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'Project Runway' recap: Finale part 1

October 21, 2011 |  7:41 am

The men reigned and women struggled in part one of the finale of "Project Runway." While the designs by Anya and Kimberly seemed to fall a little short, at least we got to see Tim Gunn go to the Caribbean in a smart gray suit.

Sticking with tradition, the show sends Gunn to each of the contestants' home workshops to provide guidance about their collections-in-progress. They get five weeks and $9,000 to create 10 looks to show at Fashion Week. I mean, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

That meant seeing Kimberly in Maryland, where she tells Tim that she wants her collection to "elevate" the looks she saw "growing up in pre-gentrified Brooklyn." Then Tim is off to Maraval, Trinidad; on the boat to her house, Anya tells him, "The sea is a huge part of the rhythm of my life. There’s something very powerful about the energy of the ocean -– it means a lot to me." But maybe she's spent a little too much time swimming, or the sea's rhythm is overly relaxed, because she has fabrics but no garments to show. Tim tells her to get sewing.

Back in New York, Tim visits Viktor. He used photographs he'd taken in Mexico, where he grew up, to create abstract prints. These are great prints and Viktor is using them really well. After a visit to his studio, they go to his apartment, where Tim gets to meet Viktor's cute boyfriend, David. "How'd you meet," Tim asks. "The old-fashioned way," says David. Viktor finishes the joke: "At a bar."

Tim goes to Queens to see Josh, who shows him "really great" vintage fabric, a neon-hued multi-patterned print, almost like a psychotic '80s calico. Tim waits a bit before dropping the bomb. "I think it’s one of the homeliest fabrics I've ever seen in my life," he says. "This is one sad-looking dress. It makes me want to weep... Where’s the sex that you always want to exude? This looks like Farmer in the Dell." By the time Tim leaves, Josh has put aside several fabrics and keeps just two of his finished looks.

Bummer of the episode: Every contestant talks about someone dying. For Kimberly, it was her mother, when she was 17. For Anya, it was her brother Pilar, whose name she has tattooed on her hand. For Viktor, who is the youngest of seven kids, it was an older brother. And Josh, coming back to New York for the competition, says the wind on the balcony makes him think of his dead mom.

Before the contestants can show at fashion week, they have to show the judges three looks to represent their collection. Because only three can go.

While the designers are warm to each other in person, to the camera there is some snarking. Anya doesn’t like Kimberly’s pinks and blues, Viktor thinks Anya’s doing what she’s done before, Kimberly doesn’t like Viktor’s designs, Viktor think Josh’s designs are good but too casual.

When Viktor unpacks a white leather jacket with pearls down the sleeves, though, respect is shown. "Holy crap, that jacket is everything," Josh says. "It definitely shook you in your boots, me and the other designers."

Unfortunately, Viktor puts the jacket over a flowy evening dress, trying to cram too many pieces into his three looks. It detracts from both garments, and the judges insist he take it off -- in part so Heidi can try it on. The judges do a lot of editing this round, asking Viktor to remove the leather overskirt on a cute mini dress. You get the feeling they want the runway shows to be the best they can be.

Josh shows a neoprene little black dress, a shiny black gown with a sculpted plastic collar, and a pink pant with a tailored black and gray jacket with interesting cutouts. He seems to have cast aside his bedazzler and the ideas are coming through more strongly. "I am so impressed," Nina says. "You are a very good designer."

Viktor and Josh are in: They'll be showing at fashion week.

For the first time, Anya is in the bottom. She shows a dress reminiscent of her work on the show, a bathing suit on a model who is too pale, apparently, and a gold satin gown that looks crumpled rather than draped. "It looks tortured, and it’s satin, so it shows everything," Michael Kors says. The judges express disappointment in all but her first, familiar dress.

Kimberly's designs, and her styling, have put her in the bottom too. She's got a cropped shirt with an ultra-blue pant, a black glitter gown and a blue top with a cutout back and a short fuchsia skirt that's cut tight in front and boxy in back. Heidi criticizes the skirt: "I do not love the bubble butt." But Michael Kors is more complimentary. "I love that I know that they’re your clothes," he says.

Will Anya or Kimberly be out?

Neither! It's a fakeout. They'll both show.

All four designers will show their designs at New York Fashion Week. But only one can win.


"Project Runway" recap: final elimination before Fashion Week

"Project Runway" recap: Design is for the birds

"Project Runway" recap: The '70s are back, again

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photos: Anya, left, and Viktor and Josh, right, in the workroom. Credit: Lifetime