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Welcome to Week Six of Project Runway, the week where Ven behaves more rudely towards a client than any designer in the show's history. Yes, worse than Jeffrey Sebelia was to Angela's mother in Season Three and more offensive than Season Nine's Olivier Green was when he discovered that he was going to have to design for a woman with breasts. Ven is ruder than both of them, because every time he is on the screen he complains about his model's weight and appearance. But more on Project Runway's latest villain in a moment...
This week's L'Oreal
infomercial challenge pairs each designer with a person who has a friend needing a makeover. That makeoveree is their "client." Unlike the show's usual models, these women come in all shapes, sizes, and styles: from thin to plus sized, from sexy to tomboy—it's basically a cornucopia of the stages of Kirstie Alley.
While most of the designers are nervous going into this challenge, the majority get into the spirit of things and seem to enjoy making their clients happy. Elena behaves so nicely and is so supportive of her customer, that it makes us wonder where Veruca Salt went. Alicia is also a surprise. When the designer asks her customer what she wanted from a dress, she responds with, "I want men to want to marry me and women to want to be me." While Alicia normally tends to design for women who want women to marry them—and men to want to borrow their clothes, she put her Jane Lynch-esque aesthetic aside and creates a tastefully sexy pale pink dress that even a young Molly Ringwald would have liked.
Joining Michael and Nina this week on judges row is designer Alice Temperley of Temperley London. We learn that one of the British designer's clients is Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, aka the Princess formerly known as Kate. If you don't know the Temperley line, Alice's gorgeously feminine creations are often embellished with beads and embroidery. The only fault we have with her designs is that we can't afford to have all of them in our closet. We appreciate Alice's judging, particularly her feedback on accessorizing and garment construction. We're also amused when she shares that while you won't hear the term "Hoochie Mama" used in England, there are still plenty of them to be found there.
Our winner this week is Fabio, who makes an edgy color-blocked gray dress. His tomboy client, who normally "hates being seen at all" and doesn't want to be "sexualized," falls madly in love with it. Ironically, while Fabio's client is not used to wearing dresses, Fabio himself is more open-minded and he celebrates his first win wearing a black one.
Also in the top three is Gunnar, who is paired with one of the larger models. Much to our shock, Gunnar undergoes an immediate transformation: from bitch to mensch. Instead of his usual cattiness, he builds up his customer's confidence, and explains that he is used to designing for normal women in Kentucky and really enjoys it. His customer loves the flirty black frock he makes for her by sewing black chiffon squares over jersey. While we don't like the ruffle Gunnar tacks onto the top, we are impressed with the fact that he's smart enough to create a dress with an empire waist and an A-Line skirt—a magical style for women who don't have hourglass figures.
Rounding out the winning trio is Professor Dmitri Snapes, who is frustrated by always being a Project Runway bridesmaid and never its winning bride. Once again Dmitri creates a flattering clean-lined dress. The judges think it looks extremely sophisticated, but Elena says, "It was just like a yawn." We're with the judges. Dmitri impresses us every week and we're amazed he hasn't been given a win yet. Despite this, we'd be surprised if he didn't end up in the final top three for the season.
The presentation of our bottom three this week is unusual. Heidi says, "One or maybe more of you may be out." And she says it repeatedly.
Sonjia ends up in the bottom three, but survives. Her dress's design includes a big knot in the middle, created to camouflage her tomboy client's stomach. While her client loves the dress, the judges don't. Alice says that she wants to cut the shoulders so that the knot can be pulled lower—to fix the dress's proportions. Michael is bothered that Sonjia created a cocktail dress for a woman who hates shopping for dresses, and Heidi pontificates she's had, "many maternity dresses like that." She also thinks the dress is so short it looks "slutty." When Heidi Klum says your dress is too short, you've got a problem—she normally prefers hemlines so high she'd wear a belt as a skirt.
Next, Heidi announces that Nathan will be going home. Nathan's customer is an R & B singer who wants a sexy form-fitting outfit, with cut-outs "open at the abs"—but she doesn't want to be "overly sexed up." Nathan, whose only previous experience designing for a singer was for his mother, loses his vision. He makes an ill-fitting dress out of blue satin with black "hooker mesh" sleeves. Heidi says it looks "really cheap," and Michael thinks it looks like a costume: a combination of something worn by an ice skater and Betty White. All the judges feel that Nathan is too swayed by his client's wishes and acted more like a seamstress than a designer.
Despite this harsh criticism, Nathan leaves the show graciously. Tim even says, "We're losing someone who has profound qualities of character." But such high praise cannot be used for Ven, who is still on the runway, and has yet to be dealt with...
Unfortunately Ven doesn't get kicked off, despite Heidi's repeated hinting at a second designer's auf'ing. He does, however, get a lecture from the judges. You see, Ven is upset that he is given a plus-sized customer, despite the fact that he's plus-sized himself. He complains about his model repeatedly throughout the episode, not just to us, but also to his client. The other designers are mortified, and try to stop him, but with no success. He's so awful that he eventually makes his client cry. Although Ven's creation—an unflattering turquoise satin smock of a top paired with an ill-fitting black skirt—is ugly, it's not as ugly as his words.
Here are just a few of Ven's many charming bon mots:
· "My client really doesn't have a shape—she doesn't have any sense of style whatsoever."
· "Why does one have a client who looks like a model and one a plus sized figure? That's unfair."
· "She's not fashion forward, she has no sense of style whatsoever. The before picture is definitely a nightmare. The after will be drastically different."
All of these were said privately, so the customer didn't hear them—well, at least until she watched the episode. The following comments were made to her face:
· "I'll ask if they have bigger ones." [Said when the belt from the accessory wall is too small. Ven brings this up repeatedly, despite the fact that his customer complains, "You keep saying that—and its embarrassing."]
· "I was surprised yesterday, [after the hair makeover] when you walked in, how beautiful you looked."
· "I don't know if they provided the before pictures...A drastic change." [Said to the judges on the runway]
Despite the fact that the judges criticize Ven for not taking his client's needs or feelings into consideration, Mr. Sensitivity learns nothing. He goes back to the designer green room and complains to his fellow designers, "I don't think I should have been the last person there. I think there were some weak looks."
Do you hate Ven yet? We do.
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