Project Runway: Season 9 – Episode 6 En Garde for Avante-Garde! [Runway Rundown]

Oh my Garde, this week was a mess on that runway! It seems the kids were a bit exhausted after last week’s non-stop bitch fest when the contestants were dropping like flies! This week we have reached the Avante-Garde challenge that in years past has produced some amazing creations. One top notch piece that comes to mind was the incredible dress by Chris March and Christian Siriano with layers of ruffles that consumed the model and flared out in a fabulous way. Avante-Garde is not anything that HAS to be wearable, and it rides a fine line between costume and fashion, but as years before have shown us, the crazier you get with it, the closer to the heart of the challenge you are getting.

As always, this week’s column contains spoilers so if you have yet to watch the episode on your DVR, turn your butt around and check out our previous week’s column to get back up to speed.

To add inspiration to the required avante-garde looks the designers were each assigned a student from the Harlem School of the Arts. The painting that they created together in the ensuing hour was used to inform their design. For this challenge they were given 300 bucks and two days to accomplish the task at hand. In the closest dog year equivalent, this would be like having two thousand dollars and two weeks to get the job done in the real world. The expectations are always high in this type of challenge… so don’t bore the judges kids!

Speaking of judges, they wanted to get someone to guest judge who speaks to the heart of avante-garde fashion so of course they brought in designer Kenneth Cole! For those of you not familiar with him (You’d have to have never stepped foot in a Macy’s) Kenneth Cole is known for his sleek minimal clothing and accessory lines that are usually in colors like black, khaki and grey… Yeah, that screams avante-garde to me folks! *snore button

As always with this type of challenge, the designers had an awkward moment or two interacting with their teen students. On Project Runway you can always expect the designers to bitch, moan, and be creeped out by any challenge involving children, animals, or women who are not a size zero. Luckily Bert got someone he could work with for a change, a silent kid who just sat there painting shapes. (More on that collaboration later.)

In the workroom we got to hear behind the scenes how terrible everyone’s work was from Viktor. Big surprise there, he can’t seem to deign to see any talent in the room from week to week yet his garments almost always put me to sleep. Prissy little Joshua M. let out some more condescending quotes especially one about how his leadership last week must have shown Becky how to design as she seems to have improved this week in his eyes. Oh how kind of you Joshua, thank God you are in this competition or else Becky may have never even known how to pull herself out of dowdy-land! Are you starting a design school for girls that we might be able to apply to? If only your bright mind could have shone some light on all the others that have gotten booted off, you might have reached a saint status on Project Runway. *sarcasm button

On the runway we ended up with a strange muddled top three that I didn’t necessarily agree with. I though Anya and Kimberly were robbed this week as their garments spoke to the heart of avante-garde design and managed to make it funky and wearable, sadly they were just safe there in the middle. Joshua M. struggled early on with the painting he had for inspiration which was a toxic tree, but all I have to say to that is: you painted it with her bitch! You act like you were assigned the thing out of nowhere when half those brush strokes are yours, oy vey! In the end he created an ugly tree painted skirt that made his model look like a witch on fire. Somehow the judges ate up his hand painting technique on cheap fabric and even found the cutesy carved initials painted on it endearing. I didn’t quite see it. but hey at least he didn’t win with that outfit.

Laura made what resembled a pretty half finished pageant gown, but at least it was intriguing and heading in the right direction. Her explanation of the rose in the painting was interesting, but I still don’t understand how a painting so vibrant can go to being a garment that is so drab.

Our winner for the week was Anthony with his brush stroke inspired garment. To me (and Kenneth Cole — thanks for the co-sign, Kenny!) his piece looked a bit unfinished. I liked where he was going with it, but for me it didn’t step far enough into avante-garde and stayed firmly placed in floor length dress land. The judges loved it and he is a talented guy so I’m happy he got a win in, but I just wish he would have worked a bit harder on the finish of the garment.

The bottom three garments were obvious this week before they even hit the runway, the bottom dwellers were led by stubborn angry bullheaded Bert! His high-waisted grey pants with tacked on spongy nobs looked to me like the opening sequence of Saved By The Bell. Shapes, squiggles and ugly random colors just do not speak avante-garde to me, they speak of the 80s and early 90s. I half expected his model to be Elizabeth Berkley or Dustin Diamond when she turned the corner. Heidi must have been huffing some of the glue that Olivier tried to use on his model, cause she actually liked Bert’s look otherwise I think he may have gotten his marching orders this week.

Speaking of Olivier, he had a gorgeous colorful painting to work from for inspiration and instead of using it to its fullest, he did what he does best and sucked the life and color out of it. He just made it look sad. His outfit was referred to by Michael Kors as “Valium Clothes.” This dress was deemed the dreaded word “boring’ but alas, the fates were on his side because “classy with K” Joshua C. was back in town to take a wolf painting and somehow design a Halloween hooker outfit. Josh C’s outfit was referred to as a “Victorian Cocktail Waitress” by Michael Kors and I must say I agree. He was brought back only to be auf’d a week later but I think it was for the best. The guy is sweet as pie, but somehow the challenges just never really worked to his strengths. If only his gal pal/ boyfriend on the show Joshua M. could have shared his guiding light and showed him how to design like he did Becky, he might have been spared! *wink wink

Next week we get another team challenge, oh goody! Apparently it is two teams of five and of course whoever gets Bert is gonna bitch up a storm. These weeks always turn into a fight fest and since almost all of these contestants hate each other, and together especially hate Bert, this should be like fireworks and gasoline! Wear fire retardant clothing, just in case… my prediction: too much arguing, not enough designing.