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

September 16, 2011 |  8:15 am

  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.

It didn't get any better after he met the client he was designing for, a chic older woman who voiced strong opinions. After airing his dream of "a non-speaking person" for a client, he seemed to decide he'd just tune her out and follow his inner vision.

The women, of course, turned out to be charming and a little less interested than their husbands in showing off their boobs. Victor found himself totally in sync with his trendy, nerdy-chic client. Anya quickly made her client happy with a one-sleeved kimono. Even Josh seemed to find a groove this week, dispensing with both the histrionic drama and the over-embellishment of previous weeks to create a perfect little black dress.  

The one designer -- other than Olivier -- seemingly in real trouble was Bryce, who scrapped his fuchsia dress midway through the challenge in order to make ... a slightly puffier fuchsia dress.

After all the commotion, Olivier's asymmetrical blouse and trousers turned out fine and he was declared safe. He may not like breasts, but he knows style.

The judges deemed Anya, Josh and Victor the top three. "You look like a modern Grace Kelly," Michael Kors told Josh's client. Victor's client (suitably named Victoria) ended up in an adorably gamine blouse and skirt that the judges lauded as a perfect outfit for a fashionista, while Anya's black-and-white kimono was apparently just the thing for a gallery opening.

Josh won the challenge -- not for innovation this week but for simplicity. (And possibly because his client had small breasts?)

In the losers' circle, Bert's dress with a plunging neckline was declared too short, too shiny and too safe. Anthony Ryan's sporty red-and-black dress didn't make the grade either: Guest judge Malin Akerman compared it to a cheerleader uniform, but Kors took the insults up a notch, describing it as "superhero ice skater."

Kors saved his best barbs for poor Bryce, though. His fuchsia dress was too fussy, its deep pockets too deep. "You can put your whole lunchbox in there," Klum teased. Kors again pushed it further in the final judging sequence: "I know all three of you women have been looking for clothing that makes your thighs look bigger." 

At the start of the episode, Bryce had pointed out in a voiceover that he hadn't yet won any challenges: "It makes me feel like the weakest link," he whined. That's what you call foreshadowing, "Project Runway"-style.


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-- Joy Press

Photo: The top nine contestants. Credit: Barbara Nitke / Lifetime