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Project Runway, Nov. 5 – The Art of Fashion

Last week on Project Runway, the designers had to make a companion piece for their winning look from previous challenges. (As Logan hadn’t won a challenge, the judges picked the look they’d liked best for him.) Althea won by making a companion piece to her outfit from the models-as-clients challenge, and Logan was sent home.

Back at the apartment, Althea tells us that she and Irina are no longer on speaking terms, as Irina had accused her of copying her big sweater in front of everybody on the runway – and still lost to Althea. She also mentions she feels like an outsider now, as Gordana and Irina have become friends, while Christopher and Carol Hannah have also bonded, leaving Althea as the odd woman out.

In the men’s apartment, Christopher broods about being the last man standing. He’d thought Nicolas and Ra’Mon would be there with him. I have to say that an all-male Final Three was never in the cards this season.

At the runway, Heidi greets the designers and tells them they will be going on a field trip to an “iconic place,” which is par for the course. At least for the past few seasons, the last challenge before Fashion Week has always involved a field trip to a major art museum or the like. This season proves to be no exception, as their destination proves to be the Getty Center, where they are met by Tim and Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, who gives them a pep talk.

The challenge is to use the Getty Center itself as inspiration for a look. The inspiration can have any source within the Center: the architecture of the buildings, an exhibit within the museum, something in the garden, etc. The designers get a whirlwind tour of the Center (only thirty minutes!), followed by thirty minutes of sketch time at the Center. They will have thirty minutes plus a budget of $300 for shopping at Mood, then two days to complete the challenge. The designers’ models will join them on the tour of the Getty Center and serve as “muses” (and as plugs for Models of the Runway.)

Althea is inspired by the building itself and decides to make something with a sleek, tailored look. Carol Hannah is impressed by a canopied 17th Century bed with blue and grey sheets in the European decorative arts section. Irina is inspired by the painting “Mischief and Repose” by John William Godward, which depicts voluptuous women lounging in sheer gowns. Christopher is fascinated by the rocks and algae of a large fountain. Gordana is inspired by the Monet painting, “The Portal of Rouen Cathedral in Morning Light,” as the colors remind her of Europe. She tells us … again … that’s where she’s from.

At Mood, Irina buys some fur. She speculates out loud that it’s rabbit rather than goat. Tim, fighting laughter, tells her that the pelt would have had to come from an exceptionally big rabbit. (There’s actually a breed of rabbit called the Flemish Giant which can weigh up to fifteen pounds. Maybe Irina’s pelt came from one of those?)

Back at the workroom, Tim reminds everybody that this is the last challenge and that it will determine who will go on to Fashion Week and who won’t. He urges them to take risks. Christopher mentions he’s from a small town, and that it will be amazing if he can go from that to showing at Bryant Park. Althea says again that she’s the odd woman out, and Irina complains that Althea has taken over three work tables. (What’s wrong with that? There are only five of them left, after all, so there are probably enough work tables for everybody to use two or three.)

The designers bicker throughout the evening, and keep at it the next morning. The stress has plainly gotten to them all by now. Gordana and Irina are squabbling, and Carol Hannah wants them to shut up. Althea is glad it’s the last challenge, as she’s completely fed up with her roommates. (That’s not such a surprise, as they have been together for weeks by now.) Irina takes some time out from the arguing to tell us that her family is from the Republic of Georgia, where the society still has a conservative view of gender roles. Her father is appalled that she is still unmarried at 26. Getting to Bryant Park would prove that she is not wasting her life, and hopefully shut him up a bit.

Tim comes in to make his rounds and starts with Christopher, who tells him about how he was inspired by the algae-covered rock at the fountain. Tim sees the triangular pieces that Christopher plans to apply to his dress and worries aloud that they resemble stalactites. He cautions Christopher to “use an editing eye” and to not confuse the judges. Carol Hannah wants to recreate the ornateness of her bed. Tim likes the idea and agrees with her that the bed is beautiful, but warns her not to lose the sophistication.

Irina describes her painting as “fleshy,” but Tim really dislikes the fur she is using and tells her it looks like roadkill. He also thinks the combination of fur and sheer material would result in a post-apocalyptic look. Althea tells Tim she was inspired by the architecture of Getty Center. Tim warns her that the fabric is puckering too much. Tim is impressed by Gordana’s work and says he can see the painting that served as inspiration.

Tim sends in the models for their fitting. Althea irons her dress in the hopes that will help the puckering. Irina decides to scrap the fur and concentrate on her dress. Christopher realizes that his place in the competition is as the “wacky-weird guy.” Hmm, does this mean that he realizes how slim his chances of getting to Fashion Week are? Gordana is happy with her gown, but Althea doesn’t think it’s a “wow” look, even if it is pretty.

The next morning, the designers get back to work. Gordana is proud of her work, but she can’t predict how the judges will react. (That’s especially true this season, given the number of substitute judges they’ve had for Michael and Nina. I’d think, over time, a good designer would learn Michael and Nina’s tastes and consider them. But substitute and guest judges are unknown quantities whose tastes aren’t predictable.)