'Project Runway': Who Is Going to Fashion Week?
'Project Runway': Who Is Going to Fashion Week?
This may have been the most outlandish season of Project Runway but there were no surprises in this, the second to the last episode. Mondo, Michael C, Andy and Gretchen were all sent home to create a 10-piece collection but only three would make it to Fashion Week. Who made it through? Let's take a look.

Home Sweet Home

This year, all of the designers were living on the West Coast so it was an easier trip for Tim Gunn than usual. As in prior seasons, the home visits gave us a chance to preview the collections, see the inspiration and get to know the designers a little better through their family and friends.

I've always enjoyed this portion of the show because Tim seems like the most delightful guest you could ever have over for dinner. He exhibits such genuine interest in the traditions and culture of each of the families and he never minds giving a little of himself in order to fit in.

The first stop was Andy who lives on a plantation in Hawaii. Not the manor house kind of plantation, but a rickety house set up on cinder blocks in the middle of a sugar cane field. His mother was charming and it was good to see that he was inspired by his homeland of Laos. Trouble is, with only two weeks left, he hadn't even started making his outfits yet.

Next, it was off to Palm Springs to visit a very nervous Michael who had the opposite problem. He had too many finished creations which indicated a lack of focus. He said he was inspired by the colors of the desert but the palette was too muted and needed to be refined. Tim left worried.

Mondo's home in Denver, Colorado was the third stop on Tim's itinerary. Again, Tim managed to get in good with Mondo's mother who laughed about trying hard to make her son more "macho". He played piano for Tim then showed off his Mexican clown / Day of the Dead inspired wear. With that inspiration, his work should have been full of color, unusual images and pop but sadly, not so much. He still had lots to do.

The final stop was Gretchen's home in Portland -- or should I say, her soon to be former home. Apparently she returned from the show to find out her boyfriend had run off with all of her money. Karma, anyone? Her designs were inspired by her Southwest roots but the colors were very bland and there were a lot of missteps. And what was with that knit pair of underpants? So strange.

Back to the Workroom

When the designers returned to New York, they settled in to a new apartment then Tim came by with that odious, velvet bag. But instead of pulling out challenge chips, he pulled out four vacations courtesy of Hilton. One vacation was in Hawaii and Tim joked (I hope) that that was Andy's prize.

The next morning, they set up shop in the temporary Piperlime workroom where they were given the usual assignment. Create one more look to go with the collection then choose three to accompany it down the runway.

Creating the new look was easy for most of them (because seriously, they knew this was going to happen, right?). The hard part was choosing which two looks to go with it. Andy said he thought it was best to hold back on his 'wow' pieces and I can see the logic in that, except of course, that if you do hold back, you might not make it to Fashion Week in the first place and that was almost the case here.

We'll take a closer look at the outfits in tomorrow's runway recap, but I will say that there were no surprises except for Andy's bikini. All of the designers created looks that were similar to items they'd designed over the course of the show and none of them wowed the judges.

Mondo made it in easily on sheer boldness of character alone. Then it got rough. I always assumed Andy would be the next pick leaving Michael and Gretchen to battle over the last spot, but it was Gretchen who was called second. She had this horrendous jacket over the granny panties that looked like a cheap, cigarette girl uniform from the 1940's. The judges said it was the only spark in her collection. Huh?

Andy got called next and Michael was left alone on the runway, head hanging and it turned into a very awkward moment. I get that he was upset. I think this concept of letting him slave over a collection for weeks only to be eliminated before the big show is unnecessarily cruel. Still, his behavior which included punching the wall and whining about being a failure was just too much to watch. I felt bad for Andy who put himself in the position of being to blame for taking the final spot. That's not how it works and the winners shouldn't have to give up their joy because of a poor loser.

I love ya, Michael. But I would have preferred to see you go out with a little more dignity. After all, you did beat the pants off of Ivy.

Next week, it's the big reunion show and given the drama of the season, this one should be a dozey. Then it's off to Fashion Week and the crowning of the Season 8 winner. But first, come back later for a closer look at this week's designs in our Runway Recap.

Did the right person go home? What do you think?

(Image courtesy of Barbara Nitke/Lifetime Television)