>> Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Good day, ladies and gentlemen. I'm Alan, your museum guide for this week's final installment of Project Runway before the big Bryant Part double-episode fashion show finale. Yes, just one week after designing for wrasslin' gals, we're stepping out of the ring and into the hallowed halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's a strange juxtaposition, but then it's been a strange season.
This week we've got three preview videos, five contestants, and only three spots open for Fashion Week. That's right--one of the videos tells us we're in for a double elimination. Which makes us wonder--why did they bring Chris back when Jack had to leave if they already knew they'd have to eliminate two people in the last regular season episode? We figured they were trying to make the numbers work, leaving enough designers to eliminate one per episode they had left. Don't get us wrong--Chris was and is one of our favorites, and it'll be a wonderful thing if a designer who was actually aufed during the season comes back to make the finals. But it does make us scratch our heads.
This week the final five go on a field trip to the Met with Master Tim to find their inspirations for this week's look that must also, of course, reflect who they are as a designer and what we will see from their line, should they make it to Bryant Park as a finalist. Tom and Lorenzo over at the hysterical Project Rungay were gracious enough to let us borrow the pic of Tim, above, as well as this one, which we love:
We can't decide if that pic reminds us more of this:
Which designers will have the right stuff, and which will be put down like reservoir dogs? Let's go to the film . . .
Early on, Christian tells us he's going for the win and will not play it safe. But when has he ever? Rami, on the other hand, has a different approach. While others are pulling out all the stops, he's not here to "make noise," but to "make beautiful work." Meanwhile Sweet P is having trouble with time management, and Jillian is spending lots of time pleating something. Chris can be seen building something . . . vertical.
From there, most of our clips come from the runway, which is where we get most of our prognosticating clues anyway. All five designers get scrutinized this time, but not all of them feature in the heavily edited (as usual) judging clips. In two separate videos the magical elves even cut to different designers receiving the same exact comment from Michael Kors. But as usual we can make guesses about who's receiving what smack downs based on the position of the designers on the runway and the angle of the judges heads as they hurl their venomous remarks.
What seems clear early on is that Christian is getting raves. He went balls out on this one, and an "I think it's super super super chic" from Kors and a "you have the ability to also think practically" from Nina are both pointed his way. It could also be Christian to whom Heidi says, "I love that you really thought about something special." Christian's proven remarkably adept at injecting his own unique fashion look into any and every challenge that's come down the pike, and we suspect this one won't be any exception.
Jillian seems the logical recipient of a "You're an American sportswear designer" from Kors (which is not a bad thing, considering Michael Knight from last season was told the same thing), but she also might be the one getting an "I don't know what you're going to present next" from Nina. This could be a compliment--"You always surprise me!"--or it could be a cut-down--"You have no consistent look." We fear it's the latter with Jillian, who is generally a very strong designer, but not one we think has a particularly distinctive style.
Chris gets a lot of attention in these clips, it seems. We think he's on the stung end of Nina's "You went really safe," (although that could be about Sweet P), and some sort of discussion about how he could have done something different with his outfit and "it still would have been beautiful." In the trickiest bit of editing, the magical elves show us Sweet P as Nina says, "And I'm sure you have other tricks up your sleeve! Not just this one. And that's what I wanted to see," but if you listen closely, it's Chris who is um-humming in response.
As for Sweet P, she doesn't get much runway time from the clips, other than a few grimacing smiles and anguished looks. We have to say, we're not feeling good about Sweet P's chances here. We think she's capable of the occasional surprise, but she's the odds-on favorite to be the first out this week. Sorry P, but there it is. Add to that the clips of her in the workroom still making a pattern with two hours left in the day, and we're thinking that perhaps she bites off more than she can chew here and pays the price for it.
But it is for Rami that most of the barbs in these clips seem intended, which doesn't bode well for a designer we thought was a lock to make the finals from the start. The problem with our preseason prediction is the same one the judges are harping on now: it's always the same thing from Rami. Consider these comments, all of which we think are directed at Rami:
Kors: "How predictable. I expect more from you."
Nina: "I want to see you out of this box."
Kors: "I'm like, oh my God, please don't--"
Heidi: "I'm not surprised he went for the Grecian!"
It doesn't take an art history major to figure out that Rami takes some Grecian or Roman toga-clad goddess as his inspiration from the Met. That's how he's been trying to dress his models from the first challenge to the WWE Divas challenge, with that poor prom dress girl turned into forty-year-old silent film star along the way.
Rami gets defensive too. We get a double-take "What!?" from him, as well as the very telling "Sometimes an idea can be interesting without having to be screaming out loud" comment. Frankly, we think the judges have had enough of what they see as Rami's one-note design, just as they harped on the same from Uli last season. But Uli listened, and she translated her stylistic vision into a new silhouette that wowed the judges and won her the final week--and a place in the Bryant Park fashion show. Has Rami listened? It doesn't sound like it to us.
So, where do we stand? First, we're going to assume the magical elves who produce the show really aren't kidding this time, and that only three designers will actually be considered for the top prize during fashion week. The final guest judge is, after all, Victoria Beckham--and she only has the attention span to judge three lines at a time. (And why is it we're always surprised that she's not the really pretty one of the Spice Girls? We suppose it's because her husband is an internationally renowned hunk and footy star.)
With three open spots and five designers, we have some tough decisions. First, we think it would be the haute crime of the century if we don't see Christian as one of the finalists. Christian is in. In fact, we predict Christian will win the final challenge, and go into the finals with a bigger head than Charlie Brown.
Next in will be Jillian, whose outfit will garner thumbs-up, and who deserves a place in the finals based on her standings alone all season long. She's consistently been in the top half--again though, without necessarily having a cohesive style. We think she'll be cautioned to think about that when they see her again in February.
Then we think it's going to come down to who's out, not necessarily who's in. Sweet P will be the first to be aufed, and we'll be sorry to see her go as a personality, if not necessarily as a designer.
And . . . cue the dramatic lighting and music: we're down to two. Chris and Rami, one of you will be showing at Bryant Park and the other one will be . . . showing at Bryant Park. Seriously, the red herring bit of bringing all the un-aufed last-round contestants to Bryant Park for Fashion Week is a little lame, since even the one or two almost-finalists can throw all their effort into a show that still gets seen by a big tent full of fans and critics. Do you think NYMag.com cared if Rami was a proper finalist when they named two of his looks among the 100 Most Fabulous Looks of 2008 Fashion Week? I doubt it. Yes, the finalists get more money from Project Runway, and no, neither of them will be in line for the $100,000 winner's payout from TRESemme to start their own line, but half the battle is getting on the docket at Fashion Week, and the red herrings get a big stage. If you're one of the red herrings, why not mortgage the house and pull out all the stops?
But we digress.
It will come down to Chris and Rami, and Rami will be aufed. There, we said it. We thought for the first half of the season Rami was a Ka-shou-in to make it to the finals (sorry, had to do it), but then he kept defying Tim and the judges, asserting his rather one-note vision every single week. The judges grew tired of him, and so did we. Of all the designers on this season of Project Runway, he was (and is) perhaps the one person who needed this launching pad the least, and we're sure he will go on to great things, getting paid big bucks to design the kind of dresses he always designs. There's a place for that in the world of fashion, but we don't think there's a place for him in the finals. This too is why we think Chris is moved to tears on the runway in the video clips--not because he's been aufed, but because Chris has been given an official ticket to Bryant Park.
Chris, Jillian, and Christian are in. Rami and Sweet P are out.
Bring on the debate.
This week's TRESemme Fantasy Runway question is fitting, as we think Chris becomes the first aufed designer to return and make the finals: Which two designers were allowed to return for another challenge in Season Three? It was Angela and Vincent, and none of the remaining designers was very happy to see them at all. Luckily Chris received a warmer welcome . . .