Project Runway 4: Episode 9 Preview

>> Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hello blue jean babies, and welcome to this week's Project Runway Preview. It's going to be a hurried and abbreviated preview this time, as I'm less than two hours away from walking out the door on a school visit trip to talk about Samurai Shortstop and Something Rotten. (Now that was some product placement worthy of Project Runway!) There's something rotten in the state of New York in this week's episode as well . . . or perhaps it's New Jersey. Well, somewhere in New York harbor at least.

The preview videos this week employ the new choppy misdirection tactic we've seen of late, but there's still lots to talk about. First, careful TV schedule investigations on the part of some rabid RunHeads has revealed that this week's episode will be a denim challenge--one which Kevin no doubt wishes he'd been around for, as he was a jeans designer before landing on the Runway.

And speaking of runways, we also know for a fact that this week Tim takes the seven remaining designers on a trip to a Port Authority warehouse. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, according to the venerable Wikipedia,

is a bi-state port district, established in 1921 (as the Port of New York Authority) through an interstate compact, that runs most of the regional transportation infrastructure, including the bridges, tunnels, airports, and seaports, within the New York–New Jersey Port District. This 1,500 square mile (3,900 km²) District is defined as a circle with a 25 mile (40 km) radius centered on the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

Hmm. Denim and the Port Authority? Speculation on the Blogging Project Runway boards guesses that this might be unclaimed clothing, and we here at Gratz Industries think that's a great prediction. The Port Authority operates both JFK and LaGuardia airports, and we'll bet that a lot of lost luggage finds its way into their warehouses. It's a recycle challenge! Of a kind. At least this time there's real fabric to be had, disgusting though Christian may find it.

At the Port Authority warehouse, Tim tells the designers they will have a scant three minutes to stuff their laundry bags full--laundry bags, we assume, will immediately go to a real laundry to be cleaned before the designers get their paws on them. He also tells them that they will have "complete freedom," but that their look must be "wearable and iconic." Oh, wearable--there's that word again! We'll have to see how that's interpreted this time.

As for "iconic," this is a head scratcher. An icon, again according to Wikipedia, is "a graphic device that represents some object or action, the graphic device being ascribed symbolic meaning(s) beyond the object represented." Okay. Good example: Baseball and apple pie, both of which are icons of America. Both have symbolic meaning, but neither is a direct definition of America. So what's to be iconic in this piece?

At first, we wondered if the icon in question was a visible one right in the heart of the Port Authority--the Statue of Liberty. That's a little too obvious an icon to remake though, and doesn't have much to do with denim. (And Lady Liberty seems already to be draped to look like a thirty-five-year-old, thank you very much, Rami.)

Instead, what if the icon is jeans themselves? What is more iconic about American fashion than blue jeans? The first pair wasn't made or worn here, but Levi's put copper rivets and button-flies on them, cowboys and miners throughout the Old West wore them, and American kids in the 1950s made them everyday wear for the masses. They're as American as, dare I say it, baseball and apple pie.

So this week, if our guess is correct, the designers will stuff bags full of the blue jeans like the ones that were in your suitcase when it got lost on the way from Albuquerque to New York, and then they'll have to create something new and original but that still carries the iconic quality of the great American blue jean. Sounds like a good challenge. So why do some of the designers look like they've swallowed a button-fly before the models ever walk down the runway?

In the first of the two Bravo/Blogger previews, Victorya, Christian, and Chris all look like they've got heartburn even before the judging. Christian, in particular, does not look like his usually cocky self, and in other videos we hear him walking around muttering, "Deconstruct, deconstruct." Everyone's taking jeans apart to rework them, but Christian must be talking about deconstruction in the philosophical, analytical sense. And yes, we know, we're ascribing high-level intellectual thoughts and actions to a young man who calls himself "Ferrosh." We're guessing Tim gave him the word "deconstruct."

The videos chop up much of the praise and the slamming, but the designers are arranged in such a way that we can make guesses about who's getting groomed and who's getting grilled. Ricky smiles, pleased with something that's said. Chris looks pensive. Nina tells someone on the left they were "inventive," while someone on the right is being asked why he didn't play with fraying all over his garment. Then there's an extended "Ricky crying on the runway" edit--and are we crazy, or are these tears of joy?

Meanwhile, Victorya, who cannot seem to forget that Kit has been eliminated--or perhaps has never really taken the time to figure out who those other girls who live in her apartment are--keeps calling Sweet P Kit. (Well, they do both have blonde hair, and, um, well, yeah. That's about it really.) Then we get the "I grew up sewing at my mother's knee" story from Victorya, ringing alarm bells that Victorya is getting the loser edit. (Though we've been tricked once before!) In the workroom, Jillian is getting the "I'm too exhausted, I can't go on, I'm ready to give up" edit that Christian got during the Prom Dress challenge, so color us not-so-scared.

With only seven designers left, there's not much middle ground between top three and bottom three. We're guessing Sweet P is safe--although we really don't see anything of her one way or the other in the clips--which leaves the rest to settle out one way or another. Rami's clearly getting raves from Nina, so we'll put him in the top three. Jillian's piece, just visible over the sobbing Ricky's shoulder, with a very cool collar reminiscent of last week's Mad Max jacket, looks strong too. And then there's the sobbing Ricky, who seems to be crying tears of joy that he'd finally been validated as a designer. He could also be crying about crashing out though. It's hard to tell with "Senor Squirt."

That leaves the Maalox Triplets at the bottom: Chris, Christian, and Victorya. Chris seems to be the one getting Kors' disappointment about the fraying, while we don't have much besides a "that's what I was going for" on the runway and a bunch of moaning and groaning in the workroom from Christian. He seems really resistant to this challenge, as does Victorya--and resistance, as we know from Project Runway and Star Trek, is futile.

The past few weeks, we here at Gratz Industries have been looking closely at all the video evidence, and we've guessed the winner correctly now twice in a row. But we've been voting for the loser with our hearts, not our heads, and we've been burned (and downright surprised) a few times. This week, we resolve to put aside all our prejudices and try to just call 'em like we see 'em. So here goes. (Deep breath.)

Here's how we see it: Jillian, you're third best. Thanks for playing. Rami, nice work. Go sit in the holding cell. Ricky--and we cannot believe we're going to say this--you're the winner of this week's challenge. That's right, Gratz Industries is going with Ricky for the win. We're shaking our collective company heads even as we type that, but there it is.

As for the aufing, well, we're left with three talented designers who've all showed us something in their time on the show. Christian, you're third worst. Get your skinny butt off stage. Chris, Kors wanted to see more with the fraying, but it's not too bad. You're in. Victorya--you who have won two competitions and been high up or safe many more times--Victorya, we think your design turns out auful this week and you'll be out.

There you have it. Our fearless, heartless predictions. To tell the truth, we're not so in love with Victorya--or her designs--that it will break our hearts if she goes. It's the other part of that Bizarro situation that has us crying Ricky-tears. One more week . . . maybe two if he wins immunity! Unfathomable.

You know, last week one of the recap blogs asked us to name the designer we'd most like to see win--and we confess, we couldn't name one. There's talent here, but we don't find ourselves pulling for anyone in particular. Michael, Nick, Austin, where have all you talented and loveable designers gone?

TRESemme time: "Which designer wore braces during the finale episode?" That would be Michael Knight, who got the metalwork in the hiatus between the last regular season challenge and the fashion show at Bryant Park. As for hair? How about . . . Jillian this week.


Laura K January 23, 2008 at 9:59 AM  

Well, Alan, I feel like you are probably exactly right this week... Sigh....

Tbone January 23, 2008 at 10:32 AM  

All aboard the Gratz train...choo-choo!!

Tbone January 23, 2008 at 11:54 AM  

Oh, I forgot to ask: Is there a Samurai Shortstop clock on the wall of the Gratz Industries workroom?

tundrababe,  January 23, 2008 at 1:09 PM  

Thanks for the tips!

twc,  January 23, 2008 at 1:18 PM  

I'm going to pick Ricky for the win just because I have a 4-week run on Fantasy Runway: whoever I choose for the win gets aufed. I can only hope that trend continues.

Jyesika January 24, 2008 at 11:59 AM  

Boy I'm glad I voted with you guys on this last episode! Good job!

Laura K January 24, 2008 at 4:18 PM  

You got them all! Thanks Alan!

Belle January 25, 2008 at 6:34 AM  

Wow you guys are good!

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