The Project Runway designers were worried: Heidi Klum was being all kinds of shady as she gave this week's challenge. With her spritely German accent she mumbled something about 13 women, waiting in the the workroom, knowing what they wanted. It was terrifying.
Oh, but it was just the models! What relief! No one's worried now! Except Logan Neitzel, who was nervous about designing for Fan o' the-Fifties Kojii, and Epperson, whose model Matar wanted simple, interesting but not too much, romantic, flowing punk that's tight but not too exposing, short and tiger (huh?). And Richardson's Shirin Askari, whose model wanted a royal blue and gold satin jumpsuit. Oh, and all of them, really, because it was a one-day challenge. WTF, Tim Gunn! But Johnny Sakalis was feeling free and clean and totally vibing with his model: "It's like designing something for myself if I was a black girl."
Then it was time for Tim to come deliver the mid-project reviews. Althea Harper didn't know what a smoking jacket was called, but she clearly had a winning design in the make with her short suit. Epperson's tiger romance on stretch fabric was fantastic so far. Qristyl Frazier -- who Noah Bailey thinks looks like Oprah Winfrey and Kerri Strugg's love child and who can clearly do bad all by herself -- served up a bizarre glob of black and brown fabric that looked, to Tim, like the model had been "rolling around in bed," which, you know, is always a great thing to hear when you're not designing pajamas. Tim forbade Logan to ever speak the word "Smurf" again. Oh, and this is important: Tim suggested to Carol Hannah Whitfield that a one shoulder bodice could "rob [a] model of her youth." It's important because Qristyl changed her design mid-way to a somber black one-shoulder sheath. Yeah. Again with the foreshadowing.
But, hey, everybody! Epperson was emotional and not in the brow-beating way! He called his family from a fashionable bean bag chair (really?) and then sewed and cried and cried and sewed and it was a moment that you know had every producer pulling that fist in and that knee up and softly shouting, "We got it! Gold!"
Models came for their fittings, and Johnny was such an asshole. After asking his model if she wanted more cleavage she told him, to which he responded, "Honey, please don't tell me what to do. I don't ever tell you how to model. Yes I do tell you how to model, don't I?" Meanwhile, Shirin broke the news to her lady that she was getting a cute, flirty royal blue dress and no jumpsuit. K? Thanks.
We didn't see much of local Louise Black's work on Fatma's kickass cocktail dress -- which, if anyone is taking notes, is what a hot, fancypants LBD should look like. The handwork behind that ruffled collar, my word! I'm guessing Louise isn't catty enough to get more camera time right now, when there are still more than 10 designers, but the quality of her work is impeccable, and I'm looking forward to learning more about her in upcoming shows. Let the record show too that Fatma wanted a red color, but Louise didn't go with it because it seemed "garish" for an industry event. Right on, lady. And, Fatma totally rocked the dress she did get ... and spoke so highly of Louise during the event, as shown on Models of the Runway.
The judges made for a totally new who's-who: designer Marc Bouwer instead of Michael Kors (and Heidi didn't even say, "filling in for," she just introduced the guy! What's going on? Michael, where are you?!), Marie Claire's Zoe Glassner filling in for Nina Garcia (if you watched fashion mag intern reality show Running In Heels, you'll know Glassner is a badass) and celeb stylist and go-to smart mouth for red-carpet recaps, Jennifer Rade.
The top three included Carol Hannah, Epperson and Althea. Heidi asking if Matar wanted an animal-inspired piece because she felt she had "the kitty cat inside of [her]" was priceless, especially considering that she then criticized her lack of support in the breast area. She might as well have said, "Hey, you're sorta weird and saggy, girlfriend."
The bottom three were Logan's Smurf prom, Johnny's purple junior bridesmaid dress and Qristyl's black one-shoulder a-bore-ination. After bitching and moaning about working with the color black, Qristyl admited that there was a color she could've picked but wasn't sure ... which prompted the best judge-designer exchange I think I've ever seen on Project Runway:
Heidi: Valerie, do you like your dress?
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Valerie: Yeah, I do ... um ...
Jennifer Rade: But that's why Valerie's not a designer. Right? [Nods and shrugs in a way I can only think to describe as Larry David-like.]
Valerie: [sheepisly] Yeah.
Jennifer: Thank God.
The uncomfortable vibe -- compounded by edits to immediately show Althea complimenting her model's sense of style -- was stunning. I rewound it at least five times, with my jaw on the floor. I think I need Jennifer Rade to fight my next battle for me.
Needless to say, Althea won with a chic suit that Zoe Glassner and Rade both wanted to wear out of the studio. And Qristyl went bye-bye, leaving the two bottom designers with the lesser offenses to wonder if they should stick with their models, since, well, they were the ones to give them the guidelines for the challenge. We saw on Models of the Runway that they did. We also saw, though, that neither Kojii nor Valerie wore their dresses to the model event as they were expected to do. A smart move I think even the designers would agree with.