Project Runway Season 4: Episode 11 Preview

>> Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"Now this is art."

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:

Christian: "Why do I have to be Mr. Pink? Rami should be Mr. Pink."

We can't decide if that pic reminds us more of this:

Or 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 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 . . .


Anonymous,  February 13, 2008 at 10:13 AM  

Chris had to be brought back so that the upcoming team challenge would have complete teams (no one would be working alone).

Anonymous,  February 13, 2008 at 10:35 AM  

I agree with Anon -- Chris was brought back so that the En Garde challenge could still be a team challenge, and the real woman from the weight loss challenge could still have a dress made for her.

Re: Jillian not having a distinctive point of view...I disagree with the majority, somewhat. I think in the challenges that are the least restrictive, she has a very identifiable point of view. In the challenges that are very narrow in scope (wrestlers, candy, etc.) you don't see her point of view (although you still get nice garments).

And I agree 100% with your predictions. Assuming they don't pull a weird surprise (like all FIVE will show at fashion week and be in contention for the win) then I think it's Christian, Jillian and Chris.

Anonymous,  February 13, 2008 at 11:18 AM  

Does anyone remember reading an interview with Jack a while ago about how he and the other designers didn't hang out with Chris? He made it sound like Chris was being edited as the big jolly guy but that wasn't the case in real life. Perhaps the other part of the puzzle is that he and some others resent that Chris was not only brought back, but actually made it into the final three?

Alan Gratz February 13, 2008 at 11:36 AM  

Right - I had forgotten about the later pairing in the En Garde challenge, which of course would have necessitated having an even number. Although, I suppose they could have flipped the challenge with another that didn't rely on an even/odd number of designers. But it may have just been simpler to bring Chris back from wherever they had banished him. (Do they secret the aufed contestants away like they do on Survivor or just send them home? Does anyone know?)

And as for the second anonymous comment about Chris not being uniformly liked--that's not the first time I've heard that, or that he received a very favorable edit from the producers. Whether or not that's true, I can certainly see many of the already aufed designers resenting him for his second chance. How many good designers have we seen go who might have made it but for one misstep?

Bittybis February 13, 2008 at 11:43 AM  

Chris also has two garments on the top 100 list -- the black gown with red spiderweb silkscreen, and the dress with lace top and feather, or hair, or whateve it is, bottom.

The designers have to stick around after they're aufed. I don't know what they do to occupy themselves, but they don't go home.

Anonymous,  February 13, 2008 at 12:05 PM  

Chris lives in NY so even if he did go home after being auf'ed it wasn't much of a stretch to get him back to Parsons.

Anonymous,  February 13, 2008 at 12:52 PM  

They do seem to edit Chris to be the loved "big guy". Though, they do that on every reality show with a larger guy, it is like they have to be nice and cuddly. But in the episode after he was first eliminated I do remember some comments in the beginning, maybe from Sweet P, on how he was missed. I do hope that you are right on with the eliminations. I choose my fantasy team based on your predictions! Rami, though his dresses are beautiful, all look the same. Though Christian and his black jackets too!

Anonymous,  February 13, 2008 at 2:29 PM  

I totally agree with your tangent about the decoy designers showing at fashion week. It doesn't seem like that big of a loss to "not make it to Bryant Park" when they actually *do* make it to Bryant Park.

I was thinking maybe the decoys don't actually get to design their "collection" and instead someone just imitates their look, but that seems like a lot of trouble to go through just to deny the losers any fashion week glory. And, it wouldn't really work, since the designer still gets to walk out and take ownership of the collection.

If only I thought this much about my actual job...

Anonymous,  February 13, 2008 at 5:23 PM  

Remember, MG was brought back on PR Canada and went on to the finals.

Then again, she shouldn't have really been kicked out to begin with. She had pissed off the judges by winning a challenge then using immunity to try to get a reading on what the judges were looking for.

When the judges asked her about why she made that outfit, she tried to explain that she was attempting to find out what they liked, but instead they thought that she meant that she was testing them and chose to be insulted.

Not that any of it was real. It's all highly subjective and the drama is made up. But it's still fun.

Anonymous,  February 13, 2008 at 5:29 PM  

Let me throw something else out here.

Everyone says that it's important to make it to Bryant Park and talks about that as though it's more important than the money or the car or the internship. OK, the internship is probably pretty worthless, especially after hearing Jay's comments about it, but you get the idea. The important thing is to get to Bryant Park.


They get more exposure on the show than they get at Bryant Park, and many of the people that were eliminated show at Bryant Park anyway. Malan and Elisa both showed at Bryant Park during the same fashion week that their season of PR showed.

Is it really that important?

Anonymous,  February 13, 2008 at 5:58 PM  

That second photo of Tim with the designers at the Met is "To Sir With Love" all the way.

Anonymous,  February 13, 2008 at 6:21 PM  

Sounds about right actually. Exactly what I am predicting to happen. The one thing that threw me off is a clip from Tim in the workroom telling Sweet P her design is stunning or something along those lines. I might have been off though, I still think she's first out.

Alan Gratz February 13, 2008 at 6:39 PM  

I think Tim said "It looks 'schlumpy.'" At least that's what I heard.

Anonymous,  February 13, 2008 at 7:09 PM  

To address Anon 5:29

There is a difference between showing during "fashion week" and showing at "Bryant Park".

Malan, Victorya, and Elisa all showed during fashion week, but not in the tents.

Quite a bit of difference. In addition, you have a built in audience, whether you're in the running or not.

I can see why this would be a HUGE deal.

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