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Designs as Sweet as Sugar on "Project Runway"

Okay, I can admit when I am wrong. It does happen after all as I am only human and prone to the snap judgments and biases of the species.

Case in point? Last night's episode of sartorial showdown Project Runway, which had the designers raiding the Hershey's store in Time Square for materials with which to construct an outfit.

Yawn, right? So I thought at first as Tim Gunn gave the contestants--some of whom shifted uncomfortably when they learned of their task--five minutes to grab as much Hershey-related swag and candy as humanly possible and then create a garment from this flotsam and jetsam in one day.

I harrumphed and shifted uncomfortably myself (one need only look at Christian and Victorya's reactions to see what I mean); after all, this challenge seemed on the surface to be something more at home in, say, The Apprentice than on Project Runway. This task was all about mass market branding and edible materials and less about careful restrictions and creative success amid odd boundaries (like last season's recycling challenge). For the love all things holy, it was about candy!

And yet, somehow, the designers managed to pull it together, putting aside the enormous bars of sugary chocolate that they unwrapped and instead diving into the challenge, using the paltry materials that they had acquired. Along the way, my interest piqued. Some of the designs were downright hideous, yes, but some of them were actually head-turners. There's a reason why guest judge Zac Posen was so taken with Rami's design, which was girly and fun. Pure effervescence in a halter dress, in fact. Despite being made of paper and vinyl, it looked substantial on the runway and perfectly captured the brief. After all, this wasn't time for "sad brown velvet dresses," but carefree, youthful energy that matched the fun and spirit of candy itself.

Kudos to Gillian for being the only one to use any edible elements in their designs. The risk was extremely high, especially given the fact that the dress was finished mere minutes before the runway show, but the effect was remarkable. Gillian's design was constructed almost entirely out of raspberry-red Twizzlers: a woven bustier, a fringed skirt, that combined looked like a piece of edible art: a bizarrely sweet flapper-inspired dress that looked effortlessly fun and chic.

I was also really impressed by Chris' design for a change. Instead of going over the top, parade float crazy, his stunning design was gorgeously understated: in his hands, the Hershey logo became nothing more than a pop art design, sleekly silver and brown. It was sexy, simple, and instantly wearable. This was Chris at his very best and a reminder why he was worthy of brining back to the series in the first place.

For the middle rung, I do have to say that I liked the designs created by Christian and Kevin, though they didn't quite stack up against the competition. Kevin's design was amazingly chic and put together, considering that it was assembled from the spare parts in a Hershey's store; he presented three pieces including a silvery buttoned bustier, a brown velvet shrug and a belted skirt with a decorative trim. All three were elegant, wearable, and perfect for the runway, but they didn't quite capture the playfulness that the judges were looking for. Same too for Christian, whose Reese's Peanut Butter Cup dress recalled Michael's coffee filter dress from Season Three. It was original and provocative and showed how well this kid can construct, but it wasn't fun or playful at all. If anything, it was a little too somber for a candy-coated challenge like this.

Aside: Ricky, please stop crying. I know that it's a motif that runs through every episode of this series, but at least try to pick your melancholy moments with a little more foresight. Tearing up during the model selection? A new low.

I'm glad that Elise got auf'd this week, though if it were up to me, I'd likely have sent both her and Sweet P packing. These two usually land consistently towards the bottom of the pack and I have yet to like a single one of their creations. Elise's design this week was a ghastly mess: a supposedly morbid Gretel-inspired creation that looked like a drowned rat in silver floaties. Quite possibly one of the biggest misses since... well, anything created by Season Three's Vincent.

As for Sweet P, she claims to love simplicity in her designs but her views of simple usually point to poor construction, little vision, and meager time management. She should have been booted during the menswear challenge but has managed to squeeze by time and time again. Unless she can step it up after her lousy and blah bustier-and-skirt combo, she'll be clearing out her station sooner rather than later.

Next week on Project Runway, the designers take a trip down memory lane in a challenge that has many at their wits' ends while Ricky once again turns on the waterworks.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Without a Trace (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC); Smallville (CW); Ugly Betty (ABC)

9 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); Celebrity Apprentice (NBC); Supernatural (CW); Grey's Anatomy (ABC)

10 pm: Without a Trace (CBS); ER (NBC); Desperate Housewives (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Ugly Betty.

On tonight's repeat episode ("Grin and Bear It"), Alexis returns to work at Mode but her behavior is more like Alex's than Alexis', Daniel receives an ultimatum from a major advertiser (guest star James Van Der Beek), Amanda hunts for the identity of her father, and Betty begins her creative writing class by stealing someone else's story.


Anonymous said…
I was also originally unimpressed by last night's challenge. The sour look on Victorya's face perfectly captured what I felt when that awful Hershey's spokeswoman started speaking, using the word "sweet" as many times as humanly possible in one sentence. Blech.

But, surprisingly, once the designers got back to the studio and began to create, I started getting excited. A dress made entirely of peanut butter cup wrappers? A boustier of licorice? A "pretty in pink" peppermint patty wrapper skirt? I love it!

I thought that most of the outfits were fun and flouncy while many were also beautifully designed. Elise and Sweet P's were that only designs that really missed the mark and I would have been happy to have seen either of them go. Sweet P just squeaked by again but I don't think she'll be around for much longer, especially after Tim Gunn told her that her dress looked like a cross between a coffee filter and a maxi pad. Tim has such a way with words...
Anonymous said…
I have to say, I liked this challenge right from the beginning, but it made me want candy. All those wasted Reese's!

I also hated Victorya's dress. I thought it was a mess. I like Sweet P, so I am glad she is sticking around, even though her design was so unimaginative. I've never been a fan of Elisa, but I was pretty blown away by her revealing backstory. That's quite something to come back from. I wonder if she was this loopy before the head trauma?

I absolutely loved Rami's dress, as well as Jillian's. I am glad her's came together, because it was fabulous. I even had a dream about it last night.

When, oh when, can we get rid of crying Ricky?!?
rockauteur said…
Sweet P needs to go...

I was bored at first as well, Jace, but then I was pleasantly surprised with the success of the designs, especially Jillian and Rami (did anyone check him out Tyra's talk show floating on youtube, when ANTM winner Saleisha modelled in his runway show for Tyra?). Chris definitely impressed me with his dress, even if I can't stand his personality.

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