Tim is here to make things perfectly clear: No one is going home.
Ever? Will they spend eternity in the bowels of Parsons?
No. They’re going to Europe (except for Michelle) for one day to get inspiration and $1000 worth of fabric. And for some reason, the assistants – the eliminated designers – will be going with them. I can see the thought bubble over Patricia’s head: “How can I arrange for Richard to miss the plane?” But even Heidi has some mercy: they switch up the assistants.
It’s a low-drama episode, full of oohing and aahing over torn paper and pleather. Hey, don’t ask me, I’m not a designer.
As T-Bone predicted in last week’s comments, she’s being punished for defying Nina’s instructions yet still making the best-looking outfit on the runway last week (right up there with Don’t Bore Nina should be, Don’t Make Nina Look Like a Fool) so she stays behind in NYC with only Tu to keep her company. She’s pretty weepy about that, and the pity party gets old pretty fast. It’s raining when she heads out for inspiration and fabric, which cleanses negative feelings and washes her wounds. Her words, not mine; I couldn’t write that with a straight face. Some half-demolished New York buildings have soot on the exposed chimney walls, and that’s her inspiration. Rain. Soot. Anybody got any Paxil? She loves having a whole $1000 to spend, so she gets cashmere and diarrhea-brown leather (again, her words), because, well, who wouldn’t.
The globe trotters return, and Michelle sulks. They all had a wonderful experience and bonded without her! Michelle, you do understand they were in separate cities, and the only bonding was on the ride to and from the airport? She still Does Not Want To Be Touched. I actually am sympathetic about that; I don’t like to be touched by people I’m not close to, though I would imagine by now she’s become fairly close to these folks, at least the ones she slept in the same room with. Maybe she needs to go stand in the rain and wash her wounds a little more.
She’s making a tailored grey wool cashmere dress with a leather bib. She describes it thusly: “A reversible quilted leather breastplate.” “Armor.” “Avant turd laminated chest plate.” “Bondage and lobster eating gear.” This cheers her up. I’m fascinated by her coprological obsession. Then, because it’s not quite shitty enough, she ombre’s the hem with fabric paint, to capture the chimney soot. “Soot it up,” Tim encourages her. Here’s the problem: it’s pretty amazing; the leatherwork is astonishing (though I don’t care for the bondage straps in the back). The soot, well, you need to know it’s an artistic statement – remember that – and not just the hem of the skirt getting dragged through the mud, but it’s very apocalyptic, and it fits her portrayal of the Wounded Warrior. Nina loves it; it’s a comeback, she captured the city. John loves how the cashmere walked and the unexpected combination with the shine of the leather, which is pretty sophisticated fashion analysis for a musician; does he have a line of his own? Zac sees New York. Heidi sees a dirty horse blanket. Heidi’s going to lose this one; once again, Michelle has the most interesting thing on the runway.
He and Richard do London. Stanley’s perfected the art of not paying any attention to someone without being rude. So have I, it seems, since I didn’t take a single note about Richard nor do I remember anything about him in this episode. Stanley’s fascinated by Big Ben; the windows are darker towards the top, so what would a woman be wearing up there: something ghostly, haunting; something dark and lean. He always wanted to be a vampire when he was a kid, and he’s made a lot of cheery clothes this season so it’s time for the Dark Side. I’ve never understood the fascination with Big Ben – hey, it’s a clock tower, if a very old clock tower – but I like his story. Even if it does have a whiff of “here’s what I want to make now I have to figure out a story to fit the challenge.”
He finds some fabric I don’t quite understand; apparently it’s got shiny leather pailletes, and apparently it’s horrendously expensive after pounds are converted to dollars. He gets it anyway, to use – are you ready – as a lining. He can only afford a tiny amount, so he won’t even cut it until after model fitting. But he’s happy; it’s the perfect fabric. His dress is definitely lean and dark; from the front it’s all about the capelet, from the back it’s all about the skirt. It’s very classy. But why the exposed zipper? Nina loves the drama and luxury. “Bravo,” says Zac, opening old wounds; he likes the Sherlock Holmes reference of the cape (funny, I got Florence Nightingale), the surprise in back, and the essence of London. Heidi likes the simple but strong silhouette, but mostly she’s happy to see Stanley smiling.
Daniel gets sent to that world capital of fashion, Berlin. Someone hates Daniel (Addendum: I take that back: in his Introductory Interview, he listed Germany as the place he’d most like to design). Amanda goes with him to give him a younger vibe. He cries a lot. He cries because he’s happy. He cries because he’s sad. He cries because the camera’s on and he wants more screen time. Every time he cries, I think he’s faking it. He may be the most sincere person on earth, but he sure cries phony. And a lot. He visits Checkpoint Charlie. Who’s arranging these tours, anyway? He finds a building he likes, Bürohaus Henriette–Herz-Platz 3. Kind of interesting: Henriette Herz started a famous Berlin Salon for Jewish intellectuals in the late 18th century, moving to Italy after Napoleon barged in. Now there’s a building in Berlin named after her. Take that, Nazis. And good choice, Daniel. He likes it because it looks like a UFO: “The mother ship has landed.” Ok, whatever.
He also finds the crappiest fabric store in Europe. No silk. No leather. It looks like a low-budget Joanne’s. He wants to surprise the judges by making, of all things, a jacket. He wants to make a skirt, but Amanda convinces him that younger women wear jackets over dresses, not skirts (do they really?), so he goes with a bias dress instead with a lot of movement at the bottom. Since he can’t get leather, he gets “vinyl that looks like leather.” Pleather, by any other name. White pleather. Sigh. Does PR have some kind of agreement with this fabric store, and he can’t go to a different one? That’s just mean. Then he makes black upper-thigh-high boots. I’d groan, but they turn out to look like leggings, so who cares.
It’s not bad, at least from a distance. I’m not crazy about the fit of the jacket – it looks too tight at the torso and too big across the shoulders in the back – but it has a certain Stormtrooper appeal, and the skirt twirls beautifully. Nina gets the edgy Berlin underground look; Zac’s amused by pleather and the weird futuristic effect. Zac has this way of being non-committal while sounding positive, so no one can use this against him later. Heidi does her “it’s young, hip” thing, and sees Berlin, and I guess that means a lot coming from Heidi. John’s the only holdout: he sees Berlin but doesn’t like the pleather. You go, John! The look fits comfortably in third place, to be sure, but it’s not the smashing success the other judges imply.
Layana’s perfectly happy going to Spain with Samantha. She loves the tiles and architecture. Is someone telling them to use architecture as inspiration, or are they all coming up with that on their own? Because no one’s noticing people, or clothing, or trees or flowers or water, just buildings. She finds lace over leather that’ll mimic the tile patterns. But it seems they aren’t big on service in this store, and she has to cut the fabric herself, poor baby. Still, she gives Samantha props for her sewing assistance, so I guess I’ll have to stop complaining about Layana. She’s getting a much kinder edit this episode.
Her look doesn’t get a kinder edit, though we all know by know the judges decide what they want the result to be and adjust their comments accordingly. Zac credits her with smart fabric choices but calls the sleeves a “big eyesore.” I can’t disagree with him, though I’d be a lot harsher about the shape of the coat. And the coat is about it; the pants and top are throw-away except for those draggy cuffs which Nina hates too. Heidi finds no sex appeal at all. “Not that everything has to be hot and sexy…” except it does…”but you want to look hip and young, not older.” You do, do you. They decide Layana herself looks great, but the model looks like her mom. No one sees Spain. They’re not wrong about that.
Patricia’s so happy to be Richard-free, I don’t think she cares who she’s paired with or where she goes. Paris is just the icing on the cake. Kate gets very excited about torn paper. Then Patricia gets excited about torn paper. It’s kind of decoupage graffiti, and seems they don’t have that out in the desert. She’s intrigued by the layers of history in those papers pasted to the wall. She’s in Paris, and she’s excited about the history in post-it notes? She’s not doing the romantic, whimsical Paris, she’s doing the gritty street Paris. “I don’t give you a native woman on a buffalo with wind blowing in her hair, why would I give a romantic Parisian?” Post-its it is. I shouldn’t be so snide, I’m a fan of street art, and what better place for it than Paris.
She’s thinking of layering history in a fitted jacket. She ends up with dozens of different fabrics and needs to put 247 Euros of it back, leading to a three-way wrestling match as the fabric lady and Kate each pick their discard choices while Patricia just wails, “I NEED THAT.” Eventually the fabric lady convinces her if she puts back one piece of black fabric, she’ll be all set, they hug, and Franco-American harmony is restored. It’s a funny segment. Cut to Patricia and Kate having what in any movie would be a romantic moment in the sunset, but here on PR, it’s just filler.
She tries to explain the installation graffiti to Tim, and he’s pretty impressed by her fabric technique. He’s not so impressed with the look as a whole; the dress doesn’t fit with the jacket. He suggests she start calling the jacket a top. I’m not sure how that solves the problem, but she seems to think it does.
And we end up with another Patricia outfit which means it looks like draft of something that could be terrific but is actually pretty messy. I like the jacket, except for the finishing details like the hem. I like the neck scarf, though I suspect that’s only there to cover up an unfinished neckline. The pants are throwaway, but they fit. Zac calls it “trash couture” which is pretty good. He appreciates the textile development and sees the decoupage reference, but it went wrong. I don’t think it went wrong, I think it didn’t get where it was going. Nina’s underwhelmed. John’s at his modest best: he wasn’t sure he was hip enough to get it, so he’s relieved no one else likes it. Heidi seems to like it more than the others, but she’s been on Patricia’s side all along.
Chat turns into a fascinating discussion about Fashion and Art. As in, Nina: “Fashion isn’t art. Stores are not museums.” Somewhere, Alexander McQueen laughs. Fashion doesn’t have to be art, it often isn’t art, but it can be art. And that right there is what’s wrong with Project Runway: it’s now the land of the Least Common Denominator, what will sell at Lord & Taylor. And by the way, can I remind you how excited everyone was about Michelle’s artistic use of soot (see, I told you to remember it for a reason) so they’re not even being consistent. Fact is, Patricia’s art is usually unfinished week after week, and that’s where her problem lies on this show. That said, I still fully expected Patricia to be auf’d, particularly given Nina’s pronouncement that Layana is the most commercial of the remaining designers.
And now the questions everyone loves to hear: why should you go to Fashion Week, and which two designers should go with you? Few people bother to answer the first question properly; they turn it into how hard they worked rather than what they have to offer. But the second question always yields interesting results.
Stanley: “I’ve evolved.” He likes Daniel’s evolution, too, and likes Michelle’s stuff and her conviction.
Patricia: She’d bring a different look. She’d bring Michelle and Stanley since she likes their silhouettes.
Layana: She knows who she is. She picks Michelle, and she’s interested in what Patricia does but would pick Stanley instead because he’s the stronger designer, which is known as trying to have your cake and eat it, too.
Daniel would bring Stanley and Michelle for her forward POV.
Michelle thinks the world is ready for her take on lean modern sportswear with a dirty edge. And she wants to bring Stanley and Layana.
No surprise, Michelle and Stanley lead the voting in a tie.
Final Auf (except for the one next week but that’s part of the finale so it doesn’t count in PR terms):
Michelle, Stanley, and Daniel are all quickly pronounced safe. They were the top three this week. This leaves Patricia and Layana.
In a surprise that I didn’t see coming, Layana‘s out.
That means Patricia has time, lack of which has been her greatest enemy, to create her collection for the final auf. Do you think they could do it? Make Patricia the winner? I can’t remember another PR winner who was so consistently problematic. In the judges’ eyes, that is. I had problems with several of them.
Home visits. And Nina’s underwhelmed again. It’s tough being Nina, so underwhelmable.