Kelli: Yep, I Deserved It

A creative use of grocery goods made Kelli a winner!

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Editor's Note: We checked in with Kelli, Season Five's first challenge winner, to talk about her design inspiration, the "hot and lengthy" judging, and more.

Bravotv.com: Did you see the Season One episode where Austin Scarlett won? Did you think about what you would've done if you had to do that challenge?
Kelli: I did see the first episode, and I thought his corn-husk dress looked better after it had wilted! I am used to working with unconventional materials, so I knew that I could execute this challenge nicely.

Did you know what the challenge would be once Tim brought you in front of the Gristedes?
As soon as I saw Gristedes, I knew that it was all coming full circle for the last Bravo season.

What drew you to your items, and what was the inspiration for your design?
I knew that I wanted to manipulate something that could be perceived as fabric, but NOT use a tablecloth. I went straight for the dye and bleach, after first thinking about loose razorblades! I wanted to also make sure to incorporate multiple things, and not make it simple.

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Had you ever used those treatments on those products before?
I bleach and dye often, but I don't even read the box! I just have a weird knack for making it turn out in an awesome pattern. I think that it is inbred. :)

Were you more confident after Tim came in and criticized everyone else for using "material"?
I was more confident, but I also knew that I had a strong point of view.

What did you think of the other designers' looks? Which were your favorites? Least favorites? Did you think Jerry deserved to go home?
I honestly thought, "I had better win this s*** because I am using a myriad of innovative techniques, and my dress has a closure!" I also sewed through my fingers, blistered my thumb and really put blood and sweat into it. As far as Jerry, I felt really bad, but I was obviously glad that I had won.

What was the first time in front of the judges like?
Hot and lengthy. I was wearing too many layers since they had to take my band T's [due to all the copyrights], so I felt like I was going to faint. I wasn't really nervous -- I was actually fairly confident -- but it was like a brick oven in there!

After hearing the judges' comments, did you know you'd won? How did it feel having immunity for the next challenge?
I knew that I should win, but I have seen the show, and sometimes the person who should win doesn't. Having immunity just made me want to win again! I am not one to half-ass it just because I have a free ticket.

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The Final Showdown

Bryant Park was a frantic frenzy backstage but most kept cool.

After weeks of vigorous drawing, designing and sewing, the final three designers arrived at the last challenge. The pressure was on for Leanne, Korto, and Kenley as they geared up to show their collections at Bryant Park for New York Fashion Week!

As the TRESemmé Styling Team entered the fashion tents, we were filled with excitement and anticipation to see what the designers put together. Since each contestant had 10 models each, backstage was buzzing! Kenley was frantic because some of her models were missing and didn't even show up until the last minute. Leanne was the complete opposite - she stayed calm and collected and even had all her models ready to go way before runway time. Korto looked nervous but was ecstatic to be at Bryant Park. She told us it was something she had been dreaming about her whole life. After we gathered the 30 models, we split them up by designer so that the TRESemmé Styling Team could start transforming the girls. Korto's collection reflected her African heritage and culture. To complement the loud prints and bold colors, we decided to give Korto's models an up-do to accentuate the embellished detailing on the neckline of the garments. First, I started by taking a zig-zag section from ear to ear across the crown. I worked in TRESemme Anti-Frizz Secret Smoothing Crème to help create a sleek base. Then, we tied two separate ponytails to the right side of the head within the top and bottom sections. To add volume to the ponytail, we created waves using a 1″ curling iron, and then teased the hair. After, we lightly brushed the surface for a smooth exterior and neatly twisted and pinned the hair into a doughnut-shaped bun.

For Leanne's collection, she found inspiration by the lake near her home in Portland, Oregon. Each piece in her line had some sort of ripple or wave effect to it in different shades of blue and cream. We wanted to create a hairstyle that had a similar wave-like effect. Leanne envisioned the hair to look natural, organic and earthy. I began by generously spraying TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Tamer throughout the models' hair. After blow-drying, I gave her models a deep left side part and tied back the front pieces of their hair into a ponytail. I pulled the remaining hair and the ponytail into one low pony and curled it to create soft waves.Kenley designed an assortment of colorful knee-length dresses that she hand painted herself! She wanted the hair to be classic and sophisticated, so we decided to give her models Marcel waves. To get this look, I created a low left side part from above the eye to the crown, then sectioned the hair from the crown to behind the right ear and clipped it aside. Next, I put the remaining hair into a side bun to the right side of the head. After, we released the top section of the hair from the clip and misted the hair with TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer before blow-drying for a smooth finish. Then, we finished by applying TRESemme Thermal Creations Curl Activator Spray to the front pieces and used a 1" curling iron to create face framing Marcel waves. Finally, we loosely pinned the remaining length of the hair into a bun.

Even though all the collections looked amazing on the runway, there can only be one winner of Project Runway. Tim Gunn, who surprised everyone as the guest judge, thought Leanne's line was uniquely structured and versatile. Heidi said her cohesive collection floated down the runway. The judges all agreed her designs were flawless and Leanne was crowned winner!

It has been such a memorable experience seeing Leanne grow into the designer she is today, and I'm sure we can expect many more beautiful collections from her. I can't wait to see what type of ripple effect this designer will make in the fashion industry!

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