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'Project Runway': Ladieees and gentlemen!

April 8, 2010 | 10:22 pm

I suppose it's partly due to "American Idol"'s non-elimination elimination, but the results of tonight's "Project Runway" felt like deja vu in more ways that one.

Even more than ever the competition was tougher tonight as we were promised that the designers who survived tonight's challenge would move forward to Fashion Week. The challenge? Designing a high-end look inspired by the circus. Not just any circus but Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, tickets for which are on sale now, coincidentally. 

Look, I am not a snob about circuses or fashion. It is still my primary regret in life that I have yet to see the Moscow Cat Circus and thanks to tax day I can't afford a takeout sandwich, let alone the designer dress I'd have to abstain from said sandwich to look good in. But designing a circus-inspired dress for the final regular episode seemed sort of low-rent and cheesy. I especially felt bad for the circus performers, who all had to do their act just for the five remaining designers.

Thanks to the "We'll show you something, you design something based on what you saw" element of the challenge, I don't have much to say about the episode other than the runway designs, several of which were similar despite the promise of "Five big wow moments." Jay, Mila and Seth Aaron all turned in a variation on an over-the-top ringmaster jacket, except Jay's was red and Michael Jacksoney, Seth Aaron's resembling something from a Tim Burton movie. I love Anthony, but I didn't see the inspiration he got from the acrobats in his dress, which was made from a polyester blend that truly horrified Heidi Klum and Michael Kors. Even though his hubris has been getting a little more annoying with each episode, I think only Emilio's striped and polka-dotted dress, which somehow resembled a circus tent yet was beautiful and elegant, was both high-fashion and circus inspired.

So it came time to decide who is going to Fashion Week.  Emilio was obviously the first choice, then Seth Aaron.  Again, I love Anthony but I don't think he was strong enough to make it to the final finale, so I wasn't surprised, and neither did he seem to be, when he was eliminated. It came down to Mila and Jay, and I personally thought Mila has shown a stronger point of view this whole season, so I was happy when she was put through to Fashion Week.

But wait!

Jay was ALSO in. 

But wait!

Faster than you could say "Chris March," we learned that Jay and Mila won't actually both be showing at Fashion Week: They each need to show a mini-line to compete head-to-head for a spot at Bryant Park.

Yeah, we've been here before. Personally, I would rather just see a straightforward three-person finale than this superfluous additional challenge, when, again, to me, I think Mila has more a place in the finale than Jay. 

Oh, well. This all means we're closer to my favorite part of the season, when Tim Gunn meets everyone's families.

-- Claire Zulkey

The final five head to the circus for the inspiration for their next challenge. Photo Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime Television.