Hyphen TV: Inspired by Gehry on 'Top Chef,' Not So Inspired by Painting on 'Project Runway'

September 6, 2011

Anya's like, lemme just whip up a skirt REAL quick

It was a rough week for our peeps this week, you guys. Over on Top Chef: Just Desserts, the chefs had to team up to create three-layer cakes inspired by the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Sally, who was the first teammate picked by her captain, decided with her team to construct a unified cake whose design was inspired by the iconic building's architectural design. Though they were dinged by Johnny for having two chocolate layers in their cake, Sally and company landed in the top two, getting praised for their cohesion and the clear consensus among the team. They didn't win, but Sally is continuing to perform strongly. I've got a feeling it'll be her week any time now.

Sally kneads a win (terrible pun)

Poor Van, on the other hand, initially felt excited about the cake challenge, saying "the creative side of me gets to go buck wild." He decided to take inspiration from the musical aspect of the challenge, sculpting various instruments out of chocolate. There were problems from the beginning, as Johnny noted on his kitchen visit that Van's instruments were tiny. Van's teammates also showed worry, saying that "he's on a runaway train of cocoa butter and glitter." When the cake was revealed, the instruments on top of the cake looked ... well, crappy. Or as Johnny more eloquently put it, "musical instruments are so familiar ... if they're not done properly, they look sloppy." Add that to the fact that Van's cake layer was deemed dry by all the judges and it wasn't a surprise that he went home.

Yeah ... uhh ...

Van's exit was even more poignant (and hinted at earlier in the episode) because he revealed that not only was he a self-taught pastry chef, but his parents had been in a concentration camp in Cambodia before they came to the States and winning the competition would make his family feel like "they belong in America." Aww, Van! You don't need a reality show to feel that. You go on being your bad self, and maybe stick to non-instrument cakes from now on. Or at least use Google image search more frequently.

Maybe he just needed a little more time

On Project Runway, the designers were paired with students at the Harlem School of the Arts to create a painting then design an avant garde garment inspired by the painted image. Anya was especially excited since her parents run a foundation for kids using the arts. Would love to get more info on that, A. Olivier had a little heart-to-heart with his kid, 17-year-old Tonya Lee, who asked him what kind of music he likes. "Really depressing music" was his answer. Hmm. I should also note that Anthony Ryan's partner was Wu Qing, another 17-year-old who painted a pair of self-portraits with Anthony Ryan. She seemed very sweet, though we didn't get much of her (Tim did commend her suggestion to remove the orange from Anthony Ryan's dress, so she's got Tim on her side).

How cute is Wu Qing?

Anya's student (AJ, 16) painted an image of trees on fire. Upon seeing her design, Tim commented, "I think it would be impossible for you to do anything that's not tasteful." Agreed, Tim! Anya's final product featured what she called an "African aesthetic," with a printed and poufy skirt, feathers, and a big afro for her model's hair style. She was safe, but I thought her look was one of the strongest. What did you think?

How was this not among the top designs?

Olivier, like Van before him, got many warning signs throughout the episode in the way it was edited. Early on, he described himself as "lost" and "confused more than ever recently." He got chiffon, then admitted to never using chiffon before (uh oh, stepping on Anya's line with that one), and said that compared to the other designs, his own dress was "quiet." Which was especially surprising, considering that his inspiration painting was one of the most colorful ones in the group.


I'm not the only one who sees all the colors on that canvas, right?

Olivier's competitors weren't terribly supportive, either. Viktor called Olivier a "turtle" who is always worrying, while Laura commented that Olivier is a "phenomenal designer, but not good on time management." Anya thinks that Olivier's clothing is "really ready to wear, and not avant garde." Tim questioned whether Olivier was taking his design far enough (again, look at the lack of colors alone!), and later was called in to talk to Olivier about possible cheating when the contestant tried to glue part of his dress to his model's skin. The conflict was cleared up quickly, but Olivier sure didn't come off looking good.

...and I'm not the only one who sees like NO colors here, right?

Heidi said that the colors of the dress looked "sad," and Michael Kors called the top of the dress "spectacular" while the bottom "looks like Mood exploded on her." Later Kors said that Olivier makes "Valium clothes ... they just make you fall asleep." Can't say that I disagree. We've seen a LOT of greys and menswear-style construction from Olivier, and not much else. He landed in the bottom two, but was saved because another designer's outfit was deemed worse. Come on Olivier, wake up! Maybe try a little color, recognize that women have boobs! I think you can do it.

Pull yourself together, man


Dianne Choie


Dianne Choie's TV is in Brooklyn, NY. She has a cat, several reusable shopping bags, and other mildly annoying stereotypes of youngish people who live in Brooklyn.