Even before the show aired, the commercials made it look like the strangest Project Runway misstep ever. The assignment? Design a costume for women wrestlers. Oh, wait. No, excuse me, Divas of the WWF.
But I have to say, after seeing the episode, the design consultants who dream up the challenges made a good call.
Because despite requiring a trip to Spandex House (I swear, it looked like Mood only stretchier), this challenge separated the designers from the hacks.
First, you've gotta love that self-effacing good sport, Tim Gunn. Climbing over the ropes to introduce the models, he referred to himself as Grandpa (I was holding my breath, hoping they didn't linger too long on that, and they didn't).
Chris? This challenge was designed to advance him to the next level. He showed that he can skirt the parameters of bad taste, and that he's got a few tricks up his sleeve (see the sparkled black spandex lining in the hoodie) and has an eye for detail -- many of the designers did some variant of strippy-straps, but his gloves completed that look.
Rami, although talented, showed he has a vision and a talent for draping, but unless he's forced to work with stiff fabrics, the emphasis on draping is self-limiting. He had that pale, panicky and somewhat-sweaty look for most of the episode that makes me think he'd fall apart when organizing a full-blown show. Either that, or he'd work and work and work and work in the months leading up to the show and be completely prepared, nothing to finish when he arrived for Fashion Week. It could go either way.
Jillian's sporty look seemed well-executed and sleek. (Again with the strippy-straps.) The color looked great on her model and the fit was sexy-sporty. If she's in the final three, I envision Jillian creating a line that is sophisticated but pretty with lots of details. The girl should just wear some skates so she can get around the room faster -- she's clearly got a time management problem with nearly every challenge.
Sweet P pulled it together in the end, but needed far more fabric to make the dramatic coat she really should have created. The look was so revealing that there was no surprise when the wrestler-diva removed it. Her looks are so tenuously created -- most episodes it seems she's hanging on by a thin emotional thread -- that I'm sure she's next out the door.
And Ricky... Again, Ricky, you made some errors in judgment that just made me shake my head. The girl was in a swimsuit -- and not a very attractive one at that -- covered with a schmatte. Hell, that wasn't even a schmatte -- it was a smock. She looked like she was ready to get her hair dyed at a New Jersey salon. But kudos for not falling apart at the end. At least from what I could see, there were no tears, and although sad, Ricky seemed resolute and forward-looking.
But Christian, you definitely earned your "fierces" and "big deals" this go-round... That ruched jacket was a little bundle of tough-girl chic, and the lacy cropped top and chaps fit his model like a glove. It was over the top, but detailed and somewhat restrained -- yes, suitably tacky. He was done and finishing up his little drawing of his design when Ricky was still creating his smock and scarfing up snaps and shooting down Sweet P's weird choices. Time management seldom seems an issue for this one. And creative ideas? They seem to ooze from his pores. And he's a baby! McQueen better form an alliance because if he doesn't, there's a new enfant terrible in town.
To me, this episode is one where Christian reinforced he is a youthful yet creative force, that Chris's experience is an asset and he may have a few tricks hidden up the sleeve of his blue plaid bathrobe, that Jillian has a sense of herself as a designer, and that now? Rami could be the wildcard.
Final picks: Christian, Jillian, Chris, with wildcard: Rami