Ok, it’s official. I love Elena. And, to add surprise to surprise, I loved this episode. Even though I think they got the winners and loser completely wrong, it’s the most fun I’ve had watching PR since Olivier was befuddled by double-D’s.
The designers meet Tim and Heidi at Babies-R-Us. Dmitry: “Heidi’s there, and she has her 105 kids.” A bunch of women with baby strollers wheel over. Dmitry: “We’re all screwed.” Yeah, probably. He’s not sure how old they are, but he’s pretty sure they can’t talk: “It’s like making an outfit for cat.” Dmitry doesn’t have a cat either, does he? Surprisingly, Elena’s into the whole overdose of cuteness. Sonjia thinks this could be her challenge; she loves kids. Melissa’s thrown but trying not to show it. Christopher: “Babies.” He looks like all the oxygen has been sucked out of his lungs. But he’s happy when he gets matched up with his baby, because she’s wearing little cheetah shoes. Fabio’s first job in New York was as a babysitter; he has an ease towards kids. Fabio has an ease towards everything.
They are, of course, making outfits for these babies. They aren’t really babies, they’re toddlers, 12 to 18 months old. There will be two winners: one boy outfit, and one girl outfit. Geez, the coddling continues; that means 1/3 of the designers will be winners. Welcome to Project Runway, the Trophy Kids edition. Heidi will supply all fabrics, trims, and notions from her line so everything fits in. Tim advises them to listen to the moms’ advice. The advice we hear is more about style than design, however.
Heidi tells them – with an evil grin – there’s a special surprise waiting for them back in the workroom. Elena: “it’s not a surprise, it’s something fucked up.” You know it, baby.
The special surprise is: babies! Not live babies, of course, but the doll variety they use in high school abstinence programs to convince kids not to have sex, or at least for God’s sake to use condoms. Twenty years ago, it was bags of flour; ten years ago Tamagotchi became a toy; now they’ve merged into a virtual baby that cries to be fed, rocked, or changed, and won’t tell you which. It’s a nightmare. It’s perfect. None of these designers will ever have sex again. At least, not in any conceivable way.
Dmitry names his baby (either Brandon or Random, I’m not sure). Elena: “I named my baby Asshole.” That was the moment when I fell in love with Elena.
Fabio starts talking to his baby: “I have to put you down for second but I’ll come back to you.” Dmitry: “The baby is not real, Fabio, leave the baby alone, the baby wants to sleep.” You know, I’m dictating this text using speech recognition software, and I’m laughing so hard, it can’t understand me.
They even take the stupid things home with them overnight, and in the morning, are gently awakened by babies squalling. No wonder Heidi was so nice last week; she was setting them up for this.
But the virtual babies aren’t the only twist: when Heidi does her walk-through with Tim, they find out they also have to create a companion look for the mother. Elena: “Someone please shoot me.” Tim makes it very clear that the baby outfit is the one that will be judged, and they shouldn’t think of the mother as a client they have to please; they just have to put something on her. This seems kind of stupid to me, an unnecessary complication. But they get an extra day (and on Day Two, Tim takes the babies off to day care in a little wagon), and I suppose any of them could turn out a basic outfit relatively quickly, since it doesn’t matter if it’s any good.
The guest judge is some actress who used to be famous when she was a teenager and now has a baby. I wish oh I wish it’d been Bristol Palin. Oh well, can’t have everything.
Fabio‘s mom is all about vintage, which is perfect for him (again, I wonder if the little tags have some kind of tactile symbol only Tim can feel). He’s thinking of a jumper with a flap in the back. He already feels like a winner. Uh oh. He loves the pockets and thinks it’s fun. Michael calls it a modern take on a nautical look. Heidi loves that it’s one piece but looks like two and has nice details, but thinks Mom looks momsy. Nina likes both outfits; the use of the print is adorable but not too cutesy like a little baby. Wow, Nina’s tough to please. Actress: “What Heidi said.” I think it’s the best thing up there. It looks like something someone might actually put on their kid. And Mom’s dress isn’t half bad, either. As much as I love him, I seldom “get” Fabio’s designs (as opposed to his own clothing, which I love), but this was a perfectly clear winner to me.
Sonjia wants to do a fusion of suit and sweatsuit for her mini-man, so she goes for a blazer in sweatshirt fabric. She thinks it’s a comfy fusion between dressy and casual. I think it’s awful. Mom’s in Ven’s Amish skirt from the t-shirt challenge. Heidi thinks the kid looks sharp and it’s really fun. Okay. Michael likes the sense of tailoring combined with sweats, it’s polished and modern, and loves the print tank underneath. I don’t think the tank print goes with the suit at all. What are they seeing? Nina says it’s perfect, sporty but well-dressed. This is a toddler they’re talking about, what’s wrong with these people? It’s going to have drool all over it an hour from now. Actress: “What Heidi said.”
Christopher‘s mom has some very specific requirements: a little denim jacket with three-quarter sleeves, like a baby Dior, white, no pockets. Christopher: “I need a drink.” Tim is surprised the client wants white; Heidi says, “Why not?” Because people who actually do their own laundry and can’t afford to replace outfits every two weeks don’t appreciate white baby clothes, Heidi. He’s not too pleased with his virtual baby: “Now I know why Judy went off the deep end with Liza.” Christopher, you do realize most women do this for a significant portion of their lives, and most have a lot fewer resources than Judy. For mom, he goes with the ever practical Oscar de la Renta silk dress. He doesn’t like the kid’s outfit; he likes the shape of mom’s dress, but it’s simplistic, and the print looks like a tablecloth. I actually think it’s pretty. The baby’s clothes look too complicated, though. But what do I know. Mom comes in for her fitting, and hates everything. Sonjia tells him not to worry about Mary J Blige, it’s Heidi’s line; good advice. Mom apologizes the next day. Christopher handled that really well; he could’ve gotten sulky, but he just took it in stride, ignored her, and it all straightened itself out. On the runway, he decides the baby dress is ok after all; it looks like Sunday brunch. That made me laugh, but Heidi said the same thing. Babies go to Sunday brunch? It’s pure white, what if she spills her Bloody Mary? Nina thinks it’s adorable, but not practical. Heidi loves it for dress-up. Michael doesn’t think the jacket works, but the special occasion dress is great, the headpiece is adorable, and the floral print sheath for mom is fabulous; those outfits would be worn to the same event. Wait, now babies go to brunch AND events? I need to get out more. Actress: “What Heidi said.”
Dmitry also has a fashion-conscious mom; she asks how he’s going to make it edgy or trendy or whatever he calls it. Walk-through doesn’t go well; Heidi thinks it looks like he’s carrying a backpack; she wants more cuter. Sonjia calls it a firefighter jumpsuit. On the runway, Dmitry worries because the baby is getting tired: “He has to sell my look.” Or he’ll never work in this town again. It’s a weird red Conehead thing with a hood that unzips and lays flat like a cape. Michael likes the graphic aspect, but it looks like a superhero costume. You know, he hit it right on the head, with the red and blue and the tight pants: it’s CarMan! Heidi and Nina assure him that kids love costumes. Michael: “It’s a trend?” Oh Michael, never change. Babies and lady wrestlers, they’re out of your comfort zone. Heidi thinks both looks are modern, maybe not as commercial, but lots of moms would like it. Actress: “What Heidi said.” They really need to brief these guest judges. In chat, Nina says he looks like a crayon. I was thinking of bloody grand wizard myself, but I’ll go with crayon.
Elena asks mom how she usually dresses her kid. She’d love a blazer. What is this with blazers for babies? I thought they held off on blazers until first grade. She assures Tim there will be no shoulder pads; he applauds her discipline. Her blazer has ruffles on the lapels; Tim asks if that’s practical when it comes to cleaning (and we all know it isn’t). Elena asks Heidi what she thinks, and she asks like she’s really asking, not being snide, it’s quite impressive. Uh oh, Elena’s getting the redemption edit. You know what happened to Ven when he got the redemption edit. Heidi gives some gobbledygook about being practical but not basic; I’m interpreting this as, “No, it isn’t practical, but somebody has to go home.” Elena asks Sonjia if there’s a secret to draping dresses; Sonjia explains it; Elena: “That blows.” I’m no longer annoyed that Elena is leading in the Fan Favorite poll. Elena is happy with the look on the runway. I think it’s awfully complicated. Michael thinks it looks like a sample sale; he doesn’t get the connection between the pink tee, the green pants, and the ruffled jacket. Heidi thinks the jacket is a showstopper, but the pants are throwaways. Nina points out the jacket is not practical; two points Nina. It is her favorite mom’s outfit, though; unfortunately, it’s not a mom’s challenge. Actress: “What Heidi said.”
Melissa‘s mom likes feminine clothes for the baby; Melissa is afraid this means pink. “I haven’t worked with baby pink in… Never.” She starts out with a denim jacket with asymmetric collar, which is the very definition of femininity, right? Problem is, babies asymmetric their own collars pretty quick, so is an asymmetrical collar going to end up symmetrical? On walk-through, Heidi hates the leggings, so Melissa changes her course of action and goes for a denim shift dress. It turns out tighter than she wanted. Tighter? It’s a sheath. Pencil skirt for a kid who can’t hold a pencil. She still sewing mom’s dress when everyone leaves for the runway. On the runway the kid’s dress keeps riding up, and mom keeps tugging it down. It really is a mess; it looks like a baby straitjacket. Heidi loves the jacket, but not the dress; besides the bad fit, which exposes the diaper, there’s a zipper on the side which is iffy on baby skin. Actress: “What Heidi said.” Michael hates the fabric of the dress, but thinks the vest is fabulous, with charm and personality. Nina: “What Michael said.” And by the way, Mom looks like she made her clothes herself. Blindfolded. With one hand. Epic fail.
Who gets a cookie:
Sonjia wins Boy’s Division; it’s all yours for only $29.99. I still think it’s stupid-looking, and I still say the color of the print isn’t right for the suit. Fabio was robbed.
Christopher takes it for the Girls. But like the Emmy dress Ven designed for Kenley to modify, the dress morphed: it’s been redesigned in navy blue (so much for Heidi’s defense of white), and I have to say, it looks a lot better; I like the dress. But is that really the point of these challenges? To make a starting point? Couldn’t just about anything be fixed in the mix? Then again, he was up against train wrecks by Melissa and Elena in Girls’ Division; when I think about it that way, it’s a no-brainer.
And who’s sent to bed without any supper:
Elena and Melissa are the last two on the runway; Gee, I wonder which one they’ll send home. Surprise: Elena‘s out (I was only kidding about this surprise).
Tim gives her a sendoff to remember: “What are we going to do all day without bleep-bleep-bleep-bleep?”
What a great episode – even if they did get the winners and loser completely wrong. I certainly wasn’t expecting to fall in love with Elena. Too late, as it turns out. Has she been this funny all along, or did she just perk up after her mother came to visit (or once they turned the Redemption Cam on her)? I’ll have to watch the earlier episodes again to figure that out.
And here I was, my indignation prepped, expecting this to be a companion piece to the Season 3 “Dogs As Accessories” nonsense, but it didn’t feel that way at all. I know a lot of people – women mostly – who love looking at baby clothes. I’m not one of them (I confess: I hate babies. Yes, it’s un-American, and inhuman; I don’t wish them harm, just keep the smelly screaming things away from me), but there seems to be some kind of widespread appeal, so who am I to argue. The clothes aren’t outrageously priced; high-end, definitely, but not insane. So I was ready; I was even armed with a great quote:
…[B]abies are not status items to be used to argue the superiority of the lifestyle of their parents.
(She is reminded of an advertisement she once saw for a Beverly Hills clothing store for children, which sought to attract parents with the announcement, “Your children are part of your image.”)
– Judith Martin as Miss Manners, Miss Manners’ Guide to the Turn of the Millenium
And I didn’t get to use it. Hey, PR – thanks! You can surprise me like this again any time.
Next: The Final Challenge: Avant-Garde. Oh, sure, they kick Elena out just before Avant Garde – that’s just mean. I guess they’re planning on sending two people home, unless they pull the old “two of you will duel to the death later” again. I figure my beloved Fabio is toast; I’m steeling myself for that. No idea who else. That’s what’s nice about this season: maybe there isn’t one Christian Siriano, but there’s more than one designer who knows what s/he is doing.