Through the miracles of modern medicine and heavy-duty antibiotics, I have thrown off the chains of the worst bout of strep throat known to mankind (or at least to Amandakind) to come and recap the latest episode of Project Runway (sorry, Real Housewives fans – I was face-down in a bottle of Nyquil while I was supposed to be recapping that, but it will be back next week, swears).

This week was another mash-up of classic ProjRun challenge archetypes, this time with “real women as models” on a collision course toward “unacceptable and inappropriate product placement.” We’ve seen challenges in the past where a designer made a “real woman model” cry and where the designers had to incorporate a paid sponsor via car-part dresses, so the bar has been set high for a challenge of either type, let alone one that combined elements of both. Did it live up to the car-crash possibilities? Eh, not quite, but there were a few fantastically ugly dresses.

I feel as though now is the appropriate time to revisit the First Universal Rule of Project Runway: Never listen to your model. I introduced this rule back when the models referenced were professional clothes-wearers, but it’s also true when the designers are tasked with creating a look for a “regular” woman, as they were in this episode. It never helps anyone, and it certainly didn’t in this episode.

To say that that was the only thing that didn’t help these designers would be…an understatement. The challenge was sponsored by Campbell’s, who brought in a bunch of women who had been touched by heart disease so that the designers could make red dresses for them to wear to a Fashion Week gala in their honor. Except, catch #1, only one of these women apparently got to go. And also, catch #2, Campbell’s branding had to be included in the dress.

Not only is it super grinchy to keep hopeful women that have been afflicted by health problems out of their party because they were randomly assigned to a crappy designer, but why in the world is Campbell’s, purveyor of soups filled with enough salt to choke a horse and gross globules of chicken fat, associated with a charity that promotes heart health? Most of their products are like heart-disease kryptonite. On top of all of that, why force the designers, who mostly seemed to like their clients and want to make them feel good, to include Campbell’s branding in a dress that one of these nice ladies was actually going to have to wear to a fancy Fashion Week party, at which she was already likely to feel like a bit of an outsider without a soup can on her dress?

The stupidity of it all made me seriously rage-y, and the Campbell’s cross-promotion made the warm and fuzzy potentially of a charity challenge basically null and void. If anyone out there knows the greedy people that run this show, can one of you tell them to take their hands out of the cookie jar for, you know, at least one or two episodes? It’s become a tad mind-numbing. I don’t want a soup dress. Ladies that have had heart problems don’t want soup dresses. No one wants an effing soup dress.

I wouldn’t have wanted some of these dresses even if they hadn’t been soup-based, however. Even some of those made by the designers in the top three, which were Maya, Mila and Amy. It was a good week for people with Serious Fashion Hair – we also got a clip of Mila and Maya flat ironing their black bobs together, and I wanted to plop down next to them with my GHD and do mine, too. They probably would have made me get up, however, because I hated Maya’s dress. HATED. IT.

It looked like someone had taken a giant glob of poop and just smeared it right across the dress. The ruching and draping were wonky, the heart-shaped sash was the color of excrement and looked completely tacked-on, and it wasn’t flattering on her model, who should have been relatively easy since she wasn’t particularly large. If I could confiscate her hair until she made something better, I would do it. For some reason, though, Princess Michael Kors just let the poop comparison float right by him without saying a word, which makes me think he might have been distracted by a lonely bottle of spray-tan, glinting in the stage lights somewhere off camera.

I also didn’t adore Mila’s, but it had some construction elements that actually worked in its favor. She chose to sew two giant stars into her dress for reasons that aren’t entirely clear (since they aren’t a part of the Campbell’s logo, as she suggested), and the overall affect was as if her model had Scarlett O’Hara’d the flag of…a country whose flag is red and white with large stars. The stars placed at the hip, however, was actually quite slimming, which is why I’ll let the giant one that tried to eat the rest of the dress slide.

The conclusion here is obvious: Amy won, and she won by being the only person out of our dozen designers who made a dress that I would even consider leaving the house in. It wasn’t super special, but it was pretty and flowy and comfortable-looking enough that, in my estimation, I could wear it to a gala and hit both the buffet and the open bar heavily. Not that I’m recommending that sort of behavior for a woman with heart problems, of course. I merely have problematic tonsils, and my pre-op instructions say nothing about any of that.

Now we have to talk about the bottom three, but really, the line between the bottom three and everyone else was so slim that it seemed hardly fair to only single out these poor souls. But singling out is what reality TV (and life, honestly) is all about, so it was Anna, Jesse, and Jesus. Jesse made a mostly unflattering little dress with an entirely unflattering little white coat on top, but his dress did manage to flatter his model’s ample bosom. As we all know, an ample and flattered bosom turns Heidi into a drooling but well-intentioned boob zombie, so he got to stay.

And then there was Anna. Poor, sweet, well-intentioned Anna. She had an awkwardly shaped model, I wouldn’t deny that fact, but she made a dress that made her look just about as awkwardly shaped as humanly possible. It was not pretty, and I mean that in the most literal, non-figure-of-speech-y way possible. Beyond that, I’m mostly at a loss for words as to what to say about this dress. We all know how odd that is for me.

The only thing that saved Anna and her poor model was Jesus’s even poorer taste level. He made a date-night dress that would have been most appropriate on an aging, slightly meth-y stripper, and not in an ironic way. I thought Nina was going to rip one of the rhinestone straps (oh yes, he went there) straight off of it and use it to choke the last drops of life out of him right there, in front of all of the other designers, just to make an example of him. Compared to that, his actual fate seems pretty easy. And well-deserved, at that.

Remember the First Universal Law of Project Runway, which I mentioned at the beginning of this recap? Well, his dress is where it really came in to play in this episode. His model did, indeed, ask for something tacky and ridiculous, and Jesus didn’t have the taste level to realize that not only was that a bad idea, but that putting the rhinestone chain straps on it actually made it worse. If he couldn’t figure that out, then it was better that he left sooner rather than later.

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • carrie

    I thought Jesse’s was worse…is that even possible? They should have sent the bottom three home.

  • 19yearslater

    Jesse really annoys me. Without Ping he has no design sense and his dress wound up looking like Elphaba in Wicked around the time she sings “I’m Not That Girl.” So his model had a tummy- other designers made their women look fabulous and sizes smaller. I liked Mila’s dress but wouldn’t have considered wearing it unlike Amy’s, which is important as it is being sold online. Jesus’ model looked like a hooker. She was happy, but . . . not classy. I enjoyed the designers who focused on their model’s stories and personalities to make them nice dresses. I hated the designers who announced to Tim as if it were news that their models were not size 4s. Maya’s dress had a good design but turned out awkward.

  • Reese

    Yeah the Campbell’s soup thing was weird. I am a health and wellness educator and was very turned off by the idea that a processed, salty, fatty, no fiber food would be doing something for heart health. Likewise I agree with the poop smear dress. I thought they would say something at least about its construction. I am glad Jesus is gone because he wasn’t going to get better. This is the part of the show where I wish we could skip ahead to the top 6 or 8 designers.

  • fun

    I thought the poop smear also looked like a snake. I agree – they were all bad but Amy’s was the least objectionable. Imagine that – a soup can is basically uninspiring for designing clothes. Who would have thought?

  • Beth

    If Macy’s decides to sponsor an episode, Mila could re-use her gimongous white star dress! Why did they all go for such disgustingly shiny, cheap red fabrics? Was the budget that low for this look? I completely agree, it was a fest of craptastic red atrocities. The only one with any redeeming qualities was Amy’s, but if you take a peek at the dress on the PR website, you can see how poorly done the bust and top was. It looked much better flowing down the runway than it does in the still photo. Yegads — what’s next?

  • Erik

    Jesus’ dress was SO…SO…SO tacky i cant believe someone could actually think that that dress was glamorous…just EW . Maya’s dress could’ve been better without the snake-heart-poop thing and

  • Claire

    I found this episode SOOOO boring. I hope the season improves.

  • Elyse

    I agree with you Claire – and I think that it has (fb)