<i>Project Runway</i> Episode 12 Recap: Let's Getty It Over With

On the morning of the runway show, Chris is sitting alone in his apartment with his hands up to his face in his weeping pose. Then he writes "Big Day!" on the blackboard... to himself. He is creeping me out.
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Previously on: The designers' generally underwhelming winning looks inspired even more underwhelming complement looks, and neither Logan's silver pants nor his 40 zippers could save him from Heidi's Teutonic axe.

It's morning in the ladies' quarters, and suffice to say they're not all on the same cycle just yet. Apparently, according to Althea, she and Irina aren't speaking because Irina accused her of making a copycat version of her Aspen Snuggie. As the camera cuts back and forth between them, trying to build tension, it occurs to me that Althea and Irina would make a great live-action Betty and Veronica from the Archie comics.

From her bed, Irina tells Althea that "It's gonna be what it's gonna be." In Mean-a Irina speak, I think that means, "It's gonna be a bitch. 'It' meaning me. At all times, and for no apparent reason." She then interviews that she won't say anything behind someone's back that she wouldn't say to their face. And by their face, she means the camera.

Chris has his own apartment now. Why they don't just let him bunk with the girls is beyond me, but I guess you never know when someone will have too much sake and play some Amy Grant and suddenly notice how much Althea looks like Errol Flynn if you take your contacts out. He thinks it's odd that he is the last boy standing. I'm tired (why is this show on so late? And why do I always think Models of the Runway might finally be worth watching?) and also tired of being Mean-a Ir-Una, so I'll just say: Yes, Chris. That IS odd.

Gordana interviews that this is the last challenge, and so she wants to show something she's proud of, not only for her but for her family, her country, and everybody that she loves.

On the runway, Heidi reminds the designers that Fashion Week is at their fingertips and that their time in LA is coming to an end. For their last challenge they'll visit an iconic place that's rich in culture and has priceless views. My husband Jeff thinks they're going to the Getty Center, but I'm putting my money on Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, mostly because I cannot wait to see the garments made only from batter and thigh bones.

Dammit, Jeff called it -- it's the Getty Museum. Tim is there with LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "During the sixth season of Project Runway, we have fully embraced LA and LA has fully embraced us," Tim says, and his voice seems to shake as if he is on the verge of tears. Did someone just tell him that overalls are coming back? (That's not a joke; they are) Did he finally realize that this season was NOT just a bad dream? Did he accidentally machine wash a tie?

Anyway, the final challenge will be to design a look using the Getty Center for inspiration. There are buildings and artworks and gardens and views and still I am not at all excited by this. It's so broad and vague, which might be OK if the rest of the challenges hadn't ALL been broad and vague. Seriously, let's run down:

1. Red carpet gown... for any red carpet: Broad, vague
2. Pregnant outfit for Rebecca Romijn: Broad (in every sense -- ha!), kind of specific but still boring.
3. Beach look-slash-avant-garde look: Broad, vague, confusing
4. Model industry event look: Broad, vague, dumb
5. Newspaper challenge: Limited in terms of material, but still vague in assignment
6. Movie genre challenge: Specific parameters made this probably the best challenge of the season
7. "Blue": Broadest, vaguest, most blatantly sponsor-driven challenge ever. Remember that great Banana Republic challenge in Season 2 when they had to design day-to-night looks and create store windows? THAT'S HOW YOU DO A SPONSOR CHALLENGE.
8. Repurposed wedding dresses: Okay, this one was pretty good in theory, if not in outcome
9. Bob Mackie/Christina Aguilera challenge: This, too, was marred more by the actual designs than the challenge parameters. I've never been less excited by sequins
10. Michael Kors' favorite vaca-ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ Oh, I'm sorry. Where am I? I must have dozed off.
11. The Winning Looks challenge: (See first sentence of this recap).
12. This.

Anyway, my point is that there are approximately 8 billion things the designers could do with this challenge. They have too much freedom, which results in their making the same damn thing every time. Too much creative freedom seems to equal no pushing of boundaries, ironically.

Tim tells them that they have two days to complete the challenge. They'll go on a half hour tour of the Getty, have a half hour to sketch, and then go to Mood. "I have a special surprise for you," Tim says, and I believe him for a split second until he finishes his sentence with: "Your models are here." Whoop de fucking doo. They're supposed to serve as muses, which makes no sense. Stop trying to make Models of the Runway happen! It's not going to happen!

Inside the museum, Althea finds paintings (I think; I was looking at my keyboard) that remind her of Versace and says that the Getty "is like one of my top three buildings ever." (Don't tease us, Alth -- what are the other two???). She decides to use the architecture as inspiration. Chris interviews that there's so much to see, and so much not to touch. Carol Hannah is enamored with a four-poster French canopy bed with drapery, feathers, and fringe, while Irina and her model coo over a painting called "Mischief and Repose" by John William Godward, which depicts a woman (Repose?) lounging on furs and marble while another (Mischief?) pulls her hair or taps her with a wand or something. "It says everything I want to say as a designer," she says. Um, okay.

Chris and his model sit outside as he stares at the Getty's rock fountain. He loves that it's organic, and finds the radioactive green algae creeping up the rocks beautiful. Inside, Gordana stands before a grayish blue Monet painting of the Rouen cathedral. She seems very moved (Kerry thinks it might remind her of gray Serbia.)

To recap, and so you have some visual point of reference, here are the inspirations:








(This might not be the exact painting, but it's the gist)



Tim whisks the gang away to Mood. They each get $300. Gordana is looking for colors that will evoke her painting. Irina wants sheer fabrics and furs. She finds a piece of fur that Tim thinks looks like it came from a giant Scandanavian rabbit. Chris, ever literal, gets gray pebbly-looking fabric and something acid green, which he insists will be used for accent only. As they leave, there is an extended, waving goodbye to the Mood staff. Since they set up shop in LA specifically for the show, I was hoping that the cameras would pull away to reveal that the whole shop was just a shanty set up on the side of the highway, made out of cardboard. Sadly, this is not to be.

Back at FIDM, Tim reminds the designers that this is the Last Challenge and will determine who will go to NY Fashion Week. He tells them to take risks. Irina thinks that the challenge is hit or miss and that she's drawing inspiration from her painting. Chris says that he comes from a small town, and that to go to Bryant Park would be unbelievable.

Althea notes that the atmosphere in the workroom is awkward. Carol Hannah and Chris are friends, Irina and Gordana have bonded, and she is the fifth wheel, like that amazing TV show where people tried to speed date on a bus. They should bring that back. Anyway, Irina seems to relish making Althea uncomfortable, and interviews that Alth is "like King Kong," and that she "wants to grab everything." I'm not sure I get the joke, but oooh, burn! Apparently there is some turf war going on with tables. Carol Hannah says that people are starting to fight and that she wishes they would just focus on their work. Gordana announces that dogs that bark don't bite, and Irina replies, "It's always the cute dogs that bite your fingers off." Exactly -- not so self-aware, that one. Also, doesn't a certain someone have a poodle named Princess? I'm just saying.

Back at the apartments on Night One, Gordana and Irina start to bicker good-naturedly and Carol Hannah asks that they please stop fighting. All of a sudden Gordana gets super pissed and says "Well, too bad, Carol Hannah, I'm not here to serve you!" and then storms off. First of all, I told y'all Gordana meant business and secondly, if I was Carol Hannah I would sleep with one eye open, and also maybe a stapler. Althea thanks God that this is the last challenge, because people are flipping out. Apropos of not very much, Irina interviews that she's from the Republic of Georgia and that gender roles are still kind of antiquated, so her parents give her a hard time for not being married at 26. She thinks that if she can get to Bryant Park they'll stop worrying.

At FIDM on Day Two, Tim arrives to survey the wreckage. Chris reiterates that he was inspired by a rock fountain and that he loves algae. He shows Tim some angular gray pieces that Tim thinks look like stalagmites. "You don't want it to be a head-scratcher and have the judges be like, Christopher, what?" Tim says. Chris replies: "That happens to me a lot."

Carol Hannah wants to recreate the texture of the ornate bed she was inspired by. Tim seems freaked out by something she's doing to the bodice and urges her not to lose the sophistication. Irina tells Tim that she's going for a sheer, fleshy look but Tim doesn't really see it. He is not liking the fur. "It looks a lot like roadkill," he muses. "You don't want this to be a post-apocalyptic moment."

As he approaches Althea's work station, Tim remarks, "Wow. If I squint my eyes it's just a panel of puckering." It is true that the textured gold silk she chose vaguely resembles cellulite, but to her credit she's trying to make it look architectural. This was just a poor fabric choice.

Tim has no trouble seeing the inspiration behind Gordana's dress, which is a grayish column of layered pastel panels. Gordana gets very emotional and says that she's a spiritual person and that the colors to her are angelic. Tim says he is impressed, but really, what choice does he have? She's blubbering and invoking God and cherubs. You can't reply "Well, my viscera is just shitting all over this." Althea is stressed out but makes time to tell the cameras that Gordana's dress "is not a last challenge dress." People in glass houses, Althea... I'll get back to this later.

The models come in for a fitting. Carol Hannah thinks that Althea might have a problem with her dress, even though she's a good designer. Chris interviews that he knows his place in the competition: "I'm the wacky, weird guy who doesn't listen and always just does what he's going to do." My friend Jess, almost apoplectic, yells what we're all thinking: "He's not the wacky, weird guy! He's the shitty guy! Christian was wacky and talented. This guy is shitty!"

On the morning of the runway show, Chris is sitting alone in his apartment with his hands up to his face in his weeping pose. It kind of looks like he's meditating. Then he writes "Big Day!" on the blackboard... to himself. He is creeping me out. This is some Shining shit right here. In the women's bunker, Gordana interviews that there's nothing else she can do, but that she's created something she's absolutely proud of. Althea hopes that her piece comes together, as Jess screams "Oh my God, there's nothing behind her eyes!" Hahaha.

At FIDM, Tim sends in the models. The back of Gordana's dress is like a wedding gown, in a bad way. Chris says that his dress encompasses who he is as a designer--"It's pretty and kind of dirty." Irina interviews that Chris is very confident but that it's a false confidence because he can't really see anything outside of what he's doing. As much as Irina irks me, she's totally right. He has no ability to judge his own work against the other designers'. He truly has no idea that he is That Guy that should have gone home weeks ago.

Out on the runway, Heidi tells the designers that TWO of them are going home this week. Did I miss something? Did they already tell us that? Because no one seems at all surprised. I would have expected at least one talking head in which someone was like, "Well, it's a double elimination this week so I'm extra nervous." Anyway, the judges are Cynthia Rowley, Nina, and Cindy Crawford. NOT COOL for MK to miss the final challenge. This panel is indicative of the judging issues all season; how are they supposed to make informed decisions when two of the four judges have not seen the designers' previous work? Anyway, harumph, I'm grumpy, so it's the perfect time to start the fashion throwdown.



Honestly, I liked this. It's modern and I love the gray/gold color combo. Unfortunately the puckering is really distracting and it's not Althea's best work. The bodice looks good in this photo but when it moved it looked unfinished. Also, I'm not really seeing the architectural inspiration (granted, I am not one to talk about architecture. My attempt at building a gingerbread house a few years ago was truly tragic.)



This is the best dress of the bunch, which is... not great. The color and the fabric make it veer too much into Jessica McClintock territory for my liking, and the inspiration comes through loud and clear in the bedskirt skirt (Did we learn nothing from Chris' dress last week??). Still, there's no denying that this is well made, and I like the braiding.




A few things:

2. I would say that it looks like a Disneyland costume, but then no Disney Princess worth her power ballads would wear that thing.
3. Your right to make a pointy gray corset ends with MY EYES.
4. So there's where my shoelace went!

Oh, Christopher. You are going home, my friend.



This is pretty and I get what she's going for. It's more ... labial than the Monet painting (unless Monet's cathedral was supposed to really be a vagina, in which case, paging Dr. Freud) but what can you do?



I really do not like this, and I swear it's not just because I don't like Irina. Somehow the dress looks dowdy even tough it shows a lot of skin. It's droopy and mint green. I'm getting a very Saturday Arabian Nights Fever vibe.

Overall, I was not really impressed by any these as last challenge looks, and I kept yelling at the TV that in Season One Austin, Jay, Kara Saun and even Wendy made better final dresses. But memory is fickle, friends. I actually went and found pictures of the Season One final challenge dresses (Project Rungay has an archive), and they are not that great. So I guess I should get down off of my high horse now, and do a little bow-legged Logan shuffle back into my glass house.

All of the designers stay to defend their looks. Cindy Crawford says that Althea is brave to try all that pleating (nice backhand, CC). Cynthia Rowley says that it's too ambitious--the skirt is overworked and the top is underworked. Heidi says it's "a bit of a messfest." Is it just me, or does Heidi hate all of them this season?

Nina likes the back of Irina's dress but says that the length is "old lady." The judges make the model remove her shoes, headband, and jewelry and agree that it looks better when it's simpler.

Heidi can see Gordana's inspiration and Nina says that it's perfectly made, but that Gordana hasn't taken a chance. None of the judges are wowed by the back of the dress.

Cynthia Rowley likes the fit and detailing of Carol Hannah's dress, but Cindy Crawford doesn't see the inspiration. Nina likes it, but her only concern is that Carol Hannah is playing it very safe.

It's Chris' turn and I get ready for a whupping, but Cynthia Rowley starts out by saying that she likes the top part and that it's too heavy on the bottom. Is it the wrong fabric, she wonders, as I wonder WHY IS NO ONE CALLING ATTENTION TO THE HIDEOUS BELT? Heidi asks Christopher if he is confident in this as his final look, and he of course starts to weep and his model has to try to hold him up against her toothpick frame. Chris, still crying, says "This speaks more about me than any other piece I've put down the runway," and says that everyone else chose beautiful inspirations and he chose a rock with some gross algae, which is a metaphor... or something. "Thank you for sharing with us, Christopher," Heidi says, and as her eyes flash I know he's toast.

Since it's the last challenge, the designers are subjected to a lightning round in which they have to say why they deserve to go to Fashion Week and who should go with them.

Gordana says that she should go to Bryant Park because she grew up dyeing onion cloth in Serbia and she's never had resources but if she did, she might makes something great. She would take Christopher and Irina with her, because they both want it so much.

Althea says that she has pushed herself and has never been in the bottom and that she has the skills and the vision to put together a beautiful collection. She thinks that Carol Hannah and Irina also deserve to go to Fashion Week based on their designs.

Carol Hannah says that she could talk about how she taught herself to sew, but it doesn't matter how much training you have or how much you want it. She says that she makes beautiful garments that women want to wear. She would take Chris (really??) and Althea.

Irina says that her parents were immigrants, and starts talking about dreams and starts to cry. ("She cries bile!" my husband yells gleefully.) She says she's already been called mean and doesn't want to choose two others, but she does anyway: Althea and Gordana.

Chris says that he hasn't had a lot of opportunities and successes in his life, and that to make it to Bryant Park would truly be the biggest success so far. With an amazingly melodramatic sigh, he says that the two other designers that deserve to go are Irina and Carol Hannah. You can tell that he thinks he is Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice right now.

(Side note: I have to say that despite all my piss and vingear and vitriol about bad challenges and designers without oomph and personality, these speeches did affect me and made me realize how hard they all have been working.)

The judges deliberate blandly, and the designers are called back out to the runway. Heidi draws out the suspense by prefacing everything with a Tyra Banks-like monologue. Irina's dress this week was overstyled but her work is great so she's going to Fashion Week. And I won't hate on that--if anyone deserves to go based on talent, it's her. Then Heidi says "Chris..." and I almost have a heart attack because if he goes to Fashion Week for that budget Disney monstrosity I will freak the fuck out. Luckily, it's a trick. Chris is out! The whole world has not gone crazy! He cries and it's sad, but it was necessary.

Carol Hannah is going to Fashion Week, which leaves Althea and Gordana on the chopping block. While I like Gordana more as a character, I think Althea should move on to Bryant Park. And apparently the judges agree, because she does, and Gordana is out. Heidi says that Gordana impressed them, and Kerry chimes in, "From one gray dress to another... you impressed us this season." Which you have to admit is pretty true. Hard G does not look happy, and I'm sad to see her go, but really I think Irina, Carol Hannah, and Althea are the most just final three based on the talent pool that's left. If I had my druthers, it would be Carol Hannah, Ra'mon-Lawrence, and Epperson, but that would be another show, a dweam wiffin a dweam.

So, there we have it. The final three. I guess I'm passively rooting for Carol Hannah, but honestly I don't really care. Thoughts?

See you next week for the finale. Thanks for sticking with me till the bitter end!

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