Friday, October 14, 2011

Project Runway, Season 9 E12: Empire State of Mind



New York's Governors Island was the source of inspiration on this week's Project Runway, but with Lady Liberty looming in the background the episode should've been named "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor..."

We should've known better than to have high expectations the challenge before Fashion Week, right? Season after season, this challenge shows just how burnt out the contestants are and it's always full of crazy decisions (Wendy Pepper, anyone?) and whacky fashion (again... Wendy Pepper, anyone?).

So before I try and figure out exactly how to pronounce 'artillery,' let's get to the rundown...

Challenge: The designers were whisked off to Governors Island to be inspired by its landscape, architecture and sculpture park and, using that inspiration, create a mini-collection of three looks demonstrating range. In theory this is the perfect challenge, especially considering we haven't had many "find your own inspiration" challenges this season. And unlike previous seasons' NYC-themed challenges, the obvious choices (Chrysler Building, Times Square, Statue of Liberty) were not readily available. Of course, that didn't stop some people from getting that inspiration anyway, but we'll get to that in a minute.

Twist: Not a particularly game-changing twist, but the five previously eliminated designers were brought in to assist. Considering the heavy hand the producers have had this season, I was shocked that Becky and Josh didn't end up together.

In the Workroom: Nothing too terribly exciting happened. Sorry, y'all. Oh... Josh talked shit about Anya. But mostly my eyes glazed over for 45 minutes watching Anya try to sew, Kimberly change her mind a lot and Laura being swallowed up by circle fabric. Yawn.

The Judges: Joining Heidi, Michael and Nina this week was celebrity fashion goddess Zoe Saldana, who I will forever adore for being Eva in Center Stage ("What, did you go to a special bitch academy or something?"). Like last week, the judges weren't exactly quick with the quips—if Michael says "disco Halloween" or "disco pumpkin" after seeing the color orange one more time I'll die—but they must've been even more bored than I was on my couch.

The Runway:
  • Anya [Look 1] [Look 2] [Look 3] - She certainly stretched herself beyond her normal prints and jumpers, but the results were less divine than the judges let on. I hated the reverse mullet hem in her first look—the model looked like she put the dress on backwards. The rust color and the drape of the back in the second look were lovely, but I'm not sure who she thinks is going to wear that oversized tank/pant combo. And all of the "interesting design elements" in the third look actually just looked like wrinkles and folds to me.
  • Josh [Look 1] [Look 2] [Look 3] - Josh's inspiration started as stained glass, but that quickly fell by the wayside. Unfortunately, the lack of inspiration was evident. Each look seemed to come from completely different collections for a completely different client. The first look was simple and beautiful—I especially loved the white buttons in the back and the mesh top—but then the second look came out looking like a bad costume for a Fourth of July party. Then to continue the Independence Day trend, the third look was a tacky, ugly nightgown version of the Statue of Liberty. He certainly has a lot of ideas, but most of them were not good this week.
  • Kimberly [Look 1] [Look 2] [Look 3] - I could tell where Kimberly was going with this mini-collection, and the girl who would wear these clothes was clear. Her downfall came in the execution. The jacket in the first look was way too large, and the scarf on the outside did not help. The orange top and the sparkle belt in the second look were fantastic, but the fussy skirt overwhelmed the whole effect. And although the sparkle in the cocktail dress made for a great runway impact, her third look also suffered from overdesigning the skirt texture.
  • Laura [Look 1] [Look 2] [ target="_blank"Look 3] - Laura was so distracted by the circle cutout fabric she picked up at Mood that she forgot to pay attention to the rest of the details in her mini-collection. Yes, the blazer in the first look was cute, but the skirt was a total afterthought. While we're at it, the entire second look was pretty much an afterthought—she just grabbed her pillow case at the Atlas Apartment that morning and threw it on her model. The third look was certainly her best, even if the judges thought it looked a little too Spiderman-esque. The high impact of the circles applied to the gown reminded me a lot of Mondo's bubble gown last year, except not as well-constructed.
  • Viktor [Look 1] [Look 2] [Look 3] - Viktor went a completely different route than the other designers, and produced phenomenal results. His ready-to-wear mini-collection wasn't the most dramatic, but it was certainly the most cohesive and the one I imagine most women would be running to buy. The flowing jacket, bold print top and cigarette pant made the first look my favorite—the polished tailoring we've coming to love from Viktor was in full display. I knew the judges were going to call the second look "secretarial," but the bright pop of color in the belt, the popped collar and the drape of the skirt made it unique and interesting. The third look was my least favorite, though I attribute that all to the boning around the hips. What was that? Overall, Viktor's mini-collection was my favorite, in case that wasn't already obvious.

Welcome to Fashion Week: Anya, Josh, Kimberly and Viktor. None of them come as a huge surprise considering the way this season has been going, although a few episodes ago I would've told you Anthony Ryan would've been on that list.

Auf Wiedersehen to: Laura, who came thiiiiiiiiiiis close to being at Fashion Week. Wait, who am I kidding? She got to show a decoy collection anyway, so don't feel too bad for Laura. She'll be just fine.

So it's off to the finale we go! I have a feeling next week's episode will feature one of the designers not quite making it to Fashion Week, but for now those are our "finalists." At this point it's pretty clear who should win and who will win, and I'm sorry to say they are not the same person. I will be over-the-moon elated if Viktor comes out on top in two weeks, but don't be surprised when Anya (aka this season's Gretchen) takes home the prize. The judges just can't seem to get enough of her.

What did you think of this week's episode? Were you as underwhelmed as I was? Do you think the right designer was auf'd? And who are you predicting for the win?

[Image Source: Lifetime]
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