Cast Blog: #PROJECTRUNWAY

Rock Steady

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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 N' Runway

Suede: Rockin' Out

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Take A Bow

Transformation

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

Reality Out The Window

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.

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Suede
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!

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Jerell
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...

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Leanne
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.

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Kenley
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?

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Korto
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!

Finale, Part 2

Impressive work by all but alas only one designer can win.

Well, for me, this episode was the Project Runway first among Project Runway firsts! Why? Because I served as a judge for the first time (and, hopefully, the last time) ever. Here's the back story: Bravo and the executive producers approached me before our Bryant Park show to say that there may be a problem with our guest judge and, consequently, how would I feel about filling in. At first, my response was a roll-up-your-sleeves and "make it work!" form of positive thinking, but as I contemplated the reality of it, I pushed back and refused. Consider the following: I still had another visit to the designers that night and there would be a considerable amount of time needed to support them in the morning before the show. How could I be both a mentor and a judge and service their needs appropriately and responsibly? I believed that I couldn't. So, to make a very long story a wee bit shorter, we ended Thursday night's bevy of phone calls in the following way: Bravo and the producers would ardently search for a replacement judge and I would return to my work with the designers assuming that I would not be a judge If I were to be needed in that role, then I wouldn't be informed of that need mere moments before the show. Otherwise, I could be perceived by the designers (and anyone else mind you) as being duplicitous and insincere. That would never do. Furthermore, Kenley and I were engaged in an semi-incendiary relationship, and the worst thing that could happen would be for her to lose and have me perceived as being the reason why. Oy! So, we know what happened: Our guest judge backed out at the last minute, a celebrity replacement couldn't be found on such short notice, and I filled in. With 10 minutes and counting until our show, Heidi came to me and asked, "So, you're ready to do this, no?" I replied, "To be honest, I don't know. I have an altogether different relationship with the designers than you and Nina and Michael have. I don't know." Heidi reared back and asked, "Tim Gunn, are you telling me that with all of your years of teaching you can't put your relationships aside and look at their work impartially? I thought about her wise words and responded, "Of course I can! Let's go!" We hugged and kissed and off we went.

Don't ever wish to be a guest judge on the show! To be blunt, I don't know how the judges do what they do and as well as they do: The collections pass by quickly, you have to wrap your brain around each piece of each collection immediately, and you have to come to terms with some comparative assessment right away. AND, I had the distinct advantage of intimately knowing the designers' work, yet is was still daunting. In any case, it really was very, very difficult. And there was one very important dimension to this process: seeing the clothes walk. Generally speaking, I don't see them walk. Rather, I see everything static on dress forms. Walking is an altogether different experience and it brings everything to life. So, in that sense, my experience with each designer's collection couldn't have been fresher and newer.

Here are my thoughts about the three collections: Leanne WINS, and what a win it was! We saw all of the conceptual content that really is at the core of Leanne's point of view, and we saw it tempered and orchestrated with precision. As I said to her during the home visit: "I always trust that you will present masterful technique, but can you give your work feeling, emotion?" This was her personal challenge. And she did it All of the strong architectural elements that are Leanne were clearly present, but her looks possessed a buoyancy and an ease, an effortlessness that belied each items structure. Furthermore, her collection was the result of superb editing; had she not brought her critical eye and judgment to each looks and its relationship to every other look, then there may have been a different outcome. Kenley presented a strong point of view and excellent execution, neither of which were surprises, and both of which were appropriately lauded.

I loved Kenley's textile choices and her hand-painting, which was a risky endeavor, and the silhouettes couldn't have been more her. But when the looks walked, they possessed a stiffness that I wasn't prepared to experience. Static on a dress forms, her looks beautifully captured the essence of her inspiration: "painting the roses red" from Alice in Wonderland. (When I made my home visit to her, Kenley resisted revealing her inspiration, which confounded me. When she finally relented, she gave me an epiphany. "Now I get it!" I declared.) But when the clothes walked on the runway, they retained much of their static appearance; that is, most of the looks moved like stiff pasteboard. I could see Kenley's collection emanating a major "wow!" factor in an editorial spread in Elle, but I had a hard time imagining how they would or could navigate and function in the real world. Still, I loved the fantasy aspect of the collection and its other-worldliness. Korto fully embraced her African heritage and her Americanism. Furthermore, she was successful embracing that goal, which is no small task, especially since the entire collection could have been a costume festival. Her silhouettes, alone, told her story, and when you add the colors, textures, and jewelry, her entire collection was uplifted. Color is nothing if not subjective, and I applaud her decision to step away from the expected and mix up her largely taupe palette with vibrant greens and blues. And the jewelry? Well, from my perspective it was all inextricable from the larger aspect of her point of view and, more particularly, to the individual looks themselves. I loved it. Is her collection for everyone or anyone? Of course not, but whose is?

Congratulations to all!