Project Runway: The Top 6 Are For the Birds

Except for Bert: He is against the birds.

After two challenges that were mired in the '70s -- with all the lack of haute couture that implies -- this week's challenge was designed to encourage the designers to "Spread your wings, elevate your designs to show us who really deserves to go to Fashion Week." At least according to Heidi.

The designers discover Tim in the workroom with exotic birds. Including Collier Strong, meaning this is the L'Oreal challenge.

All the designers have a pretty negative reaction to the birds, which is a little surprising. Kimberly, in particular, is a city girl who likes "all wild animals in a cage."

The idea is to create a high-fashion look inspired by the birds, which were, in turn, the inspiration for limited-edition color combos from L'Oreal. Are we all following? The winning design will be featured in a L'Oreal advertorial in Marie Claire. PLUS: the winner will receive a $20K prize from L'Oreal. They all get *very* excited about the money. I know there's some wry commentary in there about how each one claims to be more artistic and visionary than the next, as though money and the need to design for real people to buy is secondary (I'm looking at you, no-longer-there Olivier!) and yet here they are all talking about how awesome it would be to just be *given* $25K, but I'm a little sleep-deprived, so wry commentary is on order, but has yet to arrive. 

The designers are told this is a pairs challenge, and they all seem to like each other much better now. So much so that no one is even grousing about the possibility they might have to work with Bert. The pairs (and their birds) are chosen and are:

Anya and Laura, with the raven as inspiration

Josh and Bert, with the Amazon parrot as inspiration

Viktor and Kimberly, with the cockatoo as inspiration

However, they also learn a little twist. For this challenge, they're competing with their team member, so one from each team will be in the top, and one in the bottom.

They have 30 minutes to sketch and $300 at Mood for this 2-day challenge.

Off to Mood, and once again: NO SWATCH. I am over Mood and their doglessness. #swatchwatchfail

There's yet another twist coming as Tim lets them know they need to design a second look. They'll need to sketch and shop again, and they'll get another $300, and the models will wear both.

And now we get the segment of the show entitled: Kimberly's very bad, no-good, awful day.

1. There is a cockroach in the workroom, and Kimberly seriously freaks out. Is this not the girl that was just calling herself a city girl? I get freaking out over a bird ... but a cockroach? Haven't you dispatched with one of those before, girl? Anya has it under control and in the funniest line of the night is praised for going "all Lara Croft in Tomb Raider on it."

2. Kimberly's fabric gets stained.

3. Kimberly sews through her finger.

She has to have a bathroom-crying-interlude after all of the above.

We also have a segment of the show dedicated to the other designers capping on Anya and her lack of skillz. It's not catty at all. Heh. They seem to fixate on things like when Anya has to rip a few stitches in her dress to get her model in and then sew her back in. I can tell you that plenty of designs that come down a runway are not in the final form they'll be sold in. Including having models sewn in to designs. And that often it's someone else's job to figure out how to make it something that can be manufactured. This aspect doesn't bother me at all.

But it's not like Kimberly doesn't realize she needs to have "an Anya moment and go from tragedy to triumph" after a glue gun accident burns a hole in her dress. She has to make a new dress in three hours.

After all the sturm und drang and panic, Tim has one more twist. Only one look will walk the runway. It's up to the designer which one they send. This should be greeted as wonderful news, given what some of them have been working on, but some of them seem to take it hard.

And we're on to the runway.

Heidi, staying with the dark palette she's been wearing all season, is joined by MK, ninagarcia and Francisco Costa, women's creative director for Calvin Klein for Women. A worthy extra judge, for once.

As always click on the designer's name to see their look.

1. Viktor

All I could think when Viktor's white chiffon gown with yellow patches came down the runway was: Literal, here comes the cockatoo. He frayed the edges of his chiffon to look feathery. Which is a neat effect, but again: Way too literal. There's a short skirt under the sheer voluminous over-skirt. And I just thought it was too much volume around the butt.


2. Kimberly

Kimberly also made a white gown, but one that went for the drama and diva, not demure. It had a bit of a Grecian gown effect, with a sling of fabric for one of the model's breasts and a one-shoulder plunging bodice for the other. The end effect was that it was not sufficiently supportive for the model's relatively ample bosom. There was a VERY high slit all the way up the left leg to her hip bone, with a pink underskirt intended to make that not look trashy (without quite succeeding). And the pleats don't quite work in front. It makes a striking first impression, but looking closer, it's kind of a mess.

My verdict: Even though Viktor's was too literal, I still would have given him the win, because Kimberly's just wasn't well-made and looked trashy.

3. Bert

Bert created a gown with a silver over-skirt over forest green, turquoise and chartreuse underskirts and a silver strapless bustier top. And a big big buckle. The bustier is a bit stiff and the skirt is a bit short. Nonetheless, my viewing companion really liked the dress, and I didn't see the huge problem with it the judges did. At least it was actually pretty without being so literal.


4. Josh

Josh created an orange one-shoulder toga-dress with tribble on the shoulder. Frankly, I thought it was plain without being that chic. (We know from last week I can really go for simple chic when it's done well.) This just looked like it was pinned on. And the chain that MK ended up loving so much? Didn't seem connected to anything else. The corsage on the shoulder should have disqualified him, too.

My verdict: Josh's was simple and incomplete, I would have given this one to Bert.

5. Anya

Anya created a black dress with shoulder wings and an MC Hammer harem pant skirt. I liked the *idea* of this. The structural elements, etc. But I didn't think it was finely executed. There was lots of pouffing around the crotch and butt. The backside pleating didn't seem to be exactly right, sort of randomly bunching up. It's clear Anya is willing to try the most non-standard, non-beautiful approaches, and the judges are rewarding her, even when the outcome looks like it's still pinned, new sewn.


6. Laura

Laura created skin-tight black satin pants paired with a form-fitted black jacket with a peplum and plunging neckline and burgundy "feather" lapels. I agree that the pants were a little too tight, the neck a little too plunging, and the feather lapels a little too literal, but it also seemed to have more to it than Anya's dress, which, as I said, looked pinned together. And I liked her model's makeup, which despite being the L'Oreal challenge, once again, got very little play. Why do they bother?

Photo Courtesy Lifetime

My verdict: They were pretty even in my book, and I would probably even have favored Laura's.

So, the first match-up:

Anya vs. Laura:

Heidi loves Anya, and MK thinks it's inspired without being literal. It's nina's favorite of Anya's. Francisco thinks it's goth urban.

nina was also impressed with Laura, but didn't like the feathers and satin leggings were too much. Heidi thinks it's birdy. MK says it's edgier than what we've seen her do before, and he appreciates it. But it verges on costumey. Francisco likes the cut of the jacket.

Result: Anya is top; Laura is bottom.

Bert vs. Josh

MK thinks Bert's is pageant, but the bustier is cut perfectly. Francisco didn't think the shape felt new or interesting or thought perhaps Bert exhibited a lack of confidence. nina is disappointed, however she is even more troubled with the silhouette. But Heidi liked the element of surprise of the colors, they all did. Bert clearly didn't like the challenge, didn't like his bird, and doesn't like his dress. So, yeah, if you're not going to stick up for yourself ...

MK thinks the cut of Josh's is great, and that it doesn't look worked. But he hated the corsage. nina thought this was the most minimal he's ever been. Beautifully cut. Francisco: It's not literal, but it's exuberant. All 'cause of the orange color, I guess. 

Result: Josh is top; Bert is bottom.

Kimberly vs. Viktor

MK thinks Kimberly's is cut so well, you think she'll fall out of it, but she doesn't. But doesn't like the pearls. Francisco thinks it feels old. But he loves the mixture of textures. nina did like Kimberly's, however there is something beauty pageant about it, and she doesn't like the model's make-up.

Francisco likes Viktor's colors, and likes Viktor's feathering technique. MK liked the movement and loved the colors, but it's so literal. Heidi thinks they're both beautiful, but Viktor's is better executed. nina went too far with the feathers, so the dress lost its balance.

Result: Kimberly is top; Viktor is bottom.

The only ones they really didn't like were Bert and Laura. "Bert didn't have a good day, but Laura: Oof."

Anya is the *clear* winner of the challenge. Josh is annoyed.

Josh, Kimberly and Viktor are safe.

Down to Bert and Laura.

And Bert is out.

"I totally messed it up; I agree. You made the right choice."

Well, again, sounds like you were ready to go, Bert, so I hope you're cool with it, but I can't remember a single thing most of these folks have made, and at least I remember yours ... the Cirque du Soleil clown pants, most of all!

I guess if I had to choose a favorite now it would be between Anya and Viktor, but I'm not over the top on any of them ... how about you?

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