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'Project Runway': Tim checks in

November 12, 2009 |  9:57 pm

Proje4279 Last week I was disappointed by the final challenge looks and thought, "Oh well, even if the clothes are bad, at least I'll have Tim Gunn in the finale." I just love watching him visit the contestants' homes and families, I think because he maintains his Gunn-like style and graciousness, plus he just seems to enjoy meeting the people who support the designers, which is charming.

Fortunately, based on the peeks of the designs we saw, I think it'll be an interesting show at Bryant Park. Carol Hannah camped out at a lovely country New York house and showed Tim a Duke-University-at-night-inspired line that included a very pretty-looking eggplant silk tank with knotting -- the details in her work looked great. Then, she and her family made a Southern-style meal for Tim, as long as he helped: "I love a kitchen!" he said, splaying his hands in a comical way. I loved their sweet little hand-holding and embrace out in the snow as he departed. 

Next, Tim visited Irina in Manhattan. I have to say Irina's attitude this season has soured me on her in general but I am looking forward to seeing how she incorporates silk-screened New York T-shirts under her Coney-Island-inspired collection. Also, her Georgian family is beautiful. 

Finally, Tim stopped by Dayton, Ohio, to see Althea, whose line was inspired by sci-fi movies. He seemed concerned about her line getting too costumey, which could also mean she'll present a dramatic show. Did anybody else think that her father, whose name I think is Jim, looks like Tim?

That was the first half of the show: The second half felt like the producers just dragged out the finale over two nights. Irina and Althea talked about each other. Carol Hannah was sick. Tim advised the designers again and they picked out models. Michael Kors and Nina Garcia visited. And the non-bombshell was dropped: A 13th look had to be created (but the actual shocker was that the "muse models" will be casting the models for that look.) 

So we'll see what happens next week: I can't imagine the models will do a terrible job casting the 13th look, and although I was promised that Tim will "lose it" backstage at the show, so far it doesn't look more dramatic than him saying "This is crazy!" I'm curious to see what Tim would really look like losing it and what it would be over. Meanwhile, it is easy to forget, to the show's credit, that this is historic for "Project Runway": It's the first all-woman fashion week show. It was nice that the show didn't make a relatively big deal about it, and I appreciated that Tim Gunn gathered the troops by calling "Everybody!" as opposed to "Ladies!"

But maybe I'm just kind of partial to Tim Gunn. 

Who do you think will win next week?

-- Claire Zulkey

Carol Hannah Whitfield, left, Irina Shabayeva and Althea Harper.  Photo: Lifetime

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