proj runway

Finally. FINALLY. An episode with some personality, some drama, some dresses made out of weird materials. I thought it might never happen.

On Thursday night, our gaggle of hapless Project Runway designers were charged with making something – anything – out of newspaper. The Los Angeles Times, to be exact! Which should tell you something pointed about the state of print media right there – not only are they giving it away, but they’re not even expecting anyone to read it! No, no, it’s simply as a fabric substitute. No reading required. So I guess print publications beat out online media in that respect; you can’t make a dress out of a blog, can you?

Go ahead, try. I’ll wait.

Can’t do it, can you? And some of our designers, regrettably, couldn’t even do it when given pallets of newsprint. But, lo and behold, a couple of them actually came through for us. And one of them royally screwed up, lied, and made Tim Gunn very unhappy, which is almost as bad as if you bore Nina.

Operation: Newspaper Outfits is a go! The designers were allowed to use muslin as a base, but nothing but newsprint could actually show on the finished look. It’s worth mentioning that this is perhaps one of the easiest unconventional challenges that Runway has ever had; they didn’t have to shop for their materials, which were virtually unlimited, everything they had to use could be easily manipulated with scissors, none of it was food, and paper is something that people have actually used to make clothes in the past (which we know courtesy of the odd fashion history interlude). It wasn’t candy wrappers or lettuce or repurposed car parts – they had things fairly easy.

But you wouldn’t know it based on what Meth Addict Johnny, Mean Girl-wannabe Nicolas, and Gordana turned in – they were our bottom three. Although I completely disagree with the inclusion of Gordana in the losers’ circle. Her garment was well-tailored, relatively wearable, normal-looking, and included absolutely nothing but newspaper – it had no muslin base, as almost every other garment did. Even Tim Gunn heartily approved of it.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before we talk about the crap, let’s get the winner out of the way.

Our top three were Irina’s trench coat, fashioned out of regular newsprint with a collar and cuffs made out of balled-up wads of whatever, Chris’s feathery ball gown, and Althea’s architectural strapless dress. Irina won, which she shouldn’t have, because she’s just a taller, pointier, meaner, less adorable, less talented version of Shirin. And Shirin is wonderful! She talks to herself while she’s designing and generally seems like she’d be fun to eat ice cream and watch a DVD with. Irina? She’d just tell you that the ice cream is going to make you fat and she’d probably want to watch a Gwyneth Paltrow movie.

Who should have won? Chris. His ball gown was the only garment to have a significant amount of movement, and the contrast in texture between the skirt and the bodice showed the versatility of the material. I would also have been happy with Althea taking the win – she was the only designer to effectively use a photo from one of the sections to create a pattern, and it was done expertly in order to highlight her model’s curves. And yet, Irina’s wadded-up trench won. What kind of world do we live in?

The kind where Gordana was in the bottom three, that’s what kind. We’ve already addressed THAT travesty, so let’s move on to the other two. Nicolas wanted to create a nod to Lower East Side punk clothing, but really he just made a sorta-striped dinosaur dress. It wasn’t particularly creative or interesting, and it didn’t look particularly punk. Fail.

But he wasn’t the biggest fail! No, no, Johnny was full of fail this week. Which, I guess, is better than being full of meth. You’d have to ask him, though. At first, he set out to make an origami-strapped red something-or-other, but Mama Tim hated it, so he scrapped the entire thing then and there, right in front of Tim and the cameras. And then he sat there and did the LA Times crossword puzzle (something tells me he didn’t get far). Also in front of the cameras. Which is important! Because when his model came in, and then later on the runway when questioned by the judges, he made up an elaborate tale of a Dior-esque masterpiece ruined by a wayward steamer.

Except there wasn’t anything remotely Dior-iffic about his crap dress, and there was plenty of footage to demonstrate that a steamer had never come anywhere near that wrinkled mess. And Nicolas, vying for as much screen time as possible, couldn’t help but open his mouth about it in front of the judges. Even if he was right, it still made him look like a petty a-hole, particularly when anyone that’s ever seen a season of this show before knows that there’s always someone that tries to plead hardship and the judges never care, even when it happens to be true. Which it didn’t this time, and I was halfway hoping that Mama Tim would fretfully peek out from backstage and go “Hey Heidi, he’s a big ol’ liar, his original dress made me woeful and, as such, he chose to ball it up in front of me and do a crossword puzzle instead.”

But he didn’t, and it didn’t matter, because Johnny went home anyway. So I guess something is right in the world, even if it’s not the person that won. This episode felt a bit more like vintage Runway, even if it wasn’t the most fantastic thing that I’ve ever watched. As we winnow down the field of contestants, we’re starting to see more personality come forth, like Shirin’s quirkiness and Irina’s and Nicolas’s inabilities to stop whining about what everyone else is making and focus on their own garments. One can only hope that they’ll pay for that in the coming weeks.

Another thing that we can only hope: That we’ll ever see Michael Kors or Nina Garcia again.

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • Sue

    Seriously, did Michael and Nina fall into Fashion’s Black Hole? Where have they been??

    ITA that Chris should have won; Irina’s coat reminded me of the coat the Laura Bennet made out of seat belts during the Saturn car parts challenge.

  • PhotoGirl

    Loved Irina and her coat! I also loved the long red dress (can’t remember who made it.) I thought it had a very Zac Posen feel. Reminded me of the wedding gown that he designed for his sister a couple of years ago. Oh, how I covet that wedding gown!

    Seems Gordana’s crime was that she made a “wearable” garment. What the eff??

    Is Nina ever coming back? I’m having a hard time loving PR now that it’s on Lifetime. I’ve sort of been sucked in to watching this season, but I think it may be my last. Ho-hum. . .

  • Beth

    Thanks for the review, Amanda. I’ve never watched a season of Runway before, but I caught an episode while cruising channels a few weeks ago and now I’m hooked. It is funny as hell and I love reading your recap & comments. Kudos!

  • cathy

    The red dress was Carol Hannah’s (spelling?) and agreed, it absolutely should have been top 3. Although the three they chose weren’t not deserving either. And wow, can we talk about the bitchy infighting between Irina and Althea? Someone is going down. Soon.

    Holy crap, when even Tim Gunn is commenting fretfully on your lack of morals, you know something is wrong with you. D:

  • KG

    This is the first season of Runway that is not being produced by the original production company, and it shows.

  • jus

    After coming across several PR reviews, I think i agree with you the most on several accounts: nothing spectacular about Irina’s dress, Gordana’s dress is fine (better then Irina’s IMO!), and Chris should have won!

  • hkFashionGeek

    I thought Irina’s trench was lovely. Didn’t mind it taking the win at all but I miss my NIna. I don’t even care about Michael Kors but when is Nina coming back? I wonder what was going on during that period when they were filming it that had her away for so long. Was she filming Running in Heels? (The other reality show that featured interns at Marie Claire?)

  • LDJ

    I honestly haven’t saw PR since season 2, but this pic sure a** he!! caught my attention and I must say, homegirl is truly gifted….OK, that’s all I want to say.

  • Padma

    I totally agree with you. Chris or Althea should have won. Chris was the best, in both the newspaper challenge and also in the costume challenge, the judges are just being stupid, i mean i can make a stiff newspaper coat but sticking things up on it, and it looks like a Chanel coat? to our Eva? God! just because its got things stuck on it to give the illusion of fur? I dont get these judges. I used to find Nina very severe but she knews fashion, she knew talent. Please Please bring her back. This is getting ridiculous. I think Nicholas deliberately sabotaged this new challenge for Louise, although she wasnt great anyway.