Lifetime

'Pressure Makes Diamonds'

The designers walk three-look mini-collections for the judges, and not everyone gets to sparkle.

I thought eating three quarters of a bag of candy corn during last night's bored-without-end two-hour Project Runway might help pass the time. It didn't; I just found myself wishing for death for a different reason. I used to enjoy the home visits, because they used to add depth (we already get so much information on the designers from the THes, the "Tim meets the fam" moment is superfluous), and because Tim used to add insight (he's seeming off-base burnt out the last few years, and I haven't forgotten The Swapnil Affair, believe me). At this late date in PR's lifespan, it just seems like so much cynical ginning-up of drama and capital-B Backstory, and because we've watched television before, we knew the Tim Gunn Save was coming, so that also failed to create suspense. Cut the crap and show us the clothes already.

When we finally did get to see the collections and hear the judges' thoughts, it did get interesting -- not necessarily in a good way, because some of the critiques seemed unfair, or at least willfully obtuse, and that too may have proceeded from a production request for final-act misdirection.

If "Finale, Part 1" is sitting on your DVR, you can skip everything but the last 15 minutes. Who's going into the runway show hot and who's feeling rusty? From best to worst:

Kelly

Her cute boyf, and the way he introduces himself to Tim Gunn ("pleasure to meet you, brother")? A-plus. Her inspiration's a bit nebulous -- Studio 54 meets street style -- but I like what she shows Tim, and the styling is fantastic across the board IMO, though the judges disagree.

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I like the manhole-cover print, but it does look cheap and flimsy, and I don't know quite what she can do about that at this point, besides lining/backing everything? I also like the shorts and their length better than the judges did; the fit is imperfect, but it hits in an unexpected place without feeling contrived, and I love the silver cuff.

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And that top! That top is always. I would buy it in every color and wear it everywhere.

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Edmond

Glad he got the Tim Gunn Save; glad that everyone else remaining is glad too; not sure he has anything left in the tank. He's struggling with time management, and while I really like the look he made the day before and think the sweatshirt-y edging is fun,

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it isn't anything that innovative. The scuba-fabric tent dress is lovely and moves great, though, and I like the long "severe" look the judges are so nonplussed by.

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The model's got a severity that matches up perfectly with the The Ice Storm vibe of the dress; Edmond could have cranked the styling to make that steampunk-key-party association easier to draw, but it's still over-criticized.

The judging

I mean, I'd have a tough time taking criticism from Nina when she's wearing this?

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But it's a rare trendoid misstep from her, and she's a bit fairer to the designers than Heidi and Zac Posen, on balance (her asking Ashley whether she wants people to talk about the headdresses or clothing is right on). Something about their urging Edmond to make his looks sexier and more "street" doesn't sit right with me -- is "street" really his deal, looking back? -- and then they turn around and tell the actual street-wear designer, Kelly, that it's a boring show, like, she makes sportswear, so why would she style it like it's the Met gala or the Globes? Posen's glitter tip is useful, but at the same time seemed to miss the point.

The criticism of Candice seems especially disingenuous, not on the merits but in the timing. She does try much too hard. Heidi hits it on the zingy head by calling out Candice's styling for the cliches of "what someone outside fashion thinks a fashion show is," and Nina's "Alexander McQueen can do Alexander McQueen; you: cannot" looks S13-style bitchy written out but is delivered with no-bullshitty regret. The thing is, it's what she's done all along. Now you clock her for a Trash & Vaudeville aesthetic she's never tried to hide and can usually execute on? I don't think it's insincere on the judges' part; nor do I think they just happen to have come up with these knocks now.

Posen faces

One very mild smelled-a-fart mien during Edmond's runway.

Ashley

I dig her Mexico City in the '50s concept, and knowing really nothing about that time/place, it seems to me like she sells the vibe. It's cool that she's going plus-size, too, so you can see what the clothes really do and look like on a more...well, models are real people, so let's say a person more towards the center of the bell curve, as it were.

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I dig the flor-scinators, but Heidi's suggestion that she vary the sizes from look to look is smart.

But I can't get past the colors. The "why didn't you use print?" "criticism" is annoying and irrelevant, but as it relates to her stepping away from that mumsy pink, the point is well taken, especially if she's working with lace and with vintage silhouettes like that fluted skirt on the purple dress (which I don't like either; it's too hippie-bell-bottom).

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This is a bold look that, especially with the moto detail on the bustier, would really stop a show if it fit right. And it really really doesn't, and that pink, I just can't.

The Tim Gunn Save

I don't care for it as a show element, but Tim deployed it justly.

Candice

Of course her daughter is named Persaeus (whether for the Stoic philosopher or for the Tennessee death-metal band, I don't know, and I really hope it's the latter, because: hee). Of course she makes Tim tramp across a skuzzish San Francisco beach in his pink socks. Don't do that, lady.

I like the cherry blossom fabric, but the overall feel of her collection and the silhouettes feels '90s-theater-major to me, and calling that black/red rockabilly-vampire color combination an "experiment" is kind of clueless.

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That hat is ridiculous, but the lace coat is nice -- the mix of fabrics, where the sleeve hits -- though it's not all that new an idea.

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I mean, it's all fine/not terrible, but it feels to me like she's not aware enough of the referents in play to understand that it's landing as dated instead of classic.

That this is at the bottom of the list overstates how "bad" I think it is; it's not bad. It's just the least good...and who knows what we'll end up seeing next week anyway.

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