Project Runway Post-Show Chat, Week 11

Slate's Culture Blog
April 2 2010 12:37 AM

Project Runway Post-Show Chat, Week 11

After each episode of Project Runway 's seventh season, a gaggle of Slatesters gather to dish about the show. This week, the challenge was to design a red-carpet look for Heidi Klum. Emilio Sosa and Anthony Williams were the winners; Jonathan Peters was sent home.

June Thomas June Thomas

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

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What did you think of Maya's decision to withdraw—smart self-knowledge or, as Emilio so charmingly put it, is she just a quitter? I tend to think it's a bit of both. Good for her for realizing that she wasn't ready, but I hope she knows that she probably won't get another chance in the spotlight. I wish she'd done what one of the other designers suggested and created a crazy, visionary outfit that—and he didn't say this—would get her kicked off. Would it have been better to go down in a blaze of glory than to pack up her scissors and walk away quietly?

Jessica Grose: June! I was actually a tad disappointed at the lack of histrionics in Maya's exit. As a longtime watcher of reality TV, I expected a complete mental breakdown, a death in the family, or at least a mild illness to be behind her early departure. Instead, we just have her stone-faced with Tim, saying that her "vision" was not clear enough for her to proceed. Though there were no fireworks, I did believe her story. I think she made the right decision. And if Season 1 winner Jay McCarroll, who is now on Celebrity Fit Club , is any indication, the Project Runaway spotlight is no great shakes.

And anyway, Maya's leaving allowed Anthony to come back! What did you think about his return?

June: Well, it suits the show, since he brings much-needed sound bites in his ample wake. I wasn't knocked out by his garment —it felt pretty blahk-and-white to me—but that makes two "design for Heidi" challenges that he has won. (I know, his dress will be worn by Jessica Alba. That's a bigger deal than being worn by Heidi Klum, right?) Emilio works my last nerve—he clearly didn't get the modesty gene—but I have to admit that his dress was, as Michael Kors put it, impeccable. Boring enough to keep the focus on the person wearing it and beautifully made. It made me wonder why we don't see more dresses just like it on red carpets.

Jessica: I felt the same way about Anthony's dress! Maybe it looked fantastic in person, but the black and white looked blah to me on television. Agreed on Emilio's look, as well—it really fit his model perfectly. Jonathan's auf 'ing was well-deserved. His dress looked like a Philip Lim after it had been torn apart and defaced by monkeys. After last week's " dirty tablecloth " fabric, it was clearly his time.

June: Defaced by monkeys or defecated on by monkeys? I was just relieved that he listened to Heidi's feedback about his precious cutwork technique. She said it made her think of curtains; I was reminded of my grandma's sofa. Either way, it was not going to work.

I will miss Jonathan's supremely expressive hair. Today he started with a big Hawaiian wave, but by the end of the show it was more like a question mark.

What do you think is going to happen to Anthony next? Mila has deserved an auf 'ing for two consecutive weeks, but she's been kept around for affirmative-action reasons. I am now feeling like he's going to outlast her.

Jessica: Oh, lord, I hope that Anthony outlasts Mila! I am having trouble looking at her these days, her sour puss darkening my TV screen. Her dress this week was boring, and the fit was tacky. As Nina said, "It looked like something the Housewives of New Jersey would wear." But the fit apparently wasn't as bad as Seth Aaron's dress , which made Heidi sad. She said, "The cleavage isn't done in a way that looks glorious." And we know that one should always make Heidi's cleavage look glorious. To not do so is a crime against fashion and nature.

June: There were a lot of crimes against bangin' bodies this week. Michael Kors was more than a tad ethnocentric when he declared that no woman wants her butt to look big, but no woman wants to look like she's wearing Elizabethan pantaloons. Jay made the weird hip extenders , and he needed a lesson in how bras and breasts interface from Heidi. It just seemed weird that having now been around her for 11 weeks, none of the designers made anything that showed off Heidi's best assets—her titsets—all that well.

Jessica: I can forgive Seth Aaron for his gown, since he was told after he had already started making it that his model had booked a DKNY campaign and couldn't be there the day of the runway show. I liked his garment—a simple black dress with punk details—as it was coming down the runway, but when the models were standing there for judging, I thought it made his model look wide. This new model had a different body type, and since his fit has been so good in other weeks, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was thrown by the loss of his original model.

What did you think of guest judge Jessica Alba?

June: Ooh, good point on Seth Aaron. His dress didn't look good, and fit and styling has always been his long suit. The late substitution explains the lack of pop: He made it work, but it was never going to look spectacular on such a different body type. (It makes me smile a little to suggest that Cerri is anything but skin and bones, but it's all relative, I guess.)

I kind of fell in love with Jessica Alba. I didn't quite get why she got to do a silhouette-behind-the-screen entrance-—I can't remember any other guest judges getting an introduction more elaborate than a basic "sitting in the chair next to the picky Colombian lady is ..."—but she seemed both kind and discriminating. I love it when beautiful people act like there's any way they might ever get a little heavy around the hips or could go out for dinner with their husbands.

Where do you stand on the one-day challenge question? As much as I hate to agree with whiney contestants, it does seem ridiculous to give them so little time for a red-carpet challenge. What's the big hurry? Did Parsons need its classroom back or something?

Jessica: I'll bet because the challenge was so simple—design a red-carpet gown—not to mention rehashed (how many times have they designed for Heidi at this point?), the producers felt they needed to throw in the extra twist of time constraint to keep it marginally interesting. I, too, liked Jessica Alba's down-to-earth attitude, though I usually prefer a bit more sass in my guest judges. (Posh was the be-all, end-all of guest judges.)

So, what do you think is going down next week? They really are getting down to the wire. Though I hate to admit it, I think Mila's going to stick around. I'm calling a Mila, Emilio, Jay, Seth Aaron final four. If it's not a gown-based challenge, our sweet Anthony may not be long for this competition.

June: It's like choosing between prunes and chitterlings—except I love prunes, and although I've never had chitterlings, I'm a big offal eater. Neither Anthony nor Mila is going to win the competition, so I wish they'd just let them down gently instead of putting them both through another 28-hour stress fest. Plus, the late challenges are usually boring—big glamorous gowns instead of "make something fierce out of human hair, pig viscera, and a tartan fleece blanket."

Jessica: Maybe we can suggest a prunes and chitterlings challenge for next season. Or lemons and pigs' feet? Make it work, people!

Previous chats: Weeks 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10

Postscript: Jessica and June discovered Maya Luz's Web site late last night. They've developed a new theory behind her departure.

Jessica: Maya is hawking these hideous S&M-themed "Ball and Chain" purses on her Web site.

June: Purses? WTF?

Jessica : Even worse: she describes her aesthetic as "Fashism." You have to read the mission statement.

June : Are you sure it's not an April Fool's thing? Racial supremacy puns are always such a good idea for foolin'.

Jessica : This is what Mayasays about "Fashism" in her Web site bio:

After a recent trip to Los Angeles, Mayacreated quite a buzz in the streets and boutiques of Rodeo Drive with her 'Balland Chain’ evening bag, which epitomize her most recent collection: Fashism,inspired by the fashion victim, and the manipulation of beauty. Plucking,tweezing, slicing and cutting have become the conceptual springboard from whichMaya has created a unique style that reflects her personal take on the prevalentattitudes surrounding the beauty standard.

June: OMFG, she's afetishist. I'm sure she'll go far. The handbags are heinous, but those photosare kind of hot in an "I need to seek therapy" kind of way. The sad thing isthat she never made Heidi a top that was essentially a crepe bandage with someholes in it. I bet Heids would've loved it.

Jessica : It's not really that surprising that Mayahas an S&M dark side. That precision bob she sports...

June : It's not. Everything falls into place now.

Jessica : Maybe she left Project Runway because she was missingher dungeon.

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