tim tells them they don’t need to worry about cohesion as long as they look like they came from the same planet. Except he already said they have to create an image for the band, isn’t that cohesion? This is another nonsensical challenge. The end result is the teams are more like groups just so they can use the four guys as models twice over, so the drama should be kept to a minimum.

Team Harmony is Laura, Bert, Anya, and Anthony Ryan. Oh, lord, flashback to the sneakers challenge. But I think Bert has grown up a little since then, and they don’t have to agree on anything anyway. Laura snarks about being the only person who is always with Bert, she never gets a break. Anthony Ryan’s having flashbacks, too.
Team Untitled (they’re really into this, see) is Olivier, Viktor, Kimberly, and Joshua.

And of course we go through the “I’ve never done menswear!” thing again. Except for one thing: Olivier is a menswear designer. How did I miss this? Was I just not paying attention? No wonder he likes his women flat. The band starts playing, and Olivier covers his ears. Bert interviews that Olivier is a delicate personality. I can sympathize, actually – I don’t like loud music, even music I really, really like. And this music probably wasn’t depressing enough for Olivier. I’m guessing he’s a Mahler fan. Or some kind of new atonal minimalist school that only allows three notes to be played. Mozart probably gives him hives.

Ewan, the lead singer, likes boots, jeans, suede, and denim. Bert and Olivier will be designing for him.
Sam, the drummer, wants a caftan or a daishiki. Anya jumps all over that one, of course, as does Kimberly.
Ryan, the bassist, is wearing snakeskin boots. Josh fixates on those so he takes him, as does Anthony Ryan.
And Leot, guitar and vocals, likes jeans. How unique. He’s always wanted red jeans, which is a little better. Laura and Viktor will be working with him.


Laura spends $450 but it’s ok because Bert only spends $150 so she uses his money. They get $300 to make a band outfit? Seems they have two days, too, though day 1 was pretty much shot between going to the site and to Mood and meeting with the band members. Still, I remember Korto, who poured bleach on jeans and sneakers for Suede and turned him into a punk rock star. And I don’t think they had all that time and money, either. These guys have it easy, and it doesn’t show anywhere.

Olivier is all upset because menswear is all about detail and fit and proportion and he has the biggest guy to work with. It’s not that funny the second time around, Olivier, you’re boring me. The guy isn’t skinny, but he isn’t obese either. Bert talks about doing sheer blousey something vintage from Haight-Ashbury. Anthony Ryan interviews it’s a plus that Bert lived through this era (I’m not sure what era, but I doubt Anthony Ryan knows either) but he may not remember living through it, since he can’t remember where he put his toothpaste. I don’t know, but I think the bathroom is a good place to start. I’m bored. Maybe I’ll check my email.

Laura can’t find red denim at Mood so she’s going to dye it, since that’s what Leot likes. Anya is running around Mood in a state. Tim keeps yelling at Olivier to hurry up. Olivier mumbles something I can’t understand about twenty shades of beige, which seems like something that should make him very happy. He interviews it’s very frustrating, but I’m cutting my toenails so I’m not sure what.

The Workroom:

Olivier wants a bigger mannequin, since Ewan is bigger than the mannequin he has. Anya interviews she’s worried about Olivier and his frustration over the size of his victim. No, she doesn’t say victim, I do. He does look forlorn, but I’m over Olivier and all the many things he gets frustrated over. I’m getting the sense that this is Olivier’s loser edit. That’s fine with me. I thought he was appealing at first, but he went annoying real fast. I’m glad he was around last week for comic relief, though. He runs around fitting a pocket on various people. I have no idea what he’s trying to determine from that. Viktor and Anya gossip about him: Viktor wants to see what Olivier is coming up with since he’s done menswear. Anya is surprised his palette is the same, and remembers he had trouble working with clients the last time. They both think it’s bizarre he thought he was going to win. Josh is trying on muslin half-pants over his black briefs. I thought flamboyantly gay men waxed their body hair. Maybe just the chest and back? Because his legs have some very unattractive growth.

The hair guy comes in to talk hair. I’ve run out of toenails. Maybe I’ll clip my cat’s claws. That’s always fun.

Olivier dislikes something, what else is new. Bert doesn’t have enough fabric, and he’s having trouble with dye, it’s turning out grape juice purple instead of blue. What, Mood didn’t have any blue fabric? I don’t get why they have to dye so much. He had so much money to spend, and still he has to dye it and he doesn’t have enough? I don’t understand. But then again, I don’t care. Laura interviews that she doesn’t care if Bert comes up with a dopey look since they don’t have to design a cohesive collection, which is very Ivy of her. Especially since he let her use the Mood money he didn’t need.


Tim does a walkthrough with the guys in the band. Leot doesn’t like the color Laura dyed the pants, so she dyes them again to get them darker. He doesn’t want a tank that’s so low because he has a lot of chest hair. They do a graphic adding chest hair to a sketch. How amusing. I’d balance my checkbook, except I haven’t used a checkbook in ten years since everything went electronic. Olivier interviews Bert’s look is flamboyant and odd. Olivier probably thinks oatmeal is flamboyant. Ewan does think it’s a lot of purple, and Tim says it’s very feminine. Bert tries to talk him into it and says something about the blouse, and Tim points out he’s calling it a blouse. Anya interviews Bert is having one of those critiques that leads to scrap it and start over. I’m not sure it’s that bad, but he does dye it again.

Viktor tells Leot about crispiness and I get myself some breakfast cereal. He’s distressing the denim; Tim warns him it’ll look cheap if he does too much. Cheap? It’s supposed to look cheap, that’s what distressing does. He’s making a pleather cowboy motorcycle jacket, and boy does that sound scary. Laura interviews she hates pleather, the jacket is a big pillow, and he doesn’t have time to do the distressing. Now she’s doing Gretchen, except bitchier. Gretchen was more superior than bitchy. My Cheerios are really good.

Kimberly shows Sam a plaid for the tunic, and he says he likes the pattern but prefers another print on the table, which turns out to be some fabric Anya loaned her. I don’t understand this, but Anya starts worrying she might be giving Kimberly and advantage – what if he likes Kimberly’s look more than hers, what if Kimberly wins? Yeah, Anya, I’m sure Josh thought that when he helped you dye your mustard jumpsuit fabric, and I’m sure Laura thought that when she helped you sew the collar on. New edit, Anya, watch yourself.

Josh has made pants with an exposed zipper; Tim points out that draws the eye to the crotch, and Josh says, “Right!” He interview he sells primarily to gay men so he worries about making things too gay. I’m not even interested in making up a joke about that. Maybe because it’s raining and that’s attracted my attention. Oh, look, a raindrop….

Ewan and Tim check in with Olivier, who has a shirt in a print with swans. Because that isn’t flamboyant at all. Ewan isn’t sure about the swans. Olivier says from far away you can’t see the swans. So, that’s the answer, just keep away from everyone. “Don’t come near me, I’m wearing swans!” Olivier interviews that if he makes exactly what Ewan asks for, what’s the point? The point is winning the challenge, silly. Then he tells Ewan he’s big. Ewan says, “Are you saying I’m big?” and Olivier says, “You are big.” Ewan stares. Go ahead, Ewan, step on him, knock him down and crush him, I’m pullin’ for ya, guy, I’ll pay your bail, do it, do it! But no, he just stares, and Tim moves him along with a comment about seeing what happens at the fitting. Olivier interviews it’s hard to design when you don’t feel passionate about it and don’t care for it. I wonder how Olivier gets through the day in Real Life.


At the promised fitting, Kimberly declares Sam’s butt looks yummy. In her pants, that is. Viktor‘s pants are missing the crotch, and he says “The front needs a little more closure” which is a bit of an understatement. Chaps won’t cut it on mainstream TV, Viktor. Tim points out to Olivier that the pants don’t fit, they need to come up in the back.

Anya is now gossiping about Olivier with Josh – boy, when they changed the edit on Anya, they really changed it – and Olivier comes in and catches them. I doubt Olivier has the social skills to realize by the very awkward silence they were talking about him. He interviews he’s sick of everyone complaining about his time management skills, he’s grateful for the concern but he’s ok. Definitely the loser edit.

Bert says something about “they may be from Canada but I don’t like shatikis or whatever they are.” This is one of the most stunning statements of the night. I think Bert has some brain damage. I can’t decide between “Canadian Daishiki” or how can anyone of Bert’s age and background – he who discuss Queen Victoria in mourning for fifty years and is designing for Haight-Ashbury – not know what a daishiki is? Bert hasn’t tie dyed since 1972, but he’s happy with the result since it looks like a galaxy and it’s trippy. Viktor complains he started his jacket with fringe and later Josh added fringe to his shirt, he shouldn’t be copying. Viktor plays hall monitor a lot.

Ewan is sitting in his underwear waiting for Olivier to finish sewing something. As Olivier is buttoning the shirt, he asks if he likes it. Now he’s in a hurry. Sam tells Kimberly his shirt looks like a bowling shirt. He’s right, actually. Bert thinks it looks like what they wear in fast food restaurants, and he’s right, too. The hair guy braids Ewan’s hair for Bert. He looks like Willie Nelson. Ewan with braids, not Bert.

Anya interviews she just made a garment that’s ill fitting and poorly designed, and she just hopes it’s better than Kimberly’s because they’re both clearly in the bottom. And here I just said in a comment to last week’s post that she seemed genuinely nice.

The Runway

Adam Lambert is guest judge. And I’m still bored. Maybe this is just a letdown after the hilarity of last week.

And for the FIRST TIME EVER… I think someone is getting paid for every time they use those words. Instead of walking the runway, the guys will play songs, first in one team’s outfits and then in the other’s. I guess that’s a good idea, since that’s how they’ll be appearing, but it makes it really hard to see what’s going on.

So they play (they seem like a pretty standard low-rent rock band to me), and to be honest, they all look like they’ve rooted around in a Salvation Army Donation Bin – not the store, the bin outside where stuff is thrown before it’s collected and cleaned and put out for sale. When they line up later, the only things that stand out at all are Viktor’s jacket, and Josh’s outfit which is only noticeable because it’s a little brighter than everything else. And I didn’t even notice the zipper.

I’m very confused.

The inquisition

Anya tries to sell Team Harmony’s look as modernized Jimi Hendrix. Except for Bert, none of these people were alive when Jimi Hendrix was on the planet, and it shows. MK doesn’t see the swagger. Anya says they were told it wasn’t about cohesion so they didn’t spend too much time coordinating, which is absolutely true. Nina asks why, as a group, didn’t you come up with an image, something that would be theirs? Because, Nina, when you give contradictory instructions for challenges (Image is Everything/cohesion not required) they’re going to pick whichever is easiest. Signals got crossed somewhere.

I’ve looked at the designs on the Project Runway Rate the Runway site so I have a better idea of just how bad they are.

Laura/Leot: red jeans, white tank top with some tie-dye red, and a blue/grey shirt-jacket lined with different print, a contrasting dark red collar, fringe under the sleeves (bad idea) and a narrow scarf. I see what he means about having a hairy chest. But it doesn’t bother me. Not one bit. The collar looks a little wonky, though, where it meets the lapel. But with what we’ve got going here tonight, that’s nitpicking. Leot likes the dark colors and retro vibe. It’s one of Heidi’s favorites, it looks real and stylish. She’s not a big fan of fringe but it works. Adam also says it’s one of his favorites, very 70s but contemporary, bridging old and new. MK worries about the tie dye, it’s a little Sweeney Todd, like he cut himself shaving – he’s absolutely right. Nina isn’t crazy about it, it’s a ladies’ jacket with a silk scarf from the mall. Nina’s such an old poop. It still looks rumpled and dirty to me.

Bert/Ewan: striped pants, an open “shirt” (no collar, cuffs, or button placket) over a tee in bleh grey-blue-purple with a splotch of white over the back hip. Bert didn’t want to do bell bottoms and wanted to do shading rather than tie dye. Which is fine, but it looks dirty, like he’s been working construction for the past 48 hours, maybe sat in something unsanitary, and didn’t have time to change. Ewan is outside his comfort zone. That speaks well for Ewan. Adam likes the tunic, it’s retro but new. MK: “Who would’ve thought Bert has a rocker vibe.” It’s not a costume. Heidi doesn’t like the pigtails, but Nina and Adam love them, Nina thinks he looks like a Viking. And you like that, Nina? Vikings do it for you? Hmmm… interesting – read “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned.” The story, not the book, though the book is great too, it’s only the title story that’s about Vikings. Or just watch the trailer, it’s hilarious (caution: reader discretion recommended, the story isn’t hilarious – it’s a 9/11 allegory, in fact). Ewan does kind of look like the one Viking.

Anya/Sam: the daishiki from hell. It’s maybe the worst-made garment since the last menswear challenge. There’s a patterned front yoke which looks glued on, similar to the zipper in her winning sneaker look. Except it isn’t glued. It’s basted. You can see the basting stitch. If that’s supposed to be a decorative stitch, it’s poorly done. The colors look like baby poop. I can’t quite see the horrible mess she made of the back of the pants, but it doesn’t look like real pants. Nina and Heidi both thought Pocahontas. Sam likes the freaky hippie vibe she was going for but it didn’t quite come together. His pants are splitting in the back. MK says they finally got to see she’s only been sewing for four months. She gave him a suede lobster bib. He’s the reggae Jesus, in a Brady Bunch daishiki. I’m so relieved, I half-expected them to say how wonderful it was. Seriously. Because this isn’t the first time she’s sent something poorly made down, it’s just more poorly made than usual, and they called her on it, finally.

Anthony Ryan/Ryan: off-white pants, brown-toned untucked sleeveless flowered shirt (the wood print) with piping on the armholes (which I like), fringed back from the yoke (which looks pretty stupid to me). He used a different fabric for the yoke, which I don’t like, it looks like a pillowcase. The pants are baggy in the back, but they look like real pants. It looks reasonably well made. Ryan says he normally wouldn’t wear a sleeveless shirt but he likes it. Heidi wishes the pants were tighter. MK thinks all he’s missing is a shoulder bag. Adam likes the top, it looks like mushrooms which is appropriate, but the color and style don’t work together.

They retire to the lounge while the band changes. Anya stings from her first bad critique. I don’t get it, actually. It’s beyond trouble with menswear. Funny fit on the pants, that’d be one thing, but it wasn’t a shirt with a placket and collar, it was a tunic, and she couldn’t handle it. I’m really surprised.

And the next team goes:

Olivier/Ewan: Off-white pants, a wallpaper-flowered shirt with contrasting light-blue pockets, yoke, and collar. The sleeves are an odd length, almost three-quarter but not quite. But Olivier was right about one thing: I do not see the swans. And frankly, after the parade of dirty, rumpled, dull stuff, this doesn’t look half bad to me for a few seconds. Then the blue pockets start to annoy me. But other than the choice of prints and colors, it isn’t that bad. However, Ewan is not pleased. He appreciates simple, but doesn’t like the light pants. He told Olivier he prefers dark colors. Heidi thinks it’s boring, Dad jeans. Adam calls the pants short and boxy, and the print looks like upholstery fabric. Nina thinks it’s too feminine. MK says there’s nothing interesting and it doesn’t fit, and Olivier is the only one with menswear experience. The sleeves are rolled up, and Heidi makes him roll them down showing they aren’t finished. To be fair: did she make everyone else roll their sleeves down, too? Because most of them had rolled sleeves. I don’t even think this was the worst outfit of the night. The print is ridiculous, and the contrasting pockets/collar/yoke don’t look right at all. But the pattern is perfectly matched at the placket; the fit is reasonable. Let’s not fool ourselves that this is worse than Kimberly’s bowling shirt, Anya’s construction-paper nightmare, or Bert’s filth that had me reluctant to breathe through my nose. But Olivier is the whipping boy this episode; it’s time for him to go, obviously. And I think he’s slipped by on enough challenges to deserve it.

Kimberly/Sam: brown cords, a short-sleeved tie-dye orangish button-front tunic piped and trimmed with brown suede at the sleeves and collar. Sam likes the pants, they fit great, but the shirt got lost. MK calls it Peter Brady at the Autumn Harvest, failing again to deliver a clever bon mot. MK thinks rust and brown are awful colors (unless it’s a neoprene tree skirt, then it’s wonderful – this season, awful and wonderful are relative). Kimberly says she’s just glad he’s in a shirt and pants. Nina says the shirt looks like an old man’s pajamas. Adam went to Scooby Doo; Heidi, a forest elf. MK finally does the bowling shirt. Nina asks why the huge buttons. Kimberly doesn’t know why. MK points out the collar doesn’t work. Kimberly nods. “I hear you.”

Viktor/Leot: denim jeans with pockets and belt loops and distressed knees, black-white-yellow flowered shirt with piping at the yoke (and an unmatched pattern at the placket), and a spectacular braided and fringed pleather jacket. I’m thinking he’s made that jacket before. Leot likes the shirt and jeans. Everyone loves the jacket. Heidi says it looks like a two thousand dollar jacket. Adam likes the movement, though he’s not nuts about the shirt which takes away from the jacket. MK points out he’s got the only real jeans, and they fit. Nina is impressed.

Josh/Ryan: When I said this was the only thing besides Viktor’s jacket that stood out from the parade of yuck, that wasn’t completely a compliment. It’s got some genuine design, it doesn’t look like it came out of the Salvation Army drop bin, and it’s well-made. It’s also something Kevin Arnold might have worn to a costume party in Season 2 of The Wonder Years (except for the zipper). Tight white pants with a big black zipper, brown back pockets, and clunky brown something on the outside of the cuff, like an embellished slit. The vest could be interesting if it wasn’t in such stupid colors, the fringe becomes sleeves with bands to cuff them just below the elbows, all over a kind of Indian print tank. He has a lot of war ribbons. Ryan likes the look. Josh is worried it’s screaming too much sex (well, duh, what was the clue, the bulging crotch?) but he loves it. Heidi thinks the pants fit well and she likes the zipper, she loves the top and the vest but not the fringe or the orange squares added on. Too much stuff. Adam thinks the zipper is cool, but he doesn’t like the brown on the side of the pants legs, and the dark pockets ruin the booty. Nina says it’s when he goes tricky or design-y that he goes wrong. MK likes the sleeve and the weird cross referencing that’s going on. I’m not sure what he means by that. I’ll have to go see if I can find out. Adam loves the print of the tank.

Top looks: Joshua, Viktor, Bert.
Bottom: Anya, Olivier, Kimberly.

Viktor wins. He tries to do a rock-and-roll hand signal behind the screen, but it comes out a finger wiggle, which is kind of funny. He interviews how much he loves Rolling Stone and Marie Claire (and then they stop pointing the gun at his head). Come on, he’s never heard of Rolling Stone before. Musical Theatre Monthly, sure.

Olivier goes home. He’s a very awkward hugger. He’s got a backstory, though I guess we’ll never find out what it is. I don’t like it when people, with training or not, diagnose someone based on their appearance on a reality show, but I do wonder if Olivier’s got a diagnosis of something somewhere. I started out liking him – I’m a sucker for quiet. But I think his quiet is more disdain than shyness. ETA: Thank you Blogging Project Runway for blogging this tidbit from your exit interview with Olivier: “Olivier has lived almost all of his life abroad. He moved to Taiwan as a child, and also lived in London and Milan. He returned to the United States just in time to audition for the show.” So while he was born in Ohio, he has spent very little time in the US. This makes his language situation much clearer – and I wish this had been included with his introduction back in Episode 1.

It’s exactly the outcome I was expecting, but what perplexes me is that Olivier and Kimberly were the last two on the runway, which is outrageous. I guess it doesn’t matter, but Anya should’ve been there. Kimberly’s look was dumb, but it was sewn. Anya’s look was dumb, and was half-sewn. I can understand her not going home – no problem there, Olivier was definitely the right choice, no matter what they say they’ve always done cumulative judging. But Anya should’ve had the scare, not Kimberly, who has also done really well all along, and who also has never done menswear before.

Next week, Anya loses her money in Mood. I’m betting it isn’t as catastrophic as all that.


6 responses to “Project Runway Season 9 Episode 9 – Image is Everything

  1. I recommend using human nail clippers for clipping cat claws. Much kinder to kitties than the dog claw clippers that most vets sell.

    I enjoyed your recap and you did pick up on a lot of the minutae.

  2. I think if the judges and producers are drinking Anya/koolaid for the making of the show, the viewers should be able to buy it online so that we can make sense of what happens… How pants with a hole in them are better than pants without a hole in them is beyond me.

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