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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Project Runway: "Bright Lights, Big City"

Illustration for article titled Project Runway: "Bright Lights, Big City"
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Illustration for article titled Project Runway: "Bright Lights, Big City"

Next season, Project Runway not only shifts to Lifetime, but it shifts to the opposite coast, L.A. to be more exact, where fashion is all generic "rocker," super-expensive t-shirts, ironic fedoras, and garish print "maxi" dresses. At first, I was dismayed to hear that the show would lose both the idiotic Bravo text polls (what, exactly, is a "cha boy?" Someone who would wear Emily's dress? Zing!) and New York. But after tonight's recycled "find inspiration in NYC" challenge, I think the change in address could only help the show. The producers have clearly run out of ideas. Maybe the California sun will bring forth some new ideas from their pallid brains, like so many age spots, freckles, and blisters. Even a challenge like, "Stare at the Pacific and then design a t-shirt" would be an improvement.

There's only so many times you can stand listening to a designer talk about how the trash in the street is interesting, or how a blurry photo of graffitti sparked a massive, unstoppable creative conflagration. I realize Bravo has to squeeze in the cameras and printers product placement somewhere, but the "take a picture" challenges are the worst. No one likes looking at vacation photos except the people in them, anyway, and inspirational vacation photos are 10 times as boring. Especially if what you're taking a picture of is a blurry shadow on the sidewalk, or a close up of a horse blinder (nice job finding the leather, Stella), or a streak of light that really captures the energy and excitement of the city (Ugh, Emily).

Still, the challenge wasn't totally recycled, I guess. They did add a tour bus this time around. And nightfall. And Sandra Bernhard (who didn't require a grand announcement and entrance, like some people) as a judge. It just would have been a bit more interesting if the designers had to, say, make an outfit out of pictures, instead of make an outfit inspired by a picture.

That said, it's the third episode, and many of the contestants' design aesthetics are beginning to emerge and take shape. Korto, for instance, likes clean, but not boring lines. There's always a twist: First episode, it was the salad collar. Second episode it was the "inside out" seams and the fins. This episode, it was the rounded neckline of her jumpsuit. (And, of course, the fact that she made a jumpsuit.) Blayne's style is tacky exhibitionist: scrunchy neon rainbows, and frontal diaper flourishes that all basically scream, "Agh! Haaay! LOOK OVER HERE!" which is fitting. Daniel's aesthetic, on the other hand, is sharp and elegant. His green-gold, fold-down, pointy dress (inspired by a building or who cares?) was one of my favorites–definitely better than Terri's gauzy muu-muu over satin pants (Terri's aesthetic so far can best be described as "crazypants"). The judges couldn't stop gushing over how "cool" it was though: "When she came around that corner, I was like, 'Who is she?' I want to know her." Her name is Xaviera, and she's a model. Apparently she's a very good one, because if anyone else wore that outfit Michael Kors would be saying, "Who is she? I want her out of here."

Kenley says her designs are "Modern day calendar girl," but in truth her aesthetic is more "Schizophrenia, also, Volume." There's no other explanation for that sea foam green and pukey purple print, with matching netted side goiter (Thank you, Sandra). It was interesting, yes, but kind of in the same way that spectacular messes are interesting. Likewise, Jennifer, poor, meek Jennifer, doesn't know her own work very well. She described her style as "Holly Golightly meets Salvador Dali," but in fact her style is more "Hopelessly Deluded." Her satin sack of a dress looked more exhausted than anything else: it was the clothing equivalent of the word "slump."

Still, I'm glad Jennifer, poor, meek Jennifer didn't lose this challenge, because while her dress was boring, it wasn't boring and hideous. No, that rare description belonged solely to Emily, she of the asymmetrical bangs and hideous, ruffled asymmetrical neckline frock. Apparently, the "energy and excitement of New York" is best expressed by a dress that looks like a cocktail waitress uniform at the Flamingo casino. She definitely deserved to be cut for whatever that was. However, Leanne definitely deserved to win for her graphic, sleek, and utterly cool skirt and blouse, over whatever Kenley's dress was. Leanne's would be the one everyone would want to know, while Kenley's would be the one everyone would laugh at.

Grade: B

Stray Observations:

—In case you're wondering, Jerell's tentative aesthetic is "Idiocy Meets Sewing Machine," while Joe's is "Good Idea Maybe, But Cheap-Looking," and Keith's is "Deconstructed Patchwork Quilt." Stella's, naturally, is "Leather." I kinda hope she finds a way to make leather pants for every challenge from here on in.

—Blayne: "[10 seconds of staring] I'm gonna eat you." You need to work on your "workroom personality" material, Blayne. That fell more than a little flat.

—"I gave it a good score cause it's cooooool." I'm being conservative here: Heidi's accent added at least 50 extra "o's" to that word.

—Do you think Jack actually made his Saturn-inspired outfit, or did he just go buy it at Banana Republic?

—So, was the charm of Tim's "Holla at ya boy" moment undercut by Blayne's involvement, or what?