'Project Runway' : The Mother of All Challenges

Photo: Virginia Sherwood/Bravo

It’s only Project Runway‘s second episode, but already the 15 remaining designers’ personalities, strengths and weaknesses are emerging clearer than Rebecca Romijn‘s baby bump on Thursday’s show. Tasked with designing a chic maternity outfit for the actress — remember, this show was filmed last year before Romijn gave birth to twin girls — the designers padded their mannequins and got to making it work:

Get Her an Inhaler: Qristyl Frazier must have been thrilled to be spared elimination last week. How else to explain her overeager shopping at Mood? The designer huffed and puffed her way through the fabric store, fretting about her remaining time while Tim Gunn sagely counseled her to take “deep breaths.”

Maternity Wear’s Not His Bag: We love watching Mitchell Hall tell it like it is — despite the fact that he’s yet to produce a successful look. The designer, who was nearly kicked off last week, caught Ra’mon-Lawrence Coleman off-guard when he said his purple cocktail dress looked like a bowling bag. After retreating to the lounge together, Hall tried to take back his criticism: “It looks a lot better from here. It’s very, um, streamlined.” Turns out, Hall had a good instinct. Rebecca Romijn even used the phrase “bowling bag” on the runway.

Sew Bad, But Not Sew Long … Yet: Too bad Mitchell didn’t have that same critical eye with his own garment. This week, the designer served up some poorly sewn shorts that sent him to the bottom yet again. “You just squeaked by,” Heidi Klum told him sternly on the runway before sparing the designer from elimination. “You have to up your game.”

Where’s Michael? Sadly, Michael Kors was absent from this week’s judging panel. While we missed his razor sharp quips, designer Monique Lhuillier ably subbed for him, offering thoughtful, constructive critiques to the best and worst contestants. She’s just not as quotable. Come back soon, Michael!

The Results: Shirin Askari created a maroon dress with a hand-sewn and embellished waist which impressed Romijn and earned her the win — and immunity from elimination next week. Althea Harper‘s sweeping evening gown nabbed the designer second place. Worse off: Ra’mon, whose bowling bag dress was panned, and Mitchell, who was nearly auf’d (again) for his shabby shorts. But ultimately, this week’s loser was Malvin Vien, whose arty, conceptual “chicken and egg” approach at maternity wear proved to be a feathery fail. “It was bizarre,” Nina Garcia said. –Brian Orloff

Tell us: Did Malvin deserve to go home? Or should Mitchell have been auf’d? Who had the best dress? Do the judges have something against the conceptual and avant-garde designs?

Virginia Sherwood/Bravo

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