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The official site for "Project Runway" Season 13 offers video, designer portfolios, Rate the Runway, blogs and more.

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Mila Hermanovski Blog

Season 13 Premiere: Casting Is A Puzzle

By laurareineke Fri., Jul. 25, 2014 ,4:52 am EDT

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.