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.
It's week nine of Project Runway, and Tim Gunn informs the designers that they must create a high fashion look inspired by L'Oreal Paris Studio's Secret Eye Shadow Duos. Specifically, one their five finishes: Matte, Bright, Metallic, Crystal or Velvet. The winner of the challenge will have their design featured in a L'Oreal Paris advertisement and receive an unprecedented $20,000 prize from L'Oreal Paris. Just in case you missed it, the sponsor of this challenge is Maybelline.
The possibility of earning this much money doesn't so much inspire the designers, as hamper them. Many are broke, and the possibility of changing their life situations—paying bills, getting out of debt, buying a pony—is too much pressure. It raises their emotions and lowers their design skills
Initially thinking that they have two days to finish their garments, many of the designers take a relatively slow, more leisurely approach. Gretchen and Valerie decide to do hand beading, while Christopher chooses to attach lace the same way. Mondo and Valerie make mistakes and have to start pieces again. On day two, however, a distraught Tim Gunn enters with a tragic announcement, one which has him, "shaking." We're thinking one of the designers has fallen ill or committed suicide, or our country has gone to war, but the news is even worse. The contestants now have to each make a ready-to-wear look, which matches their couture garment! Despite the fact that this kind of twist has already happened repeatedly this season, and other seasons, April seems to be the only one who deduced it might come up again this week. The rest of the designers immediately start sitting shiva for their careers.
Joining judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia as our guest judge, is Indian born, American designer, Naeem Khan, who has designed for First Lady, Michelle Obama. Kahn is one of the best guest judges, ever. His critiques are smart and constructive. Gretchen even learns that she should put more emphasis on the front of her garments than on the back.
Our top three designers this week are Mondo, with his bright kaleidoscope inspired dresses; Andrew, with his metallic warrior looks; and Gretchen with a velvet caftan, which one of the Golden Girls might have worn if she went to Woodstock. And our winner is...Mondo! With his second win in a row, the designer now has $20,014 to his name. His fellow designers are very supportive and happily congratulate him. But if Mondo wins a third time, he'd better hire a food taster.
Our three bottom designers are Valerie, with her My Fair Lady, crystal inspired white dress and black ill-fitting Breakfast at Tiffany's afterthought; Ivy, whose awkward bright blue dresses are supposedly a reinterpretation of Hawaiian waves, but look more like The Little Mermaid got drunk and rolled around on the floor; and Michael C, whose metallic gown, with its long bulky train and matching "Mini Me" cocktail dress, seem to be made from "all the drapes at Tara." Heidi bids "auf Wiedersehen" to a disappointed Ivy. A shocked Valerie, who squeaks by to safety, cries to the other designers that she should have been the one to go—but pointedly doesn't make the same observation to the judges.
And in our As Tears Go By count, we make up for the lack of crying last week, with a river of tears this time. Valerie sobs in the bathroom after she realizes that she's going to have to redo her work. Mondo tears up when he wins the challenge. Ivy cries when she gets aufed, which causes Valerie, April, and Mondo to all start crying too. Before Ivy leaves, Valerie starts crying a third time. Then Ivy sobs again during her final confessional. This makes eight crying jags for the episode, bringing our grand total to thirty two this season.
And now for this week's Top Ten Moments of Project Runway Greatness...
10). Gretchen says that Michael D was very well liked and now, "Not having him here makes this seem like a competition." Wait, the last eight weeks were how Gretchen behaves when she's not competing?
9). When asked if Valerie's dress is nice, Andy responds. "It's black."
8). At Mood, Mondo buys many colors of fabric, explaining, "Who wants to play with a whole box of crayons in one color?" Um, April?
7). When Michael C buys fabric in the same Bordeaux shade that Gretchen likes, she insists, "Some boundaries were crossed." She then sues him for making a dress, using a sewing machine and breathing air.
6). April says she wants a pony, possibly because her designs are a bit reminiscent of the one trick kind.
5). Gretchen tells Mondo that she "Believes in her heart," that the two of them are destined for Fashion Week, adding, "I have to go!" Mondo responds, "I have to pee."
4). Nina snottily tells Valerie that her model looks like, "Miss Guatemala," and then almost chokes when Valerie responds, "That's where my family is from!" Nina then tries to cover her faux pas by continuing to insult the designer.
3). Tim warns the designers that velvet is difficult to work with. Gretchen chooses it, possibly because so is she.
2). After her loss, Ivy laments, "I'm going to really miss designing." Fortunately for the design world, by the Project Runway premiere party, Ivy had hired a publicist.
1). Tim chases Mood's adorable dog "Swatch" in circles while the designers get their fabrics!