After each episode of Project Runway’s seventh season, a gaggle of Slatesters will gather to dish about the show. This week, the first part of the challenge was to create a high-end, signature look in teams of two inspired by 10 iconic outfits at the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute . The second part of the challenge was to create a mass-market look for less inspired by another team’s signature look. Mila Hermanovski was the winner. Ping Wu was sent home.
Hanna Rosin: I have to say, I am a total sucker for team challenges. They are bad for the fashion but excellent for tension and drama. The looks—with one exception —were pretty forgettable. And that second challenge was kind of pointless and messy. But this episode produced some of the best lines of the season so far: "I'm just trying to rein in the crazy" (Jesse on Ping) and "We're designing for the vice president of McDonald's" (Anthony).
David Plotz: I totally disagree with you, Hanna. We've seen exactly this episode of P.R. a dozen times before. There's the team leader whose ego is too big. The team leader whose subordinate is relentlessly, systematically undermining her. There's the team where one person can't sew. Oh, and then there's the "surprise" second challenge, which is supposed to come as a shock to everyone but is just as formulaic. If we wanted to see how reality teamwork is supposed to work, we should have tuned into the season premiere of America's Best Dance Crew over on MTV. I caught a few minutes of it, and enjoyed the team spirit—and the fashion—a lot more than I enjoyed tonight's P.R. episode.
H.R.: Well, we've also seen Nina Garcia do her little wave 100 times, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it. And we've never seen the team challenge where the lady named after a tabletop game falls apart at the hands of Thurston Howell. Also, weren't you touched by Seth? What a gentleman not to sell out Anthony, when it was clear he had nothing to do with those looks. Makes me think he gets high a lot and preserves a permanent mellow.
Jessica Grose: I am somewhere in the middle between Hanna and David—I thought the episode was more sparky than the premiere but less interesting than last week's burlap-sack challenge . I knew it was going be a magnificent disaster when Ping said into the camera, with a straight face, "I am very good at giving clear instructions." However, I wish they had made more use of the Met, which has so many better sources of inspiration. It's a frickin’ art museum! I don't know why they're being painfully literal this season—make a dress out of a burlap sack! Design clothes that are inspired by ... other clothes! I wasn't even very impressed with the winners—but more on that later. What did you think about the rest of the clothes?
D.P.: Maybe it's how everything was filmed, but I thought this was an indistinct, blah bunch of outfits without a surprise in the bunch. (But let me just take a quick bow. After Episode 1, I predicted Ping's ejection in Episode 3 .) And you're right, Hanna. Though I continue to wish Anthony back to the dinner theater he has escaped from, his McDonald's line was one of the funniest moments in Project Runway history.
Mila's victory was deserved, don't you think? She's a festering, vicious, open sore of a person, but I sympathize with her. I'm turning 40 this weekend, and seeing her, at 40, looking as if she's a billion years older than the young hottie designers (Maya, Amy, annoying Janeane) really makes me root for her. And she's a hell of a designer. I love the way she always uses a flash of color to line the inside of her pieces.
J.G. : I have to disagree with you, David—strongly! I hated Mila's look. I thought it was reminiscent of a German street sign, and it reminded me of a dress that Kara Janx made in season 2 of P.R. that was inspired by "no trespassing" tape. Mila and Jonathan’s look for less made their model look like a pregnant teenage hooker.
H.R.: I understand the appeal of Mila's jacket, "sportswear-inspired," etc. But it was not a museum piece. And she is such a consummate underminer. I'm waiting for the day she has her Wintour-inspired fit.
I preferred Maya's skyscraper on the shoulders, and their second look was quite nice. In general, I thought this episode was heavy on jargon, maybe to make up for any instinctively pleasing looks—"signature," "multifunctional," "hard and soft," "luxury and fashion-forward." Also, I think the money threw them off—they had $500 to create their signature look. Designing on the cheap seems to give them a sense of urgency and freedom. This time they were weighed down.
D.P.: That sinuous, eel-like shoulder of Maya and Jay's dress was a highlight for me, too. So was Amy and Jesus' jigsaw puzzle dress and Mila's jacket. Everything else left me unimpressed. And a shocking number of looks gave the models big asses.
J.G.: I was really bowled over—as Nina Garcia was—by Maya and Jay's look for less. I thought the pleating on the bodice was miraculous.
D.P. : Before we go, I wanted to mention a new deplorable trend: Talking models. The emergence of Models of the Runway is really messing up P.R. , since the girls now seem to feel they are integral to the show, not just decoration. Last week they were the clients. This week, Ping's model sassed. Next week it will probably be Freaky Friday, with models and designers changing jobs.
H.R.: I have a different pet peeve that's been bugging me all season: the endless hugs. It used to be they hugged each other only when someone got kicked out. Now they've lowered the hug bar. They hug all the freaking time. I don't know whether it's gay Anthony; or whimpering, needy Janeane; or stoner Seth. But they are always hugging. Is this increasingly true on all reality shows, and I just never noticed?
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