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Project Runway Finalists Unveil Their Collections

Project Runway Finalists Unveil Their Collections

The finalists of Project Runway's fifth season showed their collections in New York City on Friday morning before a crowd of usual suspects, led by host Heidi Klum and judges Nina Garcia and Michael Kors. But guest judge Jennifer Lopez was a no-show, thanks to a "foot injury," Klum said, so in what was a first for the show, none other than Tim Gunn stepped in. Never before had the silver-haired mentor evaluated his charges as part of the judging panel.

You'll have to wait for the show's season finale in October (when it wraps its run on Bravo) to find out how Gunn essayed the role, but the contestants who sent their clothes down the runway in the Bryant Park tent near Times Square were certainly thrilled by their Fashion Week debuts. Six designers made the cut this season -- Jerell, Suede, Joe, Kenley, Korto, and Leanne -- and their clothes were as diverse as they are.

Jerell got the show started with a collection heavy on metallics and shimmer: Gold, purple, and silver predominated in looks that seemed inspired by an urban bohemianism. The voluminous ball gown he showed at the end, though, looked as if the model had left her bed still wrapped in the blankets and sheets.

Next up was Suede -- "Suede's going to rock it!" he remarked to the crowd in his typical third-person style -- who claimed inspiration from the challenge early in the season. His designs were based on florals and pastels, save for a white wedding dress.

Then, Joe, known as the show's lone straight guy. "My collection is Americana and everything that America represents," he said by way of introduction, then cited three principal influences: Western, motorcycles, and rock and roll. And that's exactly what his collection looked like: lots of denim, a few halter tops, even a leather biker bustier that former contestant Stella must have loved.

Kenley went next, saying she made her "dream wardrobe," with designs straight out of Alice in Wonderland: hot-pink skirts, jade-green dresses, a sexy black sheath, and a furry gown that looked like it could've been made from the pelts of a few Cheshire cats.

Korto, by contrast, stayed with a natural vibe, showing clothes influenced as much by her home country of Liberia as the sophisticated streets of New York. The garments' bold yellows and greens were set off with chunky necklaces, and in a cute surprise, the designer brought her young daughter out at the end to walk the runway with her.

If anyone stole the show, though, it was Leanne, who clearly captivated the audience with her combination of structured tops and skirts in bulbous shapes and feathery, super-pleated dresses that looked like a breeze to wear. The expert construction and unexpected designs elicited several moments of spontaneous applause, and she received perhaps the strongest ovation at the end.

"She's the winner," a person in the crowd said. We'll see. (The Advocate)

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