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‘Project Runway’ Review: “Welcome Back (or Not) to the Runway”

Lifetime

This week ‘Project Runway‘ brings back some past favorites for a special red carpet-themed challenge, Kooan gives us a brand new catchphrase, and a visit to Mood reunites us with the best dog in the whole wide world: Swatch!

The Challenge

Ven has immunity this week for a red carpet challenge presented by Tim Gunn and Lexus. Yes, the cars. Unfortunately the challenge isn’t to design a couture seat cover. The designers must create a look for the Emmys red carpet, but the look must incorporate the color of the car each designer is assigned. But the challenge is filled with surprises: the designers will work in pairs (drama!) and they have to drive the luxury cars to meet their mystery clients — past ‘Project Runway’ contestants and winners.

Christopher and Andrea get Anya, the season nine winner; Raul and Alicia meet Mila from season seven; Gunnar and Kooan (oh, this is the best worst team) get season six winner Irina; gothy duo Melissa and Dmitry get perhaps the best pairing with April of season eight; Sonjia and Nathan get girlish Valerie from season eight; Buffi and Elena are matched with Laura, the flame-haired finalist from season three; and finally, Ven and Fabio are given vintage-obsessed (and still obnoxious) Kenley of season three.

The teams set about getting ideas from their clients and sketching, which illuminates the disparities within the teams. Optimally, each pairing would realize their individual weaknesses and strengths and be able to support each other accordingly, but this is ‘Project Runway,’ and humility isn’t a word they learned in fashion school.

The designers head off to Mood to collect their materials, where we get not one, but TWO Swatch dog sightings! That little dog is an American treasure.

Back in the workroom the teams struggle to figure out how to represent their individual visions while also pleasing their clients — an admittedly difficult feat. Naturally most of the pairs aren’t getting along so well. Gunnar DEATH RAGE has issues with Kooan’s… Kooan-ness. Elena starts having a mental breakdown over how much time they’re wasting — because that doesn’t waste any time. Ven and Fabio are supposedly having problems, but neither of them seem too upset about it.

Tim shows up with the clients for critiques, and as expected, Irina is a total pain in the ass, but in her defense, she’s got the exuberant Gunnar and the bizarro Kooan to work with. April is pleased with Melissa and Dmitry’s choice of silver silk charmeuse and empathizes with their plight. Mila seems concerned about Alicia and Raul’s choice of print, which doesn’t seem very red carpet appropriate, but neither of them are accustomed to making gowns and Raul defends their choice. He still manages to compromise and the three of them agree on a new course of action. Kenley is just super happy to be able to talk in front of a camera again. Anya is one of the easier clients and she loves what Andrea and Chris are up to, though she suggests covering the chest if they’re going to leave the back open, which shorts a circuit in Chris’ brain. Buffi and Elena are not functioning very productively, and Elena’s panic attack continues after their chat with Laura. Elena seems genuinely shocked by the time constraints of the challenge, and I still wonder how many of these people have ever even watched the show.

As the day wears on team members turn against each other more and more, with Christopher lamenting how Andrea is taking, “Forever. Forever!”

The clients show up to prepare for the runway and Irina is, of course, a total nightmare person, throwing a fit about a puckered seam in the back of that insane white dress, which causes Kooan to aptly comment, “I just feel like a sad not happy person.” Me too, buddy.

The Runway

The guest judge this week is the fabulous Krysten Ritter of ‘Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23.’

Buffi and Elena, Client: Laura — The dress has a certain modernized Victorian appeal, with a high color and gorgeously constructed sleeves. It’s very light and elegant, with the black giving it a more serious sophistication. And Laura looks beautiful. Somehow Buffi was able to tone down her more schizo color tendencies and Elena was able to stop being a drama queen long enough to make this dress really work.

Christopher and Andrea, Client: Anya — If this dress were any color but the same brown as Anya’s hair, it might be more stunning. Unfortunately, the spiked belt reads like student work, and the fabric they tacked on to hide her chest looks obvious. The slit in the front is incredibly high for such a revealing back, going against Anya’s wish to only have one revealing element. But the real crime here is that color.

Ven and Fabio, Client: Kenley — I have to agree with Sonjia’s earlier assessment that this is a dress that someone could wear to church, but the construction in the front of this navy blue vintage number is too gorgeous to ignore. It’s obviously Ven’s handiwork, and that disciplined background is paying off yet again this week. Too bad it had to be for loud mouth Kenley.

Melissa and Dmitry, Client: April — The silver silk charmeuse here makes April look like one of those roasting bags you stick poultry or potatoes in. I like the way the silver plays off the purple in her hair, but the top is so bizzarely formed — it’s not that it isn’t well-constructed, it’s just that it looks f—ing weird, especially with that knotted area at the navel. And yet, judging by the look on Heidi’s face, either the judges will love this or she just spotted an ice cream truck.

Raul and Alicia, Client: Mila — Raul, I have to agree. This dress is a mess. Maybe it was the too many cooks in the kitchen way this outfit came together, but I don’t know that it would have looked better with the print Raul and Alicia selected. The top is unflattering and ill-fitting, the bottom is plain, and the only joyful spot is that red belt with the gold button.

Gunnar DEATH RAGE and Kooan, Client: Irina — Irina looks quite elegant in the dress, but that trailing fabric in the back is major overkill for a dress that’s already glaringly white all over. It’s well designed and constructed, but it needs something to break up all that white. Does Irina think she’s marrying the Emmys? How lonely is Irina? When’s the last time we checked on her?

Sonjia and Nathan, Client: Valerie — Valerie clearly decided she’d rather be an Emmy than go to the Emmys, as indicated by this Mariah Carey-inspired glittery gold number. I’m pretty sure I have a slap bracelet or a textbook cover from high school somewhere made out of this same material.

The Judging

Gunnar (who looks like a Ken doll escaped from the Dream Home), Kooan, Ven, and Fabio have the highest scores and Christopher, Andrea, Raul, and Alicia have the lowest scores. The judges send the lowest-ranking pairs backstage to gossip with their fellow contestants and wax snarky about the top designers.

The winning design is Ven and Fabio’s, with Ven taking the top honor and earning immunity for yet another week, as if the guy needs it at this point.

Alicia and Raul defend their unflattering dress for Mila by saying they felt obligated to challenge themselves and create an evening gown even though they both work in menswear. Krysten Ritter seems delighted as Michael Kors and Nina Garcia get their catty on, and apologetically joins in to bash Christopher and Andrea’s dress, correctly comparing it to a drugstore Halloween costume.

Christopher is completely heartbroken over the dress they put out, while Andrea says she’d actually be kind of relieved to get sent home, and Christopher throws her under the bus at judging to save his own ass, and understandably so. Andrea seems empathetic, but then she lies to the judges and says that she doesn’t want to go home and the mud starts to fly.

But Christopher can dry his weepy little eyes because he is safe — and so is Andrea — and it looks like Raul is out.

Twist ending: The designers wake up the next morning and Andrea has DISAPPEARED. Shady! Did she seriously leave after convincing the judges she desperately wanted to stay? We’ll find out next week, when it looks like Kooan might be jumping ship, too. Please don’t make me a sad not happy person, little dude.

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