Project Runway Review: Soap Opera Chic

I LOVED this week’s episode of Project Runway. Loved it, Loved it! We have a hero, a villain, aching hearts and heartbreaks. It was delectable; a tasty morsel of drama, and passion, and excitement that left me hanging over my keyboard salivating for more. If the remaining episodes of the season continue this way, I will be a very happy girl indeed.

Last week you met April, Peach, Michael, Ivy, McKell, Jason, Casanova, Gretchen and Andy. But now that McKell’s gone I guess we have room for the rest of them. So, joining our previous eight in the official start of Project Runway are AJ, who designs for punk rock girls. He might find a liking in Sarah here as her style seems a bit rocker-ish, she describes her design as unconventional. Well, okay. Nicholas used to be an architect, but now he’s taking his love of structuring to create beautiful clothes. And if Casanova’s a little bit weird, Mondo’s a whole world of it. He likes to mix classic styles together for his look. Valerie sounds like a tape going in fast-forward. Christopher and the other Michael don’t really make much of an impression, so we’ll get to them when they do something of note. So, to prevent confusion there will only be one “Michael” in this post (you meet him last week.) The guy from this week will be known as “the other Michael” until he does something useful.

The designers meet with Heidi Klum and Joanna Coles (editor-in-chief of Marie Claire) who formally welcomed them to the show and promptly give them their first challenge. For the challenge, the designers must create a look that tells who the Marie Claire woman is; Joanna describes her as smart and fashion-forward. The winning designers work will be featured on a 40 ft billboard ad in Times Square. This sends the designers in a frenzy, because having your work displayed so publicly is major!

In the design phase, Gretchen decides to make pants… for the first time. (Come on people, never make anything for the first time!, except) Gretchen pulls it off and manages to make a chic jumpsuit. Jason has a brilliant idea to make an infinity dress and proceeds to spend the rest of the episode explaining to everyone how genius his design is. It’s a big 8, get it, the circles never end and this is season 8 of Project Runway, get it? It becomes clear fairly early that a concept is all he has for this dress. His execution is lousy, timing worse and he ends up closing his model in safety pins. Peach traps herself in her ‘ladies at lunch’ style. She figures this out early on, but unfortunately she spirals herself in further with horrible design and styling that makes her model look like a giant Barbie. Nicholas tries for innovation as he decides to make a miniskirt and circle jacket. Gretchen is concerned that he borrowed inspiration from her winning outfit last week; his shirt design is almost identical cut in the back. AJ grows a pair of donkey ears as he rudely shuts Casanova down when he asks for critique on his design. Of course it is his prerogative to not help the other designer, but he could do this in a polite way. Casanova doesn’t take offense.

At the end of the day, the contestants enjoy each other’s company. That is everyone except Mondo. While his roommates are busy talking about his weirdness, Mondo is curled up in bed and in a confessional quickly steals his way into my heart. Mondo’s lonely. He wants friends in the house, but he doesn’t know how to make them. Have you seen Monk? This guy is a real life Adrian Monk (or a reality tv Monk, depending on how real you think reality tv is.) He is so consumed by his art that he is suffocated by it. He even does the whole ‘my gift is a curse thing.’ My heart breaks for him and I’m totally rooting for him to win, the whole show. It’s just so sad.

On the Runway, Joanna Cole returns as guest judge along with Heidi, Michael, and Nina. Because the win this week is so big, the winning designer will not be granted immunity.

There were a lot of blah dresses: AJ’s had this weird stomach bunch; Michael’s was okay, but too short; Sarah’s looked dowdy; and Kristin’s looked like it was cut with a chainsaw. But they all survive this week, as only Mondo, Peach, Nocholas, Jason, Valerie and Gretchen are called to stay.

The judges love Mondo’s outfit. Heidi calls it really cool and Nina says that it has a great spirit. Valerie is in the top as well with her “Carrie Bradshaw meets Samantha Jones” dress which was simple, but interesting, says Michael Kors. Gretchen is again in the top with her jumpsuit that Michael called “modern from head to foot.” Her effortless design grabs her top spot as she wins again this week.

In the bottom three are Peach, Nicholas, and Jason. The judges thought Peach’s dress completely missed the mark of the challenge, (they thought it was for a 70 year old) but her clothes were well made so she’s moving on to next week. Jason gripes that he’s been misunderstood all his life. Well, he’s got one more chip to add to his shoulder. He’s out. And just when you thought it was safe for poor Nicholas to breath, it’s not. The judges thought his overly complicated design was too much and sent Nicholas packing as well. Gasp.

Okay, I didn’t really have any special attachment to Nicholas, but seeing him so emotional that he broke down backstage really got to me. His design wasn’t that bad. Yes, the cape sucked, and the back was atrocious, but it was still a decent outfit. But I guess that just isn’t enough as Nicholas found out. Better luck next time.

Season 8, Episode 2:  Larger Than Life (originally aired August 5, 2010)

For more on Project Runway, click here. You can follow Poptimal on Twitter @poptimal.

Thursdays at 10pm EST on Lifetime

Photographs courtesy of Lifetime.

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