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Hospital Plumbers, Diapers, and Plastic Cups: Just Another Challenge on "Project Runway"

While another season of sartorial showdown Project Runway has begun on Bravo, it marks the very last time that the series will make its debut (not to mention its trademark blend of catwalks and catfights) on the cabler as it will move next season (set to launch in November) to Lifetime.

Last night's season premiere episode ("Let's Start From The Beginning") offered a look back at the very beginning of Runway with a challenge that was a virtual flashback to the first challenge ever on the series, even as it introduced 15 contestants to the fabled world of Parsons, Atlas New York, and, well, mentor Tim Gunn.

So far, there are very few designers that I am impressed with, especially as I didn't feel like they really took their first challenge to heart: armed with $75, they had 30 minutes at grocery store Gristede's to pull together supplies to create an entire ensemble back at Parsons. Would the designers stick to fabric substitutes like tablecloths? Or would they make use of the fresh produce and food products that line the grocery's shelves? Sadly, most of them opted for the latter rather than the former, with a whole array of clothing fashioned out of tablecloths and shower curtains on display.

I was really hoping for some ingenuity here, much like guest judge Austin Scarlet's famous cornhusk dress or, hell, Michael's amazing coffee-filter dress from Season Three. Instead, most of the dresses looked like they could have been created from any fabric off the shelves of Mood instead of utilizing the raw materials on offer.

Which isn't to say that some of the designers didn't come up with some amazing ideas. There were a few designs which did blow me away altogether and, even when the design didn't wow me, I was impressed by the choice of material. Like how Kenley used a lawn chair to construct a skirt or how Joe used different colored pasta shapes and oven mitts. That was unexpected, at least.

I really liked Korto's yellow dress, even if it was constructed from a tablecloth; however, the silhouette that she created was at least vastly different than anything else on offer, with its vaguely Japanese kimono effect and she gets points for using raw produce--lettuces and cherry tomatoes--to create a jeweled-effect scarf/wrap.

Also taking this challenge seriously was Daniel, who created a cocktail dress completely out of blue plastic cups; I was completely blown away by how he went about doing this, melting the cups with an iron to the point that they became malleable and could be moulded into the shape he desired. The effect was definitely eye-catching and I do think he had the very best use of non-fabric materials.

The winner? Kelli, by what seemed a landslide. While I didn't care for the top of her vacuum clearner bag dress (it looked like a sanddollar bra, to me), I thought that the skirt element--the bags bleached and dyed to created a marbelized effect--was absolutely stunning and showed true vision as well as well-thought execution. It was a piece that could have sold right off the runway, which was something that most of the other designers couldn't really say. And it was definitely a head-turner. Well done, Kelli.

On the other side of the pack were the bottom three, who I absolutely called from the first five minutes of this episode, due to their cockiness and "wackiness." Beyond I doubt, I knew that Blayne, Jerry, and Stella would end up on that runway, shaking in their designer shoes as to which of them would be auf'd from the competition. I hated Blayne from the first second he showed up at Atlas New York, with his obsession with fake tanning and words like "girlicious" and his garment, which Michael Kors described as though he had "stuck a diaper between [his model's] legs," was absolutely ghastly. I am sure it was calculated to provoke a reaction from the judges but it was a horrific cross between a blousy unitard and a diaper and looked freakishly amateurish on the runway. Ick.

Jerry, meanwhile, irked me with his misplaced self-confidence, especially when he presented his psychotic raincoat design on the runway. I absolutely loved how Heidi deemed the look akin to a "hospital plumber" and there was something vague serial-killer-ish about the entire ensemble, from its Batman-like cape effect to the ragged gauze "dress" and the terrifying yellow gloves. Appalling and creepy, all rolled into one.

And then there was Stella's garbage bag dress... which looked less like a dress and more like she draped some black garbage bags on her model as she was walking down the runway. I didn't like the way that Stella seemed to give up altogether at Parsons after she was the one foolish enough to pick garbage bags out of everything at that store as her sole material. Not cool. I get that she comes from this rough-and-tumble punk aesthetic but I don't see her lasting very long in this competition if she can't break out of that pattern to showcase a different kind of look.

I actually thought that it would be Stella who would be getting the axe last night but the judges surprised by cutting Jerry from the pack for his axe murderer creation. I think Jerry was just as stunned himself as he seemed to be surprised to land in the bottom three and even more that he was packing up his workspace so quickly. Personally, I would have been beyond thrilled if the judges would have sent home all three right then and there, but we can't lose the "drama" on Project Runway already, can we?

Next week on Project Runway ("Grass is Always Greener"), the designers must expand their way of thinking by going green with the help of their models.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Greatest American Dog (CBS); Last Comic Standing (NBC; 8-10 pm); Smallville (CW); Ugly Betty (ABC); Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? (FOX)

9 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); Supernatural (CW); Grey's Anatomy (ABC); So You Think You Dance (FOX)

10 pm: Swingtown (CBS); Fear Itself (NBC); Hopkins (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching:

9 pm: Dragons' Den on BBC America.

The British reality series, in which inventors pitch a variety of products--like a machine that helps babies sleep--to a panel of multi-millionaires (a.k.a. the Dragons). Tonight's pitches include a styling service for female professionals, an instant fix for wobbly tables, and luxury organic aromatherapy. Will any of them win over the notoriously hard-to-please dragons? Find out tonight.

10 pm: Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List on Bravo.

Okay, I know, I know, but I find her acerbic overeagerness somehow calming. On tonight's episode ("No Time for Siestas"), Kathy launches the Kathy Griffin Leadership Academy in Mexico and tries to land some substantial corporate donations.

10 pm: Swingtown.

On tonight's episode ("Heatwave"), Tom throws a pool party on an intensely hot day but Trina is still furious about his recent affair and things go from bad to worse when Susan shows up with Roger.


Kelly said…
I think that the major deciding factor between Stella and Jerry (at least to me) was that Stella knew her dress wasn't great, and wished she could have done better. Jerry, on the other hand, thought his was fantastic(!) and worthy of winning. At least you have hope that next week Stella might do better, but that was Jerry's idea of a good design. Shudder.
Anonymous said…
Not super impressed with any of the designers so far. I did think that the dress made of plastic cups took some serious skill and I liked the bottom half of Kelli's piece but I was surprised that the judges didn't comment on the top part which did look like a mermaid's seashell bra. So, some potential but nothing earth shattering. Hopefully, the designers will step up their game next week.
greebs said…
I was SHOCKED that Jerry got the boot. Stella's dress was nothing. It looked like it took her five minutes. Jerry at least made me curious even if he was super creepy.

FYI, I think you have a typo in the beginning where you write Would the designers stick to fabric substitutes like tablecloths? Or would they make use of the fresh produce and food products that line the grocery's shelves? Sadly, most of them opted for the latter rather than the former, with a whole array of clothing fashioned out of tablecloths and shower curtains on display.

I think you mean most opted for the former rather than the latter...

Putting my red pen away...
Anonymous said…
Greebs took my red-pen correction. :)

The bottom 3 were definitely my least favorite, as far as personality, from the start. I REALLY can't stand tan-boy, and hope he is gone very soon.

I really thought Stella deserved to go. At least Jerry attempted something, even if it was god-awful. Stella was lazy, gave up and rested her entire concept on generic-brand garbage bags. What'd she expect? But I do think that Kelly makes a good point.

As for Kelli - I LOVED her skirt, hated her coffee filter bra top, but I thought her craftsmanship was fantastic. I might have given it to Dan, though, just for ingenuity.
par3182 said…
It would have been fantastic if the judges had auf'd the bottom three - it would've shaken up the show and the remaining designers

it's going to be a slog waiting for the inevitable axing of stella & blayne (who'll probably stick around far longer than he should - there's always one)

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