Greetings, fashionistas! I’m getting back into the recapping Project Runway business after sitting out last season. It’s probably a good thing I did, as I likely would have tossed my laptop out the door cataloging Gretchen’s insane win. So far, so good with the new cast. There are “characters” aplenty, but no one rubs me that wrong in this first two and a half hours.
Our long awaited Runway festivities start out with an hour of “getting to know” you time with the twenty contestants via interviews and the audition process. The most featured Runway alumn at the auditions is Season 7 winner, Seth Aaron Henderson; it’s particularly telling to me that perhaps the show wants to disavow the abomination (aside from Mondo) that Season 8 was. No one from Season 8, not even “reigning” winner wretched Gretchen, was on an audition panel. Laura Bennett and Nick Verreos were even on a panel or two, and they’re from way back in the Bravo day. I think I spotted Leanne Marshall at one audition as well, but absolutely no one from last season. Maybe we can all just pretend it never happened and pretend Mondo was on Season 7.
From 20 to 16, in 18 minutes flat.
Twenty designers were chosen from the audition rounds to come to New York and show their pieces to Tim Gunn, Nina Garcia, Michael Kors, and Heidi Klum. The four judges will choose which sixteen move on to the actual competition. So who are these lovelies vying to snatch Gretchen’s crown and squeal with glee? Let’s find out!
Kimberly Goldson, 35, from White Plains, MD, outside of DC. She describes her style as “urban glam” to the point where she even works out in a sequined tank top. Brice Black, 26, hailing from Portland, OR, has a collection full of black feathers, including a cape Heidi demands to model. Anya Ayoung-Chee, 29, from Maraval, Trinidad. She previously competed in the Miss Universe pageant where she had to design some of her own outfits and lit her fashion passion. She proclaims she learned to sew only four months ago, which Tim finds dubious at best. He stops short of calling her a liar, but Heidi champions her cause. Becky Ross, 38, also of Portland. She claims to bring edgy sass and shows structured, well constructed, and fairly conservative jackets and whatnot, all lined with shiny fabrics for that bit of a kick. Olivier Green, 22, currently of New York City. He moved to London when he was 16 and then spent time in Italy, so he has this cute hybrid accent.
Josh Christensen, 29, a practicing Mormon from Los Angeles (a Runway first?), who has more experience in menswear and banking than female fashion. Laura Kathleen, 26, of St. Louis, MO is the closest to annoying by proclaiming it’s time for Runway to cast a privileged pretty girl; she looks like she should be on The Bachelor instead. David Chum, 29, of Boston, MA is a self-taught pattern maker, but Nina thinks all his (what seems to be well-made) garments take the same shape. Viktor Luna, 30, of New York City, admits his designs are a bit 80s. Julie Tierney, 35, of Grand Junction, CO makes mostly outerwear that looks very southwest nomad. Amanda Perna, 26, of New York City, made a romper she liked though she hates rompers, but did it for business purposes.
Fallene Wells, 29, of Denver, CO, likes menswear tailored for women. Gunnar Deathrage, 21, of Louisville, KY made a dress for the Kentucky Derby, a hideous pink monstrosity of a dress. Danielle Everine, 26, of Mineapolis, MN, likes sheer fabric and is confident in being able to make anything. She’s one of a handful who is a repeat auditioner and wants to empower women through fashion. Joshua McKinley, New York City, 25, made a cool vest but can’t explain who his customer is; from the looks of his clothes, I’m fairly certain his customer should be Kelly Killoren Bensimon.
Cecilia Motwani, 34, of Woodside, NY shows her sewing skills rather than fashion but she’ll tell you she’ll cut a bitch if necessary. Rafael Cox, 27, of Atlanta, GA shows off some jackets and a club dress. Serena da Conceicao, 31, of Brooklyn, NY shows a brown crepe romper that looks shapeless, but whatever, I’m still not sold on the idea of a romper due to bathroom logistics. Bert Keeter, 57, of Los Angeles, CA, is back in the business after leaving in 1992 after losing his partner, some dear friends succumbed to AIDS, and he slid into alcoholism and climbed back out. Heidi admonishes him to turn up the volume on his fashions a bit. Finally, Anthony Ryan Auld, 28, of my hometown Baton Rouge, LA, is rocking the one ball, as he frequently states, as a testicular cancer survivor. He’s also fully colorblind so he relies on patterns and texture.
After the parade of twenty designers, the judges deliberate without naming names. The designers wait, while the crew prepared defib machines off screen. I swear half of them are on the verge of tears before Heidi and Tim come out to reveal the results. After several excruciatingly tense minutes of calling people in and out, Amanda, David, Gunnar, and Serena—who had cancelled her wedding to try out for the show—are out. The remaining designers toast with Tim and Heidi and then it’s off to move into the Atlas apartments.
No Rest for the Weary
The designers settle into their digs at Atlas, amazed at the pinkness of one apartment, the views of the Empire State Building in another, and hit the sheets for some shut-eye after a long, stressful day. That rest is short-lived, as Tim Gunn—apparently the Super of Atlas, as he possesses keys to the apartments—bursts in at 5 a.m. to wake the designers up for a “come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be, a friend, a friend, as an old enemy.” Okay, I really can’t see Tim singing Nirvana, but that’s the iPod Shuffle that is my brain. He instructs them to grab a sheet off their bed and not change. Poor Becky is even denied the chance to put on a bra, which as a fellow 38 year old, I’d ignore big-time. We’re not all Heidi, for crissake.
Off the designers traipse, in their sleeping clothes and a sheet, past Bryant Park and through Times Square, the few blocks to Parsons. The designers find their assigned tables, but are haunted by the ghosts of the room, the designers who succeeded and failed, who bitched and moaned, who felt the sturm und drang, who learned what a Stevie Nick was, who ended up at Red Lobster with Mr. Gunn, who was a hot mess and who was fierce. Tim instructs the sleepy, yet awe-struck, designers that they are to create a design out of what they’re wearing and the bed sheet. Obviously they can’t stand around naked until the 10 p.m. deadline, so they all have scrubs to change into, which either makes the room look like a nurses’ lounge or a dog grooming place. There really ought to be a law on who can wear scrubs. It’s all very confusing these days.
Production has provided some help in the form of fabric dyes, trim, closures, and other materials, just not fabric, for the designers to use. The designers set to sketching on their tablet computers (no product placement here, plus it’s PC based and I’m a Mac girl). This 90 minute format should allow us more time on giving us the design process, but with sixteen designers, it’s brief. Speaking of briefs, Bert, the
10257 year old guy, was sleeping in white and orange plaid boxers that he’s gong to incorporate into his design. Kimberly jokes that “nut juice” will get on the model, but that’s cool, ‘cause it’s all natural. Yay! We’re only in episode 1 and there’s some bawdy talk. This season’s looking better and better.
Cecilia, Becky, and Anya choose to use the dyes; Cecilia’s doesn’t turn out dark enough, Becky seems to have a clue, and Anya has “never done this before.” Anya has apparently never done anything before, we learn as the episode progresses. She can’t thread the sewing machine all that well either. I can’t either, but if I were so stupid as to attempt Runway, three hours of each day would be devoted to that task alone. I’m also a bit weirded out how she copied Andy’s hairstyle from the finale of Season 7. Julie, who is a bit feisty and could become a bit crazy, unfortunately has pajama pants of a loud, hot pink print, so she feels fairly up a creek. Laura, who naturally sleeps in all silk pajamas since she’s a mean Barbie, feels she’s in good shape.
Tim turns up to visit the designers and check on their progress. Anthony, my hometown hero, is decorating his tanktop with some lace trim, but is unfortunately adding crotch-shot feathers to the skirt he’s constructed. Tim suggests there may be another way to use the feathers without it being a pubic patch. Fallene slept in a t-shirt with clown puking rainbows into a toilet logo, which she’s using in her design thus causing Tim’s eyebrow to raise. Josh C., who should seriously consider being Josh Gad’s understudy in “The Book of Mormon”, is making red tanktop out of his t-shirt, white shorts, and a jacket. Julie making pants with some topstitching, and she assures Tim she has time for the work. Tim backs off from Julie’s steely-eyed glaze, which could possibly turn him into a pillar of salt. After some quick cuts with the other designers, Tim becomes impressed with Anya’s first making of pants and first sewing of silk. Look, the only other Anya I know was a demon afraid of bunnies, and I’m not discounting this one doesn’t have the same fear. When Tim meets with Rafael, who has his ‘do rag still perched on his un-flat-ironed hair, he warns Rafael that the decision to keep him on the show was up in the air until the last minute, so Rafael needs to impress the judges and use the most striking textile—said do’ rag—in the design.
Tim takes his leave around about 7:30 p.m. and sends in the models. Josh C. swears on a stack of the Book of Mormon that the measurements he was given were off, so his tanktop and shorts are too small. This has to happen to someone every season, so why not Josh C. It’s not like he’s destined to be in the top three or bottom three, right? Bwahahaha! This is “reality” tv, people. Maybe there are no Magical Gnomes anymore, but we’re not stupid, Lifetime. Just show us the straight dope, ‘kay? Been round this block for a while now.
So let’s talk about what is up with Barbie Mean Girl Laura, okay? The ever-inscrutable Olivier (Asian, dyed blond hair, British/something accent—no judgment, just ever so curious) meets his Italian model and converses with her in her native tongue. “Pretty privileged girl” Laura asks if Olivier is speaking “foreign.” Let’s all face-palm together, shall we? I’d let her slide if she couldn’t ID Italian and said, “Which language are you speaking?” or “Where is your model from?” but crap on a cracker, even my home-town boy Anthony wasn’t that clueless. So the clocks down to a mere 95 minutes (this day started at 5 a.m., and I think most of us could have planned something by this point) and Anya is freaking out that she is so behind because she’s never sewn with silk. Well, I’ve never recapped a sewing show with someone who hasn’t sewn with silk, so I guess I can be late, you bunny-hating wench!
The next morning, the designers scramble with their models, going to hair and makeup, and fuss with the last details of their design. Rafael brought his ‘do rag back and makes it into some kind of necklace. Tim shows up and herds the cats on to the runway.
Out Of Practice Judging By Yours Truly
Heidi, in a green gown, hair loosely gathered back, announces the traditional prizes for the ultimate winner, the traditional model competition, and immunity for the winner of this particular challenge. Judging tonight are Kors, Garcia, and Christina Ricci, looking a little ‘toxed on the forehead. The runway show starts and the nagging annoyance at the lighting and unclear shots of the designs creeps back in my head.
Josh M.’s short black skirt with a medium blue waist-band detail either dark blue or black or a mixture thereof tank (buy a light bulb, Lifetime!), and a white sleeveless vest.
Laura wide legged pants that have serious seaming issues, a short purple top with an elastic gathered waist hitting above the top of the pants, and a tiny little jacket/bolero deal.
Danielle tailored blue shorts, brown ¾ sleeved top with interesting use of black, not in a traditional color block way, but at the cuffs, shoulder, neckline.
Viktor shows an impressive white and black sundress.
Becky has an pastel one shoulder dress.
Bryce proffers an off the shoulder grey top with wide, wide sleeves, black high skirt, fitted oddly under the bust line due to the weird gathered belt.
Anya grey, wide leg hip pants, weird short vest-y top that seems a hot mess, but later on the runway appears more intricately sewn, mixing the print fabric .
Julie, who was saddled with some awful pink print pajama pants, turns out a grey sporty wide pant and asymmetrical top with the pink print and some gawd-awful Spanxy-yellow fabric.
Olivier made a sheer brown short skirt and a semi-structured jacket/blouse in light grey with darker grey sleeves.
Kimberly showed a white pants with runner stripe in dark down the side of the legs, and a top made partly of her old teal sleep garment. She added this white thing that looks like someone put kitchen curtains around her model in lieu of a bib.
Anthony showed a super short and tight green skirt with the feather detail in a big square over the gal’s crotch and butt and a loose grey tank with strips of wide lace tacked on.
Rafael slim fit (and ill-fitting) grey pants, white vest with a lot of detail of using pieces of the white fabric to make a pattern, and a necklace made out of his headpiece.
Fallene white tank dress with thin vertical black stripes, yellow bandeau belt, and the puking clown at the bottom of the hem on the left side.
Bert Short asymmetrical hem dress v-neck, brown with the orange and white striped boxer on one side of the v.
Josh C. white shorts, red tank but with seaming to give it detail and texture down the front, little capelet. On the runway the shirt looked okay, but under scrutiny, it looks like my dog sewed it.
Cecilia light red short, short skirt, darker red top, possibly strapless, pink short, short sleeved jacket.
After the show, Heidi calls Anthony, Rafael, Josh C., Anya, Bert, Julie forward to face the judges. The others are safe and head to the lounge, relieved to have made it through the first challenge. Anthony’s tanktop is praised for the use of trim without going overboard. Christina notes that the skirt is a little short, but the proportions are spot-on. Michael is amazed that Anthony is colorblind. Rafael’s design poses a lot of problems for the judges. The ‘do rag necklace looks like a “Flintstones disco pouch” to Michael and no one likes the pants. His white shirt/vest thing shows some craftsmanship in the back, but that’s about it. Julie’s design also is met with criticism; the judges think the whole thing is bad, from the weird color combination of the yellow and pink print top to the oddly tailored pants.
The judges like Anya’s design, proclaiming that the pants are perfectly tailored and the top is really well made. Well, huh. By comparison, I suppose the pants were okay. Bert scored well with his dress; Heidi finds it sexy, modern, and simple but with a lot of interesting things going on. Michael loves the dress but wants Bert to be more modern in his styling. Josh C.’s top is berated; he wishes someone told him it looked terrible, but Michael points out that it is up to the designer himself to know that. Nina finds the design to lack creativity and Heidi can’t tell if his design or Rafael’s is worse.
As the judges deliberate, they acknowledge that it was a tough challenge. Josh could have fixed his problems had he thought about it, Rafael is just plain fashion-backward, not forward, and Julie’s pants were a hot mess. Anya impressed them with her pants, Anthony produced a top that “everyone” would want and had good styling, and Bert produced the most interesting garment of the day. Michael still worries about his styling, but Heidi is impressed that he listened to her warning to turn up the volume and did so.
The designers are called back in and Bert is named the winner and has immunity in the next challenge. Anya is in, as is Anthony. Julie is safe and can leave, as it’s been clear for a while it’s between Josh C. and Rafael. Josh C. is allowed to stay and Rafael is out. He seemed like he could have been fun, but that weird under the chin beard looked a bit too much like nether region hair that I knew it’d start to freak me out eventually.
Previews indicate that some people will start to go a bit crazy, so hold on to your sewing kits, this ride could get bumpy!