Holy Klum of Doom! Tonight's episode of Project Runway was kind of a hot mess. It felt a little bit like watching Olivier's trip and fall in slow motion - over and over again. It was transfixing, horrifying, confusing, and worrying. And, much like Tim Gunn ("Did Olivier just pass out? This looks bad!") I didn't really understand what the hell was going on.
There were a few harbingers at the beginning of the episode that seemed to foretell the pending conflicts. Anthony Ryan and Bert argued about four objects that were in plain sight in front of both of their eyes, Cecilia didn't want to get out of bed, and Becky tried to haplessly take control of the situation without pushing too hard.
Well played, Project Runway editors. Well played.
This week's challenge was to design three separate looks to go with the Heidi-designed New Balance sneakers. They were to be "basic, but with a twist." Materials had to include denim or suede. "Okay...?" said everyone dubiously. Seriously, what the hell were they looking for here? It's supposed to be athletic wear, but clearly it was not meant as workout wear. Because no one could work out in that maxi dress. Or in that leather jacket, unless your gym's thermostat is set to an icy temperature. I mean, even the materials seemed ill-conceived: denim and suede? They don't breathe!
Clearly, I didn't understand the challenge. Because when I work out, I'm usually wearing some variety of net shorts and a tank top, which, lo! Was what most people put down the runway. And then I got bored. There was clearly no winning here.
To complicate this challenge even more, the designers were put into groups of three. Captaincy was decided by a literal foot race, wherein poor Olivier "fell like a bitch" (his words, not mine), and Heidi managed to run faster than Bert, even in her Louboutins. Josh, Bryce, Anthony Ryan, and Viktor were the speediest, and got to pick their teams. Ladies! Where was your athleticism? Kimberly, you got long legs! Anya, that mohawk has to be pretty aerodynamic! Laura, you're scrappy! I don't understand how a lady couldn't manage to eke out a top spot. Alas.
Of course, Cecilia opted not to run altogether, in a Project Runway rarity: she walked off the show. It happened quietly, with the simple admission that she was angry and hated it there. Well. That'll do it. Tim, bless him, was far more tactful than Heidi in the situation, telling Cecilia, "We can't want you to succeed more than you do... if your heart and soul isn't in it, then it's not going to work for you." Meanwhile, Heidi was all, "You can go, then." And didn't even give Cecilia the two-cheek kiss or apologetic "auf wiedersehn!" Ouch.
So, without Cecilia, Viktor and Olivier were short a teammate. They opted to bring back Josh Christensen for the competition, which is darling because he was so cute about it. "I'm the happiest boy alive!" he squealed upon his return. Aww. Of course, now I have to go back to differentiating between the two Joshes, but it was so nice to see Josh C.'s smiling face again that I can't be mad.
Two teams immediately had problems: Josh, Anya, and Becky; and Anthony Ryan, Laura, and Bert. The clear issue was that neither Josh and Anya nor Anthony Ryan and Laura trusted Becky or Bert to design anything. Bert and Becky offered idea after idea, only to have them shut down by their two teammates. Josh specifically stated that he didn't really want Becky to think, only sew, and Becky was fairly aware of that sentiment.
It's interesting how differently each person involved handled the conflict. Bert, feeling unheard, simply dug his heels in and kept his own designs - and sour attitude. Becky, feeling disenfranchised, tried to be a team player but still have some ownership over the looks. Josh McKinley just wasn't having it, and reamed Becky until he made her cry - then apologized. The ordeal blew over by panel, and Becky and Josh were able to air their grievances quickly and tactfully. Meanwhile, six feet down, Laura and Anthony Ryan and Bert had held it together all episode, and as soon as they got on the runway, exploded at each other with pent-up frustration, judges peering curiously at them. It wasn't pretty.
What I don't understand is how the judges praised Josh McKinley for his leadership and condemned Anthony Ryan's. While there's certainly no defending Anthony Ryan's bad outfit, it didn't seem like he fought with Bert all episode, as the judges suggested. At least, it wasn't edited that way. It looked like Anthony Ryan and Laura let Bert do his own thing because they knew they couldn't fight him. And they tried to include Bert in the decision-making, however awkward it was. Josh McKinley, however, spent the whole episode yelling at Becky, and excluding her from design choices. Dowdy or not, Becky really didn't deserve such awful treatment. At the end of the day, I'd rather work for Anthony Ryan than Josh McKinley.
Then again, I'm not Bert.
And speaking of, how much of an ass was Bert this episode? I know it must suck to have the other designers make you the butt of their jokes, but come on! Bert obnoxiously laughed at the judge's critique of Anthony Ryan's design, and even chimed in on part of it! He forgot Anthony Ryan's name at one point and claimed it was because some people's names are hard to remember when they're "not that significant." And, the cherry on top of the sour sundae was when he told Josh McKinley to drop dead. I've come to the conclusion that Bert has the maturity level of a child. And not in a good way.
Somehow, though, the judges found his outfit passable, and he's with us for another obnoxious week. As for Anthony Ryan, who hasn't been this pissed since he had cancer (aw!), he found himself in danger of elimination - and if it hadn't been for Nina Garcia and Michael Kors going to the mat for him, he'd have been a goner. This raises an interesting question: can a designer be excused for one bad week, if the quality of their previous work means they still have potential? The Klum of Doom thought not. "One day you're in, and the next, you're out!" As the tagline for the whole show, that is an awfully convincing argument. Michael and Nina, however, thought it absurd to get rid of Anthony Ryan in favor of Danielle, who's made weird silk/chiffon blouses for three weeks in a row. (At first I thought it outrageous that Danielle wanted to make athletic gear with silk, until I remembered that the required materials were denim and suede. Free pass, Danielle! Everyone's confused about this one.)
The judges' favorite (and mine too) was Viktor's collection, which was aptly described as "road warrior" chic. Who wouldn't like working out (or doing... athletic things? I guess?) in that holster tee or motorcycle jacket? I'd feel like a total badass. I was glad to see Viktor's romper-and-jacket combo take the top prize. Sure, Olivier's skirt was a little "farmy," but the top was great, and I like that Olivier tried to prove Heidi wrong and make the skirt work.
Everything else on the runway was just uninteresting interpretations of shorts and tank tops, which frankly I can't frown on, because what else were they supposed to think of? I just don't fundamentally understand this challenge. But on the flip side of this, Bryce made a rather chic-looking dress and accessorized it! I don't get it! Was it just a matter of, "Oh, what looks good with the sneakers?" Maybe someone can explain to me the marketing strategy for this athletic gear because I just don't understand. And clearly it's me, because I'm not Heidi Klum with a nice fat contract with New Balance. She's obviously the one on the right track here.
In the end, it was Viktor's romper and jacket as well as Josh McKinley's Anya-executed maxi dress that wowed the judges the most. I liked the maxi dress, barring the whole "is this a sensible article of clothing for me to move around in" issue. I also worry about that racerback style Anya has perfected, because while the judges love it now, I fear there will come a day when all of a sudden they want to see something else. But Anya appears to have hidden design skills in her mohawk (as well as a solid amount of comforting skills, given how good she was at dealing with Becky's bathroom meltdown and Anthony Ryan's post-traumatic near elimination breakdown) so maybe I shouldn't fret. If anything, it looks like she's on track to win fan favorite!
In the end, it was poor Danielle who got the boot instead of Anthony Ryan. I certainly didn't dislike Danielle by any means, but she was just kind of... there. Even her confessionals dryly stated the obvious. On Olivier missing out on leadership: "He probably feels pretty sad about it too." On leaving: "It's really sad to not be a part of that anymore." Oh, Danielle! Your witticisms will be missed.
So, gang, if you'd like to purchase Viktor or Joshua's winning looks, you can find them here. And lo, they edited that vertical pink stripe out of the maxi dress! Funny how the model isn't wearing the sneakers with the dress, either. Hmm.
Who do you think was the bigger asshole this week: Josh McKinley, or Bert? Are you happy to see Chiffon Masters Cecilia and Danielle go? Did you feel as badly for Becky as I did? Are you dreading the inevitable confusion of the two Joshes? Is Bryce really a "sunken ship?" And do you think I'll understand the challenge better next week?