Project Runway Recap: Jackie Kennedy's Camel Toe

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"I do not think 'Jackie O.'s style' means what you think it means."

This week the designers had what should have been a fairly straightforward challenge, and came up empty-handed. Perhaps after weeks of having to act excited about calling people like Kristin Bell and Selma Blair "style icons" they just didn't know what to do with a real one, namely: Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

Project Runway

Image courtesy Lifetime

But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

In an outfit clearly inspired by Michael C.'s winning "Hootchie Dynasty" dress, Heidi tells the designers to meet Tim Gunn to learn the challenge.

Side note while I point out that I don't even get the point of the opening sequence where Heidi sends them off to see Tim. They don't even do model selection anymore, and she comes out for 10 seconds, says "Hello" and sends them to Tim. I'm no Heidi-hater, but when they expanded to 90 minutes they clearly took advantage of the extra time to get more Tim into the show. And if anything, there is less Heidi. Nice work if you can get it, I suppose.

But since we've been sent off to Tim, let's carry on. Tim is standing in front of a all featuring projected photos of the aforementioned Jackie O.

A lot of blah blah about her being a style icon which is, at least, true. And then the challenge: To design your own take on classic American sportswear, using Jackie as the muse/inspiration.

They will have a $150 budget at Mood, and it's a one-day challenge.

These are the watchwords: Quality, taste, style, sophistication, elegance, expensive.

(And that doesn't bode well for this group, who have sent plenty of slobby or slutty stuff down the runway, but not so much that's classic and sophisticated.)

While at Mood, the producers continue to listen to my call to let us loyal viewers know that Swatch is still alive...and yes! Swatch-sighting!!! At the one-minute call.

So, what did we learn this episode?

  • We learned that Valerie needs some serious perspective. Calling herself the "Susan Lucci of the show" because she's been in the top 3 or 4 times without winning seems a bit over-the-top, no?
  • -We learned that several of the designers aren't really sure how sportswear differs from cocktail party wear. I'm seeing cocktail dresses from several of these hapless contestants. I'm just surprised none of them said: "But I don't play sports, how can I design sportswear?" or "I've never spent time on a yacht in the Mediterranean, how can I design for Jackie O.?"
  • -We learned that, if nothing else, Andy will stick with his vision, no matter how plain wrong it is. Cargo pants. Need I say more. Cargo pants going up the model's butt, no less. I am fairly confident saying that if Jackie O. were alive in this time, she would not be succumbing to the lure of those Old Navy commercials.
  • -We learned that many of these designers are quite literate, making "Crucible" references given Michael D. was making a skirt that could be a costume for the Pulitzer-prize winning play about the Salem Witch Hunt, by Arthur Miller. Paired with a sheer tank top, the designers came up with an apt description: "Prairie Home Sex Shop ... she'll harvest wheat or smack you with it."
  • -We also had our bold statement of the day when someone said that "If Jackie Kennedy came back as a tranny, she'd be Mondo." Really? Hmmm.

I have to really pause and think about all of the above. What an odd group they are this season!

Then Tim comes in with one of his usual mid-episode "announcements." And the announcement is: This is NOT a runway day.

Instead, they will each have to create an additional item to go with the look. And it must be outerwear.

And...there it is: Michael C. doesn't make outerwear in Palm Springs. Seriously. Why don't you become a bikini, sarong and flip-flops designer and call it a day?

Also, if you're like Valerie and already had a jacket as part of your Classic American Sportswear look? Too bad. Make it work.

They get another $150 to spend at Mood in a mere 15 minutes. And Gretchen, proving she's quick on her feet, basically steals Michael C.'s fabric choice. [Spoiler alert: Fat lot of good it did her.]

Another Swatch sighting (thank you, producers.) They show Swatch as Christopher decides to buy...FUR!!! He feels bad. As he should. Cue sad Swatch face :( .Cue sad Elisa face :( And cue quizzical Elisa wondering why animal activist Tim Gunn wasn't right there showing him the video he narrated for PETA.

Also cue Michael C., with the line of the night for all of those designers who have an issue with him having won two challenges: "Step up your game and win a fucking challenge."

Hold up. I might have been wrong giving Michael the line of the night. No, as per usual, the line of the night goes to Tim who, while examining the crotchal area of Andy's hideous balloon cargo pants utter this epic phrase: "Jackie Kennedy would not have cameltoe."

Let's move on to the runway.

Where Heidi is joined by, as ever MK, ninagarcia, and this week someone they don't even bother to allude to as a style anything, let alone "icon", January Jones from Mad Men.

["Look! She wears cute clothes on a TV show! Let's have *her* be a Project Runway judge!" "Great idea!"]

And here's the final outcome. As always, click on the designers' names to go to a link to their outfits.

1. Christopher

While I get that Christopher made a very elegant (albeit beige) one-shouldered dress,sporting a wide metallic belt, I do not get why that dress qualified as Classic American Sportswear, and why he wasn't disqualified from the top [spoiler alert] for the egregious nature of his Flinstones fur stole. He got as many bad comments as good in the judging. And to me, it just ruined the grace of the dress altogether.

2. April

April made another black outfit with exposed zippers. I know, you're shocked. This one was a black pencil skirt with zippers up the side, a black sleeveless top with a zipper up the front, and samba-style ruffly shrug. it fit well, leaving little to the imagination, but it was a little ho-hum at this point from April.

3. Ivy

Well, bless my soul, Ivy pulled one out! Pairing a crisp, asymmetrical white blouse, with high-waisted black palazzo pants and a grey organza driving coat, Ivy's look was perhaps the most Classic of Classic American Sportswear looks you could imagine, without simply being a copy. Great job. For once.

4. Michael C.

Well. Not a great effort here. A blue one-shouldered cocktail dress, with what looked like an olive-colored denim jacket. Too cocktail-y for the dress, but at least the dress was pretty. The jacket might have looked good paired with a completely different outfit -- it just didn't fit the dress at all! Lucky he squeaked by being in the Bottom 3 this week.

5. Gretchen

Gretchen is not my cuppa tea. There, said it. This was another slobby, shapeless, baggy, droopy mess. She makes her scrawny models look huge, and her styling is always really incongruous. This particular design included a tan elbow sleeve jacket, a moire skirt, and a halter blouse. There was this thick belt, perhaps in brown leather, which looked particularly bad from the back. This would have been bottom 3 in my book.

6. Michael D.

Oh dear. A taupe prairie skirt with way too much fullness at the hips, particularly given the above the knee length. It's like a tutu as worn on the show "Big Love". This paired with two layered tank tops, for no particular reason that I can tell, and a random herringbone jacket. And a wide black belt that didn't help lighten things up much.

7. Valerie

Valerie made a depressing look for a drab winter day. I actually might wear these pieces, though, so she could have mitigated the effect with some styling that included some color. Any color. There was a black pencil skirt, a purple jacket, and then a gray tie vest over that. Bulky. but warm-looking :)

8. Andy

Andy's outfit was just sad. It was Hammer time for the model in unflattering and drab cargo pants with even more volume and extra fabric (around the hip area, natch) that cargo pants normally have. This was topped by a short, slobby-looking vest and and ill-fitting long sleeved tee shirt. And granny boots. Yikes.

9. Mondo

Mondo scored a big win this week, with true classic separates, but each with a twist. First there was a fantastic pencil skirt, in a bold over-sized purple herringbone pattern. This was paired with a black jacket with a great purple lining, one of those details that makes an outfit stand out. Finally, the riskiest part of the outfit: A horizontal stripe bateau-necked tee, with stripes turning to vertical at the elbows. The stripes might be a bit incongruous, but they also give it a flair and fashion-forward feeling that no one else achieved.

Michael C., April and Gretchen were sent off the runway as safe first. And as always, Gretchen and April are SHOCKED they didn't win.

The judges no likee:

  • Andy: Calling it "MC Hammer meets Granny". Indeed.
  • Valerie: Simply calling it bulky and boring. Oh, yes indeed!
  • Michael D.: Calling it schizophrenic. Old lady on top, cheerleading skater on bottom. (More like Little House on the Prairie on bottom, but whatevs.)

Michael D. got the auf for not knowing what to do with the wheat: Harvest it or use it for a spanking.

The judges likee:

  • Ivy. Who got mostly positive reviews, but some mixed comments
  • Christopher: Who got as much criticism for his dirty old rug of a shrug as he got praise for the leegant dress.
  • Mondo: Who, simply put, was the clear winner.

And so it was.

So? Tell me. What did you think?


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