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Project Runway: "A Little Bit Of Fashion"

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"I loooove unusual colors on little girls." Oh, me too, Tory Burch. And don't you just loooove wonky, skewed dresses on little girls, too? I just think it's such a darling little look: like the little girl got half of her school uniform caught in an elevator, and then the elevator started going up or something. In other words: whimsical.


And you know what I love on women? A cheap, tight, gray and red dress that looks as if it were taken directly from the work-wear section at Strawberry. But I guess that's why Jesse, aka Swing Heil, was in the top three this week.

Still, as strange as the judges' decision was to put Swing Heil's tacky mail-order-bride mom and lopsided daughter duo in the Top 3, tonight's challenge was a pretty good one. Then again, any challenge that dilutes the participation of the leaden, personality-less bloc that is Models Of The Runway is a pretty good challenge. Tonight the designers had to make fashionable outfits for children, and the producers (wisely) chose not to hand the Models Of The Runway pacifiers and then force them to "walk" the runway on their knees. Instead, the designers got actual children—a coterie of adorable little 6-to-8-year-old ragamuffins to model the kidswear. (And in an obvious twist, the Models Of The Runway were recruited later on to play big-models to the mini-models.)

Watching tonight's episode, I wondered why Project Runway has never had a kids clothing challenge before. After all, it's an exercise that forces the designers out of their comfort zones. Unlike last week's non-challenge, making children's clothes has a measureable level of difficulty. It encourages use of bright colors and fun patterns—both of which are sorely lacking thus far in this relatively taupe season. Also, it would just be fun to see the designers interact with children. Mostly.

But then the judges called out the model pairs for the bottom three, and it became abundantly clear why PR has never attempted a kidswear challenge before: it's kind of cruel to have Heidi Klum look at a 6-year-old—beaming in special clothes that were made just for her—and say in her sharpest pin-voice, "It looks like a cheap mall outfit." Sure, it was the clothes that were being judged, not the kids. But that poor little girl wearing Janeane's rumpled, messy slump of a dress didn't seem to know the difference. She looked so sad. When the critique was at its harshest, she even hid her face behind the model's arm. What parents would let their kids do this? Oops. For a second there I forgot Toddlers & Tiaras exists. This was nothing compared to that. Nevermind.


Anyway, Janeane's messy fuschia sadness ensembles did look like cheap mall outfits. Besides that, we found out this episode that she has a (probably tear-stained) husband, so clearly Janeane was going home. That was a given even before the runway show. As for the other bottom two: Jonathan's was deemed to "conceptual" (the concept being a float in the rose parade?). He also made a kiddie bolero, an article of clothing that hasn't even been attempted by the impractical kids clothing connoisseurs at the American Girl Company catalog. He clearly deserved his low standing. Meanwhile, Amy made garish petal pants that made her model look as if she was wearing the legs of a pinata. Those pants were her downfall. Personally, I didn't think Amy's little girl outfit was that bad: the petal skirt was cute, as was the green sweater, and the "she looks like she threw everything on" critique was odd considering that's exactly what kids look like all the time (unless it's picture day).

As for the top three: Swing Heil was clearly chosen simply because he made a nice red coat for the little girl. The rest of his work was, in a word, wrong. Jay's plum and black mother/daughter looks with the matching twisty details were the most complementary and the most chic, but he somehow lost to Seth Aaron, who made a cute little houndstooth and hot pink hoodie for the little girl, and a well-tailored, striped jacket for his Gwen Stefani wannabe. Actually, Seth Aaron's emo-girl-at-the-mall-who-idolizes-Betty-Boop aesthetic translates surprisingly well to kidswear, and it's much more tolerable on a smaller scale. Maybe this win will convince him to quit Project Runway, and go design a line for Gap Kids.


Stray Observations:

—Another good look: Maya's complementary mommy-and-me yellow jackets were cool, although I couldn't really see what what underneath them.


—Seth Aaron stopping to pet the dog at Mood almost convinced me that he was human.

—I would say something about all of Anthony's country-fried one-liners in this episode, but they fell a little flat. I guess that's what happens when you put all the good one-liners in the commercials, and then run those commercials incessantly, right, Lifetime?


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