'Project Runway': Billboard looks and backward glances

Janelle reports on Thursday's Project Runway. She totally sent this to me Friday, too, so the belatedness is my bad!

We begin in the morning, with everyone waking up. Sarah (the contestant, not SKK) says that she woke up dead, and that the show is about torturing designers. I was reading US Weekly at the gym this morning (that makes it 48.6% less tabloid-y) and there was a box about Project Runway saying that they film 18-hour days, and that more than one person collapsed during the shoot. I believe Tim Gunn referred to some designers as “delicate” this season. Start the bets now for the most delicate!

Let’s just skip the morning montage (people do their hair, people are excited, Mondo is alone) and get to the challenge. Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief of Marie Claire, is on a rooftop with Heidi and Tim to introduce the challenge. They are to design a look that defines the Marie Claire woman, and the winner will have the look featured in a Times Square billboard. By the way, billboards are huge! Bad workmanship will be magnified, so I don’t think they want any unfinished business. They’ll have one day and $150. Tim takes the designers to the workroom.

A.J., the Missouri farm boy, is wearing a nautical-themed tie and a sailor captain hat. He’s envisioning a punk rock girl for his design. Gretchen, last week’s winner, will be doing something new for her: pants. I’m nervous. Mondo makes a list of things he wants, but he doesn’t sketch. And Hat is designing an “infinity” dress, which is also shaped like the number 8, to represent Project Runway’s Season 8. He asks, “What’s better than infinity?” If he can’t see the downside to that question (infinity tornadoes, infinity scary clowns, infinity mushrooms, I could go on infinitely), he’s stepping into infinity piles of hot mess.

Guess what you’d get if you took the symbol for infinity, folded it in half, and pushed it out evenly? A circle! How fitting that Nicholas (former architect, likes to play with seaming) is taking a circle and turning it into a jacket. Don’t worry, I think that’s all the symbolic designing going on.

After visiting Mood Fabrics, the designers are in the workroom until midnight. Peach worries that the pink polka-dotted fabric she chose didn’t move her outside of her comfort zone. Casanova asks A.J. for advice on draping a shoulder, but A.J. says, “I’m not going to help you pattern.” His head (complete with sailor cap) is in the game.

Tim comes to visit the designers. Valerie is working on a classic trench dress, which he likes. Tim tells Mondo that, in the last challenge, he’d never seen a designer take “matronly to modern” so well. Even though Mondo doesn’t have a sketch to show, Tim gives him blind trust. Hat explains the infinity concept to Tim. Tim adjusts his glasses and asks, “What is this doing? I’m concerned about you.” In an interview, Hat complains that he’s a straight man in a gay man’  world and therefore that world should give him a break. Nicholas thinks his circle concept is innovative. Tim sniffs, “I’m ambivalent. Does she become Little Red Riding Hood?” And Peach is lost. Her top and skirt are discordant. She starts over on the skirt.

Tim then adds another element to the challenge: in the morning, they’ll help direct a photo shoot to capture an image that best represents their look and the Marie Claire woman, and the judges will consider the picture with the runway in scoring.

Casanova has found that Gretchen will advise him, so he continues to call her over for suggestions. Gretchen tells him that they are bosom buddies, but that phrase doesn’t translate well. Especially given that Casanova has no bosoms. He tells her that instead they should be “hips buddies.”  Peach is on her third design, and warns her model that they‘re going home.

At midnight, everyone goes back to Atlas and most of them have roommate chats. A.J. interviews that Hat is quiet, aloof, and seems shady. Mondo interviews that he’s lonely and he needs to connect with someone. His roommates are drinking wine in the kitchen while he’s in bed sleeping. Mondo cries in his interview.

In the morning, Mondo is feeling peppier, he wears a turquoise shirt with big white letters saying “MAKE MY DAY,” and he’s added some big orange and pink fluffies on the shoulder. Those fluffies kind of shout, "I'm making my own day!"

And we’re back in the workroom, prepping the models with hair and makeup for the photo shoot and runway. Peach says that the only redeeming thing her design has is that her model is covered, but the downside is “she’s covered with Barbie sofa.”

Now it’s the photo shoot. Guess what? Hat ran out of time. Too bad he didn’t have infinite time. His dress has flap panel thingies that he was planning to buckle closed, but he ends up safety pinning them instead. The pins are right in the middle of the dress, and the photo shows a gaping hole between the pins. Hat interviews that the judges will have to look past the pins, because he’s not “Prototype Jack,” can’t "pop" things out, because it’s emotionally draining. Michael C interviews that Hat is creepy, so he always says, “yeah, I get that,” very positively to his face so that Hat doesn’t sneak up behind him with a pair of scissors. Let’s be done with Hat, shall we?

At the runway show, Joanna Coles is the guest judge. Nicholas loves his circle dress, it has a cloak, and when his model removes the cloak, she reveals the blouse has a neck and shoulders, but the rest of the back is gone. The judges don’t appear as impressed as he is. Hat’s dress has a hole in the middle, but he says it was impeccably sewn and his model is rocking the look. A.J.’s dress is cute, but it has a poof below the giant belt which he thinks looks like she was impregnated by an alien creature. Michael D’s dress is very short, he thinks it should be in a rap video. He keeps a poker face while his model pulls down on the dress as she leaves the runway.

Mondo, Peach, Nicholas, Hat, Valerie, and Gretchen are asked to stay on the runway, everyone else is safe. Time to defend the designs! Peach claims that polka dots are youthful and happy. She is dinged for creating an Amish cocktail dress with no sex appeal. She also styled it with a “lady bun” and pumps, and she gets the adjective of death: matronly. Valerie’s dress is a cool red trench coat style thing with a zipper down the middle, and Michael says it’s a good balance of simplicity and interest. Hat claims his dress goes from night to day, and that the safety pins are intentional. Michael tells him that the Marie Claire girl wouldn’t wear it day or night. At night it would be a satin bedspread, and during the day she would be asked if it’s a walk-of-shame dress. Gretchen’s pants turned out really cute, they’re cropped and tied with bows in the back above the ankles. Her photo has action in it, and the top can open up for a lower neckline. Is it still a neckline if it goes down to your waist? The styling is great, cool shoes, effortless hair.  Nicholas explains the 27-inch-diameter circle he used to create the shape of his garment. Nina says there are too many details with seams, cape, and blouse, it’s complicated and unsexy. The judges like the blouse from the front, but hate the missing back. Mondo was going for young, flirty, whimsical. He directed the model in the photo shoot, and says he was thinking of Mary Tyler Moore. The judges love that.

The designers are sent backstage while the judges debate. Hat says that they didn’t understand his concept, and he also blames his model. The judges say pretty much the same things they already said, and they bring the designers back in. Gretchen is the winner, for the second week in a row! Mondo and Valerie round out the top three. Peach is in the bottom three, but she’s safe. Hat, thankfully, is out. He leaves backstage before Tim can even come and say “bon chance” to him, how rude. That’s the last thing I’m writing about Hat, hurray! Then, surprisingly, Nicholas is out as well. He cries.

We cut to seeing Gretchen at a photoshoot where a supermodel wears her design and throws out some fierce poses. The billboard shows several poses and it’s wrapped around the corner of a building, it’s pretty cool.

Next week, it’s an unconventional challenge where it looks like the supplies come from a party store. Oh, and someone gets taken away by ambulance. Which delicate designer will it be?

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