Project Runway 5 - Episode 13

>> Tuesday, October 7, 2008

And here we thought we'd have the week off.

No, in their infinite wisdom, the judges (and their Magically Elfen producers?) decided they couldn't decide. No one was aufed. Instead, all four contestants were sent home to put together collections. Yay!

Wait, why aren't you cheering with us? Come to think of it, why are we cheering?

If that dress slips down any farther, we're going to have a "wardrobe malfunction."

Asked to "knock the judges' socks off," the designers, as though they had made a secret pact back at the Atlas before the cameras arrived, collectively laid a big fat egg. Jerell was named the winner as though by default, as his "win" didn't even earn him a guaranteed spot at Bryant Park.

Which is strange, because last season when the judges couldn't make a decision, the two designers with the top designs the final week--Christian and Jillian--got automatic ins, with Chris and Rami left to walk it off in a pre-Bryant Park runway show. But then, Christian and Jillian actually impressed the judges in that final challenge. So what does a four person runway contest to get to the final runway show tell us?

It tells us that the judges weren't trying to decide which three designers were the best last week, they were trying to decide which of them was the worst. And they couldn't decide. And neither could we, frankly.

And what is the reward for universal mediocrity? $8,000 for each of them to create a line and come back in two months to try again. In backyard parlance, that's called a "do-over." Here at Gratz Industries, we call that "lame."

Epic fail.

Why the suckage? Was it stress? Weariness? Creative bankruptcy? Indigestion? Whatever it was, it was disappointing. And it wasn't as though their work was terrible. It was just so...uninspired. So underwhelming.

And then, of course, there was the drama. Oh the drama. Never in five seasons of Project Runway have we seen such a wholesale sellout of a single designer on the runway. As though the producers knew what was coming, they put Kenley at the far end of the runway and then worked their way down the other three designers, letting them each explain, in no uncertain terms, why each of them thought Kenley was the worst designer since Joseph Stalin.

Ready, aim, fire at Kenley.

At first, we confess, the s
chadenfreude was delicious--but it quickly turned to poison in our mouths. "Oh no he di'n't! . . . Oh. Oh no. She didn't . . . Oh. Wow. She did too." Seriously, no matter how much you may dislike Kenley, what went down on that runway was just nasty and wrong. We get that she annoyed the other designers, and we understand that they would rather go to Bryant Park with people they like rather than people they don't. But holy Christian Siriano. Not even Wendy Pepper ever got it that bad. No person, not even our worst enemy, should have to go through what Kenley endured on that runway. By the time we got to her and she sobbed through a defense of her actions and a non-retaliatory answer to Heidi's question, we felt like wet fetid cow patties for ever feeling the slightest bit of entertainment from this debacle.

Later, in the workroom, Tim tried to put a brave face on what we'd all just seen, but not even Gentleman Tim could make this go away. Kenley wouldn't make nice with the other designers and share in the group hug--which we totally understood and agreed with--and the tone for the next episode--for perhaps the next two episodes--was officially set to somber. It felt less like a celebration than a wake, and we worry the next episode will feel the same.

But before we go there, let's pull the Big Board of Shame out of mothballs and set it back up on its easel:

Korto: 22 points (Two 1sts, two 2nds, three 3rds, one "top four," one "no decision," one 3rd worst, two safes)
Jerell: 20 points (Three 1sts, two 2nds, one 3rd, two 3rd worsts, four safes)
Leanne: 15 points (Two 1sts, two 2nds, one "top four," one 3rd/3rd worst, one 3rd worst, one 2nd worst, four safes)
Kenley: 14 points (One 1st, three 2nds, one 3rd, one "no decision," 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:

- Well, what the heck are we supposed to do with last week's mess? Jerell was named the winner, so he gets 4 points. That makes him this season's only three-time winner, but it still doesn't give him enough points to overtake Korto in first.

- Leanne was told she was one of the two best and didn't win, so that has to mean she won second place. Three points to her, which puts her ahead of Kenley by a nose.

- Korto and Kenley were told they had the two lowest scores, but neither of them was worse enough than the other to be sent home. We don't feel like we can take points away from them for a pass, but we can't see awarding them any points either. We'll call it a wash. "No decision" for both--which means no change in their scores from last week.

- With the slight change-up in the standings, Kenley appears to be the odd designer out--statistically. (And, to be fair, just barely.)

So, what now?

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 read a bridal magazine.

Was it us, or was Heidi not totally hot in the pants and push up bra?

Things begin with Heidi congratulating the designers for all being mediocre enough to make it this far, despite the "misstep" in last episode's gown challenge. But, she tells them, the judges have faith that with $8,000 and two months' time, each of them will come back with something marvelous. Only, of course, one of them won't be so marvelous, and that person will have to just pretend that he or she is still in it during Fashion Week. Like Joe. And Suede. (Remember them? They show too, only we won't see it.)

But before Heidi dismisses the designers, she tells them she has one more challenge for them--much to Korto's chagrin. We don't get to hear what the challenge is, but ever since the final collections were posted on the Bravo site a few weeks back, the buzz on the Blogging Project Runway boards has been that the designers will have to create wedding gowns that fit in their collections. Here are the dresses people consider bridal:





For lack of better evidence, we'll accept that these are intended as bridal gowns--although some are certainly more traditional than others. It is a fashion show, after all, and none of them wants to run something off the rack down the runway.

After the usual bravado of "I'm going to go make one hell of a collection and crush the competition" from each of the designers, we get a taste of Tim's visits. Korto lives in some strange place Tim doesn't understand--Little Rock, Arkansas. Leanne has made too many things that look too much alike. Kenley is making dresses with rope around the neckline, perhaps unwittingly projecting her feelings of anger and antagonism into her designs. Jerell isn't shown.

After what must have seemed like a quick two months to the designers (don't they usually get six months?) they filter back to the Atlas, New York's luxury apartment building. (The only one, apparently.) In what has to be a deliberately staged series of entrances, Korto, Leanne, and Jerell arrive with plenty of time to talk smack about Kenley before she arrives. Some snarky editing makes it look like she gets a silent welcome, but we can't imagine the three musketeers are that rude to her face. The stony silence and rolled eyes probably come after she turns her back on them to wheel her suitcase into her bedroom.

And thus begins what we fear will be another episode filled with more drama than design. The producers do what they can though to infuse more workroom madness, as Tim appears two days before Bryant Park and announces that he has one more challenge for all four designers. One more challenge? Making wedding dresses wasn't enough?

Most of these eleventh hour challenges have involved making one final piece to add to their collections, but Heidi sent them off to make ten looks, and each of them, according to the Bravo photos, works the runway with exactly ten outfits. (Including the wedding dresses above.) So if they're making an eleventh outfit, where is it? Do the designers then have to decide which of their ten looks they brought with them they want to replace? That could be an interesting exercise in self-editing--although if each shows a wedding dress in their collection, that is the one dress they presumably cannot replace.

Which design or designs will determine their fates? Will they be judged only on the wedding dresses they made? Will they have to show both the wedding dress and their eleventh hour design? It's impossible to say.

We don't know if they are going to pick a winner this week, but if they do and it's based on the wedding dresses alone, we like Kenley for the win. The winner at this point is almost irrelevant though, except that that designer will get to breathe easier earlier than the rest. What really matters here of course is who comes in last, and for that, we go back to a lot of the evidence we introduced last week.

Exhibit A: Jerell clowning around with Joe and their models the day before Bryant Park.

If Jerell is in, how does he have time to joke around with models and aufed designers?

Exhibit B: Publicity shots that feature Korto, Leanne, and Kenley more than any other designers.

Exhibit C: In one of the preview videos, Michael Kors tells someone at the far left of the runway, "It's garish." Jerell is positioned at the far left of the runway.

Exhibit D: According to the experts at Blogging Project Runway, each year the decoy designers have shown their collections first, followed by the real contestants at the end. Kenley, Korto, and Leanne were the final three designers to show this year. Jerell was the first.

We said it last week, and we'll say it again this week: we think Jerell is out. Our Fafarazzi picks--the three girls--remain the same.

Now, let's just hope the judges (and producers!) can make a decision this time...


Sheri October 8, 2008 at 9:02 AM  

Hi Alan! I “perused” my way to your blog via Beth Revis' blog, who went to one of your workshops and raved about it in not one, not two... but 4 postings.

I am a fellow Project Runway junkie (and writer) and loved this latest post. I couldn't agree with you more re: this year's 4 contestants to Bryant Park vs. last year's situation. About Kenley... it's one thing to be mean or rude to the other contestants. I think we all prepare ourselves for that each season. But to be rude to Tim?! Never! For me, and probably most of the public, that's when I lost what was left of my respect for her.

Love your humorous writing style!

Tbone October 8, 2008 at 10:15 AM  

Here's the thing that bugs me most about last week, why declare a winner?

If they were seriously disappointed in everyone's efforts, they should have said so.

There were two equitable options at their disposal in this situation:

1. Declare no winner and eliminate Kenley, which the judges clearly were ready to do.

2. Declare no winner and no loser, send them off with one last challenge to compete for the final 3.

When Heidi declared Jerell the winner, it should have given him an automatic in. If Jerell is eliminated as predicted, it will be an injustice.

Alan October 8, 2008 at 11:51 AM  

@ Sheri - Thanks for visiting! Yeah, we too always cringe when someone disses Gentleman Tim.

@ tbone - We're totally with you. We were surprised they named ANY winner--especially when "winning" meant bupkis. This was a total do-over, and a total disappointment. And from the editing, they sure SOUNDED like they disliked Kenley's more than anyone else's last week...

Does this mean you're coming around to our late-season conspiracy theory from last week? :-)

Sally October 8, 2008 at 1:19 PM  

Possible Spoiler Alert - Well now this brings up something that happened in late August - after the series had started.

I was visiting the Bravo TV website, you know the page where somebody shows the outfits coming into their office. This was late on a Friday night - and a post came up that I unfortunately only glanced at. It had just been posted. When I realized what it was and went back about 10 minutes later, it had been removed.

It had photos of a challenge with four designers, but they had partners (for instance, Kenly was partnered with Joe for the win). I didn't pay attention to the challenge specifics, but that stuck in my mind. If that was a real post (and no reason to believe it was not) then they bring back some of the aufed designers again to work together - and Kenly and Joe have not worked together up to now.

So . . . could this post have been one of the two challenges that are coming up. Because on the preview, I definitly got the idea that there was not just a challenge before they go home, but another once they get back.

What do you all think?

Love your predictions, and I think you are right on.

Emily October 8, 2008 at 1:55 PM  

Ooh Sally, that's an intriguing possibility -- and one that would also explain the photo of Joe and Jerrell goofing off. If Joe was brought back to be paired with Kenley, he and Jerrell would then be in close proximity.

The thing is, they already did the bring-back-the-auf'd thing this season. I really don't see them doing it again. Are you sure that what you saw was Joe and and not Wesley, from the "What's Your Sign" challenge? Are you sure you saw facial hair?

Sally October 8, 2008 at 2:15 PM  

Hi Emily: Yep, I know they already did the bring back the auf'd, but . . . if it was a fake, they went to a lot of effort to create four outfits to be photographed and posted on the website for 10 minutes.

I saw only photos of the outfits, not the designers - the text said that Kenly and Joe were the winners.

As I said, there appear to be two challenges - granted one is probably the wedding dress, but the second may be this other thing - and perhaps that makes a difference for Kenley?

I don't know, and am just speculatiing like everyone else.

AndreB,  October 8, 2008 at 2:50 PM  

Alan, I had a similar response to last week's episode. The whole thing just left a bad taste in the mouth. The final straw for me was when Korto - who had just said on the runway that she would take Jerell and Leanne to the final with her b/c of who they were as designers and as people - lashed out at Kenley in the waiting room, while being flanked by Jerell and Leanne. What Kenley said about Korto on the runway was not in any way close to the harshness of Korto's remarks, and yet here was Korto slapping salt into the wounds while the others silently gloated. A horribly low moment. So much so that when Tim called for a group hug even I didn't want to join in on it.

Watching the calculated previews for this week's episode I thought to myself that maybe it's a good thing after all that the show's producers stepped down at the end of the season. They seem to have run of ideas, enthusiasm, and good will. They seem not to care about anything anymore but "drama".

duneboi,  October 8, 2008 at 7:17 PM  

On one of the preview clips no longer shown, Heidi "aufs" a designer to her far left. Jerell is standing to the far left. Michael Kors calls one of the designer's creation(s) "garish". After having viewed the remaining four designer's collections, that description best fits Jerell's work.

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