A lot happened last night on the penultimate episode for this eighth season of Project Runway... and yet not much happened at all. We got some brisk visits from Uncle Tim, a brief look at the Fashion Week collections and an elimination that was weeks, nay months, in the making.
- Challenge: The four remaining designers (I miss April) are given $9,000 and six weeks to produce a 10-piece collection for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that a lot less time than they usually get? I think they may have needed more time.
- Visits from Uncle Tim: As per usual, Timmy Gunn grabbed his driving hat and gloves and hit the road to check in on the designers' progress (or lack thereof). These are usually at least an hour's worth of an episode, but in a season that has been the epitome of drawn out, this segment was a measly 30 minutes. Blerg.
- Andy (Oahu, Hawaii) - Andy grew up on a catfish farm and, despite his claims, Tim concludes that Chinese men are far more attractive than catfish. Isn't he kind?
- Michael C (Palm Springs, CA) - We met Michael's partner Rich, so that clears up any confusion (but was there really any to begin with?). He's designed 479 looks instead of 10, which is annoying except it allowed us to hear Tim say "design diarrhea."
- Mondo (Denver, CO) - Mondo's collection is inspired by a blend of the Day of the Dead and vintage Mexican clowns. Naturally. He also is an excellent pianist, and completely adorable.
- Gretchen (Portland, OR) - Gretchen is going through a tough time and making diapers.
- Twist: Upon arriving back in New York City (with Andy in full Na'vi mode), the designers face the button bag of death, only to be rewarded with a
sponsoredfree vacation to a wonderful destination. But that's not all! In order to continue to Part 2 of the finale, the designers needed to present three looks to the judges: two from the already-created collection, and one additional look to compliment the collection that they had two days and $500 to make. Shocking, really.
- Andy's Collection Preview: Inspired by the Buddha Garden in Laos, Andy through a whole lotta look onto the runway. Weird alien headdresses, bathing suits, fabric manipulation... way too much going on, and yet not a lot of range. That silver romper was not a day look, no matter what Andy says, and the bathing suit was pretty bare (especially compared to that exquisite one he made earlier in the season). Though the judges liked it, I found that green mess to be way too much for me. Andy needed a lot more editing and did not put his best foot forward on the runway.
- Gretchen's Collection Preview: If the judges said "granola" one more time I would've screamed. It really lacked the drama a Fashion Week collection requires, though I really liked the grey day look and the mixed-print jumper. It looked more like what she did at the beginning of the season... you know, when she was winning all of the time. Of course, the one look the judges liked was the one I loathed—the leather jacket/diaper shorts/boobs everywhere look. Ultimately, though, it will be easy for her to make this collection look more special and expensive—throw in a couple of high heels, slick back the hair and, voila, the Birkenstock aesthetic will be gone.
- Michael C's Collection Preview: Ohh, Michael C. Costumey does not equal high drama. Though I loved that first flowing dress (despite it being incredibly basic), the other looks were just not right. The feather skirt was boxy and unflattering with too many details, and the fringe top and bejeweled pants looked straight out of a scene in Coyote Ugly. The judges were right—this was more show girls than show. And though their argument about color was a little confusing (see: all-black collections by Christian Siriano and Irina Shabayeva, who both won), I understand their point—yes, you can have a collection that follows the same "color story," but it has to connect in more ways than just color to be a collection.
- Mondo's Collection Preview: Pure, unadulterated Mondolicious. The first look was a little busy for me, but that could easily be broken up into wearable separates. I adored the turquoise blouse with the print skirt as it showed off Mondo's incredible ability to bring color and joy to the runway. And though the judges thought it was perhaps too whacky, I really liked the polka dot gown—it brought a quirky point of view to an elegant silhouette. Mr. Kors said, "I just hope the circus doesn't come to town" and worried that the head pieces looked straight out of a Polynesian party, but I have full faith that Mondo will deliver a memorable and fantastic runway show.
- Congratulations, You've Made it to Part 2: Mondo, Gretchen and Andy. And I once again miss April.
- Auf Wiedershen: Michael C, who handled it with grace and humility. Kind of. Except for that breakdown and the punching of the wall. So close, and yet so far. And yet, we know he's going to present his collection as a decoy anyways, so I don't really understand the fuss. Buck up, buttercup.
What did you think, fellow judgers? Are you happy with the three finalists? Were you screaming for Tim to enter the workroom so Michael's tantrum could stop? And how many times can you fit "granola" into a comment in the comments section? Give it a try!