September 4th, 2009
11:31 AM ET

'Runway': When in doubt, hand-dye it

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think “Runway’s” season 6 was going to be short a few episodes judging by how much the producers packed into last night’s hour-long design-fest.

While I loved every minute of it, it left me feeling like this season has been in fast-forward. We’re kicking off the crazies before they have time to really work over the workroom. They’re paired off in a team challenge before we have their names and aesthetics straight. And the “design an extra look” challenge twist was pulled out in episode 3 when producers had previously left such antics to the Bryant Park runway show.

But even if it felt like a lot was crammed in, thank God they did.

I couldn’t have been the only one rolling my eyes when they led the designers to the beach to chat up surfers for their surf-inspired challenge. Even Tim looked pained at thought, so clearly out of his Manhattan element as he stood on the beach in a black blazer. As Nicolas said, pullover hoodies do not high fashion make -  unless you ask them to also whip up surf-inspired avant-garde the day before the runway show.

L.A. hasn’t made “Runway” soft on design challenges after all.

The biggest surprise of the night had to be Ra’Mon, who I’ve been lambasting as unoriginal for two weeks now. But last night, the med school dropout came into his own.

Ra’Mon showed that when he’s left with the option of getting flamed for throwing something together – seriously, he sewed and hand-dyed his neoprene avant-garde piece in, like, an hour – or sending a model naked down the runway, dude goes out hard.

I don’t think I’ve had such a change of heart about a designer since …. well, ever. Sometimes it’s pretty easy to see the top sketchers from the weaklings, but Ra’Mon pulled his vision out of seemingly thin air, putting me officially in his corner.

There was SO much more to this episode than I can possibly cover here, like the crazy tension between Epperson and Qristyl that was bizarre and completely unfounded – and possibly trumped up by the producers – for instance.

I do have one complaint that I just have to get off my chest (as always): why in the world did the judges relegate Michael and Logan’s two looks to the “acceptable enough to get you through for the next challenge” pile? I thought their work was one of the few pieces I saw last night that caused me to say, “I’d rock that.” Perhaps the play on volume with their avant-garde gown was too predictable, but I wanted Michael and Logan to get more shine in the judging.

Who did you think was a hit and a miss last night? Any of you have a clue (or care) what was up with Epperson and Qristyl? Let me know!

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Filed under: Project Runway • television
August 28th, 2009
11:06 AM ET

Baby on board for 'Project Runway'

A week into their new digs and “Project Runway” is starting to deliver. Despite last week’s somewhat rough landing onto Lifetime’s network, this week’s episode was a perfect fit for me.

The challenge kicked off with a then-pregnant Rebecca Romijn. I liked that they were laying down the “difficult body type” gauntlet nice and early, so we could separate the real designers from the whiners.

Even though her dress isn’t really worth a mention, Irina got hearted when she was one of the few to say that maternity wear shouldn’t be this astronomical leap from designing any other form of ready-to-wear. If you know how to cut and drape fabric, handling a pregnant belly shouldn’t be beyond your abilities.

Louise, Christopher, Althea, Qristyl (I know, I was surprised too) and Shirin – who gets props for designing not just a dress but a lined and completely wearable jacket - gamely stepped up to the plate. Logan, on the other hand, complained about how difficult this would be since he’d “never really had a lot of pregnant women in his life.” Seriously dude? Why would that matter?

And then there was Malvin with the awesome hair who will always have something to say and a different way to say it each time. Okay, I admit it, I liked him.  Even though he was an oddball, I appreciated his attempt to create an innovative, conceptual design with a story behind it – isn’t that what “Runway” is all about?

Yet I also understood the criticism that was flung his way - his “Mother Hen” idea was far from boring but it got completely lost in translation; Nina even said she was disturbed. Malvin, honey, you can create all day, but if a woman can’t wear it then what’s the point?

But when compared to the likes of Ra’Mon – who insists on recreating prom dresses from the early 21st century – Malvin was on the better track.  Mitchell also came up short and Nina let him know his “city chic” was less than so. If I would’ve had to face her “WTH” face, I think I would have just thrown in the towel then and there.

Heidi was also in rare form last night, almost making me forget that Mr. Kors was absent, when she told Mitchell, “just because we sit down here doesn’t mean we can’t see.”

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Filed under: Project Runway
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