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Project Runway 5, Episode 5 – It's a Lipstick Jungle Out There


We begin this week’s episode of Project Runway with a recap of the previous week’s episode, in which the designers had to craft a look fit for a female Olympian. Daniel, who apparently knew nothing about the Olympics, panicked. Korto won and Jennifer was sent home.

The following morning, Korto tells us how happy she is to have won, while Daniel works out with weights and vows to do better as he doesn’t want to end up in the bottom two again. After that, the gang then go to see Heidi, who offers Korto her choice of models. Korto keeps her model, Katarina, and Jennifer’s model, Alex, is sent home.

Heidi then tells the designers that their next client is a “high-powered, professional woman,” a statement that leads to the usual speculations and guessing games amongst the designers. Blayne hopes that it isn’t Hillary Clinton, as he doesn’t think she’d like a neon outfit. Stella hopes that it’s Sharon Osbourne and points out that she’s a businesswoman. (More importantly, from Stella’s perspective, she’s also Mrs. Ozzy Osbourne, and therefore a fellow rocker.) Tim eventually ends the suspense by introducing them to Brooke Shields, an actress and former model.

Suede gives away the fact that he’s one of the older designers present by reminiscing about Ms. Shields’ Calvin Klein jean ads – which had run in the 1980′s. Brooke wants the gang to design an outfit for her character, Wendy Healy, in Lipstick Jungle. Her character is an executive and needs a “day to night” look, that is appropriate for both the office and a night on the town. Brooke describes her character and Tim helpfully tells the designers that he has a dossier on Wendy to help the designers decide on an appropriate look for her. Tim has more news: This will be the first team challenge of the season. Kenley tells us that she has reservations about this, as many of the designers don’t “seem to know what they’re doing.” Each designer will sketch an outfit and pitch their creation to Brooke Shields, who will then select six favorites. These will be the teams’ leaders.

As the others sketch their designs, Daniel tells us that he is of Middle-Eastern descent. He is half-Israeli and half-Moroccan, and wants to show his culture’s influence in his designs.

Suede is the first designer called. His look will include a jacket. Kelli offers to make something with leopard print. (For the office?! Is she nuts?!) Kenley offers to make something with a boat neck (whatever that is). Terri pitches an outfit with pants, to Brooke’s delight. Blayne offers an outfit that will include Bermuda shorts. Brooke understandably has reservations about this idea, but still likes it.

Daniel suggests something with a lot of different textures. Keith offers to make a skirt with layers of fringe. Hmm, here’s hoping that it turns out better than his “toilet paper in a windstorm” disaster of the third week – or that Brooke picks somebody else. Brooke does nix Stella’s design, saying that her character needs to go to work in it, but she does like the colors in Korto’s design. Joe offers a tuxedo-style top. and Leanne simply offers to make something comfortable that Brooke’s character really can wear all day. Finally, Jerrell suggests a khaki outfit.

After talking to all the designers, Brooke then tells them that the winning look will be showcased in Lipstick Jungle and picks her favorites: Keith (who is ecstatic to be chosen first), Korto, Kelli, Jerrell, Terri, and Blayne. They will be their teams’ leaders, and their first job is to choose a teammate. Blayne picks Leanne. Keith picks Kenley, but tells us that she is very opinionated and hopes that he can convince her to be quiet and stick to sewing. Terri chooses Suede and Korto picks Joe. Kelli chooses Daniel and apologizes to Stella, who ends up with Jerrell, who is happy about this, as his outfit does have a leather component. Each team has a budget of $150.00 and until 12 a.m. that night. Tim tells the designers there will be no immunity, as Brooke is already offering a substantial reward.

Stella and Jerrell amicably divvy up their outfit. She’ll make the skirt and leather belt, and he’ll do the top. Kelli tells us that she was raised by her grandmother, who is handicapped. Her parents were “rarely around.” As the designers work, Suede drapes some of the fabric on a dummy and panics, as he’s convinced that he didn’t buy enough. His teammate, Terri, tells us that she finds Suede’s panic annoying and wishes that he would “man up.” Blayne tells us that he grew up in a small town near Seattle; his parents are divorced.

Tim sends in the models for an early fitting. Kelli is appalled by how badly Daniel’s skirt fits the model and orders him to start over, as she doesn’t think he can salvage it. Terri is not happy with the shirt Suede has been making.

That night, Tim visits the designers. He starts with Blayne and Leanne and tells them to dress up thir outfit, which he says is too “sporty”. He has praise for Stella and Jerrell, and especially likes their belt and “palette.” Tim calls Kelli and Daniel’s look “dubious,” but he likes Suede and Terri’s shirt, especially the neckline, which relieves both of them. He likes Keith and Kenley’s choices of fabric, but tells Korto and Joe that their baggy orange jacket looks like a “sweet potato.” Joe and Korto then argue over what to do about the jacket and they take their quarrel out to the lounge.

The following day, the designers continue to work on their outfits, and the models come in for their final fitting and preparations. Then it’s off to the runway, where Heidi introduces them to today’s guest judge… Brooke Shields. Anybody who didn’t see that one coming has not seen this show. Korto and Joe’s model goes first. She’s wearing a sleek, strapless tan dress and the aforementioned orange jacket, which has now been fitted to be less baggy and boasts gold trim. Kelli and Daniel send down a black “suit” that includes a black skirt trimmed with lace at the hem, a black jacket, and a top trimmed with leopard print. It is way too revealing in the front for office wear. Terri and Suede made a flowing paisley shirt and trim black pants and a belt.

Jerrell and Stella made a sleeveless golden brown shirt, a dark patterned skirt, and a very wide mustard yellow leather belt. Keith and Kenley send down a flower print shirt and a long brown, layered skirt. Blayne and Leanne made tight tan shorts, a snug royal blue shirt, and a looser aqua shirt pretending to be a jacket. It’s an okay outfit for weekend wear, but it doesn’t work as office wear (unless Wendy Healy’s office has a very casual dress code) and it’s not dressy enough for a night on the town, either.

The judges then call Jerrell and Stella, Keith and Kenley, Kelli and Daniel, and Blayne and Leanne. These four teams have the highest and the lowest scores between them. The other teams have qualified to go on to the next round. The judges start with Jerrell and Stella, who tell them they tried to capture Wendy Healy’s “eclectic” tastes. Brooke doesn’t like the belt, but Heidi does, while Michael says that he likes the whole outfit. Kelli and Daniel explain that they wanted to make a “sexy suit,” and the judges aren’t impressed. Michael calls their outfit, “slutty, slutty, slutty.” When the judges ask which one should be sent home, they name each other. Kelli points out that she has won a challenge and has never been in the bottom two, while Daniel claims he has “impeccable taste,” implying that Kelli does not. Kenley bursts out laughing at his claim.

Keith and Kenley’s outfit looks “rich” and “expensive”. Blayne tells the judges that he’d been inspired by the show, but Brooke considers the look too casual, and Heidi comments that it looks like something worn by a “woman who didn’t have a mirror.” When the judges ask one which should be sent home, Blayne shows a surprising amount of class and names himself, as he was the leader and therefore responsible. Leanne doesn’t disagree.

The judges then dismiss the teams and their models and discuss them. They liked Jerrell and Stella’s outfit, which they call “feminine” and “powerful.” Keith and Kenley’s “classy” look also finds favor with them. They consider Kelli and Daniel’s outfit to be in poor taste. Kelli’s overall taste level is “questionable”, and Daniel simply hasn’t “brought much to the table.” Interestingly, both these designers had made a very strong showing in the first episode but they seem to have been fading ever since, as they have mostly been landing in the middle since that first episode. Doing that can only get a designer so far, as in past the very weakest performers. After that, though, the judges start wanting to see more effort, creativity, and versatility. A designer who can’t deliver is going to lose. Blayne and Leanne apparently simply didn’t listen, and therefore made the same mistake that Jennifer, Daniel, and several others had made in last week’s Olympics challenge: They’d made a technically good outfit that was inappropriate for the challenge.

After the judges call the designers back in, Brooke announces the winner: Keith. The outfit that he and Kenley made will appear in Lipstick Jungle. Jerrell and Stella are in. (They were robbed. I’d liked their outfit better, but then I don’t like flower prints.) Leanne is in and so is Daniel. The leaders of the losing teams, Kelli and Blayne, are the ones who have to face the music. Quelle surprise. Team leaders are practically always the ones who run afoul of the judges in this type of challenge.

The judges say that they find Kelli’s taste and construction “questionable” and they wonder aloud if Blayne can ever “step outside of himself.” This bodes very badly for Blayne, even if he survives this week, for designers who can’t step outside of themselves lose, sooner or later. Versatility and flexibility are crucial to success in this competition.

Kelli’s out, which means yet another twenty-something bites the dust. Except for the 32-year-old Jerry, all the designers who have so far been eliminated have been in their 20′s. By contrast, five of the six contestants who were over 30 are still present. What does this tell us? It probably means that experience and education matter in the world of designing, as the older designers have simply had more time to learn their craft than the younger ones. It should also tell the show’s producers that packing the show with a bunch of kids, presumably in order to find the next Christan Siriano, was a mistake. Christian was a fluke. He was a prodigy or close to it, and as such he was the designing world’s equivalent to, say, Michael Phelps, who’d begun competing in the Olympics when he was 15. There are simply not very many people like that in any discipline, and it is foolish to expect to find one in every season of this show.

The previews for next week herald the return of Chris March, who asks the gang to make a drag queen costume. Tim tells somebody that their pink concoction looks like a “pterodactyl from a gay Jurassic Park.”


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