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TV Review: Project Runway Sews Up the Loose Ends

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Project Runway’s fifth season came to a close October 15 after thirteen episodes full of cat fights, drama queens, garment disasters, and innovative fashion. Last week, the judges (Heidi Klum, Michael Kors, and Nina Garcia) eliminated Jerrell Scott after the remaining four had to design a wedding dress and an accompanying bridesmaid dress during a final “walk off” to choose the final three. With Jerrell’s elimination it left three women as the final competitors, the first time in Project Runway history. Leanne went on to win the competition, leaving Koto to be chosen as the fan favorite.

This season of Project Runway went back to basics with the first challenge being reminiscent of the first season by having the designers construct a garment out of materials found in a grocery store. Since then, following challenges have required designers to produce outfits inspired by the New York nightlife, nature, car part materials, and drag queens. The competing designers also got the chance to design for fashion icons such as Brooke Shields and Diane von Furstenberg.

The last challenge that was supposed to choose the final three who would show their collection at Bryant Park took a surprising turn when the judges couldn’t decide on a “loser.” Instead, they decided that the four remaining competitors, Korto, Jerrell, Leanne, and Kenley, would all have to design their complete collections and at the end of the twelve-week period the judges would then eliminate a designer. Jerrell was eliminated when the judges claimed his wedding and bridesmaid dresses were too over the top and unfitting for a wedding. This choice, however, left many fans dismayed as Kenley, an annoying and rude designer, was chosen over Jerrell, a fan favorite.

I am a huge fan of Project Runway, and I don’t even care for fashion and labels too much. But I was hooked from the moment I started watching re-runs of Project Runway about a year ago. While this season wasn’t particularly my favorite, it delivered in all the ways that have made this show a standout among other reality TV series — ridiculous challenges, over-the-top garments, bitch fests among the designers, fair judging, and a prize that truly helps the winner.

Season five gave the designers more opportunities to express their own personal style without having to deal with working with someone else or with uncommon materials. The majority of the garments did not lack in innovation, craftsmanship, and beauty and those that did were always at the bottom of the pack. What I truly appreciate about Project Runway is its overall fairness when it comes to judging the garments and designers; almost every time, the worst designer of that challenge is sent home or ends up at least in the bottom two. The judges take into account past challenges and their future potential. Furthermore, if the designer you thought was the worst wasn’t sent home that week they are often sent home the following week.

All of this to say that season five’s finale gave the audience three great designers and drama along the way. Korto and Leanne especially were always consistently at the top of the pack. Both of them had each won more than one challenge, and always remained fan favorites. Kenley, while quite the drama starter, isn’t too bad a designer herself and definitely offers a unique perspective.

This year’s season finale gave viewers eclectic, colorful, and modern garments that were designed masterfully. All three women excelled when it came to the fit of the clothing on their models. Each designer used bold and interesting colors that caught my eye, and I found myself staring at the TV searching for every intricate detail the designers had stitched into their collection. Furthermore, the music chosen by the designers for their collection brought the entire finale together in a way that past seasons hadn’t. The season five finale was by far the best finale of the series and left me completely fashion-satisfied.

Despite the fact that I applaud the finale, I am still a little sore about Jerrell’s elimination. I know I was not the only one who was cringing when Kenley was rude and snide to Tim Gunn. And I know I was not the only one trying to refrain from throwing the remote at the TV when Kenley defensively “corrected” Heidi on her garment that had the boobs on the dress too low. Finally, let’s not forget the “I wasn’t going for elegant, Heidi” comment Kenley so sweetly made in the same episode Jerrell was eliminated on. Kenley’s situation wasn’t helped by the fact that we all knew her garments lacked a new and refreshing perspective when all she whipped out were '50s prom dresses.

I know I am not the only Project Runway fan who wishes the judges had kept Jerrell and gotten rid of Kenley, but to Kenley’s credit, those prom dresses weren’t too bad looking. Also, keeping her around for the finale added a bit of tension and drama to the air, and no finale in any TV series is complete without that.

The bottom line is that Project Runway's fifth season delivered a stunning fashion show with three talented designers that presented us with something new and interesting to experience. And along the way, we were entertained by Kenley’s whiney complaints and rude comments, Korto’s honest demeanor, and Leanne’s doe-eyed smile and innovative style. Project Runway knows what’s in and what’s out.

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