Hey dudes,
Marjorie is out of town for the next couple of weeks so you're stuck with me. First I'm going to join Marjorie on the record in saying I wholly support the new 90 minute Project Runway. Now that the episodes have more room to breathe we're getting details that there wouldn't have been time for before and I'm more hooked than I've been since Project Runway's first couple of seasons.

Unlike Marjorie, I was totally unfamiliar with Portland's Gretchen Jones' work before the show, but based on the work she's done so far (and her charming attitude) I'm completely behind her. Not halfheartedly out of a sense of civic pride (like Seth Aaron), but because she's deservedly kicking butt, taking names and staying classy (like Leanne Marshall).

Check out her critique with Tim:

There is so much to talk about this week I don't want to waste any more time. Follow me behind the jump!

The challenge this week was not that promising. "Who is the Marie Claire woman?" our designers were asked. "Um, whatever I feel like designing today," most of them answered. The photo shoot twist added a nice dimension, I thought, by giving the designers a different medium to design for than the runway. It paid off during the judging, as well.

Gretchen's jumpsuit really was pretty awesome. I don't know how to describe it without leaning on all the buzzwords that get abused on Project Runway, but it really did manage to be both "sophisticated" and "young" and "flirty". Of course Heidi liked that it could be unzipped to "reveal" (she said, lustily). Have you noticed how much Heidi likes boobs? The converse of Gretchen's criticism that Andy doesn't know when to pull back, her last two looks have been brilliantly understated:


The workroom is filled with lots of talented, interesting, weird people this season and not just people playing characters for reality TV. There was a lot of big statements that were kind of disconcerting considering that, according to the producers, this challenge was the first one where the designers were actually in the competition. Peach was worried about repeating herself, Michael says that Tim has always hated his stuff, April says Gretchen is "not creative", etc. It's been one day, guys!

Contrary to my expectations, I've been kind of pleased with Peach. She really knows how to tailor her Stepford socialite aesthetic to make it work. Not this week, of course - she got caught up in the classic Project Runway trap of making a bunch of garments and settling for the last in your hand when time runs out - but I like the style she's bringing. Even more, I like that there's an older woman on the show who is not a Wendy Pepper-like villain. That type of casting was getting old.

Valerie is really strong and her outfit this week was an obvious standout (though did she have to describe her look as Carrie Bradshaw meets Samantha Jones?). AJ, the skinniest sailor, thought his garment made his model look pregnant with a baby alien, but I liked the thought behind it.

I'm also fully behind fifteen-year-old thirty-two-year-old Mondo, this season's stock weirdo. He reminds me of a lot of people I went to college with that I'm rooting for in life. And, of course, he is oh so lonely. Cursed by his own brilliance, only loved for the clothes he creates.. The beautiful, beautiful clothes. Everyone loves a clown, but do they stop to wonder, when the circus closes, if the clown is still laughing?

But seriously, I do like him and I liked his look this week. Who would have guessed that mentioning Mary Tyler Moore would be a jackpot move? Joanne from Marie Claire moved to America to be like Mary Tyler Moore. It was in the bag after that.

I also feel obligated to mention Gretchen's "hip-buddy", Casanova, who was almost gone last week for showing too much skin but was safe this week with a look that received one of Tim's favorite stock put-downs: "matronly". Casanova, for his part, described the look by saying, "I'm doing something like... sailor." Nicholas thinks Casanova's playing up the language barrier. Maybe?

Ah, but the real star of this episode was Jason. Jason, Jason, Jason and his infinity dress (that also represents the eighth season of Project Runway and alien croppings). Valerie thinks Jason is "mysterious". I think Jason is a penis. The quote of the night was definitely Jason's take on Tim's not-that-harsh judgment of his dress scraps: "Everything's stacked against me. I'm a straight guy in a gay man's world. I'm trying my best here, I mean, what the fuck? Don't be so hard on me!" Pair that with his monologue last week about getting to see his model's naked boobies and I'm gonna go with Michael's evaluation of Jason as "creepy".

Creepy or not, stupid bowler hat or not, there was nothing saving Jason's bizarre dress which was more Tank Girl than Marie Claire. And the useless flap on the front was sealed poorly with safety pins. There is no looking past that. Except for Jason, who insists that the judges HAVE to look past that. He's not "Prototype Jack", you guys! He is emotionally drained by this competition. You don't understand the pressure that he's under! Also, it's his model's fault.

The judges were unable to do their jobs properly and look past all the obvious things that were wrong with the infinity dress and Jason was sent skulking off past his fellow designers without a goodbye. Nicholas was also mercifully cut, though his goodbye ended with hugs, tears and well wishes all around. There was not a more poignantly funny moment this episode than his voiceover during the runway: "Bam! There's a look! Then I notice that... the judges don't really look as impressed as I look?" [cut to a shot of Nicholas clapping giddily].

And it all ends in Gretchen getting a big ol' billboard in time square. "My mom's gonna be so proud!" Awwww.

Next week combines what looks like a dollar-store junk challenge (yesss!) and someone getting taken away in an ambulance (uh oh!). See you there!