2006_08_pr304michael.JPGThank you, Project Runway producers, for all the Michael in tonight's episode! Next time, we hope to see him doing more designing and not just styling or talking down crazy women from ledges.

It's the pivotal fourth episode, the one where "for the first time on Project Runway, someone is asked to leave." Dunh dunh DUNH!!! Before we get to the challenge, we see the designers walking up at the Atlas. The ladies talk about how it's sad for Katherine to go and they don't mind if they have to move in - but they don't want Angela. Cut to Angela who says she really needs to save face. Jeffrey grouses that he really wants to win and grumpily marvels at how the judges love Keith. Jeffrey is now Jealous Jeffrey - it's more alliterative than "Fat Neck, Fugly Neck Tattoo Jeffrey" (and yes, we know that's his son's name, but please, get an arm or back tattoo like Angelina).

Heidi tells the designers that they will get the chance to design for INC International Concepts, the Macy's brand and also the brand behind this year's $100,000 prize. Then she announces that in order to mix things up, the designers can choose new models. Last week's winner, Uli, picks Keith's model, Narzi; to his credit, Keith doesn't break down Nick Verreos style. Uli implies that Keith had an advantage with Narzi; some designers stuck to their models, others didn't. Toni is kicked off.

2006_08_pr304inc.JPGBack at the workroom, Tim introduces the designers to Mehmet Tangoren, the VP of Macy's Contemporary Sportswear division. The designers will have to pitch a three-piece look for the INC customer ("ageless...fashion forward" - in other words, sort of hip clothes that aren't too trendy because then they won't sell...but just a tiny bit trendy) and then they will be split into teams of three to make the outfit. Bonnie says she's ready for the challenge, because she's designed for Nike and masses. Angela frets because she doesn't really sketch, but she has to do well. While they meet with Mehmet, we spy sketches, some more interesting than others. Laura centers her outfit on black pants, Keith suggests a tank top that converts to a dress, Angela says her design is inspired by the Empire State Building (hello, Jay McCarroll's Chrysler dress for Banana Republic), Robert shows a trenchcoat, Kayne is all about color, and Bonnie shows a long tunic. And the designers Mehmet selects to lead the teams are: Robert (for his outstanding sketches - a sporty trench over a black skirt and top), Bonnie (who understood the customer - coral tunic under a trench and brown pants), Keith (his use of color and good presentation - long grey coat, tank-top plus turtleneck and skinny pants), and...Angela (for her inspiration - clearly Mehmet didn't watch before the Macy's partnership - a cropped jacket, long-sleeved top, and wide leg pants). Everyone is shocked that Angela is chosen and all the designers who are not leaders are afraid to be on her team. Jeffrey sums it up: "I hate making something for someone I don't like." Angela gets to pick first, and she choose Michael, who confessionalizes, "Aw, damn" - and she ends up getting Laura as well. Robert chooses Kayne and Vincent, Keith picks Jeffrey and Alison (who suspects it's for their sewing skills), and Bonnie chooses Uli and Bradley (who was picked last, and compares it to being picked last at kickball). Now for the big news, the winning design will be sold at the biggest Macy's store! Robert says it would be "kind of great" to have that, since it would reach a big audience, but you can tell he rather do something more high-end.

The teams will get $100 to buy fabric at Mood, which shows you how small a portion fabric cost is when it comes to how much clothes cost. The teams convene to discuss the designs, and we started to laugh when we saw Michael and Laura with Angela - Laura was trying to make suggestions and keep Angela tethered to reality. With his team, Keith assigns the skinny pants to Jeffrey (a difficult task, Jeffrey says) and the double-layered top to Alison, and it seems like he's handing off the heavy lifting, but that's just us. At Mood, though, Keith uses his charms to get the Mood workers to reduce his bill from $98 to $80 (they still need to buy thread), which impresses Jeffrey. Bonnie says the fabrics she wanted were too expensive. As for Angela, she freaks out with joy when Michael suggests a graphic print; Laura says they don't want her to do the "full tilt boogie Angela" with quilting and bubble skirts. Word up - while Laura is very privileged and kind of haughty, she's a straight-shooter and we've decided to love her, bony rib-cage and non-cleavage and all. When they start working, it's falls out the way you'd think: Laura trying to talk sense into Angela, Bradley feeling like Bonnie is giving him a hard time because of his facial hair (maybe it's because he wasn't motivated during the last challenge), and Vincent is trying to integrate himself to Robert's vision. Robert dismisses Vincent's concerns because he's team leader and Vincent's okay with that. But Keith...he bosses Alison and Jeffrey around, asks Alison to help him with a sleeve, lays on a table, and makes Kayne comment that Keith is very manipulative. Which brings us to the dunh dunh DUNH moment...

2006_08_keithout.JPGBack at the Atlas, Kayne wants to talk to Vincent. He says Keith has pattern-making books in his room, and Vincent is all he-can't-bring-that-here. It's a big deal, because the books could help designers figure out ways to construct certain designs - if you're experienced with sewing, you might need it less, but if you're as inexperienced with sewing at Keith seems to be... Kayne then goes to Robert and Michael, who both say those are against the rules and that Kayne should tell the producers. Except the cameras zoom in on the pattern making books, and you think, "Why didn't the producers notice this before? Why didn't Keith hide them better? Were the producers slowly moving the books to more visible places so the other designers would see?"

So, after speaking to the producers, who probably have to rouse Tim Gunn from wherever he lives (we imagine that if the producers had to wake up Tim in the middle of the night, Tim would have been wearing one of his chic suits - no tie - in bed already), Tim heads to the Atlas. He voiceovers that not only did Keith break the rules by having pattern making books, he also left the premises for several hours and used...the INTERNET! With Keith sitting on the edge of Vincent's bed - and Kayne is laying (lying?) on his bed in the background - Tim tells Keith he has to leave now. Keith apologizes to the other designers saying he never used the book and that he's going to be the laughingingstock to his friends. We would have thought Keith would make more of a fuss, but we guess it shows he knew it was wrong (we guess producers don't go through the belongings of designers before the show starts). It's sort of anti-climactic, but then not, because it's crazy someone would risk their place on the show this way.

The next day at the workroom, Tim gives a speech about integrity and announces Keith's departure. Laura is glad, calling him an "asshole." Alison is very upset, proving she might be the sweetest person ever - she cries for Keith the taskmaster who was making her do all his work! Tim tells her and Jeffrey, as they as one person short, that they need to "carry on and frankly make it work." So it's back to work! Bonnie, Uli and Bradley have a weird working relationship, where they browbeat Bradley. Robert's team wonders if the outfit is too "flight attendant"-y (hello, Marla and Diana). And Angela is all about the rosettes. Again. As she makes them in the workroom, Michael laughs about it in the sewing room and Laura shouts that Angela will hand herself. But then Laura suggests that the rosettes be used as the buttons and Angela LOVES that. See? Laura - she's always thinking. When Tim checks in on everyone, he likes Angela's outfit, he's impressed with how far Jeffrey and Alison have come, notes that the pants on Bonnie's outfit are a bit "diapery."

Day 2, Robert is concerned about how high the slit in the back of his skirt is - it's super slutty. The pants are still problematic for Bonnie. Alison is impressed how she and Jeffrey pulled it together, and Laura admits that Angela was a good team leader. Michael styles the model to make sure she looks young. Tim reminds everyone to use the Macy's accessory wall before sending out the models for the runway.

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Angela's model comes out first, and it's a very simple look - grey super cropped with maybe half-length sleeves jacket and grey trousers, with a long sleeved pink top under it. It's very wearable and seems right for INC.

Robert's outfit is very strange - a puffy, sporty trench coat with toggles under a black top and skirt that looks like any old thing from Banana Republic. And the slit is super high.

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Bonnie's outfit is slightly puffy too - the coat looks almost wearable, but that's until we realize it's not very flattering. There's a turtleneck and the brown pants under the coat, which the model didn't open.

Finally, Keith's look comes down, and the grey coat is gorgeous and the skinny pants look great, but the top looks stupid. They have the "tank top" part down, so it looks either like vulgar unitard leggings or a strait jacket. Other than that, it's nice.

2006_08_pr204chal.JPGIn a twist, the judges (Heidi, Vera Wang, Nina and Mehmet) ask Angela's and "Keith's" teams to step forward, saying they had the high scores. The lower scoring teams are sent off, and Robert is sure they are trying to fuck with their minds more. Angela explains her design as being inspired by the Empire State Building and a pink sunset over it; Mehmet asks about the rosettes and she happily says they are her signature look. Michael points out that the lining of the jacket has that pink and black graphic design and the judges like it. Heidi thinks the outfit looks expensive for $100.

As Keith cannot explain the outfit, the judges credit Alison and Jeffrey for getting the outfit done. They really like the pants, with have slits and buttons, and think the outfit is very fashion forward. When Heidi says they will find out who the winner is by going to Macy's window at Herald Square the next day, we can see that Angela is literally wearing clown pants. She must have cut a hole in her green pants and put some crazy red polka fabric that. Insane!

Now the low scoring teams: Nina hates hate hates Bonnie's pants. When she hears they are twill crepe, Nina freaks out. (Note to self: Never ever buy pants out of wool crepe again, lest we run into Nina Garcia, Vera Wang, Heidi Klum or Tim Gunn.) The judges say there's nothing hip with the design, and Heidi thinks it's very 1970s. Nina also seems to hate the cowl neck sweater. Robert's design is considered a mess, because the coat doesn't match the skit and sweater. When pressed about his feelings, Vincent just says he thinks they made something close to Robert's design. Nina thinks it's just boring - and they don't want that.

The judges deliberate: They think Angela get who the customer is, but they liked Jeffrey and Allison's synergy. As for Bonnie's outfit, Mehmet says it's "Triple LY - Last Year, Last Year, Last Year"! That's sort of fun. Robert's outfit - boring and discombobulated. We guessed that Bonnie would be auf'd, and we were right: Robert's outfit was conservative, but Bonnie's was stale. Stale beats conservative! Bonnie gets upset when she leaves, crying, and it's because she loved the opportunity and the people. She's totally a Valley girl - very upbeat and happy about the experience.

The next day, Angela, Michael, Laura, Jeffrey and Allison head to Macy's. And the winner is Angela's design. She leaps into Michael's arm and confessionalizes that she feels validated. Now, Angela's design did seem like the best one for Macy's to mass produce and sell for a total of $257, because it wasn't that fashion forward. And could easily be bought in separates. And it wasn't designed by someone who was kicked off. It's nice, but it was still a little boring - but definitely better than Robert and Bonnie's. Our issue with Keith's outfit was the top and the slits in the pants - no way can you get those altered.

Next week, it looks like the models get to choose which designers they want to model for! We can't remember what else is happening next week (something about American icon, blah blah), because we were shocked that people could enter to win a $5000 shopping spree at Macy's - with Angela are your personal stylist! Could that be $5000 for Angela not to be your stylist?

What did you think? If you haven't already, check out Tim's Take blog - it's really good, and he says this about Keith and the so-called Sketchgate thingy that was in the air:

And please let me put some rampant speculation to rest. It seems that everyone now knows about the sketchbook in which Keith presents copies of the work of other fashion designers. Nina, Heidi, Michael and I all noted this when we reviewed the portfolios of the semi-finalists. Keith presented four to six sketchbooks and look-books (I can’t recall the exact number), and we assumed that this particular book was for inspiration. Fashion Designers have a responsibility to look at the design work around them. Many make notes or illustrations of the work that appeals to them. It’s not at all unusual. So, for us, that sketchbook was and continues to be a non-issue.