<i>Project Runway</i> Episode 2 Recap: County Fair Potato Party

Previously on: Emilio won immunity, Janeane cried a lot, and Jesus, tired of the whole water-to-wine trick, turned a leather trunk into a chocolate bar, barely sparing him the axe.
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Project Runway is the place for me.
Farm livin' is the life for me.
Land spreadin' out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.

I'm sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's see. Oh! Previously on: Emilio won immunity, Janeane cried a lot, and Jesus, tired of the whole water-to-wine trick, turned a leather trunk into a chocolate bar, barely sparing him the axe.

This episode is the first in which we get to see the full opening credits, with the designers spouting off saucy lines. The best of these are: Emilio saying "I am fashion--look at me!" (So fashion looks like a middle-aged Rudy from Fat Albert? I'm confused.); Maya, holding a pair of gleaming scissors and declaring "It's cut or be cut," like she's also competing in America's Next Top Bris; and Jonathan, similarly wielding scary scissors, smirking "My weapon of choice." Really? Mine's nunchucks.

We start off at the Atlas apartments, where Emilio throws a pillow at Jesus in order to rouse him. Jesus interviews that it is the worst feeling being in the bottom three, and that he needs to step up his game. Anthony and Jay, from their beds, sleepily assure each other that they'll do much better this week. (Note to producers: Maybe next season make them wear sleep bonnets like the Munchkins do in The Wizard of Oz? It would be so darling. Just a thought.) In the ladies' room, Pamela tells us that she's sad that people are leaving and that it'll be hard to say goodbye to someone every week, and Anna hopes that this week's challenge will be something very New York and eccentric. Ooh, maybe they'll have to design banana slings for that guy with the world's largest penis! I think he lives here!

On the runway, Heidi reminds them that Emilio has immunity, and tells them that in the next challenge "we really want to see what you're made of." To that end, the designers are going on a field trip to a place that is, in Heidi's words, "a little out there." Janeane interviews that she doesn't know if they're going to the moon or to a Broadway show. I love that those are the two "out there" things for Janeane. The moon, obviously, is "out there" physically, and Broadway shows are "out there" morally, as they are obviously just for Satanists and gays, not kittens and fishes with secrets.

"Out there," of course, turns out to be a farm, and as the designers stumble over the dirt they see Tim--in a checked shirt and jeans!--standing with the models, who are lined up wearing potato sacks like a gaggle of malnourished Cabbage Patch Kids.

"If this field doesn't shine like the top of the Chrysler Building, kill kill kill!"

I love that Tim is wearing checks and denim in an attempt to fit in; if they ever have a challenge that takes place at a gay bar, I bet he'd wear a subtle leather pocket square or a scarf made of poppers. Anyway, Tim tells the gang that they are to create "party-worthy looks" out of potato sacks. But wait! There's more! The poor models will be forced to wear these burlap creations to a "special industry event," which is code for a sad cocktail party with Christian Audigier and some Marie Claire fashion interns at which they all get sloshed.

But wait! There's more!

Since the models have to wear these things out in public, they get to choose which designer they want to work with for the challenge. And you know what that means--Tim gets out my favorite velvet bag! Janeane says sadly, "It's not enough that we're making dresses out of sacks. We also need to be wanted." I don't know about you, but that sounds to me like a pitch for The Bachelorette: Sweatshop Love. Are you listening, ABC?

Almost all of the models pick the designers they had for the first challenge, maybe out of loyalty but probably because they can't remember anyone else's name. When Pamela's model calls her, Pamela's eyes go all crazy and she cries "I'll make you hawt!" (This will turn out to be a lie.) Drama strikes halfway through when Mila's model decamps and picks Anthony (obviously she really wants to be able to shoplift bottles of Moet). Mila is miffed and wonders if the model hated her design. She ends up being the last one picked, which I have to admit is surprising. "What am I, chopped liver?" she wonders.

Once all of the designers and models are paired off, Tim tells them to go shopping, and that there are a lot of embellishments (like ribbons and lace and dyes) available. I thought this meant that they were off to Mood, but in fact they are going "shopping" out of a stack of crates balanced precariously on a haystack.

It's like an open-air Macy's!

This is an awesome idea; the next time I clean out old gym bags in my closet I am going to call it "shopping for gnarled hair elastics and forgotten ChapStick." Jonathan says something that I cannot focus on because he pronounces the word "buttons" "buh-ons," so I have to keep repeating it and laughing like I have consonant-less Tourette's.

Buh-ons! They get back to Parsons and start to work. Maya notes that the problem with burlap is that it's hard to make it look expensive. Emilio thinks that "burlap is probably as old as Moses," but Wikipedia disagrees. Tim comes in (still in checks) to remind everyone to make it work.

Pamela is busy dyeing her fabric blue, while Jesus is envisioning a "hoochy, sexy dress"--who knew a potato sack could be slutty? Ben says that his design will be "luminous and gathered and billowy, like an upside-down tulip." Or, you know, like a sack of potatoes. God, I love this challenge. I get to write "sack" as much as I want.

Mila is still cranky about her model defecting, and wonders aloud to Anthony why her model wouldn't choose her. Anthony interprets this as a confrontation, but the way it's edited it doesn't seem too dramatic. Anyway, Mila says "Her loss," and Anthony takes offense and then interviews that "Mila can kiss me and my entire family's asses." If you take out "and my entire family" you get "Mila can kiss me asses." Anthony is a pirate!

Ping, God bless her, is wrapping herself in burlap as Anna uses actual potatoes to make a print on her sack (I made a recession-friendly potato stamp this year to use on Christmas cards, and it looked like I had taken muscle relaxants and branded each card with a golden amoeba, which is neither here nor there, except that potato stamps are harder to wield than I remember them being in kindergarten.)

Tim comes to check in. His first stop is Pamela, who is making a bustier corset dress. Tim loves the ombre, but thinks she should make it two pieces. Pamela just laughs her crazy laugh. He wrinkles his nose at Mila's mannequin, which is pinned with some silver stripes. Mila explains that her model really wants tulle to be incorporated into the dress, but Tim basically says "That bitch crazy; don't do it." Jeff (my husband, for those who don't remember from last season) cries "Where's my tulle!?!" I still miss Kenley.

Jay is working on a black party dress, but still has to dye fabric and trim all of it in ribbon. Tim makes a noise kind of like a beached whale and worries that Jay doesn't have enough time to finish. Ping is staying true to the nature of the burlap sack and making a dress that looks like... a big ol' sack. Tim advises her that if it's too short, the judges will be able to see her model's See You Next Tuesday. This warning, sadly, is lost to the language barrier, as we shall see soon enough. Amy has made a poufy skirt with a dip-dye trim that reminds me of lightly burned pita wedges. She tells Tim that her model wants puffy sleeves with a cuff, and Tim reminds her that if the judges don't like the dress they won't care if the model does. Also: Puffy sleeves with a cuff? Is her model the ghost of Tammy Faye Baker? Too soon? Tim's last stop is Jesus, who is making a brown and green dress using tons of ribbon. Tim is concerned that the burlap is completely disappearing, and puns "You've skirted the challenge."

The models come in for fittings. Ping tells her model: "I want to make sure your butt-ocks are covered." She pronounces this as if they are a rare breed of bottom-heavy cattle, the Butt Ox. I think she and Jonathan should team up to do some sort of musical revue called Buh-Ons and Butt-Ox, no? Seth, who is once again wearing a bandana as if he is the grown-up version of Edgar Frog, Corey Felman's character in the seminal 80s vampire romp The Lost Boys, says "Ping's lack of experience in actual construction scares me." Oh yeah, Seth? Well your eyeliner scares me. Stop hitting on Twilight Moms and go home to your children!

Anthony's model--formerly Mila's model--Alexis is turning out to be a pain in the ass. "She is wanting blue buttons on a cocktail dress!" Anthony cries. Meanwhile, Mila is having a grand old time with her new model, and says that maybe she was blessed to have Alexis dis her. Jonathan says something that I can't focus on because I realize that HE is this season's Bitchface! He wears a constant expression of bitchy ennui. Must be all that hoeing. We end the day with Jay, wearing a tiny fedora, bemoaning the fact that he's only halfway done at midnight on the day before the runway show.

The next morning in the women's apartment, Pamela says that she's a little bit worried and that she doesn't want to be one of those people who have to sew their models into their garment. In the background, Anna struggles with putting on what look like beige orthopedic shoes. Everyone frets over their wardrobe and much mascara is applied by Janeane, who should know better.

Speaking of which, at Parsons, Pamela asks Janeane how she's doing, which is just a blatant attempt to make her cry. Tim comes in and warns the designers that they have two hours to get their models' hair did and defile the Bluefly.com accessories wall etc. Ben tells is that he feels he was able to balance what his model wanted with his own aesthetic. Jonathan has an amazing talking head in which he says: "Ping's garment is not functional. It doesn't cover her ass. But then I look over and Ping doesn't look worried, so maybe there's supposed to be an ass flap?" Oh, Jonathan, don't even try to understand the Tao of Ping. Just let it be. Pamela fits her model into a vaguely denim-looking strapless thing with brown leather trim, and realizes that she has left a little too much room in the derriere. "Miss thing has a big ol' butt!" Anthony crows. And with that, it's runway time.

Heidi comes out wearing a pregnancy chainmail look straight out of Ye Olde Pea In The Pod. I don't know about you, but I think Heidi should wear something every week that relates to the challenge, they way that Tyra Banks always poses for a photo that echoes the contestants' photos on ANTM. How amazing would it be for her to have come out in a potato sack? I think all the judges should wear them. Imagine Michael Kors wearing neutrals! What color would his face be then? The guest judge this week is Lauren Hutton, which seems kind of random, but whatever. They should use past contestants as guest judges, the way they use them in the audition process. I am just full of good ideas this week. Anyway. Sack up, because we're ready to start the show!



I love this. I am a giant whore for anything red, and I love the color, the draping, and the styling. Also, can I just say that I'm so relieved that Anthony made something pretty this week? He's so sassy, I don't want to see him go anytime soon.



I think Ping misinterpreted the challenge--or took it too literally. The bodice looks okay, but the bottom part literally looks as though the model is actually waist-deep in potato sack and is racing for the blue ribbon. I really don't get what this is supposed to be doing to her waist. It kind of looks like she's carrying one of those "I Am Not A Plastic Bag!" bags and is using it as a shield to hide the fact that she's forgotten her pants.

Let's take a look at the back, shall we?


I think Ping wanted us to see her Butt Ox. How else you you explain that slit? It should be noted that as her model walked down the runway, Ping said "Her buttocks are revealed and the dress really looks like a potato sack." At least she knows.



Again, I am a big red whore, but my viewing party agreed that this errs on the side of maternity dress thanks to the poufy skirt. Eh, I'd still wear it. I can eat more profiteroles that way.



While the neckline is an inch too wide on each side for my liking, I really like the silver detailing and the fit of this dress, not to mention the dusky purple color. I am shocked that this is burlap; I could see it on the racks at Bloomingdale's.



Bless her heart with those potato stamps. This looks like a used coffee filter, pleats and all, but they'd still sell it at Anthropologie for $280.



We didn't get to see Jesse at all this episode, so we can't say for sure, but I'm willing to bet that his model did not request burlap tuxedo pants with red piping. I can't decide if she's Mr. Potato Head's bellhop or equestrian coach.



In spite of myself, I like the top half of this, Little Burlap Riding Hood though it may be. The skirt, though, is all lampshade all the time and I cannot condone it.



This really makes me want a good strong cup of Brazilian roast. I really like the skirt and can appreciate the craftsmanship, though the overall effect is sort of "woodland fairy," or Tinkerbell at Diddy's lesser known Rust Party.



Ooooh, I love this. Kind of deco-chic, and I dig the contrasting burgundy and charcoal. Also, despite my mocking, Janeane did not cry once this whole episode. Bravo!



I hate it when designers do black because it's really hard to see the fabrics and seams and detailing. I know Jay made that skirt out of burlap and I'd love to be able to really see it. All in all, this is gorgeous, though I can't decide what I think of the rough edges on the top. It's an interesting choice but also makes it look a bit undone/deconstructed.



Somebody likes prints! This reminds me of elevator shafts and is not my favorite by a long shot, but the construction is impeccable.



I actually liked this a lot on first inspection but then noticed how flat-chested it made the model look and how the green doesn't go all the way around in the back. Love the matte brown and iridescent green contrast, though.



My favorite of the bunch, bar none. It's sexy, it's structured, the lace offsets the raw roughness of the burlap perfectly... I can even forgive the model's crescent roll bangs.



I didn't like this so much when it was coming down the runway, but I'm feeling kinder now. I think the necklace is overkill (or maybe just too chunky), and I wish Maya had left off the blue trim, or maybe toned down the ruffles in places. As Tim might say, this is a whole lotta look.

When this comes down the runway, though, Maya wins me back: "It wasnt at all what I planned on doing, but that's what happens when you're working with a sack." SO TRUE.



Oh, dear. Have you guys seen Jawbreaker? Doesn't the model kind of remind you of Fern Mayo post-makeover? Maybe it's just that the denim and leather is so late 90s. Like something J-Lo would have worn to the VMAs with some dark lip liner before she was famous enough to know how to pronounce Versace or Affleck.

Overall, I have to say that I was really impressed by the designers this challenge. Last season I feel like at least half of the designs made me recoil in any given challenge, but of these 15 I had only 3 1/3 recoils (one recoil each for Ping, Jesse, and Pamela and 1/3 for Maya, which I kind of take back.) I think this group is quite talented, or just really good with sacks. In the sack! Sack sack sack.

Okay, Heidi calls the following names: Pam, Mila, Ping, Jay, Jesus, Amy. All others are safe. The critiques begin.

JAY: The judges love this, and therefore say nothing quote-worthy.

PAMELA: Nina says that dress too short and too tight, invoking her favorite insult "not sophisticated." MK opines that a plain potato sack would be more flattering. He thinks it makes the model look fat, and not just in the ass. [My words, not his, but a girl can dream...]

MILA: Heidi likes that "You can sort of see a little bit of the booby." MK says that the last thing you would think to associate with a potato sack would be chic. Nina tells Mila that she went "from the farm to the future" and that it looks fabulous.

PING: Heidi starts off with her favorite pickup line: "We see your butt." MK says that they'll notice Ping's model at the special industry party! Here we learn that Ping thought Tim said "industrial party" and decided that it meant "county fair potato party." Bless her.

JESUS: Of course they make a big deal of the fact that the skirt is made out of ribbons. Heidi says that she doesn't see enough of the challenge. Lauren Hutton babbles on about how dresses should be like paintings and that this is an assault on the eyes. I call bullshit on the "not enough burlap" argument. You can see plenty of burlap and he just used the embellishments with a heavy hand. Like I said last week, Project Runway hates Jesus.

AMY: All the judges love this and think it is flirty and feminine. There is nary a mention of Starbucks.

The judges deliberate and it turns out they have saved some of their best lines for each other. Specifically, Michael Kors is an ass man:

"The ass look asymmetrical, so you have one large cheek and one small cheek."--MK on Jesus

"She doesn't listen. She's sending her model out bare butt."--MK (or Heidi; my notes are unclear) on Ping

"It's like an arrow saying 'I want to have a big butt.'"--MK on Pamela

The designers return to the runway with their models. Amy is in. Heidi tells Jay and Mila how great their designs were. "Jay," she says, "You're in... AND you're the winner of this challenge!" Heidi is sneaky this season; I feel like she's going to try to surprise us with her wordplay like last episode when Jesus thought he got kicked off. Mila is obviously in, which leaves the bottom three: Ping, Pamela, and Jesus.

Ping is in, which shocks but pleases me. I thought she'd be bottom (Ha! Bottom--like butt!) two this week. Pamela and Jesus remain. Heidi tells them how much they suck, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be Jesus who gets the boot since this is his second pooch-screw in a row. But Jesus is IN. I am starting to think he'll be the Christopher of Season 7.

So Pamela is out. This makes me sad, because I had a lot more Silence of the Lambs jokes saved up. But the dress was unquestionably fugly, and making a denim ombre bustier minidress is still a crime in some states I think.

"I fall in love with people very easily," Pamela tells us as she prepares to say her goodbyes. Um... okaaaay. This makes me feel like she talks to her dolls. And I'm still suspicious that we never actually saw her "husband." Let's all just back away slowly and forget she was ever here.

Next week: "Do you want to meet the most iconic fashion designers of all time?" Heidi asks. It is a team challenge, and Jesse and Ping are disastrously paired. Ping cries, and somewhere an angel bares its ass.

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