'Project Runway' College-Grad Challenge Suffers From Stella Deficit

Kenley and her modelBy Rya Backer

Well, was last night something or was it something? I took to this week's episode for a wealth of reasons, namely that I'm a recent college grad (Let's go — wait, does NYU have any athletic teams?), I started working right out of college and, like most other members of the animal kingdom, I have an opinionated mother. That said, this episode was about as exciting as my morning subway ride, which is to say, not very riveting at all. Was Stella's absence to blame for the 60-minute snoozer? Certainly. But I also think it's worth pointing out how lame the entire challenge was. If I wanted to watch a "makeover" episode, I'd watch some "Jenny Jones" clips on Youtube. And if I wanted advice on office clothing, I'd refer to this: Unless you're physically given a uniform, you can probably wear jeans and the shirt you wore to sleep last night to work and no one will care.

With that said ... ins and outs!


Dreams: You guys, this actually happened. My hard work obsessing over Stella Zotis' every last move at last paid off! While watching the following, please hum this song.


Later that day, I met her! I'll save the details for another day, but let's just say a photo of me sandwiched between her and Ratbones actually exists. If you're my Facebook friend (or my actual friend), you've probably seen this. If you're neither, in the words of Stella, "Keep walkin'."

Yaffa: She was the mother of Suede's client, and with a few tweaks and a black mock turtleneck, she has the potential to be the next Joan Kors.

Korto Momolu: That daughter of hers is adorable. Speaking of adorable, can we talk about Jerell's baby picture? You also "paused" on that image when it appeared on your screen, right? But back to Korto. She's in this week because she just might be the coolest, most sedate(d) mother in Little Rock.

Funny hats: It's one thing to wear some lame fedora, it's another thing to sport a beret that can subsequently be rolled into a footlong Zig-Zag, so that newer, funnier ideas for headwear may be dreamed up. Nice work, Jerell!

Cardigans: Readers, do not think for a second that Jerell is the new Stella Zotis — he's just having a good week. But seriously, his cardigan was the Budweiser of clothing items: a timeless, American staple you get great use out of week after week, and it still makes you feel fabulous.

Tim Gunn: I know, previews shouldn't be a part of a recap, but did you see how Tim put his foot down with Kenley? He snapped at her on behalf of all of humanity, and for that, we ought to be grateful.

Lying: As of September 1, Nina Garcia is no longer the "editor at large" for Elle. Just throwing that out there.

The dog at Mood: SO CUTE!


Kenley: OK, seriously, heaven help this woman and her bloated, deluded sense of self that can be rivaled only by an aristocrat's or an mPUA. Let's go over just a couple of last night's offenses:

1) Disregarding Tim. Tim doesn't really understand you as a designer, Kenley? That's a shame, because he seemed to understand and support the visions of such talents as Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough. (Though I doubt you'd know who they are, as that would involve knowledge of your market.)

2) "I never really change anything for Tim." Sickening. I don't have it in me to further elaborate.

Leather: Stella and only Stella is worthy of using this material. Korto, I'm looking at you.

Loehmann's: Should you ever pay retail? No. However, you should set limits for how far you'll go for a bargain. One of those limits is steering clear of the Loehmann's basement, where you run the risk of spotting Ellie, the mother of Leanne's client, on the prowl for a new "statement" blazer. In any case, much nachas to Leanne's client for appearing relatively sane despite being raised by Linda Richman.

"Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones": What's worse than Kenley Collins? Well, that's easy: genocide, blackouts, global warming and the fact that Kenley's got a 22-year-old doppelganger.

Facial hair: It never occurred to me until tonight (too late, I know) just how ... uncomfortable ... Joe Faris' goatee makes me. Maybe because it's asymmetrical? Maybe because of how heavily it borrows from the Kevin Christiana playbook?

Neo: When Suede put on sunglasses with very tiny, dark lenses at the top of the episode, it brought me back. What brought me even further back was that steaming pile of "fashion" he forced upon his model, which looked less like a "professional work" look, and more like something I'd see worn during a fashion show on a back-to-school edition of "The Grind."