Project Runway Post-Show Chat, Week 13

Slate's Culture Blog
April 16 2010 12:31 AM

Project Runway Post-Show Chat, Week 13

After each episode of Project Runway 's seventh season, a gaggle of Slatesters gather to dish about the show. This week, Tim Gunn visited the four remaining designers as they worked on their Bryant Park collections. Mila Hermanovski and Jay Nicolas Sario each showed three looks to decide who got to show at Fashion Week. Mila made the cut.

Jessica Grose: There's so much to discuss this week: Tim Gunn on a trampoline at Seth Aaron's; Mila's black-and-white apartment, replete with black-and-white doggie; Mila and Jay's incredible awkward fake détente ... the list goes on. Mila will be going to Fashion Week, even though all the judges complained that her looks were too retro. I think that this choice, coupled with the fact that Tim Gunn criticized Jay's line for not having something in it that Heidi could wear to the Oscars, shows that Proj Run has zero interest in the avant-garde at this point. What did you all think of Mila's win? And, of course, of Tim Gunn on a trampoline?

June Thomas June Thomas

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

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June Thomas: You forgot another of the big moments: Michael Kors giving Heidi Klum a Yiddish lesson. He was so right, though, Jay's work was ongepotchket to the max. His outfits looked like a space station's Quidditch team uniforms . So many straps! So many buckles! Much too much of everything. Do you think Jay spent a lot of time hiking while he was designing his collection? I haven't seen that many gaiters since the last time I read a mountaineering supply catalog. His models all stood with their hands in their pockets, because he insisted on building a miniature Sydney Opera House right on their hips .

I take your point about the avant-garde, Jessica, and I'm really surprised to find myself agreeing with the judges, but I thought Jay's looks lacked elegance. For all their familiarity, Mila's ensembles were chic and stylish, and I loved the big military-style coat that her muse model wore. Is she going to be a great designer? Even a moderately successful designer? Not a chance. But did she make three good outfits that didn't look like they got tangled up in someone's sports closet before the model arrived at the runway? Absolutely.

Jessica: You're right, June, Mila's three looks were much more cohesive, though, I felt, borderline dowdy.

Hanna Rosin: I would never have picked Mila. Feels like affirmative action to me. She and Donna Karan both can stock Bloomingdale's with outfits for my mother, who is a stylish lady but nearing 65. I'm with Michael Yiddishkeit Kors. Better to start with more and pare back. When a writer turns in a B-plus story—solid, professional, predictable—B-plus it stays. But a writer who turns in a raw, overstocked mess with sublime details, I can make into something. Leather shin guards! Loved those. 

What did you all think of Tim Gunn's advice? Felt to me like he had been reading some self-help of the Machiavellian school. It was very focused, all about how to win.

David Plotz: I'm just going to gloat, again , that I picked all three of the Bryant Parkers at Week 2 . I thought Mila's outfits were hideous—vast and shapeless. The model in the Oreo cookie dress looked like she was simultaneously drifting in a sea of fabric and choking on the choker. And that stripey coat vibrated like a old-timey TV test pattern. Even on our crystal-clear HD, it nearly sent me into seizure.

June: David, I'm docking points, because unlike Hanna and me, who picked our final three , you picked four, thus improving your chances of gloating 11 weeks later.

Jessica: Tim was too harsh on Seth Aaron! I did not think he had to "reconceptualize the entire thing." His look was his aesthetic just as much as Mila's was hers—why didn't Mila get ragged on for being predictable?

How much did we love the Seth Aaron fam playing Pictionary? I especially loved that his wife is a reg and his teenage daughter is sulky.

Hanna: I also loved those early Seth Aaron pics. He's a blond! It was like seeing the young Lady Gaga. They were all so normal once. And here I thought you're supposed to get less weird as you age. It bodes well for Mila if young people start out looking matronly and then age into the Seth Aaron aesthetic. That's her only chance of being current.

Gaiter. I just had to look that up. I'm so glad to know what those are. All that time, I thought the girls in the Delia's catalogue had just let their legwarmers slip down too low.

June: I fear this season has seen the death of Tim Gunn's influence. I still learn a lot when he advises the designers, but very few of them seem to pay him any mind. I do think he went overboard with Seth Aaron, but given how many outfits SA had made, I think Tim just wanted to make him pause and think before he made another 27 full-body looks.

David: I find the whole "Make Tim Gunn surrender his dignity" shtick—there's another Yiddish word—a lowlight of the home visits. Didn't he have to ride a tandem bike a couple of seasons ago? It's like watching politicians throw out the first pitch at baseball games. They have to do it, but it embarrasses everyone concerned.

Hanna: It's hard to maintain your authority when you are flopping feet-up on that trampoline. The problem with Tim Gunn losing his influence in this season is that it will solidly hand the victory to Emilio, who has resisted Gunn the hardest. They were nearly at blows in that workroom. 

I guess what's important about Tim Gunn, as a cultural icon, is that he makes taste seem much less arbitrary. He makes it seem as if there is some benign force that guides us into a true understanding of what's correct and incorrect. If that's gone, what do we have left? Snarky Michael? Bitchy Nina? Paris Hilton? 

David: Hanna and I were both somewhat alarmed at the new, softer, ditzier Nina Garcia. Hanna wonders if Nina—perhaps seduced by one too many Lifetime ads—has dosed herself on Abilify and thus lost her psychotically OCD, vicious edginess.

Jessica: Seeing Mila with both Tim Gunn and a cute doggie made me feel more warmly toward her, like she actually has human blood pumping through her veins.

June: True, she looked a lot less Romulan tonight.

Do you think the producers were messing with us about Emilio's collection? Every time they showed it, it looked awful. Such unappealing colors and cuts—and yet another textile design that incorporates his not-yet-famous name. Surely it can't be quite so fug.

Jessica: I thought it looked like the Designing Women wardrobe closet c. 1988. RIP Dixie Carter!

David: Definite bait and switch! Also with Seth Aaron, who will surely not show 10 different patterned black leather jackets.

Jessica: Though I prefer Jay, I wasn't devastated to see him go. Obviously Mila is not winning this. Will it be Seth Aaron or Emilio?

June: Who'll win? Let's think strategically. Project Runway has had only one winner of color—Chloe Dao in Season 2. At least two white guys with aggressively asymmetric haircuts have taken the big prize. So, Emilio?

David: Emilio.

Jessica: Definitely Emilio.

Hanna: Before I make my guess, I want to say one last thing I've been saving all season. I think Heidi Klum is the first genuinely hugely pregnant person I've ever seen on television. I mean, she was huge by the end, her face getting a little puffy, and still she managed to doll herself up and walk up to that runway. A victory for womankind.

As for the winner, I think Emilio.

David: It is somewhat sad and amazing how little I have actually learned about fashion from watching five seasons of PR and doing this dialogue with you wonderful ladies. I still can't tell a gaiter from a gator and dreadful from "impeccable."

Hanna: Well, David, I think it's a rare day when a man finds a boxy checkerboard wrap appealing. Put Heidi—now minus her baby bump—into that short dress of Jay's and you'd call it impeccable.

Previous chats: Weeks 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12

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