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Dressing in the Dark: Designers Try on "Lipstick" on "Project Runway"

As much as the designers might loathe it, I do love when Project Runway forces its contestants to work together to design a garment. While the results might sometimes be truly awful, the process does sometimes produce some truly mind-blowing creations (I'm thinking of Chris March and Christian's pairing last season).

So I was curious to see how this latest crop of designers would fare in their first team challenge on this week's episode of Project Runway ("Welcome to the Jungle"). Were the results runway-ready or just plain also-ran? Let's discuss.

Brooke Shields stopped by as this weeks' guest judge/corporate synergy icon as the designers were tasked with creating a look for Shield's character Wendy to wear on Season Two of the NBC drama Lipstick Jungle. (I loved the way the designers seemed to silent acknowledge that they had never heard of the series, nor that it had been given a second season order.) In an echo of the Sarah Jessica Parker challenge from last season, designers pitched their concepts to Shields, who then selected six captains who would implement their designs with the help of another designer.

I thought that the pairing of Jerell and Stella would implode as they have such different design aesthetics but they actually worked so harmoniously together that I added some extra salt to the dish of crow I was eating. Their design was absolutely suited for both the world of Lipstick Jungle and Shields herself and they even wisely styled their model Nicole to resemble the star herself. The design was chic, bohemian, and elegant and definitely embodied the brief--to create a look that could go from day to night--perfectly suited for the office or a night on the town. The leather corset belt was genius and the combination of textures and pattern created an amazing silhouette and looked fashion-forward. I also thought that it filmed the best and would pop on television more than the other designs.

Also impressive was the work that Keith and Kenley pulled off. I was worried about these two working together as I thought they'd be at each other's throats but they managed to keep one another in check throughout the process, creating a winning garment that was chic and fit the brief perfectly. Keith's soft fringed skirt was creative and imaginative and embodied the very essence of movement and femininity; paired with an organza floral-print top that could be transformed as Wendy moved from day to night and a leather belt, it was a gorgeous garment that showcased how their own diametrically opposed styles could be melded into this one garment.

As for the rest, ugh. It was really a mixed bag. I thought that Korto managed to fix the bagginess of her "sweet potato" ethnic-inspired tunic jacket but she had immunity so I knew that she and Joe wouldn't end up on the bottom this week, even if Joe's dress looked poorly constructed and oddly baggy in places. I was disappointed with Terri, whom I've been rooting for; she and Suede did not work well together and I thought that the design was far too urban than would work for Shield's character and the boardroom/nightclub structure of the challenge.

And then there was Blayne. (I won't even mention Leanne in the same breath as I do feel as though it was Blayne's vision that categorized this challenge.) I appreciate that Shields wanted to take a risk with this design (or that the producers urged her to do so) but I didn't see how shorts of any kind would be acceptable for either the boardroom or for a posh night on the town and the end result justified those feelings. Blayne designed a bizarre outfit (quelle surprise) that combined an unstructured top, an overlayed beachy shirt, and above-the-knee length shorts. I do agree that their model looked like a woman who got dressed in the dark and grabbed whatever she could as she ran out of the house. It was messy, inappropriate, and--paired with the pearls--just weird.

Finally, completing the bottom feeders was Kelli and Daniel, who created a nauseatingly bad black and leopard print design made up of separates: a rouched skirt, a slutty top, a jacket that makes Victoria Secret look like haute couture, and a lacy belt. It was vile. Just for the poor judgment that went into making this garment I knew that one of them would be going home and, to be honest, I was hoping it would be Kelli. Just as the judges did, I questioned both of their taste level (how odd was Kelsey laughing hysterically when Daniel defended his design aesthetic?) and felt that they deserved to be called out for something that was so amateurish and costumey.

Sure enough, it was Kelli who was auf'd as the judges were just so horrified by this design that she needed to be banished from Parsons post-haste. But worry not, Kelli, I have a feeling Daniel will be joining you soon...

Next week on Project Runway ("Good Queen Fun"), it's a blast from the past as Season Four's Chris March returns for a challenge in which the designers need to create an outfit for a group of drag queens.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Ghost Whisperer
(CBS); Summer Olympics (NBC); Friday Night SmackDown (CW; 8-10 pm); Legally Blonde (ABC; 8-10 pm)

9 pm:

10 pm: Swingtown (CBS); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

10 pm: Swingtown.

On tonight's episode ("Get Down Tonight"), Tom and Trina teach Susan and Roger how to line dance; Janet gets a job at the local newspaper.


I was, strangely enough, very impressed by Jerell and Stella and actually wanted them to win. Kenley and Keith's design was also great but I thought that Jerell and Stella's outfit was much more appropriate for TV and fit the brief perfectly.
Anonymous said…
I liked Kelli so much more than Daniel and thought she had so much more potential. I really wanted him to be auf'd, but it was her vision. I REALLY wanted Blayne to be auf'd, but that is apparently not to be. Seriously - what else does he have to do?!? He made shorts!

I loved Kenley laughing. That was my favorite moment of the show.

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