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It's Week Eleven of Project Runway, and this week's challenge is full of twists. Things kick off with Heidi telling the designers, "We really want you to spread your wings." They think she's talking about skydiving, whereas we're sure she's referring to her old Victoria's Secret runway attire (we hear those wings are very heavy). But we're all wrong—the designers must create a high fashion runway look inspired by birds. Not just any birds, but a cockatoo, a parrot and a raven, all of which they find waiting for them in their workroom. For some reason, there is also an owl, which sadly is not used in the challenge. We were hoping it would inspire one of the designers to make a mortarboard.
The contestants are paired in teams: Anya with Laura, Bert with Josh and Kimberly with Viktor. They think they'll be working together, but then along comes the episode's first twist—the pairs learn they'll be competing against each other mano a mano in fashion cage matches.
The designers are hard at work on their creations when boom—along comes twist number two. Tim informs them that they each have to create a second design, also inspired by their bird. He says that this garment will be worn on the runway by the same model who wears their first look. The designers are not happy with this new assignment. Meanwhile, the "use the same model" part immediately raises our suspicions, as that means costume changes, which means more hours of filming for the crew, which means more money—all of this from a show which cuts back more and more on its expenses every season.
As her fellow designers work on their second designs, Kimberly has crisis after crisis: Stains on her white gown, bad critiques from Tim on both her dresses, a glue gun burning a hole in one of the gowns, and finally, the needle on her sewing machine going straight through her finger. We'd guess that on top of all this she is also PMS-ing, but we may just be projecting our own hormones onto the situation. Kimberly eventually decides she needs to make a third gown, and with only three hours left, creates one out of the polyester which was initially supposed to be the lining for one of her other garments.
Finally, the designers are faced with their third and final twist—Tim tells them that after all their hard work and angst, they only have to show one look on the runway, not both of their designs. Most of the designers are relieved by this last minute reprieve, including Joshua who immediately edits out a poofy green dress which would not be out of place in Coney Island's Mermaid Parade.
This week, joining our judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia is special guest judge, the Creative Director of Women's Wear for the Calvin Klein Collection, Francisco Costa. Although we're thrilled that it's not just another actress who critiques the designs with, "I'd wear that," we find Francisco a slightly odd choice. The Calvin Klein brand has never been one that we'd associate with birds or plumage—although Calvin Klein himself did once have slightly feathered hair.
Our top designers this week are Anya, Joshua and Kimberly. Anya steps out on a limb and makes an architecturally interesting dress out of plain black fabric with no pattern. We know it's Anya's, however, both because it lacks sleeves and because the model needs to be sewn into—and cut out it. Joshua makes a bright orange draped dress with a chain in the back and a multi-colored corsage on the shoulder. Kimberly gets into the top three with her speedily made white Grecian dress, which ends up being one of her best designs of the season. Our winner for the second week in a row is Anya. Her prize is twenty thousand dollars and a L'Oreal advertorial spread in Marie Claire. Not to say that Anya's fellow designers are bitter that a woman with just four months of sewing experience beats them out of twenty grand, but Anya is immediately forced to hire a food taster.
Our bottom three for the week are Viktor, Laura and Bert. Viktor makes a large feathery white dress with yellow sections, which can best be described as looking like a bird peed on a pile of its own feathers. Laura designs a blazer and slacks ensemble, which literally looks like a bird. And Bert creates a dated long flowing gray dress which has brightly colored chiffon skirts peeking out from its front slit. The judges don't love it, and Bert doesn't do himself any favors, by repeatedly telling them that he also doesn't like it. Honesty is a bad policy on a show like this, and Heidi ends up bidding Bert "auf Wiedersehen." Unlike the aufing of most designers, however, Heidi praises Bert, telling him that all the judges respect him as a designer. Bert follows in the footsteps of Anthony Ryan, and leaves with one of the more gracious exits from the show. We're particularly moved by the fact that he is so happy to have ended things on good terms with his fellow designers. They all seem genuinely sad to see him go, his former nemesis Joshua even affectionately grabbing his hand.
Starting this week after Project Runway, Lifetime has a new series called After the Runway, (imagine Bravo's Andy Cohen show without Andy Cohen), where the contestants sit around and deconstruct the episode. This week, bully Joshua meets his match with special guest and Season Three designer, Laura Bennett.
And now for the Top Ten Moments of Project Runway Greatness...
10. After being paired with his former nemesis, Joshua, Bert says, "If this had happened a few weeks ago, I think one of us would have killed the bird." Or more likely, the bird would have killed itself.
9. Laura says she thinks the judges are, "Going to expect a gown covered with feathers, and I'm not doing it." Instead she creates a blazer covered with feathers.
8. When Tim Gunn asks Josh, "What is this? Qu'est-ce que c'est?" Josh responds with, "What's Qu'est-ce que c'est?"
7. Bert tells us that he hates the green and yellow of his bird, saying, "It’s so dime store looking." Bert, these days they’re called dollar stores.
6. Joshua licks a bolt of fabric at Mood.
5. The three remaining female designers push down a dress dummy saying, "Go down! Go down!" We’re guessing that all ten of Project Runway's straight male viewers find this particularly funny.
4. Michael Kors says, "Fashion is a competitive sport." We wish he'd been our gym teacher.
3. Joshua theorizes, "Anya definitely has some sort of strategy for this game, she keeps doing well at it." Pssst, Joshua, Anya's super-duper secret strategy is to make attractive clothing.
2. When a cockroach is spotted in the workroom, Kimberly jumps on table like Alice did when she saw a mouse on the Brady Bunch. In her defense, the roach is the size of a mouse.
1. When Francisco jokingly asks Michael Kors if he would wear Joshua's orange dress, Michael says, "Well, I happen to be very much an orange kind of guy." Michael Kors admits he's orange!
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