Project Runway: "Sew Much Pressure"
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Project Runway: "Sew Much Pressure"

Greetings folks, I’m Joshua. Amelie is out in Los Angeles entertaining the masses, and, one can hope, compiling an oral history of Project Runway season 6. So you have me this week to talk you through this SHOCKING, HISTORIC episode of Runway.

I’m sort of poking fun at next-week promo hyperbole, but only slightly. This episode, I’d argue, was a sea change for the show, the episode where Runway lost its innocence. For six seasons, it stood apart from other reality-competition shows in that it wasn’t a competition for dilettantes. Competitors on Survivor, The Apprentice, even Runway’s play cousin America’s Next Top Model cry uncle all the time, but that’s because people who apply to those shows often do so as a lark. People audition for Project Runway because they have real talent and they desperately want a career in fashion.

But not Maya Luz, the ingenious ingénue who abruptly decided, after making it to the top six, that she wasn’t quite ready for this. Seth Aaron took up for her – “Don’t judge,” he admonished – and I’m inclined to agree. While it seems at first blush that Maya just pulled an idiotic move by throwing away this opportunity, I’m sure she had reasons that seemed compelling enough to her. She earned her slot, and she gets to do what she pleases with it.

Now for the silver lining: Anthony’s back! Not that there was an iota of suspense for anyone who watched this week’s promo. And even for those who didn’t, it’s standard practice to use the most recently eliminated designer as the understudy, which is how Chris March slipped back in after Jack Mackenroth dropped out for medical reasons back in season 4. I thought Anthony had been snuffed too early anyway. Mila’s awful paint-swatch dress was easily the worst of the bunch, so it’s nice to see him get another shot. Plus: Quippy McGee is back! I can’t imagine an Anthony-free workroom at this point, and it seems like the other designers can’t either, even though they clearly think he’s out of his depth.

Fortunately for Anthony, he came back in time for a challenge that favors him: designing for Heidi Klum. This might honestly be the worst Project Runway challenge in the show’s history. (History!) The contestants have already designed for Heidi this season, and at least in the previous iteration, the Marie Claire cover was on the line. This assignment was to design a red-carpet dress for Heidi. To where to what, you ask? Some red-carpet thing she’s going to at some point. In this challenge, the winning had to be its own reward, because with no more immunities available, there was just about nothing else to get excited over.

Because this challenge was apparently conceived out of Heidi’s desire for new clothes to wear after delivering her 68th child, she dropped by the workroom to scrunch her face alongside Tim Gunn. This I actually liked. As adorable as I find Tim, I’ve always found it problematic to have a workroom advisor who is not also a judge. Many times in Runway history, Tim has given advice to contestants only to have the judges slap their creations down, to which Tim says “My bad, punkin!” from backstage. Having a judge in the room was more helpful. If Heidi says the dress looks terrible, you need to start over. 

I have no fashion sense of which to speak, and when dressing myself, I give priority to whatever garment is closest to the bed when I roll out of it. So I’ll spare you the paragraph in which I attempt to competently describe the dresses. Instead, I’ll defer to the judges, including guest “fashion icon” Jessica Alba, who were impressed by Anthony and Emilio and less so with Seth Aaron, Jay, Mila and Jonathan, who basically ruined his final look by cycling through two dresses he ultimately dumped. 

While we’re following the theme of History!, Emilio and Anthony both won, since Jessica Alba decided she wanted some free clothes too. This, if I’m not mistaken, is also a first, unless you count Emilio and Seth Aaron’s team win, which isn’t really the same thing. Jonathan got the ax, and was sort of gracious, but not: “I wish I could lie and say I’m more surprised that I’m eliminated. How could I ever compete with the kind of gown Emilio created or Anthony created with the dress that I made in two hours.” How indeed, Jonathan?

Stray observations:

  • Jessica Alba: “This is a tough show to be on, but this is nothing compared to the real world.” Late hit, Jess. But you’re right, Maya couldn’t have handled the heartbreak that was Dark Angel.
  • Anthony to the departed Maya: “Thank you, and God bless you too!” Long live the court jester.
  • Michael Kors: “There isn’t a woman on the planet who would say ‘Oh, I want people to think I have a fat butt.’” Michael, this is my friend Any Nelly Video Ever, you guys apparently haven’t met.
  • As I’m taking swipes at Top Model, former contestant Bre Scullark appeared a Garnier commercial. Shows what I know.
  •  History!

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