Oh, wow. Project Runway has seen its share of less-than-likeable designers in its day, and although Ven Budhu has shown he can be arrogant, we didn't expect to add him to this list. But, it's kind of hard not to after he made his client, Terri, cry after incessantly harping on her size (which is a 14, by the way… nothing to gasp about) during this week's challenge, which called for the designers to make over a woman who was nominated by a friend, á la What Not to Wear. It was the L'Oréal Challenge (the designers were also responsible for reccomending haircuts and color to complete the makeover) but it will forever be known as "that one where Ven was a total a******" or, as Christopher Palu Tweeted last night, "the fall of the Venpire."
When Ven complained about the fact that some designers had thinner clients and that made the challenge easier for them, we got it. That's probably true. In fact, a lot of what Ven said was true, but the problem was he said them over and over again, and so many times, he said them to his client and about his client, Terri. Who is a person. Sometimes he made general statements about size, and these statements didn't make us as mad. One example: "Working on a plus-size is very, very challenging. There are certain things or techniques that you want to do with your aesthetic but you can't, because it won't work on her figure."
Aside from the unnecessary extra "very," we didn't think there was much wrong with that statement; different things look good on different people. What was upsetting was that Ven seemed to think there was no difference between that statement and this one: "When I first see Terri, I'm in shock, I'm extremely disappointed. This is completely different than designing for a model because the proportions are completely off."
You're in shock? Apparently, Ven has never actually seen anyone that isn't 5'11'' and a size 2. So, we guess he's never looked in the mirror.
When Tim Gunn came in to check on everyone's progress, he managed not to balk at Ven's reaction to the simple question, "What size is she?" (seriously, it made your skin crawl) and gave him a rather inspiring pep talk, but it didn't make a difference. A short while later, he was repeatedly saying that every single belt was "too small" he would request one that was "bigger," and Terri started to cry, like most people would. Terri's friend confronted Ven and told him he was making her feel bad. He apologized, but didn't stop. All the designers looked on in disbelief, shocked by his callousness.
Ven landed in the bottom and the judges tried to scare him into thinking he was getting eliminated as a way to punish him for being such a tool. Speaking (finally) of some other designers, let's just get to the runway, shall we? Heidi Klum, Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Alice Temperley await (and we're pretty sure they've been drinking this whole time, because they made some pretty terrible decisions).
Safe: Elena Slivnyak's top and skirt combo was really cute, and her model looked like she loved it. Dmitry Sholokhov noted that this was the first time he'd seen Elena be nice to someone. It was also the first time she didn't try to do overly dramatic shoulders! It was a nice look for the office. Melissa Fleis faltered this week; her outfit consisted of an ill-fitting black cocktail dress and a giant scarf that was more like a sheet. To be fair, we're not sure if the dress was really ill-fitting because the scarf covered it almost completely. We also weren't in love with her client's new hair color. Good thing she had immunity! Alicia Hardesty's baby pink dress was just plain terrible, and it should have been in the bottom. Give that girl some ears and she's a Playboy bunny. Not even. A wannabe bunny. Christopher's dress… we don't know what happened here. The back was way shorter than the front. He also made a jacket, but we barely saw it.
In the top, we had Dmitry, who is the Susan Lucci of Project Runway (and also a former ballroom dancer!). Always so close but never wins. He noted in the beginning of the episode that he was starting to lose his confidence, but we know if he just keeps doing his thing, he'll pull off several wins, and he's likely to end up in the final three. His dress was sleek and sophisticated, and he transformed his client from an average girl into a sassy, sexy and classy woman. Love that haircut! Gunnar Deatherage also landed in the top. We loved how he bonded with his client, but we didn't love this look, and we're not sure why the judges did, either. Was it not crooked? And way too tight in the bust? His girl sold it, no question. And our winner: Fabio Costa (who was totally adorable talking to his boyfriend on Skype earlier in the episode)! The more we looked at Fabio's dress, the more we liked it. It was definitely a casual dress but still special because of the graphic element, and it seemed to fit his client's personality. While shopping at Mood, he told us he was having a "vision of shades of gray." We feel obligated to make a Fifty Shades of Grey joke here, but we can't think of a bigger joke than the book itself.
As for Ven's final look? Nobody over age 30 would wear that skirt, and no one under the age of 50 would wear the top (which was a shiny blue travesty). It wasn't flattering, and as Alice noted in judging, the look would never hold up over the four-hour commute Terri has each day to and from work. Terri's friend started to cry on the runway as she explained that she just wanted her to have an experience where she felt special, because she works so hard for her family, and instead she was made to feel like crap. "Ven, it's your fault," Heidi tells him. "We like Terri but we don't love your look." Also in the bottom was Sonjia Williams. What happened here, Sonjia?! This dress was totally boring, uninspired and it looked like it shrunk in the wash. Lastly, there was Nathan Paul. His dress wasn't one of our favorites, but his client was happy with it. We didn't really have a problem with the non-hooker mesh, and though love Michael, we didn't agree that only Betty White wears illusion. We do agree that no human being should wear tight satin. Still, non-hooker mesh is everywhere, and compared to what his client wanted, it was a happy medium. Heidi said she looked like a "hoochie mama," which Michael helpfully translated to "tart" for British Alice. Unfortunately, Nathan was auf'd. We'll miss Nathan! Tim noted that he is a person of great character, and although it might have been a little dig to Ven, it doesn't make it any less true. We mentioned What Not to Wear earlier, and we think Ven could benefit from watching it; Stacy London and Clinton Kelly deal with clients of all shapes and sizes. Everyone walks out looking fabulous, and if they're crying, it's because they're so happy.
What is perhaps most disturbing about this episode is that at the end, when he was saved from elimination, Ven still didn't get it. The first thing he says when he goes backstage is that he didn't think he should have been the last person standing up there. He doesn't understand that the judges did this because they wanted to teach him some humility. Further upsetting is that we have to assume Ven still hasn't learned anything from this, because he actively Tweeted in defense of himself during last night's show. To everyone out there even considering being on a reality show: you can't blame the editors. They might accentuate certain terrible things you said by showing them repeatedly, or showing all of them, but you still said them. We hope if you were #TeamVen you're now #TeamTerri.