"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 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.
It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's Kate the Great!
The mystery is finally over as Kate returns once again to try her luck at becoming "a much nicer, less vocal version of Kate Season 11," and it's ironically comforting to start this season with a familiar face returning to our living rooms on the 12th installment of the Emmy-nominated series "Project Runway." However, inviting 15 strange new faces into my home, I was sure to lock up all my couture, put away all the fine china, and take cover like Anne Frank!
Right out of the gates the aroma of things leads me to think Barnum & Bailey is headed into town for what surely will be the greatest show on earth. From psychopaths to sociopaths and all illnesses treated by laying on a couch while a therapist doodles into a yellow college-ruled notepad while draining your bank account, this is going to be a fabulous season of pill-poppin' personalities.
On the topic of poppin' pills, I'm not talking about Amanda Bynes: I am pretty sure Alexandria has been in violation of an S.U.I during this ENTIRE first episode. “S.U.I?" you ask? This acronym originated during my college years and stands for Sewing Under the Influence.
Side Note: I myself have accrued a few S.U.I.'s over those years, but it was all worth it to spend sleepless nights integrating myself into New York City, meeting some of the most influential people that have aided in the success I have today. There is always a price to be paid in the fashion world, but if you find the right people, you will have an unlimited balance.
Alexandria is an ex-model-turned-designer and quick to point out that Sandro is an "idiot," while a few others don't even "belong" in the competition! With the mouth of a boxer and the look of a figure skater, let's hope she can hold her own next to Mike Tyson and Tonya Harding. If not, she'll be out an ear and a kneecap! I think it's rather ballsy to make such bold statements so early in the game; however, I am going to give her the benefit of doubt and blame it on every model's depravity: Hunger.
Speaking of Mike Tyson and ears, it's awe-inspiring to see Justin on the show even with having a hearing disability. I am already a fan of his personal strength and attitude because this show is more than just designing pretty dresses but having the confidence to stand in the face of judgment. What I am most intrigued by is his architectural background, because I believe it can make for a very strong and innovative designer.
There are DEFINITELY some unique characters on this show, but no one takes the crown from Milwaukee's Best -- and no, I'm not talking about the beers I have consumed during this episode -- Timothy Westbrook! His explanations and platform were the comedy of the episode, watching him create, define, explain, and demonstrate his garment and its purpose. Though his intentions seem genuine, the man on Canal Street in Chinatown told me the same thing about the Louis Vuitton bag he was trying to sell me! Timothy may be odd, but his hometown comrade Miranda Levy seems to think she is above him, barely reciprocating the hug he tries to give her. I don’t know about you but I am intrigued to learn more about drama behind these Farm Town Fashionistas!
It was such an explosive and dramatic show opener using the sky divers to deliver what became the designers' fabric for the challenge: The parachutes! These are people jumping from thousands of feet in the air using a VERY lightweight material known as “ripstop nylon” fabric which is resistant to tearing and ripping.
Definiton: Ripstop nylon is a light-weight nylon fabric with interwoven ripstop reinforcement threads in a crosshatch pattern. The material comes in many different colors and sizes, including thickness. It is woven with coarse, strong warp and filling yarns at intervals so that tears will not spread.
I don't know about you, but wearing last season Dolce & Gabbana is as dare-devil as I get! With that said, it was great to see such beautiful color options and an excess amount of fabric to work with. In the end I think that was the triumph for Bradon that he used so much of what he was given but had the ability to manipulate the parachute into a stunning editorial piece. In this competition it is all about taking chances, especially on the first challenge! Nina nailed it when she said, "First impressions are all that you have!" I couldn’t agree more.
My favorite first impressions and personal picks I'm intrigued to see more from are Alexander Pope, Sue Waller, Jeremy Brandrick, and Bradon McDonald.
Who are yours?
Season 12 of "Project Runway" has arrived, with an entire new cast, new rules and unexpected twists. The first episode of the season is always my favorite, you get to meet a whole new set of designers, personalities and design aesthetics. However, this season could not have begun without a twist. Kate Pankoke from Season 11 was chosen to return. Ummm ok.
This season the stakes have been raised. The winner will receive a price package worth over half a million dollars, the biggest price in the history of the show. Makes me want to sign up and compete again! Now, lets get to the real deal. This week’s challenge was presented on a different kind of runway, an airport runway! An unconventional challenge where the designers had to create a runway look made from parachutes. Some designers flew over the competition and some simply failed.
The cast this season is eclectic, which is a perfect mixture for drama. You have the class bitch, Helen! Overconfident Kate, Drama Queen Timothy and those are just three designers. This season will definitely bring up the drama and I cannot wait to see the seams unravel. I was very touched to meet Justin, a talented designer who despite his hearing disability will be a force to be recon with.
The judging panel consisted of the Zac Posen, Nina Garcia, Heidi Klum and the fabulous Kate Bosworth. This season the judges will also be joined by Tim Gunn. A silent judge who has the power to save one designer during the season.
Finally runway time! I am impressed with this group! My thoughts:
Timothy: As I saw his look coming down the runway, I thought cute if the model has just gone through a fire. It was a poetic tragedy, who left me with a bitter taste. He sent his model down the runway without shoes, makeup or hair. Why? I do give him props for rocking heels on the runway, although I wish they had been a more tasteful pair. Next time make sure your model has heels before you do!
Sue: Chic and thought out. The rouching she created on her dress was visually pleasant.
Angela: As I saw her look going down the runway all I could think of was color blocking meets trash bag.
Miranda: Easy, chic, except she used very minimal of the parachute material. As cute as her design may be to me she failed because she didn’t execute the challenge properly.
Bradon: Without a doubt his look impressed the judges the most. He shut it down.
Sandro: Where do I begin? A designer's worst nightmare became his reality when his model burst onto the runway. "Vagina drops" was an accurate description made by a fellow contestant. I could not believe that the tightly fitted body suit exposed a lot more than what the model had signed up for.
Winner: Bradon! I 100% agree. His look was fabulous.
Out: Angela. Her poncho simply was not runway material. It lacked creativity and failed to impress the judges.
I’m excited to see what else will unfold this season. What designer will be saved? Who will crack under pressure? How far will Kate, the comeback kid make it? And who will make it to the top? I guess I’ll just have to sit tight and wait for next week’s episode!
See you on the runway!
Diving Right In
It appears the producers might have been listening to the fans. Or perhaps they just realized that they needed to change things up in "Project Runway" Land after 11 seasons, because they certainly have!
Straight away I noticed that the format and opening are different: Edgier, more interesting editing and not as much the old predictable format. I like it. The prize package is the largest to date: $150k to start, and a gaggle of additional prizes like a Lexus and a trip to Maldeves. The runway show is "anonymous" (hmmmm), to hopefully eliminate any question of favoritism (because we know some judges become a little attached to certain designers). And this is huge: not only does Tim make an appearance and weigh in during part of the judging process, but THE JUDGES CAN SEE THE CLOTHES UP CLOSE (EEEEEEK)! Sometimes people ask me if they ever inspect the garments or see them up close. No way, thank goodness...until now! I am a big believer of good finishing, inside and out. When I was on Season 7, I learned quickly that I had to use shortcuts to save time, because the garment only has to look good on the outside. It just has to make it down the runway. The judges are never close enough to the garments to know you that didn' line it or that your seams are all ugly on the interior. What a fright some of our pieces looked on the inside! I wonder how many people who purchased them online after the show were shocked at that.
I also love the fact that the first challenge was slightly "unconventional" (materials-wise), although I hope that is not the sole "unconventional challenge" because we need to see the designers whip out their glue guns and pliers. What a way to throw off the deer-in-headlights newbie designers in the inaugural challenge by taking them to an airfield and making them wonder what lies ahead. Will they be designing flight suits? Jumping out of planes? No, just fighting over the parachutes left behind by the skydivers.
It's certainly an eclectic mix of people this season as well. Is it me, or are there an unusually large number of the cast who currently have or formerly had another profession (i.e., dancer, model, soldier/mechanic, musician, house-husband/full-time dad, part-time babysitter)? And then we have the array of personalities, with no shortage of egos. I guess I miss the days when there were more "real" fashion designers in the cast. Yet another twist: Kate Pankoke, a contestant from Season 11, is competing again. She was chosen by fans (among three designers) to return for "runway redemption." Not a favorite of mine, I have to say. She is already showing her smugness by making a look she calls her "little princess" and thinking she will win every challenge (yet doesn't feel she has an advantage in any way). Let me tell you, there is absolutely an advantage psychologically to having been through the experience already. No one could ever fully comprehend what itʼs like to compete on "Project Runway" unless he/she has been through it. There are not enough words (besides, weʼve been forbidden to talk about it to some extent)!
If I were on Season 12 I'd definitely want to slap Timothy in the workroom. His holier-than-thou approach is quite off-putting. It's great to have a sustainable business model, but just because it's sustainable doesnʼt mean it can't be beautiful; in fact you have to work even harder to make it beautiful and fashionable. Stella McCartney is a great example of doing this successfully. Can anyone imagine Timothy as the winner of "Project Runway"? Ironically, his theatrics and lack of "finishing" (i.e. no makeup, no use of electricity, even in hair styling) come across as gimmicks. Does this mean he will never use an iron for the entire season? And I'll bet you anything those glittery heels he wears are made in China out of super-industrial non-biodegradable material. I love how Zac called him on his mega-toxic technique of using a flame on synthetic material. That poor model of his had to feel like the ugly duckling. I'm glad she decided not to fully execute his silly, overly-affected choreography on the runway.
Speaking of runway, there are too many looks to critique so early on. But I do agree with Braden's win, with a very close second in Sue's look. It was so clever of Bradon to use the cords, and the color he chose was airy and sky-like. Sue's use of color was fantastic, as was her asymmetry and strategically placed ruching. Not bad for someone who can't use a sewing machine! Both of them were smart to use the fabric in a complementary way, rather than overworking it or torturing it the way some designers did. I could not understand what the hype was about for Miranda's dress, which was not interesting enough to warrant her being in the top. Then the judges look more closely and find out the black fabric was not the parachute material so suddenly she's in the bottom two? Hmmm. Seems suspect to me. Angela's colorforms smock looks like a child's sleeveless rain slicker. It is a tough call to say who should have been eliminated, though, because Sandro's taste level is clearly questionable, and his poor model didn't really want the world to see her lady bits. It is awful to send your model down the runway like that.
More changes this season include having to manage one's budget for the ENTIRE season. While this is interesting, what happens if someone blows through their money and makes it to top 5 and has none left? Sudden death? Making an outfit out of muslin and styrofoam coffee cups from the lounge? I wonder if Tim will give them any "suggested" budgets for each challenge. It would be a bummer for a designer to think they would need to scrimp every time, only to be eliminated early on and feel like they should have spent more at Mood. The show also has a new sponsor for the accessory wall/prize package: Belk. Honestly I had to look up Belk on Wikipedia. I had no idea what it was. And when I looked at the website I wasn't impressed. When I thought it couldnʼt get worse than Piperlime, it just did. Nothing against Belk as a company or store, but I'd think in a competition in which contestants are predominantly criticized for either not being fashion-forward enough, or having poor styling, there could be a more fashion-forward sponsor. Belk appears to be a very mainstream store. You can imagine how thrilled we were on my season of All-Stars to have Neiman Marcus accessories to use to elevate our looks. But I have to tell you, no matter whom the sponsor is, there will always be something you need to style the look that is not on that wall. And often times the styling is criticized when either there was nothing appropriate to choose from, or another designer is using that ONE pair of shoes that would have been perfect for your look.
This should be an interesting season; it looks like there are a LOT of locations! The jury is still out on my early favorites. I'll let you know next time.
Season 12 Premiere: Pretty Pretty Parachutes
We're back! And on the heels of some flattering Emmy nominations, no less. I'll be here each week to deliver recaps of each Season 12 episode, along with the occasional contestant interview. You can also check out episode reviews by former "Runway" contestants, including our new blogger Althea Harper, here.
Let's get to it. A number of important changes are being incorporated into this, the twelfth (TWELFTH!) season of "Runway." For one thing, the runway show will now be anonymous: the judges won't know to which designer each garment belongs until after the designs have been scored. Tim Gunn will join the panel during runway shows to offer the judges his perspective of the happenings in the workroom, and he'll also have one opportunity during the season to save a designer from elimination. I'm all about this! More Tim is always a good thing.
Tim and Heidi introduce this season's gaggle of designers at an actual airport runway (a visual gag I can't believe it took twelve seasons to make). There they meet Kate, who fans voted to bring back to the competition after her unjust elimination in Season 11. Then skydivers pop out of a plane high above to deliver the materials for the first challenge. The designers must turn the divers' parachutes into garments that represent their aesthetic and individual point-of-view. They receive extra black and white fabric, but Tim emphasizes that their design must be primarily made of the slippery, crinkly, bright-colored nylon parachutes. There's an enormous sigh of relief when Tim tells the designers they have two days to create their looks. Spoiler alert: No one makes parachute pants! What a bummer.
In the workroom, we start to get to know the gang. Justin is deaf, and points out that in some ways this is an advantage: if the other designers' outrageous personalities get on his nerves, he can just turn his hearing aid off. (Hah! I already like Justin a lot.) Miranda is dubbed "a real-life Rosie the Riveter" when she tells the group about her past as an Army mechanic. She has a less-than-happy reunion with a fellow Milwaukee designer Timothy, an earnest and frankly kind of annoying "sustainability-focused fiber artist." In his quest to be environmentally friendly he refuses hair and makeup for his model. Then he choreographs a bizarre "conceptual performance" for his model to do when she hits the runway. I didn't get a good look at the dance-thing because I was too busy rolling my eyes, and his model is clearly over it, too; she abandons the performance aspect during the actual runway show.
Returning judges Heidi, Nina Garcia and Zac Posen are joined for the runway show by guest judge Kate Bosworth and, as previously noted, Mr. Tim Gunn. (Be sure to check out all the looks from this episode in our Rate the Runway slideshow!)
Bradon - A voluminous gown with a fitted bodice. The judges rave about the movement of this garment on the runway and the way Bradon constructed a clumsy fabric to look lighter than air. Zac notes that the various conceptscording, strapless neckline, strapswere expertly combined.
Sue - A double-layered neon ruched gown with pin-tucked pleating details along both sides. Zac likes the sculptural quality of the dress, and Nina compliments the placement of the ruching. Tim says it could fit in a Bergdorf's display window.
Miranda - Here's the thing: the judges might love your modern cut-out dress, but if you deviate from the challenge rules that require you to use a certain percentage of a given material, you will land in the bottom. Miranda learns her lesson here, hopefully.
Sandro - A one-piece pseudo-swimsuit fit for a '30s bathing beauty. The judges admire the impeccable fit but call out Sandro's heavy hand in accessorizing, which they feel notches down the taste level of the garment considerably. Also affecting the taste level: The model's vagina popping out mid-walk. Yeah, that definitely had something to do with it.
Timothy - Zac dubs this flowery butter-yellow dress "Tinker Bell at Burning Man." Heidi and Nina feel that the lack of hair, makeup and shoes don't help an already-muddled design. There's also a fair bit of dubious eyebrow-raising at Timothy's choice to burn the nylon fabric.
Angela - A sporty color-blocked hooded raincoat...thing. The judges agree it would have been greatly improved by the addition of pants. When they get a closer look, they find more to dislike, like the darting at the bust. Boring design + sloppy construction = an easy auf this early in the season.
Do you think Angela deserved to be the first eliminated designer of Season 12? Were you as impressed by Bradon's winning look as the judges were? On a scale of 1 to 10, how insufferable did you find Timothy's shenanigans? And most importantly, who do you have your eye on as the season gets rolling? Let me know in the comments!
The 3 Types of "Runway" Designers
Hello! Once again I find myself working with "Project Runway." I believe most designers that have been on the show, if they are honest with themselves, have mixed emotions about the program. I know I have. I also know I would never be where I am today without "Project Runway." So, with that feeling in mind, here's my blog for Season 12!
Certainly this season starts off with an appropriate launch pad, a runway. Not a fashion one, but an airport (small as it is). This is symbolic to design beyond the obvious as those of us in the fashion business become well-aquainted with mass transit. Buses, subways, the tube, cabs, planes; it all becomes second nature to a designer. In fact, when I started in design I actually ran so many errands during my internship with Anna Sui I was nicknamed "the queen of mass transit"lucky me.
We are quickly introduced to the contestants of this season's cast. We are also introduced to the first of the "tweaks" for this year; a previous year's cast member, voted back by fans. This season it is Kate Pankoke, from Season 11. I can't help but think not only were the fans short-sighted, but that this season's contestants are extremely lucky that my season-mate and friend Ra'mon-Lawrence Coleman was not picked. I think he would have been an immediate front runner.
We now progress to hear a bit about the contestants, including their struggles, design aesthetic and background. I was a bit taken aback by the lack of solid design school graduates. I do think I read somewhere that Jeremy Brandrick is a Central Saint Martins grad. Having attended the prestigious school while working in London, I know firsthand the amount of talent and work it takes to graduate there, and I am hoping to see this showcased in his designs.
I know everyone loves the contestant who never attended school but who has vision and talent to be the next big designer. It's sooo romantic. While this can sometimes happen with a great team around you, realistically, no matter how talented you are, you really need that training to not only be versed in the terms and history of design but also to understand how to run a fashion business in the long term (which is not something you learn in business school either). "Project Runway" has been great for the fashion industry, but when I was a contestant on Season 6, Tim Gunn wanted predominantly fashion school grads on the show, and I would have thought this trend would continue. Again, I could be wrong, but I did some research on the contestants. Nothing was defined and they didn't mention anything about it.
We head into the work room, and at this point I have no favorites based on first impression. Sandro Masmanidi, the outspoken Russian, has the right idea: create a story, a theme, for your design (we learn later that what he gains in story he lacks in taste). Bradon McDonald, the self-deprecating dancer from Kentucky, also quickly finds a good trajectory. Sue Waller, a NYC designer "outside the fashion world," seems to struggle (producers?).
In my opinion there are three kinds of contestants on "Project Runway." Type A is the serious fashion student. On my season there was Irina, Nicolas, Ra'mon, Shirin, and actually Malvin. Christian Siriano, the best-known of "PR" alumni, is of this school, as is Jay McCarroll. Another type (B) would be like my fellow "All Stars" contender Joshua McKinley: the camera just follows them. The final (C) would be the self-taught "my big chance" player. Carol-Hannah, my season-mate and housemate, would be the pinnacle of this group. So far in Season 12 I see a lot types B and C. Type A, not so much.
Alas, the designs! Justin LeBlanc, the deaf design teacher, delivers just what you'd think, a well-executed frock, nicely done, if safe. I think he will be around for a while. Alexander Pope (really?) -- named after an English Poet, and looks like the singer of Prodigywill be rembered for snark, not design. Alexandria von Bromssen looks like a player. Helen Castillo looks more like a caricature to me than a contender, but I could be wrong. I thought Jeremy Brandrick's pants were very cool and had a high difficulty level. With 16 designers, it's hard to keep track. I saw a lot of expected dresses, as you usually do in the beginning: Easiest to make for the most "wow factor."
Here's a shout out to the designer who threw in a jacket. That's the sign of a sleeper. Difficult, time consuming. It points to an overachiever. Bravo. Difficulty in pattern making is rewarded as it should be on "Project Runway."
So in the end Mr. McDonald's dramatic design won. I thought he truly utilized the material the best and while I was not crazy about the roping on the front, the back was stunning. Angela was sent packing. While her design was weak, I thought Miranda should have gone home, if only on principle. I don't think she followed the challenge and I completely did not have the love affair with her garment the judges did. It was nothing new and a little Jane Jetson. I also did not understand the love affair with Sue's dress. The "throw it up in the mannequin and see what happens" thing (that is exactly what it looked like and I was not surprised it was her approach) will only work for so long. Sandro's look was clearly not successful, but he did have a vision (enjoyed the Vargas Girl look when the tasteless "jacket" was removed) and I suppose he's too screen-chewing to drop now.
So, the first challenge is over. The unconventional challenge, straight off. That's a tough one. Also, probably the most fun. I'll wait to pass judgment on the tweaks. Is the debit card just product placement? But, it's Season 12 of "Project Runway." For all its faults, it's still the best.
This will be fun!