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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ep 1: You Snooze You Lose

Season 9 - woohoo!
I'm going to pretend that the end of S8 was a bad dream. It's great to wake up to a return of Road to the Runway, where we learned a lot about the 20 designers that have been selected to go to New York, where they will present to Michael, Nina, Heidi and Tim and cut down to 16. That's really rough on the 4 who get their hopes up only to be sent home, but at least they've been seen in the Road to the Runway show.
The judges do their homework

I'm not recapping the Road show, although I'll weave info that we learn about each designer in.

Standout: Serena, who postponed her wedding in Iceland to Cute Glasses Guy for a chance at the bright PR lights. 
Season 9 begins in a Wine & Spirits Store, making me think that Heidi isn't pregnant this year. The 20 finalists wheel their samples in  one by one to to get grilled by the Project Runway Fab Four. Here's how it goes:

Kimberly and Olivier are both self-taught designers. Kimberly charms Michael by mentioning that she works out in a sequined tank top, while Heidi is charmed by Olivier's jackets and accent. They're both pretty much a lock. 
Julie looks like she wants to wrestle the judges into submission.
Viktor, Amanda and Fallene can all obviously construct clothes. The judges look a little dubious about Viktor and have mixed feelings about Amanda, while Nina loves Fallene's shorts.

Confession: Fallene reminds me of my very cool sister-in-law, so she'll probably get some extra slack from me.

Anya, a former Miss Trinidad and Tobago, shows some great clothes. She says she learned to sew four weeks ago. Her clothes are so well made that Tim and Michael are clearly skeptical that she actually made them. Heidi speaks up for her and thinks she deserves a chance to prove herself.
Bryce nearly plotzes when Heidi tries on his feathered cape and walks in it.
Heidi sings to Joshua C when he comes in -
maybe Seal is giving her lessons, because she sounds pretty good. 
Features of the garments shown by Joshua C, Laura and David worry the judges.
Joshua C is a Mormon is either seriously closeted or in big denial or is just an object lesson that you can't tell a book by it's cover.

Laura is an entrepreneurial designer who I really hope is playing spoiled princess for the cameras, because she's a sad, irritating caricature. In the Road show, she told use that Project Runway needs a privileged pretty girl. I say we had Irena from S6 and that was enough for any decade.

David is self-taught and waits tables in Boston, and his clothes are sleek and sophisticated. For some reason the judges hate them.

The judges clearly impressed by Becky's superior construction skills. She grew up in a Christian cult, broke away and got an art degree, happily dooming herself with the cult.

Gunnar, a self-taught designer who works as a hairdresser, and Danielle, skilled and very confident, show intricate but unwearable garments.

Bert, who has a healthy sense of humor, worked for Blass, Scaasi and Halston in the 70s. He lost his partner and best friends to AIDS and fell into alcoholism. Now he's clean and coming back.
The judges like Bert's stuff but think it might be a little simple.

Anthony Ryan had testicular cancer and he now proudly "rocks one."
He's also rocking a scarf that he designed, that are mice connected by tails.
Heidi REALLY wants the scarf.
I was surprised Anthony Ryan didn't give it to her, but I'm sure the game show laws - and Project Runway is essentially a game show - don't allow it.

Cecelia stands behind her work.
Cecelia get raked over the coals - the judges consider her more of a seamstress than a designer. She's sure she's going to be sent home.

Serena and her rack - mind out of the gutter, people!
They aren't terribly excited by Serena either. They like Joshua M's clothes but are totally mystified by his description of his customer as a woman who wears white gloves and figures out what's going on. Does she also get up early, stay up late and have fingernails that shine like justice?

Rafael thinks he and Nina are having ocular congress.
If it were me, I'd get rid of Amanda (student projects and a voice like nails on a chalkboard), Joshua C (his only women's wear looks like a bad Hogwarts party dress), Gunnar (come back in a few years), and Laura (too irritating for words).
 While the judges deliberate, the finalists quietly freak.

Eventually Heidi and Tim arrive with the verdict.
 Fallene..Danielle...Rafael...Kimberly are....


Viktor...Bryce...Becky...Olivier...Laura (once they add a fifth person to the list the suspense is broken)...Anthony...Julie are....

Joshua M is IN.
David is Out.
Gunnar is Out.
Joshua C (to be known here as Josh) is IN.
Amanda is Out.
Anya is IN.
Her pageant past serves her well in this situation.
Bert is IN.
Cecelia and Serena, one of you is in and one of you is out.

Serena is Out, Cecelia is IN, which surprises her at least as much as us.
At least Serena has a wedding in Iceland to look forward to.
After the big reveal, it's time for champagne (Heidi is definitely not preggers) and the designers head to Atlas. Fast Forward to 5 AM, when Tim announces a Come as You Are challenge.

Gratuitous Joshua M shirtless shot

Becky asks if she can put a bra on, but Tim says No, which is too bad because she falls forward without one.

Despite the fact that Laura sleeps made up, she needs more. The others remind her what Come As You Are means. Laura, that streak across your cheek will fool no one.

The designers walk from Atlas to Parson's in their PJs, along with one bed sheet.

Ah, ah, ah, ah, staying alive, staying alive...
Viktor is now able to cross walking through Times Square in pyjamas off his bucket list. I thought they might run into the Naked Cowboy and be able to compare draperies, but no.

And the challenge is to make a garment of of their PJs and the sheet. They have trims, closings and dye available. They get one very long day. Pretty fun challenge.

First Make It Work of the season

Workroom highlights:

Fallene is in love with this tacky T-shirt logo. I had such high hopes...
 Laura hears Olivier speaking Italian to his model. She asks if they're "speaking Foreign." Jaws almost audibly drop.

Laura is ignorante
Highlights of Tim's Walkabout:

Anthony Ryan thinks it's a good idea to hang black feathers from the front of a skirt. I'm with Tim on that.

Tim tells Rafael he may be the recipient of this season's Kristin Eris you-valued-your-scarf-more-than-winning-the challenge aufing. Rafael is freaked, but not enough the take it off and use it in his design.

Julie is still in wrestling mode.

Runway time! But first, can we pause to appreciate whoever styled Heidi? Last season they put her in many godawful outfits, but this year is starting off tastefully sexy.

All hail the Nile green silk wrap dress, antique earrings and colorful smoky eye.

The guest judge is the totally adorable Christina Ricci.

Although it normally annoys me when dark-haired actress go blond, because I reject the idea that you have to have light hair to be attractive, she looks good in this honey color.

On with the show!
Joshua M
The focal point of this outfit is the vest. It has a very low V in the back, and it's the perfect thing to spice up a summer shorts and tank outfit without adding bulk or warmth. The blue trim in front of the shirt adds a bit of color, and the shirt is too short in back but(t) not in a Zulema way.

My rating:  Safe

The dye job on the pants is gorgeous. The top and jacket are a little junior, and adding chain weighting to a shrug seems like a waste of time.

My rating: Safe

This is a well made, perfectly reasonable, boring outfit you could get at JCPenneys or Target. Not Project Runway-worthy.

Also, when Laura says she wants to steal Danielle's model, Danielle responds "We'll see about that" with no humor at all. She seems to have no wit in either her designs or personality. I predict she doesn't last long.

My rating: If there were a bottom four, she'd be in it. Safe for now.

Attended FIT, 30, NYC

Great summer dress - polished but not prim, with flattering detail at the waist - what's not to love? This design is also ageless. You could wear it if you were 15 or 65, and look equally great.

My rating: Top 3, strong kontender for the Win
Another great summer dress, and another great dye job (and I don't mean Becky's hair). That striated sky blue is a cool contrast with the black and white printed center panel, and the should trim is very retro-80s new wave, but in a good way. This would make a perfect bridesmaid's dress for a funky, arty wedding.
My rating: Top 3

Like the proportion of the voluminous top with the short, tight skirt. Also, the taupe is very sophisticated with the black..Heidi would totally rock this.

Interested how the dress is very late-70s disco, complete with gold chains, but the model's natural hair and light makeup keeps it current - Bert, take a note.
My rating: Safe
Anya must be a sewing prodigy, because she pulled this complex outfit off. the top has a lot of detail to it, and she had never sewn silk before. I personally don't love the front of the pants - the rise with the pleating is unflattering, but you can't deny they're among the best pants in this Runway show, and she'd never made pants before. Good job quelling Tim's fears!

My rating: Safe

Those pants are terrible. There's no fit, they look like they're held together with a clip on the side, and maybe that pocket is supposed to balance the diagonal of the shirt, but it makes no sense. The top looks like it belongs in the children's department - it's too junior for Juniors.

My rating: Bottom 3

Love the sweat shirt-material sleeves on the jacket, and the proportions are perfect. Gray and olive brown is a bit drab, but well done overall.

My rating: Safe
Another really bad pant - ill fitting, and the too-thick waistband is unflattering. The flimsy halter top is a total cop-out, but kind of cute. Can there be a bottom five?

My rating: Safe by a hair

Anthony Ryan
This is OK. The lace on the skirt still seems kind of (for lack of a less vulgar way to put it) pubic.

My rating: Safe

Oh, no. Anything that make a model look like she's bulgy from under the breasts to the knees is just sad. The legging doesn't fit right, and the cut-out over the belly looks like she ate too much and exploded her shirt. There's so nice detail on the back of the shirt, but not enough to save this terrible travesty.

My rating: Bottom 3, and Auf
Cute dress, but please step away from the puking clowns, in your designs and on your sleepwear.

My rating: Safe

The model looks like a Cosmo cover from 1978 - the big hair, bright lips, shades, and the bag with the scarf tied on it - all straight out of a movie starring Cybil Shephard.

But the dress itself is incredible - love the asymmetrical hem that balances the checked fabric on the bodice, and the wrapped panels. Bert is talented - hope he can step out of the way-back machine.

My rating: Top 3, and the Winner if you take the styling out of the equation.

Joshua C
The seaming on the tank with the squared-off V neck is kind of nice - I'd buy that shirt for working out. But the hoodie shrug is badly proportioned, and the pleated shorts are just plain ugly.

My rating: Bottom 3, and he should send Rafael a fruit basket.

Now this is how you make a cropped jacket! The proportions are perfect and it hangs really well (even without a chain, Laura). The pattern on the top is sophisticated, and the shape of the skirt is cool if a bit too short. Cecelia really showed the judges she has a place on the show.

My rating: Safe

The judges have Anthony Ryan, Rafael, Julie, Bert, Anya and Josh step forward. Everyone else is safe.

They love Anthony Ryan's colors and are amazed that he's colorblind.
I'm not sure that combining black, gray and the teal that was his sleep shirt is a big color-combo win, but who am I? I'm surprised this is in the Top 3. It's fine, but nothing special.

Tiers on the back of Rafael's top.
Michael pulls out his adjective bag to describe Rafael's headscarf necklace as a Flintstone disco pouch. The other adjectives from the judges are "awful," "dated," and "off-putting." Christina very sweetly tell him she sees a lot of craftsmanship in the top.

The judges are rightly baffled by Julie's mess of an outfit, considering her beautiful serape collection. Michael makes a masturbation joke about the pants pocket (he'll be here all season, folks).

They are also surprised, but in a good way, by Anya ability to make an intricate top and a pair of pants that fit the model's butt perfectly.

And can we give it up for Anya's shoes?
It's not often a designer is better styled than any of the models.
But not for Nina's necklace.
When I first saw it, I thought it was interesting, but after a second look it reminds me of plaster-of-Paris parts to ceiling molding - not good.
Everyone agrees - great dress, bad styling. Will substance prevail over styling this season?
Christina knows how to ask open-ended questions that let her be judgemental without seeming judgemental.
Josh wishes aloud that someone had told him his work was so bad, which is a totally feeble, passive-aggressive swipe at Tim. MK shuts him right down.

The deliberation is what you'd expect, and the results:

The Winner is Bert
It seems the judges (Nina, Michael, looking at you) have learned from their Gretchen styling obsession last year.

Rafael is Auf'd

While I'd have chosen a different Top 3, I can't argue with the Winner or the Auf. It's nice to see Project Runway back in all its slightly baffling glory. What do you think? Are the rankings for the first challenge going to be predictive of the rest of the season?