Bittersweet, that’s how I feel about tonight’s premier of PR5. No more Bravo, no more Magical Elves, limited amounts of New York, and a whole lot of Lifetime, the Channel Now Too Good for “The Golden Girls”™ is in store for the next season. Let’s hope this final hoorah on Bravo is as fun, drunk, and memorable as any senior year can be. (Like anyone graduates from college in four years anymore, anyway.) Maybe it’s just hopeless optimism, but PR5 kicked off to a pretty decent start; even if the designs weren’t quite up to snuff, the casting department did its job. Without further ado, let’s all get to know our designers a bit.
Meet the Designers.
As the sixteen contestants move in to their apartments in Atlas, we find out little tidbits about them, their design sensibilities, and their quirks. First up is Jerell Scott from Los Angeles. He fancies stylish hats and wearing his shirt unbuttoned to his navel. He started out as a model and ended up making his own clothes because he couldn’t afford to buy what he liked. He now makes one-of-a kind designs for starlets and Saudi royalty. One-of-a-kind reads like he doesn’t know how to make a pattern right.
Blayne Walsh is from Seattle. He fancies tanning beds and hoodies. He’s a youngin’ at 23 and is trying to ride the Christian vibe, I think. He is a barista and likes urban wear. He is also the contestant, in the grand tradition of Kayne and Victorya, to have an annoying “y” in his name that pisses off my spell-check.
Joe Faris is from Detroit. He’s the straight guy and lets us know this first thing, as he starts talking about his daughters. He dresses like Michael Kors, sans the jackets.
Stella B. Zotis is a hot rockin’ woman and designs rock wear for the likes of Debbie Harry and Joan Jett. (By the way, did anyone else catch Joan on “Law & Order Criminal Intent” Sunday? She is looking good!) Stella usually works with leather and denim and sees this season as a chance to break out of her comfort zone.
The polar opposite of Stella is Jennifer Diederich; she’s been living outside of Florence, Italy for a while and is the picture of wholesomeness. It’s too early to tell, but I hope she brings out another side, a la Dirty Diana. She says her style is Holly Golightly meets Salvador Dali.
Kelli Martin fancies herself as the love child of Vivienne Westwood and Betsy Johnson. She has her own store in Columbus, Ohio. She loves what she does, even though it is a lot of hard work.
Terri Stevens is another freelance designer. She says her style is Aerosmith meets Lauryn Hill meets Michael Jackson. She says she can sew so fast that she can make a three-piece suit in eight hours. I’m anxious to see if she is that fast; if so, let’s have a special MFin’ Sew-off! between her and Christian.
Jerry Tam is “doing very well as a designer” and thinks he’s about to become very big on the design scene.
Suede (no last name) is from New York and is a jeans designer for lots of famous labels. He wants to now make money for himself and not design companies. Suede fancies speaking of himself in the third person and sports a blue fauxhawk.
Keith Bryce is a boutique owner who turns up at Atlas wearing a wife beater/old man tank top and serial killer glasses. I worry about him. He says his style is urban and raw. When he meets Heidi, he tells her that he designs for her (in his dreams) and that creeps her out a bit. He is also has a self-proclaimed gift for fashion.
Korto Momolu-Briggs is originally from Liberia but now is in Little Rock, Arkansas. She wants to move out of Little Rock and on to the New York fashion scene. I’ve been to Arkansas; I can’t blame her.
Leanne Marshall of Portland, Oregon, actually named her line of clothes Leanimals. She’s a bit Pam from “The Office”. She thinks her fellow contestants will underestimate her because of her quiet demeanor but assures us that she is the “silent fashion assassin.”
Emily Brandel runs “Smoke and Mirrors” clothing company; it is a little operation but she is proud of her work. She feels great about being in the competition. She kind of looks a bit like Leanne and/or Jennifer. Ugh, this is going to be confusing.
Daniel Feld is from Brooklyn; if he hadn’t gone into fashion, he’d have been a zoologist. He has lots of birds in his apartment and has a glass case of butterflies. Is there a serial killer theme tonight? Does he have some lotion in a basket too? Actually, he only worries me because he kind of looks like a creepy dude I work with—I know, I’m totally projecting again.
Wesley Nault really fancies really short formal shorts. Now, formal shorts are something I have issues with on women. On guys, well, it is better than those long baggy shorts some are prone to (you know the ones—they look like they raided their grandma’s culottes drawer), but Wesley doesn’t really pull it off. He’s not “school boy/Angus Young” but more like “dweeb who doesn’t wear proper pants.” It doesn’t help that he looks an awful lot like Jason Biggs in “American Pie.” He has worked for Marc Jacobs, though, so he has some chops, I suppose.
Kenley Collins fancies herself a Vargas girl or aspires to be Dita Von Teese. Her design aesthetic is “loud” because she uses plaids and prints. She at least has the gumption to call out Blayne on his ridiculous tan.
After the designers all move in, they barely have time to settle when they are summoned to a rooftop meeting with Heidi and Tim. Heidi has to hold down the fluttering short pink leopard print skirt because of the wind. Tim is dapper as ever in a dark suit and pink striped tie; he notes that this is the most diverse group PR has ever seen. Heidi teases that they are about to start their first challenge, but she’s just messing with them. Instead, they break open some champagne and get to know one another for a little while.
We gotta get right back to where we started from.
Tim Gunn, I would do a million things to have you show up at my doorstep, but waking up at 4 a.m. or going on camera in a bath towel are not two of them. But that’s exactly what he does to our new crop of designers on the morning of their very first challenge. Out they all wander, into the cool spring air of New York City, and then they walk. And walk. And walk some more. Wesley is still wearing his too-short formal shorts. Terri marvels that she’s seen the show with the designers walking down the street and now she’s doing it too!
Finally they arrive at their destination, a truck pulls away, and Gristedes, the supermarket in the very first challenge on PR1, is revealed. Suede comments that he saw that show but he never stopped to think what he would make and now he’s freaking out a bit. Tim announces that the show has come full-circle and he introduces the guest judge for the challenge: the one, the only, Austin Scarlett! Austin’s cornhusk dress is the reason I started watching this show; I was so caught up in it, I nearly cried when is shriveled up overnight because of the lack of refrigeration. Plus, no one alive can do eccentric but lovable better than Austin can.
Austin shows up sporting slim (and I mean really slim) white pants, a big double-breasted navy blazer with big brass buttons, a white aviator-like scarf and my grandmother’s hats. He says that his innovation in the grocery store challenge helped launch his career and innovation will be the key to the contestants’ success. He then passes out envelopes of $75 each to spend in the store; they’ll have 30 minutes to shop and will work back at Parsons until midnight. After that, they’ll take all leftover food items, make an appetizer course, a protein course, and a dessert and serve it to Padma Lakshmi and Heidi in a great eating contest for models. Okay, maybe not that last part, but c’mon, that would be awesome. Andy Cohen, call me—I’ve got a million ideas and none of them involve housewives of any town.
The designers then take off running; thankfully it is only across the street and not across a field. And, even more amazing, not one errant cabbie takes them down. Kenley is the first one in the store because she’s crazy serious about getting her shopping in. Jerry has an idea entitled “April Showers Bring May Flowers” and will make a raincoat out of a shower curtain. Um, did Scarlett say “innovative” or “derivative”? Terri goes for mop heads—not those spongy ones but the long tendril kind. Korto inexplicably says she knows she’s in a grocery store because she has a kid. I don’t have any kids but I grasp the concept of “grocery store” as well, my friend. However she does win points because she’s the only one adventurous enough to go for fresh produce. Loads of people are going for tablecloths while others grab lawn chairs, koosh balls, fly swatters, Solo cups, and big bouncy balls. Stella, apparently unfamiliar with Daniel Franco’s first turn on the show, goes for black plastic trash bags. Meanwhile, Kelli is not having any of the table cloth nonsense; she knows better than to use anything that really is just fabric anyway. Time runs out and it’s off to Parsons, for the very first time!
It’s a shame ants and bears aren’t judging this challenge.
The designers arrive at Parsons and find their allotted spaces; the model information is already provided for them. Tim tells them they will have until midnight to complete their looks and the winner will gain immunity from elimination in the next challenge. Suede is nervous at the “wack-a-doodle” challenge but wants to get cracking on it. Suede is desperately trying to coin witty phrases but is failing. Joe unloads boxes of pasta and hotpads. Meanwhile, Kelli unfolds a bunch of vacuum cleaner bags on the floor and hand-applies dye and bleach to make the bags into patterned “fabric.” She thinks it is going to be pretty ugly, but in a great way. Daniel is making a sweetheart dress out of blue Solo cups. He cuts them open, heats them with an iron, and molds them onto the muslin on his dress form. Blayne busts out his design—a short dress with some kind of mess affixed to the front—and keeps saying “girlicious,” much to the annoyance of Jarell and everyone who isn’t Robin Antin.
Then there’s the great tablecloth debacle. Leanne, Jerry, Suede, Korto, and Keith have all chosen tablecloths (and others, it is later revealed). Leanne and Keith are both surprised that others went for this obvious choice. Have they never seen this show!?!? Jerry thinks there’s nothing wrong with his materials but thinks coffee filters, vacuum bags, and produce are all a waste of time. Stella hasn’t picked a tablecloth, but the trash bags aren’t much better; making things worse is that they are the really cheap, thin kind so she can’t make the pants she wanted to. She’s begins freak-out mode, which continues all night. Meanwhile, Terri is diligently weaving her mop heads into a rather pretty top for her outfit and Jarell takes a stab at a Tim Gunn impersonation. He needs to practice more.
Speaking of Tim, in he walks to survey the damage so far. Blayne appears to have completed his “not another dress” bodysuit; it is mostly black but has some weird layered rope thing going on in the crotch area. He says he doesn’t want to bore the judges; Tim says they won’t be bored, but it is a fairly risky look. Tim then views Kelli’s work and loves what she’s done with the vacuum cleaner bags; her coffee filter bodice needs some work though, because it isn’t finished. Next up, Tim talks with Stella, who continues to bitch that she doesn’t have good materials to work with; Tim says that she needs to figure it out because the judges don’t want to see a garbage bag dress.
Tim then goes on to the tablecloth brigade. First he checks out Suede’s blue and white picnic cloth column dress with accents at the top made of plastic blue dog poop bags. He’s also included a blue belt that just doesn’t work for Tim. Nor does the tablecloth—Tim advises to make the dress look less like one. Korto has also used a tablecloth—a bright yellow paper one, fashioned into an African-inspired dress. She has put in some amazing pleat-looking details on midsection of the dress and the sleeves (yes, there are sleeves!). She mentions that she has some produce to accessorize the dress with and Tim encourages her to use it.
Jerry, who was bagging on non-tablecloth designers for using weird stuff, is then sharply criticized by Tim for not only using a tablecloth but a shower curtain as well. Tim says Jerry needs to add “wow” factor fast. Finally, Tim checks out Keith’s tablecloth dress and loses it. He addresses everyone and tells them again the point of the challenge is to use nontraditional materials to make clothes; he’s worried that the judges will see all the tablecloths and think they are all slackers. He then departs, probably to have a stiff martini. As he leaves, everyone who is using the table linens freaks out and tries to add crap to their dresses.
With only a little while left on the day, Jerry talks about now making a little dress to go under the trench coat. Whaa? He was going to send his model down without anything on under that coat? It’s practically clear! Terri is still at work weaving those mop heads and Stella is certain she’ll be out. Blayne is finished with his outfit and Stella finally decides to hand whip-stitch some panels of garbage bag together to make a skirt. She doesn’t want to be the first to go because if she is, she’ll be the “biggest jackass of the nation.”
After a few hours’ rest, the designers awake to ready themselves to meet the judges for the first time. Kelli isn’t scared of Michael Kors but is a bit frightened of Nina Garcia. Kenley is last out the door because she has to get that red pouty lipstick just right.
Back in the workroom, Stella keeps working on the skirt and decides to just drape the top around the model’s neck to cover her breasts. She thinks her dress may be all right but probably is not good enough to keep her around. Tim brings in the models and says they will have one hour for hair and makeup. Blayne sews his model into her outfit—sewing up the crotch. Talk about up close and personal. Jerry’s outfit, which now includes yellow dish washing gloves in addition to the white trench coat and white Wellies, makes Kenley think of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Okay, I’m convinced—this is a serial killer-themed episode, isn’t it? Tim returns to call the five-minute warning; Korto suddenly remembers her veggies and runs to get them. I hope the production finally sprung for a refrigerator. And with a final few touches, it’s off to the runway for the first time this season!
At least there was no candy bikini.
Heidi arrives on the runway in a short, silver cloth dress accented with a red belt. I again curse my genes when I think that woman has popped out three kids, looks like that, and is only a few months younger than me. Grrr. Michael, Nina, and Austin are all present and accounted for and the show starts. The grocery store outfits are:
Emily’s short v-necked shift dress made of a tablecloth, accented by a thin belt at the waist and pieces of balloons, napkins, and a bouncy ball making up a high collar piece;
Jarell’s dress with a fitted bodice made of lawn chairs and accented by cocktail umbrellas and a koosh ball over a fuller skirt made of layers of a tablecloth with a jagged/deconstructed hemline;
Leanne’s dress primarily made of a tablecloth but accented by meringue cookies, coffee filters, and marshmallows. The skirt poofs at the hips and comes in for a close fit at mid-thigh, while the top is bustier-like with the area over the breasts done in a kind of fan-like pattern with the filters;
Korto’s bright yellow long dress, with wide sleeves and a large bow in the back. Around the model’s neck is a garnishment of kale, with sliced cherry tomatoes and bell peppers in a jewel-like fashion;
Jennifer’s strapless, sweetheart neckline dress with a flirty, short layered skirt made out of paper towels. Bits of paper towels with lipstick kisses are affixed to portions of the bodice as detailing;
Daniel’s molded and fitted strapless, sweetheart neckline dress made of blue plastic Solo cups over muslin that causes Nina to chuckle a bit;
Terri’s crocheted/knitted/knotted mop head sweater top over a short red wrap skirt made out of a tablecloth, which easily looks the least tablecloth-y of the lot;
Suede’s column dress made of a blue and white tablecloth and accented with pieces of blue doggie waste bags as trim at the top and all over the dress;
Stella’s garbage bag long skirt, slit up to there, with a shawl-draped piece over the models shoulders, down her chest, and tucked into the hem;
Joe’s skirt made of muslin with pasta glued on in a pattern that looks pretty cool from a distance (and not like your pre-school art project) with a hem detail made out of tomato can labels topped off by a halter top made out of deconstructed oven mitts;
Kenley’s strapless dress with a just-over-the-breasts bustier made of a dodge ball (too much jiggle, however--it looked painful) over a high-waisted skirt made of a lawn chair and tablecloth;
Jerry’s white shower curtain trench coat, with this nun-like head covering made out of a tablecloth over a dress made of lavender gauze and napkins, and yellow kitchen gloves;
Wesley’s short yellow dress with an asymmetrical single strap made of a tablecloth and accented by a yellow fly swatter and plastic cups with yellow gloves from the Bluefly accessory wall;
Blayne’s onesie/body suit/whatever thing made of drawer liners, shoelaces, jump rope, and potholders, with “girlicious” written down the model’s thigh and looks absolutely ridiculous;
Kelli’s short dress consisting of a Jillian-esque full skirt made of the bleached and dyed vacuum bags, and a bodice made of coffee filters with thumbtacks on the midriff and notebook spiral for accent in the back; and
Keith’s short halter dress made of a tablecloth, laundry bags, and accented with silver bits of a car shade.
After the runway show, Heidi calls Daniel, Jerry, Korto, Stella, Kelli, and Blayne forward. The remaining designers are safe and they get to go cool their jets and hopeful bank some footage for Project Drunkway (bring it back, please!). The six Heidi called are the lowest and highest, so out come the models and the questions.
They start with Daniel, who explains his is a cocktail dress made of plastic cups; Austin thinks it stands out because he didn’t use a fabric substitute. Nina likes the dress and the chance he took and Michael thinks the form could have been taken further but it is still a smart, innovative use of material. Heidi turns the focus to Jerry, who is sweating like mad. Michael finds the visual very freaky—a bridal nurse with a dress made of handi-wipes gone wrong. Heidi thinks it is for a hospital plumber and Nina sees no innovation. Austin agrees, saying the materials are not that creative.
Korto admits to using the paper tablecloth but talks about using the fresh cut vegetables in a way to evoke brooches. Austin loves that she used live produce and Nina gives her highest praise by saying it looks impeccably done. Michael concurs that it is the right look for the right girl. Stella comes under fire next and talks about draping and sewing the garbage bags. Michael says there is no transformation and Austin thinks the construction is boring. Heidi thinks Stella just slapped the dress together because she had to do the challenge.
Kelli then explains her use of materials, and Nina likes her innovation and creative thinking. Austin and Michael both love it too. Finally, Blayne talk about his outfit and his desire not to bore the judges. They weren’t bored but Heidi points out it looks a bit Playboy Bunny-gone-grunge. Austin doesn’t like the layers of jump rope coming up from the crotch to below the breast-line. He likens it to a diaper and finds it jarring and cheap. Michael says it reminds him of the wrestling challenge, and we all know how that affected him.
And the winner of the jackass lottery is…
The designers are dismissed and the judges talk about their choices. Michael really likes the detail and prettiness in Kelli’s design, and Austin and Nina agree. They like Daniel’s cup dress and are impressed with his thought to use the cups to make the dress. As for Korto, Michael is a bit disappointed in the paper tablecloth but loves the overall look. Austin loves the use of fresh veggies. Nina declares that Korto shows she has good taste. If I were a betting person, I’d put money on Korto as an early favorite to win the whole thing, given Nina’s level of approval.
Stella’s look is called “butt-ugly” by Heidi, makes Michael not the least bit curious about what she can do, and disappoints Austin. Jerry’s outfit is called “strange” by Nina and that is pretty kind, given that Michael points out it would be what someone would wear if the were going to kill people. He’s not much kinder to Blayne’s bodysuit either; he says the jump rope detail made it look like someone pushed an old diaper between the model’s legs. Ewwww!
The judges call the six out again. Korto is safe and she leaves the runway. Heidi then congratulates Kelli as the winner; she has immunity for the next challenge. Of course, Daniel is safe and so is Blayne. It comes down to Stella and Jerry; really, this is like the opposite of Sophie’s Choice—I want them both to go. Heidi says Jerry’s look was not wearable and memorable not in a good way. Stella took the easy way out and still didn’t deliver and she didn’t show who she was as a designer. But the hammer falls on Jerry and he’s out. He’s going to go home and continue to make beautiful clothes. For serial killers.