The Cocktail Dress Challenge, or Thank Gawd She’s Pretty ‘cuz She’s no Donna effin’-Karan

cutting_0723_sm.jpgThere’s something for everyone: Women can appreciate the creative couture, gay men can get wet without touching themselves, and straight men can experience the luxurious decadence of being faggish one night a week.







In the lessening shadow of David Cook’s hothotHOT post-AI album hitting our iPods in November, thereby changing our dull lives forever and ultimately relegating the other David to a sugar-high-induced memory; in these latter-year months when Simon is thinking of new ways to draw and quarter Mariah Carey wannabes, Paula is restocking her wetbar, and Randy has absolutely no meaning whatsoever; in the landscape that is summer television with its plethora of cable programming that has the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences tossing its rubber-stamps into the trash bin, let there be…


There’s something for everyone: Women can appreciate the creative couture, gay men can get wet without touching themselves, and straight men can experience the luxurious decadence of being faggish one night a week.

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cutting_0723_leanne.jpgWHAT WE LEARNED ON JULY 23, 2008… It is now evident that allowing your supermodel-in-training to actively select and procure the materials for you to use in the creation of her cocktail dress is comparable to awarding your transplant candidate the carte-blanch decision which liver he wants. Judging from the reactions of a few designers on the episode, that transplant candidate would have a rainbow-selection of livers as prime-grade 20something body parts were in jeopardy of being ripped out asunder.

The best way to analyze Project Runway is to discuss the VIPs—the winning designer of the evening’s challenge, then the flunkie, then (because there is a total of 16 designers) any worth mentioning who managed to live to sew and stitch another day; then we’ll get to the judges and the enigma named Tim Gunn.

But let’s quickly travel back and get the Premiere Episode summarily out of the way. If you’ve seen this episode, you’ll know that Jerry Tam was the first designer to go. I knew he was bound to be the first designer to go the moment those immortal words tumbled out his mouth: "My greatest fear…is being the first to go." Never—NEVER!—ever say those words on-camera on a reality-competition show as it will be used against you. Those editors mean business! Another "Never": never—EVER!—be the star of the first episode because it means we won’t be seeing much of you for the rest of the season and, well, this is IT, baby: your time to shine. And shine Jerry Tam did! If he had a bottle of body wash and a loofah sponge on that runway stage, he could’ve properly bathed in his flopsweat. That shower curtain-slash-tablecloth atrocity that poor model had to wear was an embarrassment not only to overachieving Asian American designers but to style-conscientious homicidal maniacs everywhere.

Now to the July 23, 2008, show. Per beautiful-but-punitive host Heidi Klum, "You’re either in…or out!"

IN: SUEDE. Although I despise his habit of referring to himself in the third-person as 1) it is indicative of an individual who needs to convince himself he is, in fact, alive and of worth to mankind, and 2) it makes me wonder if there are other "people" in his head I should be warned about, Suede’s stripped-fabric-with-tutu ensemble was a princess-friendly invention. As a reward, sold recreations of this dress on its website.

OUT: WESLEY NAULT. He might have gone further if he was given better material. To make it worse, he wasn’t even given enough of the material to work with. End product: a dress any meth-head fitty-dolla’ working girl can wear to the Motel 6.

HOT TRANNY MESS: LEANNE MARSHALL. To borrow from last season’s winner Christian Siriano, "Hot Tranny Mess" honors go to the designer who provided the most dubiously memorable moment of the night. Our first honoree is Leanne Marshall. Too early to say if she’ll make it far, but she definitely has that je ne sais quoi. Leanne is like the idiot savant of the group, the grown woman who has not quite let go of the meek little girl who made her Barbie dolls custom-made couture—correction, who is still making her Barbie dolls custom-made couture. I forgot what she created, but it was unimpressive enough to put her thisclose to being eliminated and to send her crying like someone just pushed her off the swing into a pile of baked dog doo-doo.

SWATCHES. Yes, Virginia, STELLA ZOTIS could be Cher’s long-lost twin. Cher’s long-lost, shorter, younger, junk-in-the-trunkful twin… I’ve been watching Project Runway since Season 2 and I can attest that Queen Bee HEIDI KLUM has since mastered her English. So well, in fact, she can insult you in German and you will not need subtitles. Many autumns ago, I bought a MICHAEL KORS shirt at Macys because I wanted to own a Michael Kors something and—hello!—it was on clearance. It didn’t work for me. But it makes for a good dustrag. AND it really impresses the peers: "O child! Are you sopping up my spilled Cosmo with a Michael Kors?! You are so better than me!" NINA GARCIA is the aforementioned pusher of little Leanne Marshall off the proverbial swing into the pile of proverbial pile of baked doo-doo. You do not want to disappoint this woman. She shoots lasers through her Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses… Guest judge NATALIE PORTMAN is a lovely actress. Nothing notable to contribute to this episode. I love her skin. Let’s move on… TIM GUNN is like the guardian angel that advises you to not drink and drive. Then you ignore him. And you drink and drive. Then you wake up. And you wonder why your legs are in another room. Yeah. I would listen to Tim Gunn. | Alan Quisimorio

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