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<i>Project Runway</i> Episode 4 Recap: Cooter Couture

It's morning at the Atlas apartments. A sleepy Anna gazes longingly at Ping's empty bed as if thinking "!"
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Yeah, I just titled a post about heart disease survivors and Campbell's soup with the word "cooter." It's all downhill from here, folks. TGIF.

Previously on Project Runway, the designers were split up into teams to design high-end signature looks and were then made to design second, cheap looks inspired by one of the other team's original looks. It was a velvet bag clusterfuck that even Tim didn't seem to understand. Mila won for a widely hated Mod tracksuit and Ping got kicked off because Jesse bitched her out on the runway, and also because she was too good for this world.

It's morning at the Atlas apartments. A sleepy Anna gazes longingly at Ping's empty bed as if thinking "Oh the fun we had, draping each other in burlap and rolling down Madison Avenue!" She moves on quickly, though; she tells us she's bonding with The Fish Whisperer, I mean, Janeane. I love the way this show breaks boundaries and brings Midwestern white girls together at last. Also, speaking of bonding, Mila and Maya sit next to each other straightening their bobs and Maya interviews that she and Mila are really alike, and that Mila is like an older version of Maya. Hmmm. Sweet or creepy? Survey says?

Over in the boys' room, Jesus says he's very excited to still be in the competition and goes on an on about how he is going to show the judges how awesome he is (SKIP TO THE ILL-ADVISED SONG PARODY BELOW IF YOU DON'T WANT THE ENDING SPOILED) and I have numerous witnesses who can tell you that I called his elimination right then and there (in between bites of chicken fingers). Because there is nothing the editors of this show love more than airing the eventual loser's overconfident comments at the start of an episode. Also, it should be noted, Jesse appears in this scene looking eerily like Jeffrey Dahmer. Each episode I like him less and less. I mean...

Jesse was my fave.
Yeah, I know he'd been
A big fave of mine (proof here)
But lately something's changed
That ain't hard to define
Jesse's got a shitty attitude
And he also can't design
And he looks just like Jeffrey Dahmer
And he sabotaged Ping Wu
I just know it
Yeah and he's growing in his chin pubes late,
Late at night...

Sorry, where was I? Oh, right. Parson's! Heidi appears on the runway in a strapless maternity dress that makes me crave a Jello Swirl pudding snack. She informs the gang that they will be designing for a Fashion Week gala, and that Tim will introduce them to a very inspiring group of women who will serve as their models. Emilio observes that "very inspirational women" could be anyone really. And he's right. Could be astronauts, those ladies who lose half their size on the cover of People, Sonia Sotomayor, the Jersey Shore girls (What? I'm being serious. JWoww inspires me every day to not get white hair extensions.)

Tim is waiting for the designers in the work room with a bunch of normal-looking women, one of whom he introduces as Lisa Walker, the VP of Innovation at Campbell's Soup. And can I just say--before we start talking about heart disease and my mocking crosses the line into poor taste--that Lisa Walker has The. Best. Title. Ever. Imagine all of the innovation she spearheads on a daily basis! Is she the visionary who combined Cream of Chicken soup and Cream of Mushroom soup to make Cream of Chicken and Mushroom soup? Is she in charge of issuing a fart warning label for Bean With Bacon? Ooh! Ooh! She should get Kate Gosselin to shill for them--it would be Kate Plus V8! Get it? Can I have her job?

Anyway, the challenge is to create a signature red dress for the Campbell's Dress Your Heart program. The rules are: red must be prominent and the Campbell's branding (read: fabric with the company's logo printed on it) must be included. The Tim introduces the models: women who have been impacted by heart disease... and who are about to be forced to appear on national television wearing dresses made out of Campbell's logos. I mean, I'm all for fighting heart disease, but isn't red good enough? What's next week's challenge, cancer survivors and FedEx labels? Anyway, the winning look will be worn by the winning designer's model to the Dress Your Heart event during Fashion Week, and will also be sold online to benefit the American Heart Association. Which basically means I can't make fun of anything this episode because it's all about philanthropy and the resilience of the human spirit. And SpaghettiOs. Okay, now really I'm going to stop.

In the workroom, Mila interviews that the models have been randomly assigned, and that she's nervous but excited to work with a real woman. The models tell their designers how heart disease has impacted their lives and Jay is so touched that he starts to cry. His model--the cutest little Asian woman ever-- hugs him and tells him "Just make me pretty!" Anthony and his model bond as we learn that Anthony's mom underwent heart surgery. Seth's model tells him she wants something "flashy and sassy." Jesus is excited because his model is tiny (Yeah, I hear open heart surgery is a fabulous diet. Seriously, Jesus, stop talking now.) Janeane is shown using the HP Netbook in a close-up shot that crops out the gun that's probably being held to her head. I hope next season they get iPads, but by that time Apple will probably have come out with a more discreet, slimmer version called the iPon.

The designers head to Mood with a budget of $100. They are greeted by buckets of red fabric but are free to use anything they can find in the store. Emilio tells us that he's doing a cute, flirty cocktail dress, while Jesse mumbles something about a jacket. Janeane jumps up and down and yells "I have to get my boning!" Um... that's what she said?

Back at Parson's, Tim tells them they have until midnight to finish their looks and bids them adieu. He is wearing yet a new shade of pink tie, which makes me think he should start something like the red dress heart disease thing--maybe Tim Gunn's Ties For Testicular Cancer? In all seriousness, it could raise a lot of money and turn millions of heterosexual men on to the wonders pink does for the skin tone.

With four hours left in the day, Janeane dips her dress into a bucket of water (at least I hope it's water, it could be a chamber pot--we never see them in the bathroom except for that one time last season when Carol Hannah puked). "'Cause I'm Janeane and this happens to me..." she sighs. Wah, wah wah.

Tim comes back to check in. He tells Jesse that without the jacket he doesn't have very much. Anna (a former printmaker, lest we forget) has traced the Campbell's logo onto chiffon, which Tim likes. Mila has taken the star motif from Campbell's and made it a big part of her design; Tim is wowed. Jesus tells Tim that he wanted to do something tight that showed a lot of cleavage, and Tim assures him that he's succeeded in doing both. I have in my notes that "Amy wants to expose model cars," and for a few minutes I puzzled over this. Is there a conspiracy having to do with Micro Machines? Is the soap box derby world destroyed by corruption, and why does Amy care? Then of course I realized that I simply cannot type; she wanted to expose her model's scar. To paraphrase The Wizard of Oz, that's a soup of a different consistency!

"When did you go Grecian on us?" Tim asks Seth, who is working on an elegant drapey dress that would not be at home in CBGBs for a change. Seth explains that his model wanted it a certain way, and Tim advises him not to lose himself, at which point Seth practically lunges for his stash of zippers and safety pins. I feel for his poor model. Emilio, who is awful bitchy for someone with a lisp, interviews that Anna's dress has issues and Jay's is a train wreck.

It's the day of the runway show. "Not only did you survive heart disease," Anthony quips to the camera, "Now you have to survive Nina and Michael Kors and Heidi telling you how horrible I made you look in this dress!" Aw, Anthony. You're the best. Meanwhile, everyone is flipping out. Amy is crunched for time and very nervous. Ben--who never gets one second of screen time except for when he is cajoled into gently and monotonously criticizing other contestants--says that he's worried for Seth because he started over at the last minute. Jonathan observes of Jesus' short dress, "This is more of a cooter gown than a couture gown." HA. (And also, see? Cooters and heart disease do go together! And also, why hasn't Hooters expanded to include Cooters? Can I be their VP of Innovation?)

Tim comes in again with the models. Emilio bitches that Mila's dress looks like a cheap flag at the Thanksgiving Day parade. (I think he means Fourth of July, but I love it when people are both really bitchy and wrong at the same time, so let's not remind him.) Seth says that he is floored that his model looks good because he pulled his dress out of his ass. Jesus is confident, because he is 22 and doesn't know any other way. Jonathan's model says that her dress "almost makes having heart surgery worth it." You have not seen Jonathan's dress yet, but all I can say to that is HELL TO THE NO. That dress would not even make bunion surgery worth it. Jonathan describes the scene in the workroom as "a fashion emergency of Chernobyl proportions," noting that everyone is rushing to finish their garments, pressing and sewing and spitting on fabrics. We are not actually shown any spitting, which is a gross oversight on the part of the editors; isn't it practically the cardinal rule of reality television that where there are body fluids, there are cameras?

Out on the runay, Heidi introduces the judges. We have Michael Kors, who owns nothing but black crew neck shirts and black jackets and a big ol' bucket of bronzer, Nina Garcia, and guest judge Georgina Chapman of Marchesa (My friends would not believe me when I told them that she is married to Harvey Weinstein, but she totally is. I bet Harvey is a really beautiful person deep down, when he's not harassing people on their deathbeds.) Anyway, who's hungry for some Chunky soup for the soul? Here we go:



Okay, I am feeling kind of weird about bashing the dresses worn by these heart surgery survivors, so I am going to invoke a practice I learned at Camp Onas in the early 1990s. At the end of the day, my counselor would make everyone say their favorite thing about their day (their "Rose") and their least favorite thing (their "Thorn"). What can I say, my counselor Kristi was a big Poison fan.

Anyway, I'll say my Rose for each dress first so that I come off like less of a bitch.

ROSE: I like the color of the fabric and the richness of the texture. Also, the model looks super happy in it.
THORN: The ruffles and the bow belt (which is made of Campbell's logo fabric) send the dress into cotillion territory. I'm sure this woman is young, but the dress is, in my opinion, too young for her.



ROSE: Let's assume this woman is pregnant for the Rose, shall we? If she is pregnant, the dress really flatters her shape and I love the belt, at least from far away.
THORN: I don't think she's pregnant, y'all.



ROSE: Cool draping, I like the red and gold contrast, and she made a clutch out of the Campbell's logo which was not only really cute, but kept that ugly fabric off of her dress.
THORN: Why don't I just share my first impression notes with you? Ahem... "snake trying to eat boob"



ROSE: Great job, Garnier Fructis hair stylists! The silhouette of the dress is also flattering and very va-va-voom.
THORN: Ben is really sticking to his comic book roots. Is that Wonder Woman's power belt I see? Also, the Campbell's fabric ruins every dress. I'm sorry, but it's true.



ROSE: The bodice is pretty, and the Campbell's fabric is actually fairly inoffensive as part of a flower.
THORN: The bottom of this dress makes me think of the little mushroom people from Super Mario Bros. I don't like the gathering/visible second layer.



ROSE: Cute shoes!
THORN: The fit leaves a lot to be desired; I think it widens the model. Also, the graphic neckline looks almost like a trompe l'oeil shirt meant to make us think she's naked.



ROSE: In spite of myself, I like the 80s Michael Jackson sleeveless jacket.
THORN: The dress underneath is kind of blah.



ROSE: The stars work, I like the neckline, and this particular use of the Campbell's fabric does not make me want to tear my eyeballs out.
THORN: When the model walked down the runway, it felt like this needed a slit up the side; she was waddling. Also the fabric showed all of the work--too crinkly I think. Maybe it just needed a good pressing.



ROSE: I might get some flak for this, but I actually like a lot of things about this. Sure it's tight and shiny but she looks good. And I like the Joan Collins-y crystal straps. You all know my tastes run low-brow.
THORN: The Campbell's branding up the sides is kind of NASCAR-y, and I will concede that this would have worked better as a longer gown.



ROSE: This makes me think of A League of Their Own, which was actually a pretty okay movie. Whatever happened to Lori Petty?
THORN: There is crying in baseball. Crying for cropped satin jackets that do a girl no favors.



ROSE: This woman's name IS Rose, and she is clearly awesome. Look at that swagger!
THORN: This use of Campbell's branding does make me want to tear my eyeballs out, add them to my low-sodium tomato soup, and eat them.



ROSE: The bodice is divine and the fabric moves beautifully.
THORN: Yet again, the Campbell's fabric attempts sabotage. It looks like she's tied a bandana around the waist of an evening gown. Sigh.



ROSE: She is just too cute. The skirt is perfect, and the Campbell's fabric is all but hidden.
THORN: The fit of the top seems off, doesn't it? The lighting here makes it seem boxy and too big.

In general, I think that the non size 2 bodies threw everyone off (the fit, across the board, was not great) and that the Campbell's fabric was a terrible idea and an eyesore on almost all of the outfits. Not this group's strongest challenge--not even close.

Everyone returns to the runway and Heidi calls the following names: Mila, Maya, Anna, Amy, Jesse, Jesus. The designers who were not called are safe. The judges heckle the remaining contestants in the following order:

Mila: Georgina says that the dress made her smile and was fun but classic. Nina loves the use of the branding. MK says the model's body language said "Hey! I own this dress!"

Jesse: Heidi thinks the dress is sweet but doesn't stand out. MK thinks it's costumey and makes her look like a majorette, and also thinks the corsage is strange. Nina says that the use of branding was not creative. Georgina questions the white band on the waist of the dress, which is not flattering.

Jesus: MK really gives it to him. "You basically took a checklist of everything that could turn tacky," he says. "Tight red satin, short, crystal straps." Heidi, not even trying to suppress her grin, says "I'm not sure of your taste."

Amy: Nina thinks it's beautiful, and loves the fabric and the movement. She says that it feels modern and feminine. MK says it's elegant but modern.

Side note: I feel like Michael's biggest compliment is "elegant" and his favorite dis is "costumey." What happens when MK sees an elegant costume, like at the opera? Does his head explode?

Anna: Nina doesn't like the racer back silhouette. MK thinks the way it's cut makes the model look broad. Georgina feels that it's not an evening dress.

Maya: Heidi thinks it's interesting. Nina likes the draping. Georgina says that it made her want to look again. MK dubs it "interesting and elegant." (See?)

The judges deliberate. Of Anna's dress, MK says "It looks like a bag tied in the middle," and Jeff pipes up "That's how I think of Una." (He's joking of course. He just likes to get my goat. It's all part of the magic of marriage.)

Anyway, the designers finally return to the runway and Maya is the first one in. Amy, quite deservedly, wins the challenge, and when she goes backstage everyone jumps up and hugs her. Aw. Mila is in, as is Shitty LeNoir. That leaves Anna and Jesus.

It has to be Jesus. Please don't let him be the Christopher of Season 7, Lifetime!

And... it is Jesus. He is out. He's pretty shocked, and I feel bad, but this was his third strike and it was time.

Next week: Tim says that this challenge is biggest ever on Project Runway and that the reward is unprecedented. I know I'm supposed to be excited, but a build-up as vague and superlative as this makes me steel myself for a letdown. It'll probably be another Olympics challenge and the reward is having their unitard worn by The Flying Tomato or something.

Also next Friday I will be at Bryant Park (squee!) watching these designers present their final collections, so the recap will be up even later than today's was (think Saturday.) I'm sorry! But you can always tide yourselves over by reading my blog. Thanks, as always, for reading. You'll get a full report on Fashion Week soon!