Category: Project Runway

'Project Runway' recap: The grand finale

Well at least that's over. "Project Runway" ended its singularly unexciting ninth season Thursday night with, as might be expected, few fireworks.

Not only would the four finalists have had a hard time competing against designers from earlier seasons, but few of their personalities ever popped off the screen. Kimberly, who must have real emotions, is given to stating the obvious -- I'm so happy to be here, I have a lot of work to do, I am beyond words. Viktor, whose strategy seemed to be to keep his head down and make it to the finale, forgot to perk up; he was at his most interesting when whispering under his breath to Josh.

Josh -- young, arrogant and snarky -- was left to carry most of the personality bag, and it stretched him too thin. Over and over we saw him saying nasty things to the camera. It brought a bit of drama, but listening to one person be a snarky poseur repeatedly is more tedious than thrilling.

Which leaves us with Anya, a beauty queen exuding a sense of genuine kindness. She carried herself with a gentle control, thinking before speaking, learning from critiques, generously offering support to her competitors when asked. The only problem: She can't really sew.

After the jump: So who won?

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'Project Runway' recap: Finale part 1

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.

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'Project Runway' recap: Final elimination before Fashion Week

It's the last Project Runway episode before the contestants return for Fashion Week
Sticking with a "Project Runway" tradition of giving the designers a chance to shine in the final elimination, the five remaining contestants were trucked out to Governors Island for some inspiration, and then given two days to complete three looks. The island, off the coast of Manhattan, has ample greenery, historical buildings and the Storm King Arts Center, currently showing the grand metal sculptures of Mark di Suvero. The contestants tooled around in golf carts, took photos and listened to their muses.

The challenge seemed to give a real insight into the designers' process. Anya and Laura definitely responded to what they saw, processing it in different ways. Viktor said he used the Manhattan skyline as an inspiration, but his designs seemed like they may have been in the back of his head already. Kimberly works intuitively, creating and then throwing out before reaching her final garments, so she ended up far from the original inspiration. And Josh's designs might have been inspired by almost anything with a hard-soft duality; he said he was drawn to "this idea of fragility meets power," a church and "the artillerary" side by side.

The designers had plenty of money at Mood for their fabrics -- everyone except for Laura, who brought several hundred dollars' worth more of cut fabric up to the register, sticking Mood with the remnants she couldn't afford.

But she doesn't get the Mean Girl award of the episode. That goes to Josh.

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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.

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'Project Runway' recap: the '70s are back, again

Hot on the heels of creating hippie-ish outfits for a band, this week comes another challenge that sends the exasperated contestants straight back to the '70s: They must create an outfit inspired by the "sophisticated '70s" for sponsor The twist: At the last minute they'll have to also create a second accompanying garment. 

Contestants who've watched the show -- all of them -- are ready for this kind of "twist." They're also ready to create something for the mass market using a limited amount of dollars: $100 for the first outfit, $50 for the second. What they're not used to is dropping that $100 somewhere in Mood, and not getting it back.

That's Anya. She stands in Mood crying. This has never happened before, a contestant losing Mood money. Her mascara smears.

Tim Gunn tells her she can make her outfit with the muslin from the workroom and she can ask the other contestants for help. Only Anthony Ryan has yet to be rung up, and he gives her his change: $11.50. That's all she can spend.

OK, maybe it wasn't such a good idea for Anya to carry her envelope of money tucked into her dress above her breast, but it was the most interesting thing to happen all episode. The season is shaping up to be just plain dull, so Anya's freak-out provided much-needed drama. Yet an Anya freak-out doesn't last long: She cries, she worries, and then she gets to work.

After the jump: Josh tries to sell the high-waisted skinny plaid pants he's made as '70s. Not only are they not '70s, they are possibly the least flattering pants ever to be squeezed into a by a model.

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'Project Runway' recap: Like that old time rock 'n' roll

Kimberly sums up the challenge: "Oh crap. It's menswear." Specifically, rock 'n' roll menswear supported by hair care sponsor Garnier Fructis. Mr. Garnier Fructis -- who has a name, but why waste a good product placement when it's bashing you over the head? -- explains to the designers that they'll each design an outfit for one member of a four-person rock band.

The band, the Sheepdogs, will be the first unsigned band on the cover of Rolling Stone, but the outfits won't be there. They'll appear in two advertorials, one in Rolling Stone and the other in Marie Claire. I'm sorry, let's make that Garnier Fructis advertorials, in case you missed the other mentions.

Kimberly explains the contestants' consternation: Menswear calls on a different set of skills than the designers have. Only Olivier has designed for men before, which should put him at an advantage. But he winds up whining about how the band member he's designing for, lead singer Ewan, is big -- which seems a little off base. Ewan is tall and not skinny, but he's normal-sized -- it's not like Olivier is designing for one of rock's big men, like Blues Traveler's John Popper, the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia or punk rock's Tad. Nevertheless, Olivier is obsessed with the bigness issue. "You're saying I'm a big man," Ewan says to Olivier. "You're big," Olivier answers, a note of accusation in his voice. Cut to: Tim Gunn looking away with a pained expression. Later, Olivier keeps up his complaints: "I never really thought of making things for plus-sized people."

Last week, ladies' bodies with breasts! This week, men's bodies with shape and hair! How can they be expected to design clothes under these conditions?

Maybe this is why it's hard to shop for clothes: Because designers don't want to design for real people.

Anyway, the band members explain they are inspired by "classic sounds," which amounts to a heavy Grateful Dead influence with a dash of Led Zeppelin. When they play a song to demonstrate, waiflike Olivier flaps his hands around his ears in distress. 

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'Project Runway' recap: A designer’s breast friend

  Project Runway
What happens when you ask a bunch of straight men to help our contestants create a dress? The "Project Runway" task this week was a bait-and-switch: Instead of the usual pack of skeletal models, Heidi Klum sent in a number of regular guys, causing the nine remaining designers to panic. Most of them have no menswear experience, after all. But then it turned out that the real clients were these regular guys' wives -- which caused even more chaos.

"I don't like women having boobs, I like them to be flat" declared Olivier in his vaguely British accent.

You'd think these designers would be familiar with women's bodies -- because they make a living wrapping clothes around the female form-- but the prospect of working with curvaceous frames horrified several of them. And it didn't help that it was husbands giving them guidance, men who didn't know what their wives like or where they shopped.

All Bert's client could tell him was that he wanted a dress to emphasize his wife's epic cleavage. "She's a hot piece of tushy, so anything you put her in, she's good to go," he gushed, to Bert’s amusement.

Olivier was less amused by having to design around his client's non-anorexic measurements. After picking out his farbric at Mood, he approached Tim Gunn in a tizzy.

"What does double D mean?" Olivier asked Tim. "What do I know about it?" said Gunn, stunned. "I just know it's a bra size, I don't have any personal experience with it, Olivier." So the former chair of fashion design at Parsons doesn't know anything about women's undergarments either? That might begin to explain why it's so hard for busty women to find flattering clothes -- but I digress.

"Those boobs to me are trouble," Olivier pronounced.

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'Project Runway' recap: Drama, you lose

Project Runway On Project Runway's Season 9, drama seems to be the big loser. That's drama as in, don't create too many waves in the workroom -- and also the kind of drama you might want to watch on television.

In this episode, the contestants were split into two teams of five. Each team had to create a) patterned fabrics using product-placement computers, b) five cohesive looks for a runway show, and c) the theme and background video for that show. Betsey Johnson, whose crazy-cute punk grandma look would get her thrown off this season faster than two-time loser Josh C, explained it to them -- and then she was gone.

The teams had no leaders, making for harmony in one and disaster in the other. Team Harmony (which called itself Team Chaos): Anthony Ryan, Anya, Viktor, Olivier and Bryce. Team Disaster (which called itself Team Nuts and Bolts): Josh M, Laura, Kim, Becky and Bert.

The drama in the workroom all came from Josh M, who in a previous challenge had picked on Becky, went after Bert after hearing him mumble a bad word. "I feel that people that have dirty mouths, they're not intelligent,"Josh said ungrammatically to the camera. To Bert, his voice rising, he said he won't stand for it, and when Bert approached him, he said haughtily, "Don't get close to me. I need you to back up."

Things got so bad that when Tim Gunn came into the workroom, he forced the group to hold hands and swear to work together. If "cohesive" is an important aspect of a collection, they were in really bad shape.

Meanwhile, Team Harmony -- I mean Team Chaos -- were working together like happy dwarfs in a Disney movie. Anya could be Snow White, Viktor was the always-thinking Doc, Anthony Ryan was Happy, Olivier was Bashful and Bryce has to be Sleepy because he's rarely part of the action. They should have played "Whistle While You Work" under these guys as they efficiently executed their tasks -- which might have livened them up a little, because too much harmony isn't interesting to watch.

All the divisiveness and drama were on the other side. Josh M was barely speaking to Bert, and he was openly critical of Becky's work. Kim tried to keep out of it, and Laura spent most of her time placating Josh, with a very stiff poker face.

This was part of the problem: A very stiff poker face is just as bad TV as two people pointing at a product-placement screen and nodding together. For all of Josh's hard-to-watch unpleasantness, he's the only one this season who emotes. The other contestants are learning that guarded is safer than putting themselves out there, but guarded isn't interesting television.

If Josh M. was this episode's villain, there has to be a victim, someone for us to empathize with. But Becky was snitty, and 57-year-old Bert was mostly exasperated. Who was the victim? Josh M. He's the only one revealing his emotions, so he's playing all the roles at once. We saw him cry when he talks about his mother's death (again) and break down when he called his dad; turns out it was the anniversary of his mother's birthday. So he was all emotional.

But Josh M. can't be both the victim and the villain. Someone else is going to have to start being human. Just like the other designers are playing it safe as reality show-contestants, they're playing it safe on the runway. The designs have very little drama (except for Viktor's evening dress. Viktor, maybe your personality will reemerge next week?)

The winners were, no surprise, Team Harmony -- I mean Team Chaos. The nice but unspectacular cocktail dress made Anya the winner. She was due, but this wasn't her most interesting design. On the losing Team Nuts and Bolts, the final two were Josh and Becky. Josh's design instincts may run too disco -- early in this episode, he was convinced they should do five female versions of the Village People -- but he's creating the only drama on the show, so he was still in. Michael Kors criticized Becky's skill -- "It's not Project Seamstress" -- and she was out.


"Project Runway" recap: Avant-what?

"Project Runway" recap: Run, run away

Austin, Mondo on "Project Runway All Stars," but no Heidi or Tim?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Josh M with fellow members of Team Nuts and Bolts as Bert's dress goes by on the runway. Credit: Lifetime

'Project Runway' recap: Avant-what?


The designers are partnered with art students ages 11 to 17 from the Harlem School of the Arts. These are talented painters and their partnership with the designers is supposed to inspire an avant-garde look. But not all the designers are inspired by the young people and their gifts.

"I"m never having kids," Josh M. whines. "Oh my lord of the rings."

I think he means "Lord of the Flies."

Unless he's talking about Josh C.'s outfit, which starts out a faithful rendition of a wolf painting, fake fur included, and then after losing the fake fur winds up looking like some lusty barmaid from Middle-Earth.

Snarkiness and poor choices aside, this is the episode where the contestants are humanized by tragedy. Bert lets the workroom know he's widowed -- he lost his partner to AIDS, and had some bad years after, and the other contestants start warming to him. "I secretly like Bert's outfit," Viktor says. Josh M. tells us that his mother died of cancer, and then he paints her initials on his neoprene faux tree-trunk skirt.

For avant-garde, the designs are oddly tepid. Promising Olivier, who tells us at Mood, "I have selected quite a lot of chiffon," seems to be crashing: His asymmetrical bodice has some good detail, but he barely manages to turn it into a dress. A black dress from Becky gets green boxes attached to the shoulder. Laura's design is peach and pretty, but is it avant-garde or prom?

The judges this time include Zana Roberts Rossi instead of Nina Garcia and guest judge Kenneth Cole; they send some of the more interesting designs off the runway, neither top nor bottom. Bryce's orange straitjacket top with long navy skirt: safe. Anya's patterned, slit-open bubble skirt with feather-edged halter: safe. 

Then there's Bert. His high-waisted pillow fight on crack stays on the runway. Backstage, the other designers can't figure out if he's going to be in the top or bottom (it's the bottom). Josh M.'s artificial-meets-nature orange-textured top with tree-trunk-like skirt gets demerits for its wild styling, and it doesn't come out on top.

Anthony Ryan's pretty long nude dress with paint-stroke-inspired appliques wins the avant-garde challenge, never mind that it's not particularly avant-garde. That's OK. It's hard not to like Anthony Ryan.

The loser's outfit, as the judges described it. Michael Kors: "A Victorian cocktail waitress in Las Vegas." Heidi Klum: "First thing I was thinking: I'm going to be a hooker for Halloween!" That means Josh C., for the second time this season, is out.


"Project Runway" recap: run run away

Austin, Mondo on 'Project Runway All Stars,' but no Heidi or Tim?

Previously on 'Project Runway'...

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: From left to right, designs by Anthony Ryan, Bert and Josh C. Credit: MyLifetimeTV

'Project Runway' recap: Run, run away

'Project Runway' recap

In an effort to jolt some life into this snoozy season of "Project Runway," the contestants are forced to run a 200-meter race; the first four to finish will be project leaders. It's the Heidi Klum New Balance sportswear line product placement episode!

It would be nice if there might be some, I don't know, interesting fashion design this episode, but sportswear? They have to make three looks to go with Klum's sneakers, using denim and/or suede. Maybe there's hope.

Since the fashion may be a bit tame, there's some human drama. Cecilia decides she's too depressed to continue with the show and drops out. Olivier stumbles over his own feet and drops to the ground! But never trust a reality TV teaser, because the actual events are less dramatic than the edited version: a skinned knee, then lying down dizzily while being treated by a healthcare tech.

Because they're short a person, the fourth team, Viktor and Olivier, can bring back one eliminated contestant, and they select Josh C. "I'm the happiest boy alive," he chimes when he enters the workroom. Good luck, Josh C.!

Teams that are having problems: Josh M. and Anya collaborate as Josh M. pushes an unhappy Becky to be their sewing monkey. Anthony Ryan and Laura are getting along while Bert feels left out and unappreciated (they might appreciate him more if he could remember Anthony's name).

After getting a harsh critique from Klum and Tim Gunn, the teams are given an extra five hours to complete their designs -- they can stay in the workroom until 4 a.m. Which inevitably amps up the drama.

Who cries, who snarks and who goes home, after the jump.

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'Project Runway' recap: It's the Nina Garcia show

Pr9_kimberly If you're a Nina Garcia fan, Thursday's "Project Runway" was a party all for you. It was certainly a party for Nina, who was still a judge, and was the only client, for whom each designer had to make a work-to-industry-evening-event outfit. And in case that wasn't enough all-about-Nina for you, the winning designer's work would be showcased in an ad featuring Nina on top of New York City cabs.

All this was done with this kind of humility and humor: "You'll be designing for a client, a very important client. Who knows a lot about fashion. I would be a little nervous if I were you." Right: not so much with the humility and humor.

If Nina Garcia is not your favorite part of "Project Runway," watching this episode was a little bit like a spike in the eye.

What does Garcia want? Something "classic with an edge," "streamlined, clean, tailored silhouette," "dramatic yet conservative." She wants no pleats, no pouffs, no bright colors.

Wow, gray office clothes. That's going to make for some scintillating television.

When the "Project Runway" designers had to create something for Heidi Klum, it was because Klum goes to things on the red carpet. Exciting! But Garcia is going to work and then a book party. I go to a lot of book parties, and basically, if you're wearing matching socks, you're good.

As long as you don't wear exactly the same thing as someone else, and that's sort of what happens to Anthony Ryan and Becky, who select exactly the same gray-spatter patterned fabric at Mood. Neither wants to give it up, so they both go ahead and make outfits from it. So for those two, it's not just the Garcia challenge, it's the Garcia and matching fabric challenge.

After the jump, the designers' outfits and the Garcia verdict.

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'Project Runway' recap: Living under 'a black cloud'

SiltwalkerHas the joy gone out of the production studios of "Project Runway"? You'd think putting Heidi Klum on stilts to announce the challenge -- the designers will be paired to create an outfit for a stiltwalker -- would be full of fun. And while Klum walks with the practiced gait of someone who's been to Supermodel Stiltwalking School, the wacky nature of the challenge failed to stop one contestant from weeping regularly through the episode.

That was Fallene, the whimsical designer from Denver. "I feel like I have a black cloud over me," she joked to Tim Gunn as she worked underneath the voluminous black tulle skirt her partner Bryce had made. It's not just you, Fallene.

For the challenge, the designers were paired in what seemed an almost mean constellation of partnerships. Except Klum had pulled their names out of a bag at random (or did she?)

The pairings for 'Project Runway' Episode 3:

Bert and Viktor, who had been clashing before this episode. Things only get worse.

Anthony Ryan and Laura, who are both likable and are doing good work. 

Josh and Julie, who go together about as well as Krystle Carrington and Laura from "Little House on the Prairie." Josh complains about her and to her. “Do you need to poke me?” he asks her in the workroom.

Danielle and Cecilia, who have both been running on a low, quiet gear. They go for chiffon, a beautiful, difficult fabric that is really easy to mutilate.

Anya and Olivier, who are both frontrunners. “You’re kind of a dream team,” Tim Gunn tells them.

Kimberly and Becky, who have strong points of view that don’t mesh. Kimberly about Becky: “She stares a lot. She just stares.” Cut to: Becky staring.

Bryce and Fallene, who were both in trouble last week.

The designers get $500 at Mood (those stilts require a lot of fabric) and just one day to make their outfits. They'll be watching them walk down the runway at the show's first outdoor runway show ever, which they make a big deal about, but is really a bust. It's gray and fog obscures the skyline in the background. The passers-by, coralled behind barricades, have no idea who the designers are, because this was shot before the show aired. Only Kim Kardashian's presence on the judging panel brought them to life.

How it went, after the jump.

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