Project Runway Season 12: Ep. 2, Million Dollar Fashion

Time to design for Seal Team Six.

Yes, of course I’m kidding. This is America; men with guns will be coming soon to a school near you, if the NRA has its way, so get used to it. These particular men with guns, however, are there to guard the $30 million worth of jewelry that serves as the inspiration for the challenge: in one day, come up with a look glamorous enough for serious jewelry (which goes back to the vault after the episode). Oddly, there’s no easily identifiable “sponsor” for the challenge, other than a vague reference to “the diamond industry.” By the way, I’m guessing these guys are actors; if real guards are truly required, I would hope they’re actually guarding the diamonds, not posing behind the PR screen.

Tim gives a “suggested budget” of $300, but everyone gets a product-placement debit card loaded with $4000 to last the entire season, and the designers can do whatever they like within that limit. Mood trip; first Swatch sighting of the season. He’s taking a nap; Season 12 is a snoozer for Swatch.

Eric Daman is guest judge. Oh, and in Week 2, anonymous judging is already somewhat compromised: Heidi oversees model selection (she wouldn’t let anyone else stand up there with all those jewels). Me, I wouldn’t remember, but I suspect she’s worn some of those diamonds. For all I know, they’re her personal collection.

Tim encourages use of the “Play Live” thing: “Here’s the polite way to give the judges the finger.” Oh, dear Tim, whose dignity and vocabulary I have admired so long. Are they really paying you enough to say these things? Don’t you remember the days when you declined to accept the turtle poop? Can’t we go back there again?

Shine On, You Crazy Diamonds: Top Three

Dom picks an emerald necklace; she wants to do something laid back but amped up, a dress that stands up to the glitz. She buys a print that looks like emeralds; to me it looks like French toile. Tim warns her to keep it from going Palm Springs poolside, since no one but a floozy wears an emerald necklace near chlorine. I did not know that. Thank goodness I am now aware and can avoid flooze. The judges go wild: it’s young, it’s fresh, it’s different. Ok, if you say so. I’m still not sure about the print, though I do love the straps off the shoulder. Nina loves the back but the green hemming is overpowering; Heidi would wear this but she hates the matching hair ribbon; Zac agrees, the hair band makes it beachy (I was thinking a much worse image), but he likes the play off the graphic nature of the jewelry, the skirt caught the air nicely and can go red carpet to debutante. Debutante? Ah, I see – a reference to his Fashion Week show last September, based partly on 1938 debutante Brenda Frazier. Smart man, Zac is: now everyone wants a debutante dress. Except me, but I’m not in his demographic (or price range) anyway. Dom is Top Three.

Sandro plans a shin-length vintage look with black lace. He throws a screaming fit in the sewing room (Ken seems to be the target and gets pretty nasty himself, but the original issue is obscure) giving Justin his first opportunity to take off his cochlear implant. I wonder if they’re allowed to bring iPods. Sandro tells Tim he’s doing the 50s, mixing retro and modern; Tim warns him to hone his critical eye. Sandro has no idea what that means so shines him on. Then we get to the steamer; when he can’t get it to work, he puts out a general alarm for help, but since it’s the last minutes before runway no one pays any attention to him. So he goes out to grab a crew member by the hand, drags him into the workroom,and demands he teach him to use the steamer. I wonder if they get this a lot, the crew. I vaguely remember Vincent berating someone over laundry a few years ago, but I would imagine it happens far more often than we’re shown. The crew member makes a hasty retreat – I’m assuming they’re told not to do anything sewing related under any circumstances – and Sandro yells “Thank you for good service,” which puts him in the general range of irredeemable for me. By the time they leave for the runway, his model is only half dressed, but somehow she’s just fine on the runway, and while it’s tight, no lady parts are hanging out. It’d be sharp if it weren’t quite so tight and didn’t feature a bare midriff – the second on the runway tonight, is this a current trend? If so, I hope it stops soon. Heidi points out he again piled on the detail, with the crumbcatcher top, midriff, and lace down the sides… but it works this week. Excuse me? She loves the peek-a-boos on the side and the fishtail. Eric likes the earth tones with the rubies, and while there’s too much lace on the fishtail, it’s nicely done. Nina likes the length, and use of a fabric not associated with jewelry. Zac, too, likes the unpredictable fabric, but notes it does need steaming (I’m guessing some sputtering was edited out); the lace sides make it trashy but the midriff makes it modern. I’ll agree with the first half of that; I thought the midriff was the retro element. On closer look, Heidi loves the chest, and Zac credits him with the most technique and construction. Nina and Eric team up to say “It walks the line between… stripper and chic.” Heidi thinks he got it right. Heidi would. Sandro left the line Nina was talking about far, far behind. Steamer or no, he’s Top Three. I hope the crew guy got a gift certificate to someplace nice. And an apology.

Kate wants to evoke stature, and make her model feel like she rules a small country. Power, the ultimate beauty treatment. Tim recognizes the signature Kate corset. Really? I didn’t remember that, but they’re right, she did the Heidi perfume dress and a couple of invisibly-corsetted mermaids. I love the top, but isn’t the bottom a little voluminous? The more I see it, the more I like it. Perhaps because of the color, it reminds me of Chris March’s museum dress. That’s not far off: she was going for Marie Antoinette (which is pretty hilarious given the “ruler of a small country” thing. Didn’t anyone in this group pay attention in History class? Oh for the days when Burt differentiated between Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth). Heidi recognized the corset, too; it’s light and pretty, with a nice back. Eric likes the whole Queen Marie story and the asymmetry, and the necklace pops; he thinks it’s the strongest work she’s done. Nina loves the color and aside from a few things she got twisted (I’m guessing that’s metaphoric rather than literal twisting, as in the catchphrase “don’t get it twisted” from ten years ago) it’s great. Marie Antoinette, Top Three.

Baubles, Bangles and Beads: The Safe Zone

Alexander hears “one day challenge” and his bowels drop. Cleanup in Aisle Six. He wears a nice shawl to Mood. He scares Tim with his chiffon teardrops; Tim’s thinking granny. I love the almost-hidden yellow on the sleeves, but there’s just too much chiffon for me.

Mirandapushed the shape.” Push it back, please. Fast.

Justin ignores Tim’s advice to reduce the number of layers he’s planning (which has more teeth this season, since Tim can call him out for that at judging), and puts his hearing device back on just in time to hear gasps as his dress comes down the runway; he’s proud of it.

Ken does a very sharp modern peplum. I love the color, though it changes from teal green on my TV to teal blue on my computer screen. It’s probably considered “too safe.” Still, it’s striking, and I’m very fussy about pepli.

Sue isn’t crazy about the necklace, but as Tim says, generally designers don’t tell clients to go screw themselves if their tastes in jewelry don’t match. She again has trouble with the sewing machine; someone removes her black thread and puts in green thread, she doesn’t know how to change it back. Dom to the rescue, but instead of being thankful for the help, Sue is prickly about her machine being altered in her absence. Sue said in her interview she’d never seen the show. The dress looks great on the runway, though (not so much in the photo); Zac is all smiles, and I figure she’ll be in the top with a one-way-monkey warning, but no, it’s the obscure middle.

Bradon: “I design for people wearing million dollar jewels all the time. No, not ever, really.” Whew. He had me worried there. It was the last thing I was expecting from the guy who said in his interview he could only win if everyone else was blind or quit. Excellent fake-out skills. He runs through Mood looking for buckram, a new word for me: it’s a stiff fabric used for bookbinding and for stiffening clothing. Ah. Like interfacing? (finding Unicorn Buckram at the Joann’s website was just a bonus.) Tim’s impressed his fabric only cost $20/yard; it’s curtain fabric, a synthetic, but it looks better than it sounds. In fact, on the runway, I’d never think it was curtain fabric. Alexander’s the one who frequently uses upholstery; maybe it’s catching. He worries it could go old-fashioned, something he does from time to time, and Tim tells him Nina was worried about that last week. Yes, he had a lot of trouble last week, when he won, hello. At any rate, Bradon has immunity, so if he’s going to go old-fashioned, this is the time to do it. Everyone goes “ooooh” when his model whips off her jacket on the runway, but I guess the judges didn’t feel it.

Jeremy thinks the diamonds are quite intuitive. I wonder what that means? Justin asks if he can do eveningwear; sure he can. “I think.” He does a lot of tulle along the bottom of the skirt. It’s an almost for me; there’s something very appealing about the tulle, but there’s also something very tacked-on about the tulle.

Karen makes a poorly fitting dress in a horrid color and is still safe. She made a shapeless mess last week and was safe. Is she the one with the pictures of Heidi with goats this season? Or are they just determined to beat up on Timothy week after week?

Alexandria continues to play Stealth Bitch by muttering brief blunt put-downs in a Swedish accent in her interviews, but is nearly invisible otherwise. Tim isn’t sure about the trim on her dress. The finished result is quite nice, but very, very simple, though she got a great drape at the neckline. Simple can go two ways on PR. Here, they ignore it, which may be the best way.

Nothing but Paste: Bottom Three

Timothy is officially everyone’s favorite chew toy, and by everyone, I mean everyone. I think the Dalai Lama may have tweeted, “Timothy needs to go home” last night. Timothy isn’t, of course, inspired by jewelry. He is, however, inspired by the blue velvet box the jewelry comes in, and he wants to follow that story. I like that story, too: you give your kid the hottest new toy, and he plays with the box. It’s how we learn passive-aggressive behavior in a pre-verbal state. He goes through the garbage at Mood. Not the garbage garbage, but the remnants. Tim suggests he check out the organic section, because that’s what it’s there for, right? This is the Mindset at work: eco-friendly, ah yes we have a department for that. Well, no, that isn’t the kind of eco-friendly Timothy does, he does reduce-reuse-recycle and he finds some blue velvet left over from what someone else bought and goes with it (to be continued…). He starts out with a blue rectangle over the bust. Not a bandeau, just a rectangle of blue velvet tacked onto a sheer bodice. It’s impossible not to connect it to the black vulvar rectangle Sandro’s look required last week (and I’m thinking that’s why they made that a black rectangle in the first place). Tim is concerned, for good reason. Hey, I love Timothy, but I’m not blind, Tim’s right that it looks stuck on, has no purpose, and doesn’t make visual sense. Where is the design, Tim asks? Timothy thinks this is where he’s supposed to nod and smile and take in wisdom, but Tim is asking a question and he’s having trouble processing because he’s feeling like a kicked puppy. Aww… now don’t all you haters feel mean? Come on, Sandro’s bullying crew members and screaming at designers, Sue’s complaining that other people are sewing on her machine, Alexandria is muttering Swedish curses, and all Timothy is guilty of is being very young and having been in this bubble of people who tell him he’s brilliant, and he can’t understand why no one here thinks he’s brilliant. He shouldn’t be here, he’s nowhere near ready for this, but piling on isn’t nice. Rage Against the Machine: don’t go along with it. He asks everyone in the room for suggestions, gets several different ideas, and somehow turns out a ballerina spinning in a jewelry box in three hours. I don’t get that image – the white fabric needs to be a lot less bedsheety – but it’s not terrible. In fact, it’s got some interesting lines in the skirt, and I’m crazy about the idea of the racer-front (it needs some tweaking). His model wears makeup, but Heidi isn’t happy with the hair. “You need to do a head-to-toe look.” Hey, he did a head-to-toe look last week. Maybe not your head-to-toe look, but he knew what he was going for. I wish he’d go back to the Virgin Mary sniffing her armpits at Hiroshima. Heidi: “You went through the garbage?” Zac: “The blue velvet is from my studio.” Hey, you haters, Zac Posen had the frozen scallops in his cooler (if you’re not a Top Chef fan, don’t worry about it). The main complaint is backwardsness; Nina doesn’t get the racer back in the front (which seems like a cool idea to me) and suggests he play with gender via a tuxedo jacket instead, because that’s her idea of playing with gender. I think Timothy’s having trouble processing again, but he claims it’s all helpful and he appreciates the feedback. In 20 years, he might be Patricia; right now, he needs some incubator time. I just hope this experience is good for him. Nietzsche was wrong; sometimes what doesn’t kill you cripples you for life. On Closer Look, Tim dishes about the miraculous improvement he made from the first effort, and Zac gives grudging credit for the sewing being “not bad” (Nina isn’t sure about that). But they still hate it. In the lounge, Alexandria moves the Bitch out of Stealth Mode and asks if he thinks he’s going home since he’s been in the bottom twice. Sandro tells him not to talk so much, certainly don’t tell them he got the stuff from the garbage. I say: Timothy, you’re not PR material, but you’re in good company: Joseph Aaron Segal, Kooan, Ping. NYFashionistas are not the universe; develop along your own path. Bottom Three.

Kahindo brings in her African heritage with a print. I love it, but Justin thinks it looks like camouflage and doesn’t go with diamonds. I don’t know about diamonds, but I like it better than Kate’s toile. Tim’s worried about silk charmeuse; it’s difficult to work with. He asks if she intended the “puckering” around the circular cutout in the back. She considered it shirring. It’s all what you call it, but it is pretty messy. He suggests covering the print with sheer black tulle, and she’s impressed. On the runway, Kahindo sees Michelle Obama in a cocktail dress. I quite like it (that’s a bad sign). I was glad when she was pulled out of the lineup, until Heidi declared it off-the-rack. Aha, that’s why I like it! Zac thinks the print looks like sand art, and the construction is not inspiring, since she herself outshines her model. Nina is bored (uh oh). On Closer Look, Tim accepts responsibility for the black tulle; when Nina sees the original fabric, she groans. Bottom three.

Helen does eveningwear so she’s got this. I can almost hear the augmented fourth playing over that declaration; you know what’s gonna happen. Her jewelry is a simple strand of chain links so she plans a strapless dress with cups she’s never done before and beautiful style lines. She shows Tim what she calls her “trademark machine fluting” but he’s worried about time. She’s supremely confident, this is her forte. There’s that diabolic chord again… She’s got so much time she’s running around giving everyone advice. “I have to stop being Tim, I guess it can be irritating.” That’s why you’re doing it, you thrive on irritating. Then Suddenly a Knock at the Door: she’s worried about time. And she’s worried that next to Kate’s dress, hers looks like dog turd. I’m not sure why she fixates on Kate, since hers looks like dog turd next to just about anyone’s. Just before her dress comes down the runway – that’s BEFORE – she starts crying, and Heidi sends Tim over to help (at least, that’s how it’s staged and edited to look; the designers get to see a practice runway show before the judges come out, and all the aired comments come from that. Which is fine; I like the comments) and he either kisses her on the side of the head or whispers something in her ear (like, “You’ve had your moment, now shut up so we can get on with this). A crew member brings tissues, making it THE FIRST TIME IN PROJECT RUNWAY HISTORY for a second on-camera crew member (or body part) this episode. I see the idea, but boy is this a major miss. Random strings hang from the seams; the back is half-ruched and basted together. Everyone’s shocked to find out eveningwear is her forte (how do you do bridal and evening without doing cups?) and unanimously blame poor estimation of time requirements. She gets quite emotional: she does couture, dammit, and she’s going to keep doing it no matter no matter how many times she messes up. Sandro surprises everyone by standing up for her. Heidi appreciates the passion, but it’s about the clothes. See how calm I am? On Closer Look, Tim points out he warned her about time and she assured him it would be fabulous; Nina wants to celebrate ambition. That’s ironic detachment. In the lounge, Helen says “They ripped me a new one and wrapped it around my body.” That’s pretty good, I have to admit. But I also think she’s loving it. Bottom Three.

Resetting the Stones: Results

Kate wins. She’s just thrilled to death, she is she is. Kahindo is out; it wasn’t the worst dress, but that’s what happens when you bore Nina. Twitter explodes with outrage, not out of any support for Kahindo but because everyone wanted Timothy out; a few thought it should’ve been Helen. I don’t think Kahindo belonged in the bottom at all, not with monstrosities by Karen and Miranda. But PR has never been able to handle African themes (just ask Korto), even as muted and vague as done here, and I suppose they wore out their pretense of diversity last season with Patricia. Tim can’t believe how close everyone has become so soon, and (as everyone kicks Timothy one more time) tells Kahindo, “You’re talented and you have a pure soul,” and tells us he didn’t use his rescue because as talented and pure of soul as she is, he agrees with the judges. Fact is, it’s way too early to use up his save. I’m guessing it’s all planned, anyway.
'Unicorn Blood' by Maryanna Hoggatt

Next week:

Coney Island, winning arcade prizes that will serve as raw materials for the Unconventional Materials challenge. The first Team Challenge. Clips of Miranda and Timothy in tears. As Hannibal Lecter says in the sequel: “This is really gonna hurt.” Good thing I’m maintaining my ironic distance, even if they do draw unicorn blood.

11 responses to “Project Runway Season 12: Ep. 2, Million Dollar Fashion

  1. “I’m very fussy about my pepli.” might be my favorite sentence 🙂 So, this is my first comment this season and I meant to tell you that because we’d accidentally let our EW subscription lapse I didn’t even know PR was coming back until I read it here. Phew. So catching up from last week as well: I like the anonymous judging, though I think it will prove less and less anonymous (Clearly we all knew Helen’s dress this week), and I’m delighted they get to look at the stuff up close. Sandro lounging around in his leopard print is like some kind of caricature Russian porn star. If I was the lady who went home this week I’d be so offended that Timothy and Helen’s dreadful items made the cut. I didn’t know that the designer runway comments come from a practice runway!! I really liked Kate’s dress and also Dom’s (and how cute is Dom?). Oh, and I find it hard to believe Helen specialized in special occasion wear and did not know how to do breast cups.

    • I just said last week the only ones missing from the Comments section were the Debraskys. Glad to see you! You know, I always thought there was something wrong with me, that I liked all the stuff Nina sneered at, but I’m beginning to realize, sometimes it’s not me, it’s her.

  2. Hi Karen,

    This episode was disappointing. The majority of the time is spent on what is wrong, rather than what is right. So far this season “fit” is not being discussed. Sandro’s outfits are ridiculously tight, and Karen’s was ill-fitting in the “side-boob section of town–along with a few others. PR is a sewing/tailoring show right along with design, even though those rules are broken from time to time. Kadhindo created a competent, well tailored, tasteful dress that would be beautiful on Michelle Obama and Sharron Stone. I loved the print, how she used it and how beautiful the diamond necklace was featured. Was it original? No, but neither was Kate’s. I also thought Tim-Tim showed amazing flexibility to redesign his dress into a better than decent design. I hope he will use the organic section of Mood so he can better color coordinate his fabrics as the white did not work well.


  3. I simply cannot see how Karen has skated by in the middle twice now, or for that matter, why she was even selected to compete. Her initial interview and designer portrait (which looks like pediatric nurse scrubs) had me questioning her qualifications, and I had decided she was early cannon fodder. However, the judges don’t even seem to be aware of her uninspired, poorly constructed work when it walks the runway. The first week was a sad sack with mismatched seams, and this week’s gown gapped in the armpits and looked like a discarded nightgown. I wonder whether she “has something” on one or more of the judges.

    And I just loved Heidi griping about the impossibility of wearing a bra with Timothy’s racer-front bodice when she herself was obviously not wearing one in the introductory scene, and Nina never wears one.

    • Hi Mo – prior to this week, Joanna Coles is the only person on this show in twelve-plus-two season who ever mentioned bras as a necessity. I don’t understand why suddenly it’s an issue. It’s like they just want to find something new to complain about.

  4. Well here I thought you were going to go on defending the indefensible Timothy and then I read this: “He shouldn’t be here, he’s nowhere near ready for this,…”.

    And my sense of humanity and all that is right and just has returned. My equilibrium is balanced again. You had me so confused last week Karen that I have hardly been able to walk straight!

    The bullets:

    – I can’t believe it took me two episodes to figure this out, but the part of “Sandro” is clearly be played by Sacha Baron Cohen
    – It gets more and more blatant each season, but when you saw Kahindo, Timothy and Helen facing elimination you knew exactly what way this was going down. Drama over design, baby.
    – You are the smartest PR recapper running!


    • I want Timothy out for his own good. I’m always uncomfortable when they use a seemingly nice, if offbeat, person as an object of ridicule to generate buzz. It’s like they had this nice little box all ready for him – “Oh, sustainable, great, he’ll make cocktail dresses out of organic fabrics.” Breaks my heart to see him so eager to please, trying to fit his quirks into their preconceptions.

      Two weeks without a rant, and counting. 😉

  5. I loved Kahindo’s dress, too. It was sharp, sophisticated, and true to her aesthetic. The jewels she chose weren’t “over-the-top”, so I liked that she didn’t play it safe by creating yet another gown. I’m clueless as to how they decided her look was boring, and Sandro’s raunchy concoction was “nicely done”. I have to agree with Tbone – it’s definitely all about the drama. And THAT’S what drives me nuts! I only watch because I love seeing what the designers will come up with.

    Thanks for another humorous and dead-on recap, Karen. I look forward to them every week! 🙂

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