TILDA SWINTON and Puréed Acorn Squash

Okay, kumquats, we’re on to the fourth challenge of Project Runway and this time no one is on stilts! Improvement!

As is standard, the designers wake up in their Atlas apartments, either expressing their confidence or lack thereof. They head off to the runway, where Heidi informs them that they will be designing for a client, who, in economical fashion, is the already-on-hand Nina Garcia, who wants a look that will transition from day to evening, being appropriate for both the office and industry events and parties.

Okay, hold up. I’m sorry, I realize that designers have clients and this is a very practical challenge in that respect, but Project Runway is a FASHION show. Nina wears very nice trendy clothes, but never anything earth-shattering or especially interesting. To add to the “excitement” of Nina’s wardrobe, she informs the designers that she likes “classy with an edge” (what exactly that means, I’m not entirely sure), and dislikes patterns, pleats, volume, bright colors, happiness, ketchup, dogs in costumes, and the flag of Nepal. The winner will receive immunity, a Marie Claire editorial spread, and an ad on New York City cabs featuring Nina wearing their outfit.

The designers are given a bit of time to sketch, and then must have their designs approved by Nina before they head off to Mood. Naturally, she exhibits extreme disapproval with everything. Also, is it just me, or does Nina permanently have that pursed smirk/fake smile on her face that seems to say, “You are a disappointment in everything you do and if I could fire you for your failure as a human, I would.” No? Just me?

It should be noted that in between the runway and the consult, Nina changes clothes for no reason. She goes from a perfectly nice black ensemble topped with a white blazer to…huh, so apparently the cutting-edge of fashion is an Incan priest’s tunic?


In the consult, someone wants to make a cowl neck. “I hate cowl necks,” says Nina. Miss Universe Sex Tape Anya wants to make a dress. “No,” says Nina. Anya pulls out her second option, saying she’d like to make a jumpsuit. “Do you think you can you make this?” Nina pursed-smirks, obviously thinking she cannot. Kimberly wants to make a dress. “I want you to make pants,” says Nina. Nina seems to, in fact, nix almost all ideas, and then fake smiles, “Do you have a Plan B?” seemingly anxious for them to admit defeat.

This should be fun.

Then it is off to Mood where they have $200 to spend and Tim’s warnings to not bore Nina or buy gray (but plain black is totes awesome, apparently). Becky and Anthony Ryan buy the same insanely dated speckled fabric and Anthony Ryan is convinced that Becky did so with malevolent intent. Don’t worry, Cancer Survivor. The fabric is fugly any way you cut it. HOM-ster bid-DEENG Cecilia somehow cannot afford any purple fabrics and, when she finally finds one in her price range, it magically and evilly turns gray by the time she gets it back in the workroom. She literally thinks the fabric mysteriously transformed to another color and basically loses her shit and loses her will to live. And she apparently doesn’t know her colors. Anya decides to “take a risk” with a not-especially-risky mustard-gold shiny herringbone. I see nothing offensive about it (this is evidently why I am not in the fashion industry). Non-Entity Danielle cannot find any olive green fabric, so she buys some kelly green…and we all get a lesson in greens.

Once everyone is back in the workroom and busily sewing, Nina comes in with Tim to have a look-see. She sees Danielle’s now-kelly-green creation, which is to be a blouse and trousers. Nina hates it. “Well, what if I try—” “No.” “Do you think you would ever consider—” “No.” “I guess I could try to—” “No.” Nina sees Anya’s mustard herringbone and Anya explains she knew it was a risky purchase. Nina pursed-smirks and sighs, “Yeah, it is risky,” and you can see Anya’s face pale. “Do you have a Plan B?” Nina fake smiles, uttering her now famous catchphrase. Miss Sex Tape does not, but she is nothing but not resourceful, and goes about dyeing her fabric to basically any shade other than mustard. Nina and Tim then visit Josh, and the three get into a discussion concerning Nina’s lack of bra-wearing. I can’t quite tell if they’re being sarcastic or not, but regardless…

BRA RANT: Ladies, WEAR A BRA. If you are out in public, you should have a bra on. Average-sized and large-breasted women know why—gravity isn’t your friend and no one wants boobs down to their knees. Things look nicer with a bra. But I don’t want to hear that small-breasted women don’t need bras. Bull. Put a freaking bra on. Otherwise, you are an up-to-the-minute gauge on whether it’s cold outside. Or a pair of headlights. I don’t want to see that. And if you claim that the bra is simply too uncomfortable, then go to your local lingerie department and get fitted, because you are probably wearing the wrong size. END BRA RANT.

We’re introduced to bits and pieces of the designers’ lives. Anthony Ryan Skypes with his fiancé. Boob Wings Kimberly tells the camera she’s sacrificed so much to be here, as her mother died of breast cancer when she was seventeen. Wait…those two things have nothing to do with each other. Masturbatory Ski Pants Julie informs us that she went to fashion school because she was bored with bartending. Wait, what? How do you make that connection? That’s like me going, “Well, I guess I’m tired of History, so I better get into shark taming.” We see that Cecilia is still losing her shit, and is now blaming her hideous frock on her model’s “huge NEE-pals” that need fixing. She is “ahssepting” that she will be in the bottom.

Eventually, after the models are shellacked with Garnier and L’Oreal, it’s time to head off to the runway. Along with Oompa Loompa Michael Kors and Ever Disapproving Nina Garcia, we have, as always, Miss Heidi, who appears to be wearing a necklace made of office supplies. Guest judging, we have Marie Claire’s Editor-in-Chief and Nina’s boss, Joanna Coles, whom I’m pretty sure is actually TILDA SWINTON (yes, her name must be in all-caps):

Also, guest judging (rather pointlessly, I might add), is actress and “Arts Advocate” (is that a job now? What exactly does being an “arts” advocate entail?), Kerry Washington, whose lips were so shiny as to suggest she was enjoying a succulent porkchop prior to filming.


               I realize they don’t look weirdly shiny here. Just take my word for it.

TILDA SWINTON-as-Joanna Coles showed no mercy, declaring, respectively, that if Nina were to wear particular outfits to the office, she would think Nina was “asking to be fired,” “asking to be committed,” or was ill. In a moment, we shall see what invited her ire.

Now, before we do a run-down of the runway, let’s remember the object: design an outfit for Nina that will be office appropriate but can transition to evening events.

Two things I want to note with this:

Let’s talk for a minute about appropriate and professional office attire. Even in the offices of a major fashion magazine, the rules still generally apply. Typically, it is expected that your torso and thighs are pretty well covered—you don’t need to wear a burkha, but anything that might expose your chest or nether regions should probably be avoided. You probably shouldn’t wear tennis shoes or stripper heels. Basically, you need to find a happy medium between appearing as though you are about to mow the lawn, and a drunk hooker.

Now. Let’s talk about a sensitive issue: Nina is forty-six. Granted, she looks very good, but that still doesn’t change the fact that what you wear in your forties is not the same thing that one might wear in their twenties. And nor should it be. That doesn’t mean that you need to look frumpy—quite the opposite. I rather hope my fashion sense will have drastically improved by that point. That said, I probably won’t be rocking a miniskirt (not that I do now) or crazy cleavage. So, designers, take note—Nina isn’t twenty and it’s silly to try to dress her as such.

The designers did not take note. Let’s see what they came up with.

Anthony Ryan, 1988 called. They want their vest back. The skirt is sagging to the point that it’s making a pained face at me. And this is boring. And also horribly inappropriate for the office—the neckline is too low and the hem is too high. I am guessing Marie Claire is not a secret front for Skanks, Inc.

Codicil: I hate jumpsuits. HAAAATE them. There has never been a jumpsuit that I have beheld and thought, “Wow, gee, I’m glad that exists.” Anything that requires you to become nude to go to the bathroom is a failure in clothes. That said, I thought this looked better on the runway (it kind of looks like ass in this picture), and I could appreciate the idea and effort on Anya’s part, trying to come up with a Plan B at Nina’s disapproving behest. And she attempted to do something different for a woman who, despite the judges’ protests to the contrary, is not particularly daring in her fashion sense. That said, it’s ugly, it’s too young, and almost backless, which is generally a no-no for the workplace. So…no. And it kind of makes the model’s head look like it’s on backwards.

Here is Becky’s attempt with the super ’80s fabric. So…huh. Nothing particularly offends me here. But…nothing is making me jump out of my chair either. It’s a dress I could buy at the mall (I wouldn’t).

Bert could take a cue from Kenny Loggins because that slit is a highway to the danger zone. Also, that is way more sternum than is appropriate for the office. And those sunglasses make the model look like a bug. Bert also had a total senior moment, for once he is declared safe and scoots off to the back, he muses that he thinks Oliv(i)er has a good shot at winning…except Oliv(i)er is sitting right next to him. Does he not know which one Oliv(i)er is? An inexplicably accented blond Asian boy is a bit hard to miss.

Bryce made the safe pack for once with this wonky-hemmed number. For someone who was so obsessed with “cutting on the GRAIN” (and repeating the word “GRAIN” as much as possible), dude, you sew like hell. The dress looks like someone spilled something on it and now it’s got a giant wet spot. Like the model somehow peed on herself from her neck, which suggests several disturbing things I’d rather not consider.

Oh, geez. Cecilia really gave up the second her fabric magically turned gray. She didn’t care anymore. So she made this sad sack, that, coupled with her attitude, should have sent her home. This dress makes me die inside. And, Cecilia, your model’s soi-disant HUGE “NEE-pals” aren’t the problem here. Poor model. Now everyone is curious as to just how freakish her nipples (or NEE-pals) are. Are they, like, the size of dinner plates? Radio knobs? What are we talking here?

Sad Danielle and her sad ginger model and her sad chiffon blouse. It’s all…sad. So sad that TILDA SWINTON-as-Joanna Coles diagnosed Danielle with clinical depression. TILDA SWINTON-as-Joanna Coles also said that this ensemble looked like something a woman would wear “in the kitchen while making puréed acorn squash for her children.” Wait, um, what? I just…wait, what? Who…who wears chiffon blouses to cook? Who the eff makes pureed acorn squash for their children? Is there a child on the planet who eats that? What is going on??

Josh, this is a big window. And too short.

Oh, God, this just…hurts. TILDA SWINTON-as-Joanna Coles didn’t understand this strange dress/coat hybrid (a coat dress, no?) and declared it a “droat.” Michael Kors declared it, more aptly, a housecoat that only lacked a pocket full on Kleenex. As soon as he said “housecoat,” all I could think of was my late grandmother, who used to potter around in two hideous housecoats she had had since (at least) the ’70s, one white with a pattern of tiny pink flowers, and the other a sad faded brown (much the same color as Julie’s “droat” up here) with white trim. They were both stained with decades of mysterious spills. Despite my inquiries as to changing into something more appropriate for public ventures, she’d drag me with her to the grocery store to buy Banquet frozen dinners (with coupons, naturally) whilst wearing these lovely numbers (I was a teenager and embarrassed by everything), or pick me up from school in them, her hair up in plastic curlers, while she’d shout out the car window to the boy I liked, “HEY, JOSH!!! DO YOU WANT TO RIDE HOME WITH ERIN?!?!?!” So thanks for those memories, Julie’s outfit. Julie received the auf for this. I can’t say I’m saddened by this, except for the fact that it went over Cecilia’s BEAST of a sheath dress and her pissy attitude. No one else seemed all that broken up about it either, and based on Tim’s lame perfunctory hug, he wasn’t losing any sleep over it. Sorry, Masturbatory Ski Pants Julie.

Boob Wings Kimberly’s top and pant combo took the win. It’s perfectly nice, and though the sparkly top is a bit much for the workplace, it could actually work as a day-to-evening piece. I think Super-Pants-Kimberly actually made this trousers a mite too tight, based on the tell-tale pulling across the hips. So I’m not upset this won, but I hardly think it’s quite the pinnacle of majesty the judges declared it. TILDA SWINTON-as-Joanna Coles went into paroxysms of ecstasy over it, declaring it TRANSFORMATIVE and that if one wore this to work, regardless of the job they were performing (data entry, poo shoveling, etc.), one would feel as though they were in the midst of a million dollar lifestyle (um, seeing as this is for Nina, who DOES live a million dollar lifestyle, I’m a bit confused…). So it’s not just a nice gold top; it’s a MAGICAL golden top. TILDA then announced that if one wore it, “unexpected things would happen to them.” So not only is this a MAGICAL golden top, it is also apparently a freaking fortune cookie.

Missouri Barbie had immunity and landed in the safe pack with this. It’s fine, I suppose, but, um, WHO would wear this to work? Also, that top sheer band on the skirt made me scream, “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!” I don’t need to know about this model’s waxing habits, thanks.

Oh, God. Oliv(i)er made this catastrophe in his Auschwitz Business Casual leitmotif. Somehow this was safe. How, HOW is this safe? This CAN’T be safe. THIS IS MAKING ME SHOUTY. The pants were sewn together by a drunk gerbil and that heinous blouse is being eaten by the waist flaps. Sweet Odin’s Raven, this is PUTRID. PUTRESCENCE.

Anyway, moving on…

Viktor made this very nice though not terribly exciting black dress. And seeing as Nina Garcia often wears very nice but not terribly exciting black dresses, it earned him a spot in the Top Three. That said, why is the dress angry and making a frowny face at me?

An unspecified amount of time later, Winner Kimberly is filmed going to Nina’s office, where she is wearing the MAGICAL fortune cookie golden top (it looks adequate), which is the saddest visit ever, because Nina makes her leave about five seconds later. She greets her, smiles fakely, and then basically goes, “Okay, well, there’s a cab waiting for you downstairs.” Awkward… She is, naturally, met by a cab with an ad featuring Nina’s from the chest up her arms crossed over and mostly covering Kimberly’s MAGICAL fortune cookie golden top.

Next week people scream at one another “IF YOU’RE TIRED, TAKE A NAP!” and “DROP DEAD!” The designers have to inexplicably run a lap around a track, and it appears that Oliv(i)er follows the aforementioned advice and collapses and dies.

Until then, darlings…

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