Barbara Nitke/Lifetime Television
Missy Schwartz
October 15, 2010 AT 12:30 PM EDT

It wasn’t the top of the Empire State Building. Or the Chrysler Building. Or the Great Lawn. Or the Brooklyn Bridge. Or Riverside Park. Or…or…or… any number of famous landmarks. Nope. “One of the most spectacular places in New York City” turned out to be…a fancy hotel in Columbus Circle. Only on Project Product Placement can the presidential suite at the Mandarin Oriental get this kind of superlative lip service.

It was from the roof of this fancy-pants establishment that the gang met with Tim Gunn and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, there to give them their final, pre-Fashion Week challenge. Gretchen thought that the presence of Mayor Mike showed what New York thinks about Project Runway. Oh, Gretchen. You and your inflated sense of place in the universe. I’m pretty sure New York gives approximately two hoots about Project Runway. Actually, it might be one and a half.

Anyhoot, the challenge was to create an outfit inspired by anything within the Big Apple. They had $500 and two days. Decadent! Michael C. chose the Statue of Liberty; April and Mondo, the Brooklyn Bridge; Andy, Central Park; and Gretchen, the Lower East Side. Odd choice, that last one, seeing as there are no canyons of patchouli-drenched fringed suede in the Lower East Side. Gretchen didn’t seem to know what she was doing, saying she felt “under-inspired by this challenge.” Later, Mondo noted that Gretchen’s design was looking as exhausted as she was. Was she tired? Worn out? Run ragged? Of course. But not enough to stifle an assessment of a competitor. “Michael C. reminds me a lot of how I was five years ago,” she said, employing her usual frame of reference: herself. Funny stuff, this—almost as LOL-worthy as the time she proclaimed how very moved she was to have been a part of Mondo’s reveal about HIV-positive status. I mean it: Gretchen’s narcissism is hilarious.

Back in the workroom, Mondo took a two-hour nap, Gretchen’s former self Michael C. did an impressive imitation of Sir Quips A Lot, and Andy displayed a rare bit of self-mocking humor. “I gave birth to a Chinese prostitute,” he said of his skin-tight black dress that did indeed make one think of happy endings. Earlier, at Mood, Tim beseeched April to “think about surprise,” given her season-long use of black, black, and black’s distant cousin, black. She dismissively yeah-yeah-yeah’d him, then ended up doing nothing of the surprising sort. Just more of that fetid funereal fetish. Of her black and dark-purple gown, Mondo said: “April is doing April. And I feel like it can be translated as kind of costumey.” That, friends, is as catty as our dear, sweet Mondo gets.

I thought Michael C. was in trouble from the moment he took the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. He’d be making a flowing gown, he said. Uh-oh! Literal alert! Would his model be carrying a torch, too? And sport Grecian sandals? Wear a crown? Well, he did jettison whatever he was planning on doing with all that pleating and he tossed a basket-weave shrug (which inspired Gretchen to kindly note that “he’s either an idiot savant or just an idiot”).

NEXT: Picture poisonous Ivy, choking back bile.

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