Project Runway Season Five – “Episode Three”

“New York at Night”

July 30th, 2008

One of the best things about Project Runway is that each week gives each designer a clean slate, so that they can make up for past mistakes through sheer hard work and determination.

One of the worst things about Project Runway is that each week gives each designer a clean slate, so that they can screw up completely to the point that any good will they’ve gathered will be almost entirely eradicated.

That’s really the story of Project Runway this early in the competition, as with so many contestants they’re not getting enough of a sense of each designer to really give them time to grow. So while it is possible for some people, like Leanne, to regain their footing, it’s entirely possible for a landslide to wipe out a few others in the process.

What’s becoming clear at this point is that the real stars here are people like Kelli and Jerell, who this week put two very sharp looking garments on the runway that got absolutely zero screentime (We never even saw Jerell’s photograph until the very end). This tells us that he is drama-free, important at this stage in the competition: being consistently solid is a perfect way to stick around long enough to make an impression, and to leave the judges wondering what’s going to come down the runway next.

The challenge itself was as wide open as they get, falling under the “Take Inspirational Photos” banner that always is basically free reign. This allows people like Stella, for example, just make two pieces of leather clothing that aren’t really that attractive, but since they don’t fit into either the “Ugly” or “Not Representative of the Challenge Photo” categories, would there really be a scenario where she’d end up in the bottom three?

Rather, as usual, the story here is about those who manage to show a personality with their pieces and those who fail miserably at moving from inspiration to execution. On the positive side, Leanne is really the feel good story: she listened to the judge’s feedback about a need for editing and went for it. When I first saw her layered architechturally inspired skirt, I had fears that it would just be a retread of last week’s over appendaged debacle – instead, it turned into something that was actually very clean, and even very practical. That’s a complete 180 from last week, and I honestly felt that she probably deserved to win the challenge.

The winner, actually, doesn’t make sense to me: they seemed fairly lukewarm on Kenley’s dress, even if they agreed that it was at least a modern take on awful 80s fashion, while they all gushed over Terri’s attitude…which to me made no sense whatsoever, as other than the lack of a back that dress didn’t say anything close to “street” to me. And yet, they gave the win to Kenley, who kind of bugs me. I find that she is just way too convinced of her own greatness, and I’m now just hoping this win doesn’t send that further to her head. As for Terri, I got a bit annoyed with her insistence that graffiti = “street,” but it certainly wasn’t awful.

But the Bottom Three is your usual categories: a poor use of the opportunity to express one’s self, a poorly executed idea, and something that was just poorly made. Jennifer’s dress was that dreaded word, matronly, and Heidi’s criticism that she no longer had a desire to see what else Jennifer made was confirmed by the fact that I had no idea what Jennifer made the previous two weeks. And Keith’s dress was just kind of ugly – I still can’t quite understand this desire to take ugly things and make them beautiful, or at least when it comes to people using them less as inspiration and more as a literal reference. Kelli took ugly fire hydrants and spun them off into something else, but Keith took ripped paper and turned it into…ripped paper hanging off of a dress.

So for Emily to get the boot means she must have really missed the mark…which she did, although she clearly doesn’t think so. She is a victim, much as Wesley was last week, of a capable designer running into a roadblock. I didn’t get to blog about last week’s episode, just catching up on Sunday and not finding the urgency, but I felt for Wesley: his model didn’t get enough fabric, and he was pushed into a bad situation that poor worksmanship just made worse.

Here, though, Emily just messed up: she had total freedom, and even a decent photographic influence, and she just played it safe without really thinking through her design work. It’s not one of those “hot messes” that the show often goes on about, but it was too boring and too mismatched to both her personality and her photo’s personality. This early in the game, little mistakes like this get you booted off. I don’t know if the judges could tell that Emily would be less likely to take their criticism to heart, and thus Jennifer has the most growth potential, but I would totally buy that explanation even if I personally felt Jennifer and Keith both had bigger problems overall.

But, for now, Emily goes home and we’ve got one less person to get lost in the seemingly endless number of contestants. I can’t wait until we cut two in a single week or something, just so that I can manage to take about all of them within 1000 words.

Cultural Observations

  • The entire conversation about “Holla at your boy” between Blayne (Who IS a weirdo, as Kenley observes), Terri (Who is less street than she thinks she is, even if she’s infinitely more street than I am), and Tim made me want to vomit. Tim, stop associating with these people.
  • I was glad to see Suede get less screentime, if only because he needs to stop frakkin’ talking in third person. I have to thank the editors for keeping it to a minimum here, but I fear for any Suedecentric episodes in the future – seriously, do the producers really think we were going to fall for this schtick?
  • The show is good at picking guest judges: after Natalie Portman was on the money last week, Sandra Bernhard was similarly knowledgeable and candid. I especially liked her discussion of Leanne’s performance last week, it must be tough for guest judges to jump right in and not have the same past history with the contestants.


Filed under Project Runway

3 responses to “Project Runway Season Five – “Episode Three”

  1. if only suede was speaking in the first person (“i”, “we”); unfortunately – and annoyingly – he’s speaking in the third person

    leanne was robbed

    i wish they’d have a triple elimination – was too many middling designers this season

  2. Thanks for the catch, Par – teaches me for writing this at like 3:30.

    And I agree on Leanne, and the need for a triple elimination or something at this point to shake things up. I’m hoping that maybe when they hit 12 they can do a partnered challenge, just to get rid of a bulk number of contestants.

  3. Super. It took almost a day to find this info. Thanks, great job. 🙂

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