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Project Runway 5, Premiere – Too Many Tablecloths

[i]Guten Tag![/i] Welcome to the fifth season of [i]Project Runway[/i], which will be the last one presented by Bravo. (The Lifetime Channel gets the sixth and later seasons.)

We see this season’s contestants arriving at their hotel. The first arrival is Jerrell Scott, 28, who used to be a model. As he was unable to afford the fashions he wanted, he started to design his own clothes. Next in is Blayne Walsh, 23, who likes urban fashions. He has been a designer for six years, but would like to actually be able to earn a living as one. (He works in a coffee shop as a day job.) Joe Faris, 41, is apparently the token straight guy, as he has a couple of daughters. He hopes to teach them that they can be anything they want. That’s nice, Joe, but you are supposed to win this this for yourself.

Stella Zotis, 42, likes leather and denim. She specializes in “custom rock regalia.” Jennifer Diedrich, 27, lives in Florence, Italy. Hmmm. This may mean she will bear watching. If memory serves me, last season’s winner, Christian Siriano, had also spent time in Europe. Certainly exposure to European fashions could give this young lady an edge over some of her fellows. Kelli Marlin, 27, has her own store, the “Black Market.” Any 20-something who owns their own business is probably competitive as all hell. Terri Stevens, 39, claims to be a very fast tailor. She says she can sew a suit in eight hours. If that’s true, she should do well in the challenges.

Jerry Tam, 32, is another one who has his own business, “Form.” Suede, 37, designs jeans. He’s a rocker type, like Stella, and has a blue fauxhawk. Keith Bryce, 26, is a self-taught designer who owns a boutique. Korto Momolu, 33, hails from Liberia and wants to be the second woman to win. Leanne Marshall, 27, describes herself as a “silent fashion assassin”– whatever that means. Perhaps her clients are gangsters or ninja?

Emily Brandle, 27, runs “Smoke and Mirrors,” a clothing company. Daniel Field, 25, says that his other big love besides fashion is zoology; he has lots of birds in his apartment. Wesley Nault, 23, is the baby of the group and he interned with Marc Jacobs. Kenley Hollins, 25, is the last in. She likes a lot of colors and patterns.

Shortly after Kenley arrives, the designers find a note summoning them to the rooftop. They go there and are welcomed by Heidi Klum, who then introduces them to their mentor, Tim Gunn. Heidi tells the designers that they are the most diverse group ever. Hmm. She can’t be talking about their ages, as ten of them are in their 20’s. On the other hand, there are three blacks, including on from Liberia, and an Asian. Heidi teases the gang by asking them if they are ready for their first challenge. When they shout, “Yes!” she laughs and tells them they will have to wait until the following morning. In the meantime, they can enjoy the champagne and get to know one another.

Of course, Heidi didn’t tell them they would be getting up at the crack of dawn. Tim breaks that news to them– at 4 a.m. As her fellow designers yawn and get dressed, Terri tells us that she’s seen all four of the previous seasons. She’s fast and knows how this show works? Methinks Terri could be here awhile. Tim leads the designers to a big grocery store, Gristedes, and tells them that their first challenge will be a rehash of the first season’s first challenge: design an outfit out of anything they find in Gristedes. Tim also introduces them to today’s guest judge: Austin from Season One, who had won this particular challenge. The designers have 75 dollars and 30 minutes to do their shopping.

After the usual scenes of people grabbing stuff, we see the designers heading back to Parson’s dressing room. They find their tables have been assigned to them, as have their models. They’ve been given cards with their model’s measurements on them, so they at least have a shot of making something that fits.

Daniel is making a dress from blue plastic cups, and he’s using an iron to help mold the plastic. Leanne had grabbed a tablecloth, only to discover at least half her fellows had done the same thing. She comments that using a tablecloth was probably “predictable” and hopes that her also using balloons will mitigate that. Stella is discovering to her sorrow that her garbage bags are really flimsy. Jerrell does a Tim impression while working on his outfit. (At least one person on this show does that every season, it seems.)

Kelli is using vacuum cleaner bags, bleach, and dye to make a dress. It looks like it could be attractive. Here’s hoping that it holds up. Suede is using a picnic cloth and doggy bags. Korto has a yellow tablecloth but hopes to jazz it up with tomatoes and other fresh veggies. Jerry is making a raincoat and dress out of a shower curtain and gauze.

As Tim walks around, he gets annoyed by all the tablecloths and scolds the designers for using them. He tells them that tablecloths are too expected and predictable, and that the judges will think they are a bunch of slackers. Leanne tries to mitigate her tablecloth dress by sticking cookies on it, and says she want to make the result look as if it’s made of candy. Uh, that’ll work for a young person, I guess, but women past a certain age aren’t likely to want something that looks like candy. Stella is terrified that she’ll be sent home and tells us that she would feel like a total jackass if she was the first out. Other designers share her sentiments. Then the models arrive and it’s time to get them dressed and gussied up, which leads to the usual scenes of the models having their hair and make-up done.

Then it’s time to go to the runway. Heidi greets them and gives the usual spiel about the prizes. These include $100 grand from TRESemme to start their own line, a feature in [i]Elle[/i] magazine, a 2009 Saturn hybrid, and the opportunity to sell a fashion line on Bluefly.com. She also tells them that the first challenge is about “innovation”– which tells me that most of the folks who used tablecloths or the like are probably screwed. Today’s judges include the usual suspects, designer Michael Kors and Nina Garcia from [i]Elle[/i]. The guest judge is Austin Scarlett.

First up is Emily, who is one of the folks who’d made a tablecloth dress. She’d also added balloons, napkins, and balls. Jerrell made an outfit out of a tablecloth, lawn chairs, cocktail umbrellas, and a Koosh ball. Leanne sends down her tablecloth-and-cookies dress, which is pink and white and admittedly cute. Korto’s tablecloth dress is a yellow kimono trimmed with vegetables. It also looks nice. Jennifer made a dress out of paper towels decorated with lipstick smudges. Daniel’s cup dress turned out quite well, and is a nice shade of blue. Terri made a skirt of potholders with a nice-looking halter made from crocheted mop-heads. Suede’s dress is a tablecloth decorated with blue squares cut from doggy bags. Yawn. Stella’s garbage-bag dress is similarly uninteresting. Joe made a halter out of oven mits and a skirt made out of a tablecloth covered in pasta.

Kenley has a skirt and top. She made the top out of a dodge ball, and then made the skirt out of a lawn chair and table cloth. Jerry sent down a raincoat made from a shower curtain and a dress made out of gauze. He also added yellow kitchen gloves to his outfit. Wesley made a dress out of yellow tablecloth, decorated with yellow cups and flyswatters. Blayne’s dress is made from black cupboard liners and jump rope– and there’s an unfortunate white area right at the crotch that makes it look like the model is wearing a diaper.

Next up is Kelli, who’d really put a lot of work in her outfit. First off, she’d bleached and dyed her vacuum bag skirt to give it a streaky marble pattern. She accented the waistline with gold push-pins, and she made a halter out of coffee filters, and used hook-and-eye clasps from a spiral notebook to close the back. Last up is Keith, who’d made a tablecloth dress covered with white netting.

The judges call Daniel, Jerry, Korto, Stella, Kelli, and Blayne, and tell the others that they are safe. The judges then ask the six about their outfits and how they’d made them. It’s fairly obvious who the judges liked and disliked. Kelli is “resourceful”, but Jerry’s outfit is “shapeless” and looks like something from a “slasher movie”. (It’s an ominous sign when a judge describes something as looking like any kind of costume– unless the challenge actually involves making a costume.) Austin calls Blayne’s outfit “hideous.” Daniel, Korto, and Kelli are the top three, and Kelli is the winner. She gets immunity for the next challenge. Blayne is in, and Stella and Jerry are the bottom two. Stella had taken “the easy way out,” but Jerry’s outfit was “not wearable” and he’s Auf-ed.

The previews may refer to either next week or the whole season. But the highlight is definitely Tim’s describing somebody’s outfit as resembling a “pterodactyl from a gay [i]Jurassic Park[/i].”