Project Runway 5: Meet the Designer - Emily Brandle
Emily Brandle was the third designer eliminated from Project Runway 5, and her outster came as a surprise to many, including, it would appear, the designer herself. She's been outspoken in her post-show interviews that it wasn't her time to go, and there are definitely some viewers who would agree.

Based on her Bravo bio, it appeared the 27-year-old had the potential to go far in the competition, so let's learn a little more about the designer whose time on Project Runway 5 was cut short by a questionably-placed ruffle.

Emily grew up in Sacramento, CA and had an early exposure to the process of making fashion. She told Blogging Project Runway that sewing and clothes-making run in her family. Her grandmother quilted, and her mother made clothes – included matching outfits. Emily has memories of spending time at fabric stores and cutting patterns as a child.

Her fashion creativity was forced into a narrow channel while in high school, as she had to wear a uniform to school. She told her hometown paper, "After that, I ended up in fashion. I learned to love accessories!"

She headed to the big city after graduation and attended Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. She also had great industry exposure as she worked with XoXo, La Blanca, DKNY, Rozae Nichols, and Jeremy Scott. Her education and experience weren't just on the design side, though. Her Bravo bio notes she “mastered the skills of trade shows, wholesale buying and press.” She had the additional opportunity to continue to hone her business acumen through a role as sales and press manager for Hysteric Glamour.

With the design and business savvy she had acquired through her experience, she teamed up with a friend and fellow Otis grad, Michelle Chaplin, to form the Smoke and Mirrors clothing in 2006. The two women hold a shared view that, as their company website states, “clothes must be beautiful, feminine and fashion forward.”  Some examples from the three seasons of their line are included with this article.

The goal, the designers say, of their line “is to make a woman feel beautiful, sexy and powerful.” The brand is in its third season, and their American-made clothes are distributed to 20 stores nationwide. 

As it is for many of the designers who try out for the show, it was the potential for the exposure from the show that inspired Emily to apply for Project Runway 5. She's not a television watcher herself, but did see the finale of season 4, and loved the designs offered by Christian Siriano, Rami Kashou and Jillian Lewis. Knowing that the show was leaving Bravo and might be hitting its apex, she threw her hat in to the Project Runway ring at the L.A. auditions, and made it through to the show.

While she didn't make it further in the competition, she did get some exposure for her line. In addition to her love of fashion, she appears to be a driven and focused businesswoman; when Blogging Project Runway asked her which celebrities she would like to dress, she named some of the usual celebrity fashion plates, but shrewdly also noted Oprah Winfrey for the reach and exposure that media powerhouse has. We might not see more of her on Project Runway, but Emily seems nevertheless determined to make her mark on the fashion world.

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Sources:,,,, LA Times, Sacramento Bee
(Images from and