Project Runway 5 - Episode 12 Preview

>> Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The end is nigh. Four designers remain, and Heidi has repeatedly told us that only three will officially show at Bryant Park. (Heidi wouldn't lie to us, would she? Nah.)

So last week it was Suede's turn to go, as we predicted. In fact, we predicted everything pretty perfectly from the winner down to the loser--except that if you had shown us the entire episode in advance, up until the moment before Heidi said, "'re in," we would have recanted. We would have said we were wrong, and told you, categorically, that Kenley was out. So while our pre-show projections were right, we didn't think the result was. In fact, we thought it was pretty abominable. How in the name of Yves St. Laurent did Kenley survive?

It was a conspiracy.

To explain: most Project Runway fans are aware of that little tag line at the end of the show that says the producers have a say in the final outcome of each episode. For those who miss it as it flies by, here it is from last week's credits:

"The judges considered both their scores and input from the Producers and Bravo in reaching their elimination decisions." (Italics ours, of course.)

That tag line, implying that the decision each week may not always be based entirely on the outfits themselves, has given Project Runway skeptics plenty of fodder over the years. Every week is born some new conspiracy theory--this designer was kept because he's better TV; that designer was aufed because she's boring; it's about the fierce, not the fashion. We watch the show and we read all the conspiracy theories, but while we sometimes disagree vehemently with the judges, we've never really bought into the idea that the producers are standing right off stage, pulling the judges' strings.

Until now.

We'll come right out and say it: Kenley was kept last week because she's better TV than Suede. There's no question. Was Suede's outfit a yawner? Yes. Did he always play it too safe? Yes. Did we think he was in too far over his head? Yes. But was his outfit really worse than Kenley's? No.

"Oops, I did it again."

And we're not the only ones to think so. As of "press time," 85% of respondents in Bravo's "Did Suede deserve to go home?" poll said no. That's more than 13,600 voters who thought Kenley should have gone home. Eighty-nine percent of voters thought Kenley should have been aufed over Suede in a similar Blogging Project Runway poll. To be sure, a lot of people probably voted against Kenley because she's more annoying than a telemarketer at dinnertime, but really--that outfit was a loser.

But Kenley is good TV--just look at how much we and everybody else are talking about her. Would we be wasting so many pixels on Suede? Probably not. And the previews for next week bear out their decision--Kenley is mixing it up on the runway all over again. Arguments! Chaos! Catwalk catfights!

But we're getting ahead of ourselves again. Before we move on though, we do want to stop and say a proper goodbye to Suede.

The importance of being earnest

, we liked you. Yes, your third person monologues were tedious and pretentious and way old by the end--but the irony was, we don't think that's who you really are. We think you decided to play a character on the show--which is not always a bad thing if one wants to stick around (see conspiracy theory, above)--but there were plenty of moments the real, humble, earnest young man shined through. We hear too that you moved the crowd with your sincerity when you introduced your line as a Bryant Park decoy--even if your line wasn't very moving. And just to prove that we were right about you all along, you stepped well out of character when you put on Korto's punk outfit, and you worked it. You worked it like Austin Scarlett in a Jay McCarroll postal uniform. You brought smiles to our faces and tears to our eyes, and we'll always remember you for that. Bonne chance, Suede.

Now seriously, about that third person thing...

All right. Let's go once more to the Big Board of Shame:

Korto: 22 points (Two 1sts, two 2nds, three 3rds, one "top four," one 3rd worst, two safes)
Jerell: 16 points (Two 1sts, two 2nds, one 3rd, two 3rd worsts, four safes)
Kenley: 14 points (One 1st, three 2nds, one 3rd, one 3rd worst, one 2nd worst, four safes)
Leanne: 12 points (Two 1sts, one 2nd, one "top four," one 3rd/3rd worst, one 3rd worst, one 2nd worst, four safes)
Terri: 8 points (One 2nd, two 3rds, five safes, one auf)
Joe: 6 points (One 1st, one 3rd, one "top four," one 2nd worst, five safes, one auf)
Kelli: 3 points (One 1st, three safes, one auf)
Suede: -2 points (One 1st, two 2nd worsts, one 3rd worst, six 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 points (One 2nd worst, two 3rd worsts, five safes, one auf)

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:

- Leanne poses a problem to our neat and orderly list this week, as she's both third best and third worst, falling right in the middle of the five. We opted to give her points for both--which means she breaks even this week, no harm no foul. A push for Leanne.

- Korto continues to impress, charging hard into the final rounds as the designer to beat.

- Jerell makes the biggest move of the week, jumping up into second place.

- Suede takes a seat with negative points--behind both Terri and Joe, who went before him--where he joins the likes of Keith and Emily.

Let's go to the guesses:

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. If you don't like such things, please close your browser and head outside for a nature walk.

Nature calls?

This week's episode is entitled "Nature Calls." Does this mean the contestants have to go to the bathroom? Probably not--but the designers do take a field trip. We can't see much of their surroundings, but they appear to get outside Manhattan. They cross a bridge and travel someplace more industrial/strip mally than skyscrapery, but that's all we can suss out. As one of the commenters on Blogging Project Runway asks, if they wanted nature, couldn't they have just walked to Central Park?

But this season has been one episode after another of homages to previous Project Runway challenges, and we think this one is going to mirror last season's final four challenge in some way. In that episode, the designers took a memorable trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and produced some of the best runway pieces of the season. This week, we think the show will take the final four designers somewhere equally inspiring, but some place with a nature theme, as the title suggests. Some place like...the Brooklyn Botanic Garden? (A total shot in the dark. If it turns out we guessed that right, we're going out and buying a lottery ticket before our crazy-ass luck runs out.) Maybe they go the other direction, into New Jersey. It is, after all, the Garden State.

Wherever they go, the designers don't seem particularly inspired by anything green--and we mean the color, not the code word for eco-friendly. We see purples and blues and burgundies in the preview. Perhaps they use flowers as inspiration?

But the focus this episode won't be the fashion, dear friends, it'll be the drama. The American viewing public are not the only ones ready to punch Kenley in the face--the designers don't like her either. Leanne tries to make nice, but Kenley won't talk to her in the apartment --prompting Korto to taunt her for being bitchy. On the van ride to Secret Location X, Kenley has to sit up front next to the teacher (Tim) because no one else wants to sit with her. (Loser!) And then, in a delicious moment the rest of the designers clearly savor, Kenley accidentally leaves one of her shopping bags back at Mood. The other designers, surprise surprise, aren't particularly sympathetic.

Jerell's Indian name: "Talks to Produce"

Jerell, meanwhile, has begun talking to inanimate objects like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. All alone in his apartment as the only remaining male designer, he resorts to drawing faces on fruit and pretending they are aufed designers. (For the record, Joe Faris is the grapefruit and Suede appears to be a Golden Delicious apple.)

Another sign that we are nearing the apocalypse: Heidi is wearing pants when she greets the designers.

Amidst all this produce and panted insanity comes the final drama of the runway show. We don't get to see a lot--including the identity of our guest judge!--but there is much angst. Kors says, "It looks like a beauty pageant." Korto cries. Nina says, "It looks like a reptile." Jerell cries. Heidi says, "They don't look very elegant." Kenley spits hot venom at Heidi. Kors grimaces. Jerell puts the smackdown on Kenley: "I think we're going to get to you in just a second." Kenley cries. "I feel like I've been fighting my way through life," she blubbers. Nina rolls her eyes.

Still doubt that the producers pulled strings to keep Miss Contentious on the show?

And that's all we get. Much drama, but not much fashion. We hope the whole episode isn't like that. Regardless, we realize we have to pick a winner here. More importantly, we have to pick one loser.

Leanne gets down with her bad self.

Since she is the one person of the four in the preview videos who is not crying, we'll take Leanne for the win. It's about all the evidence we have. But who will join her in the final three?

What a tease.

Korto for sure. Not only has she sat atop the Big Board of Shame for three weeks straight, but rumor also has it that Tim Gunn was seen driving about Little Rock in a brand new Saturn. That can only mean a Southern-fried home visit, and a lock for Korto as a finalist.

Which means we're down to Jerell and Kenley, and, taking Heidi at her Teutonic word, we figure one of them really will have to go. We suspect it'll come down to those two in the end--and we have a sneaking suspicion it's Kenley who sticks around.

But wait, we like Jerell! He is teh funny! He's also a pretty darn good designer, and a gentleman to boot. (Please note: he did not sell out Suede last week, even though the little devil on his shoulder was practically screaming at him to do it.)

Our mantra for predictions this season was to always think with our heads, not our hearts. Our hearts got us into hot water last season, but our heads have proven to be much cooler this time around. Five or six episodes into this year and we had more correct predictions than all of last year, which meant the mantra was working. But then, as always happens, we grew to have favorites. And not-so-favorites. And whatever the antithesis of a favorite is.

In short, we kinda like Jerell, and kinda don't like Kenley. So our hearts say Jerell. But our heads, well, they think about how Kenley somehow beat out Suede last week when she should have lost. And they also think about that picture on that model Karalyn's blog--

You remember Karalyn--the lovely young lady Leanne so unceremoniously dumped last episode? She walked for Joe, and had time the day before the show to monkey around with him in the tent--and with Jerell. But if Jerell were a finalist, would he have time for that? Wouldn't he be back at Parson's, completing that wedding dress challenge Heidi and Tim throw at the designers at the eleventh hour? (Wait, now we really are getting ahead of ourselves!)

And wouldn't he be the third designer huddled together in pictures like this from behind the scenes at Bryant Park?

All this is circumstantial, as one of the well-dressed lawyers on Boston Legal would no doubt tell us. But it all begins to add up, and our head tells us that Kenley is in and Jerell is out. We'll be rooting for Jerell--there's no doubt about that. We want to be wrong. But we think we're right.

If you're playing Fafarazzi this week, you're going to get points out of lots of people for crying. The trick this time around seems to be trying to guess who gets aufed so you avoid the negative points, which means we're going with a team of Korto, Leanne, and, Gaultier help us, Kenley.

Good luck to all the designers this week, and to their fans. We'll see you on the last runway before the Bryant Park episode!


Kirby3131 October 1, 2008 at 8:56 AM  

I just love reading your predictions, comments and all the other commentary that you do. I look forward to your posts each week.


Tbone October 1, 2008 at 9:32 AM  

I think the most obvious example of producer meddling in the outcome occurred in Season 3.

Nothing in my book will top the injustice of Alison Kelly's elimination in the face of Vincent Libretti's kindergarten-level recycle challenge design. This occurred much earlier in the season when there was more import of keeping the "character" around longer.

Not so much with Kenley. Would they fudge the outcome for just the last 3 episodes? I don't think so.

One thing I've learned watching this show through the years is that Nina rules the roost when it comes to deliberation time. If she wants her way, she gets it. (See the Season 2 Chloe Dao finale win.)

Since she missed out on two challenges due to her Botox mishap, she has more memeories of the earlier, nicer Kenley. The decision clearly was made on past performance and Nina had had it with Suede.

And Nina always gets what Nina wants!

Alan October 1, 2008 at 9:58 AM  

@Kristin--Thanks for saying so, and thanks for reading! We do love writing up these posts.

@tbone--Ihadn't thought about the Alison/Vincent decision, but that makes sense. To my mind, the best evidence for meddling were a couple of Santino Rice decisions in season two--particularly the lingerie challenge in which Daniel Franco was aufed, and later the decision to keep Santino over Nick Verreos in the designer makeover challenge. Your point about early season/late season producer strategy makes sense though, and it's possible they really did dislike Nick's puckery womenswear suit on Daniel V. more than Santino's disintegrating, unflattering nightmare of a jumpsuit on Kara. Still, Santino was good TV--maybe the best TV PR ever had. He knew it, they knew it, we knew it.

As to Nina, yes, I agree that she often holds sway on those final decisions. I almost wrote about the "Don't bore Nina" axiom--that seemed, in the end, to be Suede's undoing. Still, I think Nina's distaste for Kenley is worn on her sleeveless arms, and it surprises me that she would keep Kenley at this point. The other axiom, besides not boring Nina, has always been, "Show versatility and growth." Better designers than Kenley (Rami and Uli come to mind immediately) have been called on the carpet for less.

Laura K October 1, 2008 at 12:20 PM  

At this point, we have four very unique and diverse designers. Any of them is talented enough to win, but who would make the "Best" winner? Who has the personality to make the most of the show? Who will wear the badge of "Project Runway Season Five Winner" proudly and represent the show well?

Honestly I think that person is Jerell. He is outgoing and fun and likeable. He gives a good interview and a good soundbite without being unkind or crude. I can imagine him working with celebrity clients and he just sort of fits in with the fashion scene a little better than the others.

I do not believe that he had the strongest collection at Bryant Park, but I do think we should consider that maybe NO ONE is eliminated this week.

Don't count Jerell out just yet!

Eric,  October 1, 2008 at 12:41 PM  

I get it. People really don't like Kenley. She's annoying, she's rude, she doesn't take Tim's advice, ect. But really? Suede deserves to be in the final four more than she does? Really?! Suede has been lackluster through the entire season, while Kenley has been in the top several times. She has had some of the best designs of the season, so come on, and stop fooling yourselves. Kenley has been top three material since the beginning of the show, and the judges know that. They didn't kick her off because she is a better designer than Suede and even though her outfit was clearly worse than Suede's in the last challenge, she is a much better designer. You all know the truth yet fight against it because she annoys you. Accept it.

Oh, and the whole accusation that all Kenley can do is put out a 50's style dress is totally undeserved. Look at her designs throughout the season and you will see 2 designs at most that adhere to this aesthetic (one of them doesn't even really count, because everyone went for that look in the Olympic challenge).

Alan October 1, 2008 at 1:03 PM  

@Eric--Calm down, calm down. We weren't saying that Suede deserves to be in the final four more than Kenley, just that, based on that one runway show, Suede's look was better than Kenley's. That Kenley is a far better designer than Suede, overall, is not in question. That's the whole point behind our Big Board of Shame. Coming into this week, Kenley had 17 points. Suede had 2. And we've said all along that if Kenley is booted from the show, the talent level would take a significant hit. Personally, we really like Kenley's designs. (For the most part.)

But are the contestants judged on overall performance, or on the quality of the garment they send down the runway that particular week? It's supposed to be the latter, but the fact that Kenley is still around is a testament to the fact that the judges must consider past performance when making decisions.

One of the most interesting things said by Heidi this season, on a couple of occasions, has been, "Am I interested to see more work from this designer?" That's a great question for a judge to ask, and I can completely see that working in Kenley's favor during any judging. we too want to see more from Kenley; not so much Suede.

So please, don't tell us we need to stop fooling ourselves. We're not fooled: Kenley is the better designer. She hasn't helped herself with her attitude, that's for sure, and we don't mind saying so. But we're under no delusions that the stronger designer--over all--was kept and the weaker one was sent home. Though we like Suede's personality, I don't think you can read this post or any of our others and argue that we're major fans of his work...

Bittybis October 1, 2008 at 1:45 PM  

There's a clip on the bravo site showing the designers going on a safari ride.

frogponder October 1, 2008 at 1:58 PM  

Where the heck in NYC is there a safari ride? Never been there. Eldest son went but stuck to punk rock shrines around the city.

TropicalChrome October 1, 2008 at 2:18 PM  

I always enjoy the predictions - and I'm with you, when it's heart vs. head, go with the head.

If there's a Safari and they're going across a bridge, are they going to Great Adventure in New Jersey? I grew up in NJ, and it leapt immediately to mind....

Gina,  October 1, 2008 at 3:06 PM  

Suede was not a strong designer, but, I think there is a tendency to bend over backwards to see merit in Kenley's work, just because she is despicable and a horrible human being.

However, I think that most of Kenley's dresses are very mediocre in construction and concept. They remind me of my High School doodles, or any designer's most early expressions.

She IS young and allowed to have room for growth, except she believes she is already fully baked and a great master genius, finding helpful suggestions insulting. That's what makes her a hack designer who will never grow or develop into a great name.

This show was a big break for her, and she'll ride on fame from it, but, she is undeserving to go much further in the industry, although I would put money on her being one of the final three.

It was obvious that they cherry-picked her all season, despite her talent, and inspite of her sometimes silly styles, horrible personality and sociopathic tendencies towards others like laughing when they are being criticized.

This legal business with the show being held up in court and stopped from going to Lifetime may be KARMA, in my opinion. This show was built upon the integrity and belief in the judges and Tim Gunn's graceful presence. The producers have spit in our faces, and while they may have given designers liberty in the past, to advance when undeserving, never has there been a worst designer allowed to usurp the dreams of those who's clothing was much stronger, and whose ethics were 100% more evident.

Shame on Project Runway for this grand travesty. Kenley is a mess. We all know they'll keep this brat, and that's why the show has lost all credibility. I don't even look forward to watching anymore.

AndreB,  October 1, 2008 at 4:14 PM  

Sorry, I can't go there with you in your comments on Kenley and Suede, or with the conspiracy theories re: the show's producers. Suede was in the bottom three FOUR times in a row, and deserved to go. Was his the worst? No. But at this stage in the competition I don't see why the judges wouldn't (or shouldn't) take into consideration who they believe has the ability/talent to show a collection at Bryant Park. Suede clearly doesn't have it - if you don't believe me take a peak at his horrible decoy collection.

Although I believe it is possible that the producers may try to "encourage" the judges to keep certain contestants stay around for entertainment purposes, I don't believe they would do so - or that the judges would be that pliable - at this late stage in the competition. The reputation of the show rests on them discovering real talent and putting on a decent show at BP, not sending out clowns and drama queens.

p.s. It didn't help that the challenge was so lame - poorly explained (when was it decided that they be stage outfits?) AND poorly organized (wasn't having the guest judge come from Hip Hop a distinct disadvantage for the designer who got assigned that genre?) Yes, Kenley's outfit was a mess but the whole episode was a dog IMO

Anonymous,  October 1, 2008 at 4:42 PM  

Face it. Except for Leanne and Korto this lot were a bunch of mediocrities. Jerrell is hit or miss. Kenley is too up her own ass to learn. None of them is America's next big designer.

Anonymous,  October 1, 2008 at 9:21 PM  

Oh, no! You're right! Ack!

Alexandra October 2, 2008 at 1:31 AM  

I like Kenly! I think she does very good, different clothing!

And everyone attacks her, I am proud of her for speaking up and defending herself! She shouldn't take the brutality, her personality is too bright for that:)

Great article though!

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