‘Runway’ recap: The art of the matter

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imageWe are as surprisingly impressed with paintings by kids as we are disappointed by the “Project Runway” fashions that they inspire in this week’s avant garde challenge. Luckily, time is on our side.

The irony is glaring that most of the 12- to 17-year-old students rise above their station while most of the contestant’s fashions look like student work. If your early-season patience is wearing thin, remember that there are 11 contestants still standing. That’s quite a way to go toward narrowing the field to real contenders.

While we wait with baited breath for the judges to weed out the bad, it’s good to note that the challenge itself is worthy of the show, even if the results aren’t. And even as contestants declare a truce, there’s still some workroom drama to enjoy in the meantime.

imageWe continue our befuddlement with Bronzer Josh. His attitude is even worse than the child-size chartreuse, leopard and mesh tank top that he sports on this episode. Rather than take credit for Becky’s “sudden creativity” as a function of his “leadership” on the previous challenge, he needs to take ownership of browbeating her into tears. But what fun would that be?

Back to the challenge. Ever the voice of reason, Tim Gunn might need to give the contestants a better definition of “avant garde.” Instead of experimental, innovative and boundary-pushing looks, some designers think the term simply means “weird,” and some think it means “ugly.” Others ignore it and design whatever they want.

It makes for a confusing runway, so we can’t be upset with the judges for just closing their eyes, pointing their fingers and choosing the winners and losers. For our money, two of the looks deemed simply “safe” actually meet the challenge best. Anya’s bird woman (top photo) and Kimberly’s winged warrior (second photo) are closest to avant garde and best represent their artists’ paintings.

imageThe judges like Anthony Ryan’s form-fitting brushstroke gown enough (third photo) to give it the win, but guest judge Kenneth Cole is right: the execution looks flimsy up close. At least the artsy inspiration is clear. They also like Laura’s flouncy yellow number, which takes some explaining to compare to its inspirational painting. We think both dresses are pretty (ish) but not avant garde in the least.

While we find the silhouette and materials of Bronzer Josh’s tree-inspired separates off-putting and severely unfashionable, the judges eat it up. But in the end, we do agree with them on the bottom rung of designs, and we are fine with Bald Josh getting the boot for making his model look like a hooker moonlighting as a cocktail waitress.

We are sad for his student, though. Her dynamic wolf painting was one of the best of the night. Too bad it’s not an art show with these kids as contestants. Auf wiedersehen, again, Bald Josh. And producers, can we have a double-elimination next week?

Click any image for a larger view, and check out the all of this week’s looks on the show’s “Rate the Runway” page.

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