Project Runway: The Straight Guy Perspective (S14, Episode Three)

by Andrew Osborne


Yes, this week, the designers find themselves aboard the S.S. Product Placement (though my wife is disappointed that none of them have the presence of mind to yell, “HOLY SHIP!”).

But rather than a three-hour cruise…a three hour cruise…Tim reveals the contestants are in store for even choppier waters:  the first of this season’s infamous team challenges.

Swapnil cringes when Tim unleashes the still yet more infamous Button Bag, adorably opining that the little cloth monster (rather than inexperience, immaturity, and the fact only Christian Siriano ever wound up anywhere near the A list as a result of appearing on the show) is responsible for ruining designers’ careers.

Tim’s first dip into the Notorious B.B. results in the pairing of Ashley and Goth Gal, like some kind of awesome fashion Avengers spin-off.

Then, as Tim continues his button-y matchmaking, Joseph interviews how much he doesn’t want to wind up with Merline, revealing that he (like dear, departed David) has apparently never, ever watched the show….because if he HAD watched the show, he’d know “Please God, don’t pair me with X” is basically the magic incantation that gets you paired with X.

And, lo, it comes to pass that Joseph winds up with Merline, whereupon he immediately imposes a strict “No Annoying Singing Dancing” policy on his partner that rapidly becomes more annoying than the actual singing and dancing itself.

As for the other teams, Perna & Gabby are notable for the double strength blandness of their Wonder Bread pair-up.  Kelly & Blake do an amazing impersonation of half the people I hung out with in 1980s Boston dance clubs (even without a blaring Cure 12-inch remix on the soundtrack).  Ashley and Jake transform into the beloved Saturday morning cartoon characters Snippy & Mopey.  Laurie and Swapnil are sweet and sari.

And Edmond and Pistachio…oh dear.  Oh, dear, dear, dear.

Let’s just say it’s not good as Pistachio apparently mishears Tim and, thinking she’s in an 8-hour arguing challenge, proceeds to complain about every move her partner makes, every smile he fakes, every breath he takes…

…in other words:  not a happy nut.

Meanwhile, Joseph inexplicably goes mad with power in the workroom, claiming HE’S the indisputable captain of the cruise ship challenge, bossing Merline around until he’s literally stolen the song from her heart (seeming to forget which one of them’s actually been in the top three before).

And, indeed, it seems his confidence may well be unfounded, since during a break from her main activity of the week (i.e., pointing out where vaginas will reside within her team’s giant bell-bottoms), Goth Gal Candice glances over at Joseph’s mumsy work-in-progress and snarks that her mother would certainly never wear it…

But then, having already succumbed to megalomania, Joseph is subsequently infected with the mysterious outbreak of cape-mania that briefly sweeps the workroom (because, we’re informed, capes = opulence)…

…while Jake is sidelined with acute melancholia, mumbling, “Oh bother” and “Ashley” again and again while gloomily staring at fabric

Until, finally, after an extremely long eight hours (punctuated by the Sally Beauty studio guy in the Sally Beauty studio t-shirt saying how the Sally Beauty studio always makes you beautiful and…wait, remind me again, which company’s doing the hair and make-up for the models this season?)…

…it’s time for the runway, starting with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Bell-bottoms.  “Way too much look,” my wife comments as Goth & Ashley debut their design, “but it’s fun.”

Next, Swapnil and Laurie (who’s adorably besotted with guest judge Tracee Ellis Ross) walk an Indian look that, much to America’s relief, Tracee actually digs enough to dismantle and partially wear during judging.

Lindsey and Jake wind up with a look seemingly commissioned for cocktail waitresses in some vaguely Asian-esque casino, while it turns out Joseph’s big vision for his pair-up with Merline was to design Hilary Clinton’s inaugural pantsuit gown.

Pistachio and Edmond crater with a bathing suit reminiscent of my own disastrous 7th grade home ec. attempt at making gym shorts, Team Wonder Bread showcase some kind of side mullet monstrosity, and Blake and Boston Kelly safely middle with a flowy white, flowery purple trim outfit that’s actually my favorite in a weak week where (according to my wife) the looks all looked like they should have been accessorized with wind machines.

The judges seems to agree, as Heidi issues the dreaded (and 99.99% bullshit) “one…or MORE of you may go home” threat to the remaining top and bottom contestants.

Surprisingly, Ashley and Jake’s Asian-ish look winds up in the top…but even more surprisingly, Jake still throws his partner under the bus about it, because he’s a mopey little dumbass.

But, rather than two designers going home, it turns out two actually win this week as Heidi reveals the judges couldn’t choose which member of the Bell-Bottom Avengers to reward (a happy moment, which Goth Candice swiftly ruins by using the word “aspirational”).

Meanwhile, down in the bottom, Team Wonder Bread get a pass, and Joseph defends his look by essentially saying “matronly” is kinda his whole aesthetic.  (That’s right…and he actually said it out loud!)  Yet despite Nina’s soul-crushing assessment that Captain Early Bird Special’s look is sparkly and atrocious and Helen Mirren wouldn’t wear it…

…it’s auf Wiedersehen to Pistachio (a.k.a. Hanmiao), partly because Edmond had immunity from last week, thus depriving us of all the crazy, boxy looks she might have designed in future weeks.  But she winds up being a gracious, classy nut as she bids farewell to the workroom…though never our hearts!  (And I’ll see all the rest of y’all next week!)



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