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'Project Runway': Apples to apples

February 4, 2010 | 10:37 pm
Proje4703Thank you, Tim Gunn.  For me, the biggest story of Thursday's episode wasn't the challenge or the designs but the fact that the designers were complaining SO much about designing for non-models.  So many of them kvetched about their clients (spokeswomen for the American Heart Assn. who had all been affected by heart disease) being "full-figured" that I wonder if they all must have been out of town for the episode of "PR" several seasons ago in which the designers had to make clothes for each other's mothers, who had a much broader spectrum of figures. Plus, the show features challenges with "real women" each season anyway, so what were they expecting?  Thankfully, Tim stepped in to stop the whining by saying: "I'm glad we have an opportunity to work with real women."

Even though the designers were working away for a good cause, I didn't think the challenge made for great TV. The goal was to create a red gala dress (the AHA's signature color) that incorporated branding from Campbell's, one of the sponsors.  I know you can't really argue with sponsorship, but the whole Campbell's tie-in cheapened the challenge and the looks for me (with apologies to Andy Warhol).  Of course, there were a few moments of genuine emotion: Anthony Williams, for example, whose mother suffers from heart problems, shed a few tears with his model.

I think because of the Campbell's tie-in, I didn't love any of the designs, but some designers did get it more than others.  I liked the cute tiered heart shape of the bodice of Jay Nicholas Sario's dress, and I liked the choice of fabric in Jonathan Peter's big red ball gown.  I thought the use of the Campbell's fabric as lining was clever and the yellow belt flattering on Ben Chmura's dress, and Mila Hermanovski's star-spangled gown was executed well (it could have gone far, far awry).  I even liked Seth Aaron Henderson's last-minute reworked dress -- it didn't quite look like a gala dress, but the black skirt was flattering, and his model, "sweet, sweet Rose," clearly felt like a million bucks. 

The judges didn't like Anna Lynett's unflattering dress, which Michael Kors said resembled a "bag tied in the middle," and Michael hated Jesus Estrada's shiny red dress with the rhinestone straps so much it was almost as if he took it personally. "It's like you used a checklist of everything that can turn tacky."

I actually disagreed with the judges on their favorites: While something about the fabric and design of Amy Sarabi's gown reminded me of a Vera Wang bridesmaid's gown I tried on a few years ago (in a good way), I thought she lost it with the red-and-white belt. The dress had nice movement, but I didn't like the shape.  Meanwhile, I thought the contrasting draping on Maya Luz's dress, while interesting, was also lumpy and a bit unflattering. As the insanely gorgeous guest judge, Georgina Chapman of Marchesa, said: "I shouldn't like it, but I do." 

In the end, it was Anna against Jesus, and since Jesus was in the bottom two twice already, it seemed fair that he got eliminated. Guess Jesus isn't magic, after all.

— Claire Zulkey

Photo: Anthony Williams bonds with his muse. Credit: Lifetime