Pop Culture

Project Runway: Sew ’70s

Hello lovely ladies!  I will be your guest judge this week for our Project Runway re-cap, and boy did I get a good one.  Our seven remaining designers will have to take their inspiration from the ’70s, an era characterized by some of the oddest fashion trends since these guys:

Commedia Dell'arte - The 70's of the 1700's

In the first five minutes of the show, for possibly the first time ever, I find myself agreeing with Josh M.  Everyone is whinging about how hard the last challenge was (except Viktor, who is all full of win) and Joshua comes out with “clothing is clothing…” implying that a good designer should be able design for any situation.  Let’s see if he is singing the same tune after this week, shall we?

So, Heidi sends our motley crew back to the studio, where Tim Gunn and the head apparel buyer for Piperlime plug Piperlime and present the new challenge.  Bring the “sophisticated ’70s” into the now.  I was not aware that there was a sophisticated ’70s, but apparently there was and it is all the rage right now.  Here is where I tell you that I am slightly less fashion conscious than my cat.  It is not uncommon for me to watch a PR runway show and fall in love with an outfit that the judges then rip to tiny unstylish shreds, while they award the winning design to something I thought was ugly and absurd.  This week I managed to predict the judges’ responses fairly accurately, but then I was born while Nixon was still in office.  They are dealing with an aesthetic I actually understand.  But enough about me, back to the show!

While the designers sketch, there is the usual bitching and moaning about how hard this will be and how a hundred dollars just isn’t enough money to make anything really good (which always makes me want to poke their little high fashion dream worlds with a stick) and Laura makes the surprising statement that she is a ’70s glam girl.  Really? Since when? I have never once seen her on screen and thought “Now there’s a girl who knows her bellbottoms.”

Off we go to Mood, where everyone says “print” a lot and Anya finds out that boobs are not nearly as effective as pockets for keeping track of your money.  Her entire materials budget falls from her cleavage and, after much frantic searching, Tim finally tells her that her only options are to ask the other designers if they have any change left over that they are willing to give her, or use the muslin back at the workroom.  But Tim, she can’t create fashion with just muslin.  Muslin makes her cry.  There is a darling moment where Tim Gunn asks her if she is sure the money isn’t still in her clothes somewhere (it is a pretty big skirt) and then Anthony Ryan, who is an absolute doll, gives her his remaining eleven dollars so she can get some pretty non-muslin and findings.  Tim not-so-subtly reminds everyone of how generous Anya was during the last challenge and there is a chorus of “We’ll help however we can.”  It is so dramatic and emotional that an outsider might think she had just lost her house in a fire instead of a hundred dollar bill from her bra.

Back at Parsons, Viktor makes it clear that he is in it to win it (sorry, wrong reality show) and he will not be helping Anya because this is a competition and being nice is for suckers.  Tim appears again to tell the room how moved he is by the support everyone is giving poor Anya (cut to Viktor, alone in his Scrooge-y corner of the room) and to remind them that their clothes are to be inspired by the ’70s, but it’s still 2011.  Don’t be too literal, people.

Bert is a sassy devil in this whole episode.  I know he has had his troubles playing well with others, but it seems like he has reached a point of truce with his competitors.  They don’t seem to hate him so much anymore, and he seems to be enjoying their company.  Bert has all my favorite lines in this episode, including his take on Anthony Ryan’s choice of fabric.  “I do not get his fabric choices at all.  It looks like something from the late ’80s.  They’re all going to the mall or going to bury something in the woods.”  Which is what we did in the late ’80s.  I remember Friday nights in high school, hanging out with my friends, saying, “What should we do tonight – go to the mall or bury things in the woods?”

As things start to take shape, Anya and Laura have a crisis.  They think Kimberly’s outfit looks cheap and outdated, and the three remaining girls have a pact to tell each other if they are about to make a huge mistake.  Viktor urges them to think of themselves and let Kimberly make her own mistakes.  With his help, they talk themselves out of giving her any helpful advice.  This may sound cold, until you realize that neither Kimberly nor Anya even thinks of telling Laura that her outfit is so ugly, a four-year-old wouldn’t even put it on her Barbie.  Pact?  What pact?

When Laura, who really seems to like telling other people what not to do, tells Bert not to make his model look like a disco queen, Sassy Bert pops in again with some inuendo about having sex at Studio 54.  I am unclear if he is implying that he got his job at Halston by having sex with someone, or if he is just making a reference to having had sex at the club.  Frankly, I don’t care.  Sassy Bert is fun.

Joshua M is creeping around the workroom, checking out Viktor’s clothes.  Up to now, I had assumed that Viktor was just paranoid, assuming that everyone was out to steal his shit, but it looks more and more like Joshua is finding inspiration on his competitors’ dress forms.  Yet another reason to hate him.  Case in point – When Tim sends them back to Mood for Part 2 of the challenge (What!?! Yep, they have to make a second, one-piece look for the paltry sum of $50) Joshua M picks out an ugly ’80s-esque print that is indistinguishable form Laura’s ugly ’80s-esque print.

OK, we’re going to skip over Tim’s critique and the scramble to get models ready for the runway.  This episode was 90 minutes long, the only interesting thing to happen during these bits was Tim telling Laura that Nina thinks she (Laura) has no taste, and I’m ready for the runway.

We start with Kimberly.  Her main look is a circle top that I would be afraid to wear outside, lest the wind blow and expose my entire torso, and pencil skirt.  Her one-piece is actually her original idea, worked into a jumper.  Aside from the inherent dangers of floppy clothing, Kimberly didn’t make much of an impression on me.

Next up is Anthony Ryan.  I love him on the show, he’s one of the few contestants who seems like a real person rather than a caricature, but his first look is pretty unfortunate.  I would neither wear it to the mall, nor to bury things in the woods.  Unless maybe I was planning to bury the top.  His second look, the maxi dress, is worse.  It makes the model look like the couch we had in the ’70s.  Why are you doing this, you cute little man?  Don’t you know that women don’t like to look like furniture?

Bert’s first look comes out, and I don’t think she looks at all like Roller Disco Barbie.  It’s flowy and breezy, much like ’70s fashion, but it doesn’t come across as dated.  He has his model take off her skirt on the runway to show off her teeny-tiny shorts, which I would not have done, but overall I liked it.  His second dress reminds me of something Twiggy would have worn.  I’d say more about it, but I was so distracted by how clearly we could see his model’s nipples through the fabric that I didn’t notice much else.

Laura, Laura, Laura.  I kept thinking that there must be more to the black and white and ugly dress, that she must have some plan to make it into a look that made sense.  Sadly, this was not the case.  It’s just a giant pile of WTF.  Look number two was better, but it was hard to fully appreciate since I was still blinking away the afterimages of hideous green skirt seared onto my retinas.

Speaking of what-the-fuckery, it’s Joshua’s turn.  I don’t even.  First of all, it’s totally ’80s, he’s gotten his decades confused.  Second, when did wearing your pants pulled up to your nipples stop being for little old men and start being high fashion?  This is a trend I do not like.  Third…  never mind.  There is no third.  The whole thing is so bad that there is no point in listing any more of its flaws.  On to the second look.  We have a tiny black top over a neon, multi-colored leopard-print maxi skirt.  Again – what was he thinking?  Has someone been slipping cough syrup into his coffee?

And now we see Anya’s eleven dollar outfit.  I quite like it.  The pants are too short and the back of the shirt is all pleated and poofy, but overall it works.  Look number two, the one she had actual money for, didn’t do much for me but I expected the judges to love it.  It seems very trendy.   Unfortunately, I don’t like jumpers, I don’t like giant billowy pants and I don’t like covering my entire body with a print.  But what do I know?  I wear plaid shoes and scrunchies.

Viktor looks rapturous as his model enters the runway.  He has pulled off a beautifully tailored silver-gray safari jacket, light gray slacks with a textural stripe and a supposedly awesome T-shirt that we can’t see.  I think the jacket could have been about two inches longer, but other than that it is quite lovely.  His dress is an airy, black and gray snakeskin affair.  Not a group of words you would normally find together, but he makes it work.

And now it’s time to judge.

In the culling of the mediocre, Kimberly is the only one to be let off stage.  Apparently Anya and Laura’s concerns for her clothing were unfounded.

Our top three are Viktor, for being all tailored and chic, Anya, for her fashionable jumper, and Bert, for really getting the challenge.  This leaves Laura, Joshua and Anthony Ryan in the bottom, for designing butt-ugly clothes.

One of my favorite parts of this episode what plays out while the judges are conferring.  Joshua starts complaining about his critique because he wasn’t even born in the ’70s and without adequate time to research the era he was just pulling things out of his butt.  Viktor rather timidly points out that he was also born in 1980, but he’s still seen ’70s clothes in TV and movies and it’s not that hard to know what “’70s fashion” looks like.  Joshua starts to go on one of his tirades about how Viktor is making false assumptions and trying to be aggressive, but Kimberly and Bert step in to Viktor’s defense, pointing out that, as designers, it’s their job to know these things and be able to work with them.  I was so excited that people were standing up to his bullying, and doing it calmly and rationally, that I wanted to cheer.  Joshua did not want to cheer.  He had to walk away and be huffy in the corner all by himself.

After alternately praising and tearing into the collected designers, Heidi dispensed with the customary suspense-filled pauses and cut right to the chase.  Anya was the winner, and her jumper that I hated will be sold on Piperlime.  But wait, there’s more!  Bert’s nipple dress will also be sold on Piperlime!  Huzzahs all around.

For reasons I can’t fathom, the judges still think that Joshua just needs a little editing to be good, so he gets to stay and Anthony Ryan has to go because he made a blah dress that looked like a couch.

I was not the only one to be disappointed that Anthony Ryan was leaving.  There were tears all around as Tim Gunn choked his way through sending him to the workroom to clean up.  We will miss you and your awesome glasses.

By [E]SaraB

Glass artisan by day, blogger by night (and sometimes vice versa). SaraB has three kids, three pets, one husband and a bizarre sense of humor. Her glass pendants can be found at if you're interested in checking it out.

7 replies on “Project Runway: Sew ’70s”

Awesome, SaraB!  I think I must have been the only person in the world to love Laura’s black and white stripes with her loud skirt.  I adore any black and white stripe.  And I adore the maxi-length, so this ep made me pretty happy.  But Viktor was robbed!  I think Anya was created in a lab by the producers to come in, bat her eyelashes, and win shit while winsomely saying in an exotic accent “Why this old thing?  I barely know how to sew!”

I just finished watching this.  Viktor was robbed!  Anya’s was meh. I didn’t really care for the prints she chose.  I also don’t understand how the fact that you could see Bert’s model’s nipples through that dress went totally unacknowledged.  I was sure that someone would say something about it.  But, I think I have your fashion sense Sara – usually my judgment is based on whether or not I wear something, and right now I’m wearing leggings-as-pants, stripey fuzzy socks, and a two-sizes-too-big shirt from my job. So, you know.

They totes keep Josh on for the drama, which is fine with me, honestly, because I’m trying to figure out how he manages to get his eyebrow powder to look so nice.  As soon as I figure out how to make my own impressive eyebrow powder fill-in, he can go.


So there I was, sitting comfortably on my couch, and faced with a 66% chance someone I really disliked would be going home.  BUT NO, Anthony Ryan, the nicest and most genuine reality contestant ever has to go home and  the Captain and Tennille of snarky back-biting get to stay.


At least Anthony Ryan’s ugly ass clothes were from the right decade.

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