Bravo has kept us in a state of painful suspense regarding the Season 5 roster for Project Runway, much like Mom and Dad hiding presents until Christmas afternoon. The show has been under a good deal of scrutiny of late, with all of its diehard fans wondering what will happen when the show moves to the not-as-fab Lifetime network for the next season. And why, we ask, the lack of promotion? I didn’t even know Season 5’s start date until last month. Come on, people, we had viewing parties to set up, and contestants to scour the blogosphere for — let’s get the party started already!

Whatever the reason for keeping the show under a (fabulous fur) wrap, Season 5 kicks off tonight, so after the jump, let’s pick apart the hot trannie messes from the ferocia couturas, shall we, PopWatchers?

Blayne– Seattle’s “Most Stylish Male” disappoints me by wearing the sameAmerican Apparel sweatshirt I use to ward off the office’s subzero AC.But his experience with athletic apparel and apparent love of neonmight produce some surprisingly fabulous spandex creations.

Daniel– This Massachusetts mama’s boy has the sexually ambiguous good looks of DanielVosovic and not enough of the Season 2 finalist’s initial style.Supposedly there’s a wild side to this scruffy guy, but we’ll waituntil he reinvents animal prints to get our hopes up.

EmilyProject Runwayis never without its share of edgy hipster ladies. The leatherlegwarmer-rocking Emily comes equipped with that business savvy edgethat will hopefully help, and not hurt, her.

Jennifer– Not only is this contestant from my hometown, an alum of my highschool, and a super classy, mega-talented, extremely brilliant young designer, but is my “familiar face” — my cousin’s bestfriend! I remember cooing over the dresses they made for a high-schooldance, and now Heidi Klum will be the judge! All impartiality aside,congratulations and good luck to Jen!! (And for anyone in the greaterSyracuse area, my grandma is throwing a viewing party tonight at herapartment.)

Jerell– This tall Texan might have what it takes to reach the finals: he wasa former model so knows the biz from different angles and hasexperience making something out of nothing — a skill that could comein handy when creating outfits out of trash…

Jerry– With a clothing line already under his belt, Jerry might be thatall-too-confident self-made man who blows it by being a little toococky. I do smell a “green” eco-something challenge coming though, sohis use of natural fabrics might come in handy.

Joe– This father of two might not be able to roll with the rest of theProject Runway contestants in their Atlas IKEA-furnished apartments,but it’ll definitely be fun watching this season’sstraight-guy-with-interesting-facial-hair try.

Keith– Listing “great-fitting jeans” as his fashion must, this sloppilystyled dude might want to practice what he preaches and rethink thosedungarees! And is it just me or are too many male contestants wearingflip-flops in these pics? Man toes are always a fashion don’t in my book…

Kelli– This towheaded and tattooed boutique owner looks like a mix betweenlast season’s Kit and Sweet P. Hopefully those bleach-splattered jeanswere a one-time thing and Kelli can introduce us to rocker style that’smore wearable instead of costume-y.

Kenley– If anyone else is still reeling from soft-spoken Allison’s prematurecut in Season 3, this spunky high-waisted skinny jean-wearing designer– who reconstructs vintage fashions, fun! — might just be the answerto your prayers.

Korto– Korto was born and raised in Liberia, trained in Canada, and nowlives outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. Her use of African prints andtribal details will no doubt bring a fresh perspective to this season.

Leanne– With her own line of clothing called “Leanimal,” this Portland nativemight be more wild than her simple exterior lets on. Early inspirationsfrom designing ballet costumes might be handy if Sasha Cohen decides toskate through again.

Stella – Stella’sa pro with denim and leather, but let’s hope her work with tulle andsilk won’t send Austin Scarlett to an early grave.

Suede– Not only is Suede Season 5’s “this is obviously not my real name”designer, but he also looks like he’s the “I’m not here to makefriends” guy. But his mention of Madonna got me hoping that it might betime for the material girl to stop in as a guest judge!

Terri– I don’t know if furry pants paired with graphic tees are, were, orwill ever be in style, but varied experience, an extensive resume, anda seemingly free, fun spirit might keep the Chicago girl around tochange our minds.

Wesley– Behind the faux-hawk, you can hear the wheels turning as the show’syoungest contestant (age 23) tries to think of what word can be thisseason’s “fierce.” This former Marc Jacob intern has really “big oldsunglasses” to fill if he’s looking to be the new Project Runway wunderkind.

After a peek at Project Runway‘s new lot of hopefuldesigners, who do you think will make it to Fashion Week? Was it worththe agonizing wait? I’ve tried to stay optimistic this whole time and Itruly — maybe naively — believe that this season and those to follow,regardless of what network they’re on, will remain amazing. Anyone withme?

Episode Recaps

Project Runway

Karlie Kloss and Christian Siriano guide undiscovered designers through the harrowing rites of fashion.

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