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Project Runway Recap: Commercial Is a Dirty Word

Project Runway
Season 9 • Episode 12

Woo! It’s the final challenge already — and goodness, that snuck up on us (and seemingly on the designers, too). Heidi sends them all off to speed around Governer’s Island on golf carts to find inspiration for three outfits, a mini-collection of sorts, to test their skills and readiness for the full deal at Lincoln Center. With that being a lot to achieve in just two days in the workroom, the final five each get to pick an assistant from the pool of the five most recently eliminated designers. That means our forever sentimental favorite Olivier is back, paired with Viktor, and he’s even snarkier now that he’s outside of the Project Runway pressure cooker.

Also, for once, Bert’s not chosen last. This time, that’s Bryce, who gets lumbered with a particularly embittered Joshua (still not over last week’s post-runway hissy fit), who keeps busy by masking his regular bouts of Anya-directed cattiness as work breaks. The other teams all seem to be chugging along nicely, with Kimberly’s shrewd first pick — seamstress Becky — proving particularly helpful because of the frequent design changes she’s running through in an ever-increasing mad panic. She second- if not third-, and fourth-guesses herself all too often. Yet we think Tim likes her best of all, at least on a personal level, though his final workroom crit with her is full of couched compliments and raised eyebrows. (Both bad signs.) Laura’s circle-centric fabric choices also get mixed reviews. But Anya, Josh, and Viktor (we’re close to coining the “Viktorius” pun for next week already at this point) all get great midpoint feedback.

The flip side of making all the designers work so hard on this last challenge is, of course, less snark or drama in the workroom. In fact, there seems to be very little talking at all — that means it's a fast-forward montage of busy little worker bees until the the the morning of the runway show. Tim gets all nostalgic over his last snippy ten-minute warning of the season (although it never seems like anyone is paying the slightest bit of attention anyway, but it obviously means something to him.) Viktor’s set of separates are, of course, all perfectly finished; Joshua’s shiny Lurex set is also done ... and overdone. But the ladies are less prepared — Laura’s re-cutting pants into skirts last-minute, Kimberly’s ended up with a pair of accidentally assless pants (that’s a fit issue; but hey, it worked for Jeremy Scott this season), which she also decides to sub out for a skirt, and Anya can’t even work out how to get her model into one of her dresses.

Zoe Saldana joins the panel for the final runway and judging, which of course becomes an emotional affair, with the designers feeling compelled to speak about their hard-knock lives and how much they need the prize. They’re also all forced to pick a final three to go on in the competition from among themselves, which has become such a tired, nasty divisive tactic. At this point though, it's clear the final five are just too tired to care that much — neither Kimberly nor Laura (who aren't picked at all by their peers) seem bothered in the least. The judges seem to agree, and this week’s elimination comes down to those two. Though Heidi keeps to the line that they’ll only be three finalists showing at NYFW, they decide to let four folks make their collections, and so expect one more extra-cruel cut just prior to the Lincoln Center showcase. In the end, it's Laura who gets the auf, her childhood dreams getting crushed in the meantime. Except of course, not really, because her collection showed as a decoy line and proved to be one of the better lines presented. (Spoiler: Unfortunately, that's not saying much.)

Photo: Courtesy of Lifetime

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