One should never start a season premiere, as Bunim/Murray did in this episode, with the words, “Way to start this season off with a bang!” And not just because it’s douchey, premature, and obnoxiously self-congratulatory. But because Project Runway‘s recent insistence on its own amazingness is one of the worst and least believable things about the show. You’d think Project Runway had churned out the Karl Lagerfelds and Raf Simonses of the future by the way the show congratulates itself, in spite of the fact that Season 8 and Season 9 gave us the least talented winners in the show’s history. To pretend that this is still a search for the next great fashion designer (as opposed to the next great reality TV star) is offensive enough, but when the show applauds its own talents in moving the fashion world forward, I have to choke back some vomit.
Now, this season’s recaps will be as fun a snark-filled romp through the ever-dramatic workroom as ever before, but it’s not all about the botched hemlines and horribly-sewn crotches anymore. Obnoxious bitches in the workroom will get mocked, but not nearly as much as the producers who encourage and reward their childish behavior. If there’s an overall lack of talent (and it’s too early in the season to tell whether that’s true), I’ll have something to say about it – not to the designers themselves, but to Lifetime, for working its hardest to destroy a show I’ve loved for years. Because I can’t write these recaps pretending that the season will end with the most talented designer winning, or that any individual episode is set up for the most talented person to advance. The show for years has rewarded solely those who bring in ratings, whether it’s due to their dramatic histories or sex tapes or beauty pageant fame; don’t expect these recaps to ignore the puppet show that Project Runway has become.
That being said, I hope above all hope that Bunim & Murray prove me wrong. I would seriously love to eat my words and look like a total fucking moron for posting this rant and see Project Runway live up to its fabulous potential. But until that happens, shit’s gonna get ruthless, in the most fun way possible. So let’s start the show.
The Challenge: In one day, make a companion outfit to the look the contestants brought with them from home to represent their aesthetic and point of view as a designer.
There’s always the slightly grungy hippie girl who is fated to not make it past the fourth challenge; this season, that role looks like it’ll be filled by Babyfaced Ass-Length Dreads.
Alicia’s brought-from-home look is actually interesting, if not particularly well-constructed. The side buttons on those pants are really adorable, and the top is cool in theory, if a little too grungy in actuality. The jumpsuit on the right is more problematic, but mostly because it was rendered in that awful linen-looking fabric that shows every wrinkle. I’m no jumpsuit fan, but it’s got a weird quirky chicness to it (or it would, in a different fabric). I have a feeling that like many of the down-to-earth-mothers of seasons past, Alicia won’t be able to do her best work under the time and other constraints of the challenges, and so she’ll be gone fairly soon.
I love a middle-aged Jewish lady from New York as much as the next girl (more so, probably, unless the next girl is also born to Brooklyn Jews), but Andrea’s kind of awful, isn’t she?
Words can’t describe how much wonkier these proportions looked on television. When they turned around, the models looked like they were wearing floatation devices under their poorly constructed, extremely unimaginative dresses. She escaped the bottom only by being boring; there were more interesting people to focus on, so she lives to see another challenge.
The producers thought they were so clever – let’s focus on the exotic beauty who can’t sew, and prove how much we’ve changed from Season 9 by eliminating her immediately! It hardly matters, since she certainly deserved to be cut. I mean, that sad jersey dress on the left is what she brought with her. As in, she had unlimited time and resources, and thought she could impress the judges with that pathetic nightshirt. It’s a wonder how she made it onto the show in the first place (well, until you look at her, that is).
We get it. You’re zany. Could you stop dressing in such migraine-inducing colors now?
Buffi seems like one of those designers who thinks she’s cutting-edge but is actually just tacky. She might have some talents hiding under all that pleather and shiny hot pink fabric, but she made leggings, a pillowcase, and a dress with no design elements other than the collar. She’s going to have to prove she can sew before I give her the time of day.
He’s like a baby-faced Michael Costello, and so I had to resist the urge to hate him from the beginning. Then he proved to be an obnoxious bitch, and therefore, he won the challenge, so I no longer feel the need to resist that initial urge.
The gown on the right was dramatic and lovely when it went down the runway. It had fit issues and the fabric is not a great one, but all those pleats moved so beautifully, it really caught your eye. But that little black dress is unforgivable. You need to see it move in order to understand how terrible it was – that bustline has no relation to the model’s actual proportions, and it was comical how bad the fit was. And in the back, the zipper curled so badly that it poofed the ass of the dress out an extra few inches, adding a monstrously hideous butt to the flat-chested, ill-fitting front of this very boring LBD. But, if you make enough noise in the workroom, the puppet masters will ensure you live to see as many more episodes as possible, and so Christopher took the win when I wouldn’t have placed him in the top three.
If anyone’s worthy of keeping around for the one-liners, it’s this guy.
But I’d rather keep him around for his talent. That gown looked killer coming down the runway, very dramatic and sexy. Not a lot of Project Runway entries look like they could actually be in a real runway show; this did, at least to me. And the dress on the right is sexy as hell, right on-trend, and a little bit more interesting and unusual than you’d expect. Both are pretty darn well-made, too. He’s someone I definitely want to see more from.
There’s too many Zany Ones this season for me to keep track of.
She’s got a point of view, but I have a feeling she thinks it’s much more original than it actually is. This is absolutely late ’90s/early ’00s McQueen meets last-season Stella McCartney, and that coat’s severe angles are more awkward than interesting. But she’s got nothing to worry about yet – she’s got some technical talent and a point of view, and there’s still plenty of designers who lack one or both to weed out before she needs to start worrying.
I already find him grating, but I think Fabio’s work is interesting, even though I can’t call him Fabio without giggling.
I love the look on the left. I think that skirt is gorgeous and unique, and the top is interesting and a little futuristic. And although the LBD on the right is a little too ordinary to be runway-worthy, it had a little off-beat chicness to it that doesn’t quite come across in the photos. Something about the way the dress draped and fit seemed deceptively simple to me.
Back, and more obnoxious than ever! Also, I feel stupid even typing his name. That’s how dumb the name is.
The dress on the left is cute and sellable, but it’s nothing new. And I’m sure the southern ladies love his outfit on the right, but this look feels painfully dated, especially with that floral skirt. If you’re going to have that much attitude, back it the fuck up with some talent.
Well, he‘s the best thing to happen to this show in ages.
I hate the attention whores who have this put-upon craziness that is clearly played up for the cameras. Kooan is actually just a total wackadoodle, and so I love him for the little weirdo he is. And he’ll never make it far on this show, because his aesthetic is way too Tokyo street style for Project Runway, but unlike most of the crazies, he’s got incredible skills. That outfit on the left is fucking awesome. You and I might never wear it, but it’s fascinating and perfectly constructed and wonderfully frivolous and bright. The weird space-romper-jacket thing was a little tougher to swallow, mostly because of the Star Trek-does-drag fabric she used. But I want more from our afroed Asian friend!
LANTIE FOSTER, Bottom 3
“Did I say 38? AHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA!” Careful, kids. This one’s a lunatic.
Luckily, she’s also got no talent, so we don’t have to be afraid for long. The self-designed dress she wore to the runway show also had that awful panel down the front – it was hilarious to hear her deny that all her dresses have that design, before Michael pointed out that all three of the dresses she designed featured that unflattering rectangle. She definitely thinks she’s got a romantic vintage quality to her work, but this looks more moth-eaten than vintage.
MELISSA FLEIS, Top 3
I hated her the second she said she used to want to be a lawyer, until she looked around her first political science class and decided, “These people are not for me.” Listen, sweetheart, I’m ten months away from a law degree and I’m fabulous as fuck, so don’t introduce yourself to the world like you’re this creative soul who chose fashion over law because lawyers aren’t fabulous enough unless you want the Democracy Diva’s boot up your ass.
The judges raved over how “fresh” the styling was, how new and interesting her dark aesthetic is, and I fell over laughing. If it’s so new, why did you say the same thing two years ago (which is approximately a millennium in fashion-time) to April Johnston, another young hot blonde clad in black who had a nearly identical aesthetic? Or how about the year before that, when you said it to black-clad blonde Althea Harper, who also had a similar aesthetic? For how many years are Michael, Heidi, and Nina going to call the same fucking thing groundbreaking and new? Sure, I’m biased against her because she made her bitchy little lawyer comment, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. You can like her clothes or you can dislike them, but don’t tell me this is something new. It’s not.
Also, the dress she’s wearing in that photo (from the Project Runway website) is uncannily similar to the look on the left, which makes me think this girl has very few other tricks left up her sleeves.
I barely remember him already.
The green dress is cute, if not remotely original, but that pink disaster looks a like the model tripped and fell into a few dozen yards of pink fabric. Of course, the model herself isn’t helping – hands-on-the-hips should convey fierceness, not boredom, she’s fucking slouching, and that expression says “I can’t even believe I have to wear this.” Honey, no one’s forcing you to stay. Nathan hasn’t yet revealed himself to be a great talent, but he’s got no chance with that sourpuss model hunchbacking her way down the runway.
I also barely remember him already. Premieres are tough, dear readers!
I think he’s got some potential. The suit has some fit issues but is actually really chic and well-constructed. The dress is a little bit too poofy for me, but it’s got a chicness to it and it goes beautifully with the suit without actually matching it. I like that he made some interesting styling choices, but clip-on bangs are not necessarily a model’s best friend.
I am all about that leather jacket. I think it’s beautiful, and I’d wear it in a heartbeat. But is she wearing it with no shirt and leopard-print leggings that seem to be in the process of metamorphosing into MC Hammer pants? I can’t quite accept that. And the dress on the right is interesting, but I’m not a fan of the colors or prints she’s using.
I knew the second I saw him working on that pink bodice in the workroom that he was a true talent. And I knew by how little screen time he was getting – because he appears to be a normal human being, and not a walking soundbite generator – that he wouldn’t win the challenge.
But MAN, did he deserve to win. Nude platform pumps aside, he fucking nailed this challenge. That pink floral bustier was just so exquisite, and though it’s tough to see in pictures, those voluminous pants and the matching jacket were fan-fucking-tastic on the runway. It was a little more artsy and conceptual than what we usually see on this show, and maybe a real woman couldn’t wear those pants, but it was impossible to look away from those beautiful pleats. And then, to prove he’s not all concept and actually understands women’s bodies and what they want to wear, he crafted that perfect little cocktail dress, perfectly flattering and uber-wearable.
Judges’ Top 3: Christopher, Ven, Melissa
Diva’s Top 3: Ven, Dmitry, Fabio
Judges’ Bottom 3: Kooan, Lantie, Beatrice
Diva’s Bottom 3: Lantie, Andrea, Beatrice
And you, dear readers? If you’d been chosen guest judge over the mostly-useless Lauren Graham, who would you have placed in the top and bottom spots? Leave all your most vicious feelings in the comments.