NPR logo 'Runway' Contestant Learns: Women Don't Want To Be Pregnant Chickens


'Runway' Contestant Learns: Women Don't Want To Be Pregnant Chickens

The Project Runway judges weren't too impressed with Malvin Vien's chicken-egg look. Lifetime hide caption

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Last night's Project Runway challenge asked the designers to put together a maternity outfit for model-actress Rebecca Romijn — who was richly pregnant with twins she had in December of 2008, which gives you an idea of just how long ago this season was filmed.

Offerings ran the gamut from the expected draped jersey dresses that have been getting women through pregnancy forever, all the way to a tailored dress that absolutely, positively made the model's pillow-belly look like a bowling ball in a bag, just as not one but two people commented to the designer that it did. There were several very strange designs the judges did not love, including a chicken-inspired look, the aforementioned bowling ball, and a very badly designed pair of shorts.

Let's talk about the falling of the axe.

After the jump: The axe.

Contestant Malvin Vien decided that what pregnant women really want is to be swathed in egg metaphors, apparently on the assumption that the pregnant belly isn't adequate to communicate to the world, "I am fertile!"

When Tim Gunn came to visit Malvin, Malvin showed him a pair of jodhpurs that were to be worn under the knotted top he was creating. The pants were designed so as to extend past the woman's actual hips, making her look wider. Tim told Malvin that he wasn't sure pregnant women were so much looking for visual hip extenders, at which point Malvin said that it was more about the concept.

In other words, "It's not really about the person who's wearing it liking it. It's about me feeling like I have expressed myself." This is a fine attitude if you are making clothes you don't intend to sell to anyone, but Runway has often discussed the importance of making clothes people will actually want to wear, so this was a good indication that Malvin was doomed.

And indeed he was. Other than the feathers, it's not entirely clear how this outfit was supposed to signify an egg in the first place, given that chickens do not actually carry their eggs around in slings. (As far as I know. I admit I was not raised on a farm.) Malvin believed the egg looked "cocooned," like something precious, but it looked more ... bandaged, to me. It looked like an injured egg being taken to a field hospital in the Civil War.

Unsurprisingly, Malvin was sent home, at which point he announced to the other contestants that he was just "too conceptual for America." Of course, America did not vote, and two of the four judges — Romijn and Heidi Klum — either were or had recently been pregnant, and they both disliked the look. So it's not necessarily about being "too conceptual for America" as much as "making clothes for pregnant women that pregnant women think look terrible."

On his way out, Malvin stressed that this had only made him realize how strong he really was as, among other things, "a philosopher." (Malvin is 23 years old, incidentally.) Philosophically speaking, his look may have done something for him, but unfortunately, on this show, clothes are for wearing. And he may find that the percentage of pregnant women who want to look like chickens is not as great as his philosophy was prepared to posit.