And so we meet again, fellow Runway nuts! As the fiercely fashion-forward Annie Barrett explained in her delightfully Banannie-esque recap last week, I was still wrapping up my peregrinations through India (where Tim will be happy to know I shopped both thoughtfully and strategically) and was unable to host my usual EW.com party in honor of a new season of hot messes, dull doozies, and cheeky (ha) wardrobe malfunctions. But I'm back in the U.S. and A. and will be your faithful recapper from here on out. So grab your potato sacks and follow me down the rabbit hole, will you?
I agree with Lady Barrett that this season has to be better than the medieval torture chamber that was cycle six. (Irina Who?) Call me brash for making such pronouncements on the second date, but the cast is already striking my fancy more than the last group. And the producers — uh, I mean the judges seem to have learned from their most recent eff-ups — like the indisputable idiocy of axing weirdos too soon. So Ping, go ahead and get comfortable in your Atlas apartment!
For the second week in a row, the designers failed to set foot into the storied Mood mothership. Sad news for Janeane, who nevertheless failed to shed a single tear, even though there was also no trip to the moon or a Broadway show. She didn't even cry tears of joy when she yelped she was ''so happy!'' with her (rather bo-ring) gray dress. But I still agree with Annie that she'll totally ABC. Just wait till she finds herself in a pit of stressed-out, uninspired exhaustion and has to defend her crapola in front of Nina's narrow-eyed glare and Michael's constipation face. The waterworks will be plentiful.
Heidi (as well as her new lack of bangs) promised the gang they'd be heading to a place that was ''a little out there,'' and that place turned out to be a farm. As Tim stood adorably in the dirt, I mistook his female companions for background actors in the Lifetime Original Movie based on Gordana Gehlhausen's Yugoslavian upbringing. But where are the sheep? I wondered. Turns out no ba-ah-ah-ing creatures were required, cause the models, clad in potato sacks, were there to illustrate that age-old nugget that a beautiful woman can rock any look — even a burlap bag. Not literally, of course. The designers had to transform a lump of burlap into a sexy little cocktail outfit that the models could wear to one of those ''industry events'' with which Runway has become so smitten. Cool challenge. How come they couldn't come up with more of these last season?
Mila feels snubbedSince the models were the clients, they got to chose their designers. After a goofy bit of Red Rover, Red Rover, send so-and-so-right over (plus one cartwheel), all 15 were matched up. Alexis ditched Mila for Anthony, which sent the Mother Hen of Geometric Bangs into a tailspin of what-am-I-chopped-liver? self-doubt. Did she do something to offend Alexis last time? Why on earth did that silly, underfed girl swap her for Southern Belle Anthony? The Georgia Peach meanwhile, collar defensively popped, announced that Mila could ''kiss me and my entire family's asses.''
As is usually true with life's smaller headaches, Mila needn't have wasted energy second-guessing herself. She and model Lorena made a swell pair, and the collaboration yielded a futuristic little mini dress in gunmetal gray that made the judges go wild. Personally, I wished it had won. Though it suffered a semi-wardrobe malfunction (a breast was blurred by the chaste folks of Lifetime), that seemed to kinda turn Heidi on. ''I like that it gapes, that you can see a little bit boobie here and there,'' she said, brown eyes a-dilatin'. Then we got a close-up. I think I now have to keep some sort of running tab on how many times Frau Klum-turned-Samuels expounds on breasteses this season. It does seem to be one of her favorite pastimes. Right up there with getting knocked up.
But back to the fashions. Mila's peek-a-boo bodice was G-rated compared to the glowing half-moon we got courtesy of Ping. Tim had begged her to cover up her model's bum (or in Pingspeak, butt-ox) and she seemed to get the message. But perhaps she got sidetracked cocooning herself in burlap in front of the mirror, giving lessons in exaggerated pelvic movements, and annoying Emilio with her coy ''Yes, I know, I'm always intriguing,'' because what she sent down the runway was basically mud flaps stitched to saddle bags. (And what the hell was that sad little flower sitting limply on the bodice?) The sight of the model's bare cheeks gave both Seth ''I have two first names, dammit'' Aaron and guest judge Lauren Hutton the giggles, and I swear it made Nina shake her head. All in all, the dress was an ill-fitting, ill-conceived disaster of drab that turned her model into a ghoulish torso severed from her too-wide hips (great look!) — and that the kooky designer tried to explain away with a bunch of teary hooey about contrasts in skin tone and a ''country fair potato party.'' OK, so the latter made me laugh. And yes, I was relieved that the Holy Trinity, plus the classy lady from American Gigolo, decided not to pong Ping right off the runway. Are we curious about what else she can do? Heidi asked. Hells yeah. If only to hear more about her homemade socks. And butt-ox.
However half-assed Ping's creation was, it wasn't that much worse than some of her colleagues' garments, many of which made the skinny women look like they stepped out of a Sir Mix A Lot fantasy. ''What's with all the big butts?'' my husband asked, quite reasonably, about Pamela's too-tight, cowgirl-at-the-corral dress. I was no fan of Maya's multi-colored cake wreck, which elicited Michael's Pass me my Citrucel face, nor could I fully embrace Ben's red frock that seemed to tease, Yes, my wearer is slightly pregnant!, I'm pretty sure Emilio skated by on immunity, 'cause that beige shift with red-and-lace overlay was fug. Tacky and fug. But what truly flaaaabbergasted me was Jesse's hideous tribute-to-Logan pantsuit. That thing had no place strutting anywhere but straight into a stinky field of cow dung back on the farm. How did the judges deem it worthy of safety? I question their taste level.
As for the rest of the bunch, Anna managed to create a pleasing illusion of texture with her potato prints, even though the swishy dress itself was basically a doppelganger of her Rosin Murphy-worthy design from last week. (Sorry, Annie. I know you love Anna.) Seth ''I wear black nail polish'' Aaron congratulated himself on succeeding ''102 ½ percent'' (huh?), but his hugely rigid hoop skirt and hooded top could have used some color to be truly arresting. Likewise, methinks Jonathan could have reduced the dowdy factor of his look with a quick dip in the Rit bath.
And we all know how Jesus could have avoided crucifixion. (Sorry.) Dude! Listen to Tim Gunn! Did the mentor with the mostest not warn Jesus, already a bottom-dweller last week, that he was skirting the challenge by covering up his burlap with lengths of shiny, shiny ribbon? Anyone who flouts Gunn's wisdom gets no sympathy from me, so when Lauren Hutton told him it was a ''very confused, assault-on-the-eye painting,'' I nodded in agreement. I wouldn't have been too shaken up had he walked the plank. At the same time, at least we don't need to question his taste level. Can't say the same for Pamela, unfortunately. In addition to consistently mispronouncing ombré, she actually intended to make a cocktail dress that evoked faded denim. Classy! A potato sack would be more flattering than her ass-entuating rodeo nightmare. Adios, Pam. See ya at the feedin' trough.
On a brighter note, yes, there were garments that I enjoyed. I was pleased to discover that Anthony might actually have some talent to go with all that sass. I appreciated his simple and sophisticated red dress, and if I were seven inches taller, I'd happily step out on the town in it. (Ha, like I ever do any stepping out, other than down the hall to the trash shoot chute.) Poor petite Amy looked like a veritable hobbit next to her Amazon, so if the judges had grilled her on her understated, dip-dyed mini as she stood there already looking small, I'd have felt for her. Luckily, they — and the knowledgeable Hutton in particular — dug Amy's creation and the gal nabbed third place. That natural tone is not my color, but boy did her little number have gorgeous movement.
I was bummed that Mila's fantabulous little frock couldn't take top marks, but I have no problem admitting Jay (Jay Nicolas? JN?) was a worthy winner. His ambitious, time-taunting design had Tim flaaaabbergasted early on, but he pulled it off, churning out one helluva little black dress. The way he transformed one of the heaviest, bulkiest fabrics known to fashionkind into a play of light and airy was a-OK.