I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you know what’s good for you, you’ll invite Leslie Jones to your fashion show, or even just invite Leslie Jones to cheer you on as you get dressed in the morning. Whichever fits best in your life. The details don’t matter; all that matters is that Leslie Jones is there. The SNL star was the guest judge on this week’s Project Runway and as she is wont to do at New York Fashion Week (and while watching the Olympics on Twitter and, really, any time she wants) she carried on and brought the energy level in the room sky high. Two years ago, I attended Christian Siriano’s NYFW show and ended up sitting across from Leslie, Gina Gershon, Vanessa Williams, and Patricia Clarkson (aka, a Last Supper painting featuring everyone’s favorite Best Supporting Actress nominees.) As I wrote on ELLE.com at the time, Leslie was living her best life at that runway show. “The normally ebullient comedian was especially hype for the entire show, clapping, howling, elbowing Gina Gershon in the ribs. Have you ever, in your life, elbowed Gina Gershon in the ribs?!” Two years have gone by and I still shudder when asked the question “Have you ever elbowed Gina Gershon in the ribs?” Can you IMAGINE?
Gina loved it, though. Patricia Clarkson loved it. I, across the runway and two rows back, loved it. Coco Rocha, walking in a tornado of tulle, loved it. By the end of the show, as Rocha made her grand entrance and Leslie leapt to her feet screaming “Coco I love you,” the whole room was a powder keg. People were screaming, cheering, hooting and hollering. Leslie Jones had turned a blank, bright room on a pier into a fashion church. This is one of her many gifts and, as I will say over and over again, you need this in your life!
The designers certainly needed Leslie Jones’ bombastic cheerleading enthusiasm this week as they were presented with a one-day challenge with a twist: it was a one-day and all-nighter challenge as they had to make textiles themselves before they could design. By the time they got to the runway, no one had slept and the contestants were a mix of punch-drunk and nearly passed out. I can’t imagine what sort the fever dream having Leslie Jones screaming encouragement at you when you haven’t shut your eyes in over 24 hours feels like, but it sure makes for fun viewing at home. And, really, isn’t that the most important thing?
The other bright spot of the episode, literally, was what the designers sent down the runway. Their challenge this week was to make their own tie dyed textiles and create a chic, modern take on the summer camp and sixties staple. Not all of them succeeded, of course, but it sure was colorful! We’ll get to who lives to dye another day in a moment, but first some superlatives! Imagine that Leslie Jones is shouting these at Coco Rocha at like 4 in the afternoon during Fashion Week. Let’s just lean all the way into this.
Okay, the challenge itself is brutal. Not only do they have to make their own tie dye, which apparently involves zip ties and huge vats of boiling liquid like they’re running a meth lab, but they can’t sleep! At all! Well, I guess they could if they wanted to but with only 24 hours to complete the challenge, no one does. I’ve pulled many an all-nighter back in the day but that’s just because I used to prefer eating mozzarella sticks at the campus diner and gossiping to being responsible, not because Karlie Kloss told me to. Although, if I could have used the excuse “Karlie Kloss told me to wait until the last minute to write this paper on Mary Wollstonecraft” I would have at least tried it.
Most Fit to Be Tied
“Fit to be tied” is one of my favorite old school expressions. I am not really sure how to define it other than to say that it’s how a grandmother would describe a frustrating situation. And I am nothing if not a frustrated grandmother. Most of the contestants were fit to be tied by the dye this week as they struggled through the night to keep their fabric from bleeding color and to produce aesthetically pleasing designs. They were instructed on making the fabrics by friends from Metro Dyeing but only Brittany took notes, which left Delvin, Geoffrey, and Victoria frequently returning to her for help like they were Ron and Harry and she was Hermione Granger.
I’ve got to say, I have never once understood what anyone has told me when they’ve instructed me on tie-dyeing. I am an enthusiastic but idiotic tie-dyer. I just wrap some rubber bands around it, spray it with color, and let God sort it out.
Sergio surmises that the judges don’t always “get” his political messaging. “I think the judges are afraid of me,” he says, seeming to mean it. I just… I honestly don’t even know anymore. I’m tired. Anyway, Sergio makes a really love wide-skirted tea dress with a yellow ombre pattern and the judges somehow muster up the courage to like it and rank it second for the episode. So, crisis averted.
Most Never Bothered by the Cold Anyway
Nancy wore tie dye back in the day but she’s never made it herself. She has, however, done ice-dyeing with refugee women in Philly at the Women’s Textile Cooperative, which is a technique where you cover your fabric with ice and sprinkle powdered dye on top. I truly cannot believe all the ways there are to dye fabric. And I don’t understand a single one of them except “spill coffee on it because I accidentally grabbed the travel mug that leaks unrepentantly and prodigiously.”
Least Never Bothered By Cold
Okay, you know I love Marquise. I lovvve Marquise. But he makes an ice skater outfit this week and we need to just accept this. Christian points out that the short ruffled skirt, halter top, and sheer sleeves with polka dots looks a little ice skater-y but Marquise says he doesn’t see it. He promises that when it’s styled and paired with shoes it won’t have the same look… I find that not to be the case. But what do I know? I’m just someone who watches an hour of Surya Bonali videos every night before bed. Anyway, Marquise is deemed safe by the judges after skating through the competition. Toe pick!
Christian suggests that Geoffrey revise his softer, more feminine silhouette into something more militaristic. “What if [tie dye] is the new camo?” I feel like this is the beginnings of a 70s-set alternative universe movie where Goldie Hawn is appointed Secretary of Defense and creates world peace.
Most Owed Overtime Pay
Because this is an all-nighter, the model fitting is at midnight! I mean, I know these are New York City models in their 20s so midnight isn’t midnight, so much as it’s 8 pm model time. But still! They had to get dressed and come to work for half an hour at the time when coaches turn into pumpkins! Better mark that time-and-a-half down on your time cards!
This Week in Victoria-isms
“Before I had my baby, I hated babies.” At this point, Victoria risks becoming a parody of herself. I really can’t think of anything more matter-of-factly sharp than this. Well… except what she says later when asked about her runway look. Let’s talk about this runway look. Okay, it seems to be a tie dyed cap sleeve shirt with, literally, a ruffled window valance draped around the shoulder. She’s paired it with a pair of jorts that are stitched into denim leggings and covered with bleach splotches. Oh! And there’s a cape! Honey. HONEYYYYY. Victoria knows it’s a mess, but how does she defend it? “I’m not crazy about tie dye, I’ll be honest.” she says redundantly. I love that Victoria continues to think that her personal textile preferences are to be taken into account here. She continues by noting “It’s not an excuse.” Nina rolls her eyes at that before summarizing the whole thing succintly: “I’m sorry, it’s a mess.” Victoria ends up in the bottom two but is just barely saved from elimination.
Leslie Jones is in rare form from the minute the runway starts, shouting out encouraging things, cracking the models up, and grabbing Elaine’s arm to conspire. It’s a delight. When she sees Nancy’s she remarks, “I do like a nice flow-y pant!” With Sergio’s she shouts “Twirl it! Twirl it!” Even Victoria’s gets her to shout “Superhero!” But when Delvin’s look comes down the runway, she’s silent. Not a good sign. In the critique, she says she wants to like the sleeveless full-skirted white dress with red and yellow tie dyed splotches, but she can’t. She hates the colors together; thinks it’s a very cheap church dress. Elaine thinks it’s dated and notes that it’s not the first time this has come up for Delvin. Ultimately, the judges ding him for failing to come to runway with coherent ideas this time and he’s eliminated. I’m really going to miss him and his atelier coat!
The minute Leslie Jones sees Geoffrey design, which ultimately wins the contest, she’s all the way done. “I have a feeling that I’m going to love this one!” she shouts upon seeing the silhouette. The love fest continues as the model takes the runway with Leslie doing her trademark mix of cheerleading and, hilariously, respectful catcalling. “Girl, take that dress of, that’s mine!” she shouts. “If I die and come back, I’m coming back as that dress. And I want you to wear me just like you wearing that dress.” Honestly, I think Leslie’s approval is even better than a win. I need her to make an app where she shouts at affirmations to me from my bedroom mirror every day. I will Kickstart this if necessary. Until then, I guess my plan (and my suggestion to you) is to keep being in the same place as Leslie Jones when she sees fashion she loves. There’s nothing brighter in the world.
R. Eric Thomas
R Eric Thomas is a Senior Staff Writer at ELLE.com, home of his daily humor column “Eric Reads the News,” which skewers politics, pop culture, celebrity shade, and schadenfreude.