Final three four! Or however many designers are left. Let's count them by reality show stereotypes: Three Guys and the Last Lady Standing. Three Olds and a Young. Two Gays and Two Not-Gays. Three Borings and a Villain Edit. THIS…is who's left on Project Runway.
RECAP READING NOTES: I've gone and omitted every instance of someone reminding us that they are in the Final Four and Have Come So Far and Are So Close and Want To Go All The Way. This cuts the episode down from an hour to about 24 minutes.
In addition to saying almost all of the above, Heidi takes a moment to tell us what this episode will really be about: the Jay vs. Mila Fashion-Off for the final FINAL spot at Bryant Park: One of you will show at the tents, and the other will be out.
Except…we all know that they ALL showed at the tents, along with quite a few other eliminated contestants. Janeane showed at the tents. Janeane! Seriously, ProjRun, the lies! The deception! I can't wait for the Lifetime movie about it. Not Without My Bobbin: Sew Many Lies: How One Cable Network's Piss-Poor Scheduling Led To the Deceptions of a Nation: The Project Runway Season 7 Story.
And while we're kind-of on that subject, let me tell you how I really feel about this stupid Final Four/Final Three stunt: I think it sucks and it's completely contrived and I think we would have ended up with this extra challenge thing NO MATTER WHAT. The producers always intended to do this, but are trying to pass it off as if Jay and Mila honestly tied with each other last week. If Maya had stayed on, I guarantee you we'd be seeing a Maya vs. Mila episode this week. But Maya quitting forced the producers to show their hand: They admitted they "had" to bring Anthony back so the flow of the final episodes wouldn't be disrupted. But…last week's episode was supposed to be a double elimination. Maya leaving could have simply turned that one into a single elimination and the two-part finale could have just been about our actual Final Three instead of this emotionally torturous fuckwitting they do with Jay and Mila.
(I also think Maya's quitting pretty much meant Mila's Top Three spot was a lock, because you don't move a show to Lady Network Lifetime and have three dudes in the finale.)
(Thus ends the tin-foil hat portion of this recap. On with the show!)
So Mila and Jay really, really hate each other. They keep telling us this, but we've never seen why. Was there ever any fighting? Just general seething? Did they hide trash-talking interviews from us because they liked keeping Emilio solely in that role?
(Shit. There I go again. Sorry.)
It's Tim Time, On Tour!
Seth Aaron, Vancouver, WA
SA has already designed (and completed) 15 looks and plans at least five more. His collection is very…black. And jacket-y.
Tim loves everything, but lays on the blunt: Seth Aaron will not win. The judges have seen it all before. There are no surprises. The season-long repetition that the judges never once really called him on is biting him in the ass big-time now. Tim advises him to essentially start over. This seems crazy harsh, and maybe a little unnecessary, given the subpar collections we see later on in the show, but it sounds like Seth is going to listen to Tim. Personally, I think he just needed some color. These all-black final collections are killing me.
Then Tim plays Pictionary with SA's kids (he guesses "BALLOONS! FALLOPIAN TUBES!") (it was a stethoscope) and then jumps on their backyard trampoline in his suit and then Tim calls Lifetime and demands a fucking raise.
Emilio, New York, NY
We hear about Emilio's under-privileged childhood in the south Bronx. (You can read more about it this pre-Project-Runway profile in New York Magazine, and sorry, Emilio Haters: He actually sounds like a really hard-working, ambitious, accomplished Nice Guy.) He reveals a collection full of color and another pattern with his initials and a hideous brocade jacket and then picks a fight with Tim. Tim tries to offer criticism and Emilio makes it clear that he's not changing anything and it's awkward and kind of awful. And really, Emilio's collection doesn't look so hot at this point. It certainly doesn't look like any of the work he produced over the season and needless to say, Tim is not invited to play Scattergories with Emilio's family afterward. And then he demands another fucking raise, along with a shitload of hooch.
What we have here (I think) is a very successful designer going on a show about 20 years later than he should have. Emilio thinks he's done pretty damn well for himself with Tim Gunn, and…he has. He's on this show for the money and the exposure and sees no reason to get carried away with the mentoring aspect. The problem is, of course, that he comes across as a complete asshole to our beloved Papa Gunn and everybody starts hoping Tim is right and Emilio is wrong. Tim isn't a judge and he isn't infallible — I'm worried that his criticisms of Seth Aaron's work will be his undoing if he really does go back and start from scratch — but damn, Emilio, you make it hard for people to root for you. Can you just dial back the dickitude a little bit?
Mila, Los Angeles, CA
Mila's collection is inspired by shadows. Which is a nice way of saying: black and white. Color-blocking. Retro mod. More of the goddamn same. Lord, even this woman's DOG is a Dalmatian and thus fits into her design aesthetic.
Tim sits down with Mila's mom and dad and boyfriend and it's boring. MOVING ON.
Jay, San Fransisco, CA
Jay's collection is inspired by Japanese samurai. It's very gimmicky, and Tim says as much. There are nice elements and damn but the boy has impeccable technical skills, but Tim says the dreaded phrase of "student work" about some of the more over-worked bits of frippery. OH, MAYA. WHY DID YOU ABANDON US IN OUR HOUR OF FINAL THREE NEED?
Jay's family makes a big whole Filipino feast for Tim and they all love Jay and are adorable and Jay cries and I really hope this show realizes what it's about to do to this poor kid and has a hard time living with itself.
Less boring is when Mila arrives at the hotel back in New York, only to have Jay knock on the door. SURPRISE! They're all in the same suite. Roommates! Jay is all, "Gaaaaaaaawd."
But then they have a deep heart-to-heart about why they never talked much and Mila talks about her defense mechanisms and Jay says stuff too and they kiss and make up and dammit, there goes my secret dream of designers getting into a huge hair-pulling catfight on the runway and then the models join in and everybody ruins the garments and ends up in the pool. Fingers crossed for next year!
The others arrive. Seth has lost a lot of weight and looks vaguely manic. Probably from sewing 25 new looks in six weeks. His hair is doing something I do not approve of. Emilio admits that the collection he's showing is not the collection Tim saw. WELL THEN. AREN'T YOU FANCY.
Tim walks in and does. Not. Hug. Emilio. Pointedly. Thoughtfully.
The designers arrive in the new workspace and Tim drops da bomb: the Mila and Jay fashion-off is happening that day, right then. They have to choose their three strongest looks to show and have a very limited amount of time to fit them on their models (their model from the show and two randomly-assigned girls) and make necessary adjustments.
Mila is nervous about her lack of color in her looks, so her solution? Pink eyeshadow. Yes. That'll show 'em!
Jay cries. Mila cries. Mean show! Mean! Seriously. This whole "design a collection only to get booted anyway" thing is just cruel.
Let's start with Mila's looks.
Okay, so. Putting aside my feelings for Mila's personality and my grudge over how over-praised I found most of her work to be…I really like that first coat and the striped tunic/jacket thing. I would probably try those on at the store. I would probably admire the last dress in a magazine, though I'm really not a fan of that bandage-like neckline Mila does over and over.
But yet. YAWN. Holy crap. This is not innovative design. This is someone with good style who is essentially remaking other designers' work in the confines of her style. This is sportswear with an obligatory dress-made-out-of-something-weird to justify why this stuff belongs on the catwalk instead of a catalog. It's repetitive and referential, and kind of looks like it was made for a more time-and-cash-crunched challenge on the show instead of in three months with a $9,000 budget.
(Also: Mila says she designed gloves and rings and "had them made." The judges don't bat an eye, but isn't that technically against the rules? Not the jewelry, probably, but the gloves are just sewn, no? Didn't Jeffrey get in trouble because of suspicions that he outsourced sewing? Or are accessories always an exception to that rule?)
Mila gets dinged on her styling — the pink eyeshadow amazingly failed to impress those judges! — and told to try something more edgy and modern to offset the retro feel of the clothing.
And oh! Hey! Judges! Instead of edgy and modern hairstyles, maybe we should just go ahead and look at what Jay presented:
(My husband commented that Jay REALLY, REALLY likes putting extra stuff around women's hips.)
Now this is more of what I think of when I think of classic Project Runway final collections. It's different from most of what Jay produced all season, yet isn't jarringly so, because…it's still him. He obviously edited it down per Tim's advice, and while the judges seem to like the first look the best because it's the simplest, I like the last one the best, because it's kick ass.
Based on Mila's three looks, you know EXACTLY what the rest of her collection looks like. Jay's looks make me extremely curious about what else he'd send down the runway. And that right there is supposed to be the judging criteria for this week. However, we're soundly in safe mainstream marketability wackaloon land this week.
Michael votes for Jay, Heidi wants Mila. Nina claims to be on the fence, even though I hold her fully responsible for Mila even still being in the competition since she obviously picked her as a favorite early on. Heidi basically brow-beats Kors into agreeing with her. Nina needs to go on a weekend retreat or something and get back in touch with her inner bitch who hates being bored. It's obvious how this is going to end.
Mila is in. Jay is heartbroken. This episode is a huge downer.
(Be sure to read Project Rungay's take on this decision. T and Lo were at Bryant Park and viewed all the collections in person and are calling BULLSHIT on the judges. Their anger is delicious and gives me strength, because I 100% agree.)