The Project Runway Top 9 Recap: Ben, We Hardly Knew Ye!

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Subtitle: Alas, poor Ben, I did not know him at all!

Sub-subtitle: Ben, the two of us need ... wonder who the hell you are no more!

Oh, um, did I mention: SPOILER ALERT!

Project Runway

Jonathan's design. Image: Lifetime

Anyway, this was this season's "Garnier challenge," which really just means they find an excuse to pretend there's some special hair element, so they can work in even more sponsor messages than they typically do. Boring, yawn, let's move on.

So, because Garnier has some natural hair care product, the challenge is to be inspired by one of the four elements from nature: Earth, Air, Fire or Water. It's a pretty wide open challenge, and they have $150 to spend at Mood after 30 minutes of sketching.

Is it just me, or has Mood been getting a bit of the short shrift this season? I mean other than the Mysterious Ubiquitous Dog episode.

So, here's what we learned this week:

  • To Jay, "Air" means "tornado"
  • Jonathan, "Air" means "laughter"
  • Seth Aaron, "Air" means "midnight"
  • Maya, "Water" means "sirens" (the Homeric kind)
  • Ben, "Water" means "sharks"
  • Mila, "Earth" means anything but black and white color blocking
  • Emilio, "Earth" means "mud" or "algae" or something like that
  • Anthony, somewhat depressingly, "Fire" means "ashes"
  • Amy, completely inexplicably, "Fire" means "hairy tits." Oh, yeah, I said it! (And so did one of the designers, only I didn't write down which one, D'oh!)

The designers all got really ambitious, which meant they all got really stressed.

My favorite part of the entire episode was when Tim was shepherding the designers to the runway and said, "Oh! Ben!" and Ben said, "Yeah, I'm still here."

SEE, EVEN TIM GUNN FORGETS ABOUT BEN.

So, on to the runway. The judges tonight are MagicallyPregnantHeidi (who was looking particularly lovely in this episode), MK, ninagarcia and French designer Roland Mouret.

As always, click on the link under the designer's name to view their creation.

1. Maya

Maya's siren looked like she got caught in some polluted water where decaying kelp got entangled in her arms. OK, well, really it was this gray minidress. All tight from neck to hem, but then there were her somewhat trademark kelp ruffles down the sleeves. I thought it was drab and boring, and a depressing take on water. But apparently I was wrong.

2. Jay

Jay was channeling Erte, or Edith Head, or some other costume-y designer. It was a beige and black striped top with equally striped leggings with a big chiffon train and a tall stripe-y turban. Actually, I think Jay was channeling Ursula from "A Little Mermaid."

3. Ben

Oh, Ben. Let's leave your shark concept aside. You attempted a suit, having never made one. A white suit (always flattering). A white suit with a truly bizarre thong seaming effect, front and back. Also, really really flattering. No, really. A white suit with a bronze-ish tank top, so a sort of drab and sad color combo. And a bolero jacket that was so tight it made your rail-thin model look like she had back fat. Sort of the fourfecta of suckage. (Can I coin "fourfecta"? Will you credit me if you start using it?) The one time you finally decide to make an impression? It's an incredibly bad one.

4. Anthony

As I said above, Anthony's "Fire" inspiration was actually the aftermath of a fire...smoke and ashes. So, he created a black and gray gown, with a bodice featuring asymmetrical folds. The inspiration was suspect, but he did commit to it, and the gown was pretty.

5. Mila

I have to say that, Philistines that we are, my viewing companion and I liked Mila's outfit when it came down the runway. OK, so the charcoal full-leg pants and taupe long-sleeve turtleneck were not earth-shattering, but the asymmetrical vest with a granite-like texture was pretty damn cool! What, obviously, do we know?

6. Jonathan

Jonathan created a lovely one-shoulder minidress that was like a confection being worn by his model. It looked like a print, but really he layered different fabrics and then cut away pieces to create a kind of silhouette effect. I keep wanting to write "lovely", because it's really just the perfect word for the whole thing.

7. Amy

I mean, what can one say? This was a black jumpsuit with a built-in shelf for the model's artificial hair extensions posing as her boobs. This was just a very weird disaster. And, really, when you add these to the clown pants from a couple weeks ago? Not sure why Amy is still here. It's a "question of taste," as MK would say.

8. Emilio

Emilio made a really safe choice and just made an olive drab strapless dress with folds and pleats. Not much to say about it one way or the other. Except it kind of reminded me of "Les Miserables." Fascinating, right?

9. Seth Aaron

Seth Aaron went all Matrix-y and -y and created a black leather pants and long jacket combo. I bought the whole thing except the huge leather butt flap. No one else seemed to mind it, I thought it looked like that guy from last season who made an egg-diaper outfit....except in black leather.

In the end the judges liked:

  • Maya
  • Jonathan
  • Seth Aaron

And the win went to Jonathan and his tasty textile treat.

The judges didn't like:

  • Mila
  • Amy
  • Ben (and boy did MK go to town on Ben!)

And despite Amy's lobbying really hard to be eliminated for clown pants and hairy tits, it was Ben's turn to go. And since we really didn't realize he was there to begin with, not much should change.

Any thoughts? Share.

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