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Project Runway Recap: Nina Garcia Is JUDGING You

Project Runway
All About Nina Season 9 • Episode 4

To anyone foolish enough to wonder whether there could be such a thing as too much Nina Garcia on Project Runway, last night’s episode proved the perfect riposte. As the focal point of this week’s challenge — to design an outfit for her that would transition from a day’s work to an evening’s party — she proved a model client in both real-life and reality-TV terms.

After giving the designers a pretty exhaustive overview of her aesthetic (good things: tailoring, clean lines, an “edgy” take on classic pieces; bad things: color, pleating, prints, volume and any sense of fun), Nina gamely sat through a round of one-on-one consultations with the designers. Think of a child playing with puppets, jerking them around a little awkwardly just for fun, and that’s how most of the discussions played out.

And with the designers all suitably spooked and awestruck, it was off to Mood. It simply must be the case that, ten minutes prior to their arrival at the store, the producers clear the place out and waft a mild hallucinogen in the air. How else to explain how crazed and illogical the designers get the second they arrive? Among this week’s many bad decisions: Danielle chooses a green chiffon way different than the shade she pitched Nina, Anya buys a colorful print (breaking two of Nina’s cardinal style rules in one go), and Cecilia just lies down in a corner somewhere and dies. Well, not quite, but she comes close and buys the saddest — this word comes up a lot — fabrics possible, and in the wrong colors, too. (She later claims the store's lighting made her think a slate gray was purple.) Oh, and Anthony and not-nearly-as-alt-as-she-thinks-she-is Becky snag the same fabric and spend the remainder of the episode shooting each other passive-aggressive glances and comments about it.

Then, before we return to the Parsons workroom, there’s a random close-up shot of a hot dog. Yay for NYC!

Nina drops back in for a quick check-up on all the outfits, which is great: It offers the designers more opportunities to make sure they’re on track, but of course also keeps them all jittery because it’s NINA GARCIA they’re talking to. NINA GARCIA! Fashion director of Marie Claire magazine, NINA GARCIA, who, inevitably, proceeds to eye-roll, sass and nitpick all the looks. So things get manic. Poor Tim Gunn has to deliver his two-hour countdown warning to an empty workroom the next morning, because they’re all still sewing. (We were hoping they were playing an elaborate prank, only to all jump out at him in a cloud of sequins and frippery.)

Everything just about makes it onto the runway in the nick of time, though thanks to a fair amount of glue and teamwork in some cases. But although the whole “let’s help” ethos is no fun in the meltdown stakes, it’s arguably a very shrewd tactic for playing the Project Runway game. Well, with the exception of Cecilia, who gives up entirely on her own look and decides to devote her time to assisting Julie with her work instead. Not a smart move.

Both of the week’s guest judges, Marie Claire editor-in-chief Joanna Coles and actress Kerry Washington, offer smart and articulate insight, a welcome upgrade from last week’s one-dimensional “I love/hate this” critiques from a certain guest judge. Nina picks a giddy Kimberly as the winner (and actually agrees to wear the clothes — look for photographic evidence in the form of those ads that appear on cabs). And Julie’s “droat” — that’s a new Joanna Coles-coined term for her disconcerting mix of a bad coat and a worse house-dress — sees her auf’d. With it being her third appearance (out of four episodes) in the bottom three, that’s no big surprise.

Baseless Week #04 Prediction, Fashion Week Finalists: Anthony, Kimberly, Olivier.

p.s. We may not be able to watch the episode next week because the preview suggests poor Olivier gets hurt. Just kidding, of course we’ll be watching. We just hope he’s okay!

Photo: Courtesy of Lifetime

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