Project Runway: Where Everyone's Lost Below Union Square

Got your pitchfork handy? Good, because if you live in Manhattan, you'll need it; this week on Project Runway, the challenge is apparently to incite all Gothamites to violence. And it succeeds wildly in two ways: first, two designers attempt to extract fashion inspiration from the Upper East Side (blood from the stone, surely) and end up with something that looks like puddled sorbet. Then, another pair of contestants confuse the East Village with the Lower East Side, and just fling out some red stripes to represent both 'hoods.

Memo to contestants: Iron fences are not exclusive to the UES! Tompkins Square Park is not in the LES! Not everyone south of 14th dresses like a rockabilly prostitute! What is wrong with you people? Where is that meditation book the doctor recommended? I need to throw it at a pigeon.

The challenge this week (well, the one to natives' blood pressure notwithstanding) is to create a day look and a night look inspired by distinct New York neighborhoods. The remaining eight contestants, halved from the initial crop, are paired into teams, and passive-aggressive mayhem logically ensues.

Anthony and Maya score Chinatown and Amy and Jonathan tackle the Upper East Side; Amy wonders if her manic attention to detail, matched only by her new teammate's, will prove problematic. (Of course it won't, because the definition of sanity is definitely pleating 14,000 rows into one collar.) Villainous puppetmaster Emilio picks his buddy Seth Aaron and the neighborhood of Harlem; in doing so, he forces enemies Jay and Mila to collaborate on the East Village. "I can't breathe," wails Jay.

It's intriguing to see how some designers embrace their neighborhoods, because no team approaches this touristy assignment the same. Emilio shows Seth Aaron the fundamentals of 125th St., his former haunt: "Harlem is about churches, liquor stores, and fried chicken spots," he explains sagely, noting that almost all passersby are sporting an abundance of denim. Anthony and Maya breathe in the rapid pace of Chinatown; Anthony squeals over the ducks hanging in storefronts, before focusing more diligently on the bright gold textures of the new-year dragons.

Amy and Jonathan stare at wrought-iron fences and walk down Madison; endlessly overt-concept Jonathan says bluntly, "We notice how static a place it is," as they stare balefully at yet another bare gray stoop. In fact, their segment is really amusing in how every Park Avenue nanny avoids their eye contact. Don't look at the asymmetrical haircuts, little Prudence!

Jay and Mila elect to scowl at each other and stare mutely at the graffiti on Avenue A, pausing at the Sushi Lounge, of all unremarkable places in the western world. (Good saketinis there, though.)

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