Me at the beginning of every unconventional materials challenge: This is ridiculous; no one is going to be able to make actual clothes out of this room full of weird junk.
Me at the end of every unconventional materials challenge: I am throwing away everything I own and filling my wardrobe with wrapping paper dresses immediately.
After binge-watching the deeply good-hearted NBC competition series Making It, I half-expected Project Runway‘s unconventional materials challenge to be a masterpiece of puns and self-actualization that reinvigorated my love of crafting, those who craft, and the crafts those crafters craft. On the former series, host Amy Poehler (national treasure) once suggested that they stop eliminating people and just hang out together. I am fully behind this. Project Runway doesn’t quite have that extreme a warm and fuzzy a vibe—the designers are here to win and as the season goes on some of them will probably start to get on each other’s nerves. But the show is far from cutthroat, particularly this rebooted version which prizes backstory over backstabbing.
It’s for this reason that little moments of tiny drama, like last week when Nancy observed that a very laconic Delvin wasn’t helping Dayoung complete her design while other designers were, don’t really spark up into anything else. Similarly, this week Nancy spends an inordinate amount of time smashing ornaments with a mallet in a basket, which seems to drive Delvin crazy. But… then everything seems fine. I like this about Project Runway: there seems to be the normal amount of tension and personality friction that you’d find in any creative endeavor or small work space, but the show isn’t here for drama. This is what I need in my life. I’m doing No Drama 2020. I want to only watch shows about nice people who have no conflict and banter a lot. I want to watch movies where the first scene is all the characters sitting around a table talking about how everything has turned out pretty okay in their lives and then I want 12 more scenes of the same, but at different tables. The art is in the tables, you see.
I don’t watch sports, but if I did I’d want to watch nothing but exhibition games where both teams got a point when anyone scored. Peace! That’s all I asking for this holiday season! (Well, that and a wrapping paper dress) Or, if I can’t get peace, at least give me very low-key, normcore drama, like the designers encounter as they try to turn a holiday Hobby Lobby into haute couture. Their challenge this week: use a bunch of unconventional holiday materials to make a cocktail dress. My gift to you, as always, some superlatives based on their successes and failures in that respect.
Most dubious surprise
The episode opens with the designers lounging around their sleeping quarters making small talk until they are directed to go to the living room which has been given an extreme Linda Belcher makeover with holiday decor on every surface. There’s multiple menorahs, at least six fully decorated Christmas trees, a full breakfast spread, and Christian Siriano! And all designers are standing around expressing shock, to which I call flag on the play. Y’all didn’t hear a team of elves lugging one of the half dozen Christmas trees in here? No one noticed a caterer skulking about? This takes the willful ignorance of the child in “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ to whole new heights.
Best holiday material
Take this with a grain of salt coming from me, a person who would fail an unconventional materials challenge immediately, but I think the thing I would jump on to right away would be ribbon. Some designers, including Alan who was eliminated, didn’t have a lot of success with the material, but it just seems the most malleable and the most fabric-like to me. But what do I know? My version of unconventional materials is corduroy.
Worst holiday material
Wrapping paper. OMG stay away! Even the designers who were successful with their wrapping paper creations still often sent models teetering stiffly down the runway. And the fear of paper cuts nearly put me into a coma. I just don’t know, hon. I’m impressed that so many of these people actually sewed wrapping paper and it’s clear that they were provided with something stronger than what I normally pick up from the Dollar Store on Christmas Eve, but it’s still going to be a no from me, dawg.
Alan initially attempts to make a dress out of a green velvet tree skirt with gold cord trim. Shavi is… not impressed, telling him he looks like:
- Laura Ingalls’ guest for dinner
- Medieval Times does holiday
- Game of Thrones Red Wedding the day after
Honestly, I could listen to him go on for a whole episode. I don’t need drama but I need shade, preferably from Shade-vi.
Most missed opportunity for a pun
Speaking of word play! Okay, so Brittany really gets in the weeds this episode with a skirt made out of pleated wrapping paper and accentuated with a fringe of cranberry beads strung on a thread. The cranberries are quite controversial as she places them on the bodice of the dress at the armpit. Brandon is scandalized by this placement. Nina and Elaine say they like it, which scandalizes Brandon even more. “Tell the truth about that cranberry,” he demands. “I do!” Nina counters. Brandon is unconvinced, dubbing the fringe “Sweaty armpit cranberry.” All-in-all, it’s definitely not the worst part of the dress. That honor goes to the copper wrapping paper of the skirt which hugs the model’s hips too tight and looks like it’s going to rip. The whole thing lands Brittany in the bottom three. But through it all no one remarks that Brittany and her cranberries got bogged down by the challenge and I’m truly sad about that.
Best weird animosity
What’s going on with Sergio and Christian? Well, really, what’s going on with Sergio re: Christian. Christian seems unaware of any beef with Sergio, but in ever episode Sergio dismisses Christian’s advice. This time he tells the camera, “I don’t really need Christian’s advice on this one because I’m honestly in love with my design. The judges are going to gag when they see this.” In truth, they did gag when they saw his hoop skirt made out of a basket and exquisitely tailored wrapping paper, ultimately crowning him the winner. But must we with the Christian shade every week?
Best holiday life coach
As everyone scrambles through the living room grabbing materials, Shavi quips “I’m going to do what I normally do every holiday when people are going crazy at my house: sit back and drink.” Take that energy with you next week, everyone.
Best unintentional read
Victoria is one of the final six but it’s unclear if she’s in the top or the bottom. Karlie asks her where she thinks she is and Victoria replies definitely the top. Why? “I’m not confident person, but I have eyes.” OBSESSED.
Dayoung calls glitter unicorn dust and it makes me so happy.
Best? exit look
Alan is dinged for pairing fur-lined white tall boots with his… avant garde look, which is basically a pastie made of silver leaves from a garland, and a bunch of ribbons wrapped around a model. But when he comes back for the elimination, with Tyler and Brittany, he’s wearing the damn boots. You have to love a commitment to a bit. And it’s impressive that they fit. I’ll allow it.
The Elaine Welteroth Award for Pithy Reads
Elaine is three for three this season in sharp, pop culture assessments of looks and I’m really loving it! This week she’s summarizes Alan’s design by saying “If this were the Burning Man challenge, you’d be in the top three.” More Elaine reads please!
Personal favorite design
I really loved Nancy’s emerald ribbon dress with a tree skirt poncho! It had a very mid-century feel to it and was tailored beautifully. One wonders why she spent so much time smashing stuff like a one-woman Wreck Room only to use ribbons and tree skirt, but who cares? In any case, she was safe but the judges weren’t as compelled as I was, apparently.
Sergio’s truly impressive wrapping paper and basket dress.