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'Project Runway': Cover girl (or guy)

February 11, 2010 | 11:00 pm

Proje4758 I was skeptical at first when Tim Gunn promised one of the biggest challenges in "Project Runway" history since, let's face it, this show is no spring chicken and there are a lot of challenges that feel important. But I shouldn't have doubted sweet Timothy since it did actually turn out to be a big deal. The challenge was for the designers to make a look that would be worn by Heidi Klum on the cover of Marie Claire magazine. The news was so exciting that there was a collective gasp, and Anthony Williams wiped his forehead with a handkerchief.  I was suitably impressed because Heidi is serious about what she wears (you'll know this if you saw Jay McCarroll working on a dress for her after Season 1), the designer would get instant press from a major magazine, and I receive Marie Claire, which in some ways means I am directly affected by this challenge. Maybe not. 

Editor Joanna Coles gave the designers guidelines: They were to provide detail on the top of the look, obviously, since the bottom 75% of the design would be cropped; they wanted to avoid patterns in order to provide a harmonious background for the headlines; they wanted to use color and keep the issue, April, in mind. 

The designers went to work and were so focused on the task at hand that, truthfully, there wasn't much to watch or discuss between the reveal of the challenge and the runway. The only noteworthy event was that Mila Hermanovski complained about how nobody congratulated her on coming in second at the last challenge, which seemed like a petty gripe in various ways.

Overall it was an impressive runway show in terms of design, but it was interesting how many of the contestants completely disregarded the advice Joanna gave them. We saw a lot of taupe, beige and oatmeal designs, not exactly great colors in general nor for a magazine color nor for a springtime magazine cover.  And although I thought Amy Sarabi's flowy, floofy print dress was cute and had a bit of Heidi attitude to it, Joanna had specifically warned against prints. 


The judges' top three choices were Anthony's cute turquoise dress with the flattering folds that provided nice cover detail, Ben Chmura's well thought-out and eye-catching color-block dress with the beautiful back, and Emilio Sosa's raspberry colored jersey dress with the ribbon detail. I actually didn't like Emilio's dress that much: it looked much better, for sure, with the sleeves cut off but the dress looked a little inexpensive to my eyes, and almost a bit like a (sexy) nightgown. I preferred Seth Aaron Henderson's beautifully tailored gunmetal suit, although I know it wasn't exactly the springiest look.

The judges decided Mila created the worst of the blah looks, with her Ace-bandage-colored dress and unsophisticated seaming.  Janeane Marie Ceccanti made a pretty ivory dress with a charming turquoise bolero, but it looked like something out of the J. Crew wedding section, which is to say it was pretty and quirky in its own way, but not for a Marie Claire cover and definitely not for Heidi Klum.  And the judges appreciated that Anna Lynett made separates but her rather wan blue top, silver vest and shorts weren't going to do anything for Heidi's amazing body nor look special on a magazine cover. 

The judges sent Anna home, which was sad since I thought she was a nice little Midwestern cutie.  But on the plus side, Anthony finally won a challenge, which he celebrated by shrieking in a charming way. It was sweet to see that the other contestants were excited for him as well.

Next week it appears that the designers must create a look for boisterous little kids, who I predict would not be in favor of using the accessories wall thoughtfully.

--Claire Zulkey

Photo: Designers Anthony Williams and Emilio Sosa work on their garments for the Marie Claire cover challenge.

Credit: Lifetime