Project Runway Recap: The Rise and Fall of Team Ugly Brown Fabric

Every Thursday, we recap last night’s Project Runway. Season five continues with an eco-challenge and a celebrity guest judge that’s actually a certifiable celebrity. (Be warned: Spoiler alert!)

The best and worst designs from last night's Project Runway episode. All photos courtesy of Bravo.

We wish we could say that we loved this week’s Project Runway. It had its highlights—letting the models shop for the fabric? Now there’s a true challenge!—but to be honest, our reaction was: snooze. It’s never a good sign when the commercials are more entertaining than the show (we can’t imagine we were the only ones that immediately checked out Hollywood stylist Rachel Zoe’s webpage after her hilariously ridiculous “Die” montage. C’mon, fess up!)

Things start off on a fun note. The dramatic heartbeat-like music swells, Heidi rocks some trendy hair braids, models are chosen. Then comes the twist: Not only will the models serve as the clients—oh, we can only hope for a teary meltdown worthy of season one’s wedding dress disaster!—but they were also unleashed in all their willowy, bed-headed glory in Mood Fabrics to shop for the challenge’s eco-friendly fabrics.

After five seasons, we can definitively say this about models: A pretty face and good taste do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. At least three of the models return with coppery brown satin, which Jerrell immediately dubs "Team Ugly Brown Fabric."  For the most part though, everything seemed to be going rather swimmingly in the sewing category and the show shifts its focus to the designers' weird quirks. Suede, of course, talks about Suede. Stella is—as she puts it—still "he-ah", which personally irks us to no end. Blayne is still here too, but he's becoming increasingly endearing with his comic commentary. We nearly die when he tells Stella, "I love your leather face"—not to mention when he compares Heidi, somewhat nonsensically, to Darth Vader. Not to fret, Heidi: Blayne thinks you're "Darthlicious!" 

You like pain? Try looking at Leatherface’s corset.

To be honest, watching what the designers are wearing has become more fun than seeing what they’re sewing. Leanne—aka superstar Leanimal—rocks several detailed pieces that we’d love to own, especially the drool-worthy lilac-gray dress she wears to the runway show. The adorable Kenley has this fabulous Bettie Page thing going on—we completely lust after her never-ending rotation of dramatic hair pieces. (And, if any of you are dying to own Blayne’s “Tom Ford for Prez” tee from episode one, we are happy to report that local blogger Meg of Brightest Young Things did an exhaustive search until she impressively tracked it down.)

After watching the designers sew what seems to be the most boring fabrics ever—really, eco-fabrics have apparently only moved up one notch from burlap—we’re all ready for the runway show. The producers go out of their way to build up the who-will-be-the-guest-judge? hype before bringing out an adorably diminutive Natalie Portman (which might have been a nice surprise if they hadn’t completely pimped her out in all the previews and ruined the build-up). But really, how cute was Natalie when she stood behind the shadow screen and did a jazz hand-esque double-wave like a complete doofus?

Leanimal confesses she almost peed her pants at Natalie’s arrival—a reaction we probably would have had as well. Suede comments on Natalie’s petiteness—even in her sky-high vegan heels, she looks like a little hobbit next to Heidi—and suggests he could carry her around on his hand. (Which we would love to see.)

Michael Kors: “She just pronounced your last name “Gah-cia”… again.”

But even Natalie’s A-list presence can’t save the overall disappointment of the runway show. With a few exceptions, they’re not doing much to sell us on eco fabrics. From Joe’s gaudy diamante-edged circle cut-out to Jerrell’s fringed blue mess of a mini, we were ready to eliminate at least half the designers by the end of the show. (And honestly, we thought Keith should have been kicked off just for using a bubble hem. Seriously? A bubble hem? Is it 2005?)

Unfortunately, removing a chunk of the designers goes directly against Bravo’s attempts to drag out this season until they can run the show into the ground (and grudgingly pass it on to Lifetime), so we move on to our final six. Suede’s criss-crossed dress is surprisingly cute, if somewhat overly Betsey Johnson-esque, and we definitely swoon over Kenley’s dramatic neckline. It also looks like we’ll have to suffer through Stella for another week, though we thought her lace-up dress looked like it was plucked straight from the rack of Hot Topic. And really, we’re shocked that the judges can’t see the cuteness of Leanimal’s super-detailed mini. (I mean, really? They claimed to see the innovation in Blayne’s diaper mess last week but can’t find anything nice to say about Leanne’s design?)

NOO!!! Man candy Wesley is no more. Why, Project Runway, why?!

Our favorite judgment this week comes from Nina: “I think shiny, tight, and short is the quickest way to look cheap.” (You just know she wanted to turn and say that to Heidi directly.) At the end, we say goodbye to Wesley and his preppy sweater-around-the-shoulders ensembles and bright red Bucs. We had such high hopes for him! Bye bye, Wesley. We hardly knew ye.

In the next episode: Ponchos! Tim flips out! More smack-talking! And, we hope, actual desirable designs. See you next week!

What did you think of this episode Project Runway? We want to know! Leave your thoughts in the comments. And check back every Thursday for Betsy’s recaps of Project Runway throughout the season.

Read last week’s Project Runway recap.