This week’s installment of Project Runway remind us in some ways that the show is no better than Drag Race: Sure, they have Emmy noms, an actual product budget, and better-known sponsors. But Heidi Klum isn’t above forcing her contestants to hawk glitter-covered t-shirts on the streets of New York to make some do-re-mi for a challenge they haven’t even been clued in on.
Yup, this week the designers weren’t given a fabric budget—they were given a pile of crafts and had to sell totes and t-shirts on the streets without knowing what they’d eventually be creating. But “haggle for as much money as possible” was an obvious goal.
Oh, and they had to do this in random teams of three. I say “random,” because Tim alleged he just pulled their names out of a button bag. But I only saw one button—and it had no name on it. Were the producers trying to manufacture drama? I’m not gonna say that, but it is funny how mortal enemies and countrymen Dmitry and Elena ended up on the same team.
The groups were eventually told to create two fall looks (it’s already fall? damn!)—including one piece of outwear. Overall, the money collected didn’t factor that much: The team with the highest budget ended up on the chopping block. (Go figure!)
Fabio / Ven / Melissa, $800.48 Budget
This trio haggled their way into having the highest budget, even if their frumpy ununified collection suggests otherwise. Anna Sui, guest judge and teamwork whisperer, felt that their failure came from being too agreeable. There wasn’t a critical eye asking, “Hmm… does Fabio’s sheer top look atrocious or just bad?” Or, “Should we really dress our woman like she never leaves her condo?” The only high point was Melissa’s white jacket. Well, that and Tim Gunn suggesting they axe Ven’s layered skirt because it didn’t work well with others. (Yup, I’m still hating on Ven.)
Christopher/Gunnar/ Sonjia ($684 budget)
High Scores, Winner: Sonjia
Evil fraternal twins Christopher and Gunnar were supposed to be season-long rivals, but begging people for money is apparently the kind of experience that brings people together.
Once it got down to business, though, this group had a lot of fake-panic about their collection: Elena compared Christopher’s coat to a Snuggie, Sonjia’s jacket seemed only appropriate for a video-game character, and Gunnar was convinced that his two dresses were the glue holding the collections together.
But by the runway show… perfection! When asked who should be the winning designer, both Christopher and Gunnar thought it should be Gunnar, even if he kind of misused the word “pugnacious” in nominating himself. Sonjia, so impressed with herself and her green coat, believed she earned the win. The judges agreed with her, and so do I—although I’m biased toward anything that references Legend of Zelda (even if its unintentionally).
Elena/Alicia/ Dmitry, $500 budget
Low Scores, Out: Alicia
This team was doomed from the start: Elena, Crazy Queen of Oversize Coats, terrorizes anyone just by standing near them. Dmitry, King of the Dress, insisted on designing the entire look for one model (though he could have saved a lot of time by buying the shawl at a tailgate). And although Alicia allegedly specializes in pants, all of these challenges she’s yet to make an exceptional pair.
My favorite part of this episode was the reaction to Dmitry putting exposed darts (a.k.a. folds of fabric) on his dress. He might as well have said, “I took baby puppy and brutally murdered it. Now we have headpiece!” [Editor's note: A close second had to be Dmitry telling Elena on the runway that "you wake up angry." We imagine Elena arguing and punching in her sleep.]
Elena’s coat still didn’t come together by the runway show, but it wasn’t any worse than the incredibly yawn-worthy pants and shirt by Alicia, who got herself “aufed.” So long, lady—Your crazy dreadlocks and deadpan fantasticness will be missed!
Jason Sweeten is a contributing writer for Queerty. He’d be so bad at begging strangers to pay $20 for his crappy T-shirts that he’d just design everything with muslin.
Photos: Barbara Nitke.