"Project Runway" Is Back in the Saddle!
Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, it is filmed in Los Angeles ... but so far that doesn’t seem to have affected a thing; in fact, the first challenge is pretty fabulous because of L.A.: The designers are taken to the red carpet of the Emmys, and given the challenge of designing a red-carpet gown of their choice with two days and $200. All the familiar fun ensues that makes us addicted to this stuff — sketching in the workroom (now at FIDM and bigger than ours!), a half hour to shop at Mood (yay! Mood!), and let the drama begin. All under the lilting tones of a certain Mr. Gunn, whom we have sorely missed.
Meet the designers: Ra’mon (the serious med student); Logan (the guy’s guy, letting us know in no uncertain terms that he is straight); Johnny (former drug addict who tried out for the show several times, but made it now that he is clean. Read: drama); Gordana (Yugoslavian tough-chick who will win even if she has to make her dress out of potatoes and corn); Malvin (one word: Sanjaya); Qristyl (oooh honey, step back, cuz Miss Q doesn’t mess around with skinny girls, she is size “plus-sexy”); Shirin (sweet to the point of diabetic coma); Nicolas (the self-acclaimed “Feather Prince” — Good Luck); Mitchell (every show has one, the all-American cutie); Ari (techno-chick who’s tragically into “Blade Runner” Chic); Louise (trapped-in-vintage-land Louise Brooks channeler); Irina (into leathah); Carol (this season’s Kenley? Pixie-couture airhead); Epperson (serious dreads and seems to be the oldest of the bunch); Althea (Cocky with a capital “C,” sure she is the next Christian, Vivienne Westwood, McQueen, blah blah blah); and finally, Christopher (self-taught and second runner-up in the cutie category). We met Christopher last — any predictions?
Some workroom fun that was music to my ears: Ari saying “I don’t sketch” ... Johnny having a drug-free meltdown with Tim coming to save the day and dry his tears ... Mitchell may be our new cryer ... Malvin claiming his garments are “ineffable” and beyond description (Oh, I can describe them alright). The best moment of the show? Qristyl can’t find anyone to cut her fabric at Mood, so she buys a pair of scissors and CUTS IT HERSELF! Way to make it work, Miss Q! Reality-show gold!
The dresses are coming along, and there’s a joyous visit from Saint Tim (do I hear angels when he enters the workroom?), and we begin to see what these designers are all about. Johnny says he will use “spit and gum” to finish his hideous dress if he has to. Tim calls Christopher’s work a “cruise-line cocktail waitress,” Ari is tragically channeling Blayne by making a halter diaper dress and Mitchell is making some sort of Victorian caftan out of coffin lining. Miss Q has completely missed with her quasi–Carmen Miranda wedding dress, and on the morning of the runway show, Mitchell has to start over from scratch and decides to go for a Lady Godiva look and send his model down the runway nude.
Oh Rapture! The Runway! Another byproduct of the L.A. location ... Lindsay Lohan is the guest judge! Here come the dresses!
- Althea: Silver, pretty, nice and safe.
- Gordana: Short blue-green dress with origami floating device around the bust.
- Malvin: Beige burlap scaly ugly boring dress fit for a prison wedding.
- Mitchell: Sheer (butt cheeks on parade) caftan that would make a great maternity dress for JLo.
- Louise: Dress made of drapes with a flowered growth on the shoulder.
- Christopher: ’80s prom dress made of garbage bags and Kleenex.
- Ra’mon: Fabulous eggplant taffeta gown that you could see on the most fabulous star on the Oscars red carpet.
Shirin: Cutesy, short, safe.
- Epperson: More purple, but this one is the wrong way to do it.
- Irina: Literally drapes that the model keeps tripping over.
- Ari: Ridiculous space suit that wouldn’t pass for fashion in any year in the future.
- Johnny: This tragedy looks like a piece of fabric blew onto the model in a windstorm and was held in place by pieces of chewing gum.
- Qristyl: Ouch. I love Q, but this is hideous. How hideous? Kenley would love it.
- Logan: Silver, boring and monotone like his voice.
- Nicolas: Short, black plastic/rubber body condom. No feathers, go figure.
The decisions are made, the delicious drama spills forth in classic PR fashion. Did I agree with their decisions on who they kept on the runway? Yes. But I seriously disagree with their commentary on the top and the bottom looks ... but that’s what makes the show addictive. You want to scream at Nina, pull Heidi’s hair out, wipe the orange off of Michael Kors, and force-feed Lindsay Lohan. We all agreed Miss Q was a wreck, but she’s too fun to get rid of: In. Johnny: In. Are you serious? This same dress has gotten many designers eliminated, but they obviously keep him for what they hope will be more drug-free drama. Ra’mon: In. They called this dress “safe,” even though it was obviously the most beautifully realized piece on the show. Mitchell: In. They gave him a break. Plus they know all the gay men watching the show would be mad if they eliminate the cutest designer. Ari: OUT. What glee to hear Michael Kors call this ugly piece of garbage a “disco soccer ball.” I am swooning with delight. The winner? Christopher. Oh my God. This dress is one pair of fingerless gloves away from the prom scene in any John Hughes movie. (See photo.)They would normally rake this thing over the coals, but to keep us talking about the controversy, they chose to reward the self-taught naive boy who now thinks he’s got a shot at winning. But that’s why we love the show. “Project Runway” is back in all its glory. We can’t get enough of the delicious punishment, drama, hopes and dashed dreams of “Project Runway.”
And, ultimately, of life. See ya soon, Chris
Posted in: episode 1
Q&A: Season 13 Winner Sean Kelly
"Project Runway" Season 13 champ Sean Kelly chatted with me this morning fresh off his win about growing up in New Zealand, his Fashion Week collection, working with Kini, the drama with Korina, and more. Check out the full interview after the cut, and don't forget to tune in for the Season 13 Reunion Special on Thursday at 8/7c (followed by the premiere of a new season of "Project Runway All Stars" at 9/8c).
You’re from New Zealand, correct? Whereabouts?
That I am. I was born in a region called Taranaki, it’s on the west coast of the North Island. It’s like four hours away from Wellington.
Did you watch “Runway” when you were growing up?
I did. I remember, actually, watching Season 1. We had it. I followed it for a long time – I may have missed a few seasons but I definitely watched it as a kid growing up.
How did living there inform the way you design?
I definitely think you are influenced by your surroundings and where you were raised. I was raised in the countryside, so creativity kind of came from the function of not having stimulation in the same way, maybe? I grew up running around in paddocks and having a lot of animals around. Maybe a different view on life, being raised that way. Luxury and rural don’t normally go together, but I think personal aesthetic grows as a taste level and what you’re exposed to; I grew up in the countryside but I’ve lived in some really amazing places. I went to high school in Denmark, and Danish and Scandinavian designers are very minimalist. I lived in London as well. It wasn’t like I was just staring at a bunch of haybales. [Laughs]
Season 13, Episode 14: Finale, Part 2
We pick up right where we left off last week, with Kini in a huge pickle about his sudden need to rework half his collection is just a day and a half. Dude's freaking out. Char has to replace four looks and infuse the remaining garments with more youth and fun. "You gotta make it seem as though you would wear every single look," Tim says, recommending Char ditch her fluttery teal dress and pink jumpsuit. Amanda needs to polish things up but is in good shape, apparently. Sean needs to find more variety and think critically about his use of fringe: Is it a pro or a con? Tim blesses them with $300 more each, plus another trip to Mood. Amanda smartly doesn't take him up on that offer, citing it as a potential distraction from the real work she has at hand. For the other three, though, it's a godsend.
Char, Sean, Amanda, and Kini are supportive of each other and don't waste time throwing shade at each other's work, which keeps this episode blessedly drama-free. Once the designers get their hands back on their garments in the workroom, they find more confidence in the direction their collections are headed and chug right along toward NYFW. They have productive critiques with Tim, a presumably unrestful night of sleep, then model fittings, consultations with Philip B. (literally, Philip B. himself) for hair and Luis Casco from Mary Kay for makeup.
Then, BOOM, it's the morning of. The designers breathe in the calm before the storm at Lincoln Center, then get right to work. They show at 10 a.m. and it's an early start and a busy, busy morning for the four of them while they put all the finishing touches in place. The judges introduce themselves along with our finale guest judge, actress Emmy Rossum. The show comes off without a hitch (I was in the audience and can attest to this), so lets jump right in to the final judging of the season. Here we go!
Final judging of the season. Here we go!
Char - "I think there's a customer out there for this," Zac says, citing her collection's Solange Knowles feel, "however, you're gonna have to bring up the fashion game a little bit." Heidi liked her last-minute hoody dress, and she and Emmy praise the black and white two-piece, but Heidi frowns over the fabric in the final look. Nina doesn't like the "tissue box" dress at all, giving it a shake of her head and a "no bueno." Emmy says she saw two different girls in Char's collection: A colorful resort girl and a clean-cut sophisticate. Nina thinks Char understands print and color and sexiness, but that she's trying too hard to be someone she's not. The judges' overall sentiment is that while Char does good work, it's not bigger or more interesting than what can currently be found in stores. Char is the first to be eliminated, landing her in fourth place.
Kini - The panel has lots of love for Kini's pleated dress, and Heidi praises the neoprene off-shoulder top and leather shorts, and everyone reiterates that Kini is a very gifted technician, especially in his manipulation of denim. "I do question sometimes, stylistically, where you're going," Zac adds. "Too many ideas and you wanna do it all in one look," Heidi agrees. Zac thinks Kini needs more time to hone his editor's eye. "That's why when he only had to days to turn stuff around, he made such good pieces," Heidi chimes in. Kini places third.
Amanda - She says she made tweaks to ensure her collection looked less hippie-dippy than her previous work. Nina says the whole thing looked effortless. Zac compliments her patterning in the final look, and flat-out adores her jewelry: "I want to see it at Opening Ceremony." He calls her collection the most original on the runway. Heidi's all about Amanda's long flowy dresses. Emmy thinks Amanda's point of view is very clear in this work. Zac says that while not every woman will look at Amanda's clothing and find it easy-going and accessible, he thinks the attitude behind it is. Nina agrees that the effortless freedom of Amanda's work reminds her of Stella McCartney's time at Chloe.
Sean - "This is probably the most editorial of the collections here," Nina says, citing the softness of fabric and the harshness of the lines in his opening look. Emmy is impressed by his use of orange fringe and liked the storyline tying all the looks together, something Heidi cited as a favorite aspect as well. "I think you are the full package," Zac says. Emmy says that "Runway" is about discovering a new voice and that Sean was the designer who had it; Nina calls back to his rainway challenge look as proof. Plus: Sean has great taste. "To have taste AND surprise us with risk and wow moments is really refreshing," Zac says.
It's down to Amanda and Sean, and Emmy sums it up: "Do you want the person to win who can build a brand like DVF or Donna Karan? Because that's what Amanda feels like to me. An American woman who's designing for the American woman. Or do you wanna pick high art, someone that's combining menswear and womenswear and doing something different?" Because that's Sean. And apparently Door #2 is the judges' pick this time. There's an obligatory hold-your-breath moment and then Sean is named the winner. Congrats, Sean!
It's the end of the line of another "Runway" catwalk. What say you? Are you happy about Sean's win? Were you at least a little sad that Amanda made it all the way through a second season only to fall short of the finish line? What'd you think of Kini and Char's collections? Who else would you have liked to see present at NYFW? What was your favorite challenge this season? So many questions! Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
It's been a pleasure reading your feedback and discussions each week. If you wanna keep this party going, I'll also be recapping the new season of "Project Runway All Stars," which premieres next Thursday night. See you then!