Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Season 5/Episode 3 NEW YORK CITY IS THE MUSE

Who is in and who is out?

The judges, and if you beg to differ, please do, got it wrong on both counts.

Not the most original of challenges: create a look of your choice inspired by New York for a night out on the town. Er, anyone ever heard of Donna Karan, who each season pays homage to the concrete, glass, steel, graffiti and electricity of New York?

Comedian Sandra Bernhard, um, funny yes, fashionista, questionable, sat in as guest judge. So, okay the winner, Kenley for what Michael Kors described as an 80’s, Joan Collins, power bitch dress. The Nina thought it was “adorable.” But it was a weird little pouf – part fabric, part tulle. Fun – one night on the town only -- then back to the dress-up box. Bernhard pointed out, not many girls could wear it.

What they could wear was Leanne’s architectural little skirt inspired by the lines in a metal planter paired with an easy top. “I would wear that in a heartbeat,” Heidi said.

But Leanne isn’t a colorful character . . . Kenley whose style, she says, evokes modern day calendar girls, is. High marks went to Terri for her backless dress-over-pants ensemble inspired by walls of posters and graffiti. Bernhard called it “fierce, sexy and in control." It was spicy but also evoked a Baby Phat/Kimora Lee Simmons vibe.

Out is waify Emily for her dress inspired by lights. Granted the ruffled neon appliqué was fairly bad, though the simple black dress was okay. Far, far worse was Keith’s scrappy (and we mean scraps) shmata that Kors said, “literally looked like toilet paper caught in a windstorm.” C’mon guys, it was a no-brainer. But again, Keith is more fun than Emily.

Show highlights

• The kids in ponchos and rain boots following Tim like a line of duckies onto a double-decker bus to view the city. Even jaded New Yorkers Stella and Suede dig it. Suede’s third person problem continues.

• Blayne’s “Timlicious,” greeting. His quest for a tanning salon in Times Square. And finally, him teaching Tim a new phrase, “Holla at your boy.” Intrigued and amused, Tim bids adieu to the group in a new way. “Make it work. Carry on. Holla’ at your boy.”

Other notes

• Blayne’s dress is clowny
• Jerell’s sort of Rami-ish (remember Rami?)
• Joe’s stunning
• Stella’s total and complete Stella.

In the category of too much information: Stella in the morning, Jerell in a sleep mask.

– Anne Bratskeir

Photos from

The Tim Gunn highlight, Week 3

Ah, yes, we finally get to see in an episode what we saw in the tease for Week 2.

Blayne suggested that Tim Gunn holla at his boy later on in the show. Tim Gunn, a style guru, had never heard the phrase.

And it went a little something like this:

"Holler or holla? . . . Make it work, carry on, holla at your boy."

Week 2 poll results

Wesley got whacked in Week 2. Our readers disagreed with the judges. Here are the results of our weekly "Who would you have 'aufed'?" poll:

40 percent - Korto
34 percent - Leanne
25 percent - Wesley

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Christian Siriano is selling & strutting his stuff

Project Runway Season Four winner Christian Siriano is selling an eight-item eponymous collection on that includes an uber-skinny black sateen pant ($280), a gold “red carpet” shift with puffed sleeves ($325) and a black cotton “Posh” puff sleeved blouse named after Victoria Beckham, whose role as judge on the show's finale definitively helped Sirano clinch the win.

According to a spokeswoman, the other items, great looking jackets and dresses, get sold out as soon as they are put up for sale. While the clothes are very cute, the You Tube videos documenting the Christian/bluefly collaboration are a laugh a minute, particularly the one in which the diminutive Siriano shows a towering model(he asks her if she's like 6'12") how to work it on the runway. It's nice to see that fame hasn’t dampened his Fabulousness’ mega-personality a bit. As you can imagine, there are plenty of Siriano's "Fierce," and "Tranny" expletives, and for the most part, the clothes are the real in wearable.

– Anne Bratskeir

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Season 5/Episode 2 IT AIN'T EASY BEING GREEN

The challenge: use environmentally responsible textiles to create cocktail dresses for clients who are…the models. The bummer: The models, armed with $75, shop for fabric and trim and have absolutely no idea what the heck they’re doing.

A bunch bought this vile, glossy brown organic satin, which was the undoing of one contestant. Poor, sweet Wesley got the boot for his overwrought, ill fitting number that Michael Kors said looked like 27 hands had been all over it. Leanne’s loopy, too-many-tricks mini was second to worst. So sad… speaking of which…the water works were on tonight with Korto’s near breakdown when her darty dress was criticized, to Leanne’s girlish sobs, when her model didn’t back her up, saying that the dress she created was not really what she wanted.

Onward to happier fashions and moments: Kenley’s lean, ladylike cocktail number in champagne was elegant, but Suede’s girlish tulle skirted frock of ivory satin and red strips won. Guest judge Natalie Portman, who is an environmental activist and a designer for vegan shoe line Te Casan (pricey but very stylish) as well as a fashionista (and did we mention, a Long Island girl), loved, loved Suede’s confection. Beneath the blue Mohawk and the overuse of the third person, “Suede is a bisexual Sagittarius…. Suede rocks…” well, we sorta’ like him, and thought the dress was really cute.

Stella redeemed herself tonight imbuing her rocker chic attitude into an asymmetrical shoulder silky mini. Her model loved it. But, um, Long Islanders, was it us? Or were the contestants making fun of our famous accents? We forgive, because Stella of Astoria speaking the Queen’s English is sort of hard on the ear as in “letha” this, “letha” that (yes, that would be leather). But Blayne really went to town…you don’t hear us speaking Leprechaun, do you Blayne? Stella was a good sport about the ribbing.

Truth told, we’re kind of liking Blayne too – what a character – but we must question his judgment. Is it wise to call Heidi Darth Vader? As he put it “all shiny on the outside, but Darthlicious inside.” Hats off to him, Terri, Daniel, Joe and Emily for the good work, while we’re thinking Jennifer did shmata and Jerrell did hoochie mama.

– Anne Bratskeir

(Photos from

The Tim Gunn highlight, Week 2

We've been hosed, dear readers. Hosed!

In the previews (look over there in that video player in the top right), Tim Gunn was throwing crazy fastballs at people during his "Let's hammer these kids" mentoring/guidance segments of the show.

In the actual show that aired, nada. No "Holla at your boy!" No "It's a pterodactyl in a gay 'Jurassic Park.'"

Instead we were left with a modified Siriano holdover. We considered protesting this, but honestly, we're just a little blog about a big pop culture phenomenon, so who'd notice?

So we caved and still came up with a Tim Gunn quote of the week. We're not happy about it, either, but it is what it is.

"Oh this is the outside of the dress? . . . " followed by a confused 10-second pause and then a sketchy/bewildered ". . . Ooooohhhhhhhh!"

Love Project Runway Style

There have been a lot of haters on Runway...venomous types who enjoy controversy and in general driving other contestants nuts. But this season, brace yourselves; word is we're going to witness some lovin' as in a full-scale romance. We have no idea who the two parties involved are (assuming that two is the number), but a romantic relationship between contestants, judges or anybody else -- well that's a Runway first. We welcome your thoughts...who is the creative couple? We get this feeling that the answer may, um, have us in stitches. - Anne Bratskeir

Week 1 poll results

Jerry got the boot from the judges in Week 1. Readers disgreed, choosing to whack Stella if they were sitting in those mighty chairs off the runway at Parsons.

Here are the results of our weekly "auf" poll

53% Stella (60 votes)
29% Blayne (33)
17% Jerry (20)

'Runway' and relationships

During a repeat viewing of the Season 5 premiere via DVR on Tuesday night, I had a revelation.

The first show of each season is reality TV's version of speed dating.

Think about it: we just finally gave in to our unrelenting friends and decided to get back into the dating circle after a breakup (Season 4 ended and left us five-plus months ago).

We walked into this room full of 16 new faces and we had about three minutes with each to form conclusions and decide whether or not we're going to want to invest any more time in these people. (Those darn commercials really messed up this one conversation we were having.)

Starting to catch the concept here?

Then when that hour was up, we immediately began to compare these people to what we liked about the relationship that just ended.

Yep, a "Project Runway" season premiere is speed dating with a sewing machine instead of questionnaires and index cards.

- La Monica

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Heidi Klum scores Emmy nod

(AP Photo)

One thing is for certain after the Season 5 premiere of "Project Runway:" Heidi Klum is still smoking hot!

Seriously, it's almost not even fair to see those legs on television anymore. Just let Seal enjoy it. He's already won the game of life, why taunt us still?

Clearly, we're not alone in this assessment as the good people at The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on Thursday awarded Klum with an Emmy nomination for the new category of Best Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Show.

She's up against Tom Bergeron of "Dancing With the Stars", Ryan
Seacrest of "American Idol", Howie Mandel of "Deal or
No Deal" and Jeff Probst of "Survivor."

We'll root for Heidi on Sept. 21 for three reasons:

1) We don't like the other hosts as much
2) She's bound to drop some sort of bomb on stage
3) She's freakin' hot!

- La Monica

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Episode 5/1: Gristede's and tablecloths

It’s baaack.

The first episode of Project Runway had it all – the pretty, the weird, the nerdy, the Goth, the over-inflated ego… you name it. To be honest, we found ourselves missing our curly-haired girl, Jillian Lewis, from Selden, and the entire cast of Season 4, but we know, we know, we’ve got to move on.

The challenge: create a look from items purchased at a grocery store with a budget of $75. The problem: many of the contestants bought tablecloths . . . not risky enough for Tim or the judges, who included Season One contestant Austin Scarlett who came off frothier than a double latte, but in the end was quite a good judge.

In terms of geography, Stella, billed as the rocker chick, from Astoria, is our girl. But she came close to being the first designer to go. She feared if she were, she would be known, and we quote, as “the biggest jackass of the nation.” Stella chose cheap trash bags to do her version of something leather. It didn’t work. For a while we thought she was just going to quit, but she pulled through with a pretty unimpressive trash bag dress that evoked, well, a trash bag. Heidi said it was “butt ugly.”

Jerry of Montana took the bullet and unfortunately took the phrase, “dressed to kill,” literally in an outfit of shower curtain and rubber gloves that prompted Michael Kors to say it looked like something out of “a slasher movie.” Bye, bye fella.

Who do we love… already? Kelli, whose tattooed arms conjure last season’s Sweet P, and whose clever vacuum cleaner, coffee filter, pushpins dress was the winner. Nerdy Leanne, who is way out of her element but created cuteness with candy -- Daniel who molded royal blue plastic cups into a bombshell dress -- Joe whose pot holder-pasta dress was adorable -- Terri for her mop top cropped sweater -- Jerell for his paper umbrella embellishment -- Korto for using lettuce and tomatoes as a necklace, and Emily for her spunk and bouncy ball collar.

Christian Siriano wannabe? Yeesh, the overly tanned Blayne, who is trying to trademark his “girlishess” exclamation a la Siriano’s “fierce.” Forget it. His weird bustier type thing of jump rope, drawer linens and windshield wipers prompted Kors to comment that his model looked like she had “an old diaper pushed in between her legs.”

And although we’re withholding judgment because his work is good, Keith gets suck up award of the night for telling Heidi that he always designs with her in mind. Heidi, credit to her, doesn’t really buy that jive, and on another note, is wearing micro minis and looks better than ever.

– Anne Bratskeir

The Tim Gunn highlight, Week 1

On Opening Day of Season 5, Tim Gunn is already in playoff mode.

He came out dealing line after line to these unsuspecting designers. Here are the highlights of his verbal undressings:

"Those judges don't want to see a black garbage bag walk down that runway."

"Yeah, you should worry that it's just a tablecloth!"

"I'm seeing a lot of tablecloths around here . . . I just think the judges are gonna say 'You guys are a bunch of slackers!'"

The Project Runway Season 5 preseason rankings

They announced the new cast Monday morning. The new season debuted Wednesday night at 9. In between, we asked you to vote for the winner based on their bios, their photos, their names and whatever else you could dig up.

And away we go with the preseason rankings. Let's see what happens come September.

1) Stella (13)
2) Suede (11)
3) Wesley (7)
4) Jennifer (6)
5) Kelli (4)
6) Daniel (3)
7) Emily (2)
8) Kenley (2)
9) Leanne (2)
10) Jerry (1)
11) Korto (1)
12) Terry (1)
13) Jerell (0)
14) Joe (0)
15) Keith (0)

Will Mariah Be A Judge?

Talk about major celebrity wattage! Word on the street is that Project Runway producers are negotiating with songbird Mariah Carey to fill the role of finale judge at the series’ final challenge held in the tents at Bryant Park during Fashion Week in September.

Though Bravo won’t confirm, “We never talk about people we’re considering for guest judges until much later,” says a spokeswoman, it would be a major coup and will most certainly cause paparazzi panic.

Past finale judges include Fern Mallis, Parker Posey, Debra Messing and last season, stone-faced Victoria Beckham, who actually smiled during the finale fashion show when winner Christian Siriano presented his final collection.

– Anne Bratskeir

VIDEO: 'Project Runway' sneak peeks!

Hold onto your Balenciaga bags, we have a couple sneak peek videos ahead of the long-awaited 'Project Runway' debut on Bravo tonight at 9 p.m. Be sure to flip through the Season 5 cast photo gallery, too. Enjoy!

Project Runway photos
'Project Runway' Season 5 photos

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Christian Siriano sighting

(AP Photo)

Journalista friend Lauren, my partner in free WE bags and free bottles of water at four Fashion Weeks in New York City, is stalking Runway 4 champ Christian Siriano.

OK, not really. Well, at least we don't think so. But she does write in her Urbanite blog that Siriano has cashed in that little closet/shoebox he called an East Side residence when Tim Gunn came to visit him for a loft in Williamburg.

Monday, July 14, 2008


stella zotis
Okay, so there’s no true Long Islander like Jillian Lewis, last season’s Project Runway finalist, to root for on the show, which premieres on Bravo, Wednesday, July 16 at 9 PM this time around. But if geography is a factor, than Stella Zotis, 42, from Astoria is our gal. Billed by the show as a “rocker chick,” we caught up with her pre-premiere for a little one-on-one conversation.

First off, she began her career doing hair and make up for famed Rock ‘N’ Roller photographer Mick Rock for whom she worked on legends such as Debbie Harry of Blondie fame. “I used to make my own stuff, patch up my own jeans, and then Debbie Harry said to me ‘I’d like you to make me something to wear to the Grammy awards.’ She came over to my house and we worked on what she wanted and I made her an outfit. She called me after to tell me that she felt really good in it and loved it.”

To date, Stella makes one of kind denim and leather pieces out of her apartment – “I’m a word-of-mouth designer” -- and is hoping that exposure on the show will “help me expand and get an investor.”

As for the rigors of being a Project Runway contestant? “Trust me, the show is no joke. Seriously you really need to know what you’re doing to be on this show. From draping to pattern making…and the hours were intense. You’re not sleeping a lot, it’s chop chop, get it done.”

So do the players play nice this time around? Stella says, “Everybody is pretty different, some more competitive than others. We were all pretty civil, but there are people you don’t love all the time.” Oooh, cannot wait. – Anne Bratskeir

Video: Tim Gunn on Season 5 of 'Runway'

Here we go with the Tim Gunn videos. Summer just picked up as The People's Champion discusses the designers for Season 5 of "Project Runway."

Video: 'Project Runway' Season 5 preview

'Project Runway' addicts rejoice!

The fifth season debuts Wednesday night in its new time slot (9 p.m.) and mighty Heidi (as in Klum) and company (as in mentor Tim Gunn and judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia) will all be there.

The season is bittersweet for Bravo -- it's auf wiedersehen at the end, as next time around it moves to Lifetime. But the powers behind the show assure that they are pulling out all the stops. Fashion fabulous guest judges range from Diane von Furstenberg to Brooke Shields, and even a few notable LIers will weigh in, including LL Cool J of Manhasset for a music-centric challenge and Natalie Portman, a Syosset high school grad, who will render judgement during a "green" episode.

Challenges, as always, will be (to steal a phrase from last season's winner, Christian Siriano) fierce -- and fun -- including the reliably wacky "think outside the box" type when contestants have to construct a garment out of unconventional materials to an Olympic uniform design smackdown judged by gold medal winning speed skater and "Dancing With The Stars" champ Apolo Ohno.

So whose scissors will be sharpest this season? Contestants converge from all over -- Arkansas, Florida, Montana, Utah, even Italy. There are surfer dudes, stylists and even a rocker chick, Stella Zotis, 42, who, (yay!) hails from Astoria. When she found out she made the cut, she says, "You know when you go to the dentist and you get Novocain, you don't really know what's happening? That's how I felt when Tim Gunn said welcome to the show."

We're thinking she'll provide some spark this season -- she started as a punk rock makeup artist and now produces one-of-a-kind leather and denim designs for hipsters including Debbie Harry and Paula Abdul. She says her best fashion advice is "not to blend in." Hmmm.

- Anne Bratskeir

'Project Runway' cast revealed!

'Project Runway' is finally back and likely to be better than ever. Season 5's cast of characters has been revealed and we've got two contestants from the New York area!

Here's a quick rundown and my thoughts (Click here for bios and photos):

Stella, 42, from Astoria, Queens, New York says the vest is one of her fashion must-haves. Her favorite designers are Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood. And while she's not a Long Islander, she's still representing New York to the fullest. I'm rooting for her!

Jennifer, 27, is from East Syracuse, New York and went to the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her favorite designers are Moschino, Schiaparelli, and Cynthia Rowley. Watch to see if her fashion idols influence her style during competititons!

Jerell, 28, is from Houston, Texas and counts Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood among his top designers. He's a former model too. Will his model experience help him advance?

Jerry, 32, hails from Butte, Montana and favors black and white combinations in clothing designs. He did stints at Parsons and FIT. I'd love to see him dig up his Montana roots and create something "rustic" and wearable.

Joe, 41, of Troy, Michigan went to the Parsons School of Design and says a basic black t-shirt is a fashion must-have. He's worked at Pelle Pelle, Bugle Boy and Ralph Lauren. Is black the 'new black' again?

Keith, 26, of Salt Lake City, Utah believes in a great fitting pair of jeans. He went to the Salt Lake City Community College -- they teach fashion there? -- and lives by the motto "get noticed or go home."

Kelli, 27, is a Columbus, Ohio native and started her fashion career working in retail at 15. She's just launched Black Market, a new boutique in her hometown to showcase her edgy fashions.

Kenley, 25, was born and raised in Pompano Beach, Florida and is inspired by the likes of Coco Chanel, Betsy Johnson and Edith Head. Her must-have fashion item is a black, high-waisted skinny jean.

Korto, 33, is from Liberia and believes a great bag is a fashion must-have. She injects her African ancestry into her classic looks that are fit for real, full-figured women. Finally, someone looking out for the curvy girls! Right on!

Leanne, 27, hails from Yuta, California and begain a love affair with fashion at the age of 12 when she started making ballet costumes. Her go-to fashion item is a plain white or gray t-shirt.

Suede, 37, comes from Seven Hills, Ohio and says a great hoodie is a must-have fashion piece. He's passionate about various fashion looks, including couture, eveningwear and specialty apparel. With all this passion, he's likely to come up with lots of surprising looks for the judges.

Terri, 39, is a Chicago native and a freelance designer who favors low-waist, bell-cut black pants. She is currently working on her own fashion line. I hope her line shows off her funky sense of style!

Wesley, 23, of Blackstone, Mass. began his fashion aspirations making his own clothing in middle school and boasts a clean and classic aesthetic. This guy reminds me of a walking J.Crew catalog. I'm curious to see what he'll do to wow the judges!

Blayne, 23, is from Yakima, Washington, and attended the Art Institute of Seattle. He worked on an athletic clothing line for Seattle Seahawks' running back Shaun Alexander. Blayne also loves anything neon. I adored neon too ... back in the late 80s!

Daniel, 25, hails from Great Barrington, Massachusetts and is a lover of novelty blazers. He says Charles James and Thierry Mugler are among his favorite designers. I would love to see him design a reconstructed blazer with some interesting embroidery on the back.

Emily, 27, comes from Sacramento, California and attended the Otis College of Art & Design. Her fashion must-have is a pair of great jeans and she says her biggest inspiration comes from her friends and family. I hope she doesn't get homesick!

Stay tuned to Newsday's 'Project Runway' blog as we follow the long-awaited season premiere on Wednesday, July 16th and every episode leading up to the grand finale!

Photo: Model Heidi Klum (Photo by Getty Images)