Project Runway Recap: Season 11 Premiere


Yes, the Project Runway roller coaster keeps on rolling, dear readers. Season 11 has officially begun!

The Challenge: SURPRISE to the designers but not the audience – this season is Project Runway: TEAMS! Everyone is appropriately disgusted. Anyway, the 16 designers are divided into two teams who are tasked with creating looks inspired by New York City. One team gets to go on a boat ride for an outside view of the city, and the other team totally gets shafted. I mean, the Atlas roof is great and the view is gorgeous, but I’d be jealous of the people who got to go on the cruise while I stood on the roof of our apartment building which I could do literally any time I wanted. Anyway, the only major flaw thusfar in the teams concept is that the top and bottom three will never actually be the best and worst looks on the runway – they’ll be the best looks from the winning team and the worst looks from the losing team, which is a conceit that drives me absolutely insane. Just another way for the judges to allow terrible people to remain week after week. In my personal judging, I’ll actually be rating my favorites and least favorites regardless of teams, because this Diva can’t be restricted, dear readers.

Guest Judge: Christian Siriano, to give these designers false hope that this show could actually lead to a career for them. Oh, and we’ve lost Michael Kors and added Zac Posen to the judging team. Zac’s lovely, but he seems a little uptight and humorless so far. Honey, if you can’t look at this runway with a sense of humor, it’s going to be a LONG season.

Team Keeping it Real

STANLEY HUDSON
Age 44; West Hollywood, California

Photo: Lifetime

I actually liked the idea of this, even though it’s a sparkly jumpsuit and therefore I should hate it on sight. If he’d had another day to fit it, I think he could have made a really funky modern disco look that the judges might have drooled over. But Stanley bit off more than he could chew, trying to make this in a one-day challenge. Regardless, I sense some talent in him and I’m not rooting for him to leave yet.

KATE PANKOKE
Age 23; Chicago, Illinois
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

It’s quite burlap sack looking, and that’s not a look most ladies are going for. Also, the construction in the back is incredibly sloppy. But I don’t even remember who Kate is, so I guess I don’t hate her yet.

RICHARD HALLMARQ, Top 3
Age 39; Sacramento, California
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

I thought this was a very chic look in an effortless, modern, Alexander Wang sort of way. Richard was also one of the only designers who styled his model well – the barely-there makeup and side-parted sleek hair with a laid-back but intricate bun? Really perfect touches, in that they created an image of a real woman wearing this outfit.

PATRICIA MICHAELS, Top 3
Age 46; Taos, New Mexico
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

A very cute little shift, mostly because of the brilliant geometric print and the updated mod vibe to it. But Patricia’s already a little much for me, and she can’t style worth a damn. The Hollywood hipster-starlet who would wear this dress wouldn’t be caught dead in Miss America’s heels.

AMANDA VALENTINE
Age 31; Nashville, Tennessee
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Too bland for the first challenge. The pieces are both relatively well-made, at least for a one-day challenge. But this is the first time the judges are seeing your work, and you’re giving them a tank top and nothing-colored patched pants? That’s no way to start off the season.

LAYANA AGUILAR
Age 28; New York, New York
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Incredibly boring and not particularly well-executed.

JOSEPH AARON SEGAL
Age 30; Providence, Rhode Island
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

I can’t decide if she looks more like a sad mop or one of the random tattered, consumption-ridden prostitutes in Les Mis.

DANIEL ESQUIVEL, Winner
Age 48; Austin, Texas
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Absolutely gorgeous. I agree with Zac Posen that this isn’t the most original look in the world, as we have seen looks like this on recent runways. But if you expect the designers to make something flawlessly executed, highly stylish, AND completely original in ONE DAY, you’re a freaking moron. I’ll very happily settle for two out of three, especially when most of the designers couldn’t achieve any of the three. Daniel and his resplendent handlebar mustache did a truly beautiful job this week – he even made me forget how tired I am of peplum skirts! Everything from the neckline to the shoulders to the length of the pant was just perfectly fit and proportioned. It was absolutely a winning look.

Dream Team

MATTHEW ARTHUR
Age 30; New Orleans, Louisiana
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Not as forgettable as Layana’s little black dress, but close. And I haven’t been caring about this too much thusfar, but I can’t really feel the NYC inspiration in this look.

SAMANTHA BLACK
Age 28; Brooklyn, New York
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

I thought this dress was lovely. The sheer fabric was lighter than air and moved absolutely beautifully, but the rest of the dress was tight and structured and incredibly modern. The detailing on the neckline is really interesting, though Samantha needed a few more hours to execute it perfectly. But I was impressed with this dress, and I’m excited to see more from one of the only designers I didn’t immediately find unbearably obnoxious.

TU SUTHIWAT NAKCHAT
Age 26; Springfield, Virginia
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

I loved it from the moment she hit the runway, particular the crop top jacket, which is a truly gorgeous piece. But when the model turned around, my jaw hit the floor. The look is so simple, but so chic, and I could see it on any number of celebrities (but it belongs in Rooney Mara’s closet, without a doubt). The skirt might be just a bit too dull, but it was still an amazing look.

JAMES MARTINEZ, Bottom 3
Age 29; Dallas, Texas
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

The construction is terrible and the idea was boring and dated to begin with.

EMILY POLLARD, Eliminated
Age 24; Falls Church, Virginia
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

I was rooting for the DC chick until I realized she was so not ready for this competition. Nina said this was the most poorly constructed thing she’d ever seen walk down the runway, and that’s pretty fair. This was astonishingly hideous in so many different ways. I felt bad for the poor girl as she tried to hold herself together on the runway while being torn apart by her heroes, truly. But I can’t say she didn’t deserve the auf.

BENJAMIN MACH
Age 35; Sydney, Australia
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

The front had some interesting elements happening, but the back is awful. The vertical and horizontal seams across the middle look awful, and there was no reason to make it full length in the back. Also, the pieces of fabric trailing behind her look like toilet paper.

CINDY MARLATT, Bottom 3
Age 59; Kent, Washington
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Those are some aggressively hideous prints, but I’ll admit, it was hilarious watching her teammates try to pretend they were honest with Cindy about how terrible her prints were while also pretending to have good enough taste to know those fabrics were awful. But if Cindy doesn’t improve, I’m hoping she gets the next auf, because if Emily hadn’t had a complete breakdown, this would have been by far the ugliest thing on the runway.

MICHELLE LESNIAK FRANKLIN
Age 34; Portland, Oregon
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

The back is pretty, but I can’t like a dress with a built-in fannypack. I just can’t do it.

Judges’ Top 3: Daniel, Richard, Patricia
Diva’s Top 3: Daniel, Tu, Richard
Judges’ Bottom 3: James, Cindy, Emily
Diva’s Bottom 3: James, Cindy, Emily


© Democracy Diva, 2013.
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2 responses to Project Runway Recap: Season 11 Premiere

  1. As much as I love fashion I have never watching this show until the other night. I am hooked. I can’t wait to see how the season will play out. Thanks for posting.

    Miss Stacy Blaise

  2. Well, it’s going to be interesting…. as if Top Chef was a continual Restaurant War. I love how the producers claim they’re doing it because “this is how real life is” instead of acknowledging that they want to mix it up because ratings are dropping. Yes, in real life, designers work in teams. And they’re all employed and want to be there and are motivated to get along with one another because it’s easy to fire a troublemaking designer: who’s so incredibly talented that they can’t be fired? Not many. PR is a competitive reality show which means everyone there, instead of wanting the team to win, is wanting everyone else to lose- and if they can help nudge them out, they will.

    That said, the mortician from Kent is from my state and I was hoping she’d do a bit better than she did. Embarrassing. And I will bow to Zac Posen and acknowledge that he possibly can see something behind Emily Pollard’s design, but I sure couldn’t. However, she was so cocky and smarmy in her Talking Heads that I was hoping she’d get aufed.

    I hate jumpsuits. How do people go to the bathroom in them?

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