Runaways, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't giddy at this week's episode. Not simply because of the challenge, or the execution of the challenge, or correctly predicting who'd be leaving us this week (though feel free too congratulate me on getting that one right, because I'm awesome!), but specifically because this is yet another really good episode in a string of really good episodes of a show that I think we all doubted being capable of even turning out really good episodes anymore. The fact is Project Runway has hit a stride where it seems like it can do no wrong and we're in a mad race to the finish and it looks like it'll actually be a really good worthwhile finish.
In keeping with the race to the finish aspect of this week, guess what all the designers are talking about as they wake up in the morning? Fashion Week! And how it's so close they can touch it. And how horrible it would be to go home now and be so close but not make it. The boys are also talking about how it's time for them to get Alexander a win already. I'm trying not to chuckle, but we'll revisit that possibility later on.
Tim is in the workroom with a rep from Mary Kay because it's time for an hour and a half of Mary Kay product placement. This week, the designers are charged with going out into the ever-friendly streets of New York City, which we all know are just full of kind and accommodating people who love nothing more than being accosted by strangers while they're trying to enjoy an afternoon in the park. The designers are then expected to inform these kind and loving people that they are in need of a serious, professional makeover. Because what might enhance your quiet afternoon in the park like being confronted by a total stranger and a TV film crew while that stranger tells you you're a hideous schulb who needs to slather on a hundred pounds of Mary Kay products and get your hair cut while a reality TV contestant designs you a way better outfit than the piece of shit you chose to go out in public wearing? Now get into this van with blacked out windows and come with me. Don't worry, I've got candy!
I think I both loved and hated this twist to the typical Real Women challenge. I think asking the designers to go out and find their own real women adds a great TV drama element to the episode. Will they find someone? What if everyone says no? Who do they pick and how do they go about making their selections? On the other hand, it makes this feel a bit less like a solid makeover challenge. The designers seem to be targeting women they would like to design for anyway and not women who seriously need makeovers. Where are all the homeless people in Central Park when you need them, amirite? Sean even goes so far as to tell one woman who may have been interested that he's looking for someone taller. To which my jaw dropped and I had an honest moment of saying, "What the actual fuck, Sean?!" at my screen. It's the kind of thing I'd expect from a Korina or a Sandy, but certainly not from my baby faced Aussie honey. Luckily it might be the most offensive moment in the episode, and a "Real Women" challenge on Project Runway with only one offensive moment is something for the record book.
Having found their muses, the designers are granted 2 days and $200 to make it work. With that kind of time and money, it seems like the kiss of death could come in fabric selection. So someone please explain to me Alexander and Amanda's fabric choices? Because I honestly don't get it. Char's muse says her favorite color is red, so Char goes all red, all the time. Char's fabric choice, and also her final design, all bring up the other thing I love about the Real Women challenges: How to make the client happy. Char hears "I like red. My husband is in a rock band" and nothing else. And the final product proves that she doesn't really know how to incorporate her design into what someone else wants. I'm looking at this challenge and the team challenge with Sandy as evidence of that.
But we get ahead of ourselves. The designers head back to the workroom where they design, and then their muses come in for a consultation. The truth is, I tend to tune out the hair and makeup portion of the show. Not that I don't love a good hair style and makeup design, but I just can't handle how that portion of the episode has become an extended commercial for name-brand hair and makeup products. So I pretty much tuned out for that section of the episode.
One section of the episode I was all eyes and ears for, however, was Tim's visit. It's pretty standard really. He tells Sean that his look is the only one he can't see a signature from. He comments about the taste level of Char's shorts. I love his exchange with Emily about how he loves her look, but she makes mention of the fact that Tim always gives her positive feedback but the judges don't. Tim and the judges don't appear to be in agreement on Emily's aesthetic. Which is something I want to talk about later, so don't let me forget. Tim also tells Alexander that his dress is hideous. So you know, just a regular visit to the....wait what?
That's right, Runaways, Tim thinks Alexander's look is the biggest affront to all of mankind since Howard Stern's Fartman costume (click at your own risk. Link NSFW. You've been warned). He thinks it's hideous, ugly, the worst thing in project runway history. He thinks looking at it might cause seizures and uncontrollable projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea. Women over the age of 40 should not look directly at this dress and children under the age of 12 should be removed from the tri-county area due to risk of sterility. And he advises Alexander to change it all immediately. It's a Project Runway first. And here's the thing, I think he's right that the look is ugly, and he's right that it should be changed, but did he really need to go on and on about it for as long and in as exuberant terms as he did? I think Tim played it up for the cameras a bit there, and it really bugged me. It's the first annoyance from Tim Gunn of the episode, but it won't be the last.
Alexander is clearly flustered by Tim's critique of his dress. or at least I think he is.... I assume he is given the things he says.... I'm going to be honest guys, just looking at his face, I really couldn't tell. He was either really bothered, or her was really high. Both of which would be perfectly reasonable reactions to the reaming he'd just received. I mean I don't even know how he was capable of sitting at the sewing machine after the way Tim just ripped him a new one, amirite? (Ok I really have to stop doing that.) This also isn't the first time we've seen Alexander scrap his look at the last minute and try something new. Last time, he came out with a kind of burlap sack look... He can't do something that horrible again, right?
Tim tells everyone they have til 10pm to fix it and a kind of relief seems to wash over the workroom which suggests he made his visit early on the second day. So at the very least Alexander has time to make it work; he's just faced with having one day where everyone else had two. And the editing of his day actually makes it seem like he'd going to pull out a serious turn around and a make it work moment for the history books. We'll certainly see if that's the case.
There's a lot of bitching during the confessionals by the designers about the other designers as everyone's getting ready for the runway the next day. This isn't really ever my favorite thing. If I cared about what the designers thought about their competition....wait, why would I care about that? Of course they all hate each other's aesthetics, it wouldn't be a competition if they didn't. So let's just head off to the runway already and get down to...oh wait look, Char's fat ass model just totally used the powers of her huge King Kong style backside to bust the zipper on her short shorts. How dare she! Or at least if you listen to Char's constant refrain of "You just broke the zipper," that's what it seemed like. It's not at all possible that Char did a shitty job sewing the outfit and that's why the zipper broke, right? This is, in my opinion, the second moment of offensiveness in the episode. It might be a bit subjective, but I found the rhetoric used by Char and the placement of the blame to be highly problematic and offensive.
As a result, she of course goes to run and find Tim to see what she can do to stop from having to send an exposed and traumatized woman down the runway. Tim's answer? Let's put all of the designers on the spot and ask them if they'd mind giving her more time to sew on a new zipper and close up the shorts. I've never said this before (I don't think), but fuck you Tim Gunn! I will say that I like his point that had they been using their regular models, he would have just said suck it up and let's go, but he's trying to preserve the modesty of the guests, but I still say fuck that. Tie a piece of fabric around her waist and let's go! Of course the designers are going to say yes to allowing her to have more time, and if you look at everyone's faces when Tim asks, I think it's pretty obvious everyone is just waiting for the one person who'll be brave enough to say "Hell no she can't have more time!" but no one stands up and says it. Where's Sandy when she'd actually be useful? Where's bitch Korina, who's spent the entire episode being bitchy behind people's backs, when she has the moment to stand up and just be a bitch in front of everyone? What the hell is this?
Either way, Char gets more time to sew on a new zipper, and the other designers get some time to sit around and bitch about how unfair it is. They do so from the safety of the green room, while neither Char nor Tim are in the room. Cowards! Meanwhile, the judges are equally flustered by the fact that the runway show hasn't started yet. The exchange between Heidi and Tim that goes something like "Why were you guys late?" and "I don't want to tell you now, just move it along, Klum" was pretty priceless, though. It almost makes it all worth it, but not quite.
Emily: I don’t think it’s a realistic wear look. It looks very runway ready in a lot of ways. But I love it nevertheless. She looks happy with it, she’s sexy in it, and I certainly think it’s the kind of thing Emily could be happy going home in if it came to that. It might not be the heart of the challenge, but I think it’s beautiful nonetheless.
Amanda: I hate it. I hate it so much I can’t think straight. The hemline is hideous and too short, there’s an odd cut to the front that makes it look like she’s got a baby bump or something, and I hate the pattern. The vest jacket isn’t horrible and I think it adds an interesting dimension to the outfit, but I hate everything else.
Alexander: Is that underboob I’m seeing? Whatever, it’s cute and boring. It’s not a hideous burlap sack, thank God, but it’s not expansive either. It clearly was something he threw together in one day. But I do think it’s cute and I think his model really likes it, so points for that. And it’s way better than his first look.
Char: I hate it. I hate the color and the uniformity of the color. I hate the cut of it. I hate the shorts, I hate the little cut out in the back, I hate that it reminds me way too much of Sandy’s look from last week, I hate it all.
Kini: For all the talk of it just being another simple denim dress, I think it’s fabulous. I think the jacket really makes the look though. Without it, it would be a fairly simple and boring denim dress, but the jacket kicks everything up a notch. I love it.
Sean: This girl looks like she needs to be on a stage! My God I love everything about this. On the one hand, it’s a simple black dress, but on the other hand, it’s just so breath taking. The fringe along the hemline and the slit is just perfection, the sheer top is gorgeous, and the open back is to die for. She should wear that everywhere!
Korina: Newsflash: Korina really knows how to make leather jackets, man! I mean she’s really good at it. I know no one knew that before because we’ve just NEVER seen her do it, and this was such a test for her charting these new and exciting waters, but she just really knocked it out huh, guys? OK, snark aside, I like it. I love that Royal blue color. The skirt I didn’t like at first, but the more I saw it move the more I liked it. But yeah, we get it Korina, your one trick is a good one. Move on.
Here's the thing: technically, Emily, Kini, and Korina are in the top, and Char, Alexander and Amanda are in the bottom, right? But after listening to the judging, it sounds a lot more like Kini and Korina are in the top, Alexander and Char are in the bottom, and Emily and Amanda are in the middle. I don't know, it was weird.
The judges point out that Alexander's look is boring. Nina also makes a very interesting observation that the crop top is a very summer look but he's paired it with a very wintery fabric. It all goes back to the issue we saw from his potato sack dress from earlier this season: when he has to rush to pull something out in the last minute, it's going to be simple and boring. This kid (and I say that because I often forget he's only 22) has a lot of talent and potential, but he needs time to let that out and to let it breathe. It feels a bit like he was ultimately done in by the constant time restraints of the show.
Meanwhile, the judges comment on the taste level of Char's look. "It can be provocative and appropriate at the same time," one of them points out, and I couldn't agree more. Sexy and edgy do not have to be mutually exclusive with tasteful. The judges are split on Emily's look. Some of them like the ruffles around the neck, some of them don't. Some of them think it's a bit costume-y (which is what Sean said they would say), and then Zac likes that element of it. For what it's worth, I really don't see a costume when I look at Emily's dress, I see something that's more Runway than sidewalk, to be sure, but there's something to be said for that. And her model looks and feels amazing in it. I really think she sold the look. When she was asked where she would ever wear that and she had a ready made answer, I was shocked and pleased.
Korina wins, giving her her second win and making it more and more obvious that this is really just between her, Sean, Kini, and Amanda at this point (IE the only contestants left with any wins at all, all of whom have multiples). Alexander has an expression. I mean, he goes home, which finally gives him an expression. No I joke, but I really did find the shot of him crying in the green room as Tim came in to be the most adorable and affecting thing ever. A lot of the times when contestants leave and they cry, I shrug it off and tell them to hurry up and clean out their space. But with Alexander I got the impression that he was honestly a good guy, and he was honestly pleased with having been here and having been granted this opportunity. I think there's also the element of him being annoyed with Char's extra time in the workroom. He points out that had she not been granted that amount of time, he wouldn't have gone home. And I agree with him, but I also think if you'd said something when Tim asked if she could have more time instead of just standing there with that typically Alexander look on your face, then she wouldn't have had it and you wouldn't have gone home, buddy. It's a moot point now. Goodbye, Alexander; you and your perfect deadpan will be missed.
Keepin' it Real Thoughts:
--Ok I wanted to come back to the disconnect between the way Tim views Emily's work and the way the judges do. This makes me think that Emily would have been the perfect candidate for the Tim Gunn save had the opportunity arose where she needed it. But here's the thing: she hasn't been in the bottom or sent home yet. So clearly the judges felt her worthy enough to make it to this point? Also, hypothetically speaking, had Tim not used the save on Char, and had Emily been sent home like last week and had Tim then saved her, would it be a problem that Tim was using the save this late in the competition? I know it's a lot of twisty hypotheticals that don't matter, but I think the question of how long is too long to hold onto the save is an interesting one too. Also this is just how my overactive brain works, so sorry to subject you to that.
--I know no one was ever going to stand up and say "No" to Tim's request for Char to have more time, so my comments about Alexander's dead look causing him to be out was tongue in cheek, but I do also think everyone has to own some portion of the blame here. It was wrong for Tim to put everyone in that position, but it was also wrong for no one to stand up and voice their problems with it only to turn around and voice their problems about it and have someone else go home in her place.
--Sean's the only safe designer this week, and I don't know about that. I think his look was worthy of being safe, but I also think that I would have liked to spend more time with his model who clearly loved and was perfectly at home in that dress. I would have liked to hear from him more, and I think the judges would have been less divided over him than they were over Emily.
--Nina's disclaimer about their critiques not being about the women themselves was just great. IDK if they do that for every Real Women challenge, but I certainly think it's the first time I've ever heard one of the judges say that. It makes me feel like they've finally figured out how to do these challenges with the very minimum of offense being offered.
--I love how Tim was trying to rush the models away before Heidi stopped him and was like "Wait, you still haven't told us why you were late!" and put him on the spot. HAHA take that, Timmy!
--Lastely, the Fall TV season is upon us this week. What are you guys watching this year? If I may make a suggestion, last night's How to Get Away with Murder was really quite amazing. If you didn't watch it, I'd strongly suggest you check it out. I can't recall the last time I saw such a surefooted pilot.