Project Runway Australia: Episode 4

Helen is Project Runway Australia’s equivalent of Viv from Project Catwalk.

“She’s like a weed — you can’t get rid of her,” Mark opines, as he and Shane discuss how other “more talented” designers have been sent packing over Helen, who has yet to be in the bottom.

The producers then cut to an unflattering shot of Helen munching on some toast before the designers are asked to head out at 7 a.m. to meet Kristy Hinze at the MCG — the Melbourne Cricket Ground — which is the largest stadium in Australia.

The designers (apart from Brent, that is) immediately start speculating that the brief will involve creating menswear — or perhaps outfits for footballers.

Instead, Kristy tells the designers that they won’t be needing their usual models for this challenge and new models will be brought in.

Amidst a lot of excited hooting and hollering from Helen and a look of dejected dismay from Brent, in walks eight women.

“Who <i>are</i> you girls? I’ve never seen you before! Where are we?” Mark wonders, as everybody else around him seems to be getting excited over the new models.

Kristy tells the designers that these women are the girlfriends of some of the Australian Football League’s biggest stars.  The challenge is to create an evening gown for the Brownlow Medal, when the AFL awards is “best and fairest player.”

Helen thinks this will be a cake walk in the park — out of the eight women standing in front of her, she’s already dressed five of them.

The women have all taken a look at the designers’ portfolios and they get to choose who they would like to design their gown. With that being said, it’s sort of interesting that, as the names are drawn out of the hat and the women start picking their designers, Helen’s name is the second last one drawn out of the bag — and it’s by a woman who hasn’t ever worked with Helen before.

When Helen pretends to wipe her brow in consternation and announces this out loud in front of the other designers, a couple of them roll their eyes.

“It’s nauseating,” Marks says — and you can’t help but think the producers must love both Mark and Leigh because of the sheer number of sound bites that pop out of their respective mouths.

Brent gets a good one in when he’s chosen last, as he mocks Helen, putting on a falsetto as he cries, “I’ve never dressed you before!” to the woman, leading to much laughter.

I almost feel bad for Helen as she looks away — while I admit that I do not like her as a designer, I think that it’s tough when you’re the punching bag and the object of all the other designers’ scorn. Granted, most of what’s said is probably not to Helen’s face, but, still, you always know when somebody doesn’t like you.

Given 20 minutes to sketch some ideas and then $250 to buy material, Lui faces a bit of a quandry as he and his client struggle to come up with a design that will work for both of them.

I can’t help but think it’s because Lui’s so quiet. He’s not like a lot of the other designers — he flies under the radar because there’s a certain restraint to him. He was obviously put on the show mostly for his talent, not so much the sound bites that come out of his mouth.

At Rathdowne Fabrics, Mark states that he’s not in this competition to stay within his comfort zone — that he wants to work a little bit harder. He decides to use a salmon-coloured fabric that seems…well, let’s just see where he goes with this, shall we?

Lui continues to voice his frustration — it sort of seems like the equivalent of me hitting writer’s block every now and again. And trust me — it actually feels like a wall because every single word that comes to mind just doesn’t work.

Lui turns to his partner of last week, Leigh, to discuss the task at hand. Like Shane voiced earlier, evening wear — especially for something like the Brownlow — isn’t his thing.

Meanwhile, Leigh is wafting about, talking about how much he wishes his model were there so he could mould the outfit on her.

When Helen airily tells him that she could always ring her up because she’s got her phone number, you flash to Brent, who charmingly says, “I don’t want to be nasty, but, fuck it just really pisses me off.”

Leigh puts it more succinctly by pretending to dry heave into a garbage can.

I have to say — I’m a little worried about Brent. Evening wear isn’t his thing and I just think that this challenge would have been more interesting — and a better challenge — if it had actually been a menswear challenge.

His partner of last week, Shane, steps in to give him some pointers — which, while nice and sweet, makes me think, “Dude. Work on your own design. This is a challenge. One or two helpful hints is more than enough. Focus on your own design instead.”

Meanwhile, Lui is still struggling. There are a couple of scenes where he’s just walking around, sor tof unsure of what to do or where to go. When his model comes in, she’s less than pleased and hesitantly says that what he’s created isn’t what she would normally wear.

Helen, who dressed Lui’s client, Chantal, the year before for the Brownlow, says that she’s more into revealing, clingy outfits. Helen tells the camera that putting Chantal together with Lui was like putting Merlot with Coke.


“Why did you pick me?” Lui asks to the camera.

He flat out says that he thinks he’s probably going to be the one to go. He even packs his bags in preparation to leave.

When Henry comes into the workroom to provide some mentoring, I’m reminded again of how great he is as a mentor. In some ways, I think he’s almost as good as Tim — maybe even a little bit better just because he’s an actual fashion designer.

Some of the things that he brings up are just really smart questions. For instance, when he goes over to Mark’s work station and questions how flattering the outfit looked on the model and whether there was any difference between what Mark thought looked good and what the model thought.

“I’m looking at my design and I think, ‘Man, you definitely made it harder for yourself!'” he says.

The dress, as Leigh says, is less Grecian and more bedroom valance.

Lui, meanwhile, works down to the wire and the model declares that she loves it.

“For me, it’s the winner. It was simply stunning,” Leigh says.

One thing I’ve got to say about the designers on this show is that, when one of them is creating something great and lovely, they’re more than willing to praise one another — even if it’s not to each other’s faces but to the camera instead. And another thing is that, they all seem to genuinely care enough to want to give each other a hand if they have the time and are able to provide some useful advice.

It’s pretty refreshing to see, actually.

The top three designs favoured by the judges:

Lui’s design was universally praised — Sarah even said that the dress was something that only a risk-taker would wear. I thought it was flattering on Chantal.

I have to say that I don’t mind Helen’s dress. She didn’t follow her client’s wishes, but the end result is actually pretty stunning and it’s something I would definitely wear.

And the winner is Juli — rightfully so because this dress is just gorgeous.

Shane gets sent home for his design because it’s “boring”:

Muchas gracias to Qiriri:

~ by justj on August 2, 2008.

One Response to “Project Runway Australia: Episode 4”

  1. I’m loving this show. Mark’s comment, ‘who are these girls…where are we?!’, is sooooo funny

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