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Project Runway 5, Episode 2 – The Green Cocktail Dress Challenge


Welcome back to the fifth season of Project Runway. We start with recaps of the premiere which show the season’s first challenge, that had been to make a garment out of anything the designers could find in a grocery store. Kelli had won the challenge and Jerry was sent home.

The following morning, Suede wakes up and tells us that Jerry had been his roommate and talks about his being voted out by the judges. He also tells us that any decision that doesn’t “result in Suede leaving” is probably the right one. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Terri and Stella share an organic drink– which is apparently supposed to foreshadow tonight’s theme.

At the runway, the designers are told to pick their models, who are told that this is a competition for them as well, for the model paired with the winning designer will get a spread in Elle magazine. Personally, I always though this aspect of the show was lame, as the models really only have limited influence over their own fate. No matter how cooperative, professional, or “fierce” they may be, they can’t do much if the designer working with them sucks. Not only that, but the designers seem to pick their favorites fairly early on. Indeed, Jerrell complains when another designer chooses the model he’d wanted.

Heidi then tells the designers that the models are also their clients, and that the designers will be making a cocktail dress for them. Tim later tells the designers that the cocktail dress will have to be made out of green fabrics, like hemp, bamboo, organic silk, etc. The designers have until midnight to finish the dress. In a Project Runway first, the models will do the shopping, which means they will actually have more input in the competition than they normally do. Their fate still largely depends on the designers’ skill, but it also now depends on the quality of the fabric they buy. The designers know this, and several wonder if the models will be able to choose well. One actually yells to her model, “Closures! Don’t forget closures!” (She means things like zippers and buttons, for the fashion-impaired.)

In some cases, at least, the designers’ concern proves to be warranted. The models have a budget of $75.00 and 30 minutes to shop at Mood, and some of them do make questionable choices. One buys peacock feathers as trim for her dress. Kenley’s model returns with a magenta material that turns out to be fabric for making T-shirts. Suede’s model, Tia, simply chooses colors she likes.

The models and the designers then discuss their dresses. Kenley’s model had fortunately bought organic silk as well as the unusable magenta material, so Kenley, to her relief, does have something to work with. Emily tells us that she likes the green aspect of the challenge. Blayne, who is using black and hot pink fabrics, compares Heidi to Darth Vader, saying she’s “shiny on the outside and crazy on the inside.” I’m not sure if Blayne has the right to call anybody else “crazy.” Suede is busily cutting his champagne and red fabrics into strips, and annoying his fellow designers by describing himself in the third person. At one point, he says, “Suede is a bisexual Sagittarius.” Um, okay. What is Suede on, anyway?

Wesley, Joe, and Leanne are all working with the same brown fabric. Leanne has noticed this and really wants to make her dress stand out from the others. Korto and Wesley are both making pleated dresses. On Korto’s dress, the pleats make it look as if somebody had simply turned the dress inside-out. Korto tells us that her model is Puerto Rican and relatively curvy, and that she likes making clothes for curvy women.

Tim visits the designers and tells them that he has two announcements: There will be no immunity, and the winning designer will be able to sell their design on Bluefly.com. He seems baffled by Korto’s dress (generally not a good sign), and strongly advises Leanne to edit hers. He does appreciate the black belt that Kenley has decided to add to her dress.

Tim’s visit is followed by scenes of people frantically sewing. Stella wishes she could work on leather, as that is what she likes best. Um, I thought she was trying to break out of her comfort zone? More importantly, she should know that the challenges do often test one’s versatility. Last season alone had a denim challenge, a men’s wear challenge, and a prom gown challenge. Designers who can’t deal with that tend not to do very well. But Stella is hardly the only one feeling frazzled, as the designers struggle to finish their garments by midnight. Zippers breaking only add to their woes. At midnight, everybody goes home.

The morning of the runway show finds people back at Parson’s frantically trying to finish their garments. Tim comes in and is irritated to find people working well past the midnight deadline, and he sends in the models, some of whom end up getting literally sewn into their frocks. Daniel is among the last to finish, just five minutes before the runway show starts. I like Daniel, but time management problems have sunk many a contender. Then it’s on to the runway, and we learn that today’s guest judge is Natalie Portman, who is both an actress and environmental activist. We’re told that she has recently started a line of eco-friendly shoes.

Keith’s model is first up, and she is wearing a champagne dress made from organic silk. As the show progresses, we see that several other designers used this same fabric. Terri sends down a model in a navy blue dress with ruffles and a belt. Wesley’s model is wearing a brown, fitted dress made from organic satin. Jerrell’s model is wearing a two-toned blue dress with a fringe. Jennifer made an orange and gray dress, which looks nicer than that color combination suggests. Daniel made a little black dress. Joe’s model is wearing a brown dress made from the same organic satin that Wesley had used.

Suede had painstakingly cut champagne and red strips of organic silk and then interwoven them. He’d obviously put a lot of work into his garment. Kenley’s model is wearing a champagne dress with a big collar and a black belt. Kelli sends down a model in an aqua and champagne dress. Leanne’s model is wearing a brown dress that looks way too busy around the collar and sleeves. Stella redeemed herself nicely with an asymmetrical champagne dress that has lacing up the sides. Blayne sends down an asymmetrical pink and black dress. Emily’s model is wearing a navy and white dress. Korto sends down her pleated yellow dress that flares out to the sides.

The judges then call Keith, Terri, Jerrell, Daniel, Joe, Kelli, Jennifer, Blayne, and Emily, and Heidi tells them that they have qualified for the next round. Kenley, Wesley, Stella, Korto, Suede, and Leanne are left; they have the highest and lowest scores between them. It soon becomes obvious that the judges liked Kenley, Stella, and Suede’s garments, but disliked the others. Wesley’s dress was short, shiny, and tight– and therefore looked “cheap.” It’s an extremely bad sign when a judge says something looks cheap. Korto’s dress not only looked like it had been turned inside out, but it also looked off-balance and seemed to have “fins.” Leanne’s dress was “all over the place” and looked like “five dresses in one.” By contrast, Heidi comments that if she were ten years younger she would wear Suede’s dress, which bodes very well for Mr. Third Person.

Suede is indeed the winner; his dress will be sold on Bluefly.com. Stella, Kenley, and Korto all make the cut, while Wesley and Leanne are in the bottom two. Wesley’s dress was “unflattering” while Leanne’s looked like a “school project.” In the end, young Wesley is given his walking papers. He’s gracious about his loss, saying it was an honor simply to be chosen to compete.

Next week’s previews show the gang wearing ponchos and going on a field trip.


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