‘Project Runway’ Recap: Celebrating Costume, Not Cocktail, for a Change (VIDEO)

'Project Runway' Recap
The designers create designs from textiles they've created.
It’s a weird statement to make this far into a reality show competition and change a one of its major points so drastically. For Lifetime’s Project Runway, the designer contestants are always cautioned against going too over-the-top and therefore invoking a costume feeling, rather than a wearable, grounded garment. Yet tonight, they were asked to make the opposite, taking just about all of them out of their comfort zones to create something for the Rockettes.

Yes, those Rockettes!

These designers are in the competition to create a real line, not pageant or performance wear, though. A challenge like this one is stunt-y but not indicative of anything the designers will ever be asked — or want — to make in the real world. Naturally, this provided for ample drama well beyond the typical time crunches and sewing machine snafus.

Note: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t watched Thursday’s episode, “I Get A Kick Out of Fashion.”

This week’s challenge started with a trip to Radio City Music Hall where Tim Gunn introduced the remaining designers to the Rockettes who did their famous line kicks with special guest Heidi Klum. It was all very showy and fun but not more so than the actual challenge to create an outfit for the Rockettes. After so many themes where the designers are warned not to make anything too costume-y, this time that is exactly what it sounded like they were being asked to do.

After examining actual Rockettes costumes, the designers headed off to Mood for a quick montage of money, crystal, and budget woes. But from there, it was… dinner. That’s right, rather than getting right to work, the show spent time to see them out of their element and just interacting with each other Real Designers style. Remember when this show used to be about creativity and fashion instead of stretching to fill ninety minutes every episode?

Anyway, we finally got a good look at the early garments the next day in the workroom. Newly energized from an apology chat with Dmitry, Elena actually put on her own creation, which Gunn said looked like it was “missing a baton,” in that it was more cheerleader or Rockette Barbie than actual Rockettes.

Dmitry’s design featured fringe but wasn’t heavy enough on it, per Gunn’s critique, while Melissa used a complex pattern that worried everyone with the time constraints. Though the designers were plugging along, not all very concerned, the show decided to throw them a bone and gave them more money and a return trip to Mood. After all, if you blind the audience with sequins, they won’t notice poor stitching, right?

Smartly, though, Fabio, Dmitry, and Ven decided to skip the shopping sequel in favor of just continuing to work on their current garments. Not smartly, Christopher shared some of his money with Melissa, which could have turned out to be against the rules — if the show was looking for a little extra drama this week.

(They weren’t, so no one called attention to his generosity.)

Actually, everyone seemed to pitch in to help Melissa this week — even Ven. How did it effect their individual dresses come runway time? Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, and special guest judge Debra Messing (over whom Christopher hardcore fangirled) ultimately made the following assessments:

While Fabio was safe and sent backstage solo, Ven, Sonjia, and Elena landed in the bottom three. This meant Christopher, Melissa, and Dmitry were in the top.

Criticism of Sonjia’s costume was mostly that it wasn’t practical and more cocktail than costume. It was, after all, a boxy, muppet-like ice skater uniform. Again, that will be the only time such a statement is used as a negative, and it was kind of upsetting to hear now.

And then there was Ven who has been criticized countless times for always giving the panel the same fan design. Each time he has said he won’t do it again, but inevitably he does. It is his style, and it’s hard to fault him when he sticks to it; at least he knows who he is as a designer. But he has clearly stuck around this long because of his technical skill, even while seeming to not take the competition, or the constructive criticism, seriously. On this episode, he was accused of being boring not because of repetitiveness but because the garment didn’t tell a story. Also, it was sloppy; the hem was uneven! At this stage in the game!? Show you care a little, Ven!

Finally Elena is called out for her tacky, cheesy, overly shiny Vegas mess. It wasn’t modern, and the fabric was a nightmare. It was a shame considering how much of a strategy she had going into the challenge, in order to finally pull out a win. Though Elena was trying to push herself outside of her comfort zone with a new color and by trying to make things “more wearable,” those are not really praiseworthy attributes at this point in the competition, and she was called out for underperforming.

Meanwhile, on the positive side, Dmitry won points for his dominatrix-esque outfit being polished, glamorous, and modern, just like for which the challenge actually called, while Christopher was celebrated for creating a beautiful silhouette and illusion with the color and technique and texture and even the New York skyline.

Finally, the real confusion came when Melissa was the third to land in the top. It was as if she was put there just because they didn’t want to break format and have only two there. She lost points for the incorporation of the number in her color block design and its cocktail style and then Messing pointed out she liked the sparkles, which is the equivalent of saying you like the lighting in a film.

The bottom line was that Christopher was chosen as the winner of the challenge, so his design will be incorporated into the real Rockettes shows, while Ven was out. And in true Ven fashion, he was a sore loser about it, right until they showed him the door.

Buzz Moments

OMG!: Dmitry reveals a hidden talent: he was once a professional ballroom dancer, which naturally makes him, along with a few other designers, assume he has the edge.

Thank you, TV gods: Sorry, not sorry, but we were hoping Ven wouldn’t make it to the finals. With him gone, the energy over the show is sure to be a lot lighter and more positive.

Awk-ward: The designers at dinner was an unusual act for a formulaic reality show like this, but add on top of the change the “important conversation” Dmitry, Ven, and Elena had, and we, too, were reaching for the wine!

Hotness: We’re not going to lie: Heidi did a kick ass (pun intended) job with the Rockettes.

Fab-u-lous: We quite liked Christopher’s “Bob Mackie” moment just as much as the judges.

Can. Not. Wait.: Who will emerge as the next new villain, now that Ven is gone?

Celebuzz Meter (1-10): 7

Were you okay with who was sent home tonight? Weigh in in the comments below!

Danielle Turchiano

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