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Welcome to Week Eleven of Project Runway. The designers' task for this episode is to make clothing for Heidi. Not for Heidi to wear herself, but rather for her new Truly Scrumptious for babies line at Babies "R" Us. Yes, it's the annual indentured servitude challenge, where Heidi gets free design work and publicity for one of her otherwise ignored clothing lines. This time around, the remaining six designers, none of whom have children themselves, have to make outfits for toddler models. This doesn't go over very well. As Dmitri puts it, "It's like you're making an outfit for a cat."
As if the designers aren't upset enough at having to design for real babies, they then find out that they will have to take care of life-size faux babies while they are working—you know, the kind that high schools sometimes make teenagers "parent" to try and scare them out of having sex? These robot babies need to be rocked, fed, and changed—otherwise they cry. And cry. And cry. Oh boy, do they cry. With the exception of former babysitter Fabio, who seems to wish his baby was real, the designers all hate the fake babies. Christopher says, "Now I know why Judy went off the deep end with Liza." And Elena responds by asking Mood's pet dog, "Swatch, why can't you be my baby?"—a sentiment most viewers have probably shared. The fake babies run the designers so ragged with their frequent tears, that we're surprised that no doll is "accidentally" dropped into a tub of water in an attempt to make it short circuit. (Note: the author does not have children).
Fabio and Christopher shop at Mood with their "babies"
While the designers are struggling with their designs, Heidi pops in to give them notes and to inform them of a twist—they must also make companion outfits for their babies' mothers. The designers are shocked by this, or at least pretend to be. Anyone who has ever watched the show should have known this was coming. Only two of the designers run into significant problems with the mom twist. One is Melissa, because as usual, she is far behind in sewing her initial garments and doesn't have the time to make more. The other challenged designer is Christopher. His baby's mother, whom Sonjia dubs "Mary J. Blige," is a total diva who initially micromanages Christopher's designs and then complains about the results. Christopher somehow manages to behave graciously towards her. This makes us kind of wish that Ven was still around this week. We're curious to see how "Mary J" would have reacted to him criticizing her figure—and we'd also love to have heard his justification for putting an origami rose on a boy's onesie.
Joining Michael and Nina in the judging chairs is "actress and new mom," Hilary Duff. Hilary does an okay job. She seems slightly more animated than the robot babies. And her experience as a mom makes her comments useful enough. We're just a little traumatized when we realize that the Disney star is now old enough to have mothered a future Disney star.
This week, Heidi says there will be two winners: one who makes the best outfit for boys, and one who makes the best outfit for girls. Each will get their design produced and sold at Babies 'R' Us. Our winner in the Boys category is Sonjia. She designs an adorable men's suit-inspired ensemble made from sweat-suit material. It's gray with dark pockets and covers a brightly patterned T-shirt. The judges go crazy over it, and so do we.
Winner number two, this time for the Girls clothing category, is Christopher—with his fourth win of the season. Christopher designs an adorable white dress, covered with snap-on three dimensional flowers—which we fear a baby might eat. It's topped with a white jacket and a matching flowered headband. Although Christopher's model's mother complains about it, as well as about her own colorful outfit, Heidi loves it. She should. Heidi was the one who suggested to Christopher that he take the flower embellishments, which he was going to use sparingly on the jacket, and instead cover a whole skirt with them. Christopher runs with this idea and ends up doing an entire dress of flowers.
This lovely white dress is just for special occasions and will probably end up being immediately covered with food, dirt, and various baby secretions. But Heidi doesn't care, she feels her line can use a dressy outfit for when a baby goes to brunch, celebrates a holiday, or hits an expensive club and gets bottle service. Interestingly, on the Babys 'R' Us website, the production version, which you can now buy, is navy instead of white, with different flowers. This makes for a much more casual and practical ensemble.
The judges' next favorite outfit is Fabio's. He makes a onesie which looks like a suit. It's navy with colorfully patterned trim, which Fabio takes credit for, despite the fact that he was just going to use it as lining, until Tim Gunn and Heidi convince him to make it a visible part of the outfit. Michael says that the baby's ensemble looks nautical, but we don't think anyone would mistake it for a Popeye costume.
And speaking of looking like a costume, this seems to be Michael's major criticism of Dmitri's super-hero-esque red jumpsuit—which has a pointy hood that unzips into a cape. Heidi and the other female judges explain to a surprised Michael, that these days, costume-like styles are popular with little boys. It seems we've found at least one area which the Kors' brand won't be going into production on any time soon.
Melissa's design lands her in the bottom two. Due to her bad time-management skills, she once again barely finishes her work. The male designers privately decide that they shouldn't help her finish her work—like almost all of them did last week. But once again, Melissa does get help—she enlists her baby's mom to sew a button onto the embellished design on the back of her baby's vest. The judges love the whimsical vest, but have much harsher criticisms for the white shift dress that goes under it. Yes, what baby doesn't need a sophisticated sheath to wear to cocktail parties? The dress is ruched, or maybe just wrinkled, and constantly needs to be pulled down to hide the diaper. The diaper is exposed so many times, that Nina calls the look, "Sexy diaper."
Melissa runs so far behind time-wise in making her baby's outfit that she doesn't completely finish sewing the mother's ensemble—a top vest and shorts, which for some reason Melissa makes from linen. Yes, what mother of a toddler doesn't want to wear shorts which will be completely wrinkled before she finishes putting them on? Or maybe they're just ruched.
Good Bye, Elena
Although Melissa's outfit seems like the worst to us, this week Heidi finally "aufs" Elena, who actually makes one of her better looks of the season. It includes an adorable ruffled collar blazer, with a top and pants. Unfortunately, the blazer doesn't go well with the rest of the ensemble, either in color or design. So much so that Michael says the garments look like they came from, "A baby sample sale." Having covered our fair share of sample sales for Racked NY, we don't fully agree with this assessment, but we understand the point he's trying to make. It does seem to be a bit of a hodgepodge of designs. After weeks of remaining on the show as the psycho and mean Elena, the newly reformed nice and calm Elena gets "aufed." Let this be a lesson to future Project Runway villains—don't reform until the last episode. Elena exits with surprising grace and Tim Gunn seems extremely sad to see her, and all her cursing, go. If Tim likes someone, that says a lot... Good luck, Elena!
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