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The Project Runway Blog

Want to Win "Project Runway"? Just Watch Past Seasons and Take Notes

By CaitlinBergmann Fri., Jul. 29, 2011 ,5:31 am EDT

Now in its ninth season, "Project Runway" has certainly set precedents in the show's history, like:

"You're the Daniel Franco." (Guy who goes home the first challenge)
"You're the Chris March!" (Guy who gets to come back)
"You're the Keith Michael?" (Guy who cheats and gets the boot)
"You're the Maya Luz." (Girl who leaves the show because she's done with competing)

With the Season 9 premiere, we've created a whole new precedent for you: the people who go home ... before the first challenge. That's right. We started off this season with 20 designers who soon learned that their place on the show is not as secure as they thought it was and that they still need to audition.

As we get into the final judging, Anya, a former Miss Universe contestant, shows off some pieces that have everyone puzzled. They truly do look too good to be made by someone with four (count 'em, four!) months of sewing experience. Tim Gunn gets curious enough to give them a look up close and personal. She's going to have a lot to prove this season.

I am more mesmerized by Anthony Ryan's mouse scarf than I am by his clothes, but there's something about a color-blind designer that's ridiculously intriguing to me. That's like a dentist who can't see white. I'm sold!

Olivier (whose name I want to pronounce "Olivier," as in Laurence, but is really "Oliver!," like the musical), is apparently so pretty that he can just skip ahead.

Bryce's jacket is very "Beyoncé photo shoot on a rooftop in Paris"-type material, and its fabulosity is duly noticed by Heidi, who must model it. Obviously.

After we say adios to David, Amanda, Gunnar and Serena, I'm surprised by how unemotional these people get after learning they won't even get the chance to take on a challenge. You gave up a wedding! You gave up ... burning roses with a Bic lighter by hand for hours on end! C'mon! But maybe that's the reason why they didn't make it through? Did they truly want it badly enough?

Now we toast to the 16 designers of Season 9, and I suddenly miss the rooftop of the Atlas for the champagne toast.

Eventually settled into bed for the first night, the contestants are unexpectedly awakened at 5 am by none other than Tim Gunn.

I like Tim Gunn. In fact, I love Tim Gunn, but I would not like Tim Gunn at 5 am. Also, bras are a critical part of crossing Fifth Avenue. Becky was right to ask. Do you know how many scantily clad tweens I've yelled at (in my mind) for a similar offense? Fashion designers in bedsheets are no exception.

In the workroom, the designers learn that the first challenge is to create a garment from their PJs, a white bedsheet and a dream. We also learn who has amazing skin.

Anya is already struggling with the machines and the fabric dyeing process, but is committed to proving that she has a place in this competition.

Bert has managed to use his Underoos in the bust area of his model's garment, and no one except me seems to be screaming, "I bet she wished that sucker came with a bathing suit hygienic strip right about now!" But hey, what we don't know won't kill us!

Speaking of models, I initially thought that Josh C. was using the "But the measurements on the card were wrong!" excuse, but let's call a spade a spade. I don't know if it was "tall friend who wants a modeling job" day or what, but by the time he got to the fitting, the measurements were obviously far from what he originally planned for. His real problem? Making it work. That panel down the front of that tank was bad news bears. As Michael Kors suggested, there were other ways to accommodate for size while making that garment way more flattering than it turned out to be.

Rafael, as amusing as he is, not only becomes the "Daniel Franco" of this season ("I barely got to know ya! See ya on Season 10!"), but he also becomes the "Kirsten Ehrig" of Season 9: the one who wouldn't sacrifice for the clothes-off-your-back challenge.

Tim Gunn gave Kirsten a talking-to about choosing not to use her scarf in her design in Season 2, and as things have a great way of repeating themselves, Rafael got the same speech. What you don't see on-camera was the backstory on Rafael's scarf; like Kirsten's, it had a personal sentimental value that made him reluctant to part with it. Was transforming it into a bib-like necklace at the eleventh hour the best use of it? Probably not. But I think the pants (and the vanity of not wanting his 5 am hair to be seen) were what did him in. It's always a matter of taste. And, just like Kirsten, he went home.

So, let's hear it:

Should Rafael have sacrificed the scarf?



P.S. New classic one-liner alert: "Are you speaking foreign?" and "An 'I like myself!' kinda pocket."