Season 5: Episode 3 “Bright Lights / Big City”

I’m glad they final gave creative control to the designers this week! The first few episodes are always hard as a designer because they typically start with a few innovative or team challenges and you don’t feel like you can express what you want to do very well. I think it finally showed this week in the quality of designs as well… there were definitely a lot more that I liked this week than the last 2 episodes! I also like that they brought back the season 2 NYC photo inspiration challenge (although with the “night-out” twist). It can be hard to come up with new designs on the show because they literally take away anything from you that could be used as inspiration and sometimes you’re really drawing a blank (sleep depravation plays a part in that too!), so anything for inspiration can be a big help!

Let’s give it a go… (Thanks BPR for the photo montage! Click for larger image.):Season 5: Episode 3

Blayne: Once again, I’m not terribly into the bright neon colors and the 80’s feel, but I don’t have many problems with Blayne’s dress this week… although I can’t say I love it either. I thought the rainbow effect was interesting in the way the colors seemed to grow from the beginning to the end and I liked how they intertwined and wrapped so it didn’t seem so stuck on (like Emily’s ruffle). I liked the low back and even liked that he added sleeves to the dress (it’s really hard to find dresses with sleeves that don’t look like you should be 60 years old!), but I thought the rainbow ruffles stopped a little abruptly on the side/back and could have been thought out a bit better.

Daniel: I thought Daniel did a pretty good job this week and made an elegant cocktail dress for a night out in NYC. I really liked the greenish/metallic color he used and thought that was a nice alternative to gold or silver. The black accents on the bust and waist are also nice to tone it done just a hair. This type of dress is more what I had been expecting for the 2nd “make a cocktail dress” challenge… something that is a bit classic, but still young and flirty (I feel like the designers are equating “cocktail” dress with “slutty” dress this season?). I liked the exaggerated pleating and flounce on the hip and thought that was a nice mirror to the asymmetrical shoulder. There are a few construction issues, but overall I thought he did a good job.

Emily (OUT): I’m having a hard time deciding if I think Emily should have been out… I definitely get where the judges were coming from and I’m not a fan of her dress, but I’m undecided about if it was the worst. I think the concept behind her dress could have worked and she definitely drew from her inspiration photo, but I don’t understand the placement of the ruffles at all! It just doesn’t make sense to throw the ruffles right across the bust and then straight down and stopping it in the middle. Maybe had the ruffles started on her shoulder and wrapped around they would have looked more worked into the dress instead of just sitting on top. I did however like the fire-y pink and orange colors she used for the ruffles. I also think the black dress underneath is a bit too simple and could have used a more interesting shape (like Blayne did with his). And last but not least, I didn’t like the pink trim she used on the edges at all. I think the dress looked a lot more elegant in the workroom before she added that.

Jennifer: I think Jennifer’s inspiration and initial design idea had potential, but it all ended up so dowdy looking and the fabric she used is difficult to work with and can easily look messy if you’re not careful. I liked the clock inspiration and the navy with cream could have been really elegant for a night out. Even the actual design could have been really cute, but overall I think the proportions are pretty off and that’s what landed her in the “matronly” category. I’m all for a empire waist and think they can be really cute, but I think she could have made it a bit younger if the neckline wasn’t so high and maybe added some little cap sleeves instead of below the elbow. I like the tiered skirt, but would have liked to see a little more thought put into the layers and obviously the hems had some issues.

Jerell: I’m kind of indifferent about Jerell’s dress. I think it was nicely constructed and fits really well. I also like the tonal greens (I’m a sucker for olive green!), but I didn’t get the connection between his inspiration and final design? I also think it’s a bit too much of a ball gown for a “night out” in NYC. At least when I think of a night out it’s not to such a formal event. If he had stopped with the ruffles maybe half way down or made it more cocktail length then it might have worked better.

Joe: I think what I liked best about Joe’s was how closely he was able to match his fabric and design to his inspiration (although I suppose you could say it was a little too literal). The graphic detail on the bodice was nice, but I wish the whole top was smooth and graphic instead of the bust being gathered which makes it look a bit messy. I also wish the skirt had a bit more interest (and no, tulle stuck on the butt is not more interesting). Maybe he could have mimicked the graphic lines of the lamp into the skirt as well, but keep it black on black or tonal for a more subtle effect than the top?

Keith: Keith’s dress had a lot of potential with the original inspiration and it even had potential in how he was constructing it, but I agree with Tim and the judges about the lack of shape (although his model did drop out, so we can give him slack on that). I think if the dress had been a bit more fitted it would have looked better and not as much like a bag. I do like the idea of using the various printed fabrics to mimic the magazines and I like the prints he used, but I really wish he hadn’t added the plain white fabric in there. I think that’s the part that threw the judges and probably the part that MK was making the toilet paper comment on. I have to disagree with Nina on them sloppy hem comment, not all hems go straight across and with a design like this, I actually think the hem works like that.

Kelli: Kelli’s garment looked a bit too busy up top and didn’t seem to come from her inspiration at all. I think the open, graphic fabric she used on top is interesting (anyone know what it is?), but the fringe at the sleeves gives it a messy feel (I like how clean it feels at the neckline for example). I’m also not entirely sure the bodice underneath the top is working very well. The halter shape is distracting from the top fabric and I think it would have been better had she stuck with a simple strapless shape underneath. I also like the silvery brown colors mixed with the black and the simple skirt is a good compliment to the top, which is the focus of the outfit.

Kenley (WINNER): Although I think the judges should have given the win to Leanne (as you might be able to tell below), I can certainly see why they loved Kenley’s dress. The dress was fresh and modern with a nod to the past (Are the 80’s really vintage now? That makes me feel old!) and it looked perfectly constructed. I had no idea where she was going with the tulle skirt, but I’m really impressed with how she molded it and the shape it creates. If you’ve ever worked with tulle, you know that it’s really difficult and annoying to deal with (pinning tulle barely works because of all the holes!). I’m not a fan of the print on the fabric, but I can see the connection to her inspiration photo. The only criticism I have is that it immediately reminded me of the spring ’08 Balenciaga collection (visit for a look) and as a designer you really don’t want your clothes to be that easily associated with another designer. I’m NOT saying that she copied or was even thinking about the spring shows, but just pointing out that it’s similar to what was out there at the time.

Korto: Korto’s outfit is really hard to comment on because it’s all in black and the photos don’t show the details. I like the silhouette she created at the top and love the wide leg pants. I also don’t mind that it was all in black (something people in NYC are pretty famous for wearing all the time), but I would have liked to see a little accent somewhere either in a pop color or maybe a metallic. If I remember correctly, there was some kind of pleating or gathering on the collar part? Other than that I don’t remember any of the details and it’s impossible to see them in the photo.

Leanne: I love, love, loved Leanne’s outfit! I know as a designer that I really love something when I’m jealous that I didn’t design it! There really isn’t anything about Leanne’s outfit that I would change. I loved that she stuck with her fabric circle idea that almost got her kicked off last week and proved that she could make it into something amazing. The tonal colors on the skirt are subtle, but really interesting and give it a very chic look and I love the simple, but modern top. The styling is also dead on with the chunky gold necklace and clean hair. I also think that her design was by far the most “night out in New York.” I guess it’s not surprising if I say I think Leanne should have won this challenge right?

Stella: Although definitely not the worst, I wasn’t terribly impressed with Stella’s outfit. I think the fit and construction looked pretty good (although the pants were a wee-bit tight if it’s giving the model love handles!). I also liked the color palette she went for with the silvery grays and metallics. The problem is that there wasn’t anything new or interesting about the outfit and putting lacing on everything can be kind of tacky. I get that it’s Stella’s style and she wants to stick with it, but I’m hoping she can break out and show us something different.

Suede: As with Jerell’s, I’m also a bit indifferent to Suede’s outfit this week. It looks like a nice little shirt-dress with some embellishments and a belt. The color is a bit drab and would be difficult for many people to wear, but it works well on his model’s skin tone (I think that color can work well on either the very pale skinned or darker tones, but not much in between). Overall I just don’t have much to say since it’s fairly safe and simple.

Terri: I liked Terri’s outfit this week, although I don’t think I liked it as much as the judges seemed to. I think the dress-over-pants look can be cute if done right and this outfit worked well. The sheerness of the dress lightened up the look even though it was long sleeved and gathered and the slim pants kept the models figure visible, even though she was totally covered. The open back was nice, but the sleeves were a bit too busy at the ends for my taste. I also didn’t really get how her inspiration was translated into the design… but I liked the fabric and thought it almost had a Monet feeling too it (perfect for the Art Museum challenge!).


Join the discussion.

I had the same thought when I saw Kenley’s outfit.. I was like: that looks so Balenciaga!

Still loved it though it deserved a win


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