I was nervous about this challenge because I didn't think the designers would handle it well. At least, I didn't think anyone but Jerell would handle it well, because that guy is just not perturbable. But I didn't think that only two of them would create something really good. Oh, well. Let's chalk it up to stress (which seems true if you saw all the runway tears they edited into next week's trailer!).
Jerell: There is no question that Jerell's look was pop. It looked expensive and met the challenge. I hope, in fact, that Kenley realized how many favors he did her, helping her realize that she does actually have a very nice body. That being said, I did not want Jerell to win this challenge for one major reason (and LL Cool J is also on my X list because of this): He leapt straight to skin and body showing. Yes, Brit is an example of a pop princess, and one can think of plenty of others that would wear less...but one can also think of examples that wear more and still look sexy and even over-the-top. I realize you have to convey a lot of information very quickly on the runway, and Jerell's styles have often been revealing, but I guess I might have been more interested if he'd found a more unique way to get us to know "pop" at first sight. In a way, it was more expected than Suede's look, though certainly better executed. Pop should not equal skin. Thus, for my own reasons I concurred with Jerell being in second. (The look also had overtones of Austin Powers' fembots--anyone else notice this? Just me? Okay.)
Kenley: Ouch. Did anyone else think it was weird when she was talking about sagging as "old school" hip hop and then was supporting the high-waisted jean like it was brand new? Girl was alive in the late eighties/early nineties, right? In my opinion, the high-waisted jean is a trend that should never, ever come back, at least not with skinny legs. I can understand how making a hip-hop outfit might be a struggle, but there's more to it than sagging, and I don't think putting Leanne in a pair of nonsagging pants with wide legs (like Michael's travel look a few seasons ago) would have been that much of a stretch, and may have even flattered Leanne. Hip hop dancers wear tons of classy clothes. I was, needless to say, completely disappointed in Kenley this week, in practically every way I can think of.
Korto: Much like Kelli in the first challenge, I thought Korto's efforts to make her materials more than they were was worthy of many extra style points. Her top, as Tim points out, was a little bland (though probably consistent with the average punker), but those pants were really incredible. Also, I have to give Suede major credit here for completely embracing the persona of the punk. He may be a classically trained musician and think of himself as a classicist, but dude's got blue hair in his everyday life, and it was pretty clear there was a punk waiting to come out. In any case, the look fit the client very well and completely met the challenge.
Leanne: I have to be honest...I didn't feel Leanne's look was cohesive. It wasn't the worst look on the runway by far, but as I was listening to the feedback both from Tim and from the judges, I realized I was seeing something different. Checks, purple, gold, and black? This is one of those times when fashion color coordination derails for me, as does style coordination. I know I tend a bit toward matchy-matchy, but still. I was a little flummoxed. I do think she did a beautiful job on that skirt, but I think a different style belt might have countryfied the look more, and maybe been more cohesive with the top. I knew Leanne would be in, I was just confused.
Suede: Suede's look was very 80s European synthpop to me, not rock and roll. It wasn't an ugly outfit, but it didn't fit the challenge, I thought. As someone on the show pointed out, it wasn't transformative. The pieces, neither singly nor together, did anything special. On a more positive note, the U-neck shirt might have been very interesting as part of a dance costume, for a modern piece.
So, it was a tossup for Kenley or Suede. Since I wanted Suede to go before because of poor runway showings, I was mentally voting for him, and for Kenley to go next week. As much as I would like an all-girl runway, I think Jerell has done some interesting work this season and I'd like him to get a third-place finish. (I'm not usually this specific, so it's a little weird.)
One more challenge!