It's a Motherf*ckin Walk-Off

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Oh Project Runway, just when I think you're lagging in entertainment value, you come back and surprise me with one of the best seasons in recent memory. After the disaster that was Season 6's sojourn to LA and the relatively snoozy final 4 from last year, Season 8 is back with a vengeance!

I've been busy moving the last few weeks, plus in Canada the show runs on a two or three week delay anyway, so I had no choice but to download the episodes to catch up. So far I've made it through the first five (and I'm *trying so hard* to resist moving forward as I'm enjoying this daily dose of PR) and I believe another one will pop up tomorrow, and I have to say, I'm enjoying myself.

General thoughts:

Eliminations: one thing PR does well is eliminating people more or less at the right time. The people who have gone so far are people I wasn't too keen on seeing more from, although to Sarah's credit, I thought she had a *fantastic* attitude and it saddened me that her party store dress was so blase.

Gretchen vs. Valerie: PR hasn't had an epic battle like this in forever, it harkens back to Kenley vs. Leanne or the Season 3 fantastic final four. Personally I'm on team Valerie (as per the show's edit) - she resembles Shiri Appleby which automatically makes me like her, her deconstructed personal wardrobe is very fun, and I've loved everything she's sent down the runway - girl hasn't missed the top to date! Gretchen on the other hand, I've *liked* her clothes but I feel like she's reminiscent of Season 2's fallen wunderkid, Daniel Vosovic, he of many early wins and praise that had too big of a head and produced a snoozy final show. Her holier-than-thou condescending attitude, especially in the confessionals, is just so off-putting, it reminds me of my most hated winner, S6's Irina. Gretchen's wardrobe of 'check out my boobs with no bra but a cami under a sheer and or / cropped shirt' seems more suitable for one of the models than the designers, although to her credit she's very pretty and has a rockin model-esque bod, but still. I think I'd hate her in real life.

Two Team Challenge: This is the last episode I watched and it was pretty unique, which is saying something this far into a series. The symmetry of the winners and losers each being the top 6 and bottom 6 was cool, and having them produce collections close to the size of the finale collections was interesting. I definitely agreed with the winners - the oversized proportions of the 'Luxe' team were fugly, almost as much as their in-fighting. I agree that Gretchen should have taken the fall, however I see the producers / judges point of view - AJ was not going to win the show with his gimmicky OTT looks, while Gretchen had two wins and a frenemy rivalry with Valerie (the other team's de facto leader!) to play out.

The Innovation Challenge: This is my favourite innovation challenge in a l-o-n-g time. I was literally flabbergasted at how far from 'party stuff' each outfit looked, and I loved the top three designs and beyond. After last season's disastrous hardware store innovation challenge, it was refreshing to see the designers get actual sewable materials to make it work - and they did, in spades.

Bitching & Michael C: I felt terrible for Michael C in the last two episodes. I actually loved his dress from last week and thought it complimented his hat/mask fabulously as well. Obviously I'm not there and I don't know the level of his technical skills but the team throwing him under the bus when he had immunity was just ridiculous. The hat challenge was the weakest one of the show to date, so I suppose it makes sense he won it. Regardless, Michael see and bald guy with glasses have been the best commentators this season, so I don't want either of them to go.

Extended Play - The new 90 minute format is a welcome addition to the show for me. I'd rather watch more reactions and gossip (and see more in-depth challenges like the double collection episode I just watched) than have to tune into another 5 minutes of 'Models of the Runway' (which is about all I watched as I fast forwarded the rest).

Predictions - I wasn't spoiled per se, but simply reminded by Entertainment Weekly recently to start watching the show when they mentioned something about Casanova, this season's lah-tin lurv-er, he of the frustrating misunderstanding but hilarious pull quotes from Kors. I had no idea how Casanova would make it past the first few episodes, but his quasi-deserved immunity win in the team challenge (personally I loved bald guy with glasses' shredded top) explains how he makes it to at least Episode 7. I don't see a long future for Casanova, Peach, or April - they've failed to impress me throughout, and I suspect the bashing Michael C got this episode will come to fruition eventually. Valerie, Bald Guy with Glasses (hm, other Michael?), and Gretchen stand the best chance of pushing through, especially after Gretchen was taken down twenty pegs or so this last episode. I don't love Hawaiian wunderkid, Christopher Cowie's or Mondo's stuff - although the winning party dress look was insane! - so I'm on the fence about how far they'll make it. I *do* like Ivy. She's the best of the females for commentary with her pseudo-valley girl chirping, and I think she's produced some really beautiful stuff that's been overlooked by the judges - hello chiffon-backed jacket from the hat challenge! She could prove to be a worthy adversary to the two amazons running the show right now.

Finally I leave you with my suggestions for 10 New Project Runway Challenges, in the order I've thought of them in. Project Runway producers, credit me if you steal one!

10. Halloween - Have the designers shop in a Halloween / costume shop to create a party look. Taking actual costumes made of cheap materials (and / or a palette of strictly orange, purple, and black) and making them non-costumey? That's what I call a make it work moment!

9. Laboutins - We've had a hat challenge, why not a shoe one? Take a major shoe designer - Laboutin, Blahnik, Choo - and give each designer a pair to draw inspiration from. Obviously everyone will be doing cocktail dresses so they don't cover up the goods.

8. Icons - Assign each designer an iconic OTT dress from a major awards show and have them use it as inspiration for a new red carpet dress - think: Liz Hurley's safety pin dress, Jennifer Lopez's green Versace stunner, Audrey Hepburn's Breakfast at Tiffany's movie-opener, Halle Berry's sheer topped Oscar winning gown, Geri Halliwell's Union Jack micromini, Bjork's swan dress, Julia Robert's vintage Versace, Marilyn Monroe's Seven Year Itch gown, Madonna's Material Girl dress.

7. Stewardesses - Runway loves to do 'uniform' challenges, including the Olympic Games and Postal Workers. Since they love to call tacky clothes Stewardess-inspired, why not have them design a fashion-forward look for an airline stewardess?

6. Umbrellas - This is not a new challenge to be fair, but I thought it was a cool innovative one on Project Runway Canada. The designers were told to grab umbrellas as their only fabric for a challenge. However what they didn't know is they had to use *all* of the fabric they'd collected, meaning the designers that greedy and the designers that went all grabby for anything were sort of effed, but it worked out.

5. Haus of Gaga - Get the designers to whip up an outfit inspired by a Lady Gaga song / video, and obviously have the Lady herself in to judge - and okay the music rights. It'd be like the Christian Siriano / Chris March couture duo but amplified!

4. Office Supplies - We've seen gardening, party, grocery, and hardware stores be ransacked by the designers - why not office supplies? I'm again drawing on Project Runway Canada and the post-it challenge which was so-so, a little too neon to be fashion, but I think Office Supplies is up there as a viable choice for an innovation challenge.

3. Musical Instruments - The show is a game of musical chairs, so why not design clothes inspired by different instruments? Let the designers peruse an orchestra's worth and each select one to be inspired by - picture: silver column dresses with 'fluted' sleeves, golden evening gowns with 'trumpet' flares, grecian-inspired dresses with bias-cut harp-string fringe...pianos, timpani drums, smooth walnut bass curves, oh my!

2. Literati - Dresses based on famous books. I mean FAMOUS books - at least give the designers a synopses and pull sections out that reference the fashion of the book. Ideally books that don't have films with specific iconic fashion tied to them (a la Breakfast at Tiffany's) but more generic fashion eras - Little Women, 1984, Peyton Place, Harry Potter, the Bible (!), The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights etc. Bring Penguin Books on as a sponsor of the classics!

1. Fitness Wear - Another thing the show likes to do is make the designers create relatively exceptional pieces of clothing for the likes of female wrestlers, drag queens, and figure skaters. Fitness Wear is an area they haven't touched on too closely - yet designers like Stella McCartney have made a bundle on their athletic lines, while tennis and golf hotties like Sharapova, Wie, and the Williams sisters have made a splash with their fitness wear. Having the designers create a look for someone like Jillian Michaels would make for an interesting episode yes? Although it might be interesting to assign each designer a fitness area to draw inspiration from - golf, tennis, swimming, skating, running, yoga, aerobics, hiking, dance.

0. Ballroom! - Actually athletic wear is a legitimate challenge. Ballroom dancing costumes however, are more in tune with the wackadoodle challenges I just mentioned. Apparently on Dancing With The Stars they have a full-time team of seamstresses that whip up those costumes week to week, so surely our designers could create something sequinned, feathered, and bedazzled in a day or two to wow the judges with? This seems like such a surefire match for some OTT style!

- Britt's On


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