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Project Runway: "The Grass Is Always Greener"


Project Runway

"The Grass Is Always Greener"

Season 5 , Episode 2

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Top three lessons learned from this episode of Project Runway:

1. Models really, really like satin. Especially chocolate brown satin.

2. Natalie Portman likes droopy brown satin bow-tie details but does not like the "whole...asymmetrical...thing." (Take note, Zac Posen!)

3. It's really great using green fabrics. It's just really great. It feels so great to use them and whatnot.

That last lesson was the one most hammered home tonight, because, in case you missed the endless loop of contestant soundbites about it, this was the green episode judged by noted Vegan shoemaker and remarkably tiny person, Natalie Portman. (When she was standing next to Heidi on the runway, it was like a life-size brunette Skipper doll standing in the shadow of Barbie.)

I'm happy to report that this episode didn't feel as--what's the word?--deflated as the first one. It's episode two, and despite the unchallenged idiocy of many of the contestants (Jarell, I'm looking at you), as well as the plethora of plastic characters (Blayne & Suede should challenge each other to a calculated quirk deathmatch), things are already humming along. Even though the challenge was a bit of a recycled one (See the amazing wedding dress challenge from Season 1), having the models be the clients is a fun element that deserves to be recycled. Why? Models are crazy and often have no taste. In addition, the twist of having the models be responsible for purchasing the "green" fabric for their dream cocktail dresses was even more fun. Why? Again, models are crazy and often have no taste--and nothing is more entertaining than watching the designers submit to the whims of their crazy, taste-free clients.

In this challenge, that craziness and lack of taste manifested itself in one form: Satin. Most of the models chose organic satin in hideous hues--chocolate, champagne, only one girl had the restraint to choose black--to bring back to the workroom. Why are models so drawn to satin? Are they unaware of its bridesmaid connotations? Do they wish that life was just one big prom? Are they mezmerized by the sheen? Clearly, this isn't just a coincidence. Someone should do a study. And chocolate brown satin? Literally any color would be more attractive: Purple, Aqua, Hospital Green.

Still, despite the aesthetic stab in the eye that is brown satin, some of the most hideous dresses to come down the runway didn't contain any of that inherently awful fabric. Really, it was a parade of ugly. From Keith's droopy, window-treatment-via- Forever-21-club-wear-section halter, to Daniel's black satin dress with marsupial pocket placement, to Stella's one-shoulder, Sharon-Tate-gone-stripper bridesmaid look. Clearly, models should pick the fabric for all of the future challenges. Never has there been so much hideousness in one place.

Of course, the models can't be blamed for poor design and/or awful fit. No, that blame rests at the feet of a few of this crop of designers who were obviously cast for reasons other than design ability. Case in point: Jerell. The mere existence of that blue peacock-feather and lace mini cocktail dress is an insult to the word and the concept of "dress." So spectacularly wrong. And it didn't even fit his model: the thing was so twisted over to one side it made her look like she had a broken hip. Then there was Emily's cocktail-dress-as-swimsuit-cover-up. I say this as someone whose sewing ability ends with hemming and mending, but I could make that dress, and it definitely wouldn't take me 12 hours to do it. The braiding looked like the most difficult part, which means that any girl out of 3rd grade could probably make it too.

But Emily and Jerell somehow escaped being in the bottom three. (I blame Natalie Portman, but then again the judges could have all been too blinded by the brown satin to see properly.) Not that Wesley's crinkled brown satin shift and Leanne's overdone brown satin nightmare didn't deserve to be in the bottom--they did, and Wesley's was certainly the worst of the bunch. But Korto's inside-out, winged dress was out-uglied by several others. Including, in my mind, Suede's bleeding mummy ballerina dress. Suede gets points for Suede's courage in the face of the satin Suede was given, though. And Natalie Portman said she would wear it, oblivious to the fact that that dress would eat her alive. So, naturally, Suede won! Suede is so excited for Suede and Suede's mom! Let's all go to bluefly.com right now and reserve our very own bleeding mummy ballerina dresses. Everyone has a costume/cocktail party coming up, right?

Grade: A-

Stray Observations:

--Keith owns a bandanna and a white tank top and tats, everyone. He wanted you to know that.

--Stella's accent is so thick I thought her model's name was "Candle," until I saw it spelled out on the bottom of the screen as "Kendall."

--Speaking of Stella, her leather fixation seems not only authentic, but hilarious and kind of charming--which is why Blayne was making fun of her. He's obviously envious. It must be hard to see someone who can be a colorful character so naturally when you're trying so hard to make "licious" happen.

--Does anyone watch "After The Sew"? If so: What is it? Why is it?

--Re: Blayne's use of the term "Darthlicious" to describe Heidi. That doesn't make any sense. I hope one of the other contestants finds the notebook where he wrote down all of his quips for the whole season and buries it in the fabric stacks at Mood.

--"You're certainly an enthusiastic bunch," Tim corralling the models at Mood.