Janell returns to recap Project Runway, which she totally did in a timely fashion (as it were), but I haven't been in front of a computer for three days. (Ahhhh, so refreshing.)

Do you like tales of scrappy underdogs defeating evil overlords? Do you like morality tales about pride coming before a fall? Then you might like most of this episode, until things get uncomfortably ugly and unnecessarily mean and then you'll need to cleanse your brain of the last 10 minutes, but since science hasn't invented a non-lethal mental scrub brush yet, you're just stuck thinking "ew" and self-medicating with Hint-O-Mint Newman-O's (frozen). I apologize in advance. Get your comfort stash ready.


Previously: Hats. Diapers. Desexualized flowers. Michael C won, and no one thought he deserved it.

Let's jump to the challenge introduction. Two teams of six, with no appointed team leaders, will work to design a six-piece collection that is on trend for Fall 2010. That means now, people! Garnier Hair gets extra product placement by having Peter Butler, their consulting stylist, pop up a few times to talk hair. The hair trends for fall are below the shoulder, voluminous, and/or pulled back. Put that on a card in your wallet, along with the following fashion trends: minimalism, '50s retro and ladylike shapes, menswear for women, and military. Fabric trends are gold, camel, leopard, plaid, and lace. Consider yourself set.

Last week's winner, Michael C, gets to choose his first teammate: Gretchen. I guess everything that happens later is his fault for picking her. No, I can't do that. Gretchen is nobody's fault but her own. They also get Christopher, Andy, Ivy and AJ, a team of self-proclaimed superstars with four wins, collectively. The other team, with no wins under its belt, has April, Mondo, Michael D, Valerie, Casanova and last-pick Peach.

The teams will choose one style and one fabric, sketch, then spend $1,000 at Mood. Gretchen takes charge of her team, and they decide on menswear for women in the "color story" of camel. Stop right there. Really? Blah and blah. The team is very excited for tailored and clean things, and Gretchen invokes the phrase "winter short." They decide that they'll all make various pieces of the looks so it will appear cohesive and collaborative. AJ defends his shredded, unclean designs, but says he will reign it in for the team. They name themselves Team Luxe and congratulate themselves on quick decisions and teamwork.

The other team is so crazy that they don't even give themselves a name. They decide on a military/lace combo, and let everyone make their own design with their individual style, but with some cohesive details.

Now for some workroom highlights. Casanova will try to have a "softener" vibe. Michael C is having trouble draping a cowl neckline, and Ivy explains it to him while being mean, so Christopher and Gretchen decide to coddle him a bit. The teams get hair consultations.

Tim checks in with Team Nameless. They're feeling good. Tim says that the risk of lace is looking old, and calls out Casanova for making an older garment again that needs to be "youthened" up. Casanova takes a moment on a couch to cry about making clothes for old ladies, while various team members try to console him. He also says he's getting fat. He calls his aunt and cries and sits out for a while, until the models show up and his model gives him a pep talk and gets him back in the workroom.

Meanwhile, Tim talks with Team "Luxe." He says that they're ambitious in terms of the number of items, but in comparison with the other team, he calls it very "ho hum." Tim speaks the truth. The team feels very positive, though, and thinks Team Nameless basically sucks. AJ works on a dress and has to restart the back for some reason, so his model has nothing to try on. Michael C's blouse doesn't fit right, his team tells him to re-cut it. Gretchen tells us that she's making pieces for almost every look.

The next morning, Gretchen tells her team that she woke up at 4 a.m. and made a list of everything they need to do. The team follows the list. Ivy runs amok, and the models of Team "Luxe" are enlisted to help sew. Over at Team Nameless, Mondo hits all the models with a lint roller. Gretchen thinks Team Nameless doesn't have a flow. Team Nameless points out that Team "Luxe" has a sweater called the Grandpa Sweater. Point for Nameless. Now to the runway. In addition to Heidi Klum, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia (in case you weren't paying attention before), the guest judge is Georgina Chapman, a designer and cofounder of Marchesa.

Team Nameless goes first. They have a lot of hardware in common. Peach put chains and buttons on her skirt, which is out of her zone but went with the theme. There are lots of zippers. Valerie's outfit is mostly white with a blue shirt, the other team mocks it for not fitting with the other pieces. Casanova made skinny pants and a lovely detailed black lace shirt with an open back that judge Georgina stares at.

Team "Luxe" begins with a baggy shirtdress over two-colored leggings. Lots of high-waist pants. The winter shorts are present, worn over tights. The team interviews about how their fashion is not crazy but thoughtful and minimalist. They are very proud.

And the winner is… Team Nameless! Team "Luxe" is sent backstage to wait, where they are collectively shocked. Gretchen asks the team if they should agree on a fall guy or go down as a group, and they all very nobly say they won't call out anyone.

On the runway, the judges go over the Nameless designs. They notice that each piece has its own voice, but they work well together (cut to backstage, where Gretchen mocks their lack of cohesiveness and likes how her team's designs don't have individuality). Nina likes the versatility, good accessories and styling. Heidi loves Casanova's white pants and lace top, she calls them super chic. Michael gives props to the couture quality. Peach's edging on her blouse is also praised. The judges ask who should win, the team votes either Casanova or Peach, which is cool because they've both been in the bottom before. They're sent backstage.

Do you have warm fuzzies in your bosom right now? Hold on to that feeling before Gretchen vomits all over it. Team "Luxe" is brought out and Gretchen takes the reins, talking about collaboration rather than individual designs. Heidi asks her to name the weakest designer, and Gretchen talks around the answer and cries (Judge Nina: "[weird face]"). Michael C holds her hand. Judge Michael commends the team effort but says that it didn't work, it's "vanilla boring." Georgina says they tempered their flair. Nina says the biggest problem is the bad proportion, plus there's no sex appeal, no design, and the colors are ghastly. Judge Michael is perplexed about the Luxe name since there's no lushness. And Heidi hates the winter short. They also point out a shapeless, knee-length vest and call it a Golden Girls vest. It totally is! Plus the shiny shirtdress is "air hostess with horseback riding pants." AJ made the dress, he was trying to show his mad tailoring skillz, but he forgot to make it interesting.


Gretchen now takes responsibility for the styling, saying that she was trying to save a bad collection. The judges are confused because three minutes ago she loved everything. Judge Michael asks her who had the hardest time, and she points out Michael C and his cowl neck issues. She then says that his technical skills were the weakest and she had to spend so much time working with him that she couldn't do her own work to her high standards. Then it comes down to Gretchen saying no one was on their best game, and everybody sucked. Heidi's not a fan of
this change of tune. Heidi asks for names of the weakest. Ivy says Michael. Heidi points out that Michael is immune because he won last week, and she would like the name of a non-immune teammate. But these people are scared and stupid, and they all say Michael. Except AJ points out his own weakness for not bringing in his own style. Gretchen gets defensive because she thinks the judges are asking for someone to fall on their own sword, so she points out the specific pieces that she made. Everyone else does, too, and it turns out that AJ really only made the shirtdress, while everyone else made multiple items.

They're sent backstage. Gretchen says she doesn't want to talk, but ends up doing so anyway. Poor Michael C just sits and takes the abuse that's heaped upon him.


The judges discuss how the winning team stepped up. On the losing team, nothing was attractive or interesting. Nina and Judge Michael have a nice role-play making fun of Gretchen for switching her defenses and everyone else for piling up on Michael C, who can't be sent home.

Everyone is brought back to the runway. The winner is Casanova! Backstage, he says he wouldn't have won without the team, very gracious. No mention of immunity. Michael C is sent backstage because he had immunity, and he cries in front of the winners because his own team piled on him so much. Christopher, Ivy, and Andy are sent backstage, leaving Gretchen and AJ. Gretchen made lots of unfortunate decisions, but AJ spent most of his time making an ill-fitting flight attendant shirtdress. Sadly, AJ is out. Even though Judge Michael said they weren't taking past work into account, I'm sure they totally did in Gretchen's case, because she had her hands all over this collection of Golden Girls vests and winter shorts.

AJ is sad to go home for a design that had nothing of himself in it. Tim comes backstage, and before he sends AJ away, he calls out all of Team "Luxe," saying he doesn't understand their behavior, demeanor, and affect on the runway. He asks why they let Gretchen manipulate, control, and bully them, and let AJ take the bullet. Wow, Tim just brought it. That was awesome. Gretchen's little minions wake up a little and think, "huh, Tim is right!" Gretchen wails in her interview that Tim hurt her feelings because she just wanted to help. And that's where we're left. The editors aren't going out of their way to make Gretchen look good, right? But it seems like she'll be a reasonably talented villain that we're stuck with for a while, and I'm sorry. I'm open to suggestions in the comments on how to make recapping her more palatable. Nickname? Ignore her altogether? Blah, I'm having another cookie.

Oh, next week, they get new models. I suspect that they are plus-sized. Join me for plus-sized fun!