First of all, hi! I am so excited to be recapping Project Runway this season, mostly because I am obsessed with ProRun and all Bravo shows of its nature. Sure, Top Design was kind of meh, but Top Chef is...well...tops. And Project Runway, being my first love, will always hold a very special place in my heart. Until next season, when they're switching production companies and moving to LIFETIME. Yeah that's right, Lifetime. As in, the same channel that does gloriously cheesy movies like "When To Hide From Him: The Kim Edwards Story". I don't know if my relationship with ProRun will make it through such a massive overhaul, but luckily I don't have to worry about that right now because YAY! SEASON 5 PREMIERED ON BRAVO LAST NIGHT!
Another serious matter - the Project Runway Recap Torch has been passed to me from none other than my iBFF, Antoinette, and if I fail to carry that torch (and carry it well!) then I will be letting down thousands, nay, TENS OF THOUSANDS of readers. Well, maybe more like 25. But still! I can't let you down, ProRun 25! More importantly, I won't.
Tonight's episode starts with the symbolic unpacking of bags (in the fabulous New Gotham apartments) as we are introduced to all sixteen of the new contestants. Well, we're introduced to FIFTEEN of the sixteen. There is a girl wandering around in a red dress with a flower pinned to her head and no one will ever give her the name caption. Is she a stowaway? A really stylish member of the New Gotham maid service? TIME WILL ONLY TELL.
Standouts upon introduction include the following:
Blayne Walsh, 23 - blonde and short, and his eyes look like muppet eyes. No, seriously. It's as if he took Cookie Monster's round, googly eyes and whip-stitched them to his face. Blayne informs us that he is seriously addicted to tanning, so...whoever he needs to talk to about that (looks pointedly at the camera and giggles). Also, he has been designing clothing for the past six years but currently is paying the bills by working at a coffee shop. Oh Blayne, I have a feeling I will be typing LOTS more about you.
Stella B. Zotis, 42 - I'm not sure where ol' Stella is from. She has one of those confusing accents, where it seems to conveniently surface and you're thinking "German? No, maybe Russian..." and then it dives back down and she sounds like anyone else. Stella likes to design for the rockers, and she looks the part.
Kelli Martin, 27 - this girl is my age AND owns a boutique AND says that it's tough business and she's just fighting it out. Kelli, I love you already. DON'T DISAPPOINT ME! What? I'm a suffocating kind of friend.
Suede, 37 - that's right, SUEDE has no last name. Suede also has a blonde shaved head with a little blue mowhawk stripe and seems to prefer speaking in the 3rd person.
Daniel Feld, 25 - looks polished, put-together, doesn't say anything extremely weird or off-putting - he reminds me of another ProRun Daniel...dare I dream for version 2.0?
Wesley Nault, 23 - wow, Wesley, you're young. But you just said you were working for Marc Jacobs for the last year! Score one big point for you. Whoa, whoa, the camera guy just panned down and WHAT THE SHORTS? Those shorts are. not. good. I don't care if Marc sewed them onto you himself. Your point has been rescinded and you are back to neutral. Oh Wesley, a roller coaster already!
We meet the rest of the contestants (except for Red Dress girl) and everyone heads to the rooftop to meet Tim Gunn (I dare you not to love this man) and the gorgeous Heidi Klum (I dare you not to be wildly jealous of this woman) for champagne. Heidi has her hair all pulled back in some intricate knotted updo, and while on just about anyone else it might look like the start of greasy dreadlocks all knotted up into a messy bun, on her it looks positively Grecian Goddess. So. That's fair! Tim and Heidi greet everyone, talk about the contest rules, and the group gets to chatting.
One of the contestants, Keith, is telling Heidi that he has been designing for her for years. "Yeah, I just look at it and think 'Can Heidi wear it?' And that's how I know if I should make it."
Heidi gives us a special treat by letting loose with one of her trademarked, awkward "HAH" noises - they always kind of shut the room down. We finally get to meet Red Dress Girl - her name is Kenley Collins, she's 25, and she says she's "loud". Obviously not THAT loud, Kenley, as everyone, even the producers, managed to forget about you until just now. Tim tells the designers they are possibly the most diverse group ever, and he wants them to "knock his socks off!". Oh Tim Gunn, I want to hug you.
It's 4am and Tim is sneaking into the designers rooms to get them going on their first challenge. The designers scurry around, bumping into each other in the dark and trying to throw on clothing. The camera pans to Keith, in bed, drinking...wait, what IS that? Keith, are you sucking on a bottle of vodka at 4am, just as you've been awakened? And if he is, am I disgusted or kind of impressed? Keith is possibly VERY hardcore.
Even though the designers supposedly had about five minutes to get ready, they still manage to look like the most hipster bunch of hipsters to ever grace the sidewalks of NYC. Pre-6am. Tim gestures across the street to the grocery store Gristedes (sidenote: this Southern girl has never heard of "Gristedes" in her life - is it like a CVS or something?) and tells the designers that they have $75 and 30 minutes to shop and (of course) to MAKE IT WORK.
Oh, and Austin Scarlett is the guest judge for this episode; he is introduced as everyone is standing outside Gristedes because in Season One of ProRun, Austin won the grocery store challenge. He's decked out in what looks to be an attempt on Nautical Southern Gentleman. He's got a navy blazer, white pressed trousers, a white button-down shirt, a white ascot (yes. really) and a white fedora trimmed in navy. I think Austin is a douche. Oh wait, was that already obvious?
Tim says GO and the designers sprint through Gristedes. Also, another aside about Gristedes (sorry!) - is that a terrible name for a grocery store, or what? It sounds like gristley tiddies to me, and that's all I can think about now when I type the name. Gristle! Tiddies! Eww.
Stella is running through the store wearing what look to be candy-cane striped leggings and a short shirt. Stella, as we'll recall, is 42. And not Super-Aerobics 42, REGULAR 42. Stella, those leggings would make Mary-Kate Olsen's behind look awful. Fail.
Some of the designers treat us to their "game plan" as they're rushing through Gristley Tiddies. Terri Stevens lets us know that her plan is as simple as "mop heads, mop heads, mop heads!" Jerry Tam says he knew what he was going to do as soon as he set foot inside the Gristle. "April Showers," says Jerry, "make MAY FLOWERS". He looks knowingly at the camera, and goes back to his shopping.
Parsons time! Designers are back at the studio and given until midnight to make their creations. Tim reminds the designers that the winner of this challenge will have immunity for the next week.
I have a whole bunch of design-process observations typed in my notes, but I just looked at the length of this post and GOOD LORD it's getting long. So to sum up, lots and lots of people are using tablecloths. The designers keep looking around and seeing more tablecloths. It's tablecloths as far as the eye can see! WE'RE TOTALLY FREAKING ABOUT TABLECLOTHS! Also, someone is making a yellow dress and attaching little cut pieces of a flyswatter and it looks surprisingly cool. Kelli is making what she has deemed a "gardening dress", which involves bleaching and staining a bunch of vacuum cleaner bags and then sewing coffee filters together to make the bodice. Kelli tells us that her dress will be ugly. Really, Kelli? A GOOD ugly, Kelli replies. Oh, okay then. Daniel is melting blue plastic cups with an iron and molding them together into a sweetheart neckline. I like where this is going, Daniel v2.0!
Jerry informs us, conspiratorially, that he thinks everyone is making stuff out of trash. Trash that he would just THROW AWAY. Jerry seems to have not understood the challenge. Aging Rocker Stella is sighing and collapsing on her table. She says that her black garbage bags just look like...garbage. They're cheap and look exactly like trash bags, and she fears her aesthetic will be ruined. Stella seems flummoxed by this development.
Tim Gunn appears in the design room to give some much-needed advice. He quickly jumps on the "tablecloths-are-everywhere" bandwagon, and encourages the designers to be more innovative. You see, says Tim, tablecloths are really just another form of fabric. Tim fears the judges will find the designers to be slackers. That's right, SLACKERS. A gloom falls over the room, and Stella starts freaking out in earnest about her black garbage bags. Tim says "oh no, honey, you cannot send garbage bags down that runway". Aging Rocker Stella looks like she might throw up. Suede is concerned that his tablecloth looks, uncreatively, JUST like a tablecloth. Tim says "you should be concerned." Tim leaves the design room at 11pm and they have until midnight to finish. Stella melts into an Aging Rocker Puddle on the ground and seems like she might not move again. Suede makes the astute observation that Tim seems to be "over" the tablecloths. Crazy Blayne gives the camera a truly horrifying googly-eyed look, says he is finished, that he will dominate, and gestures proudly to what looks like a bunch of black netting tacked to a mannequin. He smiles. It's terrifying. Everyone else scrambles to finish up.
Runway day! Finally, I know. Stella has come up with a new plan and seems somewhat energized. Instead of using her much-maligned black garbage bags for pants, she will make a beautiful dress out of them. I fail to see how the garbage bags will have suddenly become less...garbagey overnight, but Stella seems convinced. Tim tells the designers they will have an hour to send their models to hair and makeup in the Tresemme hair salon and the L'Oreal makeup room and he sends in the models. I was hoping for some model drama but I think everyone is too concerned about time constraints and all I hear is a cheery "great, let's get naked!"
Blayne does throw us a bone after he sends his model to hair and makeup. He looks at the camera and explains that his model has "more curves than...I even knew about" and THAT'S why his black netted nightmare didn't fit correctly on the first try. As (yet another) aside, I think "more curves than I even knew about" would make a GREAT tagline.
Tim comes in to corral all the models and designers onto the runway. The editors have to do some quick censoring as Stella's garbage bag dress flashes open as they walk away, leaving her model completely bare-chested. Not trashy at all, Stella! Good form.
On the runway, Heidi (wearing a metallic brocade mini-dress with a wide red belt) greets the designers and introduces the judges. Like seasons of the past (thank goodness!) we have Michael Kors (top American designer), Nina Garcia (editor-at-large of Elle magazine), and guest judge Austin Scarlett (douchebag extraordinaire). Heidi also recaps the prizes the winner will...win, those being a 2009 Saturn Vue, a fashion spread in Elle magazine, $100,000 to start a design line, and the title of Top Chef! No, that's not it...
And the runway show begins. As the season goes on (and more designers are eliminated) I'll post all the pictures from the show, but with sixteen designers I fear that those of you who have stuck with this post for this long will bail ship. So I'll skip to the end and give you the six designers and outfits the judges wanted to "speak with further".
Daniel is called first, and everyone likes his cup-dress. Even Nina likes it, proclaiming it "sculptural". Jerry is next, and as much as everyone liked Daniel's dress, they HATE Jerry's. Michael Kors seems to dislike it the most, comparing it to both a bridal nurse AND a handi-wipe gone wrong. Heid jumps on the bandwagon, brightly adding that it reminds her of a hospital plumber. Korto is next on the line and although I didn't like her dress at all, especially the tossed salad neckline, the judges seem to think it's great. Austin is happy she used fresh ingredients (again, this is a DRESS, not a meal) and Nina says she can appreciate that it's impeccably done. Whatev. Stella's up next and, unsurprisingly, they all think it looks like garbage. Shock! Kelli's dress is up and the judges are happy. Michael says he thought Kelli used marbled paper, and commends her for being creative with the vacuum bags. Nina asks about the hook and eye closures on the back, and when Kelli says that she made them out of a notebook spiral (!) Nina says "I like the way you think". Me too, Kelli! Hearts and kisses to you! Terrifying Blayne is last, and he interrupts the judges to tell them he "didn't want them to be bored". They say not to worry, because they've never been less bored by what looks like a fly-inspired wrestling diaper. They hate it.
The designers are sent off stage to wait while the judges make their final decision. Michael Kors has now convinced himself that the only reason anyone would wear Jerry's dress is if they were going to kill someone. Heidi says Stella's garbage-mess was just "butt ugly". Nina keeps going on about how Korto's yellow kimono/salad getup lets Nina know Korto has "great taste". Wha? The designers are brought back out and the decision is announced:
Winner: Kelli! She goes off into the back room, does a little dance, and sits down with immunity for next week. Ooh, and also a whole sleeve of tattoos on her right arm! I never saw that before...Kelli, you are a sweet, sweet mystery.
Loser: Jerry! According to the judges, he is memorable, but not in a good way. Goodbye, Jerry, and may you have a long and prosperous career in slasherwear.
Whew! That will surely be the longest recap ever. Introductions, explanations, googly-eyed madness...I think it's obvious who my initial favorite is, but who do you like? Give me your thoughts, comments, additions, and corrections in the comments!