Road To The Runway
Project Runway 2: Episode 1


Accessorize, baby! How do you know when a TV show has taken off in a big way? When it expands the cast of the second season to fourteen from twelve, of course, and when the show begins with an American Idol-style audition special! Should the third season feature ten episodes of "bad auditions" specials, that's when we know that this show has gone straight to hell - which would be, by the way, straight down one of the hairy nostrils of Mighty Ogre - known to most people as Michael Kors. Our hostess Heidi Klum is not ashamed to show off her pregnancy so there is a good chance that you will be spending most of this episode staring at the hem of her short skirt and wondering whether she will pull the same stunt as Zulema's model does later in the second episode. But for now, let's enjoy the start of the second season of this enjoyable show. Will there be a new Wendy Pepper? Confession time: I adore Wendy Pepper. Is Raymundo the lesser sibling of John Leguizamo? Is Emmett the illegitimate offspring of Christopher Lambert and a can of talcum powder? Can Santino be more arrogant without his head exploding into bits and pieces of pink confetti and chewed bubblegum bits? I guess we will find out during the course of the season.

Heidi narrates off what the show is about - search for the next big fashion designer, blah blah blah - using clips from the previous season. Wendy Pepper, Kara Saun, and Jay competed for the final win and Jay won. Jay plays up to the camera, pretending that he is very happy and his life is now a "giant tornado". There's the fashion spread in Elle to be happy about, for one, and later this year he will be launching his line of clothes for men and women. "Love me! Buy my clothes!" he says to the camera. That is, if we are all svelte, skinny, and have no curves to speak of, then we will probably fit into one of his clothes. He then goes on to talk about how this show has given him "many options" - carefully not elaborating what they are because I suspect that these options are comparable to the options received by the winner of America's Next Top Model, which is to say, a brief moment of exposure in the sponsor's magazine and some obscure affiliation with another sponsor and not much else. "I ordered a big old helping of Project Runway this morning and boy do I feel fucking good!" he hams to the camera. I love how this show bleeps out bad a word but still manages to make sure that the word is audible despite the bleep sound.

It's now time for a clip of this season's Fashionistas posing before the camera and delivering a line that they think will make themself stand out as cutting edge. Heidi then kicks off the show by explaining how a "nationwide search" was launched to find "best up-and-coming fashion designers" starting with New York, which Heidi calls the fashion capital of the world. Every person who fancies himself or herself a fashion designer since this person takes a pair of scissors and cuts some holes into a pair of jeans is lined up outside a Banana Republic store. There's a hilarious kind of symbolism here with these dreamers and hopefuls queuing up to enter a building called "Banana Republic".

Here, the judges Joann Pailey of Elle, Christina Neault from 7th on Sixth, the divine Tim Gunn, and of course, Heidi Klum are joined by Jay and his I Was In The Backstreet Boys - Not In A Gay Way, Of Course - Before I Got Kicked Out For Eating All The Bon-Bons In The Tour Bus impersonation. A deceptively sane-looking woman comes in holding a small doll dressed up in purple period costume with too many feathers and pretty much tells the judges that she has obviously confused "couture" with "I watched Dangerous Liaisons ten times a day and this is the result". A guy in bleached orange hair and a medium-sized version of Jay's coat passes over his portfolio to the judges before tapdancing. Mr Hollaback Gal here probably got rejected by Gwen Stefani as well but he is definitely being rejected here. Not even his tapdancing will help him, although those white boots he is wearing are pretty cool. Another guy looks like he has thrown every curtain, sheet, and linen covering from his grandmother's collection over his neck before stealing this dear grandmother's blouse and his grandfather's KKK pointy hat cleverly modified into a Pope's headgear. He starts dancing and Jay humors him by asking him to sing. This guy says that he can't sing because it will kill everyone in the room if he does. And then, his grandmother shows up and drags him by the ear home where he will never be allowed to leave the basement ever again.

In walks this Chinese woman with spectacles and an air around her that screams "mousy nerd alert". Not that I find that there's anything wrong with being a nerd, of course, because I'm a card-carrying nerd myself. She doesn't speak, however, she squeaks, although that's probably because she's nervous. She brings in some clothes and hangs them on the rack. I don't know whether they are samples of her work or they are clothes that she has collected from the laundry before she makes a stop here because those clothes look quite ordinary from what I can see. She hands over her portfolio to the judges - Jay takes it with an "Oh!" that comes out of nowhere - and explains that she studied in the Rhode Island School of Design. She'd like to combine fashion with technological, scientific, and mathematical influences, citing "wearable computers" as an example. Yes, I always wanted to wear my PC, come to think of it, and I'd love to a pair of brassiere that doubles as the speakers for my PC-cum-blouse. This young lady, whose name is Diana Eng, pulls out a sleeveless hooded top that she has affixed a camera to as a sample and explains that should the wearer feel excited or something, the attached wireless heartrate monitor automatically detects the rising heart rate and causes the camera to automatically takes a picture. You know, I want that dress the next time I visit the NFL men's locker room. How much is that dress? The judges all act like they are wowed by the fact that Diana Eng probably can solve trigonometric equations in her sleep and let her go through. She shyly squeaks her thanks and Jay mimicks her squeak in his telling her that she is most welcome. I think Jay is drunk. That or he thinks he is funnier than he actually is. Oh well. Diana Eng is 22 and she is from Jacksonville, Florida. She was a big nerd in high school so she is now a nerd trying to make it in fashion. That's cool. The three sketches from her portfolio that accompanies her confessional suggest that she likes to design for (a) sci-fi convention cosplayers, (b) actors and actresses in a movie set in a post-apocalyptic planet, and (c) people who want a fancier version of plastic protectors in their clothes.

In day two in New York, Jay is discovered too inebriated and coked-up in his hotel room and they have to drag him off to the nearby detox center. Just kidding, people. Austin shows up as the guest judge. He seems to have taken his own pompadourian image more seriously than before and is now turning into a giant walking pompadour that has no sense of irony anymore. As he approaches the people lined up for their turn to meet the judges and exchange mundane banters about nothing with them, he tells the camera that he has gotten plenty from the show despite not winning. He has plenty of offers, a collection due in Spring 2006, the usual. In American Idol, every former contestant says that an album is in the works, due the following year, and they receive plenty of offers. On this show, replace the album with a collection (of lipsticks and big wigs, perhaps?) and it's still the same story, sigh. I'll believe these claims when I actually see something coming out of them.

On with some of the fashion disasters. A bald guy wearing a white fox-head fur tells Austin that he has wanted to be a fashion designer since he was in diapers. Was that before or after he saw his first episode of Jem and the Holograms? A dreadlocked guy says that he spent fifteen years in New York and holds up a garishly-patterned pants that he calls "a space suit for chickens". Ooh, is he saying that he designs clothes for those people that do naughty things while dressed up as animals? Then there is this fellow with big shades, whose gender is hard to make up, who calls his/her style "fun and kind of quirky" - like a date with him/her, I suppose - and for some reason the judges find this proclaimation so disasteful that even Tim Gunn gives a shudder. Maybe it's his/her portfolio?

A woman, whose name is Zulema, shows up. At this point, she is still sane and reasonable, even likeable. She holds up a blazer she has created - a red blouse with blue ribbon instead of buttons and all to prevent the wearer from being arrested for indecent exposure. I don't think many people will look good in that bright shade of red but hey, Zulema's the Fashionista, not me. She explains that the blazer will fit like a corset. I hope the person who wears it knows how to tie ribbons very well and very securely then. Zulema says that she will bring a combination of "street culture" and "multiculturalism" to "couture" and "high fashion" to the show, although how all that is examplified by that prep-school polo-team blazer she has created is beyond me. She also has another creation, an orange dress with a myriad of different-colored spots on it, to show the judges. In her confessional, Zulema reveals that she's 28, she lives in New York City, and she is a costume designer for TV and films. She talks about how she grew up without having "frivolous things" and therefore she used to sew her dresses with her own hands from scratch. Maybe it's just me being a jaded reality TV watcher but I immediately have my guards up the moment she talks about how she was poor and didn't have, I quote, "frivolous things". She comes off like a walking "Angry African-American timebomb" stereotype that every reality TV show sees fit to have and I hope Zulema will prove to be anything but that. Hey, I can dream, can't I? Zulema says that she wants to win because she didn't pack lightly. That's not too impressive a claim considering that this audition is held in the same city where she lives. Anyway, her three portfolio sketches are quite ordinary and unimpressive to me (one of them is her red blazer).

The show then moves to Houston, Texas, where I hope the ridiculously bitter Vanessa hasn't committed suicide when they asked Wendy Pepper instead of her to be the guest judge. Wendy talks about how she is in some "happy place" now - some pills do that to people, I hear - and how her family members rallied around her after they have seen how those evil rivals of her in the first season tried to put her down. Oh, wait. She takes her role as guest judge more seriously than Austin and Jay, from what I can see, because she's going down on the wannabes like a stern interviewer with questions like "What makes you the next American great designer?".

A fifty-year old man who is losing his hair touches his heart under his "Thunder" T-shirt and announces that Wendy is as tough as she was "on the show", earning Wendy a shoulder rub from Tim. And then in walks a woman whose name turns out to be Chloe Dao. She brings in three sleeveless spaghetti-strap garments that seem to be similar in cut and design, only they are in different colors, pointing out that she "can do silk charmeuse and beading combined", which she claims is a skill that many people don't know she has. Well, they know now. I know too, after I quickly looked up the meaning of "charmeuse" in the dictionary as well as the spelling. Hey, don't look at me. I'm a novice in fashion matters. I'm learning as I go along, okay? Personally, those dresses of hers are more practical and I'm sure I would love to wear them if I'm, oh, much thinner than I currently am but they look like something I can find in the local Mark and Spencer store. Oh well. Chloe tells the judges that she loves strapless dresses and she wants to show that she can balance formal and casual elements in her designs. When asked by Wendy, Chloe says that she hopes to participate in the Fashion Week and she thinks that one has to love fashion to make it to that point because fashion designing doesn't pay at first. Chloe gets through as one of the semifinalists. Her confessional reveals that she's 33 and she's from Houston. She has a boutique here that sells her own creations and apparently she has quite a "really small" but loyal following. She sees this show as an opportunity to get her designs into hopefully every store in America.

Now let's go to Miami, where the blowhard Plotless Robert, who is determined to prove that he's the last straight man in the fashion industry, spends time trying to chat up women by the pool when he's not being the guest judge. He talks about being approached by people from twelve-year old girls - he makes it clear that these girls only want a hug, so that I don't get the wrong idea about him - and sixty year-old men. Because gay men have to be old and disgusting, see? Plotless Robert also talks about being offered to do a spread in Playgirl and then tries to pretend that he doesn't read that magazine by wondering whether he is asked to do a frontal shot or a back shot. He acts like it's a honor to be asked to pose in Playgirl when in truth that will put him at the same level as the two jokers from Big Brother that have also posed for Playgirl. When he starts acting in adult films, then we'll be talking big time. Plotless Robert also talks about a website dedicated to his rear end and thanks all who love his read end, God bless them all.

A leathery woman who looks like she's related to the Whining Weevils from The Amazing Race 8 says that she has just gotten out of a coma so she will bring a great story to the show. I can see it now: "Woman sewed dresses all day while she's in coma to make it to Project Runway 2!" A woman who looks like she lives and breathes trailer park trash is dressed in pink tight-fitting midriff-baring top and pink cut-offs. She loves pink, she says, and Plotless Robert tells her that she can't use pink all the time on the show because of the way the competitions are structured. I think that explanation is too deep for her. A young lady says that she loves to incorporate "weird objects" into her designs. That explains why she seems to be wearing coils and coils of her garden hose as a top, I suppose. Plotless Robert realizes that one of her creations uses condoms and asks whether he can take some. Ah, Plotless Robert, still trying very hard to assure everyone that he has a functional penis.

In comes this woman, Heidi Standridge, who looks like a grown-up version of one of those crazy, hyperactive, and outright manic young ladies who will audition for American Idol. She's even as gimmicky as these American Idol desperates, what with her coming up with a portfolio just for the show and pasting "I want to be in!" all over the cover. She talks a lot at a crazy speed but her designs are pretty boring. That skirt that she claims was made from a scarf that she wanted to throw away looks like a washed-out rag. Tim goes insane and lets her through, which sees her wanting to hug all the judges. In her confessional, she explains that she's "25" - oh, please, more like 40 - she's from Alabama. It's telling that they don't really show sketches from her portfolio here, just a stupid clip of her posing on a flight of stairs at what I guess is her home with both walls plastered all over with "Think 'In'" signs. She's obviously chosen to go through as a character as opposed to being a competitor.

Finally, the show moves to LA and Kara Saun shows up to guest judge. Kara gives the now standard "I am moving on to big things, y'all" confessional to press on about how this show gives its contestants big beautiful things forever and ever. John is shown showing off his designs, although he isn't given more screentime. Still, as he is a semifinalist, I think I should mention him. Nick Verreos, who is adorable in a "My Best Slightly Carmudgeonly Gay Friend" manner, is next seen telling the judges that he is an instructor at the Fashion Institute of Design. With a name like that, I am half-expecting to find a Fashion Institute of Clothes Wearing somewhere nearby. Nick teaches pattern-making and sketching. He tells the judges that his students think that he should try out for the show. Either these students want a new teacher or he's just using the standard "All my friends and family members say that they love me and they think I'm very good" BS line, only this time it's his students instead of his mother. He believes that he should have gone to New York in the first place instead of LA and I guess he now wants to make up for lost time. He brings a model with him to show off a slinky evening gown with low-cut back, "fishtail hems" and "bias cut". The straps are designed to have some fabric that hangs over the shoulders to create what Nick calls "the angel wing back" when to me they look like scarves hanging down one's back. The dress also has an "invisible zipper" and a "cowl front", whatever they are. That's why I am not a fashion critic, I suppose. Nick then goes on to call the print the "tornado print". Let's just say that he gives this impression that he knows very well what he is talking about and the judges are more than happy to let him through. I like that dress, by the way. Nick's confessional is quite embarrassing when he poses in his red biker's jacket and gelled slicked-up hair. He looks like an old uncle who isn't aware of how he is embarrassing himself by trying to act hipper than he actually is. His portfolio sketches that are shown are typical high fashion stuff. He is, after all, an instructor in a fashion school.

Raymundo, wearing a red jacket over a black "Young Balls" T-shirt, tells the judges how it is hard to be a fashion designer when his Mexican Roman-Catholic father thinks that the occupation is "gay". Raymundo is like all, hello, he is gay. He shows off what he calls a "shrunken jacket" with matching wide-legged pants. They don't show much off that design but the judges are impressed by it enough to let him through. Raymundo tells the camera that he's 24 and he has just "debuted" his first collection, which he calls "Young Balls" because, as he says, it takes balls to "like, want to produce stuff out there". The show gives me a glimpse of what seems like print ads for that line and Young Balls look like a line of clothes for pencil-thin teenagers everywhere. He hopes to launch his dream collection one day under his name.

Our next semifinalist, Santino, shows off a black "knit jersey" corset which looks like something nobody will wear outside a catwalk unless they want to risk their sensitive body parts getting exposed for all to see and laugh at. He speaks in this deep and monotonous manner about how he wants to be the next top American "coutourier". Tim Gunn says that he is ready to scream if he sees another corset but he finds Santino's corset "very good" and would like Santino to become a semifinalist on the show. As Santino molests a headless mannequin in his confessional, he explains that he is 30 and he is a freelance fashion designer. He wants to be a designer since he has always loved fashion for as long as he could remember. During high school, he won some fashion design contest and eventually went to a design school in LA. Then there is this clip of him with boxing gloves in a ring saying that he is the next great American designer. Maybe he can design himself a wig because the receding hairline is quite distracting.

Heidi then voices over that being in LA means that "of course" they get to meet some "strange people", like this guy wearing some kind of coat with all sorts of fabric attaching it to both his wrists while he tells them that he likes "fantasy". Alas, his dream of being on the show remains just that, a fantasy. A woman makes monkey sounds for some reason that I don't want to know. One guy comes in without pants, although he probably stripped them off while in the waiting room because I can't imagine that he traveled all the way there without someone calling the cops on him. Wait, then again, in LA... anyway, I don't know what he is doing, other than maybe hoping to get some airtime on TV because it doesn't look like he's carrying samples of his creation or a portfolio. He looks like one of those weirdos who will do something like this on a dare. Kara asks him whether he will put on pants on the show and he says yes, if they ask him to. Christina announces that she's crying.

But the biggest surprise, says Heidi - and it will be if you haven't read the press releases of the show and realize this one month before this show airs - is when the first eliminated Fashionista from the previous season, Daniel Franco, shows up. At first I think he is working at the building as a janitor or something because he shows up pushing a rack of clothes that could have been Tim's laundry from the day before. Nope, he's here to prove himself as he claims that he didn't get a fair chance to show what he is capable of in the previous season. Heh, he promises that there will be less talk of "bliss" from him this time around. The more he talks, though, the more I am reminded of why he made my skin crawl the first time around. He speaks in very obvious obsequience that never comes off as sincere and he is at it in full force this time around. He tosses out words like "fit", "cut", "proportions", "nuances", and "line" as if to impress the judges on how he has gotten his hand on a dictionary while plotting his great comeback on this show. He shows off his designs, which I must admit look sleek and elegant while being practical at the same time. There's a jacket made from cashmere angora and sleek velvet accompanied by several variations of this design. They convince the judges that he really does know his fabrics this time around and they let him through. Hmm, I hope this doesn't set a precedence where the rejected Fashionistas from the this season show up again in the next season claiming that they are somehow unfairly cut before they are given a chance to show what they can really do. I really don't want to see Zulema or Guadalupe again. Anyway, Tim tells Daniel that his problem the last time around wasn't in his design but his time management and use of resources.

And finally, we are done with the audition segment, thank goodness, because I always find such segments the most boring of any reality TV show. As a prologue of sorts to the next segment of this episode, Tim Gunn wraps six yards of fabric and $20 (for supplies) into a box that will be mailed to each of the sixteen Fashionistas chosen for the semifinals. Heidi voices over that each Fashionista will use the fabric to design something that he or she feels will reflect the best about who this Fashionista is. Unfortunately, we won't be seeing Crybaby Clown Andrae coming up with a giant cloth pacifier and a bib or Santino with a garbage bag over his head, even if those are the real they.

Oh, the day has arrived for the Fashionistas to meet each other. Guadalupe shows up, saying that she has her hair cut to look like Bruce Lee. She's 29, a freelance fashion designer like Santino, and she says that she's had a tough life as a kid because "some of her family" were boat people from Vietnam. She had fabrics and sewing equipment in her garage where she worked back then. No jokes about Guadalupe feeling right at home in a sweatshop, please. Some of the samples of her portfolio look like she designs clothes more towards the stereotypical catwalk "No normal people please, you fatties are not couture enough" types. Guadalupe hopes that her stint on the show will pave way to her owning her own fashion company one day. She will then put her family members in Vietnam behind sewing machines in sweatshops in Hanoi. Joking, people, don't sue me please!

Kirsten, 37, shows up next. She's an attorney who also moonlights as a swimsuit designer. Her swimsuits are pretty cool if you have the kind of body that is flattered by maximum exposure and Kirsten's rail-thin body isn't that body unless you go for ribcages as the new kind of sexy. Which makes it unfortunate that she chooses to model her swimsuit designs herself in her portfolio shoots. It's like watching spinster Aunt Edith suddenly showing up at the front cover of Maxim. Kirsten describes her designs as swimsuits designed for a three o'clock lunch at some club in Saint Tropez. Don't ask me why someone will wear a skimpy swimsuit to lunch. I suspect that "lunch" here is a codeword of rich people for afternoon romps in a Saint Tropez hotel room with Pedro the lawnboy or Lupe the maid.

Crybaby Clown Andraé, 32, shows up next. He has a sad story about how he had a boutique in downtown LA for the last three years until he has to shut it down due to circumstances that he doesn't go into. What, did he gamble too much or something? His portfolio seems to consist of long dark-colored trenchcoats or dresses (because he is so sad, see, and he wants to make a statement) designed for women with ten-foot legs. He goes on some more about how sad he is about the closure of his shop, which he says is an end of his dream, but now he is excited to be competing with some of the greatest young design minds of his time period, or so he says. I know how he'd like to imagine that the semifinalist Fashionistas like the Michaelangelos of the twenty-first century and all that but... really, don't make me laugh.

From the airport, the show moves to the square outside the building that will be the Project Runway HQ, the Parsons School of Design, where Zulema walks up to exchange greetings with Dan, a rail-thin guy with deliberately rumpled hair that proclaims how artistic he desperately wants the world to see him as. I've known so many guys that are like him, and many of these guys eventually quit their creative field to sell used cars. I hope Dan will have a better future, not that there's anything wrong in selling used cars because one of these guys is now filthy rich and taunts me constantly about how much money he is making. Dan is 24 and is fresh out of fashion school. His portfolio sketches are pretty decent but rather formulaic "fashion school" sorts (streamlined cuts, all straight lines, that sort of thing) if I am making sense here. Dan believes that his inexperience is not hindrance when it comes to competing with the others on this show. Later, Andraé the Crybaby Clown shows up, as do Nick. Nick leads a group bonding with some people over the fact that they are all from LA. Kara Janx, 29, shows up next and she explains that she is from Johannesburg, South Africa and she dreams of having her own line. Her portfolio seems to consist of brightly-colored dresses that can only be worn by thin and leggy models.

Ooh, who's that very tall, very blond, icy cold handsome gentleman who has just arrived? Be still, my heart. Andraé the Crybaby Clown, despite his affected melancholy, notices this handsome hunk of a man and that shameless hussy immediately pounces, asking this hunk, Emmett, whether he came from "a lot of academes". Emmett blinks like he can't believe he is talking to the great unwashed while Guadalupe giggles and says that Emmett has "got brains" on him. Oh, Emmett. I wish I can rescue him from such wretched company like he desperately wants to be! Emmett, 42 looks even more swoon-worthy in his confessional as he explains that he is a designer of menswear when he initially wanted to design women's fashion. He hopes that this show will allow him to demonstrate and show his ideas of "women's wear". His portfolio consists of standard male trenchcoats and sweaters that don't deviate too much from the standard GQ parameters, the kind where the male models wearing them are young and hot but the actual people who buy and wear these clothes are middle-aged men with trophy wives.

An excited John, 24, is having fun talking to the other Fashionistas. He tells the camera that he wants to be known as an innovative and aesthetic designer. His portfolio seems to consist mostly of costumes that one would expect models in tourism brochures to wear because his costumes look exactly like some romantified version of the traditional female costumes in some European countries like Spain. He hopes to see people walking down the streets one day wearing his clothes. Not if he keeps designing Dutch maid outfits, I suspect. Besides, this show wants to pretend that it's all about high culture, so I'm not sure how high culture will fit into John's vision of having people everywhere wearing his clothes. That seems more mainstream than high culture.

Santino is talking to Marla Duran, 51, who tells him that she is self-taught when it comes to business. Marla tells the camera that she's from Allentown, Pennsylvania and she owns a boutique. Her grandson thinks that she can win this competition so here she is. Her portfolio, like Chloe Dao's, seems more mainstream upper middle-class boutique material rather than catwalk stuff. They're nice but she has better come up with something good and less common to impress the judges later on. She and the other Fashionistas all chat and have a good time waiting until they realize that one Fashionista is missing. Who can that be? And in a move obviously designed by the people behind the show to create tension between Daniel Franco and the other Fashionistas, Daniel Franco now shows up. Everyone acts shocked and Andraé the Crybaby Clown expresses his shock in an overwrought manner to the camera. Please, darlings, it's only that loser from the first season. It's not like one of the Top Five are coming back to compete with them, it's like that doormat Daniel Franco who is right now bowing to them like he's their new manservant. Chloe extends an olive branch of sorts by walking up to give him a hug. She tells the camera that she has seen his work on LA Apparel News and she thinks his work is good enough for him to deserve a second chance. Oh, I can see her plotting her next big comeback in the next season already should she ever get cut later in the season. Daniel Franco tells the camera about how he is "humbled through humiliation" and now he is a changed person who just wants to prove himself to the naysayers instead of chasing after dreams of fame and fortune. Yes, and I'm Ronald McDonald coming to shove a cheeseburger down his throat.

Heidi comes out of the door and greets them as they applaud her arrival. I hope she doesn't speak in her baby voice like that when she's 50 because that will be so undignified. Tim Gunn is with her and she introduces him as the Fashionistas' "mentor". Tim points out Daniel Franco as a "familiar face" and casually mentions that he has known Emmett since high school when Emmett was applying to Parsons. Don't ask me whether "applying to Parsons" is an euphemism for "shagging like overheated rabbits" before I don't know. Go ask Tim - Heidi did say that one can ask Tim anything. Tim assures everyone that even if he "knows" Emmett and he thinks Daniel Franco sucked lemons in the previous season, he will give everyone a fair treatment.

Heidi now invites the Fashionistas to enter the HQ with her and Tim. She shows them the Sweatshop (also known as the Workplace) and drops the bombshell. Tim reminds them that they were sent a parcel a week ago with supplies and asked to create an original outfit that expresses who they really are as a designer. I suppose creating a dress with huge dollar signs because I want to be a filthy rich designer won't cut it? In two hours, the creations of the Fashionistas will be judged on the Runway. Oh, and there are only fourteen workspaces in the Sweatshop so yes, two of the Fashionistas will be sent home at the end of the day because this round is only the semifinals. Models will be randomly assigned to the Fashionistas. Tim explains that the two hours allocated to the Fashionistas also inclue the time needed to drag the models to the L'Oréal Paris Make-Up room and the TRESemmé Hair Salon for prepping. Alright? Go!

As he works on his orange one-piece dress, Nick explains to the camera that the fabric given to them is muslin, which he describes as "unbleached cotton". He explains that all designers use muslin as a basic fabric for draping. Of course, they have to now use it to design the entire outfit. Heidi S is telling Andraé that she likes his design because it makes the boobs look big and Andraé is like yeah, yeah, whatever. Andraé tells the camera that his idea of "pretty" is challenged by the fact that he has to use the "coarse" and "unfinished" muslin, which he calls "the hillbilly of fabrics". Heidi S shows off her creation to an unimpressed-looking Santino and tells the camera that her dress is "sweet" and calls it "sophisticated funk". She has so many words to cover up the fact that her creation is very simple and very boring ordinary. She may be telling the truth in a way that she doesn't appreciate when she says that her creation reflects who she is. Heidi S tells the camera that she hopes to be one of the few, if not the first, famous fashion designers from Alabama. Famous for being ghastly, perhaps? Back at the Sweatshop, she now admires Santino's green creation. Santino tells the camera that it's hard to create something out of six yards of muslin but he is happy with what he ended up with. Andraé spots Santino's design and squeals, "Oh! My! God!" Maybe he wants to borrow the dress and try it on for size.

Continuing with the mutual admiration haze that is taking over the Sweatshop, Marla and Andraé inspect John's creation. John tells the camera that his design is "tailored and finished", "cute", and "very summery". Not so, thinks Zulema, who calls John's creation "weak" in her confessional because the design is too simple. She wonders why John doesn't use the muslin to create jackets, boots, or matching hats. She then rants about needing her model right now so that she can start fitting the model to make sure that the look is right. She is, after all, going to make sure that she doesn't go home today.

At about one hour and a half before the Runway time, Tim walks in with the models. The models are each told to locate a specific Fashionista that they have been allocated to. Nick tells the camera that he has "innate feelings" for models because they are his muses and not just overpaid clothes-rack like one would expect. He claims to be "ecstatic" about his model Tarah. As the Fashionistas get to know their models, Tim reminds them that they have a very real time constraint to work under so chop-chop, darlings. Ooh, Emmett looks really gorgeous in that side-profile shot while Tim is giving his motivational two-second speech. Then it's hairdressing time in the TRESemmé Hair Salon. I wonder why the camera keeps zooming in on the TRESemmé hair products. Is it trying to tell me something? As Zulema explains, the Fashionistas have to juggle between getting the fitting done and the models all dolled up in two hours. Diana Eng, in the meantime, is getting exasperated because the skirt of her creation has an additional layer of material that can be altered using magnets. To cut through her jargon-laden explanation in the confessional, let's just say that when you wear this outfit, you have the option of peeling open this outer layer of the skirt to fasten it at the back so that there is a lovely drape effect similar to Nick's "angel wings" in his audition sample outfit. Unfortunately, the magnets are not sticking together and Diana believes that it's because the polarity of the magnets is reversed. I wonder whether Diana is making what is a simple task a little too complicated for her own good. Why not just use buttons, for goodness sake?

The Fashionistas continue to work with their models as the clock ticks and Tim hustles them to bustle. And then it's time as Tim tells them to stop what they are going to go downstairs to the Runway. Rivetting confessionals follow. Santino is confident, Andraé wants to scream, and Daniel Franco gives an epic speech about comas and what he is doing here to give up his supposedly great life to receive a beating on this show. Dude, I don't care. No one forces him to come back on this show to annoy me with his nervous tics, self-esteem issues, and doormat servility so he can cram his pity party for one.

The Fashionistas side on the right side of the Runway while the judges sit on the other side. Heidi struts onto the Runway in a skirt so short that the Fashionistas have better avert their eyes when she walks towards them. Heidi babbles to them about how in fashion you are in one day and out the next. Since the Fashionistas have a week to design their outfit, which is a lot of time for a typical task on this show, she warns them that their outfits have better be amazing. The Fashionistas look worried, although I suspect that many of them are looking downwards because they don't want to know Heidi that intimately when she stands in front of them up in the Runway as opposed to being actually nervous. Santino, though, throws a look there when she's standing before him, that pervert. Maybe he's just looking for inspiration for his next design. Heidi introduces the judges: the Mighty Ogre, Nina Garcia from Elle, and Heidi herself. The show now commences.

Grace walks out wearing Chloe Dao's cream-colored strapless evening gown. It's a straightfoward dress that doesn't try too hard to be anything more. The gown will look better on someone whose chest is bigger than Grace's, though, because the gown sags in a not-very-nice manner around Grace's chest. Chloe hopes to the camera that her design is enough to let her move on to the next round. Lesley Anne comes out with Raymundo's design, a green dress that reaches the knees with a sleeveless matching green jacket. I like it but I could have lived without the tacky-looking plume-like tassels over the pockets of the jacket. They look like shredded paper to me. Raymundo is overwhelmed at the sight of his creation being paraded on the Runway. He wanted to cry. He remembers that he's just at the first stage of the competition, I hope. Dan's outfit, modeled by Melissa, is next. It is a simple strapless dress that ends about mid-thigh given some color by a row of beads that form a diamond pattern in the front of the dress. When Melissa turns around, I can see that the dress doesn't fit the model very well at the back, causing her rump to swell out to Jennifer Lopez proportions. Tarah comes out with Nick's orange dress that has a conservative cut at the front but exposes a dramatic amount of back when Tarah turns around after removing the matching jacket. I like the dress although I'm not fond of the orange color. The dress is elegant and manages to be striking and dramatic as well as detailed without becoming too complicated. Nick playfully tells the camera that he likes his creation and he knows that it is "jamming", so he hopes that the judges aren't blind to the obvious greatness of his work.

I don't like Santino's creation at all. Heather comes out wearing... well, something Heidi is wearing at the moment, come to think of it. The dress has many intricate pleatings and knots but dang, it makes Heather look like a pregnant green ostrich. Still, Santino thinks that his brilliance can't be beat. Rachael comes out next with Zulema's design. Hey, it has no matching boots and hat! What is Zulema thinking? Still, there's a matching jacket to the creamy-white simple dress. I think the outfit will look better without those huge shoulder pads. Rachael looks like a short NFL player because of those shoulderpads. Zulema hopes that the judges don't think that she's crazy to use shoulder pads. I guess she knows that she shouldn't use them? Emmett's dress, modeled by Maria, looks like a coral-colored lingerie with accompanying seaweed-motive scarf. It's a very nice design and Emmett says that it is designed to be worn on a summer afternoon after a romp at the beach. I'll wear that if Emmett will wear some designer Speedos in return. Oh, where was I? Emmett says that he can't be happier with Maria as his model. Let's file this for future reference. Guadalupe's creation, modeled by Eliza, has a dramatic effect where the hem of the skirt flutters with every step Eliza takes but I don't like the overuse of layerings and frills. I suspect that if I drop a coin into that outfit, it'd take me at least three weeks to locate it. The dress from the back is especially hideous. Guadalupe hopes that the judges appreciate her minimalistic use of colors and wishes that this whole ordeal will end quickly.

Andraé's creation is modeled by Danyelle. Her real name is probably Danielle and she thinks that changing it to Danyelle will make her look more French, I suspect. The thing is, Heidi S may be a blabbermouth but she's right about Andraé the Crybaby Clown's dress looking good on a mannequin with breasts. Danyelle, on the other hand, is flat-chested. The dress, a simple two-piece outfit of sphagetti-strapped top and matching skirt, looks like a designer-labelled supermarket paper bag around her chest. The Crybaby Clown however thinks that Danyelle made his outfit shine. Allison models John's creation, a sleeveless orange dress with a wide belt around the waist to give it a halter look. The problem with this design is that it looks cheap. The coloring seems to be of tie-dye quality and the belt looks like it's brown tape fastened around the model's waist. John however thinks that the dress illustrates his design philosophy well. Marla's design, modeled by Cara, looks like two dark brown bags, one for the top and one for the skirt, accessorized by a shredded piece of paper passed off as a scarf. It's like what one would wear when homelessness becomes the new trend to follow. Marla calls her design arty, organic, original, and true to her point of view, which may or may not be "I want to look like a homeless junkie prostitute". Alyssa walks out with Heidi S's design, which is an underwhelming tube top and skirt combination accessorized by a lacey gauze over the tube and a ribbon around the waist. Heidi S gives a camera-conscious "Am I cute?" shrug as her model walks past her on the Runway and thinks that her creation is "pretty".

Kara's design is modeled by Eden and it's a simple sleeveless - apparently sleeves are banned on this show - wrap dress with a high empire waist and a skirt that just flows outwards until it ends at Eden's knee. The outfit is decorated with ribbons in a manner that just stops short of being too garish. It's not an exciting creation but it's simple yet elegant and I think it's nice. Claudia follows with Kirsten's design, a sleeveless shirt that is fastened by ribbons at the back and brownish pants. The jacket, trimmed with fur, looks very un-PETA friendly though, and this may not be a good idea given how supermodels love to get naked in PETA ads every few months or so. Kirsten thinks that Claudia made her creation look great. I wonder whether Claudia feels that the outfit make her look great. Shannon will be modeling Diana Eng's design and she walks out next. Right off, the magnets fail just like Diana feared and the outer layer of the skirt falls apart on its own basis, oopsie. Like a pro, Shannon just takes hold of that layer and fastens it behind her to get that "angel wing" effect like Diana Eng wanted in the first place. The dress is simple apart from that overcomplicated gimmick, the only other complicated design of that dress being the ornate brocade motive of the neck region of that dress. Still, it's a nice try for Diana Eng. And finally, just when I'm starting to overdose on the overuse of halter and sleeveless designs on this particular Runway, Daniel Franco closes the show with his creation that is modeled by Rebecca. It's a simple evening gown with a low-cut back that I can easily see being used in a future Miss Universe, featuring a similar design to the clothes that he showed the judges as samples in his audition, and I hope that he has more tricks up his sleeve than this admittedly fine design. Still, the dress is badly-fitted around Rebecca's chest and a very worried Daniel Franco knows this.

As the judges fill up their scorecards, the Mighty Ogre tells the camera that he is looking for someone with a "point of view", "who is different", and who is going to "captivate women" all at the same time. That sounds like a very complicated demand indeed. Can we just settle on the captivating women thing? Just send Emmett my phone number and we'll consider the show done for with a happy ending. Heidi tells the camera that "as a model", she wants uniqueness, difference, and other things that no supermodels really care about in real life since they only wear the clothes that they are paid to wear. Who is she trying to fool here? Nina says that the Fashionistas need to show her how creative they can be and this is important according to her because the judges determine who makes it or not. She has a knack of sounding profound when she's actually babbling banalities, that Nina. That's why she works for Elle, naturally.

After repeating a hundred times that the scores have been tallied, Heidi calls back Santino, John, Heidi, Daniel Franco, and Diana Eng. The others are safe and they will move on to the next round. Among the remaining five, one has the highest scores while two have the lowest and will be cut. But first, the judges will grill the Fashionistas. The Mighty Ogre calls Daniel Franco the Teflon Boy because he's back and the Mighty Ogre wants to know wny Daniel Franco is back. Daniel gives the standard line about wanting to prove himself and the Mighty Ogre thinks that it's all good since in the fashion industry it is "par for the course" to crash and rebound. I guess he won't be surprised then if everyone cut this season applies for the next season. The Mighty Ogre, Heidi, and Nina all find fault with the cup that doesn't fit well and the dress makes the model look "big". "Something's going on and I don't know what it is," says the Mighty Ogre. Heidi likes Santino's dress because it's fun and "very pretty". Not to mention, she probably has sixty dresses just like that one created for her the moment she realizes that she's with child. The two judges agree and get Santino to blab about how he incorporates "old world techniques" and "third world techniques" in his designs. Is "third world" the new fashionable term for "African", "Asian", or something? Or is he just trying to sound exotic and enlightened when he isn't? I mean, sheesh, that's a freaking green maternity dress for pregnant supermodels he has created. The only thing third-world about that is the possibility of a Hanoi sweatshop producing it for the market.

Heidi S tries to convince Nina that her creation is pretty but the Mighty Ogre crashes her party and breaks all the china by telling Heidi that her creation uses the most "trim" but without the trim, Heidi S's creation is reduced to a "weak" bandeau and an A-line skirt. Harsh but true, that. Next to be in the spotlight is Diana Eng, who hastily explains about the magnets not working only to realize that the judges don't even realize that the dress uses magnets. The entire explanation about polarity flies over the judges' head, duh, and the Mighty Ogre doesn't understand why magnets have to be used in the first place. Good question, that. I hope Diana Eng will keep things a little simpler the next time around. Now it's John's turn in the spotlight. When asked of his inspiration for the dress, John ends up swallowing his own foot by saying that it was hot the day he came up with the design and spent only eight hours creating it. The Mighty Ogre wonders why John spends only eight hours on his creation when he has the entire week to work on it. John says weakly that he just doesn't think that he needed a week to work on his creation.

The Fashionistas are dismissed while the judges discuss among themselves. They agree that Santino's dress is lovely, which is why I know I will never understand fashion. Heidi and Nina make a case of Diana Eng being interesting and enthusiastic to the Mighty Ogre who doesn't seem impressed with that young lady. John's design gets a hammering from all three judges, with the Mighty Ogre saying that he could have found that dress on the back of a Rit Dye bottle. But it was hot! And wearable! Doesn't all that count? Poor John. Heidi S's dress gets a less passionate response, with Nina summing up for the three of them when she says that pretty can be boring in the case of Heidi's creation. As for Daniel Franco's design, they are torn about bust and how the man somehow rubs them off the wrong way. It's because he comes off like some snivelling henchman to a Disney cartoon villain, that's why. Nina thinks that Daniel has had a chance and he doesn't deserve another.

Now it's the moment of truth and Heidi has the five Fashionistas brought back in. Santino is announced the winner and the man walks off triumphant along the Runway to the backstage where he hopes that this is only the first of his many wins. Oh, please. If he wins the coveted Jackass of the Year award, will he be happy and bugger off? Diana is safe. John, however, is cut. He sadly walks to the backstage when he tells the others after awkwardly stopping Raymundo from high-fiving him that he just knew it all along that he would be cut. It's now down to Daniel Franco versus Heidi S and it's obvious that they put Daniel Franco against Heidi S because they want to mess with him and create some drama for the show. Daniel Franco is safe while Heidi S is cut. Daniel Franco then makes it all about him by telling Heidi S that it's okay, she will learn like he does that "life goes on". Except that life obviously didn't go on for Daniel Franco because lookee here, he's back on the show, pfffttt. Heidi S tells Daniel Franco not to worry and that she wishes him luck and all the best. She then wants to hug everyone but only the host Heidi deigns to hug her. Heidi the host wishes Heidi S the hyperactive loser motormouth "auf wiedersehen" to which Heidi S the loser says, "I don't know what that means, but bye! Y'all have a good time!" Both she and John clear up their things, talk about wanting to keep pursuing their dreams, and then switch off the lights of their workplace. Nitey-night, y'all!


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