Rubbernecking: Project Runway Episode 8, "A Rough Day on the Runway"

First an apology that I dropped off the face of the planet last week and was unable to rubberneck Episode 7. Real life and my job intervened as I had to leave town for a few days for a certain Film Festival taking place in a border country. Suffice it to say that, although I felt sure it was inevitable, I felt bad to see Casanova go. He brought a certain je ne sais quoi? to the show that was quite hilarious. Also I very much enjoyed seeing Michael Kors make the rounds with Tim in the workroom. He seemed to be in his element with that added dimension and was completely engaged in the critiques. It was kinda fun to watch. And April's win was nice. Her black gothy babydoll outfit was cute, even if it did look like Bonjour, Tristesse on acid.

This week the show begins with everyone (OK, Ivy and Michael D) tweezing their eyebrows in their pocket hand mirrors. Michael C dishes on Ivy to Andy and honestly, I can no longer feel sorry for him as he appears to be waxing more devilish by the day. A little faux Bo Diddley beat is the musical bed as the designers leave their digs for Parsons to hear about their newest challenge. Gretchen to camera: "You never know what's going to happen on this show. All I know is I don't want to be forced into making a corset."

Gretchen's corset face

The group joins Tim who is standing in front of a collage of photos of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in different outfits. La Gunn explains that their challenge this week is to create a look that is your own take on classic American sportswear, using Jackie O as their inspiration. They'll have 30 minutes to sketch and a budget of $150 at Mood to shop with. Interesting. Whereas Peach might have actually shone at this, this group doesn't have Jackie O's aesthetic ingrained into their personal zeitgeist. Good thing they have the collage up there on the wall to refer to.

By the way I need to divulge here that Mondo (swoon) is nattily attired today in a red and black striped sweater and the cutest black and white tights. See below.


Christopher feels he has it in the bag, because classic American sportswear is what he does. Andy's worried that his aesthetic is imbued with Asian influences which might not mix well in this particular challenge (duh) but Jackie O was a risk-taker without even knowing it (his words) so "it's going to be a statement piece."

Tim reminds them before he lets them loose at Mood to "think quality taste style sophistication elegance... expensive." Mondo reminds us that the fabrics speak to him, "those bolts of fabric have voices and they say come over and pick me up and I usually do." This time he hears the dulcet tones of a bright purple and black houndstooth and I like where he's going with this. Meanwhile, at the cash register, Michael D is having second thoughts, which never portends well: "Crap! Did I make the right choice?"

Back in the workroom, Michael C is hamming it up in the sewing room with a swath of gold fabric around his head, very Sophie's Choice meets September Issue. "I think it's very Jackie O, don't you?" he giggles. Full disclosure: I'm really over him, and wouldn't care a fig if he was ejected at this point.


Gretchen's oversharing as usual, this time she's "concerned" about Mondo's look. She feels that because of the materials he chose, he "might not be hitting the nail on the head with this one." (Snicker...sorry, can't help it given the eventual end of this episode). Meanwhile Mondo is worried about his original design so he decides to make a skirt and top instead.

Michael D opines that "this is either going to be really good or really bad." He doesn't like sportswear so wants to make a look that is a little dressier using sportswear fabric. Oh, my. I really don't like where this is going. Meanwhile Valerie is hysterical over his quips. "He's the funny that I wish I could be."

"For this challenge I decided to channel the earliest Americans - the Puritans," Michael D intones (still sporting his Butterfly McQueen headscarf by the way), pretending he's defending himself before the judges. His outfit is looking more and more like a 1960's version of Big Love, sans bonnet (Also, per Christopher, The Crucible). "I'm not sure what's going on but I really really don't care at this point because I think I'm losing my mind."

Valerie tells us that she feels like she is "the Susan Lucci of the show. I've been in the top like four times and have not won a challenge yet." Sadly I feel Valerie's glory days are behind her after the last few weeks, and she has to really step it up to matter again. I no longer feel like she'll make it to the end, though I hope she makes a turnaround. Mondo tells the camera that Valerie has to get feedback from everyone on her work and her design decisions, which is the kiss of death. Confidence is everything on this show (and in life, come to think of it).

Ivy thinks that some of the other contestants "don't really know what sportswear is." "To me Michael C's look looks very cocktail and I would have to say the same thing for Christopher's." Meanwhile Michael C is draping the aforementioned gold scarf around his blue backless dress and asking Andy, "That looks too flight attendant stewardess doesn't it?" Andy says kind of but he's not all that concerned because it is, after all, a competition. And everyone is still hoping for Michael C to slip up and be gone.

Meanwhile, Andy - oh Andy. He's working on a pair of huge cargo pants that even he admits he could fit into one leg with his model. He declares, "a fashion forward person takes risks." Which means he's going five hundred miles an hour, I guess.

Tim arrives for his mentoring check-in. As he takes a look at Christopher's form fitting dress, April shares to camera that it looks like her grandmother's clothes, which I take to mean that her grandmother is very similar to, say, Lily van der Woodsen Bass on Gossip Girl. Tim thinks Valerie's fitted-almost-a-legging pant could be "pretty vulgar" and she should "be very mindful of the fit." Michael C has whipped up two dresses because he's worried that one might be too cocktail but actually they both are and don't resemble sportswear in the least little bit. OK, we get it - you can sew fast. (Even if Valerie does say later your looks are very Donna Karan).

Tim likes Andy's experiment, which I have to say is the best word for it. "It's a very beautifully draped cargo pant. It's you." He's not very into Michael D's look and we get the famed Tim Gunn hand to mouth face. "I mean, the more I look at this it's Annie Oakley, it's Annie Get Your Gun" both references probably zing over Michael D's head in the same way that Jackie O must have if he really believes she would ever have worn something like this). Michael D comes back with "I don't want people to think she's also got a ruler and she beats children, do you know what I'm saying, I mean it could go there" to which Tim doubles over in laughter and then whispers "that could be the other side of her."

Mondo's calling his fetching outfit "First Lady Fabric" then "First Tranny." YES! April shares that Jackie Kennedy would never wear Andy's weird pants. "I don't care what time period it is." Late in the day Exhaustion Giggles are setting in as Andy puts a black lace mask around Michael D's eyes. "Michael Drummond, I can't tell if I should be harvesting wheat, or smacking you with it," Gretchen intones, channeling La Klum. "All of a sudden, it's Prairie Home Sex Shop."

Ivy is so behind with everything she can't even give her model something to try on, and her buddy Gretchen tells the camera that she thinks Ivy is a "beautiful tailor," but doesn't think of her as "one of the more forward designers in the room." I'm now allowing myself to fantasize about the next season when the show will no doubt have Gretchen blog episodes in the same way that Laura Bennett is doing now. That will be worth reading, n'est ce pas?

When our little friends rise and shine for the runway day the next morning, April thinks the girls are all in the clear, and that Andy's look is "more Jackie Yo! than Jackie O." Michael C is buttering Andy up by telling him that the judges will think if Jackie O was alive today, she'd probably wear pants like Andy's because she was such a risk-taker. Yeah, right.

Mondo, meanwhile, is dressed in a pink shirt and tie, a denim vest, and a cute little blue knit newsboy cap. His roommates, Michael D and Christopher, think he kind of looks like Jackie O "if she came back as a tranny." And off they go to Parsons.

As the usual runway morning madness ensues, Tim enters the room to make an announcement. "I'm so happy about this little twist you have no idea!" It turns out they have to create an outerwear item to go with their look, 15 minutes of sketch time and another budget of $150 for Mood. Michael D is pleased because as a knitwear designer, "I am Captain Outerwear" (remember this later).

Mondo's not hearing the fabrics talk too clearly this time. He's a little bit deer in the headlights. Michael C picks out a roll of fabric and Gretchen comes over and takes it right out of his hands, saying, "I'm grabbing that actually." The color is oatmeal, which may as well be renamed Gretchen, since it's a staple of her palette. Michael C tells the camera he could have been a bitch about her grabbing the fabric out of his hands, but he rises above that kind of stuff. Christopher is having a crisis de coeur about using leather, but he thinks it's his only option as the other stuff he could use for a shrug looks too cheap. He later wonders if the leather was male or female, and reveals he has never sewn leather before.

Gretchen likes Michael D's jacket on top of his Big Love skirt which tells me he is irrevocably doomed. (Spoiler alert - he is). Michael C made a beige jacket but he feels it looks like a terrycloth towel so he has to make another look. Gretchen tells the camera that in every challenge, Michael C creates multiple outfits and waits until Tim comes in and tells him what to do. "He has no conviction or vision." Mondo feels like Harry Potter as he tries out the cape cloak he made. Christopher: "You are Harry Potter."

Tim Time. He is very concerned about Michael D's skirt. "I had it on my model yesterday and it looked really good," says MD. Tim obviously does not believe this. "It did? The skirt?" He shakes his head and puts his head in his hand. Michael D reveals to us the Gauges of Tim Gunn.

There's this one

This one

And this one

To Andy, Tim kvells, "this is the most you you've been all season." But he is concerned about the crotch. "Jackie Kennedy would not have a camel toe." Michael C brags that he made three jackets, oh yeah, and three other dresses too. Eyebrows are raised and you could cut the disdain in the air with a pair of pinking shears. Tim tells Christopher that his dress is so form-fitting "it looks kind of anemic." Christopher tells us "a little piece of my soul is dying every second."

As runway day dawns, Michael D is freaking. "I don't want to go home, that's all I'm asking, please don't send me home." Mondo says kindly, "I don't think you're going home, Michael Drummond" and tells camera that he thinks Michael D is probably the most artistic designer in the group. (Alas, not this time.) Christopher loves Mondo's runway day outfit, which is kind of like he stepped out of the Lollipop Guild in the Wizard of Oz. He says it was inspired by the Cotton Club. Michael D says he'll give him a dollar if he'll tap dance, so Mondo gives us a little soft shoe. He's wearing a white t-shirt and suspenders, little black shorts, black and white knee socks, a chunky punky stud bracelet, mascara, and has his hair lacquered in place.

Here's an awesome gif of Mondo tapdancing created by those fantastically creative people over at Jezebel.

At the workroom, Tim comes in to recite the litany of product placements and send in the models. The usual backbiting and Michael C hating commences, Andy worries about the crotch of his cargo pants not fitting, smokey eyes all around in the makeup room, Christopher worries about the shrug he made, and ten minutes before the runway the zipper in Mondo's skirt breaks and he almost loses it. Gretchen shares with us that she's concerned about "50 percent of the room...Andy's is pure Andy but doesn't read Jackie at all...Michael C's is a cocktail dress with a mom jacket over it....Christopher's outer piece is just odd." She's of the mind that more than three could be in the bottom this time.

Hey by the way it looks like some great footage ended up on the cutting room floor this week of Andy trying on April's look. Quite possibly in the Exhaustion Giggles timeframe last night.


The guest judge this week is Mad Men actress January Jones, who knows a thing or two about period piece clothing, one would think. Heidi starts the show.

He thinks it hit all the notes and is pleased. I think it's pretty much a snoozefest but does fit beautifully and the dress, at least, channels Jackie well. You're cute and safe, CC, and I think there's something there but in future you better step it up big time to stand out from the madding crowd (And they are. Madding that is).

Seems very gothy vampire to me (and very April). She's happy with it and thinks it fulfilled the challenge. I can't really see Ms. Onassis in this number at all though perhaps the Vampire Queen of Louisiana from True Blood would like it, but c'est moi. I never thought you'd make it this far, Savannah Girl. I'm watching you closely.

Ivy's all puffed up thinking it's very original, different, expensive looking, even stupendous. It gets the Gretchen seal of approval. The sunglasses and chignon certainly don't hurt.

He's a little nervous, since it's clearly a cocktail dress. He thinks the model looks great. Again with the schizoid hem. This is really ugly, and that jacket doesn't match in the least. Again color me surprised that he gets away with this.

She feels good about this, I'm quizzical as to me this is as far off the mark as Andy's look in a whole different way. January Jones has a bit of a knitted brown in a reaction shot. Earth to Gretchen: get over yourself. Your two wins are now far in the past, and you're way too obsessed with this beige/oatmeal/fawn palette. The writing's on the wall, sister.

Nina has a face on her you don't ever want Nina to have - kind of like she's figuring out a math problem. Michael D must have seen this because he perceptively whispers, Oh God I'm dead, and then Bye Guys to the group. To which they all nervously laugh.

She honestly thinks this looks good. I will now officially declare that my love affair with Valerie's work is over. Ish! I'm still rooting for you, sort of, and hope you pull out of this slump you've been in.

He is sweating because the fit is really off on the crotch area but he thinks it's great overall. Oy vey ismir!

He is 150 percent happy with the look and says "I think I'm gonna win this one." Earlier, Michael D told the camera "if you took Jackie Kennedy to the desert and gave her some mescaline to eat then you would have Jackie Kennedy in Mondo." Oh yes and oh yes.

The judges declare Michael C, April, and Gretchen to be safe. (Wait, what? Gretchen? How long is she going to get away with this sub par crap??!) In the dishing area Michael C tells April and Gretchen he is astounded, he really thought he might go home for sending down a cocktail dress with a denim jacket on the runway. He smarmily brown-noses Gretchen, telling her that he could imagine Jackie Kennedy in her outfit so he doesn't understand why she is merely safe and then turns around and tells the camera it's total bullshit, he doesn't think JK would ever wear any of those pieces.

Back out on the runway the following designers are ready to face the music: Valerie, Christopher, Michael D, Mondo, Ivy, and Andy. Valerie's up first. The judges are curious as to why she put a jacket over a jacket. MK says "it has no impact at all, it's just sad looking." Valerie says she wanted to keep it really simple, to which MK returns, "Simple doesn't mean boring." Heidi finds the colors drag it down even further. January says "the ankle boot confuses me with that length of skirt." Nina's all, "any time that you want to make a design reference it's pleating and zippers...some of the best things are very simple and have no design gimmicks to them." And take THAT, Susan Lucci!

January loves Christopher's dress, "this was my favorite." They all like the dress, but the wrap well not so much. Heidi says it looks like a dirty old rug. They all agree it looks better without.

Michael D is next. He states that he wanted to make something modern but something that could also transcend to the past. Whaaa? MK goes in for the kill: "She's an old lady on top and a cheerleading ice skater on the bottom. I'm mesmerized that you can take the inspiration of a woman who frankly looked fabulous for four decades and now suddenly she's in a mall. The skirt is so unbelievably unflattering, the top underneath the jacket is just an insane concept - that you would think that that has anything to do with American sportswear. I think it's insulting." The others aren't quite as stinging, but they all echo MK's concerns. Not flattering, surprised, top doesn't fit, it looks sloppy, etc.

Next up on the chopping block only not really: Mondo. Even Heidi has noticed how cute he looks today in his outfit. She jokes that she wants to hear all about his look but she means his look, not the model's. Mondo reveals that he has a photo of Jackie Kennedy in his kitchen. (Whew! Someone in the group actually had a preconceived idea of JK!) Mondo was very observant that last week on the runway his look was called cheap, so he wanted to make sure this week that didn't happen. Heidi loves the plum fabric inside the cape jacket which perfectly matches the houndstooth skirt. "It's fun, yet it's still elegant and chic," quoth Nina. "Really well done," January chimes in. By all accounts, a home run.

Mondo's Look and Mondo's Look

They all like Ivy's look too, except for the jacket - not so much. Ivy agrees that the coat is too small. January loves the tailoring, the seam on the blouse, the twisted tuxedo pant. Nina says it was smart to keep the palette black and white and she loves the shoes. They all like the outfit without the sheer gray jacket, which Heidi feels confuses the eye. "There's almost too much design in the top."

Andy is next. This critique makes Michael D's look like the reception to a big dinner. Andy tells the judges that he felt there was a chicness about Jackie O, she wasn't afraid to have her own style, hence of course his look which veers into the realm of cray-cray. Heidi starts by saying she is having a hard time keeping it together because "I want to burst out and crack up, especially for this challenge, to come up with this? I feel like I'm on a different planet....I don't see it at all. At all. At all." (yes, she repeats this three times) MK moves in, "I mean come on, if someone said to me the inspiration was MC Hammer meets the Beverly Hillbillies' Grandmother, I mean that's what that looks like. The fit is horrific. And then the ankle boot, I mean come on!" La Klum agrees the boots look like they're from the 1800's. (It's called Steampunk, kids) MK on the boots, "It's like she's making soap or something."


Nina asks Andy to take "the terrible vest" off the model. Andy does. "This is just a trainwreck," sighs NG. MK twists the knife by saying Andy obviously had a problem with the silk jersey of the top also, it's not fitted enough to be fitted and it's not draped enough to be draped. "It looks like a mistake." Andy: "I did want to take a risk, so...." MK responds, "Oh, you took one."

At this point the group traipses off to the dishing area allowing the judges to further slice and dice. Obviously they hated Valerie's look (boring, nothing special, no design, no imagination), Andy's (ill fitting, ill appropriate, from top to toe it's a mess) (they also question why the model is wearing Nicole Kidman's boots from Cold Mountain and her hairstyle from Far and Away), and Michael D's (terribly unflattering, overthought, ill fitting).

They liked Christopher's dress though they hated the shrug (Heidi called it "a dirty dish rag" in her notes), Ivy (sleek and elegant, she's stepping up especially from the first week when she made that hideous flimsy gray blouse with Peach's print pants - but the jacket this week doesn't work), and Mondo (clean, classic, chic, outside the box).

To no one's surprise (especially mine) Mondo is named the "clear winner" of this challenge. Christopher and Ivy are safe in a good way. Andy is safe but just squeaking by, and he's still inexplicably pleased as punch with his look. The bottom two are Valerie and Michael D. Valerie is told that she missed the mark in a big way by Heidi, "Your look did not read chic sportswear" but rather "badly executed mallwear." To Michael D, she says, "your look was an unfortunate mismatch and your proportions were way off. The top was ill fitting and the bottom was bulky and unflattering. And no woman wants that silhouette." Michael D is out.

Tim comes in to the dishing area to wish him goodbye and good luck and "that damn skirt!" Michael D is resigned, but "at the end of the day I had to do what I wanted to do" to which Tim says, "you did, you stand by it and it was your Waterloo." Michael D: "I have to go look that up now."

Upstairs he goes to clean up his space and pack up his little Virgin Mary statue.

And sew it goes!

Next week: Drama! (I know, I know. That never happens)

Project Runway airs Thursday nights at 9pm ET on Lifetime TV.