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Project Runway: "Welcome To The Jungle"


Project Runway

"Welcome To The Jungle"

Season 5 , Episode 5

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Tonight's challenge was something every designer dreams of: getting one of their designs on a hit TV show, to be seen by millions of fashion-starved eyes. Of course, you could argue that the contestants on Project Runway achieve that dream literally every week as the season unfolds, but whatever. This means more! Because they're designing for Lipstick Jungle! The Sex & The City-esque show about high-powered businesswomen (who you know are high-powered businesswomen, because they never stop saying things like, "I'm the head of this studio." Or, "I have a magazine, I know what I'm doing.") that was watched by roughly the same amount of people as Project Runway!

The contestants' enthusiasm for this task could be best summed up by the look of exhausted confusion on Stella's face, and the very polite round of applause that the group gave Brooke Shields when she walked into the studio. When Tim announced, "It's Brooke Shields!" the workroom suddenly turned into a small version of the PGA tour: golf claps all around. Contrast that polite, restrained welcome with the prolonged burst of excitement that nearly knocked over Sarah Jessica Parker when she walked into Parsons last season, and you have a perfect measure of just how much this current season has fallen off. Poor, sweet Brooke Shields. She's the second-tier SJP on the wannabe Sex & The City, and this challenge just hammered that point home.

Still, some designers seemed excited about the challenge. When Terri found out that her designs could be on NBC instead of an NBC-owned cable channel, she flipped out. "That's what everybody wants!" she said. Of course, that sentiment was not nearly the most memorable thing Terri said this episode. That would be her curt assessment of Suede's particular Suede-osity: "I don't know if he got balls or a vajayjay." Followed by this summation of her managerial style: "I ain't got no babies. Ain't nobody sucking on my titties. So man up." That's right, Suede. Stop acting like a infant, and make that paisley flowy tent blouse like Terri told you. Suede does not want to see what will happen to Suede if Terri gets truly crazypants on Suede.

Despite their colorful disagreements, though, it was obvious that neither Terri nor Suede were either winning or going home. Why? Because we didn't learn anything about their families. Instead, Kelli, Daniel, and Blayne were each given the oh-so-subtle, "Here's a background detail about me or a family photograph" winner/loser edit. We found out that Daniel is from a Moroccan/Israeli background, so he can understand women of many cultures. How that relates to the Lipstick Jungle costume department is anyone's guess. We discovered that Blayne hasn't quite fleshed out the details of his character "Blayne"'s family life: "My family's crazy...But I love them!" Generic, Blayne. Are you sure you want to go that licious-free route? And we learned that Kelli's grandmother is handicapped, and that Kelli wanted to win the Lipstick Jungle challenge because she thought it would make her grandma proud to turn on the TV and see one of her designs.

I really hoped that Kelli would be on the winner side of the winner/loser edit, but as it turns out all three were losers, but for good reasons: Blayne (and Leanne)'s skin-tight unflattering bermuda shorts and icky blue tank looked more appropriate for a trashy camp counselor than a character who's supposed to be a businesswoman. And Kelli and Daniel's tight black bustier and pencil skirt combo with questionable animal print trim easily could have come out of a cheap costume-in-a-bag labeled "Retro Girl." In the end, the judges decided they could forgive Blayne his "brattiness" and propensity to live in "The Blayne Show"–after all, this is a reality competition. And even though Blayne has never put forth anything even halfway decent on the runway, they couldn't get behind Kelli's "slutty slutty slutty" look, so she was sent home. Still, Kelli can take comfort in the fact that talented, white-blonde girls (Allison, Kit Pistol) historically don't last long on Project Runway, while tiny troll dolls with severe hair (Christian, Jeffery) often do.

Grade: C+

Stray Observations:

--As for the winners: Jerrell finally found a challenge that fit his particular over-accessorized, mish-mosh aesthetic. His silky, flowy skirt and slim top cinched by giant yellow leather belt was somehow not that terrible. Although, I agree with Brooke, and disagree with Heidi: that extra zebra-skin belt was not "coooool." As for Keith/Kenley's watercolor blouse and scalloped chiffon skirt, it was the clear winner.

--Speaking of Kenley, on a scale of one to five–one being a slight though not unpleasant ringing in the ears, and five being a full-size, contstantly shrieking Macaw sitting on your shoulder, its claws digging into your skin and its beak firmly lodged in your ear canal–how annoyng is Kenley? For me right now she's about a 3. But I constantly want to rip that flower out of her hair.

--Chris March designed a Saturn-inspired outfit too! And he's leading the drag queen parade next episode.

--Daniel's only 25? I thought it took at least 30-35 years to build up that level of greasy scruffiness.

--Does it seem to anyone else that these designers don't really have their own, unique, interesting design points of view? With the exceptions of Leanne and Korto, the work of this crop of designers can pretty much be divided into two camps: Ugly or Tired.

--There seems to be some confusion about my calling Terri "crazypants." When I say Terri's aesthetic is "crazypants," I mean that it looks off-kilter, like something an insane person would wear. It doesn't necessarily mean that the literal pants she's made are crazy–although I do find it a little insane that she keeps making the same sad pair of black "clubwear" pants.