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'Project Runway': Were you raised in a barn?

January 21, 2010 | 10:04 pm

Proje4631 I have to admit, at first the concept of tonight's challenge seemed a little cheesy to me: Making the models' dresses out of burlap bags, and we had to go all the way to a farm to hear this news? What is this, "America's Next Top Model?" Oh, and the models and designers have to visit a "farm stand" to pick out accouterment?  Scratch that: Is it "Top Chef?"

But as the designers started putting together their looks for the challenge, I noticed something weird -- a lot of the designs seemed to hold a good deal of promise. You can always tell a runway show on "Project Runway" is going to be good when they never really show you much of the designs.

Before we got to the pleasantly surprising fashion though, we did get our first miniature taste of drama of the season. The models chose their designers and Mila Hermanovski was ticked when her model from the previous challenge, Alexis Broker, went with somebody else. And Mila wouldn't. Stop. Talking about it!  No, I can't imagine that would be very fun, but at the same time, she and her model had only worked together once. Mila made the mistake of saying "Well, her loss" in earshot of Anthony Williams, newly working with Alexis. Anthony didn't love that. Perhaps I'm just weirded out by Mila because she looks like Christine Baranski in an edgy wig.

It turned out, though, that the change of model didn't hurt Mila one bit. Her futuristic-looking, well-crafted dress (other than the boob situation) was one of many strong ones that went down the runway. I thought Anthony's dress looked like a tasty little scoop of raspberry sorbet. I found Anna Lynette's printed dress was so cute I'd wear it myself. I loved how different, yet beautifully made, both parts of Amy Sarabi's dress were. I liked the unexpected combination of gray and maroon in Janeane Marie Ceccanti's look. I didn't think Emilio Sosa needed immunity with his flattering burlap, red and black dress. Jonathan Joseph Peters’ dress was unexpectedly sexy and classy, and I could have seen Maya Luz's multicolored dress in an Anthropologie store.

Of course, the judges didn't love it all. They thought Pamela Ptak's blue-dyed dress looked unsophisticated. I felt bad for her after they informed her model how bad she looked and then asked if she'd feel comfortable wearing the dress at a party -- well, NOT NOW. Ping Wu's dress held some promise on top but exposed her model's seat. And the judges, as Tim Gunn predicted, did not care how Jesus Estrada eschewed the challenge by covering the burlap with ribbon. I am not a fan of repeat offenders: Jesus was in the bottom two last week, so I was ready for him to go, but the judges decided to eliminate Pamela. As long as Ping is around for another week, I'm glad.

I didn't agree with the judges' choice for best dress, though: I liked Amy's most of all, with Mila's following. I kind of thought Jay's look resembled an ice-skating costume, with the fluttery shredded bottom, but then again, at least all her body parts were covered. 

-- Claire Zulkey

Alison Gingerich models designer Amy Sarabi’s garment. Credit: Lifetime