The Project Runway Blog
Category: "episode 1"
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!
Exclusive! The Season 12 designers pick who they think were the Top and Bottom looks each week!
We're back with a new season of "Project Runway," and almost immediately the show reminds me of one of the things I like the most about it: Its commitment to casting diversity. The Season 11 group is comprised of a wide range of body types, ages, education levels and races, and that's a pleasure to see on a long-running reality show. Whether or not this diversity will be reflected as the race winnows down remains to be seen, but this is a good foot on which to start the season.
Episode 1 is a flurry of introductions, but some people stand out right away. Daniel has a fabulous mustache, Benjamin is Australian, Cindy is a funeral director and Patricia is the first Native American to appear on the show. [You can check out the full roster of designers here. Go ahead, I'll wait.]
The group assembles for the first time, and Heidi fills them in on the season's big twist: they'll be working in teams. At this point I have to pause my screener because I'm laughing so hard at the designers' reactions. They've still got smiles plastered on their faces but you can see the terror and annoyance in their eyes. It's admittedly a bummer of a twist for any designer who entered the competition expecting to work solo, but hey, we're eleven seasons in. I don't hate the idea of shaking things up a bit. Fashion is way more a team sport than this show usually acknowledges, and as Nina notes later in the episode, forcing the designers to interact with and depend on each other's garments will hopefully raise the bar for quality all around.
On to the challenge! The designers must create a garment that shows their personalitiesbuilt with input from the rest of the designers on their teamsinspired by a view of New York City. Team Keeping It Real (hold on while I pause my screener to laugh at that terrible name) takes a boat out on the Hudson, where the designers size each other up. Dream Team (again, terrible) does the same from the roof of Atlas.
There are more changes afoot. 1) To adapt to the team challenge format, Tim's critiques are now a kind of art-school-ish group critique session, which I'm anticipating will lead to a fair bit of drama. 2) The adorable/talented/fabulous Zac Posen has stepped in to fill Michael Kors' spot. 3) Since the judges are paying attention to the work of the group as well as the work of the individual, we're treated to a second group-walk down the runway after seeing each look. This hews a little more closely to industry standard for collection presentations.
Team Keeping It Real - Top Three
Daniel - A striking silk wool crepe suit, and probably the most NYC-feeling garment of the episode. I particularly loved the cut of the pant. The judges gave this look the crown and I totally agree that it was an exciting standout for the season's first runway show.
Richard - Zac Posen liked the use of asymmetry, and all the judges commented on the sporty elegance of the dress.
Patricia - I was nervous when Patricia first started to work on her fabric, but the end result, with the incorporation of the cobalt blue detailing and cut-outs, was very strong and totally wearable. She's the designer I most excited to follow as the season goes on.
Dream Team - Bottom Three
James - Yawn. Posen described it as "pedestrian," and that really sums it up: no one would protest this dress, and I've actually seen a number of people on my morning commute rocking the same basic ensemble, but there's nothing of substance or interest in it.
Cindy - A ho-hum but acceptable silhouette that's totally ruined by a mind-blowingly bizarre combination of prints.
Emily - Hot mess! Just a hot mess. A mishmash of silly pieces and poorly chosen fabrics, without even the benefit of smart construction to save it. I want to defend Emily (She's my age&3151;us eager early-twentysomethings have to stick together), but she was way over her head here and got the boot because of it.
I know y'all have a lot of feelings regarding the team challenge format, so chime in with your comments below. Should Cindy or James have gone home instead of Emily? Whose first look impressed you the most? And who are you planning to keep an eye on as the season moves forward?
Full Disclosure: I've watched the first episode of Season 10 three times. Sure, I get paid to eat, sleep and breath "Project Runway" (Seriously I double dog dare you to ask me to recite all the designers' names in alphabetical order, spell Dmitry, Gunnar and Elena's last names and then top it off by quizzing me on their ages and hometowns. Oh yes and it's Son-gee and Koo-on. It's fine.). But it wasn't my boss who made me watch it over and over again it was me.
I mean, the first episode took place in Times freaking Square! I walk through that joint every day and have never seen anything of that magnitude. (And this is coming from a girl who used to stand outside of TRL during the *NYSNC days.) I was completely in awe of the entire situation.
That being said, I can't even imagine how the designers must have felt. I think Raul put it best when he said, "This is better than sex." (Note: Next time you watch Episode 1, count the sex references. My personal fave? Kooan's quip, "I like making a lot of love." But more on Kooan later.) Plus, throw in a Gilmore Girl, the lady who made Carrie Bradshaw look fan-freaking-tastic for six years and you have the trifecta of everything this is good in the world … err, I mean the center of the universe.
So the designers … oh the new batch of designers. To say that there are some characters in the bunch would be the understatement of the century. No two designers are alike in aesthetic and personality. Though between you and me, I think Christopher and Gunnar butt heads because secretly they want to be best friends. I'm nominating them for this season's bromance. They both even agreed that Gunnar is a "moody little son of a bitch." See? Can you feel the love?
I'm personally keeping a close eye on "I love black and white" Melissa, Christopher (Obsessed with the dress he made at home!), Ven (Holy fabric skills, Batman!), Sonjia and Dmitry. I think Dmitry's quiet demeanor is going to be at his advantage during the season … and I also happen to think that he resembles Michael Sheen's character Aro, one of the Volturi vampires, in The Twilight Saga. Joking aside, those five seem to get the purpose of the competition and I don't feel like they'll get caught up in all the workroom drama.
And then there's Kooan. I could write a whole post on Mr. Kosuke. He's crazy, kookie, outrageous and sometimes doesn't make any sense. And why should he? His clothes clearly speak for themselves … loud and clear! I love him almost as much as I love Tim Gunn. Oh, idea! Remember "On the Road with Austin & Santino?" The next installment of the series should be "On the Road with Kooan & Tim." Between Tim's refinement and Kooan's eccentric personality, they'd easily become the next odd couple.
I know it's a competition, but I genuinely feel bad when a designer gets voted off. Beatrice seemed like such a nice girl. I was sad to see her go, but her lackluster jersey dress and "Ugly Betty"-like poncho made her an easy victim to be the first contestant "aufed." But Lantie, better step her game up! She got through by the skin of her teeth!
So I addressed sex and Season 10, and while there might not be any scandals quite just yet, this is my fair warning to you to keep tuning in because you DO NOT want to miss the drama that is going to unfold. Hint: Two of the designers leave in the middle of the night. (Yeah, yeah I know that's old news.) But which two designers leave will blow your mind!