Project Recap: What's Black and White and Woeful All Over? This Week's Episode.

Richardson's Shirin Askari and her model, who, for some reason, the designer is trying to cover up with newspaper.
Richardson's Shirin Askari and her model, who, for some reason, the designer is trying to cover up with newspaper.

I would like to state, for the record, that I called this week's Project Runway challenge last week based solely on the previews. Boo. Yah. They teased it with Heidi Klum saying that the challenge's answers would be in "black and white," and they showed a quick flash of something pleated, and I knew it was newsprint. Logan Neitzel thought it might be old Hollywood film, but he was so wrong. Hey, maybe it's just my line of work ...


As usual, he or she with the most soundbites was a top or a bottom -- and, well, Johnny Sakalis showed up two minutes into the episode saying how he could never be in the bottom again and how just wanted to get to Fashion Week, waa waa. Nicolas Putvinski was ribbing him, as usual, but he also turned into behind-the-back smack-talker, so it was clear Nick likewise would wind up with one foot out the you're-out door. That's just how it works, people. Oh, also, the designer at whom other designers leer and jeer because they can't tell if the design is boring, drab, shoddy or WTF will somehow make it into the top.

So Tim Gunn took the designers to the Los Angeles Times to meet fashion editor Booth Moore, and while they were all listening to her give the challenge, it occurred to me how much several of the designers resemble celebrities. Dallas's Louise Black totally looks like silent movie star Louise Brooks. Ra'Mon-Lawrence Coleman looks like Lance Crouther, minus Pootie Tang's magic belt. Logan is a dead ringer for Jesse Spencer of House. Epperson could be mistaken for Bobby McFerrin. I haven't yet placed Althea Harper or Carol Hannah Whitfield, but I'm working on them.

But, anyway. Moore laid down that the designers had to design a garment out of newsprint. Shocker.


They had three minutes to grab LA Times sections and rolls of blank paper. Then they headed back to the workshop, where they got dye, glue, markers and cookies and milk as long as they were quiet. But Richardson's Shirin Askari wasn't to be shushed, and all the other kiddies in arts and crafts were really tired of it. She talked and talked and made noise and felt up her dress form and asked everyone if their mannequins had names.


In the beginning, it seemed that Christopher Straub had the most ambitious project with his "feathered" ball gown with armor-like bodice. Tim Gunn was excited with his design. (And, in the end, he still had the best design. He was pretty much robbed.)

Louise Black, at right, with Irini and Althea.
Louise Black, at right, with Irini and Althea.

Johnny told Christopher in the sewing room that origami cranes would hold up his dress, but I was immediately convinced that was never going to happen, since I initially thought he was making fun of Shirin. But he wasn't. So he painted this bird-shoulder contraption with a paint that looks like blood, and the dress started to resemble a turkey being drained. Ra'Mon explained his inspiration was Cubism and origami, and it was then that everyone watching turned to their loved ones and said, "Huh?" Louise, making a rare appearance last night, got to tell us her plan for a decoupaged "headline" dress. 


Tim came in for feedback time. Gordana Gehlhausen got a thumbs-up for her mini dress that has no cheater's muslin underneath. Tim actually told her he loved her. Too bad it wouldn't pay off with the judges. Irina Shabayeva showed Tim her dress and said she'd changed her plan to a trench coat (he had already given a history lesson on paper clothing, so this idea is not new), and he reminded her it was done in 1968 so it's possible. Hmph! Hello, original idea. That said, however, I will give her credit for the collar and cuffs, for which she crumpled small pieces of paper and mimicked a sort of sheepskin effect. But Ra'Mon and Althea weren't convinced either, and later the two stared and dished just a bit on Irina's coat.

Then came Johnny. "I'm woeful, Johnny, because right now it looks like a craft project gone awry," Tim said. And Johnny went pinch-faced. "It looks like a bunch of kindergartners did it." So Johnny took the dress off the form, wadded it up like a kid who hasn't had his nap time and said he was starting over with four hours left. He may as well have plugged his ears with his fingers and yelled, "I dare you to tell me not to! I'm sabotaging myself! Watch me!"

Them, Johnny turned into a big fat liar: He told his model Emarie that the steamer sputtered and ruined his first dress. His second dress frustrated him after his model fitting, so, like ya do when you're on a deadline, he worked on a crossword puzzle. What's a six-letter word for bullshitter who whines like a 5-year-old and would end up pissing off the Tim Gunn? Johnny.


Runway time! Tommy Hilfiger and Eva Longoria Parker served as guest judges, along with Marie Claire's Zoe Glassner filling in for Nina Garcia once again. Johnny's piece looked like a picnic napkin with eyeballs and barbecue sauce smeared on it. Nicolas's missed the mark on punk and looked like it was made from sports brackets. Louise's was a flirty frock with paper tubing giving it bounce. She was safe. I've watched the runway three times now and can't really remember Shirin's, but she was safe as well.

Top three: Althea's architectural fitted gown, Christopher's feathered ball gown, Irina's coat. Bottom three: Gordana's blandish dress, Nicolas, Johnny. Irina won. It's bullshit, but that's cool, because what happened with Johnny is more important. 

He gave his steamer story to the judges and they told him dress No. 2 looked like a hooker's outfit. Then he tried to describe his original piece as a Dior draping dream.And, then: Nicolas. Could. Not. Handle. He outed Johnny for his "red mess" and told the judges what Tim said. Johnny got upset about being thrown under the bus, but (and while it may be editing) it truly seemed like his fellow designers (especially Nicolas, who we saw watching Tim's critique and Johnny tossing his first design) were upset by the steamer excuse. Johnny called him a jerk. Then we had to wait for Nicolas's critique and Christopher's praise before we get Johnny's auffing.

In his talking head, Johnny actually said, "Giving up addiction was probably easier to do than [Project Runway]." For real?! Kicking crystal fucking meth is easier than a design competition? Glad you cleared that up, Johnny. Somehow, I feel that recovering addicts the world over are at least slightly offended.

Know who else was offended by Johnny? Tim Gunn. The harshness with which he told J to pack up his crap and hightail it out of that joint was unprecedented. And then, Tim turned to the remaining designers and said, "I'm incredulous at that utterly preposterous spewing of fiction that Johnny did on the runway. It was ridiculous." Would've been awesome if they'd left in the "What a total dick! But, oh, well, carry on!" that Tim said right after that -- at least, he said it in my head -- but, as Louise reminded us in the comments two weeks ago, so much is lost in editing. So, guess that means one of two things: The first dress was no Dior, or there was no steamer incident. Or both. Could be both. Whatever the truth, I, like Tim Gunn, am woeful.

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