By Gina Carbone
If I wanted a watered down version of Leanne Marshall I would’ve ordered it.
“Project Runway” season 8 has only given us two super-sized episodes so far but Gretchen Jones has won both.
Her first black dress win was OK, considering what the other 16 fools unleashed. It was very, very simple and that seems to be Gretchen’s thing. I’m fine with that.
For the “Larger Than Life” Marie Claire billboard challenge, Gretchen created an odd winged shoulder navy pantsuit that stopped mid-calf and had weird boots. I feel like on any other season that would’ve been either trashed as unflattering on 90 percent of women or too simple for a billboard. As April Johnston put it, Gretchen is talented, but not creative.
And now she’s getting mouthy! Giving speeches to everyone thanking them for their support, as if this is her journey to find love on “The Bachelorette” instead of a competition where they all want to win — and especially want her to stop winning because most of them thought Valerie should’ve won. (Me too.)
I’m going to break down my thoughts on the second episode creations below (Valerie, Christopher and maybe Andy would’ve been in my top 3. Jason, Michael C. and either A.J., Ivy or Kristin would’ve been in my bottom 3.)
But first I want to talk about that ambulance. As Heidi Klum warned us pre-season: “We had an incident – well, three incidents – where they basically dropped like flies and we had the ambulance come three times in a row.”
These contestants are “fragile,” as Tim Gunn put it.
The previews show a dark-haired woman being hauled away. The camera shows Valerie saying she is worried about her, but is she talking about the person in the ambulance or is that some kind of ABC “Bachelorette” misdirection where it’s really Valerie in the ambulance and Valerie was talking about a challenge at some point before this moment? Am I reading too much into it?
My guess: Ivy Higa is in the ambulance. It looked like her dark hair. That’s all I’m basing it on.
Back to the rundown of the designs from episode 2. I’m not impressed with the talent this season. I’m thinking they could safely cut two or three more next week and just focus on the talented designers instead of the mouths and personalities.
And what was that business with the first elimination being the final part of the audition process to see which 16 make the show? We saw McKell Maddox. She was right there last week on the show. What was the point of that?
Plus, we don’t even have that much eye candy this season! Where are the Logans, the Seth Aarons? Christopher is cute, but most of the focus is now on trying to make Mondo feel better about himself. It seems like he fit in with everyone more than poor Jason, but because Jason played the tough guy act no one felt sorry for him. (Except me! Jason, you don’t seem right for the show — aka you can’t sew — and I think they just needed you to be the token straight guy. Which is an insult to talented straight winners like Jeffrey Sebelia and my boy Seth Aaron Henderson.)
Mondo, on the other hand, talks about his talent as a curse and how lonely he is. Then he bonds with everyone after being in the top 3. I like Mondo, but I don’t love his designs and I think he’s going to be just fine.
Here’s my ep 2 breakdown: (Check out photos of all the outfits and “Rate the Runway” here)
Jason Troisi — Deserved to go. That was in no way a Marie Claire look, safety pins or not (I hold stuff up with safety pins all the time, but you’ll never see me on a billboard.) His model does look like a cuter version of Kelly Osbourne, but he should still be able to dress her well.
Nicholas D’Aurizio — What a sweetheart! I’m so sorry to see him go and I definitely don’t think he deserved it just for that hole in the back of the blouse and the little jacket. Having said that, he did seem to have the most beautiful model and she helped make everything he did look better. So if it still didn’t look good he’s in trouble. Still, I found many worse outfits than his.
A.J. Thouvenot — Would’ve been in my bottom three with that bright yellow alien outfit. She was styled like a streetwalker, so maybe an alien john knocked her up.
Andy South — I loved his purple top and gray pants, except for the purple stripes up the back. When I saw those I was disappointed.
April Johnston — Another combination of purple and gray, but darker purple and at the top of a high-waisted dress. I didn’t like it but part of me wonders if it just didn’t look right on her model.
Casanova — His look was more old school Talbots than Marie Claire. I don’t really get Casanova as a designer yet and considering how often he asks for advice, I don’t think Casanova gets himself either.
Christopher Collins — I liked this one. Simple and modern. Maybe I would’ve given it a necklace to put something where the model’s cleavage should be. But overall I think this was one of my preferred looks. Not the winner, but one of the best from this lot.
Gretchen Jones — I didn’t like this navy pantsuit thing. At. All. And then when you can unzip it to show more boobage? No. I think Gretchen’s model has been saving her ass. And the girl doesn’t even get to be in the billboard ad! Looking at the final billboard on the show, I couldn’t even tell what Coco Rocha was wearing. She was just busting moves in some generic navy color. If this is the Marie Claire woman I guess I don’t need to start buying the magazine.
Ivy Higa — Boring, safe, drag kind of beige dress with a bland belt. The only mildly interesting thing is the chunky necklace. How did this not get attacked? Ivy is on notice.
Kristin Haskins Simms — The three parts to this outfit don’t come together. It looks sloppy and loose and unflattering. Normally I like scarves like that, but it doesn’t help at all.
Michael Costello — Another one for my bottom 3. Awful trashy. I’m shocked Nina didn’t make her “short, tight, shiny is the quickest way to look cheap” speech.
Michael Drummond — Would’ve been fine without the chick’s ass showing. She shouldn’t have pulled it down, though. Don’t call attention to it.
Mondo Guerra — Really? This was in the TOP 3? It looks like something that would’ve gotten attacked on an Ode to the 80s challenge. True, the photo was a cute shot, but the outfit? Is someone really buying that? I’m asking.
Peach Carr — The pattern does seem to be very cute and Peach. The brown thing crawling down her back was a very bad idea. The bun and the pumps didn’t help and Peach needs to figure out how to communicate with her model to get some kind of personality across. Having said that, this did not belong in the bottom three, considering the messes out there.
Sarah Trost — She was worried about the color choices, but I think that’s the least of her worries. Except for the lime-colored shoes. I had a hard time not focusing on them. The style of the dress was unflattering and the model did not help to sell it. I wouldn’t send this home, but it’s definitely not a good sign for what Miss Sarah can do.
Valerie Mayen — Should’ve won. It’s that simple. It was a cute dress anyway, but when the challenge is to create a Marie Claire-worthy dress for a billboard, you couldn’t ask for a better finish than this “futuristic” red dress. What exactly was the problem?
Who are these people: Meet the 17 ‘Project Runway’ Season 8 designers!