Season 15 Premieres September 15 at 9/8c

Nick Verreos' Blog

Project Pajama Party

By Tracy_Goldenberg 07/29/2011 04:48AM GMT

Fashion Grand-Daddy Is BACK!
Gather your friends, uncork the red wine, get some crudités and put your best skinny jeans on. Why? HELLO: Season 9 of "Project Runway" is finally upon us! (Gosh, we missed you, Tim!) When we last left the "Grand-daddy" of Fashion Reality Shows, there was MAJAH drama: In case you forgot, the favorite of last season, Mondo Guerra, didn't win and instead the crown went to Gretchen Jones, who quickly gained the moniker of “America's Most Despised Woman on Reality TV."

Before you knew it, there were rioters with pattern shears demonstrating in front of Parsons and the Lifetime headquarters. OK, not so much. (I love to exaggerate!) Cut to nine months later, and the anger has subsided, and now, we're moving forward. New season and (I'm sure) new "characters" to love and hate. Oh, and yeah, there's the FASHION!

16: In 4: Out
We begin the season with TWENTY contestants brought to NYC (OK, some took a cab from blocks away!) to "prove themselves" for one final judging: A Season 9 twist already? Less than a minute into the show, Fräulein Heidi Klum and Mentor Emperor Tim Gunn, tell the 20 that the casting process isn't over. Only 16 will actually get to compete, and therefore 4 will be out after La Klum and Le Gunn -- as well as Judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia -- do one final "assessment." This part of bringing 20 contestants, but quickly eliminating four, was a bit perplexing, especially without even having an actual Challenge. 16, 20 ... really, what's the difference? Let them all in, have them compete in a challenge and then eliminate FIVE. I didn't understand the point. But I digress…

You Get to Stay … For Now
During this painful "final interview" section of the premiere, we get brief glimpses of the 20 "semi-finalists" and their design aesthetic. Off the bat, I wonder how some even got to the top 20, and then there are some I can almost immediately pinpoint as finalists. There was uncomfortable banter and disagreement between Heidi, Tim, Michael and Nina, especially when it came to one particular designer, Anya Ayoung-Chee -- a former Miss Trinidad and Tobago, Miss Universe -- who had just learned how to sew -- FOUR months ago!

In the end, Miss Heidi won (don't mess with Heidi!), and Anya made it (of course she did), as well as 15 others, including Julie Tierney, who makes wonderfully creative looking outerwear; Anthony Ryan Auld, a color-blind testicular cancer survivor; Rafael Cox, a flat iron-haired boy from Atlanta, Georgia who thinks Nina Garcia is talking "sex" with him; Laura Kathleen, an obnoxious, self-proclaimed "girl who comes from privilege," and two who made it from the L.A. castings I judged (Yay!): "102 year-old" Bert Keeter, who worked with Bill Blass, Arnold Scassi, and Halston; and Josh Christensen, an Advanced Fashion Design Student from my Alma Mater, the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising/FIDM.

Should Have Slept In a Floor-Length Kimono Gown:
After finally "making it," the Top 16 head to the Atlas Apartments (oh, the memories!) to get some rest. But as I know too well, you can never get to comfortable on "Project Runway." Soon enough -- at 5 AM -- Tim swings by and wakes all the designers up, telling them to "Come As You Are," in their pajamas/boxers/whatever they slept in, and to bring one bed sheet. After making a very early morning trek through Times Square, they arrive at the Parsons New School of Design, where Tim tells them that for their first challenge they are to create a look from their sleep attire and, yes, that sheet they dragged from their Atlas bed! Oh, dear.

First Day Workroom:
The first day of the "Project Runway" workroom is always a cluster you-know-what of a MESS: too many designers, too many fragile egos and too many "I interned for McQueen in London. What have you done?" banter. Let's get to work, kids!

Tim Gunn visits them (after hopefully getting a quick nap and a Croque Monsieur from Pastis!) and surveys all 20 designers. Highlights: Anya (Miss Beauty Pageant Girl Who-Just-Learned- How-to-Sew) is having construction problems. She has never sewn pants before but she is … making pants?! Speaking of pants, for some reason EVERY OTHER designer is making pants. Seriously, pants are one of the most difficult garments to do. It takes YEARS to perfect the right fit and pattern. What. Are. They. Thinking?

"Grandpa" Bert is already FINISHED as the rest of the kids are still deciding whether to dye or not to dye their bed sheets. The designers soon meet their models, and some are having fitting problems. Oh, these kids. Do they EVER learn? If the model's card says 34" hips, it really means 36-37"!

Pajama Runway:
Next day, it's Runway time. There's much anticipation. Heidi, Nina and Michael are there, as well as guest judge, actress Christina Ricci. The re-worked boxers, PJs, sleepwear and bed sheets come out, and three things immediately come to mind:
1. Is this challenge sanitary?
2. Do these models know they are wearing someone's boxers on their breasts?

The best, worst and the "you got through" are announced, and I am surprised, no, shocked, that some of my "worst" squeaked by to the next round. Particularly, Cecilia Motwani's. That MICRO-mini was way too short and way too tight. Even Heidi was laughing as the modeled sauntered down the runway. I also didn't understand the "OMG, we ARE AMAZED!" reaction to one of the judges' top favorites, Anya's palazzo pant and top. OK, she can (somewhat) sew, but, seriously, those pants were not that good! I guess it's the "Instructor Nick" in me, but I could spot about FIVE fit issues with that crotch and, yes, even the back of that pant of hers. But she didn't win. Instead, the title went to Bert and that chic and very feminine dress he created out of his boxers, t-shirt and bed sheet. It was definitely my favorite. And P.S. … 57 is not that old, honey!

Flinstones Pouch vs. Insane Crotch
The bottom designs were Rafael's too-tight top, "Flintstones Disco Pouch" necklace and hip-enlarging leggings, and Josh's badly fitting shorts and awkwardly pieced together tank top. Josh wondered out loud as to "why, oh why" he was in the bottom. To that, Miss Diva Garcia schooled him, saying, "You are in a competition of DEEEESIGN! You are going to show me a pair of white shorts and a tank top? I need to see something creative, exciting; imaginative!"

In the end, however, Rafael's Too-Tight Jeggings Hoochie Mama was worse. His Pajama Party was over. Ah, well. On the positive end, at least he won’t have anymore 5 am wake up calls by Mr. Gunn!