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Au Revoir, Vincent: "Project Runway" Finally Comes to Its Senses

Was I the only one whooping and hollering last night? I swear I could hear similar cries of excitement emanating from other houses in my neighborhood around 11 pm last night. For those of you who failed to catch Runway last night, what I've been praying for has finally happened.

Just when I had begun to lose faith in Project Runway (shock, horror!), Heidi and the other judges finally auf wiedersehen'd Vincent last night. It was about time that this 401K-cashing space cadet be punished for his sartorial crimes, even if it should have happened a few weeks back. I'm still smarting over the fact that uber-talented Allison was booted and Vincent managed to make it this far, despite landing in the bottom 3 nearly every week... I may have cried foul, but I'm happy to see that the judges have finally snapped out of whatever hypnotic trance they've been under to cut the unfashionable chaff from the wheat.

This week found the contestants still in Paris, operating out of the dubious Parsons Paris school. (I'd have to agree with commenter Brock who couldn't help but notice that the location seemed about as authentic as Malan's accent.) So I was curious after last week's jet-setting task, what this week's challenge would be, considering the Parisian location. And, lo and behold, I was pleasantly surprised that the producers at Project Runway would once again raise the stakes: the designers have two days (gasp!) to create a couture gown before presenting their designs on new models at a party thrown by designer (and guest judge) Catherine Malandrino.

I have to say that given the time crunch involved (two days for couture?!?), I was rather impressed with most of the designs. (Notice I said "most.") I thought that hands-down the two most beautiful and creative designs were those done by Jeffrey and Uli and I had a feeling that one of the two of them would be crowned the winner (though I was really rooting for Uli). In a Project Runway first, Jeffrey, who gained immunity from last week's win, also won this week, the first time a designer with immunity has won two challenges in a roll. It looks like Jeffrey has finally found his groove, a real feet after the debacle with Angela's mom. So what was the winning design? Jeffrey's gown was a yellow plaid rock-and-roll-meets-royalty number that was exuberant and whimsical without being outre. I was a little worried when I saw the pattern he chose, but I was blown away by the results. While the styling was pure Jeffrey, it showed a real departure from the color palette he normally chooses. The game just got a little more fierce as Jeffrey is beginning to look more and more like a real contender. (Plus, he's guaranteed a spot in the final four now.)

I was really hoping that Uli would win this one. She keeps seeming to come thisclose to winning, only to end up with the runner-up spot. I thought that she too departed from her usual stylistic preferences and designed a gorgeous pale aubergine gown with hand-done braiding and beadwork that completely fulfilled the brief: it was couture detailing of the highest standard with a fantastic attention to detail and even Heidi agreed that it was the dress she would have worn. I think it was really smart of Uli to stay away from the pattern combinations that she's famous for and instead create a monochromatic sheathe that didn't look block-like at all. Instead, it was a flawlessly beautiful and flowing gown that was both high fashion and not too cerebral. Brava, Uli.

Then there were Kayne and Michael. I was seriously concerned that one of them would be auf'd this week, after their performances. I wanted to love Michael's electric blue gown and really admired the fact that he challenged himself by doing all of the ruching by hand on the bodice, but he lost track of time and the end result was unfinished and messy (you should have learned from Malan!). I think that folding those "rabbit ears" in on the bodice made a HUGE difference and made the gown look a hell of a lot more polished and streamlined. Still, I was so upset that his model was hit with eggs on the way to Catherine Malandrino's party (held on a boat on the Seine, natch); I wanted to smack that kid with the eggs.

And Kayne? I actually really liked Kayne's design, even if it was a little "Vegas," as Nina put it. I actually thought that the structure of the corset was stunning and I loved how the lacing went to the side rather than straight down the back. And unlike some of the gowns, it looked flawlessly fitted on both the Parisian and American models. That said, the applique on the corset was far too busy (it could be seen all the way from Vincent's orbital platform in space) and did detract from the gorgeous ombre skirt. Had he toned it down (most of the judges' complaint, I think), I think he would have ended up in the top of the heap rather than in the bottom three...

I think it's time for Laura to go. Her construction is always meticulous but her designs are always too dated and not modern enough. While I love her 1940s influence, she needs to take that influence and make it seem fresh and new rather than just old and tired. Her design was really quite blah: long black wool dress with long sleeves (I'm glad Catherine called her on that) with a low-cut front and back deep V accentuated with a lace collar that to me looked a little over the top in Paris and then completely dull in New York. (Shipping the gown had crushed the collar and taken away all of its height and theatricality.) Given that the collar was the showpiece against which the gown was just the background, Laura should count herself lucky that she made it through this week's gauntlet unscathed.

And that brings us to Vincent. I'm still baffled as to how he's made it this far on Runway. His designs are simply awful and kooky; there's nothing beautiful or elegant or even creative about any of them. They're simply thrown together and then thrown down the runway. Did anyone else think it was weird that Vincent was basically harassing Catherine Malandrino? The style-impaired designer became downright sycophantic as he kept complimenting Catherine for every facet of her being, from her hair to her shoes, and would not shut up. (Catherine's later comment on his gown: "No, no, no, no." Gotta love it.)

I can't even describe Vincent's design: a messy silk meets granny's sofa combo with ugly sleeves and a weird Angela-esque floret design on the back that seemed an attempt to conceal some design flaws. To me, he should have been eliminated purely based on the fact that he GLUED everything together in a couture challenge, which went completely against the entire spirit of the challenge. But fortunately his design was so god-awful, so unflattering and weird, that the judges didn't even need to invoke a technicality to eliminate him. Au revoir, Vincent, and don't let the door hit you on the way out...

Whew. I feel better now.

Next week on Project Runway: with the competition narrowed down to the final five contestants, the pressure is cranked up on our designers but for a teary Laura, it looks like it's all a bit too much. Come on, Laura, you made it through the Parisian couture challenge three months pregnant; this can't be much worse than that!

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Big Brother 7: All-Stars (CBS); NFL Football/The Challenge (NBC); Smallville (WB); Grey's Anatomy (ABC); 'Til Death/Happy Hour (FOX); Desire (MyNet)

9 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); Sports Action Team/Wacked Out Sports (NBC); Supernatural (WB); Grey's Anatomy (ABC); Fashion House (MyNet)

10 pm: Without a Trace (CBS); Dateline (NBC); Primetime (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

10 pm: Murder City on BBC America.

Continuing tonight on BBC America: a 2004 Brit mystery series starring Amanda Donahoe (L.A. Law) and Kris Marshall (My Family) as pair of terribly mismatched police partners. In tonight's episode ("Nothing Sacred"), a dealer of Islamic art is found dead. In a car. Under water.


Anonymous said…
If you want to get a sneak preview of Top Chef this year, go to Grub.

911 Seward St
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Betty, one of the owners/chef, is on this year's show. Not to mention, they do a great weekend brunch.

Jace Lacob said…
I love Grub and go there all the time before a movie at the Arclight. Very interesting... Didn't know that about their chef.
Kat said…
Jace, I hope you watch Top Chef!! I love your reviews.

I agree with everything you said this week, but wanted to add one little thing. Am I the only one who thought they saw some coochy on Jeffery's Paris model when she walked in his gown?
Anonymous said…
Didn't Michael also win two challenges in a row? I don't understand how Jeffrey's two wins are different.
Anonymous said…
You were definitely not the only one whooping and hollering in their living room last night. I was SO happy.

And I agree that Kayne's dress was actually pretty cool, and not nearly as bad as they all said. Too much on top, but still - a pretty stunning design.

And while I know I am in the minority, I hated Jeffrey's dress. That's the kind of design that makes me go "Am I missing something?" when I see runway shows or the like.

Uli should have won.
Anonymous said…
GREAT episode of Project Runway. And great commentary too...I enjoyed reading your post almost as much as I enjoyed the show!
Anonymous said…
Jeffrey did NOT win immunity this week, it was not given out.

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