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episode 10 photo.jpg

Fashion is not for Sissies

By Figgy | TV | October 4, 2010 |

By Figgy | TV | October 4, 2010 |

I hope you all had your tissues handy for this episode, because it was a heartbreaker. Even I, who have become a hardened cynic form too much television, got misty-eyed. And it wasn’t just with Mondo, I got teary-eyed at Gretchen. I’m a sucker for moving family stories, guys. And moms? Moms kills me. So, even with a repeat challenge and lackluster clothes, it was still a great episode. Let’s get to it.

Last time, Mondo won $20k and an ad spread in Marie Claire. The rest mostly sucked. Ivy the Evil is finally gone, and there was much rejoicing, even though most of us expected Valerie to go. Frankly, at this point? It’s a matter of getting Christopher to leave so we’re left with the interesting people. He’s a cute guy, but, come on.

Val interviews that she was shocked that she’s still there, hoping that the judges maybe see more in her. Maybe they hated Ivy, too. She is sad that Ivy is gone. Lady, you’re the only one. Gretchen, the Best Designer There Ever Was (in her own little world) claims that she thinks Mondo is her biggest competitor. I think even she knows Mondo has this in the bag.

Heidi is dressed like a snake, and not in a good way. She makes some terrible fashion choices, doesn’t she? But I guess she can get away with it, what with being Heidi freakin’ Klum. I forget the ‘hint’ he gave them, but those never matter anyway.

The designers get to the workroom, where they find some giant computers showing photos of the designers as kids. They’re all terribly cute. Mondo seems to have been in costumes quite often, which explains a lot about his sense of style. Everyone gets very emotional from looking at photos of their families.

Tim enters with some lady who is the head of HP marketing or something. She lays out some copy about how great HP computers are, and then Tim gives them their challenge. It’s a repeat from last season: create a textile that will be featured in their look. I actually don’t mind the repetition; I loved the challenge last season because it led to some great looks, the designers get to be completely original and we get to see their points of view very clearly. Tim tells them to get inspiration from something that’s been important in their lives. It’s a good challenge.

The designers all go through each others’ photos, and it’s a very sweet, personal moment, which lets us see that this group is actually very close. Andy and Michael love their mommies. Mondo looks ridiculously adorable in a little matador outfit. Val thinks of her dad and his sister, especially her dad’s blueprints, and is making her print from that. Damn, the evil HP people know me too well: I want one of those computers. Michael apparently has siblings named Peaches and Spanky, which is amazing, but why did he get the boring name? He wants to bring in the design element of the evil eye because it’s important to his family. I don’t know if I’d want little eyes all over my clothes, but go to town. Gretchen print is very cool: A graphic representation of a flower to reflect her southwestern roots (which, again, explains so much about her style). Christopher does some advertising for HP and his pattern looks awful. April is going all dark and pokey ends again, but she says that her dark print reflects her parent’s divorce.

Oh, Mondo. Apparently he came out to his mom when he was 17, and she told him not to tell anyone, instilling in him this dislike for confiding in people. That’s heartbreaking, but there’s more. He’s doing a pattern based on a + sign, as he’s HIV Positive. Oh, Jesus. Nothing funny about this. It’s sad, because he’s clearly terrified to be saying this in front of the cameras. He said he’s kept it secret for 10 years, and his interview is very powerful. He says he feels guilty and ashamed to be confessing it, and the fact that he’s doing it on TV and that everyone will watch it? That’s incredibly brave. I might be evil and a cynic, but I’m not nearly cynical enough to believe that he’s doing it as a play to the cameras.

Tim returns to break the sadness. The patterns are being sent off to be manufactured and will delivered the next day. The designers go to Mood for supplemental fabrics.

When they return, Tim comes in to tell them he’s sending in some “special guests,” which is initially greeted with fear by the designers. There’s a big buildup, and from the reactions it’s easy to tell that it’s their families. It’s ridiculously cute and happy. It’s all their moms— everyone breaks out in tears and squealing and there’s hugs and kisses everywhere. I’m getting teary eyed because fuck it, I miss my mom and I know I’d freak out and probably start screaming like a lunatic, too.

But Gretchen’s mom isn’t there and it’s really sad, because apparently she has to stay at home to take care of her dad, who is in a wheelchair, and they’re not very well off. Well, damn, now I can’t make fun of her this episode and I feel kind of terrible for what I said earlier. Dammit, heart, stop being a softy. It does explain an awful lot about Gretchen, though— she thinks a lot of herself because, well, she has to. She’s still insufferable, but at least I understand her a little better. But, nay, we’ve been had by the judges! Because her mom walks in the door and Gretchen gets all weepy and damn this show for the low blow of getting me (a TV veteran who is hardened against cheap manipulations) with the MOMS. Who can resist moms?!

This is too damn much, people. Everyone is crying. Even me. And excuse me while I go all caps because MICHAEL’S GORGEOUS LITTLE SON IS THERE AND GAH WHAT IS THIS SHOW DOING TO ME. He’s blubbering and I feel like a fool because I was so totally crying, too. Aw, Christopher’s partner of 10 years is there and they hug and kiss most sweetly. Ridiculous. This is sweet beyond words, and kudos to the producers for doing something so cool and unexpected. Tim is awesome and suspends the work day so that they can spend time together. You can tell Tim is all verklempt, too.

The families all have fun getting pampered and hanging out. A lot of them let out their emotions and I can only imagine how good that must feel. Your mom is obligated to hear your whining. I’d feel extremely energized, and I bet the designers from past seasons must be feeling jealous. Chris and his partner make googly eyes at each other and it’s too much with the cute and the sweet and the you-are-killing-me-right-now, show. I miss my mom. Damn you, Project Runway.

We go from happy back to heartbreaking, because Mondo really wants to tell his mom about his HIV status. He interviews that it’s incredibly hard (I can’t even come close to imagining that), but he decides not to do it right there and then. Well, I hope he told her before she found out on TV. Poor Mondo cries in the interview and says he just didn’t want to make her feel bad on what was such a good day for her. My heart, it bleeds.

It’s the next day, which happens to be Val’s 29th birthday. Everyone seems very relaxed, which is good in that the stress washes away, but they’re also distracted and in another place altogether. Andy seems particularly affected in that regard, and when they get to the workroom and see their fabrics, he decides to switch from a skirt to pants. The visit from his mom really seems to have messed him up somehow. It’s weird, because everyone (except, understandably, Mondo) is re-energized by the break and having a good day yesterday, but he’s distracted and not wanting to be there.

Tim comes in. He gives some good critiques, but I’m mostly focused on how boring and dark most of the patterns are—with the big exceptions being Mondo and Gretchen, who are the only two using vivid clolors. Tim tells Val that her outfit is looking like something an figure skater would wear, and it really looks hideous. Mondo is mysterious about the symbolism behind his pattern, but Tim loves it anyway. Before he leaves, Tim gets a little emotional when he realizes there’s only seven of them left.

The models come in an Andy confesses that he’s just making something he hopes will let him skate by—a stupid move at this point, considering that there’s so few of them left and the judges will be looking at everything more closely.

It’s Runway Day. Mondo is wearing what looks like a fringed white skirt around his neck. Michael sings a ridiculous song, and Andy finally admits that Michael C isn’t the witch that they all thought he was at the beginning. Again, it confirms my belief that the dislike towards him was all mostly bullshit, gossip and jealousy. I get the feeling that it mostly came from designers who have been eliminated (like Ivy or AJ) and definitely from April. People actually like that he’s humble, and that he is willing to grow and doesn’t consider himself the best designer ever, unlike some people.

We are at The Long, Lonely Runway of Loneliness. Heidi is in a horrible dress that looks like it was splattered with rainbow vomit. Guest judge is designer Rachel Roy, who is drop-dead gorgeous. Oh, she also makes pretty clothes.

April. OK, it’s cute, but mostly I’m relieved she used another color other than black, even if it’s white. It’s a bizarre, one-sleeved top, and the sleeve is made up of her pattern, which is very lively and interesting. There’s a big poofy skirt that’s not as good and doesn’t seem to go with the top very well. It looks like a goth figure skater, but in a good way.

Ick. Andy made a boring, old-looking top in his pattern of gray circles, and there’s a sad little ‘vest’ (it’s a strip of fabric, really) and black shorts. Plus knee-high boots. Gah. It’s old, sad and so very not Andy. It’s terrible in every way imaginable. But he knows it, and regrets the whole thing.

Mondo’s is very colorful and insane, as usual, and so much fun to look at. He has very high-waisted pants in his purple, yellow and black pattern. They’re very high. Almost to her boobs. They almost look like clown pants, but somehow they work, which is amazing. I think it’s because they fit perfectly and the pattern is so visually exciting. She has a gray halter top and a black jacket. It’s all very Mondo, with his brilliant combination of patterns, colors and textures.

Oh, Valerie. You knew you were on the judges’ shit list and you made that? She made a black-mesh top with blue panels that looks horribly 80s go-go dancer. She has a bubble skirt in blue and black with her pattern on it, but it looks like folded napkins and there’s zero movement to it. It’s boring, stiff and just flat-out ugly.

Gretchen made tight black satin pants and a very nice top in her gorgeous pattern. I love the pattern, and the whole thing is very different from what she usually makes. No flowy crap or maroon shredded vests in sight. There’s an awful lot of sideboob going on, but I like the overall look.

I like Michael’s—or rather, I like the idea behind Michael’s. It’s a black pencil skirt and an elaborate corset-like top in his pattern with yellow piping. It looks kind of Asian and I really like the color combination. There’s something a bit off about it, and as with most of his looks I suspect it could benefit a lot from a good editor.

Christopherzzzzzzzzzzz … gray pants and boring topzzzzzzzzzzz … So department storezzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..

Buh. Excuse me. What is this guy still doing here?

For a change, the judges keep all the designers on the runway, which nicely ups the tension because no one knows who’s top or bottom. Heidi says they’re conflicted about their decisions, so they’ll all be questioned.

Gretchen is first. She says she was inspired by the Southwest. The Brown Kors loves the pants, and calls it “disco-earthy,” and you try to figure out what the hell that means. All the judges agree that while they love the idea of the pattern, that it would have worked better if the design were smaller and closer together. I can see that. Kors says he’s glad to finally see something that’s not so “Lady of the Canyon” from her. Hee. Nina says she’s disappointed, and that there’s no ‘wow’ there. Rachel says it’s almost there. I think the fabric of the pants was just a bad idea. Gretchen looks pouty.

Michael. Kors says that the pattern wasn’t terribly exciting, and that the top makes him think of a cut-off shirt and a giant tie, and when he said that I completely understood what he meant. He hates it, but Heidi (and I) love it, but she wishes the styling were different. Nina goes bug-eyed at the yellow pumps (they match the piping in the top) and screeches about being too matchy-matchy. Nina hates when things match.

Christopher was inspired by water. Good god is that the most boring “inspiration” point ever, or what? Rachel doesn’t even see the water and says that the off-the-shoulder thing is boring. Nina says it’s not fashion, just clothes, and that that goes for so many of the others. YES. Heidi says it’s nice, safe, boring. I think that that defines all of Christopher. Kors does a very good job of explaining the difference between nice and memorable, a showpiece and just clothes. I don’t think Christopher gets that he makes low-end department store clothes.

Andy. Rachel is upset and confused because well, it’s a horrible outfit. The hell, Andy? Nina feels sad about the whole thing and she’s very disappointed, because he’s always so interesting and out there. Andy says that the visit really tripped him up. Nina understands, but they say that the show must go on and that they’re very disappointed in him.

April. Kors says that April is a lot about two things in a dress fighting each other, which is an interesting point of view. I see it, I just think it’s boring and very College Art Student Trying To Be Deep (also, Kors is actually being very useful today, isn’t he?). Nina says he loved the print and the silhouette. It’s definitely a very standout print, which is true. Rachel claims it’s her favorite.

Val tells the story of being inspired by her father. Heidi and Kors point out that it looks almost exactly like her napkin dress, and when they flash the two looks side by side, you can easily tell that they’re practically the same dress. She even styled the model exactly the same. Ouch. Once again she gets the comments that she really can’t manipulate fabric at all, which is very true. Rachel likes it, but she points out that she never saw the other dress. I think it’s very lifeless.

Mondo. He says that he was inspired by the collages that he made for his mom. He is vague about the story behind his pattern. Nina loves the pattern and says it’s definitely very fashionable and that she would put it in an editorial in a minute, which is possibly the highest compliment you can get from her. Mondo, after some hesitation, finally decides to come out with his story, and it’s a very tense, shocking moment for everyone. Damn, that must have been tough to do, epecially because he’s clearly terrified. There’s a long silence, and everyone is tearful. Mondo interviews that it finally felt like the right moment to reveal his secret, and that he feels free. You can see the relief plain on his face, and it’s incredibly moving.

OK! Says Heidi. Backstage, everyone is really moved and glad that Mondo shared it with them.

The judges are all very disappointed in Andy. That he fell apart, and Kors says that “fashion is NOT for sissies.” They hate Valerie’s from top to bottom. I can’t believe she didn’t take Tim’s advice to change the top. These people should know by now what happens when you don’t listen to Tim Gunn. They all lament the big bag of Bore that is Christopher. He knows how to sew but it’s all very un-modern and forgettable. They can’t remember anything about it, which just makes me yell at the screen that they should kick him out already. I suspect that if Val and Andy had tried a tiny bit harder it would’ve been Chris’ time to go. They liked Gretchen’s pattern but they expected more, and they love the pattern and silhouette in April’s dress, saying she’s a very tortured designer. I think she’s dead inside. They love Mondo’s construction and the way that he plays with colors and patterns. Kors loves that he’s inspiring (seriously, he is) and willing to work through something difficult to do what he wants.

April is safe. MONDO WINS AGAIN. Oh, just give him the final win already. I’m telling you, there’ll be a massive revolt if he doesn’t win the season. He’s overwhelmed and very, very happy. Gretchen and Michael are in, as is Christopher. Blergh. Ah, well, he’ll be gone next week anyway. Andy is in, and Valerie is out. It’s not even remotely surprising. She was fun and showed some promise at the start, but I think she ran out of fuel and ideas pretty quickly. Everyone gets teary-eyed again. There’s some very long, very cheesy goodbyes. Tim gives her a big hug and congratulates her huge heart and her personality. Bye, Valerie.

So that was emotional, no? Admit it, you evil cynics, you got a little misty-eyed, too. But aside from that, how did you feel about the repeat challenge, and was it worth it for the results that we got? Or did it just showcase the difference between this crop of designers and the people who have come before? Also, why is Christopher still around? Anyway, let’s all go hug our moms or dads or significant others or dogs or cats or pillows. Or TVs or Mondos.

Figgy is a displaced Honduran living in Dallas, TX, and she wants you to make it work.. You can read more of her ramblings at her blog or follow her on twitter.