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Maggie Hendricks

The Olympics invade Project Runway

Maggie Hendricks
Fourth-Place Medal

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Last night, I watched the happy marriage of two of my favorite things: the Olympics, and Project Runway. If you don't watch Project Runway -- and why don't you? -- it is the Bravo show that is in search of the next great designer. The designers are given challenges to create clothing for different occasions, or out of innovative materials, and one by one, they are whittled down until there is a fashion show, a winner, and they are paraded down Broadway in a ticker tape parade -- or they get a car and money but who wouldn't prefer a ticker tape parade? In last night's episode, Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum and Co. took on the fashion needs of the XXIX Olympiad. Sadly, most of the designers did not get it.

With speedskater and Dancing with the Stars champion Apollo Anton Ohno as the guest judge, the designers were given the challenge to come up with an outfit for the American team to wear during the Opening Ceremony. The actual outfit that Team USA will wear is designed by Ralph Lauren, so this was more of a chance for the designers to stretch their design wings. For most of the designers, anything athletic was VERY different. One said that he had never watched the Opening Ceremony, and was it maybe someone running around a track field with fire?

As a huge fan of the Olympics and of the show, I think they missed on a mark that could have been compelling. Using actual Olympians, instead of six-foot-tall, 100 lb. models, would have been much more visually interesting and challenged the designers to make clothes for the myriad body types that are in the Olympics. The Opening Ceremony outfit needs to fit everyone from gymnast Shawn Johnson to weightlifter Cheryl Haworth, and this was never discussed on camera. The show was taped three months ago, but still, the softball, volleyball and water polo teams had been picked by this time. I am disappointed that the show didn't make the effort to have Lisa Fernandez and Lovieanne Jung strut down the runway. Wouldn't that have been more interesting?

The winner of the challenge actually did design an outfit, pictured above, that was good for different body types, and just adorable. After the jump, check out more of the outfits, and ponder what exactly the designers were thinking.

Photos courtesy of Bravotv.com

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And this was the losing outfit. I don't know what about this outfit is supposed to say Go USA! but I guess that's why it's the losing outfit.

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Unfortunately for this designer, the Olympics are not taking place in a tea party in 1904.

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This was one of the other designs that the judges liked, and I did too.

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Apparently, Team USA has a cheerleading squad. I had no idea.

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