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Project Runway 4, Episode 8 Unbuttoned – Couture Hilarityby Jenn Brasler -- 01/23/2008
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This week’s challenge was definitely one of the best we’ve ever seen on Project Runway. Usually the challenges have very tight rules: make it for this person, or make it for this event, or make it out of this type of material - oh, but don’t forget to put your point of view in it, and make sure it costs less than $20, and make sure Michael Kors can wear it to the Kentucky Derby. This week things were a lot more open - here’s your inspiration, here’s your style, now go to it.
Avant-garde is, unsurprisingly, Chris’ forte. It was almost as if the challenge creators love him as much as I do and wanted to give him a challenge that almost guaranteed he would be successful. The fact that the designers had to pair up for the challenge could have thrown a wrench in the works, but Chris lucked out by being paired with Christian, one of the few remaining designers who would trust Chris’ abilities and allow him to go wild. Christian even recognized in an interview that he was in a good position having been put together with Chris - Chris does avant-garde all the time, and Christian couldn’t have asked for a better partner.
Ricky probably couldn’t have asked for a better partner in Kit either. She’s so laidback that I bet she could work well with anyone (yes, even Rami). I think Kit just wants to create designs, no matter what limitations are placed on her in a challenge. Make a dress out of shredded wheat? Okay, cool, I’ll start right now. Make a men’s suit out of a refrigerator box? Sure - do you mind if it’s striped? Fortunately for Kit, Ricky didn’t experience any of his usual emotional issues this week, but if he had, I bet she would have been able to calm him down immediately and move on.
So it’s too bad Kit was eliminated, because she really was one of the most versatile designers left in the competition. Not only were her designs excellent, but she worked well with the others and knew how to encourage and give helpful feedback. Kit was the perfect leader for Ricky to work with because when she handed out responsibilities, she did it in such a way that it didn’t even seem like she was handing out responsibilities. She didn’t order, she suggested - “hey, Ricky, how about you work on the top of the dress while I work on the skirt?” I’m sure Ricky respected her and her leadership, but in a way, she was also covering herself in case things went wrong - he wouldn’t be able to say that she was a harsh dictator, but rather that they worked together on every aspect of the challenge.
Kit definitely didn’t deserve to go this week. Instead, I think it should have been Rami, whose subtle arrogance and over-seriousness are making me like him less and less with each minute he’s on screen. Why did he have to be paired up with poor Sweet P? She’s so gentle and, as her name states, sweet; why couldn’t Rami just go easier on her? She really was trying her best, as she has been this whole competition. Rami is obviously on a different level, and he should have recognized that Sweet P needs a little more guidance and, at times, handholding. Instead, he barked orders at her and berated her. How does that make her work better?
In addition, Nina Garcia and I both noted that Rami’s dresses all look the same. His and Sweet P’s avant-garde dress (which - I’m sorry - did not look avant-garde, and what’s up with the pants?) looked way too much like his dress from the first challenge, as well as similar to his prom dress from last week. Of course, he did win the first challenge, so maybe he keeps bringing that style back because he knows the judges liked it… the first time. He should have learned last week that it’s not working for him anymore and he needs to try something new.
In case I didn’t already love Sweet P enough, she seemed to be the only designer who really understood how to pick a model this week. Many of the designers chose models they’d either worked with before or wanted to work with. (And why is Lea in so much demand? She’s been traded around more times than a rookie baseball card.) Sweet P, however, chose her model based on her hairstyle - which was exactly the point of the challenge. The hairstyle was the inspiration for this challenge, and Sweet P picked the hairstyle (not the model) she wanted to design around. It’s like picking a muse - you don’t pick the one you like the most, you pick the one who will inspire you. I’m glad Sweet P got that.
Jillian and Victorya showed this week that neither of them should probably work on a team ever again. Remember the bad-fashion group challenge? They were two of the designers who had problems with their teams then, too. I think their personalities (and yes, I guess I have to admit that Jillian actually has one) just aren’t conducive to collaboration. They both have such strong ideas about what they want that they’re both unwilling to compromise - and when two people can’t compromise, things blow up.
Victorya and Jillian were very lucky that things worked out in their favor. Without that awesome coat, they would have been in a lot of trouble. Remember when Tim visited and they admitted they hadn’t even started their second piece yet, even though there were just a couple of hours left in the first day? That’s a really, really bad sign. Time management is very important in design, especially on this show, where if you’re unable to finish within the time constraints of a challenge, you’ll be reamed on the runway. With two pairs of hands, Jillian and Victorya could have easily split up their responsibilities and figured something out. The problem is that their avant-garde outfit had three pieces (jacket, shirt, and pants), which was way too much. The coat was really all they needed.
The women’s other main problem was that neither of them wanted to lead, and so when Jillian became the leader, she didn’t want to take control. They were both too worried about doing poorly and winding up in the bottom two, in which case the team leader would be the one called out and possibly eliminated. But remember, Victorya won last week and had immunity this week. She should have stepped up to be the leader, knowing that even if they did poorly, she couldn’t be eliminated. Then they could have focused on doing the work and not worrying about how it might turn out. Stressing about being eliminated is the quickest way to screw up and have your worries realized.
So we’re left with seven designers - Chris, Christian, Rami, Jillian, Victorya, Ricky, and Sweet P. I’m pleasantly surprised that Chris has made it this far, especially since he’s already been eliminated. I was worried that if he ever made another mistake, he’d be out, but he’s not only managed to hold on, he’s exceeded expectations.
In the beginning I thought Rami was a shoe-in for the finals, but now I’m not so sure. I think he’s in a lot of danger, especially since he keeps landing in the bottom. This is allowing Jillian and Victorya to really shine, and I can see the two of them, Chris, and Christian comprising the final four. Ricky and Sweet P most likely won’t make it much further in the competition, and I don’t think Rami will either, unless he gets out of his rut and starts shining again. He has an uphill battle, and with so few designers left, I’m not sure he’ll be able to fight it.
Jenn Brasler is an Associate Editor of Reality News Online and an aspiring writer from Falls Church, Virginia. By day she works for a court reporting firm, and by night she’s a spy for a covert branch of the CIA. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Christian loses ten points for misusing the word “literally.”
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