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Ep. 2 From Safety Pins to Billboards: The Marie Claire Woman

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Welcome to week two of the War and Peace of reality shows, the ninety minute Project Runway. Heidi kicks things off by introducing returning guest Joanna Coles, Marie Claire's Editor in Chief. The two assign the designers their task for the week, creating an ensemble for "the Marie Claire woman," whom they define as " forward...confident and sexy." A woman, who unlike Vogue's subscribers, actually wants to read text. The winner of this challenge will get their look featured on a Marie Claire billboard in Times Square. This honor is greater than it would have been in the city's pre-Giuliani days, when the billboard might have ended up hanging next to signs for The Gaiety burlesque theater.

The designers are ecstatic about the challenge and immediately dive into their work, but not everything goes smoothly. Peach gets nervous and discards two attempted outfits before finally settling on a third. Gretchen complains that Nicolas ripped off her design ideas from the previous week. Casanova requests so much help from the other designers, that we're surprised he doesn't ask one of them to do his sewing. Mondo cries that he feels unloved and laments the fact that after one whole challenge, he has no BFF. Adding pressure to the design process and helping to fill up the ninety minutes, Tim informs the designers that they must do photo shoots of their styled models, which will then be considered in the final judging.

Both Michael Kors and Nina Garcia are judging this week. Not surprisingly, Joanna Coles is the guest judge, which we're fine with, as she was one of Project Runway's more outspoken and knowledgeable judges last season. Coles once again speaks her mind, pointing out that Peach's dress looks like it has, "an animal climbing down the back." She also wonders whether the female figure-unfriendly designer Jason "Has he ever spoken to a woman?"

Our top three designers this week are: Mondo, whose Mary Tyler Moore Show inspired ensemble photographs much better than it looks on the runway; Valerie, with her sexy, yet tasteful, architecturally-interesting red dress, which the judges feel captures the Marie Claire woman; And last week's winner, Gretchen, with an impeccably fitted and surprisingly flattering jumpsuit. Surprisingly, our winner this week is not Valerie, but Gretchen. Her two wins in two weeks result in smiles from the other designers reminiscent of those which White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs used to give to Helen Thomas.

Our bottom three designers include: Jason, who switches from staples to safety pins as his non-sewing method of choice; Nicolas, whose caped ensemble is more elaborate than some Christmas trees; and Peach, whose polka-dot ensemble would have been perfect for the Marie Claire woman, if the magazine's target readership were about to go through puberty or finish menopause. Happily, the amusing Peach survives the week. Heidi bids a highly anticipated and much needed "auf Wiedersehen" to Jason and a more surprising and disappointing one to a heartbroken Nicolas. Yes, two designers gone and fifteen left.

And in our As Tears Go By count, we have two crying designers this week. First Mondo sobs while talking about how lonely he is. Then Nicolas bawls after he gets aufed, thus bringing our total number of crying jags this season to a grand total of three.

And now for this week's Top Ten Moments of Project Runway Greatness...

10). When Heidi tells the designers what a big deal the billboard prize is, Tim Gunn responds, "Wow," in the same tone we suspect he'd use if someone said they wanted to fix him up with their sister.

9). Jason complains, "My whole life I've had a chip on my shoulder." It was probably safety pinned there.

8). Gretchen claims she's never made pants on her own before, but then creates an impeccably tailored jumpsuit. Perhaps her definition of "never" is similar to that of Demi Moore's, who has "never" had plastic surgery.

7). Sarah says, "This show is not about fashion design it's about public torture of designers on television." Yes, Sarah. And your point is?

6). Back at the Atlas, roommates Valerie, Gretchen, Ivy and Sarah squeal in unison, "Oh my gawd!" Somewhere out there, Clueless's Amy Heckerling demands residuals.

5). Jason complains about the difficulties of being a straight man in the design world. Yes, those gays are known for keeping the hetero down. Just ask last season's winner, Seth Aaron.

4). In the Garnier hair salon, Christopher agrees that he wants his model to look, "Like Marilyn, but beat up." And if they can't pull that off, he'll settle for a damp Mary Jo Kopechne.

3). Ivy says she's, "Shocked that there were two people sent home!" then adds it made her realize, "Someone is going to be sent home every week!" Yes Ivy, that's how it works. Otherwise this would be a really long season.

2). After Jason is aufed, he refuses to wait for Tim to bid him "Adieu," saying "I really have to go," but fails to gallantly proclaim, "There are bolts of untouched fabric somewhere out there, which need to be stapled!"

1). Regarding the hole in the back of Nicolas's blouse, Michael Kors explains, "Maybe the model was too thin and she just ate her outfit."

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