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First Episode Recap: For the Love of Bai Ling!

Posted By CaitlinBergmann 2:01pm GMT

"Project Runway" Glows with L.A. Sunshine
"Project Runway" fans, rejoice! Our little show is BACK! And it looks EXACTLY the same as when we last left it, albeit with a few “cosmetic” liftings. Goodbye, New York, hello, Los Angeles! This is a brighter, shinier, more glowing "Project Runway."

Fourth Time Is the Charm
When we first meet the designers, they are arriving at their new digs, the Title Guarantee Building Lofts in downtown L.A. The 16 designers are a diverse group, hailing from all parts of the U.S. Age-wise, some are mature, but most are quite young. After the fourth 24-year-old was introduced, I almost felt like collecting my Social Security and retiring to Palm Springs. There were also several with intriguing Eastern European "Boris and Natasha" accents. Several tell us how "this is the fourth time that I've tried out for the show," and I make a mental note how I would NEVER go back for abuse a second, third or fourth time! Talk about perseverance.

FIDM where Project Runway is filmed

Who Are You Wearing?
Tim Gunn and the designers eventually gather at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, the home of the Grammys, Emmys and other award shows. Before you could say “Joan and Melissa,” you knew this was going to be a Red Carpet Challenge. Indeed, the first challenge was to create a red-carpet look that represents the designers’ point of view and shows true innovation. Next stop: their new L.A. workroom at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising/FIDM, the premier fashion design institution on the West Coast. Now, since I am an instructor at FIDM, I may be a bit biased, but their new design studios are FABULOUS! What a change from gray Parsons to the colorful, bright FIDM. It’s like Parsons with a moisturizing chemical peel!

A Brief Lesson in Fashion 101, Kids
We soon get a taste of who are this week’s "featured characters" when Missouri native Ari Fish declares that she does not know how to sketch. Tim Gunn just gives her the "Are you kidding me?" look. Young designer Christopher Straub then explains that he doesn’t know what smocking or a godet is. Maybe it’s time to give these kids a brief “refresher” course in fashion terminology BEFORE they apply to “Project Runway”? In the workroom, we find one designer, FIDM alum Johnny Sakalis, having a major breakdown as he second-guesses himself and then tells all of America that he was a crystal meth addict (TMI, by the way). If he’s “emotionally obliterated” now, honey, how is he going to handle the rest of the challenges? Of course, he eventually snaps out of it and goes on to make a very pretty design. (I knew he would, you gotta love those editors!).

Tired Excuse # 101: My Model Is Too Fat
The models arrive for their fittings. One designer, Mitchell, wants to create a Victorian-inspired gown but encounters a snafu: His dress doesn’t fit his model, Yozusi. He blames it on her, saying the measurements on the card didn’t match her real measurements. Lesson #101: Every designer knows that the measurements on those model cards rarely match the models’ actual measurements. Agencies make those cards up and say ALL their models are 34"- 24"-34", when in fact, most are 33"- 26"-37". Obviously, Mitchell didn’t get that memo, so now he has to remake his entire gown. And the result isn’t pretty.

Paparazzi Alert: It’s Lindsay Lohan!
As the runway show is about to begin, Heidi introduces the one and only Lindsay Lohan as this season’s first Guest Judge. Miss Lindsay almost trips off the stage as she realizes that her on-again, off-again paramour, Samantha Ronson, ISN’T really sitting among the designers; it’s just her doppelganger, Ari. Judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia are back, looking "refreshed" (those St. Barths vacations do them good!). As the creations come down the runway, I am instantly drawn to Ra’mon’s design. It was the closest to a real red-carpet stunner. Even though I was afraid at first when Christopher was creating his design in the workroom (Hefty Bag alert!), he actually pulled it off. It was very Leighton Meester at the Teen Choice Awards. As a result, he wins and gets immunity.

Bai Ling Would Love It!
Now on to the messes: Qristyl’s design was something straight out of the BET Awards, and that’s not a good thing. My-Model-Is-Too-Fat Mitchell ended up creating a sheer caftan/nightgown, TAPED onto the model. I love me some caftans (they’re all the rage for Resort 2010), but this was tragic. Finally, Ari created a space-age silver padded garment reminiscent of a “Disco Soccer Ball.” Only someone like Worst Dressed Hall of Famer Bai Ling would wear such a thing. Ari said she was creating something for the 2080 Video Music Awards. But I have a feeling that even in the 2080 VMAs, her outfit would have ended up on the Worst Dressed List. With that, Ari went into the Wikipedia record books as getting the first “auf Wiedersehen” of Season 6. Bye, Ari, see you at Lindsay’s house — or maybe at a Bai Ling red-carpet event — in 2080.