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Arts and Entertainment

Project Runway #309 - Couture du Jour

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Challenge: Create a couture gown (hand made) in two days to be unveiled at a gala.

Guest Judges: Catherine Maladrino (1st Judgment), Richard Tyler (2nd Judgment).

In this second dual judging episode, the remaining six contestants are immediately thrown into design frenzy. Catherine Maladrino tells them: make a couture (completely hand-made) gown to be unveiled at a party. This is an assignment that will make or break the designers.

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Fresh ingredient for inspiration, the city of Paris is the perfect backdrop to unveil a couture gown. The designers spend a day touring the city with their sketchbooks, drawing their ideas at eventide, overlooking the glorious sprawl below them from the highest point in town.

In the work room, a miniature drama unfolds. The single character is Woody Allen played by Vincent. Pacing back and forth around his dressform, he gesticulates his grand ideas. Says he, “I trained in couture. My pattern will show couture.” Architect is doubtful of his final presentation: “Vincent is a legend in his own mind.” But this legendary skill isn’t translating to his dress. Uli thinks the material he used for the skirt looks like a sofa. The golden brocade would not have been my first choice for a couture gown. Too heavy. Too structured.

Michael K wants to stay away from being edgy. He wants simplicity to shine. The problem is that he hasn’t done much hand stitching. He tries a scalloped bust over a ruched bodice in a violet chiffon material. The final result is messy, messy, messy. Suddenly, I’m frightened for McKnight.

Jeffrey is effervescing over the Angela’s departure. The theme for his gown is “happy, joyous and free.” I think he drew his inspiration from her absence. Honestly, I think he was making unnecessary drama. Angela was harmless except for one episode where she was annoying the hell out of Vincent and everyone else in the Miss Universe Pageant Dress episode. But what would a show be without conflict? So we get hungry and watch.

Oh, but his dress is daring. It is a sunshine yellow plaid concoction. When I see plaid I think kilt, I think bagpipes, Catholic school uniforms and knee-high socks. I am anxious to see the final result.

This time Uli is going for simplicity. In the plethora of wacky graphic print combinations, we forget that she constructed a flowing eggplant and hushed lavender gown for Miss America in episode 3. It was elegant and ethereal. She is evoking the same feeling with this gown.

And then there is Kayne. He has chosen a gold metal mesh, which he plans to mold into a bustier that he will cinch closed with ribbon. Oh holy Vegas. Kayne is very much a product of pageantry. He runs a pageant gown boutique; Miss USA chose his gown and went to the top in Miss Universe. The problem? Pageantry does not translate to high fashion. When you’re on stage, gaudy and flashy on top of big hair is okay, expected even. When you’re on the runway, fashion forward, sleek, chic and elegant is what makes it.

Architect has a problem with Kayne’s dress. She worries for the boy, takes sympathy on him. It must be because she’s pregnant and they share the same hair colour. She should concentrate more on her own gown. It has a frilly oversized collar on top of a block of black with long sleeves. It’s a safe choice, if you ask me. Safe, and done. It’s not risky, and it’s not new.

The gowns are unveiled at a party held on a boat cruising the River Seine. Unfortunately, Michael’s gown is egged by onlookers as his model embarks the boat. Add insult to injury, as Michael knows his dress is a failure. Hand stitching in two days sapped him. The dress is frumpy with a side of egg. Maladrino spends some time chatting with the designers individually. She is extremely diplomatic in her conversation! She does not critique, only point out elements that she likes. Either she’s really very nice a person, or she’s incredibly fake. Vincent takes about 5 minutes to extol her virtues, talking her up, distracting her from the atrocity that is his gown. (He put a floret on the back! That’s Angela’s thing.) She says, “it is interesting.” And leaves it at that. Diplomacy. She should work for the U.N. She calls Jeffrey’s gown audacious, and smirks. He sucks in his breath and thanks her.

And this is just the first part.

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They pack their bags and head back to NYC where the designers must prep the gowns for a second model, THEIR models, and a second walk down the runway. Architect’s gown’s collar was wrecked en route back to the US. Completely flattened. The fresh appearance of a cloud at the neck is now wilting around her model’s shoulders. Bad sign.

As Kayne’s dress floats down the runway, I change my mind a little. It is flashy and a bit Vegas Show Girl, but his model makes it work. The other dresses are so-so or even bad. McKnight’s makes me cringe. I want so bad for him to be in the Top Three that I’m whelmed with desperate fear and disappointment for this gown. Then Jeffrey’s dress comes down the runway. She is working that dress so hard, so fierce. The colour pops from the screen as the model’s long gams strut. The endless yellow is draped gorgeously. As she turns, ribbons catch the air and swirl and then follow her.

Judgment. Jeffrey wins. This is a double hitter for him. Two in a row, WITH immunity. Uli is first runner-up.

Michael is in. The dress is surprisingly cute once the scallop breast area detail is tucked into the bodice. He needs practice in hand sewing, but he’s safe. I heave a hefty sigh of relief and genuflect. Thank you, God.

That leaves Architect, Woody Allen and Kayne. I could be dramatic and describe it all, but I’ll just tell it to you straight. Kayne is in. Architect is berated for doing something that’s been done and done better, but she’s in.

That makes Vincent the loser. Maladrino’s scorecard from the first judgment read, “No, no, no, no, and NO!” The other judges agree: “Everything equals one big no.” The dress was all mixed up. The front looked like the rear and the rear had a tweed-looking floret glued above the bum. I don’t know what couture he trained in, but I think it was the school of Nope. That’s what he gets for ripping Angela’s steelo.

Photos via BravoTV

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