Thursday, July 17, 2008

recap: project runway, season five is here

Even keeping notes while watching this episode, it's hard to keep track of, and get to know, sixteen designers. My early favorites quickly emerged when they were smart enough to have their design philosophy sound bite ready. Jennifer describes her designs as "Holly Golightly goes to a Salvador Dali exhibit." Kelli said, "if Vivienne Westwood and Betsey Johnson had a baby that would be me." Quirkiness and wit are always a dynamite combination. I also instantly liked Kenley for her loud, yet tasteful, designs that mix prints and plaids. It's not easy to mix prints and look chic. Early on, it seems we've got a forceful contingent of female designers this season.

Now that we've hardly gotten to know the designers, it's time for their first challenge. Austin Scarlett is back as a guest judge, which I think is genius. Who can be more fair than a prior contestant? The producers have brought back the grocery store challenge, which was the very first challenge season one. Austin won it with his corn dress that was beautiful, then it dried out overnight, and became a still beautiful, yet completely different dress. I should have seen this challenge coming. It seems every interview I've read with Heidi Klum lately she mentions the grocery store challenge as one of her favorites. I was curious if it would be easier or harder the second time around. I imagine most of these designers saw the original challenge, so many then-original ideas should be off limits.

Once the contestants start working, I develop an immediate dislike for Blayne. He is trying way too hard to become famous and adds the faux-suffix "licious" to everything. Unless he's a paid pawn of Robin Antin, which would be amusing, he needs a new word. Not to give Christian more credit, but Blayne is a "hot, tranny mess" and anti-fierce.

The work room featured the usual hi jinks as many designers had to change their ideas. With so many designers, there wasn't a lot of focus on any of them.

The Runway show (slideshow of dresses is here):
  • Emily - she described her dress as forward, yet wearable. It is interesting, and I want to like it, but it's not wearable.
  • Jerell - I'm still not sure how to describe this garment. It's intriguing, but I'm not sure if it's pretty or ugly. I have no idea where one would actually wear it, yet it's not really costumey either.
  • Leanne - her dress looked like a bad combination of Candy Land and a naughty nurse outfit from Halloween.
  • Korto - She used a yellow paper tablecloth to make a kimono-like maxi dress, and she used kale and sliced grape tomatoes as faux brooches. I found it hideous; the judges loved it.
  • Jennifer - her use of paper towels was impressive, and I sort of like the cut and style of the dress, but it's boring. I wish she would have used something to make it less white, even if it meant red lipstick marks all over the dress. It reminded me of the simple, plain muslin white dress that Southern designer did the first challenge season two.
  • Daniel - He ironed blue plastic cups to make a gorgeous dress. I was blown away by his technique, and I was pleasantly surprised to see it fit the model. The color was beautiful too.
  • Terri braided mop heads to form a hideous faux-crochet top that looked like whipped cream at first glance. She paired it with a skirt that seemed to be simply red plastic wrapped around the model in a shapeless rectangle.
  • Suede perfectly executed overkill. While his simple silhouette of a black checkered tablecloth was hardly innovative, it started off as pretty. With the blue accent on the bust line, hem and slit, it was a fresh twist. When he added the blue squares randomly all over the dress, he went way too far and the dress became irredeemable. I realize he panicked when he saw others using his same tablecloth fabric, but pretty and not so innovative is still better than ugly.
  • Stella made what I thought was garbage bag couture. It seemed to drape the model's body and have a remarkable amount of movement. Rami might have been proud someone is here to drape this season. The judges hated it.
  • Joe made a top out of tomato oven mitts that was very retro housewife fantasy costumey. The skirt of spinach, tomato and plain pasta was lovely, but it didn't work as an outfit.
  • Kenley - I'm still not sure how she used those materials to make the dress, but I think it's gorgeous, and I would never guess it was from the grocery store challenge. The judges liked it less impressive than Korto's yellow mess for some reason.
  • Jerry thought making a raincoat out of a clear, plastic shower curtain was visionary. It was boring and ugly, which is never a good combination.
  • Wesley used various forms of bright yellow plastic to make a yellow, plastic dress. At least it was shorter than Korto's and sleeveless. I hope this challenge doesn't mean yellow is in.
  • Blayne created something I can't even begin to describe. He even wrote "girlicious" on his model's thigh, which was tacky. The entire display was jaw-droppingly, almost intentionally bad. Have we found the second coming of Jesse Camp?
  • Kelli used vacuum cleaner bags to display her printmaking abilities. The skirt was gorgeous. I was less wild about the burned coffee filters as a brassiere. Still, the skirt was amazing. She also made her own hook and eyes out of spiral notebook spirals. Wow.
  • Keith made a black checked tablecloth halter mini dress Jessica Simpson might actually wear, and I intend that as a compliment. It's Oscar de la Renta light.
The judging provided some delectably quotable quips. Michael Kors referred to Jerry's "spring showers" outfit as a freaky, bridal nurse outfit and a handy wipe gone wrong. Heidi was floored when Jerry said it was meant to be worn out on the town, "a night out on the town?" "After she left the hospital!" quipped Kors. Heidi replied, "the [yellow rubber] gloves are a bit hospital plumber." Finally, Nina decided "it's what you would wear killing someone." Now we know Nina watches Dexter, but can't plug a Showtime show on Bravo.

I agree with Austin that Korto gets points for being the only designer to use "alive, fresh grocery product," but I did not find it the least bit chic. Nor do I agree with Nina that "she has good taste." It was all so yellow, with a lettuce and tomato relish on top. It brings to mind too much mustard at a hamburger condiment bar. The judges and I also disagreed on Stella. I will admit, on closer inspection, her dress wasn't as chic as I initially found it. I don't agree with them, however, that "it doesn't make me curious." She had the guts to drape thin garbage bags over breasts. Sexy in garbage bags is impressive.

As dull as Jerry's clear raincoat was, I would have kept him and sent Blayne home. From the judge's eyes, which were shielded from his "girlicious" work room antics, they at least saw innovation, even if it wasn't pretty. With Jerry, they got neither, and the person arguably with the most impressive resume was sent home first.

I think this season shows a lot of promise.


  1. I WISH Blayne had gone home. Annoyinglicious.

    CLICK HERE for DavidDust's Project Runway recap.


  2. Daniel is sooo sexy! I loved his dress and i love him.
    Rock on

  3. Plastic cups? who would of thought

  4. i was all ready to write off Jennifer when she introduced herself, but i loved her portfolio of work. Agreed that her dress was a little boring -- however, i loved Korto's. Amazing detail. Michael is spot on when he said that you either have it or you don't b/c i certainly don't.

    Glad I discovered your blog -- big fan of the librarians!


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