‘Project Runway’ recap: Who will make it work on the ‘Finale Pt. 1’?

So, we’re getting down to the wire (or the inseam) on “Project Runway,” and in this episode, our final four get to head home, invite Tim Gunn over, spend way too much time alone thinking about concepts and French seams and whatever, make really weird choices, then head back to New York. I’m beginning to feel as if every collection we see at this stage, with a few notable fabulous exceptions, takes a left turn at crazy and hits the gas. This week’s episode we again see a lot of WTF choices, and it doesn’t make me look forward to Fashion Week at all.

Everyone packs up and heads home to design and navel gaze and freak out, and poor Tim Gunn has to walk into this whole mess of crazy. His first visit is to Patricia in Taos Pueblo. The cool part is that he gets to visit her family home, which is made for tiny little people, so Tim Gunn gets to wipe his hair on the ceiling. Tim is entranced by all this authentic American Indianess! I’m a little underwhelmed (to use a Michael Kors term), but when we see Patricia’s studio, I’m wondering if it’s time to move to New Mexico. It’s huge and gorgeous, and I would really rather see more of the studio than Patricia’s crazy ass clothing. 

Tim Gunn thinks a lot of it is fabulous, but tries to convince Patricia not to use the latest fabric she’s created because it looks like a kid got a hold of crayons and went nuts. Which, really, is how I feel about a great deal of Patricia’s designs anyway. The judges can tell me over and over again that Patricia is full of ideas, but the main idea I see is formless, shapeless stuff. It’s like she’s designing for her Weebles collection. There is an interesting horsehair cape, but it’s interesting. Not good, just interesting. 

In Portland, Tim meets Michelle’s family and then sees her designs. And wow, I’m almost ready to give Michelle the win on the spot. I love her lone wolf theme, I love all the layers and… okay, not in love with the chaps, as they just make me think kinky West Hollywood boys’ club wear, but the rest of it is great. 

Tim visits Daniel in Austin, Texas, where he declares that Daniel’s new haircut makes him a chia pet. Daniel smiles and giggles like this is the best compliment EVER. Daniel introduces Tim to his sister, who gets weepy with love for her brother, so we know this crying thing runs in the family. 

Tim finally gets to see Daniel’s clothes, which are inspired by Salvador Dali, nebulas and Berlin. Tim correctly wonders if this is hella crazy. Unfortunately, it’s not. It all seems a little staid, especially the cashmere item Tim labels grandma’s robe. He also warns Daniel to avoid Monkeyhouse Syndrome — just as you get used to the stink if you spend enough time in the zoo, you can become blind to how ugly you’ve made your clothing. I think Daniel has very poor Monkeyhouse sensors, really, even though I do love him to death. I just wouldn’t want to wear his designs.

Next on the crazy train is Stanley, who seems to have the best apartment in L.A. ever. His inspirations are the 1960s, Spain and “clean lady” looks. Does he mean cleaning lady? Or does he think women are either clean or dirty? I am so very disturbed by this, but I’m more disturbed by the designs, which look like St. John’s assisted living collection. We also learn that Stanley’s sister Belinda died a year ago, so he’s sad. 

Finally, everyone returns to New York, and Daniel acts weird to Michelle because he hasn’t gotten over that “designing for 21-year-olds” comment she and everyone else in the world has forgotten, but eventually it all devolves into hugging. 

It’s not so huggy in the interview room, however. Once the designers see what everyone else is up to, Patricia thinks Danie’s stuff is too safe. Daniel thinks Michelle is trying too hard. Stanley thinks Patricia is not at his taste level. Michelle thinks Stanley better hurry, because his stuff isn’t finished. 

The designers must choose three looks to show the judges, plus they get a helper! Which would be nice if one of them wasn’t Richard. 

Poor Stanley gets Richard. Daniel gets Samantha. Patricia gets Layana, who’s pregnant. Michelle gets Amanda. There is sewing, and editing, and thinking. Layana may have a pregnancy glow, but it hasn’t made her nicer. She manages to take digs at Patricia to Samantha, rolling her eyes at how ugly her clothes are. She’s not wrong, but yes, she is mean. Tim offers more advice, there’s more sewing, and then it’s time to judge. Whoot!

Runway time! Zac Posen and Nina Garcia are the judges, along with Heidi. Huh. No one wanted to guest judge? 


The black pantsuit is nice. It’s rich, but it’s boring. Really boring.

Sorry, but this gold dress is HORRIBLE. It’s frumpy, too long, and I hate the black detailing against the gold. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Stanley, seriously? This is so not Stanley! 

Again the showstopper is too long and very dated. The swing coat is cute, but there’s no color and no pop. Why would he consider this a showstopper? This mini-collection is shockingly bad for Stanley. I’m just so disappointed. This is the guy to beat!


Her first look is a big, baggy, hippy dippy dress with an awful necklace AND awful earrings and a nice scarf that’s completely overwhelmed by all the other crap. It’s way too much. Edit!

The horsehair cape is interesting, and the sequined trim I like, but… it’s very equestrian center/expensive tourist buy. As in, I’d only ever wear this in New Mexico. 

I kind of hate this dress. The enormous sequins just look silly. Oddly enough, I like the headdress. It makes me think of certain Muppets. 


The little jacket is sharp, but not with the necklace. The pants are fine. I could do without the hat. Is he doing all black? Why would he do all black?

This sweater with tuxedo pants looks like it fell out of a mall.

I do love this dress, but the stingray back zipper looks dated and certainly not original. I can’t believe he went for all black. Not that you can’t do that and make it work, but everything has to be so strong to pull that off. And this is not strong. At all.


I love the lone wolf sweater, especially paired with the shirt. What I don’t love are the chaps. 

This crushed silk dress with neoprene skirt is great — but there’s too much going on. I think someone needed to stop a few weeks ago, because this is amazing but it needs an edit. That hip detail could go, easy.

I love the coat. Love. But crap, three bags dangling off of it? Edit! Edit! 

Judging time! Michelle is first. Heidi likes her designs, but would like more color. Zac likes that her stuff is cooky and wearable. Me, too! He sees merchandising possibilities. Nina doesn’t want her to get too tricky. One bag, not three. Oh, and she needs to fix hair and make-up. We also learn Michelle hired crazy Joe to knit stuff for her. Hey, that weirdo is good for something!

On to Daniel. Zac is bored. Nina thinks the jacket and dress are well made, but she doesn’t see color or shape. Heidi is underwhelmed. I think Daniel is getting the boot. 

Next, Patricia. Heidi loves the horsehair cape and the Tina Turner Smurf outfit. Nina thinks it’s Dr. Seuss. She celebrates Patricia’s craft, but this is all over the place. I agree, really. I just do not dig Patricia’s tourist aesthetic at all, and I think Nina’s dead on about this but Zac and Heidi think she’s just too interesting to send home. Zac likes the wig. Of course he does. 

Finally, we have Stanley. Heidi doesn’t see the wow. Zac hates the proportions. Nina thinks his looks are cohesive and luxe, but there’s no sexiness. Zac can’t understand why he created something so dowdy. He wants chic and hot! And it’s chic banal! 

I’m sure Daniel is going home, which makes me sad. He’s not the best designer, but he is awfully nice. Still, this episode he seemed a lot twitchier and grumpier than usual. Even when Tim was telling him to scrap the dress, he stubbornly clung to it. Stanley was equally stubborn, but hey, that’s Stanley’s usual M.O. This week, I think Daniel and Stanley were their own worst enemies. 

Heidi lowers the boom. Michelle is in. Patricia is in, unfortunately. Stanley… is in. Daniel is out. He’s sad but he’s fine and he hopes everyone knows they can do anything! He’s almost 50! Okay, now I keep thinking of that “Saturday Night Live” skit with Molly Shannon. Anyway, Daniel is going home to sew things and be fine. And hopefully, please, someone make Patricia go away first next week, please?

Who do you think will win? Whose collection do you think is strongest?