'Project Runway': Tim Gunn Tells All
Travelin' Tim Gunn steps into the gleaming Silverlake studio of Rami Kashou, surveys his risky pieces, and suddenly it isn't hard to imagine that Rami will -- by episode's end -- edge Costume Chris March by a hair. Little could we predict, however, that it would be by a *human* hair.
This week brings what Costume Chris dubs a "three-piece walkoff" between himself and Rami, with the night's winner advancing to New York Fashion Week against Christian and Jillian. Chris's comical "walkoff" phrasing summons images of "Zoolander"-esque drama. But wait: Chris's collection sports Actual Human Hair -- dark, glossy and creepy, as if these sprigs had been snipped from Ben Stiller/Derek Zoolander's own "Goth Chia pet" noggin.
No need to gag, though, because Travelin' Tim has already convulsed for us. (Tim, we should note, hasn't gacked so reflexively since he backpedaled from pet-turtle poop in the tyke-happy home of Laura Bennett.)
For a full report on the episode, click HERE. But before recapping, we step back to acknowledge: This has become the Love-In Season -- the year in which relative bonhomie has prevailed and nothing has gotten as down-and-dirty as Santino-vs.-Chloe, or Jeffrey-vs.-The-Mom, of seasons past. Don't believe us? Well, listen to Tim Gunn's take on Season 4 . . .
Tim called "Channel This" this week to discuss the season's designers, his take on the show's Bryant Park collections and how, he says, Victorya mistakenly believed that the show "cheats" the details and fudges the time-frame for competition.
TIM GUNN ON . . .
WHY THIS SEASON IS HIS FAVORITE: "In terms of design, we've never had a stronger season. I'm so proud of it. My own point-of-view, in terms of story and characteristics of designers: It's my favorite. It's the level of dialogue and execution . . . the discussion about design content. We really have a deeper relationship with the designers [this season]. It's about THEM. I got to know them, and . . . I feel closer to them than [in] some of the other seasons."
WHY HE'S GLAD HE DOESN'T HAVE A VOTE AT BRYANT PARK: "I'm so grateful I'm not a judge. I'd *still* be in deliberation. It was going to be a matter of taste -- depending on how the judges were feeilng that day . . . what they had for breakfast. The work was superbly, superbly executed. . . . Each had a very particular point of view -- it was not a porridge of random parts. It was a palpable point of view."
ON TRYING TO PREDICT HOW THE JUDGES WOULD VOTE THROUGHOUT THE SEASON: "I was never totally confident about what the judging would be. One challenge, [on] the morning of the judging, I said: 'Well, it's too bad it's obvious who's going home': It was Ricky and the Levi's challenge. Ricky's design was just this tube with a few grommets. But the judges resonated positively to it. I was stunned. Be assured, there is no interference with the judges."
ON VICTORYA, WHO HE SAYS MISTAKENLY THOUGHT THE SHOW ALLOWED MORE TIME FOR DESIGN CHALLENGES: Her situation "was rather unique. We had to have two off-camera interventions. She was a crabby-appleton. She was so sour and dour and bringing the production down. . . . She said: 'I never dreamed it would be like this. I thought we would have breaks. I thought you cheated it!' "
And, finally, Tim Gunn's own picks in the inaugural "Channel This" GUNNY AWARDS:
BEST WINNING DESIGN: The Chris-Christian collaboration.
MOST GRACIOUS BUH-BYE: Steven.
THE SANTINO RICE TRASH-TALK AWARD: Christian.
BEST DESIGN CHALLENGE: The Hershey's candy challenge.
MOST UNDERRATED DESIGNERS: Simone, Carmen and Marion -- "I was sorry we saw less of them."
THE EPISODE RECAP:
Heidi emerges from behind the "PR" scrim looking even more stunning than she did on the Oscars red carpet. The first contestant's face we see in closeup is Chris March's, and we wonder: Does that we mean he's the one we'll see Auf'd tonight? (Is it just us, or: Throughout the season, did the first contestant pictured closeup in each episode often emerge as the challenge's winner or loser?)
The finalists -- Chris, Christian, Jillian and Rami -- each have $8K to spend to create 12 pieces for Fashion Week.
Travelin' Tim visits Christian in NY, with six weeks to go till Bryant Park. Good thing Christian's a waif, because his apartment is Lillliputian and to awake each morn, he must literally come out of the (converted) closet. Tim advises him "to bring an editing eye" to his collection, avoid the costume-y and to "work hard, think harder."
Next up in NY is Jillian. Tim takes a liking to the "femininity-plus-strength" pieces (despite the cloudy-day palette) before he dines with J's fam and hears tales of Mom's visiting a clairvoyant. Apparently Jillian's fame is in the cards -- or at least in the sparkle of Mom's eyes.
Tim then whisks off to Rami's place in LA. Rami, who was born in Jerusalem and whose mom died when he was 5, has the most poignant video backstory. Rami's inspiration for his collection is Joan of Arc, and darned if one of the wall images of her doesn't bear more than a passing resemblance to . . . Jillian. Tim has issues with Rami's nonflowing, "hammered-and-nailed" pieces, and Rami still has issues with the showdown vs. Chris for Fashion Week's third and final slot.
Lastly, to Chris's place in NY -- and his neighbor's Versailles-meets-Sistine-Chapel-meets-a-baroque-TGIFriday's apartment. Tim is aghast at the hair that sprouts out of Chris's designs. Quick, someone get a razor-wielding salonist over to this "Monkey House" (Tim's metaphor) stat.
Finally, the result of the Rami vs. Chris Three-Piece Walkoff: Both designers send dark, "dramatic" pieces down the runway. Rami's draped dress wins judges' raves, and Chris's painstaking detailwork (not only in hair but in sheets of black safety pins) turns heads and perhaps stomachs. The clincher, though, are the speechs: Rami says he's had a sense of his vision about being a designer since he was a small boy; Chris, on the other hand, says his head might explode if he's sent to Fashion Week. Sorry, wrong answer.
Rami advances, the season's relative Love-In continues, and the last sound we hear as the workroom light fades to black is Chris's piercing laugh. In fact, above the hum of our computer, we think we hear it still.
-- MICHAEL CAVNA
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