We came into this episode expecting a trainwreck. Instead it was more like a multiple-car pileup.
BUT WHAT A LOVELY COLOR PALETTE! Gray and white and…a sort of grayish white and… Yeah.
Nice try, show. But unless you’re letting designers tear up seat upholstery and create brake-pedal fascinators, car product placement only really worked that one time.
While I WANT to grumble right off the bat about the team challenge, I guess I have grown as a person or some shit, because in this case I can actually appreciate and even defend it being a team challenge.
1) There are still so, so many designers that we know very little about, and a team challenge episode really gives everybody a chance to get a good chunk of screen time in which to display any and all Asshole Tendencies and Workroom Weaknesses.
2) It upped the ante on the “design for a very opinionated client” challenge even further. Designing for a designer is tough, especially if your aesthetic doesn’t match. Add in ANOTHER designer and ANOTHER aesthetic and suddenly anyone who can’t break out of their narrow comfy wheelhouse is seriously screwed.
3) Team challenge, but individual winner/loser. Be ye not the Dakota/Nyesha Episode Of Top Chef Shame. Plus it always makes for the best tears when teammates turn on each other on the runway, usually just minutes after pledging to go down together.
4) Please, like they were going to be able to get that many previous contestants back on the show to assign everybody their own client? They brought back VALERIE, for God’s sake. Did anyone even remember Valerie? Anya, Irina and Laura were good bookings; Kenley will leap on any scrap ProjRun throws her; Mila looked uncomfortable and I spent much of the night running down a list of other possibilities that were surely invited but probably turned down. (Previous winners Chloe, Leanne, GRETCHEN?)
Anyway. Let’s take a look at the teams from Dysfunction Junction:
Buffi & Elena:
Awww, aren’t they sweet? Total besties. Seconds after this photo was taken, Elena attempted to eat Buffi’s arm off. Buffi whined because she hadn’t gotten to eat anyone’s arm ALL DAY because ELENA.
So these two seemed doomed: Buffi makes loud, tacky clothes, while Elena makes…um…She-Ra inspired macaroni armor. And so of course they were assigned to Laura, who favors clean, classic lines with tasteful bold touches. Buffi is a goofy workroom stand-up comic who never shuts up, while Elena has yet to make it through an episode without at least drama-queen stress-induced hissy fit. And so of course Elena would sideline Buffi and assign her busy work, then freak out because she took on too much responsibility while Buffi nattered on with her busy work.
On the one hand, Elena would drive me INSANE. Yes, you’re from the Ukraine and life was tough (but not like, glue-gun burn tough, apparently), but you’re also kind of a bossy asshole who needs to chill the fuck out.
On the other hand, Buffy-with-an-i-sweet-merciful-Christ.
Verdict: No winners emerged from this team, personality-wise or design-wise. They each probably only have a few more weeks in them. Their dress was shockingly not horrible (though the styling was—poor Laura’s hair!) and was even more shockingly FINISHED, but landed in the vast, unremarked middle. Likely because the judges are simply not interested in them. Buffi’s taste level has been questioned, Elena is one-note with the shoulders and drab colors, moving on, NEXT.
Dmitry & Dark Timeline Britta
Man, did these two luck out or what? Two designers with similar edgy aesthetics designing for a designer with similar edgy aesthetics. The only DRAMZ the show was able to wring out of this team was that they bought silk charmeuse, which is a difficult fabric to work with. Yeah, FUCK YOU CHARMEUSE. (starts crying, asks for interview cameras to be turned off, etc.)
Verdict: Both of these guys better start offering the producers something more than “difficult fabric” going forward, because they were royally robbed this week. And Dmitry was royally robbed LAST week, with his candy beadwork dress. For some reason he isn’t catching the judges’ eyes and it’s a bummer to see favoritism emerge already. Their dress was beautifully made and so completely April. And them! The front isn’t my personal taste but the back looks awesome on her.
Though when did April get so…aggressively unhappy looking all the time? What’s up, cute lady? Is it because you signed on to be willingly dressed in car paint enamel colors? Aww, it happens.
Sonji & …um. Shit. Wait. It’ll come to me.
Oh right! These two were also there, and also made a dress. And the whole affair was as forgettable as Valerie. They worked well together, mostly appearing to offer reaction shots to the other various DRAMZ going down, but ultimately put together a basic Pretty Dress that was all but guaranteed to skate through in the middle.
Verdict: Sonji will be around for awhile. She’s fun without trying too hard to be a PERSONALITY (cough Buffi cough) and she seems able to self-edit and produce polished work within a variety of challenge/time constraints without getting rattled (cough Elena cough). The other guy…um. Shit. He’s not the dumpster guy or one of the swirly hair guys, he’s…NATHAN. Right. Nathan. Thanks for joining us, Nathan. Hope you had a good time.
Gunny Bitchpants & Fro-Yo
Okay, how hilarious was it that the biggest bitch of the season got a great big bitch lesson in bitch from Irina? (Who HOT DAMN, WHAT A BITCH. I’D CLEARLY REPRESSED THAT.) Irina was demanding, judgy, arrogant and pretty much the living embodiment of the A-list client a lot of these fools believe they deserve to be dressing. So of course Gunny didn’t have the first idea how to deal with her, especially since his partner basically collapsed into his little turquoise jumpsuit like a scared turtle and didn’t really contribute at all. Oh, Fro-Yo. I had such high entertainment hopes for you. But now you’re rapidly becoming just another in a long line of designers who isn’t nearly as interesting as your hair.
Verdict: Holy shitballs, what an overpraised piece of crap. They’re lucky Irina kept her mouth shut and her arms crossed (and her body facing forward) the whole time during judging, because what the HELL. The fabric looked just like a six-pack of dishtowels I bought at Ikea, the fit puckered everywhere and the seams were a hot mess. The only interesting thing about this dress was the necklace, which the judges mistook for an attached collar. Irina walked the shit out of this dress, which helped, but so did the judges’ raging throbbing hard-on for Gunnar and their determination to keep Fro-Yo in play for as long as possible, even though he doesn’t have a decoy collection’s chance in hell at winning.
Ven & Fabio
Dear Project Runway: Stop trying to make Kenley happen. Please. “I’m fashion forward! I’m stylish! I’m amazing! I will unhinge my jaw and devour your whole head!”
So Ven had immunity and took the lead, with Fabio (probably wisely) realizing that his onesie-sackcloth aesthetic wasn’t going to serve him well while designing for an Archie comic brought to life. Ven’s Emilio-Sosa-level ego started to really bleed in around the edges this episode, which I guess isn’t surprising since he’s dominating, the judges’ personality pets aside.
Verdict: This is a sharp little dress! This is very much all Ven, no Fabio, and made the client very, very happy! If I saw this dress on a store mannequin I would totally try it on! I would NOT, however, wear it to the Emmys. Or on a red carpet. (Especially with those daytime pumps and no jewelry.) And yet, this was the winning design, and Ven wins immunity again because Fabio didn’t even pretend like he was even in the room. Ven needs to be careful with repeating his “signature” embellishing techniques, but I still have no doubt he’ll be around until the bitter end unless the judges turn on him for some reason. Fabio desperately needs to land in the top for a design that is actually his one of these weeks if he wants to stay.
Andrea & NotCostello
Well, this pairing just ended up turrrrrrrible. Shockingly turrible. NotCostello was excited and pleased with his teammate and seemed very prepared to cede control to her age and experience. And then it all went off the rails, almost inexplicably. They were designing for Anya, which could have gone something like this: Buy a bolt of loud, showy fabric. Cut a headhole in the middle. Put over Anya’s head. Glue-gun up the sides. Put a belt on it. Profit.
Verdict: So a few things went wrong here. First, that fabric choice. (I don’t remember who made that call, so I’ll assume it was a team decision.) Too much brown, too close to her hair color, too very much Not Anya. Andrea favors structured silhouettes, and had a ridiculously hard time cutting something long and flowy. She took forever. She cut the slit too high. She also came up with the cleavage-covering solution during Tim’s critique, and I have to agree with NotCostello that it was a weird idea that looks weird, thus screwing up HIS contribution (the bodice) along with the skirt. (Not that the bodice doesn’t have other problems. How did they manage to make the tiny pixie that is Anya look so…solid and stacked?)
As for the runway confrontation…whose side do we take? Andrea clearly does not have good time management skills and NotCostello is clearly high-strung (and yet terrified of being mean or rude or Gunny-like), and she did indeed say that going home would be a relief and imply that her life and career and future didn’t really need the show. Unlike people who left jobs, apartments and relationships, one gets the sense that Andrea can go back and pick up her life right where she left off. So I sympathize with NotCostello bringing those comments up when it came down to the brutal her vs. him moments, even if he was just trying to bus-throw and save his skin. And when she “clarified” her comments and cried misquoting, she was kind of making shit up, spinning it as “oh, I’m so grateful for the experience and the experience is enough. And now I’m high-horsey insulted, and by saying that I just tore through my little teammate’s tender heart like it was made of tissue paper.”
Luckily for them both, we still had…
Dreads & Reverse Alfalfa
Two menswear designers who have never made a gown. Paired together for a gown challenge! WHAT ARE THE ODDS? Though seriously, the minute they were paired with Mila they were offered a reprieve: She could have totally rocked a tailored, menswear-inspired look. Make a basic long shift dress and pair with an amazeballs jacket to pull focus. Or go full-on Diane Keaton! What the hell.
Verdict: Mila was never one of my personal favorites, but damn. Did I ever feel sorry for her in…this. It didn’t fit. It didn’t flatter. They gave her fake hair and made her look old and severe. (Which she is not! Even during the show I was frantically Googling her awesome geometric earrings because I waaaaant.) (Here they are, by the way. On sale! For…$388. Alas, no.) They got rattled over Tim and Mila’s criticism of their fabric choice — the print read “daytime,” which could very well be true, but let’s remember our winner was a TEA-LENGTH PARTY DRESS — and basically gave up, hoping that someone would screw up worse. And while it was close, it wasn’t close enough to save Reverse Alfalfa and his Hipster Inverted Cowlick. Goodbye, dude. I’m annoyed only because I finally came up with your nickname.
Next Week TOMORROW OMG: So I actually planned to incorporate my predictions for which designers are gonna bail later this season. The rumors claimed that the show had TWO walk-offs, with one woman packing up and vanishing in the night and one leaving the show in the more traditional workroom breakdown. But unless the preview managed to fake us out completely, they’ve gone and spoiled the surprise for us in one fell swoop. Both walk-offs happen next week, and it was pretty obvious who they both are. I won’t include it here in case you missed it, but if you didn’t: Fucking lamesauce, right? What the hell, Lifetime?