Ah, the Guggenheim. An icon of modern art. What better place for a set of talented, eager designers to find inspiration to create works of wearable art to rival the Cezannes, the Gaugins, the Degas.
Or, they could just complain about each other for an hour and a half. Heidi’ll find a way to rake in product placement fees, either way.
The judges create the teams again, and finally – FINALLY – decide to match the six remaining designers in pairs according to approximate standing: Michelle and Stanley, the stars. Layana and Daniel, who can produce good stuff but are inconsistent. And Patricia and Richard, the left-handed red-haired stepchildren. Funny thing is, Michelle used to hate Patricia, but since Richard hoarded the gold tape in the prom challenge (and perhaps since Patricia became her roomie), she’s changed allegiances. Richard’s now the Bad Guy. Remember the girls putting the boys on their list at the beginning of last week? Funny how we just so happened to end up with boy-girl pairs now.
Each team must create one grand, over-the-top wearable art look (I guess they’ve given up on anyone understanding what “avant-garde” actually means) and one ready-to-wear companion piece. Oh, and because this season isn’t enough of a mess, let’s throw the design-your-own-textile thing in here, too, and incorporate that fabric into both pieces. Tim: “You have all this material to help you with your wearable art”: Elmer’s glue. Bubble wrap. Oh. You want that kind of wearable art. So a little Unconventional Material challenge as well. There’s also a trip to Mood. I give up; I think we’re getting a glimpse into Heidi’s mind, and it’s pretty jumbled in there.
The winner gets $10,000 and a computer (which CNET describes as “slower performance at a high price. You’re paying for style,” making it the perfect PR computer). Rachel Roy again fills in for Zac. Guest judge is Tracy Reese, to prove that even though a black woman can’t win Project Runway, if she makes it anyway, she can appear as a guest judge. Yes, I’m still bitter. Even though I suspect I know which decoy collection was Samantha’s, and it’s nowhere near my favorite.
Stanley and Michelle:
From the moment Tim paired them, I knew they’d be the winning team. Or, maybe I should say, I hoped, because if they’d found a way to cut one of them, I might have run amok. They’re both happy with the pairing, probably recognizing each other as the best option. “We’re both in the same head space,” chirps Michelle. They’ll both work on the art piece, she’ll design the fabric, and he’ll do the ready-to-wear.
Michelle creates a fabric of her face. I swear, it reminds me of Munch’s The Scream. To be honest, I have very poor facial recognition skills, so it might be obvious to everyone it’s not her face, making it considerably less narcissistic. But it’s a face, and it’s creeping me out. Yes, Seth Aaron did a face on his fabric, and it worked great, but it was much less recognizable as a face. And it was clearly not his face. Michelle says her kitchen is painted the same color as her face. Maybe she means the camouflage background, which she finally got to use. She draws The Scream on fabric, she makes kilt vests and rain vests, I can imagine Michelle painting her kitchen in camouflage.
For the Wearable Art portion of our program, Michelle makes a coat-thing out of olive drab waterproof canvas; the faces only make a brief appearance around the shoulders. She draws more on the train of the coat. She’s taking this Wearable Art thing seriously, isn’t she. Tim gets chills looking at it. Stanley gets inspired by bubble wrap and makes a petticoat for the coat thing. There’s some concern when it takes longer than expected for the paint to dry, but it’s all good. Stanley: “A museum piece should not fit in a cab; by that criteria we nailed it.” Michelle makes a spiral headpiece that evokes the Guggenheim (and if it had been better-sewn, might’ve worked), but overall, this look screams Pregnant Post-Apocalyptic Wedding Gown. Still, it has its appeal, in a vaguely steampunk way.
For ready-to-wear, Stanley makes a Pregnant Bridesmaid’s Dress out of Michelle’s fabric. He refuses to use the hat she’s made: “She made this hat with faces coming out of it. We have faces all over the dress, why do we need faces coming out of the hat?” I think I just fell in love with Stanley. Where have they been keeping him all this time? He’s got some of the best lines in PR history this episode. Michelle wears the hat to Runway. And she wears a pin with the little face in all her interviews as well. I’m betting she wore the hat, too, but it screwed up the lighting so they made her take it off.
They’re the Winning Team, Michelle with her “Dark woman on the brink of insanity” and Stanley’s dual inspiration of sculpture and bubble wrap. Perfection. Out of control fun. Yin and Yang. Shape. Inspiring. Editorial. Taste. Yeah, they all love both looks. Heidi asks who should win, and Michelle suggests each of them say the other, which surprises me since I figured she was in charge here. They explain the division of labor: he did the dress and bubble wrap, she did the print, the painting, and the coat.
To my surprise, Stanley wins. No comment from Michelle. Wanna bet we get an earful next week? I wouldn’t blame her; the showpiece dress was pretty much hers, and the fabric was all hers. But Nina liked Stanley’s dress better, and that’s what counts.
Layana and Daniel:
I’m not sure how much they’re paying Layana to play the conniving, devious whiner, but whatever it is, they should pay her more, because she plays it to the hilt. I can’t wait to hear her complain about her edit when this is over; somehow, I can’t believe anyone can really be this evil and still live. Right off the bat, she’s disturbed that she now has to carry Daniel, who, by the way, won the first challenge, and when he and Layana were in the running for the second win, graciously indicated she should have it since he had immunity – ok, the comment made no sense, but it was a nice move. And now she’s out to destroy him. They both want to do the art piece, of course; doesn’t everyone? Daniel lets her take it, then she complains that he’s doing the companion piece, following which she decides she’s nervous because it’s all on her shoulders. She won’t give him any of the fabric she’s designed, though it was made clear both looks have to use it. And in the end, when his look gets a better reception than hers, she cries because he didn’t give her enough credit. Forget Jeffrey, forget Gretchen and Ivy; they were amateurs. This, this is how assholery is done.
Which makes it doubly delicious when she’s the one who can’t produce. Her first attempt dies a painful death for reasons unknown. Her second brings her to tears because the fabric doesn’t look ironed. Daniel leads her some distance away and shows her it looks fine; she sees it’s true, the tears stop, she gets back on track, just in time to start complaining she’s all alone. Damn, girl is good. A lotta stuff thrown at tv screens last night. They should start giving Best Actor awards for reality shows.
On the runway, her look doesn’t work; it’s like she made the dress, then threw some netting over it and glued on some napkin rings. I like the overall idea of the print covered by something sheer and diagonal, and I love the headpiece, but it’s off.
Daniel, finally able to wrest one yard of the fabric he’s required to use away from the clutches of Layana, makes a bubble skirt and sleek, narrow-lapel blazer. Both pieces are pretty nice, but think the contrast between them is too extreme; they don’t seem to work together.
The judges, however, are ecstatic about Daniel’s look. I suspect a lot of that ecstasy is more tied to knowing the viewers at this point have been given a view of Layana that makes them all want to flush her head in the Port Authority men’s room toilet for a few hours, rather than the aesthetic merits of the clothing. Heidi pronounces the jacket “hot,” Nina credits Layana with providing a good influence and Daniel’s head doesn’t explode. Layana, on the other hand, not so much. Struggled. Hodgepodge. Kitchen Sink. Period Piece. Yesteryear. Barbie. Barbie? I don’t think so. Anyway, they ask who should win, and Daniel says he thinks his look won. Layana argues, it was 50/50. Yes, it was, Layana was 50 for Layana, 50 for Layana. I think Daniel’s just so happy to not be in the bottom, he agrees with everything Layana says. She cries backstage anyway: “It’s not your garment, it’s our garment. I feel so betrayed.” Oh, can it, sweetie, nobody’s buying it. You did everything you could to leave Daniel out in the cold. It didn’t work.
Richard and Patricia:
Both of them recognize this is Patricia’s challenge, so Richard stands back and lets her work. That’s to his credit. However, standing back for a day and a half, making only a bracelet, is not to his credit. It seems he thinks he needs to see her look before he can make the ready-to-wear, since nothing Patricia says ever makes sense to anyone and it wouldn’t matter if it did since she usually ends up doing something else anyway. As in this case when she starts out with “a corrugated skirt” and ends up with Taliban chic (™Michael Costell0). I…actually like it quite a bit (ducks head in shame). It’s weird as hell, but there’s some strange appeal to it, similar to the appeal of Michelle’s coat. I hate the print of the lower skirt, the one Patricia designed based on an eagle feather – it’s too sharp – but the print she used for the top (the arm restraints), the print she seems to have painted on organza, is great. It’s kind of a statement. My first note was “hostage wear” but the patterns, particularly the top, are so free and joyous, it’s kind of interesting. Yeah, I’m serious. I actually like it.
Richard, on the other hand, makes bloomers. He’s got the restraint idea in the skirt, and it’s a good idea, but the proportions are completely off (the skirt falls too low on the hips for starters, the hem comes in then goes out just like, well, bloomers), and the top is much too sporty and doesn’t fit. Visually, it’s in a different universe from Patricia’s, even though I can see a shared idea. It’s clearly the failure of the night. But that was forecast when he looked blank when Patricia asked him what shape he was using, if he was doing something mod or a-line, like he’d never thought about clothing in that way. I think Richard realized early on he was in over his head, and he’s been struggling to not show it. But now he’s just given up.
It’s really interesting that Tim turns into a shit-stirrer this episode. Remember when they took our sweet Mondo from S8 and turned him into a cranky old man in AS1? They’re doing that to Tim now. He wonders if Richard’s using a strategy of blaming it all on Patricia, since everything is her idea. Richard is shocked, I tell you, shocked to his foundation. So is Patricia. So was I, not at the thought of someone being so devious (considering the graduate seminar in treachery Layana’s been giving) but that Tim would suggest it to Richard and Patricia, both of whom have their problems but neither of whom seems particularly cutthroat to me. I miss Tim. The real Tim. Maybe he’ll return some day.
They’re the losing team, as the judges are Not Impressed. Heidi, oddly enough, loves Patricia’s look. I agree with Heidi on a controversial look; that scares me. They don’t ask who should be the loser; they ask, who is the stronger designer. Oh, yeah, so now you start worrying about that. Richard talks about different aesthetics. Patricia interviews: “I’ve been doing textiles for 20 years, if I go home over a challenge dedicated to textiles, I’m going to lose my mind.” Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Patricia.
But it’s Richard who’s out. I don’t think he’s a bad guy; I don’t even think he’s a bad designer. I do think the team aspect of all this was particularly hard for him. But it’s particularly hard for Patricia as well, though for different reasons.
What does it mean when you’re fine with the win/lose, you found most of the clothes interesting, and you still feel pissed off? I think it means you’re over Project Runway.
It’s Nina’s turn: The “Celebrity Editorial” for Marie Claire. And they finally pull the plug on this teams nonsense.