Episode: Double 0 Fashion (Surprisingly, Not Designing For The Olsens)
September 3, 2008
Previously on Project Runway: A tiny Scot charged the designers with crafting a commercial for an auto company out of random car parts. Keith whined that the judges weren’t fair. People smashed stuff on the ground. Leanne excelled and won immunity. Keith was the Mayor of Excuses Village and was booted. He cried.
So let’s look in on our merry gang as they wake to face the day at the Atlas. Everyone wonders what the next challenge will be and they’re hopeful this time they’ll be able to make outfits out of actual fabric for a change. Having narrowly avoided eviction last week, Designer Stella (Agent 96. Specialty: Grommeting secrets out of enemy agents and general self-delusion) struggles to make coffee and discusses how being in the bottom two made her soil her leather drawers. She seems to think she has a chance to make it to the end (which really showcases one of those specialties).
In the boys’ suite, Designer Blayne (Agent 98.6. Specialty: Distracting counterspies with bright neon and locating tanning booths in Midtown) crouches by a window to stave off his life-threatening rapid de-pigmentation. This leaves Designer Suede (Agent ∏. Specialty: Obtaining government secrets by communicating with the dead and assuming false, microfibered identities) to bemoan about the departure of the last eliminated designer.
Once that obligation is out of the way, it’s off to Parsons to see the blonde lady.
On the runway, Heidi pops in for the pro forma model-swap-that-never-happens. (It doesn’t happen this time either.) Designer Leanne (Agent 33⅓. Specialty: Obtaining secrets by magically blending into surroundings and general hypnotic flat affect) won the last challenge and, predictably, sticks with her model, sending another walking hanger walking home.
And now it’s time to learn about this week’s challenge. Heidi introduces a “special guest” and out comes ... Tim Gunn.
Once we recover from that shock, the circumlocutory mentor tells the gang that they’re all headed off to meet “a fashion legend.” And considering they billed Brooke Shields as a “fashion icon” before, we’re left to wonder if they’re headed off to meet Phyllis Diller’s dressmaker.
Blayne seems positive they’re off to meet undernourished pop tart Mary Kate Olsen. Blayne is actually obsessed with the spindly celeb (owing mostly to the fact that her elongated shape and vacant eyes are most like those of the female denizens of his home planet of Voltronicious).
As they all parade through the Meat Packing District shoulder-to-shoulder a la the Oceans 11 12 13 32 cast, Designer Terri (Agent 614 In Tha Hiz-ouse! Specialty: Pants) teases Blayne that Ms. Olsen gave her a message for the extra-terrestrial designer. Enthused, he blinks out a message into the far reaches of space. This is carefully disguised as a commentary in which he states ...
“I want every challenge to be about Mary Kate. I want to marry Mary Kate. Who doesn’t? Besides Tim Gunn?”
The crew of the international space station wishes to inform Blayne that his coded message has been intercepted and the planned invasion of Earth has been foiled.
The gang arrives at a salon to meet their (actually) special guest and, wonder of wonders, who is that descending from high atop Mount Olympus-Fashion-Week but the deity Diane Von Furstenberg, Goddess of Patterns.
And everyone is visibly shaken by being in her radiant presence. No one is more taken aback than Designer Kenley (Agent 1942. Specialty: Covert subterfuge of erstwhile allies and concealing microfiche in hair accessories), who becomes runny-eyed and suddenly incapable of mad gigglefits.
Designer Jerell (Agent 5’11”. Specialty: “Throwing shade” and micro-minis) tells us that he’s at a loss for words ... and, sadly, isn’t.
Ms. Diane (or simply “Diane” to Terri) tells them that this week’s corporate branding challenge will be to create a dress for her fall collection which will be produced and then sold exclusively to people who use the Sponsorrific Platinum Card Which Will Help Us Defeat The Terrorists Through Shopping™.
The winning design will also be auctioned off to benefit the CFDA, which, considering they don’t tell us, I assume stands for the Colorado Funeral Directors Association.
The outfit, in keeping with the theme of Von Furstenberg’s entire fall collection, is to be inspired by the 1948 classic film A Foreign Affair.
The movie (which we can probably assume none of the challengers has seen) stars Teutonic film legend Marlene Dietrich as a singer/spy who travels from Berlin to Shanghai to New York.
Now you’d think they’d probably want to show the designers the movie about now, but seeing as it’s a Paramount film and Paramount is a Viacom company ... Well, you get the picture, so to speak.
Tim reminds the designers (or, more accurately, the viewers) that Diane is the mistress of patterns (hint hint). And, with that, Diane instructs the stitchers to go to her sample room and pick out the fabrics they wish to use.
They get 15 minutes to snag their fabric and, in between shots of Kenley breaking into tears, we see chaos. In the mad dash, people make a general mess of things and leave it to others to restore order. (I carefully examine this moment on the DVR to see if I can spy Donald Rumsfeld in there somewhere.)
The designers get back to Parsons and get to work. They are each handed a “look book” with pictures of the existing collection from which they are to get inspiration (since movie time was out of the question).
Designer Joe (Agent 867-5309. Specialty: Infiltrating gay hideouts and breeding future spies ... oh, and sportwear) is the first to notice that Von Furstenberg’s collection features several layers of clothing. He realizes that, considering the time constraints, it will be difficult to make multiple pieces by show time.
“This is definitely going to be a tight one,” says the straight man.
Kenley has also realized that it will be tough to complete several pieces in the time allowed and tells us that she’s making the bold decision to only create one piece, a dress, but to craft it well.
Then she goes back to her breakdown.
Suede goes about Suede’s work and makes goofy heart figures with his fingers. This time, no dead relatives are involved in Suede’s visions. Unfortunately, neither is any serious inspiration.
We move on to the cross-designer bitchery. Here Blayne (now trying for a new gimmick with torn-fabric headbands) talks about how he’s known to “throw up” neon colors and does different things while a certain sassy female designer from Columbus who likes to wear tank tops ... who shall remain unnamed ... always makes pants.
We see Terri modeling her pants.
We see Blayne and Joe make fun of Terri and her choice of fireworks-patterned fabric. And then it’s Joe’s turn to poke at Terri’s pants propensity.
Later, we find Leanne and Terri eating with Stella and discussing their plans. Stella, secret agent that she is, is being particularly circumspect about what she’s making.
Stella seems to think that someone would possibly want to cop her design.
Stella seems to think that she’s among the top contestants to design a garment for the Miss Buffalo Chip contest at the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Terri feels Stella is “trippin’.”
As the day progresses, everyone sews away feverishly. Stella has now moved deeper into her psychosis and tells us that the design legend really needs to work with her.
“Diane Von Furstenberg needs to see what my design aesthetic is and how it mixes with hers.”
Yes, much like we really need to see how Duck a L'orange mixes with Cheez Whiz.
Over at Joe’s station, the sensitive dude is busy working on his Shanghai Surprise-inspired look, which he illustrates with culturally aware “ching-chong” noises. Jerell, wisely, walks away from him.
Leanne is then tasked with being this week’s improv comic. (Blayne has been given the night off.) She explains that she’s never left the country (and is thus unfamiliar with Foreign Affairs). She calls herself “Leannimal,” discusses her silent “fashion assassin” ways and proceeds to show off her super-spy invisibility trick.
Somehow, it feels like we’ve seen it before. For several weeks running, in fact.
Suede goes back to discussing Suede and how Suede’s unfortunate hairdo makes Suede a bad spy.
Suede needs to make the acquaintance of a poison-tipped umbrella.
We move back to the cross-table sniping to see Joe making gagging gestures at Kenley’s dress and hear Terri comment that the Bettie Paige designer is only delivering one piece.
Tim arrives for his mid-show “go-go-go”s and “work-work-work”s.
He approaches Suede with a hearty, “Talk to me.” Tim doesn’t buy Suede’s line of bullcrap about his dress conveying Berlin or camouflage. Suede can tell Tim feels this way because Tim looks “perplexed.” (No word on if he was also “green” and “tofu.”) Suede says he will make adjustments to the garment because Suede is also suffering from Stella’s Delusion and seems to think he’s going to make it to Bryant Park.
Tim adores Leanne’s purple gown and advises that she shorten the jacket she has made for it. Proving that she’s a smart cookie, she’s already planned on doing that.
He moves on to Joe, or as he is known to his friends, Mr. Cultural Sensitivity. Tim seems impressed with his Asian-inspired look, but is worried about time.
Afterwards, Tim looks in on Designer Korto (Agent $100,000. Specialty: Constraining enemy agents with seat belt jackets). She’s making an evening gown out of a bold black-and-white print and adding a few dashes of bright yellow fabric. At first, the mentor worries that the hints of yellow by the straps resemble visible bra straps, but on second thought, rather likes it. This concerns him.
We flash back to Tim’s story to Chris last season about visiting the monkey house.
He advises her to “work, work, work.”
He then crosses over into to the Stella Dimension. He commands her to “talk to me.” From her parallel universe (where she is a brilliant designer), she explains that this will be a marvelous outfit inspired by the Marlene Dietrich movie. Stella thinks the getup is perfect for the character, who is the leader of the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club and crashes a legitimate motorcycle race in a small town only to fall for the sheriff's daughter.
Advised that this is the plot of The Wild One with Marlon Brando and not the movie in question, Stella says that everyone can just bite her.
Reminded that her mismatched look landed her in the bottom two last time, she says that the judges were “clueless” and “weren’t open minded.” She also takes a shot at last week’s guest judge, Rachel Zoe, and her especially awful fashion sense (which gains Stella one point in my book).
Flustered, Tim tries to appease the production gods by quickly apologizing on Stella’s behalf to the newest Bravo “star.”
“I’m sorry Rachel Zoe,” Tim utters to the camera, “we only mean that in the nicest way.”
“No, I don’t. I really mean it,” insists the leather-capped chick.
Tim scampers away before Stella can say something totally called-for about the folks from that Date My Ex show.
He moves on to Kenley. He likes her take on the The Lady From Shanghai the Shanghai elements of the movie, but is concerned that her lack of additional pieces could prove troublesome for the judges.
He then leaves the designers to their work. And as Emily Post-reject Stella speaks with food in her mouth (again), Kenley continues her emotional breakdown. She is just so moved by this opportunity since she’s only worked for K-Mart or Wal-Mart before.
And we’re left to wonder if she left the employ of those discount chains on account of their monochromatic smocks and strict no-hair-pets policies.
As the day ends, Stella tells us how the only thing she’s worried about is Ms. Diane’s not being “rock and roll.” She insists that, other than her vest, everything she is presenting is “perfect.” And anyone who thinks otherwise can bite her.
Night turns to day and we next see everyone back at the Atlas for our usual “let’s catch the designers half-naked” moment. Since Keith is gone, I’m curious who will be taking his place in this department.
Oh, it’s Jere-AAAAGH!!! MY EYES!!! MY EYES!!!
Emergency crews are summoned.
As the scars from the retinal damage start to heal, and fuzzy forms become identifiable figures again, we see what appear to be designers scrambling to finish their garments at the last moment and Jerell discovering another hat-from-a-tribal-warlord which, this time, will be worn by his model.
Joe expresses confidence in his look and is worried that it may be lost among the “crap” that will be coming down the runway along with it. Leanne wonders what he’s smoking, figuratively speaking.
Kenley’s worried about Stella. Blayne thinks Suede’s dress is yuck. Jerell hands out high fives and all they head off to the runway.
At the runway, Heidi does the usual recap, tells us again that “a portion of the proceeds” from the winning dress’ sales will go to the CFDA, or as it is more properly known, the Council on Feral Dogs in Appalachia.
She introduces the judges, the ever crotch-ety Michael Kors and, sitting in for the still-at-large Nina Garcia, industry bigwig Fern Malllis. Also, of course, there’s the Sultana Of Swatches, Ms. Diane Von Fursteberg.
On with the show!
- Joe’s Look: Much, much worse than it looked in the workroom. The Asian-inspired collar is nice, but the spangled, Blayne-ish hood looks comical. And the open back and uneven hems on the back are even visible as the model comes down the runway.
- Leanne’s Look: Now that says “glamor.” An elegant, rich, violet evening gown with a beautiful plunging neckline is paired with a very short, cardigan-ish sweater. It doesn’t sound like it would work, but it does. Plus, it has a short train in the back, which is very interesting.
- Terri’s Look: Sexy pants. Sexy jacket. Bold print top. Yes, it’s as “fierce” as ever. But I fear my darlin’ Terri’s pants fetish may put her in Rami/Uli “can you show us something else?” territory.
- Jerell’s Look: Der Kommissar as a Berlin hooker. Perhaps Jerell has the same aversion to covering the thighs as Mariah Carey? Naturally, Jerell pats himself on the back with “both hands.”
- Korto’s Look: Splendiferous. Really elegant and quirky at the same time. And very Diane V. The black shrug (?) on top is a great touch.
- Blayne’s Look: Otherworldly. And not in a good way. Polka-dot print balloon shorts (because most women think their thighs look too small already). A look that is only “wearable” on a fashion catwalk. On Mars. Blayne thinks he has this won, seeing as he shares a melanin thing with Diane. (Don’t flatter yourself, bub.)
- Suede’s Look: A messy, unflattering, long, patterned dress which I believe Laurie Partridge wore in the episode where she could hear the radio through her braces. An incongruous herringbone vest makes it extra-Suede-y.
- Stella’s Look: What do ya want? It’s a Stella look. Which means it was meant to be another leather truck-stop-hooker outfit, but was “classed up” by being (poorly) done in some other material. Oh, and it has an abbreviated Dracula cape. Stella thinks it has “style” and “class.” Of course, for her those words are usually associated with “cafeteria- ... mac & cheese” and “shop,” respectively.
- Kenley’s Look: Yep. It’s The Lady From Shanghai all right. Very ‘40s, as we’d expect. And it looks well made. It just feels like it’s missing something, after having seen all these multi-piece looks.
Heidi calls forward three designers, Terri, Blayne and Jerell. Obviously this means they are the middle bunch, leaving the rest as the designated tops and bottoms.
During the inquisition, we learn that ...
- Korto’s outfit is an unqualified hit with everyone.
- Over the past 24 hours, Joe has learned to say “Asian” instead of “Oriental.”
- Everyone loves to use the word “Shanghai.”
- Joe mustn’t have thought anyone would see the mess in the back of his dress.
- Diane thinks it would be possible to wear a dress out and never have anyone see it from the back.
- Perhaps Diane has seen Bringing Up Baby and the “hide the rip” scene once too often.
- Kenley can’t stop herself from interrupting anyone who criticizes her.
- Kenley can shut up if people say nice things instead.
- Michael Kors knows women who worry that “something’s missing” in their crotch.
- Leanne’s design is also a smash hit.
- Stella doesn’t bullshit very convincingly.
- And neither does Suede.
- Suede also sweats a lot under pressure.
The designers are sent away so everyone can talk behind their backs. When they are called back in, Heidi first sends to safety ... Korto.
And the winner of the challenge is ... Leanne!
She squeals. She thinks winning again is “awesome.”
Kenley is then sent off to safety as well.
From the bottom three, Suede is sent back to the others before he spontaneously combusts like a Spinal Tap drummer. This time, Suede only has the energy to do a half-hearted fingertips kiss at the panel as he departs.
This leaves Delusional Stella and Little Joe.
Heidi raps their knuckles with heavy beer steins for their crimes against fashion and then declares ...
“Stella ... you are out.”
Joe is safe and will be free to be douchey again next week.
Asked for her final words, Stella says that her “ego was too big to be here anyway.” Ego, psychosis. Tomato, tomahto.
She kisses Heidi goodbye and the leather-clad gnome squeak, squeak, squeaks her way off the runway.
She says her “I’m not bitter”s to the other designers and Tim tells her he’s happy to tell her to go clean up her space. (He can’t be happier than I am to see him do it.)
“Well, that was an ebullient departure!” says Tim. (Serious or ironic? You be the judge.)
“I’m a rock star,” Stella tells us as she packs up. “That’s who I sew for. If you like my stuff, buy it. If you don’t, keep walkin’. I don’t care.”
Or, in other words: Bite me.
Next on Project Runway: Surprise guests! Joe and Terri face off. Kenley gets pissed that people talk behind her back in front of her face. And someone’s pooping fabric!