>> Tuesday, September 16, 2008
They're baaaaack. Or at least they were. All this season's aufed designers, plus a healthy dose of previous seasons' designers too. We promised last week that we would flip some cars over in the streets and light them on fire if Uncle Nick wasn't among them, and he wasn't. (Apparently only those former PR designers they didn't have to fly in got the call.) As the only two cars within a ten minute walk of us are our own, we reneged on our promise to set things alight in civil disobedience--but we still would have liked to see Nick Verreos again. (And some other folks, for that matter. But we digress.)
We were duped again last week. Two of the best designers--including the winner--weren't shown on the runway, so we blithely bought the previews and picked among the six people we saw. Little did we know that Project Runway was going to cheat us out of one of our favorite parts of each show--hearing the comments about the best three garments, and rooting for our personal favorites. What gives? We wanted to hear what they had to say. All we got instead was a dismissive "Congratulations...Jerell. The former Project Runway designers thought your design was the best, and so do we."
Uh-huh. Right. We're sure it was that simple. (And what kind of contest is it where Robert Plotkin has a say in the winner?)
Meanwhile, we were also disappointed that the returning season five designers weren't given any motivation whatsoever to help their still-kicking contestants. Some kind souls (like Jennifer and Stella) gave their all because that's what they do. Some overbearing designers (like Jerry and Daniel, if you read Tim's Take) gave their all because they wanted to take over. But mostly you got designers like Wes, who behind the scenes tells us, "Yeah, Kenley's going down hard for this mess," but who doesn't really care to tell her to her face. And why should he? What possible reason--besides garnering screen time like Terri and Keith--does he have for caring?
And thus we get to the major problem with last week's stunt: no motivation. No, it wouldn't be fair if a long-aufed designer wormed his or her way back in at the last minute, and yes, it would have caused even more chaos at Bryant Park, where seven designers would have had to show, not the already-cumbersome six. But without the motivation to earn a place back on the show, the aufed designers were, for the most part, nothing but background props and sewing assistants. Yawn. Not even Jay and Christian could save this snooze fest. In an otherwise solid season, this episode has to rank among the lowest in customer satisfaction.
So, congratulations to Jerell, we guess, for winning what was part popularity contest, part "I have more work done on my dress by 8 p.m. than anyone else." Not totally fair, we know, but we like Jerell, and we would have liked to see him win one outright on the runway--not like this. And this win might possibly have been by default, as Leanne's Scorpio dress was possibly the only other avant garde design in the house last week.
Meanwhile, it was time to say goodbye to Blayne, who finally bottomed out, and Terri, who overstayed her welcome. As for Blayne, all we can say is we grew to like him after he got over his "licious" thing. Maybe it was the tanning wearing off that did it. We're tempted to go back and get screencaps from each episode to see him going progressively from orange to white, but it's already well past midnight, and we have miles to go with this blog post before we sleep. We'll leave that to some other industrious blogger. Likable as he was though, his designs were uniformly atrocious. Good luck Blayne--maybe Mary Kate Olsen will give you a call now.
As for Terri--wow, what happened here? A woman who started as a confident, successful designer on the show quickly morphed into an arrogant, bitchy hack. This can't just be a consequence of skillful editing, can it? She went from a saucy "oh no you d'n't!" to a surly "#*@! you" pretty fast. We once thought she was final three material, but last week we were fine to see her go. Was her dress any better or worse or more or less avant garde than Suede's? Not in our book. But he was kept and she was axed, and away we go.
And speaking of skillful editing--the laugh out loud moment of the week was the perfect editing of Leanne saying, "I chose Scorpio because I didn't want to do some awful literal thing like have scales hanging from the arms of the model," and then cutting to Blayne and Stella--absolutely giddy with excitement--proposing to do that very thing. Priceless.
So this week we're down to three. Let's see where they sit on the Big Board of Shame before we move on to the big mind-numbing SAT logic problem of the week...
Korto: 16 points (One 1st, two 2nds, two 3rds, one "top four," one 3rd worst, two safes)
Leanne: 14 points (Two 1sts, one 2nd, one "top four," one 2nd worst, four safes)
Kenley: 14 points (One 1st, two 2nds, one 3rd, one 3rd worst, four safes)
Joe: 10 points (One 1st, one 3rd, one "top four," one 2nd worst, five safes)
Jerell: 9 points (One 1st, one 2nd, one 3rd, two 3rd worsts, four safes)
Suede: 5 points (One 1st, one 2nd worst, one 3rd worst, six safes)
Terri: 8 points (One 2nd, two 3rds, five safes, one auf)
Kelli: 3 points (One 1st, three safes, one auf)
Keith: -2 points (One 1st, one 2nd worst, one 3rd worst, three safes, one auf)
Emily: -2 points (Two safes, one auf)
Wes: -3 points (One safe, one auf)
Stella: -4 points (One 3rd, two 2nd worsts, four safes, one auf)
Daniel: -4 points (One 2nd, one 2nd worst, one 3rd worst, two safes, one auf)
Jerry: -4 points (One auf)
Jennifer: -5 points (One 2nd worst, two safes, one auf)
Blayne: -6 point (One 2nd worst, two 3rd worsts, five safes)
Scoring: Win (4 pts), 2nd place (3 pts), 3rd place (2 pts), Safe (1 pt), 3rd worst (-2 pts), 2nd worst (-3 pts), Aufed (-4 pts)
Notes of interest:
- We're faced with a unique problem this week. Because only one person in the top four was singled out--the winner Jerell--we never got to know who the judges thought were second, third, and fourth best. Likewise, we have four people on the bottom this week with two aufed. To reconcile this mess with our very clean and proper scoring system, we're awarding 4 points to Jerell, who did win, after all, and subtracting 4 points from both Terri and Blayne, as usual, for being aufed. Since the rest of the top four weren't ranked, we're going to give 2 points each to the remaining top three designers and call it a draw. (Though were were sorely tempted to award Leanne 3 points.) As for the other two in the bottom, Kenley was kept first, which puts her in "third worst" position, and Suede was one breath away from elimination, which gives him a "third worst."
- Korto takes the late lead over Kenley. Korto also adds to her incredible streak of not playing it safe in eight out of ten episodes, with only one bottom three finish. That's seven top finishes in ten challenges--quite a feat.
- All those single points for being safe week in and week out finally catch up to Suede, as two bad showings in a row make him plummet into last place.
- The top three has suspiciously settled out into the names most being bandied about as the three official finalists at last week's Bryant Park show. All six remaining contestants appeared of course, but three of those were red herrings. Will Korto, Kenley, and Leanne be the last three designers standing? We're liking the odds.
- Blayne goes from being the worst designer on the show to the worst designer among the aufed, which is quite a trick after surviving this long in the season. Terri meanwhile immediately becomes the best designer sent off so far.
We've got lots to examine and suss out this week, so let's get on with the disclaimer--
SPOILER ALERT: We have no prior knowledge of who's in and who's out each week. We do, however, watch the preview videos Bravo provides, from which we try to glean clues of what's to come. Then we make guesses. Often bad ones. If you don't like such things, please close your browser and read a book until tonight's episode.
This week's episode is called "Transformation," and alas, no, the object is not to build robot Transformers out of car parts. The idea instead is to "re-invent college-aged women for entry into the working world." Because, you know, no college-aged girl is capable of dressing herself. Oh, and just to humiliate these fashion-challenged co-eds even further, their mothers are along to tell the designers what to make for their daughters. Seriously, shouldn't these women be dressing themselves by now? Particularly if we're going to entrust them with actual real-world jobs. But we digress again. This week's guest judge will be American fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, who previously sat in for Michael Kors in Season Two's lingerie episode. (The one in which Santino inexplicably escaped being eliminated. Oy.)
On to the preview videos! Mothers are telling the designers what they want and what they don't want. Leanne promises, "one sexy teacher dress, coming up." Suede is making something in a purple print. Kenley is making a 50's style purple dress with a pink belt. Korto is making a gray suit jacket. Joe is ignoring his model's chosen professional field in his design. A dog sits in a metal chair next to a stack of books. (Wha-huh?) Kenley tells us, "Tim just doesn't get me as a designer." (Uh-huh.) Later, Leanne and her model's mother try to convince the poor girl that the matronly blue dress Leanne has made for her will be fine, as long as she covers it up with other clothes.
There's more tricky editing going on in this preview. Tim makes comments that appear to be to Kenley, but if we slow down the Zapruder film, we think we can show that all the comments are really directed at Joe. Take a look at this screencap, when Tim is clearly talking to Joe:
Now check out these two, where Tim is clearly talking to Kenley:
Now compare the background of this screencap to the previous three:
In the preview video, it's edited as though the above clip is Tim is telling Kenley, "It looks messy." But look at that backdrop. It's the same place he's standing when he talks to Joe in the earlier bit. I think all of Tim's comments in this section--all his negative comments, mind you--are actually leveled at Joe, who has already admitted to Tim that he didn't pay much attention to what his model will be doing with her life after school. Tim is concerned, and Joe should be too. But what of Kenley? Why the misleading edit here? Perhaps to disguise the fact that she finishes in the top, not the bottom?
Then it's on to the runway, where the preview editors have a field day. Every one of the remaining six designers is shown, but it's almost impossible to tell which comments are leveled at whom. There is a "she can look sophisticated but youthful," which we think may be directed at Leanne's dowdy school marm outfit, and someone on the other side of the runway--Suede? Jerell?--is told by Nina that his dress is "the total cliche." Meanwhile, Heidi has some fun with Kenley: "Kenley's probably thinking, 'Finally, I can dress someone exactly like me!'" Kenley laughs (of course) and says yes, it was a lot of fun to work with her client.
Before we go on though, we have to add to all of this the very confusing issue of model-swapping in the finale. We're not going to talk about the Bryant Park collections yet, but for the purposes of predictions this week we have to talk about who has what models going forward. The problem was first caught by our eagle eyed friends over at Blogging Project Runway. (Where all of these collections are posted, in case you want to investigate for yourself.)
In the past, each designer has had one Project Runway model to anchor his or her runway collection at Bryant Park. This is the model who will get a "fashion spread" in Elle Magazine as a reward for working with the winning designer.
Only this time, well, it's complicated. Very complicated.
You know those logic problems you get on standardized tests, like, "Suzie invites five boys and four girls to her wedding..." where you then have to figure out which boy came with which girl and which girl came alone? Well, we've got a doozy for you. Hang on to your keyboards, kids:
Bryant Park Model Madness
Germaine (Kenley's current model) is nowhere to be found.
It's some kind of horrid logic problem! We're having flashbacks to the GRE! Aaaaaaaaaaa! Breathe into bag. In, out, in, out. Om shanti shanti om.
Okay. If there's one thing we're sure about, at some point in the next three episodes there's a model shake-up. After much discussion with the knowledgeable folks at BPR, we've come to agree that the only person who would instigate such a shake-up is Kenley. First, she's aggressive enough to do it where Leanne, Joe, and Suede don't appear to be. Korto is too, in my estimation, but she ends up at Bryant Park with the same model, so she clearly doesn't want to trade up.
Second, if you'll remember, Kenley had Shannone originally--the model considered to be hands-down the best walker of the bunch--until Shannone got a paying gig and left the show. Germaine, who had been out, was brought back and given to Kenley--so it's possible Kenley isn't as attached to her model as the others are who've been working with them from the start.
Third, each of the remaining designers except Kenley has won a competition with his or her current model, and in each case, when given the opportunity to trade up afterwards, they all opted to stay with the girls they have. Kenley was the outright winner of episode three, and the assistant to Keith's winning design in episode five, but has never won outright after her original model, Shannone, withdrew following episode six.
All this points to Kenley mixing things up with a model swap-a-roonie. But to do that (and here we finally come to the rub, boys and girls...) Kenley has to win a challenge in the next three episodes. Actually, she has to win a challenge in the next two episodes, because the designers don't get a chance to change models after the final in-season challenge that decides who is going to Bryant Park.
So. If we're right about all of this, does Kenley win this week, or next week? The secret, oddly, may lie in the fact that Suede has no Project Runway model in his lineup at Bryant Park. Back to our logic problem! ::shiver:: See if this makes any sense:
1) Kenley wins, Suede loses.
2) Kenley's model (Germaine) and Suede's model (Tia) stand next to Heidi at the beginning of the next episode.
3) Kenley chooses to swap out models, and everyone is brought out. Kenley takes Joe's model (Topacio).
4) A rattled Joe must now choose someone else's model, and doesn't want Germaine. He apologizes, but takes Leanne's model (Karalyn).
5) Korto and Jerell choose early enough to get their own models back, OR those models aren't chosen in the ensuing shake-up and fall to them. OR Jerell or Korto are already gone, and their models aren't available.
6) Either because she picks last, OR because she has an early pick and she's nice and doesn't want to rock the boat, Leanne chooses Suede's model (Tia) over Kenley's former model (Germaine).
7) Germaine, despite being the model of the winning designer the previous episode, is given the boot for a second time that season.
We've tried this equation with other people losing besides Suede, and it never seems to work. If we're right, Kenley will win a challenge the same week Suede is aufed from the show. Since his model is taken by Leanne--whom collective wisdom has being one of the three finalists--he can't get her back for his decoy runway show. Hence he has to cast all new girls for Bryant Park, and has no Project Runway model representation. Also, the fact that he has no Project Runway model walking for him would seem to pretty much guarantee he's not a finalist.
What have we learned from all this, children? Well, first, that it's not good to work on Project Runway logic problems at 1:30 in the morning--but that's a personal lesson. More importantly, it would appear that if both Joe and Suede are goners before the finale (which many people assume), Suede must go before Joe. Otherwise, when the model shake-up comes, Topacio is not around for Kenley to take, OR, things work out like this:
1) Kenley wins, Joe loses.
2) Kenley's model (Germaine) and Joe's model (Topacio) stand on the runway with Heidi.
3) Kenley chooses to swap models, and chooses Joe's model (Topacio).
4) At this point, there is ZERO reason for anyone else to swap models. The winning model has been swapped for the losing model. All is right with the modeling world. But we know the models get swapped around, so this doesn't happen.
This all assumes, of course, that it's Kenley who does the model mix-up--but that's an assumption we're willing to live with. We love assuming, because we like making asses out of ourselves.
So, where are we with this week's predictions? We have one more batch of parameters to add to the logic soup we've created. Since the designers don't use their models this week, Terri's and Blayne's models won't be brought out at the beginning and offered to last episode's winner Jerell. That means that by the time we get to next week's episode, there will be three aufed models available for the winner to choose--Terri's, Blayne's, and this week's loser's. Are you following all this?
That means if Kenley wins this week, she would have eight models to choose from, should she ask to swap models. That gets crazy chatoic, and makes us wonder why we don't see more of those models in the mix-up. Yes, Joe does have Blayne's former model at Bryant Park, but he also has Leanne's. How would he end up with Leanne's model unless he stole her from her in the mix-up? We're guessing that Blayne's model auditions for the Bryant Park show along with all the other model hopefuls, and gets selected by Joe to round out his runway collection.
So, using the crazy number of models to choose from as a factor next week, we're thinking it's not this episode, but next episode that Kenley wins. That means the model shake up would come one episode later. And here we go with the dizzying logic puzzle again...
If we assume that the three girls are going to be our finalists, and if Suede is out the week Kenley wins, and if Joe can't go before Suede, and if Kenley can't win only the last episode and still cause the model havoc we've seen, then...
Episode Ten: Designer X wins; Jerell loses.
Episode Eleven: Kenley wins, Suede loses.
Episode Twelve: Kenley swaps models. Designer X wins, Joe loses.
Finale Episode: Leanne, Korto, and Kenley duke it out at Bryant Park.
Are we full of crap? Quite possibly. We're almost certainly nuts. But boy was it fun to puzzle all that out!
Okay--so, long story short (too late!) we think it's Jerell's turn to go this week. He gets very little coverage in the preview videos, which often means something very good or very bad for that contestant at this stage. Kenley, meanwhile, appears to be getting a decent reaction on the runway--but it can't be too good, if our math is right, otherwise she'll initiate Project Walkoff an episode earlier than we think it happens. We think Kenley will be in the top two or three, but not win.
Based on what else we've seen, Leanne and Joe both appear to be in trouble. Leanne's dress looks school marmish--which is doubly damning as her client is a school teacher. It sounds like Leanne is listening a little too much to her client's mom, and not her client, and Leanne is possibly the recipient of Kor's comment, "She can look sophisticated but youthful."
Joe on the other hand seems to have totally ignored the profession of his client in his design. He gets a talking to by Tim in the workroom--and as we know, if Tim says bad things about you in the workroom, you're bound to hear bad things on the runway. In fact, Kors tells someone on the runway that he would never have guessed this person was a photographer from the outfit she's been given. But seriously, what does he want, khakis and a photographer's vest? Still, this appears to be part of this week's challenge, so Joe will lose points for that with the judges whether his design is fashion forward or not.
But if Joe can't go before Suede, and Leanne is in the finals, neither of them is aufed this week. If Korto and Kenley are also in the finals, and Suede isn't aufed until Kenley wins one, and Kenley doesn't win this week because of the model mess that would cause next week (oy, here we go again!)...that leaves Jerell as the goner. We're surprised to be making this call, as we a) like Jerell, b) think this is a challenge, like the Brooke Shields one, that is right up his alley, and c) have zero real evidence that he is in trouble this week. But we've already painted ourselves into a logic corner, and we're not clever enough to get out.
With just six designers left, there's no real reason or guarantee that the judges are going to find three good and three bad, but old habits die hard:
Top three: Korto, Suede, Kenley
Bottom three: Joe, Leanne, Jerell
Korto for the win, based purely on her past performances. Kenley for second, based on the positive reaction she gets on he runway. Suede for third, as some nice comments seem to be directed toward where he's standing on the runway.
Among the losers, Joe gets a "you're in," and sent backstage first--good design, no evidence of hewing to the challenge guidelines. Leanne and Jerell will stand as the bottom two. Leanne's look made the girl look too old. Jerell's look was too cliche. Jerell goes home, and the citizens of Portland, Oregon breathe a collective sigh of relief as their hometown girl survives.
If you're playing Fafarazzi, things get dicey now that we're down to six. You could hedge your bets and always pick the three designers most people now think are going to make Bryant Park--Korto, Kenley, and Leanne--but if one or two of them cut it close with a bottom finish you'll get stung. Not as badly as someone going out, of course. Joe, Jerell, and Suede become inherently risky picks from here on out. As for us, well, we've always made it a point of putting our picks where our mouth is, so we'll go for our top three finishers this week, even though Suede makes for a dangerous selection.
Good luck to all the designers and their fans. We'll see you on the runway!