Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Project Runway: "Design Your Heart Out"

Illustration for article titled Project Runway: "Design Your Heart Out"

Real people challenge! Yes! Thank God the producers decided not to put fake pacemakers or open-heart surgery scars on the models, and instead went with real women who "have been touched by heart disease." (Sorry, but that just sounds tawdry. "Point to where the heart disease touched you.") Take that, Models Of The Runway. Tonight's episode—30 minutes of the models huddled together in a corner of the Atlas apartments saying, "Someone will come for us soon. Th-th-they have to come for us…don't they?"—should be compelling.

But I digress. Tonight the designers had the privilege of meeting a mythical being, a creature so absurd most people thought she didn't exist. I'm talking, of course, about the VP of Innovation for Campbell's Soup. That's not just a collection of disparate ideas and seemingly unrelated words: it's a job! Held by an actual person! Project Runway teaches us so much. Do you think that when the VP of Innovation for Campbell's Soup is asked at a party, "So what do you do?" she responds, "I innovate soup"? (Incidentally, that's my answer to that question from now on.) What do you think the duties of the VP of Innovation for Campbell's Soup are? To brainstorm ideas for how to make the red on the label slightly redder? To come up with a list of new vegetables they could add to the Vegetable Minestrone ("Hmmm. Maybe celery? Is celery in there? Oh, I've got it: shallots! They're like part onion, part garlic!")?  To choose between calling their low-sodium soups "Healthy Request" or "Healthy Option"? The mind endlessly reels. Toward soup.

So this professional soup innovator tells the designers that they must make a giant, wearable red advertisement for Campbell's for a heart-disease touchee to wear to some gala during Fashion Week. Shockingly, none of the designers went the big, round tomato costume route, although many of them did take great pains to remind us that these women are "real" and designing for "real" women is totally not their thing. You know what else is not many of these designers thing? Listening to the challenge. Ostensibly, they were supposed to make a dress (that also happens to be a walking advertisement for Campbell's) for a gala. That means evening wear. Most of the designers, however, churned out cheap-looking separates (Anthony, Jesse) or short, chintzy day dresses (Anna, Seth Aaron) in terrible fabrics. Just because something is red satin, doesn't make it gala-appropriate.

In fact, only five of the dresses (Amy's, Ben's, Mila's, Jay's, and Jonathan's) looked like they could have been worn at a gala—but of those five, three also could have been worn in parades: Mila's star-swipe dress in the Macy's Thanksgiving parade; Ben's Jessica-Rabbit-esque dress in a parade at Universal Studios; and Jay's long slump of a dress in a sadness parade. Amy's floaty, ethereal chiffon and charmuse gown was the clear (though boring) winner— although Jonathan's tiered taffeta number was beautiful, until she turned around to reveal a bolt of tomato red fabric randomly hanging down the back.

In other words, it must have been very difficult for the judges to narrow it down to only three terrible dresses. In the end they chose Anna's cinched sack dress for crimes against form; Jesse's horrendous red satin dress topped with a white satin jacket (!) for crimes against female proportions; and Jesus's red satin hooker-wear with rhinestone straps (really, Jesus? Showgirls don't even wear rhinestone straps) for crimes against decency. As bad as these looks were, I was very surprised that Janeane's shlumpy, dumpy aging conservative saloon girl dress with the bubble hem wasn't in the bottom three. That thing was a crime against all of our eyes. Still, of the three, Jesus was the obvious choice to go home. You don't make your model look like a shiny can of Budweiser with rhinestone accents and get away with it.

Stray Observations:

—Aww, Mila and Maya are bonding over their shared love of blunt bangs. Someone call Louise Brooks! They can all have a Girl's Night Out.


—Speaking of Maya, her dress's twisty drapery was interesting, but pretty droopy-looking. Yet the judges praised it because it was "flattering." What's flattering about looking like a slouchy snake?

—Too much red. My retinas hurt.

—Apparently if you have mitral valve prolapse you're worthy of several "She's so inspiring" montages. Heart conditions, even minor ones, make inspiring people.


—"Good bosoms, though." Oh, Heidi. Your bosom-vision knows no bounds.

—I'm getting really tired of Seth Aaron and his mall-Betty-Boop aesthetic.