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'Project Runway': Veronica Lake Meets C-3PO

March 4, 2010 | 11:01 pm

Proje4913 What do you think when you see a challenge like tonight's on "Project Runway"? Are you excited when the designers are asked to create fashion out of unusual materials, or do you think "Is this a rerun?" Although I enjoyed the hardware-based designs that came down the runway tonight, in some ways the episode felt a bit like deja vu.

The designers were taken to Michael Kors' store to learn about the "tools to complete your look" (yuk yuk) where he told them they'd be headed to the hardware store (I just realized something? Why the pit stop? Why couldn't the designers just learn about the challenge at Parsons? And why do I suddenly feel the need for a new Michael Kors dress?) They were each given $150, which doesn't actually go that far, as Emilio Sosa learned when he had to leave half his cords and washers behind. 

In the workroom, the designers toiled like never before, hammers banging and fingers bleeding. Nobody seemed as freaked as Emilio, however, which was appropriate since he was creating a look out of ... cords and washers. It reminds me of when, in grade school, I found some nails and a vise in my parents' basement and set about making "jewelry," eventually getting to a dispiriting place in which I realized, "Oh no, this is not going to look the way I wanted it to."

The runway show was guest-judged by First Lady designer Isabel Toledo and jewelry designer Steven Webster (as the designers were given a mini-bonus challenge of designing an accessory to accompany their looks). 

Mila Hermanovski's look was the first to come down the runway, and it looked cool as heck, a black-and-white plastic creation that resembled something out of "Barbarella." The judges loved her use of paint-tray liners and the fact that she put a lot of thought into her look.

Jesse Lenoir's followed but wasn't nearly as successful, with a cheap-looking top that resembled tinfoil (Nina Garcia said it looked like the Tin Man from "Wizard of Oz") and a poufy skirt that the judges at their kindest compared to a Hershey's Kiss, and at their less-so to a dirty garbage bag.

The judges took Anthony Williams to task for his lavender dress with the mesh overlay, but I thought they were too hard on him for being too soft.  They complained that his look was "boring" and definitely compared to, say, Mila's look, it wasn't the most innovative but I thought it was better than Seth Aaron Henderson's cheapie sci-fi-movie looking outfit (but he had immunity from last week).

"Emilio's design doesn't look like a look," was what I wrote when I saw his final design.  I thought he was smart to choose the styling he did for his model, with the big blond hair and everything because his model at least vaguely resembled a robot Paris Hilton as opposed to ... nothing.  The judges complained that it wasn't his, or anybody's taste.

For the difficulty he had in the workroom with his incredible shrinking garbage-bag pants, Jay Nicolas Sario worked his materials so well they didn't even look like they came out of the hardware store, especially the big black woven belt. The judges loved the amount of thinking that went into it and declared him the winner of the challenge, although I slightly preferred Maya Luz's look.

As Michael said, it was head-to-toe, with the subtle screen dress, mesh jacket and gorgeous big necklace made of keys. I also thought Amy Sarabi's look could have been a contender, with her fan design made of sandpaper, but she got passed over when it came to the top contestants.

In the end, Jesse and his dirty vacuum bag was sent home. I'm not sure that I agree that he deserved to go home before Emilio, and I sensed that he felt the same way.

--Claire Zulkey