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'Project Runway' recap: Design is for the birds!

Project Runway's Tim Gunn and Viktor Luna
With only six contestants left, the design challenge finally got interesting. First, the designers were challenged to create a high-fashioned garment inspired by a bird. They were paired up, each duo using the same bird for inspiration, and then judged head-to-head.

Anya and Laura got a raven, Bert and Josh got a green Amazon parrot, and Viktor and Kimberly got a cockatiel.

Kimberly spent most of the episode doubting her designs. She ran to the bathroom to cry. She was miserable; she told the camera she lost her mom at 17, then ran off a list of other family members she's lost. Poor Kimberly. When Tim Gunn came to the workroom, he told her she needs a hug, and walked around the table and gave her one. Nice Tim.

In the workroom, Tim walked up to Josh's table, pointing to his fabric "Qu'est-ce que c'est?" he asked brightly. "What is keskesay?" Josh said flatly. Tim paused, then tried again. "What is this?" Patient Tim.

When a cockroach appeared in the workroom, there was much shrieking and jumping on tables. Anya grabbed a stiletto (from the Piperlime product placement wall?) and chased it down. Brave Anya.

Anya's lack of sewing skills are starting to bother some of the contestants, particularly Josh, who seems happiest when he has someone to snark about. She created a dress that she had to sew her model into and cut her out of; there are dire, whispered predictions that this will get in her trouble someday.

The episode's twist was that all the designers would have to create a second garment as well. More money, back to Mood for more fabric. The idea seemed to be that while the first garment was carefully planned, the second garment would be forced, by time constraints, to be more off the cuff. And there was more to the twist: When they were almost done, the designers were told they could only show one of the two. Interestingly, almost everyone who picked their well-planned design ended up on the bottom.

Viktor, who has been quietly positioning himself for a fashion week slot, seemed to have it easy. He was up against Kimberly, who'd been struggling all episode, and had some disaster befall her chosen dress -- it was burned by a hot glue gun or an iron, which may or may not have been left where it was by Viktor or another contestant.

So she had to come up with something from her remaining fabric, a polyester she'd bought to use as lining. "I think I’m going to have to pull out an Anya moment, and go from tragedy to triumph," Kimberly said grimly. "I have three hours."

She came up with a toga-like dress with bead detail and a slit that showed the undercurve of her model's breast, going up against Viktor's careful, full-length white dress with layers and feathers.

"The dress lost its lightness, and it lost its balance," Nina Garcia said to Viktor. "It’s so literal to me," said Michael Kors. "I think when you look up close, you will see a lot of things that are not done as well as Viktor's," Heidi Klum said to Kimberly. "But I just like yours more."

Between Bert and Josh, Bert's design was the one he'd started first, a tailored bodice with a full flowy skirt. Josh's original dress -- bright greens in a showy design -- was cast aside in favor of his dashed-off orange shift dress.

"I think the cut of the dress is fantastic," said Michael. "Then she had to get I-was-drunk-in-the-Caribbean corsage on her shoulder." Nina is all approval, however. "I love the draping, I love that it looks very modern," she told Josh. With Bert, she used a surprisingly kind tone: "I have a feeling colors aren’t your strong suit. However, the silhouette of this troubles me even more."

Both Laura and Anya put their more-planned outfits on the runway. For Anya, it was a strong, tailored black dress with an unusual shape -- structured epaulets over bared arms, an hourglass figure with a dipping tail. Laura made a tight jacket and pants, giving the jacket a feather collar.

"For you, it’s certainly edgier than anything we’ve seen before," Michael told Laura. "The jacket is beautiful," said guest judge Francisco Costa. But Anya's design, despite her lack of sewing skills, dazzled. "This is probably my favorite outfit that you have produced so far," said Nina, who has often been impressed by Anya.

Anya won. Bert, who seems just plain tuckered out, is out.

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-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photos: Tim Gunn and cockatiel, left, and Viktor Luna, right, with his too-birdlike dress. Credit: Lifetime

 
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