I have a confession to make. I've been watching the inaugural season of Project Runway: Australia on YouTube. There. I admitted it. And I'm not ashamed. Because while this 5th season of Project Runway has been a little lackluster, Project Runway: Australia has seemed fresher–even through the vaseline-smeared lens of YouTube–although that probably has to do with the accents more than anything else.
But the challenges on Project Runway: Australia have been highly entertaining, which obviously benefits all incarnations of Project Runway everywhere, because tonight's Saturn car parts challenge was a redux of PR: Australia's Fiat car parts challenge from episode 3. It's a small world after all–especially when we're all sharing the same reality competition format!
I was hoping that Project Runway would crib this challenge from its Aussie sister, because it was such a fun riff on ye olde Gristede's innovation challenge of yore. Watching the designers rip and bend and break and form blisters due to their strange non-fabric materials is a Project Runway tradition, and this season of contestants totally sidestepped that rite of PR passage by sewing together shower curtains in the name of innovation in the very first episode. Their punishment? Acres of seatbelts and floor mats and car upholstery to fashion into something passing as fashion.
Surprisingly, most of the designers rose to the challenge. Case in point: Jerell, who delivered a strange, futuristic, over-the-top bustier and mini that worked in part because they were so ridiculous. I'm beginning to like Jerell more and more as the season progresses, not really for his aesthetic but for some of his commentary. His assessment of Terri ("She's got two faces and four patterns.") seemed especially astute since this week Terri just made a car-part version of the mop-head halter from the first innovation challenge and those same fallback flares she always makes (albeit in a different color).
Also in on the winning side were Korto, with her utterly cooooool (as Heidi would say) woven seatbelt coat-dress; and Leanne, with her structured upholstery mini-dress with intricate seatbelt trim. In the end, Leanne deservedly won because she managed to pull off a sleek, couture silhouette using Saturn parts.
Korto and Leanne were also the only designers who seemed to know how to use the seatbelts correctly: either woven to give structure, or as trim. Stella did it half right. Her seatbelt-trimmed vest was cute and kind of sporty. But her seatbelt skirt had absolutely nothing to do with the top, and looked like a sad imitation of Herve Leger: gaping, shapeless, and almost baggy. Then there was Blayne, whose blob-like seatbelt dress looked like track blinds, or, as Michael Kors put it, a carwash. For that terrible, frayed mummy dress, Blayne should have been in the bottom two, not Stella. At least Stella did something half right. Has Blayne ever done anything even halfway decent?
Rounding out the bottom two were Keith and his indignant doo-rag. Keith's seat-back skirt and fluffy tank top managed to look totally dull and ill-fitting from the front, and a complete mess in the back. The top was held together by some miscellaneous black wire, and the skirt was literally strapped to his model's body by a peice of upholstery serving as a belt/fastener/zipper. Then Keith sealed his fate by criticizing the judges' observations ("there are critiques and then there are insults" Really? Has he seen Project Runway?), blaming his model for sitting down in his ramshackle skirt, and misquoting Michael Kors (he called your drag outfit a "sad chicken" not a "dowdy chicken," Keith). Naturally, he had to go.
--Keith's clinging to Daniel last week made a lot more sense after seeing Keith break down this week after his own elimination. Apparently, evaluations just make him feel very fragile. Who knew that those scraps of paper were just there to cover his many emotions?
--Thoughts on the other designs: Suede's floormat/reflector ensemble was pure ice skater. Joe's upholstery look was sporty in a non-descript way. Kenley's skirt was made out of paper. And looked it.
--Speaking of Kenley, how long before either a.) she cracks and leaves or b.) everyone turns on her for being annoyance personified topped with a goddamn decorative feather? All she did this episode was whine and complain. And she took her model's leaving as a personal affront. When Jerell tried to remind Kenley that her model probably quit because she got a paying gig that she couldn't turn down, Kenley just whined some more, "I'm allowed to be mad. It's all about me right now." Ugh. You're making a paper skirt, Kenley. It's going to hang like stiff sheets of paper no matter who's wearing it.
--Stella's boyfriend: Exactly how you pictured him, or exactly exactly how you pictured him?
--"I want it. I wanna own it. I wanna wear it." Rachel Zoe's reality show should be about as engrossing as that statement.