Project Runway: Judges Giveth, Judges Taketh Away

This week on Project Runway: Joshua's seething resentments are scarier than his public blowups; the designers take a field trip to Governor's Island for inspiration; and surprise guests in the workroom! This week's guest judge is actress Zoe Saldana.

Taking the designers out of the workroom at this point in the competition seems like both an effort to recharge their creative batteries, and an attempt at letting them decompress. When the group reaches Governor's Island, Tim tells them to draw inspiration from the outdoor sculpture installations scattered around the island. The designers take off on golf carts to explore, and Josh immediately gravitates toward a church and an old, military cannon. (I have to rewind twice, but he does in fact call it "artillerary".) Those are not sculptures, Josh. I have the sneaking suspicion this group considers this a hearty outdoorsy adventure.

The designers have $500 to spend at MOOD, but when Laura reaches the register she realizes she has $700 worth of fabric. "She thought I said $5,000," quips Tim. Laura trims her budget and the designers return to the workroom, where they must create three distinct looks ("Not three dresses," warns Tim) to send down the runway. And then that pesky velvet bag comes out, and the designers are wary once again of a team challenge.

Never fear, egomaniacs--the producers are merely bringing back the last five eliminated designers to act as your seamstress/sounding board/slave. Kimberly picks Becky (the best sewer), Viktor chooses Olivier, Laura chooses Anthony Ryan (who had an off-camera falling out with Viktor, who openly snubs him), and Anya chooses Bert, which leaves Josh with Bryce. Hey! That's the first time Bert wasn't picked last.

The workroom drama is far more understated than in past challenges, as Josh keeps his anger at Anya for winning the last challenge, with the $20,000 prize, at a low, rolling boil. Bryce does an amazing job at keeping Josh focused, and helping him scale back ambitious, and ugly-sounding design ideas, like a plastic, stained-glass window effect garment. Anya notices Josh's attitude, but there are no direct confrontations. The designers plug away at their three-look lines, criticizing each other in confessional interviews but remaining largely quiet in the workroom. Olivier continues to struggle with the mere existence of breasts, but other than that it's a lot of sewing and nodding and sewing.

On the Runway


Josh continues to show improvement in terms of bringing an editing eye to his designs, although his draped gown looks an awful like the Statue of Liberty. If you are a longtime PR watcher you know that every season someone makes a Statue of Liberty dress, and every season the judges hate it. The judges actually don't hate Joshua's, but they do think the fabric he choose is both too literal and too cheap looking. Their favorite dress is the short, white number with a (am I typing this?) vinyl, illusion-netting black top. When asked who he would like to take to fashion week Josh names Viktor and, surprisingly, Anya. I guess his bitterness hasn't blinded him to her innate talent ... although he does bring up his $100k education versus her inexperience, and in a very backhanded compliment sort of way he says it's her lack of training that makes her "free" and thus talented? Or something.


My little Minnesota Barbie was inspired by circles this week, but her looks were anything but inspirational. The judges agreed her concept and her gown had potential, but none of the looks were executed well, and the one nightgown-looking dress was continually referred to as a "pillowcase." Laura has loved fashion all her life, and is desperate to go to Fashion Week. "I've wanted to show there since I knew what it was!" she chokes out on the runway. When asked who she would bring to Fashion Week with her she names Viktor, citing his saleable designs, and Anya. The consensus among PR-watchers and bloggers is that Laura has been looking increasingly stressed out and depressed over the recent weeks, and I agree. The thing is, she must know that even if she can't compete for the prize that she will be competing at Fashion Week! Fashion Week happens in the first half of the season airing, so at least half of the designers (including ALL of the final five) will have to send decoy collections down the runway.


Kimberly's collection had glimmers of greatness, including a pretty brocade cocktail dress and a well-styled set of models. Unfortunately she paired odd colors (bright orange and muted metallics) in unusual, bulky fabrics which created a very uneven all-around look. Kimberly's lack of confidence showed in the workroom, where she continually changed her mind throughout the design and sewing process, and ultimately showed up on the runway. Poor Becky would toil over a pair of pants only to have them turned into a skirt, or a pair of shorts. I actually kind of liked the bright orange coat Kimberly made, but that might be because I miss winter desperately. Heidi hated the look, and called the coat something an exchange student from Holland might wear. And you know those foreign exchange students--so dowdy! When asked who she would take along to Fashion Week, Kimberly choose Anya and Laura. An all-girl Fashion Week show? Not going to happen, Kim.


Viktor's collection was sleek and clean, but the judges did not call him out on using the city--rather than the sculptures--as inspiration, which bothered me a little. Michael said that of all the collections Viktor's was the most "commercial," a dirty word to some in the fashion world. Kors would know, I guess--he's incredibly commercial; the "keeng" of American sportswear, as Heidi used to introduce him before his CFDA Lifetime Achievement award. In fact, now that I think about it, all of the judges--Kors, Garcia, Klum--are more on the saleable, commercial end of fashion than haute couture. Hmmmm, interesting. Anyway, all of the judges agreed that Viktor needed to turn up the volume, but that his collection was impeccable. Viktor chooses Joshua and Anya to go to Fashion Week along with him.


Anya's decision to design in a more architectural way (but still flowy and sleeveless) and in solid colors pays off--the judges love her collection. The raving over the black dress is a little confusing; sure it's beautiful, but isn't it just a modified trapeze dress? And how far is this draping ability going to take her? I recall designers of runways past (Austin Scarlett, Santino) who got called out for relying on draping too much. As Viktor pointed out in a confessional, Anya can't even make a sleeve. Anya chooses Joshua and Viktor to go to Fashion Week with her.

IN: The judges choose four designers to create looks for Fashion Week, but only three will show: Viktor, Anya, Joshua, and Kimberly will go home with a big budget and several months to create something beautiful. Or hideous. Either way, we'll have fun!

OUT: Laura, in one of the saddest "outs" we've ever seen on PR. She really does know a lot about fashion, but whether she can translate this experience into a broader range remains to be seen.

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