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The Fabric.com Project Runway Season 5 Water Cooler Report

October 21, 2008

Many of us around here are fairly big Project Runway fans.  Not necessarily the "dress up and have a viewing party" variety, but the day after each show is generally full of chatter about who won and who was "out" and whose construction was atrocious.  This was my first season watching the show, and I was instantly drawn in.  I never thought I would feel the urge to throw things at my TV over a reality show, but there were some nights that I came close.  Since Season 5 just wrapped up last week, I thought I would give you some insight into our thoughts on how the show shaped up.  Here's the scoop...

Leanne - The Winner

leanne_wedding.jpgThe judges seemed to consider Leanne the winner hands down.  On his blog, Tim Gunn said, "Leanne WINS, and what a win it was! We saw all of the conceptual content that really is at the core of Leanne's point of view, and we saw it tempered and orchestrated with precision."  Michael Kors commented, "In a weird way she managed to have a focused collection that still had variety. She took an idea and she stretched it. The clothes were young as well as sophisticated at the same time." 


leanne_short.jpgThe Fabric.com judges weren't so sure.  On the topic of Leanne's collection, the Fabric Maverick said, "Leanne's was, as usual, beautifully constructed and very cohesive.  My only thought was in the practicality of her designs. I cannot imagine sitting down in her dresses. Somehow fashion does not always equate to wearability."  Nancy from wholesale told me, "Not that Leanne is untalented - quite the contrary - but she lacks the diversity in her apparel that Korto constantly displayed... I am not sure how many women can walk around in flapping petals and look attractive." 




Personally, I thought that Leanne's work, while beautiful, was very "one-note."  I can't remember exactly who said it, but one of the judges mentioned that her challenge from now on was going to be showing that she can add variety to her design.  It seemed to me that this entire season she has relied heavily on these "petals" and structured drapes and curves of fabric here and there on her designs.  I'm just not sure she can step outside of her comfort zone on this.






Kenley - Runner Up (and thorn in Tim Gunn's side)


kenley_Wedding.jpgKenley was one tough cookie to wrap your head around.  In one sense you want to hate her for being such a rude little brat, but on the other hand the girl has some great designs a much of the time (but not all - see aforementioned desire to hurl objects at my TV).  "I loved Kenley's textile choices and her hand-painting, which was a risky endeavor, and the silhouettes couldn't have been more her. But when the looks walked, they possessed a stiffness that I wasn't prepared to experience," said Tim Gunn - the person she helped prove has the patience of a saint.  kenley_whtdress.jpgMichael Kors was impressed with her work but critical of the variety in her collection, stating, "The painting on those clothes was just gorgeous. In general, the quality and the craftsmanship of everything she sent out was beautiful. But I think when people are dress designers, which is really what she is, it doesn't make for the most compelling fashion show."

Kenley was not a favorite around the Fabric.com water cooler, but she was definitely given credit where it was due.  Upon hearing one of my many rants about her still being on the show, the Fabric Maverick pointed out, "While her style isn't necessarily my style, she certainly knows how to make a well kenley_poof.jpgconstructed garment."  I have to say that I was prepared to hate her collection, but actually like some pieces.  The white dress with the hand painted flowers on the front was gorgeous, and her wedding dress was every little girl's fantasy.  She still had elements that I outright detested, including the purple-wave patterned dress with the "poof" on the side that was just a rehash of the dress she made for the challenge where they took pictures in New York and used them for inspiration (incidentally, the challenge and judging that almost cost me a TV).  Whether I agree with her style or not, one thing I can agree with the judges about is that unless she can learn to take criticism better and stay more on top with what's going on in the industry, she's not going to make it very far.



Korto - Runner up (and fan favorite)


korto_teal.jpgIn every contest-type show you are going to have one contestant who everyone says should have won, and Korto was Season 5's "shoulda' been."  On his blog, Tim Gunn says, "Her silhouettes, alone, told her story, and when you add the colors, textures, and jewelry, her entire collection was uplifted. Color is nothing if not subjective, and I applaud her decision to step away from the expected and mix up her largely taupe palette with vibrant greens and blues."  kortogreen.jpgMichael Kors had mixed feelings on her beadwork, saying "I remember the beads well. There was one asymmetrical dress where the beads were built in and I loved that. Everything she wanted her collection to be - ethnic without being costume-y, playful with color - she managed to hit that with certain parts of the collection. But I think the necklaces, when they were just necklaces on their own, looked added."

If you read the user comments on Tim Gunn's and Michael Kor's blogs on Bravo's website, there seems to be an overwhelming consensus that Korto should have won.  The Fabric.com unofficial water cooler vote says the same.  Nancy in wholesale had the strongest feeling about the subject, saying, "I was a big fan of Korto and I was disappointed to see her become the runner-up, and not the.  Women of all shapes and sizes would look stunning in Korto's fresh designs. I am not sure how many women can walk around in flapping petals and look attractive.  Korto's ethnic influence was very apparent in most of her design...Strong color, wooden ornamentation, flowing fabric.  So much more pleasing than tight tailored clothes fit for Twiggy.  Several American Idol runner ups have gone to more success than the winner. I hoping this will be the case for Korto!"  "Leanne has always been one of my favorites, but I think Korto should have been the winner. Her designs were colorful and would have appeal to every woman," agreed the Fabric Maverick.  Once again, I agree.  Korto's collection was vibrant, varied and absolutely gorgeous.  She brought in her cultural influences without looking costume-y, and her beaded necklines were to die for.  Hopefully she pulls a Clay Aiken or a Jennifer Hudson and goes on to do some great things.


That's it for this season, but we know next season is already in the works (Lindsay Lohan is supposed to be a guest judge next season).  I may have to find a way to get the previous 4 seasons so I can get caught up and get my fix.  I might even have to play designer myself.  Until then, I'm out.  Auf wiedersehen!

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You can see most of the previous seasons on youtube. Seasons three and four (esp four) are the most impressive! and will put five to shame, I'm afraid.

I, too, almost threw things at the TV several times during season five! There were "sew" many times when Korto should have won the challenges, and didn't. And not winning the total prize was an insult to the industry! Her clothes were ALWAYS fashionable, stylish, well constructed and most of all WEARABLE! She was never in the bottom two and I was heartbroken when she didn't when. Where can I contact Korto to take a class from her or at the very least buy something from her?
PS: Looking back over my comment about her clothes being wearable. Maybe that is why she lost. Looking back over the past seasons; all the winning designers "over-designed". Their designs were just that "designs" - they were "creations" - not clothing! Like all the creations they will have to be toned down before they can be worn. LeAnns designs will be toned down to wavy pintucks if we ever see it in the stores. But, I will lay you even odds that we will see Korto's "CLOTHING" in the stores long before that!

I agree Korto should have won.

I once read the fine print at the end of the show (thank you Tivo). It says that decisions are not just about who's the best at design and fabrication. Added into them mix is concern for dramatic effect. That's why Kenley stayed. In every season there's always someone who should have been booted for behavior but is kept on. Two seasons (ago I think) the challenge was to make something for the other designers' mothers. One of the designers made the mother cry. He was a rude bully. Yet he was the overall winner. Drama, drama. I keep watching, though. My continued viewing has a lot to do with Tim Gunn's class.

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