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'Project Runway': The ambassador of second chances

April 1, 2010 | 11:01 pm

Proje5089As they say at the beginning of every single "Project Runway" episode, the contestants discovered Thursday night that the competition is getting more and more intense. Life was sad without Anthony Williams, and the designers were given the additional tough news that they'd be designing for a very discriminating and opinionated celebrity client. Who was it? A tough celebrity client they've already designed for this season -- Heidi Klum. 

The designers got to work, but after repeated shots of Maya Luz's empty mannequin, we finally learned the big news about her: She was leaving the show now before she got any further and couldn't take the pressure. Tim Gunn tried to talk her out of it, but she didn't think she could "perform on command" past this point.

So, what do we make of Maya’s quitting? Is she wise and self-aware not to get in over her head? Yeah right. I take Emilio Sosa's point of view: Quitters never win. Despite Seth Aaron Henderson cursing at me for sitting at home and judging, I still think it would definitely be better for Maya to get to Bryant Park and fail dramatically and then bounce back than to be known from here on out as the girl who quit early. "I'm really shocked," Mila Hermanovski said, her facial expression and vocal inflection not changing in the slightest. It would have been funny if the credits had started rolling right then and the episode ended.

After the contestants went to Mood, Tim announced another development, but this one was much more positive: In order to level the playing field, Anthony was brought back! I never thought my wish that he'd return would come true so quickly. As Anthony said himself (about himself), "I like him, you should like him too!" Then in an additional but much less exciting twist, Seth Aaron found out that his model took a job with Donna Karan, which left him with new model Cerri (which, if you're wondering, is pronounced "Kerry.") All these changes somehow annoyed Mila, even though they didn't really affect her that much and the "announcements" probably took about 15 minutes out of her life tops.

To the designers' surprise, Heidi herself came into the workroom to inspect the work in progress. By and large she seemed satisfied with what she saw, except for Jonathan Peters’ work. I had a feeling, once he started on his cutwork, that Heidi wouldn't go for it. Based on the styles I've seen her wear, detailed, heavy fabric doesn't seem to be her thing, especially in long dresses. As I expected, Heidi thought his fabric looked like curtains (I actually thought she'd say a couch) and he went to work redrafting, and then redrafting the dress again.

Finally, after all the insanity, the designs came down the runway, with Jessica Alba serving as guest judge (with her blond hair I though she was Scarlett Johansson when she first came out).  Jay Nicolas Sario pursued his dress with the full ruffly hem and it was kind of cute and flirty, but I didn't think it looked like a red carpet dress, and I thought the slate color looked blah on my TV. The judges blasted it for making the model (and thus potentially Heidi) look like she had a big butt.

Mila sent a black dress down the runway with gold detail that looked unusually trashy for her and a little sleepy for the red carpet to boot. It resembled something someone would wear in Las Vegas, maybe. The judges also didn't care for that one.

Anthony's back, y'all. The judges and I both loved his half-black, half-white gown as it floated down the runway. It was sexy without trying too hard, classic and looked like it would be flattering on anyone, too. "Oh Jesus!" he said after he heard the judges' praise.

Surprisingly, Seth Aaron played it safe with his dress. The construction, as usual, seemed solid but it was a rather ordinary plain black dress, and Heidi complained that it didn't make the cleavage look "glorious."

Not surprisingly, Jonathan's piece didn't work so well. The draping looked interesting in some places but not very flattering on the hips. The judges hated the "dull pillowcase" look and color of the fabric, and overall it didn't look like a red carpet design.

Finally, the judges loved Emilio's glittery gown. Its coppery color was gorgeous and it fit the model like a dream, except I took issue with the thingie on the bust (if you know a better name for that, please let me know). I wish it had been bigger, or different, or not there at all. As it was, it looked like half of a set of Mickey Mouse ears to me. But what do I know -- the judges didn't seem to have any problem with it.

I figured either Anthony or Emilio would win, and while I was glad for Anthony's sake that he won with Emilio (Jessica Alba wanted to wear his dress. And I also credit Jessica with the wise words that Maya will learn that the real fashion world is harder than "Project Runway"), I sort of wanted the show to be tough and just pick one winner. 

Jay and Jonathan made up the bottom two, and I figured it was only fair Jonathan would be eliminated, since he's been on the edge the last few episodes, and there he went. But next week we get more Anthony!

-- Claire Zulkey (Follow me on Twitter @Zulkey)

Photo: Actress Jessica Alba, left, joins Nina Garcia on the judges' panel. Credit: Lifetime