The fifth season of Project Runway is coming to a close in the usual way. Which means they are likely to toss some sort of new element in there somewhere. I am not sure that is a good thing.

A moment later, my fears are confirmed, as Heidi tells the desginers that since they all failed so abysmally in the evening gown challenge, they will each need to create a wedding gown as part of their collection. It is hoped that with more money and more time that they can create something more wearable. They all groan as they head out. Kenley notes that the other designers clearly dislike her, so she goes right out the door and they all snark about how she didn’t hang out to say good bye. You know, for all her faults, I don’t count that among them. If she tried to fake a tearful farewell, I would think less of her.

Next up is our montage of On The Road Tim. First stop is Korto in Little Rock, who has a stunning palette that is very her, with vibrant yellow, green and blue. However, one dress stands out due to a snake skin detail on the skirt. Now, I am not sure if I heard Tim correctly, but it sure sounded like he said he didn’t want a "snatch shot". Either way, it’s appropriate in a Georgia O’Keefe sort of way. Back at her home, Korto performs some African drumming before sending Tim on his way to Portland to visit Leanne. Her collection is inspired by waves and it is instantly clear that she has found an innovative way to convey that concept in a clearly architectural manner that is amazing. Her colors are a bit sharp and she needs to rethink her wedding gown, but it’s mostly lovely. She takes Tim on a bike built for two to a park, where she confesses she wanted to design fashion since age 12, when she began making her own dance costumes.

Jerell went back to LA to work on a collection of evening gowns. They a bedecked, bejeweled and bedazzled to within an inch of their life and Tim warns him to edit.There is an emotional moment after we meet Jerell’s family and "love interest" (what a very Jerell thing to say) where he explains that his father was a truck driver who was gone a lot and he gets pretty tearful. From there Tim is heading back to New York, or rather, Brooklyn. Kenley has a classic New York apartment, decorated just as perfectly, including a picture of her calendar girl grandmother. Which is where she gets tearful, because apparently her grandmother just passed away. As for her work…well, there’s one dress that has a high collar made of coils of rope. And it never occurred to her that it might think people think of a noose. I’m a little worried.

The time spent visiting the designers in their spaces seems much shorter than it was in years past, which is a little disappointing to me. Because it means they are throwing another challenge into the mix, similar to what they did last year. The designers don’t know this yet, as they all arrive at their new digs. Korto is first, followed by Leanne, who decide to grab a room together so they don’t have to share with Kenley. Jerell shows up next, and it feels forced, since every year there is a villain designer they seem to be the last to arrive. Anyway, the apologize for him having to share a room with Kenley and he quips that he’ll sleep on the couch. So, when Kenley comes in and apologizes to everyone for her behavior during the last challenges, they seem almost annoyed that she did and begrudgingly cease snickering about her for the time being.  Until she reverts to form, of course, which should happen about 20 minutes into the finale episode.

The next day, they gather in their new workspace and are shortly joined by Tim because, yes, there will be one more challenge. They are to design a bridesmaid gown to compliment their wedding gowns, both of which will show at the last challenge. And they have 24 hours to do it. Everyone is rather angry about it and I wonder if they watched last season at all. Korto says she won’t snap at anyone and Kenley says she can snap at her if she wants, since she already experienced it when Korto told her that she didn’t deserve to be in the final three due to her personality.

Tim comes around to see their work, he warns Jerell that his design is looking sloppy, loves where Kenley is going with her design, advises Leanne to reconsider the length of her dress and tells Korto that he can’t tell which dress is for the bride and which is for the bridesmaid. Which is bad. Tim then gives a short but heartfelt speech that leaves everyone in tears before they get back to work.

At the start of Runway day, Kenley is already pissed off, because she was certain that her bridesmaid dress was going to be the only short one and now Leanne and Korto have both shortened their dresses. She takes it as a direct rip off on her, which is ironic, since most of her work is a direct rip off of designers from bygone eras. On the other side of the spectrum is Korto, who suddenly loves everyone, "even Kenley" and is sad that someone’s dream will end today. And let’s move right on to that, shall we?

Jerell – His wedding gown moves as if it has a hooped skirt. The amount of tulle, which is a dingy looking shade of grey, puts the front of the skirt several feet in front of the model and makes her look like she is kicking her heels up as she walks. The bridal march is not particularly jaunty and I cannot imagine this dress moving well to that theme. His bridesmaid dress also looks somehow dirty, with puckered sleeves and rumpled fabric. And I do not understand the styling he has chosen at all. It’s all overdone and over embellished in a way I could only describe as thrift store eccentricity meets Olsen twin mishap.

Kenley – Despite the fact that her wedding gown reminds me of Swan Lake and reminds Michael Kors and Nina Garcia of an Alexander McQueen number (an accusation that Kenley vehemently denies) it’s still charming. It’s the sort of fantasy gown that is totally impractical and over the top and really too short and yet is so romantic and whimsical that you forgive it all. Also, it is impeccably constructed. Her bridesmaid dress is the perfect compliment, adding a bold color with an equally fun silhouette that is so adorable and simple that you have to wonder why it’s not on store racks already.

Korto – Oh my.  There is no nice way to say how unfortunate it is. The wedding gown is so terribly overworked with little details that the poor model looks bunched, gathered, pleated and cinched in the most uncomfortable way possible. Aren’t weddings supposed to be joyous celebrations? Nothing about this dress is joyous. In fact, it has a distinct lack of anything resembling joy. And the bridesmaid dress looks like something I could go buy in Banana Republic right now, but I wouldn’t wear it to anything more formal than a picnic at a botanical garden.

Leanne – She absolutely rethought her wedding gown and the finished product is very interesting. I am not a fan of billowing bubble skirts and this gown looks like one stacked atop another. At the same time, it moves in such a perfectly dreamy way that I am sort of intrigued. It begs to be touched, if only to see how it is all put together. It is incredibly structured and yet manages to flow in a very soft way. But it is her bridesmaid dress that sells me. It’s simple, echos the idea of the wedding gown, adds a tantalizing hint of color and reflects perfectly the concept without detracting or competing.

Right away, it is clear that the judges love Kenley and Leanne, so they are each safe. For the Final Two, I keep expecting Heidi to announce that they’ve changed their mind and they are all going to show at Fashion Week. Alas, this season they stick to their guns and Jerell is auf’d. It was a tough call, because Jerell had some very interesting viewpoints and ideas, but in the end, Korto’s ability to put the polish on won out. Never underestimate the destructive power of an unfinished hem or wrinkled fabric.

What did you think of the final challenge? Does it make sense to make each designer fit a wedding gown into their collection, no matter what their own vision for that collection was? Are you happy with the final three? And are you sad that we don’t seem to be getting a reunion show?

Posted by:Jessica Paff