Monday, August 20, 2012

Project Runway, Season 10 E4+5: Raul's Revenge

When last we met, Project Runway had just bid adieu to Raul after he sent a lackluster red carpet gown down the runway, and Andrea had gone missing in the middle of the night. I know I owe you fabulous readers an Episode 4 review. Don't you worry... a Lannister always pays his debts (wrong show?). So instead of pretending like it never happened, today you are getting a special twofer: a jam-packed extravaganza review of the last two episodes, which could be sold in a separate DVD pack and branded Project Runway: Raul's Revenge. Hey, it's better than Project Accessory (burn).

Enough jibber jabber... we have a lot to cover!

Where's Andrae Andrea?
Unlike Santino's hilarious Season 2 catchphrase, Andrea did not disappear to a Red Lobster date with Tim Gunn. Instead, she vanished into thin air in a puff of smoke in the middle of the night like a ghostly apparition. This was a pretty cowardly move, especially since she had the perfect opportunity to excuse herself from the competition when she was in the bottom. Everyone pretty much acknowledges the shadiness of it all, except for Christopher who feels personally responsible because that's what egocentric drama queens do. Sigh.

The designers were brought to Michael Kors' flagship store to have a pow wow with Michael and Tim about what "women on the go" look for in their clothes: they need to be stylish, fashionable, comfortable and, most of all, versatile. No time for wrinkly fabrics! They were tasked with creating a look for such a woman that demonstrated their design aesthetic in one day with $150. Ready? Set? Go!

Kooan is a Sad Pokemon:
After the requisite trip to Mood, Kooan pouted around the workroom, not being his usual cartoon self. He announced to the workroom that he decided to go home so he can do fashion in his own way. Unlike Andrea, who obviously cracked under the pressure, this is not a completely terrible idea on Kooan's part. He had enough time on the show to display his crazy Harajuku street style to the world, but it was becoming clear that the aesthetic was never going to ring the judges' bell and probably wouldn't fit into the confines of a Project Runway challenge anyway. So instead of belaboring the process, he decided to opt out. Now, should he have realized what Project Runway was all about before he auditioned for the tenth season? Abso-freakin'-lutely. At this point, there's no excuse for being shocked or overwhelmed by the proceedings when you have stacks of DVDs as proof of what's in store. The designers all had a completely unnecessary cry-fest about the whole thing, but based on this video Kooan recorded immediately after his departure, I think he'll be just fine.

Raul's Return:
So two designers hastily depart, and one drama queen makes a COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED (...) return! Raul charges in expecting a ticker tape parade, talking about how the judges were wrong and he's here to win it all! He should probably figure out how to construct a garment first though, huh? There's always a designer who talks a big talk, and Raul is determined to fill that role, even after being kicked off once.

In the Workroom:
  • Ven seems to be the only one with some sense, essentially grunting a "bye, girl, bye" to Kooan and rolling his eyes at Raul's return.
  • Buffi is stressed, has a headache and struggles with her giant zebra mess.
  • Christopher offers Buffi some unsolicited advice in the eleventh hour, and gets offended when she rejects it and complains about him butting in. Michael Costello would be proud.

The Judges:
Joining Michael, Heidi and Nina were fashion designer Rachel Roy, who offered some pretty great critiques, and fashion disaster Hayden Panettiere, who pretty much judges everything based on if she would wear it. Want some proof that her opinion should be taken with a grain of salt? Tom and Lorenzo can offer examples here, here and here. Yikes.

Top Three:
  • Christopher - I'm not sure what about a black dress and leather jacket reads "versatile," but the judges praised Christopher for the well-constructed jacket, calling the look glamorous and fashionable. I'll give you all those things, but there's no way someone wearing that outfit at 10 in the morning wouldn't get some looks. That is a nighttime look.
  • Dmitry - From where I was sitting, this was the clear winner. The bodice details were gorgeous, the fit was fantastic, the open back was a great surprise and, most importantly, it was a dress that could easily transfer from the office to dinner. Yes, it may have been a bit more interesting in a bright color rather than the simple gray, but I loved this look!
  • Sonjia - Sonjia's dress was certainly a close second to Dmitry's. All of the ideas were great—the fabric manipulation, the conservative color paired with the sexy silhouette—but I think she just went too far with everything. It was too tight, the fabric was too bunched, and I didn't love that peek-a-boo shoulder the way the judges did. Great, but not winner material.

Bottom Three:
  • Buffi - I have no doubt that this garment represents Buffi's aesthetic, but I have a lot of concerns as to whether that aesthetic has a place on the show. Though her use of zebra print was fun and very "Buffi," that pink overlay looked frumpy and only served to cover up the horrible construction of the dress. If you are relying on a belt to give your garment shape, you are doing something wrong!
  • Fabio - This was a great combination of a print dress and black jacket, and certainly fulfilled the requirements of versatility and comfort. Unfortunately, the entire look was too simple and not nearly fashionable enough for the challenge. On top of that, the proportions of the skirt and jacket were way off. As the judges pointed out, Fabio has great personal style, but it just doesn't translate to the clothes he makes for women.
  • Raul - Well, he showed them, didn't he? Oh, wait. What I meant to say was that Raul proved exactly why he got kicked off already. Everything was sloppily made and unflattering. The pants were an absolute disaster and it was clear that he was being too ambitious trying to redeem himself.

Honorable Mention:
I know the garments weren't well constructed, but I really loved Alicia's look. The shorts paired with the dress shirt was a great idea for versatility, and the pinstripe and elbow details were great design choices in the shirt. The shirt was definitely a little wonky, but it showed promise for what Alicia can offer.

Dishonorable Mention:
Ooo, Melissa! Her model went stomping down the runway looking like a melting witch. There was way too much fabric involved and it was flopping around everywhere. She could've made four more garments with the excess fabric in the cardigan and top.

And the winner is:
Sonjia, who got a make-good win for being the runner-up in the candy challenge. Don't worry, Dmitry; your turn is coming.

Auf Wiedersehen to:
Buffi, who was a delight to watch in the workroom, but kind of a mess on the runway. I'll miss her fantastic accent and giraffe-print hair.

Ready for another "make the sponsor happy" challenge? Good. Me, too! Nina joined Heidi on the runway to tell the designers about Marie Claire @ Work, a magazine highlighting workplace fashion. The designers were divided into two teams and had to create mini-collections that were both editorial and wearable to the workplace. Now, whether "workplace" meant fashion magazine office or a work environment in which everyday people like you and I operate wasn't really clear. Lord knows Heidi Klum has never worked a minute of her life in a cubicle and her "work wear" is short, shiny and tight dresses. The confines for this challenge were pretty loose.

In the Workroom:
  • Mood is total bedlam for "Team 6" as Raul asserts within 30 seconds that he doesn't care what anyone else says. Excellent teamwork on display.
  • The majority of "Team 5" uses their ESP to agree to ignore anything Gunnar says. Not exactly a terrible idea, but I'm not sure designers like Nathan should be feeling so superior.
  • Elena continues to prove herself as a psychotic mess, flipping out on Dmitry's choice of navy blue and running around like a banshee. 
  • Dmitry calls Ven a "one-way monkey" and my fondness for him continues to grow exponentially.
  • The female designers dub the men of Team 5 "The Silk Chiffonzies" for their love of the difficult to wear fabric that women hate to wear. I feel like a theme song is needed. 
  • At the Marie Claire @ Work photo shoot, Raul and Elena's heads explode and they are removed from the competition. Oh wait, that last part was only in my dreams. But, seriously? Those two were being so incredibly unprofessional. They'd better pray people haven't seen this season when they apply for future work.

The Judges:
Joining our regular panel was Joanna Coles, Project Runway All-Stars mentor extraordinaire, bra enthusiast and, most importantly, Nina's boss at Marie Claire. And just when I thought this was going to be an unstoppable panel of bitchery, they decided to tie both teams. Ugh.

Top Three:
  • Christopher - What would've normally been a way-too-basic silhouette actually worked perfectly for a workwear challenge. I loved the effect he used for the skirt (similar to what he did in the first challenge) and the tailoring was perfect. My only complaint? All that fringe on the skirt made it look a little sloppy.
  • Fabio - Unlike many of the designers, Fabio designed a look for an actual workplace, not a fashion magazine. It was conservative and simple while still being fashionable and chic. The judges gave him a hard time about the turban, but I saw it as a way to bump up the editorial interest instead of a literal interpretation of how a woman would wear the dress to work. 
  • Melissa - Okay, but seriously? Who is going to wear this to a normal workplace? That huge collar? That enormous diagonal zipper? There's no way. Yes, it was bold and interesting (love the color!), and in a different challenge I would applaud all of the praise heaped on this dress. But for a workplace challenge? No, sir. 

Bottom Three:
  • Elena - Though she should've been kicked to the curb simply for her outrageous behavior, Elena also created a look that was unrealistic for a modern workplace. Joanna, I love you, but a female attorney would be laughed out of the courtroom if she wore that giant-shouldered jacket. Elena either needs to create the most perfect garment using her same aesthetic or switch things up if she wants to avoid elimination within the next two episodes.
  • Gunnar - Though certainly workplace-appropriate, Gunnar's dress lacked any sort of interest that would differentiate it from department store clothes. That was only made worse by the horrible fit in the bust; as Heidi said, it looked like a collapsed souffle. 
  • Raul - Whereas Elena produced a well-made garment inappropriate for the workplace, Raul's two tops were, in theory, perfect for the office. Unfortunately, they were constructed horribly which completely ruined the effect. The model looked like she was being eaten alive by giant black ruffles. Once again, he talked a big talk and then fell flat on his face.

Honorable Mention:
Yes, he totally lost me with that completely absurd lower back cutout—perfect for showing off your tramp stamp to the office!—but Dmitry's dress was otherwise gorgeous and impeccably tailored.

Dishonorable Mention:
This is the first time I've mentioned Nathan at all in the first five episodes, and the fact that it's for a dishonorable mention leads me to believe that he is not too far away from an auf. That one-shoulder print top was total resort wear, and the giant fold in the crotch of the white pants was ghastly. Everything looked enormous on the model; I wish he would've balanced it with either a tighter top or skinnier cut pant. 

And the winner is:
Melissa, even though I can't imagine anyone wearing that to work. Still, bravo for venturing outside the world of black.

Auf Wiedersehen to:
Raul, who was just getting used to being back on the show and complaining about everything. I'd say farewell, but who knows which one of these drama queens might disappear in the middle of the night next. My eye is on Elena.

So, dear readers, thanks for making it through this epic recap, and I promise to get my act together for Episode 6. What did you think of these past few weeks of Runway? Is Elena getting on your nerves? Is Dmitry due for a win? And who is the next cannon fodder contestant to go?

[Image Source: Lifetime]
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