Did Kenley Cheat Her Way Down Project’s Runway?

At first blush, Kenley was my favorite Project Runway season 5 contestant. I now chock it up to narcissism: hmm, let’s see, a brunette cutie with a fondness for hats, headpieces and “fascinators” — basically anything she could pin to the side of her head. OK yea, I can get that in the mirror any day of the week, so when she starting acting like a third-class A-hole I bailed from the Kenley fan club. Ever since season one when I became a diehard Project Runway fan, I’ve seen the wisdom in Tim Gunn’s critiques. The man is fulla truth-talk. Were I a contestant and Tim Gunn said “This collar is a little matronly” I’d be wiping my ass with that collar ASAP. Jay McCarroll, the first ever winner, and my all-time fav, had that figured out way back in the dizz-ay. So when Kenley rolled her eyes at Tim Gunn like she couldn’t be bothered, I knew she was a goner. I’m just surprised it took so long! With that kind of attitude, it’s a miracle she made her way to the final three. Really, I was done with Kenley from the very first time they called her out for knocking off another designer and she snapped “I don’t follow fashion. I don’t look at magazines.”

No matter how I look at that ignorant statement, it’s all kinda wrong. That’s like a supposed poet claiming he’s never heard of Ginsberg or a self-touted writer who doesn’t read. Which happens all too often. So basically, what you’re saying is, lemme get this right, yea, you suck and you have no passion for what you do. Well, then why are you wasting our time?  No true artist pops out of an egg with no experience, influence or abiding passion over the genius of the past. Puh-leeze. If you’re actually talented, then you should not be afraid to show us your math. So either Kenley is a total moron whose never opened the pages of Vogue or she’s a liar. For her sake, I hope she’s a liar.

Floral print, puff sleeves...hmmm... but the ruched sides of the sleeves? Fishy.

Floral print, puff sleeves...hmmm... but the ruched sides of the sleeves? Shady.

The judges called her out for being derivative multiple times, too many times for it to be a morphic field coincidence. At the end, she finally broke and almost  confessed to the theft of her wedding dress.

I will tell you… the dress is a little Alexander McQueen… (Michael Kors)

Really? (Kenley)

Bothers me a touch, quite honestly. (Kors)

It is a dead ringer for the McQueen dress that just walked the runway. (Nina Garcia)

No, there’s no silhouette like that. (Kenley, conceding.)

I wish the McQueen wasn’t there for me, quite frankly. (Kors)

I wish it wasn’t either. (Kenley: yea, it sucks to get caught.)

When Kenley said, “No, there’s no silhouette like that,”  she was finally admitting to what she’d done by pointing out what she’d tweaked. At that, the judges let it go. They knew she’d changed the silhouette, maybe even for the better. There’s a place in the fashion biz for Kenley. She should go talk to Allen Schwartz — king of designer knock-offs. He’ll hire her in a second. She made the McQueen dress more wearable and more sell-able. By putting it in the context of a “wedding” dress, she snatched it off the runway and sent it down the aisle. I’d wear the holy hell outta either dress if I got the chance. No excuses or events needed. I’d take a leisurely walk in the hood (bare toes painted a pearly shade of eggshell.) But for most women, they would only feel comfortable in such an outrageous attention-getting frock on their wedding day — when it’s polite to be princessy. Kenley tweaked the color and the silhouette and switched context. It’s a damn fine knock-off. If Kenley can accept that revision is where she shines, she may have a future in fashion. There’s only one Alexander McQueen but there’s countless others scrambling to translate the McQueen dream into something more wearable and affordable. Kenley can do that. But first she needs to come clean about her magazine subscriptions.

Kenley’s Little Shop of Knockoffs had no chance next to Leanne’s startling original designs. I wanted Korto to win, or else Jarrell. (Maybe I’m just in the mood to see black folks triumph — VOTE OBAMA!) Korto presented a great collection, Jarrell not so much. Still, even Korto’s colorful ethnic line was just not as awe-inspiring as Leanne’s. I was non-plussed over Leanne all season, except for her scorpion dress during the Astrology challenge. That baby was an avant garde architectural masterpiece.  Well, she showed up at Bryant Park with more of that — a line that was wave-inspired. I was blown away! As a mermaid, I was won over by the chance to wear the ocean as a dress. Or better yet, as a vest!  Wow.  So Leanne won and damn if she didn’t deserve to win.

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