Transformation

Does mother really know best?

Heidi brings six mature women onto the runway while suspense reigns among the designers. Heidi declares, "These ladies are an important part of your challenge..." Pause. Next, six younger women appear and fall in place between the mature women. They are mothers and daughters. The daughters are all recent college grads who are transitioning into new lives as young professionals. The designers are to perform a head-to-toe makeover on the daughters, beginning with reconceived fashion and concluding with makeup and hair, for this is the TRESemmé challenge.

Heidi determines which designer designs for which daughter by selecting names from our velvet bag (how the designers loathe seeing that thing!). We adjourn to the workroom where the designers have 30 minutes to meet with their new clients - both daughter and mother. The designers have to manage the input of their clients while maintaining their own vision as a designer. Each designer's point of view must be evident in the final look. After the consultation, the designers go shopping at MOOD with a budget of $100. There are two days for this challenge.

The fabulous Cynthia Rowley is our guest judge. And the winning look will be featured in Elle magazine. Both the designer and the daughter wearing the look will appear. How thrilling is that?

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Jerell WINS! He designed for Caitlin, a printmaker and an artist's assistant. Jerell created a high-waisted skirt in chocolate with a ruffled top. I found the skirt and top to look very "cocktail," rather than professional, but perhaps Caitlin is going to a gallery opening? Thankfully, a long, but slim-fitted cardigan with oversized croc buttons dressed down the look, allowing for an easy transition from day to night. Congratulations, again, Jerell! (By the way, the chapeau that Jerell wore for the judging had been intended for Caitlin. Had she worn it, do you believe that the outcome would have been different?)

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Joe is OUT. Joe designed a most unfathomable look for Laura, a graphic designer by education who is seeking employment. Ho-hum: a navy blazer with an exaggerated rear peplum and brass buttons over a candy cane wrap-top and charcoal chalk-striped skirt. This looks says banker or lawyer, not graphic designer. Joe insisted that this dowdy, humdrum look personified "professional," but what about Laura's field of graphic design? Has Joe never considered fashion as semiotics? That is, the clothes we wear send a message about how we want the world to perceive us. To look at our budding young graphic designer, you'd think that she doesn't have a creative bone in her body. She does! Joe, you're a doll and we'll all miss you!

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Kenley designed for Anna, an accessories buyer. It's no surprise that Kenley's point of view was extremely evident in this look. She made a classic style dress out of a brown/pink/cream cotton print. The design resonated 40's vintage, but that's our Kenley. She designed a menswear-inspired vest, which I thought worked beautifully in counterpoint to the girliness of her dress. But, alas, Kenley insisted that she take the pink snakeskin belt from the dress and put it over the vest, thereby negating the menswear vibe. Still, hers was among the top three looks as determined by the judges. I disagreed. And from my perspective, I couldn't get over how much Anna looked like Kenley's mini-me.

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Korto designed for Megan, who's debating between med or another graduate program and who works in a lab. I was worried sick when I first checked in with Korto, because the green printed dress looked like it was traveling down the dowdy trail. Furthermore, the burlap textured cafe-au-lait textile for the jacket with ¾ sleeves appeared to be an unlikely partner for the print. Thankfully, Korto's tailoring of the jacket and construction of the dress were impeccable, so the judges' deliberation would conclude as a matter of taste, and she was in the judges' top three. Whew!

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Leanne designed for Holly, a teacher. Leanne's clients purported to HATE her first look, a dress with a Leanne-like semi-circular pleated embellishment across the top. Frankly, I thought unhappiness was coming for an over opinionated mother rather than an unhappy daughter. Typical of these bad client/designer relationships, the mother didn't know what she wanted; she just knew what she didn't want. Ever the rallying trooper, Leanne reconceived her look and, thankfully, it was received well by the client (well, the daughter at least: mom didn't get a chance to see it, again, until the runway show). In any case, I stood in support of Leann's final look and disagreed with the judges, who expressed disdain. The aubergine dress with a light gray high waistband and the light gray shrunken jacket with wide charcoal piping were sophisticated, polished, and well-proportioned.

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Suede designed for Avital, a photographer. Suede's design began as a pants look, but when Avital saw the riotous purple/brown/white print draped on Suede's dress form, she loved it so much that she wanted a dress. Really? I found her request to be inconceivable considering the impact of the print; specifically, why would you want to see more of it? And wasn't this really another cocktail dress for which imponderable excuses were being made? The only thing even more imponderable was the jacket-y cardigan (or cardigan-y jacket?) with the trumpet sleeves and odd pocket placement, and piped pockets, no less, so they would pop more. Oy! Suede, had it not been for that '80s business suit of Joe's....

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The Real Winner

No doubt about this years Project Runway 5 winner!

Just a heads up that my book Fashion Inside Out is almost upon us! Though I've heard places are starting to ship it out, the official release date is on 10/28, so mark your calendars! I'm heading out on a book tour to celebrate with you all, so be sure to check my website for details on times, dates and locations: www.danielvosovic.net. After a year and a half in the works it would be delightful to see all of your supporting faces!

But NOW, it's down to business! PR5 has finally come to an end. I hope after a week of digesting we've all be able to form clear-headed opinions about who we really thought was the winner.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I hands down think it should have been Leanne, but what did you think? Tightly edited, unique and comparable to no one, I think she did an excellent job of taking her inspiration and running it cohesively through each and every piece she sent down the runway. Unlike some of the other designers, Leanne's work is both subtle and intricate, and I applaud her to no end for being able to successfully straddle that fine line, especially at exactly the right time. Korto and Kenley both showed very nice collections, but I do think that Leanne was the one who had the whole package. Korto's sense of color and proportion are excellent, and the way she styled the looks was just intoxicating - the high buns, dewy skin, and fluttering fans - she certainly infused a lot of "earthy sexiness" into it. That being said, you take away all of the extras and we're left with clothing that didn't quite stand up to Leanne's more intricate work.

To me, watching Kenley's show was like watching your friend go into her glamorous closet, and parade out to see if the look is a "keeper" or a "throwaway." Although it was filled with definite highlights and interesting (sometimes costume-like) elements, I just didn't feel that it was a cohesive collection. One of the highlights for me was the green silk dress with the ballooned shoulders - I just thought it was a chic, well made, and truly stunning look.

All in all, these designers will find work and hopefully create stunning collections in the future. Congratulations to them all for coming this far and a HUGE congratulations to Leanne for the win! I'll see you in NYC sweetheart!

Xx

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