Top Design Recap: Clash of the Reality Show Titans

by hookedonhouses on September 18, 2008

This week’s episode of “Top Design” is the one I’ve been looking forward to the most because they promised “Project Runway” alums. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been a die-hard PR fan since the first season. I was especially excited to see Andrae (“What happened to Andrae?!” as Tim Gunn would say) and Santino from the second season.

Spoilers for Episode 3 ahead, so don’t read if you don’t want to know what happens, okay? Okay. Let’s start the recap!

This episode begins with host India Hicks telling the contestants that they will be designing window displays for an “exclusive boutique” in downtown L.A. Never mind that the exclusive boutique looks like a strip mall in Ohio. They’re going to work their magic and make it fabulous!

Enter the “Project Runway” designers they’ll be working with. Each one has designed an outfit that the contestants will create a display around.

India introduces them: Santino Rice, Jeffrey Sebelia, Andrae Gonzalo, Daniel Franco, and Sweet P.

India says, “I’m sure you recognize them.” Well, I recognized everyone but Jeffrey. What’s up with his new look?

Is it just me, or does he look like Pancho Villa? All he needs is a hat.

Eddie and Teresa (who I still can never seem to remember from week to week–my reaction is always, “Who?”) will be working with Santino. Eddie is beside himself, he’s so excited. He raves about Santino’s look and says it reminds him of “Masquerade” and gondolas.

“This look is sick.” Sick means good, you guys. (Who says my blog isn’t educational?)

Natalie and Ondine are working with Sweet P. Ondine did lots of window displays for the “Sex and the City” movie. Sure seems like she’ll have an upper hand on this challenge.

Sweet P. asks the 20-year old Natalie and the 40-something Ondine, “Which of you is older?” Hmmm. Let’s see. Hard to tell. Oh, it’s Ondine. Sweet P. says, “You’re the leader.”

Preston and Andrea are working with Daniel (who is famous for appearing on “Project Runway” as a contestant for both seasons 1 and 2). Daniel immediately dubs them “Team Gorgeous.”

Daniel has brought a poem to read them. It goes something like this:

“It is night, she is floating, she is hovering, forest of black branches, below is glittering sand. Glittering and undisturbed.”

Daniel tells the camera, “I like to inspire people who work with me. I’m a great person to work with because I make it so easy.” This is SO Daniel if you saw him on PR. It makes me laugh.

Daniel chooses Preston as the team leader. Andrea is pleased that this will mean he’s on the chopping block if the window doesn’t turn out well. She’s wishing she had Eddie as a partner again like last week, but no such luck.

Nathan and Shazia are working with Andrae. Andrae has brought a simple gray dress. He waxes poetic about how it represents the murky political season as we near the November election. It represents uncertainty.

Nathan tells the camera, “The dress was Debbie Downer.” Andrae picks Nathan as the team leader.

“Big Daddy” Kerry and Wisit are working with Pancho Jeffrey.  He created a modern suit inspired, he says, by the movie “Blade Runner.”

Big Daddy thinks he’s talking about “Blades of Glory,” a movie that couldn’t be more different. Here are pics from “Blades of Glory” with Will Ferrell:

And here are screen shots from the 1982 sci-fi fantasy film “Blade Runner” with Harrison Ford:

Yeah. A little different. Kerry says, “Oh, I’ve seen that movie.” But as Jeffrey starts talking about “apocalyptic times,” Big Daddy Kerry says (to the camera), “Dear Lord, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away. I had no idea what he was talking about.”

Wisit suggests graffiti on the walls, with a Rococo look. That’s not “high-end enough” for Jeffrey. He gives the leadership role to Kerry, whose idea was to hang mirrored tiles inspired by the work of artist David Hockney (a British artist who was part of the Pop movement in the ’60s).

Jeffrey tells us that he has “all the confidence in the world with Big Daddy. But I think Wisit’s gonna bring him down!”

The teams have 30 minutes to plan and then they go out shopping for materials with $400 in hand. Upon their return, they have 3 hours to get started on their displays. Most of them focus on painting.

Wisit won’t let the Rococo idea go, even though Jeffrey nixed it. He insists that they should hang an ornate foil wallpaper on both sides of the window display. But Big Daddy Kerry is too nice to say anything. He just sighs and says, “I have to compromise.” I have a baaaad feeling about this…

Todd Oldham stops by to check in with them. He gives helpful advice on things like how to break mirrors. Shazia raves that he is the most wonderful, most helpful person in the whole, entire world!!

Kerry leaves Wisit to hold a mirror in place while the adhesive sets. Wisit isn’t really equipped for the job. “Help!” he cries as the window slowly slides down, down, down.

Kerry says, “I wanted to drop-kick him to Jesus, but I just smiled like a Southern gentleman.”

The next day dawns bright and early and the contestants have 4 hours to finish up. Preston holds up the mannequin with Daniel’s dress on it while Andrea works underneath to “hoist it” with a bar. The mannequin is heavy. Andrea isn’t working fast enough for Preston.

“You’ve gotta get the bar in her butt,” he says. “Just get the bar in the butt. Honey, I need you to get the butt in her bar.” Er, you know what he means.

Andrea tells the camera that “Preston has a totally take-charge, dominant personality, and part of being a good designer is getting along with all kinds of personality types.” Like hers, I assume.

Andrae stops by to monitor the progress of his team. He immediately spots the wicker Preston bought and stops cold. He says, “We lived with so much wicker in my house as a child, so I have an aversion to it. No. I’m sorry. The wicker must go. No wicker!

See why I love Andrae? He cracks me up.

He was not cracking Nathan up, however. Shazia notes that Nathan’s head looked like it was going to explode. In the end, they throw what looks like a sheet over the wicker chair. And that’s better…how?

Jeffrey takes one look at his window with all that Rococo wallpaper and says, “Bleep.” I think this means he isn’t pleased.

Time’s up, contestants. Time for the judges to file in and survey the work. On Margaret Russell’s blog she says it was so cold the night they filmed this that there were snowflakes drifting around. Brrr. They do look cold. I hope that purple sequin beret is keeping Kelly Wearstler’s head warm.

Here’s how all the windows turned out:

They are, in order:

  1. Andrae’s Murky Political Confusion in a Gray Dress (Nathan and Shazia)
  2. Daniel’s “Paris at Night” (Preston and Andrea)
  3. Jeffrey’s “Blade Runner” (Kerry and Wisit)
  4. Santino’s “Venice at Night” (Eddie and Teresa)
  5. Sweet P’s Butterfly Dress (Ondine and Natalie

Okay, time to file into the Judging Warehouse for the verdict.

Kelly is such a pretty girl. Why does she insist on dressing like a homeless person from 1986? Look at those knee socks. Leg warmers? Whatever they are. And that big hair! Crazy. She looks like she may have gone off her meds.

Anyway, so the judges say they loved Preston and Andrea’s understated window that really showcased Daniel’s beautiful gold dress. But in the end they awarded the Top Design to Ondine and Natalie’s butterfly window.

They weren’t as happy with the other windows. They didn’t understand Andrae’s political display. “You need Cliff’s Notes to get what it all means,” Kelly says. Margaret thinks it looks like a high-school project. Jonathan says, “The narrative just didn’t make sense.”

Here’s the look he got on his face when Nathan explained how it represented the Western World meeting the Mideast and all the tension of the political season:

He wasn’t buying it.

The other display they really, really hated was Jeffrey’s, designed by Kerry and Wisit. They didn’t like the Rococo. They didn’t like how the windows were blacked out on either side. The whole thing was a mess and looked nothing like “Blade Runner.” Not only that, but it did nothing for “the merch” as Jonathan calls it (meaning Jeffrey’s suit).

Who should be Auf’d? (Oops, wrong show.) Who should be Latered? (Oops, wrong season.) Who should, um, go home? (Do we not have a clever term for that on this show yet?)

Kerry refuses to throw Wisit under the bus. He accepts responsibility as team leader. And the judges reward him for his honesty and his loyalty by…telling him he’s outta there. They can’t live with his design.

Boo-hiss. I don’t like this decision. I liked Big Daddy. He refused to back stab his teammate. He was pleasant and professional, even if he didn’t know Blade Runner from Blades of Glory. Yes, his window was a disaster area, but I was still sad to see him go.

What do you think? Did the right window win? Did the right person go home?


P.S. Check out the site Blogging Top Design for all the latest scoop on the contestants and the show!

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mom in high heels September 18, 2008 at 11:57 am

Wisit and his crazy opera voice (I love opera, it just freaks me out to hear him) should have gone home. Rococo and Blade Runner? Um, no. He would NOT let it go. I loved Big Daddy. Sad to see him go.
I liked the butterfly window, but the one with the floating mannequin should have won. It was cool.

Linda Merrill from ::Surroundings:: September 18, 2008 at 12:00 pm

As usual – great recap. And, we’re still using “latered” over at Blogging Top Design – even tho the ‘inspiration’ tag line is gone. Nothing has jumped out yet. So, latered it is!

Amy from Texas September 18, 2008 at 12:33 pm

Wisit should have gone home! Big Daddy was way too nice and should have taken charge, so I see why they booted him. Can’t be nice in reality TV. Jeffery would be a nightmare to work with! He’s so out there. I would love to see the “real” window he had imagined. I was mad that he won PR… so I’m taking out my frustration here:-)

I wasn’t in love with the butterfly window. It seemed too busy, but at least it was their won creation. Preston and Andrea’s was the best, but it wasn’t their idea. They had it easy because the client gave them such a clear vision.

Eddie, what happened? Why would you put a big black backdrop behind a black outfit? I’m still rooting for you though.

Nathan cracks me up! What about when his partner says the frame isn’t straight and he says “Honey, there’s nothing straight on this show.” ha!! They can’t send him home yet.

I’m laughing that you noticed Kelly’s socks! I was too stuck on her bird’s nest hair to see anything else. ha! Maybe she’s trying to get everyone to dress as her on Halloween. I would if any of my friends knew what the heck Top Design was…

Great post as always!

***Hey everyone, I’ve got a new FREE download today if you want to stop by and get it:-)

maya September 18, 2008 at 1:07 pm

i didn’t watch the show, but i always dig your recaps.

just from reading your recap, i have to say that if someone doesn’t know the difference between blade runner and blades of glory, they need to go.

go. go. go.

Kathryn September 18, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Poor Big Daddy! I really liked him, too.

IMHO, I think Shazia should’ve gotten the boot.

Linda B September 18, 2008 at 1:36 pm

I fell asleep, then I woke to find it almost over. What would I do without your famous re-caps!

I wasn’t to fond of wisit…or his voice… I did like the gold dress and the butterfly dress windows…

KB September 18, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Shazia should have gone…her quotes aren’t as good as big Daddy’s!

Jen R September 18, 2008 at 2:11 pm

Great recap, I missed the beginning.I laughed when you talked about Jeffery…. looks like pancho villa meets 70′s porn star…definitely….I liked the window for sweat p too. I am a huge PR fan….. and Kelly, oh kelly….even if she was off her meds and shopped at Goodwill she’d look better. my husband came in at the end of the show for the judging and he just shook his head and said “what the bleep is that?” the thing is she is beautiful…!!!! It’s almost like those girls in high school that play down thier looks and wear black for drama because they think it’s cooler to be unpretty than to be as pretty as other poeple wish they were… Loved your recap Julia!

Angela September 18, 2008 at 2:17 pm

I don’t watch this show, but I love reading the recaps! Right now, my vote’s on Andrea just cause I luv her hubs….ever since Silver Spoons to NYPD Blue…he’s a sexy thang.
PS – I did think that last window was the prettiest, and I’m glad that window won top design!

jennifer September 18, 2008 at 3:11 pm

I’m just glad we were able to get through an episode without Andrea secretly telling us who her husband is.
I have to say that none of the windows were a ‘WOW’.
But the top two were the best of the bunch.
Big Daddy should not have gone home! At least he was somewhat able to connect with the designer and tried to give him something that he wanted. Wisit , my dear, I had high hopes for him…but not after this. My goodness, that was sad … funny stuff.
thanks for the recap.

Liz September 18, 2008 at 3:35 pm

LOL! I’m still giggling from them getting Blades of Glory and Blade Runner confused – of course they are similar films ;) I’m really going to have to look out for this programme here in the UK.

Btw thanks so much for adding me to your links, I just noticed!! :)

Bettsi September 18, 2008 at 4:04 pm

I finally got to watch the show! Bravo should give you a stipend for luring new viewers!

I loved Big Daddy. The line about drop kicking Wisit all the way to Jesus just made the whole show for me. Kicking him out was a mistake- I would have much preferred to see the annoying Wisit go home. I think it’s interesting to see the windows again in still shots. I like the winning design more now than I did last night.

BTW, I did not see Daniel on PR, but he seems so adorable! I feel like I really missed out. = (

Your recap, as usual, is wonderful!

courtney @ nesting instincts September 18, 2008 at 4:43 pm

ugh…how I wish I had this channel so I could watch the show…but your recap makes me feel like I really saw it. I loved that butterfly window too – i’m glad it won.

Carol September 18, 2008 at 5:11 pm

Big Daddy should NOT have gone home. Athough Wisit has a certain quirky charm, he was definitely the reason they alienated Jeffrey and lost the challenge. Shazia has also been pretty useless so far–either of them would have been a better choice. I love reading your recaps!

Veronica September 18, 2008 at 5:20 pm

Oh man. SO funny. I love your recaps.

I think Wisit should have gone home. He kept trying to sneak the Rococo in there until Big Daddy Kerry had to give in just to get him to shut up! My mother-in-law works the same way.

I love the butterfly window. I want a room like that.

By the way, have you been to Daniel Franco’s website? Read the bios. They bring the LOLZ.

Laura @ the shorehouse. September 18, 2008 at 5:31 pm

I seriously laughed for a good five minutes during the Blades of Glory/Blade Runner confusion. And now…I’m laughing again. I am so sad Big Daddy went home…It should have been Shaz, with Wisit a very close second.

Now that Big Daddy’s gone I’m not sure I’m interested in any of these “characters.” I don’t know…I am so not loving the show this go ’round. A bit of a yawner, yes?

But I will watch this show every week just to see what Kelly is wearing. :-) C-razy.

Becky September 18, 2008 at 6:23 pm

I can’t believe you posted on this! I’m sitting here watching TV, watching bravo and guess what I was watching when I decided to check your blog!!! I’m watching the episode about the window displays. Have to say I love your blog and I’m adding you to my blogroll. ~Becky~

kasey September 18, 2008 at 9:12 pm

too funny!!!!

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio September 18, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Thanks for stopping by my blog and saying such nice things about my mosaic table!

sandra/tx September 18, 2008 at 10:13 pm

I would’ve preferred that Shazia or Wisit go home. Even though Big Daddy didn’t know what Blade Runner was, he “got” the David Hockney design. I was surprised that Santino was easy to work with compared to Jeffrey and Andrae.

Did you catch the end when Jonathan Adler said something like designers need to be nimble? I was just waiting for him to continue, “designers need to be quick…”

KayVonne September 18, 2008 at 10:16 pm

Once again, I am so impressed with the time and attention you put into your detailed recap!

I am going to miss Kerry and his southern accented one-liners. He was good for TV. I hope we see him again. He should NOT have gone home. Their display definitely wasn’t my favorite but I kind of liked the blackened windows that the judges just hated.

Shazia should have gone home. She hasn’t wowed me at all.

I liked Preston & Andrea’s window display the best. Less is more.


Tori September 18, 2008 at 10:20 pm

I actually like the windows a lot!!!

Liz September 19, 2008 at 4:43 am

Hi Julia,

Just tagged you for 7 Obscure things about me meme – hope that’s ok?


courtney @ nesting instincts September 19, 2008 at 8:54 am

ummm (sheepishly)…guess what I just discovered. Yeah. I DO have Bravo. yep, it’s channel 181 here in Portland. Um, not sure what happened and why i thought I didn’t have it…not to mention I can’t help thinking about all the times I’ve complained to you that I DIDN’T have it. But apparently I do. So last night I made my hubby watch two episodes of Project Runway with me, just so I could “catch up” a little in the world of high design. Yikes. I feel like an idiot. But now I’ve got the DVR all set up to record, so I’m good now. And no more complaining. I promise. At least about this, anyway!

Holly September 19, 2008 at 9:29 am

I love your recaps! So funny. I missed this week’s show, but based on the photos, I liked Paris at Night the best and the Butterfly Dress a close second. I didn’t really care for Venice at Night overall, but I did think it was cool the way the lighting was from below…it made me think of light reflecting off water, perfect for Venice.

And Kelly…oh my. To quote Michael from Design Star: capital T-ragic!

please sir September 19, 2008 at 1:38 pm

Yeah I liked Big Daddy too. Interesting show, but a little disappointed with all the mirrors, mirrors, mirrors. But I guess if I had to do it in such short time I wouldn’t know what to come up with!

Kellye September 19, 2008 at 6:32 pm

I was SO upset that they sent Kerry home. He stood up and took responsibility and even the judges said that Wisit basically did nothing toward the display. UGH…I have a feeling that the reason he stayed was that the Bravo execs interfered and wanted to keep him on the show for the bizarreness factor.

Becca September 20, 2008 at 10:11 am

Gosh, I really don’t get why the window challenge was so difficult — I’ve seen more interesting windows at a Kohl’s in a strip mall.

I do think Ondine’s team deserved to win, but those tacky netted butterflys reminded me of a craft porject in vacation bible school. And just how sweet is Sweet P? Without a doubt she was the easiest client.

Also didn’t get the Santino window. Just saying, I wouldn’t want to team up with Eddie — no question he’s as suck-up, CYA kind of guy. “Please, Teresa, I need you to work.” Frankly Teresa looks like she’d just as soon be sipping a latte at Starbucks than be on that show.

Almost cried when Big Daddy got the boot. No doubt Wisit needs to be drop-kicked to Jesus or anywehere else for that matter.

Since Daniel told them exactly what to do how hard could it be for team gorgeous? Still, Preston was running around with a constipated/stressed look as if the weight on the designing world rested on his shoulder.

Finally, why is everybody picking on Shazzia? I don’t think she’s lazy, just confused. Nathan is to Top Design as Daniel is to Project Runway — always balthering on about his impeccable taste and skill and yet I fail to see any sign of it.

Aubrey September 20, 2008 at 4:24 pm

I hope Kelly Wearstler’s HAIR kept her head warm. It’s worse than a Brittany Spears wig.

I think Kerry’s partner should have gone home, for not listening. My five-year-old gets punished for not listening, he should too.

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