Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Welcome to Week Thirteen of Project Runway—the first part of our finale. Just like in previous seasons, this penultimate episode has Tim Gunn paying awkward visits to the remaining designers' homes. These visits are important. They allow Tim to give the designers feedback on their collections and they allow us to make snide judgments about the designers' lives.
Although Tim has no say in who the show's finalists are, we have to wonder if he lobbied for Andy, just so he could scam a trip Andy's mom's home. In Hawaii. Andy's Hawaii is not the Four Seasons' Hawaii that tourists see. Surprisingly, the edgy Mohican-ed designer, grew up the son of Laos immigrants, in what looks to be a relatively poor farmhouse. There, he helped his mother work the land and feed the catfish. During Tim's visit, we learn that although there are only two weeks left until Fashion Week, Andy has barely started his collection. He's been waiting for special fabrics to arrive from Laos. Although we don't get to see Andy's collection, we do get to see a photo of his grandfather—an elephant trainer!
Next on the agenda is Michael C. Tim joins Michael and his boyfriend Richard at their home in Palm Springs. Unlike Andy, Michael has already made almost twice as many designs as he needs—all of them in brown and gray. Tim suggests that the designer stop creating outfits and start refining them. During Tim's visit, we learn that Michael's parents are very old world—after Robert outed their son to them a few years ago, they temporarily cut Michael off. Yes, as if Michael hadn't been through enough with Project Runway's Mean Girls, the designer also has to deal with parents who don't support his design work and want him to get married again. To another woman. What part of, "Likes to design clothes and sleep with men," don't they understand?
And speaking of designers who could have used those "It Gets Better" videos when they were growing up, we're off to Denver, where Tim pays a visit to Mondo and his family. Mondo's Catholic parents explain that they tried to raise their son to be more macho, but it just didn't take. These days, they're obviously trying to be supportive, despite the fact that neither Mondo's bright pink living room nor his colorfully whimsical collection, inspired by vintage circuses and the Day of the Dead, could ever be described as "macho."
If Tim were coming to our house with cameras, we'd probably spend as much time cleaning it, as we would preparing our collection. Initially, we think that's what Gretchen and her mother are doing, but then we realize they're actually packing up her house. It seems that while Gretchen was off filming Project Runway, her partner decided to end their relationship. This, according to Gretchen, left her broke down and busted as well as homeless. Tim tells Gretchen that many years ago, when he lived in Washington DC, he too went through a terrible break up. Gretchen seems inspired when Tim tells her that the happy outcome of that break up, was his move to New York City. Fortunately, Tim doesn't mention that he's never entered into another relationship since then. Gretchen's collection is pretty much what you'd expect: Western styles mixed with tribal prints—creating a separates safari-type look. Other words we could use to describe it are "Putumayo" and "granola."
Next we're off to New York where the designers find themselves happily ensconced in a spacious suite at the Hilton. Happily, that is, until they head over to the workroom and learn that there's a twist. Tim informs the designers that they will each bring two looks from their collection, plus one new look that they must now make, to the runway. Based on these looks, Michael, Nina and Heidi will decide which three designers will go on to Fashion Week. Initially, the designers all panic, but eventually they manage to make outfits that are as strong as, and in some cases even stronger than, the other items in their collections.
The three designers who get to show at Fashion Week are: Mondo with his playful circus attire, which the judges hope he can reign in a bit for the tents; Andy, whose sexy gray and chartreuse designs invoke love and hate from the judges; And Gretchen who is chosen, despite the many granola and Birkenstock references the judges make about her collection. Perhaps Lifetime insisted that there be at least one estrogen fueled collection in The Tents.
Sadly, Michael Costello is out of the competition. The judges fear he'll give them an all brown collection (which judging from what we saw of his decoy collection, is actually what they would have gotten). Michael has the most dramatic breakdown we've ever seen on the show. He's like a little kid who cries so long and hard that you can't even understand what they're saying. This anguish comes from his dashed desire to show his unsupportive parents that he had what it takes to make it in fashion.
And our As Tears Go By count is yet another sob-a-palooza, Michael C cries twice, as do both Andy and Mondo. Gretchen only cries one. These seven crying jags, added to our previous total, make for sixty nine crying jags for the season.
So who do you think will win next week?
And now for this week's Top Ten Moments of Project Runway Greatness...
10). Andy feels "a little guilty" that he got the last spot over Michael C. He shouldn't. He should feel "a lot" guilty about being bitchy to him during the season.
9). In honor of Halloween, Michael Kors looks more orange than ever
8). One hour into the episode, Lifetime shows a commercial which spoils which designers will be competing at Fashion Week. We suspect Michael C won't be the only one auf'ed from this episode.
7). When Gretchen says her relationship broke up, we're startled—to learn she had one.
6). Upon hearing that Mondo was forced to play sports as a child, Tim says, "We are kindred spirits. I was always the last kid picked on the softball team." Sadly, they don't show a photo of a young Tim dressed in a child-size business suit and batting helmet.
5). Gretchen says "I'm doing some risky things...leather in Spring...knitwear." Doesn't "risky" generally entail taking some kind of risk?
4). Heidi wears her bangs to the side, which makes her look a lot younger. Yeah right, it's the bangs.
3). Andy makes runway head pieces which look like the antennas of space alien. Stylish space aliens.
2). Gretchen implies that watching herself on Project Runway has been humbling. Happily, we do notice that her behavior this episode is much improved. Perhaps Project Runways cameras should start following Christine O'Donnell.
1). Tim Gunn yelps in fear at the thought of holding one of Andy's catfish.