We open with the remaining male designers fretting over the dismissal of Marion, as is tradition. The more pressing matter, though, is how close Christian came to being Auf’ed, something no one could have predicted. Christian admits to the cameras that the last elimination was a humbling experience, and I’m glad to hear him say that. He seems like a genuinely nice little queen, and self-aware enough to know when he has come up short, which means the arrogance is all mirth and no malice. I really want to like Christian, and this helped.
What’s that, Heidi? No playground-style model elimination this week? What on Earth could you mean?? Once again, Heidi leaves the designers in suspense, and shoos them off to find Tim Gunn somewhere in Manhattan where they will get their next challenge. She does mention, however, that this challenge is a first for Project Runway. Color me intrigued!
The designers meet with Tim Gunn in what looks like a TV studio, and Behold! Tiki Barber. Yeah, I didn’t know who that was, either, which apparently establishes once and for all that I’m a giant homo. Aren’t we glad that’s settled? I know I am. Tiki (and don’t you just love that name? Tiki… what whimsy!) is a famous runningback, and since I don’t follow the foozball, I’ll just have to take Tim’s word for it. Tiki’s reception is decidedly luke-warm, especially compared to last weeks squee-fest over Sarah Jessica Parker, but Kevin, the one and only straightie, seems to think this is a big deal, so I guess it must be so. Tiki explains that his gig nowadays is as a correspondent on the Today Show, and this week the designers will be creating a look for him to wear on the air. Now THAT is a big deal. He goes on to give the designers his vital statistics: thick neck, big butt, and a certain “short”age in the height department. He likes color (including pink and pastels) as long as they compliment the overall look. With that, Tim Gunn sends the designers on their merry way, which isn’t really true, because most of them look absolutely terrified.
Out of all the designers, only two can say they have any experience in menswear. We learn that menswear is by far the most difficult kind of designing, from the construction to the fit to the styling, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see so many of them looking so scared and unprepared. As we listen in on the planning phase, many of the designers are spouting out words like ‘three piece suit’ and ‘blazer’ and I really want to call them to remind them that they’re on Project Runway, which is famous for giving contestants insanely difficult challenges and not enough time to complete them. Hello!! It took my local department store three days just to frikkin’ alter my last suit, so I can’t imagine how long it took to make the damn thing! As usual, I’m smarter than all these people.
Ooooohhh, male models!! I’d almost forgotten about them. They’re hot. That’s all that needs be said.
After the sewing and cutting and more sewing, it’s time for the Runway Show, and some of the designers are the most unfinished I’ve ever seen. This show loves to tease us with the possibility of someone sending a model down the runway nude, but that has never come close to happening. I’m reminded especially of Bradley on Season 3 during the Dog Challenge – they made this big deal about him having to start over from scratch the day of the Runway show, and… well, he almost WON the challenge. But this time, they aren’t screwing around with us. There are jackets being held together with safety pins, and please believe it, actual non-clothes. Nina is going to totally flip.
I found almost all of the designs to be rather disappointing, but we’ll go through them anyway… starting with the winner…
This striped monstrosity is brought to you by Jack. Ya’ll… I really don’t like it. Yes, it’s well made and it’s admirable that Jack decided to edit his workload in order to show finished products, but I think there are some seriously unfortunate choices being showcased here. First, all the stripes; I mean, doesn’t anyone else start to feel dizzy after looking at this? I like the pin-striped pants and I like the shirt, too, but together? Maybe I’m fashion-backward, but I would never wear this. I was seriously uneasy when they picked this as the winner, mostly because I feel like there were other designs that were more ambitious and just as well executed. The only way I can justify it would be Tiki’s involvement, because he’s thinking of what he’ll look good in on the screen. So, case closed. But I still don’t like it.
Ok, ok… girlfriend sent her model down the runway with a very aqua piece of fabric tucked into his pants instead of a shirt, but this elimination still hurt my feelings. Carmen really got shafted on this one. I honestly can’t figure out how her time slipped away from her so badly, especially when there were other designers that made full ensembles, but what IS finished looks just as good as all the other crap that came down the runway. The judges and Tiki had no love for the jacket, primarily because it was too short, thus accenting Tiki’s badonkadonk (which, hey, if you got it, flaunt it), and the pants aren’t right in the crotchular region. But I think her ideas had potential. At the end of the day, I can’t fault the judges for kicking her off. To La Kors and La Nina, unfinished is the biggest sin, and this belongs in Project Runway Hell. So sadly, Carmen: Auf!
Joining Carmen in the Bottom 2 were Sweet P and Ricky. I think Sweet P knew she was in trouble – I mean, if she thought she was going to slide through with that shirt, she’s more like Dumb P. On the bright side, the pants look alright, if not a little poofy in the hips, and I’d totally wear that tie. So how did she screw up the shirt so spectacularly? Only Sweet P knows, and she’ll probably never tell, lest she embarrass herself even further.
Ricky, on the other hand, had problems of a different sort. First, I really don’t recall Tiki asking the designers to fix him up with a tuxedo, so what’s with the black and white? Secondly, every piece was comically unfinished. If one has to enlist the help of the model to help one sew the jacket together right before the runway show, it is safe to assume that one has bitten off quite a bit more than one can chew. Ricky eventually had to settle for pinning the model into the clothes, leaving him to rely only on prayer that Nina wouldn’t see the metal gleaming from inside the seams. Well, eyes like a hawk she has, and she sure enough called Ricky out for the pinning. And honestly, I really don’t think the sharp, metallic tinkling of light coming from inside the coat was going to be confused for bling bling. Basically, Ricky is found guilty of Boring and Unfinished, something the judges have already addressed, so I fear Ricky is not long for this Runway.
The two looks joining Jack in the Top 3 belonged to Kevin and Kit Pistol. Starting with Kevin’s, I respect his color choices and his overall plan, but I can’t say it turned out that well. If I was judging, I would have questioned the shirt being too short to tuck into the pants. That’s either a conscious decision that must be defended or a mistake. Besides that, the sleeves look way too tight, which I can tell you for true, is very uncomfortable. Tight sleeves are a deal breaker for me in a dressing room. I’m also not thrilled with the fact that the judges sort of glossed over the fact that Kevin tried to pin the vest together, considering how they raked Ricky over the proverbial coals about his pinning. Surprisingly, Tiki seemed to enjoy this look, especially the color, and I can see it working on him with some major adjustments.
Kit was a close second with her very dapper ensemble. The pants are well made and very flattering, and the fleece jacket is a very nice bonus. I love the idea of a fleece sport coat, and I’m surprised no one has thought of it before, especially because it can be done cheaply. The only real complaint I have about this look, and I think the judges probably agreed with me (hence, Kit not winning) is it might be just a tad bit too conservative (as in, it looks too much like a prep school uniform). It isn’t boring by any means, but it might not be flashy enough for a TV show. There does have to be a punch to the outfit when you’re on screen. Anyhow, well played, Kit!
Snooooozzzzzzzze… I’m so disappointed in Chris March this time! How could someone who routinely works with drag queens let something so dull shoot out of his sewing machine? All black? Really, for TV? If the challenge was designing for Michael Kors, then SCORE, but Tiki said he liked color! There’s nothing wrong with it, really, even if it is a little Miami Vice at a formal dinner party, but I just expected something a little more exciting from Chris March.
Beside that is the design by Christian, who redeemed himself from last week, at least in my eyes. I think the whole thing is very stylish, not to mention well-made. I really like the curving zippered collar on the shirt, and the jacket and pants appeal to my love of all things shiny. I think Christian did an excellent job of experimenting with texture and fit here, and the only reason he didn’t do better would probably have to be his lack of consideration for Tiki’s body. This isn’t something Tiki could wear, true enough. However, it’s very cool looking. Pray Christian keeps it up. Pssstt… I’m not super excited about the detail on the jacket pockets, but… moving on…
As we dig through the middle of the pack, the designs start to smack of strange styles, all of which I’m sure were unintentional. Elisa’s look on the left is very nice. It fits that model like a dream and doesn’t betray any of Elisa’s weaknesses when it comes to finishing and finesse. However, doesn’t it look a little… Renaissance Fair to you? I’m getting a distinct peasant vibe. Granted, this peasant is very well put together, but urchin-like nonetheless. Perhaps it’s the earth tones, or the fact that the vest doesn’t close… I don’t know. I like it well enough, it just makes me want to sing madrigals and eat a turkey leg. It isn’t helping that the model is very cave-man-like. I mean, Good God, who did his makeup?
And then there’s Jillian’s outfit, which is as pimped out as it can be, minus the pimp-cane and pimp-hat. Ok, it isn’t so much “pimp” as much as it is “Saturday Night Fever” but I still have to question the whole 70’s vibe. There’s the high-waisted vest, the prominent collar, the light-colored shoes… yep, he’s got all he needs to hit the disco, so let’s go boogie.
Rounding out the rest are Rami, Steven, and Victorya, respectively. If I may start with Rami? That’s totally what I wore for three years in Catholic Junior High. I’m completely serious. Blue slacks, white shirt, and a tan jacket. While this look is definitely classic and very well-made, it is also B to the Oring. ALSO! Much fuss was made over Carmen’s jacket looking suspiciously like a Members Only jacket. As someone who owned several of those jackets [shudders] I will testify here and now that this jacket is closer to Member Only than anything else that came down the runway.
Next, it’s Steven’s ode to the armed forces. Tell me this doesn’t smack of a sailor on shore-leave! First of all, he’s wearing an ascot. I love me an ascot every now and then, but, wow… that’s dated. Second, those pants are so high-waisted; perfectly executed, mind you, but all the way up to the navel. In fact, I’d say Steven flew right past classic and ran into retro. Thirdly, the sweater is tucked into the pants, and while I know some guys do this, it has a tendency to age a person. If I think about it, I can’t think of any old guys that actually tuck in their sweaters, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s an old guy thing to do. More specifically, it’s a mistake an old codger would make, along with putting on different colored socks. All of those together equal a thrilling evening of tap-dancing and Singing in the Rain with the rest of the Brat Pack.
Finally (I know, right! I’m tired, too), Victorya has designed the perfect outfit for Tiki to wear if he has to go wait some tables right after chilling with Al Roker and Meredith V. I really can’t say anything else about it because that’s seriously all I see. If that model had a thought bubble beside his head it would say, “Would you like some freshly ground pepper with that?” And for Realz! White jacket, black pants, and BROWN SHOES!! NOOOO!
So the first menswear challenge in Project Runway history has come and gone. What have we learned?
1. Designing for men is HARD!
2. Male models are very hot – well, we didn’t so much learn that as have it enforced, and quite convincingly.
3. It is very hard to design for men without everything starting to look like a uniform.
4. Tiki Barber used to play football and was allegedly pretty decent at it.
5. If it is decided that Project Runway officially jumped the shark this season, this episode will surely be the one blamed.