2006_01_chloecam.jpgSo much drama in last night's Project Runway! Zulema did take Tarah, Nick's "muse," during a "walk-off" of three models, and everyone was all "Oh, snap!" or "Damn!" or "WTF"! But you can hardly blame Zulema for trying to get rid of her model, Rachael - it makes sense to want the best model possible. Sadly for Rachael, even Tim Gunn called her an "elongated marshmallow" and commiserated with Nick about being stuck with her; in the one-on-one interview, Rachael said it worked out because Nick was her favorite (we think that's what she said - Gothamist was so swept up in the drama, it was hard for us to compute). Nick's highest point of melodrama is when he was going throw in his Project Runway towel over this, but Daniel V. gave him a tough-love talk to shape up. Aw!

This week's challenge was "Inspiration," which meant the designers were given Olympus (and hey, did you know they were sponsoring Fashion Week too?) digital cameras and one hour to take pictures of anything that struck their fancy, and then at the workroom, each one would select one photograph to get their creative juices going to design a dress. Chloe decided to use a photograph of a building (one of those midtown buildings from the 50s or 60s that are very geometric), Andrae went for gutter water, Santino hit graffiti, Kara liked "Warning" signage, Daniel used an orchid plant, Zulema picked a red African dress (a dress as inspiration for another dress? zzzzzzz), and Nick, who barely shot much as he was still upset about losing his beloved Tarah, a photograph of a nautical scarf in the window.

2006_01_nickcut.jpgBut, honestly, the actual design process was boring next to the interpersonal drama. We got to see the designers having lunch and not letting Zulema sit with them and Zulema saying something about people thinking she acted shystie. And then Nick bitched to the boys back at the apartment, admitting that, yes, he wanted to cut Zulema! So so so good - plus, Tim Gunn told the designers they needed to step up for this challenge!

2006_01_gutterdress.jpgSo, what to say about the dresses? Our favorite was Andrae's sparkling, gorgeous gutter water creation. It was returning Project Runway winner Jay McCarroll's favorite as well (he liked that he made something beautiful from something ugly). It reminded us a little of his lovely Nicky Hilton dress, but it was also very true to his photograph. Daniel's orchid-inspired top and skirt were also beautiful, but though the top was lush, we didn't think it was as wearable (the skirt, yes). Chloe's building dress looked much better on Grace than it did off the form (we thought it was an insane ribbony mess), and the pleating was very intricate (Jay called Chloe on the fact it didn't look very much like her building - as he knows about buildings as dresses). The top to Nick's outfit (inspired by water) was gathered in a fetching way, but he did a fishtail skirt again, which Michael Kors hated.

Santino's dress was less crazy, but not made with his usual precision - he's gone downhill the past few challenges - and Jay said it looked like Austin Scarlett's Grammy challenge dress. And Zulema - even model Tarah hated Zulema's dress and was upset that she had to wear it - it was just a mess of red fabrics. But the worst offender was Kara's "danger/warning" inspired dress - it was totally lame, just a black sheath with a stupid yellow and black "stay away" type stripe around it. Michael Kors totally nailed it when he said it was very Donna Karan. So stupid, but so awesome when Jay smacked Kara's lameass explanation of the dress down.

The judges narrowed it down to Daniel and Andrae (though Nina Garcia did like Chloe's dress a lot). Funnily enough, Jay said he liked Andrae's presence - if only he'd been there the first two challenges. Daniel ended up winning, and the Santino, Kara and Zulema were left on the runway. Santino was in, and then Heidi said Kara was in. Cut to backstage, with Kara entering and Nick kissing her in joy that Zulema was OUT, mainly because her dresses have been poorly constructed week after week. Oh, and because they sorta sucked too. While we agree that Zulema didn't have much time left, Kara seemed more like deadweight, with that stinky boring dress.

What did you think of last night's episode? Gothamist cannot wait for next week, when Tim Gunn confronts Santino about the impressions. And on Bravo executive Andy Cohen's blog, he has an interview with Chloe who says that Zulema totally hogged the bathroom - and that Santino really is mean!