Project Runway Recap: Season 13 Premiere!

Welcome back to another season of Project Runway! 

The Challenge: First, the show made us sit through the final audition, where we have to watch people on the show say “I can’t believe I’m not on the show yet!” EVEN THOUGH WE’RE LITERALLY WATCHING THEM ON THE SHOW. One man named Tim was silly enough to think that the judges might be open-minded enough to accept him when he announced his ideal client is a middle-aged lesbian. But the offensively incredulous look on Heidi’s face after he said that sealed the deal. “Your dream client is not me? YA AWWWT.” So farewell Tim, Nzinga, and Emmanuel, we hardly knew ye. Actually, we didn’t know ye at all.

The sixteen remaining designers enter the newly designer, tackier-than-ever workroom. It’s purple and teal, like the dream house I designed in my head when I was ten years old and thought the Spice Girls would have the lasting power of the Beatles. We have an ALDO accessories wall – hey, it could be worse – and a new sponsorship from Red Robin. Because nothing says high fashion like fast food, right?! Each designer gets a small black trunk containing five fabrics of three yards each. They can trade fabrics with their competitors, but they only have one day to create a spring look for the runway.

Guest Judge: Modern Family‘s Julie Bowen. She was … let’s say overly enthusiastic, instead of terrifyingly manic.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

I use the phrase “standard middle-of-the-road fare” for SO many things on this show (particularly in the first half of the season) that I think it deserves an acronym. Let’s call it SMORF. Now every time someone creates something that was clearly designed to be considered safe in the eyes of the judges, we can just yell SMORF and be done with it!

Alexander’s entry was total SMORF. Pretty and inoffensive, with just one element making it anything other than the world’s most basic dress. If that’s not guaranteed to make it to the middle of the pack when there’s still sixteen designers left, I don’t know what is.

Top 3
Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

For some reason, Amanda was voted to return to the show. (The fans had the option to choose forgettable Amanda, Ken Lauren the sociopath, or Alexander Pope, the fabulous ginger dandy with the crazy eyebrows and delicious drag queen aesthetic. I obviously voted for Alexander.) She basically says that on her previous season, she wasn’t enough of a camera-whore, and she wants to change that. OH, GOOD. Because this show DEFINITELY needs more people who act out for attention. Sigh.

Anyway, her look was well-praised, and for good reason. Those are some very nicely-fit pants, which is quite an achievement – even in multiple-day challenges, most designers on this show never seem to be able to create a well-crafted pant. It wasn’t my favorite look, but it was chic, vaguely interesting, and it had a point of view.

Bottom 3
Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

During the final audition, Angela seemed on the precipice of a complete panic attack, dropping things and stuttering and generally looking terrified to be breathing the same air as Heidi, Nina, and Zac. (Zac Posen is darling, but I do miss Michael Kors.) Angela was immediately cast as the Nervous One, and her fellow contestants seemed to be actively trying to get her to implode. Over/under on how soon this poor girl has a meltdown and quits the show?

Nina called those slits “sluts,” but maybe she doesn’t know what 21-year-olds are wearing on the red carpet right now. Because Miley Cyrus would wear the shit out of those pants, and she’s not the only one. Tim Gunn was not wrong to suggest that these pants need to come with a free bikini wax, but I didn’t hate them. I was actually completely on board with this look – the top was cool, the colors were fresh, and the styling was flawless – until the model turned around. This photo only displays the barest shadow of ass-crack, but I promise you, it was on full display. Even Rihanna would have been like, “eh, it’s a bit much.”

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

They are two female contestants with blue hair this season, so I have to specify that Carrie is the one who has the long blue-and-purple hair, not the one with the blue pixie cut. Anyway, her dress was bright and interesting, and this kind of look is incredibly trendy on the red carpet right now. From the cut-outs to the hip embellishments to the print, this was an all-around great look, and very impressively executed for a one-day challenge. It wasn’t quite original enough to make it into my top three, but it came close.

Top 3
Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Char is the only contestant so far who I find both memorable and refreshingly un-obnoxious, so I’m on her team for now. Her fellow contestant whined that circle skirts are too easy to make, but this one was impeccably done. Paired with that bright, interesting, and on-trend crop top, it was an all-around fantastic look. My favorite element of this look was the neckline:

Photo: Lifetime



Photos: Lifetime

Emily is the other blue-haired chick, but I was not a fan of this look. A basic gown with a cardboard-looking bustier over it? This was just lazy and uninspired.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Heidi loves having a German friend to talk to, but I admit, I initially could not take this man seriously. Until the runway show, that is, because I absolutely adored this dress. Zoe Saldana could wear this on the red carpet tomorrow with absolutely no alterations, and she’d make every best dressed list there is. The silhouette is simple, but the print-mixing is fantastic. Definitely worthy of my top three.


Photos: Lifetime

Hernan got lucky that there were more obvious disasters on the red carpet. This is sad and boring, and I think I can see the model’s colon.

Photo: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

This definitely had its problems, but it wasn’t the worst thing on the runway. I like the shape of the top – at least from the front – and I could at least see where Jefferson was trying to go with those shorts, even if they were a disaster. They also sort of floated off the model’s body in a way that displayed way too much under-butt, so I can understand why the judges were quick to eliminate him. But at least this showed an attempt at taste and creativity, whereas Mitchell… well, we’ll get to him later.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Talk about SMORF. This was about as underwhelming as possible. A cute enough dress, but there’s very little design to it at all, and it’s not remotely memorable.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

I was calling Korina “Jessa from Girls” before she even said she was from Brooklyn. She may have spent half the episode shit-talking everyone with Mitchell, but at least she ended up creating something decent. This had its execution issues, but it stood out from the rest of the pack. The color is fantastic, and Korina shows a strong point of view.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

I could not pick Kristine out of a line-up if my life depended on it. And her design was equally unmemorable.

Bottom 3
Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

There’s always an impossibly immature starved-for-attention camera whore that stands out for sheer annoying-ness from the moment the season begins, and this year, it’s Mitchell. I was sick of him by the first commercial break, and his design was a complete joke. Maybe if he had spent less time judging every contestant in the room, and finishing early to get more camera time help his competitors, he could have actually designed something more than bike shorts and a tee shirt that looks glued together. But of course, he’s an obnoxious personality and that equals ratings, so the producers let him live to see another week. Sigh.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

This was actually a very chic and stylish look, but rendering it in all black made it impossible to see the details. And particularly in the first episode, those details need to be visible on-screen in order to have a real impact.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

This was a controversial look for sure – Sandhya’s competitors were stunned that she won, and so was plenty of the Twitterverse – but I loved it. It wasn’t the best-executed piece on the runway, but it was by far the most creative, and the only one that wouldn’t look out of place in a real fashion show. During her process, I thought Sandhya was extremely talented with textiles, but not necessarily capable of creating a beautiful garment. She proved me wrong. This look wasn’t for everyone, but it made a fucking statement. And I love to see a designer make a statement with their fashion designs, rather than with their nonstop soundbites.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Sean talked up this look like it was the most creative, innovative thing on the planet, so of course it was a bit of a disappointment. Sorry, Sean, but I’m pretty sure every other designer in Brooklyn is also making this dress. It’s not particularly bad, but the back isn’t very flattering.

Judges’ Top 3: Sandhya, Amanda, Char
Diva’s Top 3: Sandhya, Char, Fäde
Judges’ Bottom 3: Angela, Jefferson, Mitchell
Diva’s Bottom 3: Jefferson, Hernan, Mitchell

Next time: The designers go apeshit when they have to work in teams for an unconventional challenge in S13 E02 – Movie Night.

© Democracy Diva, 2014.
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26 responses to Project Runway Recap: Season 13 Premiere!

  1. You know, I would have missed this if not for you. Can’t wait for the opportunity to watch the actual episode one, but until then:

    God, I was laughing about the clutch shown at the very beginning at “road to the runway” (I skipped most of the ep, though, most of the time I don’t even watch it)…it looked like it belonged to a German football fan with the black/red/gold and white pattern. Very unfortunate colour combination. I was immediately reminded of fan articles. I think Korina will wash out soon, if her idea of improving her designs is just using “more colour”.
    And Psycho-Ken? Are they serious?
    Amanda, I don’t mind. I think she had quite an interesting decoy collection, and all in all, I see more talent in her than in the two other options (not that this is saying much). I just hope that she won’t try to hard to be a “personality”.

    • democracydiva – Author

      Not even going to pretend I watched “Road to the Runway.” But how Ken made the short list of people to bring back is beyond me!

      • It was more an accident in my case…I thought it was the first ep first, but then realized my mistake. But believe me, the “german fan article clutch” really made me laugh. Might be my own fault because I was parallel considering if I should invest in a team jersey after all (despite them being overly expensive), and if the keep the black/red one as alternative jersey (I hope they do). That one with three stars and Klose’s name would be a nice one to have, or a new one with four stars.

  2. MoHub

    So good to see you back on the blogging trail, Diva!

    I’m totally in line with your top three and am thrilled that we’re in agreement about Sandhya’s design. I think most folks who didn’t like it didn’t get that it was conceptual and that the pulled-out shoulders and rough edges were style elements and not construction issues.

    Fäde’s dress reminded me of early Audrey Hepburn, with and updated edge. It was also perfectly put together and so different from and much better than what he showed on his audition rack.

    I’m also seeing a clear casting approach in finding clones of past designers. Korina is Gretchen Mark II; Mitchell is Ivy; and Sandhya is their Michael Costello. Nick Verreis aksi likened Sandhya UTG’s Natalia and season 11’s Patricia as the designer everyone else gangs up on. And when Mitchell isn’t busy being Ivy, he’s Josh McKinley 2.0, while Hernan may well be Casanova redux.

    • democracydiva – Author

      Thanks, Mo! I’m happy we agree on Sandhya too. I think you’re right about how not everyone was able to grasp the conceptual aspect of it, but I thought the rough edges were so cool.

      There are SO many clones this season. This many seasons in, when there’s still this many people in the competition, everyone seems like a facsimile of a PR alum. To me, Mitchell is a mixture of Josh McKinley and Christopher Palu (I couldn’t stand them either!), but you’re right that there’s definitely some Ivy in there.

  3. Eva

    For me Char clearly deserved the win. It was so modern and well executed. I Ithink Heidi really voted for her, because Zac and Nina did not love the look so much.
    I am surprised so many designers created completly average and boring looks. If more and more people get out they will nerver get to Fashion Week with so uninspired clothes. Am I right the next one is a unconvential materials challenge and has a part of “sorage wars” at the beginning?

    And sorry, diva, for being a smartass, but “Fäde zu Grau” does not mean fade to grey. His first name is really uncommon (maybe from Denmark or Sweden??) and is most similar to “Fäden” (strings/threads) which is a cool name for a tailor, don’t you think? 🙂
    The “zu” in his last mean shows that his ancestors were aristoocratic.

    • democracydiva – Author

      Thank you for correcting me! You are totally not being a smartass. I don’t know where the hell I read that translation of his name, but clearly I was wrong! And yes, the beginning of the season always makes us suffer through a million boring looks. Let’s hope they turn up the volume by next week!

    • I wouldn’t bet on this…

      “Fäde” is not an existing word in German, nor is it a name, and paired with the “zu Grau”, it is most likely a made up one. The “zu” does exist in some German names, yes, but there is no “zu Grau” I know of. Just like there is no family “von Sinnen” (which means “to be out of your mind” and is a, in this case quite clever, stage name of a well known German comedian), there is certainly no family “zu Grau”.
      The first name does sound similar to “Fäden” or “Fädeln” (The process of getting the string into the needle), but to me it looks like and idiotic word play. The whole thing is a little bit complicated, because we are dealing with a false friend here…the German word “fade” means “bland”, while the correct translation of “fade” into German would be “verblassen” (but you can’t really translate it, there is no one-to-one translation, all possible words come close but don’t have exactly the same meaning). Both words are differently pronounced though…and by exchanging the German “a” for an Umlaut, the result sounds very close to the English “fade”.
      I think he basically wrote the English “fade” in German letters and then added the “zu Grau”…which would indeed result in a name which sounds for someone proficient in both languages like “fade to grey”.

      • democracydiva – Author

        I can’t pretend I’m proficient in German, but at least that helps explain why I thought it meant “fade to grey.” Thanks, Swan!

  4. Eva

    I kind of like the beginning when we have so many different looks even when they are sometimes boring. In the end sometimes there are only 3 or 4 designers left and some of them are totally overpraised one-tricks-ponys and all of the outfits look the same no matter what the theme is (for example Ven who did the same dress over and over again) and some of them are getting on your nerves. This is annoying 🙂
    I am so looking forward to the unconventionally-materials-challenge.
    In this episode it would have helped if they had given them more interesting fabrics in more shiny colours and the task to use at least one print.
    For example here we have one totally black look and the one from Kristine with two really boring colours.

  5. Fäde zu Grau was just trying to make a pun off this 80’s New Wave song by Visage: Fade to Grey.

    As for why, Amanda’s back, that’s ALSO music related. Amanda Valentine is the younger sister of James Valentine, a guitarist for Maroon 5. If you were into Spice Girls, you might remember that after 90’s groups like Aqua had their limelight with Barbie Girl and Lollipop (Candyman), Maroon 5 took over the 2000’s dance/club scene with She Will Be Loved and a long string of hits including the Payphone collab with Wiz Khalifa.

    So basically, a bunch of teens and early 20-somethings were so enamored by Maroon 5 that they flooded the votes for Amanda because omigosh, she might mention her brother or they might get a glimpse of her brother. The other potential fan favorites didn’t have a chance to get it because they didn’t have any famous coat-tails to ride.

  6. savefearow

    Fäde zu Grau was just trying to make a pun off this 80′s New Wave song by Visage: Fade to Grey.

    As for why, Amanda’s back, that’s ALSO music related. Amanda Valentine is the younger sister of James Valentine, a guitarist for Maroon 5. If you were into Spice Girls, you might remember that after 90′s groups like Aqua had their limelight with Barbie Girl and Lollipop (Candyman), Maroon 5 took over the 2000′s dance/club scene with She Will Be Loved and a long string of hits including the Payphone collab with Wiz Khalifa.

    So basically, a bunch of teens and early 20-somethings were so enamored by Maroon 5 that they flooded the votes for Amanda because omigosh, she might mention her brother or they might get a glimpse of her brother. The other potential fan favorites didn’t have a chance to get it because they didn’t have any famous coat-tails to ride.

    • democracydiva – Author

      I know Amanda’s brother is in Maroon 5, but I can’t believe that’s why so many people voted for her. I didn’t know people cared so much about the non-Adam Levine members of that band! But you’re probably right, having famous coattails to ride definitely gave her a boost.

      • MoHub

        I think Amanda garnered the votes she did because no one wanted Ken back; they barely remembered Alexander; and the didn’t remember Amanda at all and thought she was a safe bet.

  7. Lougarry

    Oh, thank goodness. Reading BPR I thought I was losing my judgement but now I feel vindicated. I’d have given faede (sorry, not sure how to find the umlaut on this keyboard :/) the win and booted Hernan.

    For what it’s worth, I think the lowercase ‘f’ at the beginning of faede’s name as well as his enthusiasm for 80s music suggest you are also quite right about the intended meaning of his name.

  8. PS Heidi’s pronunciation of the name as English ‘fade’ (rather than ‘fay-duh’ as it would be in German) also supports the theory of an assumed gimmicky name.

  9. Honestly: Sadhya’s dress didn’t wow me. I think it was overworked and not particularly well made. Creativity is nice, but if you can’t pull it together for something really stunning, than it is not enough in my book, and I think she mostly won because it made for a good story. I would have given the win to Char. Big fan of the look she did, and I normally hate the open back – and the cropped top.

    I would have had Carrie in the top three instead of Sadhya, if for no other reason than the only thing I hate more than an open back is putting stuff on the hips…but this one really spoke to me. I especially dig the details in the back.

    For the bottom…I can live with the decision. It was pretty much a run down there between those two. I agree concerning Angela….it was the back which killed it, not the slits or the top.

    When it comes to Sean: I think the front wasn’t particularly flattering either. Who wants a dress which renders your breast invisible but leaves the impression that your legs are double as wide as the upper body? He should have switched the colours around, but that’s such a simple mistake and lack of understanding for proportions, I don’t see him being around for long.

    I foresee and all female final.

    • MoHub

      Hold down the ALT key while typing 132 on your number pad, and you’ll get the a with and umlaut, thus: ä

      • I guess that wasn’t really for me, right? Because, well, German keyboard, I don’t need to use strange combinations to write an Umlaut.

  10. Manuel

    Didn’t really enjoyed the episode. Primarily, because of the challenge. I do not get why they gave the designers so little to choose from as in fabrics. They should just have gotten the “design a look for your future SS collection”, in that way every designer would have ended up like Sandhya.

    • democracydiva – Author

      If they were going to constrain the fabrics so heavily, they should have at least made sure every piece of fabric was different. We had to see WAY too many looks in the same exact prints. Very boring, especially with so many designers still in the game.

  11. It’s really typical of Heidi to vote for the designated “weirdo” of the show, the very same thing happened with Patricia two seasons ago (just like Tyra says she has a thing for “uniqueness” (i.e. “weirdness”) on ANTM – though she was completely justified when it came to Allison IMO…). That being said, while I can certainly appreciate the technique and commend the designer for thinking outside the box, the winning garment doesn’t appeal to me at all… :/ I love Carrie’s outfit and, from those placed in the top 3, I was sure Char would win. Amanda did produce a killer pair of pants, though.

    (previously commented here as Sunny, but now that I’ve created a blog this will be my definite name in comments sections 🙂 )

    • democracydiva – Author

      Welcome back, Sunny! You’re right, Heidi does have a tendency to vote for the “weirdo” … at least in the beginning, until someone else makes something short, tight, and shiny that she likes. 😛

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