"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
Season 13 Premiere: Casting Is A Puzzle
Hey everyone! Welcome back to another season of "Project Runway." I don’t know about you, but the thing I look forward to the most in the first episode —- more so than the designs, to be honest —- is the cast and trying to get a quick read on everyone. Let’s face it, it’s difficult so early on to have favorites when there are 15 designers to cover in less than an hour of airtime. Who will be the villain? The snarky one? The know-it-all? The one trying to reinvent herself as a fashion designer? Who’s playing to camera the most? Who’s going to win it all, and who’s going to just safely skate by for the majority of the competition?
Whenever I watch the first episode and/or casting episode of a new season of "Project Runway," it takes me right back to my experience of being cast on the show. I did not seek out the opportunity to be on "Project Runway," but rather was approached by someone I knew who was besties with the casting director. They were trying to find more people by referral/word-of-mouth at the time, rather than relying solely on open calls. It was a very “Why not?” moment for me, as I was in between gigs and sort of rethinking my career path, having started in fashion but veering into costuming for TV and film. I was missing designing and thinking I needed to get back into fashion somehow. After submitting my application, getting called back to present to the panel (including Tim Gunn), and going through to the next levels, I was informed I was “top 25." I was told by the casting director at that point to remember that "casting is a puzzle" and that I should not take it personally if I don’t make it on the show because they really did like me. When you think about what that means, and watch the show season after season, you get it. There is a method to any casting. The casting director and producers must have a diverse range of ages, personalities, race, gender, “character," and design style. From the perspective of the designer, the show is "a design competition that could change your life," but to the people behind the show, it is “entertainment." I waited day after day for “the call” to tell me of my fate. I was very laissez-faire in my attitude about it, thinking it could be a fun experience, but that I’d be okay I didn’t end up being in the cast. But then the phone rang and I was told I was an “alternate," and I was so disappointed! I guess I wanted it more than I thought. At that point I’d given up on the thought of being on the show. Five days later, the phone rang again with *THAT* mystery caller ID. “You’re on the show, Mila! Pack your bags because you need to be on a plane to New York this Friday!” I’ll never know what happened to the person I replaced. Maybe she failed her drug test...or maybe she just got stagefright!
So, this season there would appear to be a pretty good cross-section of types. Didn’t we all know that Mitchell who wears short-shorts would be cast based on his snark factor and unapologetic personal style (representing Ft. Lauderdale!)? How predictable was the selection of the final designer? Between purple-haired Carrie and a rather boring Emmanuel, it’s a no-brainer. Carrie is one of my early favorites, but maybe because I’ve got a soft spot for goths. Representing some ethnic flavor is Sandhya, apparently a novelty to the judges because it’s “different." Everyone else (including me) is dumbfounded by that. There are also a few accents to add to the spice, such as Sean from New Zealand. Did anyone else wonder how it is that he just moved to New York 4 months ago and is already on a hit American TV show?
The first challenge on "Project Runway" is usually a pretty basic one to get everyone warmed up. There is also usually little or no fabric selection, and no shopping at Mood. I would die if I was given some of the fabrics in those trunks. I know there needs to be some sort of spin on the challenge but yikes -- most of those fabrics look like they came form the clearance section at Jo-Ann.
Julie Bowen is the first guest judge and boy, is she a firecracker. She is a fan, and actually has some great things to say! Apparently Michael Kors has had enough of being a judge, which actually makes me sad because I’m not a fan of Zac Posen. He can deliver the sass, but will never come close to delivering the “Kors-isms” that we all know and love. Thank God Nina isn’t going anywhere.
I wasn’t going to do a critique of all the looks, but here are some brief impressions of some:
Sandhya - Sloppy and weird, hot mess. I can’t believe the judges awarded her the win. That was clearly Heidi getting her way. “I haven’t seen it before!”...yes, Heidi, because it’s BAD.
Char - Fresh, pretty, sexy, just the right amount of skin, good balance. Shoulda won, hands down.
Angela - Some good ideas there, but trying too hard. Weird proportions. She was extremely ambitious to try pants for the first challenge.
Carrie – Not what I expected from her, but then again it made sense. She made the best of a fabric she may not have chosen. Well-fitting, albeit a bit referential to McQueen.
Sean - Great color-blocking (Mila-approved!). Nice length and color combination, and great graphic design.
Mitchell – Is it me, or do the legs of the shorts look like they are two different lengths? It doesn’t get more basic than this. Florida mall clothes, from the clearance rack.
Kini - Oh wait, it does get more basic than Mitchell’s. This dress has no design whatsoever. All I thought was “McCall’s pattern." The only interest is the print, which wasn’t his choice anyway.
Samantha – She admittedly did something “safe," which is actually a good move in the early stages of the competition. It was chic but nothing ground-breaking, and that’s fine for now.
Amanda – Sorry, but I thought the pants were weird. The execution of the textile was good and they fit well, but the cut in general was off for me. However, glad to see her back of the three “runway redemption” designers.
What did we learn? NO SHORTS.
Fans and readers, can we talk about RED ROBIN as the prize sponsor?! This is a huge headscratcher. Not to be a snob but what exactly is fashionable or appealing about designing uniforms for the servers? There is always so much emphasis on Project Runway to be fashion forward and “amp it up” for the runway. Discuss.
Season 13 Premiere: Lucky Number 13
Back in the “covered wagon days” when I was a contestant on Season 2 of "Project Runway," neither I --nor Heidi, Tim, and company -- would have ever imagined the show would continue on for eleven more seasons. Yet here we are! All these years later with a new season, new designers and undoubtbly new drama. So let’s see who was lucky or unlucky during this premiere episode of "Project Runway" Season 13.
The episode begins with 18 designers arriving in NYC for one final audition where judges Nina Garcia, Zac Posen and Heidi Klum will get to whittle them down to 15. After the audition, Heidi waves auf wiedersehen to three of the 18 who will have to pack their bags and go home...or be sequestered into an undisclosed location until further notice.
As in any premiere episode of a reality competition show, we get a quick get-to-know-you glimpse of each of the contestants, featuring soundbites from all the designers and judges. The new cast of "characters" is revealed and solidifies very early on who each person is supposed to be: Char, a single mom from Detroit, is self-taught; mousy, quiet Angela from L.A. used to work at an investment bank; Jefferson is fresh from school and used to be a hip-hop dancer; Mitchell is from Ft. Lauderdale and dresses as if he’s going to a Fire Island Bar-B-Q as opposed to an audition interview with Nina, Heidi and Zac; Kini is the bleach-blond guy from Hawaii; Carrie’s designs are considered referential and very Rick Owens; Fade is the "kooky" German who probably wears fanny packs while vacationing; India-born Sandhya had an arranged marriage and has a "definite point of view" (read: she’s the "creative" one); and Hernan is the Latino designer with the questionable taste level according to Miss Nina. Oh, and every other designer seems to reside in Brooklyn (!!??). On a side note: For the last 11 seasons, besides recapping the show, I’ve also had the pleasure of judging the casting/auditions, and this season was no exception. I was happy to see several of the designers I saw (and liked) at the L.A. auditions -- including Kini, Carrie, and Angela -- make it through!
The following day, the 15 designers find out what their first challenge is, as well as the identity of the one final designer who will join them. Last season, this Runway Redemption designer arrived to much flourish disembarking from a plane. This season, not so much. Season 11 designer Amanda Valentine (the sister of a member of Maroon 5, we are reminded), just walks into the workroom like another day at the park. Now, onto the challenge. Since the Grand Prize for the Winning Designer (and the eight runners-up) is to show a spring collection at Fashion Week, this first challenge involves creating a spring look from the fabrics that are inside 16 individual black trunks (five different kinds of fabric in three-yard cuts). The challenge is to give the judges a glimpse of what their collections might look like. And they have one day to do it.
During the workroom time, we get a good view of where the season might take us in terms of the designers and who's who. Already we get hints that Korina (one of the Brooklynites) will be the token not-so-nice one (rhymes with witch); flip-flop boy Mitchell is her Best Gay and “Peanut Gallery” co-gossiper; and (almost) everyone thinks Sandhya’s point of view is tacky and she shouldn’t be there. It may be too soon for me to make this prediction but I have a feeling that in Sandhya we have a new Natalia (from "Under The Gunn") or Patricia Michaels (from Season 11). This classic archetype is praised for creativity but hated by her co-designers.
Before we get to the Runway, Heidi announces the Season 13 prize package worth over $300,000: $100,000 from Red Robin, the opportunity to design an accessory for the Red Robin servers (a fabulous fascinator hat and apron, perhaps?), a fashion spread in Marie Claire, Aldo shoes and accessories, Samsung home entertainment, Mary Kay beauty products, Brother sewing studio, and Best Western travel and hotel accommodations to “fashion capitals and other inspiring destinations." Oh yeah, and a Lexus (cough, cough). Moving on...
Judges Heidi, Nina and Zac as well as “Modern Family” actress Julie Bowen are on hand for the first runway show. And mentor Tim is back in his side role to possibly save a designer whom the judges vote out (he gets one "Tim Save" per season). The runway show can be summed up in one word: meh! While a couple did stand out for me, there were some definite clunkers and for the most part everything was a 5 out of 10. I did like Korina’s coral-colored halter jumpsuit. I thought it was chic, slightly edgy and very "Runway," but she didn’t even make the “best” cut (and she was NOT AMUSED, as we saw from her stink face). Carrie’s was also one of my favorites (she also didn’t make the judges’ top). Instead, Amanda, Char and Natalia -- oops, I mean Sandhya -- were the favorites. Amanda and Char’s designs were praised for their construction but it was Sandhya’s creative, albeit not-so-well-made design that won. If there’s a rule on “Project Runway”, it's that creative designs almost always trump the need for good construction. Personally, my favorite was Char's. Her mix of draped and tailored fabrics with the colors really was a strong spring look.
I agreed totally with the judges in regards to the designers on the bottom: Angela’s pants with peek-a-boo side slits and asymmetrical top were a disjointed mess. The pants in particular affected Nina and Tim deeply: Nina called the pants’ slits "sluts" and Tim wondered out loud if Angela’s pants came with "a gift certificate for a Brazilian." Ouch. And then there was Jefferson. Nina -- who’s ON FIRE with the zingers -- said very slowly and deliberately, “W.T.F.” to his top-and-shorts look and called them "a bib" and "big diapers." She was completely right. Jefferson was out, and mousy Angela was in. And (almost) everyone was in shock at Sandhya winning. Get ready kids, because this season looks like it’s going to be another emotional, catty, kooky catwalk ride!
Season 13 Premiere: The Self-Confidence Issue
"Project Runway" Season 13. Yes, Season 13. I can’t believe it, and yes, I am feeling old. Is there any undiscovered talent even left in America? Maybe it is just the "lucky" number 13, or my lack of favorites last season, but I started this season with not much faith in the franchise. However, after only a few minutes, I am happily surprised.
The show starts with the big announcement that there will be three designers cut after showcasing a three-piece collection to Heidi, Nina and Zac. I wonder why they do this, and just don't cut the wheat from the chaff before they start filming. I suppose it's to fill the extra 30 minutes, and the need to do something different season to season, but it just seems a bit cruel and unecessary to me.
Our three judges remain. Heidi is her usual excited self, Zac remains rather droll, and perhaps because my heart has softened since having a baby, Nina seems an bit extra “Nina-ish” to me -- very short and to-the-point. Unlike some of the designers she clearly doesn't lack self-confidence.
Korina is the first designer to share her designs. I absolutely love the three pieces that she shares. If the other designers are at her level, this is going to be a great season. Jefferson is next, and although I love his story, and that he knows the body well, it doesn't seem to carry on to his designs, noticeably the super cropped jackets that just don’t seem like they would be flattering on many women. We then have a few more designers that don’t really capture my attention -- until Mitchell. While his designs don’t blow me away, I LOVE his personality. He has a great sense of humor. He seems to be sassy without being bitchy; although after a week of no sleep, we will see how that holds up. Tim also keeps me laughing, and I do think that he has an interesting point of view.
In reference to self-confidence, it is clear that Angela is sorely lacking in that department. It is such a shame because she is such a beautiful, smart and talented woman. I thought her designs were pretty, but I do agree with the judges that they lack excitement. Ultimately it did not seem to matter, because she was selected to move forward to the next round. I was surprised and disappointed that Tim was not selected, but I'm still feeling optimistic about those who were chosen.
So now the real action starts! Of course we are greeted with product placements (Aldo! Not bad. But...a refrigerator? I can only imagine that future challenge) and mystery trunks. The PR gods (producers) are kind and the trunks are filled with usable fabric. (I say usable because I totally got screwed with unusable/last-choice fabric on "All Stars," and clearly know the importance of fabric.) We start seeing sketches and nothing is really moving me too much. Then again, how often do the designs actually end up looking like the sketches on this show anyways? Time limits bring desperate measures, and usually this significantly changes the garments. While working, everyone seems pretty normal (it IS the first day), except Angela, who keeps showcasing her lack of confidence. Korina and Mitchell just love to gossip. I have a feeling that because Korina lacks the comedic personality, this will ultimately haunt her, while Mitchell will walk away unscathed (granted, a VERY early prediction).
Sandhya – Love the idea of it, especially the unique take on the cold-shoulder trend. It is creative, but lacks finishing. Also, and it could just be me, but the zippers seem a little "been there done that."
Angela - Again, I like the idea of the pants, but the finishing is off. The top is interesting, but too many ideas in one piece! Needs editing.
Alexander – Not a favorite. Not crazy about the mixing of those prints, and although I like the silhouette, it is a bit basic. Nevertheless, it is a nice nod to the '60s. Middle of the road.
Sean - LOVE this. Great seaming and a sexy back. I'm a fan.
Carrie – The piece looked finished, and I love what she did with the print, but as "futuristic" as this tried to look, it ended up just looking dated.
Samantha – A chic look, but the pants seem a little short, and it is probably not the greatest choice to go with black for a spring look.
Mitchell – Wayyyy too "junior"-looking. The back of the shirt needs to hang down longer to give any real feel of "cool."
Kini - I really like this floral dress! I think he should have skipped the jacket and showcased the dress a bit more. I also think a lower neckline or small cutout would have kept the look a little younger.
Jefferson – Very student-y. The shorts are too high-waisted, and way too short, combined with a top that just needed more movement.
Emily – Bottom choice for me. The dress is just too long, and looks odd under the corset top. To me it looked ridiculously simple, and very questionable (Tim, where art thou?).
Hernan – I really thought this dress could have been a winner – in fact, I want one! He took a dated print and made it modern. He had interesting cuts in the back, but they did not clash with the print. Well done!
Korina – Great color, but ultimately safe. I actually think it would have been stronger as a dress, or as extremely wide-legged trousers. And please, please, lose the train.
Kristine – Not feeling this one. It is just way too juvenile, and honestly I can’t think of who would wear this. Maybe the top, or maybe the bottom, but for god's sake, it is much too much together.
Amanda – Just okay. I have seen the pants (not into the half triangles). The top was cute, but it was not strong enough to carry the outfit.
Fade – I thought this also could have been a winner. I was surprised by how cool this dress was in comparison to the three pieces that he chose to show the judges earlier. Looked super expensive and modern. Well done!
Char - I liked this. The skirt has been seen a million times but she pulled it off with great aplomb. The top was beautiful.
Judgment time! Well, I can't say I agreed with the judges (déjà vu), but it is early days yet. The top three ended up being Amanda, Sandhya, and Char, while the bottom three were Mitchell, Jefferson, and Angela. With Sandhya being the winner of the first challenge, is there any question this was a smack down to Mitchell and Korina's bitching earlier in the episode? And Jefferson, who seemed like a nice guy, with questionable taste, gets the axe.
In the end my favs didn’t get recognized but luckily none of them got sent home.
Season 13 Premiere: Everyone Lives In Brooklyn
Hi and welcome to my first blog entry for "Project Runway!" I will be posting about new episodes of Season 13. I'll be critiquing, commenting, and just throwing my two cents in, since I was in Season 12 and up for this season's Redemption. Let's get to it!
The episode opened with 18 hopeful designers auditioning for one of the 15 design spots. We got to meet each potential designer and see their designs and style first hand. I actually really liked that they aired the final audition -- that is always the most stressful part of the whole process for me. It would've been painful to not make the final cut on TV, but I think it's useful to show the fans some of the process of casting.
Unfortunately three people were sent home even before the first challenge was introduced. Tim, Nzinga, and Emmanuel were the unlucky three. Tim was a little too obsessedwith vests for women which would have looked great as menswear, Nzinga didn't show enough diversity with her dresses, and Emmanuel showed too much diversity! I found his technique and construction quite nice but he just couldn't impress the judges enough.
Now that the 15 designers have been chosen -- everyone lives in Brooklyn where there was a sale on blue hair dye -- it's off to the workroom. As they walk in, they find their designated workspace and notice huge black trunks at each of their stations, dying to know whats inside, what the first challenge is and who is the surprise designer. Tim arrives just in time to break the news regarding who won the Redemption. Without fanfare and with an elementary reveal, Amanda walks in. Sorry, no grand entrance from an airplane for you. Finally the challenge is introduced! Create one look for spring that gives a peek into what their NY Fashion Week collection would look like, using the provided fabrics from the mysterious trunks. It turns out to be some great fabrics: printed florals, jersey knits, cottons in solids and prints, hues of pastels and some basic blacks, of course. The designers get to work.
Since it is only the first episode and there are a lot of designers, I'll just mention the ones that stuck out in my mind through Tim's critique and the runway presentations:
Sandhya – I actually am very interested and quite curious to see more of her creations. I wasn't too keen with what she was making but she put so much of herself into it and she did some great treatments to the garment, like hand-dyeing and embroidering. I think she's one of those people who has interesting ideas, especially through her heritage, but can't really execute them that well. Her dress ended up being unique and not your basic, generic bore like some of the others.
Char - She made a cute look, a bit safe, especially with the circle skirt, even though it was adorable. And yes Char, the pockets were hot, but a little too safe. I think she saved it from mediocrity with that draped top with all the fullness on the sleeves and center front. That was cute, and Tim and the judges thought so, too.
Mitchell – We get it, you're from Florida, which is hot and has beaches, etc. But that is no excuse for the T-shirt and shorts he sent down the runway, which he kept calling “edgy," “fashion-forward” and “new fashion," Um, it's a t-shirt and shorts. A poorly made t-shirt and shorts. Zac said it perfectly: “This wouldn't even get him in to fashion school."
Angela - Poor nervous wreck Angela. I thought her heart was gonna explode from all that stress. Her look wasn't that bad, even though it got her in the bottom three. Tim was worried about her peek-a-boo pants that peeked a little too much of her boo. I liked the cutout idea, but it was just a little too close to the baby maker. The blue top could have used a little less of everything, a bit too busy especially with the pants.
Jefferson – I was not a fan of this. He deserves to be in the bottom three. Even Tim was a little weary in the critiquing. I like a high-waisted pant (Gaultier did it best), but that bib thing he made was not proportionately proper. Too bad he didn't win, it would have been perfect for the Red Robin challenge. That could be the winning accessory: A bib for everyone!
Sean - I liked his color-blocked dress. Constructed quite well, different from any other designs up there, and he was safe. Maybe a little too safe? But who can complain? It's the first challenge -- all you want is NOT to be the first one to go home! Keep an eye out for him, he could surprise us all.
Amanda – The '70s windowpane pants were slightly intriguing and yes, she can sew very well, but the whole thing was generic at best. I'm sure I've seen that look almost everywhere. I hope she jumps out of the comfort zone. She promised us she was going to do things differently the second time around and show us who she really is as a designer.
So after the runway critiquing, the top three are Charketa, Sandhya, and Amanda, and the bottom three are Mitchell, Jefferson, and Angela. It was a tough decision for the judges to pick the winner of the first challenge for season 13. They seemed to be split for very different reasons. But they decided and chose Sandhya as the winner for her creativity. Back in the lounge, all the other designers were stunned silent from her win. Sadly the stigma of being voted off first goes to Jefferson for his bib and high-waisted diaper. Mitchell was saved, barely, and Angela lives to stress another day.
Can't wait for episode 2. This is FUN!
Season 13 Premiere: The Judges Decide
"Runway" is back! I'm back to recap it! You're back to talk about it! Tim's back to facilitate the whole enterprise, thank goodness. Heidi Klum, Zac Posen, and my favorite ice queen Nina Garcia are back to judge, and they're starting early by evaluating the 18 finalists to decide which 15 will move on to the actual competition.
I like Sandhya immediately when she shows Tim a cropped jacket she made out of a print of hands flipping the bird. Attagirl. (You can see print in action on a larger jacket in Sandhya's closet tour video; it's glorious.) Angela looks like a delicate fawn in headlights when she gets in front of the panel, but she gets a pass despite her nerves. Fade and Heidi chat in German which hopefully softens the blow when Nina flatly says she hates all of Fade's clothes except the ones he's wearing. Zac describes Kristine's rack as "secure" and I think it's meant to be a compliment about her collection but instead it sounds like he's impressed by the stability of the aluminum rack holding everything up. The judges see all the contestants and isolate themselves to confer, move some headshots around on the table in front of them with furrowed brows, then make their final decision: Tim, Emmanuel, and Nzinga are the first casualties of the season. Womp womp.
In the workroom, Tim introduces the winner of the Runway Redemption vote: Amanda Valentine! I'm very happy to see Amanda, who I liked a lot during the team-based Season 11. (Did you just wince thinking back on that season? Because I did. Oof. If anyone deserves redemption it's the Season 11 designers.) He also introduces the first task of the season.
The challenge: With one outfit, give the judges a glimpse of a hypthetical spring collection.
The parameters: Must choose from an assortment of fabrics provided to them at the start of the challenge. They have one day to complete the look.
Tim does his walk-through of the workroom, which is hard for me to get invested in this early on without knowing more about the designers' individual strengths and weaknesses. I mean, it's the first challenge: Everyone sorta looks like they're floundering, none moreso than Angela. Is she getting the "unecessary histrionics" edit or is she really this nervous all the time? Goodness. Her anxiety is making ME anxious. Thankfully every designer gets his or her butt in gear to put a finished look down the runway. No hot messes yet, knock on wood.
Our guest judge is the radiant Julie Bowen of "Modern Family." Let's talk about the runway show! (You can see all this week's looks, and rate them yourself, in our Rate the Runway gallery.)
Sandhya - The judges value the inventive fantasy elements of the look, including the dip-dye technique and the delicate embroidery details at the back, and while they agree that it could have been better finished, it presents a level of creativity that they clearly want to see more of this season. Sandhya gets the first win of Season 13.
Char - Nina's charmed. She loves the cotton jersey. While Julie isn't a huge fan of crop tops, she likes its implementation here. The judges like the look even more when they see it up close, and they're all complimentary of the fact the look seems like it would be part of a cohesive, elegant collection. Smart fabric choices, good design: Char is safe.
Amanda - The judges think it looks stylish and commercial, though Zac and Heidi don't seem as thrilled about it as Nina. This look is actually so attuned to Nina's preferred aesthetic (sleek and editorial) that I wouldn't be surprised if Amanda designed it with the attention of appealing to her specifically. She's safe.
Angela - "Instead of calling those 'slits,' I'm going to call them 'sluts,'" Nina says pointedly, cementing her status as the Simon Cowell of "Runway." Angela says she was trying to amp things up after being told in her audition that her work was too safe, and the judges seem sympathetic to that defense. Angela's safe for now.
Mitchell - Rule of thumb for new "Runway" contestants: Don't describe your look as "cool" or "fun" unless you're 100% certain the look conveys those vibes on its own. It just gives the judges fodder to mock you. Zac goes so far as to say this look wouldn't even qualify Mitchell for design school. (Burn.) "I know what Mitchell will deliver," Nina says, "and I don't want to see it." Buuuut he's safe.
Jefferson - Heidi is just "Nah" about this, start to finish, and so's Nina, and they make no effort to hide it. The proportion of the crop top paired with the high-waisted short is the biggest problem here, and it becomes even more of a problem when Jefferson doesn't seem to see it. The judges waffle between ranking this look or Mitchell's lower, but they land on Jefferson, so he's the first to go.
We've got a diverse cast on our hands and so far everyone appears relatively focused and competent. Then again, this is Season 13, and while I'm not terribly superstitious I know better than to assume things are going to go smoothly. What do you think? Which of the designers stands out to you so far? Who do you feel presented the most promising look? Let me know in the comments!
Season 1, Episode 1 Song List
Designers' Choice: Season 1, Episode 1
Exclusive! The Season 1 designers pick who they think created the best and worst looks each week!
Season 3, Episode 1: Super Punks
We're back for another round of "All Stars," and the competition looks fierce. We've got a lot of talent and big personalities in the mix this time, including three former "Project Runway" winners (Irina, Jeffrey, and Seth Aaron), six who made it all the way to Fashion Week (Viktor, Mychael, Christopher, Melissa, Ari, and Korto), and two wildcards (Daniel and Elena).
The designers meet new host Alyssa Milano in Bryant Park, where she explains a few notes: Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman are back as judges, with Marie Claire's Zanna Roberts Rassi acting as mentor. There's no immunity this time around. Challenge winners will be up for elimination each week along with everyone else. The prize package is huge and valued at over three quarters' of a million dollars. Without further ado, Alyssa introduces the first challenge. Inspired by legendary rocker Debbie Harry, the designers have to create a punk look using only what's available to them at Mood. They'll hash out their garments in Mood's basement -- no workroom, no designers' lounge.
Because these guys have done this before, the first challenge has less of a learning curve and more of a "I HAVE TO IMPRESS YOU" bent. From intricate leather work to hand-hammered grommets, there's a lot of one-upmanship going on. Zanna heads in for the first critique and she's eager to take everyone's egos down a peg.
Let's talk runway. Debbie Harry joins Alyssa, Georgina and Isaac for the judging.
Elena - A black miniskirt with a backwards neon leather jacket. "This is a straightjacket, but in bright, fun colors," Isaac says approvingly. Debbie praises the jacket, too, bringing Elena to tears. Georgina calls the jacket the most interesting, well-worked piece in the runway show, and Debbie agrees so much that she says she'll wear the jacket at a performance, prompting a big show of emotion from a grateful, flattered Elena. (This is also Elena's first challenge win. Ever.)
Jeffrey - A ragged high-low chiffon skirt with a leopard-print-accented black peplum low-backed jacket. Georgina likes that it's editorial and Alyssa says she'd wear it. Isaac thinks it's a sucess because Jeffrey "expressed himself and regarded us looking at it." Jeffrey's safe.
Seth Aaron - White plaid pants with a black- and red-trimmed white leather jacket. Isaac digs the proportions and Georgina loves the attitude of the white leather jacket. "That was, to me, exactly what the challenge [asked for]," says Alyssa, but Georgina doesn't quite think it screams "punk." Seth Aaron's safe.
Viktor - A black blazer with grommet detailing on the sleeves paired with red, grey, and black patterened pants. The judges think it's well done, but Isaac says the outfit lacks tension, that the model seems sporty and relaxed but not really punk. Georgina and Debbie agree that the model looks a little conformist and that the weekender bag and shoes don't help. Viktor's safe.
Melissa - A one-shoulder blue bodycon dress, black tights, and a white sleeveless leather jacket. Melissa admits she ran out of time on the dress, but Georgina and Isaac both think that the dress and not the jacket is what gives the look some personality. Melissa's safe.
Ari - A lime green and slate grey jacket layered underneath a khaki bolero, paired with grey and black shorts. Georgina's blown away by the construction of the garments, but for her that underlines the problem: It's not rough enough. The ensemble is much more sophisticated than, as Alyssa says, "any person who's of that movement would want to be." And with that, Ari is the first designer eliminated this season.
Coming up this season on "All Stars": Tears! Yelling! Frantic sewing! Tons of guest stars, including Elisabeth Moss, Nick Cannon, Zac Posen, Kristin Chenoweth, and Gabourey Sidibe! Buckle up, kids.
Who are you most excited to follow over the next few weeks? What'd you think of the season's first runway show? How do you feel about Ari's elimination? Let me know in the comments.