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'Project Runway': Cat in a baby sling

March 11, 2010 | 11:00 pm

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The parameters were purposefully broad in tonight's challenge, as the judges wanted to encourage the designers to be innovative and interpretive, which led to some unintentionally hilarious results like a cup of hair (more on that later) and some unanswered questions, like, Anthony Williams, why exactly did your pastor burn his house to the ground? Insurance?

The designers each had to create a look inspired from earth, wind, fire or water (I'm a fire sign: how about you?) They all seemed to stretch when it came to interpreting the inspiration so as not to seem too obvious (no use of red for the fire dresses, no blue for water, for instance).  Ben Chmura decided that when he heard "water," he thought of sharks, Jonathan Peters thought "laughter" for air, and so on.  The contestants all worked diligently and even helped each other out, although Anthony couldn't help but make a snarky comment about Amy's "explosion"-inspired look that was a black dress filled with the model's blond extension hair. "She needs a Nair affair up there!" he said, giggling, although he wasn't wrong.

On the runway, Amy's look was completely overpowered by the hair gimmick, to the point where it was difficult to judge the actual design. The whole thing looked like a second-rate Lady Gaga outfit: the look on Nina Garcia's face when it came down the runway was priceless. When Michael Kors had Amy remove the hair and commented that it looked so much better, Nina said, "It's OK." She really hated it.  The judges also didn't care for Ben's white shark-inspired suit, claiming that it looked like the first suit he'd ever made and that the pants looked more like a jock strap.  Additionally, they didn't care for Mila Hermanovski's earth-related look, with its sparkly, asymmetrical knit vest. I thought they were a little harsher on it than they needed to be -- no pun intended, but I liked that it was a little down-to-earth -- but I realize that that wasn't what the challenge was about. As guest judge Roland Moulet put it, there was no showpiece involved.

In the "good" pile, Seth Aaron Henderson's interpretation of a swirling dark New York night came out in an astonishingly tailored black leather jacket that grew on me the more I looked at it, since I wasn't sure at first about the bustle in the back, but it was a truly impressive garment. Jonathan's "laughter" dress actually came out looking exactly what it was supposed to emulate: a breath of fresh air. I loved the shape of it so much, wrapping gently around the model and up above her head, that I didn't even notice at first his handmade textile and that he matched it to his model's complexion.  I thought he did the best job interpreting the element he was given and was glad that he won, and was also glad to see that Anthony seemed happy for him.

Ben got eliminated for his shark suit.  On the one hand, I would be pretty mad that I lost to hair cup, but on the other hand, if I were Amy and I lost, I'd be mad that I lost to jockstrap-pants.

--Claire Zulkey

Photo: Designer Roland Mouret joins the judging panel with Nina Garica, Michael Kors and Heidi Klum.
Credit: Lifetime

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