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Project Runway 9, Episode 11 – Showing One’s Range

Last week on Project Runway, the designers faced the L’Oreal Paris challenge. Since L’Oreal was coming out with a make-up line inspired by birds, the designers had to make a runway look that was also inspired by birds. The winner, Anya, got both $20,000.00 and the opportunity to have her look used in a Marie Claire advertisement. Bert was sent home.

The next morning, Josh and Viktor talk about how they miss Bert. Josh assures us his sewing skills are superior to Anya’s. That may be true, but his artistic sense seems to be inferior to Anya’s. She’s not the one getting scolded by the judges for failing to edit her designs. Meanwhile, Anya tells us she’s feeling the pressure– which is probably about as close to an emotional outburst as we’ll get from her. Not that I’m complaining. I prefer calm, cool, and collected types over drama kings and queens.

At the runway, Heidi congratulates the designers for making the Top Five and tells them that this is the challenge that will determine who goes on to Fashion Week. Make that the challenge that determines whose Fashion Week collections will be shown on national television, as there are always some decoy collections there. According to the folks on the Fans of Reality TV site, Bert had made such a nice collection that people assumed he’d made the finals.

Heidi then sends the designers on a ferry trip to Governor’s Island. Tim meets them there and explains the challenge. They are to make a miniature collection consisting of three looks inspired by Governor’s Island. They will have two days and a budget of $500.00. The designers have to make a range of looks, which means they can’t make three dresses or three jumpsuits or the like.

The designers then get into some golf carts and drive around the island. Kimberly finds a sculpture called “New Beginning,” and seems to find the title more inspiring than the actual piece, as she feels she’s making a new beginning. Josh finds a chapel and a military exhibit and decides to make a look that combines strength and fragility. Laura notes a preponderance of circles and decides to incorporate that in her looks. Viktor decides to make pants and a jacket for one of his designs. He finds the sculptures with the city in the background inspiring. Anya notes the sculptures and decides to make sculpted pieces, partly to prove last week’s look wasn’t a fluke.

Then it’s off to Mood. Kimberly wants cantaloupe-colored wool, while Anya chooses white, black, and russet fabrics. She’s not working with prints. Laura has gone over budget, as usual, and Tim jokes she thought he’d given them a budget of $5,000.00. She ends up putting a few things back.

At the workshop, Laura is working with some black fabric that already has circles cut into it. She notes that by buying it, she has saved herself ten hours of work.

Tim comes in carrying the Ominous Velvet Bag of Unnecessary Drama, and the designers tense up, fearing that he’s going to throw a lame and unwanted twist their way. Instead, he tells them that he’s realized they are going to need help getting their garments done. As he’s speaking, the five most recently eliminated designers troop into the room.

Tim then reaches into the bag and calls Kimberly’s name. She picks Becky, presumably because of the latter’s sewing skills. Becky is pleased and DR’s that Kimberly is the only one of the remaining designers she’d wanted to work with. Viktor chooses Olivier, while Laura picks her old buddy Anthony. Anya selects Bert, who is happy to be working with her, leaving Josh with Bryce.

Josh immediately tells Bryce that he wants to make something inspired by the stained-glass window at the chapel. Bryce, who is probably cringing at this idea, DR’s that he is going to have to help Josh edit his looks. He also notes the tension in the workroom, saying the designers don’t seems as friendly or as relaxed as they had when he was part of the competition. Given that everybody can imagine himself or herself at Fashion Week, but knows they can’t all go, that’s probably to be expected. Josh then starts talking about how he’d lost the last challenge to Anya, whom he contemptuously calls a “beauty queen.” In his mind, that 20 grand was his. Hate to break it to you, Joshie boy, but the judges disagree. Nor does Anya owe you 20 grand. Then it’s time to go home.

On the second day of the challenge, the designers get straight to work. Viktor has already completed a jacket for one of his looks. Kimberly tells us she wants to show the judges her strengths– and show them something new. Becky notes that she keeps changing her mind. Anya draws things Bert thinks are too complicated, and Laura dyes some fabric.

Tim comes in to make his rounds and he comments on how quiet the workroom is. With ten designers present, he’d expected a bit more noise. He stops by Laura first, who shows him three dresses covered with circles. He doesn’t think she should use the circle lattice in all three of her pieces. He suggests scaling it back.

He then stops by Kimberly, who shows him a photograph of the “New Beginning” sculpture. He’s uncertain about her asymmetrical coat and leather pants and comments that another garment reminds him of the Statue of Liberty. I have to note here that Kimberly is very tall. When the designers line up on the runway, she appears to be at least as tall as Josh. Here she looks as if she’s about the same height as Tim– who, according to some websites, is around 6’2″.

Viktor explains his inspiration to Tim and shows off his jacket, which Tim call organic and sophisticated. Josh tells Tim that he’s playing with soft and hard looks and shows off a mesh-covered shirt that Tim likes. Tim encourages him to take risks. Anya tells us that she doesn’t like Josh’s fabric choices– and I’m not going to recap every single comment one designer makes about another designer’s garments or fashion sense. It’s practically a given, particularly at this point, that they’d talk trash about each other.

Speaking of Anya, she’s also been inspired by the sculptures on Governor’s Island. She’s working on a dress, a gown, and some pants. Josh sneers to us that she’s not showing enough of a range and should make a jacket. He wonders if she even knows how. Shut up and focus on your own work, please.

The models come in for their fitting and Kimberly discover that her pants need more material. A lot more material, since the model is basically giving everybody a free show. Becky worries that Kimberly doesn’t seem to have a clear vision, as she keeps changing her mind about things. She’s afraid Kimberly won’t win. Bert, on the other hand, has faith in Anya, but notes her designs leave no room for error. Viktor wonders if she can make sleeves or tailored pants.

Laura, waxing emotional, tells us she’s wanted to show on Fashion Week ever since she was 13 years old. In what might be another dig at Anya, she tells us that she learned to sew when she was eight. Yes, yes, it’s important that a designer know how to sew, but they need other skills, too, like the ability to choose good fabrics or determine what looks flattering on a given body type.

On the day of the runway show, Kimberly decides to scrap her pants. Tim sends in the models. Viktor tells us that he thinks that he’s definitely going to Fashion Week, and that he and Josh are the most worthy of doing so. We get the usual hair and make-up montage, after which Josh assures us that he and Viktor have a lock on Fashion Week, while “the girls” will have to duke it out for the third spot. First off, he’s wrong: Viktor and Anya are the ones who have a lock on Fashion Week. Second, the women are all older than he is, so he has no business calling them “girls.”

Tim gives his ten-minute warning. Laura notices that one of her dresses doesn’t quite fit, and Anya realizes that one of hers is inside-out. Tim comments that said dress will have to come with instructions if it’s ever sold.

On the runway, Heidi introduces the guest judge, Zoe Saldana of Star Trek and Avatar fame. She’s also a founding partner of MyFDB.com or “My Fashion DataBase.”

Josh is up first. His first look is a cream mini-dress with a sleeveless black mesh top. His second look is a silver skirt with a red and black tank top and a black vest. His final look is a black tank top with a large, translucent, silver piece of fabric draped over it. It screams, “I ran out of time!”

Kimberly is next. Her first look is a bulky, screamingly bright orange coat with a black scarf. I’m glad she decided to tackle a coat, but she really should have picked another color. Any other color. Her second look is a silver skirt and a sleeveless orange top with a boob window. Her last look is a silver mini-dress.

It’s Laura’s turn and her first look is a cream blazer decorated with the black circle fabric. There’s also a plain white skirt. Her second look is a messy-looking pinkish-cream dress with black trim. Her third look is a short-sleeved cream grown with the black circle fabric over it.

Next up is Anya. Her first look is an asymmetrical sleeveless black dress with a plunging back. Her second look is a pair of rust pants and a snug one-shouldered tunic of the same color. Her final look is a sleeveless white gown with a long slit going up one leg.

Finally, it’s Viktor’s turn. His first look is a black and grey leather jacket over a patterned black and white top. Skinny black pants complete the look. His second look is another patterned black and white top with a black mini-skirt and a bright red belt to liven things up. His final piece is a strapless little black dress.

The judges start with Joshua, who tells them about the military chapel he’d visited and how he wanted to play with fragility and strength. Michael thinks the collection shows too much diversity and that he had the usual problem with editing. Zoe likes the first dress, but says the third look reminds her of the Statue of Liberty. Heidi thinks the silver fabric used in the third design looks cheap. She wonders out loud if he was attracted to it because of its shininess. Josh asks if she’s assuming that. Michael calls Josh a magpie and warns him that glitter and shininess can look cheap very easily.

Kimberly wanted to show she could do a coat. She also seems nervous and unsure of herself. Zoe likes the coat and the silver dress. Michael doesn’t like the coat and Heidi doesn’t think the collection is cohesive. It looks like garments made for three different women. Kimberly tells the judges that she’d learned a lot, and Heidi asks if that’s a good-bye speech. It could be, as Kimberly has been overshadowed by many of the others for much of the season– which is what tends to happen to the nice, quiet designers who don’t stir up drama.

Laura tells the judges that she saw circles all over the place at Governor’s Island. Heidi notes her nerves and asks about them. Laura tells her about wanting to be a designer ever since her teen years. Heidi likes the circle gown, but thinks the second piece looks like a last-minute job. Nor does it go with the other two looks. Nina dislikes the silhouette of the blazer. Michael likes the gown, but not the other two pieces. He adds that Laura picked a lousy time to choke– which is what he thinks happened when she made her second piece.

Anya tells the judges that she saw sculptures all over the place. Nina has the models turn around so the judges can take in all of the angles of Anya’s designs. She thinks the collection is cohesive. Heidi like the black dress, but thinks the white one looks like a sheet. Michael thinks the looks are sophisticated and that Anya’s pushing herself. He also thinks Anya understands women’s bodies and how to dress people. For instance, she had the wit to put the tallest model in the white dress. Zoe gets a sci-fi feel, which she loves. She doesn’t like the white gown, either, though.

Viktor talks about his love of structure. Heidi’s amazed by his skills, as he’s one of the best when it comes to construction. On the other hand, she’s not impressed by his ideas, and there’s no “wow” piece in the collection. Nina likes most of his designs, but thinks the skirt and shirt combo look a bit secretarial. Zoe likes it, but is less fond of the black dress. Michael thinks Viktor’s collection is the most commercial, as many women could and would wear his designs. He’d like Viktor to turn up the volume and make more runway pieces.

Then Heidi asks the designers why they should go to Fashion Week and who should accompany them. Josh assures the judges he’d do the work and bring something great. He’d take Viktor and Anya. Kimberly wants to change people’s perceptions of what a fashion designer should be. She’d take Laura and Anya because the three of them have very different sensibilities. Anya assures the judges that her point of view is solid and unique. She’d take Viktor and Josh. Laura thinks she has strong skill and passion. She would take Viktor and Anya. Viktor used to be indifferent to fashion and now can’t live without it. He would take Josh and Anya.

The judges then dismiss everybody to have what they admit will be a long conversation. They start with Anya, who had made a gorgeous black dress and is blessed with good taste. She’s also a quick learner, and has gradually been moving away from the tropical look of her audition collection and early works. Viktor has impressive sewing skills and makes the most commercial pieces. He can be a little too conservative, though.

Josh had made an elegant white dress, but his taste is often questionable. His silver piece needed a different, less gaudy fabric. The judges wonder what would happen if left to his own devices for weeks on end during the Fashion Week preparations. Laura knows how to make clothes, but has no range. She’s passionate about fashion, but is that enough? Kimberly was plainly trying to challenge herself during this last challenge. She has lots of potential, but the judges wonder why she didn’t make pants when that’s one of her strengths.

Eventually, the judges call everyone back in to announce their decisions. Anya and Viktor are both shoo-ins, but Heidi does advise Viktor to turn up the volume. Josh and Kimberly are in, too, but Laura is out.

After the Runway is shown, all of the Final Five are there, plus Becky and Olivier.

Next week: The designers go home to prepare for Fashion Week. Tim visits them at their homes.

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