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When we received an invitation to the Project Runway Season Eight premiere party, a few questions immediately arose. What would the new designers be like? Which previous seasons' designers would return? How long would Michael Kors stay before he dashed away?
Arriving at the party, on the roof of Manhattan's Empire Hotel, our questions were quickly answered. Michael wasn't there. Nor for some reason, was Nina Garcia. Fortunately, one of our favorite judges from last season, Marie Claire's Editor-in-Chief, the candidly witty Joanna Coles, was the party's host. She greeted us, then introduced the obscenely gorgeous Heidi Klum to the crowd. Heidi, somehow managing to pull off a white Givenchy jumpsuit with M.C. Hammer-esque diaper pants, didn't just put in a quick celebrity-style appearance, she actually stayed at the party. After patiently doing endless amounts of press and speaking to the crowd about the new season, the Project Runway host hung out, casually chatting and taking photos with fans and catching up with the current and previous seasons' designers.
Past designers from the two Lifetime seasons filled the roof. From the dreaded Los Angeles season, Nicolas, Logan, Carol Hannah and New York transplant, Althea, all put in appearances. Joining them were Season Seven designers Ben, Jesse, Pamela, Jonathan and Ping. The last of these, legendary for once sending a model down the runway in an outfit which exposed her privates, made up for it last night by wearing a sheer knit dress which partially exposed her own. Season Seven's talented drop out, Maya, was also there, arriving late, and carrying one of her own purses, an impressive wing-shaped confection.
Some, but not all of the designers from the new season attended, making us wonder if a designer's presence could be taken as a hint about how well they did in the competition. Andy, Nicolas, Casanova, Ivy, April and Michael D. were all very visible and very friendly. We were particularly taken with the charming Peach, a fifty year old designer from Lake Forest, Illinois, whose premiere design was one of our favorites. Whereas some designers, like Ivy, arrived with their own publicists, Peach didn't even know she was supposed to walk the press line. We ended up guiding her over to it, after showing her how to stand for photos (one hand on the hip makes you look thinner and curvier). Peach told us that the first time the designers had to get up on the runway she was so nervous, she considered fleeing. "With seventeen designers, you figure if you sneak off, no one will notice."
The new designers hadn't seen the premiere episode yet, so we had the fun of watching them watch themselves for the first time. There was much laughter and a bit of cringing, as they saw how they'd been edited.
While most of the celebrity guests were Project Runway related, our favorite comment of the evening came from iconic designer Betsey Johnson, who arrived at the party wearing a long striped dress with a tight straight skirt. When one of the photographers asked her to do her trademark splits for him, she retorted, "No, that's why I wore this skirt!"
Project Runway premieres tonight on Lifetime. Join us tomorrow, for our Top Ten Moment of Project Runway Greatness from the episode.