It finally happened. "Project Runway" has finally returned to our televisions. It is on a different network and in a different city, but it still has Tim Gunn as mentor and Heidi Klum as host, and together they definitely make it work.
After an overly-long two-hour "All-Star Challenge" special at 8pm, the main event got underway at 10pm. Heidi and Tim welcomed the new designers to LA with a rooftop champagne toast, and we see that the group of 16 is made up of a refreshingly wide range in ages, ethnicities, styles, and backgrounds.
There are two women from Charleston, S.C., though one of them, Gordana (44), was actually born in Yugoslavia. Carol, also from Charleston, tells Gordana that she once worked as a sales clerk in her in her dress shop in Charleston. Gordana pretends to sort of remember her. Carol describes herself as "Pixie meets Cocktail party."
Their first official gathering is on the Red Carpet for a pep talk and instructions on their first challenge. Naturally, it's a Red Carpet challenge, and innovation is the key.
They sketch and then shop. Except Ari doesn't sketch, which earns her some weird looks from the other designers. After sketching they shop for 30 minutes for fabrics, and it's a hectic scramble for stuff and then they are back to the workroom.
Johnny, who has lots of ink and tells us that he has tried out for the show 3 times before but didn't get in because of a crystal meth addiction, wants to quit in the first few minutes of the first day. He's stressed and worried about failing again, and Tim has to talk him down. Tim listens to him while awkwardly resting his hand on his shoulder in support. But the pep talk works and Johnny gets a hug and a "Make it work" from Tim, and goes back to work.
Christopher from Minnesota has never been to school like many of the other designers, so he doesn't understand a lot of the fashion terms, like smocking. He's a little intimidated but stays focused.
Tim tells Ari that he's worried her halter dress is going to look like a "halter diaper," but Ari isn't worried. Then Mitchell from Georgia appears to be making a very Victorian granny dress, which is also worrisome.
The models come in and that causes some more chaos, since apparently the model sizes don't always fit the info on their model cards.
The morning of the runway show, no one is ready. And this is completely normal. What is not normal is sending out a naked model wrapped in panty hose.
Mitchell basically has to start over because his model was not able to wear the Victorian granny dress he made. So he drapes some panty hose type fabric around a nude woman and stitches it to her, added the granny collar to the top. He is so going home. If not tonight, soon.
Oh, and guess what? Lindsay Lohan is the guest judge. Just because.
(Diane von Furstenberg was the guest judge on the Project Runway All-Star Challenge which was on earlier, so guess who got the short end tonight).
The designers all have strong reactions to seeing their work on the runway. Christopher gets emotional when he sees his dress on the model, and it is one of the better dresses (even I can see that and I don't know jack about fashion). Mitchell almost faints when he sees his pantyhose dress, since you can see the model's whole naked outline through the back of the creation.
After the runway walk, Heidi calls some of the designers forward and these are the higher scored, or "safe" designers.
The judges -- Heidi, Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, and Lindsay talk to the remaining designers about their work.
Qristyl made a wild dress and tried to kiss up to Lindsey, but she's told the dress is a mess. Even though he's in the lower group, all of the judges like Christopher's "cute and edgy" dress. Ra'mon's dress is nice and "respectable" and he gets great feedback. Next is the halter diaper dress. Kors tells her she looks like a "disco soccer ball," and Lindsey is also tough on her. Johnny says he used a 1920s starlet inspiration for his dress and all the judges like the construction and design of the dress, but aren't crazy about the color (red). Mitchell throws his model, who is standing right beside him, under the bus calling her out on the measurement issue. The judges tell him he should expect that and be able to adapt, and that theyadmire the "attitude" of the dress. But they also call the dress "unwearable," and note that no one could leave the house in it. But it makes them curious about what else he might do.
As they deliberate privately, the judges say they love Ra'mon and Johnny and Christopher. Heidi says she'd wear Christopher's dress above all. They say Qristyl's dress was a mess and they question her taste. They can't figure out if Ari (halter diaper) is serious or not. "It's like speaking to someone in a different world," Garcia says, which cracks up Lindsay. Kors wonders if maybe they just don't "get" her.
And Mitchell. Kors says he screwed up with the model and ended up with something no one could wear.
They call the designers back out and tell Christopher that he is the winner of the challenge. He gains immunity (and confidence) going into the next challenge.
For the loser, it comes down to halter diaper vs naked granny gown.
They tell Ari they didn't know what was going on with her look, and they don't think she did either. They tell Mitchell his gown was unwearable and that there are no excuses at Project Runway. Yet, apparently he still wasn't as bad as Ari with the weird disco soccer ball dress. Ari is sent home. She says she has learned that risks are good but she has to take risks responsibly.
A moment on the "All-Star Challenge." Eight designers from previous seasons competed (all were finalists except for one first place winner) for a chance to win $100,000. They had to design a "line" and only had a couple of days to do it. A lot of stuff happened. A big guy named Chris slept almost the entire time, if you believe "PR" editing, but still managed to come in 4th. The final two standing came down to Korto Momulo and Daniel Vosovic, both runners up in previous seasons. I much preferred Korto's dresses, but the judges picked Daniel.
But really, as long as the loud-mouthed egotistical jerk Santino Rice didn't win, I can live with it.