Return to the Runway

Last night marked the premiere of Season 5 of Project Runway as well as the beginning of the end of an era. Which era? Project Runway airing on Bravo, being filmed in NYC.

(If you hadn't heard, the show is picking up and changing networks beginning in November).

When the first challenge of the episode was announced - making an outfit out of materials from the supermarket Gristedes - I was a little bit surprised. So now they're recycling challenges? - I thought to myself, as nobody can forget that this was the first Project Runway challenge ever, which brought us Austin Scarlett's magnificent corn husk dress, displayed here.

However, I soon changed my mind because I like the circularity of things, referencing the first season in what will be the show's last (last season on Bravo at least...though we all fear that the show will become a shell of its former self once it makes the move to Lifetime/LA). Besides, this was an awesome challenge the first time around.

However, I wonder if any of these new contestants (except the few lone standouts) even watched the first season? Why would they all think that making a dress out of a tablecloth would fly with the judges? Heck, even the winner of the original supermarket challenge, Austin Scarlett, was there as a guest judge, to remind everyone that he won because his original creation was one of the few that didn't use the most obvious materials!

On top of 75% of the contestants being lame and using a tablecloth as their main material, most of the tablecloth dresses were ugly! Seriously, what a disappointing result from this first challenge. At least Tim Gunn let them know it...(and a random "Talk to me?" some attempt at a new catch phrase; Tim said it to over half of the contestants while they were working - and I didn't particularly care for it).

Of course, there were a few exceptions. Thank goodness for Kelli, who made her gorgeous winning dress out of bleached/stained vacuum bags (and it was pretty obvious from early on that hers was a winning creation) and Daniel's blue cup dress. I do wish though that the top part of Kelli's dress wasn't merely pasties made out of coffee filters. I was surprised that the judges didn't comment on that (I thought it looked tacky), but hers was still undeniably logs better than the rest. I also personally would not have stuck Korto's dress in the top 3 (it looked huuuuge to me), but I understand that they were rewarding her for using the fresh vegetables.

Looking at the bottom: there were just too many to choose from and honestly every single dress in the bottom 3 was an abomination. I think the reason why Jerry ultimately got the boot for his serial-killer raincoat monstrosity is only because the other 2 showed a little bit more potential for the future (based on audition footage and interviews), since Stella's garbage-bag dress was arguably worse (or in the very least showed less effort).

Overall - a disappointing first showing for the new crop of designers in my book - but that doesn't mean that the potential isn't there so I will eagerly await their efforts at redemption in the following weeks...

Update: The designs may have been sub-par, but the premiere received record numbers!


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