Project Runway Recap: Who from the Top 5 Is Going to Fashion Week?

[Author's Note: I missed recapping last week's Project Runway, due to BlogHer Food, but once I watched it on my TiVo I couldn't resist recapping all the drama, even if a week late, over on my personal blog. If you're interested, you can read it here.]

Here we are in the eleventh hour, and I have to confess that the only thing I still care about is Mondo and MIchael's unlikely friendship. Can they get their own show instead of Austin and Santino?

That aside, let the recap begin: Rather than having a night off to gossip after the auf'ing, the designers are sent right to the runway. Heidi comes out and tells them that she is going to send them to some place spectacular in NYC.

Michael C. has apparently watched the show before, since he knows it's never that simple.

So, I'm imagining the top of the Empire State Building or the big greenhouse at the Botanical Gardens or something else spectacular like that, but mama needs a new hootchie dress, apparently, because the spectacular place is [promotional consideration provided by] the presidential suite at the Mandarin Oriental. 

Of course the designers got several hours of intensive coaching with method acting expert Uta Hagen, all so that they could act mega-excited. (No, not really...in fact, I'm pretty sure she's not alive anymore, but she definitely *was* a method acting expert...and the woman who took over the role of Blanche DuBois from Jessica Tandy in the original "A Streetcar Named Desire"!)

There's some more blah blah about recharging, because this will be the "last challenge to wow us", and I'm certain [promotional consideration provided by] the Energizer Bunny is going to come out any minute, or they'll have shots of their [promotional consideration provided by] Verizon mobile phones plugged into power strips or something. But no. It was just an unsponsored cliche.

As they sit around toasting themselves as the Final Five, Gretchen is in the unlikely position of trying to be the goodwill ambassador, talking about how they all are awesome, and she's so proud to be there with all of them. They all get a little introspective and emotional, and I'm already bored.

So, I'm glad when the head to the roof and meet Papa Tim with Mayor Bloomberg.

Tim Gunn and Mayor Bloomberg in Project RunwayImage courtesy Lifetime

As they're all lined up waiting to hear the challenge, I note that Gretchen "thoughtfully" stole those tall boots right from the Piperlime wall. Or perhaps she has been having her models wear boots from her personal collection of tall boots every week.

So Mayor Bloomberg tells them the challenge is that they should draw their inspiration from NYC: Anything you want. Choose a landmark (so, not "anything", I guess).

They have the biggest budget of the year, $500, so the judges expect to be wowed.

The designers go off to be inspired, and this is what they come up with:

  • Michael: He's inspired by the Statue of Liberty. Which, to him, means: Something structured, but with drapy effect.
  • April: She's inspired by the Brooklyn Bridge
  • Mondo (rocking a fabulous colorful umbrella to protect him from the sun): He's also inspired by the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Andy: He's inspired by the "organicness" of Central Park.
  • Gretchen: She doesn't want to be literal. So she's inspired by the Lower East Side

And they're off for 45 minutes at Mood.

And I'd like to point out, that while at Mood, Tim TELLS April: "Given your palette of the season, you might want to think about a little bit of surprise." [Foreshadowing and spoiler alert right there!]

The producers hear my pleas and not only show Mondo chasing Swatch in stop-motion Keystone Kops fashion, they also close the Mood visit with a shot of Swatch wearing a black cape or something and looking very like Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein. Wha'???

Back to the workroom, and during this segment we learn:

-That we're treated to Gretchen at her most patronizing, sharing how Michael reminds her of her "five years ago." She probably thinks it's complimentary.

-That while Santino might still be the king of the Tim Gunn impersonators, Michael is able to impersonate ML to a tee. He sounds JUST like him!

-That Gretchen thinks Andy likes it "just this side of slut, and I think he nailed that." I'm left wondering how Central Park inspires a tight, short, black cheongsam. OK.

-That the Michael and Mondo a la Mode Show would feature lots of mushy praise, such as Michael rhapsodizing about how Mondo "is full of creativity...and so classy."

Tim comes for his visit, and we further learn:

-That Mondo is experiencing #sequinfail, responds by taking a nap and sets himself back by a few hours.

-That "April is doing April...kinda costume-y" according to Mondo.

-That Michael is going for simple elegance, which might turn out to just be too simple.

-That Andy needs to, according to Tim, "Be careful that it not go slutty, and that she not look like one of the Real Housewives of New Jersey." Which is Classy Tim's way of saying: "Take that, Bravo beyotches!!"

-That Gretchen is making things that make me go Yikes! Like overlaid lace and tiger lining yikes. Still, the upside is that Gretchen and Tim hug it out.

Gretchen treats us to more Gretchenisms, like "Is he an idiot savant, or just an idiot?" about Michael. And "April's piece is a little witchy."

But eventually, with remarkably little drama compared to last week, we are on to the runway.

Heidi is joined on the judging panel by the usual MK and ninagarcia, and the guest judge is none other than Season 4 winner Christian Siriano!

As always, click on the link under the designer's name to see the look.

1. Michael C.

Yes, it's a simple, long, black, backless black gown. But it really did fit and move perfectly, and it was hella sexy without being slutty. He went out with a bang!

2. Gretchen

This is an outfit that would work perfectly well if they were re-making Working Girl and keeping it set in the '80s. Cheap Staten Island office girl, not Lower East Side hipster. And boring to boot.

3. Andy

Yeah, it's still a short, tight, black slutty cheongsam. Central Park? I don't see it all. Unless of course it's the public restrooms where sometimes nefarious things go down. So, yeah, if he had said his inspiration was the public restrooms in Central Park after midnight...I'd get it.

4. Mondo

Well, it has to be said: This was a little more-of-the-same from Mondo. Good textures and use of patterns, but it does feel like we've seen it before at this point. Still good, just not the "wow" they said they were looking for.

5. April

April created a new look for Elvira, just in time for Halloween. Seriously. This was a sad, sad effort, and April's problem has always been that she just doesn't see it. She thinks she is all awesome, all the time.

Here were some of the best judging bon mots:

Mondo: Heidi agreed with me that she wanted something different.

Andy: MK agreed with me, in that he said "The last thing I'm getting is Central Park. Maybe a Robert Palmer video girl."

Gretchen: Christian said, "It's wearable, but is that you would do in a collection? The blouse and skirt are off the rack." (Always the deepest cut!)

April: MK went for the gut, telling her "The sameness is numbing. We've seen a version of this so many times. There is never any joy in your clothes. She looks like a pregnant witch."

Michael: MK thought it was a showstopper. ninagarcia agreed that it fits wonderfully, moves beautifully. Christian said it's effortless, although the slit a bit high for his taste, but Heidi jumps in with some super-high-slit love. Which sounds much dirtier now that I see it in print.

Lastly, they ask the dreaded question: "Which other two designers should go with you to Fashion Week?"

Their answers:

  • Michael: Andy and Mondo
  • Gretchen: Mondo and April
  • Andy: Mondo and April
  • Mondo: Michael (Aww) and April
  • April: Mondo and Gretchen

I was a bit surprised by the April love, personally.

In the end:

Michael is in.

Mondo is in.

[Mondo and Michael are so sweet and huggy and cry-y back in the workroom as the first two safe designers. They TOTALLY NEED THEIR OWN SHOW!! WHO'S WITH ME???]

Andy is in.

It's April or Gretchen for the auf, and despite my desire for it to be both, I'm pretty certain they'll want to keep at least one woman around, so pretty much because April only ever showed one look and at least Gretchen tried to do separates, when no one else did, it's April who gets the auf.

And Gretchen closes out the episode with one of her typical backhanded remarks: "I'm really relieved they gave me the second chances that each of you guys got."

You've already gotten a second and third chance, honey, so you're right to count your lucky stars!!

So, did you agree with the auf? Are you excited by the prospect of these four designers showing collections, or are you feeling it might be a little underwhelming?

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