Never have I ever been so worried about the return of one of my favorite shows. The last season of Project Runway was such an abomination against God and Television that I wondered whether I would have to officially give it up if this season followed suit. For what was once the smartest, classiest, most fashionable reality show on television, it certainly lost some of its shine when moved a couple thousand miles to the west.
Instead of the soul-sucking freeways and fake tans of Los Angeles (apologies to anyone that lives there), this season is back to the grimy, glittering sidewalks of New York City, exactly where it belongs. Just in time, too – LA looked like it was starting to make Tim Gunn nervous. And I’m almost afraid to say this, because I think I might jinx things for everyone and then it would be all my fault when the show starts to suck again, but I think that this season might actually be pretty good! Even Heidi Klum’s wardrobe was significantly better!
The premiere certainly had a lot of the same character types as seasons in the past that have not sucked. Someone knock on wood for me while we talk about this a little more after the jump…
So, as much as I love you guys, I’m not going to go through what all 16 designers made, and most of you probably don’t want me to. In fact, I’d appreciate it if they’d do a couple of double elimination challenges and thin the herd a bit – 12 designers seems like a less unwieldy number, doesn’t it? Even so, a few personalities were able to break through the busy first episode, and that may already put the seventh season head and shoulders above the sixth.
1. The Cryer: Janeane Marie managed to cry about being in New York City (if it were me, I would have cried with glee that I lucked into one of the NYC seasons), cry about Tim Gunn’s critique of her dress, and cry about starting her look over with only a few hours left. See also: Andre, Season 2; Christopher, Season 6.
2. The Gayest Queen of Them All: I don’t think Anthony is much of a designer, but he’s the gayest thing that has ever gayed and I LOVE HIM. Admittedly, some of my affection for him is selfish: He is a title quote machine. But mostly, he’s just a loose cannon with no filter, and what last season so sorely lacked was interesting personalities and people that were thoroughly themselves. Se also: Austin Scarlett, Season 1; Kayne, Season 3; Christian Siriano, Season 4.
3. The One With the Severe Haircut: Actually, there are two! Both Mila and Maya have sharp black bobs with bangs, indicating that they are Serious Fashion People. I have to say that I’m partial to this category: it’s the one that I’d be in, were I to appear on Project Runway. At the moment, I’m rooting for Maya to win on the strength of her previous portfolio and her totally underrated first look. See also: Kenley, Season 5; Louise, Season 6.
4. The Old Lady: Overachiever Pamela has already conquered the advertising industry, and now it’s on to new challenges; namely, fashion. Except I absolutely hated her backless broadcloth pink dress. See also: Wendy, Season 1; Laura, Season 3; Gordana, Season 6.
5. The Designer That Thinks He’s a Rock Star: Crazy hair? Check. Tattoos, preferably in the neck area? Check. Tight pants? Check. A fondness for hardware? Check. Seth Aaron has been in a band in his life, I promise you. He might still be in one, actually. I think he wears guyliner, and at any given moment, he has more product in his hair than I do (and I flat iron, so that’s saying something). He wore a velvet jacket to judging, and it had a giant tassel. See also: Jeffrey Sebelia, Season 3; Stella, Season 5.
6. The Misunderstood Conceptualizer: Correct me if I’m wrong, but Ping didn’t actually CUT any fabric, did she? I don’t remember her doing it, anyway. She made a drapey, odd suspender’d sort of thing that actually struck me as sort of Scottish, for some reason, and that the judges seemed to sort of like. I didn’t really love it, but I’d rather that someone with odd ideas be kept and someone with poor construction skills go home instead, which is exactly what happened. See also: Malvin, Season 6; That Woman That Spat On Her Dress, Season Unknown.
There was, as is traditional, a top three and a bottom three. However, since this episode has now magically disappeared from my stupid DVR, I can’t go into great detail about who they were. I do know that an improbably nice Nicole Richie made kind of a boring judge, both Nina Garcia and Michael Kors showed up to judge, and Heidi Klum’s hair looked totally adorable, as did her maternity outfits
When there are 16 designers to consider, the top three and bottom three are sort of inconsequential. Our winner was Emilio, this year’s version of the gone-to-soon season sixer Epperson, and his sweet patterned cocktail dress was indeed pretty impressive. He got a lot of detail work done in a short amount of time, and he used pattern inventively and unexpectedly. The loser was Christiane, also a maker of a patterned cocktail dress, but hers was poorly sewn out of cheap-looking fabric.
What surprised me the most, however, was how strong the middle of the pack was. There were dresses that I would have worn all over that runway show, and when you compare that to last season when Mitchell, who sent a bolt of fabric with a collar down the runway DIDN’T LOSE in the first episode, I think we’ve made a substantial upgrade in our cast. But like I said before – knock on wood.