Home / TV Recap: Project Runway – Season Five, Episode Eight

TV Recap: Project Runway – Season Five, Episode Eight

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Another dawn, another dead-eyed glare into the mirrors of The Atlas apartment bathrooms. It’s a new day on Project Runway. In the men’s apartment, Joe yanks aside the curtains. Blayne bounces up, glances at his alarm clock and lets his body fall onto his bed again. In the women’s apartment, a somewhat subdued Kenley trims her omniscient bang, and wonders what fresh hell, er, “new challenge” she actually says, awaits them.

“Nothing with innovation! Real fabric,” Korto calls out hopefully from the next room.

All that matters to Stella Leathah is kawfee. “Listen, do I do one tablespoon of kaw-fee, or do I do two?” she puzzles while holding the coffee can as if it is a UFO. Stella decides “strong” and adds a large scoop of grounds to the automated coffee pot. It looks like four spoons are in that scoop, but whatever. Glad I don’t have to drink any.

Stella’s voiceover adds that at the last challenge, landing among the bottom contestants left her ready to soil herself. (You can probably imagine Stella’s actual wording.) Best take it easy on the kawfee, then, don’t you think, Stel? Terri enters the kitchen and pronounces Stella’s coffee “kick” (very strong). Cleanup on aisle four! Or, wait. Wait, and hope. Whatever happens as a result of that strong coffee, I’m sure some network will put it on their lineup.

Speaking of which, Blayne is curled up as best he can next to a small window. The grey morning light is barely coming through. “I might be getting a little tan right here,” Blayne says. I can only hope he’s parodying himself. Suede watches Blayne’s delusional tanning session sleepily. A tight frown marks Suede’s face. Suede interviews that he wishes Keith had stayed, because the two had shared an apartment for four. Now that Keith has left, Suede has had to move in with the three men in the other apartment. Suede says that Suede feels “kinda like the first day all over again,” but that he is “definitely proud to be one of the last four standing.”

The group leaves The Atlas for Parsons and news of their upcoming challenge. With the remaining designers seated in the two rows of stackable chairs, Ms. Klum-Seal struts onto the runway. She is wearing a huge grin, and an all-black ensemble set off by a bugle-beaded long top. There’s a rather humorous closeup of Joe, who appears to be staring in Heidi’s direction, nearly drooling. If you have a DVR I encourage you to freeze-frame this show at random moments (unless of course you have something more productive to do, like rearrange your sock drawer). The group reaction shots alone are often incisive, sometimes hilarious. In this particular shot, Leanne smiles semi-sincerely, Joe’s smile is frozen beneath a thousand-yard stare, Kenley frowns sadly and Korto’s expression can only be described as skeptical. Interesting! Moving on…

Heidi brings out the ‘winning and losing’ models. (Although the models, provided they actually show up, can have as little bearing on the winning or losing design as we at home, they still get blamed for it.) Leanne was the winner of the previous challenge and gets to keep her model or swap the model for a barely-used one. She keeps her model. Keith’s old model, Alyssa, is sent away. She doesn’t seem overly sad. And really, why should she be? She’s just gotten national TV exposure, is young and presumably healthy, and good-looking enough to be a professional model. That must be why Bravo doesn’t choose to dwell much on the passing of each fallen mannequin.

Heidi announces a special guest who will “fill you in on all the details.” Heidi looks as mysterious as she can muster (which expression is exactly the same as all her others), and a silhouette appears behind the scrim. Spooky music is played for the home audience. The designers are either tired or bored; their faces betray no emotion. And it is… Tim! Well yes, we all think he is special, but is he a guest? Isn’t he an… employee? Nice budget, Bravo.

“It’s just lil’ ol’ me,” Tim chuckles. Then, Tim announces that the group will be designing for a “fashion legend.” Leanne’s private vlog clip has her expressing relief “we’re not gonna be designing an outfit for Tim Gunn.” Oh, hon-ay. You should be so lucky. Back at the Parsons runway: “I am taking you to meet this legend… now!” Tim exhorts. It’s times like these I can’t help thinking of Tim’s visual and aural resemblance to Mr. Peabody. Climb on board the Wayback Machine, kids. We’re going somewhere touched by Improbable History.

Turns out Blayne’s Improbable History would include Mary Kate Olsen. As the group walks down the New York sidewalk toward its mysterious destination, the Tan One expresses his ardor for the troll twin. Maybe the Elle cover we saw so often in early episodes this season worked its hypnotic spell over Blayne. The squinty eyes of an Olsen… the matted hair… it called to him. Then again, a few matted blond extensions and a baggy dress and Blayne would be an Olsen. So maybe he doesn’t want to be ‘with’ Mary Kate so much as find his long-lost triplet. But then Blayne vlogs, “I wanna marry Mary Kate! Who doesn’t?” So is he drawn to her because he feels a kinship? Or is it lust? Well, maybe a little of both, then? They could have impossibly apple-headed, tiny, blond and tan troll-spawn. His troll spawn, his troll twin. His troll twin, his troll spawn. I think the makings of a really scary (straight to DVD) movie is in there somewhere. All the little apple-headed trollspawn could wear identical purple hoodies. The little troll girls, broomstick skirts. And I’ve just scared myself. Maybe I should just write off the entire Blayne monologue as another bid for camera time? Somehow that thought is not much more comforting.

As the group wanders further through the city, Stella’s voiceover explains where they are. This is the Meatpacking District. To her, “Meatpacking District” means “some major designers.” I thought Stella, with her love of leather and bones, was going to express a wish to make a garment out of a side of beef. I’m really relieved she didn’t. Instead, the group enters a nicely appointed building. The place is done up in taupe, beige, and orange and thankfully, bears zero resemblance to an abattoir. The competing designers line up in two rows near a stairway.

Tim stands on the opposite side of the stairway, and introduces “a fashion legend. Let’s welcome her!” The group looks up the stairway expectantly. Diane von Furstenberg appears, then slowly descends the long, long stairway like the royalty she is. Her story could conceivably be seen as Improbable History. Born in Belgium to Russian and Greek nationals, Diane Simone Michelle Halfin married a German prince, Egon of Furstenberg, when she was 18. Thus she became Princess Diane of Furstenberg. These days, she is a naturalised U.S. citizen, a world famous fashion designer/mogul, and Mrs. Barry Diller. Ms. von Furstenberg’s fashion career exploded in 1973 with her creation of the fabulous yet functional ‘wrap dress’ made from knit jersey fabric. Workaday women everywhere wanted one, and Ms. von F’s empire began. The ‘wrap dress’ has recently made a big comeback. It remains her signature work, despite many other achievements and awards. The original little wrap dress is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's costume section.

The Project Runway designers greet Diane von Furstenberg with warm applause, and seem thrilled to meet her. Kenley cries later in her solo videotaped interview, and Jerell vlogs that he was “at a loss for words.” Diane shakes every hand, then stands with Tim and describes the challenge. The designers are to create a look for Diane’s upcoming collection. The collection is inspired by the movie Foreign Affair. Diane explains that the character in the 1948 film is played by none other than classic Hollywood film star, Marlene Dietrich. Diane says she thinks Dietrich is “the most glamourous woman in the world.”

Dietrich’s character in the film is “a singer, a performer, or maybe she’s a spy,” Diane adds. “She starts in Berlin, and she has to escape… to Shanghai, to end up in New York. It’s the end of the ‘30s, the ‘40s,” she describes. Diane points to a row of designs that are already made. Those are samples from the collection. There is a backless evening gown in a black and white print, a somewhat less formal gown in grey and white print, and a handful of suits and casuals in mixed textures and colors. “I will say that no designer in history understands how to work with prints and different colors the way that Diane von Furstenberg does,” Tim effuses. No designer in history? I think Tim might be starstruck. But, no wonder. Ms. von F could rival Dietrich or Dietrich’s film role for intrigue.

Diane announces that the group will have free access to her fabric “sample room.” They can take what they wish. Jerell’s smile just got even wider. Leanne has a serious look. Suede looks stunned. Everyone else is smiling in some form or fashion. Tim adds that “Diane has a very special announcement to make.” Princess Di then tells the group, “Thanks to my long relationship with American Express, the winning look will be produced and sold exclusively to American Express card members.” Joe looks nervous hearing this. Terri smiles evenly. Ms. von F enunciated the whole speech as if it were ad copy. Gee, imagine that.

There’s something in the sales for charity, as well. Er, sort of. Part of the “proceeds” will go to the CFDA Foundation, which Diane von Furstenberg has been president of since 2006. CFDA stands for Council of Fashion Designers of America. Ms. von Furstenberg received a Lifetime Achievement award from the CFDA in 2005. The show might have explained who or what the CFDA is, to the home viewers. But there ya have it. Speeches over, Diane stands regal in her black and white angular-print dress. Joe vlogs that “this is what Project Runway is all about.” Back pats and product placement?

Since the group has free access to fabric there is no shopping budget. Other than that, the room and the scene look exactly like shopping at Mood. Well, there are no salespeople, of course. The group grabs bolts of fabric frantically. Kenley cries in her vlog again. Tiny Stella can’t lower a bolt from a high shelf. “Get someone to help you,” Tim says, without mussing a crease. Tall Kenley yanks it down for her. Suede vlogs that he doesn’t think Diane would be happy to see her fabrics, “her babies,” strewn around like they are now. Well, the designers did only have fifteen minutes to find, grab, and cut the fabrics. That seems barely physically possible.

As the designers spread out their fabric choices back at the Parsons, Tim enters the workroom and reminds them they each have a “look book” (design inspirations from Ms. von F’s past collections) and until midnight that night to work. Joe flips through the “look book” and notices that “a lot of her looks have layers.” Joe says this challenge will be tight on time. Jerell is making three pieces for his look. Kenley “just wants to get a really good dress together.” Suede is making a vest. He describes his ‘look’ in the third person. (Bottoms up!) Blayne seems to be using all black but is flirting with ‘neon’ on the dress dummy. Blayne’s sketch looks a little like a newsboy outfit.

Terri is focusing on the androgynous aspect of the Dietrich character. She plans to make a coat, shirt, and vest in addition to the houndstooth pants she has sewn and is modeling around the workroom. While Terri is modeling the pants for Korto in the sewing room, Blayne and Joe mock the bright print clinging to Terri’s dress dummy. Both compare the print to “fireworks” and Blayne sings a bit of the national anthem. Joe vlogs that Terri always makes the same look, “a blazer and a pant.”

In the Project Runway lounge (who knew there was one?), Stella, Leanne, and Terri dine off paper plates. Terri asks Leanne what she is making and vice versa. They both reply, then ask Stella. Stella doesn’t wanna say, and I can’t blame her. This is a competition after all. “It wasn’t Leanne’s business and also, I don’t trust Terri,” Stella vlogs later. She also says she hadn’t asked them for their details either — “I don’t care.” In the sewing room, Terri, Korto, and Leanne gossip a bit about Stella’s reticence as if it were strange. The way the designers tend to attack each other’s ideas behind each others’ backs, I don’t think Stella keeping quiet about her design choices is odd at all. She might’ve been a bit friendlier about it, but she’s made it clear she doesn’t care what the others think. Her thought bubble is practically visible, and it might read: “I can make a living without you.”

6 PM, six hours until the end of their work day. The garments are still being sewn, ironed, fitted. Jerell describes his design in his solo interview. We also see his color sketch: a blue jacket, a gold turtleneck, gloves, an A-line skirt. The jacket appears to be trimmed in grey fur. Korto and Jerell discuss what it will be like to be judged by a “fashion legend” the next day. Basically, they both hope she will like their work and they both agree this prize is “better than immunity any day.” Neither wants her to “read” (criticize) them. Both offer their impersonation of an unhappy Diane.

Korto says she is making a “very chic” evening gown. Her sketch looks simple and emphasizes the fit, the cut, and the print. So far it seems closest to von Furstenberg’s own designs. Stella is hoping Diane will see what Stella’s “design aesthetic” is and how it mixes with her own. Stella is making three pieces: a cape, a vest and a pair of pants. Meanwhile, Joe is pinning hot pink fabric to his dress dummy and offering up a very stereotypical, most probably offensive sing-song impersonation of what “Shanghai” means to Joe. “Ning-nong, ning-nong” he sings, with his teeth purposely sticking out. Nice, Joe. “It’s Bryant Park all the way!” he vlogs.

Leanne describes her design in a voiceover as we are treated to a slow camera crawl over her sketch. It is “a cropped trench coat with a long silk gown.” The trench coat is sketched in an earth tone, the gown is indigo. Leanne interviews that she has “never been out of the country” so she has “had no foreign affairs.” Then we’re shown a cute montage of Leanne pretending to be a spy slipping around corners of Parsons. The clip is set to plucky string accompaniment best described as a ‘comical spy soundtrack’. “I would love to be a spy,” she interviews. “Secret Agent Leannimal. And I would hunt everybody down. Like an… animal.” Okay, so metaphors aren’t her thing.

Suede vlogs that he’d be a spy except he fears his “blue hair” might give him away. (I’ve got an idea, Suede! Maybe you could go undercover in a ‘planned’ Florida condo community? Dinner theater cruise?) In the workroom, Blayne compliments Kenley’s brightly colored, Mandarin collar dress while Joe, behind them out of sight, mimes inducing his own vomit. Terri mentions to Kenley she hasn’t used much fabric. Kenley isn’t worried but Terri interviews privately she wouldn’t be surprised if Kenley “gets called out about it.” Most of the designers are making an outfit with more than one piece, and Kenley has only done a simple dress. Kenley says she knows she used only a yard and a half of fabric, but she was determined to “make it work” because she was “obsessed with that print.” Apparently, only that much in that particular fabric existed. Ms. Collins vlogs that she thinks her design will stand out more than the others’ designs will. She may have used slightly more scatalogical terminology.

One who never would? Tim, of course. And it’s Tim Time. Mr. Gunn approaches Suede first. “Talk to me,” Tim says simply. A garment of mixed prints in heavy fabrics hangs from Suede’s dress dummy. Suede says something about Berlin and camouflage. “You look perplexed” Suede says, perceptively defining Tim’s reaction. “Visually, I’m not getting it,” Tim allows. Suede removes the clunky vest and reveals a long gown. It appears to be made of silk, is sleeveless and is white, navy and green print. THe print is made up of U shapes lying sideways, and overlapping somewhat. The sideways U shapes fill the fabric vertically. Tim comments that Suede should watch the fullness of the skirt, and the shape of the vest. Suede, fingers crossed in his vlog, vows to make it to Bryant Park. Suede took his Suedean oath in the third person, if anyone’s still playing the Home Game.

Tim walks up to Leanne’s gown and appraises it silently. Tim pronounces the color of Leanne’s evening gown “phenomenally beautiful.” It is a very deep rich indigo. Leanne praises the fabric; she loves it. They look at the rough, incongruous taupe trench coat together. Tim says the shape is not up to the “sublime” shape of the gown. Leanne agrees. Leanne even calls it “sloppy” and Tim says he agrees. Tim wonders aloud what the jacket would be like if “really shrunken” and tells Leanne she has thinking to do. Leanne takes all Tim’s comments in stride, rather than meeting his pauses with silence hoping that will change his mind as most others do. Her willingness to meet his criticism at least halfway is refreshing.

Joe shows Tim a pink dotted top, dark skirt, and plans for a hooded shawl. Tim cautions Joe to watch his time. Korto shows Tim a gown with a black and white geometric print halter, a black halter vest topping it, both pieces topped by a black swing-sleeve jacket. Tim “loves the volume on the top,” he says while holding a full sleeve aloft. Korto shows Tim a flash of yellow she is considering adding under the bodice of the gown. “It looks like a bra strap!” Tim says, disgusted. Next, Korto holds the swatch of bright yellow fabric under the gown’s slashed hemline. “There, I repond positively,” Tim approves. Korto says she really loves that yellow and wants to use it.

Stella is making something for a “Paris traveler.” “Berlin,” Tim corrects. Stella seems half asleep. Didn’t she drink any of that gear-clearing coffee she made that morning? So far all Stella has on her dress form is half a leather-looking vest. I'd have thought Cave Girl would've felt more enthused, if only due to the first three letters in Furstenberg. I mean, if ever Stella had an excuse. She mentions plans for pants and a cape too, and maybe a “small shirt covering the back.” Tim looks confused. “You want this to be cohesive,” and points out that the judges criticized her lack of cohesion during the last challenge. Stella dismisses the judges’ prior criticism by calling them closed-minded. Never a good sign when a designer in the workroom ignores Tim’s sage counsel. Oh, but Stella the Cave Girl exhibits some more crude manners when she openly mocks past judge Rachel Zoe’s “muumuu.” Tim turns red and apologises publicly to Rachel. “I really mean it!” Stella barks by way of making it worse. Tim ends it mercifully with a terse, “Stella? Time” while tapping his wrist watch. Neatly managed.

Tim walks over to Kenley. They greet one another cheerfully. “I see Shanghai!” Tim asserts. “Good!” Kenley replies. Kenley still seems unusually subdued this episode. Her voice is actually… soft. She’s wearing proper work clothes. What happened? Anyway, her creation is a sleeveless sheath in a bold print. It has a black high collar. Tim asks about her plans for its waistline. Kenley plans a simple dark belt. “Nothing extra,” Tim notes. “Nope, nothing extra,” Kenley affirms. They both agree the design is simple but Tim likes it. “It could go either way,” he allows. “Beautiful silhouette,” he adds as he walks away. Tim reminds the entire group of the midnight work deadline and departs for fabulous destinations unknown. Tim Gunn: Foreign Affairs. Now there’s a movie I’d line up to see. Couldn’t you picture the humble, yet singular Mr. Gunn as a mysterious, chameleonic spy?
Another dinner scene at the PR lounge. Kenley and Stella are grabbing quick mouthfuls of food and concurring on how “huge” the prize is this time. Kenley cries yet again – in the lounge, in her vlog, and in the workroom draping her dress. She sobs in her vlog that she has only worked for herself, Wal-Mart, or K-Mart in the past, “so this is huge,” she cries. She’s so sincere, I’ve even stopped disliking her. Er, for now.

As the last work hours wind down, Joe worries about having enough time, Stella worries about the conflicting weights of the two fabrics comprising her double-faced vest, Korto sews, and the clock strikes midnight. Everyone leaves the workroom on time. Next morning, the day of this challenge’s runway show, they each put on a face to meet the faces they will meet. Eye drops go in, makeup goes on, and Jerell drinks some milk while wearing some outrageous underpants. I’m not sure if Joe is referring to those or to something else as he inquires “Are you Chantilly laces ready?”. I’m just hoping it’s some type of in-joke we as the audience are not aware of, and not another seemingly homophobic remark from Joe.

The designers are quiet but alert as they file into Parsons, toward their work tables for last minute garment adjustments. Tim enters the workroom and announces the designers have one hour to work before sending their models to the L’Oreal (nope! no product placements in this show!) hair and makeup room. He adds that they should “use the Bluefly.com accessory wall very thoughtfully.” I’m picturing the designers creeping up to the wall and posing in imitation of Rodin’s "The Thinker", but that’s just because I’m sleepy. This woke me up: “I believe you have the ability to blow Diane von Furstenberg’s stilettos right off of those staggering legs of hers,” Tim enthuses. What a mental picture. And what effusion. Twice in one episode? Is Tim in love? With style. I know. With style.

The models walk in. Terri’s shirt isn’t done; Kenley is sewing her model into her dress. Kenley predicts those who tried to make too many pieces will be sending unfinished garments down the runway. Sure enough, some of the creations look unfinished. “Yuck!” Blayne sums up what he thinks of Suede’s pantsuit. Korto is worried about her hemline “not working.” Korto says she wants to have her own clothing line one day so she really wants to win this.

The models go to hair and makeup. It’s all exotic glamourous hair and eyes. Joe is enamored of his own “polished” design despite the fact it is too tight, and pronounces the other designs “crap.” (There does seem to be an oddly scatalogical theme to designers’ comments this episode.) Leanne interviews privately that she doesn’t know where Joe’s over-confidence comes from and is surprised he is still “here.” She thinks his outfit looks “like a cheap costume.” Time’s now up, and the group heads toward the runway. Jerell asks for and gets a ‘double high five’ from Blayne. I gotta love Jerell’s ebullient spirit. Tim has to shoo a dawdling Stella out the workroom door.

Heidi comes out onto the runway and repeats everything that has happened up until this point. It’s kind of like Sigourney Weaver’s character says in Galaxy Quest: “I repeat what the computer just said. It’s a stupid job, but it’s my job.” She then introduces the judges as she has every week. This week there’s a new cue card, however: Fern Mallis, Senior Vice President of IMG Fashion, is stunt judge where Nina Garcia should be. Fern wears a tomato colored top, a huge chunky necklace, and wire rim glasses. In case the average home viewer has no clue who Fern is, we’re shown Korto in a solo interview evincing exclamatory excitement because “Fern puts together the whole show at Bryant Park.” Heidi introduces “legendary fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg” and Diane seems to be wearing the same black and white print dress from the first day. I’m sure she isn’t – unless this was all taped in one day somehow – it’s probably just that some of the fabrics look very alike.

Let the show begin. Joe’s creation is down the runway first. To music vaguely suggestive of a 1930s Berlin dance hall, a model appears in a strange amalgam of shiny fabrics. She’s wearing a hot pink blouse with a crooked row of fasteners up the front, an even brighter pink sash at her waist, a dark skirt split up the back, and a dark piece of fabric fashioned into a hood. The model removes the hood to reveal a hot pink lining. While Joe raves about his own creation in a voiceover, Ms. von F is the perfect illustration of underwhelmed.

Leanne’s model, hair waved in a blond Marcel, slinks down the runway in a beautifully draped evening gown. At the end of the runway, the model shrugs off the ‘shrunken’ taupe trench coat, to reveal the silk gown’s stunning, plunging, v-shaped decolletage. The gown’s silhouette is very 1930s. Other than the color, which was not popular then, this could be a Jean Harlow gown. It could certainly also add glamour to a gorgeous foreign spy, such as Dietrich’s in Foreign Affair. As the model leaves, we see a ruffle going vertically from the hem to the waist, in back. The bodice is covered in back, and the gown is sleeveless, of course. The trench coat seems unnecessary but did not detract from the gown overall. It may not have added but it did not detract. One can perhaps imagine Leanne’s imaginary spy coming in from the cold. Leanne’s voiceover says she is “happy overall” with this.

Terri’s model Xaviera struts down the runway next and as always, sells the heck outta this outfit. Terri has made a high waisted, form fitting houndstooth pant, a bold-printed top with large bow at the neck, and a fabulously tailored dark long coat. Diane’s eyes widen and she sits forward in her chair. Terri’s voiceover predicts she will make the ‘top three'.

Jerell’s model and creation is out next. She looks a bit like a glittering stewardess. The model wears a strange hat, a tight skirt, a broad-shouldered suit jacket, and a glittering gold blouse or scarf underneath it all. There is a bright blue plastic belt. Her hair and makeup are unflattering. The bad stylistic choices may cost him points. Jerell’s hopeful voiceover, “Diane can really use this in her collection” narrates a quick glimpse of the famous designer’s utterly confused, disgusted facial expression. (Cruel juxtaposition, editors.) She crinkles her nose as if she smelled something awful. Well … is Kors still “farty” from two seasons ago?

Korto’s evening ensemble appears next. She has sewn that bright yellow fabric underneath, at the top and the hem. It gives the impression a bright yellow silk slip is layered beneath the black and white geometric print gown. She has topped it all with a black shrug jacket. Blayne’s very strange design is next. Well, he took a risk, I guess. The pants are ‘bloomer’ like, and have large polka dots. The jacket is glittery. There is an ascot or some such in a boldly colored print underneath. My best guess at Ms. von Furstenberg’s facial reaction is – she isn’t sure whether to love or to hate it. Blayne – in the audience with two strips of fabric wound around his greasy-looking hair, says in voiceover that Diane was giving him the “googly eye” earlier, because “she loves a tan.” Okay, Blayne, now you just sound delusional.

Suede’s model comes out in her jumbled print gown, next. It’s sleeveless, with a flowing, flared skirt shape. It has a long sash tied at the waist. The silk lends some elegance to the piece. The model does her best, unbuttoning the tweed sleeveless vest topping the gown, and smiling. The tailoring looks bunchy and uncertain. Stella’s model has been styled to look vampiric, with very pale skin, red lips and slicked-down hair. Her dour facial expression only heightens that ghoulish impression; the black cape does the ‘killer vamp’ look no favors either. The model whips off the cape and an ordinary looking vest and pant are revealed. The fabric is brown, the collar is black. Stella’s voiceover reveals a homespun poet: “I just think it’s sharp, and it’s slick, and it’s bad-ass. That garment has a lot of style, and class.” It’s Dr. Seuss goes to Biker Babe fashion academy.

Kenley’s Shanghai sheath comes out next. It is simple but effective. A bit of black lace serves as an accent sash at the waistline; another strip of fabric comprises a high Mandarin collar. Ms. von Furstenberg definitely smiles and leans foward while watching this garment move down the runway. One can almost see wheels spinning. Is she picturing it on the runway as part of her own collection? “I want everyone to want this dress,” Kenley enthuses in her voiceover.

And that’s it! The scores are tallied. Terri, Jerell, Blayne are called up for being mediocre enough to proceed in the competition. They leave the runway and go backstage. Of the designers remaining, “one of you will be the winner and one of you will be out,” Heidi congratulates or warns as she has every episode of Project Runway. Heidi then asks Korto to describe her design first.

As the camera pans down her model, and Diane von Furstenberg smiles, Korto describes her thoughts upon hearing Dietrich’s film character discussed. Korto has focused upon the words “freedom, carefree, relaxed, travels, Shanghai.” Diane asks to see the garment without the jacket, and then pronounces the yellow “very pretty.” Fern calls the print “captivating” and notes that Korto has brought in the Shanghai influence in the “kimono wrap.” Fern assesses the look as “very international; very New York.” Heidi and Diane praise Korto’s jacket strongly and Kors echoes the praise more quietly.

Joe explains his design next. He says he was inspired by “the Shanghai, the Asian element”, etc. He says he took a bit of a risk. Diane von Furstenberg gets right to the point: “I don’t like the open back,” she says. Fern and Heidi agree the effect is bad, and give various reasons: It’s messy and uneven. They make generally disapproving noises. Kors says it looks odd and could land on a tabloid’s “what was she thinking” page. Kenley explains her design choices next. Her face turns red and she shows a lot of emotion as she finishes talking. The judges’ silence after her speedy monologue ends, seems to throw Kenley. “I think I pretty much nailed it. Do you? Ha-ha? Ha-ha?” she laughs uncertainly.

Heidi scolds Kenley severely for making only one piece. She basically tells Kenley this was the easy way. Finally, Diane chimes in to say she likes the dress. Kenley sighs in relief. “It’s simple, it’s pretty, you’re true to yourself,” Diane offers. In other words, she believes Kenley made one piece as a conscious design choice, not because she was being lazy. Michael Kors adds that the dress is beautifully made and despite the fact that Kenley has “styled her up as a bit of a Shanghai Lil, it doesn’t look like a costume.” Fern tosses out adjectives like “Simple, chic, saleable, wearable.” Kenley smiles and thanks them.

We see Stella’s costume, er, garment in closeup. The cape seems made of imitation leather (vinyl) and looks ridiculous. Stella describes her look with a shrug: “she’s a spy.” Diane says she likes the idea of mixing tweed, “a men’s fabric” with “a shiny fabric like leather.” But, she adds, a 1940s cape is not horizontal; it’s vertical. This cape reminds her more of… “a magician’s cape!” Kors offers. “Or Dracula,” Diane interjects, which Stella reacts to with a shocked and offended facial expression. Michael and Heidi agree on the horrendous tailoring, with Kors joking about the fit in the crotch. He adds that Stella has edgy taste but it isn’t apparent in this design.

Leanne is called upon next and defines her look as “relaxed, a perfect disguise; slinky, seductive.” Ms. von Furstenberg says that she loves the “yin and yang” or male and female elements in the fabrics. She is referring to the “slinky” gown vs. the rough fabric of the jacket. Heidi says Leanne thought about “something new and different” and “did a very good job.” Fern admires the “surprise” of the ruffles along the back, and acknowledges those are not easy to sew. Diane and Michael chime in with “there is a lot of good design in there.” Leanne soberly thanks them.

Suede describes his idea next. He says the fabric reminded him of camouflage, which he is “mad about.” Diane points out that even though the model has “almost no hips at all,” it is “not a flattering skirt – too much fabric at the hips.” The camera pans in on the bunchy skirt. It does almost look as if someone basted the skirt directly onto the model, while clutching onto the bunched-up fabric. Michael and Heidi find the slit in the back of the skirt a bit random. Suede explains he was trying to add the “entertainment side” of the challenge. Heidi says it is sexy enough with the open back but the slit is too much. Fern feels thrown off by the jacket’s herringbone fabric, although she liked the idea of a short jacket. Michael says it looks like “she got dressed in the dark.” “I don’t think it’s that bad,” Suede chuckles quietly.

Heidi smiles and tells the group they can all leave while the judges chat. Interchangeably with every other episode, Heidi directs the other judges to “start with the designers we did like.” Heidi wants to begin by discussing Kenley. Diane von Furstenberg says Kenley’s dress was simple, very pretty, well designed, and “she fought for it – I like that.” Michael Kors says Kenley handled the “Asian influence” beautifully. Fern thinks if Kenley had added even one more piece to the look “it would have been a home run.”

Leanne’s design is discussed next. Fern “loved it” and thinks it met the challenge. Kors thinks Leanne “found a way to take the different influences and mix it together – very Ingrid Bergman.” Ms. von Furstenberg sums it up succinctly: “you had quite a lot of good design there.” We see a quick clip of Leanne backstage, looking like the cat who ate the canary. I’m sure the designers cannot hear the judges’ comments, but sometimes they must know when they’ve aced the challenge.

Heidi next says that she “likes Korto’s.” Heidi loves the fabric, the various pieces of the design. Kors and Diane agree that “when she took the jacket off the neckline was great.” Next are the three designs the judges most disliked. Kors thinks Suede’s dress was uninteresting, and the vest did not go with the gown. Fern simply says “It was not good enough.” Diane says that “the skirt was bad, because that girl was skiiiinny.” It’s true that the skirt added much volume without adding shape. The judges also dislike what they call “Shanghai Joe.” Diane says the front and back were two different things, the back was totally unacceptable, and “it looked homemade.” We see a clip of Joe’s garment from the back, its lines askew, no rhyme or reason. “Messy, messy, messy,” Heidi and Fern agree. Michael points out that Joe “did not think three-dimensionally. How does it look from every angle?” “That’s for suuure,” Diane quips.

Stella’s garment is discussed next. “Stella with the cape – the magician,” Fern smiles. Heidi says “if you do a suit, it has to be sharp.” We see the baggy-crotched pants and the lumpy vest strolling down the runway under that Halloween cape. “I can see where she was going but the execution was not good,” Diane sums up. “It was more Transylvania than Shanghai,” Kors can’t resist joking. “Stella was not stellar” Fern adds. The clip of Stella waiting backstage shows the 42-year-old designer looking exhausted.

Decisions made, the designers again take the runway. “One of you will be named the winner, and one of you will be boiled in oil and hung from a streetlamp,” Heidi says. Not really! Just wanted to see if you were paying attention. “One of you will be named the winner and one of you will be out,” Ms. Klum-Seal says, as always. Korto is in, and leaves the runway. Leanne gives her a sad look as she passes by. Kenley waits with a hopeful look. Diane von Furstenberg announces Leanne the winner of this challenge. “Your look will be sold exclusively to American Express card members,” she reminds us all. I thought the commerical break had just ended? Oh well. Leanne shyly thanks Diane “so much for the honor.” A sleepy-eyed Joe is grinning into the thin air. Heidi smiles and asks Leanne to leave the runway. We see Leanne’s shadow dancing behind the scrim as she goes backstage.

“It feels so amazing. Not only am I the winner, but my look is going to be sold through Diane von Furstenberg. And to win two in a row? That is awesome!” Leanne’s voiceover narrates as she hugs Korto backstage. Alone, Leanne softly tells herself, “I won with immunity. I did it.” Back to the judging – Heidi tells Kenley “good work” and Kenley leaves. Suede is also in, and leaves. It is down to Joe and Stella. Joe looks frightened. Maybe he’s still thinking of Stella’s vampire? Stella looks defiant: her chin juts forward, her stance is wide, she leans back, her hands folded in front of her.


“Yes,” he answers obediently. “Your look had us confused. There was too much going on. The back was a disaster. Stella, you gave us three pieces, and did none of them well. The entire look was a major misstep.” Hearing this, Stella nods a bit, but it’s unclear whether from stubborn defiance, anger, or boredom. Her stance and expression is that of a surly teenager. “I don’t care” is written all over her face. Well, not actually. But imagine it is. Joe grits his teeth waiting. “Stella? You’re out,” Heidi announces. Stella cocks her head and rolls her eyes. She looks surprised but her thought bubble might read, “I am so out of here.”

Heidi excuses Joe from the runway. He practically heaves and grovels in a Renfield-like way. Perhaps Stella’s costume inspired him after all. Now alone, Stella looks a bit forlorn. She accepts Heidi’s goodbye kisses, then begins a speech. “I think my ego was way too big to be here anyway. I’ve learned, and I’ve grown. And thanks,” Stella says, all while holding Heidi’s hands. Gee, that’s sweet, Stella. Maybe if the fashion business treats you coldly, you can open a line of greeting cards. Heidi thanks Stella, no doubt relieved to take her hands back, and watches as Stella exits the runway like an Oscar winner. “Thank you, judges. Thank you.”

Backstage, Stella’s buddy Kenley cries – again – and hugs Stella. “I’m good,” Stella assures the group. Stella sums up her own performance this season in the third person. Tim asks how Stella is and gets an “I’m fabulous.” “Then I’m happy to tell you to go upstairs and clean up your space!” Tim grins. It’s hilarious. Tim assures her they will “really miss” her, and Stella amps up the BS meter with a good old fashioned, Hollywood “I love you and adore you and you’re fabulous.” Whatever happened to Ms. Rock and Roll Bones and Leather? “Buh-bye” Joe says quietly. Leanne blows Stella a kiss. And then… and then… Tim looks skyward (it was a very discreet eye-roll) and says, “Well, that was an ebullient departure!”. Oh, Tim. The Man with the Golden Vocabulary.

As Stella packs up her gear, her vlog self announces: “I’m a rock star. That’s who I sew for. If you like my stuff come buy it. If you don’t, keep walkin’. I don’t care.” Thank heavens I’ve written that down before its eloquence was lost to the ages. Greeting cards, Stella. Don’t forget!

Clips alluding to next week’s episode promise special surprise guests, Terri grouching at Joe, Kenley giggling and “overconfident” and getting on Leanne’s nerves, and Tim comparing someone’s dress to a “schoolmarm’s old coat.” Hee-hee. And, Nina’s back! Disturbingly, Kors has caught someone “pooping fabric.” Why is this show’s cast obsessed with bodily functions? Someone please, check the catering menu. See you next time, fashion fans. I will bring the bismuth.

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