Saturday, March 9, 2013

Project Runway Season 11 Episode 7

This week's episode was an exercise in misdirection. Heidi sets the tone by introducing the challenge while accompanied by a duck on a leash. Once they get to the workroom, all is revealed - they are to make duck tape (a specific brand of duct tape) dresses! Specifically, prom dresses - and they will even have to be judged by actual high school students, whose votes will count towards 20% of their score.

Additionally, the pairs get mixed up again. Since Stanley won last time, he gets first pick. Richard enjoyed working together with him, so is miffed when Stanley chooses Layana. Then it's to the button bag to see who gets to pick next. Kate is relieved to be next, so that she can re-up with Tu. Amanda privately accuses her of simply being strategic, in the sense that since Tu seems to be the weaker designer between the two, Kate is in little danger of being eliminated, but Kate doesn't seem to have any such deviousness in mind. Michelle chooses Amanda, and Richard chooses Daniel, leaving Patricia and Samantha paired up - to Samantha's dismay.

There are many many different colors and patterns of tape available. Richard immediately grabs ALL of the gold tape, so that nobody else can have it. Everyone else is annoyed, leading to a whole cycle of whispered catty comments. Michelle and Amanda snicker that Richard and Daniel are just going to make a pantsuit, or a Miss America dress, so there's nothing to worry about.

We are given a little peek into the new pair dynamics. Kate points out that Layana is bossing around Stanley.   Stanley points out that Kate is bossing around Tu. Tu is quite happy to defer to Kate, since Kate is not all that far, temporally speaking, from her own prom, and Tu has never been to a prom at all. Michelle and Amanda have completely different, mutually horrifying, suggestions for what patterns to use (camo! blarg! tie-dye! whoaaa!), and finally decide to make their own oversized houndstooth with red and black tape.

Patricia has once again gone into textile creation mode for the skirt of the dress, layering and fraying black, blue, and silver tape. Samantha doesn't trust her, is freaking out about how long it will take and what it's really going to look like, and is frantically making a top after top to try to match by the time Tim arrives. Tim doesn't make her feel better by referring to the look as "Bride of the Tin Woodsman." He does like how Stanley and Layana's, and Michelle and Amanda's, are shaping up. Kate feels good about their dress, but Tim thinks it is too flat and forgettable.

There are several recurring themes among the comments of the designers about each other's work - Kate/Tu's is too boring. Stanley/Layana's and Samantha/Patricia's are too weird/silly. Michelle/Amanda's doesn't look like a prom dress. (Even Tu says this, with a startling amount of sass - suddenly he's an expert now?) Samantha liked Richard/Daniel's gold dress until they started adding ruffles around the bottom.

At the end of the day, they are taken to a high school gym, where a group of what must be some of the most close-mouthed teens in NYC (to have not posted any spoilers about this at the time!!) is waiting to put their votes in. We get a few very quick reaction shots. Amanda/Michelle - one girl laughing. Stanley/Layana - four girls nodding, and another quirking her eyebrows. Daniel/Richard - a Luna Lovegood lookalike with a blank expression. Kate/Tu - two different groups looking reflective. Samantha/Patricia - one girl doubling over with laughter.

Then there is a little social segment, where the kids get to chat with the designers and see the dresses up close before voting. Amanda and Michelle get hardly any traffic, but they still stand behind the design as it is. Patricia and Samantha's concoction is actually getting a good amount of positive attention, even though Daniel says it looks like a Jiffy Pop, and even Patricia calls it "a praying mantis - a city alien!"

The next morning they have the usual short amount of time before the runway show, but nobody makes any notable changes to their gowns. It turns out that Patricia and Samantha did get the most number of votes from the students! I wish we could have gotten a more specific breakdown of the voting.

For the regular judging, the judges are not fond of Kate and Tu's long denim-patterned mermaid gown or of Daniel and Richard's gold eighties ruffled sheath. In essence the criticism boils down the to fact that even though they are suitable PROM dresses (of varied shades of datedness), they are not really very interesting DUCK TAPE dresses. Those two pairs had tried to pretend they were working with fabric instead of tape, so the material ended up working against them and just looking like meh versions of regular dresses. Kate and Tu's is no fun and old- (or as Nina would have it, "OOOOOooooooold-") fashioned. Daniel and Richard's looks like it's from 20 years ago, and the interesting faux-lacing detail, being on the side, is inevitably hidden under the model's arms.

The other three pairs, whose dresses on a general scale seem overly colorful and odd, are more favorably judges because they are far more tuned to the medium of the challenge (rather than the proposed usage). Nina loves Samantha and Patricia's blue and silver poofball. I must admit the appeal escapes me - the shape of the skirt makes it look like it got wedged up between the model's legs. Nina thinks it looks like something Katy Perry would wear, though guest judge Chris Benz does say it has proportion issues.

Heidi loves the giant big pink bow on Harvey and Layana's petticoated black and white confection. Of Michelle and Amanda's houndstooth punk dress, the judges say that it looks like the wearer would be friends with Harvey and Layana's - though probably a bad influence on her. Alternatively, if Katy Perry did wear Samantha and Patricia's, then they think Gwen Stefani would wear this one.

Whew, that could be the highest rate of names I've ever written in a paragraph. In any case, Michelle and Amanda's is named as the winning dress - and Michelle gets the win, since the graphic pattern was largely her idea and work.

Kate and Tu are at the very bottom. The whole project was very clearly Kate's idea and execution, with Tu just doing work as directed by Kate. The judges debate - who should be eliminated? The one who's vision produced such a poor output, or the one who had no voice at all and no "design" contribution?

It seems we have the answer when the hapless Tu is eliminated. But then the final shocker - Kate is also out as well! Those crafty producers - usually if they do a double elimination, they hype it up for weeks ahead of time. This time, they're putting us all on notice that anything could happen. (DUN DUN DUN.)

Next time: outfits for male strippers. Yeah.

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