Project Runway Recap: Hippety Hop and You Don’t Stop

This week, the entertainment factor gets ratcheted up as the competition winds down.

All photographs courtesy of Bravo.

And then there were five. In what feels like an incredibly quick period, we’ve whittled it down to the remaining designers—who, unlike in years past, actually seem to be the top designers of the bunch. (Wendy Pepper, we’re looking at you.)

First there’s Jerell, whose overly ornate designs we’ve never been a fan of, but he can dish out a hilariously caustic barb with the best of them. And then Suede, who looks incredibly exhausted and stressed at this stage of the competition and clearly needs a big nap—and a hug. There’s sassy Korto, quietly talented and seriously fun. There’s Kenley, whose overly ’50s aesthetic totally matches with our own but whose incessant whining is the worst we’ve heard since Stella. And then Leanimal, who has blown everyone away with her massive creativity and unexpectedly dry wit. Er, no, we don’t have favorites. Okay, okay, we totally do.

Note to Kenley: Talk smack about Tim Gunn again and we’ll, to quote Korto, go all “hip-hop on you.” Okthanksbye.

This is where the competition gets serious, where the pure entertainment factor (Stella, Goatee Joe) has finally been weeded out and the talent is left to duke it out. And duke it out they do. The models roll in, and—for the first time—the designers decide to mix it up a bit. Suede is near tears when Leanne picks Tia, his former model; Leanne’s former model, Carolyne, is in tears for the huge dis. Wow, Leanimal, I didn’t know you had it in you.

Turns out all the drama was for naught. The designers will be creating outfits for each other and walking the runway themselves. Awesome! As an added twist, they’re forced to do it based on randomly chosen musical genres. It’s pretty clear that Leanne plus a hip-hop look equals guaranteed hilarity. And, as if to cement that thought, Leanne offers a little awkward rap. It’s going to be a good one, kids.

The designers sketch out their plans and head to Mood Fabrics, and then the fun begins. As Jerell says: “I just don’t think there’s anything hip-hop in Kenley’s bag of ’50s-style dresses!” And given that Kenley’s decided to make a pair of ’50s-style, cropped, high-waisted jeans and a floral tank top for her hip-hop look, he seems to be right. Adds Korto: “We’re just going to let her think that’s hip-hop.”
To add insult to injury, Jerell decides he’s making Kenley—a.k.a. Kenley Spears—wear a fishnet, diamond-studded mini-dress. Her eyes nearly pop out of her head at the first sight of that tiny, tiny mini. Kenley does a fitting and we’ve got to give her a hand for wearing it pretty gamely. That diamond-studded bikini top is incredibly over the top. And by “over the top” we mean “incredibly, embarrassingly slutty.”

The only thing more hilarious than Leanimal’s hairdo? Kenley’s “hip-hop” high-waisted jeans.

Tim Gunn pops in for his consultations. He loves Jerell’s silhouette (does anyone else have a problem with that ridiculous diamond bikini top?). He’s concerned that Suede’s rock-and-roll outfit is more John Mayer than Mick Jagger. And, in a Project Runway first, he openly chides Kenley for her sarcastic attitude and rude back talk. Tim is nearly beet-red with frustration as he proceeds to take Kenley down a notch, and she—ah, misguided youth—appears not even to be aware that she’s being rude. Still uncomfortably red, Tim exits the building. We’re behind you, Tim! Team Gunn all the way!

And it’s the day of the runway show! For the first time in a while this season, we’re incredibly excited for this. The designers get gussied up in the Tresemmé/L’Oréal room. Kenley actually looks incredibly pretty—and kind of Trishelle-from-The-Real-World-ish in her Ms. Spears-meets-the-Pussycat-Dolls outfit. Are we alone in thinking that? And we’ve got to hand it to Leanne, who sports the weirdest, most hairsprayed hairstyle we’ve ever seen.
And it’s the runway! Korto does her best to rock her countrified look, and we’ve got to hand it to Leanne: Making that skirt fit so perfectly around Korto’s proportions couldn’t be easy. Kenley rocks that horribly skimpy mini-dress, which we’re still finding waaaay more “prostitute” than “pop star.” Leanne hilariously does her best hip-hop impression and bops down the runway like the good sport she is. Suede scares everyone but looks hot. And Jerell rolls down the runway with a very tame rock look. Still, he must get credit for pulling off skintight pants incredibly well.

*Swoon* Uh, what were we talking about again?

The judges—joined by LL Cool J, who is a seriously attractive man, don’t you think?—start their runway reviews. Nina Garcia raves about Kenley’s silvery bra cups, which continue to baffle us. Michael Kors calls it “sexy, but it’s not vulgar.” Really? Really?

We move on to Leanne’s hip-hop look, designed by Kenley. First of all, Leanne’s a twig, so if she can’t look good in skinny pants, then they’re just bad pants. LL Cool J doesn’t find the look hip-hop at all, so Kenley starts her whining and arguing. Nina takes her down a notch: “Everyone’s was hard, Kenley. You’re not alone in this.” Oh, snap.

In the end, Korto gets the win for Suede’s punk-rock look. We’re thinking of taking the bleach to our own jeans. Way cool. It comes down to Kenley and Suede in the bottom for their completely non-hip-hop and rock-and-roll-goes-to-the-grocery-store looks, respectively. And then, it’s Suede who goes home.

Not to worry, he isn’t letting himself get down too much. He quotes inspirational Madonna lyrics and uses his final TV moments to let the Material Girl know he’s ready to dress her up in Suede.

Next week: Our final four duke it out for the runway slots. There’s crying! And yelling! And more crying! Kids, it’s gonna be a good one. See you then!

Read last week’s post here , and check back next Thursday for Betsy’s Project Runway recap.

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