Missy Schwartz
July 24, 2008 AT 04:57 PM EDT

”Shiny, tight, and short is the quickest way to look cheap.” So spake Nina Garcia, who really should consider printing this concise little nugget of wisdom on billboards around the country — if not the world. ‘Cause Lord knows our little globe is chock-full of fashion victims who live by the rule ”When in doubt, bust the slutty on out.”

Of course, overly sexy did not seem to be the motivation for poor young Wesley last night onProject Runway. We hardly got to know the guy, but his penchant for schoolboy shorts is not exactly the mark of a man in touch with sexiness — male or female. No, the fatal flaw of his shiny choco minidress was the shoddy execution. Bumpily seamed, poorly fitting, and adorned with an out-of-place prim bowtie, the thing got its ass kicked by the sewing machine.

In an episode that was a bit of a snoozer, the challenge was to create a cocktail dress made of green materials. Leanne ate it up, explaining that she already works with eco stuff — ironic, considering she narrowly escaped getting the boot with her overly designed brown dress covered in floppety-flop thingies and pockets. In a Project Runway FIRST! the models did the shopping, which meant we were treated to more face time than usual with the ladies, who offered such searing insight as ”I’m looking for, like, color.” I’m guessing that Mood’s selection of organic fabric is pretty slim pickin’s — otherwise, brown with a blinding sheen is the new black among tall, skinny young women dreaming of a career on the catwalk. Three designers were stuck with the same damn material, and another three with the champagne variation. Way to be original, ladies.

Not surprisingly, few of the designers were thrilled with what the models brought back to the workroom, proud as cats returning from the prowl with dead mice in their jaws. Some understandably raised an eyebrow at the choice of jersey, while Stella, of course, immediately started griping about having to work with something other than leather. After reminding us that she’s ”urban,” ”tough,” and fond of ”form-fitting stuff,” she recited a litany of things she could do with a nice piece o’ hide (grommets, studs, you know the drill). We were meant to think that the Hard Rockin’ Queen of Queens was on the verge of another meltdown — memories of her whining about her ”fabric” last week still crack me up — or, at the very least, a face-off with Blayne, who called her ”ridiculous.” But we got neither, really. Just a jokey encounter wrapped up with Blayne’s tone-deaf jab ”I love your leather face.” Stella pulled through, whipping up a silky, off-the-shoulder minidress that the judges praised for reflecting her biker-babe chic — but that guest judge Natalie Portman clearly did not care for. Portman may be an Oscar-nominated actress, but she ain’t got a poker face to save her life. ”I’m really not into asymmetrical stuff,” she said, barely stifling a gag. And considering that Portman is a vegan who eschews all animal by-products, Stella should be thanking her lucky studs and grommets that there was no leather in sight this week. (Incidentally, Portman’s footwear collection is cruelty-free, but hardly green, as Joe claimed. The $200-plus shoes are made of plastic.)

NEXT: Natalie plays nice

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