Saturday, July 21, 2012

Project Runway, Season 10 E1: Thank You People New York!


Welcome back to another season of Project Runway! In case you didn't feel ancient enough for remembering the days of Wendy Pepper and Andrae, this is show's tenth season, and I have a feeling we will be constantly reminded of that fact throughout the next few months. "We have more seasons than I Love Lucy!" quipped Madame Kors, and I think you can probably feel my eyes rolling from wherever it is you're sitting.

But, you know what? It felt good to be back. After all, the last time we were in Project Runway Land, the judges got it right! The mentor gave specific advice! The host was... not Heidi... wait a minute! We're back with the people who gave the wins to Gretchen and Anya?! Mother...

Okay, okay. To be fair, perhaps Madame Kors, La NiƱa, Frau Klum and Sir Gunn just needed a season off to rest their weary heads and watch some other folks give it a go in those directors chairs. Only time will tell, but the best way to approach this season is with timid optimism that the judges will award the worthy and smite the fugly. Otherwise, you might as well just go watch Dance Moms.

I'm glad we talked that out, dear readers. I'm ready to break down the episode now...

Early Favorites:
As is now customary, the season began with a "Road to the Runway" special that was mostly fluff and filler, but also allowed me to pinpoint the designers I'd be rooting for out the gate. I was instantly drawn to Buffi the vampire slayer crazy party girl with the fabulous British accent, Sonjia the Boston girl with a unique point of view, and Ven the cocky-but-he-can-back-it-up-so-it's-okay frontrunner.

Challenge:
Before the designers graced the mighty halls of Parsons, they were asked to create an outfit that embodied their aesthetic. Their challenge upon arrival was to create a second look to act as a companion piece. One day, $100. The fun part? The runway show would take place in front of a live audience in the middle of Times Square, which leads me to...

...in Project Runway History:
The new favorite catch phrase of this show, whether it be Heidi, Tim, Joanna Coles or Not-Heidi Host Lady spouting it off, is to label something the biggest/largest/craziest/most elaborate/sexiest "in Project Runway history!!!" Apparently, history is made every week on this show, so it's about time I made a point of documenting it! You know, for when generations from now young gay men want to know the secret origins of phrases like "make it work" or "where the hell is my chiffon?!" As always, I'm doing this for the children.

Anyway, this week's history-making moment came courtesy of the Times Square runway show, declared by Tim to be "THE BIGGEST RUNWAY PRESENTATION IN THE HISTORY OF PROJECT RUNWAY!!!!"

In the Workroom:
  • The designers head off to Mood and uncover new fancy rooms we've never seen before. No sign of Swatch the dog, but he was probably just on a smoke break. 
  • Raul ends up in ruffle trauma as he tries to tame the lace beast he created.
  • Buffi, to the chagrin of Dmitry and other stick-in-the-mud designers, is super bubbly and energetic and amazing. I am in love.
  • Gunnar instantly hates Christopher for basically no reason and I have flashbacks to Joshua McKinley-style antics. Great.

The Judges:
Our usual band of misfits has returned (with Nina in a particularly fabulous Dolce & Gabbana dress, by the way) and assisting them this week was Sex in the City goddess of costuming Patricia Field and Gilmore Girls/Parenthood star Lauren Graham. The first challenge is always a, well, challenge for the judges because they have to wade through a lot of middlers to determine the best and the worst. Overall, they did a pretty decent job this week, with one major exception.

Top Three:
  • Christopher - I have to admit, I was a bit surprised to see Christopher in the Top Three. The little black dress he sent down first was a little too short for my taste and the dark color made it difficult to see the texture he added to the fabric. Not to mention that horrible zipper construction in the back that made the model's derriere look huge and deformed! The gown had great movement and, again, an interesting texture, but the slit was cut a bit too high and was placed awkwardly. The judges complained about his "wedding party" styling, but that didn't bother me much.
  • Melissa - I enjoyed both of Melissa's looks, but during the runway show deemed them a little too "blah" for a first impression. The asymmetric bodice of the first look was striking, but the matching asymmetry in the skirt felt a little repetitive and uninteresting, and the mullett tail was just bizarre. The leather vest/black dress combo, however, was totally fabulous and stylish. Rendered in a different color, that look was a winner.
  • Ven - There's no denying the craftsmanship of Ven's work. The fit is perfect, the clothes look expensive, and that white/pink color combo was fresh and happy. I didn't love the blouse exploding out of the jacket and there was a bit too much volume in that look, but the pink cocktail dress was super cute and just enough layering and structure in the skirt to keep in interesting without being overbearing. Of the Top Three, he was the clear winner for me.

Bottom Three:
  • Beatrice - Oh, Beatrice. The last thing you want in the first challenge is to send clothes down the runway that are both uninteresting and poorly constructed. Stick a fork in you, you're done. The gray jersey dress looked like a beach dress or nightgown, and the Aztec cape/blanket didn't do it any favors. The color combo of the second look was lovely, but the construction and fabric choices were too bad to appreciate any of it. 
  • Kooan - Okay, judges, here is where we are going to fight. Here is one of the most interesting, colorful and exciting designers in your cast, and you thrust him in the Bottom Three just because you think he might be joking? Look at him! He is like a Harajuku pixie fairy here to spread love and color, and you are put off by it all? No, ma'am. No way. Not that I think anyone I know is going to run out and by that oversized overall outfit or space waitress getup, but here's an interesting guy with a very clear point of view and an inventive approach to fashion. And how could you not love the way he shouted "Thank you people New Yoooorrrrkkk!!!"? Let's try rewarding the creativity next time, m'kay?
  • Lantie - On the other hand, you'll hear no complaints from me about the inclusion of Lantie in the Bottom Three. While the lace dress was an interesting idea, the lace down the bodice was a poor decision which was then unfortunately duplicated into the dumpy second look that made her model look four sizes larger. At the very least, though, she had some sort of ownership to her designs and stood by them, which is more than we can say about Beatrice.

Honorable Mention: 
I loved both looks sent down the runway by Miss Buffi. It's incredibly clear she caters to fun, fabulous party girls like herself, and her clothes displayed that perfectly. Plus, those leather pants with the pink details up the leg were fierce. Snaps up, vampire slayer! 

Dishonorable Mention: 
Having nothing to do with either dress he sent down the runway (though, to be fair, neither of them exactly lit me on fire with excitement), Gunnar Deatherage receives dishonorable mention for being a completely insufferable attention whore. I really liked him for the brief moments he was on the show last year, but any good will I felt toward him went way out the window when he start yammering off in his interviews. Keep it cute, Gunnar. Karma's a bitch.

And the winner is:  
Christopher. I'm surprised they didn't award the masterful quality of Ven's designs, but the detailing of Christopher's fabric manipulation was enough to warrant a win, I suppose. 

Auf Wiedersehen to:
Beatrice, who I will always recall as "a Snuggie designer" thanks to Madame Kors. Farewell, Queen Snuggie! Somehow had to go first, and unfortunately it was you. See you in the reunion when they don't let you say a word!

Overall, not a bad start to the season. There's a lot of drama coming up, with people running away from the show and shouting at each other a lot. With any luck, Bunim-Murray will remember that this show is ultimately about the fashion and not about the Real World-esque antics of the contestants. Fingers crossed.

What did you think of the premiere? Who are your early favorites, and who are you ready to see go home? Sound off in the comments!

[Image Source: Lifetime]
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