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Recap: Project Runway, Episode 9.11: “To the Talon-ted Go the Spoils”

And then there were six.  As Laura put it in her inimitable way, “It’s every man and woman to herselves.  Himselves.  Herselves.  Well, whatever.”  I could have said it better myselves, yourselves, myselves — but her way is so funny, I won’t bother.  Who will be in the final three?  It’s not such a mystery.  Viktor is a shoe-in.  Or a dress-in.  And at this point, Anya would have to design a walking vagina that said, “Fuck you, Marie Claire” to lose this thing.  Of course, the lady mag might call it “fun and flirty” and she’d still win.

This week our reality teevee stars were asked to “elevate” their designs.  Did that mean skydiving? Giving Michael Kors a boner?  Well, yes… but no.  “Elevate” meant designing high fashion inspired by birds!  The winner’s look would feature in an advertorial in Marie Claire for L’Oreal Paris Makeups and Hairs.  There was also a $20K pot for the winner.  Oooooooooooo!

The designers were placed into pairs, because ugh they just were. Kimberly said, “Quite frankly, I am over the team challenges.”  You said a mouthful, honey.

Anya and Laura got Phoenix the Raven to be inspired by.  Joshua and Bert, an Amazon Parrot named Sweetie.  Lastly, Viktor and Kimberly got a cockatoo, which was my favorite because it had “cock” in the name and made me giggle.  Because I’m a fucking lady.

But the Big! Twist!?  Each designer would be competing head-to-head with their partner, with one from each team being on the top, and the other on the bottom.  Fashion is a bitch, apparently.  Like Joshua.  He said, “I consistently bring a high-fashion eye.”  Ah yes.  Nothing says Fashun with a capital wtF like throwing the entire glitter aisle from Michael’s at everything you design, and then rolling it in neon rhinestones.  Joshua “Tasteful” McKinley is the very picture of sedate restraint.  Just like I would never type the words “walking vagina” because I’m a fucking lady.

Joshua McKinley Project Runway browses feathers at Mood
Mister Refined browses the giant, rainbow feather section.

There was another twist, yawn.  It’s just hard to get excited over twists when they come every week.  They’re not twists anymore.  They are straights.  The straight this week was a second complete look.  I wish I chose the challenges on Project Runway.  The twist I would give them would be that the bird had to wear the gown.  Or that in order to win they had to mud-wrestle their partner.  How much would you love to watch Bert body slam Joshua into a heaping pile of muck and scream “That’s how we did it at Studio 54, bitch!”?  If you, dear Persephone reader, got to choose the twist, what would it be?  Please, oh please tell me in the comments!

The highlight of the episode came when the cockatoo said, “Make it work.  Make it work.”  Hee.  That was an A+ use of some Lifetime intern’s time, and I am not being sarcastic.

Unlike Joshua, Bert hated his green and yellow Amazon Parrot.  It just wasn’t “him.”  I would’ve been afraid, too.  You can almost hear Nina Garcia say, “It’s too literal,” even before they put a stitch in the bright fabric.  Green and yellow is a combination only a clown college could love.

Second best moment in the show?  A cockroach in the work room.  Kimberly reacted sensibly, by jumping up on a table and screaming.  (Yes, that is sensible.  I grew up in Florida.  Cockroaches are naaaaaaasty and vile.  AND SOME OF THEM FLY.)  Then Anya grabbed a stiletto platform shoe and killed the shit out of it.  Finally, we know what he Piperlime Accessories Wall from Piperlime featuring Piperlime Accessories on a Wall is for! (And how to use it responsibly! ~ed.)

After the roach ordeal, poor Kimberly put a sewing machine needle through her finger.  That hurts, let me tell you.  She bled and then lost it, and I wish I could have given her a hug.  Tim did it for me, because he is amazing.  The incredible costume designer who taught me how to sew told me that when you bleed on the garment, it’s good luck.  And boy have I bled on garments.  Kimberly is a trooper and a fighter who’s dealt with a lot of personal loss, though, and she rallied pretty quickly.  Tim advised her to stop thinking and just feel it.  Good advice.  Sometimes the brain is where good art goes to die.

However, with three hours left, Kimberly burnt a hole in her dress by laying it on the hot glue gun by accident.  She had to start over.  I guess Tim Gunn hugs aren’t 100% magical.

Joshua found himself in hot water when he realized the hideous green and yellow chiffon nightmare he’d designed was hideous.  He’d purchased no fabric with body at all.  Idiot. He then went trolling for other designers’ fabrics to re-do the look and then got mad when he was given the cold shoulder.  Wah wah wah, Captain Bitchey.  That is why it pays to be nice.

The last twist of the episode was actually kinda twistey:  Only one of each designer’s looks would walk the runway.  This pulled several of the designers straight out of the shit hole.

Does it make me a sell-out to say that I really liked the limited edition L’Oreal eyeshadow palettes inspired by birds that were used on the moddles?  I’m a whore for pretty makeup!  Send me some, L’Oreal!  I want a plum smokey eye like the cool girls wear!

Finally, after all the bleeding, all the bugs, and all the delusion from Joshua, the fashion show began.  The guest judge this week was Francisco Costa, Women’s Creative Director, Calvin Klein Collection.

The cockatoos:

Kimberly Viktor cockatoo designs Project Runway
Cockatoo-inspired designs from Kimberly (left) and Viktor (right)

Viktor hand-shredded white and butter yellow organza to imitate feathers.  It was lovely and had a lot of movement, but the Grecian thing has been done to death.  The dress left me with feelings of vaguely-appreciative “meh.”  Michael called it the faux-feathers “literal.”  BUT OF COURSE.  When will the designers learn?  If I’d gotten a bird challenge, you could not PAY me to put anything on that look that even approached “feather.”  The judges all agreed that the workmanship was impeccable.

I have to say, for a three-hour dress, Kimberly’s look was not too shabby.  The bleeding was good luck after all!  I loved the daring bodice edged in beading.  And the belt was made of leather.  Neat!  Cockatoo has claws, baby.  This took Grecian to a better level, in my opinion.  I also liked the peek of blush at the skirt slit.  It was difficult to see the workmanship, but based on the snarky commentary by Viktor, it sounded poor and rushed.  Almost like it was thrown together in three hours.  Kors appreciated that the dress looked as if it was about to fall off her, but didn’t.  Francisco called it a little mature.  Nina thought it too beauty pageant, but seductive.

Advantage:  Kimberly.  (You go, my little trooper!)

The Amazon parrots:

Joshua Bert parrot designs Project Runway
Parrot-inspired designs from Joshua (left) and Bert (right)

A shiny, silver snake ate the top half of Bert’s moddle-bird.  Terrible.  Just terrible.  The remaining bird parts were a mishmash of colors that clashed (naturally) with the snake.  You should not mess with nature this way, Bert!  Or you end up with this:

The four-assed monkey from South Park

Michael called the dress “pageant-ey.”  Francisco called the shape boring and said that the dress lacked confidence.  The generic silhouette is what Nina hated most.  Heidi liked the idea of the pop of color in the skirt, but thought the execution fell flat.

As bizarre as this is to type… I actually kinda liked Joshua’s dress.  I wasn’t in love with the orange, but the sculptural shape was interesting.  I don’t think he needed the fabric corsage.  But was this dress really high fashion?  Michael called the cut beautiful, and enjoyed the chain detail on the back of the dress, but not the flowers.  Francisco made a great point that the colors in the dress were not literal to the bird at all, but the exuberance of the design really called to mind the tropical nature of it.  When asked if he would wear the dress, Michael quipped, “Well, I happen to be very much an orange kind of guy.”  Damn, but I love that trendy Oompa-Loompa!  Of all the PR judges, he’s the one I want to get drunk with the most.  I bet he’d tell the best Nina stories.

Advantage:  Joshua.

The ravens:

Anya Laura raven designs Project Runway
Raven-inspired designs from Anya (left) and Laura (right)

I love, love, loved Anya’s dress.  It looked expensive (as Nina enjoys saying), it looked chic, it looked modern.  And the shapes and sculpts really brought out the high and low lights of the black fabric, imitating the sleek shimmer of a raven.  Heidi loved it.  Michael enjoyed how it was inspired-by, but not literal.  Ding ding ding!  Nina called it her favorite Anya outfit, and seeing how far up Anya’s butt Nina has been, that’s saying something.  Francisco said nice stuff about it, too, but I think anything that comes out of such a debonair man’s mouth sounds good.

Laura’s jacket was pretty, with fringe imitating feathers at the neck and a nifty peplum.  I adore a peplum.  But this look struck me like Josh’s:  Was it high fashion?  I feel like this is a slightly-niftier Chico’s suit.  And skinny pants are not in and of themselves high fashion.  They are ubiquitous.  And kinda lazy at this point.  Nina called it “dramatic,” but she didn’t like the literal feathers and the too-tight pants.  Kors appreciated that she didn’t rely on a dress.

Advantage:  Anya.

The winner of the $2oK?  Anya.  I didn’t even really need to type that, did I?  I could blog the finale right now.  Anya wins it all, folks.  And with great, sexy hair.  The bitch.  Joshua was way bitter because Anya’s model always has to be cut out of the dress because the construction is not what it needs to be, for Anya has only been sewing for four months.  I can empathize.  But it’s a design show, not a sewing one.  Wah wah wah.

And our sad loser was Bert.  I’ll actually miss him.  He came full reality-TV circle:  from everybody’s fab gay uncle, to the villain, to the one who learned lessons in getting along.  Fare thee well, Bert.  I wish you much success, and maybe a nice Ernie.

By Lucy Woodhull

Lucy Woodhull is a novelist, humorist, parodist, and all-around geek. Her new venture is THE SHITTIEST PRINCESS, a series of un-fair-y tales right here on Persephone. You can check out her sexy, fun romantic comedies at

6 replies on “Recap: Project Runway, Episode 9.11: “To the Talon-ted Go the Spoils””

The cockroach that ran around the workroom was actually a twist, and Anya wins another $10,000 for killing it.

Or they have to design a second look based on … a cockroach.

Oh but I SO want to see the mudwrestling! I can just see the crazed glint in Bert’s eyes *wipes away tears of merth*

I was crushed that no one picked the owl to design around. And yeah, I totally want those eye color palettes. I even found myself browsing for some shoes. I am the sad face of consumer culture.

But yeah, team challenges WITH A TWIST, followed by ANOTHER TWIST that didn’t even involve putting the bird in a dress? Waste of time. Remember when they had to dress the dogs in matching outfits in season 3 or 4? That was magical. “Make another look with $50 and half a day!” is such an obvious twist that it would make M. Night Shyamalan blush.


I loved the L’oreal colors, too. Finally, a product placement that made sense and was something that people would actually buy!

I also loved that Viktor flat out said he was pissed about Kimberly being the higher score. At least the kid is honest.

Did anyone watch “After the Runway?” I didn’t know about this new show, so I didn’t have it recorded (my friend and I have PR PJ dates at the weekends).

I have discovered the dangers of reading Persephone on my phone.  “That’s how we did it at Studio 54, bitch!” had me weeping with laughter in a Waffle House like a crazy person.

I’m sad that Bert had to go.  Sassy Bert made the show more fun.

Mud wrestling would be an unexpected twist, I would also enjoy it if the runway were decided with a pie eating contest.  The kind where you aren’t allowed to use your hands.

I totally thought the bird said “Pretty Bird” so it was completely lost on me. Oh well.

Also, I always really like the literal ones.  It should come as no surprise that I am a very literal person. And I just never understand how you’re supposed to say, be “inspired” by a bird without using feathers and/or the exact colors of the bird.  I am not creative in that way, I guess.

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