"Project Runway" went to prom this week and proved that for young women, the big dance is still all about the dress. The designers channeled their inner teen queens when they were partnered with nine Catholic schoolgirls to make them prom dresses. It's surprising that in a small space with a bunch of teenage girls, fashion divas, compromises and sharp objects, nobody was hurt in the construction of these garments.
The designers' greatest issue actually turned out to be making their clients' dresses look young. One episode of "My Super Sweet 16" is enough to convince you that 16-year-olds want to look older. The first thing the girls asked the designers was for plunging necklines, on both the front and back of their dresses. Call me old-fashioned but I just don't remember boobs and butts everywhere at my prom. Then again, I never went to Catholic school, and according to Sweet P's experience, that's where good girls go bad. Even when the girls' mothers made a cameo in the episode, they seemed unfazed by the high hems and fitted busts. I'm still not sure why the judges found a dress like Sweet P's more appropriate for a teenage girl than Rami's. I'd rather have my daughter look sophisticated beyond her years than developed beyond her peers, if you catch my drift.
After Tim told the designers they had a $250 budget and two days to complete the challenge, he sent in the models to meet the designers. The girls had been given a chance to look through the designers' portfolios and pick their best match ahead of time. Chris March was shocked that any girl would pick him based on a portfolio of him in drag with huge fake boobs but, like I said, these girls seemed to walk on the wild side. Personality proved an issue for Christian, who butted heads with his model, Maddie, throughout the episode. She wanted gold, black, lace and rhinestones, while Christian wanted to curl up on the floor and cry because it was so "tickety-tackety." Thanks to a motivational speech from Tim, Christian eventually moved from a defeatist attitude to a determined refusal to let a 17-year-old girl overpower him. In a fight, my money is still on Maddie.
Thankfully, the designers had a little fun with this challenge and got nostalgic enough to give some timeless anecdotes. Kit was apparently once an Orange County prom princess, while Christian was voted his prom's best dressed, even though he describes the dance as horrible, tacky and gross. My favorite prom memory has got to be from Ricky, who apparently made his girlfriend's dress for her. As Ricky suggested, that had to be a clue that they wouldn't live happily ever after together — but then, Ricky is never happy anyway.
While some of the designers suffered from an inability to create a young, modern look, Kevin's demise came from pure laziness. Rather than put a chastity belt in his dress, as he originally promised, he made his model look pregnant. And he didn't heed Tim's or Chris' warnings about hemming his dress, probably because he was caught up in nostalgia for his vintage 'NSYNC Joey Fatone prom picture. If only Kevin had tried as hard to complete the hem as he did reminding us he was straight. Yes, Kevin, we saw you get a hug from Heidi, but she also "outted" you. Oh, the irony!
Runway Guest Judge: Gilles Mendel, head designer for J. Mendel
Sweet P Vaughn with model Nicole: Long halter dress in champagne charmeuse. Nicole said it was exactly what she wanted. Gilles loved the color and thought it was a pretty dress. Nina found it a little sophisticated for a 17-year-old, but Michael argued it was no more mature than Hollywood's image of 18. Top two.
Victorya Hong with model Jessica: Short, bright-blue chiffon dress with crystal beading on the neck. Jessica loved it. Michael said the dress was chic and young. Nina loved the color and thought it was what a modern prom dress should look like. Gilles thought Jessica sparkled in it. Top two.
Chris March with model Krista: Long green dress with ruched bust line, high front slit and keyhole detailing on the back. Safe.
Kevin Christiana with model Tizi: Red silk halter mini-dress with gold detailing on the waist and neck. Nina wasn't crazy about the color (which, by the way, she was wearing herself). Michael thought the cut was matronly, and he was distracted by the hemming. Heidi and Gilles both agreed that the dress looked cheap. Bottom four.
Jillian Lewis with model Erika: Light-turquoise cross-back dress with scalloped bust and blue detailing. Safe.
Christian Siriano with model Maddie: Short copper dress and poofy skirt with black, rhinestone lace detailing. Heidi loved the dress. Gilles could tell Christian did a lot of work but didn't think the dress worked on Maddie. Nina hated how Christian blamed Maddie for the issues he had with it. Bottom four.
Kit "Pistol" Scarbo with model Brie: Knee-length, royal-blue, empire-waist dress with bright color panels on the bust and a halter necktie. Safe.
Ricky Lizalde with model Katie: Pale-pink mesh mini-dress with spaghetti straps and ruched bust, gem detailing on the empire waist and side bow. Gilles saw a cute dress but poor execution. Heidi thought the color washed out Katie. Michael wanted Ricky to turn up the volume on the whole design. Bottom four.
Rami Kashou with model Bianca: Draped cocktail dress in green with unfitted panel across the left bust. Michael thought Bianca looked like a 35-year-old woman going to dinner in New York. Nina agreed it was too sophisticated, and Gilles said it wasn't prom-like. Bottom four.
In designer with immunity: Victorya Hong Out: Kevin Christiana