It’s the last Project Runway challenge before New York and I am conflicted. I feel certain that Sweet P is going home tonight, just like I feel certain that Jillian, Rami and Christian are going to New York. My conflict is Chris – who has really shone in the last few episodes (well, not the denim one). I feel like he would be interesting to see at Fashion Week, but I am not sure how he’s going to get there.

I keep away from spoilers, so tonight has me a little on edge. There is the bonus, however, that there is one thing I can be absolutely positive of: I will not see Ricky cry tonight. He got the boot last week, of course.  And Sweet P tells us at the top of the hour that she is happy she dodged the bullet herself – and also surprised. Which speaks volumes, frankly. But I don’t dwell on that as Heidi comes out to tell them they are going on a final field trip. You know, I really liked the season when they took the designers to Paris, but they don’t go that far tonight. In fact, they just walk a few blocks to meet Tim at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Whose steps are remarkably devoid of people and hot dog carts, which just looks all sorts of strange to me.

Equally strange is the interior – where the 5 designers and Tim have the entire place to themselves. Which means they are either there crazy early or there are a bunch of ticked off tourists outside. Little note on the subject by the way: The Guggenheim is closed on Thursdays. I’m just saying. Walking around the empty museum, Jillian notes that there is nothing more inspiring in all the world then the Met. Take that, Smithsonian collection! Tim gathers the designers in the Greek and Roman gallery and tells them that their final challenge is to create a look based on one of the works of art from either the gallery they are in, the European painting gallery or the Temple of Dendur. No one questions which gallery Rami will get his look from. Seriously, they could have restricted him a little. Giving him Grecian as an option is just creating a forgone conclusion. Draping is the man’s kryptonite. They should have replaced the Greek and Roman gallery with the Tiffany gallery in the American wing, in my opinion.

Each of the designers is given a camera to take photos of the art to get their inspiration – something else tourists are not allowed to do. Sweet P camera talks about how amazing it was to be there all alone and notes that she could have touched a painting and I feel my ire rising. She quickly adds that she didn’t, thank goodness, and all is right with my world. No skin oils on the classic works of art, thanks! For real, I once yelled at a guy who blithely traipsed across an intricately raked Japanese rock garden, thus destroying the fastidious pattern of the gravel. Don’t mess around with someone else’s art.

So, the art breakdown goes thusly: Rami chose from the Green and Roman gallery – a marble statue of Aphrodite by Kallimachos, calling it his soul mate. Christian (and everyone else, really) chose from the European Painting gallery – Don Andrés de Andrade y la Cal, a very stylized Spanish portrait.  Sweet P chose a painting named Peacocks, which is pretty self explanatory. Jillian chose Scenes from the Story of the Argonauts – specifically the Master therein. And Chris chose Marie Françoise de La Cropte de St. Abre, Marquise d’Argence – very powdered wig and such. They get the standard hour to sketch and then a $300 budget and 30 minutes at Mood.

Back at Parson’s, the designers get right to work. And Christian also gets right to boasting and condescending. He makes fun of Jillian’s time and efforts spent pressing pleats into her garment, leading her to anxiously respond by telling him not to worry about what she’s doing. He cattily strikes back with "Ewww. Don’t get bitchy" in a tone of voice so grating that I am surprised no one in the room slapped him. Including the production crew. Seriously, his attitude must be even more tiresome in person.

The models are let in for a fitting and Sweet P’s is late due to an emergency. Meanwhile, Chris decides he is done and goes to take a nap. Christian camera snobs that Chris’s outfit is too costumey and looks too much like the challenge they won together previously. Which I am not debating. However, the guy who is making another blouse/jacket/tight pants combo – only making them with massive sleeves and overpowering collars – may want to decide if he is the pot or the kettle before he goes around disparaging the work of others. Of course, that is unlikely to happen, as Christian tells us that his work is the most cohesive out of everyone there.

Tim comes to check on the designers and is shocked when he is told Chris is napping in the other room. So, he goes out to find him and drag him back into the work room. He tells Chris he doesn’t think it is refined enough and I have to agree. It seems to be missing some element of shine or something. He asks Chris if there isn’t something he can add to it and Chris sticks to his guns, saying "I wouldn’t". Tim and I both worry. Tim moves on to Christian and I fall in deeper love with the man when he directly contradicts what Christian boasted about himself just moment before, by saying he thinks his design lacks cohesion and questions if it makes sense. Hee! He implores Sweet P to give her simple smock dress some exuberance and compliments Jillian before cautioning Rami about turning in yet another draped, Grecian dress. They all do their best, of course, but Runway time looms – as does guest judge Roberto Cavalli – so lets get to it!

Chris: It’s Couture, clearly. But it’s also very similar to the challenge he won with Christian. And I wish there was something to define the waist or add something to the dress itself rather so it wasn’t a block of off-white topped with a swath of pewter. That said, it’s perfectly constructed, expensive looking and intriguing. And there is just a part of me that so wants to see what his collection would be like!

Christian: He understands the idea of movement telling its own story and his look is clearly polished to be just such a show piece. But at the end of the runway, when the model poses for that split second and it’s unaided by the movement of the garment? She looks comical to me – like a Disney character or something. There’s just too many layers and too much going on and it doesn’t look as sophisticated as I think it could be. But there is no arguing that a full collection from him would be interesting, pulled together and forward.

Rami: When taken for just what it is, it’s a gorgeous dress that could make the average woman the most avant-garde person in her social circle. It’s perfectly fit and stunningly draped. It’s also just like we have seen from him on practically every challenge and when compared to what the other designers are doing…well, it’s boring at this point. All the same, there’s no doubt that a collection from Rami holds possibility and would be full of style that is sure to be thought of as classic to the world at large in about a decade.

Sweet P: It’s not a mess. I don’t hate it. But I don’t get Peacock. I don’t quite understand the striping and I feel kind of gypped. After all, peacock feathers are regal, fantastic and elegant. This dress is none of those things. At all. It’s passable. It could be quite a stand out if this were week one. But at this stage of the game, compared to the others, it’s just too far below the bar to register.

Jillian: Does this girl do anything that could not be called clean and crisp? The tailoring is impeccable. The overall look is a little too 80s for my tastes, but it’s inspired and surprising. And when the coat comes undone, the dress beneath is actually delightful – even in gold lame’ – and that says an awful lot. I never doubted Jillian would be in our final three and this outfit does nothing to change my mind about that – she’s just consistently pushing her boundaries and submitting excellent work.

The judges don’t keep us in suspense, right away announcing Christian as the winner and telling Jillian she is safe. They gently let Sweet P know she is out, which is a little sad, but not surprising. This leaves us with Rami – who played it as safe as possible, and Chris – who was actually eliminated once already, because his early work was so questionable. But it seems that the judges were as torn as me and they tell them they are both in! Well, kinda. Despite the fact that they took 4 designers before, they tell Chris and Rami that they will each design a full collection for Fashion Week. Then, once they are in New York, they will each show the judges their strongest 3 pieces and a winner will be chosen to be in the final 3. The other? Goes home, I guess.

Not a bad outcome from my perspective, but what did you think? Was anyone else completely charmed by Roberto Cavalli? And is anyone else feeling guilty for being excited about the reunion show that airs next week?

Posted by:Jessica Paff