Recap: ‘Project Runway’ – ‘A Night at the Opera’

01.13.12 6 years ago

Lifetime Television

Now that we have the horrid “turn random crap into a dress” challenge over with, it’s time for our intrepid designers to actually make something nice. I’m sure they’re just as relieved as we are, as it can’t be fun to bypass Mood for a bag of extra large black plastic garbage bags or a roll of Dixie cups, and I’m not sure what such a challenge really proves, except that some of our designers are more committed to recycling than others. 

Speaking of recycling, model-turned-“Runway” hostess and gung-ho environmentalist Angela Lindvall seems to be the biggest bust, at least with viewers, of the season. I’m not ready to turn on Angela just yet, though. She looks a little scared and not quite sure what to do (check out Molly Sims’ Heidi/not Heidi flip-flopping on “Project Accessory” for another example), and I’m hoping she finds an individual voice sooner rather than later. If I had to single out anyone who’s really a disappointment, I’d have to say Joanna Coles. As good as she was as a judge, those same tough love qualities make her a harsh mentor. What made Tim Gunn so special was his ability to be both honest and compassionate. I can’t see Coles doling out hugs anytime soon, honestly. 

This week is all about high end glamour, according to Angela. To underscore that fact, the guest judges will be Mark Badgley and James Mischka, who make pretty fabulous evening wear and wedding dresses (and, of course, the usual perfume/shoes/handbags/sunglasses wherein true profits lie). The challenge? A night at the opera! Indulge your fantasies, designers! Mark and James want couture, they want feminine, they want soft. The designers get $350 and one day to do it. Austin is appalled. You need weeks, months! This is couture we’re talking about! Yes, Austin, but it’s also “Project Runway,” and if they ever gave everyone the time they needed, no one would get eliminated.  

There’s some sketching, then it’s off to Mood. April wants to use red. So does Michael. What is up with these two? It’s like they have some weird psychic connection neither one particularly wants, which is what I imagine it’s like for the Olsen twins on a daily basis. It’s driving Michael insane! April doesn’t care that they’re both going to use red, but he does. Michael makes a quick change to a black matte jersey. Oh, Michael! Do what you want to do, for crying out loud! 
Even if their mop dresses were a little similar, I doubt their designs for this challenge would have had anything in common. April is hand-dyeing her dress. Mila thinks April is stupid to be wasting time on a dye job, but she doesn’t care. If she screws up, it’s only good for Mila. I wish Mila would apply her color blocking aesthetic to her hair so that she could more fully embrace her inner Cruella de Vil. I mean, she has the overplucked eyebrows and harsh make-up down already. 
Joanna Coles is in the house to “mentor.” Yay. She asks Rami who his competition is, and he picks (of course) Austin. She wants to know how Austin will surprise the judges. He’ll have a lame sheath with a black tulle overlay. Joanna likes the color scheme. She wonders if April is wasting her time dyeing fabric. Joanna doesn’t seem to be mentoring much, just thinking. She worries that Michael isn’t worried enough about how the dress will fit. Joanna thinks Kara’s dress is a little bridesmaid. Kara makes the kind of fearful expression only seen on small children and people being photographed on the flume ride at Disneyland.
Sweet P talks about her dress, but I can’t pay attention because I think I might be going blind. My eyes! Aaack! This looks like a horribly frumpy outfit someone’s grandmother might wear to a picnic. Oddly enough, Joanna doesn’t “mentor” Sweet P into burning it and starting over. Joanna asks how Anthony’s dress isn’t a bridal gown, as it’s white. He says it’s too sexy for a bride. Good answer, really. Rami says that he feels validated by Joanna, though I’m not sure why. Joanna may be offering good advice and heartwarming reassurance, but we’re certainly not seeing it on television. 
Mondo declares Kara’s design the weakest in the room. I can’t disagree (though I’d give that honor to Sweet P by a hair). Kara’s fabric is so ’80s juniors department it hurts. 
Anthony thinks it’s an insult to couture to call this challenge a couture challenge. He thinks it should be called really, really, really pumped-up prom dresses. I hope Anthony doesn’t go home for a long, long time because he always has the best commentary. If this whole design thing doesn’t work out for him, I hope he can get a gig as a stand-up comic or, well, maybe Angela’s job. There could be a vacancy. 
Mila thinks Austin’s gown is basic. Mila, unlike Anthony, manages to make almost anything she says sound petty and spiteful, even when it’s not particularly critical (she doesn’t seem to mind Michael’s dress). And, ironically, that will make the producers want to keep her around long after she runs out of good ideas. 
Runway time! We have Georgina Chapman, Isaac Mizrahi and, of course, our guest judges James Mischka and Mark Badgley. 
The two-tiered skirt is too simple, the bodice is childish. I had higher hopes for this, as the fabric was a lot of fun. 
What’s with those front panels? It looks cheap, like stripper harem pants. 
I like the detail on the bodice, the dropped waist and the draping. Nice job. 
Boring. It’s a nice dress, but there’s no real wow factor. The one shoulder design? In a store near you right now. Where’s the fantasy?
Sweet P
Oh my Lord of the Rings, Sweet P is going home. This looks like a damn apron. The fabric is dreadful. Scarlett O’Hara did a better job with curtains. 
Dig the obi detail in the back, and the train makes all the difference. Cool fabric, too. 
Don’t love that fabric — looks too much like a sofa to me. The feathers are a nice touch, but this doesn’t say opera to me. More armchair.
She should be happy that Sweet P screwed up so horribly, but this is still juniors department. 
Definitely not a bridal gown. Sexy, gorgeous and beautifully draped. The black gloves are a nice touch.
This is chic, and very simple. The gold fabric makes it. 
The neckline is bizarre and the fabric looks crumpled and oddly sewn. I like the ombre, but not the dress.
I do like this quite a bit. The detailing and high neck are flashy but definitely fulfill the assignment – maybe not soft, but definitely feminine fantasy.
Angela calls Anthony, April, Sweet P, Austin, Kara and Michael. They have the highest and lowest scores. Everyone else is safe. 
Anthony is first. Isaac loves how he created a new context for white. He loves the plunging V. Angela loves the black shoes and gloves, but Georgina thinks it may be too vampy (note to Georgina: no, it isn’t). Mark thinks it’s a showstopper. 
April talks about breaking away from her norm. Isaac suggests that a dress for the opera may not be the time to try tie-dyeing. Ouch. I will say, Isaac isn’t as cutting as Michael Kors, but he does have good comments. I think he has too much compassion for the designers to rip them to shreds. James thought it looked a teeny bit tortured. Mark and James hate black and red together (I don’t think that it’s fair to pan her on a personal taste issue, honestly). Georgina loves the red, but she thinks she matched the wrong red fabrics. 
Sweet P talks about Cinderella, but Isaac thinks prom dress. James thinks dirndl skirt. Georgina wishes she’d reversed the fabrics top-to-bottom. Isaac thinks the bodice is a mess. Angela thinks it’s a day dress.
Austin talks about the modesty of his dress. Isaac thinks it looks fresh, classic and expensive. James thinks he could see it at Bergdorf’s. Mark notes that the tulle is lopsided, but he’ll let it go. Georgina would like a lower bust, but otherwise loves it.
Kara defends her print. Isaac likes the print, but says the waistline is too high. Mark Badgley thinks the ribbons needed to be longer. Georgina thinks it’s pretty but anonymous. Very off the rack, if you ask me.
Michael says he went for spectacular. Isaac thinks it’s shockingly perfect. He thinks it’s Kim Kardashian at the opera. Yikes, he means it as a compliment, but still, ewww. Georgina loves the matte jersey. James thinks it’s so sexy. Angela wants to wear it. 
The judges talk. They think April overreached, and Isaac thinks Sweet P did a swimsuit top. Mark and James like Kara’s dress, but they’re the only ones. 
They all think Anthony’s gown was fantastic. Isaac loved Austin’s dress. James thinks it was tasteful. Everyone thinks Michael’s dress is spectacular. But Isaac thinks there a lot of dresses like it on the red carpet. He’s got a point there. It does feel a little familiar. It doesn’t help that Michael’s model had a J. Lo vibe.
Anthony is… safe. It’s down to Michael and Austin. And the winner is… Austin. He looks relieved. I think, because he’s known as the couture guy, he would have felt like a failure not to win the challenge. He’s glad to have the reassurance. Michael is safe. Hopefully now he won’t give a crap what April does. 
It’s an all girl loserville. Kara is safe. April is…in. Good-bye, Sweet P. 
Sweet P is glad she’s gotten to meet the other designers. And she’s fine with getting auf’ed, because she has a happy life to go back to. Good for you, Sweet P! And stop making dirndl skirts! They don’t look good on anyone, unless they’re 8-years-old and have a part in a remake of “The Sound of Music”! And really, not even then. 
Next week, the designers must put something together for… Miss Piggy! I think this is kind of brilliant and possibly a nightmare, which means at the very least it will be fun to watch. 
What do you think of the Miss Piggy challenge? Do you think Sweet P’s outfit was the worst? Do you think Austin deserved to win? 

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