Project Runway Episode 2: So long, whatsyourface!

You down with SJP? Yeah, you know me!

We’re just two episodes in with this group, and I think we’ve already surpassed the amount of crying that occurred in all past seasons combined. And, as we get points for tears in the Project Runway Fantasy League, I must be honest and say that I greet every trembling chin with a fist and clenched teeth, commanding, “Cry! Cry!” at the screen. I don’t feel bad; I’m not here to make friends.

Last week, we knew something awesome was coming, what with all of the repeated shots of the door to the workroom and the promise of a fashion icon. They haven’t disappointed in past seasons when it comes to bringing the quality fashionistas to the table – well, aside from Season 1 when all they could scrounge up was Nancy O’Dell from Access Hollywood. During Season 2 they designed for Nicky Hilton and Iman. The Season 3 group didn’t see any celebrity clients, but they faced a star-heavy panel with guest judges like Vera Wang, Kate Spade, and Richard Tyler.

SJPThey didn’t disappoint this year. There were gasps all around (including from me) when Tim Gunn revealed the guest judge for the week: Sarah Jessica Parker. Chris had a good old boo-hoo when he saw her, while the rest of the bunch was in varying states of jumping, squealing, and the like.

Their challenge was to create a two-piece example of American sportswear that could be sold alongside the other clothes appearing in the fall/winter collection of SJP’s line, Bitten. For those of you that don’t know, all of the clothes under the Bitten label cost around $20. This means that it costs considerably less to make those clothes. Consequently, the designers were given a budget of $15 to create these two pieces.

The designers were given 30 minutes to come up a with a sketch of their concept. SJP met with all of them, eventually choosing 7 who would work with a partner to actually turn their sketches into an outfits to go down the runway. It’s great to see the designers’ faces when they find out it’s a partner or group challenge, particularly when having to choose who to work with. I love watching them try to find that perfect balance between working together to make something great, but still maintaining enough distance as to not give up anything to their competition. Oh and seeing Sweet P’s face when Elisa picked her was just about the best thing ever. I think she would have rather been kicked off the show instead of having to work with Ms. Crazy Face. But, she was a sport and went along with it.

Spit markThere are still too many people to really get to know them at this point, but we’re starting to see little bits of their personalities. I’m liking Sweet P more and more, mostly because of how she approached working with Elisa. There was a lot of opening her eyes really wide, but no outright meanness. And honestly, when Elisa said she was excited to get the chance to apply the judges’ criticism from last week in this new challenge, she started drifting a little closer to the middle of the Crazy Spectrum. She almost slipped right back when she “spit-marked” her fabric, but her openness to Sweet P’s suggestion of using chalk instead saved her in my mind.

I felt that the editors played it pretty close to the vest when it came to revealing who was making what on this episode. They let us know about Marion and Steven struggling to finish a complex dress/poncho combo, and hinted toward the retro look created by Christian and Carmen, but that was about it. That made for a pretty exciting runway show.

After the models showed off the designers’ work, three groups were declared in and four were asked to stay on the runway as representatives of the highest and lowest scoring designs for that week. The remaining pairs were Victorya/Kevin, Christian/Carmen, Marion/Steven, and Elisa/Sweet P.

SJP was a fabulously knowledgeable judge, singing the praises of Victorya and Kevin’s adorable black dress and plaid vest with a racerback, praising them for its simplicity and consideration of the rest of the Bitten line. She also loved Elisa and Sweet P’s outfit, saying it had that ideal “swing” that we look for in American sportswear.

She and the other judges were less impressed with the designs Christian and Marion produced with their partners. Christian approached this week’s challenge with the same decisiveness as last week, but perhaps inappropriately so, as he was trying to make a garment that would fit within the existing Bitten line. His tight, body-conscious dress paired with a super-structure jacket screamed 80s! and didn’t seem to take cohesiveness into consideration.

UghMeanwhile, although Marion’s outfit looked great on paper, his choice of a loose knit to create his poncho totally screwed him over as it seemed to grow while it was on the runway. Heidi even managed to beat out her “poohing fabric” comment from last week by saying that it made the model look like a homeless Pocahontas.

During the evaluation, Heidi did my most favorite thing ever and asked the designers who should go home out the two bottom pairs. Carmen totally cracked when asked who she would choose, agreeing with Christian’s assessment that it should be him as it was his disastrous design. Steven carved an even deeper spot into my heart as he didn’t want to put all of the blame on Marion, but also said he “didn’t like the idea” of both of them being sent home – so honest and matter-of-fact and actually sort of Rainman-like.

In the end, Marion was Auf’d, leaving Christian the opportunity to redeem himself next week. All for the best, I say, because while Marion seemed like a nice guy, he was SUPER BORING and he just doesn’t seem to have the same conviction as Christian. Marion was pretty silent when the judges were critiquing his design, but Christian, to his credit, stood by what he did (albeit, weepedly so) and asked for clarification as to where they thought it went wrong. He was assertive without being disrespectful and hopefully will learn from SJP’s comment of the outfit being “more severe” than his original sketch.

To wrap it up, let’s look at a rundown of what I’m thinking for the coming weeks…

Who I now love:
As much as I hate to say it, I’m starting to love Elisa. Yes, she’s insane, but she seems so willing to learn. If she keeps it up, she could go far. Also, I now think Sweet P is awesome, particularly in how she committed herself to making it work, even with a crazy lady running the show.

Who I now don’t love:
At this point, I’m finding them all to be completely enjoyable. But it’s early yet for the bitches to start rearing their ugly heads.

Who to watch out for:
I’m betting that Christian is going to be pretty fired up next week. You don’t mess with someone who’s got something to prove. Also, even though she wasn’t feature much on this episode, keep an eye out for Kit. Her outfit was super cute and I think she’s got some great stuff coming.

Who’s next to go:
This one is a tough call. It’s hard to tell only two episodes in and with the last one being a partner challenge. They’re not investing much time with Kevin, so it’s possible that we’re not going to get to know him very well. I hope I’m wrong though because I appreciate anyone who is working to break stereotypes.

Previews for next week are promising the hardest challenge in the show’s history, featuring lots of shots of furrowed brows and potential meltdowns (Cry, seamstresses, cry!) It’s sure to be a good one. Until then…

Auf Weidersehen!

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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