Bright Lights, Big City

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Kenley Blogs Episodes 510-514

On The Road

The Real Winner

The Final Showdown

Leanne Speaks!

Finale, Part 2

What's Next

Tim Responds To Your Comments!

Love Is In The Hair!

History Repeating Itself

Garden Of Locks

Nature Calls

Rock 'n' Runway

Rock Steady

Rock N' Runway

Suede: Rockin' Out

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Take A Bow


Joe: Straight Talk

Working Girl

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Best Of The Best?

Written In The Stars

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What's Your Sign?

I Saw The Sign

A Designer's Dream

Fashion Inside Out

Stella: Lovin' The Leatha

Double 0 Fashion

No Leatha, Mo' Problems

Making The Most Of It

The Fashion That Drives You

A Softer Edge

Fasten Your Seat Belts

Show Some Love

It's All An Illusion

Daniel: Oy Gevalt!

Good Queen Fun

Drama, Drama, Drama!

Joe: All Aboard!

RuPaul: A Drag Race

Bright Lights, Big City

Some got it, others missed the point of the challenge!

It was a muggy and rainy night ... and I meet the designers at the Atlas apartment. Yes, we're taking a field trip! It's a city-wide tour on the open deck of a tour bus. We have four stops planned. At each, a group of designers will alight, have an hour to take photos of whatever inspires them, and then return to the Atlas. They will each select one of their photos to serve as the inspiration for a design of their choice for a night out on the town.

This is the first challenge in which the designers have complete control; that is, they shop for whatever they want and they have creative freedom and latitude. They have a budget of $100 and one day to complete the challenge. And since we took our tour at night, that one day would not be eaten up by our tour.

The fabulous Sandra Bernhard is our guest judge. While I certainly associate her with personifying a night out on the town, I did not know that she is a true fashion insider. She is, and her knowledge and perceptions totally WOWed me!


Kenley WINS! I'm happy for her, but I'm still scratching my head over her design. The judges described her look as "Ungaro meets Lacroix" and they were right, but is that a good thing? The silhouette channeled Ungaro, while the textiles -- a riotous green print and strawberry-to-grape ombred tulle -- evoked Lacroix. I thought it looked very costumey, too costumey, and even Sandra Bernhard stated, "I have difficulties with this look. I don't get it." Admittedly, this look isn't for everyone! Kenley, congratulations on your win and on your immunity for the next challenge.


Emily is OUT. I was concerned about her look from the moment of my first visit to her workspace. The black sheath was constructed with some problematic darts at the hips, and the multicolored flounces of ruffled fabric were awkwardly placed and looked like a stuck on afterthought. She was confident that her design was strong enough to survive the possibility of a runway pummeling. Regrettably, the design didn't. Bon chance, Emily!


Blayne designed an exaggerated handkerchief hem dress in black with neon-colored fabric wrapped and draped in billowing layers. The look possessed an elegance and sophistication, whereas it could have gone wacky and costumey. Were there similarities to Emily's design? Indeed, but in Blayne's case, it was impossible to extract the neon fabric without diminishing the integrity of his work. And his design certainly corresponded with his Times Square inspiration.


Daniel, ever sophisticated, designed a greenish gray (chic color) charmeuse one-shoulder cocktail dress with accordion pleats in the bust and an artfully draped and voluminous faux sash at the waist. He struggled to finish the hem and sewed and sewed and sewed up until my last call of "Time!" Surprisingly, and thankfully for him, the judges didn't mention the hem's state of disrepair and, more specifically, its unevenness. Nina, are you paying attention?


Jennifer was inspired by a clock and regrettably took her inspiration a little too literally. She created a multi-tiered dress in alternating bands of midnight and white charmeuse and a white empire waistband. Frankly, the silhouette and volume of the dress gave it a dowdiness that would not work in her favor. And her allusion to the clock on the sleeves was a literal minded stretch. Schiaparelli, where are you?


Jerell was inspired by the fountains at Columbus Circle. He created a moss green strapless dress with an exuberant, multi-tiered "tango" skirt. His look was beautifully-constructed, well-proportioned, and had strong impact on the runway. Accordingly, I was surprised that it wasn't one of the "top three" looks for the judges' deliberation. Joe designed a painfully basic cocktail dress: a simple black skirt and a gold bustier with strips of black, thereby mimicking the windowpane effect of the light fixture that inspired him. He believed that the "surprise" effect of the skirt's black tulle train would save him from humdrum-itis, but the train looked lackluster and arbitrary. Sorry, Joe. Humdrum.

Keith created a collage-like dress that was inspired by a magazine remnant he found on the street. As the judges' remarked, it was true that the volume of the layers and layers of small pieces of fabric obfuscated his model's shape, but this dress was more about being a cocoon than a form-fitting silhouette. Furthermore, since Keith's had to replace his model at the last minute (Runa bailed, so we brought back Allysa from the last challenge), a sleek fit could have derailed him.


Kelli was inspired by a black fireplug -- go figure. The impact was all in the top: a black novelty fabric for the shoulder and neckline area and a silvery-metallic textile for the multi-tiered bodice that flared to the hip. This was over a basic black quasi-mini. I thought the look was over-designed and entirely too busy, especially given her inspiration.


Korto designed a black halter jumpsuit with a wide leg. The halter treatment was bold and graphic and very '60s. I thought it was elegant, but I didn't see anything new or innovative in her design. Yes, the construction was good, but so it should be. And where was the association with her inspiration? Huh? I didn't get it.


Leanne was inspired by a tree grate. These grates proliferate in New York, but are especially graphic and compelling in and around Columbus Circle. She created an elaborately detailed high-waisted skirt consisting of cascading horizontal pleats, offset by a very basic sleeveless blouse. Her look was innovative and stunning and superbly wearable. Thankfully, this design was a significant bounce back from last week and succeeded in redeeming her with the judges.


Stella was inspired by a horse's blinder, "because it's leatha." Really. She filled the workroom with a mind-splitting pounding as she hammered grommets into her pleather (not leather) pants and vest. She has succeeded is branding herself as a designer on the show, because she's been wearing her same designs over and over and, now, she's recreated them for the runway. It's all too expected. For this challenge, she designed a tight-fitting vest with lacing in the back and tight leather pants that lace in the front. The construction was good, but the fit was a bit too tight in my opinion. Stella, what's new? What's innovative? What?


Suede was inspired by the lights of moving traffic, so why did he present a steel gray sleeveless A-line shirt dress? The dress had an exaggerated collar and metallic embellishments in the bodice, but it was still so very basic. Coming out of his innovative design and win of the last challenge, I expected more. But in his own words, "Suede thinks it rocks!"


Terri operated with a self-described "tough and dirty," the grittier side of New York as her inspiration. Her look was, indeed, street: a bold street-inspired fabric for a backless dress over black satin pants. Frankly, I thought that the dress was enough, and the ruffled sleeves made more sense without the pant. Still, her look made a strong impact on the runway and the judges loved it. But would one really wear those items that way. Thus sprach fuddy-duddy!

Rock Steady

Something seems familiar with this challenge.

Ahhhh, the makeover challenge! It brings back haunting memories for me people - HAUNTING!!! I think we all remember Santino's horrible excuse for a finished garment, or the "Golden Girls" suit that I donned down the runway, or when I turned the lovely Chloe Dao into a cheap hooker, right? Oh what I wouldn't give to do it all again... Granted I had immunity so I was allowed to take a risk, but for this batch of designers, NO ONE was safe!

So at this point we know that Joe and Suede were decoys at Fashion Week last week, but are the producers going to throw another curve ball and add another one to the pile? Hmmm... thoughts for next week?

Oh, and before I forget, I'm going to be on next week's creepy show-in-a-van "Watch What Happens" with Andy Cohen ... so be sure to ... well, you get the idea.


I have to admit, that I did think that Suede did a fairly good job. It was sewn fairly well, there were some interesting details throughout the look, and overall, it did say rock-n-roll, albeit a tame rocker who is still coming out of his shell. Do you remember Jeffrey's rock-n-roll makeover from Season 3? It was both interesting yet fitting for the challenge and allowed for that part of his personality to come out and play a part. I know that these genres were randomly given to the designers, and thusly they may or may not possess any of those qualities, but deep down I feel like Jerell had some rocker in him. That being said, I wish that Suede had really given him the opportunity to play the part and really push past the expected. We've all seen Jerell's sternum since day one of this season and by putting him in a low-cut shirt that would've worked better on Leanne, it just didn't make us sit up and become excited. I don't think it was the worst thing on the runway, but this challenge was an extremely difficult one, especially this late in the game, and I can understand not feeling like the designers were bringing their A game ... believe me, I understand. I hope Suede moves on to something spectacular and looks back at his PR moments with appreciation; not once did we hear him talk viciously about another designer, and though the third-person persona became a bit grating at times, his kind ways won out in the end. Take care!


Jerell's look for Kenley was both my favorite and the worst. I think it was hilarious to see Kenley so out of her element, and though she seemed a bit leery at first, she really seemed to get into the character by the time she hit the runway, and for that I applaud her. That being said, I think she looks cheap. EXTREMELY cheap. I know pop tartlets make a living by showing off their assets, but I just think this looks too dime store costumey; there is nothing particularly aspirational about it. I find it horribly cliche, but with trainwrecks like the Pussycat Dolls gyrating their latex booty shorts and plaid demi-cup bustier on daytime TV ... I guess on the other hand you could say that he nailed it. I think I would've infused a bit more glamour and elegance into the look, possibly taking cues from someone like Gwen Stefani, who is by all means considered a pop star. She wears color, she wears heels, she shows some skin, but she never looks cheap and she always looks modern. In fact, I'm going to go put her on the iPod right now, hold on...


Wow. This was a huge challenge for Leanne and one that I'm so grateful I never got. Considering that the things she had to work with were on truly opposite sides of the spectrum, I thought that she did a very good job of straddling the everyday/costume line. Tell me if I'm wrong, but don't country stars today, like Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and ... (gulp) ... Jessica Simpson, all dress fairly contemporary when performing? I've never really seen them in traditional western gear (except for Jessica Simpson last month's Elle cover in which she was ridiculed for being so cliche) and instead see them using influences like big hair and bright colors to keep their country western image clear. With Leanne's look, I think that she did a very nice job with making a western shirt that was feminine and flattering, but with a subtle twist. The skirt, I agree, could've used a bit more life to it, but as I mentioned before, she was toeing that line of ridiculousness and though she was near it, she still could've pushed it a bit further.


I felt a bit bad for Kenley this episode because she clearly was so far out of her element that she resorted to panicking a bit and lashing out. I guess I would be in the same position as her because I can see her idea of hip-hop in this look. Singers/performers like Ashanti, Alisha Keys, and Mary J. Blige would wear this (in better condition of course) but I think that Korto nailed it on the head when she said that they were more R&B than hip-hop. However, hip-hop artists like Lil' Kim, Da Brat, Eve, Lil' Mama, and Missy Elliot had SUCH a broad range of personal style, from sexy, high-end designer looks to baggy jumpsuits, I can see how it would be difficult to decipher that "it" factor needed for this challenge. Granted, I don't think that her argumentative behavior on the runway was winning her any sympathy points, I do think she had one of the more tough challenges. In my eyes, she was going for the JLo vibe, which was fine, but that means that it needed to looks uber-luxe - cause we know love don't cost a thing - but JLo ain't wearing no cheap s**t! So in the end, sending down an ill-fitting pleather jacket, a Chico's top, and some unfortunate high-waisted jeans just wasn't going to do it. Can't you picture an all white, super-low cowl neck, jumpsuit with a wide-leg pant and LOTS of gold jewelry being more appropriate? What do you think?


Korto's design was also my top choice for the win. She made a look that was definitely punk, but also it looked expensive and well-made. I have to admit that I gasped in horror when she began to bleach the jeans, thinking that she was going to end up somewhere in Saved by the Bell territory, but my hat is off to her now after seeing the gorgeous effect she ended up with. This entire look has such energy and life to it, the shirt has those bias strips and asymmetrical chains creating a lot of visual movement on the top, while the bleach spots on the jeans give the bottom half a very haphazard feel ... all in all, a job well done. As Nina said (and which will go down in history as one of my favorite quotes of all time) "I have nothing else to say about this"... but in this circumstance I mean that in a good way!