Project Runway 5 - Episode 9 Preview

>> Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Well, we're feeling a bit better about this predicting thing after a solid week. No, we didn't call either the winner or the loser, but we had Kenley and Leanne as the top one/two, and Stella and Joe in the bottom three with Blayne--who inexplicably escaped the chopping block.

So congratulations to Leanne, who pulled out her second win in a row, and the first two wins for a single designer this season. That's right--no other designer has won first place more than once. We were divided here at Gratz Industries on the quality of the jacket in Leanne's ensemble, but we both agreed the dress was lovely, and the model's overall look a perfect complement.

"My gal is going from Berlin to Shanghai by way of Transylvania."

And, finally, we say goodbye to Stella. (Well, sort of. More on that later.) We know Stella has a lot of fans, most of whom praise her for being honest and "real." We, however, were honestly really ready for her to go. Despite telling Heidi "I've changed, and I've grown," she never did. If anything, she stuck to her guns in every single challenge, forcing her biker "astetic" on everything she made, regardless of the challenge. Lately too, she's become surly and insulting--or perhaps she always was, and that was merely edited out until now. That Stella survived this long is a testament not to her own design skills, but rather, we think, a sad comment on the overall weak talent level this season.

Moving right along, Fozzie. And then there were eight. Let's go to the Big Board of Shame to see how last week's results change the landscape:

Kenley: 16 points (One 1st, two 2nds, one third, four safes)
Korto: 14 points (One 1st, two 2nds, two 3rds, one 3rd worst, two safes)
Leanne: 12 points (Two 1sts, one 2nd, one 2nd worst, four safes)
Terri: 12 points (One 2nd, two 3rds, five safes)
Suede: 8 points (One 1st, one 3rd worst, six safes)
Joe: 8 points (One 1st, one 3rd, one 2nd worst, five safes)
Jerell: 5 points (One 2nd, one 3rd, two 3rd worsts, four safes)
Blayne: -2 point (One 2nd worst, two 3rd worsts, five safes)

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)

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:

- Kenley maintains her hold on first with a strong second place showing, fending off the advance of Korto, who has now landed in the top three in an astounding five out of eight challenges. If there was any doubt that Korto is one of the major players this season, she has by now completely erased it.

- Leanne establishes her presence with authority. With two wins in a row, she climbs up out of the middle-bottom and surges into a tie for third place with Terri, who hasn't been so "very" lately.

- Suede breaks his record of five straight safes with a faux-camo misstep this week, and slides more squarely into the middle of the pack.

- Joe takes the biggest hit (besides Stella, of course) dropping from third place down to a tie for fourth--but with five designers still between him and first.

- Blayne is still the worst designer on the show.

Will the Big Board prove prescient? Well, if we're reading the tea leaves in the preview videos right, not so much. But let's get to that spoiler warning:

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, avert thine eyes.

Nothing comes between him and his Calvin Kleins.

Now that's over with, we can talk about what is sure to be a crazy episode. The title is "What's Your Sign?" and the guest judge this week is Francisco Costa (above), creative director of Calvin Klein. He's not really the special guest everyone will be talking about though. Or should we say, "guests."

This episode might well be called "The Reunion Show," as all of this season's eight aufed contestants will be called back to partner with the eight remaining contestants. The challenge: create a dress that reflects the zodiac sign of the aufed designer in the pair. There was some discussion over at Blogging Project Runway about what role the aufed designers will really play--are they merely clients? clients and models? collaborators?--but after viewing the previews about a thousand times we're ready to say they are collaborators only, not clients or models or any combination thereof.

All of this is precipitated by an episode of Project Runway Australia, in which the aufed designers were also brought back and paired with the remaining designers. In that episode, the aufed designers were both collaborators and models, but the real trick of the episode--and one that played smashingly well, we thought--was that the previously aufed designer on the winning team won a place back on the show. So important was this in PR Oz that the previously aufed designer who won her way back on is now in the final three.

Will our Project Runway follow suit? It would certainly up the ante for the aufed designers, and reinvigorate the show mid-season. It all sounds great, until you realize that even just aufing two designers--which has been confirmed by the Powers That Be at Bravo--we're still left with six designers on the show just three days away from the filming of the finale at Bryant Park Fashion Week. (The finalists show their collection at Bryant Park while the regular season episodes are still airing, and the finale episodes are edited together in-season, to be ready in time for their debut.)

But the way this has worked in the past is that four or five designers show lines, with one or two of them acting as red herrings for the viewing public. That way, we don't know which of the last four or five deisngers the judges are actually scoring. But six runway shows? That's a lot. And now, if one of the aufed designers is added back in, that could mean seven runway shows. At some point, this becomes like the hockey playoffs--everybody makes it, and nobody cares.

The scheduling snafu has been examined pretty thoroughly over at Blogging Project Runway, and it makes for interesting reading. Here at Gratz Industries, we don't have a pet theory about how they are going to handle this nonsense. All we're focused on is this episode, and darlings, what better drama could we have than one of the aufed designers fighting his or her way back on the show? The producers would be fools to pass up such a golden reality TV opportunity, and the aufed designers won't have much to play for without it. We're calling it right now: we think one of the aufed designers gets back in this week. Heck, we'll even predict who it will just a moment.

Ding dong, the witch is back in black!

To the videos! Terri makes it clear she will not miss Stella, singing, "Ding dong, the witch is dead," in what will clearly be terribly premature when Stella marches back in with the other aufed designers. (see screen grab above!) What would be truly poetic is if Terri were paired with Stella--but we don't think that's happening. The producers have kept things very tight in the previews, trying not to give away any hint of who's with whom, so beyond one pairing we have a guess about, we're not going to go there.

Meanwhile, Leanne's line is getting a heavy feature--a result of her double win and emergence as a player, or a prelude of an aufing?--and Kenley is getting an over-confident loser edit. She's also shown getting into it with Nina, who's back from her sabbatical. (WB Nina.) Tim checks in with Jerell to tell him that his look will either win or lose, but not be safe, and Terri is shown making something furry and brown and totally uninspiring. But it cannot be worse than this:

Like Red Bull, Kenley gives you wings.

Just WTF is that supposed to be, Kenley? Wings? We think someone's taking the zodiac thing a little too literally. This just cannot become a successful look.

But wait--there's another surprise. Besides the aufed contestants returning, this reunion will feature even more past PR contestants. Part way through their first day, the designers get invitations to preview their looks for very special guests at a party that evening. Bravo commercials have already given up the goods--it's favorites from previous seasons like Christian, Jay, Daniel, and more! Yeehaw! Editor's note: if we don't see Uncle Nick there, we're gonna flip some cars and light them on fire. We're just saying.

So the designers will take their models and their outfits with them to a big party, and previous PR designers will weigh in. We know Terri gets some criticism from Christian for sure, because she drops his name in the preview videos, telling us "Christian hated the collar," which she then, perhaps wisely, takes scissors to. The next time Tim visits, it's laying like a dead vole under her workstation. Kenley too gets criticized at the party--someone wants to know where her model's boobs are. We'd like to know where her shoulders are.

Terri and Kenley both appear to be in trouble. Big trouble. They're both shown in the talking head shots at the end defending their looks, as are Leanne, Joe, Korto, Suede, and Blayne. Oops, wait--that's seven designers. We think one of those is a red herring, and we're calling BS on Leanne being there. The girl won two in a row--I think we can call her safe this time. In our estimation, that means Kenley, Terri, Joe, Korto, Suede, and Blayne are left.

We have precious few clues to sift out the winners from the losers. We do know that both Terri and Kenley are getting called on the mat by previous designers, and both are being defensive on the runway. Bottom three for both, to be sure. Who else then will round out the bottom? Let's table that for a moment while we eliminate a couple of other people.

We're calling Korto for top three. Heck, why buck a trend? Despite just one first place win, Korto has ben pretty dominant this season--her only misstep being the gold shark-fin dress in the green challenge. We think Korto's around to stay until the bitter end, so we're going to take the easy odds here and put her in the top.

We also think Suede is going to be around a while yet. No, he's not the most knock-your-socks-off designer, but he's a survivor. We've also seen him play well with others. He survived teaming up with bossy, bitchy Terri, and he also handled the tricky situation with Hedda Lettuce well in Good Queen Fun. We could be dead wrong here, but depending on who he gets teamed up with, Suede could put together something third-place worthy.

So we're down to one top three spot, and one bottom three spot. Who's left? Blayne and Joe. Ay-ay-ay. As documented, we're not big Joe fans here at Gratz Industries, but we're trying to be logical about this. Can we really put Blayne in a top three? We tried that once before (the Brooke Shields challenge), and we got burned. Blayne has never once made the top three this season, and in eight episodes he's been in the bottom three thrice. Statistically and anecdotally speaking, he's the worst designer left on the show.

And yet...there's an intriguing piece in one of the preview videos where a hooded Blayne--which is what he's wearing during the judging--tells us, "That sucks. You want like, an awesome guarantee that you can keep going," which sounds like someone lamenting the fact that no immunity will be awarded for a win this episode. Does Blayne win, and yet not get immunity?

We can't do it. We can't put Blayne at the top, let alone first place this week. Not after his track record. With his eyes closed Joe could make something less tacky than anything Blayne could design. So we're calling Joe in the top three, and Blayne in the bottom three. It's possible-possible--that whoever teams up with Blayne has some kind of positive effect on him--but we just can't make that big an assumption. Go ahead, Blayne--prove us wrong.

To make a long story short (too late!):

Top three: Korto, Suede, Joe
Bottom three: Kenley, Terri, Blayne

We're calling Korto for the win. And if we're right, we think we can name the aufed designer who will make a triumphant comeback! Check out this pick:

Will Kelli be back to make more "classy clothes?"

That's right. the tattooed arm you see circled beside Korto is none other than fan favorite Kelli. If Korto wins, we think she's back on. Here's another pick of them working in the background:

The wild Kelli, spotted in her natural habitat.

And let's say Suede for second place, Joe for third. Total guesses there.

Has Kenley fought with her last judge?

For the losers--oh, we have to eliminate two designers this week! Seeing Terri and Kenley go would be a major shake-up at the top of the Big Board of Shame. It's certainly possible. Blayne and one of the ladies seems more likely though. We'll go with Blayne and Kenley exiting stage left this week, with Terri just barely in. It won't be the first time we've predicted doom and gloom for either Blayne or Kenley, but we think eventually--with Blayne, at least--we have to be right.

If you're playing Fafarazzi, this is going to be a tough week. We're pretty confident about the unsafe six, but beyond the verbal lashings Kenley and Terri get, it's a crap shoot. You can either use our semi-educated guesses, or choose your own favorites from the remaining designers. Or, you could always play it safe and try to limit your exposure. Let's call it the "low-risk portfolio." That line-up would include Leanne and Jerell, both of whom seem to be laying low this week, plus a truly strong play like Korto. Then again, no risk, no reward. We're going with our top three, danger be damned.

That's it from Gratz Industries this week, kids. Good luck to all, and we'll see you on the runway!


barbiefish,  September 10, 2008 at 7:42 AM  

How do you factor in Tim's comments to Jerell about not being safe? I don't think they'd edit that in if Jerell is not in top or bottom (would make Tim appear less prescient). Maybe all 8 designers get critiqued this time out and previews only show some of them.

Andre B,  September 10, 2008 at 7:47 AM  

Enjoyed the analysis, as always. I agree about the auf'd designers coming back as collaborators, and that one will return to the show, so that there will be seven left standing after the dust settles. I hated this gimmick on PR Australia, and I'll hate it here too. Why? Because it seems patently unfair that someone can sit out 3 or 4 challenges (or more!), relax, get some much needed rest, hang out at the Atlas spa, and then come back on the show and compete against tired, stressed, overworked designers who've been slugging it out for 8/9 challenges.
As for your predictions, my only qualm here is this: Kenley's troubles are so clearly emphasized in the preview that it leads me to think that she is SAFE. While I wouldn't go to the extreme of "Inside a Hight Schooler" and predict she is the winner, I can't believe the preview would so clearly telegraph who was going to be auf'd. I'm thinking that Terri may be in more trouble than Kenley. (Could her words "Ding dong, the witch is dead" come back to haunt her?) Either way, Kenley or Terri, the results would be unfortunate (bitches or not), but I'm resigned to one of them leaving tonight. Two would be too much to handle.
One more thing: don't you think the footage of Leanne in the preview (criticizing Kenley, talking about her Leanimal brand) might land her in the bottom three? It would be weird to me, otherwise, that the producers would waste this kind of time on the episode w a designer talking about their background/clothing line.
In my dream episode, two men (Blayne and Suede) will get the cut, and we'll have 5 women remaining to sew another day.

Anonymous,  September 10, 2008 at 8:01 AM  

It looked like it might be Wesley paired with Kenley. You can just see curly hair and the profile of a nose when they are reading the note from Heidi.

Alan September 10, 2008 at 11:42 AM  


I know what you mean about Tim's comments to Jerell. I struggled with that too. Tim is usually spot on--or at least we never see him say something that *isn't* spot on. It's like what they used to say about Joe Dimaggio, I guess--that you never saw him dive for a ball and miss. The sneaky reason--he never dove for balls he didn't know he could catch. :-)

Apt as that comparison may be (or not), I think you've got something here. It certainly gave me pause. Tim tells a designer it's a big chance, and we don't see him among the unsafe six? Hmm. It COULD be that they keep everyone out--but with partners to consider, that's a very FULL runway judging. That's the reason I figured they didn't keep everyone out this time. Eight is workable. Sixteen (plus models!) is just nuts.

But of course, he could be one of the unsafe six, and they could be cutting in red herrings again. I wouldn't put it past them...

Alan September 10, 2008 at 11:55 AM  

@andre -

We here at Gratz Industries certainly enjoyed the drama of the PR Oz episode in which the aufed designers got a chance back in, but I can completely see where you're coming from with it not being truly fair to the remaining designers who have survived to get that far.

SPOILER ALERT: I'm going to talk about episodes of Project Runway Australia that have already been posted to YouTube, so if you haven't watched those and plan to, skip this next bit!

Petrova? I mean, seriously, Petrova!? The aufed designer stunt let her back on, and now she's a finalist? The decision to keep her over Lui was abominable. I was cursing my television set I was so upset--and the way her final line looks has done nothing but confirm my anger. Have you seen the latest episode? The prelude to their runway show? Holy smokes. I can only imagine what wonders Lui would have given us. As much as I love Leigh and respect Juli, he was by far (IMHO) the most talented designer left on that show when he was aufed.


And yes, I'm taking the bait on Kenley's misfortunes, but that dress she's made--what's up with that? I know we don't see many of the other outfits, but wow--that one looks pretty--out there. She may survive that, but I think Kenley's been building for a fall. Whether that comes now or later, I think it's coming. She's getting really testy with the judges, and even though she won second place last week, I think she showed Heidi and Kors that she's intractable--and they don't like designers who won't bend. That, plus the argument she apparently has with The Nina makes me worry. I'm with you though--if BOTH Terri and Kenley go, the talent level on the show will be sliced in half. I know they are both developing legions of haters, but skills-wise, the show will be much worse for either or both of them leaving.

And yes, I worried (a lot!) about Leanne getting such play in the previews. However, I think what they may be doing now is filling out her character for a run at the finals--you know, really "introducing" her to us, so we'll like and respect her more when she makes it. That said, the black fabric "blades" she's putting on her dress in one of the clips gave me pause. It felt a little too episode two/Green challenge dress to me. We'll see. Choosing winners and losers is getting so much harder when there are so fewer designers. You'd think it would be easier!

As for Suede, I'm with you on him not bringing the wow, but I have a sneaky suspicion he's going to be with us a while longer yet. If there's one thing he's demonstrated, it's an ability to sneak under the radar of the judges. (Until last week, of course.) AS we know, that can get you pretty deep into the competition...

Alan September 10, 2008 at 11:58 AM  

@anonymous - Good call. I thought I saw Wesley's rolled up white sleeves on the runway too, which is further evidence he's paired up with one of the unsafe six...

Chris September 10, 2008 at 2:53 PM  

Great job Alan! To be honest, I have no idea how well my predictions are, but we both seem to have noticed the auf'd designers coming back. I the same picture with Stella, Keith's arm (well it looks like Keith's arm) seems to be next to Terri as well.

I'm completely taking a risk with my guesses. I hope you do well on fafarazzi!

desertwind,  September 10, 2008 at 3:16 PM  

Well, they sorta did the same with aufed designers in PR Canada. ONE aufed designer was selected to round out a team challenge. In that case the one chosen cried and said: I don't wanna come back! and another was selected. So, Marie Genevieve ended up back in the competition and went all the way to Final Three.

I don't like all that preview focus on Leanne. If she's aufed, it will be a crying shame.

Anonymous,  September 10, 2008 at 4:52 PM  

I think Terri and Blayne will be auf'd and Jerell will finally get a win!

barbiefish,  September 10, 2008 at 11:42 PM  

Anonymous @ 3:53 -- congrats, you were right on the money!

Alan, thanks for your reply. I'm a Jerell fan and really hoped Tim's comment was favorable foreshadowing. As the show progressed and they didn't show much of Jerell's completed look, and he was complimented at the party with past seasons' designers, that gave me hope. Great work Jerell, and kudos to Leanne too for another fantastic design.

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