This week's episode of Project Runway raised some big questions for me: Does free will exist? Is everything predetermined? WOULD HEIDI REALLY LIKE TO WEAR A PILE OF GARBAGE?
Episode 12 "Europe Here We Come" featured the same five designers from last week, because the judges/producers can just change the rules whenever they feel like it. Michelle, who teetered on the brink of elimination in Episode 11, got to stick around, though her punishment for producing a disappointing white T-shirt and '90s pants combo was to stay in sad, rainy New York City while the others jetted off on (very) brief trips to the style capitals of the world: Patricia went to Paris (along with Kate, her seamstress, who clung to her the whole time squealing "Can you believe we're here!"); Daniel went to Berlin with Amanda; Layana and Samantha spent a day exploring Barcelona; and Stanley landed in London with RICHARD (the Project Runway contestant who just wouldn’t die! Can I get a “yeaaayussss!!”).
Their challenge was to create a high-end runway look, with a budget of $1,000 US. The designers have all day in their respective locales to sightsee, sketch and go fabric shopping, before flying back to the workroom for 24 hours of furious sewing. It's an emotional trip for all of the designers (except Stanley, who is a robot), and I can understand why; I get weepy when I'm sleep-deprived too.
Meanwhile in NYC, Michelle is crazy bitter about her circumstance, though she and Tu seem to have a decent time atop a double-decker in their matching brightly colored fedoras — even when they're nearly decapitated by a red light (I bet Gray Line was not happy about that footage making it onto the show!).
Lesson 1: Home turf advantage is EVERYTHING.
The idea was to capture the essence of a city, and NYC-bound Michelle — well-rested compared to the others, thanks to the fact she didn't do two red-eyes in a row — spent her $1,000 at Mood, the sprawling, three-floor fabric store she already knows so well. Also, having spent weeks now in New York City, she already had a good sense of what makes this city unique.
Heidi said the skirt looked like a "dirty horse blankie,” which IS actually very New York. (I live in NYC and I can attest this place is DIRTY. Last weekend I saw three rats running around on the 1 train platform at the 168th Street stop. One nearly ran onto the car we were in, but the doors closed just in time. My four-year-old watched the whole thing, and then announced loudly: “We are SO lucky! Those rats almost ran on the train!” Some poor tourist's jaw nearly hit the floor, which is also nasty and likely covered in urine and vomit residue).
I think without the quilted breastplate, Michelle’s dress looks like a wool blanket that firefighters would wrap you in before carrying you down the fire escape. But all together this outfit nails it: shiny and new next to old and nasty. How very New York. The judges were very happy they gave her a second chance.
Meanwhile in Berlin, Paris and Barcelona, the designers all struggled to find the right fabrics; apparently the producers didn't do their research because Daniel had to settle for white vinyl over leather (seriously? They took him to a store without leather?) and Patricia couldn't find anyone to speak English (or help her keep a running tally of her fabric). Layana was thrilled with the lace she found, but didn't realize the custom there is to cut it yourself. That would never happen at Mood!
Patricia, of course, created her own fabric. There were a lot of Patricia-defenders commenting last week, and I would love to hear what they have to say about this:
Lesson 2: There is no spoon.
That the outcome of Project Runway is predetermined is now without question in my mind. We are in the producers' matrix; how else to explain why Patricia has never been eliminated, and is in fact heading to Fashion Week, even after this disaster? The model looks like she's peeking out of a pile of white garbage bags stuffed with all the trash found at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
Heidi liked it, but the thought of sending Patricia to Fashion Week sent Nina on the most interesting diatribe: “Fashion is not art. Stores are not museums. You go to stores to BUY clothes. You don’t go to stores to just look at clothes!!”
But to Fashion Week she goes, nonetheless, and I am fascinated to see what she produces.
Lesson 3: There's always All-Stars.
Scroll back up and look at Patricia's shirt. Then look at Layana's jacket, which got her sent home this week:
I don't love it, and those shirt sleeves look like jellyfish dangling where her hands should be, but seriously? This is somehow worse than Patricia's shirt, which makes her model look like she has elephantitis of the upper arm?
Somebody remind Layana that the prizes are actually better in All-Stars!
I know, I know. None of my lessons this week have anything to do with sewing, etc. So here are a few thoughts: I do not think anyone should paint on $100/yard cashmere, like Michelle did. I do not think anyone should layer fabrics to the point where your shirt looks like an overstuffed garbage bag, like Patricia's.
And I do not think you should attempt making pleather thigh-high boots unless you're making a "Pretty Woman" costume (though somehow it totally worked for Daniel's Berlin-inspired outfit):
(Did Richard actually help sew any of Stanley's garments? I can't recall a single scene depicting their working relationship....maybe I'll have to rewatch it tonight.)
So what did YOU think? I can't wait for next week, when apparently Daniel grows an afro!!